Today, I'm Fascinated By...

... Brooklyn Tweed ...(big time sigh)

Do you knit? Perhaps you are a lover of beautifully knitted garments? Well, you simply MUST stop and take a visit over at Jared Flood's website and blog, Brooklyn Tweed. Jared is a Brooklyn based knitwear designer and photographer, and his blog is one I haven't been able to leave all day. It's all about the knitting, the projects, and the photographs. They are simply beyond good!

I knit, that is, I knit when time permits. Perhaps I should say that I knit when there's an opening in my schedule... and that's not as often as I'd like. I aspire to make the most beautifully knitted items I can possibly make. Knitting is a beloved pastime, born of moments filled with relaxing and creating at the same time. It's lovely. I was lucky enough to learn to knit when The Grove opened near my then home, and Susan Wells came into my life. I had always wanted to learn, for my mother and sister were both avid knitters. I just couldn't learn from them. But, Susan's patience and confidence in my abilities were just what I needed. Under Susan's guidance, I became a successful and somewhat adventuresome knitter, and even got to the point where I could teach knitting classes at The Grove. What a gift!

Jared's knitting prowess is evident in this gorgeous scarf, made from the "Aran Cashmere Scarf" pattern (here's the link on Ravelry) out of the book Simple 1-2-3 Knitting. Do you think this is going to be my next project? Heck YES! Well, that is after I finish the 7 current knitting projects I have on the needles...

Oh, and just one other thing from my daily fascinations... and that would be Cope's Corn. (Yes, this is a post of the moment, after a bit of New's Years celebrating at home... a bit of champagne, and Cope's Corn pudding, what more does one need or want?!) So, when we visited Colonial Williamsburg at Thanksgiving, we spent a wonderful evening at Christiana Campbell's Tavern, and were treated to the most delectable Spoon Corn Bread ever on this earth. Tonight, I made a lovely Toasted Sweet Corn Pudding out of the last issue of Gourmet Magazine, with a special order of Cope's Corn from the Pennsylvania Dutch area. It was glorious. As I savored spoonful after delectable spoonful (can you tell how much I liked it?!), my husband asked if it wasn't similar to the spoon bread from Williamsburg. That's when I located the recipe, which I will be making up very SOON, and I will be using Cope's Corn, which I'm sure will be every bit as wonderful as it was at Christiana Campbell's Tavern. Yum! Now, if I could only replicate those crab cakes...

Happy New Year, everyone! 2010, here we come!!!

Year End Musings + Thankfulness

Even though 2009 challenged us in many ways, if we can think of the things that made us feel thankful instead of what's made us grumpy, our reflections might prove that 2009 wasn't as bad as we thought after all. In an effort to put things into perspective, and get 2010 started off on the right foot, here are a few things I'm awfully glad that came into my life over the last year, and look for more good things to come as the new year soon gets underway.

*The blessings of being accepted as a needle felting teacher at Paper Tales, and all the creative women I've met along the way. I love sharing my craft with others, and showing them a new tool for bringing loveliness into their lives.

*A silly girl, Abbie, who is beloved to my mother. Abbie is a Bichon Frise, and a true princess. Lola and I share our mornings together with Abbie as we walk and visit with all the neighbor hood pups. Lola is friendly with everyone, while Abbie tolerates only a few. Abbie has taught me patience, and bossiness too, as it's very important that a princess pup not be the one in charge! Lola gave Abbie the special Christmas collar. Doesn't she wear it like a true princess?!

*Lola, who is the rock of our family, she keeps us playful and grounded, and teaches us that there's nothing more important that giving and being loved. She's such a special girl! Here she's playing in her new king sized bed she got for Christmas from Grammy and Abbie. She's gone ape for this giant new addition to our home. I swear it's made for a Great Dane!

*A holiday filled with more sales and custom orders than I have begun to count. Even though I am still recovering from all that work, I am so touched that you entrusted me with your special requests, and desires for special gifts for your loved ones. I continue to be energized by your enthusiasm for what I do, and will keep on doing it with all your support. I just know 2010 will be a great year in my studio, with lots of new and exciting ideas swirling around in my head. I can't wait to put the creative fingers in motion!

Birdie brooches for a custom order, ready to fly the coop!

Here's a beautiful custom sweater I made. The method I experimented with, piecing the felted sweater sections together, will take my work in a whole new direction this next year. I can't wait to get started with this!

*My continued love for knitting, which grounds me in a way like no other. My sweet Knitting Girls are a big part of my life, and our relationship takes me places I could never go on my own. I love you, Girls!!

*Most especially, my family. My boys are growing up so fast, I just can't believe it. It seems only yesterday that Kyle ended up in the ER the day after Christmas, after pulling the heavy reindeer stocking holder down on his head, thinking there were going to be treats in his stocking every day. Thankfully, the antler didn't put his eye out!

*And most of all, my husband, who is as silly with me as when we first met, 20 years ago. Dang! How in the heck does time fly by so unGodly fast?! Shucks...

