Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Miracle

I cleaned.  Yep, that is my Christmas Miracle. 

After with cupboard open
After with cupboard closed
Please note.  I did NOT just move the mess to another room.  I put things away and I threw things away.  Two grocery bags of trash/recycling.  Took two hours.  Hmm.  Could I find the time to do this maybe once a month??? 

Oh, and if you are missing my posts here, be sure to check my FeltedWoolies blog.  Most of my posts are there now. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thoughts on crafting

As I sit, unraveling and deconstructing wool sweaters and other wool clothing, I think of the people that put it together in the first place.  Most of it, well, all of it, is made somewhere else.  China is the most common place for modern clothing, vintage finds come from a greater variety of places. Perhaps  I'll start making note of where each piece was constructed.  Most of the sweaters are knit by machine, and sewn together with a chain stitch that is very easy to undo if you start in the right place.  The tricky places are where lots of pieces meet--under the arms, top of shoulder, etc.  I can imagine a woman sitting at the chain stitch machine who has done the job so many times she can get all those pieces to line up just right quickly and easily.  I wonder what she is paid?  A pittance, I suspect.  I think of her as I try to price the items I make.  Do I try to match the other prices on Etsy?  Do I try to price under others?  Does the value of my hat seem greater it I charge more?  Does it seem "cheap" if I charge less?   It is the same hat--but marketing is much more about perceived value than real value.   Is my time really worth any more than the pittance that woman was paid? 

I'm getting the raw materials I'm using for very little.  I've had very good luck at church garage sales over the summer.  I try to go during the last hour.  Most churches are raising money for a service or mission project, but during the last hour they just want to get rid of the items left.  I've bought bags full of wool for 2.00.  That is pounds of yarn, or enough felt for 8 hat and mitten sets, with a lot left over for birds, ornaments, flowers, etc. etc.    So all I really need to charge for is my time and creativity.  I'm not looking to get rich off this adventure.  I'm just looking to make up for part of the pay I'll lose when, and if, I retire.   So, when I wait to contribute to the mission or service project so I can get the most wool for my few dollars, I feel a bit of guilt.  It is more than offset by the virtue I feel as I reuse great wool--wool that is left behind after everyone else has been through the piles of clothes at the garage sale.  I even have clothing from a church clothing give-away.  A friend waits 'till the event is over, and saves the wool for me.  She says nobody wants the wool sweaters since they can't be thrown in the wash as easily as synthetics.  So, in a way, wool has a lesser perceived value than synthetic to the demographic that can't afford to send clothes to the dry cleaners. 

The store that has purchased some of my things sits right across the street from the 10,000 Villages store in Columbus.   In a really really small way, I'm in direct competition with artisans from all over the world that rely on their crafting income for basic necessities.  I'm just looking to supplement an adequate retirement check.  (Of course, if I can supplement that check, I'll have money to spend at 10,000 Villages...)  Now I'm starting to over think.  So I'll stop. 

Finally, I have a very real connection to the woman at the factory sewing machine, making a pittance, because she needs that pittance.  That woman, or in my case girl, was my mother.  My mother left school at 13 to do piece-work at home, and a year later, when she was finally old enough, she started work in a clothing factory outside Philadelphia.  It was 1931.  She gave her entire paycheck to her dad until she was 20.  She finally left home and went to high school when she was 21.  How much has changed in our world since then.    I choose to sit at my sewing machine.  In fact, I find it the most soothing, satisfying thing I've done in the past few years.  Well, second to playing the violin.  If I wanted to work in a clothing factory, I couldn't find one.  And I wouldn't be able to regulate the temperature, listen to the music I want to, take a break when I want, or fuss over which buttons to put where. 

This is what I think about as I craft. 

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Moving the craft blog posts

I'm moving my craft posts to a new blog!!! 

I want to try to keep the family stuff here, and the more general interest posts there.  If you are following me for my crafts, you may want to follow the other blog instead. 


