Thursday, July 31, 2008

National Public Radio Story Corps coming to Grand Junction

A few weeks ago, I talked about my friend in Denver making a reservation for the National Public Radio Story Corps (NPR).

Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have shared life stories with family and friends in StoryBooths in New York City and Nashville, and in MobileBooths traveling the country year-round. Everybody’s story matters, every life counts...

I made a reservation to tell one of my stories a few days ago since the NPR MobileBooth is coming to my home town for two weeks next month. My slot is reserved for August 12 in Grand Junction, Colorado, the last stop on its national tour.

If you would like to tell one of your life stories, go here to make your reservation for an interview.

And to listen to a few stories from around the country, here is the StoryCorps Link. Everyone has a story to tell, and listening to some of these recordings is fascinating. You can even buy a book of interviews (see last paragraph below for details).

The interviews result in a three to four minute verbal story. To give myself some structure in preparation for telling my story, I wrote this, which I have titled "ONE DECISION." It is factual, and I have taken out close to forty years of emotion in order to capsulize what I want to say in this message. Here is my NPR story:

This is about a decision made after the birth of my physically handicapped daughter in 1970. The doctors attending to her in her first hours of life gave her father and me the decision of either doing no medical intervention with her death imminent within a few painful months, or to immediately begin intensive medical treatment. The physicians left the room with this question to be answered by us, young people in college, working, never having planned on being parents, much less to a child with grave problems.

We were advised there was no guarantee of success in any way relating to her quality of life. My husband’s inclination was to let nature take its course and not intervene medically: we were young and we were not through with our formal education, and since she probably never walk, her life would be very difficult for all of us. (I was a sophomore in college, and we were both taking as many classes and working as many hours as we could to help defray student loans and living expenses.)

But the path we chose, and the decision made, was to start trying to save her life immediately. We decided to let the doctors do what they could for her.

And she lived. And she grew up, although most of her adolescent and adult years were spent hospitalized due to shunt malfunctions and systemic infections.

There are more than a few ironies in this story. One was that Julie’s father and I both DID finish our educations (he got a PhD and I have a Master’s degree). So her life did not hamper that goal. And another irony is that Julie’s father died of cancer over twenty years ago, while Julie is still living today.

Which is not to say that over the years, her life has been extremely happy or in any way carefree. She has had over one hundred surgeries relating to complications brought on by her birth defect. She has been depressed to the point of trying to end her own life; she had virtually no childhood friends her own age.

In a few weeks, Juliet is facing another very serious operation. She has been in bed the better part of three years with skin ulcerations and infections. But in spite of the heartache, there have been positive, bittersweet successes…

1: She has worked for as a receptionist and lived alone, using public transportation to get her to and from work while in a wheelchair;
2: Julie completed high school and then college with a four year degree -- this in spite of many long months of hospitalization;
3 : Julie has resided independently both as a single and married woman;
4: Julie has maintained an eleven year long, loving marriage to a man having the same handicap of spina bifida;
5: She moved across country from her native state, and then she and her husband built their handicap accessible home five years ago on land which he husband purchased many years ago as an investment;
6: She (and her husband) are members of a strong faith-based Christian community. I’m told they are of spiritual importance in that church group;
7: Julie aspired to be a journalist, worked at a local newspaper as a college intern and had several sequential articles published. She currently writes to the editor of her local newspaper in South Carolina, expresses her opinions (especially about the problems that handicapped people encounter), and has had her letters published in the Charlotte Observer;
8: She and her husband are the loving owners of an eight year old frisky Yorkshire terrier;
9: Julie is a loving, generous, stubborn, sweet person with an amazing coping mechanism of denial.

She has become the person she is, in part, because of caring adults coming into her life by way of a loving family, excellent medical care, good surrogate fathers, a decent education, mental health assistance, the religious community, paid caregivers, and adult friends. And her own will to live and thrive are, of course, part of her essence.

