Sunday, October 28, 2012

She's All About the Hair...

The women I work with in the prison crafting program are currently making more dolls. This time, they are going to be fantasy dolls that make use of colorful prints for skin tone and wild yarn hair. I think this young lady qualifies with her fluffy blue locks. She reminds me of a Dr. Seuss character. The staff will "adopt" a classroom of children for Christmas and the women are stitching dolls, quilts, and crocheted hats to donate. "Molly the Dolly" is my contribution, and I have another doll underway. I used a pattern from Elise Piper's and Mary Dilligan's book, Creating & Crafting Dolls, shown below. I like it because the center seam construction causes the face to be shaped rather than flat. It's also quite simple in that the arms and legs are all one piece with the body, so there's no need to struggle to sew them in them separtely.

Molly is sitting atop one of the many quilts the women have made. Some of the program participants are sewing for the first time, while others already have sewing skills. This quilt with a masculine look is going to be donated to a Veteran's Aid program locally. Like many of their "Mother-hen" volunteers, I'm proud of the work these women are doing. They are successful with more limited sewing tools than the well-equipped sewing room has. We're also fortunate to have many volunteers who rotary cut and donate squares for the  quilts. Otherwise, the women cut quilt pieces with scissors which is much more laborious. And the rewards of a program like this one are not easily counted!

Here's the book. It's full of inspiration, patterns, and great ideas.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


No, we didn't lose our dog and find him. Rather this little guy found us. I walked Jesse the Cairn Terrier as usual one morning, and when I came back up the driveway, this guy was sitting in our horse barn. He wagged his tail, but was a little hesitant to approach. So I secured Jesse and thought I'd go check on him. No need... by the time I turned around he was right there at my heels. And he has stayed there since. We don't know where he came from, but he's young so it can't be too far away. We're in a rural area of farms, so neighbors aren't real closeby. And we know the pets belonging to the neighbors who are fairly close. However, he was thin, peppered with fleas, and needed vet attention. He got a flea bath and treatment the day he arrived, and has since been to the vet for innoculations and check up. She estimates his age at 12 weeks, and he is of uncertain bloodlines. I would say assorted varieties.. I see Lab in the head shape, even a little Chihuahua in the face, maybe some Daschund and Pit Bull? The vet staff sees Doberman. So he's a dandy mix for sure.

He was lethargic at first, but now that he's been fed a few good meals and treated for parasites his playful side is showing and his coat is looking shiny and nice. We are really hoping that nobody is looking for him too hard as we hope to keep him. Fingers crossed. His condition certainly pointed to neglect and he still needs to return to the vet for a few issues. Jesse and Lily the cat (who ought to be accepting since she was in the same boat as a foundling herself- story here) are tolerating and adjusting to his presence. But neither are resistant to him. So that's a plus. And Jesse is Grampa to him (Jesse is 14+ now) and being around him keeps the puppy pacified. And he disciplines him as needed by warning him off. They sleep side-by-side in their crates. So far, so good.

We're calling him Scooter because when he is startled, he can really scoot for home (ours). Here he is with his puppy-sock toy. He favors my tote bag that has a package of quilt batting in it. He's a great little fellow, and we'd love him to stay. I'm thinking if anyone claims him, we can always ask for reimbursement for the vet costs before releasing him. That could surely change the picture. But, as I said, we hope nobody is looking. Because Jesse is of advanced age, I recently said to Jack that when Jesse is gone, I think no more dogs. And definitely not a puppy. Then Jesse had a dental surgery and seemed very perky afterwards. So I jokingly said, "Maybe Jesse needs a pal to keep him young. ha, ha." hmmm.... apparently The Master did not catch the ha, ha part? Because the pal arrived within days. And I'm singing a different tune... please, can he stay? Can we keep him?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

An Easy, Breezy Quilt....

This simple, pieced quilt top is made from lots and lots of fabrics scraps from Bahama Hand Prints in Nassau, Bahamas. I puzzled over the right project in which to use the scraps for quite some time. I sorted, petted, re-sorted, and just enjoyed the fabrics for most of this year. The goal was to make a quilt in which the prints could be showcased, and this pattern from Julie Herman's new book "Skip the Borders" seemed just the ticket. The color setting in the photo looks more gold than the lime green it is in person. But you get the gist. Looking at this quilt, I can practically feel the Caribbean breezes blow! It makes me happy, and I'm now considering how to quilt it. Any suggestions?

