Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crazy or what?

I had so much fun piecing some crazy quilt blocks together last evening.  I decided that I could make some smaller projects to give as Christmas gifts, but first I needed to practice on some blocks.  I was really getting creative with colors  - daring even.  At one point I went to my mat to trim my square and realized that I couldn't see what I was doing. 

I wear dollar store glasses for close work - magnifiers, really.  Usually I pop them up on my head when I'm not using them, so when I reached up to pull them down, I was kind of surprised they were not there.  I really needed to be able to see to use the rotary cutter so I hunted around until I found them.

There they were laying on my sewing chair - as flat as a pancake.  Apparently I was so engrossed in my work that I sat on them - and didn't even realize I was sitting on them!

Not to worry - they were not broken and with some gentle pressure I was able to bend them back to their original shape  -  you know - the lens at a 90 degree angle from the arms!  Ha!  I was just saying I needed to get a couple more pairs of these as this one pair is overused for sure.  Guess a trip to the dollar store is in store for the weekend.

After a couple of hours I had three 8 inch squares done.  It was sort of like eating chocolate - once one starts it's very difficult to stop.  It wasn't until this morning that I realized that I should have completed the block on a piece of muslin to anchor it.

Oh Dear!

Well I will remedy this on the next block, but in the meantime I intend to embellish these finished blocks tonight while sitting in front of the TV.  I need to practice my embroidery and beading stitches anyway so might as well use my rejects for this purpose. 

Note to self - read all instructions before starting a project!

I am my own worse enemy after all!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Real Treat!

Did you learn the embroider when you were a child?  I think in the 50's and 60's most little girls learned this craft to some extent.  I was fortunate to be a "Explorer".  It was a pre-CGIT group in our church, and activities such as embroidery and knitting were taught in order to earn badges or stars to pin on our uniform.  Every year, each girl had to embroider a stamped square, usually for a baby blanket which was then sewn together as a baby quilt and donated to a local women's shelter.

My mom was one of the leaders in our group, so I usually got to do more than one square as often there were more squares than "Explorers".  I loved this, and embroidery turned out to be a very useful skill in later years when I started making cloth dolls and bears.

For years I was caught up in Crewel work, needlepoint, cross-stitch, and it remains one of my favorite (if seldom done) pastimes.  It is a time consuming art, but one well worth the time and effort put in to it.

I dug out my material stash on the weekend, and as usual, uncovered a whole bunch of UFO"s.  One bag I opened was all kinds of little bits and pieces of brightly coloured materials.  So last evening I sat down and started working on a crazy quilt patch.  I was looking for inspiration - so to the Internet I went, and what I found was some absolutely incredible artists who take crazy quilting to the umpteenth level!

I have always loved crazy quilts, I guess because I love Victorian so much.  I just love the colour, the craziness and the spontaneity in this type of fabric management.  Embellishing a crazy quilt is what makes it stand out - gives it it's glitter and sparkle, and believe me - these next few links will make you realize how beautiful crazy can be!

If this doesn't make you want to open up that embroidery box of threads, nothing will.

Imagine I stumbled upon these treasures because I was looking for inspiration...

Think I found it!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Silly Scenes!

I am playing around with some different styles for my blog - please bear with me while I play.  I kinda like this one because it's easy to see the content of past-posts without having to go into them from the Archive.  I might leave it like this for a bit, but I still have a few things to figure out.

Yesterday I was telling you about the Chatty Cathy I got in the mail.  If you have been following me for awhile you will already know why I love these dolls so much.  Suffice to say she was THE doll of my childhood.  I asked for her for Christmas from 1962 until I was no longer a child, but Santa never did bring her.  I played with my friends CC's, every girl on the block had one (but me), but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I actually owned one myself.  I have 3 Chatty Cathy's now, and they seem to have formed quite a bond.  I have had the idea running around my brain for some time to write some sort of story based on Chatty Cathy. 

Finally I started TWO different stories.  One a chapter book, and one a children's picture book.  I decided that it would be neat to pose my dolls in scenes in the books and take images for the books, instead of having an illustrator. 

This is a great excuse to play with dolls, actually.  I have to dress them, so out come the outfits - and if I don't have the appropriate one, well then I have to make it!  Then there is the hair - it has to fit the image the picture is trying to achieve.  Then the accessories.  This often involves creative crafting, as in the birthday cake I had to make for the birthday party scene.

I made this little cake from a piece of styrofoam wrapped in pink fabric with little thingies pined all over it.  Way easier than baking, any day!

I needed a reason for a party, and don't you know Molly just happened to be celebrating her 9th birthday, so a party it was - dog and all - and she fit in just great!

