Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dec. 30, 2008 - Wet Felting with Deb

Have you ever seen the OLD movie "The Court Jester" with Danny Kaye? If not, put it on your list of stuff to watch when you want to giggle the day away! The following is a 'famous excerpt':

The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
Right. But there's been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!
They *broke* the chalice from the palace?
And replaced it with a flagon.
A flagon...?
With the figure of a dragon.
Flagon with a dragon?
But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!
The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
No! The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle ... the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.

Well, I created vessels .. you know, vases, bowls, chalices, flagons .. vessels! For my family and special friends for Christmas presents. Money being tight and me having lots of sheeps wool laying around and some time on my hands here and there .. I got creative. You start with the fluffy wool batt and an inflatable ball, loads of hot water and some dish soap and your hands .. and voila .. you've created 'something'!
My one sister tried hers on her head .. my sister in law did too. Guess I should have put 'letters of explanation for possible uses' in with each gift!

I 'signed and dated' each one with the use of a enamelled porcelain button from a Canadian artist - Ruth Pollack. I used an fine line pen, put my name and year on the 'back' of each button, and then attached the button to the vessel. The buttons, for the most part, are these incredible heart shapes.

What is 'fun' about this craft .. art .. is that you never know exactly how it's going to turn out. You know the colors you've chosen, but there are usually 4 layers of wool - mostly different colors - and during the felting/fulling process, you get shifts of wool, or bleed-through. Then, it depends on how much wool you did put on as to the height or size of the completed item .. you may cut it down or, using steam, stretch it out. The piece kind of lets you know what "IT" wants to look like and you work with it to the finish.

Don't get me wrong .. I'm a cross stitcher. But with stitching, unless you change the fiber colors or linen colors, or both, you know exactly from the start how it's going to look when finished. (with the exception of a piece I just did where I stitched it the way it was designed and absolutely hate-hate-hate the colors in the piece!!!!) I didn't really know I had a creative side to me until I started playing around with wool and I'm having fun!!!!!

Dec. 30, 2008 - SNT

The year is winding down and that means we'll be doing Inventory at the end of this week! Some welcome in the New Year with horns and whistles and confetti ... SNT welcomes in the New Year with yellow lined legal pads, pens and calculators! Since we're in such a smaller location, Inventory becomes 'interestering'!
At the old location, when we were in Davison, we'd have our stitching friends/customers come in and help us do all the counting .. and would end up with about 20 or so people in the shop.
In our Fenton location, we couldn't fit 20 people in the shop all at one time if we tried. Well, wait .. I lie. We COULD fit 20 in the shop quite easily .. as long as no one wanted to move from the place they were standing in! So .. Debbie, LouAnn, and I .. along with Diana and Kathy and a couple of stitching friends/customers will be doing the counting again this year. We expect it will take Friday and Saturday but we should have Sunday off for our 'day of rest'. We actually do have some fun .. I think our friends have more fun than we do (for sure!). I mean, we have to count every single 'button', charm, needle, chart, fabric .. everything! And then after all has been recorded, we have to 'tally up' the cost (that's the part I hate the actual seeing on paper just how much I have inside those four walls!!). I think margaritas at Sagebrush may play a part in Inventory this year! The part of owning a business that I absolutely HATE with a passion .. not the margaritas, the counting and realization!

Dec. 30, 2008 - The Holidays

You know that "Christmas" song .. the little girl singing ... "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas"? Well, apparently Nick my Golden was singing it too .. over and over. And to finally shut him up ... Santa filled his wish! He was a very happy boy the entire day.. taking Hippo in and out of the house. And to date, he's not even ripped Hippo's eyes off yet!

And Padme (you remember her .. mom's former kitty) had a good Christmas too .. lots of crinkly paper and boxes to play in!

Mocha knows all about Christmas .. this was her 7th .. she figured that Christmas was all for the 'kids' .. and to wake her when it was over!

And that's pretty much how Christmas went at our house! Quiet and fun!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wind Chill N Stitches

A description of the character of weather known as "coldness" was proposed about 1940 by scientists working in the Antarctic. The "wind chill index" was developed to describe the relative discomfort/danger resulting from the combination of wind and temperature.

Now every newscaster in the country uses 'wind chill' ad nauseam to tell us "It's Cold Outside".
I mean, at 7am today it was 3 degrees Fahrenheit. That's cold. I understand that I should 'dress appropriately when going outside' because it's 3 degrees out! I do not need to be told that in 'wind chill' the temp. is minus 12. You would think that knowing it was 3 degrees would be significant enough!

