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Saturday, April 23, 2022

Spring Is in the Air....



As the song goes, "Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man!" This little Pomeranian was a big hit at Bark Fest held in Lake Norman, North Carolina, recently. He is a snappy dresser for sure! It was a brisk day, but just right for all the dogs and their friends who attended Bark Fest. If you love dogs, you'd have had a field day at this fun event! I sure did. Our son Lee organized the event to introduce his new venture- Carolina Real Food for Dogs. I flew up to attend and help in his booth. It was the highlight of the year to date, and I had the best time.


Meet grand-dog Winston, shown here entering the grounds before Bark Fest opened at Langtree Village Complex at Lake Norman. He's much the reason Carolina Real got started. Winston had some health issues as a pup that were not responding to conventional vet treatment. Lee decided to make Winston's food  himself in order to address some of the ongoing digestive concerns. Look at Winston now- very healthy and fit, beautiful coat and muscling. Several friends asked to try the food for their dogs who also responded well. Lee, along with his wife Carin, has been part of the health and fitness industry for people for many years. He decided to take his experience and knowledge in a new direction to provide a product for optimum dog health. A healthy gut helps make a healthy dog after all.


So Lee attended a dog food convention to learn more, took a college class on business start up and courses on dog nutrition, worked a job in a restaurant kitchen for several months to sharpen his commercial food skills, and hired formulators to adjust his recipes to meet federal standards. Now that the product samples have been distributed at Bark Fest and well received, he is gearing up to launch production later in 2022. An exciting venture! Here are the Carolina Real workers- Lee, Carin, granddaughter Brooke, and me.


One of the vendors at Bark Fest was Trish Dole Photography. She had a cute Spring backdrop and took photo portraits of the dogs on site. She donated part of the proceeds to Carolina Boxer Rescue, the charitable organization selected to benefit from the event. If you have a few minutes, visit her site by clicking on her name above. She put together the cutest video of some of the dogs she photographed that day. Turn up the volume, the background song is a toe-tapper. I've watched it a dozen times already! (Photo by Trish Dole)


 Merchandise like neck scarves and leashes were featured. But some of the vendors offered dog services like Carolina Pooper Scoopers. They'll do the yard and grounds clean up for you. Who knew that was a thing? This is my daughter-in-law Carin and grand-dog Winston stopping by for  visit. 

Carl's Closet was well stocked with colorful neck scarves in holiday and other themed prints in sizes to fit every dog. I had a hard time deciding between the turkey and the avocado prints. (Photo by The Peaceful Paw)

And The Peaceful Paw, also a sponsor of Bark Fest, had wonderful smelling and therapeutic essential oil sprays, shampoos, and salves for dogs.


 Not all of the vendors were in pop-up tents. This one brought her mobile van. There are two tread mills inside and Muddy Dog will come to you to exercise and/or rehab your dogs. What a great concept. 

Here's just one of the tail-wagging swirls of new friends doing a sniff-and-greet.

Birds of a feather- these two big fellas had a meet up at Bark Fest. I believe they are a New Foundland on the left and a Mastiff on the right.

Dogs of all sizes and breeds were in attendance. Some had a chance to play in the adjacent dog park off leash. Everyone got along remarkably well. I call the little bull dog in the photo above "The Rabble Rouser". He was in the middle of every group of wagging, playing dogs I saw. He must have had a long nap after the event- I know we all did. There were only two potential mix-ups that seemed less playful, but they lasted only a second before they got shut down. So it was a very peaceful festival. Dogs sure know how to have fun. 


Hope you enjoyed your tour of Bark Fest!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Fun New Way to Color Easter Eggs..


This is just a class sample, so don't look for quality in this colorful Easter egg! But it's the product of a fun class taught in my guild by instructor Brenda Crisci. Brenda introduced us to using Derwent Inktense Pencils, a permanent ink coloring medium for fabric and paper. The ink color from the pencils is activated by water or other wet medium on the fabric surface, and can be moved around, lightened, or darkened while it’s wet. But once dry, the color is permanent, making it a good choice for art quilt projects. Inktense colors are more vibrant and intense than watercolors, hence the name. Brenda kept reminding us, "If it's wet, it walks." You can see that a blob of color "walked" into one of the blue stripes. Lesson learned. And it still needs to be corrected somehow. Brenda encouraged us to go with "mistakes" and just consider them part of the learning. She also showed how we can overlay the colored surface with elements such as the Zentangle designs in mine. This piece still has a ways to go in terms of adding more  elements and maybe more colors. But it's a start and a good reference for future projects.

