Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Designs: Stars and Stuff

I’m not really going to officially call this new design “Stars and Stuff”.  I just don’t know what else to call it right now so that’s a temp name. 

This is quite a bit late getting finished but it’s been rattling around in my head for a few months. Since the rough draft has been shuffled around on a scrap of paper for a little over a month I thought that it’d be best to take the time to make it so that I wouldn’t lose interest and then completely forget about it for years … (that’s happened before)

I’ve actually even completely forgotten about designs of finished things that I’ve made and sold.  It’s only until I come across pictures on my old computer that I think “oh, I made that!” and surprise myself.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve come up with now …

100_4043 As I’m drawing out this design, I can see it in my head with these colors …  a nice mottled navy blue with primitive mottled brown stars.

I’ve always liked the look of deep blues with browns.  It’s a perfect prim color combination.

Of course, when I turn this into a pattern to sell and you purchase the pattern, I’ll be interested to see what other colors look nice with this design.  I think the traditional primitive deep reds, whites and blues would go nicely too.

100_4042 This design will be one of those easy and quick designs to make.  Not a lot of little pieces to stitch and it requires only the blanket stitch .. not a single other embroidery stitch is required.

I’m not planning to make this into a pattern right now though.  It’s going to have to wait until next spring or so.  

I really need to get a head start on new fall designs.  I have scarecrow legs to draw just perfect before I can show you the new idea I have for a fall candlemat.  :)


Soooooo … you blog people have been of little assistance with helping me to figure out a way to save the ooooold door on our garage.

Thank you Sandi, for the suggestion to turn it into a bench.  I gave that serious thought  but I’m not sure if it’s going to be sturdy enough to use as a bench for sitting but it might work as a garden bench to hold potted flowers and things.  

I did suddenly have an idea though and snatched up the nearest empty white paper, which just so happened to be Sandi’s little note that she sent me in the mail.  Sorry, Sandi, I hope you don’t mind that I used your sweet note card to draw on. :)

So here’s my idea that I presented to my husband. 

100_4051 We have a stockade type fence that needs repaired along the one side of our concrete driveway.  There’s a basketball hoop in front of it so the fence is nice in that it keeps/stops the basketball from rolling into the woods.  Since the fence was knocked over slightly from a wind storm and tree damage, it will need some work done to straighten it back into position. 

So I think that perhaps sitting the door at a slight angle at the end of the fence would work really nicely.  The angle of the door would enable hubby to store the unsightly garbage can behind it too.

That was just a quick rough sketch.   Here’s what I actually presented to hubby to break the news to him about keeping the old door instead of throwing it into the dumpster…..

100_4052 The fence is much longer than this, and it will have a basketball pole right in the center of the garden area, but this is good enough to give him a sense of the idea.

I wouldn’t say that he was enthused with the idea.  I did get the “you must be crazy” eye roll, disgusted look from him when I first told him but the picture really helped to back up my idea.  Showing pictures of the plans always helps because men tend to block out words, especially words that pertain to making more work for them to do.

So I’ve won!  He did agree to keeping the door and turning it into a decorative garden door.  I hope to have this done by late fall, simply because something does have to be done with the fence before winter strucks it down.

I’m going to work outside today to get that area cleared of the overgrown perennials. 

And, I have scarecrow legs to draw too!


Happy Day everyone!

Oh, I’m planning a nice little giveaway very soon too … keep watch!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Do Not Allow It To Be Monday ….

It was such a beautiful weekend with good sunny days. The best thing about the weather this weekend was that it rained in the evenings and I like that because it means I don’t have to water my flowers or vegetable garden.

How wonderful would it be to be able to turn on the rain spigot to water our gardens every day?

Anway, it is Monday, which means hubby is working and I have lots of things to get finished today.

Over the weekend, even though I told myself that I would start drawing out my Fall design ideas, instead, I worked on the drawing that I did last month, just to get it down exactly on paper.

I roughly drew it back then thinking that I would be able to get it finished waaaay before July 4th and into a printed pattern to sell.

Didn’t make that goal, obviously.

100_4028 But I didn’t want to let a perfectly good design go to waste so I sat down and drew out the exact pattern for it. My plan was to store it away until next year but the color ideas for this got stuck in my head and I knew that I would have to get the dye pots out and experiment with getting just the right colors.

So, I should have this finished one ready to show in a few days. I probably won’t take the time to make it into a pattern for now, but at least it will be finished and ready to “patternize” at a later time.

I did manage to draw out some Fall design ideas too. Scarecrows.

That’s all I’m sayin’ :)

This weekend officially started the house revamping, with hubby in charge.