Now I'm going to go into the 'old folks mode' .. and tell you that when I was a child, we did not hear about wind chill (EVER!!!) on the morning radio or evening TV news. We'd hear it was .. BRISK today. Or it was QUITE COLD today. We'd know IF the word "brisk" was used, that it was very very cold outside! Plus, we could look outside and see the smoke from the stacks at the Paper Mill. If the smoke was going 'straight up' ... man, it WAS Brisk outside!!

We did NOT ride the bus to school because we lived within the city limits .. only those kids living in the 'country' got to ride buses, and they'd wait outside in the COLD for the bus to come. My friends and I had to walk to school .. well over a mile and a half away .. across the Cheboygan river on the bridge (where the winds off Lake Huron came a'blowin in - Lake Huron was only about 1/2 mile away) .. and we had 'dress codes' then so that meant we wore skirts and dresses with exposed legs (knees if it were really cold out .. no way would we put pants on under our dresses - how totally uncool would that be!!), and it would take about 2 hours for the 'redness' to disappear. We even had to do this in BRISK weather! No one thought twice about it .. heck, we'd even play outdoors when it was 'very cold' or even 'brisk' .. we'd be dressed to the gills of course, but we'd be outside playing!

grumble grumble

Now .. about the "stitches" part of this blog.
I'd stitched My Big Toe Designs' "Quaker Seasons" on the 40ct gauze .... and Debbie from My Big Toe called the other day and told me she had a COMPANION piece to that one coming out in February. And ... would I like her to send me this design 'in advance' so I could already have the shop model stitched up when the chart was released? Would I? Need to ask me? OF COURSE!
It's a Quaker motif sampler with a wonderful verse .. but instead of the gauze, I'll stitch this one the way Debbie indiciated, on 32ct Flax Linen using Weeks Dye Works.
It's driving me crazy .. I have all the materials pulled for it and am ready to stitch it .. but I've decided that THIS will be my Christmas Day project instead! We have no where to go but to sit at home, and I've got a ton of movies to watch, (and hoping for stocking treats to nibble on), and I'll have something new to do! I keep looking at it .. I wanna start it now .. but I can wait for Santa!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just Stuffs

Good Snowy Morn!
It's snowing again .. I love the white stuff (can't stand ICE other than to look at it, but I love love love snow!)! It's Michigan .. it's susposed to snow in the winter .. that's why we have four seasons .. and what keeps me in Michigan, I'd really miss the seasonal changes! And 'sides, we're gonna have a White Christmas! And if I can't be with family and friends, that's a strong plus on the holiday side!
Mom is leaving tomorrow for two weeks with her sister-in-law, my dad's sister, Aunt Orpha over by Lansing. Aunt Orpha is 103 years old and lives independently with her son-in-law!! And Harold is leaving for a much needed vacation with his sister and one daughter who live in California .. leaving my mother (who turned 88 yesterday!) in care with my aunt. (Blind leading the blind?) Mom thought Harold would be just gone for a day or two (to California??), but it will be a two-week trip and of course, she's stressing herself out over it ... what if one of them falls and breaks a hip? .. what if she gets sick? .. what if, what if ... call 9-1-1 ... yes, but what if ... ??!!
Dave and I took mom out to dinner last night at a local Chinese restaurant .. mom loves Chinese, she just couldn't remember that she did until she started eating her meal. (another sigh) The waitress brought her a slice of cake with a fortune cookie sticking up out of it .. cute. Mom got upset because 'we' didn't get cake, just her. (deep sigh) All in all, it was a good time!

All of my gifts have been mailed .. but for one. I'm still awaiting delivery of one item that needs to go into that box before I can send it off (and it's my great neice's gift too). It's going to have to go Express Mail at this point to arrive at my nieces' house BY Christmas! Since I made all of my gifts this year, at least that won't add significantly to the gift costs. When the postman came into the shop on Friday to pick up all of our shipments going out to (my relatives and) customers, he said "I hope you aren't still guaranteeing Christmas delivery". Oh well.

