Friday, 30 August 2013

So Excited

Ok, so having banged on yesterday about how the excitement has gone out of birthdays, today I have a WHOOP WHOOP  event to share.  Not a new dog, but a new shop. 

Yey, I've hung a shingle out on Etsy and listed my dragons, tiger, T-Rex, rabbits and rooster.  This is another brave new world, and I can't wait to see how it goes.  I wonder how long until I make a sale.  I'll let you know of course.

I'm one of those people who team songs to situations:
I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it,
I'm about to loose control and I think I like it!
Now, being a woman of "a certain age", the loosing control reminds me of the joke: I laughed so hard, tears ran down my legs!

I was saying yesterday about how Bea sleeps around, well at this moment she's where she was yesterday.

Earlier today she was the other side of the cabinet; which contains the stereo, beside the sofa.

I think I told you that Bea was a rescue dog.  Here's a picture of her 4 years ago.



Poor baby looks so sad.  They had shaved her down to her skin which is very pink with black spots!  Even her tail had been shaved, and her poor paws were brown where she'd chewed and worried at them.
Who says dogs don't smile!
Well, 4pm and I still haven't picked up a needle today.  Time to get back to work.
Have a happy day!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

New Dragon Softie

Wow, I can't believe its the end of August already.  School holidays finish here next Tuesday after our Labour Day holiday on Monday, and in England most schools return on Monday.  However, the end of the holidays does not mean the end of summer (even if they are selling fall chrysanthemums in the shops already!). 

The evenings are starting to get darker, but personally I love September.  I love when the air starts to become crisp especially after a period of humidity such as we are currently experiencing.  I love the smell of wood smoke.  After the ice storm we had on 12 April this year (that's Pete's birthday hence my ability to remember the date) we have a huge store of chopped wood, Pete's chainsaw had a real workout!  

September is also laden with birthdays in our family, my Dad, cousin, favourite aunt, nephew, and, oh yes, me!  Birthdays together with summer holidays always held a special tingly air, the thrilling anticipation of being on the threshold of something new and exciting.  Now there is no longer that youthful anticipation, no longer the question of whether it heralds the feeling of being different, of knowing that extra year has clicked past.  Instead there is the pleasure of new memories made, of new ideas imagined and projects to be commenced.

I received my best ever birthday present four years ago.  Bea, the Shih Tzu, has a strange habit of sleeping in corners.  She actually likes to sleep around generally, despite having  beds in most rooms in the house.  In this picture you can see that she has wedged herself between the wall and the cabinet.  Strange little thing!

I have not been idle, I have been working on a new dragon.  I love dragons and my latest softie is a lilac punk. 

I do hope you love her as much as I do.  I don't generally name my softies as I feel their new owners' should have that choice.  However, this lady to me is Lilabeth.  I will be setting up my own shop on Etsy shortly, and my dragons will be featured there.

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


There are occasionally times when something happens that makes you despair.  When my daughter's family returned from a holiday they found their little black and white cat in the back garden, a poor pathetic pain-ridden thing.  Fifi had dragged herself to the shed which was her outdoor sanctuary.  She had been paralysed in her rear legs and had to be put down.  The paralysis was caused by having been shot.  Some creature had decided to use a cat for target practice. 

I would not use the word 'beastly' or 'bestial' to describe this act, because in nature only humans kill for "fun".  I find it really hard to vocalise how truly appalling I find this person and what they have done. 

When Louise asked me to memorialise Fifi by making a softie of her, I was honoured.  She is now completed and will be winging her way to England with all the love and sympathy in my heart.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Mice on parade

I prepared five mice with different faces, just to show how you can create different personalities using different items.  As they lay there, it struck me as just too funny.  I got my cutting pad out as it presents the measurement element.

Remind you of anything?

Definitely a warped sense of humour!! 
Here's a different view of my little guys.  First left has black bead eyes, a pink embroidered mouth and black mouth.  Second Left has black embroidered eyes, nose and mouth.  Centre has embroidered brown eyes, brown embroidered nose and mouth.  Right of Centre has green button eyes, a green button nose and black embroidered mouth.  Second Right of Centre has black embroidered eyes and mouth, and pink embroidered nose.


They all have different charms, although I have to say the pink button nose looks like a pig's nose!  My preference is for black embroidered eyes and pink nose.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Mouse Tutorial

So, I've shown you some of my completed softies, I decided its time to show you how I make them.  My first pattern is for a mouse, eight inches from the top of his, or her, ears down to the pads of their feet.  Isn't he cute!

Now, please bear with me, this is my first tutorial and I shall endeavour to load it up properly, so fingers crossed, here goes ...