And so all this has happened, at great financial and emotional expense. Her determinism and desire to keep living came out of ONE DECISION years ago to proceed with medical intervention. Julie's life has played out in far reaching ways that I cannot fathom. But it MUST have been the right decision to try and stave off hydrocephalous and infection in those first hours after her birth, because all of the lives she has touched have been significantly, and I believe positively, changed by knowing Juliet.
In a nutshell, this story is about perseverance and love, and how each person's life is important and part of the structure behind the doors where we live. Maybe more than a few will find it a valuable listen.

A compilation of NPR Story Corps stories can be purchased here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Huck, or Swedish Weaving

Swedish weaving is an old craft with colored threads working designs upwards in repeating patterns to make a repetitive motif. This type weaving is a surface embroidery where the floss/yarn is woven under the top threads of the fabric "floats". Rarely does the floss penetrate to the wrong side of the fabric.

While doing a bit of web surfing regarding this embroidery craft, I came across an interesting blog about huck weaving. It can be found at Quilting Memories, along with an explanation of Swedish weaving (huck weaving).

Another site, with a “how-to” guide on this type fabric embellishment is found at Huck Embroidery How-To.

... Monk's Cloth has become popular for making afghans, baby blankets, pillows, and even tote bags. Aida cloth can be used as well as most pre-finished items used for cross stitch such as towels, bookmarks, and baby bibs. When working on Monk's cloth, which is approximately 8 squares per inch or 4 floats, with yarn, you may use a size #16 or #13 tapestry needle as well as the special bodkin and weaving needles they now have out. For stitching on smaller fabric though, use a blunt tapestry needle, such as when working with cross stitch. Make sure the needle easily moves under the floats of the fabric you wish to use. The tightness of the fabric weave will also determine how easily a needle will slip under the floats. (from Here and Above).
Carol Selfors, a local friend, brought this craft to my attention and shared with me a few of the blankets in her stash for illustrations to this post. Carol has made several lovely items using this thread technique for pattern design. Here are a couple of pictures of her blankets graced with huck weaving:

Many huck weaving patterns can be found here at: crafts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

BMW: Top of the Rockies Rally (Paonia, CO) and Colorado Mountain Fair in Carbondale

July 26-27, 2008 was time spent by over 800 bikers in Paonia, Colorado at the BMW Bikers' Rally. Skeeter Kopacekv came from Minnesota and is shown beside his bike (in black). And Shag is standing by his blow-up alien protecting his Beemer (it's a long story, and he has the video to prove it).

Colorado Beemers were hosted by residents of this small Colorado mountain town. Friendly Paonia residents provided attendees
Breakfast on Saturday, a great Dinner on Saturday night...along with First Rate Music on stage on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.
Then a fast and beautiful trip over McClure Pass to Carbondale, CO for the annual Colorado Mountain Fair was the second stop on the weekend. Beautiful handmade things there, and I talked to a woman I was acquainted with through her Etsy shop.

Two friends were displaying their glass dichroic art at this juried fair, and I came away with a beautiful necklace from Holly Sokol. Her Sokol Kiln Fired Glass site is well worth checking out.
At the Colorado Mountain Fair, the Police got in the spirit by performing their security duties dressed in tie-dyed shirts and caps.

Everyone had a grand time. If you did not participate, you might want to plan for it next year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Triptychs - Paintings

"Triptych", the word itself, means three items consecutively joined. It could be thoughts, prayers, icons, or paintings that are used or grouped together that follow the same theme.

Here is further information about painted Triptychs:

...painting consisting of three panels, usually hinged together with the central panel being twice the width of the wings, which may fold inwards. The triptych developed from the diptych and was used both as a portable altar and, on a larger scale, as an altarpiece.

