goodbye control freak, hello faith

As we prepare for the start of a brand new year, I find myself pondering some of the quiet thoughts that were my constant companions over the past year. A few so called "friends" with names like Shame, Blame, and Unreal Expectations. Certain aspects of my past year have been particularly mind-breakingly hard... Do you know that feeling too? We're together in this, girlfriend...

I want to start a brand, spankin' new year off right, yes-siree! I am going to leave my 2011 brain baggage behind, leave it forever slowly spinning on the 2011 carousal. Yep. I will start my year with an open mind, with fresh Hope, fresh Faith, and looking towards new possibilities. I just can't wait!

Before I judge, I will listen (to my heart)
I will work towards speaking softly, and let Faith be my guide
I will smile more, and fret less
I will cheer each day as I awake with Hope in my heart
I will work to sooth away angry words and thoughts
And, I will let Nature be my spiritual healer.

I wish you and yours a wonderful and Happy New Year, and hope the blessings of the season reveal themselves to you, so that you can take the best of yourself into the brave new year!

x, Val

A Pop Up show TOMORROW!

Birds are flying in... It's a flock, I tell you... Not only am I all about the world of birdies, but many of the women who support me are too. Well, birds of a feather flock together, right? Welcome friends, is all I have to say!

Tomorrow is a Pop Up Shop at the home of the Talmadge Show organizers, Sharon Gorevich and Alan Greenberg. You can find out more about it here. The show runs from 10-4. I will be one of 14 artists, and though I am pretty much all holiday needle felted out, I am excited to be included in this wonderful venue. A last big hip-hooray before Christmas. I am praying the weather cooperates. It's supposed to be windy and wintery. A festive Pop Up Shop day! Come out and join the fun, and do your last minute gift shopping! Pop on by :o)

The birdies and I will be there to say "Hi!"
x, Val

Blog Hop Winners!

Image courtesy of Sea Dream Studio

Hi Blog-hoppers! Thanks for checking back on my blog to see if you won! Here are the three winners of my giveaway. (I just put all the comments in a basket and picked. No method to my madness over here!) The winners have one week to get in touch with me, and if I don't hear from them, I will pick new winners. So, do not fear, you may still win! And don't forget to keep coming back, because I am planning another After Holiday Giveaway with overflow from all my holiday happenings!

Ok, ready? Drum roll, please.....

  1. Rose Red!
  2. Marfa!
  3. Natasha of N's Whims!

Winners, here's what you need to do to claim your prize:

Email me at, and give me your
  • your first and second choice of prize (yes, it's first come, first served!)
  • address where you you want me to mail your item
Remember, if I haven't heard from you in one week's time, then I will choose a new winner to fill your spot. So you have until next Wed, Dec. 21st at midnight to contact me!

Thanks again everyone. I really enjoyed all your comments, and meeting each one of you on Facebook, and the blog. Hope you had fun!
x, Val

Hey, Beautiful Girl!

Today I did something really special. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. It felt full of giving and remorse, but it was beautiful all the same. Do you know what I did? I downloaded a song off iTunes that I used to listen to with reckless abandon in high school... Is that weird? Heck, it made me feel so good, and brought me right back to what I was feeling at that time in my life. Wow... A 50 year old dropping in on her 15 year old life... what a trip!!! I felt like I was a teenager again... all that angst and heartache...sheesh... it's just so good and so bad! Takes me into the world of my teenage sons. Well, maybe just a little bit...

Girl, have you heard about the Brave Girls Club? No? Heck, girl! You need to know about being a brave girl! It will get you moving.... off the couch and downloading your songs from when you were 15! (just kidding- really, I did that before I read today's post.) Being a Brave Girl is about touching your soul with kindness. Sign up for the daily emails. You will be so glad you did!

Today, I honored myself. Wow, I tuned into me. It totally felt so good. Now, please excuse me, cause I'm gonna go listen to that favorite song again. And I'm going to turn it up really loud! That's the way it's gonna be :o)

Live in happiness!
x, Val

Wooly wizardy

How is it possible to turn a ball of wooly fluff into the cutest version of a snowman possible? Wooly snow wizardry, with a small barbed needle, of course! My Smitten Snowman class showed the girls who wanted to learn needle felting how easy and rewarding it can be. With a lot of patience, and a deft eye, you can create beautiful soft sculpture with minimal tools, or experience. Take a look to see how things turned out!

We began with a lesson on needle felting tools, and the dos and don'ts about how to avoid stabbing yourself. Fortunately, we only had one minor stabbing incident, and one major one that happened to me (OUCH!) That is pretty much the number one thing we discuss in class. lol.

