Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cat Tales: Harriet

This is Harriet.

She started out as an outdoor kitten.  Here she's a little girl, hanging out in the daylilies under my lilac.  Her mom, Alice, would bring the kittens to our yard so she could get some sleep.

When they were old enough, Harriet and her brother, Nicky, came in.  They had another sister, and she went to live with a friend.

A neighbor who was a vet student told me confidently that my kitten was a boy.  So I named her Harry.  And then when she went for her first "real" vet visit, they enlightened me that I had one of each, so she got re-named.  I still call her Harry.

All grown up.
Harry's a sweetie.  She has the loudest purr of all the cats, and the tiniest hands, with the sharpest claws, which you'll feel when she arrives on your stomach in the middle of the night and proceeds to make mad, passionate bread.  She means well, but . . .

She was another cat who was very close to Max, and since he died she's gotten a little tighter with Bear (you can see Bear glaring from the window seat in the second photo).  They're cousins, actually same tomcat, litter-mate moms.

Harry's also a singer - it's something she got from Max.  She'll pick up a toy and start singing to it like it's a kitten.  It's very cute, except in the middle of the night.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Memory bears: one down

This is the first of the series of five memory bears I'm creating for a client, using some of her mom's poly charmeuse "loungers," what I would call caftans.

Now poly charmeuse is a slippery thing to work with, and keeping it under control made it easier for me not to look at all the warring colors as I put this together.

Now that it's done and stuffed, and his face applied, I actually kind of like him.

Like the plaid palaka bear, it's the kind of frightening that grows on you.

I hope she feels the same way.  I just sent her a status update with a photo.

One down, four more to go.  Except I just emptied my ten pound box of Walmart fiberfill, so guess where I have to go this week?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday with Friends: TwoTiming

I know, I know.  This feature has gone missing for a few weeks - certainly not because of lack of subjects, but because I've rather over-committed myself for the upcoming holiday season and I'm feeling a little pressured.

But this week I'm feeling also the need to share some love, so I give you Kaylene of the Etsy shop TwoTiming.  She's another recycler/upcycler, and a leader on the Etsy team that I captain, the Upcycled Clothing 'n Things team.

Her fiber of choice is felted wool, and what this woman can do with a discarded sweater (or sweaters - take a look at that second pair of brown slippers!) is beyond belief.  I love her slippers and I'm thinking I might buy myself a little post-Christmas gift if the season goes well enough.

If you see anything you like, give yourself adequate time for shipping -- Kaylene's an Aussie, so it will take time to reach you, but her work is worth the wait!

Pink Pop Up Boutique

On Sunday, I'll be appearing at the Pink Pop Up Boutique at 6143 Germantown Avenue.

It's an event in support of breast cancer survivors, and I'm definitely out in support of that.  One of my best friends went through surgery, chemo, radiation and the works a few years back - thankfully came through it with flying colors - but it was a rough road for her, her family and friends.

Anyone going through that needs all the support they can get.

If you're local, think about coming out and supporting a good cause with a lot of vendors, music and more.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One More Week


Glorious Technicolor

Wow.  I got an order recently for 5 custom bears, an exciting thing on its own but also a really great project.  The buyer said her mother had passed away in June and she wanted to make a set of bears for herself and her adult siblings from some of her mom's "loungers."  She apologized for them being polyester.

Now what does older woman, polyester and lounger say to you?  I had in mind a group of pastel, floral, spongy-textured garments.  When I got a fairly small box in the mail, I couldn't understand how she had gotten these clothes, which were very clear in my mind, into that little parcel.

Then I opened it.

Again, I say wow.  Her mom was not a stereotypical older lady wearing polyester as I know it.  These are poly, yes, but they're satin, and I don't think there's a pastel in the bunch.

I'm a little bewildered right now about how I'm going to turn these into bears, to use the prints to their best advantage, but I'm sure I'll come up with something.  I just need time to look at them and let the design come together in my head.

