gift suggestions!

Here are some ideas that don’t have to be wrapped!

How about the Sweet Paul/ Makerie Retreat in NYC this coming March. I’ll be making owls and I can not wait!

#130, #131- 2013

Or maybe you are more of a country person. How about the 2nd Art Retreat Camp in New Hampshire next August? I will be doing Tiny World pin cushions and a few other little fun projects. Here is a video for a little taste of summer.

12:17:tw

And maybe it isn’t a retreat you are thinking of. How about a little bit of Art? I am showing one piece in a show at Art Stream- Off The Grid. All the Art is 6″ x 6″ and all available through their online shop.

12:2:6 x 6

I am going to try to get my act together and write up a list of recommendations for products that I love and maybe you might too. Let’s see if I manage to find the time!

thinking about online classes

We’ve got Spring! Actually, we seem to be getting near summer temps so these won’t last very long.

I am taking a class with Diane of Craftypod fame on how to run an online class. Now I have so many questions! Whenever I announce that I am going to run a class at my house, people pipe up and ask me to do an online class- that is why I am looking into the technicalities of it all.

Now that I am actually having to think about the specifics, I’d love some feedback. My confession is that I have only ever taken one online class and that was probably about 10 years ago. I can hardly even remember it!

What kind of class do people want? I can only really imagine (at this point) teaching the Tiny World Pattern. What would someone want to get out of an online class that would be so much better than just buying the pattern? Or should I be thinking of a completely different kind of class?

How long would a class like this go for? A week? When I teach it at my house, the class runs from 10 am to 4 pm and most people don’t finish. I know people probably don’t sit down for a whole day and go through an online class- or do they?

One of the fun things about having classes at my house is that I have all the materials and fun tools to play with. Are people going to feel comfortable collecting everything they need? Do most project-type classes have kits with the supplies?

On top of that, if you have taken craft project online classes, what do you like best about them? Why do they work for you? Should I go try out a few classes? If so, got any recommendations?

I’d love to hear your feedback! If I can get some ideas that will narrow things down, I might do a survey but at this point, I wouldn’t even know what questions to ask!

feeling summery

and not much is happening around here! Things are going on in my life- they just aren’t showing up here.  I’ve been doing boring projects like cleaning and weeding, projects that I forgot to photograph before I sent them out- sleeves for some computers, and secret-for-now projects- gift type things.

The garden is looking amazing. So many colors!

Lavender-

Poppy season!

The crocosmia are just starting.

Coreopsis “moonbeam”

and Butterfly weed.

Daylilies-

And in the back, my favorite combination. Blue lace-cap Hydrangea and anything.

And an oakleaf hydrangea.

My desk is not completely bare of dolls. Now that I finished the *secret project* (I’ll tell later), I pulled out some partially finished dolls from before Brooklyn and I’m giving them faces, and hair. And life.

Speaking of Brooklyn, I will be going to Renegade Chicago in September- hope to see you there!

Okay, what else? I’ve been going through my scrap box, thinking quilt thoughts. We’ll see if anything materializes. Tomorrow I am driving up to Vermont for a few days. I am going to visit the Shelburne Museum. It looks like there is a lot of interesting goodies there- I’ll give the report when I get back. I think that’s it for now. Hope you had a great long week-end (in the US). The Boston fireworks were amazing!

dorset buttons

We had great fun at my doll club yesterday- we made dorset buttons.

The pink one is mine- slightly off centered. The multi-colored wool one was made by Jean who was sitting next to me.

We used this tutorial by the amazing Sister Diane!

I thought I had some of these type of handmade buttons in my collection but I couldn’t find any. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t have them somewhere! I did find these buttons though-

The white button on the top right-hand side is the closest. It is made on a ring. The other button look like they were crocheted and they were all made on those forms in the middle of the pic. The top form looks like it is made of bone. The two lower ones are wood. Here are some close-ups-

If you are interested in making some yourself, I just googled “dorset buttons” to try to get some kind of history and discovered many tutorials.

and onto the new!

Happy New Year, 2011!

I love reading the “hopes” from other years. Sometimes I do pretty well. And this year I succeeded in what I said was my biggest goal- connecting with people. So- WIN! And, Peter’s quilt got finished. Huge. As for the rest, not so much. But, really, my “hopes” are just that. The important thing for me to do is remain open to good opportunities, feed my curiosity and the fun factor and not get bogged down with any “should-do”s.

So, for 2011, I hope-

*warning* a lot of these are reruns ;) and illustrated with random photos that never got into any other posts this year.

-more patterns… I KNOW- I say it every year! Well, maybe this will be the year. And, honestly, I will never write a book until this process is a lot easier for me. But… this year I realized how much it means to me to see my designs spread themselves out around the world. I am not kidding when I say it gets me all choked up. It is like sending your kids out into the world and having people love them. So maybe, this is the year.