We’ve lived here in our home for ohhh …34 years so the aluminum siding on the house is waaaay older than that. We had it painted about 10 years ago and we probably could get it painted again because actually the siding is in really nice condition even with how old it is.

But we decided to just get new siding on it instead. We’re getting the same Amish guys who did our roof to do all the work for us.

Before that can be done though, hubby wants to do some things on his own before the new siding is installed.

So, he insisted that I get some “before” pictures.

100_4025a You’d think that with him standing right beside me while I was taking the pictures, that he could restrain himself from OPENING THE GARAGE DOOR RIGHT AS I WAS SNAPPING THE PICTURE …..

ok, I’m done yelling at him now.

SO most of his work will be done with the garage part of our house.

The garage door and the three windows above the garage door will be replaced.

The little side door beside the garage door will be replace too.

This little garage door has been needing a replacement for a long time, so I’m thrilled that it’s finally going to happen.

Although, I would love to keep this door and do something with it, primitive style, as decoration, somewhere.

100_4026 I mean, this door has some history. It’s ooooold old.

So, I need some suggestions from you primitive experts. I need some ideas of how I can use this old door as a primitive decoration outside, either in my flower garden or actually anywhere, outside.

Any ideas?

The door replacement probably won’t be for another few weeks, so, I hope to have a really good, solid decorating idea for it to present to hubby, right as he’s taking it off and right BEFORE he throws it into the dumpster.

I know, KNOW, that when I tell him I wish to keep the door, he’s going to get that look on his face … that look that let’s me know that he’s going to soon have me committed, because surely I’m insane.

Do all husbands have “that” look?


Looking at this picture, I suddenly realize that both Jen and Rachel will most likely agree with their dad on this one.

My only hope is to have support from my fellow bloggers.

The fate of this door is up to all of you now. :)

Happy Day everyone!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Strawberries, Cell Phones & Hot Flashes

Oh, I’ve been so negligent with blog writing.  It’s been a busy summer so far but my only excuse for not writing more frequently is only that I’ve gotten out of the habit.

I’ll do my best to get back into the habit.  I miss writing about stupid things.

So I bet you’re wondering what the heck Strawberries, Cell Phones and hot flashes have to do with each other?


I think I can safely say that for most people, they have no connection to each other, whatsoever.  But for me … ha!

These three things have been very important things in my life the last few weeks.

Business first, which means we get to talk about Strawberries!

The strawberry candle mat wool kit orders have been sent out.  If you’ve ordered a kit, they should be delivered very soon. 

I still have one kit for the black/red colored candle mat, so if you’re interested, just click on the Paypal button over there to order it.

Any other orders for the kit will be put on a back order list and will be filled once I get more wool dyed.

Thank you all for your kind words and orders for this strawberry candle mat.  It’s so rewarding to know that there will be lots of strawberries in your lives because of me!.


The whole cell phone issue for me is more about complaining about cell phones.

I’ve had the same cell phone for probably 5years or so…ok maybe longer.  That’s unusual, I know, but like my old car, I find it difficult to part with things that I like and still work well.  My cell phone was classy and cool way back then because it was small and it had a camera in it.phone3

Ok?  Are you getting the idea?  My cell phone that I love and still works well is ancient, outdated and gets fits of rolling-on-the-floor laughter whenever I walk into a Verizon store and someone sees it in my hand.

I do try to stay up on the new technologies.  I have an ipod touch, and for the most part, know how to use it.  It’s not like I have an aversion to newfangled things.  I just really liked my old phone.

I  don’t understand why the cell phone companies put more and more features on these phones like better cameras and games and internet “apps” instead of focusing on improving reception for the phones.

I could rant forever about this but I’ll get back to my cell phone story.

It’s really time to get a new phone.  I do text occasionally so I thought it would be nice to get a phone that had the keyboard feature on it.

Rachel needed a new phone too and since our phone plan includes basically a new phone for free, she helped me pick out a phone.

We both ended up getting the same phone, which has the keyboard and a “touch'” screen. 

I  really just wanted a basic phone but this one was free. 

Except, I found out that they’ve changed their phone pricing.  To get any phone with any kind of cool features, you have to pay an additional $10 for a data package, which means I get to play on the internet with my phone.

But darn it.  I don’t care about checking email or the internet on my phone.  I just don’t need that. at. all.

So, I have a really nice phone now.  It lets me text easily, gives me access to the internet, takes beautiful pictures, has entertaining games to play and I’m pretty sure it will play music too. 

But I was talking to my sister (casserole carol) on my new phone yesterday and guess what?  The reception was so choppy, I had to ask her to repeat what she was saying. 

