Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Answer To The Favecrafts Blog Question - What Was Your Worst Crafting Disaster?



On January 20, 2010 I received an email from Caley Walsh, Editorial Director, of Favecrafts.com asking if I would be interested in answering the Monthly Craft Question over at FaveCraftsBlog. The question was: What was your worst crafting disaster?

I thanked Caley for asking me to participate and responded: I am happy to participate, but have to tell you that I'm answering with both tears of joy and tears of sorrow at a sweet remembrance of a mother teaching her daughter to sew. You see, my answer has to do with sewing which is something my beloved Mother taught me to do and she passed away this past Sunday, January 17, 2010. So, my response is both a happy and heartfelt response and a sad and melancholy response at the same time. I'm sure you understand. Here's the story of my worst crafting disaster: ..........

On January 28th, 2010 I received an email from Caley telling me that the answers to the question were posted today at http://www.favecraftsblog.com/monthly-craft-question-what-was-your-worst-crafting-disaster/ and that my answer was included in its own blog post at http://www.favecraftsblog.com/guest-feature-worst-crafting-disaster/ .

I hope you get a chance to read my response and to read all of the contributors responses.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For "Joy"

My niece and her boyfriend and longtime companion asked that this song be played for my Mom "Joy" at a private gathering after my Mom's memorial service.  I thought it was absolutely beautiful and hope you do too.




Here are the lyrics:

"Joy" By Phish

Joy is over there in her incredible clothes
She has silver silk shimmering down to her toes
I was doing the best that I can I suppose
But that little girl dancer
Eventually grows
Well she grows

You can’t imagine all the times that I tried
To uncover the source of the tears that you cried
“Lets throw it away and just go for a ride”
And you’d say “ok” but you’d keep it inside
And I tried
I tried
I tried
I tried

We want you to be happy
Don’t live inside the gloom
We want you to be happy
Come step outside your room
We want you to be happy
Cause this is your song too

I never thought I could have it so good
You were the song that my soul understood
That time is a river that flows through the woods
And it lead us to places we both understood
Would be gone
Before too long
Would be gone
Before too long

When we were young we thought life was a game
But then somebody leaves you and your never the same
All of the places and people belong to the puzzle
But one of the pieces is gone
And it’s you
It’s you
It’s you
Joy, it's you

We want you to be happy
Don’t live inside the gloom
We want you to be happy
Come step outside your room
We want you to be happy
Cause this is your song too

Anytime we’ll weather this storm
Inside together you’ll see the change
When the sun shines through

We want you to be happy
Don’t live inside the gloom
We want you to be happy
Come step outside your room
We want you to be happy
Cause this is your song too
This is your song too (x8)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Am At A Loss For Words - My Mom Passed Away




I am at a complete loss for words. My beloved Mother passed away on Sunday, January 17, 2010. With her passing I lost not only my Mother, but my best friend, my most avid cheerleader, my confidante, and the rock of our family. It is hard to imagine going forward in a world without her.

 These are for you Mom:

You can see it in their eyes,
in tender hugs and long good-byes,
a love that only moms and daughters know.

You can see it in their smiles,
through passing years and changing styles,
a friendship that continually seems to grow.

You can see it in their lives,
the joy each one of them derives,
in just knowing that the other one is there...

To care and to understand,
lend an ear or hold a hand,
and to celebrate the memories they share.

Once upon a memory
Someone wiped away a tear
Held me close and loved me,
Thank you, Mother dear.


***************

Don't think of her as gone away
Her journey's just begun
Life holds so many facets
This earth is only one
Just think of her as resting
From the sorrows and the tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days and years
Think how she must be wishing
That we could know, today
Now nothing but our sadness
Can really pass away
And think of her as living
In the hearts of those she touched
For nothing loved is ever lost
And she is loved so very much.

*************

Memories

I thought of you with love today but that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday and days before that too.

I think of you in silence I often speak your name
All I have are memories and your picture in a frame.

Your memory is my keepsake with which I'll never part
God has you in His keeping I have you in my heart.


"

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Tea Calendar For Nana From Noodles


My grandson surprised me this Christmas with the most wonderful and sentimental present in the world. It was "The Collectible Teapot & Tea Calendar for 2010" shown in the picture to the left and I love it not just because it's a wonderful calendar, but because of the meaning and thought behind the gift.

