July/August~ Needles and the Bunny!

Bunnies, bunnies and more bunnies!! Taking a little break from making handsmocked & embroidered dresses, I’ve spent the past few months knitting; one of my favorite things of all, to do. I first learned to knit when I was 12; my teacher was my 13-yr.-old friend who was very gifted & knew how to do more than most adults did. I think of her with gratitude every time I pick up my knitting needles. I never would have imagined when I first held a pair of needles in my hands that knitting would become the much-loved activity in my life that it very quickly became. I’ve truly enjoyed the past two months that I’ve devoted to  knitting!

I started a few months ago knitting a bunny from a Debi Birkin pattern that I found in an Etsy shop and fell in love with. This was the first time in all of the years that I’ve spent knitting, that I knit a bunny doll. I loved doing it! I loved knitting the little bunny so much that I had to knit another right away. To date I have knit several bunnies, each one different. It’s always a wonderful surprise to see the unique personality that emerges with each new bunny.  After knitting the first bunny I started experimenting, making changes to the pattern; molding it to get the “look” that I’m after.

I have always loved bunnies. Over the span of several years, I had 4 house bunnies; all very sweet and very special. I loved to study their faces. There is a special & unique sweetness that even the mischievous ones had. It is that special “sweet” look, so unique to bunnies, that I’m trying to capture in the faces of the bunnies that I knit.

The bunnies aren’t at all easy to make, in fact I find them more difficult than any sweater I’ve  made. It’s not the knitting itself that’s difficult, it’s the assembly; particularly the heads & faces.  To capture the bunny look that I want, requires much more than knitting an oval, bunny-shaped head. I start with that knit shape, but then I need to put a lot of filling into it so that it’s very firmly stuffed so that  I can squeeze the face to make indents where the eyes belong and make it pouffe-out in the cheeks and over the mouth. Once I squeeze an area to be the way I want it, I have  to stitch through the head from one side to the other;  back & forth, to hold the shape permanently.  Sculpting the face in this manner is a slow, difficult process, but one that I love doing, as this is where the bunny is formed as an individual. This is where its personality emerges.  Once the head and face are shaped the way I want them to be, I hand stitch with embroidery floss, the eyes, nose & mouth. Work on just the head/face alone, is very intense and takes several hours. This is the part that I find the most difficult in making the bunny~ but it is also the most fulfilling.

Assembling the rest of the bunny is easier than shaping the head & stitching the face, but it too is difficult. (The details are too long for this post, but perhaps in a follow-up post I’ll describe what that involves.)

Once I’ve created a bunny, it’s time to knit something for them to wear.  Usually I haven’t an idea what it will be until I’ve created them & seen what their personality is. For the first few bunnies, I knit sweaters,  but as I knit more bunnies I felt like it would be fun to knit whole outfits for some of them, so my more recent bunnies are dressed in coordinating outfits; sweaters & pants or sweaters & a skirt- or overalls. I like to hand embroider a little flower~ or vegetable, on their clothes, it’s sort of become my signature.  I will definitely continue with bunny-making in the future, as they’ve become one of my very favorite things to knit. I also knit lamb dolls and have a few patterns of some new animals I’d like to try; an elephant, a mouse, and a puppy, so keep checking back and you may see these in my shop soon.

In addition to my animal menagerie, I’ve knit a few baby poncho & pants outfits that I enjoyed knitting and I just started a new outfit, so it should be in my shop, in about a week. And THAT’S what I’ve been up to!!!

August has started off to be horribly hot. I’m really hoping that this isn’t an indication of the remainder of the month. I’m trying to keep in mind that Fall, my favorite season of the year, is just around the corner~  Trying to knit on a hot day can be a challenge. I find if I imagine Fall outside, with it’s wonderful crisp, refreshing air and brilliantly colored leaves that ride a breeze with the grace of a surfer riding a huge rolling wave, I can almost forget about the 100` plus temperatures outside. Almost!

I hope you’re enjoying your summer and are able to stay cool!

Spring Is In The Air~ (trite~ but true!)

What a difference in a weeks time!  Not a speck of fog this morning when Pascal and I left the house!  According to my computer the temperature was 53`. I still needed my jacket ~ over a sweater & a sweatshirt,  but the air was noticeably warmer than it was earlier in the week.  We haven’t been to Heather Farms in a few months. In the winter when it rains it gets too muddy.  Besides being muddy, it’s not the best time to go, as most of the geese and the ducks have gone elsewhere,  and hardly any of the plants in the gardens are blooming-  buts that’s Winter.

