Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Oh Those Fall Colors!

Well, it's not here yet, but Fall is fast approaching!
It seems the older I get, the faster the summer goes.
Yes indeed, summer went really fast this time.  I've been doing lots of digging, planting and landscaping.  Some work is still yet to be done, but I'm now waiting for the cooler autumn temps to start digging again.
Little time is left in my days for designing but I do have a few new things to show...
Here's one for the fall....

The finished size of this table runner is 12" x 23", although, it can easily be made longer.  The picture shows this made with 100% felted wool but wool felt can easily be substituted for any or all of the wool requirements.  The pattern is available, as well as the wool kit, on my website: http://www.cathspenniesdesigns.com

 This is a design that I created a long time ago and sold as a finished item.  
The design was by far the most requested design that my customers requested to be made into a purchasable pattern.  It's been requested mostly because I have an online tutorial that explains how to attach penny rug tongues and I've used the original design as the illustrated sample.  You can find that tutorial here:

 I've held off creating the pattern for it simply because all I had was the picture of the finished table runner.  I hadn't saved the actual measurements or drawings that I originally used.  Basically, I had to start from scratch to make it again.  This new design is a bit different than the original because I eliminated the long and tedious penny rug tongue detail.  Notice that this design has the background scallop tongues cut right into the background wool rather than stitched individually.  This way is certainly less time consuming.

Lots of good things are happening here at Cath's Pennies Designs.  I'm determined to spend a bit more time with this blog and with Facebook so that I don't get so behind with news and info.

 If you haven't already, please "Like" my business Facebook page CLICK HERE  Also, I'd love to include all of you on my personal Facebook page: CLICK HERE  . Please "friend" me.  I don't often post things on my own personal page but I'd love to be able to see what my sisters in stitching are working on in the stitching world.

  I'll be finishing up my newsletter to get emailed out for tomorrow.  If you haven't subscribed to my newsletter, you can do so by clicking here:  Cath's Pennies Designs Newsletter Sign-up

That's all for today!  Happy Day!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Stephen King! Oh.Oh.Oh!

Stephen King was in town yesterday!  In the lovely town of Sewickley, Pa, I might add.
He was visiting to promote his new book.  The event, sponsored by the local book store in Sewickley, was held in the auditorium of the Sewickley Academy, a private school.
It was a small venue, with only 600 tickets sold for the event.  My husband and I were extremely fortunate to have two amazing daughters and one future son-in-law who camped out overnight on a chilly, rainy night last month in the hopes of getting tickets for this very special Stephen King event.  They arrived at the bookstore at 8pm, with blankets, pillows and folding chairs and along with hundreds of others, waited until 10 am the next morning to buy the tickets.

Both girls grew up knowing our love for this author so when Rach heard about the event, she knew she had to do everything she could to try for the tickets. Jen, Rach and Brad not only were able to get tickets for my husband and me, they managed to get FRONT ROW SEATS for us!

This was to be a surprise Father's Day gift for my husband.  It was indeed a surprise! 
Actually, I knew about it but had to keep it secret from my husband.  It was very difficult to not tell him why I was texting so much back and forth to my daughters that evening and the next morning.

My husband and I have been huge Stephen King fans from way back.  I'm pretty sure we've read every one of his books.
I remember way back when we first got married, I knew when to watch for his new books and would always put my name on the wait list at our local library.  Back then, I was happy to get library books.  Nowadays, to support Mr. King and all his greatness, we buy his books now. 

This is just a small part of our collection.  I see a Ken Follett book in there...that should be on the Ken Follet shelf so just ignore that and know that every other book on those two shelves are Mr. King's books.

It was an absolutely wonderful evening.  I expected him to read excerpts from his new book.  But, he told us that since we had all already purchased the book, (the ticket cost included a book), there was no sense in trying to promote it.  Instead, he just simply talked....His own personal stories about his life and his family and how he got to be the great author that he is.
He did make mention that people who read books are becoming a rare breed.  Sad but so true.
He's just a regular guy, dressed in blue jeans and what looked to be an old tshirt and sneakers that were purchased by his grandson so that he could look cool while on his book tour.

Front row seats to see this man!  He was a mere 10 feet away from us!  Big smiles on our faces when it was all over.  We even went onto the stage and sat in his chair.

In other news, I've been working on a secret project.
I'm not permitted to give the details yet but I'm honored and thrilled to be asked to participate.  Within the year, expect surprisingly great things for all of us who have the love for wool!

It's Thursday and tonight is the big Pens game.  If we win tonight, the Stanley cup is ours for the year!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  I'll be back next week some time with a new design...maybe!

Friday, May 20, 2016

For the Birds!

