photo by Kathy Street/Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo's winter-predicting hedgehog FuFu, failed to see her shadow on Groundhog's Day this month, predicting that here in the Pacific Northwest, an early spring may be just around the corner.
Animal curator Tanya Paul, says "according to folklore, the Europeans (who originated the tradition), used hedgehogs. When they immigrated to the United States, they realized their new home didn't have hedgehogs, so they turned to the groundhog out of necessity, but FuFu is bringing the tradition back to its origins, and with a higher accuracy rate."
Let's hope Fufu ain't foolin'. But even if she does get it wrong, look at that face! I don't think I could stay mad at her for more than a nano-second. After more record-breaking rain this week and too many (stinky) visits from a skunk, driven from it's flooded blackberry bramble bunker, we finally, thankfully, have a little sunshine today--and it's a sight for sore eyes let me tell you. It's beyond wonderful to open the back door. I've been burning incense to cover the horrid "skunk a la pew" but nothing cleanses like fresh air after a rain. Ahh. I think I may survive after all. A little taste of spring is like a spoonful of honey right now. I hope you get to see your shadow, and taste spring (soon) where ever you are.
Daydreams of Spring
In the meantime, while we wait for spring, I'm still working on these little darlings. My NEW handmade collectible art dolls--coming soon!
We are having a book sale! There's a new home for my books on the PatternBee website. (Without the middle-man I am able to offer them at a reduced price). Yay! If you want a signed copy, let me know, I am happy to do it. Both of my books are still currently available on Amazon, but only through the Marketplace; I reactivated my old account (I used to sell a few used books and DVD's from time to time), my seller account is under the name candyheart. However, the best price is still through me directly, purchased from the PatternBee website. So make a note!
The 2017 Free Bonus Transfer is up; this month, featuring dainty hearts and a heavenly sleeping cherub. Oh. How I love long winter naps.
Also, the new vintage pattern additions for February are finished:
2016 Bonus Collection (that last year sure flew by, didn't it?)
Hugs all around to our dear stitching friends, who shared these little lovelies to add to the site. I've already started working on the new additions for March and April. Ah, spring is coming! But first, we have to get through fickle February, which has just arrived here with freezing rain in its pockets and snow following close on its heels. Just as predicted in the Farmer's Almanac; and you can hang your hat on that, it's rarely wrong. There's a stiff, cold wind blowing down from the north, whistling through the trees as I write. B-r-r-r.
A good day to fill up the soup pot and stitch. Cheers everybody!
Boo Hoo . .Christmas is over. I know. It's been over for awhile, but I'm just a little slow reconciling it. I've been cleaning up and putting away the decorations and the trimmings. There's been a consensus though, that twinkle lights and candles be left as they are a bit longer. At least through winter. And snow fox, a handmade gift by one sister for the other, for cute company. (Pattern from Mollie Makes.)
Speaking of critters, we finally solved the mystery of the disappearing suet cake. Not a clue or a crumb had been left behind. The poor birdies were robbed twice before we finally caught the culprits on our spy cam this morning. They made off with the whole lock, stock and barrel.
The evidence does not lie. Not one, but two little raccoons did we spy! Even with all the wiring and rigging they somehow managed to remove the whole thing from the tree. We found the empty feeder in the shrubs with the metal hanger still attached. I wish I knew where these two marauders scampered off to. The birds are not happy about this situation either. They keep eyeing us through the kitchen window. Fortunately, the snow has melted and they can eat bugs again for awhile until I can get to town to buy another seed cake. From now on, will have to remember to bring it inside come sundown.
In the meantime, I made these again. So yummy!
The weather has been the talk of the town this week here in the Pacific Northwest, with wind, sleet, snow and ice and temperatures dropping down into the teens during the night. Schools have closed. Roads are treacherous. The mailbox was frozen shut! (LOL)
Currently, we are huddled in the kitchen wrapped in the warmth of our Christmas cookie baking, trying not to dwell (or look upon) the carnage that is happening just outside the window, as every so often, we hear a twisting shriek as another tree branch breaks off (somewhere), and falls to the ground with a thud. Oh dear.
We would much rather hear the snap and crunch of cookies being eaten. Yes, indeed. These merry men and maidens await their sugarplum finery. The girls make quick work with their icing bags.
Can you spot Prancer?
My holiday checklist is nearly complete! The Tree is up. Christmas cards and letters have been signed, sealed and delivered. I have most of my Christmas shopping done; having fun with the wrappings. Those cute dotty gift bags are from Current. Adorable sticker labels by petite alma (purchased thru Amazon).
Besides all this loot under-wraps, the knitting needles are clicking, the needle and thread are flying, the glue is drying--and it's all very hush-hush as we hustle and bustle to get everything done.
I dare say, we must keep up our strength. Which sometimes requires, Second Breakfast! (It's a nice Hobbity sort of thing.) After all, being homebound and hunkering due to bad weather, and shuffling comfortably around all day in one's slippers can easily lead to a wee tea, before noontime. You know, to keep fortified.
Fortunately, I have just the thing for that. My tea of choice: 'Spiced Christmas' from the Family Tea Merchants, Taylors of Harrogate, based in the North Yorkshire Dales (of England), established in 1886. This tea, I think, has just the right mix of black tea leaves, lemon, orange, and cinnamon without overpowering. (This is an import available through our local food co-op, so I don't have a link, but there are shops and websites that carry it in the U.S. as well.) Honestly, I don't get paid to endorse any brand or product, but merely share the things I love.
As for the munchables...second breakfast may be many things from biscuits (aka: cookies) to mushrooms. Since the latter are abundant right now, and high in Vitamin D, which is harder to get as the days grow shorter, mushrooms it is! Here's how I make mine:
And that's all there is to it!
The twinkle lights are up! The girls surprised us with this beautiful display. Our snowy village gets moved around from year to year. I think I like this location the best so far. It runs the entire length of the cabinet units and is lit with twinkle lights that are poked in through the back of the houses to make them light up from the inside. The red wall in the background creates a truly magical effect! (Our village was made from a Martha Stewart kit a few years ago and is no longer available as such, but a tutorial and template can be found here.)
As the days grow shorter and darker, and much cooler, there is a change in the rhythm of our routine. The soup pot is on a perpetual simmer again; today it's turkey stock, as I render every last bit of goodness from the vestiges of a fine Thanksgiving feast. A feast that was enjoyed by all who gathered with us around our table. We find ourselves grateful for so many things, but mostly for each other. And...of course, pie! Gobble.
There's a Christmas tree farm just around the corner from our house, and as luck would have it, a break in the storm has provided an opportunity to take a walk down the back road for a look around. The air smells of citrus and pine. So many beautiful trees, await their fate!
B-r-r-r. It was a chilly 37 degrees this morning. Still acclimating. Back inside, where it's warm, I have made a bit of progress on the quilt. This is the first time I've quilted using embroidery floss. I am still trying to decide if I like it. I do like that it was faster than traditional hand-quilting. Way faster. But even having marked it out with guide lines, the stitches don't line up as neatly as I would like. Hmmm. Am I making too much of this, should I just keep going, or rip and start over?
In the meantime, while I ponder that stitching dilemma, there are many things that are making me happy these days. That are perfect in their own lovely way. Such as the long-awaited HoneyCrisp and Mandarines that have just arrived at our local food co-op. YUM. And, how I LOVE these printed papers (from issue #70 of MollieMakes). I am going to slip these into acrylic box frames and hang them on the wall. When the season is over I can easily replace them with others. If you can't get your hands on a magazine, you can visit the artist Victoria Johnson on her beautiful website.
'Tis the Season!
Hello Friends! Whew. It has been a bit of a madhouse over here. PatternBee Headquarters, that little room at the back of my house, got a partial make-over last month, and it has taken ages to get myself re-organized. It was quite involved. But the best part is, the outdated wallpaper (from the 1990's) is long-gone and has been replaced by nature-inspired neutral colors (Wood Smoke & Spider Web) and I'm loving it. Especially now that it's November and in the 40's and I'm spending more time inside. This year just flew by.
All summer, I was making these collage magnets. I made dozens of them! This was just one of my happy little craft projects that I neglected to share, because it was so time consuming. At some point I do plan to sell them, but I am not sure when or where that might be. I think a new website may be required for all I have planned.
It has been so dark and rainy here these past weeks and months. Occasionally the sun appears, reminding us that it is actually daytime. My daughters have already started the holiday decorating--mostly to banish the gloom from all the nooks and crannies around the house, cast from dark skies. They are both creative and have been busy making things all year as well. Above, is one of their colorful corners celebrating the fall. Grace made paper pumpkins from folded circles of various scrapbook papers. The felt fox is Ginger's handwork; pattern from Issue #70 of Mollie Makes magazine (out of the UK). The crewel sampler is one I did from an Erica Wilson kit decades ago. (Her legendary needlework lives on still. She passed away in 2011.)
