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Monday, December 19, 2011

A Visit With The Big Guy

Every year the Manistique Lion's Club has a breakfast with Santa. 
It is really our only opportunity to see the Big Guy because the nearest mall is two hours away and anyway this is always just so much fun.

 Duncan went first.  This is his "I'm feeling shy" look which resembles a sneer unfortunately.  He is a bit shy with people at first.

He got over it though.  He told Santa that he wanted a new pet just for himself.  His pet mouse recently died and he revised his entire list.  He wrote Santa a letter that said (in his spelling):

"From Duncan
Dear Santa, what I relly want for crismas is a new pet like one ginipig, two mice or 1 hamster
ps. you no wy I want a new pet is beacas all of my pets are dieing thats wy I want a new pet".

Santa looked at us rather nervously and asked him if there was anything else he wanted....  He added a DS game onto his list.

Now Sam is ever the optimist and will go up and hug complete strangers if he likes the look of them.  Beards come naturally to his liking of course.

Here he is thinking.....and he blurted out his hearts desire "I want a Bebi (His spelling) Gun"!

Santa replied "You'll shoot your eye out kid!"

Now, this was completely hilarious because we watched "A Christmas Story" the night before.  Duncan's jaw dropped to the ground and he shouted "thats what the Santa said in the movie last night!"  Every adult in the place within hearing distance roared.

I think perhaps Lila's body language says she feels a little awkward.  Our big girl is going to be Eleven very soon...but she still has room for Santa in her heart.

She asked for a VERY specific magazine.  I know that Santa will be very creative.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yule Tree

Every year, Lila wants a big tree.  Fortunately, we have the ceiling to do it.

So, on to Anderson's tree farm in Newberry to choose the sentinel.  We found out this year that they have a whole section of trees that are over nine feet!  No more combing the entire place for the gigantor tree, now there is a whole field of trees tucked away, off the beaten path for us to choose from.  It made selecting the tree a snap this year.

 Of course that gave us more time for horsing around.  (Why horsing around?  Why not goating around or sheeping around?  But I digress).

Note the serious lack of snow.
Note the serious lack of gloves.  They were left in the car.

Will poised to pull the string and release the pent up tree energy.

Duncan in front of the tree for size comparison, though I can't off hand tell you how tall he is!  I think he is still just about four feet tall.  He is about three feet in front of the tree which ended up being about ten feet tall.  We can go about another two feet till we touch the slope of the ceiling, but because of that beam that runs across the living room it would have to be scooched over to the left which would impede our egress from the kitchen.  It also would be wider at the base and take up a significant amount of living room space as well.

So here she is in all her glory. Do you like my photographic skills?  Warm and fuzzy is what I call this picture.  Oh okay, I'll take another one later....

Waldorf Doll Making Frenzy

One does not ordinarily associate the words "Waldorf" and "Frenzy" together.
.  However, every holiday season I get wrapped up in making many Waldorf dolls in a short period of time. It isn't because I love dolls; in fact I was definitely a stuffed animal person as a child.  When I had children of my own, I decided that those plastic headed dolls were just too gross and bought Lila a waldorf doll.  Then Aunt Mary made her one.  Then I decided I too could do this...and made six dolls; three for our kids and one for each of my brothers daughters.  Then I thought, hey why not try my hand at this "commercially" and my Etsy shop "Wee Faerie Folk" was born. 

 I do really enjoy making these dolls for the children who receive them.  It is a very personal thing because each doll is custom made to their parents specifications.  They choose the skin tone (with 6 shades to choose from), the hair and eye color, hair texture and length, and favorite colors for clothes.  The dolls are stuffed with clean carded wool that I purchase from a family run mill (I used to use ours but there isn't enough from our one white sheep!).  The hair is mohair, and sometimes is handspun by me.  Last year I had a request for pink hair (she turned out very cute!) which I handspun and dyed.  The skin tone fabric is 100% cotton interloc.  Clothes are made from 100% cotton, though it is hard to find trim that is made from natural materials unfortunately.  Sometimes I find lovely old cotton lace at resale shops which I incorporate into the clothing.