The one thing with my mom being down here now is that I'll never ever be able to experience Christmas at my 'childhood home'. Any gifts that were received by mail went under the tree right then and there. My gifts to family members went under the tree before Christmas too. Mom and Dad would wait until I went to bed and was fast asleep on Christmas eve before 'my' gifts were put under the tree .. so when I'd wake up on Christmas Day and go down the hall from the bedroom and walk into the living room, the tree would be overflowing with gifts that were not there the night before!! Mom hid the gifts and despite my searching and searching .. (yes, I'd look and try to find them .. didn't want to actually see them, but wanted to find them!), I never found out where they were!! Not once, not a single gift! And to this day she will not tell me WHERE they were .. I mean, I'd hit the basement, all closets, kitchen cupboards, the garage, even the attic once .. and never found a one! She'll go to her grave with that secret!

One of the last years I was up to my parents house with Dave, I woke up on Christmas morn and walking out to go into the kitchen for coffee, glanced into the living room. Just like when I was a child, mom had waited until I'd gone to bed and there the tree was ... with more gifts than were there Christmas eve. And here I was at 50-something ... with the first thought that sprang into my mind and a shiver down my backbone ...... SANTA!
Wishing you all the magic of the holiday!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reading N Things

My very good friend Diana presented me with an early Christmas present last Thursday - she figured if she didn't give it to me right away, I would go out and get it myself. And she would have been right! She gifted me with the complete 4-volume set of the Twilight series! Yep - the teen age Vampire books the current movie craze was based on! http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight.html

Book for kids? I think not .. I mean, Harry Potter was susposedly a book for kids and I read the entire series .. twice! And read the final volume the day after I received it, all in one day!

I'd heard good things about "Twilight", the first in the series, and they weren't kidding! I went to bed early, around 9:30pm, book in hand. I turned the light out at 3:20am. Well, actually I had turned the light off around 2am, but couldn't stop thinking about the characters .. and turned it back on. I read that entire book before I could let myself go to sleep!!

I'm not a 'vampire' reader. My sister in law had given me an Anne Rice once and I thought 'gagggg'. I didn't even care for the movies, and I'm not a Buffy fan by any means. In a book club I was in, one of the books that was suggested was
Undead and Unwed (Queen Betsy, Book 1 by Mary Janice Davidson) - which had to be about the funniest book I'd read in a long time (funny like the Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich - where you can't really read them with someone sleeping next to you because you burst out giggling or laughing all of the time!). Once I had read that book, I HAD to read the next in the series, and on and on. In the back of one of those books was an exerpt chapter from the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. And I was really hooked! These are super novels - mysteries actually, that just happen to have 'creatures of lore from the darkness' in them. I'm anxiously awaiting the next volume to be released .. that's the problem with great series. You end up having to wait!!

I will admit that I did 'try' another vampire writer who is susposed to be great and .. gagggg again .. that was a mistake. You HAVE to have characters you can get involved with in order to read a series!

I had just read ALL of the J.D. Robb "In Death" novels (by Nora Roberts) again .. starting from book 1 and ending with #25!! I had the latest one out - Creation In Death - and got it into my wee little brain that i HAD to read them all again, one by one and in order, before I started that one.

Then I decided I had to read ALL of the Kathy Reichs novels .. these are the books that the TV show "Bones" is based on. She's a forensic anthropologist .. think CSI type stuff (and I wonder WHY I have weird dreams!!). Now I'm caught up on everything she's had out .. and that's where Twilight came in. I NEEDED something new to read!!! THANK YOU DIANA!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Writing N Deciding What To Do

Woke up this morning trying to figure out: (1) IF I was going to go into the shop and 'work' today .. making sure, since Monday will begin our 'December-long-get-it-outta-the-shop-so-we-don't-have-count-it-and-get-taxed-again-by-the-government-Sale', that everything that will be put on sale is actually currently featured ON my web catalog; (2) IF I was going to take down all my pictures and stuff and replace them with Christmas pictures and stuff here at my home; (3) IF I was going to work on store stuff and bills and such on the computer here all day; (4) IF I was going to kick back and do nothing but watch DVDs and stitch all day. It's pretty bad when that's your first thought upon waking.

So here I am on the computer working on my blog AND working on store stuffs/bills and feeling guilty because I didn't go into the shop and work alone today. So far I've wasted a couple of hours .. so at least I'm actually doing something!