-I am keeping my eye out for another Photoshop class- hopefully at my local High School Community Ed classes since I could walk to that.

-always, always, always I need to work on clearing out. It is very hard for me but having art students to give stuff to is very helpful.

-my biggest hope for this year- something I don’t usually talk about on the blog. To end the year with less pain. Yes, the physical kind. I have had chronic back-ish pain for years and decided to do something about it last summer. Now, 4 physical therapists later and pages of suggested exercises, I am so much worse that pretty much every part of my life is affected. So, hmmph. I hope to read this a year from now and think- Oh Yeah- Remember that? I’d forgotten all about it!

One more thing from my 2010 list. I had been hoping to teach more, but it didn’t happen and realistically, probably isn’t going to. Among the reasons against it happening is that I am unwilling to fly anymore with the current security measures at airports. So there, now you know 2 things about me that might, for some people, be considered TMI.

-but I want to end this list with some real fantasy hopes! Read more for fun, actually look at those magazines I buy or subscribe to, draw more, try a new medium just for fun, and actually learn how my camera works. Spend more time in the garden, start some flowers from seed, go the the beach at least once this year, and figure out what I should do with the worm casting from my worm bin. Clearing out the basement, losing 20 pounds, and winning the lottery would be nice too but probably aren’t going to happen either! So, now time for me to go off and read what everyone else put on their list. Have a wonderful first day of 2011!

a gift guide for sewers

or maybe I should call it a gift guide for people who do assorted projects with fabrics, sort of like what I do…

These are things (mostly tools) that make me happy in my studio and I think would make great gifts.

When I was thinking about what to put on this list, it became obvious that I love my nice sharp cutting tools. My first suggestion is excellent scissors and Gingher’s are a good choice. I recently bought myself the 5″ knife-edge ones and they are my new favorites- sorry, drawer full of all the other little scissors that I have totally abandoned!  They are perfect for all the detail cutting work I do with the appliques. The big ones are good for cutting through layers of fabric and I use them to cut out the dolls. The little stork one, besides being adorable, is perfect for cutting threads in tight places, cutting out REALLY tiny things, and putting in my project bag if I am working on a carry-around project.

If the person you are shopping for already has good scissors, you might research a local place to get them sharpened. In my area (Boston), I can get mine done for approximately $7 at the local Fabric Store or Hardware Store.

My most recent tool purchase is this 18mm rotary cutter. It is perfect for cutting out shapes when I am using a template or little pattern piece- because I can hold the pattern flat and firmly in place on the cutting mat and cut around it. That means no marking on the fabric and no distortion from trying to hold the pattern in place and cut with scissors. The scissors and rotary cutter are available at most fabric stores, local and big name.

Last in the sharp cutting tool suggestions- fabric cutting, decorative edge shears. Unfortunately, my excellent Fiskar ones are no longer available, but I found this other brand. You might be able to find the Fiskars on Ebay sometimes.

On to other goodies.

Yes, a large piece of clear plastic is hard to photograph! This is a sewing machine extender table. I like this table even more then I was expecting. I thought I would use it when working on my bigger, bulkier projects but I have never taken it off since I got it! This is a special order item and fits whatever machine you have exactly. It can take a while to get if you have an older or more obscure machine. Looks like you can buy it online here for a lot less than I paid at my local sewing machine store.

If the recipient loves embroidery,  trying out new kinds of embroidery threads is tons of fun. Purl Soho has a huge selection. My new thread love of this year is Valdani pearl cotton- especially the variegated one. Next time I am in NYC, I will be restocking my supply.

Of course if they do embroidery, they might need some needles- I had fun shopping for needles at the Colonial Needle site. Seriously, how cute are these John James pebble packs-

embroidery and chenille needles

If you are looking for a last minute gift because you didn’t have any time to go shopping, a subscription to Selvedge Magazine will save the day!

Lastly, if you want to stick to handmade for the season, you could go over to my shop and get a pattern or 2, or maybe a tiny world pin cushion. Or my friend Liz’s shop and check out her  amazing selection of pin cushions. Or check out some of the other sewing goodness on Etsy. Try searching for pin cushions,  needle books, wool felt assortment, fabric collections, hand dyed threads….  Oh, the goodness! Happy Holiday shopping everyone!

Feel free to leave you suggestions for the perfect gift in the comment section- so I can add goodies onto my own wish list!

thinking about…

Honestly, I am not sure why it has taken so long to sink in, but YIKES! I need to get some serious work done for my holiday season sales. It is probably noticing that the calendar now says November that did it. So, I am going to put aside any thoughts of finishing up a pattern for the owl or anything else right now. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I just haven’t been able to concentrate on it. And now it is November. I will go back to it when things settle down- probably in January.

