Sunday, March 29, 2009

Every Day is Filled with Wool

My 19 year old daughter requested, no wait, she demanded, that we put up an Easter tree this year. Away at college, she expects it to be up and decorated when she comes home for Easter. Well, Rach, I know you will read this, so let me tell you, your father, even though he has a cold and wasn't feeling well, went out and cut a large tree branch for you. Then he pounded a tube into the ground on the front lawn and inserted the tree branch JUST FOR YOU! He bought fishing line and he tied that fishing line to each and every one of those eggs. Then he opened up paper clips to use for hangers and attached one to each egg. Rach, your daddy loves you a lot.

Click on the picture to see it large!
So K and Jen stopped over for a visit and dinner yesterday. K was instantly attracted to the Easter tree so PapPap showed him how to hang even more eggs on the tree. Unfortunately, I was so busy getting cute, closeup pictures of K, I forgot to get a picture of the whole decorated tree!

I took some time to cut and dye more pansy petals....enough to make three more pin cushions. I Ebay listed the butter yellow and the blueberry blue pin cushions yesterday, so I must get more ready to list once they sell.
Wool has overtaken the house, so I think today has to be the day to do some clean-up/organizing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Punching Holes in Wool

Finally, my "Tea For Me" Candle Mat is completed!
The mat went from....
This ..... To ....
I don't know if the pictures show it well, but for the teacups, I "fussy cut" the wool so that light pink stripes from the wool would be positioned right on the cups, under the little flowers. Notice that each of those teabag tags have "tea" embroidered on them, FRONT AND BACK! Sheesh this one took a lot of time, but it's beautiful. I can't say enough good about the talented designer of this pattern, Annelle, from . If you'd like to see some creative designs, go visit her site and take a look at those wonderfully detailed candle mats!

I get quite a few Ebay questions about how I manage to make all the little, tiny holes in the scallopped edges of my pin cushions. I'll share my little secret.
I used to cut them by hand, by first cutting an X in the wool and then cutting that into circles. That was so time consuming that it wasn't possible to continue with any large projects that way. I then used a paper punch, but with the extra thick wool I use for the pin cushion backing, it would give me blisters by the time I did just one pin cushion. My wonderful husband came to the rescue. He is a machinist and he came up with a special tool called an "arch punch". From what I understand it's mostly used for punching holes into rubber gaskets.

I still have to use a lot of pressure and twisting to get the job done.

But in the end, it saves my hands and fingers!

The little wool holes get caught up in the barrel of the cutter. I used to throw the holes away, but now, I've started saving them to use for stuffing my pincushions and ... well ... if you look at that first picture, you'll see my little jar that has the wool holes in it. They look cute in the jar so I might just collect the holes and fill the jar!
Ok, back to sewing Strawberries! Maybe tomorrow, I'll show an almost completed Strawberry Candle mat. MAYBE.

Friday, March 27, 2009


It's that time of year when we start to see the fresh strawberries at the grocery store. Every year, I always make a few strawberry pin cushions to go along with the season. I thought I'd adjust my strawberry pattern and use it for a candle mat.
Haha, when I first lay out the wool cut out pieces, I always question whether the design will work out. It looks bad without all the stitching and embellishments. I forge ahead and stitch it because I know it probably will look nice after it's completed. Sometimes, I admit, I scare myself with some of the designs. I made a Christmas tree mat a few months ago that I wouldn't even want to give away. It was one of those "holy cow, that's ugly" kind of mat.

I had to increase the pattern size to fit better into the scallopped background. I always like to look at pictures of my layout before it's sewn because for some reason, it gives me a different perspective of the design. I always see something that needs adjusted or corrected. In this case, I think the two top strawberries need to be a bit plumper. I'll have to cut new strawberries. I won't throw those two smaller strawberries away though...I never waste my wool! I'll use them in a pin cushion later.

So the candle that I have placed in the center of my mat is from the Fragrance Collection by Glade. It's a soy based candle and this fragrance is a wonderful scent of Currents and Acai. I haven't burned it yet, but I will soon. Just the scent in the room from the unburned candle is really nice.
I'm a Bzzagent so the people from sent me this candle to try. After I try it myself, I'm supposed to spread the word about the product that they've sent me. I then report back to them about the positive or negative feedback. Usually I have coupons or samples to pass along too.
I thought this would be a perfect forum to spread the word about this exceptionally nice candle. They offer different scents and also reed diffusers.
Go take a visit to . You can get a $2.00 off coupon there too. If you like good, quality candles, you should give it a try.

I still haven't completed the Tea For Me mat, but it absolutely, positively will be done by tomorrow. It has turned out so incredibly nice, but I don't want to show the picture until it's completed.
It's a lovely day today, I don't know if I'll get as much sewing done as I hoped.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pansies, pansies and more pansies!

Oh, it's such a dreary rainy day today. It's a great day for catching up and finally finishing all the different sewing projects that I've started. I'm just about finished with the "Tea For Me" candle mat. I plan to show the finished pictures tomorrow. Mostly, I've been dyeing wool and making pansies the last few days.

