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!

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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

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

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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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!

Work In Progress; A Peaceful Ending

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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!

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!