Happy New Year!

~*~ 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. ~*~

Happy New Year!!! Our first day of 2011 has brought rain~ lots of it!  I love rainy days & couldn’t be happier! It’s a wonderful way to begin the new year. So far, this winter has brought us a good amount of rain; hopefully enough to ward off the possibility of a drought and water rationing this summer.  Already the hills have turned a deep, lush, velvety- green that promises beautiful photographs for this season’s  note cards. 2010 was a good year, bringing the addition of two baby boys to the family. On January 26, my daughter’s third child, Colton, was born; a little brother for Grace & Sam. Then two weeks ago, on December 17th, my son & his wife had their first baby, a little boy, Henrik! With the new babies my attentions went to knitting, one of my very favorite things to do!

I knit a sweater for Colton, finishing it just weeks before his birth and I’m about to begin knitting a blanket for his first birthday. When my son & his wife announced that they were expecting a baby boy I decided to knit a blanket for him. Though I’ve been knitting since I was twelve, I’ve always chosen a pattern to follow. I have never tried  making my own design before. I started Henryk’s blanket from a pattern that I chose, but when I got to the middle section of the blanket,  I began getting different ideas about what I’d like to see in the middle of the blanket. I realized that I didn’t have to stay with that pattern , just because I’d started with it, I could actually do whatever I wanted to do with the blanket, and so I  ventured out to create my own design. I had a great time creating my own blanket. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I would love to start knitting baby blankets for my shop; blankets that, like my dresses, would be my own designs & creations and would be, like all of my handsmocked & embroidered dresses, one-of-a-kind! It took a month to knit Henryk’s blanket, so I’m not expecting to be able to make many blankets, but when I can find the time to work on them, I would like to be able to have at least one for sale at all times. Knitting Henryk’s blanket really whet my appetite for knitting. With Christmas quickly approaching, I decided to knit scarves for gifts for family members this year. I enjoyed doing that so much that it wasn’t long before I found myself thinking that I’d like to be able to knit scarves to sell in my shop too.

While looking through knitting patterns I came across  a pattern for a toy, knit lamb that I thought was adorable, and so I knit one for Henryk based on the original “Fuzzy Mittens” pattern.He turned out so cute & while I was knitting him, my mind was racing ahead to different ideas & variations that I might make to this pattern. I am currently finishing one for Colton for his birthday, and then~ yep! I’d love to knit some more to have in my shop!

And so, the new year is going to bring lots of new items to my shop!  My handsmocked & embroidered dresses, were  joined last year by my photographic notecard sets as well as by a few, one- of -a- kind, hand-embroidered onezies . I recently added a new hand-embroidered  onezie outfit to the shop & this year and plan on adding more. As soon as I am able to knit them, I’m very excited to be adding several handknit items in 2011~ baby blankets, scarves, knit lambs~ and whatever else I feel like knitting!

And last, but definitely not least, I’ve resolved to make a very concerted effort to post in my blog no less than once a week. I know I have a bit of a dilemma here, in that everything I’m planning on making requires a substantial time commitment. I don’t yet know where or how I’m going to be able to find the time to do everything~ and that leads me to say that surely 2011 is going to be a year of challanges! I thought I’d add a few pictures of some of the knit things that I’ve mentioned here so you will have an idea of what kinds of things you can expect to be seeing in my shop over the coming year!

Here’s to a wonderful 2011 for everyone!


How Hot Are Your Squirrels?

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So how hot do you think it was today?

When I went down the hill to get the mail at 5:00 P.M. it was 103`!

Walking back up to the house I heard a little rustle in the tree and out of the corner of my eye thought I saw something move. I stopped for a second to look and this is what I saw. This little guy had slung himself over the tree limb and just lay there in the hot shade. He didn’t quickly run away like he usually does,  instead,  he lay there watching me & Pascal- who was either  too hot to bark, normally he totally “loses it,”  or he was pretending not to see the squirrel so  he wouldn’t have to bark~  It’s a rare occasion that Pascal forgoes an opportunity to bark-  That’s how hot it was!