Above: Anonymous painter. Triptych with Virgin and Child Flanked by archangels, scenes from the life of Christ, apostles and Saint George and Saint Mercurius. Ethiopia (Gojjam?), late 17th century. Tempera on panel. 14 78 x 4 5/16 inches left; 15 1/8 x 9 inches center; 15 1/16 x 4 7/16 inches right. 36.7 museum purchased, the W. Alton Jones Foundation Acquisition Fund, 1996, from the Nancy and Robert Nooter Collection. (taken from Tadias)
But triptych art does not always have the middle panel larger, nor must it always fold. Triptych art can be found for sale many places, and is especially easy to purchase over the internet on either Etsy or eBay.

Last year, I completed a triptych in oil paints which is displayed in our home, and is currently for sale at my Etsy shop. I shamelessly promote this site since I have several things for sale here.

Each panel is 10" x 20", and if put side-by-side, the triptych measures 30" x 20".

Here are pictures of my triptych oil paintings, entitled "Three Peas in a Pod":

Get 'em while they're hot!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Making Fabric Roses

If your sewing stash looks like mine, you will have plenty of extra selvage fabric to make these roses, since each rose requires only one piece of fabric 5” x 30” (piece it together if you don’t have a 30” strip; no one will ever know!).

Joann Fabrics gives a quick tutorial and says
If you are a fan of fabric, this is the project for you. Fabric flowers give allergy sufferers nothing to sneeze at when adding a decorative element to any room. (Picture courtesy of JoAnn Fabrics)
The instructions are downloadable (only one page).
One of these flowers (or two) would make a lovely “bow” on your next gift package.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Good Earth: Review

Etsy is the place to go on the internet for “ALL THINGS HANDMADE” with over 100,00 sellers world wide. One of the Etsy forums is sponsoring a blogger posting for recently read books, and my submission for August, 2008 is a review of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, which follows.

The style in which Pearl Buck's renowned THE GOOD EARTH is written (a combination of biblical prose and a sort of Chinese narrative) has been said to "increase the dignity of its characters". It is a bit different to read, and the reader must fill in the "gaps" with necessary words and images in order to complete sentences. But after just a few pages, mental interpretation becomes easily patterned.

With references from Kirjasto, the story takes place in the 1920's in the time of intense famine in China. (Remember that from 1800-1850 about 45,000,000 people died of starvation in China.)

The main character, Wang Lung, is followed from his early life as a peasant living with his father, and then buying a servant wife from a prosperous town family, living a bare-bones life including intense hunger, and then on to his eventual position as a prosperous landowner.

O-lan, the servant wife, also figures prominently in the story. She was sold into slavery at the age of five or six by her father in order to feed his family. She then grows up in the wealthy house of Hwang as a kitchen slave, working 12-15 hours almost every day. O-lan is sold to Wang Lung while in her teens. Thus begins her adult life as a willing slave to her husband.

O-lan is a plain woman, often described by Wang Lung as having "big feet" (because they were not bound). Only the wealthy could bind the feet of a female child to increase her marriage potential to a suitable husband, and O-lan was destined to be a slave with unbound feet. And slave she was, with a unswerving devotion to her husband and her children and to the land Wang Lung acquired at her extraordinary expense.

The narrative starts out with relative prosperity in that they have enough to eat and O-lan bears two sons. Hardship follows, a drought comes over the land and O-lan gives birth to a girl. And although they need money for survival, O-lan decides not to sell the first daughter.

More from Kirjasto,
Revolution breaks out, houses are plundered, and Wang Lung gets in his possession a silver treasure. The family returns to their home region. Wang Lung buys land and soon owns also the house of now impoverished Hwang. The only problem is their retarded child, a girl, who don't speak. O-lan gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl. The elder boys go to school. Wang Lung buys another wife, Lotus. O-lan is not well after the birth of the twins, and she dies after the wedding of her sons. In his old days, Wang Lung gives his love to a young slave girl, who also takes care of the retarded girl. His youngest son moves from the house to become a soldier and because he also loves the young slave girl. Old Wang Lung witnesses for his sorrow that his children do not share his unyielding devotion to the land.
In 1932, Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for this book, and in 1938 won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

One biographer states ...
In 1949, outraged that existing adoption services considered Asian and mixed-race children unadoptable, Pearl established Welcome House, the first international, inter-racial adoption agency; in the nearly five decades of its work, Welcome House has assisted in the placement of over five thousand children...
.The Good Earth kept me spell-bound. The rich history of China is graphically crafted with Buck's choice of words. The story was captivating, and parallels to modern day life can be conjured up from every page of this narrative.

