Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Perfect Day

Yesterday was the perfect day. It started in my studio working on the secret project. I have to say making the limbs was the worst part. Next time I will make them wider.

I used 100% cotton stuffing for most of the project. I did use some Polyfill for the body.

The project uses upcycled fabric: TOMA's favorite shirt, a pair of corduroys from the thrift shop, purchased at least two years ago, wool felt (orange purchased 10 years ago--scraps from a yarn store that also produced garments that they sold, I knitted the yellow fabric and felted it many years ago) and the special part of this little one--the Thomas Pink silk tie--one of 50 donated by the generous person receiving this gift.

All four limbs

I decided that the shirting needed a little more body so I quilted it to batting and a backing of muslin.

Here you can see the quilting.

The limbs and ears pinned to the front.

My little guy without his character sewn on.

At this point I ate my new favorite lunch--peanut butter, banana, and honey on Food of Life Raisin Bread. Then I went food shopping. First to the local market, and home to put away the refrigerator stuff, then to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Then Barnes and Noble. I bought a wonderful muffin at Whole Foods and bought a cup of coffee at the bookstore and had my treat while I reviewed some magazines. Then I did a drawing and colored it with Inktense Colored Pencils. I love sitting in a cafe drawing. I feel like I am out and about with something different to look at.

After dinner I finished him.

He has a felt nose, embroidery floss mouth and horn eyes (When I purchased these buttons years ago, I was told they were made from antlers that were shed by the deer. I hope that is true.)

I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I also believe that there are no new ideas left. My inspiration for my cat came from this book and the picture below.

Steve the Cat

I drew the pattern from scratch myself and added felt paws, felt ears, etc. I do not have a tail on the back of mine, because my intention is to place the label on the behind with his name: Gampy Cat. It is for the recipient's granddaughter. She calls him Gampy and that is why I used his tie for the belly. I hope he likes it.

Baci e abbracci

Friday, December 30, 2011

Good morning! I had the day off yesterday and am off today through Monday for the holiday. Yesterday I spent most of the day away from home so today my goal is to spend the day in my studio.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on the internet as most of the day away from home was spent waiting. I was reading Malka Dubrawsky's blog a stitch in dye about the 30 Day Challenge and thought I might try one or two of the items listed. I am thinking about #6 and #30. Like Ms. Dubrawsky, #30 seems like a "no brainer," but it is actually a challenge because it would have me posting everyday. Number 6 is also a "no brainer" that would hopefully make me create something everyday. It may not be possible to accomplish if I want to go to the gym--let's rephrase that if I have to go to the gym--but I will give it a shot.

Also, I signed up for a very expensive, intensive class The Penn Program for Mindfulness that meets once a week beginning at the end of January. I know that the homework includes 40 minutes of meditation a day. This will be a real feat for me. I am hoping to come away from the class with the knowledge of how to reduce my stress and negativity to allow me the energy to do the things that I think I want to do.

Okay, maybe I will have a photo and paragraph for you later today.

Baci e abbracci

Thursday, December 29, 2011

First I wanted to show this beautiful creation by TOMA: Frittata (my half). Made with red peppers, scallions and potatoes sliced like french fries. I had mine with black bread and butter. YUM...

Now, thank you card number 1: This went to the generous woman "A" along with the Rivolo scarf. I hope she likes it and it keeps her warm this winter.

This went to the Marketing Assistant at Strathmore Artist Papers, Sara for the generous donation to the prize packages.

I was reading Gennine's Blog and drooling over the Schmincke Watercolour set of 48 half pans. Even with the 20% discount at Blick until midnight and the $100 in gift certificates it is still way too much. It is the ultimate watercolor set and the only one that Schmincke makes that contains Payne's Gray. So many beautiful colors. I also thought of purchasing the set of either 24 or 36 and a tube of Payne's Gray. Hopefully, another discount promotion will come up before my birthday--although I think I want the Canon G12 Digital Camera more than the watercolors. I do not need either, but the camera would produce better pictures than the point and shoot I currently use, which has a screen that I cannot see in most outdoor daylight situations, so I literally point and shoot without setting up the photo or knowing if it is in focus. Knowing myself as well as I do, a zillion other things will tickle my fancy by my birthday.

Also, the car needs a $582 catalytic converter, which will be installed next week, so no big art supply expenditures in my immediate future.

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rivolo Scarf by Knit Spot

I started this scarf about two years ago, and this was the knitting that I would pick up when trying to get the knitting mojo back. This was the first thing I picked up when I recently started knitting again and finally it is finished. 