Hey, Happy New Year to you! Enjoy the festivities, and please be safe. See you next year, where we'll share all kinds of adventures galore, and we'll just have the best time doing so. :o)

Christmas Vignettes From Me To You...xx

Christmas has finally arrived at my house... 'thankfully!', my boys mutter under their breath. What they don't realize is the holiday festivities have appeared because we are hosting a holiday party this weekend. If not for that, the decorating might have taken even more of a backseat, because I'm STILL working on custom orders...

Here's a view of our Santa collection. Most are hand carved wooden pieces, gourds, or stuffed and painted canvas. All are handmade, and very special. It's a treat for me to take the Santas out each year, and display them in a special place.

These are a few of the special snowmen I've recently started collecting. I also love the old bottle brush trees. I admit I've only put half of my collection on display this year, due to my husband's plea of "please keep it simple", due to our upcoming gathering of friends who mock my passion for overdecorating. Usually, I display them on fake snow, and really pig it up. So, next year, I'll be back to my old tricks because for now I'm keeping it dang simple...

Okay, I couldn't resist displaying my favorite yarn in a stacked Christmas tree fashion. My husband has no say over this display, I love it so :o)

Here's my very most special display for this Christmas; a bouquet I made from pods and cuttings I purchased from a lovely farmers market in Colonial Williamsburg when we were there last month. Did I tell you that I want to move to Historic Williamsburg? I just know my soul is rooted in Colonial Virginia! Did I tell you that I want to sit and knit all day while wearing colonial dress and telling people "Good Day"? Did I mention that I dream of the wooded areas in Virginia, and I loved it there more than words can say? (sigh)

Here's a little friendly fellow, an acorn cap from Williamsburg which I've adorned with a needle felted acorn. Sweet, no?!

Back to Coronado... This lovely camilla tree is right outside our front door, and when the flowers drop off the tree, I can't help but line them up at the feet of St. Francis. They are more beautiful than words, and the blooms last in this manner for days.

Well, I hope you are having yourself a Merry Little Christmas season, or a Happy Hanukkah season, or Happy Kwanza, or just a plain old Happy Holidays!!!

It's Snowing Over Here!!!

Photo and snow on my blog courtesy of ABunCanDance. Thank YOU for helping winterize my blog!

Can you see it?! Isn't it exciting?! I've had the most delightful time blog-visiting tonight, and I couldn't wait another minute to share some wonderful finds. Most especially, the falling snow :o)

The next bit of whimsy that I want to share with you belongs on a blog called Dottie Angel. There's a sweet story over there that you must read. It will get you into the spirit of the season in a wonderfully vintage handmade sort of way that really just needs to be ... well, experienced.

And finally for tonight, is this holiday pictorial delight swiped off Jolly All Sorts blog. This is exactly how I want my entire world to look; happy, snowman-y, and all red and teal. Since I'm still in finishing up the custom orders mode, and in planning for the big Christmas dinner party (it's our year to host...), nary a stitch of decorating has been done within the confines of my house... sniff. But I will begin, and SOON. For I have a deadline, and as we all know, I work BEST under pressure. Heck, don't we all :o) Have a happy snowman-y day!

Just LOVE them!

A Constant Dinner Guest

Whether invited or not, look who shows up... our constant dinner companion, Mr. Singer. He tries to fix himself up with a dusting off of all the loose threads and fluff, and sends the wayward spools of thread and bobbins back to their sewing box. But he comes as he is, and when he's there, he seems to just stay PUT. Oh well, the workhorse that he is, I suppose he can sit, relax, and listen to our conversation. He deserves a night off every once in a while!

And guess who will be arriving soon to hang out with Mr. Singer? Well, who else, but Ms. Singer!! Hooray! As you know, I've been wanting a dress form, and I found the one of my dreams. It's an antique 1930's Singer adjustable dress form, and I found it on eBay. Guess what my winning bid was? .... $12.50! What luck! Ms. Singer is up in LA, but will soon be transported to Val's Art Studio to start her new and very active life here with Mr. Singer.

Oh golly, aren't we just one big happy family?!

Now For The Necklace...

The necklace is all about... felt, what else?! Well, okay, included are beads and crystals, and the loveliest shibori silk ribbon you've ever seen.

So, my post about the dress and the necklace, both of which were responsible for several sleepless nights, finally resolved when I made up MY dress and MY necklace.

Somehow, people were confused, for it was Marcia deCoster who made the sample necklace in my post.

I suppose I had the felted leaves brewing their way into my subconsciousness, along with the Shibori silk necklace ribbon. I didn't like the unfinished portion of the ribbon, and that's when Marcia's inspirational beadwork woke me in the middle of the night, presenting the perfect finishing solution. Whereas Marcia's sophisticated clasp has an A and B side, mine is simplier; the ribbon ties on the back of the neck, either in a bow or a knot. Still quite a lovely solution, if you ask me!

I've made two of these necklaces so far. The first sold the moment it went on display, and the second is up at Somerset Studios being photographed for an upcoming jewelry publication.