Most of the fall color is dwindling due to the wind and rain. Boo-Hoo. It ended too soon. But then it always ends too soon for me no matter how long it lingers. So, on Sunday, without missing a beat, and taking advantage of a break in the storm, the Mister climbed his trusty ladder and hung the sparkly Christmas lights. Then he put lit candy canes around the kid's playhouse, which will surely please our young granddaughters who are coming to stay with us this Thanksgiving. He knows exactly what we need.
And I know what he needs...and the pie-baking starts tomorrow! He brought home an array of apples from a neighbor's home-produce stand. I should be able to get a few tasty pies from these.
Well, time to get cracking. Because if Thanksgiving isn't motivation enough to get this long neglected quilt basted and off the dining-room table, I don't know what is. I'd better hurry up about it too.
Best wishes to all for a happy and gracious Thanksgiving!
While I'm busy here, stitching away on the Cottontail quilt, and watching the seasonal changes from the window, particularly the first falling leaves, I am reminded of this past project (from my book Embroidery Craft: Stitching Through the Seasons), which combines embroidery and patchwork using pre-cut 5" charm squares and jelly roll strips. It's a fun and fairly quick project due to the fact that there is very little cutting involved.
And this basic pillow-top also works as a quilt block, and any design can be embroidered or appliqued in the central block to carry out a theme. Nine blocks, sewn three by three, will make a nice sized throw. Yes, even Cottontail bunny (aka Rabbit of the Month), for example could be stitched in the plain squares. I've already constructed my quilt using lattice strips however, but in case you are looking for an easy project to get started on--think holiday stitching . . . well, there you go. Here is another pillow made with a Redwork theme.
Follow this link for the complete how-to: Cozy Up Patchwork Pillow Tutorial
It's official...fall is here and the frost is almost on the pumpkin! So exciting, isn't it? Actually, it's been feeling very fall-like for a few weeks now, putting me in a mind to get back to some of my sewing projects. Of which, I can tell you, there are many. Like the above work in progress; started too long ago to remember when that was exactly. I just need to add the backing, bind the edges, do a little stitch-in-the-ditch, and that's it. I'll be back with a little show-and-tell soon.
Freebie Friday . . . flash to the past!
From WorkBasket January 1952:
"Five ounces of baby yarn is sufficient to crochet this cute sweater for a little girl size 3; use a number 3 bone crochet hook. Contrasting yarn could be used on waistband, wristband, up the front and around the neck--navy and a lighter blue would be very pretty."
I love transitional months. There is always a feeling of expectation. Of what is to come. The weather, though usually fickle here in Oregon, can't seem to settle on warm or wet. Today we have both. And it is heavenly.
So, after a flurry of serious housekeeping this morning, I went outside for some fresh air and found this . . .
It was practically waving and shouting, "yoo hoo", I have arrived, and am ready for my close-up."
So gorgeous. A complete wonder. It just appeared one day. We thought at first it was some sort of exotic weed, but couldn't put our finger on exactly what kind of weed it might be, so we just left it alone and forgot about it. Then buds formed. Aha! A Dahlia. And such a lovely one she is too! Ten inches across. A classic "dinner plate" Dahlia. Who knew. I love surprises like this.
Over the weekend, I finally got around to lining an old drawer with some pretty scrapbook papers. This was an easy project that took about twenty minutes. Not really blog-worthy, but while I was working on it, I was reminded of a massive decoupage project I did inside my closet when I was 13. One that sent my dear old Dad into a tizzy fit, because you just did not glue things to furniture or walls or closet doors (as far as he was concerned). I was always doing crazy stuff like that in an effort to "decorate", because that tiny dark bedroom, along with my life then, was so dismal. Sad but true.
Anyway, I worked on my secret closet project for months and months, cutting out and gluing to the walls, my favorite outfits from the latest fashion magazines (which I spent all of my babysitting money on). The closet remained that way for many years long after I grew up and moved away. Eventually, Dad took a power sander to it. Oh, and how he did fuss about it too. For years!
As you can see, I did use a little more restraint this time and kept it simple.
This is what I am working on now. I've had this vintage transfer sheet for a long while, an old WorkBasket freebie, and have used parts of it for various things, but never as a complete set with all the farm motifs. The calf is unusual, and the piglet is cute with a bow on her tail. And that rooster is just awesome! The Amish couple are darling too. A fun little pattern. If I finish it this month, I'll add it to the PatternBee website, otherwise look for it in October under New Additions.
That's it for today . . . take care everyone!
Hello everyone and Happy Summer!
It's been way too long since I checked in here; high time for some neighborly chit-chat over the fence.
Is summer busy for you? Summer always seems to be the very busiest of seasons for our family. What with all the fairs and festivals, an out-of-state family reunion in Nevada, a marriage reception for a nephew in Washington, a trip to my brother's in California, birthdays, horse shows, visiting the Oregon coast, and my annual jam and pickle making tradition, not to mention the needs of The Garden . . . it's no wonder we are buzzing around like bees.
Our oldest granddaughter turned 12 years-old yesterday; this is another milestone that is hard to wrap my mind around. It seems like only yesterday I was bouncing her on my knee and sewing sweet little aprons for her and her sister. Time just keeps marches on and so do we. And though me hairs grow gray--I'm a proud granny.
And speaking of time marching on . . . the Mister and I are happily celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary! (Actually, we met ten years prior to getting hitched, with a history of "crossing paths" before that, so I am sure it was Providence). Needless to say, we count each other our BFF.
With all the coming and going, I don't have too much in the way of crafty sewing to share just now. I have barely been keeping up with the new transfer patterns that are waiting patiently here in shoeboxes. I try and add a few "new" reprints to the PatternBee website each month along with the Bonus patterns. I've been able to do it for over ten years now and wonder how long I can keep doing it. I never knew there were so many embroidery patterns when I started this little venture: as a hobby.
In the meantime, there are some new projects waiting in the wings. These combine my love of paper and glue and needle and thread. And with that, I must leave you guessing for now.
Thanks for stopping by--I do so miss you all!
Hello everyone! How does your garden grow? I grabbed my camera to take you on a garden tour. Well. We have been having a most lovely spring time and things are really popping around here. Front and center we have these gorgeous snowball flowers. They look like giant popcorn balls don't they? A downpour brought them down into a pretty cascade along the fence. Their spindly stems just can't support them.
Oh! And the fragrance. Sort of a cross between a carnation and a gardenia and something else. . . I can't quite identify. All wonderful nonetheless. Just weeks before, the tiny grape hyacinth was in bloom at their feet. So pretty! In case your are wondering, this is one bush.
These don't make the best cut flowers, as the stems are rather short and they are quite top-heavy, but that didn't stop me from gathering up a few bunches for the house. They will last a few days before the petals start to drop. So worth it, even if short-lived. I find myself gasping in awe every time I pass by them. If you plant this, know that it gets a trunk like a tree and can grow up to 15 feet tall. Just saying. Be ready.
Also in the front flower beds, wonderful bloom on the tree peony this year. It barely did anything last year, so I was so happy to see these survived the storm. This bush is about 8-feet tall and reduces down to nothing but dead sticks during the winter. It is an amazing transformation in just a few months.
Here's another picture of it during the day.
Before the snowballs, there were lilacs. Oh my. It is just impossible for me to pick a favorite flower.
This was the table-scape in our home library yesterday. More pretty cuttings from the yard. The rhododendrons are blooming like mad at the moment. I had to dodge honeybees and hummingbirds for just a few clippings. But what inspiration for the budding artist, as Ginger likes to sit here and doodle in her notebooks and journals. Her favorite subjects to sketch are animals and flowers. Now that makes perfect sense.
Speaking of animals. We haven't had many deer, but the cottontails are bravely venturing out again. Can you spot the bunny amongst the shrubbery?
Here he is! But what is he up to?
If you want to attract rabbits (and deer) into your yard, plant candytuft. They can't resist it. As of this morning, every single flower was gone. My gift. (smile).
Other backyard news . . . the darling Western bluebirds are back! They've taken up residence in the birdhouses around the garden and are on bug patrol and abatement duty. Love them. One crazy bird has been fluttering at the windows on a regular basis, so we started calling him, Friendly Fred. It is unknown whether Fred is watching us or his reflection in the glass. At times he does seem to be watching TV from his perch here. Silly bird.
Shop News: The new website has been up and running for a few months now and I am happy to report that everything is working beautifully! (I am so hugging Grace.) Much thanks and appreciation to all our customers, old and new, that have stopped by to shop and/or just browse and enjoy the nostalgia. Now that the website is less time-consuming, I actually have more time to concentrate on collecting. Who knew there were so many adorable patterns out there? At last count there were about 800 patterns up on the website. Over ten years worth. Wow. It does warm my heart to know that there are still a number of hand-stitchers out there contentedly putting the designs of the past to good use again. It is part of our cultural American heritage after all and worth preserving. It's all good!
That's all the news from my little perch today. Fare Thee Well, until next time . . .