Click here to download the pattern

I chose to make my mouse in white felt with pink inner ears and footpads.  Felt is a great material to use as it doesn't fray.  The one thing you must take care with is that you don't over-stuff the felt, otherwise it is liable to thin.  Thinned felt, if its colour is different to that of the stuffing, does not look nice.

So, beside the felt for mouse you will also require thread to stitch the pieces together.  You can use either cotton thread or embroidery thread in a matching colour.  I prefer embroidery thread, but that is because I have so much it is more likely to match my felt than my collection of cotton sewing thread.  To make the mouse you will also need a 5" piece of pipe cleaner for the tail.  If you are using white felt it is best to use white pipe cleaner, otherwise a pink or orange pipe cleaner will show through.  I use buttons on the outside of the arms.  This is my preference, you can choose not to use them.  Finally you will need a filling. I use a high-loft polyester fill, there are organic fillings available too, you should use what you feel is most appropriate.

Step 1: cut out the pieces.  My preference when sewing seams is to use BLANKET STITCH: oversew a couple of times so that your thread is attached to the fabric.  Then, insert your needle into the same hole.  Pull the thread until there is a small loop left, then put your needle through the loop, pull until snug.  Insert your needle a short distance along the seam pull through until you have a small loop. then put your needle through the loop.

Step 2:  Pin two arm pieces together.  Stitch down from one top corner round to the other top corner leaving just the top curve open.  Fill the arm.  I use a plastic chopstick and a wooden skewer with the point cut off to push filling down.  It is a tricky thing, finding the right amount of filling to use, as you want your creations to be firm, but as I said earlier if you over-fill it will pull your felt and strain your stitching.  A common old saying, but truly, you improve with practice.
Step Three:  Now, on to the legs.  My preference is to start at the foot and stitch up to the top of the leg.  Then sew on the foot pad.  Time to stuff it.

Step Four:  Heads up.  Using a running stitch attach the inner ear to the main ear.  Stitch the two heads together from nose to neck, then attach the gusset on one side from the nose to point C.  Fold your first ear in half so A and B touch each other, then place A/B at C.  Use a running stitch, back and forth to ensure the ear is caught and attached to the head.  Then continue to stitch the gusset to the head.  Repeat on the other side.

Step Five:  Place your pipe cleaner on the tail piece.  Roll the fabric around the pipe cleaner and pin.  Then sew the top and down the length.

Step 6:  Take one of the body pieces and, at the centre of the bottom, cut a 1/2 inch slit.  Place the unfinished end of the tail into the slit, then use a running and back-stitch to ensure the tail is secure.


Step Seven:   Place the legs between the body parts (either side of the tail) and pin. Then, starting at the neck join the two body pieces together making sure the legs are attached securely.  Finish the seam up to the neck on the other side.

Step Eight:  Fill the body and head with filling.  Use a chopstick, or similar, to ensure that all corners are snugly filled.  Sew a running stitch around the neck of the head, then sew it securely to the neck of the body.  Make sure to add some more filling if needed as you don't want any gaps.

Step Nine:  Time to attach the arms.  Secure your thread to the body close to the neck.  Set a horizontal 1/8th inch stich 1/4inch from the top of the first arm.  Then repeat the stitch through body and arm several times until secure.  Now stitch the button on top of the stitches.  Repeat with the other arm.

and there you have it! 
You now have your mouse, alright he/she doesn't have any features but that will be the topic for my next tutorial.
I hope you enjoy these mice.
Have a happy day!


Monday, 12 August 2013

Scene staging at home and craft fairs

There is a lovely shop in Madoc called Country Treasures.  At the beginning of the summer I bought a wooden wheelbarrow that Pat Shannon of Red Door Antiques and More had sourced (check out her page on facebook).  I had to have it.  Pete was very dubious, but once it was laden with plants even he admitted it looks great. 