I DID finish off one of my felted dolls (Beverly) - a Christmas gift for one of my sisters and Beverly looks great if I say so myself - a very elegant lady! It's funny when you're felting a doll - you have an idea of what you're going to turn out, but during the process of making the face, the doll kind of tells YOU what she/he is going to look like! That's what happened with Sid and Sadie .. he was originally going to have a much younger girlfriend to share his bench with .. apparently his wife had other ideas! The 'much younger gal' came about later .. she's what Dave referred to as"the perfect barfly" - even down to her lipstick beginning to bleed! I didn't know what her name was for weeks afterwards!
Beverly was an initial reject - I just didn't like her face and discarded her for awhile. Then I went back and pulled off her nose and cheeks, and ripped out her eyes (sounds violent I know, but a very stress relieving process I might add!), and started over. She was going to be an old lady in my mind, but she wouldn't let me do that to her this time around .. and her face came to life basically on her own. Then you start building the body, and then dressing her with wool and she came out once again totally different than what I was picturing - even to the clothing! It's quite an interesting process, and so far I've been quite amused by and satisfied with my 'creations'. I should also mention that 'they' name themselves .. I don't know what they're going to be called until they're finished and I've stared at them for a while. Anywhere from a few hours to a few days later I find their name out - that's what happened with Dave's so called barfly gal. I had no idea what her name was, if she had a name, if she'd tell me or if she was waiting to tell my sister. A few hours after Beverly was created and named, I found out .. her name is Connie!
Dave asked me what I was going to do with those I was making (he'd forgotten about gifties I was doing), so I told him I was making my own little deb-army and they were all going to sit onto the entertainment center staring at him! He made a gun out of his fingers and started target shooting at that point. I think a tiny deb-army freaked him out!

Since the Holidays ARE fast approaching, I thought you might like to have a couple of FREE holiday charts to print out!
The first is from Mari at Whispered By The Wind .. “Style is everything" .. a bit of whimsy to put a smile on your face: http://www.whisperedbythewind.com/happystitching2008
The second is not cross stitch, but would make a fun quick gift or decoration. From Bird Brain Designs, a Jingle Bell Holiday Candle Mat: http://www.birdbraindesigns.net/freedesign.aspx
With that, I've rambled on way too long and MUST get something from my list accomplished today, so ... I'm outta here!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Writing N Decorating

I was afraid this was going to be addictive .. I've been thinking about blogging again ever since I hit 'publish' on my first posting!

Spent my day off yesterday putting up the tree. And realizing when I started that this would be Padme's first Christmas as she came to us in late January. No worries there ... she wanted to sleep in the ornament storage box as soon as I had the ornaments out of it. And other than lightly pawing one large Santa Jingle Bell ornament to watch it move, and then going to sleep behind the tree, that was the end of potential tree problems! Mocha hasn't bothered with the tree yet either. Her favorite ornament is down where she can easily reach it but she's not taken it down and played with it yet. Don't know what it is with that ONE ornament .. the past two years, she's had it off the tree and across the floor every morning during the holiday season! It's a stitched ornie from Val's Stitchin Stuffs called "Ho Ho Ho".

My tree? Nope, not a 'real' one. I wish it were, but just can't afford one this year. We'd started out in this house with a 10' or 11' tall artificial, but incredibly real looking, tree. Since we're in a geodesic dome home, we have a two-story ceiling in the center ... living room, tv room. If you put a regular 5' or 6' tree in that area, it would look like a doll's house tree. So .. we'd do the big thing! I love Christmas .. I love the hustle and bustle of the holiday .. I love decorating a tree! But - Not that tree! Because it was so tall, it would also be very very wide at the bottom. You'd put it together in stages. First, the big step ladder would come out and you'd stand at the very top and put the top 3' of ornaments and tree topper on. Then you'd put the middle section on, move down a bit on the step ladder and start adding those ornaments to that 4' section. Then finally, the bottom 4' would be put together, finish decorating and ta da, you're finished!

Why did I hate it? I'm one of those 'Hallmark Commercial People' .. the ones that take each ornament out of the box, one at a time, look at it fondly and remember past holidays or when you got it or who gave it to you or whatever. And then, walk around the tree ,holding that one ornament, looking for just the PERFECT spot in which to hang it! Then back to the box, take out another ornament, and repeat. Repeat, repeat, repeat until all of the ornaments are on the tree .. in just the right places!

With the 'decorate the tree in stages' process, you couldn't get back up to the 'top part of the tree' after the bottom of the tree was in place as you just can't reach out that far! Too wide at the bottom, remember? That meant I had to decorate as I went .. and had to actually expect to 'like' the tree when it was decorated in such a hap-hazard manner. And then, since it was in the 'great room' against a wall, that meant that it was behind where I would be sitting to watch tv/stitch/read. Now that that tree was up, I couldn't see it and appreciate the lights/ornaments unless "I" was up! Mind you, Dave could care less about this whole thing!