So again, geez.  By now, with all the technological improvements with phones over the past few years, you’d think that the reception would be PERFECT. 

I don’t want to pay an extra $10 a month for things that I will never ever use, so I’m not keeping this phone.  I’m going to get just the basic old fashioned cell phone with just a camera and phone capabilities. 

Unless … they can develop my newest idea into a phone “app” ….

I have a most excellent idea for something that would interest every single woman over the age of 50.  It would make the phone companies millions of $ because every woman my age would buy it just for this very special feature ….

And this is where the Hot Flashes subject comes in.

Yes, I’ve been experiencing the much talked about Hot Flash.

Wow, to make this brief; dozens of times during the day, it feels like my face was put in front of an opened hot oven.

Not much can be done for this, so I hear … unless I want to take pills/medication for it.  I don’t do pills of any kind unless it’s absolutely necessary, so medication for something that’s a mere annoyance is out of the question for me.

But why isn’t there something out there that would provide some quick, but natural relief for this annoying affliction?

Carrying an icepack around with me isn’t feasible. 

And then it occurred to me …  I hold my cell phone to my head every day .. why not have an “app” that would instantly turn the cell phone into an icy cold pad that would cool me as I talked on the phone?  ..Or even better,  just pretend to talk on the phone while you’re rubbing the cooling phone on your face and neck!

You might laugh .. in fact .. I imagine both my daughters laughing right now as they read, but until you’ve experienced the famous hot flash, you really won’t understand how serious I am about this idea.

I think all of us over 50 need to join forces and push this idea to Verizon wireless.  This is a completely untouched market and we all could be cool while using a cool feature on a cool phone!

Ohh.. the possibilities!!

So there you have it .. how Strawberries, cell phones and hot flashes can be and ARE related  … at least in my life.

That was fun!

Happy Day everyone!

Friday, June 18, 2010

“The Strawberry Patch” Pattern Presale!


The pattern is being printed today so I should be able to finish packing the patterns tonight and have them in the mail by tomorrow.

If you’re interested in purchasing the new design pattern, “The Strawberry Patch”, just click over there on the Paypal button to go through the purchase.  Of course, I’ll happily accept personal checks or money orders too so just email me at to get the mailing info for that.  This is a special preorder price of $8.75 which includes the shipping and Canada.  The price will go up to the regular price on Monday, so get your orders in, quick! All other international sales, just email me for the small shipping cost difference.

Also, I am offering a very limited number of kits for this.  You will have a choice of either the Green background or the Red background for the kit so be sure to specify which you prefer when you order it.

The kits price includes the pattern and all the wools necessary to complete this entire 13” round candle mat. which includes a pretty mottled wool backing too!  It won’t come with the threads but those can be easily purchased at Micheal’s or Joann’s. 

Blog RED

This is what your kit for the RED background will turn into!

blog Green This is what your kit for the GREEN background will turn into!

All of the reds and the greens are all my own hand-dyed wools.  I use  beautiful new, right off the bolt, Woolrich wool for the kits.

The kit price will be $46 which includes the shipping costs, for US only.  Just email me for the international price.

(When I get a chance later this afternoon, Ill add the picture of the pretty mottled backing that is included with the kit)

The kits, once ordered will be packed and ready to mail out on Monday.

Thanks all!

Happy Day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scarecrow Jack in the Pumpkin Patch

I’ve fogotten completely to mention this earlier …

Brenda, over there at Pumpkin Patch Primitives is using my Scarecrow Jack picture in her magazine advertisement which is in the August edition of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine.

It’s out in the magazine stands now so if you happen to subscribe or see it in the stands, check it out!


The Strawberry Candle Mat pattern is almost ready to sell!

The instructions are written, the pattern layout page is drawn and it’s all ready to get printed.  I just need to work on the picture area of the front and I’ll be ready to announce the sale. 

Watch for that soon.  I was hoping to have it all completed by yesterday, but some things just took way longer than expected.


I’m still working a few hours every day with the Census job.  It’s nice because it gets me out in the world of people.  The entire experience has really opened my eyes to how other’s live life.

One thing that I noticed almost right away was how many people have pets … dogs to be more specific.  Oh, I’ve seen a lot of cats too but cats don’t make much impression with strange people who come into their space.  Cats will either quietly run away or they’ll hang around wrapping themselves around a leg, trying to get a headrub. 

Dogs, on the other hand, let you know of their existence  right away with their barks and most times it’s not a real friendly welcome.

But I did find a pair of quiet .. very quiet dogs that frightened the life out of me.

