Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of 2008 = End of Goals?

  clockThe end of the year.  Time for a -er - year-end review.  I'm sure you noticed that I skipped the last 6-week review.  Yes, I know that you have followed my progress - and failure to progress - with intense interest and counted the days until the next review.  (Do you detect a hint of irony?)  Well, December arrived and Christmas preparations - and what can I say . . . .

Well, for the one person out there who might be interested, let me give you a quick overview of this year's goals.  If you look at the Labels over on the right, you can also click on "goals" and read the previous posts.worktable

My goals for 2008 were really very ambitious.   There's  something about the idea of a fresh start that gets my head spinning and I loose track of what might be reasonable.  But I charged ahead and outlined seven specific goals to work on and achieve through the year. 

diggingAbout halfway through the year (before that if I want to be honest!) I realized that the goals I had chosen and the system I was using was not working out.  I heard this phrase once:  "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!" and decided on some revisions to the program.  I also reviewed what I had learned from the "failures" and decided a lot had to do with staying flexible.  A less rigid set of goals helped get me through the rest of the year.

For this final review, though, I will return to the original seven goals.  While some of my goals were left behind in the rush of daily living, I did remarkably well with others and I think my overall target of "developing my crafting and artistic skills" was reached.

TIF-collageGoal 1: Participate in the Take It Further challenge.  This project has been pretty successful.  I have 13 (and a half) pieces completed, so I've done even better than one every month - even if December isn't done yet!   And wow - was this ever a learning experience!  Perhaps I will have a post on that later.

2. Participate in the Stargaze Tome group’s Tome Page-A-Month project.  and 3. Complete the Hatmaking class I took four (!) years ago.  Both of these fizzled out in April or May.  I don't consider them UFOs yet, though, and expect to fit them into 2009.

4. Use a book or tool to explore new techniques or refine un-mastered skills – preferably incorporated with the other goals – at least once a month.  I have experimented with a lot of new techniques, including free motion stitching, melting fabrics, using gussets in doll faces and bodies and journal making.  I've also brushed up some embroidery skills and reviewed design principles learned many years ago.  Not a bad list!

MrToad-close5. Keep doll making as a focus for my creativity.  Although  this year has not been as productive as some others, it was still a decent output.  I believe I can count eight finished dolls, including Mr. Toad for a library exhibit, and Pegwyn for the Hoffman Challenge.

P7130014 6. Enter the Hoffman Challenge – and any other appropriate challenge as they come up.  I think I did very well with this goal, since Percy and Pegwyn earned an award for Most Humorous.  I also entered an Edwardian hat into Doll Crafter and Costuming's challenge and got second place.

7. Review the above 6 goals every 6-weeks and blog about my progress.  This one was the "control" and - as mentioned above - I missed just one review.  It was after deciding to stay flexible, though, so I'm not going to count it against the final results.

Well, I'm ready to put 2008 to bed.  It was a very interesting year for me and I really did accomplish a lot of "crafty" things - even if not quite I had planned at the beginning of the year.  Trying to predict the future has never worked too well for me!  I have some thoughts for 2009 and am preparing a post for the new target and goals.  There's that fresh-start attitude again.  Let's see if I can keep my head on straight this time!

Hope you enjoy your New Year's celebrations, whatever they may be.  It has been quite awhile since I've made it to midnight, but I think I have some goodies stashed somewhere, so I plan to "celebrate" in my own way!  See you next year!  (Don't you just hate it when people say that - as if you haven't heard it before! Duh!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

November TIF

So - better late than never? I have to say that the November challenge started out to be almost too easy. I should have known that would be the "kiss of disaster"!

Let's start at the beginning . . . SharonB posted the November challenge here. She challenged us to use typography (letters, numbers) as an inspiration. That led to lots of fun playing with fonts and WordArt and then distortions in photo editing software. I realized that I would have to stop the playing eventually and so I came up with a design using the letter "W"

letterW This sample has been slightly distorted already. Then I tried some different repeats and rotations. More fun! That led me to this:


With that as a starting point, I started designing the fiber piece. I masked off the W shapes and did some spraying and dying of the basic cloth. Then I layered it with chiffon and stitched around the W's and also in a grid for the background. So far so good.

My plan (using the term loosely) was to burn away the chiffon so that the W shapes would contrast with the background which had been altered with stitching, paint, and so on. I dug out a couple of heat tools . . .