You see, I love tea and my grandson knows this. For awhile when he was a toddler and a small boy his grandfather and I used to go over during the day to take care of him. And, when we got there I, inevitably, had a cup of tea. So, it became a tradition that he and I and his grandfather and sometimes a dear friend would sit at the dining room table or in the front porch and have tea in the morning.

My grandson, Noodles, always wanted to have tea too, so he would have a little tea with his glass of milk. First, we would just sit there and have the tea. I would be looking at him with his beautiful face and incredible head of curly brown hair. How I would love to have his beautiful head of hair.  He would just be sitting there content as could be with his "cup of tea' and his little legs dangling from the chair.

As he got older he wanted to participate in making the tea so first he helped open the teabag. Then he helped pour the sugar and if you've ever had a toddler help you with pouring sugar you know that sometimes we ended up with a little tea with our glass of sugar. He always had a wonderful smile of accomplishment on his face when he was able to help.

Then, of course, he wanted to carry the Styrofoam coffee cups filled with tea to the table. We let him try and, yes, the tea would spill on the floor, but this could easily be cleaned. When he finally made it to the table he always had that huge and wonderful smile of accomplishment on his face.

So, it became a tradition every time we would visit. He would run to the kitchen to get the container of tea bags and then to the cupboard for the Styrofoam cups, then the sugar. We'd wait for the water to boil and then prepare our cups of tea together.

Another reason that I just love the calendar is that not only does it brings sweet and beautiful memories back to me, but it's filled with something else I love - history and tradition. Each page has a lovely picture of a tea set and is filled with little stories and facts all surrounding tea and the tradition of teas. Or, you might find a quote or an explanation for certain kinds of teas. Maybe a recipe or two. Even twelve tea set pictured postcards.

It's a delightful calendar for any history buff and tea enthusiast. But, for me, it's a gift of love that brought sweet memories back to me of a beautiful time between a Nana and her Grandson, and, well, gifts just don't get any better than that.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

More Punchneedle Kits Made And Reviewed In 2009



Like everything I do I never do anything in moderation. Instead of just creating a couple of punchneedle and cross-stitch kits to give as Christmas presents I created 30 or more. As a result I had more than I needed to give as presents. Was this intentional? Maybe!

Then again, maybe not! Maybe I'm so highly organized that I knew I would need some in the future. Anticipating the future? Maybe! Then again, maybe not!

In any event I ended up with more shadowboxes than I needed. The punch needle pine tree shown above was created based upon a "Pine Tree" pattern kit by Rachael T. Pellam of Rachael's of Greenfield that I added a dark green, burgundy and white sponge painted wood shadowbox frame to. This pattern included detailed instructions and tips for punchneedle as well as an iron-on transfer sheet that you had to iron on to the foundation cloth which was included in the kit.  It also included a piece of paper with the DMC floss numbers printed on it and each of the floss strands grouped by color tied to a punched out square next to it's respective DMC floss number.  It did not include a diagram with the detailed numbers on it but included a listing on the back of the pattern indicating which DMC floss numbers were to be used and where.


I also found a wonderful punch needle pattern by Linda Coleman of Jeremiah Junction called "Folksy Sheep" that I liked.  As with my other punchneedle projects I decided to add a sponged painted wood shadowbox frame.  I wanted the frame to appear like the sky so I sponge painted it royal blue, light blue, and white.

The pattern and instructions were easy to follow and the diagram was well laid out and easy to read. The pattern included the pre-printed weavers cloth.

What I also really liked about the Jeremiah Junction pattern was that it not only included a diagram with the colored DMC floss numbers but included a picture colored with the DMC floss colors and a table that included a small square of the DMC floss color and it's respective DMC, ANC, or JPC floss number.    The kit included reverse pre-printed fabric, DMC floss, and pattern with instructions.  The design was printed on the reverse side of the fabric and you work on the reverse side when punching to create the image on the front side.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cross-Stitch and Punchneedle Kits That I Made As Gifts For Family - Christmas 2009



I just love surprising family members with handmade gifts for Christmas and did so again this year.  And, of course, almost all of the gifts were some of my cross-stitch and punchneedle shadow boxes that I've blogged about previously. I just had such a wonderful time finishing all the punchneedle  and cross-stitch kits that I had bought in the Spring.

Several of my family members love birds and gardening and several are into primitive crafts and primitive decor. Luckily I was able to find some punchneedle kits and cross-stitch kits that fit the bill. And, of course, I enlisted the help of my younger brother and his astonishing workshop to help me build my shadowboxes.

