Friday, February 29, 2008

Crafting365, day 3: Horse gets a Rider and neat things on Flickr

Ride 'em!

I was watching Time Bandits the other night when I made the first red cloth horse. I had accidently cut out two horse bodies going in the same direction... which wouldn't work, so I ended up cutting out two horses the same pattern. When I was sewing the second one yesterday I couldn't get out of my mind the horse and rider that come through the kid's bedroom. So, a quick sketch and some scissor snippings later, this horse got a bowlegged rider. He isn't quite a cowboy, but they are definitely fast pals already.

Today I am making up lots more baby rag dolls. One needs to be a redhead. My niece Elizabeth is growing in lots of RED hair, surprising to everyone in the family ;) as the hair she was born with was brownish.

Neat things I saw today on Flickr:

Woolly_Fabulous' felt fish brooch
Shebrews seems to have quite an infestation of sock dogs.
LittleGirlPearl shows off beautiful dresses she has made for her daughter. I hope one day to be able to make just a simple sundress for Esme :) But I am always so picky about the details when it comes to clothing, which is why I usually never finish anything even for myself. But then.. I was told the other day that it doesn't matter as much on kid's clothes because they're always in motion and no one ever sees the tiny mistakes as long as they hold together!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hippo Toy and Captcha

Mark read today that Google Blogger is now requiring TWO captchas (image verification stuff) to make a comment to a post. SHEESH! How hard do they have to make it to read blogs anymore?

The other day at the fabric counter I bought a bolt of nice grey cloth. I was thinking elephants. Mark suggested hippos or rhinos. We were talking about a hippo mouth (kind of like the dragon) full of big flat teeth. Today I was over at Two Little Banshees and she is talking ab out making a hippo as well. It got me to sketching tonight about how to do that open mouth... all those teeth showing interest me :) Here is what I came up with.

Happy Toothy Hippo

Miscellaneous working sketches I like
Click to Enlarge

On my Desk and Crafting 365, day two

I saw this meme 'On My Desk' yesterday and again this morning. It was started by Kirsty of Kootoyoo, according to reporting by One Red Robin ;). So, yes, I have to participate. It's a great idea to see what is wandering around on other crafty people's places of work :)

This is also my second day of Crafting 365, so this works out pretty well :)
On my desk is the red giraffe with striped ears I made last night, who is waiting for finishing. There is also a brown and white baby quilt I'm working on, a purple dragon and some miscellaneous tools. That board book is my pattern for making quilt blocks, as well as being a very cute story :)

At the shop

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Esme loves Mousebear and Crafting 365, day one

It's obvious she loves him.
He's been through the wash twice in two days she loves him so much.

You haven't been dreaming it, Rhiannon, I'm posting and crafting 'like mad.' I've joined Crafting 365 on Flickr. They've challenged to craft (and blog/flickr about it) 365 days straight. I think I'm up for that. Officially today is 'Day One.' although I've been at it for about a week really.

Today I've written the instructions for the giraffe pattern. Now I have to cut out the copied pattern pieces and make another one - to make sure I didn't leave anything out and the pieces in the pattern are all correctly proportioned.

Giraffe toy instructions written!

I think I need a nap now.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Almost Done Giraffing

Here is the finished giraffe. I need to write the pattern instructions now. If I had to rate him on a scale of 1 to 10 for difficulty I'd say a 4.5. However, I'd rate the toy horse pattern at a 2.0 on that same scale.

I had to put the ears in an extra seam sideways down the head (see illustration below).

I hate putting ears in sideways. It's probably a pet peeve, but I think it's bad design *most* of the time. In some cases, like this one where it was such a small head and a tight seam, it becomes necessary. Giraffe ears kind of stick out like that anyway.

Monday, February 25, 2008


This is more organized than the workshop has been all year ;) Really, it is! It could still use some more work. I'd love to hear suggestions for keeping fabric better than this! The table to the left was recently repurposed from elsewhere in the house. It has already helped with productivity :)

At the KnitOwl shop
and waiting for MamaMade.

Where: Lillie Belle's Tea House, Franklin, TN
When: April 26th, 2008 9 am to 2 pm
Who: Mommy crafters from Middle Tennessee

I've been talking about MamaMade here and there but it is a show entirely of mommy crafters that will take place in Franklin, TN (near Nashville) on April 26th. It starts at 9 am and goes until 2 pm. Mommies from around the region will bring their fine crafts to Lillie Belle's Tea House hoping to catch the crowd from the Franklin street fair. It sounds like a fun day and a great opportunity as well! Angel Funk, one of their coordinators, contacted me on Etsy through 'Buy Local' and sent me an application last week :) The application is going out today!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Baby gift and new quilt for Esme

I just had to make these yesterday :) It is a gift for a baby boy far away. A horse, a bunny and two burp/changing cloths :)

And this is for our baby. It is a new bigger quilt, as she has nearly outgrown the small bassinet ones. She needed somewhere larger to play on and have her tummy time.

She was grabbing the corner and shaking it.

I put several squares of the same color together again (how do I keep doing that?) so this quilt got a little lamb patch with 'Esme' embroidered on it :)

More new faces...