Springtime at Heather Farms is always spectacular, and an ideal place to bring the camera.  I am so looking forward to getting new photos  for my notecards-  Hmmmmm-  it’s really NOT actually spring yet. But it FEELS like spring.  I look over at Pascal who’s looking out the window of the car.  Do I turn left & go to town for a walk, or do I turn right and head for Heather Farms~? I really, really, don’t want Pascal to get muddy. But it’s been two weeks since we’ve had rain. How muddy could it be now?

I turn right. We’re going to Heather Farms!!

We have about a 20 minute walk down a paved road before we actually get to Heather Farms and I’m happy to see along the way that there are several clusters of paperwhites ~ and even a few early daffodils, in full bloom;  Spring was in the air!  

Arriving at the path to Heather Farms we stood at the top of the hill for a few minutes, surveying the fields and the canal below us ~   The crisp early- morning air seemed so still~ and so quiet!  The ground definitely was still wet, but if didn’t look too muddy. Okay, Pascal! Let’s go!

We had just barely started down the hill when I heard the familiar sound of geese squabbling.  All right! Surly I’d get some pictures today!  Rounding the curve in the path, we arrived at a clearing beside the pond that the geese & ducks have made their beach. This morning,  with the exception of the ducks swimming in the canal, the pond appeared empty. But the beach was packed~ packed with geese! Mating season must have begun. The beach reverberated with squawking, reminding me of a political convention.  One goose would get right into another’s face,  squawking & nipping  with wings extended,  until the other goose backed away. We stopped to watch “the show” for a few minutes. I was anxious thinking that Pascal would bark at them and disrupt everything, but he didn’t make a sound; in fact, he looked bored~  so after taking a few quick pictures, we moved on.

On the opposite side of the path, just a bit beyond the noisy beach, it was quiet except for the light sound of water splashing. The canal at this point,  was overgrown with reeds  so at first I didn’t notice the pair of mallard ducks floating among them. Getting closer I saw a large white shape-  Excited, I reached for my camera. At first it was hard to tell what I was looking at, as all I could see were two stick-like, long legs extending from a large, white, headless body-  The head was buried under the water, but I had an idea of what it was. Last fall I was lucky enough to come across a beautiful, graceful bird, the Snowy Egret. Standing alone on the beach that today was populated with geese, it looked so elegant & magnificent set against the backdrop of trees in their fiery red orange & yellow, fall-leaf attire.  This, I discovered, was the origin of the splashing sounds I was hearing.  When the egret lifted his head from the water, he started a strange sort of stamping “dance” in the reeds. With one of his large feet he’d stamp the reeds continuously, now & then submersing his head below the water. The stamping must have been a way to make insects, or whatever he was eating that was in the reeds, come out so he could catch catch them in his mouth! I took several pictures of him but he seemed to be in constant motion so it was difficult to get a good one.  I  feel rewarded to have finally gotten this one good picture of him~   We walked just a bit further down the path , and there,  standing directly in front of us was a beautiful mallard duck. He stood very still as if he were posing. “Click” – gottcha!  It may not have quite been Spring yet, but it was definitely in the air!                                                                                                                                                                                     

I’m excited to add these new photos to my growing collection for new notecard sets to be added to my shops soon. Last week was a busy one, but I was able to complete and list my fifth lamb, Amelie~ and I listed two new sets of note cards,  Glistening Orange, and Bench of Poppies.  I’m currently still working on the baby blanket I’m knitting for my grandson who turns 1 this week.  I haven’t worked on a dress since before Christmas. I thought it would be a nice break to work on my knitting and notecards and while I love doing both of those,  I hadn’t realized until a few days ago, how much I miss working on my  dresses, so this afternoon,  guess what I did!  I cut out a new dress! All that I know right now is that it will be a size 2 and it’s a beautiful shade of light, light, pink.  Mainly I need to concentrate on finishing the blanket,  but if I have a dress all pleated; ready to smock & embroider, I may just be able to work on it a bit this week too.  I’ll let you know~ Have a great week!

1

Hey~ The Gate’s Open!

~*~ For some reason, the large photos at the beginning of my posts are getting distorted. Until I can resolve the problem, if you click on the photo, you will see it the way it is supposed to be. ~*~

Sunday morning and lots to do~ and lots to procrastinate over!  “Come on, Pascal, let’s go for a walk!”

We go for a walk almost every morning. Besides being good exercise,  I find it a nice way to get my mind going  for the day and get things sorted out, , especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed- which is how I felt this morning.  I grabbed my camera and the dog and walked out the door. I’d rather have my camera with me even if I don’t use it, than find myself wishing I had brought it.