We'd get a 'real tree' from time to time and put it over by the entertainment center, but it was then 'too close' to the woodstove, and since we heat by burning wood, the tree would dry out within a week! So, off I went to a cute country store and found a 6 1/2' Alpine fake tree .. the kind that is about a whole 2' wide at the base .. very tall, very skinny, very quick to decorate too. That could be a plus, but it's too small for my favorite ornaments - the big round glass ones, my grandmother's antiques, Dave's grandma's antiques, you get the idea - deep sigh. But this funky little alpine doesn't dry out while it sits about 5' away from the woodburner and I can see it/enjoy it from either of the two places I sit while watching tv/reading/stitching. And it does decorate up in a 1/2 hour max!
Now I just have to get out my holiday pictures to hang and my nativity set to display up high where the cats cannot get to, hang up Dave and my stockings, and I'm ready for the 'big guy' to arrive! Ooops .. no I'm not. Got wrapping and a teensy bit more shopping to do yet!!!
Went to Weight Watchers this morning and found to my delighted surprise, that even though this was the first weigh in since Thanksgiving, I'd actually lost 1#6 ounces. And then came home to find that Dave was making Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Walnut Cranberry Cookies! Nooooooooooooooooooo!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Writing N Things

Well, this is a first .. I've been thinking about blogging, I've been talking about blogging, I've been reading about blogging, and finally .. here I am .. blogging!

This may also help keep my weekly sent Newsletter Update a bit more on the 'needlework' side instead of the"here's what's happening in my world" side .. although I hear constantly about how my subscriber stitchers enjoy hearing about the things I'm doing or stuff that's going on. They tell me it makes them feel like they're hearing from a friend, not just a 'shop'. And that's what I've always tried to do .. be a real person you can talk to and not just a brick & mortar place on the other side of your computer. We'll see how that goes .. I may still keep yammering on like I've been doing, and just do some different yammering on here!

Yeah - it's early here. I woke up about 4am, tried to fall back asleep, and gave up that idea around 5am. Got up, drank coffee, ate cereal, and talked a bit with Dave. He's ALWAYS up by 4am ... such a morning person. Actually, when I say I talked a bit with him, HE talked and I tried to nod and/or smile at what I thought would be the appropriate places. I'm NOT a morning person! But since I was up .. decided to come into the shop and see what I could get done while it was quiet .. and believe you me .. it's quiet here at 6:30am! I guess that's one of the major differences with having my shop within 5 minutes of my home and not a half hour away in Davison anymore. It's not a problem to run to the shop. And, I actually ENJOY coming to the shop .. the problems are gone, the headaches are gone, the stiffness in my neck is gone, and I smile a LOT anymore. This moving of the shop was the best thing I could ever have done!!

And, it's snowing here too. I'm one of the weird Michigan people who actually LIKES the snow, and expects it to happen every year. Most in this southern part of the state seem to be totally surprised that there is snow falling in the winter .. and obviously forget how to drive in it, not only from winter to winter season, but also from snowfall to snowfall. Gee .. all you have to do is go a bit slower and take your foot off the gas pedal first before you think about slamming your foot on the brake pedal!

I plan on posting my stitching projects here, as well as my felting projects - both needle felting and wet felting. Just have to get the pictures transferred from my camera into this computer first. As for the pictures that ARE showing here now, and by that I mean the "folk art pictures', this is another of my absolute loves! I'm a huge follower of the primitive and folk artists you'll be seeing featured here. I also plan on talking about what I'm reading (what a delimna - do I stitch or do I read?) or want to read or thought about reading. Another passion! That's why I'm running in circles most of the time I think .. do I want to watch a movie (the kind you have to watch and not just listen to)? Do I want to read a book, other than the book I'm reading when I'm in bed trying to fall asleep every night? Do I want to stitch? How about doing all those punch needle projects I've surrounded myself with? Felting? I'm having a BLAST scupting dolls and animals and whatever with wool, and then there's making my bowls and vases and coasters doing wet felting. I'm surrounded by too much to do and not enough time to do it in (along with updating my website, adding to my catalog, doing a weekly newsletter, and now ... blogging! What was I thinking? Deb, the overachiever