Thursday, January 29, 2015

Living Without Color Is Beautiful!

I found a picture of a little girl dress that I mentioned yesterday... I have done so many of these this past year - and they too are all gone... I can really see that I need to spend a couple of days getting more of all my dress styles made.


On to other things:

I have been fooling around with some more black and white photography.  I am really getting in to the black and white - I think of all the images I have done, I like the B&W the best!

This is a plastic bunch of grapes that hang from one of my plant hangers in the sun-room.  I love how the grapes reflect the light, and give the image such depth.

This is a succulent that is growing in my indoor garden in the sun room.  It is amazing how much contrast this photo has.  You can even feel the fuzziness of the leaves of this plant when you look at it...




And below - my new Fairy -  Finnean, who has taken over the watchful care of the indoor garden.

I can't wait to get outdoors and get some outdoor B&W images...  In the meantime, I have to get a external drive on my computer for all these images I am creating.  I have pretty much blown my hard drive space since I acquired the new camera...

But I must say - nothing has given me as much joy in a long long while, as playing around with my new camera... and I must say a special thanks to my nephew Scott - for inspiring me to pick up the camera and shoot....   Thank You, Dear Heart - love you ....

Hope you enjoy these photos....

Designing Dresses...

The week is more than half over, which I am so happy about.  Since I started this new job in June, my weeks have become so stressful that I can barely wait to get to the weekends.  I did not go to work yesterday - I was battling a powerful headache, but I needed to be away from that environment yesterday for my own sanity and well-being.

But today is a new day, and as such I would like to share some of my newer creations with you.  Last year when I lost my job, I had a lot of idle time on my hands at first.  It was in the dead of a very miserable winter, and I needed something to take my mind off of my troubles.

I was puttering in my work room one morning, looking for a project to get in to, and opened a couple of drawers in my fabric dresser - I think with the intention of working on a quilt or a table runner or something such as that.  I found a bunch of small scraps of fabric of really beautiful prints and materials.  I believe most were left over pieces of my Mother's seamstress work.  There were silks, voile's, beautiful textures, beautiful colors... but not much of anything to do much with.  I had been researching paper dolls on the Internet, and thought  - wouldn't it be nice to have paper dolls who wore real dresses - and so a new craft was born.

I began to make dresses...

Here are some I made from those scraps of material..

 







                                                                 These were so much fun to create, but I really did not know what I was going to do with them once I finished them.  Until a friend of ours was visiting, who makes her own cards.  She wanted some to put on cards - so I gave her a bag full, and then started putting them on my own cards.  I am not really into making cards, but I do make Thank You cards that I include in my on-line sales... now these have become my "Signature" cards with my customers.  I have since designed small dresses, that little girls would wear... I'll share some of these soon.  In the meantime - all these are long gone, and I have to spend some time making more... which is a real fun way to while away a winter day...
 I apologize for the blurry images on some of these, but these were taken before I had my new camera.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Wandering Mind and Very Sore Hands...

I have been trying to finish three knitted sweater sets for 18" dolls which I will sell, but it seems my hands are telling me that is not going to happen.

Not sure why, but my left hand, especially around my thumb is extremely painful all the time.  Makes no difference if I am using my hand or just sitting quietly watching TV without moving it.  I went to see the doctor yesterday and he didn't seem to be all that concerned about it - ordered an x-ray and a blood test and told me to use Voltaren  cream - but the fact is I can't use that hand much, and that is not a good thing for me.

I type all day at work, and I have been altering my typing so I don't have to use that thumb, same thing with knitting.  I am holding my work completely different, so now I am more prone to dropping stitches.. perhaps it is a good thing I tend to knit a bit on the tight side.

I have my work table cleared off, with the intention of making some of my fairies for sale.  But while I am on that subject, I found the cutest grandpa Faerie at the thrift store on the weekend.  As usual I was there to drop off a load of stuff, and ended up buying more.  I found an incredible stash of sewing notions that I will be able to use on my doll clothes and other projects...














Some porcelain heads and hands that I will turn in to Christmas ornaments:

And this wonderful large Faerie, who know is sitting in the sun room, watching over my indoor garden:
And I didn't even spend 10.00 for everything!  I love days like that!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Meet Paul and Peggy!

My the weekend went by awfully quickly.  I was determined not to go out of the house the whole weekend long.  I wanted to stay in and actually accomplish something for a change.  To that end, I even did my grocery shopping on Thursday night - which I never ever do.