I'm only grateful that she wants one print per bear, and not combined.  I'm not sure I'm capable of that.

Cat Tales: Archie

This is Archie.

Archie came home with me as a very tiny kitten.  I saw him in a yard on my way to the train one year, right before Thanksgiving.  I stopped and petted him, and hoped that he belonged to someone.

When I came home a few hours later, down that same street, he was still there, but a bunch of kids were throwing stones at him.  So I threw a few stones at the kids, grabbed the kitten and zipped him into my jacket.

He was tiny.  Tiny, I tell you.

Now he's over 20 pounds, so big he can't turn around to clean himself all the time.  And he wheezes and snuffles and waddles around, but according to the vet, he's healthy as a little pig.  (Or a not-so-little pig.)

And yes, she gets on me about his weight, but it's not that he eats a lot anymore; apparently he just has the metabolism of a speed bump.  His idea of playing is to lie on his back and languidly wave a paw at whatever toy I have.  He doesn't even chase the red dot, except with his eyes.

He's had some boy-cat urinary tract issues and spends most of his time in the front room with Ozzie --they were both supposed to be on special food, but they're managing fine without it now, but socially .  . . they're a little unskilled.  And Archie, much as I love him, torments Lily.  And nobody torments Lily.  He's literally big enough to crush her if he tried, or even if he didn't, and all she has to do is see his face to start screaming like a hysterical 3 year old.

I can just hear Archie saying, "I'm not touching you!" and Lily howling, "Mom!"

No.  I'll keep them separate for the sake of my sanity.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cat Tales: Alice

This is Alice.

She was allowing herself to be seen without her cloak of invisibility, which means she was having a good day.

I knew Alice as an outdoor cat for almost 2 years (and 3 litters of kittens) before she came indoors. Actually, 2 of her kittens came in before she did! She hung around the back yard pretty often, but we were never allowed to touch her.  She would bring her kittens, eat the food we put out and crash for a while in the alley or under the lilac, so it was obvious she felt safe with us.

She came in on Valentine's day about 7 years ago.  I was getting ready to go to bed and Max was standing at the window, pawing at the glass.  I looked out, and Alice was on the porch roof.  To get there, she would have had to climb the tree in the back yard 2 doors down, jump onto their roof, cross it and then jump the alley between their house and the house next door, then walk along their porch to my 2nd floor front window.  In the dark.  In the cold.

A very sleepy outdoor mom cat
I shooed Max out, locked the bedroom door and opened the window.  In she came, though she retreated under the bed for the night and didn't even come out for food.

She's still skittish, after all these years.  I can pet her - one handed only, please - but only on the head.  I can only use two hands if I'm lying flat and she comes onto the bed with me.

A cat with rules is our Alice, but she's a happy girl for all that.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Who Plucked My Chicken?

For those who have never seen a chicken during moult, this is the remains of Bonnie.  If you're squeamish, please avert your eyes from my nearly-naked bird.

She actually looks better in this photo than she has; she's getting her pinfeathers again - you can see the little quills sticking out all over.  Before she was just grayish chicken skin and a few gray and dusty feathers.

Aside from being on egg-strike for the duration, she doesn't even sound like herself.  Generally, Bonnie's chatty, little burbling cluck-cluck noises (except when she lays, when she makes a noise like anyone would who pushes something that large out of an opening that small).  During moult, she makes a noise like a sick, depressed cat.

I figure she's got another 10 days before she looks like herself again.  And maybe I'll have eggs by Halloween.

East Passyunk Fall Fest

This is where I'll be on Saturday - from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., I'll be back at the Passyunk Fountain, the location of that biblical flood earlier this summer.

The forecast this time is clear and chilly, just right for the kids' Halloween parade that starts things off. I have some new goodies for the sale this weekend, and I'll be bringing out the first of the holiday items, as well.

Hope to see some of you there!

Aloha, Hawaiian Bear

Palaka Bear is complete, and on his way to his new home.