Two more new blogs from Flickr people I have met.

Mamasita The works of Virginia Zuluaga. What cute funny colorful creatures! And a beautiful little boy too :)
Making Ends Meet April crafts things for her house and children. Her Flickr is full of cute crafts including this little boy softie that caught my eye.
Area Thrifty One Just the name makes me laugh some - nice pun! :) Great creatures in awesome fabrics to inspire.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

of Fargo and Bunnies...

Sometimes I still miss the rabbits in Fargo, North Dakota. There were bunnies and jackrabbits running all over the city, even in the winter. Once in a great while I miss the little basement apartment I had by the NDSU campus. I spent long days there doing nothing but art, waiting for my next 'on' day at work and not really having anywhere else to go or be. There was a tiny baby bunny that liked to sit outside the apartment window that summer. I did watercolor drawings of him as he grew and sent them to my mom.

Speaking of rabbits ;) I made a batch of six yesterday and have four more cut out on the sewing machine. And these are just the white ones. I have a pretty brown pebbly cotton to make 'chocolate' rabbits out of this year.

Box of Bunnies

Esme would like to say 'Hi' to her Great Aunt Dot ;)
visiting the blog from Florida

There is a lady on Flickr trying to do what she calls '365 Toy', a toy made every day for 365 days of the year. Her name on Flickr is melingo wagamama. Lately, I think I'm keeping up with her ;)

UPDATE: I was so busy today! I made a new bigger quilt for Esme to play on and a gift set for a baby that is due soon :)

Friday, February 22, 2008


More 'bearmice' (mousebears)

I'm not that obsessed with Mousebear, not really... but these are very fun to make especially in batches. These are two sets of 'twins' ;) although no two ever turn out the same (see the blue ones?) One 'set' is for the toy shop and the other is for the MamaMade box.

I spent most of yesterday down with one of my sinus migraine headaches but it seems to have released me during the night. It's been a long time since I had one of those old headaches and I hope it will be another long time before another one. Especially when Esme needs me, headaches like that SUCK.

I need to start gearing up for handmade easter toys for the shop as well. Bunnies, you ask? Oh yes. It's been a while since I made lots of little rabbits ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Other People's Art

If you have some time, browse through the links here. They are all great artists :)

Rarely a piece by another artist strikes a note with me hard enough that I buy it or ask to trade.

At college, we would sometimes trade our prints and drawings to each other. There was also a yearly sale where we would put some of our works out for sale. For a while there I had a stack of interesting works from people I had once known well ;) I still have them in my memory. The prints of Chris Gallagher and a few small works by Judith Feist were among my favorites.

The main problem is the art has to be compelling enough and yet something I wouldn't/couldn't make myself. I tend to make the things I want, and don't keep a lot of unnecessary possessions for long. I'm not big on hanging things on my walls, or at least, I haven't been in the past. Even my own work sometimes would go up for a week for inspiration then would go back in some portfolio or sketchbook to be untouched by the light again for years.*

In the past year I've bought two prints off of Etsy:
Rainy Prints: She had a very cute little woodblock trio of owls that I bought before Esme was born. It hangs on the wall behind the bassinet ;) In fact, she still has some left today :)

A Quiet Lark: I bought one of her fantastic botanical prints. It looks like an old Japanese ink drawing. I'm still waiting for this one to come in the mail since it caught me last week. It should fit nicely on the same wall as the owls :)

Tasha McKelvey: She makes beautiful pottery. This is the lady who made the pretty little rabbit tiles for Esme's birth. I ordered one but she sent two ;) I still keep one of those tiles in the bag under my pillow and another in a wool bag I made for Esme, which is under the bassinet mattress.

Thinking of the future:
One of these days I would love to buy a rabbit from Hop, Skip, Jump for Esme. I love her rabbits, they are so charming! I think I'll wait until she gets a little older. Then there is the matter of catching one from a batch before they are all gone ;) Fiona (the artist) also had a baby this month and he is so cute! I'm sure with a new baby (I've been there) it will probably be a while before she gets back to making lots of toys.

Two new blogs of people who make interesting things:
A Little Hut general crafts and some nice templates for little boxes. She makes very nice papercut art!
Madame Bogg A toy maker after my own heart. Her tiny red fox is just gorgeous! I wish I had seen him for sale somewhere he might have come home here. Foxes, but most especially grey foxes, hold a special place for me as well.

And a few people I met on Flickr recently who have interesting things:
Elsa Mora has some strange and interesting creatures in her photostream.
Craftosia has beautiful nesting dolls she has painted.
ErmitaƱa makes beautiful silver and copper jewelry in Argentina.

* I'm doing something about that now. I've opened up a new Etsy shop just for my strange symbolic drawings. A few of them have sold and went off to good homes. That is much better than sitting in the dark ;)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I had a productive night in the workshop. These five dolls came from start to finish very quickly. Two of these are going for a custom order at the toy shop. I'm also giving one to Esme and the other two are the start of a stack of items being made for the MamaMade craft sale in April.