Mrs. Buck went on to establish the Pearl Buck Foundation in 1964. She died in 1973 at the age of eighty. Her fascinating life and biography is well worth reading in its own right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Making Neck Pillows, Oh, My!

As usual, the world wide web is a wealth of information about making neck pillows: decorative, scented, or medicinal, it is all there.

Here are some sites worth reviewing if you want to make one yourself:

Kids-sewing gives a simple diagram of how to draw a kids’ pillow, using fleece material. It could be stuffed with polyester fiberfill or just plain uncooked rice. Then pop it in either the freezer or the microwave to comfort a child.

A pattern for a neck pillow in the shape of a dog bone can be found here at dogbone pattern.

But why limit this pillow to children? An adult pillow can be made easily, and the DIY website provides the easiest way I found to make a neck pillow.

And with step by step directions given by Sew Mamma, this tutorial for a Rice Heat Therapy Bag with Washable Cover looks simple enough.

Comfy Country Creations says this about Scented Neck Pillows:

Heated, scented neck pillows can give relief to sore, aching muscles while soothing the soul. Drape it around your neck, lay it across your back, or slip it between the sheets to warm the bed before retiring for the night. They are easily made and can be filled with grains or add some herbs and spices for a tranquil aroma.
A scented pillow sounds great! So I found this site which gave a recipe for scented rice:

In a glass Mason-type jar pour a teaspoon or slightly more of potpourri-type fragrance or essential oil, swirling the jar around to coat the insides. Add nearly a pound of uncooked, small grain rice. Place a coffee filter over the top and screw the lid on tightly. Shake well to coat the rice and place the jar on its side. Over the next few days, roll the jar frequently until the rice has taken up the scent of the oil. Cinnamon, apple, cloves, lemongrass, lavender, lilac, orange blossom, honeysuckle, rose, sandalwood, bergamot – the scent choice is yours.
If you budget allows, and you are not a crafter, perhaps you would like a Luxury Travel Pillow

...since those small pillows now provided by only some airlines aren't very comfortable. Inflatable travel pillows are available for less than $20, while slightly more cumbersome stuffed travel pillows are available from several manufacturers. Brookstone, for example, offers the Nap Travel U-Pillow ($25), which is stuffed with thousands of micro beads.

For $75, a u-shaped neck pillow from Tempur-Pedic is made from memory foam that cradles and molds around the user's neck and conducts body heat.

Either way you go, purchasing a new one from your supplier of choice, or making it yourself, neck pillows are always winners, especially if they smell oh, so nice!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Aprons - Making and Collecting Aprons

Aprons, especially vintage ones, have been on my radar for a few months. Not only are they making a comeback in style, but they are also making big impressions on bloggers. In a brief Google blog search, I found more than a dozen women who blog JUST ABOUT APRONS.

A brief history of the apron is given in Alana's blog:

The word “apron” actually originated from the word “naperon” which is a French word for a napkin or small tablecloth. And, some of you may be surprised to find that the apron did not start off as a piece of apparel worn singularly by women. Instead, aprons were mainly worn by men when they were first invented. ... men wore the apron while completing work in such professions as: blacksmiths, farmers and gardeners, fishmongers, meat and wood carvers, furniture makers, leather smiths, cobblers, tailors, jewelers, metal forgers, clock makers, barbers, and stonemasons to name just a few.

A few weeks ago, another post can be read here about Meg McElwee's figure flattering Sew Liberated Emmeline Apron. That project is almost completed, and I'm having fun putting the clever bodice together (it features three coordinating fabrics).