Despite his somewhat frightening beginnings, I think he turned out well.  My friend, who purchased him for her boyfriend's soon-to-arrive first grandchild, said that he really wanted the plaid to be a feature of the bear, and it certainly is.

I actually made 2 sets of arms - these were the first, and I thought the in-and-out where the plaid meets and separates was a little dizzying.  Then I tried it on the bias and that was far worse.

Now I'm somewhere between resigned and happy about the arms and legs, and considering what a chore it usually is, I'm thrilled about the plaid matching.

The fabric for the next set of bears arrived the other day - and it's the polar opposite of this.

More soon.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Two Custom Dresses

One of the best things that happened back in August, at the craft show that got rained out, was Ron.  He approached my booth, looked at my girls' dresses and shook his head.  "I've got nieces," he said, "but I don't know their sizes.  I'm afraid I'll buy the wrong thing."

Now I hate letting a potential sale get away, but even less do I like selling and knowing that the item possibly won't get used, and having an unhappy customer to boot.  I gave him a business card and asked him to contact me when he knew their sizes and we could work something out.

Miracle of miracles, a few weeks ago, he called me.  He knew the girls' sizes then - and good thing he didn't buy before, because nothing I had that day would have fit them - and he an idea of what he wanted.  I suggested that he look at my Etsy shop for ideas on styles and then let me know what he liked, and what colors he thought would work.

When we next spoke, he had very definite ideas.  His older niece, size 6, liked pink and purple and all things ruffly girly.  His younger niece, size 3, liked green and blue, and was more of a tomboy, although she still liked dresses.

Good enough.  I knew from the beginning what fabric I wanted to use for the girly dress.  I had a shirt I'd been given years ago that I liked, but which never fit me properly.  The buttons gaped in the front, never any woman's best look.  The fabric was a detailed geometric floral in pink, purple and brown.  I cut it up, constructed the simple shift-style dress he requested, and faced the interior with a tiny brown polka dot.  Then I embellished the neckline with three poly chiffon roses.

The smaller dress took longer, but went together easily all the same.  He liked the jumper-style dress with an applique that I had done in a print/denim combo, so I remade that with a Liberty of London remnant on the top, a gathered denim skirt and an appliqued owl made from Liberty and some of the brown spotted fabric from the sister dress.  Button eyes, a beak and buttons up the back and it was done.

 Last night, I was trying to clean up the workroom and I realized I had some bits left over of that pink / purple floral.  Before I knew what hit me, I had grabbed a heart-printed scrubs top, took it apart and constructed yet another dress, this time with accents of the floral print and another chiffon rose front and center.  The tiny pockets are mainly for accent, but I thought the hearts needed a little breaking up.

So two custom dresses out the door, and one more for the shop.  And barely enough remnants now to save for patchwork, but save them I will.

Someday, someone will want pink and purple . . .

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cat Tales: Katie

This is Katie.

She's sulking in this photo.  I don't remember why - probably I just threw her off a table, a bookcase, the cable box or another cat.

Katie's the troublemaker in the house.  From every one I've met, all calicos are nuts, and Katie's no exception.

She invited herself in from the back yard by making me laugh so hard I had to sit down on the ground.  She jumped up on my work table and right into a flower box, which happened not to be filled with flowers, but with water from a recent rainstorm, and it startled her so much she fell over and off the table and the water fell on her.  And I fell down laughing, brought her in to dry off and she's never stopped being that messy or that much trouble since.

She's angling to be the official sewing room cat, but Lily's not handing over her crown just yet.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day of the Dead Kitty Finds a New Home

Last week, my Day of the Dead Kitty pillow cover was purchased by a dear online friend, Maria Wulf, whose blog Full Moon Fiber Art, chronicles her journey as a talented fiber artist.

I was really touched that Maria would want to buy a piece of my work -- she makes wonderful things herself -- but I was also thrilled because I know how it feels to be touched by something and want it for your own.