I've been taking care of our local birds for many many many years.  I don't even want to think about how much $$ I've spent on bird food over the years.  It doesn't matter how much though because they bring me entertainment and joy so any amount is worth what they give back to me!

My husband, before he retired, never realized how many 50lb bags of sunflower seeds I would buy over the late fall and winter months.  Now that he's retired, he's figured it out!  :)  Thankfully, he's now enjoying the birds almost as much as I do.

I buy my sunflower seeds down at our local Diamond Milling company.
It's close...right in town and they bag the seed themselves so it's just the best quality for the money.  
I've always just fed them in the fall and winter and put the feeders away for the spring and summer.  But after my last post about feeding the birds, I received several emails from my customer/readers that suggest that I continue to feed them over the summer too!

So, I went back down to Diamond Milling 
and bought a 50lb bag of mixed bird seed.  This mixed stuffed has cracked corn as well as a few other types of seed, along with sunflower seeds.
Well, I have to say, so far, this stuff is bringing in different birds that normally visit.  I'm getting birds that I don't even know what they are!  I'm constantly asking Google to help with identifications.

The most delightful birds are the hummingbirds and the Baltimore Orioles.   
I have a special feeder for the Orioles that has clips on it to hold oranges.  As soon as I put the oranges out, the orioles are there.  It's like they're watching and waiting for me. 

Then I read that they love grape jelly.  Since it was getting expensive to feed them an orange everyday, I put out a spoonful of jelly just to see what would happen.
Whaddayaknow!  They love the grape jelly.  I put it out and by the time I was back in the house, the orioles were gobbling it up.  They're so pretty to watch.

My hummingbirds appeared last week.  I have 4 different feeders out for them as well as a pretty little hummingbird swing.  :) 
I haven't been able to get a picture of them sitting on the swing yet, but here's a pic of  the swing as well as a couple of the feeders.
I have another feeder at the back of the house and a feeder by our side porch.  I'm going to attempt to train them to be hand-fed too. 

So, I've put aside my stitching for now.  I've been incredibly busy outside.  I'm remodeling and re-landscaping all areas around the house. 
I've re-done the vegetable garden...hubby replace the rotted wood on the raised bed for me.  Now it's almost twice the size so I've lots more room for plantings.
My latest project that I'm finishing up is the flower bed by the driveway.
It's always looked nice but I wanted a different look.  I wish I had taken a "before" pic, but this is what it looked like when I started digging it up..

 My husband put down a brick border for me and I worked on digging up and sifting the big rocks out of the soil. 

So many rocks in this soil.  I have a good use for rocks though, which I will share in another post, at another time.

This took me a few days to get this far.  Exhausting work, but well worth the effort.

There's a new landscaping business that is just down the road from us now.  Saddle Your Donkey Landscape and Supply.  So convenient!
Hubby went down and got a load of gorgeous, smelly mushroom manure for me.

This is not quite finished yet.  I still need to get more perennial plantings.  Much thanks to my sister-in-law for the professional help with the landscaping.  Janet, told me what to plant, and how to plant it.  We went back down to Saddle Your Donkey and selected the boulder for the focal point of the area.  I'm so excited to finish this now, but have to wait for the perennials to be available at our local garden center. 

I've still lots more to do so stitching, designing and patterns are put on hold for a while.  I spend my evenings relaxing, reading and sketching.  The sketches will soon turn into new designs and as excited as I am to work on new designs, the landscaping work has to get done.

My daughter is getting married in October and we are in the beginning stages of planning a special garden bridal shower which will be here at the house.  I was hesitant at first, when the idea was suggested, but now with all the landscaping getting done, I'm getting more and more excited about it. 

Another gorgeous day is happening right now so I'm off to dig up more stones so that I can plant some old doors!  Pictures will follow in another post of my progress!

Be kind and have a happy day and wonderful weekend!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

This is a new design in it's very beginning state.  I've a few adjustments to make to it before it's ready to sell as a pattern.  I thought it was a nice message for Mother's Day.

I was hoping to have it ready to sell a few weeks ago, but I've been so busy outside, I just haven't had a chance to work on it.

I'm re-doing all of my flower and vegetable gardens this year.  New landscapes, new stinky mushroom compost, and new borders.  Arrangements with old doors, wheelbarrows, birdhouses and lots of galvanized buckets and watering cans.  I'm so excited to finish but only because I'm anxious now to plant the flowers and vegetable so that I can watch them grow in their new spaces.
Love gardening but don't love how muscle sore I am at the end of the day!

The wrens are singing their nesting song right outside my window right now and it's as if they are calling me out to play.
Heading outside now to inspect my results from yesterday's work.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!  ...and kid's?....CALL YOUR MOM!  Better yet...VISIT YOUR MOM!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Not So Sweet Bittersweet!