I had driven up a very lonely quiet driveway out in the country.  No neighboring houses could be seen from this property.  As I drove up the long driveway, I saw two dogs quietly laying beside a doghouse.  One was a cute little Jack Russell and the other looked like a Golden Retriever mix.  I could see that the Jack Russell was tied with a chain so I figured it would be ok to get out of the car to approach the house without fear of being leg-chewed.

Knocking at the door, I could tell that no one was home.  Silence was all around me as I stood there at the door, writing my notice of visit. 

The dogs never barked, which I thought was so unusual because I knew they both were watching me and well aware of my presence.

Standing there facing the door, I heard a sound, right behind me.  A sound that I will probably remember for a long time in my head because it frightened me so badly.

It was the sound of one big huff of a breathe exhale that came from the mouth of something alive that was right directly behind me.  I realized then, without looking back, that even though the Jack Russell was tied up, I shouldn’t have assumed that the other dog was tied up. ….

Because it was standing right behind me. 

Now at that point, lots of things ran through my head while trying to think of how to get back to my car without being attacked, but I knew that I was stupidly trapped between a closed,locked door and a big, very silent dog with no one around to hear me scream.

In other words, I was royally …. in trouble.

Thinking that perhaps my #2 pencil might be able to help me to defend an attack, I turned around.  I fully expected to see a Stephen King type rabid dog, braced on its hunches and ready to attack me.

But I’m happy to say that I’m alive today because that large sweet Golden Retriever just wanted to take a sniff to see who I was.  He turned around and slowly walked back to lay down with his Jack Russell friend.

I was never so happy to get back into my car though.

It was after that incident that I learned to never assume anything when it comes to dogs, out in the country.  Most are not tied.

Later in the week, when the owner of the home responded back with a phone call, he told me that the Golden Retriever was a neighbor’s dog and that it practically lived over with them because he was in love with their Jack Russell.  They were the best of friends, always hanging out together. 

How cute!  I told him how odd it was that they never barked or made a sound.  He said that they were just so happily content to be with each other, they really didn’t care about anything else in the world.

I’ve had several other incidents with Jack Russells and Golden Retrievers … all of them scaring me but turning out just fine.  I shouldn’t assume, but from my direct experience with them as a stranger in their territory, they have turned out to be friendly endings. 

Oh so many dog stories I have to tell.  Maybe I do a “Dog A Day” series of stories!

haha …

Happy Day everyone!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Strawberry Candle Mat Finished!


Now that both of these Strawberry candle mats are finished, I still can’t decide which one I like best.  Honestly, if I were to buy one already made, I wouldn’t know which one to purchase  … I’d have to have them both!

So now you can see how you can entirely change the look of any pattern simply by changing the color scheme. 

I really want to know now … which one do you like the best? 

strawberry5 Here’s the original design.  It has the black background with the strawberry red backing. 


This version, as you can see has the white background with the dark green backing.


This picture will give you the idea of how it looks with a candle. 

I will be working on writing up the pattern instructions for it tonight and tomorrow and hopefully, either Monday or Tuesday, I can start taking preorders for it. 

I will be selling the wool kits for it also.   The kits will be in very limited supply because this has a lot of hand-dyed wools in it and I just don’t have the time to dye up yards and yards of wool to create a large supply of kits.  On the other hand, I do want all of you to have these really pretty mottled colored wools to make this, so I’ll do my best to fill all orders.


It’s a late day posting today because I woke up this morning to no tv cable or internet service.  How miserable is that? 

I have a daily morning wake-up routine of drinking my coffee while answering emails and filling orders. 

Today I could only drink coffee and stare into space. 

I don’t know about you but for me, no matter how strong the coffee, if I’ve nothing to do while drinking it in the morning, staring into space will only put me back to sleep. 

It was a tough  morning.

My census job is coming to an end soon … probably this coming week will finish everything up in our area.  I will have my stitching time back, which I’m really excited about but I will miss all the wonderful people that I’ve worked with every day since this all started.

This past week or so has been working with the difficult cases …those people who have slammed the door in our faces or simply refused to open the door.  It’s been a challenge to those of us who have stuck with it.  It’s a lot of detective work and creative thinking so that we can approach the cases in a different way to get results.

Yesterday I was lucky to get 3 different cases resolved and finished, which is huge considering that some of the homes have been visited up to 15-16 times by various census people over the past month.

Ok, I’m out of here to go out and enjoy my day.