I've finally figured out how to make a reindeer that I like.   The antlers have twisty tie inside, the legs have rolled up magazine pages inside.   I'm going to try to make a set of eight, and link them together with red "harness" (yarn).  I even have a sleigh somewhere that is about the right size.  These take a long time to make, so I may not get eight done for myself...  The antlers are the most time consuming part. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fabulous vacation

The domestic goddess and the domestic disaster show off our newly groomed toes

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Reindeer 1 and 2

I'm trying to modify the sheep pattern to make reindeer or just deer.
These are the first two. Head is still not right, but I'm getting good
ideas about how to make the legs, ears and antlers.

I also cleaned up my sewing room over the weekend. More to do but it
is nice to work in a clean space!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I just ate the first corn from our garden.    Yes, it was at 10:00 AM on Saturday morning.  No, it wasn't a meal.  I picked the first two ears that looked like they might be ready, and couldn't wait until lunch time to eat them.  I also wanted that sweet, sweet taste of corn fresh from the garden.   Dave had a few bites, but he eats at mealtimes.  Corn at 1030 AM didn't appeal to him, no matter how fresh, no matter how sweet, no matter how delicious.  The boys weren't interested either.  Too bad.  More for me! 

The photo is from several weeks ago.  The corn patch in the garden isn't pretty, only about half the plants germinated, or survived my weeding.  I've worried that animals might steal the corn before I could get it, and they have eaten half of one ear, and trampled a few stalks.  (I suspect Bambi did it, but I have no proof. )

The taste of that fresh, fresh corn makes it all worth it.  Next year I'll plant twice as much!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sheep version three

I like this one.  I may or may not make a furry cover for him.  I think he is okay without eyes, for the young-no-buttons-allowed set.   I could do the same basic idea with button eyes for older folks.  I think he needs a tail. 

This will be an easy pattern to adapt for a deer/reindeer at Christmas, a horse? a donkey?

Monday, July 26, 2010

A new Sheep

Remember last summer--the sheep from Flutterby Patch that took a journey around the world and stopped to visit here in Dublin?   I decided to try to create a sewn pattern, similar to the knit pattern from Flutterby Patch, to make with wool felt.  After all, I can hardly call my shop "Felted Woolies" if I don't make any felted woolies...

Photos are of the first prototype.  I know I want the head a bit bigger and the legs a bit shorter, but just a tad.  I also have a new idea about how to make the hooves look better.  I might have to add embroidered mouth and nose, especially for a lighter fabric.  The sweater that made this sheep's "jacket" is perfect for the job.  I may have to really look for others that have the right texture, or I'll have to knit jackets. 

I have some work to do to "perfect" the pattern...  Well, none of my patterns are ever perfect.   I like to think that is part of their charm.   But my sheep still needs some work.  I think there is great potential! 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dinner with Alex

Alex was playing with his dinner, then turned to me and said "look,
mom, it's a bed-head."

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Favorite Phone App

You know I'm a geek.  You don't need proof.  But I found a free phone app that has knitting and crochet patterns!  How cool is that.  You are away from the computer and you want to try a new crochet flower, or get an idea for a baby gift... and you just search the Lion Brand yarn app.  The same patterns are all online, but they are also right here, in my pocket. 

I love technology.   Not that I'm using any yarn from anything except a thrifted sweater.

Cool things I made this week: 
  • A rug from a thrift store sofa throw.  I'd felted it once last winter, and it lost half its size, down to about 4 by 6.  I felted it again yesterday and it is now just about 3 by 4.  It must be at least a half inch of sold wool.  So wonderful.  A nice neutral yellowish tan.  Perfect to collect dirty, wet boots and shoes.    
  • A new pin cushion.  Basically a roll of wool felt with flowers and stuff pinned to the outside.  I love it.  It will be tinkered with over and over. 
  • Finally, a very cool bird.  Kind of a cockatoo with a fancy headdress and fancy tail feathers.  I was just feeling really creative and bored by the plain birds I've made in the past.  
Photos someday when I have the time.  I'm still challenged to get good photos taken for Etsy.  I love technology, but that doesn't mean I'm good at it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Bed Heads

I'm making more Bed-Heads. Bed-Head Barbie is getting new friends. Maybe they will all be facebook friends. I'll post photos soon.

I need names for the friends--I'm making some that don't have the curly hair. Some with spikes, some with very neat rows of hair that is all the same short length, Buzz Cut Bob? Spikey Mikey? Give me some ideas?