I say, it really is about time we welcome in Spring with an updated banner on this blog! Every time I remembered that this needed to be done, I was not at my computer. Then when I was, I would get so absorbed by other things that I would completely forget. But it's up now and Spring it is.
The weather has been a mixed bag of light and dark, warm and cold. Blinding sunshine one minute, then a drenching downpour the next. Birds are nesting, hatchlings are fluttering about in the branches. Baby cottontails are nibbling at the soft green grass. And flower buds are already blooming here and there.
Worn and forlorn-looking though it is at the moment, I love this old greenhouse at the tulip farm. Everything around it has begun to awaken and bloom.
Lots of lovely moss and lichen around here. Our Golden Chain needs a trim as the branches have literally reached the ground. Clearly, we have some work to do.
But I don't have to worry about any of that now. I have lots to do right here on my worktable; so many wonderful new/old patterns to restore and share with you. April is right around the corner and I will be adding five new patterns next month to the PatternBee website, including the 2015 Bonus Collection. Oh, I am really excited about this "Perennial Garden Quilt" too! There are 24 large (8" x 8") blocks with lots of gorgeous flora, acorns, leaves and even mushrooms (see that stack up there in the top left corner). Plus other fun stuff I know you will love. And as always, a new BONUS for April--also with mushrooms. Do we love mushrooms? Why yes, we do.
That's all for now. Time to go gather up some goodies and kick up our heels.
The most recent one being that we have finally and successfully implemented the new and improved PatternBee website! With our fingers crossed, it went live over the weekend and so far so good. I am really happy with it and proud to say, that it was entirely created from scratch and customized for me by my daughter, Grace (a year in the making), and I think she did a fantastic job. It is already making my life a whole lot easier. I created the graphics and she designed the software. No sir, no more html for me. We have moved on with the times.
I should mention that we decided not to add tracking cookies to the site. This feature was built into the (now outdated) yahoo site-builder program. However we have never collected and shared data, emails or any other personal information and don't intend to. So what this ultimately means for the site is that the shopping cart will no longer remember your selections. The good news is . . . we have a better shopping cart!
And a better search engine--all you need enter is the original pattern number and a selection of choices will pop up. To search specifics, the Pattern Directory organizes everything by maker and number. I love how this is database thing works. You also now have the option of viewing entire categories on one page or can scroll through and view them page by page as before. I hope you will visit the site and send us your feedback.
Other lovely little things--more vintage pattern finds! Some have been sent to me, others I've scrounged around for. I keep adding them to the site as time allows. It's a work in progress. As you know. And work I love doing. So it's all good. This month I added six new patterns. You can view them here. I can't promise six new ones each month, but I will try and get to as many of them as possible. If there is an older pattern that you are searching for please inquire--I may have it around here somewhere and am happy to move it to the front of the "production line" whenever possible.
My camera is gathering dust at the moment, so I will leave you with this cute picture (from my husband's cell-phone he shared from the barn).
Have a great day!
It's the first day of the New Year . . . and it's just a wee bit nippy. The wind was howling like mad throughout the night. Wild wind. The tall fir trees looked like they were wrestling with each other. This morning the sun is a blinding blaze in a cloudless ice-blue sky. The temperature is hovering at 26 degrees. Thick socks with furry-lined boot slippers are the order of the day. Oh how I love my MUKLUKS. I'll be steaming up lots of hot chocolate today too. Because the high is expected to be only slightly above freezing. There's no snow in the forecast--but no doubt about it, Winter is here.
In like a lion. . . Roar.
We had a lovely peaceful Christmas with family big and small. Good food, fun and games, sleepovers and sweet surprises. I'm making potato cheese chowder today, with homemade bread, to warm us.
And hanging up new calendars! This one is from Susan Branch. I'm so happy she keeps making these wonderful hand-written watercolor calendars. There's a little "coffee corner" in my kitchen next to my fridge where it fits perfectly. (I'll be counting down the days until Part III of the "Fine Romance" series is completed.)
Stepping outside onto the side porch to test the cold. Yep. It's colder than it looks. About 30 degrees at this point. Back inside I go . . .
OK. That's better. I'm thankful for a cozy house. With lots of wool blankets scattered about to wrap up in. And with more wool projects on the way. Yay!
We are all tucked in here, nice and snug. Enjoying the season. Puttering. Perhaps it's time to go boil some potatoes.
Happy New Year everyone!
I still can't believe I actually sewed something! I feel like celebrating. It's been way too long since I sat down in front of my machine. So long in fact, that I had to thoroughly dust everything first. Ahem.
The foray back into my sewing studio was due to an adorable little blouse (belonging to one of my daughters), that needed a tricky repair. I wasn't sure I would be able to manage it since I have not sewn anything for ages (with my poorly hand still a challenge). But it went pretty well. Better than expected.
So, having done that, I tentatively picked up a cotton print skirt that I'd started back in September (for another daughter) and actually finished it before lunch time. Everyone was so happy! It's great to be back where I belong. And using both hands again. Before I knew it I was right back in there, whipping up these pillow sleeves that I had only been dreaming of and chatting about in the last post.
I think this turned out pretty cute. The "sleeves" were sewn separately and slipped onto the pillow, overlapping in the center, but could also be used individually on a pair of square pillows. The bows are just pinned on and help keep both sections secured in place. This is a simple project that can be adapted for patchwork, crewel, applique, or use a stenciled image or graphic for a modern look. And another thing I love is that, these are easy to store away. Without the pillow they are flat as a pancake.
Hmm. . . I wonder what I shall tackle next?
It's that hustle-bustle time again. There are so many things I want to do! And make. I think I'm almost ready to pick up my needle and thread again. In the meantime, I have found a wonderful little embroidered piece that I was working on a few years back. And since I am running a bit behind on some things around here I thought this would make a fun Bonus pattern for December. So, with a little tweaking, I have combined two stitcheries into one and added a few more characters to round out the theme. The entire sheet can be stitched as a picture, divided into segments, or the motifs can be used individually for decorating holiday linens, napkins, aprons, clothing or whatever tickles your fancy. This is just a preview of some of them.
In addition to the Bonus transfer, the afore mentioned Honeycomb pattern is ready for prime-time now too and will be added come December, along with many more vintage surprises. I have been very busy here! Look for them in the New Additions section of the PatternBee website.
Focusing back on the project at hand, I am thinking about turning these two stitcheries into companion seasonal pillow sleeves. You know, this idea. And over here another one, which also includes where to find that fantastic pattern to make them! (I know, a shameless plug.)
Until next time, be well Stitching Friends!
There's no doubt about it. Fall is here! Well, actually it's been here in our neck of the woods for a little while now, and we have been relishing the glorious colorful landscape. So far the season has been mild, and the leaves seem to be hanging on longer than usual. I hope the color will last through Thanksgiving, but it rarely does as the night temperatures are already dropping to near freezing.
Wait a minute. Did I just say, Thanksgiving? Last time I checked in here on the blog--it was spring, the deer were eating my roses, the garden was waking up, and the jam making had begun. Then summer happened and we traversed through another beautiful season that went by way too fast. It was quite hot this year, the garden flourished, making it a great year for tomatoes. We just brought in the last of them to ripen on the window sill, then pulled up the roots and put it all to rest for another year.
We took some side trips, had relatives in and out, picked more berries and made more jam. And pickles. All the usual seasonal stuff that keeps life interesting and fun. I had intended to update the blog long before now. I really did. Even had some projects, pictures and news to share. Only too little time to pull it all together. It happens. We do the best we can. Yes, we do.
Then about mid-September, I had a freak accident--which has kept me literally home-bound for months. Who knew an innocent-looking twist-wand on a mini-blind could be so hazardous? All I did was reach for the cord to pull up the blind, and the end of that plastic rod rammed into the top of my hand. Apparently, as I have since learned, there's a super sensitive spot on your hand that reacts badly to blunt force trauma. As soon as it happened, I knew I was in trouble. I heard a snap, then watched in shock as my hand swelled up before my eyes, then horrible pain. Over the course of the next few days, my entire hand turned black-and-blue from my first knuckles to my wrist, and remained swollen with a bump the size of a golf ball next to my thumb for eight weeks. I soon discovered, that when you can't use your right hand--you can do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Couldn't dress myself, drive the car or even hold a fork or a pencil. (I hope that explains the sparse chicken-scratch notes that went out with orders these past months. I am sure some of you wondered what was up with that. LOL)
For a long time, all I could do was sit in the sun and tap the screen on my Kindle. A forced vacation that lasted way too long. I did catch up on some reading though, so all was not lost. The silver lining to all of this was my family who went above and beyond the call of duty to keep all the balls in the air, meals on the table and kept the household running. I am so grateful for them. Healing this hand has been my first priority and it's been a long slow process. Still can't quite manage a needle and thread yet. But, I can show you what I was working on before this happened. In fact, I can't wait to show you!