I quickly put Pascal inside and grabbed my camera, feeling pretty certain the squirrel would be exactly where he was when I left him~ and he was!  Normally he and I are enemies, as he gets even more delight in digging up my garden and unplanting my flower pots, than he does lying on a shaded tree limb on a hot day, but today, with the heat on high, we seem to have called a truce. I actually felt sorry for the little guy. I could say he posed for me, but I can’t give him that much credit.  He did lay there and silently stare-  or was it glare-   at me while  the camera clicked back at him. Mission accomplished!

Too hot for me, I left him, hangin’ out on the tree, (probably mapping a new game plan for my garden,  once it cools off-)  and went back in to join Pascal in front of the fan. Having finally finished my baby dress, I needed to figure out what I want to make next!

Simply Irresistible

This is the dress  I just finished~  the one that I started too long ago-  I wanted to make a plain white baby dress for summer. Some people gasp at the thought of a white dress for a baby, but if you stop to think about it, what difference does it make if it’s white or any other color; if it’s going to get dirty, it’s going to get dirty. Whatever shows up on white will also show up on light pink, blue, green or yellow; all of the classic baby colors.   Actually white has an advantage over the other colors when it gets dirty because with white, you can usually bleach out a stain, whereas with a color, you don’t have that option.

So~ I wanted it to be white and I wanted it to be intricate and soft, but appear simple and elegant. Most of all I wanted it to say, “baby!”   I’m happy with the results and I hope you like it too. The smocking on the side panels is a double wave design that’s easy for the eye to follow, yet at the same time,  notice the gathers the smocking has created. They add the degree of intricacy that I wanted the dress to have. The central panal,  smocked in a white diamond design, gives a nice background for the brown hand embroidered bunny to stand-out against,  and the blue bow tied around her neck,  ties-in the blue smocking from the side panels. The white, diamond design of the smoking holds the background flat.  To add dimension, I hand embroidered several  flower stalks in both baby-blue and white that give the scene a 3-dimensional effect.

To me this` dress says,  “Baby”~  it is baby-fresh;  soft & delicate, feminine & sweet, and most of all, like every baby~  totally unique!!

Beware! Garden Giants

Dahlia~ giant

Life is full of surprises~ and of course,  being their nature, you never know when or where they are going to pop up!!  With my latest surprise I literally mean, “pop-up!”   Like this,  above-   the first, and most visible thing to see in my garden.

A few weeks ago I received a call from my mom saying  she had bought a large bag of Dahlia tubers, but hadn’t enough room in her garden to plant them all, would I like what she had left? (I have become known as the one to ask if someone has a plant to get rid of , because I can’t refuse them.) I have had a few dahlias in pots for several years and they do very well, so the thought of adding a few more , pleased me. Sure! I’d take them! Did I say a few more? That was my first surprise-

The bag of tubers I was given was about 95% full! I think my mom planted all of 2 tubers! Oh my gosh, I thought, when I looked into this very large, very full bag. Where am I going to plant all of these, and,worse yet, when am I going to find the time to plant them?

Somehow I managed to find a way to get  80% of them planted, (so far.) Most of them came up immediately, but many had already started sprouting in the bag; impatient, I guess. My first flower to open is the one  pictured. I watched the plant’s leaves grow from large to larger. The flower stems seemed to shoot up  4 ” per day!  I never saw small flower buds. I looked one day when I didn’t think the stalk could get much taller, and there was a fist-sized flower bud!

These were definitely not the same variety of dahlia that I have been growing. It was only a few days after I noticed the flower bud, that it began opening. It took a full week to be fully opened as you see it today, but I measured it a few days ago when the outer petals were fully opened and the flower looked huge already-  It measured 6 1/4″ in diameter. I’ve watched it opening the rest of the week, and almost can’t believe what I’ve seen.  These flowers are probably comparable in size to some large sunflowers. I measured the flower again today, now that it is fully opened. It’s 9 1/2″ in diameter!!  I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it is definitely spectacular-  Most amazingly, today the second bud on this plant is almost to the 6 1/4″ diameter that the first one was a few days ago, and two more buds are at slightly lesser degrees of development, but within a few days, depending on how long this first flower remains,  there will be 4 gigantic monster flowers in my garden- and that’s just on this first plant! My second dahlia to bloom is pink with a light yellow center and is halfway opened right now and showing signs of being equally as huge as my first . And I’ve just spoken of the two dahlias that are the furthest along. There are many more, some in the process of emerging and some beginning their flower stalks.

