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

About “Winter”

WINTER

I’ve just finished this dress that I call “Winter”; my third in a series of four long- sleeved dresses that I wanted to add to my store.  My goal is to have at least one long-sleeved dress in each size available. I just finished cutting out my fourth one,  a size 4, so hopefully before much longer, there will be one, OOAK,  long-sleeved dress in each size in my shop!

I thought I’d speak a bit about “Winter, ” and it’s creation,  because its appearance was a surprise even to me. I know that seems strange. It’s not the first time that I’ve been surprised by one of my dresses. The whole process of creating something  has always been a bit of a mystery to me, and making this dress,  is a perfect example ~

Not always, but often, before I begin working on a dress,  I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with the dress. I usually have a picture in mind. It’s not always a completed picture, but it’s at least a basic idea. What puzzles me,  like what occurred while making this dress, is what happens between the time I begin working on a dress with a particular image in mind, and the time I finish the dress—–and have created something entirely different from the idea envisioned when I began -

Finishing the dress before “Winter,” I began thinking about what I wanted to do with the size 1 that I planned to create next out of a piece of printed white cotton fabric.  I suddenly got an image of a white dress with green, or possibly white, smocking. The dress I envisioned had a very simple, pretty design  of smocked zig zags, interspersed with embroidered red, green, and white candy canes~  Yes!! That was it! I ran & got a piece of paper & a pencil so I could sketch a simple picture of what was in my head. I don’t usually write my ideas down, but this looked so cute the way I pictured it, that I wanted  to be sure it wouldn’t be forgotten.

I began the dress with my original idea, working  white smocking into a zig zag pattern on the white fabric,—– and somehow worked my way into the scene you see pictured in the photo above. It seems to have just “happened.” I don’t remember consciously making a decision to abandon my original idea, nor do I remember ever having visualized the scene that emerged on the dress. It’s as if my fingers just took over; as if they had planned the scene from the very beginning-  and I was there simply because I was attached!

Now that the dress is finished, I look at it and feel very fortunate. Though it was not at all what I had in mind when I began, I’m pleased with the way it turned out-  Fingers did a good job! Once again I’m left baffled by the creative process, but that’s o.k.  Sometimes it’s nice to just be surprised!!

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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!

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-

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Another One!

Pascal and I returned to Heather Farms for our morning walk,  as “Spring” continues-  It amazes me to see that the hills are turning green. We’ve had so little rain! The grasses on the hillsides are getting long and, swaying in the slight breeze, they looked like feathery strands of green velvet; so pretty!

I spent yesterday morning and early afternoon embroidering the picture on my new dress; decided that I didn’t like it and spent the rest of the afternoon tearing it out! Once I had it all taken out it was a nice relief  to put the dress out of my mind and go outside and work in the garden.

I thought about the dress again as I walked this morning and decided to go to my second idea, which I will begin as soon as I’ve posted this. I can reveal this much about it to you; (this is what I know for sure, so far-) It is a size 3, (regular, not long,) and it is yellow and white, very Spring!!

I thought it would be nice to spread some of our beautiful spring-like weather around to everyone who is snowbound and tired of winter right now-AnnouncingSpring Cheer up! Look at this photo and know that spring is just around the corner~ Have a wonderful day!

Hand-Smocked Throw Pillows

I was saving my second new smocking idea to write about in this post, and it’s  funny, because in response to my last post,  Julie wrote and suggested that I might want to try smocking throw pillows. She had seen some in magazines and thought they looked good. Thank-you,  Julie!  I very much agree with you that smocking looks great on throw pillows. That was the other idea that I had been saving to write about in this post. We seem to think alike! I too have seen a few pictures of smocked throw pillows. In the pictures that I saw, the pillows were machine smocked. They really looked very nice and very unusual.

The pillows that I hope to make will differ some from the ones that I saw in the pictures. I will hand-smock them; probably on an insert that will be sewn into the front of the pillow, or perhaps I’ll smock the entire pillow front. With hand-smocking I have the freedom to compose my own designs and make them as elaborate as I choose. While the things that are machine smocked look very nice, the designs are usually basic and common. (That’s not to say that hand-smocking doesn’t use basic or common designs; they often do.) Then I will hand-embroider something like the scenes that I embroider on dresses. I’m thinking that it could be a throw pillow to decorate a child’s room; perhaps a pillow to sit in a rocking chair.

I think smocked throw pillows would also look great on a couch or daybed. If they were to be used in a room other than a child’s room I would do an elaborate smocked design and perhaps even embroider flowers or something very general on some of them. Anyway, I’m very eager to try these new projects. I have a couple of dress orders right now, but hopefully when I get them finished, I’ll be able to try one or both of these ideas. When I complete either the wall hanging or the pillow I’ll definitely post photos. I only wish this work weren’t so time consuming and that I could work on more than one thing at the same time- (four, why not six, hands would be nice!)  It’s difficult to have the patience to complete one thing before thinking about the next~

New Ideas Happening

I took a brief respite from sewing to work on the baby blanket that I started knitting for my grandson a year ago. I was starting to worry that if I didn’t concentrate on getting it finished, he’d be ready for college and I’d still be working on it, so I’m  pleased to have finished it while he’s still a baby! I love knitting. I find it relaxing and enjoy  that it allows the mind so much free time to think about things. Knitting the baby blanket, having had all of this “free-thinking” time,  I’ve come up with a few new smocking ideas that I’m excited about trying and hope to begin as soon as I finish work on my dress order.

When I’m making a smocked dress I like to think of the dress fronts as my canvas which I  will design and “paint”  with embroidery floss. My favorite part about making my  dresses is creating the smocking design and the picture that grows out of it, (the little scene that I embroider into the smocking.) People often comment about how much they like the picture I’ve “drawn”, so it occured to me, why not do a wall hanging; a hand- smocked, hand- embroidered picture that could be hung on the wall?  I think that the scenes I’ve put on my dresses would be adorable on a child’s bedroom or bathroom wall. So you can expect in the near future to see on my website a hand smocked, hand embroidered picture that will strictly be for hanging on the wall. I have another idea for a smocked project that I will tell you about in my next post.

Hand-Smocked Long Dress size 4L

If having a long dress in a size 4 interests you, I recommend  taking a look at my first one in the shop. The cotton-poly fabric is a beautiful shade of lavender. I’ve hand-smocked the design in lavender embroidery floss with a few of the rows smocked in white.

Any little girl would fall in love with the shy,  white and brown bunny that is hand- embroidered in the center of the smocking. Peering out from behind a  cluster of  long-stemmed flowers embroidered in shades of purple, pink, yellow and white, we wonder what the bunny is watching. Perhaps your little girl would have some thoughts about that- ?

The sleeves are trimmed in lace and extra flowers are embroidered at the hemline, sleeves, and button placket.

Of course a complimentary pair of hand embroidered socks comes with every long dress just as it does with the short ones, so I invite you to come take a look. This could just be  the special dress you have been looking for.