After our snowman shapes were created, some of us decided to give ours a cold tea bath, and laughed over jokes involving peeing too much tea (ok, I digress!) Here are the tea bathers sunning themselves dry...

We worked on making the base, and I heard many comments that the base took more work than the snowmen. See, I just knew you would all love the needle felting part so much :o) Everyone's base came out incredibly beautiful They were each a work of art, and I wish I'd photographed the bases before we attached the snowmen.

Here are the finished products, aka Snow Friends! (except for mine. He's the naked one on the left. I guess I was doing too much talking to keep up with everyone else!)
You were an amazing and talented group of crafting girls, and I enjoyed my day so much! Come and take a class from me again soon. I'm thinking up a fun project for Valentines Day...
Happy Holidays to everyone!
x, Val

I'm on papernstitch!

Hello Blog Hoppers! If you are new here, click this link to go directly to the post that tells you what you need to do to enter my giveaway. If you are back for another visit, welcome back! I will be working on plenty of new and exciting adventures, and hope you will return regularly to see what's going on in my busy studio!

Tomorrow is the Smitten Snowman class, and it's all filled up. If you are interested in taking a class like this from me in the future, please leave me a comment and I will add you to my class email list. (Make sure to give me your email address) That way you will get first notice when I have a brand new needle felting class on the schedule!

In other news, I am in the brand new Papernstitch exhibit that just opened! Click here to see all the wonderful shops in this exclusive online temporary exhibit, or here to go directly to my Papernstitch page. You will see that I am offering a special promotion for all papernstitch shoppers! So many great shopping opportunities. Wow, buy handmade, and you don't even have to leave the comfort of your home! "Shop Small, Not Mall" is my motto this holiday season, and I feel really good doing just so :o)

Have a magical weekend!
x, Val

Handmade gift giving, an easy Tutorial!

Hi there! If you find this, or another of my
tutorials helpful and would like to make a monetary contribution 
to help me keep my woolie ideas flowing, I would be most grateful.
By clicking the "Buy Now" button below you can 
choose your own price for the tutorial. 
It's completely optional, but so appreciated! 

Hey there! How is the holiday season treating you so far? I hope you are not feeling overwhelmed with it quite yet - it's too soon! I just try to take one day at a time, and do things now, rather than waiting til later. Somehow, most things manage to get done!

I thought I'd offer a quick and very easy tutorial on an easy-to-make handmade gift; kitchen hand towels! Everyone uses them, and everyone is always up for having a few that are especially cute. Plus, they make wonderful hostess gifts, or girl-friend gifts!

As you may know, I am a big lover of Spoonflower, a special online shop where you can upload your designs and make them into fabric. What fun! Well, you can also shop from about a million other fabric designers, and find some fantastic art fabric you'd never find in your local fabric store. Take a look at this fantastic print I stumbled upon... I knew I just had to make something with these fun designs:
Designcrafty's 4 fat quarters pattern can be found here. *Update: Oh no... this pattern is no longer available :o( For an equally fun Spoonflower site, visit DennisTheBadger's page: here, or click here to see a page of kitchen inspired fabrics.
I ordered the yardage in the Linen/Cotton blend, which is a wonderful weight, just right for tea towels. I cut the 4 quarters apart, double folded under each edge, and ironed flat.

I used some of the salvaged edge fabric to make a hanging tab by folding the cut edges into the middle and machine stitching the open edge closed. (*Note: you can also use white Bias Tape for this step, which means no extra folding and ironing... bonus!) I then cut this into 4" long pieces, and pinned them into the backside corners so they would be sewn in once I stitched the towels up.

1-2-3, easy as pie! Well, easier in fact... once I got rolling, I could make a tea towel from start to finish in about 15-20 minutes.

Fold them in a cute way, and tie a sweet ribbon around them, and they are all ready for gift giving. Now, you are free to go visit with your girlfriends and enjoy that cup of tea :o)

Happiest of the holidays to you!

x, Val

Blog Hop Newby

blog hop

Yep, I'm a newby at this! ... Some of you have asked if I'm participating in the Blog Hop, and yes! I am. I'm a wee bit late to the party (sorry!), plus I've been a bit unsure how to proceed. But I'm going to give it my best shot, so, here we go! ....

Here is a list of the amazing and talented group of artists who are participating in this blog hop. You should visit each blog to be entered into each artist's drawing. Hey! There are 7 chances to win, and some artists are choosing a winner everyday!