These two dolls were custom made for a woman in Ottawa Ontario who wanted the dolls to look more like babies than toddlers.  The only pattern I have for a babydoll is a button jointed doll and I've found them to be much easier to tear apart than the traditionally sewn doll so I don't make them anymore.  So I needed to modify a pattern I usually use for these two.  I made their limbs and trunk chubbier and their heads slightly larger and rounder so they proportionally look more like babies.

These two dolls went to two sister in British Columbia.  It has been a pink dress kind of year!

This is one of my favorite pink fabrics.
The trim on this dress is some lovely old cotton lace that I scored at a thrift store.  I think I had about twenty yards of it to start with and I paid $2.00 for it.  It is priceless and I only have a few yards left.

I typically do about ten dolls each holiday season, which is just about all I can handle and then sometimes more than I can handle!  I've sent out six already, finishing up two right now, and have two more to go which are being hand delivered locally (fortunately).  Needless to say, I haven't been spending much time at the spinning wheel!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Uncle Dan!

I've always loved this picture.
From left to right:  "Wee" Ian, The Birthday Boy, Dear Husband, and young Dan.

Hope you are doing something fun today dear brother!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Near Miss

A dear fellow fiber enthusiast and bunny lover friend of mine lives in Saulte Ste. Marie, MI. 
  Just before Thanksgiving she sent me these photos from her back yard:

These are the hutches for her English Angoras; all battened down for the winter and cold.
Do you see the black streak on the brown tarp?  That is melted plastic....

...caused by this streaking across it.  She found it not far from the bunny hutch on the ground, and it is approximately six inches long.  Yikes!  Good thing it didn't hit the hutch directly...I suspect not many bunnies are mortally wounded by meteorites but you never know I guess.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stansborough Grey Part Two

The last you, unsuspecting audience, knew I was awaiting a package from New Zealand. 

Well, it arrived a couple of weeks back and I haven't had a lot of extra time to play with it!  I did share it out to a few lovely folks who were interested and made a couple of new friends in the process from another part of the globe.  A win-win situation for sure.

I got the call from Dorothy at the post office that the box was there and I needed to come sign for it.  I hopped in the truck, visited with Miss D for awhile, and then brought it home glancing at it anxiously all the way while driving.  I opened it on the bed and released it from it's bags to fluff up.  I went to grab the camera, and by the time I came back....someone had made herself at home.

Naughty Hedwig!
Fortunately, she laid in the pile that I was keeping for myself so no one else got cat hair in their sheep fleece.

Closeup of its locky, lustrous, loveliness.

I put some through the Pat Green triple picker to fluff it up a bit and then onto the Strauch Petite drumcarder.


The finished batt.  I've already spun it and it filled up about half a bobbin.
Now, I'm not sure when I'm going to get time to process a few more of these but I'm anxious to get a skein spun up so maybe I'll sneak in a few between making waldorf dolls.  I'm right in the middle of holiday doll making which takes precedence at this point!  I'll post a picture of the finished yarn when it is done.

Monday, November 7, 2011

First Spinning Lesson

Duncan has been pestering  persistently asking me to teach him how to spin.  So, I brought out the Ashford Traditional (Josie is her name) and let him go.

Note my wonderful spinning posture...NOT!  I wish my mother would have nagged me more about sitting up straight.  Here Duncan takes instruction about drafting.

"Hey Look-I'm doing it!"

Closeup hand shots...lessons in holding your hands apart....

More drafting...(Nice slubs!)

Getting a little fine there!  Definitely getting the concept of drafting down.

I love those wee chubby hands.  They are quickly turning to small boy hands, which will quickly turn into big boy hands, and then man hands....sigh.