Happy weekend everyone  … oh, and please, don’t forget to tell me which one of the strawberry candle mats you like the best!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberry Candle Mat Tutorial (Part 3)

So these two candle mats are coming very close to their finish. I’m making one strawberry mat with a black background and one with a white background. Once you see both of them finished side by side, you’ll get a much better idea of how one pattern can be made to look really different.
It’s really funny how my head adapts to working on each one too. When I’m working on the black background mat, I’m positive that I like it better than the white background, but then … I start doing more stitching on the white background mat and find myself convinced that I prefer the white over the black. Once they’re finished, it will be interesting to hear what everyone’s favorite might be.
Ok, let’s continue on with finishing up these candle mats.
It’s time to stitch the little white blossom flowers on.
The little flowers are somewhat time consuming to cut out. I do cut each one completely by hand but if you happen to have one of those handy dandy dye cutters that will cut these flowers for you, by all means use it! It certainly will save finger anguish from all the tiny cutting.
Personally, I prefer the look of the imperfect hand-cut flowers, so I tend to stay away from dye cutters, but again, it’s just a personal choice.
So the little blossoms, once they’re all cut, are attached with one french knot in the center.
100_3922 Then small straight stitches are made up into each one of the flower petals. There are lots of different ways that the flower centers can be made so if you have another preference, by all means, make them however you wish. There are no rules. :)
100_3923 Once all those blossoms are attached, it’s time to work on the center candle area.
It’s starting to look pretty good now, isn’t it?
But ohhhh… I can take out those ugly basting stitches now! I won’t need them anymore!
Oh, that’s so much nicer! Ok, so now, if you’re making this, you have some decisions to make. It looks nice right now as it is without the center candle area detail, so it would be perfectly fine as finished right now. All that is needed is the backing stitched on.
But of course, I need the center candle area done because you’ll see, it makes the candle mat even prettier!
Using my chalk pencil, I measured up 3 1/4” up from the scalloped point and made a little dot. I thought I had taken a picture of the measuring process, but I can’t find it, so I’ll draw a little something to make it clearer …
This is why they say a picture is worth a thousand words. :)
So marking a dot at 3 1/4” up from each of the 8 points will give me a nice 4 1/2” inch candle circle area in the middle. If a smaller area is desired, then that measurement can easily be adjusted to make it smaller.
Once the dots are marked, I pinned one leaf right on the dot with the tip of the leaf angled towards the center of the strawberries.
100_3935 I backstitched down the center of the leaf. I then added a flower blossom to the top of the leaf, attaching it the same way that I attached it at the strawberries.
This is done eight times until it’s finished and looks like this! …..
It’s almost done!!
Now we have another decision to make. All the stitching is finished on the top so I can either add the backing to it now and keep it right at this size, or I can add the larger scalloped background to it to make it a little larger and a little fancier …
This is the special wool that I hand-dyed to use for the outside background. It’s such a pretty mottled color, it’s a shame it will be mostly covered up with the black background.
100_3948 So the red background is centered under the black background and I’ve pinned it in place. I’ll use some #5 black DMC Cotton thread to blanket stitch around the edge.
Once that’s done, all that is needed is the backing, but that will have to be shown in the final part 4 of the tutorial.
This is a sneak peak at the white background candle mat. I have some catching up to do on this one, but next time, I’ll have both of them finished and ready to show for comparison.
That’s all for now!
Happy Day everyone!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strawberry Candle Mat Tutorial (Part 2)

Strawberry Candle Mat Tutorial (Part 2)

