Heads Up! A Great Free Online Event is Coming!

Last March, we had a pretty new rambunctious puppy, and a scary, uncertain reality bearing down on us. We were newly locked down, and I thought I’d be back at work any day, any week. I set up my office in our kitchen, to contain Charley puppy, and I called it the bunker. Time passed pretty slowly in the bunker. Every morning when I turned on my computer, numbers flashed across my screen – new infections, deaths, number of days in lockdown. I reviewed the same files repeatedly, I wrote letters to the outside world, but some days, I just sat on the floor and threw a ball for Charley and Olive. They were in heaven in our cramped corner of the kitchen. I was losing my mind, a teeny bit.

I started playing around with my art supplies, and doodling in my sketchbook. And in some email from some artist who I had signed up on their mailing list, I got a link for a free online event, The Sketchbook Revival, and I signed up. And then, every week for two weeks, I got a spark of inspiration in my email box.

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Chic Sparrow Over Foxy Fix for the Win – the Rest of the 2019 Line Up

Not too big a stack right?  Very focused!

On top is my everyday carry.  It’s not even a journal really, it’s a date book, I guess a planner.  I shouldn’t treat planner like a dirty word, but I’ve been down that road of decorating rather than planning, and I’ve really decided that decorating is for memory keeping, and my carry around thing has to look at least semi-professional.  Oh, so what is it?  It’s a Hobonichi Weeks, housed in a Chic Sparrow Weeks cover in Golden Maverick leather.

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Medal, Please

No no, silly, no medal for blogging.  Blogging these days is an epic fail for me.  But, once again, I have changed my WordPress theme, throwing consistency and half-hearted branding to the wind, and just creating a new pretty “box” to put my stories in.

But, I do deserve a medal, gold if I do say so myself, for my champion performance in the 2016 Ravellenic Games.  This project took patience, feats of courage, and endurance.  It took stretching myself, and my basic crochet skills to a new level.  It took a teeny tiny crochet hook, and fingering yarn.  It took hours in front of the t.v., crocheting African Flower motif after African Flower Motif.  It took ripping, and recrocheting, and ripping again, as I painstakingly learned how to crochet as you go. Ah, the drama, my friends of the Heidi Bears hippo!  From this:

To this:

How cute is she? She’s so squishy and cuddly and fun!  I really should give her to a child, but I’m not going to – I’m keeping her.  Right now, I have her in Joe’s man cave, the only consistently airconditioned room in our stone, kiln-like house where we’ve been huddling in it like a walk in freezer in the middle of a humid, hot rain forest.  But, I can see him eyeing her up, worried that she may end up with a menagerie of African Flower friends.  So, once it cools down here in tropical Philly, she’ll be moving into her permanent home in the craftroom room.  And, she may just find herself with some friends too! And, speaking of friends, my friend Knitty D is also undertaking an Olympic marathon event, the knitted version of the hippo pattern.  This version, my friends, is definitely a labor of love – between the crocheted cast on, the picking up stitches, and the puzzle piece construction, its definitely an exercise in concentration.

On the reading front, I also completed an Herculean read – A Little Life, by Hana Yanagihara.  I’m not even going to post a photo of the book cover, because it’s too disturbing for my pleasant hippo post.  I was somewhat moved by this book, it definitely had its kick in the gut moments, but I didn’t have the full emotional experience that others had.  I can’t really get into why without revealing too much of the story, but let me just say this – this book, at its heart, is supposed to be about true friendship, and no one, at the end of the day, was really a very good friend.  I also read Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, which was a good read, and Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, a reliably good cat/mouse detective novel.  Today, I downloaded Richard Price’s The Whites, which I’ll probably start tonight.  Love Richard Price!  And you can catch a cameo of him on HBO’s miniseries The Night Of, which he co-wrote.

Linking up with:



Moogly’s Hookin on Hump Day


Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

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Sewer Down!

So, here’s my little experiment from the other day.  As you can see, her head is just gigantic.

Here’s a close-up of the paint/stitching:

I posted on Instagram that I was going to put her away to hibernate, and someone  mentioned she did look tired.  She does look weary – as if she’s saying, geez oh man you forgot to give me a neck, and it’s going to be exhausting trying to hold my head up.

So, before I again make a forever doomed to be exhausted little person/creature, I decided maybe next time, I should have a pattern or a sketch or perhaps at the very least, a plan.  And, I thought before I wing it, and reinvent the wheel, maybe I’d make some other folks’ patterns.