Oh how we all love this pretty orange/red bittersweet vine in the Fall.  It's so pretty for decorating!
BUT....it's really nasty stuff!  The vines grow fast and furious and will twist and twine around everything.

I don't know where it came from, but we have it growing all over our property and it's viciously taking over.
Hubby and I spent 5 days this past week working on clearing it out.  
The main problem is down at the bottom of our property, close to the road.  This is a picture of it after I had already removed about 15 feet of it. 

It's so difficult to remove too.  Since they are all thin vines twisted together, each stem has to be individually cut.  Then I have to build up the strength of 10 men to pull on the vine in the attempt to unwind it from all of the rest of the mess.
Think of it as a giant oversized clump of DMC floss.  Imagine trying to unravel the strands of floss from a jungled mess and you can slightly understand how evil this bittersweet vine is to remove.

I had started working on it the first day.  After hubby saw my struggles, he joined me in the battle.  
We cleared out enough of it to expose some of the main roots....

Then he got his Bobcat out...
Now let me tell you.... He's had this Bobcat forever.  Years and years it's been around and finally, after all of these years, he taught me how to use it.  
Yes indeed, I climbed into that seat and powered it up and I operated that monster machine like a true master!    Haha...actually, I was very scared but once I got used to it, wow!  I felt so powerful.  
It might just be my new toy to play with this summer!

Anyway, that Bobcat really helped.
We cleared out most of it.  There's still quite a bit yet to do and I hope to get it done this week.
The entire jungled mess was probably a good 20 feet across and a good 10 feet wide so after 4 days working on it, we're both muscle sore.

We unloaded it all up by my husband's garage and he set it afire.  It was gone within a matter of an hour.
 (yes, we're permitted to burn here in Daugherty Twp) 

 Next, I have to work on the tree that's beside it.  It's actually a dead Ash tree but the vine is so twisted up and around it, the Bittersweet is virtually responsible for holding up the dead tree.

So with the benefits of the vine giving us pretty berries in the fall, the vines, if left alone to grow for years and years can become very interesting to look at too...
This is how the Bittersweet vine looks along the edge of our woods, close to our driveway.  
The vines look like giant twisted ropes.
 This actually looks like a huge snake wrapped around a tree...but no..it's the evil Bittersweet vine doing it's thing.

I plan to get hubby to use his chainsaw to cut the twisted parts out.  I'll use them in my garden for decorations.  
So yes, Bittersweet is a good name for this awful vine.  It's more bitter than sweet because it's taken over a lot of our trees and making a jungled mess but the sweet part is the pretty berries on the vines in the fall and also the amazing art that those big twisted vines create.  

Today and tomorrow, we shall rest our sore muscles and then Monday, as long as the day is bright, we shall go back to our battle with the Bittersweet!

Have a wonderful weekend!  
God Bless and be kind!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Taxes Of Our LIves!

It's such a gorgeous day today and my plans for this morning were to go outside and clean up around my vegetable and flower gardens.

However, that was not to be!  I had completely forgotten about paying my business quarterly taxes.
I actually panicked slightly this morning when I realized what the date was because normally they're due right on the 15th so I would have been a day late with payment.  Fortunately, for some reason, the due date is Monday.

So, yes, I spent this morning writing checks. Federal, State and Local quarterly taxes are now paid and will soon be mailed and on the way.

Anyone that has a business knows about the quarterly estimated taxes.  For many years, I did the bookkeeping and payroll for our church so I have a set routine for my business bookkeeping.  Even so, it's such a nuisance.

I'm really OCD when it comes to bookkeeping too.  I have to have everything balanced right up to the very penny.  If it's off, the OCD in me forces me to go over it and over it and over it until I find the error.
So I'm OCD about bookkeeping but I lack the ability to actually remember when the quarterly taxes are due.  I mean, it's obvious that the quarterly taxes are due on the 15th in April, June, September and January (my PA sales tax payment is due twice a year), but I never remember until either I'm late or on the day it's due.
So to remedy that issue....
I wrote reminders to myself on every single stinkin' one of our calendars in our house this morning. This hopefully will remind me to get these quarterly taxes done at least a day ahead of time.  :)

Time will tell if it works.  Most likely it will because those reminders on the calendars will remind my husband who will then remind me.
He's pretty OCD himself about some things....won't go into that but it's just another reason why we have been married for 40 years.  His OCD blends nicely with my OCD.

Ok!  The sunshine and birdies are calling me.  I need to go outside to get some much needed work done in my gardens.
Happy Sunshine-filled Day!
"Be a Little Kinder Than Necessary"

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stitching and Weather ...The Good and The Bad !