. . . which is where things went wrong - so wrong! It seems I am not entirely trust worthy with things that burn! Of course, some folks would think to test the technique on some scraps. Ha! We don't need no steenkin' tests!PB290022

At this point the back of the piece looks pretty good!

You can see it coming, can't you? Not only are there burned spots (all the way through!) but the chiffon melted into a nice, HARD, plastic film. So much for a lovely contrast between foreground and background! closeup And that brownish color does not quite match the gold!

I'm not ready to give up! I just happen to have a newly purchased package of clear glass beads. Please note that at this point, it was still November! Sigh.

OK, enough talking already. Beadwork just takes more time. Here it is - the finished piece. Ta da!.


What to name it? "Ode to the Letter W" - or perhaps "Don't Play with Matches" - "How to Bead Your Way Out of a Hole" ???

At least now I can get started on the December challenge while it is still December!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I made it!  The memory book is finished, wrapped, and under the tree.  They don't call me the Princess of Procrastination for nothing! (I wanted to be Goddess of the Last Minute, but Robbi Joy Eklow has already taken that title.)


So here is one last "teaser" photo.  My dad was a Shriner and I did a facsimile of his fez for the book.  Those french knots represent jewels on the original lettering and emblem.  I did - briefly - consider doing some beadwork.  But Jeez!  I need to retain some sanity!

Mom will receive this book tomorrow and I hope it is a good gift for her.  I'll have a box of kleenex nearby, just in case.  After things settle down I will share pictures here of the book itself.

Now, I am going to enjoy Christmas Eve with Sarge.  As a child I was eager to get to bed early so Santa could get here sooner.  Maybe we'll try it this year!

Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Doing It The Hard Way

That seems to be my motto.  I'm not sure why!  If there is more than one way to do a task, you can bet I will choose the harder one!  Not on purpose, mind you - I am usually trying to pick the lazy way!

Case in point.  Working on the memory book, I decided that prairie points was the only way to frame this photo.  No real reason; it's just what I decided.  I'm making it up as I go along, you know! 

Two problems came up right away:  (1) working with small squares of fabric would be pretty tedious, and (2) I've never actually done prairie points before!  But - I have worked with ribbon before, so let's make a prairie point-ish ribbon border!


Now, I'm not about to cut individual strips of ribbon.  So you will notice that the inside loops are MUCH bigger than the framing loops!  With two colors I would fold one, stitch part way, loop around the other color and fold, stitch, loop.  Repeat.  I'm pretty sure that this method took just as long as real PPs would have taken.  Nonetheless, I persevered ('cause I'm stubborn that way) and following a careful trim we have a decent border.


And a layer of ribbon to cover the cut edges . . .


Uh-oh.  I hate wasting ribbon!  (Yeah, like it's so rare and expensive.  NOT!) 

PC190002  Most of you would probably just toss this little pile of scraps.  Not me!  Now I am working on figuring what to do with very short scraps of ribbon!   I'm sure I'll come up with something - and you can bet it will be the most tedious, difficult, and frustrating project I can think up!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Peek at My Current Project

Christmas is just about wrapped up.  I should get the last things done tomorrow and then there will be five days to finish up this project.  And high time, too!

Since June (!) I have been planning a fabric memory book to give my Mom.  She knows I'm working on 'cause I had to raid her photo albums (er, boxes!) to get most of the things for this book.  Then I rashly mentioned Christmas!  Crunch time!!!!

I have three pages DONE!  Fourth page was so-o-o-o much fun to do that I have to show you some of it.  Just bits and pieces, but it's the fun stuff.




I printed these wedding photos on silk and then stitched them to the background fabric.  That ribbon on the large picture was a real pain to stitch.  I used the sewing machine and I know it would have been faster to do it by hand!  Live and learn.  I haven't done silk ribbon embroidery for quite awhile and forgot how much I enjoy it.   And dressing up the corsage on the small print was so easy and looks so great! 

Gotta get working if I want to finish this book, tho.  Now, if we should happen to have a snow storm on the 24th . . . .  But I can't hope for something like that!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Little Entertainment

I've been pretty busy working on Christmas projects.  But the other day I took some time out to play with Jake.  As I was digging through a box of holiday fabric and such, something fell out.  We had to take advantage of the distraction, didn't we?





This blog is supposed to be craft related, so I don't include Jake very often.  He is always helping me, though.  Some of the better ideas came from him!