It seems I've been working on this project forever. I started thinking about this idea last year, and then finally got around to getting the designs on paper in February, then printed them as transfers, and then started stitching. The idea was to randomly scatter the embroidered hexies in amongst other fabrics to make a small quilt. I'm sticking with that plan and will move forward, just as soon as I can hold a pair of scissors and cut them out.
In the meantime, since I already had all the artwork done, I created a new pattern; I'm calling it Honeycomb Motifs, and it contains 105 two-inch sized hexagon transfers (fifteen to a sheet), which can be stamped as one unit as shown above. Plus a blank transfer template for creating your own designs, or for adding initials or dates to your hexagon quilts or other projects. The blank transfer template can also be stamped on fabric prints as a guide for cutting out additional hexagons.
Here's one of the promo images that will be going up on the website. Hopefully soon!
And speaking of websites, the new and improved website is nearly finished. Big excitement here! Still working out all the kinks. I've just uploaded over 700 patterns with ease! Yes, the new PatternBee site works like a charm, for which I can take no credit at all, as it has been entirely handmade from scratch, formatted and fully customized for me, by our own dear Miss Grace. She's been working on it for about nine months now. And we are so very anxious for it to be born. So please, keep your fingers crossed that all goes well and the delivery of the new system is quick and seamless.
This is all I have time for today. Before I sign off, I'll leave you all with one more picture. This tree! A work of art. It couldn't be more perfect if I had chosen the colors and painted it myself. It's an October Fire maple, planted a few years ago in our front yard area. Living up to it's name, I would say. I wish it would stay this way forever. But, the forecast says more rain and wind, so we shall see. Time to batten down the hatches!
A few days ago, I opened my backdoor and saw these two chocolate brown eyes peering over the rose bushes at me, just happily munching away without a clue that my heart was breaking with every bite--oh the drama! I knew then it was time to mix up the magic concoction. (I just added a quick link in the sidebar for quick reference in case you need some help protecting your flower beds too.)
Now that the flowers have been sprayed and the deer are finding the weeds much more enticing, a fantastic side benefit, I can once again breath a sigh of relief.
And so can the roses...they never looked more scrumptious.
I had been on my way to photograph the garden in all its current glory. I thought you'd like to see the progress we've made. These rock paths that we started laying down in early spring are finally finished. Hurrah! In the end, my son stepped in and got the job done. Moving so many tons of river rock with a wheel barrow is a bit of a chore let me tell you. Even for him. We are so grateful for his help and are paying him back with good eats and treats from the garden.
More bundles of lemon thyme ready for the drying rack.
The leaves are quite prickly when dry though, so I use my rolling pin to loosen them. I usually make a huge mess. But it gets the job done.
Then into tiny jam jars they go!
And speaking of jam . . . it's that time again. Berry season. Just another of the many reasons I have been MIA from the blog. In case you wondered.
Yes, we are busy as bees around here.
The girls and I went strawberry picking and then made big pots of jammy goodness. The pantry shelves are filling up again. YUM.
Oh and Blackberry Junction came to town. It's kind of a traveling flea market bringing old and new, handmade and repurposed, and all beautifully displayed. Very fun. I missed the last few events, so had to stop, drop everything, and roll on over before they packed it up.
And that reminds me . . . the PatternBee website is celebrating its tenth year this month! Time it had an upgrade I should think. So, my talented "tech team" has been hard at work on it for many months now. It will basically look the same, with a few new features and tweaks, but the best part (for me) is it will have a data base that will make managing the site much easier as it grows to include more vintage patterns. When I started this venture (long before the website) in 1998, I had no idea there were so many! :o)
UPDATE STATE FLOWER QUILT NEWS: I've just added a new link in the side bar for a FREE PDF download of all 50 State Flower Quilt blocks. Along with the original directions. So if you are still wanting those it will be much easier to access and print them out now.
For reference, the finished blocks can still be viewed here in my flickr album AND all in alphabetical order.
OK. I think that's all for now--take good care until next time!
Last year I was contacted by a member of the Mt. Bachelor Quilter's Guild, asking permission to use my version of the free State Flower pattern blocks to make a raffle quilt--and this is the result! I am just so thrilled to see another version of this quilt. The embroidery, quilting and colors are beautiful. If you click on the images you can see the detail a bit better. Even the alternate squares are quilted with flowers. I love it!
This brilliant point-set layout works just perfectly for the odd number of 50 blocks and creates a wonderful symmetry. I am quite certain this quilt is even more beautiful in person. If you are interested in seeing it live--the quilt will be shown at Pioneer Park (in Bend, Oregon) on August 15, 2015. If you want a chance to win it, raffle tickets can be purchased through the guild. Check back on their blog for upcoming info on that.
The free State Flower quilt blocks can still be found here on the turkey feathers flickr page, but with all the changes to the site it may be difficult and somewhat tedious to print them, so I have added a link on my website for a FREE PDF of the entire pattern. Yay! (Find it in the right sidebar). And if tracing is not your forte, you have the option of purchasing the patterns as iron-on transfers as well.
I've been hanging out with this wild and crazy guy and his band of merry musicians for awhile now, meticulously bringing them all back to life, pixel by pixel. This vintage pattern set called, The Vitamin Ball Orchestra is not entirely new to me though. I've had it's counterpart for many years: The Vitamin Ball Characters (c.1936), that I found as a loose sheet without its envelope. It's nice to see the whole gang back together again.
Thanks to one of my long-time PatternBee customers, Barbara (from California), I almost have the complete set. She shared her find with me, and the best part is I get to share it with you! I'm still on the lookout for that last missing orchestra player though--wherever he may be hiding.
The characters are many, as well as large, and I've divided them into two groups; dancers and players. Both patterns are available on the website under Dancing Dishes and Veggie Heads (page 2 and 3.)
I am still working on a few other pattern projects, the one mentioned in the last post is still on my desk, having put it aside to work on new submissions that have come in. Like this adorable tea-towel set. I love that little house tucked into the woods. The days of the week were added by request, as it seemed a bit sparse on its own. I do love the simplicity of it. More details about Woodland China here.
Oh....passing by the window this morning, I saw this bright cascade of blinding color. Just an enormous burst of golden petals as bright as the sun. Yes, I do think spring is not far off, if not already here.
The daffodils are waking up. The birds and bunnies are out and about.
Look, bunny bookends!
Tag your It.
Hide and seek.
After watching that little backyard drama, I just had to include a sweet little bunny for the March Bonus pattern. And soup! We've made lots of soup these past months and plan to keep the pot simmering for as long as possible.
Make Soup is music to my ears.
The rain is back. It was preceded by thunder and lightning. All quite dramatic! We were in the middle of dinner last night when the flashes and rumbling started. It quickly moved through the area though--so I didn't have to hide under the covers all night.
A few weeks ago, I went digging through my shoebox stash and pulled out another adorable pattern. I still marvel at the dates on these--this one was printed in 1946. It seemed perfect for February, so I got busy.
The motifs are small scale, with heart appliques that can be used on the larger ones. The envelope illustration shows them worked on natural colored linen, so that the white flowers stand out nicely on the darker background, but other colors would be fun. I guess they would be used as embellishments on clothing and such.
All of the motifs were given singly, however, when I saw the corner motif I got this idea to make a border out of it. The entire design is approximately the size of a sheet of paper--about 8" x 10". The center area can be filled in with words, a saying, poem, personalization, or special occasion (think wedding or birthdate), and turned into a pillow or framed as a picture/sampler. Lots of possibilities.
The best news is, this sweet little border motif will be included with the new updated transfer pattern: Hearts & Flowers. Click the link to see more details.
What's next? Well, I am finally finishing up a pattern project that has been on my work table since last year. I haven't been working on it for a year, it's just been gathering dust there as I have gotten busy with other things--but I finally got back around to it and now I can't wait to show you!
This is what's happening outside today. Spooky isn't it? At least I can see the tree line now. Earlier there was nothing to see at all from the window, just a wall of white mist. It's been this way on and off for months now, with bright, sunny days breaking up the monotony from time to time. With all this gloominess outside, it's nice to have fun projects to focus on inside--and that's just what I have been up to.
February tends to be a fickle friend, bringing with it a mix of weather. But, it also means that spring is not far off. With that thought in mind, and with hope in my heart for an early spring, I bring you the February bonus designs. Yes, dear friends, hearts and flowers win out again. (Sigh) What can I say. I am an optomistic romantic.
The love swans are free to trace on the website, but I decided to offer them as an iron-on transfer this month. The entire sheet can be stamped to cloth and worked as a sampler, or the motifs can be used individually as you wish. (I think I can almost hear the birds tweeting and the bees buzzing.)
OK. And more hearts and flowers . . .
The 2014 Bonus Collection is complete---I am really on the ball this year. It surprises me too. (In case you don't know, these are all the bonus designs from 2014).
More pattern news:
Three more vintage patterns have just been added to the PatternBee Vintage Embroidery Shop.