The grandson came to visit for the day on Monday. He's drawing pretty pictures on my pattern templates. When he sees paper and a pencil side by side, naturally he's going to draw. His artwork is on quite a few of my templates now.
This blue pansy has always been a popular color. I still need to add the gold in the center, blanket stitch the base on, stuff it and then sew on the bottom base.
The two finished pincushions! I really like how my experimental yellow one turned out. I'll put them on Ebay in the next few days along with a few other things. The pincushions are sitting on what is the beginnings of my next project which is a strawberry candle mat. I dyed the red wool for the strawberries and the green dyed wool for the leaves is finishing in the dryer right now. I'll get started on that, hopefully tonight.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I did a little pansy dyeing yesterday. This shows the beginning steps to making the blue pansy pincushion. The larger piece of wool is heavy, blanket weight wool that is used for the scallopped base. The smaller pieces will be used for the petals. I'll wait for it the wool to dry and then go to the next step.
This yellow is an experiment pansy. I saw a pansy picture with pretty speckled yellow petals. I can make that! ...or at least I can try to make that!
Today, when the dyed wool was dry, I was able to cut the petals for the blue pansy. I decided to dye the wool that I use for the two top petals, darker than it was. So once the petals were cut, I dipped each petal tip into the dye and then dipped the edges. Once again, I wait for them to dry. When the petals are slightly damp, I pinch and shape them to make the petals look even more realistic.
The yellow wool turned out nicely. To make the speckles, I sprinkled instant coffee crystals on the dry wool and then spritzed it with hot water. I'll let it air dry and then put it in the clothes dryer to set the color. I will rinse the wool again, after it's dried, just to get that coffee smell out. When all that is done, I'll cut the petal shapes. I have lots to do tomorrow!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Grass growing demonstration by grandson, age 2

Our precious was over for a visit on Thursday. He always likes to "help" grandma so we decided to plant some indoor grass.
This is something I do every year right before Easter. I think I got the idea from Martha Stewart but I'm not sure ... it was many years ago. The grass that grows look so nice with decorated Easter eggs in them.
So on with the how-to demonstration!
First he prepared the container by dumping cupfuls of potting mix into a nice little plastic dish. If you spill some dirt on the countertop, just say, "uh oh, mess!" and grandma will clean it up!

Here, he is misting the soil with some warm water. It takes a lot of spraying to moisten the dry soil, so it's helpful to get extra energy by eating vanilla wafers while spraying.

After the soil is moistend, he used a spoon to push the soil evenly.

He is taking a break to let all the water soak completely into the soil.

I had made a grass dish a few days ago, so he wanted to mist it too.

The grass is growing high here. It's almost time to cut it!

Time for the seeds! Any grass seed will work. I've a cheap bag that I got years ago from Kmart and year after year, it always works, never getting old.
He grabs handfuls of grass seed and covers the top of the soil.
Put a good thick layer of grass seed on top. Water it well to moisten the seeds and then cover it with plastic wrap. Set it aside and in a couple days, the grass will sprout. Take the plastic off and watch it grow! Make sure to mist it every day because the dirt in the shallow dish gets dry quickly.
When the grass gets too high, take some scissors and cut it! More pictures will come later with the decorated grass!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tea cups and TREES

This "tea for me" mat is going to take some time. Each one of the eight tea cups have intricate details to sew on and you can see from the picture, I've only 5 cups attached with lots more sewing to be done. I ran out of floss last night too, so sweet hubby and I made a late 8:00 trip, 8 miles away, to Joann fabrics to get more thread. All that time and distance, just to spend $1.25 for floss. Stupid me for not planning ahead on that.
I almost always use #8 pearle cotton threads for my sewing. Even though it's a lot more expensive, it's so much easier to work with than embroidery floss and it doesn't tangle like floss, when stitching. This pattern design, however, has such small details, I decided that it would look better using the thinner strands of floss. The pearle cotton would just be too bulky. Blah, I'm spoiled by the pearle cotton so switching over is a real adjustment for me.
This morning, the Stanley Tree Service guys came back to finish the clean up job. Last month, we had a bad wind storm which completely uprooted a large pine tree. The pine tree, on it's way down, took out a long row of beautiful pine trees and a couple ash trees too. Thankfully, it barely missed the neighbor's house by just a few feet. About 10 trees were destroyed as well as our stockade fencing which was behind the trees. Our whole lined property border of trees is gone now, exposing the entire back yard of our neighbors. Let's just say, it's not a pleasant site. (click on the picture to see the larger picture of it)

Oh! I had to get a picture this morning of my first daffodil of the season. Every year, these daffodils grow up in an area where I don't want them to grow and every year, I work to pull out all the little bulbs. Thinking that I get them all, they still continue to sprout up, year after year. I should just give up ... but then if I did, they would take over the entire front yard area of our house! Pesky little things, but they sure are pretty.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I finished up my little shelf pillow last night. I think it will work nicely in a candle mat so that will be my next project. Looking at it, I can see what little changes need to be made .... the tail needs to be tipped up a bit more and also more detail will be added to the wings to make them stand out more. Otherwise, it's looking good!

My next project that I started last night is not my own design. It's a design by Annelle's Orignals. . "Tea for Me" is her brand new design and I just love it!
I went through my wool stash to get the right colors and the background of the pattern shows it as a medium blue color. I like working with textures especially in the background so I picked out a tweedy light brown wool, thinking that it would dye nicely and give it a blue tint. After looking at it more though, I like the color that it is and I think at least for this first one I make, I'll stick with the original wool color.
This mat is going to take a few days because of all the details.
Hopefully some progress pictures tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

First Progression Project

This is the project that I'm currently working on. The ideas were inspired by Debbie Mumm designs. I love her butterflies and birds so I drew out something similar to turn into a penny rug design.

Once I had the drawing, I traced it onto freezer paper, cut the pieces out and ironed the pieces onto the various wools.
Here is the start of my bird. I think I'll make it into a little pillow first. If it turns out as nice as I hope, then I'll consider making penny rug candle mat with the design.

I'll sew it up tonight while watching American Idol and then post pictures of the final results tomorrow.

I'm officially a Blogger now!

I've finally taken that step into the blogging world. I've wanted to do this for some time now but never took the time.
It's time.
I hope to create a blog that will show my penny rug designs as well as my progress steps that go into making them.
More to come shortly!