I am putting together a fantasy trip in my head. Go to San Francisco next summer for the Renegade Craft Market and maybe teach a class while I am out there. Wouldn’t that be fun? Hmm, how can I make that happen? I am open to any ideas. My SIL lives in Santa Cruz and visiting there would be part of this fantasy.

I am suffering a tea cup shortage; especially ones suitable for snow scenes. You just can’t put a snow scene in a flowered cup. I’m going to have to go out hunting. And toile for my tattooed people. Finding the right fabric is a real challenge. The challenges and hardships of my art- yup!

And, btw, I should be getting those latest tiny worlds up on Etsy this weekend.

some thoughts filling up my brain

I like to have a photo at the top of a post. So here is the man of the day, getting his hair. All pinned on and ready to applique.

One of the great things about blogging and twitter is that it gives me a place to dump some of the ideas, thoughts, questions, conversations, etc… all that talking going on in my head. Actually, the reason I listen to audiobooks and podcasts is because they block all the chatter. They somehow tie up the verbal part of my brain and leave me able to concentrate on my work. Except when a podcast talks about something that gets me so excited that it makes all the chatter even louder! That happened with a recent Radiolab titled, Words.

I was enjoying the podcast, in spite of the annoying sound effects added all over the production. One section was about Shakespeare and words. A line was quoted from his poem, The Rape of Lucrece, where a letter writer describes words (ideas?) like “a press of people at a door”. I couldn’t believe it- that is exactly how I have, for years, described my visual image of the doll ideas I have in my head. And I can guarantee you that I never read that poem (or any, I am reluctant to admit) from Shakespeare. Of course, my “people” are closer to the literal meaning!

Anyway. Funny to think about. When I first decided to start this blog, I couldn’t think of a name. That could have been the end of it right there. My wise husband told me that any name would do- just try out the blogging thing and see how it goes.  He wrote Doll in the title spot. Six and a half years later, that is what it is. But, because it had been a stumbling block, I sometime think of other names I could have used. An early alternative idea was Straw into Gold- since I was using so much reclaimed materials in my work. If I’d waited for that idea, I would have started about 1 1/2 years later then I did! Another, Playing God, probably would have seriously limited my readership by offending loads of people. When I heard that Shakespeare line, I thought that it would be a great blog name… A Press of People at a Door. Pretty good really. Another idea, also inspired by some audio I listened to this week- Diary of a Former Child Underachiever. That one made me laugh. It is hard to believe at this point in my life that that was the word that pretty much defined me in childhood. Yes, I think I outgrew it.

Okay, enough of the yakkity- yak.

I think this is progress

I am feeling pretty good after my latest rearrange. This is my desk with the purl girls (from the trip) moving forward. The space is beginning to feel functional.

desk

I’ve been haunted by this post about some very organized floss. Looks dreamy, doesn’t it.

Somewhere in the middle of this rambling post from 2 years ago, is a description of how I was organizing my floss. Every time I needed a color, I ended up pulling everything out of the bag and spreading it all out- time consuming and messy. Time to try something new.

So, first I went to my local art store and bought one box (Artbin Prism 6) to try. Yes, I liked it. I bought another at Joanns with my 40% off coupon. Okay, I was convince that this might work for me. Then, I went to the Joanns online, where the boxes were on sale, and bought the rest that I needed. Yesterday morning the boxes arrived and I organized all my floss- so much fun!

flat

They are not as neat and pretty as the boxes in the original post, but that is probably a reflection of my life in general.

stack

I like this organizing system for several reasons-

My ADHD needs clear storage. That is a given.

I can divide the colors up into small divisions so I don’t have to sort through so many skeins to find what I want.

I like my floss how it comes- as a skein. I will wind it onto a card or empty spool only when it has become hopelessly tangled. The skeins fit perfectly in these boxes.

I can keep the unused cut threads (those pieces with 4 strands or oops, I-guess-this-is-the-wrong-color pieces) together with the rest of the same colors.

These boxes fit very nicely into my desk drawer.

drawer

Okay, that was fun. There is something so incredibly satisfying about doing a job like this. One tiny part of my life is now neat, organized and in control- Hurray!

patterns- a survey

wow, wow, wow!!! I am so thrilled by the response to the pattern on Purl Bee- from now on she will be referred to as purl girl. This is totally inspiring me to do my own pattern. A couple of things about me- I get overwhelmed and so thinking about doing a pattern suddenly seems enormous with too many decisions to make. And, I get easily discouraged- if I make a pattern and it’s a flop, I probably won’t try again.

So- I thought it’d be fun to do a survey. What pattern should I try first. The choices are- tiny world, kitty, tiki pillow, or sweater baby.

all of these would be doable by someone with basic sewing skills- nothing fancy.