Bed-head Barbie joined facebook! Be her friend!!!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Went to garden but forgot a container. Lucky the produce this day fit
in my bike helmet. I rode home risking brain injury in order to share
the first beans and these tomatoes with the family. Should be nice
mess of beans ready tomorrow. Does everyone say "mess" of beans?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Antique Quilt Frame

I went to church garage sales yesterday--my favorite Saturday activity this summer. I've found a lot of wool at great prices. Yesterday at the Columbus Mennonite Church rummage sale I found this antique quilt frame. $25. I was there during the last hour so prices were very low. I think this quilt rack is absolutely beautiful, and it works. It is exactly like one I remember seeing in an Aunt's home years and years ago. I like that it is narrow, that adjusting the tension for quilting is easy with the gears on the cross pieces, and that it is all there and in working condition.

I have my mom's quilt rack--the one dad made for her. It is essentially four corner posts made of heavy 4x4s. You start with the quilt at full size using four long pieces of lumber. The quilt gets smaller and narrower as you quilt. It is great because you don't have to baste, but it takes up the whole room at first. If any of the nieces or one of my sisters or sisters-in-law wants the four posts, I'll part with them now that I have an option. If no one wants it, I'll keep it, cause I can use it to baste a quilt before putting it in the "new" frame. Not that I'm planning to quilt any time soon, but I might, just to try out the frame.

Does anyone have any idea how old this might be? The hand-forged iron hooks make it look 19th century to me... But I'm no expert. Those are hand-forged iron hooks, aren't they?

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Demographic

I just came home from street fair number three. Jen and I had a great time, again. I'm tired because it was hot and I was on my feet all evening. I was on my feet because people were looking at my things, and buying my things! I enjoy watching faces light up with a big smile when they focus on the mice and rabbits and monsters. The faces that are most often drawn to my table, and most often light up when they see my things are between 5 and 12. More girls than boys, but not by much--maybe 60/40.

Maybe that is part of why my Etsy sales are slow. 7 year old kids are not looking for toys on Etsy.

No worries, though. I had FUN! Sold all of my small bunnies, most of my bed head barbies, and a lot of owls, mice and birds. Sales were way up over fair number two! I'll be pleased if I do this well at the remaining three fairs.

McDonalds has a booth across from us and Ronald McDonald was there for part of the evening. He made a special trip over to my booth to look at the monsters and bed heads up close, and to tell me that he had been eying them all night and that he really liked them.

Should I add that to the Etsy site: Endorsed by Ronald McDonald??? Or does that just prove that my target audience is between the ages of 5 and 12?

Don't forget to comment on the post below for a chance to win your very own bed head barbie. I won't check your age.

First tomatoes and Special Olympics

Two totally unrelated topics.

I found my first ripe cherry tomatoes yesterday. Four. I ate them in the garden. I don't think I even took two steps away from the plant. No sharing. No washing. Just warm, sweet bliss.

Joseph and Alex will go to the Special Olympics State meet today. Joseph competes in track tomorrow; Alex in gymnastics tomorrow. Both will stay in the dorm for two nights and come home Sunday morning. This is the first time Joseph will sleep away from both of us at the same time. It is time for this milestone, but it is hard for me. Joseph will probably be just fine as long as he has Bear. Alex has been to a one night school sleepover and a neighbor's for a sleepover, but two nights and a whole day will be a big deal. He has been clingy. Again, it is good for him to have some independence, but may be difficult. I'm not sure which I worry about more? Maybe I should just worry about me. We will go watch them compete, but will need to split up because they compete at the same time.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Revision to Give Away post

Uh... I forgot to say that I'd do a DRAWING and give away ONE Bed Head Barbie. So, I'm honoring my promise to the folks that responded before I realized my mistake, but for the rest of you, you have a CHANCE to win a bed head barbie. I'll do a random number drawing to pick the winner.

What a domestic disaster moment!

Enter by July 4...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bed Head Barbie: My first GIVE AWAY

I'm getting ready for another street fair in Westerville this Friday. I made more birds, more owls, and I have the apples all ready. But I've missed making monsters. The trouble is, no one is spending that much on an item. Small items are selling, the large ones are not. So... I made a new kind of monster. Just about 5 inches tall, they are shapeless creatures with very flat feet and really bad hair. Hmmm.... what should I call them. I know, "Bed Head Barbie." Even Barbie is shapeless when she rolls out of bed in the morning, and in slippers her feet and flat and fat, just like mine.