The pencils come in sets containing various numbers of pencils and colors. This is the giant 72 pencil size. My own is the more modest set of 24. But we can always blend colors as needed. 

One great tip from Brenda- swatch the colors. She numbered and labeled each color swatch so she doesn't have to guess or experiment to find the color she's looking for.

Another of our class samples was this technique trial. This example isn't mine, but they were all similar. We tried blending colors, stamping with the pencil colors, using a doily as a stencil, adding marks and more. We also got a kit with some color applicators in the form of make up brushes and sponges that were useful for controlling the color. We used only water to activate the color on our projects, though some fiber artists use aloe gel for more control. All in all, we spent a fun afternoon coloring and learning. Have you tried Inktense pencils?

Monday, April 4, 2022

Roped In and Bowled Over...


A recent quilt guild class in making rope bowls had a little different twist to the method for stitching them. I've made fabric covered bowls in the past, but for this project, our instructor had us feature more of the cotton clothesline rope in its raw, neutral-color state. We added just a few accents of color with cotton fabrics and could finish them in a variety of ways. I chose a yo-yo and starfish embellishment for my watery-looking fabric bowl.

The other difference was the use of a "quilted" bottom which could showcase a pretty fabric or motif on the inside of the bowl. After coiling and stitching a base of plain rope, we added a circle of fabric and quilted lines across to secure it. Then we continued on, building up the sides and adding another few rounds of fabric.

There was enough rope left in the skein to complete at least one more medium-size bowl. This time I wrapped parts of the rope with a fancy wide yarn I had in my supplies, and finished it off with a yarn-wrapped disc of rope along with some rope loops.

Sewing while wrapping was fiddly, so I'm not sure I'd try it again. But I do like the results.

Here is the stitched coil under the machine needle with the sides just being formed. Making a bowl is a relaxing sewing project and relatively quick, too. And the bowls make lovely accents, storage, or gifts.

Our instructor brought plenty of her own rope bowls in various sizes, shapes, and finishes to inspire us.

She even uses them for casserole and serving plate holders as seen in the two vessels in the foreground. And note her project-in-progress at the lower left. It features one of the cute Laurel Burch cats on the quilted bottom.

This is our teacher Peggy. She also enjoys garment sewing in addition to quiltmaking. A talented woman! 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

No-Cal Sundaes and More Eye-Candy ...


These sweet little sundaes are not fattening at all because they are pincushions! I made one of these as a donation for a raffle basket and showed it in a post here. At our quilt show where the basket was offered, a visitor saw the pincushion and asked if I'd make some for her. Here's the result! The pincushion requires simple supplies- fabric scraps, floss, beads, fiber-fil, glass marbles, glue, and an ice cream dish. And voila! A sundae pincushion happens.

The pincushion itself is pieced from 8 fabric wedges to form what looks like a big yo-yo which is stuffed with fiber-fil. The wedges are then stitched and wrapped with embroidery floss to shape the piece and give it some oomph. The topper is one of my T-shirt beads (cotton ball wrapped with cotton knit strips and beaded). And I used E-6000 glue to attach the pincushion to the glass dish. That part was a little tricky because I didn't want the glue to be visible, so targeting the right areas on the dish and the pincushion took some finesse. There are three more dishes to fill, so I better get busy. 

And while we are speaking of sewing and donations, I also made this cute Boxer dog pillow. Our son is launching a new business called Carolina Real Food for Dogs (healthy, fresh-prepped dog food). He'll be introducing it at a dog-friendly event near Charlotte, NC, on April 9 (rain date April 10) called Carolina Bark Fest. The Carolina Boxer Rescue group will have a tent at the event, so I donated the pillow and a fabric covered journal for their fundraising efforts. I found the Boxer panel and the fabric prints on Etsy. I'm planning to attend Bark Fest- if you are near there, come and join in the fun!

