Saturday, April 30, 2011

Find the Wildlife...

It's that time of the year -- always a little surprise to come across when working in the garden. Can you spot the two mourning dove chicks in the photo?* It seems like a pretty precarious place to put your 'nest' (basically a few strands of dead grass on top of a slate stone), but this momma dove decided that underneath a teak bench among slate pavers edged with creeping thyme was the perfect place to raise her chicks. Hope they make it!

*Look right above the lettering if you're having trouble seeing them. They do tend to blend in with their surroundings.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Belting It Out

Sometimes you need a little something to finish off an outfit, but you just can't find what you have in mind. No worries, just make it yourself.

I have a nice buttery yellow linen that insists it wants to be a tunic-length shirt, so here's a simple belt that will cinch it in and provide a little shape. Couldn't be easier to make -- woven trim is stitched to a backing -- I'm using an Ultrasuede scrap in this instance -- then threaded through a simple wooden buckle and stitched down. I first thought I'd use a grosgrain ribbon to back the trim, but couldn't find any of the right width. If I had used ribbon I probably would have used some non-fusible interfacing to provide some extra support. For the Ultrasuede though, it doesn't seem necessary. Next step? Make that shirt!

Another easy to make option is the gathered rayon batik belt I made to go with a matching skirt/top gee-that-looks-just-like-a-dress-combo.

Fabric scraps were cut into strips - twice the width of the finished belt, plus seam allowance, and a length that was roughly 2 and 1/2 times the finished length I wanted the belt to be. Sew up the long skinny tube, press and turn, then I ran some firm, wide elastic through the center. This one fastens with a simple interlocking belt buckle. The buckle's original finish was brass (or something very like it), and I wanted something a bit different. A quick spray with some metallic copper paint gave me the look I wanted, and it should hold up just fine.

You may notice some knitting underneath the photo of the belt -- that's a tank I'm working on at the moment. (S. Charles 'Sahara' - citrus color) I was kind of hoping it might work with the green of the batik, but I'm not so sure. Looks more yellow in the photo. Ah well, sometimes a serendipitous match, sometimes not.

So, there you have it -- minimal time, very little money spent, and two belts that give me just the look I want -- can't beat that!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From Deep Within the Stash...

...some yarn from Canaan Mohair purchased at Stitches East, more years ago than I can remember, but back when the event was still being held near Valley Forge, PA -- and probably before there even was a Stitches Midwest, West or South! Knit up into a simple cardigan from Cocoknits pattern called "Marta". Don't see it listed on the website any longer, but I believe there are a few shown on Ravelry if anyone is into 'compare and contrast'. The only real change to the pattern was an I-cord edging added to the front edges. This added a tiny bit of width and enabled me to have a buttonhole/button.

Now, what will be the next lucky stash dweller plucked from the depths and turned into knitted (or crocheted) goods?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Yesteryear's Playthings

Back in the day I was a major fan of paper dolls. I must have spent hours carefully and patiently cutting them out. Anyone else remember the monthly Betsey McCall paper dolls that were in the back of the magazine? Heck, does anyone else even remember McCall's magazine these days! I always went right for those, of course, but they also had an offer that you could send away for -- Betsey and a nice assortment of clothing, with Betsey offered on a heavier card stock, instead of the flimsy magazine paper. Oh how I haunted the mailbox until those came. My all-time favorites though, were ballerina paper dolls with gorgeous costumes from Russian ballets -- oh, the care and precision those needed. Many years later, I ran across what appeared to be a re-print of those very dolls -- perhaps through Dover publishing? I'll have to see if they are still around -- and yes, I would cut them out again.

The dolls pictured above are 'allegedly' Round About Dolls from the 1930's -- waaaay before my time, so stop your snickering! They certainly have a 30's vibe, but I doubt that they are all the same type. The two that look alike have both a front and back view, and are printed paper over a light wood. The middle doll is front view only, and is cardboard. Sharp eyes (click for bigger, if needed) may notice that one of them has the initials "AH" pencilled in on the front -- perhaps the little girl who once played with them? I have a couple more that are in better shape, and those I framed in a shadowbox and have displayed in the sewing room. I smile every time I see them.

And how about some clothes for the little lovelies?

Obviously cut out by some shaky, younger fingers -- the fashions have a front and a back, connected on the shoulders.

Hope you've enjoyed this mini-stroll down Memory Lane!

Edited to add: Sorry folks -- It's BETSY McCall, not Betsey.