And, what luck, I decided to have my very first give away. A "Bed Head Barbie" give away! Just post a comment below, and be sure you give me a way to contact you, and you will have a chance to win your very own Bed Head Barbie. (I'll even ship to you free!) Or if you prefer, I'll send a Buckeye Bed Head. (If you don't know the difference, you don't live in Ohio.) You can tell me which Bed Head is your favorite, but I can't guarantee that one will still be available when the give away is over. I'll try to make a new one like it. I'll do a random number drawing on July 5th with all the entries that I get by July 4th at midnight to pick the winner.

Barbie is made from recycled, upcycled, repurposed, reclaimed wool garments. She is stuffed with wool as well. Only the thread she is sewn with is new.

So, tell your friends and be sure to respond by July 4th.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Felt Apples

I'm home. I worked hard grading from 8-5 for seven straight days. A
marathon of grading. But I had free time every evening to stitch.
These apples are my newest creation. I really love them, and they are
easy to make. They just take a bit of time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Little Vacation/Work related trip

I'm off on a little vacation aka work trip. I will be busy from 8 to 5 every day, but free after that. I've loaded the trunk of the car with projects. I'll be curious how much I actually accomplish while I'm away.

No meals to plan, no baths to give, no dishes to wash, no boys to entertain, no hugs, no kisses, no clothes to wash, no beds to make, no one to take care of except me. Sounds a bit like heaven and a bit lonely. I think I'll be really happy to return home to my crazy dysfunctional family. I'm not even gone and I already feel a bit lonely...

Maybe I'm just a bit nervous. We have to share hotel rooms. That could be okay, or it could be not so great. I've never met the person with whom I'll be sharing a room for the next 7 days...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


I showed one of this artist's Yermits in my post from a week or so ago of Etsy favorites. I find myself wandering around this Etsy shop, laughing, admiring, grinning, and marveling at the creativity. So many shops, including mine, are full of cute animals. (Well, my monsters aren't exactly cute...) This shop is full of clever, funny, irreverent, creatures that provide a bit of social commentary and a whole different kind of cuteness. You have to read the bios for each doll. It is worth the trip.

Dave? Are you listening. One of these would be a great present for your loving wife...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Alex is in Middle School!!

Today was Alex's last day of elementary school, and thus the last day of elementary school for our family.

It was bittersweet to watch him go through the ceremonies of the last day at our elementary school. DARE graduation was today also; that was different from last year. The children in the school line the halls and "clap out" all of the fifth graders. Each fifth grader is then given a chance to ring the old-fashioned school bell that sits at the entrance to the school. I think it is a great way to mark the end of the year and the transition from elementary school to middle school.

I let Alex pick our dinner for the evening. He wants to go to a fast food chain. Not my choice, but not my choice! Today is his day.

The photos are awful. I forgot camera and only had my phone. There was such a crowd I couldn't get a photo with Alex and the bell, just Alex and a tree limb. You get the idea--I hope.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

End of year teacher gifts

Thank goodness for the blog. I couldn't remember if I'd used felt
hearts as teacher gifts at Christmas. I checked the blog to find I'd
done cookies. So tomorrow the boys will take their teachers hearts
with hand made cards.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Preteens Love Hair Clips

I couldn't resist taking this photo of Jen last night. This group of preteens swarmed her table and stayed and stayed and stayed. They loved her things, had money to spend, and were so fun to watch.

Made me glad for my boys...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Collage photo using Picasa

I finally figured out how people make these collage photos for blogs. I like the technique, if not my actual set of photos. I've posted these too many times already.

I'll take a poll-- Big bunny has a neck. Small bunnies don't. Should I give small bunnies a neck? That will make them look more distinct than the mice... I guess I need to do it an post before and after photos so you know exactly what I'm talking about. But it really isn't that important. I think I'll work on a way to do it, 'cause every time I see a bunny in the yard the head is very clear.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Street Fair #2

Friday will be street fair #2 for Jen and me. I'm optimistic that it will rain here on Thursday, making the weather perfect on Friday.

