Cards ‘n Dresses ‘n This ‘n That

Sugar & Spice

Today, stormy- heavy winds and lots of rain~ perfect for staying in and working! After working on knitting a baby sweater and making and listing notecards for two months I finally feel ready to return to making dresses! I never intended to be away from sewing for so long, but I always seem to underestimate how much time something’s going to take. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. If I knew before starting how long  a project was going to take,  maybe I’d never start!

I’m not complaining. It wasn’t a bad two months. I have loved knitting for as long as I can remember. I find it very relaxing and enjoyed it even more because I was knitting it for my grandson, who’s birth will be sometime this week!  BabySweater

The notecards are a much newer project for me, as I began creating them just this past year.  I love photography and I love making the cards. It was very easy to spend that much time working on them. The hard part was pulling myself away~  but I love making hand- smocked & embroidered dresses, too, so it’s time to go back to dress-making,  but before I do, I’d love to give you a glimpse of a few of the photos you’ll find on the notecards I’ve completed.

I added a fourth collection of notecard sets that I’m excited to introduce. It’s titled, “This n That”and is simply an assortment of four photographic cards, tied together by theme, color, or in an obscure way. The photo above is from one of the cards in that new set. It is a photo of the artwork from the front of one of my handsmocked & embroidered dresses. It occurred to me that the scenes on my dress fronts would create very unique & fun notecards, and I’m pleased with the results.

Below are five more photos that appear on some of the cards just made. Each set is ooak and consists of a combination of 4 photographic blank cards. This represents just a small fraction of what you’ll find on Rabbit Whisker notecards.

Wh.Primrose copy ** Fall on the Pond Ducks 2

1 little bird ***

I hope you will come and enjoy looking through the different sets. A few of the sets have pictures of Pascal, some of which you may have seen in previous blog posts~

The wind outside is blowing sheets of rain against my windows, it’s steady beating reminding me that I still have lots of work to do, LOTS-  (no underestimating time here.) I’d like to be able to tell you a bit about the new dress,  but at this point, all that I know is that it’s going to be a size1. My next step is to go to the trunk where I store my fabric, and choose whichever appeals the most to me to be working on right now. Once my selection is made I’m hoping for an onslaught of design ideas. Other than knowing the size I’m going to make, the dress will be as much a surprise to me as it will be to you~  Hopefully by the next time I write I’ll be able to post a picture of a finished dress- or at least pictures of an, ” almost-finished dress- ” (if I’ve underestimated my time again!)

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!

IMG_9876

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!

A Few of My Favorite Things

#423 A Few of MY Favorite Things

I know. It’s been way too long since I’ve updated my blog. I have been working on this dress called, A Few of My Favorite Things and I’ve just finished it.

Making this dress has been the strangest experience! I felt as if a magic spell had been cast over me and I wasn’t able to put it down.  None of my other work, including a blog update,  got done. I was sewing until 1:00 A.M.- mainly because I wanted to see what it was going to look like.  I kept thinking, Oh I’m almost finished- might as well keep sewing so I can see-

You’d think by now, after having made close to 450 dresses,  I would know that what looks like just a small area  to finish, can take hours- sometimes days. You would also think that after making so many dresses, the thrill of seeing another one would have worn off. That most definitely wasn’t the case with this dress.   There is so much tiny, intricate detail sewn into this scene, that what seemed like it would take minutes to do, in fact took hours-  For example, if you look at a tiny head of cabbage, it seems like it’s so small, it should take only a few minutes to make one.

What happens is that yes, the area is small- until you picture the width of two strands of thread. It is the width, or thickness, of two strands of thread that has to fill that “small” cabbage space- a width probably about the same size as the width of one of the letters I am typing right now. In comparison, that cabbage space suddenly seems quite large. It takes lots and lots of stitches to fill up that small space- but then, it takes even more stitching to make it look like a cabbage.