Personalized Linens #4047; Simplicity c. 1941
This one has been on my "to-do" list for quite awhile because of its complexity. The tissue paper transfers with the light blue wax is very difficult to reproduce with good crisp lines---these take a lot of time to clean up pixel by pixel. The designs are quite pretty though, nice for towels and linens. I have reprinted them in several sizes to allow for more project options. Options are good.
Next we have . . .
Happy Pots & Pans #7150; Simplicity c.1946
This darling dish towel pattern has a fun vibe and lots of cuteness. I was giddy when I found this recently. I mean, what's not to love about an apron-clad teapot?
Besides the six motifs, I include additional transfer sheets with the center portion of each design enlarged (without the spoons) along with a selection of other elements for a variety of uses.
Last but not least . . . cluck, cluck. Chicken wire anyone? I think this is so cool. I don't know what you do with it though. It is shown embroidered on the bib of an apron. That works I guess.
It's part and parcel of Chicken Accessories (mentioned in the last post). This pattern has been uploaded to the Potholders category because I didn't know where else to put it. And it does actually have a wonderful stuffed 3D chicken potholder pattern along with the appliance covers and towel motif. So it makes sense.
But wait, there's more!
More "hearts & flowers" up my sleeve--will share them soon!
With winter upon us, I am hunkered down over here at PatternBee headquarters (that little room at the back of my house), happily finishing up a few more pattern restorations. Occasionally I pop up for another cup of coffee, run out to the mailbox, or just watch the birds outside my window--but then I go right back in. I love what I do.
As I sit at my desk examining the old motifs, I am amazed, honestly, by how many embroidery transfers were created between 1930 - 1960; hundreds! Every single company that produced them is gone with very few exceptions. I often wonder why no credits were given to transfer pattern artists. There is so little history to glean from. I've come to suspect that Laura Wheeler and Alice Brooks and others, were just trade names that were used and not real people as there seems to be no trace of them anywhere, with the exception of Ruby McKim whose family has carried on her legacy.
I have always had a sneaking hunch that most transfer patterns were created by men cartoonists. I could be wrong, but this is not out of the realm of possibilities and in a way, it does makes sense. It would explain a few things anyway.
Like this for example: Vogart #195. It's genius! And I love it. But it certainly makes you wonder. Baseball and BBQ at its core is a man thing. Could or would a 1940's housewife draw this?
But I digress . . . I want to share what's new this month at the PatternBee Vintage Embroidery Shop!
Starting with the backstory; the following three pattern sets were printed on one gigantic sheet of newsprint and distributed by Modern Handcraft sometime between 1950-1960--I am guessing by the postage amount stamped on the mailing envelope. It is just one of the many patterns I received from Ruth a few months back, that I shared about here.
This cute set was called, "Little Ole Barefoot Boy". He is accompanied by his pup as he gets into all kinds of mischief, even getting chased by a turkey. Which is pretty funny. There are seven motifs which can be used to make weekday dish towels or they would make a cute quilt with embroidered 10" blocks. The largest dimension measures about 8" either in length or height, with the average size around 6 to 7 inches. (You can click on the images to go to the pattern page for more information.)
Next is what I am calling, Retro Kitchen, and for obvious reasons. At the time though, it was a typical modern kitchen--cake mix and all, which was a rather novel idea back in the day. The pattern comes with seven dish towel designs and two potholders. The clock potholder is especially sweet--one that I think I am going to have to make. If I ever have the time.
The third set is Chicken Accessories; still putting the finishing touches on it now. Hope to have it up on the site in a few days. Here's the preview (above). These motifs are designed for appliance covers, but because the sewing patterns for them are very large I won't be able to include them. The motifs are too cute not to pass on though, and can be used for reusable market bags or what have you. Of course, if you have a pattern for an appliance cover they can be used as intended.
There was one more pattern on this sheet--for a butterfly potholder. It seems the perfect shape for grabbing a pot handle and I suppose you could make a nifty needlecase out of felt with it instead, use it as an applique pattern, or just embroider it as-is for a pillow or tote bag. To make tracing the pattern easier I matched both sides---click here to download BUTTERFLY_PATTERN if you like.
And last, but not least--two adorable patterns I found, both formerly McCALL and dated 1939 and 1952: Tiny Animal Kingdom and Dainty Touches have already been added to the archive/shop. These are nice for small projects, baby clothes, collars, and such.
And that is all my pattern news for January. The February Bonus pattern is up next. Will it be the usual hearts and flowers or something else? Decisions, decisions.
As you can see, I have been having a little fun with the NEW January Bonus design. I do so appreciate the suggestions--thanks everyone! I decided to run with the subject theme: everyday is a coffee day, from Lynn Marie. It expresses *espresso love* so perfectly.
This motif can be embroidered on a dish towel, as a framed picture, or perhaps incorporated into a wall quilt surrounded by colorful blocks. I'm sure you can think of other things too.
Look for it here after the new year rolls in.
Oh! And there's a State Flower Quilt pattern waiting for you Lynn Marie!
This was just one of the awesome things I found in my mailbox this weekend. I ask you, have you ever seen a finer Redwork turkey? Gobble gobble...
Or so much vintage stitching goodness?
We have here some lovely old quilt patterns, stitching booklets, transfer sheets, needlework, a button bag, and some very early Workbasket issues from the 1940's--a wonderful gift from Ruth in Pennsylvania. They were her mother's, and she wanted to make sure they were preserved and shared--and now they shall be. I do so appreciate the opportunity to do that. They have found a new home in the PatternBee archive. Thank you!
Next order of business . . . with the Thanksgiving holiday and all the activity this week I did not get as far along with the coffee pot bonus design as I'd hoped. I'm still trying to come up with a phrase for it too.
So, moving on to Plan B: save it for January and do something else for December.
<<<<<< W h o o s h >>>>>>>
(That was me launching into action--no time to waste!)
Happy Friday friends . . . it's been truly lovely hearing from you out there--I've missed you too! More than you know. Thank you for caring and checking back here with me again. I love reading about all the things you are doing. It inspires me to keep this blog going. I guess after 9+ years, my feet are dragging a little. And while the blog may sit idle--the time keeps flying by.
I can't believe we are already thinking about Thanksgiving. We're having some family over and will be cooking up a storm next week. In the meantime, I've been procrastinating and instead of cleaning my house, I've been playing around with a shoebox full of vintage transfers. This kitschy coffee pot caught my eye--making me feel like a kid with a coloring book and a new box of crayons.
Only now I can use a design program to experiment with different color combinations. Almost as much fun as actually doing the embroidery. This would make a cute dish towel motif--but it could use a phrase. Something short and sweet. Any ideas out there?
I want to include this with the Bonus patterns offered on the PatternBee web site for December. Then you can have fun with it too.
And speaking of fun . . .
I'm pretty excited to tell you about another beautiful State Flower Quilt pattern I came across. This design block has shields framing the flowers with the state names, in full, at the top. The pattern also includes directions for making a simple lattice-style quilt incorporating all fifty states. It's contructed of 5 rows across, 10 rows down, with a strip border on each side to give it the extra width. Pretty basic. The original pattern wasn't in an envelope so I don't have an official date, but judging from the style of transfers I'm guessing 1950's era maybe.
So, there you go if you are looking for a stitching project to carry you through the long winter months (which seems to have started already!)
The pattern and more details about it can be found here.
If you'd like a chance to win this State Flower Quilt pattern, keep reading. . .
For lack of time and planning, I'll just call this the coffee pot dish towel contest. Put on your thinking caps and submit a one or two-line phrase (in the comment section of this blog post), for the coffee pot motif above--and I will choose one to add to the design. I'll send the winner the new State Flower Quilt pattern reprint in exchange.
And Congratulations to Diane of Lavender Dreams! She is the lucky winner of Mollie Makes issue #44.
Hip hip hooray!
It seems my blog just went from spring to fall just like that.
How did THAT happen?
Well, I guess I took a break from the old blogging routine--a little respite, although I didn't intend to stop blogging so abruptly. Not really. It just sort of happened that way as I got involved with other things. You could say that we have all embarked on new adventures that are keeping us hopping. Such is life!
As busy as we've been though, we still love making things, and earlier this year we went through a phase of paper-flower crafting after reading this book. Lots and lots of flowers got made; Grace made this darling hair-wreath for her niece's birthday. She used the specialty Italian crepe papers that come in all sorts of gorgeous colors, imported directly from the manufacturer. This is the best paper for crafting realistic flowers and not readily available in craft stores. They only ship in large rolls though--which proved to be more than we needed. Much more actually.
So . . . we decided to sell some of the overstock and put together some paper sets, kind of like starter packs to experiment with, and included a tutorial with templates for making a few basic flowers. The flowers can be used to embellish wreaths, hair clips, garlands, or make bouquets. If you (or the kids) are interested in learing a fun new craft and/or need paper-flower making supplies, please visit our Winky Handmade shop. These pretty crepe papers are priced so low, you could almost call it a "give-away". Check them out here.