If you enjoy looking at pug pix and reading about them, here are a couple of my favs:

Art is Life . . . Life is Art 

Clover's Adventures

Outside the Lines

Pug Network

The Pug Posse

We will return to our regular crafty posts next time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

'Tis the Season

I've been pretty busy lately.  Really!  The problem is that I've been working on Christmas gifts.  Some of the recipients do read this blog - at least once in awhile!  Since I don't want to spoil the surprises, I can't post very many pictures just now.  Bummer!

So I dug around in my pictures from earlier this year.  And I actually found something that I made for myself! 

Remember this?


I showed you this a few weeks ago as a preview of what I would be working on.  This stitchery was actually framed and hung on the wall at one time.  Come to think of it, it was one of a pair.  Hmmm.  Wonder where the other one is?  Well, times and fashions change - and in my case the houses change, too - and this piece no longer has a place on the wall.  So I decided to "re-purpose" - a buzzword for today's crafter!

PB190009 And here is how it looks now.  It's a portfolio - in case you are wondering.  Here is the inside . . .

PB190007 all packed for my quilt guild meeting last month.  Then I switched contents and took it to doll club.  Very handy.  I will definitely have to make some more of these!

The idea and instructions for the portfolio is from Terri Stegmiller at Two Creative Studios (click on Free Projects, then Folder/Folio).  It is fun to make and you can use your favorite fabric and techniques to make it your own work of art.  A really quick project, too.

I'm off to work on Christmas again.  I am about to start on some decoration-type projects, so I'll be able to post pictures of those.  And the gifts?  There will be pictures eventually!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November not quite ready . . .

I was doing quite well on this month's Take It Further* project - really.  There was a brief moment when it looked as if it might make the deadline.  Very brief!

This month Sharon challenged us to use typography (ie, letters, etc.) as inspiration for a fiber piece.  I find the multitude of fonts letterWavailable these days to be fascinating and fun, so this theme was sure to be entertaining.  It did not take me too long to find a good combination of font, letter, and design.  I could have spent all month playing with letters, but eventually I returned to one of the first that caught my eye.  I used the letter "W".  The font is Matura Script, I think.

I decided to do some experimenting in executing this piece.  I've been wanting to try some techniques that I've seen lately using various paints and heat.  I made layers and stitched and layered and stitched some more.  Added paint here and there.  Then plugged in my trusty wood burning tool.

Here is where things began to get complicated!  You see, I don't usually do HOT.  As in flames, heat guns, burning tools.  Oh, once in awhile, but not often enough to - er - know what I'm doing!


So, let's just say the results were not quite what I was expecting.  Not sure what I expected, actually - but wasn't planning on burned spots, ya know?  But , we're good!  I am considering additional options - opportunities for growth - to complete the piece soon!  And the smoke alarms did NOT sound!!!!

* By the way, SharonB has moved her web pages and blog to Pin Tangle (she was at In A Minute Ago).  I've linked to her several times this year and will have to go back and edit all the links.  Until then, you will find they are broken.  Go to Pin Tangle instead.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The "C" word

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  That means th0baubleat REAL SOON NOW we  will no longer be able to avoid the C word . . . Christmas!  Why is it that just the word itself raises stress levels?

Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas.  All the glittery things and toys and carols and fun stuff to make (and eat!).  I also love the true meaning of Christmas and think it would be wonderful if we could have "goodwill to men" all the time.

BUT - struggling through crowds to shop, sweating over who gets what, where will we go this year, when do the packages have to be in the mail.   Those are not fun things.  Necessary, but not fun.

TenTwo I found something that does look like fun, though.  Lisa Volrath at Go Make Something will be posting holiday images for crafting each day in December.  How cool is that?  It looks like she will have tags and boxes and old fashioned images.  It's a techie take on the advent calendar.  Ooh I used to lo-o-o-o-ve those!

Drop by Lisa's Original Printables page to see how you can download these images.  Be sure to read the FAQ about how you can use these images - they are for personal use only - and get on her list.

Maybe having something fun to make each day will help prevent the Christmas Bah's.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What a Doll!

I know . . . what a corny title!  Sorry, but my mind is in idle today, so that's probably as good as it will get.  At least for the time being.  It's been a busy week and today I decided to veg out. 

But enough of that.  This post is about my newly completed doll.  I am calling her Jan - at least until a better name comes along.