It was pretty foggy out, so I didn’t really expect to have much of an opportunity to use it,  but as we started up  the country road I couldn’t help but notice the interesting and beautiful effect the fog was having, masking everything in an ethereal cloud of dampness and quiet. Wondering if I could capture some of this strange beauty with my camera,  I began clicking away, noticing how the branches of the trees  that were in close range  appeared strong and dark,  like out-raised arms holding the fog at bay; in contrast,  trees in the  distance appeared soft & frail, their outlines blurred in the fog.

I was surprised to see how much of a start the spring grasses have had already. We’ve had a lot of rain so far this winter, but I hadn’t expected to see the grasses getting long so soon.  Damp with the morning fog,  they looked almost  florescent-green against the foggy-gray backdrop of sky. The countryside had acquired an entirely different “attitude,”  much as a person’s mood can be affected by  weather changes. This “attitude”  I was seeing was one of great beauty and I was indeed happy that I ‘d brought my camera!

Leaving the fog outside with the trees,  I had a better sense of which project to work on today. I have been so excited about knitting little lambs. I just finished my fourth one and listed it on my website and in my Etsy shop and I’ve started knitting a new lamb~   

After my walk, knowing I was going to work on my lamb today, I was excited; couldn’t wait to start;  but first I had to get the last of the things I’d been procrastinating over, finished ;  writing my blog post!!

And I’m off to knit! Have a great week!

Spring~” Click, Click;” Catch it While I Can

Tree in full bloom

Spring! It’s everywhere I go, filling me with inspiration to create in it’s image;  things that are flowery & light as the breeze spreading its signature scent. Pulling weeds in my garden under the appletree, I was captivated by the subtle, sweetly-spiced scent of appleblossoms~ how to express that in a creation?

Pascal (my dog,)  and I, walk daily. Camera in hand, we alternate between downtown, with its beautiful fountains & planterboxes, and Heather Farms- ( several local acres of designated open space that’s been set aside as a wildlife preserve,  with walking trails, gardens,  ponds, meadows and a duck-filled canal.) Spring being such a short season, my camera clicks tirelessly as we walk, attempting to preserve the beauty Spring has scattered in its wake~

Currently, everything  I make reflects my experience of Spring.Bumblebee on Blue Looking at my photos I immediately Rose Garden, Heather Farms want to make notecards~ I’m excited!  Here in my hands, the  pictures enable me to hold onto Spring,  long after it has passed. On the trees, the wind & rain can destroy the beautiful blossoms, but  here on my notecards, they are saved;   preserved  in all their beauty – How wonderful to be able to have Spring always within reach!

As with the notecards, my handsmocked and embroidered dresses reflect my experience of Spring-  One  recently finished dress, A Dressful of Blooms, was totally spring inspired. Looking at it,  I recall the spicy-sweet scent of the apple blossoms on my tree. Perhaps looking at it , you too will have a sense of  the flower-scent~?        IMG_2747Dressful of Flowers

Today on our walk at Heather Farms, in addition to all of the new spring flowers, resplendent under water drops left by yesterday’s rain, we witnessed a very special spring addition~

**Duck & babies copy

Walking down the path beside the canal I saw what looked like something moving in the grasses on the far side of the canal. I stopped to see if I could tell what was there-  At first I saw the mother duck. Her dark coloring blended in so well with the hillside that she was difficult to discern at first.  She was standing very still looking back at us. Incredibly, Pascal didn’t bark! Watching her, I suddenly saw movement in the grass behind her and watched in awe as 5 tiny ducklings shuffled awkwardly to get close to her. After watching us for a while, I guess she decided we didn’t pose much danger, because she started walking down the bank towards the water, the 5 little ducks following close behind~ in one straight line! Down the hill they stumbled & into the canal,  gliding on the water, mom & her 5-  in one straight line,  swim masters already!

Mom & babies, crossing the path~ in one straight line We followed them a short way down the canal and then stopped and watched again as the babies followed their mom out of the water, up the bank and across the path towards the larger pond~ in one straight line!

These pictures, along with others taken that day will be available on sets of notecards in my shop. Spring passes so quickly that I’m so happy to have caught at least a bit of it before we move into summer~ which I know, is lurking just around the bend~

It’s Spring!

Pretty Tulips 2010

It’s Spring!!  Here, in Northern Ca. we ‘re experiencing the full tempestuous effects of Springtime.;  blue skies & billowy white clouds with temperatures approaching 70,   giving way to gray-sky windy days with temperatures in the 50′s, punctuated by rain storms-   and back and forth the weather shifts like the moods of a young child. Today with Daylight Savings Time,  I gain an hour of daylight to work in the garden, which is great because there is so much to be done to clean-up after winter & get ready for planting new flowers for summer.