My plan is to give away two items from my Handmade shop (YEA!), and one selection of sparkle topcoat nail polish so you can have some crazy bling nails, just like this:

I will be giving away one of my most popular prints, Be Strong and Soar, pictured here:

Plus, one of my Mr. Toasty pillows, which is the cutest dang Toast pillow you have ever laid eyes on!

You can enter the giveaway by doing one or more of the following:

- Like me on my Facebook page, to do that go here
- Become a follower of my blog, by clicking on the Follow button on the left sidebar
- leave me a comment on my blog

Each action item will give you one entry into the giveaway. The blog hop lasts for one week (until next Wednesday, Dec 14 at midnight). I will be selecting the three winners from the comments, and I will announce the winners on my blog on Thursday, Dec 15th, so be sure to check back next Thursday to see if you are a winner! Also, if you commented in my last post, you will automatically be entered into the drawing, never fear :o)

**Remember to leave a note in the comments which actions you chose to do, maybe even all three!

Ok, time to get blog-hopping. Good luck!

x, Val

Holiday Hopping + a BIG Thank You!

New Sparkle Santa art pillow by Val- so elegant and fun!

Sounds like something you do at Easter time, but no! This is a Blog Hop, and it's happening during the holidays, and I am really excited to participate :o) I am awaiting all the juicy details, so I can tell you all about it. It involves something we all love; a Giveaway- actually, multiple Giveaways! Plus, some exposure to a few new and creatively inspired blogs. I can't wait to get started! I'll post about it just as soon as I can.

On a different note, I want to thank you all for a great weekend. Both events were a big success, as the Handmade Revolution in my neighborhood continues to grow stronger and thrive. "Buying local", "supporting handmade" and "giving back" were things people repeatedly told me they want to support. And I want to support it too! It's music to my ears, and to all the local talent out there. We depend on your support to thrive. It just doesn't happen unless you help make it happen. You are so awesome!

xx, Val

Artisans' Alley

Guys, it's the honest truth, I'm too dang tired to write a post... so you will have to bear with my ramblings...

Here's a very small sneak preview of what's in store for Artisans' Alley tomorrow. Come and see me in Booth 93 *** I've been moved from where I've been for the past 5 years!*** If you look for me at the old spot, walk two rows west (away from the food area) and turn right, I'm 5 booths down on the right!

This is my newest "larger girls" sweater, made completely of upcycled wool with a gorgeous needle felted bird. Now fitting size Large! Woohoo, I did it! (big helper Mona saved the day with her missy sweater pattern for the larger woman. Thanks Mona!)

And, can't forget about these... be prepared to shield your eyes :o)

Ok, I'm off to bed now. Hope to see you, and say hi tomorrow. It's bound to be an extra fun day!
x, Val

Whoo's News?

"Me, that's whooo..."

I've been working out some new designs for sweet plush friendly owls. (aren't they cute?!) I had made up a few as a trial, and they all sold at my last two shows. That's a pretty good sign that I should do a small production run. The production trial run is tricky, because I try to fine tune all the steps in order to make them in as little time as possible, with as few steps as possible. Keep in mind that I am doing all the work myself, so I look very carefully at whether this new item will work into being a being a new category in my "line", and if I can train my helpers to do some of the work... Most importantly, can I make them for a price range that people will support??

I start by rummaging through my scrap bagS (there are many) At least I have them organized according to color! Once I get everything thoroughly messed up, patterns and colors sort themselves out, and I begin cutting and piecing. Ears and wings were giving me trouble... , but it's my mistakes that usually help pave the way towards discovery of a better way. I just love that indecision and mistakes always seem to work in my favor!

This one has the "before" ears and stick out wings...

And, here's the "after"... Oooh, I do love this one so! Isn't he extra Friendly??!

It's the skinnier ears, (and I LOVE that they are cheetah :o), and am so, so, so much happier with these new wings, close to the body with a big of fluff stuffed inside. The next step is making a couple more, and see if I can get the production time down. Right now I'm at 1.5 hour from scrap hunting to last finish stitch. I'd love if I could make them a wee bit faster.

It's the process I love. That, and the sewing. Oh yeah, all the colorful fabrics, and the yummy recycled felted wool too ... I do so love to stitch it all up, with the mish-mash of colored embroidery floss. I just love it all!

Have a HOOT of a week!
x, Val

PS. These new Owls (plus many more!) will be for sale this Saturday at Artisans' Alley. What a fun holiday shopping event. Mark your calendars. It runs from 9-3...Or, don't be shy about popping over to my etsy shop, and you can pick one up there!