The next scene I created was chaos.  Girl chaos! 
What do you get when you put three girls and some clothes in the same room?


I don't know if anyone will actually ever read the books - but it sure is fun putting them together!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An incredible story!

I had the most amazing thing happen to me a couple of weeks ago.  I was sitting in my rocking chair, crocheting some dish cloths (because mine are beyond finished) and there was a knock on the door.

It was the post-man with a huge box - for me!

Before I got to see who had sent the box I was racking my brain trying to remember if I had ordered anything.  For the life of me, I couldn't think of a single thing that should be arriving in the mail.

Anyway I lugged the big box inside and headed for my chair, and read the return label, and right away recognized my online friend's name and address.  Still I was puzzled.  I had bought some dolls from her a couple of years ago, and I was thinking about buying a large baby doll from her - but then I had found the one in the thrift store - and she knew all this.

So I grabbed my scissors and opened the box.  She had a million plastic bags in there and then my hand hit one that had something in it.  I pulled it out and opened it up and there was a Chatty Cathy doll dressed in a beautiful black and while polka dot dress, new white shoes and socks.  My eyes teared up - of course they would - after all it wasn't just any old doll - it was Cathy!

There was more - out of the box then came a small play doll dressed in a onesi, a bare naked little baby doll and a wee little troll doll with orange hair.  I fished around until I found the note that she always includes with her packages.

Some time before this I had seen  a Chatty Cathy doll for sale on one of our Face book doll club sites.  My on-line friend is also a member there.  I was dealing on a doll but then had to cancel the deal because I needed the money for something else.  Somehow my friend got wind of this and she did a wonderfully incredible thing.

She contacted the lady who was selling the Cathy that I wanted and asked her if she would trade the doll to her for some material.  The lady said yes - because we all know that my friend's stash of material is what beautiful doll clothes are made from!  The switch was made.  The lady got some fabulous material, and my friend got the doll. 

The doll wasn't dressed, in fact she was quite dirty - so she cleaned her up, washed her hair and then proceeded to make a beautiful dress, she put new patent leather shoes on her feet and she sent her to me.


Because she knew how much I would enjoy the doll.

I challenge you to think of who you know that would do that for you... and then I challenge you once more to think of who you have met online, never in person - never having even spoke to this person - that would do that for you?  My point is not to point out how wonderful I am to have such a friend, but to stress that these days, people such as my on-line friend are few and far between.

My on-line friend is not rich - in fact the story gets even better - another on-line friend whom I also have never met or spoken to personally helped her pay for the shipping of the box!

I don't know if you can imagine how incredibly touched - no - that doesn't even come close to the feeling - overwhelmed would be a better word - I felt and still do.  Not because she sent me the doll - but because she values our friendship so much - even though we have yet to meet.

Our world is crazy spinning out of control  - mostly we hear about the bad and the evil and we seem caught up with the rush and selfish business of life.

This is what it should be all about.  Treating each other well - loving each other, helping each other. 

It only takes one small act of kindness to make a difference in someones life.  I hope to pay it forward someday.  I hope that something I do makes someone as happy and overwhelmmed as this one small act of kindness from my friends.

My wish is for all of you to know and befriend such people as my special friends Eva and Charlotte. 


Monday, August 13, 2012

Pin Money!

I had the opportunity to take a week off work and spend a short vacation around home.  I had a very restful week, but at the same time managed to get a few small projects completed.

One of the projects I managed to complete was to go through my hundreds of patterns and cull out the ones that I no longer think I will ever attempt.  I have been collecting patterns off the Internet for about 15 yrs and believe me when I say I had a lot of patterns of every kind.  Some were in binders, most were not, so I took a few days went through every one of them, and in the process discovered that many of them had been printed more than once.
I got rid of a garbage bag full of paper - I'm not proud of my waste, but it is what it is.  Every pattern is now in a binder, and the binders are all labeled and put back in some sense of order on the shelves.

In this mess I found some pretty neat old Workbasket magazines.  Remember those?  One was from 1953.  It was great reading about the lives of women back then.  Certainly this magazine was dedicated to the very busy house wife.  There were recipes, crafts, sewing tips. gardening sections, home canning sections and just about anything you can imagine a homemaker in that era would be interested in.

One particular article caught my eye.  It was about how homemakers in the day made their Pin Money!

Pin Money?  You mean to tell me that women had to raise money for pins for sewing?

Pin money was spending money - extra money used for things that a woman might want or need that were not covered under the household budget.  Most women back then were given a spending allowance from their husbands which was to be used for groceries, and the necessities.  Pin money was for those non-essentials that every woman needs from time to time.