If you look closely, you will see that the cabbage is stitched initially in a deep purple thread. Layered over that base is thread of a lighter purple shade to fill-in, and accent certain spots, giving the cabbage depth and more of a leafy look.  Layered on top of the two purples is some white stitching to better define the leaves. What initially looked like it might take a few minutes to complete, in fact, took a whole lot longer- There were many parts of this scene that required multi-layers and many hours, like the cabbages. But I can also say that although I felt  captivated by this dress, I thoroughly enjoyed creating it! I have just finished cutting out my next dress, again a size 4. This dress will be pink and I hope to get started on it this afternoon. I’m looking forward to working on it, but I do hope that I won’t be so captured by this one and will be able to work more realistically  on it, accomplishing other things in my life that need doing as well-

Last week Pascal had another grooming session which again inspired his “groom gloom” attitude and that reminded me that it has been my turn to talk for way too long. The next post is Pascal’s turn, so be sure to look again soon. I know there is a lot he wants to say!

With a Twist of Pink I don’t know what the weather has been like where you are, the past few weeks, but in nothern Ca. last week we had yet another week of beautiful spring weather and I was able to get some photos of the trees in beautiful full bloom. I’m not certain, but I think these trees on the left are plum trees, and the one on the right is a flowering crabapple-  Isn’t it gorgeous? This week it has rained all week which is wonderful because we really need the water, but I’m very happy I was able to catch photos of the trees before the rains came, because they probably knocked most of the beautiful blossoms off~                                                **Flowering Crabapple

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

Work In Progress; A Peaceful Ending

#419forpost copy

Good Morning!

As you can see from this photo, I finished the dress I’ve been working on! On January 25, and 27, I posted photos so that you could see how such a scene develops.

The scenes on my dresses are always a combination of smocking and embroidery. Smocking is wonderful for covering large flat areas, such as in the pasture, the hills, and the sky and for creating interesting  design patterns by varying smocking stitches.

Everything else in the scene is embroidered. I like to use embroidery because it allows me to add texture. Figures such as the lamb are almost three- dimensional. Tiny details like facial characteristics, become much more defined and realistic when they are embroidered. Embroidery allows me to work with thread almost as if it were paint.

As you can see in the first photo, (from the post of Jan.25,)  Peace sort of blends into the background, as does the little bird in the tree above her. When I encounter that problem, a little “landscaping” usually solves it.

By the time of the second photo, two days later, I had embroidered lots of flowers and grasses surrounding Peace and she becomes more visible. At this point, the scene looked kind of pale and blah. It definitely needed color to perk it up and bring it out, so I added some bright, orange-red, flowers, and a bright- green line at the edge of the pasture defining the pasture as well as adding color. The Magnolia tree with the bird in it, seemed to be lost in the background as well, so I filled the entire area behind it with blue sky.

Once the scene was completed, I returned to the smocking across the bottom and top of the scene, to see how it might better be  “framed.” I added four additional rows of smocking to the bottom, using the pale yellow of the main smocked pattern, a row of white, and then finishing with a row of the same bright yellow that I used in Peace’s flower garland. The last row of smocking in bright- yellow,  finished the scene off nicely with an additional touch of color.

Later, once I put sleeves on the dress, I was able to use that same bright yellow to trim the sleeves and button placket and tie it all together!

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

CPSIA…. Think About the Children

7*

I love children too! I have two grandchildren of my own who I love dearly and want them to have the very best, illness- free lives, possible. I would be devastated if they were to get lead poisoning. I don’t think you could find anyone involved in the business of “handmade” who doesn’t want to see children protected from everything that could be hazardous to their lives. I don’t want children to get lead poisoning either. It must be stopped. But enforcing this law is not the way.

As the law now stands, it has the potential to create an infinite amount of hazardous avenues in our children’s lives. Think about it.  Thousands and thousands of shop owners and creators of handmade items for children will have to go out of business once this law is enacted because the vast majority of us cannot afford the exorbitant fees required to get each of our items individually tested. The children whose medical expenses, food, shelter, clothing, and other expenses necessary for a child’s support, are currently being met with income from their parent’s small business, will suddenly be left “out in the cold, “deprived of all   necessities.Income for the majority of small business owners, currently is used, at the very least, to supplement living expenses.For many, income from their “handmade” business is the sole source of support for the family.

Think of the thousands and thousands of children whose parents are suddenly going to find themselves jobless~ In today’s economy, their unemployment is not likely to change soon. How will these children be fed, clothed, have roofs over their heads, medicine, and all of the other things children need?