Maria and her husband, Jon Katz, had some bad news these last couple of days.  Their barn cat, Minnie, had a run-in with an animal, possibly a raccoon, and had to have one of her legs amputated.

Maria posted on her blog today that my pillow cover arrived just in time.  She's spread it over the cage where Minnie will be living for the next 10 days, added a few crystals that she found recently, and is calling it "Minnie's Altar."

Whatever your beliefs, I think that's a lovely thing to do.  Doing something positive and beautiful instead of worrying and feeling negative; Minnie will get better all the quicker for having someone who cares enough to make something beautiful to help her get well.  Check out Maria's post on Minnie's altar here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cat Tales: Annie

This is Annie.

Annie doesn't get a lot of publicity among the cats - she's not a sewing room cat, like Lily, or an annoying pain-in-the-ass who visits the sewing room, like Katie.

She's certainly no Max.

Most of the time, she's a target for all the other cats.  She's the kid in the middle of the back seat yelling, "Mom, she's touching me!" even before it happens, which of course means she's going to get walloped.

Annie walks up to the other cats and stares at them, and when they stare back, she starts to wail like she's being beaten.  And then she is.  Usually by an 8 pound, declawed cat (Lily), while Annie is a good 15 pounds and fully armed.

Her safe place is smack in between me and Mario, wherever we happen to be - chairs, couch, bed.  Doesn't matter.  Turn your head, and there's Annie, purring like a machine and trying not to anticipate the next beatdown by one of her siblings.

Custom Project: Jen's Hawaiian Bear

In my quest to put a jointed bear in every home in America, here's one more.

My jewelry-making friend, Jennifer, asked for a custom bear for her boyfriend's not-yet-born grandchild.  She said they had discussed it and he had a particular fabric in mind that had to be sent from Hawaii.

I'm expecting vivid florals, hibiscus and orchids and whatnot, but what I got was plaid.

Explanation: palaka is a Hawaiian woven fabric, traditionally done in this dark blue and white.  Who knew?  It was used for workers' clothing, and was very long-wearing and durable.

That also sounds good for a baby gift.  I'll accent it with white feet and ears, and felt eyes since it's for a little person.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vintage Quilt Love

I've always had an affinity for quilts, just not necessarily for quilting.

Old quilts, in particular, talk to me, sharing stories of where they've been, the women who made them, the tough times they've survived.

I found this old quilt recently - it was being sold quite cheaply because there was some damage to it, but I loved the colors and the pattern and took it home, hoping there would be enough to salvage.

Surprisingly, there was remarkably little damage - a few holes and worn spots, but mostly near the edges.  Some discoloration, but isn't that to be expected in something that's over 60 years old?  We should all be in this good a condition by that age!

The quilt sat for a week or two while I considered it.  I wanted to make a few stockings - I'm getting ready for the holidays in a big way, and though I'm not into  country the way I'm not into quilting, there's also something attractive about it, especially when you add in all the emotional baggage of the holidays; it seems right.

I thought it was a great way to indulge in some country-themed items without going full-on, over-the-top into cheesy country kitsch.

I've done the stockings two ways - one, with the "JOY" applique, because it wanted that appliqued on it.  The applique, and the reverse side of the stocking, are repurposed denim.

The second stocking is plain patchwork, with a denim reverse, and meant to be personalized.

After I finished a pile of stockings, I realized there was still quite a bit of undamaged quilt left.

That's when the bag bug kicked in.  I like hobo bags.  I like roomy bags that you can wear on your shoulder or cross body, with storage and pockets and a little cuteness to perk you up on a dreary day.

I decorated this bag with a jeans pocket on one side and an appliqued denim heart on the other.  Both sides had a few embellished pink roses.

The bag strap is made from the waistband of the same pair of jeans that gave up its pockets to the cause.

The bag is lined in a cheery mid-century-looking pink, yellow and green print, just to cut a little of the sweetness.

Somehow, there's still a pile of quilt left on my table.

More stockings?  More bags?  More . . . something.  I'll figure it out.