I have my sign ready, and more owls (the only thing that sold last time). Since the owls sold well, I made birds, mice, and rabbits at the same price point for this month. The bigger rabbits I have on the blog may go to the fair also, but for more $. I can make them much faster than I can make a monster, so they will not be as expensive as the monsters. My goal is to double my total sales from last month. I was sick last month, and barely able to stay standing for the entire evening. I'm really looking forward to enjoying myself this time!

I'll take the monsters--they would be mad if I left them at home. I think the right person will go for a monster--but, so far that person has not visited the Etsy shop or the street fair. I'm not discouraged. I feel as if I'm just getting started in what may become my second career. (Dave is a bit worried that I'll get so ticked off at work that I'll just quit and live in thrift stores. I've promised I won't do that, but he may have reason to worry!)

I think I've worked out a new way to set up my table so that it looks less cluttered. I'm having a hard time editing my display, but I realize that I need to make it look good to get people to stop as they walk by.

Don't worry--you will have to read all about it again after it is over!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Things I love on Etsy

I can lose myself for hours looking at the beautiful things others make--and these are just things made with wool felt!

Wild Rose

Wild rose blooming in a place where I cut out a lot of invasive
honeysuckle last year. It is a neverending job. But the rewards.
Ah. The rewards.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hints for making your own patterns

I'm having so so so much fun making bunny rabbits. But I've learned an important lesson about making my own patterns. Start with a pattern for a bigger animal, and shrink it. I've been going the opposite direction. (Because I didn't want to waste fabric on a mistake. If you knew how much wool was in my house right now you would laugh at that!) The bigger animals are so much easier to make, and it is so much easier to figure out how the details should balance. Obviously other things are harder with bigger animals, like it is harder to get the ears to be firm enough so they don't flop around too much. But I like the floppy look, so some of that is okay. If I ever get the pattern "finished" and have the patience to take the step by step photos, I'll share it with instructions.

I like how both of my first bigger bunnies turned out, but I melted something onto the ear of the red and black one with the iron trying to perfect the ear shape. Whoops. The domestic disaster strikes just when I think I am safe.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I made a sign to use at the next craft fair in Westerville. (I kind of copied Resweater's idea of using cut out felt letters...) The sheep is patterned after the clip art sheep I used on my business cards, the labels for my yarn, and the "thank you" cards I include in the box with any Etsy purchase. I'm happy with how it turned out. I may try to figure out how to add it to the Etsy site.

FYI--wool felt is saving my sanity at work. Every time I think about the things that are making me crazy I stop myself and think about my bunny patterns. How can I make the pattern a little bit better? What happens if I make the body this way, or that way? Maybe bigger? Maybe different ears? Etc. etc. Again-- I'm having a very stressful time at work, and this new hobby/obsession/or whatever is helping me take it one day at a time. Just a few more weeks 'till summer break.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Garden mostly in

I worked hard today to get most of the garden in. Rain expected next few days. Garden just opened yesterday.

It almost feels like cheating to garden in a community garden where a tractor plows the plot for you. No shovel needed. Just plant. We don't have enough sun at home to do a decent garden. This community garden is about 1/2 mile away. Free with a suggested 25 dollar donation to church whose property is used for the garden. If they plow, and they have water barrels full all summer so I don't have to haul water from home, I'm happy.

I didn't use the black plastic last year, but I got a double size plot this year and didn't want to spend all summer weeding. I observed the gardening techniques of others last summer. The black plastic seems pretty successful--especially if you get it secured well enough.

I'll post more photos as the summer progresses.

FYI 3 hills zuchinni, 2 hills pumpkin (new this year), 2 hills cucumber, two rows green beans, 14 tomato plants, 2 pepper plants, and soon four short rows of corn (also new this year). I'm also letting one of Joseph's helpers have about a third of the second plot. Unless I get really crazy and plant four long rows of corn! The raccoons might get the corn, so I think I'll start small. Anything I'm forgetting?

Harry and Harold

These two showed up in my garden today. They are the brothers of the bunny with my favorite button eyes--I've named him Harvy. I think they are triplets. I put feet on Harvy so now he can jump around with his brothers.

OK--I've gone over the edge...