And speaking of Give-Aways . . .
I have an extra issue of Mollie Makes (Issue 44) over here that needs a new home. Leave a comment, let us know what you've been up to--we've missed hearing from you! I'll be back to announce the winner soon.
These fragrant, nodding blossoms may be worked in embroidery, and/or used for other creative projects. To embroider, outline stitch will be fine for most lines. Lazy stitches may be used for the small centers of the bell-shaped flowers, where they show. To applique, cut lleaves and flowers (using the same shape for all flowers). Overlay flowers on leaves where necessary, and work all details of flowers, stems and leaf veining in embroidery.
Make upper surfaces of leaves a dark green; underneath surfaces in a lighter shade of green. The little flowers should be white, on dark green stems, and the tiny center parts a very pale yellow-green. If worked on a white background, the flowers should be outlined in a very light blue, to make them stand out. However, if circumstances permit, the design will be better worked against a pastel background such as light blue or lavender.
From WorkBasket Magazine:: June 1955 - Volume 20 Issue #9
To PRINT, LEFT click image.
From 'The WorkBasket', January 1957; for embroidery, needlepoint, hand-painting, or ball point textile paint pens. To embroider use outline stitch; typical colors would be all shades of pink, lavender, red, orange, and white. The stems and leaves should be soft green. (Click here to print.)
Hello dear friends! Hope you are well and enjoying the first days of spring (or summer), whatever the weather and where ever you may be. It's been mostly sunshine and showers here. Perfect for pea sprouts and lettuces and other tender things coming up in the garden beds. Our new greenhouse was put to the test and passed, affording us a huge head start this year. We're already enjoying beets, broccoli and spinach.
The Mister surprised us and built potting tables for various locatons, including this one (below) that tucks neatly into a corner of the greenhouse. LOVE. Very convenient. And cute. Cute must always be factored in, right?
Most of the shrubs and trees survived the frost and snow that clung during winter, some did not. Both my rosemary bushes died. They were big and woody and well established, wonderfully fragrant and a ready resource for joyful cooking. However, they proved to be fair-weather friends. So on to Plan B: Plant again in large pot outside kitchen door in full sun. Easy access. Everybody's happy. But more importantly, the pot can be moved to safety later in the season when the weather turns cold.
So with a fresh hole in the ground, where another rosemary shrub was removed, we had an opportunity to plant something new. As luck would have it, I was given a bucket full of lily of the valley, from a fellow gardener who was thinning her flower beds and needed to find homes for the upstarts. This little spot (above) was the perfect place; morning sun, damp ground, and room to spread. The rock needed some cheering up too.
See? Perfect. The rock is even smiling a little now.
These delicate beauties are a bit tattered, a little worse for the wear, but will recover in time and multiply quickly as they are prone to do. They look happy in their new home. Of course, I'm thrilled to pieces to have them. Best of all...they are deer resistant!
We have been watching the wild birds from the window. The western bluebirds, we are happy to discover, have moved into the backyard birdhouses next to the garden where they are feasting on the bugs. So far, we haven't had any problem with cutworms, pillbugs, or slugs. The mourning doves have also moved in and are busy building a nest in the tall pines on the edge of the property. I like watching them hunt and peck at bits of twig and twine, rejecting one after another in a most persnickety fashion, apparently in search of a certain type of material for their new home. I tell them, I've got plenty of weeds free for the taking!
If only they would listen.
After a few precious days of rare, golden April sunshine, and naps on the deck (between short bursts of "spring cleaning"), cool cloudy days have returned with the expectation of showers to follow. Time to get back to my indoor projects. I'd gone digging for more fun Spring Inspiration earlier this month and found another little gem tucked in my "shoebox".
I've had this particular pattern for ages, but had held it back hoping I'd run across another one printed with blue ink, because the yellow transfers are the hardest to work with in terms of getting a good image to reproduce, due to the lack of contrast between the color of the paper and the ink. Sometimes the ink flakes off with too much handling. And when a pattern has been folded inside an envelope for 64 years, as this one has, the creases are set.
In short, we must proceed delicately. In a most persnickety fashion.
And that's just what I did. When all was said and done, it came out pretty good. The pattern has been reproduced in three sizes. The original size, plus slightly larger and smaller sizes, with an additional set reversed. So lots of options. There is also a simple border to use along hems or what have you. I took a little creative license and added bird titles (in one size) to be placed where ever you like or not at all, as you please.
You can find it here on the PatternBee website, on page 5 of House Linens, and there will also be a link on the New Additions page for a time. And if birds aren't your thing, we have flowers too! Check out the newest applique pattern for spring flowers here.
Yesterday I was in the garden admiring the tulip buds and this morning they were in full bloom. You've got to be quick. Don't take your eyes off anything for a minute or you might miss the show. That reminds me, it's garden tour time again. We have a list of gardens in the surrounding areas we like to visit during spring and summer. Our list keeps getting longer as we discover new places to explore.
What a difference a little sunshine makes.
This 'Candy Tuft' is as sweet as it looks. Again, moving in quickly with the camera before the deer and rabbits find out it's in bloom. Shhhh. It never seems to last long around here once word gets out.
If you are still waiting for spring to arrive in your neck of the woods, you can always feast your eyes on this book. It was delivered only moments ago, and it has to be one of the most beautifully executed and photographed books I've ever seen. It's a big hardbound book full of flowery inspiration, all folded and fashioned from paper! I don't really have time to take up any new hobbies just now, but it is wonderfully fun eye candy just the same. (I can hear the girls in the other room ooohing and ahhhing with every turn of the page!)
Oh Joy! I just saw the first wild hare of the season hippity-hop across the lawn this morning, white cotton tail flashing as it disappeared into the bramble along the back fence. This made me think of "Peter", that naughty little rabbit of Beatrix Potter fame, making his narrow escape from Mr. McGregor's garden. It also reminded me of two books I want to read (after seeing them on Lena's blog); The Complete Brambley Hedge by Jill Barklem (my granddaughters will love it too), and Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell. I'm on the hunt for them now, as they seem to be rather elusive. Like our little bunny.
Speaking of adorable creatures. . .
More treasure from the "shoebox". Two more patterns have just been added to the website. I've been working on them for weeks, quite happily I might add. And who wouldn't be happy looking at these cute little faces, I ask you? Above we have for your enjoyment, Playmate Pets, a collection of cute critters for the very young or just the young at heart. Lots of fun stitching; useful for all sorts of things.
And more stitching fun with a motley collection of Embroidered Animals. I can't decide which one to stitch first, though I am teetering between the FOX and the PELICAN. It's hard to see the detail from this image, but the KANGAROO has a Joey on board riding in the pouch! It was suggested on the back of the envelope that the motifs could be used for quilt blocks as they are about 4 to 5 inches in size. I do think they would make a darling quilt.
What else...oh yeah... it's April! And the new BONUS pattern is here with more cute creatures and some aptly timed 'kitchen chore' humor. Spring cleaning comes to mind, and with it those annual chores that seem bigger than we are. This motif is a reminder, to me at least, to relax and take time for tea. Lots of it!
We are are enjoying a break between storms this week and have been filling flower vases with cuttings of daffodils and flowering branches of various types and placing them throughout the house. The scent of fresh flowers is always uplifting and appreciated, especially at winter's end. But even more so after our "skunk encounter" last week. It happens every spring as female skunks seek shelters to nest in and burrow under the backyard deck. I did some research and found this is a common problem, then nearly fainted when I read the average litter size is like nine pups who are prone to frighten easily and are as potent as a full-grown skunk! Time for action.
Discouraging the skunk from returning was relatively easy though, with electronic sonar devices and ammonia dribbled near entry points, but it took a week to rid the house of the stink. We burned incense mostly, and when the weather warmed a bit this week, it was nice to throw open the windows and let in a more appealing scent of spring.
As the garden wakes up, I am also quite happy to note, that the snow and cold temperatures have not adversely affected any of the trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, the same can be said about this insidious lichen, which grows on almost everything here. Useful perhaps, but certainly NOT attractive.
Or stitch some! Click HERE for my FREE "Spring Flowers" PDF. This is just one of the projects, with a spring theme, that I've been working on.
Another one, Animal Flower Pots, from 1946, is now available as a new iron-on reprint too.
In order to accomodate the various levels of stitching know-how, I modified each of the six designs so they can now be worked entirely in embroidery or done with the included applique patches. Your choice!
I have always loved these old fashioned animal planters and had to show you one of my favorites: Miss Yellow Kitty, who is probably about as old as that pattern! Found her at a swap meet down in California many many years ago. I do believe that Miss Yellow Kitty needs a little garden of African Violets or Fairy Fern, but no time to do that just now with spring cleaning in full swing. Hope to get to that after the dust settles.
One more mention before I go...
An updated vintage pattern for miniature stuffies, featuring a duckling, turtle, elephant, donkey and a weiner dog! I think that doggie is my favorite.