Sparkle Sketch

The sparkle nail polish parties are fueling my every creation these days. I just can't help it, the sparkle draws me into it's whirling dervish. I'm completely in love with everything sparkle!

It's a very hard thing to photograph, sparkle ink on paper... good lord, I am seriously contemplating a new camera in order to get a good sparkle shot. What has come over me???! Let me know if you can recommend the best camera that might suit my sparkly needs!

This sweet hopeful bird-hugging girl is from a recent sketchbook entry. She has a gloriously sparkly headband, shoes and striped sweater band, but you just can't tell in this photo...

I took about 25 pictures to show you my sparkle squares, but only one or two show up. My sparkle nails do look nice though... aren't they positively galactic?! (Thanks Julia!)

Here's my newest fave for sketching and drawing... Spica sparkle pens. (What else?!)

Even the most mundane tasks go smoothly with sparkle polish on your nails. I love every fun stitch :o)

Stay tuned for an introduction to what's being stitched up in my studio. I hope to have several made up for Artisans' Alley... coming up next Saturday!

Have a lovely sparkly rest of your holiday weekend :o)
x, Val

Local Love

Who do you love? (besides your favorite peeps) Turkey? Pumpkin pie? Yep, I know, cause I love them too! Black Friday? Ugh, those crowds, and all that consumerism makes me insane.

How about the people in your own neighborhood? Someone close by is working hard to make your area feel special. I hope you love your local merchants, and will join the cause to support them by buying local this coming Saturday. It's Shop Small Saturday, and I, for one, am planning to do my part, and shop local! And, yes, I will be giving Handmade gifts this holiday season, and soooo proud of it. I hope you are inspired to do the same :o)

Sweet banner courtesy of

Happiest while giving back....
x, Val

magic hope

Page from my sketch book for the 2012 Sketchbook Project. My theme is Hope.

Hope is one thing that keeps me going day after day. Even on days when things are tough, and hope seems far away and fleeting, the next morning dawns, and hope springs anew. I think that's pretty magic. :o)

My art journal for the 2012 Sketchbook Project is coming along, and I am happy with my progress. I am almost 1/2 way through the book. Today, I received my second sketch book, for I have joined the Limited Edition Sketchbook Project as well. At least I have until April 30th to finish this 2nd book. You still have time to join this project, if you are so inclined. You must sign up by Jan 31st, 2012 if you are interested. My theme for the LE version is Thread and Surface. I just love that, and am already brain storming ways to incorporate thread into the surface of my sketches. Piece of cake!

Thanks to all of you who came out to the wonderful Talmadge Art Show this past Sunday (only yesterday? Good lord, my day has been a whirl!) A fantastic group of artists, an incredible crowd, and amazing organizers; Sharon Gorevich and Alan Greenberg have been running this successful show for an amazing 19 years! I had a great day, and am very thankful for all the Hope you bring into my heart. Your appreciation for what I do means the world to me!

Here's a video clip that ran on TV a week ago. I didn't see it due to being tied up with the previous weekend's show, so I'm thankful Sharon posted it on You Tube. Gotta love You Tube! I was one of the featured artists on this clip. Enjoy...

Enjoy your week, and happy Thanksgiving preparations!
x, Val

Winter is coming!

Though you'd never know it here in San Diego. We dream of snow days, and frosted windows, and a roaring crackling fire, with cups of steaming cocoa. But then we are happy to leave all that to those north and east of us, as we head out for a run in the 68 degree weather! Oops, sorry, I got a bit side tracked there...

I always love doing a few special holiday pillows. They are little art and mood snippets, and each one inspires the next. I mix up coordinating colors of recycled wool, sew them up, then needle felt a fun scene to the surface. Once that's in place, I select some trim fabric, or ribbon, sew it around the edges, then back it with some fabric scraps I have recycled from another project. Stuff it full of fluff, and there you go! A sweet winter scene to bring cheer to a special spot.