If you live here in Western Pa, you'll understand my complaint about the weather.  This is the current weather, right now. 
Actually, 52 degrees isn't as bad as what it has been.  At least we didn't wake up to snow on the ground like the last few days.

Normally,  I don't mind a rainy cold day in the spring.  I'm usually so busy working outside with gardening, that I welcome some bad days to give me a little break.
We've not had enough good days to do anything with the gardens.
But the good thing from all of that is that I have more time for stitching and new designs!

So, I can find the good and the bad with the weather.  I'll deal with it and I can always find something that needs done INSIDE the house while waiting for decent weather to get things done OUTSIDE the house.
My husband, on the other hand, is having some difficulties. 
We were very fortunate that he was able to take an early retirement.  So he's been retired since he was 58 years old.  He's 62 now and at 62, he's pretty well set in his ways.  His "ways" is that he can't stand to sit and watch tv/do nothing all day.  He wants to be able to work outside or putter around in his garage and normally, the cold weather doesn't matter to him.  But, he's had a rather bad cold so he can't go out until he's feeling better.
To make a long story short, the guy is making me crazy with his boredom!  Yikes...my almost perfect laid back, easy-going husband is actually getting grumpy!
 We both knew that we better do something about this boredom.  We needed to get out of this house!
So yesterday afternoon, we went to the movies!  I can't even remember the last time we've gone to a movie theater.  We have Netflix and Amazon Prime, along with all of the premium channels on tv so there is rarely a lack of something to watch for us.  But in this case, just getting him out of the house was a necessity.
We went to the movie with Sally Field  "Hello, My Name is Doris".
Loved it!

 I really loved her clothes.  My husband never noticed a thing about her clothes, so it's must be one of those weird male/female differences thing.  I wouldn't mind having some of those clothes she wore...especially the woolen coats...if you know me, you know how I love woolen coats.

After the movies, we went out for dinner.  So I didn't have to cook either!
Taking one day to get away from the business and the house is what we both needed to keep us sane.  
Good day indeed!  

My husband is back to being an almost perfect, laid-back, easy-going man. He going to venture down to his garage and putter a bit too!

I'm going to click the "publish" button and then turn on my audio-book and get back to stitching!
  I hope all of you can find some good in the bad!
Be Kind and Happy Day!

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Sheep Are In The Meadow <<----new design Pattern!

The Sheep Are In The Meadow Wool Applique Table Runner Pattern
When my girls were little, I would sit them on my lap and we'd go through different nursery rhymes, acting them out or singing them.  Itsy Bitsy Spider, Humpty Dumpty, Hey Diddle Diddle, Twinkle Twinkle and my favorite one, Little Boy Blue.
They were so cute acting that one out and I'm pretty sure once they read this, they will still remember our nursery rhyme routine.  It makes me smile just typing this.
Little boy blue!
Blow your horn...
The sheep are in the meadow and
the cow is in the corn!

This "The Sheep are in the Meadow" wool table runner measures 11" x 30" but it can be made however long you wish.  The pattern can be purchased on my website by CLICKING HERE
The wool kit, which includes the pattern and all of the 100% felted wool needed to complete the project is also available.

The Design From Start to Pattern!

I'm often asked...especially when people see me in person at quilt shows or trunk shows, how long it takes me to create something from start to finish.  
It really depends on what's going on in my life.  Usually it's at least a few weeks from start to finish.  Sometimes more, never less.  It really depends on the time of year, (business is always a bit slower for me in early spring) or if I'm reading a really good book...I put designing aside for a while.  :) 

I decided for this "The Sheep are in the Meadow" design, to keep track of my progress from the very start of the simple sketch to the finished table runner pattern. 
Beginning the evening of March 21, 2016....
I had this idea in my head for a while and finally, while watching tv, I quickly sketched out the vision that was in my head....
I have lots of sketches in this sketchbook that just sit there, waiting for me to continue but this one, with the sheep, I was anxious to get started on it.
The next step:
I draw it out onto a large sheet of freezer paper.  A good ruler and quality erasers are essential for this step.
I draw all of my design on my own.  I never ever ever use someone else's design or drawing for even the smallest details.  The flowers, the sheep, the fence, are all my own hand-drawn creations.

Once I have the rough draft drawn up of the basic measurements of the design, I put it aside and work on figuring out what colors to use.
At this point, I dye up the wool that I'll need...in this case, I just needed to dye the yellow flower wool, since all of the other colors that I need are plentiful in my mill-dyed stash.

Ok, so now I have the basic design drawn and the wool ready.  I trace the shapes onto more freezer paper and get started with the best part of designing...the stitching part!