It is made with a beautiful yarn by JaggerSpun that is a zephyr wool silk (merino wool and tussah silk). It is a 4/8 weight (sport weight) and very nice to work with. The pattern is "Rivolo" by KnitSpot (Anne Hanson). Hers was one of the first blogs I started reading. She is a real talent. Her knitting is impeccable and she is a great pattern maker. I have added her blog to my sidebar. Check it out if you would like to be inspired.

Baci e abbracci

Monday, December 26, 2011


Well swimming was great! I did a few laps, each one left me breathless and then spent 10 minutes in the jacuzzi. Off to the showers... Mmmm, it is like the beach with curtains. They provide liquid soap, so I wash my hair and then... "Ma'am, this is the men's showers!" OMG!!! I gather my things and apologize profusely and get out as fast as I can. There were a bunch of old men showering, why didn't they say something??? I ran to the women's locker room and while drying off I could not help but silently laugh! It is a totally new gym to me, and I have never used an indoor pool before. The signage is etched or glazed glass at each entrance. Without my glasses I really didn't notice any words. After I figured out how to get completely changed from my bathing suit to my workout gear without anyone seeing one inch of me and I went onto the floor to the elliptical machine and was embarrassed that I would see someone from the showers out there. I still thought it was the best workout in a long time as the swimming served as a great warm up.

Back to work tomorrow...

Baci e abbracci

The Fruits of Inspiration

Happy day after Christmas. I thought I would share my current projects.

The above magazine is the latest copy of "Interweave Knits Accessories." It has quite a few nice patterns in it and although I have no where to store the tons of knitting/quilting/journaling magazines I already own, I purchased it. The pattern that made me make that decision was the pair of fingerless mittens. I won an IPod Touch Nano at our holiday party at work and need to be able to touch the screen to make it work. I have always had a fondness for fingerless mittens and already have a pattern somewhere, but this pair is made of a heavier yarn and seems less complicated than I remember the other pattern to be.

I could not find the exact yarn that the pattern called for (I really did look for it in my local knit shop "Justa Knitting Basket in Huntingdon Valley, PA) so I chose the next best thing Cascade Yarns Quatro, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool in a pretty turquoise color. Yes, of course I have tons of yarn that I could have substituted, but I need to keep my local yarn shop afloat.

I also purchased the yarn for the gauntlets on the cover--my hands are cold at work.

I am just so happy that I am knitting again. It really troubled me that I was on this seemingly never ending hiatus. To not do the one thing that has been a passion for the last 28 years was disturbing. Knitting has seen me through some troubled times. I remember when my first husband (TOMA is my second husband) was "missing in action" in New York city on a drinking binge, knitting is what kept me from loosing my mind with fear. So to give up a longtime friend (knitting, my first husband and I are still friends) I was worried I would never want her back in my life again.

I picked up a Pi R Squared (by Elizabeth Zimmermann) that I started a few years ago. It is just garter stitch and I thought I could just mindlessly knit. I messed up and had to rip back four rows of over 200 stitches each, but it is a great project for watching TV. Now I have started the mittens and am happy!

I am also working on thank you notes for some holiday gifts and the Strathmore donation. I already gave one away, but will photograph the others before mailing them. I still have to work on the secret project and would like to make one other thing--also a secret before December 31.

I received another totally "knock me off my feet" gift in the mail on Friday from someone. A couple of summers ago I saw a loose Pomeranian running outside and spent the next 2 hours chasing it through the shopping parking lots and across a major busy street--my heart stopped as I watched that dog run across Cottman Avenue. A few women helped me along the way, including a woman who left the hairdresser when she saw us with dye on her head! We cornered him in someone's yard and the local Pet Smart people helped get him on a leash and two of the women who helped (one I recognized from my commuter train) drove me and this dirty dog to my house. I drove to a local groomer to find out how much it would cost to bath it and saw another person from the train. She wound up finding a home for this dog. TOMA and I dropped him off the next morning and eventually paid for his veterinarian fees. A happy ending.

Well I occasionally see this last woman who placed the dog, I'll call her "A," on the train platform and we talk for a few minutes and sit in our usual places. I have not seen her in a few months in fact, but on Friday we received an extremely generous gift certificate from her! We traded voice mails and she said her reason is that she was touched by what we did for that dog. She spent a whole afternoon making phone calls to place that dog and I am sure that since she had that contact, she is in the habit of helping animals all of the time. I was so thankful to her that the dog did not have to go to the shelter because I could not keep him with our three cats. I hope she realizes how she touched me with her kindness and how amazing she is.

Today I am going to use the pool in the gym for the first time. I have to swallow down a lot of OCD to do this--and hopefully no pool water. I will let you know how I fare.