*****Geese Today the sun is out and the temperature is perfect for working in the garden~ 63`. Pascal and I took a  long walk to Heather Farms this morning,  past fields filled with mustard flowers blowing in the light breeze. The air was filled with sounds of geese squawking and as we followed the path around the curve, we came to the spot of commotion. The pond was filled with geese & ducks, as was the small beach. They all seemed to be out this morning, like us, enjoying the beautiful weather.

My plan was to come home after our walk, write a blog post and  get to work embroidering my new dress so that hopefully Pascal & I could go out at the end of the day & work in the garden. A good plan, it sounds easy enough~  And it would be if my eyes weren’t constantly returning to the window, to the sunlight outside, to the flowers blowing in the breeze and the birds collecting twigs to build nests. Suddenly it becomes so difficult to be inside working!!

Reluctantly I avert my eyes from the window reminding myself that with Spring comes Easter, now just a few weeks away, soon to be followed by summer. Then I feel excitement about implementing my new smocking and embroidery ideas for the coming season. Right now my shop is filled with hand smocked dresses that are  hand embroidered  with bunnies, chicks, ducks, lambs and of course lots of flowers,  making them perfect for Spring and Easter . Here are my two most recent additions:Rosebud

I Am A  Lamb

In addition to the smocked & embroidered dresses, I thought it would be a great idea to embroider infant, onepiece bodysuits. I now have two of them in my Etsy shop, website, and 1,000Markets shop. Like the dresses, these are ooak. They are not only perfect for spring, but perfect for Easter as well, with 2 bunnies on one,  and a little yellow chick on the other~

IMG_2307 copy 1 **Flowers For Her Hair

I am excited for you to see all of the cute  handsmocked & embroidered clothes for little girls that I have in my 3 shops; Etsy, Rabbit Whiskers, & 1,000 Markets.

Spring dominates my notecard sets, as well. There are an abundance of cards with beautiful photos of spring flowers of all kinds as well as scenes of spring, such as the mustard flower field that I passed on my walk this morning. For anyone who loves spring & spring-related items, my shops are a must see! I hope you will enjoy browsing !

And now I’ve gotten excited to get to work on my latest dress. I’m going to put a spring scene on it~ perhaps the garden that I can’t yet plant outside! This dress is going to be a size 2 and it’s on purple & white gingham! Come peek in my shop in about a week- a week 1/2, and you should  see a brand new addition displayed!

Happy Spring to you!!!

Mustard Meadow

SPRING

Red FreesiaSpring is officially here! Many of the bulbs in my garden are in full bloom right now, like these Freesias. If you’ve ever smelled Freesias you know how wonderfully sweet they can make your garden smell.

With flowers, gardens, and spring everywhere, comes the desire to cast off the heavy, warm, winter clothes, and slip into clothes that match the colors and feel of spring.

I have several dresses for children that are filled with light, flowers, and softness,  both in my etsy shop and on my website.

They are the epitome of little girls and spring.

I thought you might be interested in seeing a few of the dresses that I think are wonderful spring dresses. This first dress is one that I think every little girl would love to wear. It is a nice, machine washable, light-weight cotton, with an adorable bunny jumping rope, hand-embroidered in the center of the smocking. I’ve captured the essential elements of spring in this scene, complete with flowers in blues and pinks and even an early butterfly!

Another dress that I think is a good depiction of spring is this dress, again, a lightweight, light-colored, machine washable cotton. The scene on this dress is very “spring”, hand smocked with a hand embroidered spring scene of a little girl walking in the country with her puppy. The hills are a vibrant green with new spring grasses and wildflowers. To complete the picture of spring, I’ve added a little bird, perched in front of his house, talking to the girl and her dog- (I’m sure they’re talking about the beautiful spring day-) The sky has a few puffy white clouds to accent the blue, and if you listen, you can almost hear the nearby meandering stream!

These are just a few of the dresses I have for spring in my shops. I am constantly working on more, so keep checking back. I get the majority of my ideas from scenes that I observe on my daily walks with Pascal. I’ve just started a new size 4 dress that will be great for spring, but I think it will be even more suggestive of summer~ we’ll see-

IMG_8784 copy

Pascal and the day after~

1Pascalsmiling-Following the last “Pascal” post, “Attitude-”

On the “other” days, the “non-grooming” days, we usually start the day with a nice, long walk, either to the park or downtown. It’s only a five minute drive to either  place fortunately , because knowing where he’s going, and anticipating his arrival, Pascal gets so excited he can hardly contain himself.