In a previous post on my Linda's Blog I had mentioned that I had a lot of problems with the first cross-stitch I attempted to do and named it the "cross-stitch from hell!"  My sister loves cardinals and the Adirondacks and I had found the cross-stitch kit shown above which was "Christmas In The Adirondacks" from Dimensions The Gold Collection and thought she might love it.

It was the first cross-stitch I had tried in at least twenty years and probably should have started with something a little less difficult.  I have to admit I found it difficult to keep track of where I was stitching on the the blank fabric versus the chart.  The pattern includes a chart that has color coded symbols that refer back to the respective keys.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cross Stitch Gold Collection Cubes For Christmas 2009




If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog you know that I love to craft and my interests are not just limited to one type of craft. Or two types of crafts. Even three types of craft. Oh, no! Not me.

I have to be interested in just about every kind of craft there is. That's thousands of different crafts. Never anything in moderation as far as I'm concerned. Oh, no! Not me!

Have I mentioned I'm little obsessive! Ya think?

Well, while creating some of the punch-needle shadowbox kits this spring and summer I found some cross-stitch kits that I wanted to try. I hadn't done any cross-stitching in the last 20 years or so and thought I might enjoy it once again. If I remembered correctly (which these days might not be the case given that menopause plays tricks with your memory - or so I keep telling myself) I thought I had really enjoyed doing cross-stitch years ago. So, I decided to buy a few kits.

Well, one of the kits that I bought which was going to be a present for my sister turned out to be the cross-stitch kit from hell! I had a difficult time following the instructions and trying to convert them to my blank cross stitch fabric. I finally managed to get the knack of it after practically going blind and my piece actually turned out rather well - at least I thought so. It was the largest cross-stitch kit I had bought and in retrospect I should have started with something a little smaller like the cross-stitch kits which created the shadowboxes above and below.

The cross-stitch patterns below were from a "Dimensions Gold Collection - Kit #8704 - Beaded Elegance Ornaments" pattern and were supposed to be stuffed ornaments finished with a felt backing.  I made them into sponge finished wood shadowboxes that can be displayed various ways.

The "Dimensions Gold Collection - Kit #8704 - Beaded Elegance Ornaments" pattern  was easy to understand for the most part.  I loved the three dimensional aspect of the designs where thread was layered on top of the cross stitch to outline and emphasize and the inclusion of gold beads.

The only negative to the kit was that they should have included more of the fabric as I found when the fabric was cut into six squares that there wasn't enough slack for it to easily fit into my small embroidery hoop.  The original design called for the leaves to be on the outside of the gold frame.  I did not make the ornaments according to their original design because their wasn't enough fabric to do so.

I also decided to sponge paint the shadowboxes all the same cream color with a splash of gold, silver, and white. Here's the results starting with a pretty wreath with gold beads:




An evergreen basket with yellow french knotted berries.



A snowman with presents.




A teddy bear with green plaid scarf.



A heart which I altered to have the top bows included within the square.



And, two birds in Christmas stockings.



I used self stick hard press board to attach the cross stitch designs to. I thought I had been very careful when it came to doing this and getting them straight. Unfortunately, the squaring of the shadowboxes proved that not all my press boards were evenly square. As a result I had to do some fudging by adding lace trim here or there.

I guess I was in a bit of the rush this holiday season. Next time I'll spend more time and make sure all the press boards are square.

"Santa Ornaments" Mary Engelbreit #85310 Plaid From Bucilla



Besides all the punchneedle and cross-stitch shadowbox presents I created for Christmas 2009 I decided to create some wool felt ornaments and bought several wool felt kits to do so.

One of the wool felt ornaments kits I bought was Mary Engelbreit Santa Ornaments Felt Appliqué Kit (6-1/4" x 5") - Set Of 6. The "Santa Ornaments kit contained pre-printed felt, cotton floss, needles, beads abd embellishments,  and instructions to make six hand felted Santa ornaments.

What I loved about the pre-printed felt pieces was that each was sequentially numbered and this number was stamped on the felt pieces where it was to be sewn. So you could easily follow from the sequentially numbered pattern piece to the stamped felt piece it was to be sewn to and to the instructions.

The instructions were multi-lingual and were easy to follow. They also contained pictorial diagrams for creating the various stitched that were to be used to create the ornaments. The ornaments were completely handsewn.