It shouldn’t be long now before I will be typing from somewhere deep in a freakin-tall, monster-dahlia-forest!

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I said in my previous post that I was going to talk about my second set of note cards, but I’m going to save that for next time. Before I go, I want to give you a sneak preview of the baby dress, (size 1,) that I’m working on and hope to have finished and listed,  soon~  (provided I have no more “free-plant” offers to distract me!)                               IMG_9858 copy Coming Soon!

***One last note~ Please excuse the little “spill” into the margin at the beginning of my blog.  My blog was updated to the latest version and we encountered a problem that we hope to be able to correct soon!

Good Things Happen!

Wake-up! It's Spring!Pascal and I just returned from our morning walk. We are still having beautiful spring-like weather. It’s really becoming convincing, even though I know better~  I’ve never known the end of January, beginning of Febuary, to be spring; not this early- at least not in northern Ca. It’s really making me anxious to go out and work in the garden!

I forgot to announce in my last blog, some good news! If you’ve been to my etsy shop or my website you may have already noticed~  I’ve decided because of the depressed state of the economy, that the $25.00 reduction in the price of each dress for my sale that began in December ’08 and  ran through the end of January, ’09 will remain indefinitely. The current prices reflect what will now be considered the regular price, rather than returning to the pre-Dec.sale amount.

The other wonderful news is that the CPSIA law that was supposed to become effective Feb. 10 has been given a one-year “stay” so that it can be further reviewed and necessary changes made before being put into effect. I am very hopeful that the focus will be on the source of the problem, lead in the paint of imported toys from China,  and possibly,  in some metals used in children’s jewelry. There is an excellent article in today’s  Etsy Storque giving all of the details of the ruling.

And finally, I mentioned in an earlier post, that I have discovered so many wonderful shops at Etsy that I would like to share with you, and I want to feature some of these shops and their items from time to time. So~ being the beautiful “spring” day that it is, NOW seems like a great time to get started!

In honor of the CPSIA law being granted a “stay,” and because those of us involved in handmade products for children want the very best and safest items for children, it seems fitting that I start by featuring some of the wonderful unique, one-of-a-kind products for children that are now available for you to buy because of the “stay” granted.

The first shop from Etsy that I’d like to feature is my friend’s,  NeedfulThingsofSalem shop. This shop has a wonderful variety of one-of-a-kind items ranging from hand-knit, and hand-crocheted, to sewn items, quilts, stuffed animals and many other fun items. I would particularly like to feature some of the beautiful  creations for babies in this shop.

One of my favorites is the beautiful crocheted baby blanket in white with baby-blue trim around its border. This would make a beautiful gift for a newborn baby and would be perfect for either a girl or boy. There is a cute pair of matching hand-crocheted booties that would make a lovely “pairing” with the blanket.

Another of my favorites for babies in the shop, also happens to be a blanket.  This blanket is totally different from the one I just mentioned,  and reflects the amazing and diverse skills of this artisan.  A hand-appliqued, Teddy Bears and Hearts, baby quilt, is created in beautiful, soft, pastel colors with a deeper blue border. To complete the baby’s room, there is a matching, hand-quilted wall hanging. Can’t you just picture these two in a baby’s room?

Among the other wonderful baby items that are my favorite, the following two, either individually, or as a set,  would make wonderful baby gifts. The first is an adorable, cuddly, stuffed, white bunny, just right for hugging! Either by themselves, or combined with the bunny, these delicate white booties made from Irish lace, would make a beautiful gift for a baby girl.

There are so many wonderful items to be found there, and a wide and reasonable price range;  treat  yourself to a fun shopping experience. Go explore the many handmade “treasures” of NeedfulThingsofSalem~  Enjoy!