It’s taking a little longer for me to get the stitching done on this project simply because, well … silly me … I decided to make TWO of them at the same time!
One with the black background and one with the white. I want you to be like me and love both looks so much that you won’t be able to decide which you want to make and then proceed to make them both!
Ok, let’s get to work now.
You can see from the picture up there that I have the leaves and the strawberries stitched on.
I’ll show you how I put the seeds in and the stems.
100_3904 I did forget to mention that when attaching the top two strawberries, you don’t need to stitch through all the thicknesses of the leaves and the background. Just stitch them to the leaves for most of it and then every once in a while stitch down through all the layers. This will save a little time and definitely save your fingers from pushing that needle through for every single stitch. It lays much nicer this way too.
The seeds for the strawberries are just evenly spaced french knots.
100_3907 Now, keep in mind, there are 24 strawberries to put french knots into.
That’s a lot of french knots. If you really hate making french knots, you can just make little straight stitches instead. Straight stitches are much easier to make and much faster too.
Personally, I prefer the look of french knots. I wouldn’t say that I hate making them but after about ohhhh …. a few hundred of them, I come very close to cursing the inventor of french knots.
So anyway, if you do decide to do the french knots in these strawberries, I absolutely guarantee that about halfway through, you’re going to question why in the world you ever thought that making this many french knots would be fun. At that point, put your needle down and take a break. Go cut some of the stems that you’ll need after you’re finished with the knots … or cut some of the little flowers that you’ll need later. Do something to get your fingers away from the french knots and then later, you’ll be ready to finish.
I use green thread to make the seeds but whatever color you’d like your seeds to be is fine. browns look nice or a medium gold color would look nice too. I personally prefer the green so that’s what we’re doing.100_3915 When making the french knots, there’s no need to push the wrapped needle all the way down through to the underside. A quicker way is to bring the needle up, wrap it then push it down just through the first layer of wool and then back up to the spot where you wish your next french knot to be. The picture shows the wrapped needle with it coming up at the next seed spot.
After I finished up with the french knots, I started with the strawberry stems.
100_3912 The stems are small and we’re working with wool here AND I like to keep the tips of the stem loose so that they look more natural.
Therefore, it is most essential that the wool that is used for these stems is really well felted wool so that it won’t ravel and pull apart. Test your wool to make sure before you cut out all those stems only to discover that they’re going to unravel because the wool is too thin or not dense enough. Test the wool by cutting one stem, attach it at the top with a few stitches and then gently pull on the stem tip. If the threads pull apart, making the stem tip disappear, go find yourself some better quality wool. Or a good alternative is some wool felt.
The wool that I dyed for this is perfect for the stems so I’ll continue with my 100% wool.
Just stitch the very top of the stem with small whip stitching. Then take one stitch in between the stems at the two points to hold them down.
100_3916 As you can see, I still have some stems to do on this one and all the stems to do on the black background mat.
Next step after that’s done is the cute little white blossoms and then work on the center candle area.
I can’t wait to remove those awful looking basting stitches!

So, now to answer a few questions …
Wool kits for this Strawberry mat?
I hope to be able to offer a wool kit to go along with this pattern, but I have to check with my helper to see if she’ll be willing to do all the work to package it up for me. I dye the wools that are needed but she’s the one that measures, cuts and packages everything.
Did I use teeny tiny pinking shears to cut those leaves?
Haha, thank you Bari Jo for asking that question because I forgot to mention it. I used regular pinking shears to cut the edges of the leaves on this strawberry mat, but then I went back over the edges again with the pinking shears to snip the points even finer. It’s time consuming work but it makes the leaves look so much nicer.
What kind of threads do I use?
I primarily use DMC #8 perle cotton threads (it’s not floss, it’s thread). But I do use embroidery floss for detailed stitching on small areas. I also use regular embroidery floss if I need a certain color that the Perle cotton doesn’t offer. For some reason, the greens in the #8 size usually aren’t a good color. I mostly use a more olive green so I either overdye the #8 or if I just need a little bit, I’ll use the embroidery floss to do the job.
Also, I love to use #5 perle cotton threads for blanket stitching the outside edge of all my penny rugs and candle mats. Most times, I use blanket weights for the background wool, which is heavy. The #5 thickness looks so nice with the extra thick wools where the # 8 gets lost and the embroidery floss just looks terrible. My own personal preference of course. Some might like the look of floss instead, so please don’t take offense. Embroidery floss is a whole bunch cheaper and a whole lot easier to find than #8 perle cotton, so naturally it’s going to be the threads that are the most used. Perle cottons are super nice to work with because they don’t tangle as easily and because they are twisted threads, they are stronger and sturdier than the floss. If you ever happen to come across a really old penny rug, you’ll notice right away that the stitching threads are what break down first. If perle cottons were in existence back then, those penny rugs would be in much better condition. Which means in 100 years, when I’m dust in the wind, someone will still be looking at one of my nice wool penny rugs without any loose or broken threads.
Wool Felt?
Oh, I get so many questions about wool felt. Most times I can’t really answer them though because I don’t use the stuff. I am a wool snob, I’ve said this before. It’s not because I hate wool felt. It’s only because I love 100% pure natural real wool and all the benefits, textures, qualities and goodness of it. Woolfelt is certainly wonderful too and can be purchased for a whole lot less $$ than 100% wool. Those of you who wish to save on costs to make any of my candle mats, can easily substitute the wool felt for the regular 100% wool. It won’t give exactly the same look, but it will still look wonderful in it’s own way.
If you do use woolfelt, please know that the instructions in my patterns are for 100% wool. Woolfelt shouldn’t be ironed after it’s been washed. Ironing will flatten that special bumpy texture that is created with the wash/dry cycle. My patterns include instructions for tracing the pattern onto freezer paper and then ironing the freezer paper onto the wool. Don’t do that if you’re using woolfelt because it will take the bumpy texture out. Also, if my pattern instructions say to press something with steam, don’t do that if you’re using woolfelt.
If you want to keep that nice bumpy texture, keep the iron away!
Ok, I’ll be back in a few days to hopefully be able to finish this project up. I have a brand new patriotic candle mat all drawn out and ready to start. It’s going to be an easy one that will stitch fast.
Happy Day everyone!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Strawberry Candle Mat Tutorial (Part 1)