Here's my results:

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Presents For My Family For Christmas 2009 - Yes, More Shadowboxes!




I just love surprising family members with handmade gifts for Christmas and did so again this year.  And, of course, almost all of the gifts were some of my cross-stitch and punchneedle shadow boxes that I've blogged about previously. I just had such a wonderful time finishing all the punchneedle  and cross-stitch kits that I had bought in the Spring.

Several of my family members love birds and gardening and several are into primitive crafts and primitive decor. Luckily I was able to find some punchneedle kits and cross-stitch kits that fit the bill. And, of course, I enlisted the help of my younger brother and his astonishing workshop to help me build my shadowboxes.

In a previous post on my Linda's Blog I had mentioned that I had a lot of problems with the first cross-stitch I attempted to do and named it the "cross-stitch from hell!"  My sister loves cardinals and the Adirondacks and I had found the cross-stitch kit shown above which was "Christmas In The Adirondacks" from Dimensions The Gold Collection and thought she might love it.

It was the first cross-stitch I had tried in at least twenty years and probably should have started with something a little less difficult.  I have to admit I found it difficult to keep track of where I was stitching on the the blank fabric versus the chart.  The pattern includes a chart that has color coded symbols that refer back to the respective keys.

The kit included the pattern, cotton thread, and 18 count white Aida.  It also called for all the white sections to just be the 18 count white Aida linen cloth but I opted to use white DMC floss and cross -stitch these areas as well.

The "Christmas In The Adirondacks" pattern uses full cross-stitch, half cross-stitch, and outline stitching for emphasis and depth and this detailing really makes the picture stand out.  Instead of framing my cross-stitch in a standard picture frame I opted to create a sponged painted wood shadowbox.  Despite the problems I encountered I absolutely LOVE how it turned out and hope you would agree.  My sister LOVED it.

 The second cross-stitch kit I attempted was a Dimensions Colorful Rooster #7195 kit that included the cotton thread, the design printed in full color on a 14 mesh canvas, and instructions.  I found the pre-printed canvas mush easier to maneuver and understand.  The instructions also included a diagram with symbols that referred back to a thread key.

The instructions called for a different design to the purple background, but I changed it to be the cross pattern shown in the picture below.  As with other Dimensions patterns the "Colorful Rooster" cross-stitch used overlay stitches and outline stitches for emphasis which I think really makes the rooster stand out.   The pattern also called for a matted picture frame but I opted instead for a sponge painted wood shadowbox.



I also found a wonderful "Black Hen" punchneedle embroidery kit to create a 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" punchneedle rooster that I loved.  My rooster was created based upon a "Black Hen" pattern kit by Rachael T. Pellam of Rachael's of Greenfield that I added a black, burgundy, gray, and white sponge painted wood shadowbox frame to. This pattern included detailed instructions and tips for punchneedle as well as an iron-on transfer sheet that you had to iron on to the foundation cloth which was included in the kit.  It also included a piece of paper with the DMC floss numbers printed on it and each of the floss strands grouped by color tied to a punched out square next to it's respective DMC floss number.  It did not include a diagram with the detailed numbers on it but included a listing on the back of the pattern indicating which DMC floss numbers were to be used and where.



I also found a wonderful "Apple Tree" primitive punchneedle embroidery kit to create a 3" x 4" punchneedle primitive apple tree with crow that I loved.  My apple tree was created based upon a "Apple Tree" pattern kit by Rachael T. Pellam of Rachael's of Greenfield that I added a dark green, gray and white sponge painted wood shadowbox frame to. This pattern included detailed instructions and tips for punchneedle as well as an iron-on transfer sheet that you had to iron on to the foundation cloth which was included in the kit.  It also included a piece of paper with the DMC floss numbers printed on it and each of the floss strands grouped by color tied to a punched out square next to it's respective DMC floss number.  It did not include a diagram with the detailed numbers on it but included a listing on the back of the pattern indicating which DMC floss numbers were to be used and where.



Another one of the bird punchneedle kits that I bought was one of a cardinal in a group of birch trees.  I knew my sister would LOVE this too.  The punchneedle kit was Dimensions Bird In Birch Trees Kit #73433 was easy to follow and had diagrams and numbered key codes for the DMC floss.  The kit included reverse pre-printed fabric, DMC floss, and pattern with instructions as well as punch needle tips.  The design was printed on the reverse side of the fabric and you work on the reverse side when punching to create the image on the front side.