Friday evening was pretty exciting. The doll lady who owns the doll museum dropped by with a surprise gift for me.  She is in the process of closing the museum and needs to sell a lot of dolls, so I told her about the Facebook doll sites I belong to. I helped her get invited to a few of the sites, and right off the bat, she sold a doll.  She was pretty pleased and very appreciative for the help so she brought me a doll. 

This little lady is a Canadian made 1935 Regal Hairbow Peggy.  She has composition head and hands and a cloth body.  Someone has re-painted her face and hair, but still she is in great shape and is my new forever doll.


 While Vickie was visiting, I decided to show her Paul.  I found him a couple of years ago at an antique store, and have never been able to identify him.  He is a large all - composition doll, not in the best of shape, and again, someone has started replacing some of his composition with wood filler.  I have him covered up but really he is pretty rough under all his clothes.  Vickie immediately spotted a very faint crest on his back that I had completely missed.  Turns out he is a Canadian made doll, Made by the Dominion Toy Co.  They made dolls from 1910-1920, but according to Vickie the later dolls were much smaller than my Paul, so she estimated he would be older - closer to the 1910 mark.

Imagine my excitement to think that a doll had survived 105 yrs, and that he was now my doll.

Paul and Peggy - how cute are they together... both dolls with age and history.  I am so thrilled to be the owner of these two very special dolls.  Just think of the stories they could tell of the children and the era they were played with... amazing.

I shall treasure them both for a very long time indeed, and when I am no longer able to care for them I will make sure they go somewhere where they will be preserved for years to come.



Friday, January 23, 2015

The Weekend is Almost Here!

Here we are at Friday again - can't say that makes me very sad!  Not only Friday, but a beautiful warm Friday by Winnipeg standards.  The sun is trying to shine and the temperature is in the plus figure so we are melting!  Truly it feels and looks like late April, which doesn't happen very often in Winnipeg on January 23!

Once again the week has sped past, and once again I seem to be thinking... what did I do this week?  Well I worked every day - nothing unusual there.  I did my grocery shopping for the week - again -  nothing out of the ordinary there either.  Oh and I made 2 of my dress cards last evening.  I haven't shown them here yet, but I will try and do that very soon.

One of my co-workers has a birthday today, so I made her card last evening.  While I was at it I decided to make one more to include in a donation parcel I am shipping out this weekend.  That kind of got me in the mood to make dresses for cards, so maybe I will keep going at it this weekend and see how many I can get made in a weekend.

For once I have nothing planned for a weekend really, so maybe it will a weekend where I can do some things I have been wanting to do for awhile... or maybe I will just be a lazy old lady and sit and watch movies all weekend... or maybe I will cook up a storm... or maybe I will work on some book editing...or maybe if the weather holds, I will take my camera and walk the neighborhood.

Who knows!

Enjoy your weekend everyone, whatever YOU decide to do, make it memorable...




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Shelf Quilt and a Whole Lot of Glass!

Today is my baby brother's birthday.... Happy Birthday Dean - hope your day is awesome!


Further to yesterday's post - I wanted to show you the book case full of books quilt.  I love this.  Wish I had a den, or a nook in my living room where I could put something like this.



Isn't this the most darling little quilt?  A perfect wall hanging for a den or office, or a nook in a living room.  You can find the pattern for it here on Craftsy.com


http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/quilting/other/bookshelf-quilt/102958

If you are a quilter, there is no end to the patterns to be found there.   In fact they have a lot of patterns of every kind on there, and if you are a beginner, they also offer classes... check it out if you are looking for a winter pastime.


Here are a couple more images from my photo shoot on the Weekend.  I got a little obsessed with glass and light.  My subject was a my Cut-Glass  Czechoslovakian Vase.  So beautiful at any time, but especially so to the camera.


This one was taken with no natural light at all.  Even though the room was dark the camera still managed to pick up some light reflected from another room in the house.
This one was taken at the same time as the one above, but there was a bit of lamp light in the room.


 



This one was taken in natural day light - but not sunlight.  See the fire showing up on the glass from the natural light.

I still want to get one in bright sun-light - can you imagine the colours this glass will display then?

I am hoping that one of these weekends the sun will come out so I can finish my experiment.











For a little bit of fun, I had to shoot my Snowman cookie jar, before I put him away until next winter.


Who knew glass could be so much fun!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Grade Six Lessons

I spent a large part of my weekend with my camera in my hand.  I was playing around with black and white images which was something that I had wanted to do for awhile with my new camera.