This is definitely the most difficult part because there's a lot of trial and error involved.  I can start off with a design that looks good on paper but just doesn't work when it's stitched.
In this case, I had some adjustments to make on the sheep positions and some wool color issues. There was some stitching and then some unstitching and restitching involved.

When I finished, I hung it up on my board in my workroom.....
I usually hang the design and look at it from a distance for a day or so.  I use that time to see if corrections need to be made.   
I knew when I was stitching this that I needed to make the next one longer.  This one measures about 26".  
I also had decided to use a lighter color gray wool for the sheep faces. Although I love the darker gray on the faces, it doesn't show up well from a distance or in pictures.  That's pretty important!  So you might notice that the lower 4 sheep have lighter faces then the top 4 sheep.   It was just too much unstitching to do to switch out the darker faces ...besides, the first one that I stitch is always the one that I keep for myself.  
Yes, I always stitch at least 2 of every design before I create the pattern to sell.

The next step in the process of creating a new design is to draft the pattern.  Now is when everything has to be measured and drawn out perfectly.  This is the most problematic for me.  For the first one that I stitched, the shapes end up not always exactly the same shape so I have to make those adjustments for the official pattern.
For this sheep design, I drew out the exact layout onto 11" x 17" paper.  I like to give customers the exact layout guide for all of my designs so that they'll easily be able to stitch the design without guessing where things are supposed to be. 
Once that's done, and that takes quite a bit of time, I break it down and draw out each individual pattern shape onto what will be the official pattern sheet.  This also takes quite a bit of time...and a quality eraser!  
I then write the instructions, getting my husband to proofread it after I'm finished.
Once that's all done, it's then that I use my own instructions and drawn pattern to stitch up the final version of the new design. 
I've learned that this is the best way to find errors in either forgetting something in the instructions or measurements, etc.
So, once I have the final design completed and stitched with backing, I go back to my drawings and work on finishing up the pattern.
For the layout guide and the pattern sheet drawings, I scanned them both so that I can clean them up on my computer.  
I have a program on my computer that I use to clean up all of the eraser marks and generally clean up the drawing.  
I go over every single square inch of the drawing to erase any spots and to darken all of the drawn lines.  Again, I remind you that all of my designs are completely drawn by hand...I just use the computer program to make my drawn lines look cleaner than just a thin pencil line.

I don't use any images or clip-art to create anything...even the background scallop shapes for my candle mat designs are all my very own hand-drawn shapes.  Actually, (a little secret that I'll reveal here) it's pretty easy to tell that they aren't copied shapes from someone else's pattern because on paper, every single one of the scallop shapes aren't perfect...the shape curves are all off by about 1/8" or so simply because they are hand-drawn and not computer drafted.  The wonderful thing about working with wool is that 1/8 or even 1/4" isn't the least bit noticeable in the final product.
Some of my very first pattern printings background shapes were really uneven...my husband stepped in and fixed them all for me so that now, my scallops are almost perfect in measurements.

Anyway, cleaning up the pattern drawings on the computer, takes a tremendous amount of time.  Long hours sitting at the computer screen make my shoulders hurt so I take a lot of stretching breaks.
I actually got tendinitis in my shoulder 2 years ago because I sat too long cleaning up a drawing.  That turned into what is call a "frozen shoulder" and I had to do lots of physical therapy to get it back to working.  I know better now so I take stretching breaks.

This is getting way too long and hubby is wondering why I'm sitting here typing instead of working on orders this morning so I need to finish this up.
In real life, I'm not much of a talker...I'm a listener but for some reason, my fingers like to talk!

So, the pattern drawings are all cleaned up on the computer.  I print them out.  I take pictures of the completed table runner and decide which one to use for the pattern front.   I have another computer program that I use to create the pattern front with picture.  
Once that's completed, everything gets handed over to my husband who then takes charge of getting it all sent to the printer.  Once it's back from the printer, he folds and packs each pattern and then it's ready to sell....
I will at some point tell the story of my husband's expert pattern packing technique...but that's for another time!

  I know this is long so I really appreciate you taking the time to read my words.
Now you know the long tedious process of creating a pattern from start to finish.  
Thank you for reading.  Have a blessed and happy day!  

(Love my customers and a very sincere thank you to those of you who have gone out of their way to message me with their lovely and kind comments.)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

How I Love Spring!

It's such a lovely sunny day today.  Driving some back country roads this morning, I marveled at how pretty all of the blossoming trees are.  Magnolia trees are in full bloom right now and they're oh-so-pretty!  Magnolia trees are my favorite springtime blooming trees.  I love to see the blossoms on the ground after they've fallen off the tree too.
The colors and the blossoms and the cool air with the warm sun make today just the perfect spring day for me.  
Lilac Bush!
My Lilac bushes are no where close to blooming but I'm really getting anxious to see how well they blossom this year after their trimming back last fall.  I'm hoping for more blossoms than ever.
I'm especially anxious to cut a huge bouquet of them for inside the house.  I have a crystal Waterford vase I always use for them. 
Lilac Beauty Candle mat in Black
My "Lilac Beauty" candle mat is needing a pretty vase of Lilacs right in the center of it!

