Friday, March 27, 2015

nesting, bobbling Larissa magnets


If you've stuck with me any amount of time you'll know I love matryoshka dolls. Do you collect them? Small, cleverly made things are powerful Larissa magnets. I'm drawn to them by an irresistible, tractor beamish force. The same force opens my wallet and turns down the volume on the sensible 'save your money' voice. These are two recent purchases that give me much joy.


This wooden set is designed by one of my favorite illustrators ever, Helen Dardik. Oh, how I love her cheerful, bizarre drawings and print patterns! I'm the proud owner of three of her watercolors. I was so lucky to be able to buy this matryoshka directly from her. I loves it. Animals who are holding tasty things to eat. Mr Bear with an apple. Mrs Owl with a bowl of um. Pistachio pudding! Obviously.


I'm actually not sure what Mr Middle there is. No ears. But has a snout. And claws. (Bear/Owl love child?) And clutches a bowl of...Greek yogurt. Hmm. Mr Squirrel is eating a fish. I didn't know squirrels liked fish. Maybe it's a fish-shaped nut loaf. Or maybe Mr Squirrel is really Mr Beaver. Do Beavers eat fish? No. Maybe Mr Squirrel is just taking his pet fish for a walk. The fish looks keen. And a nervous girl (Goldilocks?) who is hoping 1) she is not the main course 2) they will share their snacks.

I like a bit of drama and mystery in my nesting dolls.

 And they have tails! Except for Goldi, of course.


And this vintage bobble-head Japanese set I picked up on Etsy a while ago might be my favorite in the Crazy-Tiny Wow Factor category. I love the dry brush paint strokes. Did I mention they bobble?


As in, they all have bobble heads. Not just the big one.
(Imagine some really stellar gel polish or Jamberries on my nails, will you?)

 All the way down...

 ...to this guy. Yes. His head bobbles too. 
(I know!)


So you see. I had to make them mine forever. I know you support me in this.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

alterations are scary


In between ornament patterns I am trying to do much-needed and much-procrastinated clothing alterations. Do you hate doing this? I love the results but the actual doing is such a pain.
 
I have to brag that I successfully altered the waistband of one of my pencil skirts...the right way this time. (Usually I sew a hurried dart in the waistband, which gets the job done but looks bulky and  terrible.)

It was scary! I had to unpick the waistband at the side seams (so many parts coming together there, the fabric, the lining, the grosgrain ribbon finishing the inside, and some kind of thin ribbon that I had no idea what it was for) and resew it at an angle and then figure out how to put it all back together like it was and not make a hash of it. Then of course sweat bullets wondering if I'd taken it in too much. Huge relief to try it on and see that it no longer sticks out at my waist and fits properly. 

Now I have about five other pencil skirts that need the same treatment. Plus a pile of other clothes that I could wear if I'd spend a little time fixing them. Need to keep the momentum...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

curated felt color collection for Colly Bird ornaments



 Photos courtesy of Benzie Design

This ten-color collection of wool blend felt and matching embroidery floss was custom made for my Colly Bird pattern samples shown above and is now available in Benzie Design's shop! Thanks again, Renae!

Colly Bird Benzie felt colors: 
Black
Graphite
Julep
Moss
Coral
Mustard
Peacock
Cyan
Copper
Orange

There's an extra choice for the blue in there. You can purchase this Benzie felt bundle with or without the matching flosses. You'll need matching floss anyway to sew your ornaments together, so having the pre-matched flosses comes in handy! NOTE: You will still need to purchase floss for the contrast decorative embroidery!
See colors below.



Green/black/mint colly bird contrast embroidery colors:
DMC White
DMC Black
DMC 3804  (DK Cyclamen Pink)
DMC 608  (Bright Orange)
DMC 581 (Moss Green)
DMC 958 (DK Seagreen)

Gray/blue/mustard colly bird contrast embroidery colors:
DMC White
DMC Black
DMC 3846  (LT Bright Turquoise)
DMC 608  (Bright Orange)
DMC 3852  (V DK Straw)
DMC 3799  (V DK Pewter Gray)

I've also done a curated bundle of felt for each of the previous Twelve Days patterns and you can find them all under that same Benzie listing in the drop down menu. See these older blog posts for more pictures and details: Partridge & Pear, Turtle Dove, and French Hen.

Happy hand sewing!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Colly Bird pattern is now available!


Bit tardy. Sorry! See what happens when I verbalize a deadline? It sets Murphy's Law into motion. Murphy's kind of a jerk and he was out to get me. Physical therapy, stomach viruses, school projects, sample making apathy, overcast days, house looking, stupid Daylight Saving Time (I've been sleepy and grumpy ever since) etc...

But it's done! ShaZAM! It's available in my Etsy and Craftsy shops for your sewing pleasure.


OK, you might be asking 'why colly bird and not calling bird?'. If you've missed the previous posts about this, the Twelve Days of Christmas song originally included the Old English term colly bird, which means blackbird. Calling bird was added later because no one knew what the heck a colly bird was. Which didn't help a whole lot because what the heck is a calling bird?