One of the images I took, was of a couple of books on the bookshelf in my living room.
 There is something about a shelf full of books that pleases me somehow.  I love photos of it, and recently I even saw a quilt that was a shelf of books... but I am getting off topic.  I will get back to that one in another post!

Two of the books that I photographed were my grade six textbooks if indeed they were called that back then.  I haven't looked at them in years - in fact I forgot that I even had them. One was a Grade 6 Speller, and the other was a Grade 6 Arithmetic book... tells you something about the age of those books, doesn't it - who says arithmetic anymore?



I opened the Grade 6 Speller... and the first couple of pages had me spell-bound (no pun intended) in seconds.  Here are the general instructions at the beginning of the spelling book....








I was 11 yrs old when I was in grade 6 and believe it or not, Grade 6 year was  very memorable for me for several reasons.

The first is that is was 1967 - Canada's Centennial Year!  I remember that well because all the grade 6 classes in all the schools in Manitoba chose girls to dance in a huge celebration for Canada's 100th Birthday at the Winnipeg Arena that year.  I was chosen as one of the dancers in my school.  There was a specific dance routine we had to learn, and in fact every other dancer across the Province was learning the same routine.  We would be dancing for the Queen who was to be in attendance at the Celebration.  When we all gathered at the Arena for the dress rehearsal, I was overwhelmed in a way I had never been before in my young life.  It was an event I will never ever forget!

Another reason that Grade 6 was so memorable, was that myself and most of my friends were fixated on training bras.  It was the year they appeared one by one below the thin white cotton blouses of many young girls.  Some appeared for the right reason, others just because not to have one meant you did not fit in.

And it was the last year of grade school.  It was the last year to be a child before we all had to become pre-teens and enter junior high school - the big scary step towards adulthood.

My, that was so long ago... and all these memories jumped to the front of the stack from one little Spelling book.














Monday, January 12, 2015

Cutting Some Slack!

I have totes full of yarn, and I have totes full of fabric.  None of the yarn is enough of one colour or kind to make even a sweater, none of the fabric is enough to make even a dolls dress.  I am not a hoarder, so why do I have these totes full of fiber that are really starting to drive me nuts!

I guess because I keep thinking that someday I will put all the bright colours together and make something wonderful - scarves, mitts, afghans - quilts, wall hangings, pot-holders.

It is not for lack of inspiration that the totes remain full.  Inspiration abounds from sites such as Ravelry, Craftsy, Freepatterns. com, Pinterest, etc etc etc!

Darn it all anyway, that alone drives me nuts - seeing all these great creations, knowing full well I have the supplies and talent to make it happen.... and still?

Here's the thing!

Somehow I have become a TV watcher.  Yikes - not me!  No, No, Never!

Yup - sad to say.  I have become hooked on Netflix, Shomi, TCM...   Shows, movies, new stuff, old stuff, until the PVR is full...  It's really bad.

What is worse yet is I watch without a needle or a hook in my hand.  I watch with my feet up, my tea cup full and my attention unwavering... Told you it is bad!

I think it's a mind thing.  My mind is still not at the happy place it should be.  Stress from a difficult job and difficult people continues to pull me down to the point that all I want to do is sit and stare at a TV screen.  It surely does not help matters at all that my son gave me his 40 " HD TV when he got an even bigger one!

Maybe I shouldn't beat myself up about it so much.  Who says people can't change?  Where is it written that just because I have always been a crafter in my spare time, I have to be one now?

Okay - I feel better.  Thanks for the support.

Think I'll go and watch last Sunday night's episode of Downton Abbey!



Sunday, January 11, 2015

Our World Through My Lens.

Have you noticed the difference in my pictures since a year ago?  That is because after I  lost my job last year, my sweet husband decided to surprise me with a new camera.

He didn't buy me one, he asked me if I was to get a different camera, what would I buy?

He already knew part of the answer to that question, because I have be whining about wanting a SLR ever since my 35mm camera and all my lens were stolen, about 10 yrs ago.

He insisted we go camera shopping, so off we went one day to look at cameras.  What I really wanted was not affordable, and I knew that before we even left home.  So I decided to try and get the biggest "shot" for my money.

I wanted a Nikon and I wanted something with some flexibility and with some room to grow.

What I ended up with was a D5100.  It is not high- end, but it has everything I need, and what the basic camera is missing, I can acquire over time.  It is HDR - I have an 18-55mm lens, which is a good place to start, and already I know the next lens I will be adding to the camera.

I love the clarity of the photos it takes.  In fact I love everything about the this little camera.  I find myself reaching for it everyday.