I’ve had Jenny Doh’s We Make Dolls on my nightstand for the past week.  I’ve been studying the pictures, and getting ideas, but I wasn’t really reading the instructions, or thinking about construction.  The book is an anthology of doll designers, their stories, and their patterns.  Reading their stories, and their passions for the craft makes me feel better about “wasting” time making toys.  Now, hopefully, their patterns will get me on the right path to making dolls that are more my own.

So, I started with my latest craft crush, Danita.  As I mentioned Danita has a rather expensive online dollmaking class, A Doll Story, that I have managed to resist signing up for.  And, let me just say, “expensive” is relative.  $149 is expensive to me – but as far as classes goes, obviously if you took the class in person, it would probably be double, and there are 48 lectures and 5 hours of content – it’s a lot of stuff.  And for someone who has such a signature style like Danita, that’s a lot for her to put out there and share.  So, again – I’m not judging – I’m just saying I know I’m going to buy yarn today for a sweater for my 6’4″ husband, and I would rather put my craft budget there, than an online class.  Just me.
And that’s not to say that if I have a month when I’m still in doll making land (because as I explained a few posts ago – my crafting ebbs and flows through different mediums), and I have the $, and a glass of wine, and some sadness from the day that I think a big ticket purchase will do the trick to cure, I won’t go for it. But right now, I’ll stick to the book.

Oh, as an aside, I did mention that I was particularly enamored with Danita’s cloth and clay dolls.  So, I did a ton of googling, and Pinteresting, and deep dives into the internet to find a similar looking doll – at least the form.  The clay head, cloth body, jointed limbs – and I found this CD/Book – looks like the same construction, different face.  But, that’s all good because I’d never be able to carve a face that looks like Danita’s anyway.  So, that’s on it’s way, and I’ll learn the secret of attaching the paperclay head to the cloth body (which is different from Gritty Jane’s paperclay and cloth doll – in that, the doll’s head is part of the fabric body, and you cover the cloth with the paperclay).

But, back to the book I have, not the book that’s on it’s way.  Danita has three dolls in We Make Dolls – a Frida Doll, a mermaid and a wood nymph.  I decided to have a go at Frida.  I free motioned stitched the face,  much like I did with amazon doll above, but with amazon doll, I doubled the fabric.  I should have done that again – my muslin is really thin, and I think the stitching would have been easier had it been stablized with the thicker fabric, and I think the stuffing is going to show through this fabric.  Lesson 1 learned.

Once done with the face, I went on to the body, and for the big big Lesson 2.

Free motion fail guys – as I was trying to sew the collar onto the body fabric, my fabric kind of got jammed in the bobbin – I just couldn’t get the fabric to move, even though I have a free motion slippery plate thing I put on my machine – it was just stuck, and as I was tugging it, and my finger got a bit too close to the needle – well, not a bit to close – it was under the needle – ouch!  I didn’t take a full stitch through my finger, but I got a nice poke/jab/stab.  But, I put a bandaid on, and continued on.

What’s the lesson here – definitely to stabilize the fabric, and the area that needs to be stitched cannot be right on the edge – I should have cut a much bigger seam allowance to so that I could have guided the fabric better without getting so close (under) the needle.  Or, I should have used a Pellon interfacing that was bigger than the body to stiffen the whole thing up.

So, I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m ready to finish her up – drat that work thing – I’m going to have to wait the entire day!

Hopefully, when I get home tonight, and attempt to sew her limbs, I won’t repeat lesson 2. I’m going to cross my bandaged fingers!

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Tilda Time

You know how political commentators graph periods of conservative reaction and liberal reform – diagrams of rolling hills and valleys plotting the eventual return of one or the other? I feel I could make a lovely wave of my crafts – how one flows into another, how one project will lead to another, and it all will circle back again. Peaks of knitting, valleys of crochet, climbing mountains of art, slow declines of sewing. The chart could probably be color coded too – based on seasons and mood. But anyway – the point is, I’m in one of my crafty doll phases – there were the Dotty Dolls, and the Paperclay dolls, and the oh-so-fun Wooden Dolls, and the amigurumi. And now, there’s the cloth doll. Welcome to the doll club, Tilda:

I think out of all of my crafting, doll making leaves me with the most head scratching – why? What for? What do I do with it? Is being fun to make reason enough? With the amigurumi, every single one ended up gifted. The Dotty Dolls, traded. The one paperclay doll, again, gifted. The wooden dolls, I did keep them, because no one else wanted them. And, now the cloth doll. Does anyone still want a ragdoll? If I gift them up for Xmas this year, will my nieces grab at them, or say, meh? It’s hard to tell.