PB170013 Jan is made by wrapping batting and fabric around a wire armature.  I followed the general instructions in Ray Slater's 51yiIm-jQiL__SS500_book "Cloth Dolls for Textile Artists".  I used a head and hands that were in my "spare parts" box and used ribbons and yarns to embellish her, so she was a quick and easy project.  I will be leading my doll club in making more of this type of doll at our January meeting.  So . . . that is why her name is Jan.  I did tell you my brain was not at work today, didn't I?

PB170020  I find it interesting that I made this head in a class several years ago - 2003 I think.  It was one of my first doll classes and probably the first on painting faces.  Christine Shively was the teacher and if you are familiar with Christine's work you can see her influence.  But after five plus years, my own style doesn't look much like this anymore.  And I wasn't really happy with the way Jan looked.  I mean, she's pretty - but she has Christine's face - not my own.  So . . . I did a little needle sculpting, and just a few tiny touchups.  She still doesn't look completely like a face I have drawn, but she no longer looks like Christine! 

Follow up on last post:

I've had some supportive comments about my messed up sewing bobbin and I thank you all.  I knew you'd understand. 

But the really cool thing is that today I got a comment from a Bernina tech!  How cool is that?  He said this can happen when there is a problem with your upper thread not spinning freely.  I was using a finer decorative thread in the needle and it was starting to fray and break at about that same time.   I applied sewer's aid, but it was probably drying out by then.  I'm not surprised since that thread was already a suspect, but I'm glad to hear that it is probably not a major machine problem.  Thanks, Steve!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Well, This is Ugly . . .

PB190005 Anybody know what could cause this?  No, it did not look like this when I put it into the machine!  It looked - well - normal!

After stitching for about an inch - maybe less - the top thread broke.  And this is what I found in the bobbin case.  Eeeeew!

I've run through the possibles - inserted in the case wrong - bobbin case not completely locked in - incorrect threading - etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  I can't say that none of those occurred.  In fact, I believe I've pulled about every dumb operator error stunt ever invented - and invented some new ones!  But none has created a tangle quite like this. 

I'm saving this for my Bernina technician.  She's off getting trained this week I think, but I'll stop by the shop later and see what she has to say.

BTW, after a nice cleaning and complete re-thread (and new bobbin), the sewing machine is working like a dream.  Scared me for awhile, though!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Works in Progress . . .

I know.  It's been awfully quiet here on this blog, hasn't it?  Things have been happening, though.  If you walk past the basement door, you can hear sewing machines and humming. 

So, I thought I'd share some snippets.  Things I am working on - but not quite finished.  Pretty soon - depending on how much crafting time I get in the next week or so.  This should give you a taste:

PB080005 Here is one border of a quilt top I have almost finished.  It's a big block quilt, so the borders were really the most work.  Hope to get the "sandwich" together soon so I can start quilting.  Lap quilt size.

PB170020 My current doll.  I have the January program for doll club and I want to have a sample for this month's meeting.  She will make it in time, but I don't have a name for her yet.  I've been calling her "the January doll."  Really creative, huh?

PB170021 These are two projects I started today - and several years ago!  Confused?  Well . . . once upon a time in a land far away (it really was, you know) I used to do a lot of cross-stitch and crewel embroidery.  Those were the days PB170022when my eyes were good enough to see small stitches and the focus was fast enough to look back and forth between stitching and the television.  Ah!  The days of our youth!

Ahem!  Well those days may be gone, but I have quite a few pieces of stitchery that was never framed - or framed and then un-framed.  I have a couple of techniques I want to try and thought these little stitcheries would make a nice focal point.  So I have been adding strips of fabric to the edges and after a little quilting and maybe some handwork, they will be ready for these projects.

The rest of this week is pretty busy, but I should be able to make some progress here and there.  Thanks for stopping by and come again for more pretties.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Working on Another UFO

What good is a UFO Challenge if you don't finish any UFOs?  I finished my first project - even though it took two months! - and it's time to choose another.

Here is the before picture:

PB050009I can hear you all asking - what the heck is that?  Looks like a hand, huh?  Well, this is a life-size hand and it was part of an online class on making doll hands.  Judi Ward has a short class to help beginners cope with the ins and outs of stuffing fingers and all.  The first step was to trace around your own hand, stitch in cloth, turn, and stuff.  Well, I got to the last step and skipped ahead to itty bitty fingers!  That was - oh - probably about 7 years ago!

I always planned to do something with this hand - some day.  Guess the day has come.  Yesterday I stuffed.