These are cloth and felt creations, small enough to make from your fabric scraps and Fat Quarters. And a nice size for Easter Baskets and Christmas stockings, but also fun in general for birthdays and other gift-giving occasions when a tidbit of handmade goodness is called for.
..and Spring inches closer! The air feels lighter and the pale sun plays peek-a-boo in a sky of drifting clouds. From the window I am excited to see Western Bluebirds and English Sparrows inspecting the birdhouses. And I wonder, who will make the first move--as bluebirds are most particular, and thus take longer to make up their minds, so that when they finally do, the sparrows have already moved in. Someone needs to tell them, "the early bird catches the worm".
We've brought in primrose, a free gift from our local nursery, to enjoy a bit before it goes back outside into the ground. It adds a cheerful note behind the sink and stirs up enthusiasm. The girls have been sorting out seed packets and making plans. On such a day as this, with birdsong in the bower, I'm tempted to run outside and grab my garden tools, but I know better, and have to remind myself to slow down and allow my shoulder to heal a little longer; this the result of shoveling way too much snow (with a garden spade), a few weeks ago. Lesson learned. (Note to self: be prepared--find a snow plow.)
However, some tools can be used for other things with delightful results and here we have proof. Peanut Butter cookies with waffle tops. I've always just used a fork to make the traditional criss-cross on the cookie top, but how about a meat mallet? (Thoroughly sanitized, of course). Credit goes to my daughter for this idea. For the cookies too, which were delicious btw. Not a crumb was spared.
Speaking of crumbs, I've been busy with lots of yummy little things these past few weeks. New patterns from old patterns; updated sewing projects soon to be added to my Vintage Stitch Shop on Etsy, along with the monthly BONUS motifs for PatternBee; all drawing on seasonal inspiration wherever I could find it. Here's a sneak peek of coming attractions. The new "Welcome Spring" designs will be up March 1st, which is tomorrow by this posting. The image link (left) will upload the new designs then and they'll be available (with purchase) until the end of the month. I'm working on more free stuff too, will let you know when and where in coming weeks.
Here's another delightful pattern from the past. One that I've had in my "shoebox collection" for so long that I can't even remember where I first ran across it. But when one of my stitching friends contacted me with high hopes of finding this pattern again, I was happy to discover that indeed, I did have it tucked away for safe keeping. I love when that happens! Her grandmother had made a set of towels that she wanted to replace anew and eventually pass down, keeping the family memories and needlework tradition alive. And I am happy to know that now it will.
These vintage motifs are quite large, around 8" x 11" and could also used on a small quilt-hanging or tote bag. (I'm sure you can think of other things too.) They can be outline stitched as they are or done up fancy with colorful hits of color and pattern gathered from your scrap basket.
As I was working on this, I had fun experimenting with different colors and was quite smitten with this jaunty green and orange rooster. I may have to give this a whirl.
It is worth mentioning that there is just one applique pattern for the tail feathers and one for the wing, that works for both the chickens and roosters, making cutting them out in stacks fairly quick and easy. And as far as the applique goes, it can be done traditionally, or with the previously discussed lined-applique method shared here, or with a quick zigzag machine-stitch around the raw edges of the turning line (having omitted the seam allowance).
So, if you are fond of hens and chicks and jaunty roosters, there you have it. Pattern over here.
And now to delve back into that shoebox to see what other treasures I have stored in there.
From time to time, people have asked me if I might introduce the new pattern additions here on the blog. I've always thought that was a terrific idea and really meant to do it sooner. Time seems to be my biggest obstacle, but better late than never, right?
So, today we have, from my personal collection, Vogart 257, first printed in blue on tissue paper and later printed as #669. It's a sweet little pattern with bunches of violets and bouquets, HIS & HERS pillowcase designs, with flowers and kittens; and they threw in a perky puppy for good measure. Because you never know when you just might need one.
Our lovely 'winter wonderland' of snow and ice is now but a happy memory. Mail service has resumed (such a relief!) and all orders received after February 6th were shipped out Monday and Tuesday. I was never so glad to see my postal carrier, Rob. He walked all the way down my long icy driveway to pick up an armload of packages. Bless Him.
So, I think we are all caught up and back on track. I'll have another new pattern to show you soon. I am working on it now: Roosters and Hens!
Snowmen and sledding are once again the order of the day! We've had another "snow burst" here and have been hunkered down inside the house since Thursday morning. Kind of a deja vous since the last time. I think when all was said and done, the official count was 18" of snowfall over a 24 hour period. Then yesterday, freezing rain on top of that = double trouble. Apparently, according to county records, the last time anything like this happened was about a hundred years ago.
Here's the cat's eye view from the front porch. I had my slippers on and couldn't venture further with the camera, and it's chilly, hovering around the freezing point. B-r-r-. Roads, shops, services and schools have been closed for days. Some neighborhoods (and towns) are still without electricity due to damaged power lines that falling tree branches took down. Our car and driveway still looks like this. Meaning: Not going anywhere anytime soon.
Everyone here is cozy and safe though. Sometimes knitting, sometimes baking. I've got the crockpot going and the Mister, despite this hilarious snow-drift on top his BBQ, fired up the grill without skipping a beat. We kept looking out the window there, and seeing this enormous mound growing by the hour. Pretty funny.
And there was this. What looked like a gigantic sugar cake. No one dared breathe on it for fear of upsetting its magnificent form. I think it needs a bright candle set right there in the middle where that hole is.
This morning, we woke to the sound of water dripping and ice cracking outside--all very dramatic and exciting! The backyard birds were chirping like mad and squawking with relief. And so were we. Keeping our fingers crossed that the thaw is on the way.
In the meantime, I've been a busy bee working and printing lots of patterns. Sometimes the printers get cranky if I overwork them and two of them decided they were not going to cooperate no matter how kindly I patted and sweet-talked. Fortunately, with the Mister unable to get to work I can keep him busy fixing things around here. He gave them the business and cheerfully kept everything up and running. Unfortunately though, there's been no mail service since Wednesday afternoon. So despite our best efforts there will be a delay.
Just wanted to let you know so you don't worry.
I am holding out hope that the mail truck will be chained-up and ready to roll tomorrow. There is still quite a lot of snow to be moved off the roads though so we shall just have to wait and see. We are on the rural route and usually the last to see a snow-plow.
Speaking of snow-plows, I heard that the berms pushed to the side of the road were twelve feet high in some places! That is a lot of snow. Cars have been getting stranded here at the bottom of the mountain. They somehow make it down, but can't get the traction to get back up. We are learning things! Yes we are.
Happy February! I'm introducing, in part, the BONUS pattern for this month with a "hearts & flowers" theme. This lavish cutie, resembling an old-fashioned Valentine, was originally designed in the 1950's for HIS and HER pillowcases. I still think that's a charming idea, but decided to put those personalization’s aside leaving the heart open for interpretation for whatever tickles your fancy. Just fill in with your heart's desire. I had some rather fanciful ideas of my own and with the magic of CGI have some examples to show you:
However pretty though it may be, applique I realize, is seriously scary unknown territory for some. Especially when it comes to hearts which require a certain amount of finesse and precision. But the good news is, there are techniques that make it less fussy.
I admit I'm still a fan of freezer paper for small patches, but for larger appliques, and especially when sewing hearts and keeping those lovely curves smooth and symmetrical, I have embraced the 'fusible interfacing method' whole-heartedly. In fact, I love it! I discovered this method last year and blogged a bit about it here. There's a link to the Eleanor Burns tutorial giving a hands-on demo. I'm giving you the short version for making a heart as a starting point, but in general this technique can be used for most large applique pieces. Yes, even the butterfly wings for this block. I know...exciting!
So here's how to get started:
1. Trace heart (or other shape) onto the WRONG side of fabric matching straight of grain as shown. Make sure your fabric is at least one inch larger all the way around your pattern to allow for seam allowance, and for any shifting that may occur while stitching.
2. Place your fabric and the light-weight fusible interfacing together with RIGHT sides facing; pin. Stitch around the entire piece following the traced line on the fabric as your guide. (Reduce stitch length to navigate around intricate curves to keep seams smooth.)
3. Trim around heart leaving a 1/4" seam allowance, cut off tip of point and clip curves.
4. Cut a small opening in the middle of the interfacing and turn the applique right side out. Gently push out point and curves with a bodkin, wooden chopstick or use the eraser-end of an unsharpened pencil. Smooth out by hand, don't press yet.
5. Place applique into position on background fabric; press with hot iron. The fusible interfacing will stick to the fabric making basting unnecessary. (I place one pin in the center though, just in case it shifts). The edges of the applique can be sewn by hand using a basic Blind Stitch, an Applique Outline Stitch, a Blanket Stitch; or machine-stitched with zigzag or another decorative option.