In any event, I think she’s very pretty!


Pretty should be enough, right? This doll was, as I mentioned, my rough draft – can I sew her? So, I didn’t use anything from my stash that I would lament losing most heartily if I botched it up. So, the doll is made from canvas from Michaels. The dress is leftover fabric from my dining room chair upholstery project, and the lace, again from the bargain bin at Michaels. There were a few oopsies – I forgot to make her shoes or boots, or anything. And, the arms are sewn on a little wonky – it was a bit hard to sew through the stablized satin fabric. And, I was so anxious to see if I could make the dress, the hem is er, not exactly straight. I kind of eyeballed the cutting, and the turning under of the hem. My eyes really aren’t that good. And, I improvised for the face and hair. There’s a Tilda face painting kit and hair you can buy – but that seemed like a waste. I just dotted her eyes with a micron pen, and gave her some blush with a stamp pad. For hair, in the tutorials I found on line, it looks like some kind of boucle yarn, which I certainly don’t have in my stash, so yarny yarny had to do. I did enjoy giving her a hair do. And, making her outfit. And, I’ll probably make another, and those kids will just have to pretend they like them come gift giving season.

And this one’s utilitarian purpose will just have to be to sit on my vintage book with the rest of my doll experiments and look pretty.

She can do that, no problem.

And, if you’d like to make your own Tilda, these are the tutorials I followed:

How to Sew A Tilda Doll, CraftDaily.
Tilda Doll Tutorial, ThePassionforCraft, YouTube
And, for the truly obsessed, this Russian website that translates ok in Google translate, Tilda Mania.

No Clean, Well Lighted Place Here

It’s 6:00 am, and I’m standing outside my office, waiting for it to open.  No, I’m not on trial, and no, I didn’t get a sudden case of overachieveritis.  Joe needed to be in work early so even though I knew my office wouldn’t be open yet, I volunteered to take the ridiculously early train with him.  Man, I am an a+ wife this week.  I really didn’t think I’d have a problem finding a Hemingwayesque clean, well-lighted place to have a cup of coffee and a muffin to kill the 15 minutes before my office opened.   Philadelphia is a major metropolis.  New York may be the city that never sleeps, but I didn’t think Philadelphia was the city that doesn’t want to wake up.

The only thing open at 5:30 in the morning in Philadelphia? Dunkin Donuts.  I think cops get a bad wrap about Dunkin Donuts — it’s not their choice, it’s their only option.  Not even Starbucks.  And, I googled Starbucks before we left the  house.  Big fat liars, those Starbucks guys, claiming they’re open at 5:00 a.m.  And major teases too.  I went to three Starbucks, all of whom purported to be open at 5:00 a.m. , and yes, indeed, they had employees at the counter, staring straight at me through the glass as I yanked on the obviously locked door.  I could almost hear their off key “ha ha’s,” as they twiddled their thumbs behind the register.

Life this week has been one big ha ha on me, I think .   Our kitchen rehab was finally finished, and what happened?  Our sewer backed up, filling our basement with poop.  And, when did Roto-Rooter show up, when they were supposed to be at our house at 5:30 p.m.?  Midway through the series finale of Madmen.  So, first, I watched Joan get dumped, and then I watched the camera that the Roto Rooter man snaked through our sewer pipe like a colonscopy, to see our clog.   While he flushed out our pipe with glee,  for he was one happy sewer guy,  I had to wait until nearly midnight to find out Don Draper’s fate, and to learn that I had been watching an extended Coke commercial every Sunday night of my life for nearly 8 years.  Ha ha on me, again.  I don’t even like Coke, I like Pepsi.

But, our basement is now clean, and it’s certainly not a horrible thing to be at work two and a half hours early.   And Peggy and Stan did get together, so that was something.

So, I don’t have any links for you this early Tuesday morning.  It’s not that there aren’t “things I’m loving today,”  — just because my basement filled up with poop doesn’t mean it sucked the heart out of me, but I just wasn’t on the internet this weekend.   Yureeka!  That’s what I’ll do now! Pinterest, feedly, Facebook, you are open!  Unlike Starbucks, you do not have a glass door with a lock on it.  I still have an hour and a half before I have to go to court – there’s always the internet.  It’s always open.

Knitting on the Porch, No. 4, A Mystery Revealed

On Thursday, I promised before and after photos of my new kitchen – eh, I thought I would get to it.  I didn’t.  In any event, it’s not really really going to be finished until this Friday anyway because of some glitches we had in construction, but I’ll talk about that more later when I do finally post the kitchen reveal.