Baci e abbracci

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buon Natale!

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with the joy of the season!

For those of you who do not, I hope your day is peaceful and filled with whatever it is that makes you happy.

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Strathmore was extremely generous!! Their prizes came yesterday:

Three!!! Bristol Smooth 9 x 12 Visual Journals, One Mixed Media 9 x 12 Visual Journal, and Two Bristol Trading Cards. One Bristol, one package of trading cards, and the Mixed Media will be added to the prize package. The other journals and trading cards will be given separately to three other people.

Here is the secret project I am working on. I do not think the recipient reads my blog:

Baci e abbracci

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I have started a project for someone who totally caught me off guard with their generosity on Friday. I had planned to make something for this person as well as a couple of other people--something like cookies, but I think everyone is up to their eyebrows with sweets at this time of year.

Anyway this is my first project that is "upcycled." I am a little nervous that I will mess it up. I already made a mistake that luckily can be fixed. So I will tell you all about it when it is done and the person gets their gift.

Baci e abbracci

Thursday, December 15, 2011


If you would like to enter the contest you may also enter your own name, just leave a comment with your email address and you will be entered to win the prize package.

Good luck!

Baci e abbracci

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I am Super Excited

Strathmore Artist Papers has just emailed me to let me know that they will be donating a product for the prize package!!! As soon as it arrives I will let you know what it is.

Also, they have just offered 3 new free Online Workshop Series beginning January 1. Go over and sign up! Traci Bautista, Cathy Johnson, and Michael Mattesi are the instructors for this series.

Baci e abbracci

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Drum Roll Please

Okay, finally I am able to post the prizes. I am hoping this will whet your whistle. I am sorry it cannot be more, but I was not able to get donations so this is what I could come up with.

 The prize includes the following items: (1) Sashiko kit in white, (1) Sashiko thread in dark blue, (1) Sashiko thread in pumpkin, (1 pkg. of 2) Sashiko needles, (1) Sashiko thimble, (1) hank of Cascade 220 Heathers in Sapphire, (1) pair of US7/4.5mm Bryspun flexible needles, (1) Boye Knit Tally, (1 pkg. of 2) Clover Jumbo Tapestry Needles Bent Point, (1 pkg. of 4) Clover Point Protectors (Large), and (1) Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti book. (Value of prize package $65.) Everything was purchased at Purl Soho.

I just started knitting again after a 1 1/2 year hiatus and am so happy that I thought if you do not already knit this is a great way to get started and if you do this is a wonderful book for your library. Everything else you can always use multiples of.

New York was fun! Soho was really the best part. Canal Street is just crazy (I bought a few inexpensive scarves) and the place was packed.

TOMA finally purchased the Astrakhan hat he has wanted forever, after he battled with himself about spending the money, from a vendor who makes them himself. I actually talked him into it because he has wanted it for so long. Even though I don't like the whole fur part of it, I eat meat and wear leather shoes and belts so I cannot preach. I am totally against fur so maybe I am a hypocrite.

My mom saved her money for years to buy a fur and of course I would inherit it. Just to irritate her, I tease her about donating it to the shelter to be cut up to make warm, soft animal cages. TOMA said since these animals already suffered I should keep it and use it. Since the house in Italy is probably cold in the winter, I should make a blanket for the bed from it. My animals would enjoy resting on that all day! Or I could sell it for money to build my dream shelter in Italy on our property--if I am strong enough in my old age to have a shelter.

Anyway, today is a very busy day and it is very late already, so please consider entering my contest, the rules are in the last post.

Baci e abbracci

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New York

Had a fun day in New York! We are on the bus home. I purchased some prizes at Purl Soho. I wrote to three companies for donations but not one resonded. I am a little dissappointed. I will photograph and post the prizes so until then...

Baci e abbracci

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cel-e-brate Good Times, Woo Hoo!

The one-year anniversary for this blog and my 50th birthday are both coming up in January, so... I decided to have a little contest. I would like to increase my readership by 50 people, so if you are already reading my blog--thank you, thank you, thank you! The contest would be that you, my current reader, refer my blog to a friend. Ask the friend to leave a comment on a post and include your name and email address. On January 31st I will print out the name of each person who referred a friend and draw a name for the prize--the more people you refer, the more chances you have to win. The friend that you referred will have a chance to be entered in the contest the same way, by referring another friend. I will let you know the prize soon so you can decide if it is worth your while. I am going to NYC soon and visiting Purl Soho, and New York Central Art Supply so you never know, it might be really good.  Remember, you have to play to win!

Baci e abbracci