I still haven't even learned a quarter of it's capabilities, but I am experimenting with it more and more as I go along.

Of course one of my favourite subjects is dolls, but I think I get some of my best results shooting flowers.

Here are a couple of pictures I took in the garden last summer.






These are all from my own yard, but this spring and summer, I plan to take the camera with me whenever I go walking.  The possibilities are endless, and there are some awesome gardens in my neighbourhood.

I am so happy my husband took me shopping that day.  This new camera has sparked something inside of me that had been missing for a long time.  What joy it is to see the world through the lens of a camera, and better still - to be able to capture what I see and share it with others is a precious gift for sure!

Who Says Winter Isn't Beautiful!

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than a Cactus flower?  My Christmas Cactus is in bloom and once again it is glorious!

The plant was started from a slip of my Mother's plant over thirty years ago.  It had a rough beginning because I was always moving it around, but then someone told me that they don't like to be moved.  She advised me to find a place they like and leave it there.

When we bought the house we now live it we converted a front porch to a year-round sun room.  It has east and north facing windows, gets beautiful full sun in the morning and bright light the rest of the day.  I put my cactus in a big pot and hung it in front of the north window, and it has been there ever since.

It must be the perfect spot, because over the years it has grown to a massive plant and every year it blooms from late December until late February or early March, without any intervention on my part.  I just water it when I remember to - never fertilize - pretty much it thrives on not much attention at all!  And for that I get an incredible show of beauty for several months.

It is coming to the point where I am going to have to take it down and reduce it's size.  I am terrified at the thought of this task, what if I ruin it or worse still kill it.  I have started others from it, but none of those smaller plants have ever bloomed.


You can't really see in this picture, but there are hundreds of buds starting on almost every tip of this plant.  I will try and get another picture when it really gets going.

I have another plant blooming in my sun room.  It one of my three orchids.  It too started just before Christmas and will continue for months.  Orchids bloom lasts a long time, nothing they do is ever quick... but Oh is it beautiful!



I am so blessed to have summer colours when winter is everywhere I look.  To see the snow outside, I first have to look through the blossoms inside my home.... how wonderful!

Neither of these plants would ever give me this show in summer - only in winter will this incredible beauty come to life... 

God Bless Winter!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Unfinished Business

I took a little time going through some posts on this site last weekend.  I discovered I had over 30 draft posts - posts I had written and never published for anyone to read.  My immediate thought was - Oh Goody - I can use some of these to fill in days when my mind is not on writing!

Have you ever tried to go back in your thinking?  Well this is sort of like that.  I read the posts, and try and figure out what I was trying to say, or what point I wanted to get across... and so far I have been completely unsuccessful in finishing even one of those draft posts!

Guess you really can't "go back" - even if the older I get the more "going back" I tend to do!

When I was young, it always bugged me that as people got older they tended to reminisce much too much about days gone by.    Guess what?  Here I am doing just that with alarming clarity!  It's not just me either, my younger than me brother and I can spend hours on the phone talking about days long gone.

Last night we were chatting on the phone, and as usual one of us brought something up that opened the door for a "In the old days" conversation.  Believe it or not we were talking about fabric and craft stores.  Sometimes when you talk about something from the past that you once had - it only makes it more clear of what you no longer have - like fabric stores and craft stores!

Thirty years ago there was a fabric store in every mall, as well as the larger stand-alone outlets like Fanny's Fabrics (my Mom's and my favourite Friday night outing).  I spent a good portion of my pay check at Fanny's every month and it was always so busy there... so how come they are no more?  What we have now cannot even come close to that particular store  - and even if it had four times as much material at half the price, it probably still would never come close to that store, because Mom is no longer here to share it with me.

That is why when we get older we dwell more upon the "good old days".  That is our best opportunity to remember loved ones who are gone, and the memories we made together...   If not for this, why would we "go back in time" at all.  After all, it's just memories, the time has gone, it already has been lived and cannot be re-lived - except in our memories.

I for one love my memories - I am happy to say my life has given me more good memories than bad... and yes, the older I get the more precious they become to me.  I don't ever want to loose my ability to "Go Back"...  so you see, the youth have it wrong... or at least I did as a youth!



Just Monkey-ing around - Cheeko Revealed - at last!

I thought that this monkey project was from 2014, but in actual fact it started in 2013.  Imagine my surprise.

Here is a re-post of my Just Monkeying Around post about "Cheeko" the monkey.  I finally got around to finishing Cheeko, this past spring.  His owner picked him up over the summer and was delighted with how he turned out....