When a group of quilting friends went on a cruise earlier this year, we enjoyed not only The Stepping Stone Quilters show (see three posts here), but also the fabric screening shop, Bahama Hand Prints (see earlier post), where some of the group visited. They surprised me with the gift of a scrap bag full of lovely prints made at the shop. It contains everything from knits to batiste to cotton to canvas-like prints. And so does my quilt, except for the knits.

Trouble is, the scraps now have scraps. And of course I can't bear to toss them. I am a prolific scrap saver. No wonder my sewing room storage becomes so challenging to manage! But I'm confident there will be a use for these, so they're staying with me for now. And I'll be back with this quilt top when it's completed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Playing with Dolls...

Meet William Thomas. This soft doll is my project for Dollies Without Borders, an organization that provides handmade dolls to children in Haiti, African nations, and other locations worldwide. Representatives of the program visited our crafting class in the women's prison where I volunteer, and they taught the women how to make dolls which will be donated to the Dollies program. All of the dolls represent the ethnicity of the recipients, and all of them are hand carried to the distribution point which may be a medical clinic or an orphanage. The women in the class were truly delighted with the opportunity to make a doll, and today the Dollies founder visited to show how to paint faces. She demonstrated on William Thomas, which is why he looks so handsome! The program volunteers have as much fun with these projects as the participants. There are about 20 women in the class, so you can imagine the line up of adorable dolls under construction. They've been so excited to work on their dolls and I think parting with them will be difficult, but they are thrilled to think that their creations will bring love and comfort to a child somewhere. Watching them work on the dolls has been so enjoyable... they were meticulous in painting the expressions, and so creative with the clothing and hairstyles. We'll continue to make and donate these dolls for a long time, I'm sure.

This smaller doll is Tanya. I made this one using a pattern in the book Quilts on Safari by Jenny Williamson and Pat Parker. Their pattern for Thandi, meaning beloved, is one of several small projects in the book. I thought she might be suitable for younger children because she is a one-piece doll so her dress is stitched on. My face-painting skills have yet to be fully developed. I was afraid that Tanya looked a little angry, but was assured she's not unfriendly, just slightly cross-eyed. So she's still quite lovable. What is it about making these soft dollies that just brings so much satisfaction and pleasure? It has been a labor of love for sure.

And I caught this lovely double-rainbow over our front paddock. We've had quite a bit of rain lately, but what a treat to see this after a storm!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blowin' in the Wind...

It's been some time since my last post. I've been busy, followed by a three-day layup with a cold. Fortunately, one of the prayer flags I recieved in a recent swap with Creative Swaps was for healing. I needed some of that, and am doing better now. After making and swapping three prayer flags, the next stage of the swap is to post photos of the flags in our yards or gardens. I haven't decided on the final location for mine, but meanwhile they look pretty good here in the honeysuckle arbor. The first three flags from left to right are from the swap, and the fourth is one I made. I really enjoyed this project, and have several more prayer flags waiting in the wings, so the display is going to grow.

This photo shows a bit more detail. The fuchsia flag at left was made by Siri Hauge Opdal from Norway, next is the healing flag made by Julie Wolkoff from Massachusetts, the red "love" flag is from Sabine Schnieder from Germany. And the fourth is my "sanctuary" flag. All of the flags include a vareity of fiber techniques such as beading, stamping, piecing, embroidery and embellishing. The small size (about 5" x 8") makes them quick and easy, and yet a great place to explore techniques and make use of snips and scraps.

As part of my busy week, I spent a day at Disney's Animal Kingdom with quilting friend Joanne. We rode the Kali River Rapids attraction in the Asia section of the park, and I was taken by all of the many Tibetan prayer flags festooning the entry building. I might have noticed them before, but this time I was really taken with them, having just participated in this swap. If you have a few minutes, check out this video by Undercover Tourist ... it shows the ride (wear a poncho if you go!), but also has many shots of the prayer flags. Quite impressive. If you don't have time for the video, try this site... it has a photojournalist's pics of the prayer flags. There was another display in the nature walk that had strips of various fabrics tied to branches. It represented answered prayers according to the accompanying info. From knowing very little about prayer flags to discovering a wealth of information about them, this has been a most enjoyable journey.