See, I promised that I would get started on this today and here I am!
This is the very beginning stages in the making of the candle mat.
I hope to show you a start – to – finish tutorial that will show you exactly how to make this once you purchase the pattern from me.
The purchased pattern will include detailed instructions but it’s always nice to be able to come onto a website and see pictures showing the stages of progress. It really makes the stitching go a lot easier, simply because you’re not guessing at the instructions, you’re getting them right smack in front of your face on the computer!
This does not mean that you can take this tutorial and make this strawberry candle mat without the pattern. This is copyrighted material, created and designed by me, so please don’t steal. Just spend a few bucks to purchase the pattern and I’ll love you forever and our friendship will remain intact. Steal from me and be forever snubbed.
If you want a couple names of the snubbed ones, just ask. :)
My hope is to share this so that you can see for yourself that this candle mat might look extremely difficult to make, but with the step by step approach, even YOU can make this. …. well probably not my sister, but I think if I sat right beside her the entire time instructing her stitch by stitch, she probably could make it herself.
Ok, let’s get started….
I guess I should show you what it looks like finished so that you know what we’re attempting here …
Pictures018It’s not going to look exactly like this one in the picture, but it’ll be close enough.
So, we’ll start with the black background shape first.
I traced the scallop background onto freezer paper.
Once it’s traced, I rough cut it out and place it shiny side down on my black wool. I’ll use a hot dry iron to iron the freezer paper onto the wool.
Once the freezer paper is adhered to the wool, simply cut the shape out, cutting along the traced lines.
And here we have our scalloped shape. Peel the freezer paper off and save it. It can be used again if you decide to make another strawberry candle mat.
straw4 Now, here’s a tip that won’t be in the pattern … I always do this on the scalloped mats, and especially the ones that tend to be really crowded in the space. … I take a ruler and draw a straight line across with chalk pencil and then using a quick basting stitch I stitch right across the mat. This divides each of the scalloped sections, giving them each their own territory. It makes it a lot easier to keep each strawberry grouping straight and in their own space.
Once the basting stitches are in, it’s time to lay out the strawberry leaves.
straw5 I’m making a mat with a white background too so don’t get confused with this picture. The leaves are arranged according to the pattern layout and I pin each group of three leaves to the background.
I backstitch right up the center of each of the leaves, leaving the outside edges free.
I’m ready to stitch on the strawberries now. I arrange them first just to make sure they fit nicely in the space.
Then using small stitches, I blanket stitch the strawberries on leaving the top open ….
100_3855 With the top of the strawberry open, I’ll stuff just a little bit of wool roving into the berry now. Just a little is all that is necessary … it should be just enough that they will be plump against the leaves. I use the eraser end of a pencil to gently push it in.
100_3856I recommend wool roving but poly fiberfill may be used instead. The wool roving doesn’t leave those little annoying fibers laying around everywhere. The fibers of the wool stay together and make much less mess.
100_3857 Wool roving is just natural sheep fur that’s been cleaned. I buy it in bulk from a sheep farmer, but small packets of it can be purchased at Joann fabrics now since wool felting has become so popular. It’s inexpensive too …Just look for it in with the knitting/crocheting needles or just ask someone there where the wool roving is. But like I said, polyfiberfill will work just fine too. Just keep the lint roller close by so that you can get all the loose fibers up.
After the roving is stuffed in, finish stitching up the top of the strawberry.
100_3858 Now just stitch the other two strawberries the same way. I’ve found that using small and close stitches for the blanket stitches looks nice, but a whip stitch would be quicker and easier, if you prefer to save some time.
100_3865 I’ll show more detail with the strawberry stems and the french knot seeds later, but I just wanted to give you an idea of how easy these all stitched together. The most difficult part of this grouping is getting those darn leaves lined up evenly in the space. Once they’re properly lined up and stitched in the strawberries fit naturally in their space without any trouble.
So, I’m going to quit for now. I’ll be back after I’ve stitched all 8 sections with the leaves and the strawberries. The next step after that I’ll show how to attach the stems and do the little seeds.
Hopefully,also I can have the white background mat almost completed too so that you’ll be able to see the difference between the two. Even though it’s the same pattern, the background color makes an enormous difference!
Oh , and in case I didn’t make it clear, after I’m all finished with the tutorial, I’ll have the pattern for this Strawberry candle mat ready to sell so that you can make it yourself!
Happy Day everyone!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Camping At Home