I remember being really thrilled to find this old book in my thrift store a few years back because it has 'colly bird' instead of calling bird! I also dig the economical seventies-licious three-color litho (orange, olive and black! the power trio) and crinkly plastic library binding. This book. Smells exactly like my elementary school library.

(Whatever happened to good ol' two color picture books anyway? We just throw four color process around willy nilly like it grows on trees nowadays! Kids in my day didn't have decadent, glossy CMYK books like that. We had to use our imaginations to fill in the color. And we liked it! *waving cane*)


So anyway, I'm really pleased with the way this colly bird pattern turned out and I hope you like him too. Like all the Twelve Days patterns, it takes advantage of the awesomeness of Sulky Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy (cue Korben Dallas saying "...that whole thing's your name, huh?"). Just print the pattern on this stabilizer, stick it to the felt and embroider right through it. Doesn't get any easier than that!


Make it a blackbird or a whatever color of bird a calling bird is.

So now I'm going to take an ornament-free breather. Fold some towels. Maybe sew some things to wear. Spring has arrived in Atlanta. And overnight one day soon it will go from balmy and pleasant to wilted and sweaty and will remain stuck on that setting until October. I will reluctantly retire my tights and suede booties and go get a pedicure.

Next up on the blog: My curated color collection at Benzie Design for Colly Bird, for those of you who are waiting.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

sneak peek of Colly Bird


Colly bird is an old English expression meaning blackbird. That's what was originally in the song. I like the idea of a blackbird ornament. But he doesn't mind if you say Calling Bird. You can make him whatever color you like. Give him a tiny iPhone.

I'm finishing up the pattern and samples and will have it all together and released...erm...soonish. I just wanted you to get a preview of him because I really love him. And for proof of progress.

I'm getting many firsthand sightings of his real life brothers and sisters during the migration. Huge flights of blackbirds land periodically in our yard to terrorize the squirrels in our bird feeder. It's a little Hitchcock-y while they are all sitting in the trees around the house.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

say it with popcorn


My friend Robyn is The Gift Swami. She knows exactly what will make me squeal like a little girl. Like the above.



And the above.


And these.


And this. Sigh.
This list could get very long. My house and person are peppered with recent thoughtful birthday and Christmas Robyn gifts.


But this? A popcorn popping pan with a rotating handle thingy? YES. Because even though when I opened it at Christmas I had more of a puzzled-raised-eyebrow-reaction than a squeal she knew that I would love this Whirley-Pop. AND I DO. Oh, yes, yes, YES I do!

I love me some popcorn. I eat it several days a week. To the point where I can sense without looking the slightly judgy arched brow of my husband as I bring yet another late night bowl of popcorn to the TV. I've contemplated serving popcorn for dinner many times, but microwave popcorn doesn't really ping the meter for that. It's quick of course, and the brand we buy is relatively not horrible for you.

But THIS. Is popcorn excellence. It tastes so much better than microwave popcorn. It's funny how you forget what things are supposed to taste like. I hadn't popped corn on the stove since high school.



Thanks to Robyn, it's great to have control over the type of corn we pop (read non-GMO). We can use healthy oil (we use olive oil) and vary the amount according to preference, 1-3 TBS (we use two). The rotating bar thingy inside the pan keeps the popcorn from burning and gets almost every kernel popped. No waste. No blackened kernels stuck to the pan.

Half a cup of kernels fills this deep pot entirely with popped popcorn. Way more than you get in a microwave bag.

 
After it's done you can heap all the salt or flavorings you want on top but my current favorite is this sesame oil that Robyn sent with it. Mmm mm mm mm mm. Yummo. Michael likes Tabasco.

Granted, cleanup is more than just tossing a greasy bag in the trash. But the effort involved is minimal. I give the lid a quick sponge and rinse the pot out with water and give it a wipe with a paper towel. Done. It just stays on my counter top because we use it so often. NOW I can serve popcorn for dinner if I like. Thank you again, Robyn, for elevating our popcorn habits. I just had to share your gifting prowess.

Now I will totally copy you and give this magical thing to others.

Monday, February 16, 2015

dog and cat gadget cozies

These gadget cozies were my Valentine gifts to my two girls. Dog and cat describes their relationship at times.


My girls do not have phones. We are old fashioned that way. Well, yes, they technically are old iPhones but have been stripped down to be music/camera/video/calendar gadgets. Like a Touch but without wifi. The girls love their gadgets and carry them everywhere, listening to music, creating elaborate custom backgrounds, taking selfies and recording silly videos of one another. (I came upon the youngest recording a song off the radio the other day with Voice Memo, old school style. Took me back to my days with my boom box and tape recorder. I said, "Um, why don't you just download it on iTunes?" and she said, "Mom, be quiet, you are ruining my recording.")


They are designed to hang on wrists, belt loops, purses or backpacks. (To attach them just squish the cozy through the loop, luggage tag style.) It will save their gadget some knocks and provide a nice place to stash their ear buds.


To make them I modified the small size Gadget Cozy pattern to be a bit taller to fit their 4Ss. I added a dipped rim in back, animal appliques, and Velcro closure. The puppy cozy is actually 5% bigger overall than the grumpy kitty cozy because it needed a little more wiggle room. Second time's the charm.