PB080008Now I plan to do some needle sculpting and decorating.  I'm thinking wicked long fingernails!  And a beaded bracelet of some kind.  Then it will have to hold something.  That blue and green to the right is a ball that is about the right size.  Kinda plain, though.

For a quick project this is starting to sound complicated!  Another two months?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Urge to Quilt

Well, the urge to patch, anyway.  I've been busily stitching the past few days.  I had a couple of projects that need to get done soon - and since I'm doing that I may as well do these others.  Go with flow and all that, ya know?

So one of the "need to get done" projects is a quilt guild challenge.  We were given a fat eighth of red fabric and told to "make something."  Ooo-kay!  Here is what I've got.  Show time is this month's meeting - in two weeks.  I may or may not put a backing on it by then.  I figure a quilt top is a finished "something."


Project number two is more peacock blocks for Rivkah.  I've had these cut out for quite some time - it was definitely time to get them stitched up!  Rivkah has been waiting patiently.  I hope they are what she wants.

PB050006I really like the way these look together (in spite of the one turned sideways - you would think I'd notice that before I take the picture!  Good grief!)  I'm thinking I will have to make up some of these for me one of these days.  Not yet, though.

And, since I'm on a roll.  I started stitching on my Christmas wall hanging.  I "designed" this last year in Quilt Design Wizard.  Most everything was cut and the log cabin blocks were all stitched.  I don't remember why I put it away.  There is a small chance I could get it done by Christmas this year.   My initial plan was to decorate the tree with embroidery and trinkets.  We shall see.

PB050010There are some more projects on tap.  I haven't run out of steam yet, so I may get a few more tops stitched this week.  Cold weather is moving in tonight, so there shouldn't be many reasons NOT to spend time in the sewing room!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Winnah . . .

. . . and new World Champeeen!  Oh - wait!  Wrong contest!  Heh!

PB010010 I asked Jake to help me pick the Giveaway winner.  He was happy to help - after I buried some treats in the basket, of course!  He's very good at finding treats!  Once the comments had been thoroughly mixed up, we picked one. 

Drumroll, please.  And the winner is . . .

PB010011Suze please e-mail me at dolls4liz (at) yahoo (dot) com and tell me which journal you would like.  I can send you some pictures and give dimensions, etc., so you can pick your absolute favorite.

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments, both for the giveaway and for the recent posts.  I wish I could send you all a special gift, but virtual hugs will have to do.  I hope you will keep reading and commenting.  I'll try to make it worth your while.

And now - we will return to regular programming.  Boy!  I sure admire those of you who have something to post every day.  That was hard work!  So I am going back to every 4 to 7 days - so I've got time to make stuff!!!!

I'll leave you with a little preview.  I cut fabric yesterday, so I hope to get at least some sewing done this week.


Friday, October 31, 2008


celebratebanner Yipee!  Wahoo!  Yoweee!  Other words to that effect!noisemaker

Today is the first anniversary of my blog.  This is also my 100th post!  Isn't this the most exciting thing that has ever happened?  Well, if it is - you need to get a life!  Sorry, but while this may be a big day for me - the rest of the world probably hasn't given it much thought.  One blog among millions.  BUT - I have readers!  More than two, in fact!  How cool is that?

So, we ought to pause - briefly - and reflect on what it means to have a blog that has survived a whole year.   One thing that it says is that I'm pretty stubborn!  I think I have things to say and pictures to share - and by golly, someone is going to see them!partycat

But it says even more.  I have actually found enjoyment in showing  off my work and throwing some random words out into the world to see what happens.  It really is an adventure.  And guess what?  Somebody answers!!

Oh my!  People are coming to see what I've done - and coming back for more.  That feels very nice.  I am making virtual friends and expanding my creativity.  You, dear readers, have been most supportive and have helped me step into the unknown.  I try to return the favor by following up on comments - or visiting your blogs and commenting.  It doesn't always work out even (I personally think I am getting the better part of the deal!) but I plan to continue working on that. 

celebratenowSo here we are!   The day I've been looking forward to!  It's been quite a week - coming up with something to post about daily.  And reading all your wonderful comments!  A special thanks to Paula and Judy, who knew I could do it and egged me on!

This is the Last Chance to sign up for the giveaway!  Just for my wonderful readers.  I will close the polls - so to speak - this evening - and tomorrow I will draw the lucky winner.  Stay tuned to this channel!