Let's not forget the cats! This adorable wool felt, stitched and beaded cat was made by fellow art maker and animal lover Jan Brattain of Laughing Dog Arts blog. Jan doesn't blog as much now, but you can find her on Instagram. Jan made this kitty heart as a gift for a friend. She started it some time back after seeing the free tutorial on Design Matters which I linked in my previous post, but had set it aside. As things work in the creative world, Jan saw the motto cushion posted in this blog and was inspired to pull out her project again and finish it. She gave permission to show the finished project here. Isn't it wonderful.... right down to the whiskers? I just love the whimsical nature of kitty, and I love how we keep each other going creatively! Now I think I need to make more of these.  If you just love these, too, check out the free tutorial linked above, and get even more ideas from artist Jane LaFazio. She has a gallery portfolio of the many heart-shaped felt milagros she's made and she offers an online class for stitching them. Happy stitching, and thanks to Jan for sharing her project.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

All Hearts...


Phew! It's been some time since I've posted on this blog. That's because life took a turn. You've probably heard the saying, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."? That quote is attributed to John Lennon. It's been kind of like that around here. My husband Jack fell and fractured his hip which turned out to the the least of the problems. All sorts of other issues emerged when he was admitted to the hospital. So after a week's stay and two surgeries, he's finally at home to begin a recovery. This has been a very looooong month and there's more to resolve. Lots of plans got moved to the back burner, including sewing and crafting. This sweet stitched and stuffed heart was among them.

I had intended to complete it in time for Valentine's Day, but it's bead- and stitch-intensive, so it just moved along at its own slow pace. It's a "motto cushion" made from a free pattern and tutorial from Design Matters. It was fun and relaxing to sew and the motto "devoted" seemed to reflect my role as caregiver over these past weeks. You can make one with simple supplies including felt, beads, embroidery floss, and stuffing.

Because we've been somewhat confined to home, I also find that the online classes I so enjoy provided some fun and creative outlets.  A yearlong class called Fodder School offers monthly instruction for mixed media art methods to make "collage fodder"- little bits to include in journals or use for cards and other projects. It really feeds into my goal of mastering watercolor techniques. "Master" may be too ambitious. "Get along with" might better sum up my relationship with watercolors. The background and tiny heart are two of the bits from the course and the dog is a commercial die cut image. Of course I love sewing on the papers that result from my efforts, too.

I'm looking forward to completing some larger sewing projects and to returning to "normal" activities in the days ahead. And hopefully there won't be a big time lapse like this one between blog posts. Thank you for following and reading!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Late to The Party...


This little ballerina is late, but better late than never, as they say! I had planned to finish this embroidered and beaded project in time for Christmas, but the clock ran out. She is one of the many designs available in Kelli May-Krenz's online class titled "Sugar Plum Stitching." I still need to stitch her closed and add a beaded edge. It was so relaxing to select threads and embroider this project.

So much sparkle! Her tutu and collar are full of seed beads and sequins. And her leotard is stitched with variegated floss surrounding a rose. Part of the fun was also using so many of the colors of floss and thread in my collection. There's quite a bit there and it doesn't get out much. Given my speed, I think I better start the other designs Kelli makes available now to have them in time for Christmas 2022!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Little Gifts...


'Tis the season! At our recent Christmas dinner for the quilt guild in Ocala, we received several delightful gifts, most crafted by guild members. Our water bottles were topped with this cute pieced Santa topper. It's a Half-Log Cabin block fashioned into Santa. We also received a pair of craft scissors in a handy stitched holder with tuck spots for other sewing tools. Our committee did an outstanding job once again organizing a very special event capped off by a talented musical performance by a married couple singing holiday songs.

Our gifts were contained in this cute stenciled drawstring gift bag. And one member upcycled dozens of empty thread spools into clever tree ornament. There are so many tiny details including a little charm at the bottom.

And speaking of gifts, we have a number of crows on our farm- three or more are called a "murder of crows". While walking the dogs over several days, we noticed small shards of decorative house tile on the ground. And then we found these golf balls. We are miles from any golf course and nobody near here hits golf balls into a pasture as a pastime. Finally we figured out that these treasures must be "gifts" from the crows. I put them in the grotto with St. Francis. Those old quilt blocks are "aging" nicely. We started giving the crows some grapes and peanuts along the fence line, but the gift giving seems to have ended. With horses, we have plenty of grain bits and water sources around to keep them happy. I remembered a neighbor down the road telling us several years ago that she received gifts from the crows, too. We'll keep looking.