For your reading pleasure, here are a few fun blogs about aprons. They all have excellent graphics:
HER TIMES and Betty Ninja and Apron A Day and Flapper Girl Creations and Craft Chi and Lulus Vintage and Fuse Action and Rick Rack Attack and Tie One On and The Apronista (she is sponsoring two apron swaps for your participation) and Textiles and Quilts, which is especially for tips about collecting vintage aprons
For a quick pattern to make your own apron from one yard of fabric, visit: One Yard Apron.

Whew! On the right is a picture of a darling apron I purchased yesterday at the Farmers' Market in Palisade, Colorado.

It is similar to a wrap-around dress that goes over your head, made by Shelle Kareus and sold by her and her husband's business, the Uintah Trading Company.

Shelle and her husband are shown above with some of her aprons.

Don't you love it that Roy is a furniture maker and is wearing a catchy turquoise and red apron?

Leave me a comment and I will give you a contact telephone number if you would like to purchase one of Shelle's several types of delightful, hand sewn aprons.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

SuccessSunday II

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"Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to drawback, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and materials assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can. ..begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

Find out How to Post your own Success Sunday!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Socks for Soldiers in Progress

Information from this website says:

All soldiers yearn for care packages from home, and Socks for Soldiers is one of the organizations currently answering that yearning. Their specialty is providing sturdy, comfortable knitted socks to replace or supplement standard issue for soldiers engaged in our current War on Terror.

Socks for Soldiers is the brainchild of Kim Opperman, whose oldest son, Tom, first brought the problem to her attention. Tom serves overseas with the U.S. Air Force, and at one point he told his mom that he wished that all his fellow soldiers could have a pair of her comfy hand-knitted socks. Kim decided she could probably handle that. In May 2006, she founded Socks for Soldiers, a knitting group dedicated to providing as many pairs of socks to American soldiers as they could. Before long, the organization had received federal recognition as a non profit charity.

Kim Opperman, also referred to as "Sarge," is requesting 10,000 knitters to join her in supplying hand knit, washable wool socks to our troops. Opperman's goal is to "keep knitting (Big Black Socks) until the last American soldier steps off the plane onto American soil". At the moment, the goal is 100,000 pairs. Knitting for Charity says:
While the military does its best, it has to clothe millions of people as inexpensively as it can. Sadly, the acrylic and nylon socks modern soldiers get wear out quickly and can cause blisters. That's not the case with Big Black Socks knitted by Socks for Soldiers.

Operating under the theory that an army travels on its feet rather than its stomach, Kim soon amassed a group of over a thousand knitters from every branch of the military and every walk of civilian life. The VFW, the American Legion, and the Red Cross got involved, too.
Here is the progress so far on knitting my first pair of socks for friend Army Major Marc Reyher in Afghanistan. This camo sock was started on June 20, 2008, and 27 days after its start, the first sock is close to completion. It is not knitting up quickly, but steady wins the race, right?

A Socks for Soldiers knitting forum can be found here: knittinghelp, and the Yahoo supported chat forum can be found here at The Yahoo Group if you want more information about helping in this cause.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beading Watch Bands

My fun watch handcrafted by a Carolina crafter was given to me by my daughter. I not only hurt my pride when I fell on it, but also shattered one of the ceramic beads on its band. Result of this mishap: unhappiness in breaking the watch and one ugly bruise. I replaced the broken bead and continued on.

And then the battery eventually died. I tried to buy a replacement battery, but realized the battery cost more than a brand new working watch face. (New watch faces are available at the craft store for about $9.)

So I decided I had done everything I could to repair that gifted watch, and tossed it. Sigh. On to the next craft adventure: making a beaded band for a watch face.