The pattern and kit was for creating a framed picture with the fabric serving as the picture mat.    I decided to make mine as little sponge painted shadow box that could be placed just about anywhere.  I wanted the colors of the sponge painted shadowbox to compliment the colors of the birch trees and love how it all turned out.  My sister LOVED it, too.



I had so much fun creating my punchneedle and cross-stitch shadowboxes that I want to make some more.  The problem is I've been giving them as gifts for a couple of years now.  Maybe it's time for a change.  Oh, but I just love doing punchneedle.  Maybe one more year will be okay..........

Saturday, January 02, 2010

I Really Wanted To Try Needle Felting and Penny Rug Felting - I Loved It!


I decided last year that I wanted to try needle felting and penny rug felting  with wool felt as it seemed like everyone was having so much fun with it this year. I don't mean wet needle felting where you are actually creating a needle felted object from the wet felt. I'm just not that adventuresome!

Penny rug felting involves using pieces of wool felt hand-sewn in a decorative pattern using a blanket stitch or other embroidered stitch to create a miniature rug that is hung as a decoration or used as a tablecloth.

Needle felting is similar to penny rug felting only it also includes using roving that is punched into the wool felt to create part of the decoration. Decorative pieces created of this nature are usually primitive in design and created for a primitive decor.

Here you take a piece of wool felt and place it over a needle felt mat. Then you take a bunch of the roving and using the needle felt tool you keep punching the roving into the wool felt piece until you get the desired effect that you want.

Wool penny rugs started out as coin shaped decorations stitched together from scraps of fabric.  According to Wikipedia.com: In the 1800s, starting around the time of the Civil War, thrifty homemakers would use scraps of wool or felted wool from old clothing, blankets and hats to create designs for mats or rugs. Using coins as templates, they created circles and each piece was then stitched in blanket stitch fashion. (Thus, the name "penny" rug). Sometimes, the mats or rugs were backed with old burlap bags or feed sacks. Sometimes a penny was stitched inside the mat to make it lie flat.

Penny rugs and needle felted wool decorations are very popular with the "primitive" home decorating community.  They are no longer rugs for the floors but have developed into all sorts of decorations for ones home. 

I started with three wool felt kits where one was a penny rug type decoration that needed to have some sheep and tree decorations needle felted. The other two kits were more like wool felt embroidery kits to create primitive wool decorations which could be hung on a wall or placed on a table top.

Friday, January 01, 2010

More Handmade Presents For Christmas - Last Year's Punchneedle Kits and Subsequent Gifts



I just love trying all sorts of different crafts and decided that I wanted to try punchneedle last year. So, when I was shopping at a colonial store in Sturbridge I decided to buy a few punchneedle kits.

If you don't know what punchneedle is it is basically the weaving of DMC embroidery floss onto a reverse pre-printed even-weave type fabric to create a specific picture. You are basically punching the reverse pre-printed side of the fabric to follow the design and are creating the punch-needle effect on the wrong side of the fabric (i.e. the non pre-printed side).

At first punchneedle seems a little intimidating, but once you understand how to thread the needle, how to position the needle tip, how to set the depth to set the needle, and how to continuously punch in a straight line using very tiny spacing it's easy to do.  Plus, if you don't like how the stitching turns out you can just rip it out and start again.  What tends to be more irritating and annoying is separating the long floss threads and trying to keep the long floss threads from knotting.

Well, I have to tell you that I absolutely love punchneedle. You can complete most of the punchneedle kits in a day or so and I was easily able to take my kit and embroidery hoop with me where ever I went so I could work on it in my spare time. Like I have any of that! LOL

Punchneedle Fun With Dimensions Holiday Friends Ornaments and Dimensions Santa's Presents



I just love BRIGHT, COLORFUL creations like the punchneedle cubes that I made in the picture above. I made them this spring and summer with the hopes of giving them away as Christmas presents this year.

However, as with everything I make, I fell in love with them and my selfish side took over and decided not to give all of them away. Maybe I'll hold on to them for a little while and them give them away next year. Who knows?

I didn't keep all of them.  I did give the blue Santa in the left top cube and the turquoise blue Santa in the middle cube on the bottom row away.   My twin grandsons will get to enjoy them now.  Actually, it's my daughter-in-law who will really enjoy them.  She just loves handmade crafts.