I love the construction of this piece. It incorporates sculpture in the form of sculpting wool roving into the shape and size desired. It involves a small amount of metal sculpting, in that I add a handmade clasp on the back so the piece can be worn as a pin. It involves the selection of fabric in the shibori silk ribbon, and it involves a small amount of beading, which is about all the beading I can manage!

So, it pretty much covers all my bases. This piece makes for a home run in my book ;o)

A Dress and A Necklace, part 2

Do you remember the post from a couple months ago about the dress and the necklace that were responsible for keeping me up at night? (What?! You don't?! Well, HECK!) Anyhow, the post was called A Reason Not To Sleep, and now I am finally going to show you what became of those two most inspirational pieces.

First, the dress. The inspiration came from a Banana Republic dress with a ruched under the bust upper section, and flat middle panel to define the waist, and a lovely pleated skirt. I just couldn't stop thinking about that dress! Well, here's my take on the dress. I call this piece Swirled Grace.

The upper section is from a black cashmere sweater which I've turned backward, putting the buttons in back. The flat middle panel is from a separate sweater which I've embellished all the way around with needle felting. And, the bottom pleated section is formed in two sections which hang freely from each other. Sort of like a Gladiator outfit, or even two loincloths (what a visual!), but working very nicely for a "hippy" woman, because the fabric falls straight down, without emphasizing the hips. Wear a pair of black pants underneath, and it is so flattering!

Here's the back of the sweater, showing the button detail. (These pictures are terrible, and I so apologize. It's a rainy grey day today, and I can't seem to manage a good picture without my usual bright SoCal sunbeam)

And here's the side zip entry. You can see the gladiator panels a bit better in this picture. Now, when I wear this piece, since I am very long waisted, a triangular peek of skin shows on each side of my waist-very sexy! If I'm feeling rather large that day, a simple black shell under the vest solves the skin peekiness, no problem!

It's a lovely piece, and I appreciate all the comments from people admiring it on Saturday. And no, I didn't remove a rib to get so skinny in my waist, I just came that way! Just so you know, I can make you your very own custom piece just like this. The sweater selection will vary, and possibly the colors too, but it will be every bit as special as "Swirled Grace"!

Upcoming next: The Necklace... Stay tuned!

Hey All You Needlefelters!

Were you at Artisans' Alley today? Did you visit me, and see I wasn't laying prone in my booth?! (:o) Yea! I'm happy you came!) Do you want to learn how to Needlefelt in a similar style as I do? Well, now you have the opportunity! Call over to Paper Tales, and get yourself signed up for my CLASS! Next Saturday, Dec. 12 from 3-6 pm, you can learn how to make an AWESOME Needlefelted Birdy book cover. It's so magical and cute! It will be the start of your needle felting journey, and I will teach you how to do exactly the same thing as what I do. Once you learn the basic step, you can take it into any direction your heart desires. Hooray! So, call over to Paper Tales right now! and get yourself signed UP. The class is limited to 10 people, so Hurry UP! You'll be glad you did :o)

PS. I wrote this post 1.25 hours after I returned home from Artisans' Alley, and after my husband made me a very stiff martini. I don't know how my typing looks, and it's a good thing my computer tells me when I make a mistake, because there's LOTS that needs fixing here!

PPS. I loved seeing ALL of you today, and your comments ROCKED, make my DAY and YEAR spin out of ORBIT, and make everything I do completely worthwhile. I love you and all your support more than you will EVER know! xxxooo :o)


Mmm humm, that would be me. Just two days before Artisans' Alley, no less. Here's how the bad boy went down...

So, living in a small town like Coronado, my motto is, whatever we can, we walk or take the bike. I was doing my errands on the bike on Monday, when all the sudden, a parked truck's huge door came flying at me. With no time to react, my bike and I were sprawled all over the street. I got up, seemed okay, and my bike seemed fine. I thought the driver was going to start crying, but enough about her. I just wanted to get away!

My hips seemed a little wobbly, but I did some stretching exercises, took it easy that night, popped a Motrin, and went to bed early. Okay for the next two days, I congratulated myself for making it through that incident with only two skinned and bruised knees, and mildly wobbly hips. Then, last night, I bent over, and POW! my lower back went out... wouldn't you know it? Dang it all, and dang that dumb woman driver who doesn't look into her rearview mirror before chucking open the biggest car door on the planet.

So, I'll be off visiting the chiropractor today, and maybe tomorrow. I'll be icing my lower back, and trying to stay away from doing too much. I won't be lifting anything, mind you, for about two weeks to come. (try that when you have about a million things to haul for a craft show) Sheesh! Why in the heck didn't I get that drivers license plate number, just so I could give her the old one-two punch like she's given me?!

Let that be a lesson to you if you ever get door slammed while riding your bike. At least stop long enough to get a name or a number, or at the very least, a license number. No telling what'll become of you after a few days of wobbly hips...

So, I will be at Artisans' Alley, bad back and all. If I'm lying flat on my booth floor, just give me a smile and a nod as you gently step over me. I won't mind a bit, and I'll be happy to chat and write up the occasional sale!