Here were the tools required to fashion a new watchband:

1: the new watch face with included battery
2: strong black fishing line ... there are lots of available cords, but my husband's tool box was handy for raiding
3: dichroic glass beads, cloisonne beads, spacer beads, jump rings
4: a pair of wire cutters and a couple of pair of beading crimpers

Here is a picture of most of the stash used:

If you visit this website, you will find information from start to finish on how to make a watchband with three strings of beads on each side of the watch face. Be sure to purchase your watch face before trying this particular tutorial, because many watch faces do not have three places to tie in your beads.

The watch I had purchased was made with one loop on each side of the face, so I used two medium weight strands of black fishing line through each side of the face, strung the glass beads onto the line, and secured the ends of the clasp to each end of the four-inch strand of beads.

The picture on the right shows half of the completed watch band. Remember a little glue to secure knotted ends never hurts.

And here is the completed watch (and matching earrings -- a tutorial on how to make them was given here here in a previous post).

Two more websites that I found useful for making beaded watchbands are here and here. The picture does not show the shimmering dichroic beads very well, but the process of making them gives beautiful results. You might be interested in reading about dichroic glass here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lemons Several Ways: Recipes

Don't you just love lemons? Here is a little history about lemons:

Lemons are originally from northern India. The name means “golden apple”.

Lemon trees were grown as ornamental trees in Mediterranean gardens. Lemonade is believed to have been invented in Egypt over 1,500 years ago. Lemonade originally started as a lemon and honey wine, drank primarily by peasants.

About one fourth of the world's lemons are grown in the United States, mostly in California. A lemon tree may bear as many as 3,000 lemons annually. Most lemons ripen naturally in autumn and winter.

Basic Lemonade Recipe:
1 cup hot water
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar

Pour hot water and sugar into small pitcher and stir to dissolve. Add lemon juice. Put the top on the pitcher and refrigerate.

To make a single serving, put 1/4 to 1/3 cup of syrup into a glass, then fill with water and ice. Easy and delicious!

Recipe #2: Snapple Lemon Flavored Ice Tea:
2 quarts water
3 tea bags
Boil water in large pan. When water comes to a raid boil, turn off the heat, put tea bags into water and cover. After tea has brewed an hour, pour sugar into a 2 qt. pitcher, and add the warm tea (so the sugar will dissolve easily). Add the lemon mixture (below).

Lemon Mixture:
¾ cup sugar (or a 16 oz. bottle of light corn syrup)
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Now here is the kicker: Lemon as a Medicine from this site:
When Chinese doctors reveal their remedies, there is always something worthwhile to read. The clever cure of an infected finger or toe is dealt with in this way. The top of the lemon is cut off, the finger or toe is inserted into the lemon, and bound up. In the morning the infection is ready to be cleansed and well on the way to healing.
I've been drinking a ton of Crystal Lite lemonade; maybe I will try some of the old fashioned variety today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Using Lavender for Linen Spray Recipe

Lavender is flowering now. The word "lavender" derives from the Latin meaning "to wash," and is an essential ingredient in many bath and shower products.

I purchased some lavender spray to use when ironing linen, and love its scent on clothes after a good dose prior to pressing a blouse or pillowcase. The mist not only helps to take out wrinkles from the fabric, but it also smells good, to boot.

If you are inclined to make your own lavender spray instead of purchasing it, here is a recipe from a reader posting to Lilybee:

To make Lavender Linen Water for spraying on sheets or other linens before, during or after ironing, you'll need:

Half a teaspoon (50 drops) of lavender essential oil
3-5 drops peppermint spearmint or rosemary essential oil (optional)
1 oz vodka 1 and a half cups of distilled water (from the drug store)

Sterilize a glass container (a big pasta sauce jar would work well) by pouring some boiling water into it and leaving it for a few minutes. Then mix the essential oils and booze together in the jar and shake. Add the water and shake some more.

When you're ready to use it you can either decant it into a plastic spray bottle or sprinkle it on fabric by hand. The mixture will cloud over time and eventually separate, hence the slightly smaller batch size.