This well-intentioned law is going to backfire with disastrous results for our children! It HAS to be prevented from happening Feb.l0! In an effort to support the fight against this law, I phoned Congressman Dan Lungren’s office yesterday after reading on etsy that his aide was looking for stories about the impact the CPSIA is going to have on the lives of small business owners. I spoke to Alexandra who wanted our stories to give to Congressman Lungren so he can help  fight  this law when Congress meets.

Alexandra made the very good point that the this law was written in reaction to the lead found in children’s toys that were being imported from China. That is the problem that needs to be addressed. Restrictions need to be put perhaps, on children’s items imported from China, as opposed to every item a child under 12 might come into contact with. As she so well said, the CPSIA law is the equivalent of someone getting badly injured or killed in a car accident, and the government, in an effort to ban future car accidents, says that  all driving will be banned.

Please think about the impact this law is really going to have on children. Is this really what you think is the best way to solve the problem of lead in toys imported from China?  If you don’t want to witness the effects this law will have, not only on small business owners, but on our children then please help in our fight to prevent this laws enforcement. Write letters. Spread the word to everyone you know.

Do you know,  as of today, most people haven’t even heard of this law– yet it was passed a year ago—yet it’s scheduled to be enforced in a little over TWO weeks!!

Think of the children…………….

Grace&Sam,jpg

Swimming Against the Tide

We, (Pascal and I,) started today with an early morning walk downtown, where virtually everything was still locked except  Starbuck’s and Peets. Rain had been forecast and I was anxious to get a walk in before it began. Pascal doesn’t like to get even his feet wet, so it was, either we went early before the rain, or not at all.

Downtown is very nice at that hour. There’s not a lot of foot traffic and it’s relatively quiet, if you discount the sounds of passing cars- and for me that’s pretty easy to do once I start looking into shop windows. It’s never long before I’m lost in thought.

This morning,  still feeling “up” from yesterday’s historic inauguration, I felt energetic and was able to keep up with Pascal’s pace for a change. As I looked into store windows I could feel the beginnings of new dress ideas percolating in my mind. Forty-five minutes later we concluded our walk and happily, I had two new ideas for future dresses to jot into my notebook. I thought about them as I worked on my dress today and am really excited to try them. That mood carried me through the day and I even felt encouraged that the CPSIA problem would soon be resolved~  until tonight when I started reading the etsy forums.

Someone from the etsy staff posted a message about how it is more important than ever to write more letters to Congress urging them to postpone and reconsider this law and then he put in a link, which I will post as well, revealing some sickening news that popped the bubble of hope I have been living in. After reading this I felt very sad at the thought that I may never be permitted to try the new ideas that I had been so excited about all day, and sad that I started realizing that it could really come to pass that I will no longer be able to make the little girls hand-smocked dresses that I have been making for the past 32 years- very sad to realize that everything I’ve worked so hard to create and around which, my life has revolved, could very soon- Feb.10- all be taken away~

I am printing the link to the article for you to read, in the hope that maybe you too will support us and write your Congressmen; swamp them with pleas to reform this terrible law that they never should have approved in the first place. If you want to know what this law is really all about, I posted a link to an excellent article from Forbes magazine in my blog on Jan.17 titled “CPSIA Update”.

Swimming Against the Tide

Duck

CPSIA Update

Change.org has been conducting polls to see what the top issues are that Americans are concerned about. The issues that come out in the top 10 are going to be presented to President Obama. The CPSIA came out in the top 10!!! That is such encouraging news to me. If you’d like to read about it, here is a link to the article.

After reading about that I went over to Etsy’s forums to see if anyone had reported it yet and they hadn’t, so I posted the good news. While I was there I read another post that gave a link to a wonderful Forbes magazine article about the CPSIA law and the horrible repercussions it will have if it is put into effect the way that it is currently written. It is the most informative, well-written article that I’ve read on the subject and I’d like to include a link to it as well for anyone who’s interested in reading it. It is also a great idea to pass the link on to everyone you know as MOST people aren’t even aware of this impending law-

I am so happy and encouraged that my shop and the shops of others who sell handmade children’s items won’t be forced to close!