Read on.....from the original post in 2013...

 
The friend that brought me Baby Dear to fix, also brought her monkey to restore.  She had told me about him in emails, and I really don't know what I was expecting, but certainly it was not quite what I got.

I guess I thought it would be an old sock monkey to something... Nada -


I must admit, I am a little bit out of my element  here!

But I said I would fix him so...I sat him on my work table and looked at him every now and again, but it took me awhile to get up the nerve to touch him.

The problem with this monkey was not really the condition he was in, but the fact that he looked nothing like the monkey my friend remembered from her childhood.  She described him as having a blue and white striped shirt, bright yellow overalls with big red buttons - and that's the way she wanted him to look again.

He was in pretty good shape, aside from a dirty face, there were no rips or tears in his body, so I wasn't sure what I should do.  She said he felt too solid, she also wanted him softer, so I decided in order to soften him up I would open a part of his side seam up and take out some of his stuffing... then maybe I'd just make him a blue and white striped shirt and a pair of yellow overalls with big red buttons - not so hard??

After a pretty stressful day at work, one evening last week I decided to take the plunge.  With seam ripper in hand I started to open him up...

And there the trouble began:



Are you seeing what I am seeing?  All of a sudden I knew this project was going to become more than I was expecting!

Each section of the new fur that was used to cover the obviously older body was put on individually, so very carefully I started pulling and snipping the really nice fur away, being careful not to tear any of the fragile material under the fur.  It took quite awhile to get it off. but once I had it off, I found the original monkey kind of sort of intact below the new fur..

He had  large open area on the chest of his body and the whole area across his chest was worn thin, and the top of one arm was completely gone.

At this point I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I still needed to remove the stuffing, so I continued on.

 


The poor guy was pretty crushed by then... but I must admit he was starting to intrigue me -  just a little bit.  We then had a little photo shoot  while I tried to think of how I was ever going to restore this cheeky fellow.
I put him away, and actually kind of forgot about the little guy until early last summer his owner contacted me and said they would be in town in the summer, and could they stop over and pick up the Baby Dear doll, and Cheeko.

So I pulled him back out of his box and got busy.  Here is the restored Cheeko.  His owner was so happy to see him exactly as she remembered him, and I was more than pleased with the way he turned out after all my stressing over this project.












Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year Everyone!

Well here is is, another New Year... Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

I am afraid I was in bed with a miserable flu for a lot of the holidays.  Started with a headache, then a stomach flu, and then the over all and everything aches, for days on end.  I am feeling better now, but kind of wondering what happened to a few days last week!

I am happy to report that aside from her blindness, Molly seems to be fully recovered.  She is quite bossy, and demanding at the moment, guess she figures she should be treated so wonderfully special all the time - and she is, but we try not to spoil her too over much.  That was my wish for Christmas, to have my beautiful companion well again, and so I did receive my very special Christmas wish... and I am so Thankful.

Now it's back to reality.  The weather has turned very Winnipeg-like.  We are in the deep freeze at the moment and expected to stay this way for a week or so.  We had some snow over the weekend, so now we are looking a bit more normal for this time of the year.  I got my boots out of the closet on Friday for the first time this winter, so up to now we have done very well, indeed.

I have been working in my "studio".  I have been designing sweater charts for doll sweaters, and have knitted 1 so far.   But the needles and hooks have been busy getting a jump on some other projects for dolls that I want to get up for sale.

Here is a bit of my creative mess on my desk - a wide angle lens wouldn't catch it all, I'm afraid!


You can see to the right, some of the things I am working on at the moment.  The graph on the desk is for a doll- sized Valentine's Day skating sweater, it is in the style of the Mary Maxim - type sweaters.  

My Mom made so many of those heavy wool sweaters over the years - we all had one.  They were made from a bulky yarn called Buffalo Wool... and they were worn from February until spring pretty much.  I wish I still had mine.

I have used and made graphs for crochet many times but I have never knit from a graph before.  Carrying different colours across the back of the piece is a new challenge for me.  The designing is the easiest part, I am afraid I am not entirely happy with my first attempt at knitting from a graph, but I will keep at it.  Practice makes it much better - I hope.

Over the next couple of weeks I hope to catch you up on some of my finished projects of 2014.  Even though it was a rotten year in a lot of ways, my fingers stayed busy.  That is my way of getting through things... working my hands in creating, and my mind in writing.

Tomorrow I will show you the finished results of my Monkey Business post from last year!

Till then....