Lavender is easy to grow in sandy, alkaline soil if there is good drainage and full sun. Its uses have been known for ages, especially for:

healing skin (used for burns and abrasions);
lung congestion
Summertime and lavender...romantic images.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Visiting Friends and Family in Denver

July 11-13 was fun! I visited friends Kathy and her daughter, Ellen and we were treated to dinner by my daugher, Heidy, in downtown Denver.

Heidy is pictured at the Denver Art Museum prior to her evening's work at Racines Restaurant. It was a pleasure to meet some of Heidy's co-workers and to hear how much they like working with her, and what a great girl she is. Of course, I have always known that, but it was sweet to hear it from her "unbiased" co-workers - proud mama here.

Ellen and I spent some quality "auntie" time making clay animals attached to and baked onto the top of pencils described in a prior post a few weeks ago. And we painted with Scratch 'n Sniff Watercolors that we mixed up from Kool Aide. Both craft projects were big hits with Ellen. Talk about taking your crafts to town!
Good friend Kathy works for the Downtown Denver Partnership as Director of Public Policy & Strategic Partnerships. She is very busy with all her work tasks, and it was exciting to hear how the partnership is preparing for the Democratic National Convention next month. And that is just one of the things on her plate.

Kathy is making a reservation this week for the National Public Radio Story Corps. The Story Corps is something I really enjoy listening to, and I do hope she is selected to speak about the significance of adopting Ellen from China five years ago. Ellen came to Kathy through Chinese Children Adoption International, a process which took over a year to complete. As you can see from the pictures, the motherhood role for Kathy has been of major significance in her life.
On to crafts again tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Success Sunday

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"Happiness grows at our own firesides, and is not the be picked in strangers' gardens"
--Douglas Jerrold
"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection." --Michelangelo
"I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content" -- Phil. 4:11

Find out How to Post your own Success Sunday!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Drawing for "A Squash and a Squeeze" Book

Remember the post about the children's book A Squash and a Squeeze last week? The underwhelming response was sorta ungratifying since only three responses came in. But my husband did the honors of drawing a name from the fishbowl, and the winner of the book is Rita. Please let me know your mailing address, Rita, and I will send you this sweet book. Thanks!

Sewing a Woman's Shirt from a Man's Shirt

That good old Pfaff sewing machine has been working with vintage tablecloths and napkins to help me create a woman's work shirt that takes on some feminine aspects. There was a work shirt application about painted and appliqued men's shirts previously posted, and this is another way to work with men's shirts.

A blue plaid size L man's shirt was newly purchased at a discount store. The white and blue pieces of fabric with embroidered flowers were cut from a vintage tablecloth and added to the plaid to perk up its appearance.

The shirt cuffs have an extended triangular piece of cut work taken from a vintage tablecloth (mirror images on left and right cuff). That fabric was then appliqued over the sleeves and down to the cuff from a 5" length triangular swatch.
When folded upwards, the cuffs show the pretty cut work.

Likewise, the back and front yokes of the shirt were similarly appliqued. Above is the back neck and below is the front of the woMAN's shirt:

I like to wear long sleeved shirts year-round to hide a bit of my compression bandage, and finding cool summer fabrics in long sleeved shirts is a bit of a challenge, except when shopping in the men's section of department stores.

Purchasing a man's 100% cotton shirt and then feminizing it with sewing techniques makes it somewhat more of woman's apparel and solves the problem of looking for shirts with long sleeves that are less available in women's clothing. Wear it over a t-shirt and it creates a sort of easy-wear jacket that hides a multitudes of figure problems.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Decoupage and Greeting Cards

"Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is the acquistion of friends. "-- Epicurus

Greeting cards, get well cards, birthday cards, sympathy cards...I cannot bear to throw them away because the sentiments, although sometimes only pre-printed, are efforts to keep friendships alive.

Several years ago when I was going through an extended illness, cards sent by friends and family helped keep my spirits uplifted. I decoupaged them onto a little table where some costume jewelry resides, and those bits of cards remind me of the value of friendship.