Lilac Beauty Candle Mat in Natural White

If you'd like to have a pretty wool Lilac Beauty candle mat under your bouquet of flowers, just visit my website by CLICKING HERE  for the pattern.. I have the wool kits available for both the black background and the natural white background.

Geranium Pin Cushion

If you don't want to tackle making a candle mat, consider stitching just a single flower from the pattern for a pin cushion or shelf pillow.
Some designers don't want the customer to alter their patterns in any way, but I don't mind at all.  I love seeing how my customers use something of mine to create something different.  As long as the pattern is purchased from me and credit is given to me as the original designer, my customers are welcome to do just about anything they wish with the pattern design.

I used to make pin cushions to sell as finished items.  You can tell from all of my patterns that flowers are my favorite designs to create.  I've done dozens of flowers over the years.... geraniums, pansies, lilacs, violets, dogwood, daisies, sunflowers, coneflowers, lily-of-the-valley, pussywillows, queen anne lace, thistle, and even dandelions.

Pin Cushions!
The picture above is a 2006 scrapbook picture of just some of the pincushions that I made that year and sold.
Pansies were my favorite to stitch.
So consider pin cushions or shelf pillows for some quick and easy stitching projects.  They make great gifts too.

Thank you for reading!  Be happy, be kind!
Happy Day!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Doodles and More Doodles

So, continuing with my series of doodles from my long-lost-but-recently-found sketch books, I'll shall now post just a few of my silly Goddess Luna doodles. 
These were done during long church meetings...and let me clarify here.  I always pay attention at the meetings.  The doodling while the meetings go on, just keep my fingers busy.   Most of my doodling was done during the Administrative Council meetings simply because we were always sitting at tables. I always enjoyed those meetings so I had no trouble paying attention.

I remember the time that I was supposed to be the secretary keeping the minutes at our Pastor/Parish committee meetings.  I had soooo much trouble keeping notes because I had to write instead of doodle.  I finally told the chairman that I just was not cut out to be a secretary.  I resigned from that duty so that the chairman didn't fire me.  :) 

I had a whole series of goddess sketches. It seems odd that I was doing this during a Christian church meeting, but keep in mind, this is completely tongue-in-cheek and NOT something that I did because I worship Greek gods and goddesses. 

Imagine, if you will, that we have a goddess who provides her silken threads of hair to use for all of our stitching needs.  Meet our Goddess of Thread, ThimbleLuna.
  Next, how wonderful would it be to have a goddess who cleaned our bathroom for us. 
Meet our Goddess of the Bathroom, LavatoryLuna:

That's all for now!   :)  

Be Kind 
  Happy Day!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Blessing!

So busy getting ready for the big family Easter dinner tomorrow.  I felt the need to take a break and do something else besides cleaning and baking.  With the heavenly smell of a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake in the oven, I'll type out the amusements that go on in my head.

First of all, I have to STRONGLY encourage everyone to do some Spring cleaning, especially if you've lost something years ago.  Even though you've long ago giving up the search, Spring cleaning brings it to you!  Like magic, your missing treasured things appear!

My Spring cleaning made my lost sketch books reappear and look what was inside my sketch book!
My Hippo wedding couple with their little ring bearer!
 Anytime I have a church meeting, or any meeting, I doodle.  I've always doodled, even back in school, I had pages and pages of my notebook filled with school notes and doodles. 
This was something that I did back in 94 during a particularly long Ad Council meeting at church.
It doesn't matter if it's the agenda for the meeting, I'll doodle on anything in front of me that is paper. 
This turned out to be a bit more than my usual doodle but I'm so happy that my Hippo wedding couple have been found. 
So, I've lost two of my most treasured tablecloths.  I've seemingly looked everywhere for them, but even with the spring cleaning, they unfortunately haven't magically appeared. 
But my old sketch books have just made me so so happy, the missing tablecloths distress is eased.  I know they will turn up eventually.  Probably just like the sketch books; when I'm not looking for them. 
When I found the sketchbooks, I immediately sat down and went through them, page by page, over and over again, at least a half dozen times.  I don't remember most of the things I drew but some of them ...well, I'm just so incredibly happy that they are back in my life. 
I've found that the older I get, it's just the simple things in life that make me the happiest. 

I also found a long lost leather thimble.  I actually had two of them go missing, but finding one is just fine with me. 
Simple things.  Blessings indeed.