He begins with a high-pitched, but soft, whine. Since he sits in the front passenger seat,  I have to be careful not to look over at him. Looking at him is the equivalent of asking what he’s whining about. Then the whines escalate, exploding into an all-out bark!  Oops~ did I say bark, as in One?  No, no, I meant to say bark-ing!~ Barking that doesn’t stop until we arrive at our destination.

If I catch myself before I’ve turned my head, he usually  whines until I tell him to stop. Then, because there’s no place else for the excitement to go, he starts fidgeting in his seat,  even though he’s strapped in with a seatbelt.  He does a very unique sort of “dance” that resembles a kind of strange, repetitive, shuffle between sitting  and standing.

I’m an introverted person. I fit into the small group of people whose preference  is to be as inconspicuous as possible, at all times, ~~~~   Just in time, (meaning just when my patience is ready to go,) the five-minute trip is up. We’ve arrived; no doubt about it-   As we pull into the parking lot , Pascal doesn’t even attempt to contain himself. He gives it his all, barking. And we are announced- To the entire world!

Until today, due to rain, we’ve gone three days without a walk, which means three days since I last saw his wonderful, ear to ear smile. I’ve really missed it. For me, three days without a walk has meant  three days of solid sewing, resulting in my new, size 2 dress,  Feeding the Ducks,  which is currently listed on my website.

Today’s refreshing walk not only restored Pascal’s smile, it helped clear my mind so I can begin thinking about what I want to work on next. After yesterday’s rain, our path led us to this beautiful patch of sunny daffodils. My camera took the picture while my mind sipped the sunny sweetness~

And now something’s percolating-  I feel something sunny and fresh beginning; something for my next dress-  One more look at Pascal’s smile, and maybe I’ll be able to get started on it tomorrow!

InspirationDaffodil Inspirations

It’s Raining, It’s

***Purple Pansy copy POURING ~ Good for flowers and ducks!!

I just came in from “taking” Pascal for a walk- only we didn’t walk; we went nowhere. Pascal wouldn’t move! He looked at me as if I was crazy, and argued with a “look” that said, ” I’m not going out in that!!”

So here I am, home early and ready to cut-out a new dress. If you’ve looked at my blogs before, you’ve noticed that I usually include one or two photos- usually of flowers or scenery.

I’ve just realized how I’ve come full circle, all of my favorite interests linking and supporting each other . I usually bring my camera with me when I take Pascal for a walk.  I love taking and looking at, pictures of flowers and pretty, and/or interesting, scenes. The photos and scenery from my walks have a heavy influence on what I embroider on my dresses. In addition to making dresses, I have a passion for gardening. This too, influences the scenes on my dresses.

In winter, the weather being not great for gardening, I concentrate more on dress-making, appeasing my passion for gardening by designing gardens on my dresses.  I realize that my four passions; walking with Pascal, gardening, nature-photography, and hand-embroidering the scenes on my handsmocked dresses, are all avenues that inter-relate and contribute to my creative processing that culminates in the one-of-a-kind, dresses that you see in my shop .

As I write this sentence, I realize that , for the moment anyway, it’s stopped raining. If I hurry, I think I can catch a few rays of sunshine and take Pascal- and camera,  walking after all!! I’ll be back soon~ with fresh ideas for my new dress!                                                                    Wind Ripples copy

Duck Circle copy

Progress Report~ Spring just around the corner

09A Lamb Named Peace/ a work in progressWe’re getting there, Peace and I! I thought you might enjoy seeing an update of the dress I’m currenly working on. I was able to spend the majority of the day yesterday, working on my dress, and by last night, felt as if I’d made progress. I’m hoping by tonight to be able to say I’m ready to start sewing the dress together, but we shall see!

I just returned from taking Pascal on our morning walk. After a brief spell,(four days,) of minor amounts of rain, Spring has returned and everything is resplendant with sunlight! We had perfect walking weather- in the 50′s. It felt cold to start off with, but with a quick pace we warmed up quickly and the air felt wonderful! It was a nice way to begin the day. Walking by pretty gardens and fields filled with rich-green long grasses,  felt as if I were walking through the scene that I’m embroidering on the dress pictured above.

I carry this scene home, my mind filled with thoughts about the scene growing right before my eyes, and I feel eager to get to work!

Before I go I thought I’d leave you with a few “spring-like” images to hold in your mind today, especially if you are one of those people who have been looking at snow for so long, that it’s almost hard to imagine that the time is close when you too, will be walking in the warmth of the sun,  through flower-filled garden scenes.

Spring OrangeBits