And, speaking of glitches – sheesh! I had a heck of a time filming Knitting on the Porch today.  First, I filmed the whole thing and then realized that I was sitting in such a way that I had a mighty big gaping view of my thigh.  Uch.  Then, I thought I had moved the camera higher, and I guess I hadn’t, because there was my big ol’ thigh again.  Uch.  And then, I started again, and my neighbor started running the lawn mower.  But, it’s done.  And, you can see my energy level drop by the end.  And, when you’re filming and refilming, it’s hard to remember what you said, what’s in a keeper copy, what’s waste.  But, it’s done, and uploaded, and here it is:

And, in the video, I talk about:

Fiddleknits Designs Earth MKAL
Her next MKAL, Water
The Ravelry group for KALS
This new project I started, Cameo.
Crafty’s Crazy Quilting Class
The Etsy store where I got my fabric, AnnDanCes
This colorway of Socks That Rock.

And, I believe that’s it.

And, I would be off to bed, but we have a busted drain in the basement that’s spewing all kinds of crap, literally, and a plumber is allegedly on his way.  He’ll probably get here right when Mad Men’s about to start, and then I’ll have to watch MadMen tomorrow, which will make tomorrow suck because I’ll have to avoid all of the Internet postmortum.  Blargh.  That’s all I can say.

Not Quite Ten on Tuesday

Can you believe it? I can’t scrounge up ten links this Tuesday. Rather than flaling around the internet this week, I’ve really been immersed in embroidery and crazy quilting, studying up, and gathering resources. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m obsessed; I’d describe my current state as focused. But, with that said, of course I did a bit of hopping from here to there, and here are my little internet lilypads for the week:

1. This Compilation of a 31 Day Challenge. One topic (times a gazillion, as everyone picked a different topic), 31 Days, go learn.
2.  This website, in case you didn’t get enough learning.  Especially 3.  this post, which moved me today as I rode the train into work.  Make a place to sit down.  Sit down.  Be quiet.  Yes.
4.  Whales!  For when you’ve had enough learning, and just want something cute cute cute.
5.  This portrait, from beginning to end.  I love her stuff.

Five, that’s all I’ve got for you.  Unless you want to see some more crazy quilts, because that’s another story.

Coming tomorrow – Yarning Along, and the reveal of the finished Earth Shawl.  It is beautiful!!! (If I do say so myself, that is).

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Something Pretty for the Weekend

I think I’ve mentioned to you before that Friday is my regular prison visiting day.

I can’t even tell you how lucky I feel when I get to leave.  And, go home.

Where there is life all around.

Have a great weekend!

Ten on Tuesday, Because You Need 10 More Things to Click


It’s Tuesday! That means today is the day that I help you fall down the internet rabbit hole! Procrastination awaits! Here’s what I’m linkin’ this week:

This fun little internet thing, How Old do I Look?   In this photo it proclaimed I was 58:


In this photo, taken hours later in the day, it determined I looked over 20 years younger, at 37:


I’ve scrutinized both photos, and I guess part of the algorythm attributes age to shadows, because much of my face is shaded in the first photo, and in the second photo, it appears I have a better light source.  My teeth look better too,  in the second photograph.   Who knows?  I was pleased with 37, not so much 58 – so take it with a grain of salt, it’s just an Internet game.

This free crochet pattern.  Not the momma, not the momma!  Everyone needs a baby dinasaur!

And a patchwork Death Star to go along with it.

Crazy Quilts and Journal Covers.  I’m thinking that maybe a crazy quilt journal cover would be the perfect marriage of all of the things I’m doing right now.  Stay tuned.

This Interview.  This is not the first interview I’ve heard with war photographer Lynsey Addario, and as always, I’m riveted by what she has to share.  In this interview, she discusses her experience photographing a dying soldier, and the process she went through with his family on her return from her assignment.

And while I’m on the Radiolab bandwagon, this podcast was fascinating.  Did you know that during World War II, the Japanese tried to bomb the US with balloons?  I didn’t.

This challenge.  I can handle one stitch a week, right?  Especially if I’m going crazy quilt it up!

This fab purchase Christina made at Sheep & Wool.  I want one!  who wouldn’t want something called a Swirlette?

This font bundle.  Why buy one font for $29 when you can buy 45?  I would totally buy this bundle if I hadn’t bought the last one.

That’s it!  Enjoy!

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