A little Modgepodge and some cutting and pasting were all that was necessary to make this useful little side table an enduring sentimental symbol of love.

Taking on an old piece of furniture and decoupaging it with special gift wrap or other unique papers is a project which you might like just for its preservation value of sentiment alone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Dogs' Days of Summer

July is hot in western Colorado. Our high temp tomorrow is expected to be 98 degrees F. Wilstar says the Dog Days of Summer are

1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity

But as we know, the term orginated ...
In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog, different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars. The images drawn were dependent upon the culture: The Chinese saw different images than the Native Americans, who saw different pictures than the Europeans. These star pictures are now called constellations, and the constellations that are now mapped out in the sky come from our European ancestors.

Here are our dogs enjoying their Dog Days of Summer:

Keeping Busy

For a thoughtful read, see Abbi's Blog. Abbi in Minnesota writes there, and she inspired me today.

It got me to thinking about the scripture translated from Proverbs 31 which says

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands

These women are working their toils ...

And maybe that is why, in part, I like crafting and artsy tutorials (because it keeps my mind and hands busy).
I laughed when I looked over at the ironing board and saw this early today:
... my projects piled up that help remind me to mind my own business, live a quiet life, and work with my hands.

And what is on YOUR working board today?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sewing Decorative Vintage Pillow Cases (Fairies Part II)

A previous post on the drawing, coloring, and embroidering of a whimsical fairy dealt with that aspect of pillow decoration. The colored and embroidered fairy is at rest with a bumble bee on a lily pad leaf and has been made into its final application on a small pillow case.

These little pillows would make darling baby gifts, and would also look charming on a rocker as a back pillow, or as just another girly decoration on a bed or sofa; I plan to make a few more and display them on my Etsy store in the near future.

The following is a brief tutorial on how the pillow case was made with vintage fabrics that display hand embroidery, cut work and drawn-work. Pictures are shown to accompany the tutorial.

1) Decide on the picture you would like to transfer for embroidery purposes. Make sure the lines are as simple as your embroidery skills allow. (In this case, a fairy was used, but some child might like a brightly colored green frog on his pillow with contrasting bright colors.) Complete the tinting and embroidering of the chosen image.

2) Gather materials of small travel pillow (available at discount stores for under $4), vintage fabrics such as old table cloths, napkins, handkerchiefs, etc., threads and sewing equipment; lace seam binding or ribbons (optional), measuring tape and scissors;

3) The finished pillow (below) showcases two different fabrics laid on top of one another. In this case, a regular sized peach colored pillow case with a drawn-work interior was used for the under fabric; the outer edging of the existing case was turned inward and sewn down to further emphasize the previous vintage drawn-work. For the over fabric (white), a large tablecloth was cut into appropriate sizes to show off as much as possible of the lovely vintage needlework;

4) Cut both the under fabric and the over fabric the size to fit the purchased travel pillow, with a little less than one inch seam allowance added. Usual dimensions on these travel pillows are 15” x 20”, so cut the existing fabrics to allow for generous seam allowances, i.e., 31.5" x 41.5". (French seams create a more polished effect in its final appearance, so extra material for each seam was taken into account before cutting.) Hint: the under fabric should be of a contrasting color to enhance the cut-work shown on the vintage top fabric (in this case, a vintage peach pillow case was used for the under fabric);

5) You will likely need to piece together various parts of the vintage cloths in order to take the best advantage of the prior threadwork. I used lace seam binding to join two pieces of a tablecloth together to emphasize more of the cut work. Hint: ensure that the back of the pillow also incorporates as much as possible of the embroidery displayed on the vintage cloth.

6) Join the seams (french seaming, if possible) and complete the pillow case with simple straight stitching. An excellent tutorial on how to make french seams can be found here.

The finished pillow case with purchased travel pillow inside: (front view of the pillow case above, and back view at upper right)

More information about vintage fabrics can be garnered here. A reliable seller for vintage fabrics can be found here.