I'm faced with the prospect of moving it from this space to about 8ft to the left.  Pete is ordering some gravel which we need to top up the driveway, and the spot that the wheelbarrow occupies at the bottom of the drive is the most logical space to have the gravel unloaded. 
Either side of the path to the house are two flowerbeds crammed with Jurassic sized hostas and day lillies.  Actually I should say there were two, the one closest to the house has been cleared, covered with weed suppressant and just needs gravel to finish it off.  Whilst it looked wonderful the flowers really took up too much of the walking space, so much so that you could barely see the paving slabs, and as I am capable of falling over an ant it wasn't terribly practical.  We have some low profile solar lights to bed into the gravel, and our wooden bench and two cast iron urns filled with begonias will then sit on the gravel.  Practical and pretty.  I'll show you a picture once its finished.
I bought another of Pat's finds the other day.  It is this cute little stool.
At 5'9" I don't need it to access the highest of high cupboards in the kitchen.  No, I think this stool is going to be absolutely perfect for staging on my Hetty Jean craft fair table.
T-Rex likes it, actually I think he's laughing!
Funnily enough when I got home I glanced at the collage of family pictures on the wall, and I was sitting on its twin (well not really, but it is similar).  My older sister Sarah is in the middle, and the blonde blur on the left is my younger sister Jane, who is still a person of perpetual motion. 
I have been doing some more stitching.  My softies are all hand sewn, and in the majority of cases I create my own pattern.  This time I wanted to make a "big" cat (all of 10 inches from nose to tail).  Pete thought it was a lion, but I had a different cat in mind.

So, I needle felted different colours of felt onto the blank canvas.  Then I worked on his face using embroidery floss to create his eyes and nose.  Then the stripes were embroidered on, and he went from the picture above to the gorgeous little guy below.   It took a lot of work but I'm really happy with the end result.

I love, love, love tigers.  I think they are the most superb creatures.  I took this little fella outside so he could lurk around in the jungle.

Bea was not prepared to let me outside on my own, but when I went to take her photo she refused to look at the camera.

 I must share Bea's happy dance with you.  So funny.
Have a happy day!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Touring Prince Edward County and new Felt Softies

We had a lovely day yesterday.  We went with Cousin Suzanne and her daughter Madeline to "The County": Prince Edward County in Ontario.  It is a gorgeous area just south of Belleville.  Sandbanks Provincial Park  has two of the finest bay mouth sandbar and coastal sand dune systems in the province.  You can see that in the summer months it is an ideal place for people to visit.  But we were not heading for the beach, rather we chose to explore two of the lovely settlements on The County.

We had a lovely lunch at the Lake on the Mountain Inn just to the east of Picton.  The location requires a visual double take because it defies all know geographical and geological theory.  The Lake literally sits 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte. 

Here is a view of the Lake.

We have seen some very nice, but very expensive black and white photos of local scenes which have been transferred onto A3 size canvases, so I thought I'd try being 'artistic' and turned a couple of shots into sepia tones. 

This is a picture taken of the opposite view, down onto the Bay of Quinte which may give you a sense of perspective.

We had a pleasant stroll window shopping in Picton thence on to Bloomfield.  A-ha you may be saying, that sounds familiar!  Indeed dear reader it is the village I went to in July for an Artists' Showcase and craft fairs.  

Call me biased, but I particularly like Bloomfield, it is very attractive.  The shopping on the main street is geared towards tourists with various artistic gift and antique shops.  There is also an ice-cream shop offering ice creams which are freshly made using real ingredients.

Decisions, decisions.  Suzanne chose the butterscotch which was lovely.

Maddy chose Campfire.  It tasted of toasted marshmallows or smoke.  Personally I thought it disgusting, but Maddy and several other youngsters who exited the shop whilst we sat enjoying our ice creams disagreed with me.

My choice next.  Rhubarb and ginger.  It was lovely, a real taste of rhubarb and chunks of crystallised ginger.  Yum yum - definitely the right choice.

You'll notice Pete was the only one to choose a cone!  His choice of strawberry and banana was, for him, quite a leap of faith as he usually only ever chooses straight strawberry.  He thoroughly enjoyed it.

Despite all this frolicking around, I have managed to finish two new felt softies.  Firstly a rooster.

I must say I'm very happy with him.  Don't you love his tail!

My second new softie is a new T-Rex.  The first one was purchased for a lucky little boy's Christmas present.

 Isn't he great!

Have a happy day!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

We are Siamese if you please!

I had a lovely time at the Artists' Showcase in Bloomfield on Friday and Saturday, lots of new friends, interesting possibilities, and sales of some of my softies.  I also had the opportunity to work on my Siamese Twins.
Okay, are you ready.  Is the music playing in your head ...
We are Siamese if you please,
We are Siamese if you don't please

Their names in the film are Si and Am!  But I don't think my kitties are that naughty, at least not whilst anyone is looking anyway.

Talking of naughty kitties, you may not have met Whatevah Trevah!  He was a custom kitty who had to be ginger and naughty.
 He has a bitten ear and a scar on his forehead.
On his left arm is a fish skeleton tattoo, and of course his tail is bent from a previous fight.  I know his new owner loves him, and it may seem absurd but I am thrilled with how edgy he is.

Have a happy day!