I guess my craft money would be considered Pin Money.  The money I make on my crafts most often goes right back into more craft supplies, or yarn, or whatever I want to spend it on.  It is not used for groceries it is my "mad" money.  I think I will call it my "Pin Money" from now on.

One woman in the story sewed aprons and sold them at church bazaars.  She had aprons for children and adult sizes from small to extra large.   Some were bib aprons, some half aprons.  She charged .25 for the children's aprons and up to .75 for the adult aprons.

My how times have changed!  Can you imagine purchasing material, making the apron, which I'm sure had some pretty trims etc, and only charging .25 to.75?

I set this particular magazine aside with the intention of reading through it from cover to cover.  I have not seen it since.  I fear it may have somehow ended up in the bag of paper that went to the trash.  I am sick at the thought of loosing such a great glimpse of past.  I still hope it turns up somewhere in my craft room so I can share some more of the stories with you.

In the meantime I have a few other things to show you in the days ahead.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Funniest Thing!

When we went to the Thrift store last week - I managed to rescue three dolls.  (Yes, from now on I am going to insist that is what I am doing when I bring a doll home).  Anyway I found a Dr. Seuss Cindy Lou Who - in brand new condition, which I will probably trade for something else down the road.  I also found an older Canadian play doll, who had the sweetest face, all be it terribly dirty.  I just couldn't leave her there!

The third doll I rescued was not at all a doll I would normally buy - but I bought this one with a specific purpose in mind.  I am making and selling Heirloom quality Christening Gowns /sets.  I crochet them from fine cotton and I thought they would look nice displayed on a baby.  Since there are no real babies around here, my next thought was that a baby-sized doll would be ideal.  Real infant-sized dolls are quite hard to find ( I have been looking).

There, lying on the shelf with all the other abandoned dolls was this large baby doll.  It is not really show-stopping cute  - but I thought maybe with a bonnet and a dress it would pass.  So I bought it, took it home and gave the washable parts a bath (the body is soft cloth) then went to pick it up and all of a sudden it started to giggle.  It startled me so much that I almost dropped it.

I was so surprised - it had not done this in the store.  But what really cracked me up was this:

What a funny doll.  I posted this video on some of the doll sites I belong to, and while there were many collectors who said they had dolls like that that giggled, non winked like mine.

My family are particularly fond of poking this doll in the tummy every time they walk by, which I admit is wearing a bit thin, but still I also have to admit that the corners of my mouth lift each time I hear her giggle.

They have named HER Minnie-Me - which cannot continue.  It's a girl doll!

I'd welcome some name suggestions from anyone who cares to share them.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'm back!

Has it really been a couple of weeks since I posted here?  And in the process we have moved on to the month of August - summer is half over - I wish it wasn't so!

What have I been up too?  Well this and that.  I had a bit of a medical scare.  I was having chest pains for a couple of weeks - but in true Dale fashion, didn't tell anyone, instead I waited until it was pretty much unbearable before I had it checked out.  In the meantime (in my head) I had myself convinced that either I had breast cancer again and would have to have my second breast removed - even though I know that pain is not really a symptom of breast cancer - but it was that area of the chest that hurt the most.

After I ruled that out I convinced myself that it was indeed my heart.  My Mom passed away at 61 with a major heart attack, and one of my brothers has had a couple of heart attacks, so wouldn't it stand to reason that I would be next?

Luckily I was wrong on both counts.  Turns out I have Costochondritis!  While it's not cancer and not heart related - it is painful.  It is inflammation of the chest wall, caused by an injury usually, and of course right away hubby was telling my doctor how I have been lifting an old Singer sewing machine cabinet all over the patio.  BUSTED!

So for the past 2 weeks, I have been resting, and taking anti-inflammatories for the pain.  It is much improved and I am happy to say I will be able to get back to working on that machine cabinet this weekend.... I hope!

In the meantime I have been doing some sewing.  I sewed a couple of new doll outfits.  I finished my beautiful Cathy's yellow party dress (crocheted) and I bought a few more dolls from the thrift store.

On Tuesday it was Molly's 9th birthday, so I decided to make her a special party.  I created a party table with my dolls, and don't you know the dog played right in there.  It was terribly fun, and I got some really good pictures from it.

So here are a few images of my past couple of weeks.

Cathy's new dress

Molly's 9th birthday

My orchid which blooms every anniversary of my mastectomy.  This is it's 6th bloom going on now.

Bracelets made and sent to me by my friend Charlotte.  One for me, one for Cathy!  What a nice surprise!

A bad storm last Sunday eve.  Left a lot of destruction around our area of the city.

A cake I made from Styrofoam and material