I have a couple new designs that will be ready once this Easter stuff is over.  One in particular, I'm really really excited about. 
No, it's not a design of a hippo wedding party.  :)

May your home be filled with Easter happiness tomorrow!  Happy Easter!  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

More Treasured Gifts! 1953 Chevy

I stitched this to give to my hubby for Christmas a few years ago....

This turned out to be an even harder task to create than the 56 Chevy that I made for my brother-in-law. (see the post before/below this one for the story of Mark's 56 Chevy)

My husband's '53 Chevy has been in his family since...well, since 1953.  It used to belong to his uncle and then his uncle passed it on to my hubby way back when he was just a teen.
It still runs well, but my husband had/has it stored away during the winter.  Unfortunately, winter is when I needed to see it so that I could sketch it and draft the pattern.  
I didn't want my husband to know what I was going to do, so I would sneak down to his garage and try to uncover his car enough to get glimpses of the car details.  He has this car stored in the very back corner of his very big garage.  It's covered and has lots of other equipment surrounding it.  I had to take pictures of small sections of the car and then compare it to the few online pictures of that model year.
The one error in design is the tires.  They need to be big white-wall tires.  I will fix that....someday.  I can't be faulted with that though since hubby had so much stuff surrounding that darn car, it was impossible to see those tires!  :)

So, just as I did Mark's 56 Bel Air Chevy, I sketched the car to the size that I wanted the wall-hanging.  Then I had the daunting task of drafting the pattern for it.  
I had some shiney silver vinyl that I wanted to use for the chrome on the bumpers, the hubcaps and that little side panel by the back tire.  Once I had it stitched on though, I ripped it all back out because it just didn't blend well with the wool.  The silver/grey wool worked better.

My fav feature about this car is again, the door handles and lock, stitched with metallic threads, but also that radio antennae.    
One other thing I should add...my husband had just retired when I made this so he was home most of the time.  I had limited time during the day to make this.  
So, I would wait until he went to bed at night to work on it.  I sometimes stayed up until the wee hours of the morning stitching because once I get going on a big project like this, it's really difficult for me to shut down.

I've lots more projects from the past to show, but that's it for now.

So much sadness today with the bombings in Belgium. 
Prayers for those have been personally affected by this horror.

I've found that being kind to those who are hateful can make a difference.
 I'm afraid that kindness to those who are evil would make no difference. 

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness"  ~ Dalai Lama

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Treasured Gift

This is a very special gift that I made 3 years ago for a very special guy.
My brother-in-law, Mark.
I'm finding it very difficult to write the story behind this gift because Mark passed away back in September of 2014. Gosh, he is really missed.

My sister, Carol, (casserole Carol) was planning to give her husband a surprise 60th birthday party.
Since there would be a lot of people there, I knew that most presents would be either his favorite Guinness, or his favorite Jameson Irish whiskey.  (being Irish, he loved his whiskey and oh, do I have stories about THAT!)
The problem is, what do you give a 60 year old guy who is confined to a wheelchair and not in the best of health?
After much thinking, my husband and I realized that his 56 Chevy was probably one of his most prized possessions and I needed to commemorate that car for him!

I texted my niece, Steph, and asked her to go outside and take a few pictures of her dad's car.  The car was in pretty bad condition, and sitting under a carport with a lot of other things pushed up around it. It was difficult for her, but she managed to get some pictures so that I could get a better idea of the details, (two door, white sidewalls, chrome, etc)
Then I went online and did some searching to find a good picture of the 1956 BelAir Chevy. It's a popular car so the pictures were fairly easy to find.

Once I had a good picture, I sketched the car in the size that I wanted to make the wall-hanging.  That was the easy part.
The hard part was drafting the pattern for it.  It was to a point that I thought of giving up..it was overwhelmingly difficult.  The trick is to put the project aside for a little while and then come back to it, fresh.
Once the pattern was drafted, I dyed the wool to get the good yellow.  The rest of the wool was mill dyed so that was easily on hand.
The stitching part was so much fun.  I really enjoyed that challenge.  Then seeing it all come together with every single stitch was incredibly rewarding. I kept calling my husband over to gleefully show him the results of my newest stitched detail.

For the chrome stitching, I used silver metallic thread.  The little chrome door handle and the french knot below it for the lock is my favorite feature.  So cute.

I researched and found a "Chevy" font online to use for the lettering.  I printed the letters in the correct size and then traced the letters onto the wool for embroidering.  The little BelAir stitching on the side of the car took some time since that metallic thread was so difficult to use.