These charming pillows will be on sale at this weekend's Talmadge Art Show. Come out this Sunday from 10-4 to Liberty Station, and see all the winter finery (and more!) offered by a very talented group of artists. Looking forward to seeing you there!

x, Val

My best customers

... are fourth graders. Yes, it's true. Fourth graders love, love, LOVE the "Cutes", aka Friendlys. Fourth graders have allowances. They are good savers, and wait to spend their money on something they really want. They tell their friends. And they are pretty good about convincing their parents just what they need. Yes, boys and girls alike are drawn to my sweet line of Cutes, and I will pretty much always prefer to sell my things wherever children shop. :o)

Thanks to all of you who came out to shop Local Color, and support the Museum School. You were a great group of people, and I loved meeting each and every one of you! Come back and see me again, for I'm doing the Talmadge Art Show this coming weekend, on Sunday, Nov 20th. It's your chance to buy your special someone a Toasty pillow, or Mr. Sushi, or one of those other Cutes you saw at my booth. Thanks so much for your support!

x, Val

Sparkle Sunday

The truth of the matter is that sparkle nails just make everything better!

My niece, Julia, and I have been having a weekly sparkle fest. It's so much fun! I think between the two of us, we now own nearly every sparkle nail polish Target stocks. We have practiced several options; polish first covered with sparkle, or just plain sparkle. Does the polish lasts longer with or without sparkle? Do we need top coat after sparkle?

I'm happy to report that polish, covered with sparkle, covered with top coat lasts over a week! Even if you scrub the sink with Comet 3-4 times because someone left an iron pan in the sink over night, and you are trying to get rid of the rust stain.... Yes! The sparkle lasts like a champ. In fact, it's a l i t t l e tough to remove. Just a fair warning. Takes something like a jackhammer to get that sparkle off... but it's totally worth it! It's so awesomely bling-y!!

I planned my sparkle to go with this dress. I'm planning to wear it tomorrow to the Local Color Craft Fair. The event is in a warehouse building, and it's bound to be chilly. Not for me though! This yummy wooly dress, my black boots and jeans, and sparkle nails! I'll be one toasty and hot mama!

Come out to Local Color between 11 and 3, and check out the fun and festivities. Lots of my favorite local vendors will be there too, including Make Good, Colleen Townend and Boy Girl Party. There are all sorts of great things to do besides shop too, in case you are pinching your pennies. There's crafts for the kids, a gastrotruck, and an old fashioned photo booth. I can't wait, and think it will be an awesome day! See you there!

x, Val

Hopeful Heart

"Hope" is my chosen theme for the 2012 Sketchbook Project

Sometimes I just need a few moments to lose myself in paint.... or colored pencils... or sweet Friendlys... in some sewing.... or in Hope....

I wanted to post about the 2012 Sketchbook project last week, just in case you thought you might want to join. I heard about this project last winter, when it was too late to join, but I signed up to be notified about it for next year... this year now. (I'm sorry to report the deadline to enter for this year has passed. Oh well, there's next year, right?) I received a small sketchbook in the mail, along with a shirt, and I signed up to have my book digitally entered into the project. I have until mid January to finish the sketchbook. All my thoughts about .... Hope.

Now only an amazing three pages into the sketchbook, I find bits and pieces of time where I can paint my dreams about Hope. I don't have too much free time right now, but I will carve out time so I can fill up my pretty book. It will eventually go on tour with a multitude of other sketchbooks. I love the idea of my artistic sketches going on tour in a museum show ... originating at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City... hee hee :o)

If you are so inclined, you can get in on the Limited Edition Sketchbook Project by clicking this link here. And I have a super secret code that will get you $2.00 off if you want to join, or buy a copy of the Limited Edition book. Ready? Here it is:


Have yourself a Hopeful Fall weekend!
x, Val

Stuck on you

Urrgh... it's happening to me again. I'm so stuck on you... dang it all!

I ordered the Mary Flanagan textured mini wool bundles from Purl Soho in a recent late night pity party. (pity party action is here, and what I consoled myself with here) The package arrived last week, late afternoon. Everything just screeched to an abrupt halt in the studio... (rolling eyes)

See that luscious big checkered felt on the bottom of the stack? Do you see where it landed in this oh-so-cute little girls jumper? Yep. It was the sole reason this jumper came into being. Something
super special had to get happenin' with that luscious felt. I didn't stop there. Oh no...

From there I moved towards a lovely shift. See how it all came together so nicely? I only spent about 1/2 a day on finding just the right shades of sweater wool to go matching the textured bundles. (Oh, dang you, Mary Flanagan! I am just so stuck on you now!)

Yes, I know, there could be things lots worse than this.

So, how about you? Do you get hopelessly stuck on things too, so that everything just come to a big ol' halt until you can get it out of your system? I know it's the creative artist in us, and it is really a very good thing. For where else would we find inspiration if there weren't things that just stopped us dead in our tracks, and make us pay attention?!

Here's to making artistic headway...

x, Val