Proud of his accomplishment.  I need to figure out a way to use it for him.  Lila has a bit on there at the beginning as well.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Samhain Beasties

Well that old holiday rolled around once again like clockwork.  Duncan decided he'd recycle the bat costume, Sam wanted to be a werewolf and Lila little red riding hood.

  As mentioned, Duncan's costume was recycled from a few years back.  It was easy to make- cheap felt cut out to look like bat wings, stitched to mimic veins on the wings and sewn to a black shirt.  Ears were folded felt attached to a black headband. He mostly wore that mask on his forehead.

Sam's costume was made of some fake fur I bought at Joanne's Fabric.  It did the trick but was really gross to work with.  It shed constantly while cutting and sewing but stayed together after it was sewn.  It was half price though!  Sewed some of the fake fur into the holes in his pants which were too small (didn't try them on him before I sewed all the fur on!), so I had to make cuts all along the waistband so they'd fit. 
Bad planning!  Yes, those are plastic orange teeth.

Lila's costume was a snap!  A yard and a half of red cotton linen from Joanne's (again half price!), super easy cloak.  I think I might have to find an occasion to wear this!  That is the picnic basket we usually use, for-uh, picnics.  I'm sure that the original red riding hood also wore Converse sneakers.

The town is normally subjected to an annual parade through town by the school kids.  The road is closed of to all traffic for about twenty minutes. Will had fun after the parade watching all the grouchy drivers go by. This year is was neither raining nor snowing.  It was a touch windy and cold however.

After dinner we went to the Curtis Ladies Aid Halloween Party.  They have a trunk-or-treat in the parking lot and then a party inside the community building.  We set up the van to pass out goodies.

And finally, when all the kids were tired out from playing games and winning bits of plastic that are soon to be broken, we rounded out the night by trick or treating at Dougette's house.  This is where the parents get a pale ale for all their efforts.

Only one humiliating animal shot- Couldn't resist getting poor old warty Waters into the witch hat!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Experimenting with Color

After visiting New Hampshire this summer and picking up a braid of incredibly beautifully dyed BFL and Silk, I decided I had to try it (dyeing) myself.

What is a girl to do though if she only has one white sheep (that this year was combined with 40% angora -YUM), and no wool left to dye?

Da ta ta ta!!!  I visited (electronically) Paradise Fibers and bought a pound of BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester) blended with 20% Tussah silk (that's the wild stuff).  I also purchased a few different colors of Country Classics dye to play with.  Now I chose two of the colors because I needed them to dye mohair for Waldorf dolls, and the two blues particularly for this project.

What I had in mind was a blend of light blue, a vibrant turquoise blue and a warm brown.  I mixed up the dyes and was a little on the wimpy timid side and mixed them a little light.  So, my light blue became a very pale winter sky blue and the brown ended up being a taupey gray color.  The brown also wasn't the shade I was looking for- I wanted something a wee bit warmer, but it is the perfect color for a brunette doll when mixed to full strength.

I didn't take any photos of the handpainting the roving process because I had on rubber gloves and well, I was making a mess frankly.  But here is what it looked like after it dried...

The bump in the middle front is what it looks like after drying, the other two I drafted slightly.  Note the incredibly beautful luster/sheen the silk gives the roving.

That darker brown was what I was going for, but when I drafted the roving a bit it diluted.

Closeup of its shiney-ness.

Singles on the bobbin.  This spun up like a dream....smooth and, well, silky.

Here is how it turned out as a two-ply yarn.  Not bad! 

The brown definitely looks grey.

But I think I like it anyway.

I found out that I really enjoy playing with color and already was coming up with more color combinations.  Will have to slowly invest in some dyes to satisfy that craving!  I will be much bolder with the amount of dye I put into the stock solution also.  But, I did get the process down and learned a bunch.

The BFL & Silk combination is incredible.  The roving took dye well, it didn't felt after being soaked, steamed and rinsed, and spun up ever so nice.  It can't ever replace Shetland but I really appreciate its versatility for dyeing.  It is really, really soft too...