Is it really June already?  Where did May go?  I think I blinked and it was gone.
I got most of my gardening plantings done over the weekend.  The marigolds and salvia are planted along both sides of the front sidewalk and the tomatoes, butternut squash and zucchinis are planted in the back vegetable garden. 
I just have some weeding and transplanting to do in the other areas and I’m finished but usually by the beginning of June, I’m completely done and watching everything grow.  Again, what the heck happened to May?
So this past weekend, Jen, her hubby and grandson decided to try out their new tent for an overnight adventure out in our apple orchard.
Now, first of all, we still call it an apple orchard even though the apple trees are long gone from that area.  It used to be an apple orchard when we first purchased this house and property about 30 some years ago but all that’s left are a few apple trees which produce more poison ivy than apples.
Anyway …. gosh, I tend to get off subject very easily.  So Jen and Jason wanted to try camping out  and wanted to keep the camping area relatively close to our house.  They were a bit concerned that in the middle of the night, their son might suddenly decide that he’s had enough of bugs and the dark nightime sounds.
Grandma and Paps house with a bed could be a quick refuge in that case.
Good idea, wouldn’t you agree?
Well, Rachel’s boyfriend was visiting us this weekend, so he brought his tent too.  It turned into a big family camping outing.
camping Lots of fun was had by all and he ended up loving the adventure.  Now they know that he’ll be fine when they take their real vacation to go camping somewhere other than gramma and paps yard.
100_3891 What a life for a kid!

Besides all the yardwork and the camping and everything else that was going on over the holiday weekend, I was able to finally get the right color dyed for my strawberry candle mat.  I’m telling you, I had the most trouble getting just the perfect color. 
I dyed one fat quarter way too dark, so that will be saved for another project.  I finally got the right dye color combination but it was still a little too pink, so I loaded it up in my white enamel pan and casserole spot dyed it in the oven.  It came out absolutely perfect.100_3896 The wool on the left was the original color that I tried, which was waaaaay too pink.  The wool on the right is the exact color that I wanted.
The only problem is, I didn’t keep track of the dye measurements that I used, so to get this exact color, will be difficult, if not impossible.
My dye recipes tend to be like my meatloaf recipe.  I don’t have one!
I use the same ingredients each time, but I never measure.  I put a pinch of this and a smidgen of that in and along with the basic ingredients of wool and hot water, I dye my wool.
Which is one of the reasons why I will probably never share with you how I dye my wool.  I will never claim to be an expert at it.  It’s always going to be an experimental process for me.  I’d much rather you get professional help from professional people who dye wool for a living.
I use Cushings dyes, which may be purchased here at the Cushing website.   The website also includes some basic dyeing instructions and tips, so if you’re really interested in hand-dyeing some of your own wools, just do some research, starting at this site.
Cushings dyes come in a great assortment of colors, but most times, I don’t just use one color dye.  I mix colors to get the shades that I want and since I don’t measure, I know when I’m doing it that I might mess up some expensive wool.  If I were to show you exactly how I do it without giving you exact measurements, there’s a good chance that you would mess up some expensive wools too, which would place blame back on me.
The other reason why I don’t like to share how I dye my wools is because it’s not something that should be done without the proper tools and equipment and I don’t want to unknowingly give you the wrong and possibly dangerous information.  It’s not something that you can open up the packet and throw in with some hot water and wool.  Extreme care needs to be taken for safety.
The powder that is used for dyeing wools is acid based so  kids should not be around in the area while dyeing.  Extreme care should be taken when mixing the dyes and a dust mask should be worn along with protective gloves. 
I’ve actually found little particles of the powder dye up above my stove on my microwave because  the steam from the hot water drew the dye particles up into the air.  If it lands that easily on my kitchen surfaces, it can just as easily be sucked up into my lungs. 
So for safety reasons, I don’t want to have someone come back later, after reading my dyeing instructions, to tell me that because of what I’ve said, their lungs are now coated purple and yellow and their kitchen ceiling has turned a pretty speckled mix of colors that can’t be removed.
All I can do is warn you to be extremely careful when dyeing your wool … read the instructions on the packet and follow them exactly, don’t take shortcuts to try to save time.
That’s all I’m going to share about dyeing.  Sorry, I hope you all understand. 
So, tomorrow, FOR SURE!,  will start the Strawberrry candle mat tutorial.
I have it started already and even Rachel, who knows nothing about sewing said that the strawberries are a much better color now!
Happy Day everyone!