This took a tremendous amount of time but I thoroughly enjoyed every single stitch of it.  And the reaction from Mark when he opened it was just the best possible reaction one could give when opening a gift.  There was no doubt that he loved that gift.
Mark had Carol hang the wall hanging on the wall right by their front door so that he could see it from his recliner in the living room.
Mark is sorely missed.

"It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." ~ John Steinbeck

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spring (cleaning) Is Here!

"It was one  of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light,  and winter in the shade."  ~Charles Dickens
No, this isn't a new pattern design. It's something I made years and years ago.

I've been so productive these past few days and simply because the weather has been so nice.

Spring cleaning is what it's called.  Redding up (that's a Pittsburgh term for cleaning) my office space,  vacuuming behind the furniture and generally getting rid of the clutter, are just some of my accomplishments.  It's a really good feeling and it makes me happy when I see the clean results. I'm hoping to finish by the end of this week so that I can plan for our Easter family time.

I do have some new designs all stitched up and ready for pattern printing.  I'm so very very pleased with their results.  I'm going to wait a bit for their release until after Easter so that I can enjoy my Spring cleaning efforts.

March and April have always been a slower time for my business ...I'm pretty sure it's because everyone, just like me, is outside enjoying the beauty of Spring.  I take advantage of this slower time to "catch up"with everything that I've put aside because the business was just too busy.

In the meantime, I'd love to show off some of my treasured things that I've given as gifts to very special people in my life.
This is the wall hanging that I made for my grandson.

 Fang is a beagle and my grandson named him after one of the character's dog in the Harry Potter books.
Fang certainly doesn't live up to his ferocious name.  He's a gentle, loving soul.  Although, I have to say, if you aren't guarding the hamburger in your hand very closely, he will make it disappear so fast that you'll wonder if it was ever in your hand!  :)  I still laugh when I think of the look on my grandson's face after his hamburger disappeared from his hand. 
To make this, I took a picture of Fang .....

Then I drew/sketched him to the size I wanted to make for the wall-hanging and drafted the pattern for it.  I hand-dyed the wool to get that mottled brown color to match his fur.  I even held the dyed wool up to Fang just to make sure the color was perfect.
I found a special "Harry Potter" font and cut the letters to resemble that.  My grandson has always loved Harry Potter.  He's 9 now but even back when he was 3, his mom was reading the books with/to him so I knew he would recognize that special letter font.
For the circle dog tag, On one side I stitched, "I love Kaiden" and on the reverse side, I stitched "Kaiden loves me".
I attached a dowel rod to the top and have a dog collar chain attached to that for hanging.
I made this for him 3 years ago and it's hanging in his bedroom.
If think if I were to make it again, I'd make his snout just a little longer.  I made him look more like he did as a puppy rather than a full-grown 8 year old dog.  Even so, my grandson loves it and that's all that matters.  :)

I'll have more treasured gift pictures to share in a few days.....cars.  I do old cars.

"Do it for joy and you can do it forever"  ~ Stephen King 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderfully Happy Day!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

More Lilacs!

Good morning!  Thursday, March 10, 2016
Shown below is my "Lilac Beauty" design done with a black background.  The wonderful lady who packs my kits for me will be working tomorrow, so expect to see more wool kits on Saturday for both the white background "Lilac Beauty" candle mat and the black background option.

I stitched both the black background and the white background and just couldn't decide which to show on the pattern front.  I loved how they both looked.  I finally decided to print the pattern with the white background and only because the "Geranium Beauty" design (which is similar) was done with the black background.  It was either that or doing eeny meeny miny moe.
The pattern and the wool kit can be purchased from my website by CLICKING HERE

Want a weekend project?
Make a traditional penny rug!

No, this isn't available as a  pattern but only because it doesn't need a pattern to make it!
I cut the pennies all by hand, but a die cutter like Accuquilt can do that job for you too.
Any graduating sizes can be used but for mine:  The large pennies are about 1 1/2".  Medium pennies are 1" and the small pennies are about 3/4".
I traced the circles onto freezer paper then ironed the freezer paper onto my wool.  Then started cutting.
I always do my cutting while watching the Penguins hockey game.  So, this past Saturday, I cut the large and medium pennies and started stitching.  
Then Sunday, when they played again, I cut the small pennies and finished stitching the rest of them later that night while watching Downton Abbey. (stitching while watching tv keeps me awake!) Once they're all stitched, simply string them together.  I string them by rows.  Then I string the rows together.  
I used my pastel wool and the natural white Dorr wool for this one, but any colors you might have will look wonderful.
This penny rug was made just for me.  I have a really cute vintage pastel Easter basket that will look really nice with it.  
Give it a try!  
I have hand-dyed pastel wool and the felted natural white wool available on my website CLICK HERE

Thank you for reading!
Blessings and Happy Day!