And that's just what I've been up to. In my mind's eye, anyway. I decided that this adorable butterfly had been tucked away in its shoebox far too long, and deserved to see the light of day--and got to work on it. And, after all the hours of work I put in on this, I should have had an actual quilt to show you. But, no. I just have a new pattern for anyone who is looking for a sweet, sunny little winter project to keep them occupied. If this appeals to you, the pattern will be available for a limited time in my Vintage Stitch Shop as an instant download. Follow link: Butterfly Quilt #527
Whilst digging through shoeboxes, I found other butterfly patterns! I will be happily working toward doing something with these in the coming months. So get ready for more butterflies! These old patterns are just too sweet to be forgotten. They date back to the newspaper mail-order days between the 1930's and 1950's.
And so does our darling SunBonnet Sue here. She was originally a "trace" design and I offered it through the website as such. But it too has been over-hauled and re-designed as an iron-on transfer for embroidery, with optional applique pieces. This may look like a complicated quilt block, but the dress and bonnet are each one piece. That leaves an arm and a leg piece, and the mid-section of the watering can; a simple rectangle shape. Bloomers, shoes, and flowers are embroidered. (I've included directions for using traditional applique and freezer applique methods).
These types of quilts were popular in their day and are still an economical way to make a quilt by using small scraps of fabric and/or recycled clothing. Earlier quilts were made from the colorful prints found from feedsacks. What are feedsacks? Well, at the turn of the century when the cotton industry was in full production, cotton bags replaced the bulky barrels that had been used to store things like sugar, salt, meal, and grain. It was an added convenience for the shop-keeper and probably more sanitary in the long run, to offer pre-measured bags of goods ready on the shelf.
At first, the bags were made of plain muslin, and as the depression wore on, housewives used this "free" fabric to make clothing and such; one unfolded bag equaled about one yard of cloth. Before long, suppliers and marketers took note of this trend and began making feedsacks with colorful prints as a selling point. Good move. I often wonder how many amazing quilts would not have been made if it were not for all those feedsacks for inspiraton. Today, the reproduction "feedsack" prints are still fun to work with and effective when used with the older patterns to acheive a vintage look.
Cold hands and cold feet too! January is always a busy month of pattern printing around here, with everybody ready to hunker down with needle and thread for the long duration of winter. I hope to join in that stitching solitude soon!
I'm almost finished updating my website. A most tedious process I think. Lots of little details to triple check. These details are mostly just cosmetic changes, but oh, how this whole process does keep my mind spinning. I hope you like the new look and functionality. I keep adding buttons and links to make it easier to navigate. You may have to refresh the pages to get them to load a new. Let me know if you find anything finicky. I also want to thank the darling ladies who have written to tell me how much they enjoy visitng the website. It makes it all worthwhile. Enjoy!
It's official. 2014 has arrived. Right on schedule. After the fireworks, we have a fresh outlook and are off and running again. The tree has been taken down and new calendars have been put up. The holiday treats are nearly gone; there was a skirmish for that last piece of fudge!
My PatternBee website is back online again. When you visit the site, you may notice that the PDF purchase buttons are MIA. That's because patterns can now be instantly downloaded through my Vintage Stitch Shop. More about why and how here.
I think that will be my New Year's motto, inspired by my little pink cyclomen here. Reaching. Upward and onward.
We had a great week! Hope you did to. Not much rain (or snow), just lots of cold and fog. At times, barely above freezing. Inside, with the electric candles and twinkle lights glowing and tiny lamps lit in dark corners--it's cozy. The poor houseplants, however, do struggle along this time of year for lack of light. I keep only a few around the kitchen window now, where I can remember to water them regularly.
The cyclomen stretches tall to absorb the thin light. I finally placed it on a small cake-stand to encourage that one flower before it gave up. New flower buds, I just noticed, are lifting their heads now.
And this handful of sweet basil, cut months ago, lives on in a jar next to the sink. It is awesome how most herb stems will take root like this and thrive happily in nothing but water for months on end. The smell is wonderful. It freshens the air during the winter when the windows can't be left open. Plus, you can always pluck a leaf or two when fresh herbs are needed for sauce or soup. It will not produce a bounty of new stems or leaves though, so I keep the plucking to a minimum.
Children may also find this process fascinating. If this lasts till spring, I will replant it and see how long I can keep the process going.
Only a few more days left of 2013.
Will see you all on the flip side.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Our kitchen has been a bustle of activity the past few days. The girls have been busy with their holiday baking. They've had their heads together, pouring over all our many, many holiday baking books for inspiration and ideas. They have a long list of yummy things they plan to make. They do keep it all rather traditional though, so things move along at an even pace. I just take the list, provide the ingredients, step back and let them have at it. So far they've made gingerbread cookies and sugar cookie cut-outs. Banana bread is baking now. Oh, it all smells sooo good. I think blueberry scones and snowballs are next on the list. They have me down for fudge and pan shortbread. I think I can manage that. The Mister is our official taste-tester. And it's also his job to make sure there's a good supply of Christmas music playing in the background. Got all my gift wrapping done. Kicking back a little, taking it all in.
Company is coming, so I will take this time to wish everyone a wonderful holiday, a very Merry Christmas full of warmth and cheer, sugar plum dreams, safe travels and lots of sweet things.
The Christmas crunch. It's here. And there's no time to waste. All that lovely epic snow disappeared and I finally got out of the house last weekend and haven't stopped running since. Normally I don't mind being "snowed in" just as long as it happens at a nice convenient time and I don't have to take the car out. I don't ask for much, do I? Nah.... Oh, that week seemed way too long for some poor folks. When it was all over we heard stories of truly harrowing experiences and counted ourselves lucky. Most of the kids were thrilled to be out of school, but shopkeepers were grumpy. It was finals week at the University. Not the best timing for them either.
I'm happy because all the shopping is done! The Christmas cards went out this morning. Fun gift wrapping is underway. I didn't have a color/theme in mind, but when I gathered everything together it looked perfectly coordinated. Which is funny because, I just sort of picked things up at random here and there over the past few months. (The animal tags are from Molly & Rex. 'From Me To You' tags from C.R. Gibson). I love hang tags and just discovered that Avery makes these, similar to the business cards that can be printed out at home. I was poking around the web and found these sweet designs specifically designed for them. (Thanks Jessica! She includes an excellent tutorial and a downloadable PDF too.)
Now I think it's time to bake something . . .
Oh my goodness...day six and we are still snowed in. We actually saw a snow-plow drive by the house yesterday afternoon for the first time and jumped out of our chairs and cheered. I pulled on my boots and mittens and trudged out the door to find, with mild disappointment, that the effort hadn't done much to improve the road conditions. Just sort of cleared the top layer and left the ice sheet that was underneath it. More suitable for ice-skating than for driving.
The Mister has managed, with 4WD, to get back and forth to work though, and even picked up a few groceries, but beyond that, he hasn't ventured further than necessary. He knows when to leave "well-enough" alone.
Schools remain closed, but the delivery vans and postal trucks are chained-up and making their usual rounds, so I've been able to get your Internet orders shipped out and on their merry way thanks to their perserverance. It cannot be easy for them and we are grateful and appreciative and admire their bravery. Please note: I have not been able to get to the Post Office, which for me is about a ten mile drive into town, therefore I am sorry to say, mail-orders will be delayed. We do what we can.
It's been in the teens and twenties so far this week with very little thaw. No one seems to know when this "cold snap" will end, or if Winter is just getting started early with a bang. Freezing rain is in the forcast for this afternoon. I can only imagine what new *fun* that will bring. A horse-drawn sleigh is probably our best bet at this point. And so appropos given the season!
I'm not really complaining though, but rather reporting on our neck of the woods. As always, our thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering serious hardships due to weather and other disasters. Hugs and peace to all.
Just popping in for another update. I wanted to share this GORGEOUS view from our kitchen window. It was a nippy, teeth-chattering 12 degrees early this morning when I snapped this picture from the warmth and comfort of my house. At any rate, much too cold to go out in one's slippers and jammies, as I found out.
Almost everything (business and school) is still shut down in our little corner of the world. Even the local newspaper is being delivered electronically--by way of PDF. Oh, you gotta love technology! We've actually been house-bound since Friday morning. Because as pretty as it looks, there's a layer of slick ice underneath all this lovliness and driving a car on an ice sheet rivals Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. And not in a fun way.
Living here, in this normally temperate climate, we're not expecting or prepared for this kind of weather and stud-tires and chains are not our usual mode of winter operendi. Maybe it should be. The snow-plows have been working around-the-clock clearing the highways and haven't made it out to the local roads and rural areas yet. In the meantime, everyone's just waiting for the roads to defrost. And it doesn't look like that is going to happen any time soon as it is still below freezing with a possibility of more snow on the way. We are already dipping into our winter pantry stores, making crockpot soup and chili from dried peas and beans. We're running low on fresh produce and eggs, but can make do. I made my chocolate chip banana bread on Sunday. Very good warm out of the oven with French roast. Yum! Being snowed-in isn't all bad.