Rant: I had sent this doll pattern to a lady I'm making a MUCH more complicated pattern for. This lady makes baby clothes for her craft business. She said she tried to make a doll and couldn't do it... which has discouraged me on her other pattern some. The complicated pattern has FOUR three-point seams and I'm having trouble with it myself. If she can't do a pancake doll then three-point seams are going to be extremely difficult for her!

Mark even tried his hand out and made a 'frankenstein' doll using the pattern. If he can come out with a relatively doll-shaped creature from those instructions, I have no idea why this other lady can't. Mark doesn't touch a sewing machine often, and he did a fairly good job. After seeing him make his and then making five more right in a row... I'm convinced it IS a simple pattern, even at this small size. Maybe she isn't ready for the complicated pattern at all.

Note: Esme weighs 13 lbs, 2 oz now. She has learned how to make the 'pbbbt' noise and has been cheerfully raspberry-ing us for the past two days ;)

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Creature is Revealed

My inner child has wanted a dragon for quite some time. I tried once, a few years ago, and failed :( That's why I called it reanimating felt and stuffing. I kind of feel the first one never lived at all. I need to make a good post on that soon, the anima, the living spirit thought into a toy, in the eyes of their creators and by the children who love them as well.

After several days of sewing the mad scientist can say: 'It's Alive!'

I'm pretty happy with this guy. I even traced the pieces once I'd cut them out, so I'll be able to make him again. Sometimes I forget to do that and then have to work out the prototype not once but twice. I did this guy entirely handsewn. He's one of those larger 'art' toys I had been planning to make for a while and hadn't gotten myself started on.

He's kinda ferocious, watch out! ;)

An early morning dragon fight!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Mr Mousebear gets cloned

I hope you all had a happy Valentine's Day :) We had a pretty wonderful one here.

We took Esme to Jackson (an hour drive each way) yesterday for the first time. She did so well! She started making loud noises in the bookstore, but other than that she was alert and watching all the strange things for the whole trip. Luckily I fed her before we left so she didn't start getting hungry until the drive back home.

I'm not sure if any of you remember Mr. Mousebear that was made before Esme was born. At the time I didn't think much of him and had ended up putting him away with a few other unused things. About a month ago I pulled him out and gave him to Esme with the other toys I'd made. Since then he has become her ABSOLUTE favorite toy. She chews on him, pulls on his ears, tosses him about... it is so cute to watch. I really thought he was a mediocre or even subpar experiment until now. I'm sure it helps that I encourage her to chew on him (he's all cotton, so no fluff to get in her mouth). I think she's getting ready to teethe soon. He's also small enough I now let her have him at night in her bassinet and take him along in the car seat.

Esme with her Mr.Bear

Yesterday in Jackson I bought some various fabrics for cloning Mr.Bear. This is the first one. He has the same long middle, 9 inch high size and squishable arms and legs. I showed him and original Mr.Bear to Esme last night and she stared quizzically at the new one but didn't choose between them. I gave her back her own Mr.Bear and she hugged him tightly ;)

The first in a line of Mr.Bears for the Knitowl toy shop

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fingers and Toes

Fingers and Toes

'Talking' to Daddy

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Mad Scientist is Out...

I wanted to thank phyllistene and Jhoanna for sharing their wonderful stories and encouragement on yesterday's post. Both of you had enlightening comments and really made my day. I'd also like to further encourage others reading this blog to share their stories.

When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be Leonardo DaVinci (art, anatomy, mechanics.. all of it) and work at International Lights and Magic making puppets and robots. That was a little out of the ordinary, or so I'm told. Currently I'm in my lab doing genetic experiments which involve the reanimation of felt and stuffing. If there is success the creature will be seen here soon.

Also today I've ruined the tailgate of our truck, but that is a whole different matter and hopefully can be fixed to benefit.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Personal Paradox of the Peter Pan Complex...

Lend me your ears, and your thoughts.

For years I've had this artist's dilemma. I talk about it here once in a while. It's the paradox of the peter pan complex: 'I don't want to grow up.' I am grown up - but not the serious suit-and-tie type I imagined. I'm kind of relieved in that ;)

The paradox is that for years the thing I've done best has been making little playthings, whimsies and complicated art. It's why I dropped out of engineering to be an artist. That was very much unlike me at the time. I was quite close to the suit-and-tie type then. I worked 40 hours a week and spent most of the rest of my waking hours in the library etc... I was supposed to be working, not playing. Art was playing. It still is, but is that a bad thing?

Art and turning artistic ideas into something tangible is what I do best. I play at these things and encourage others to come play too... no matter if they are kids or kids at heart. I want to share the joy, whether it be in an object I make or a skill I teach so they can make their own.

In my art I encourage my eternal inner child. That is how she keeps wonder and excitement about the world. When I try to 'go work now' it is a whole different feeling. My inner child sits there and scribbles at her desk about the millions of things she'd like to go make. She has all the plans ready to go but I tell her to sit down and be quiet and do her homework. I hardly ever start on a hundredth of the things she has ideas about, because there isn't time, or there is other work to be done. Well maybe she has the right idea and I'm taking myself and what I imagine others expect of me too seriously.

I'm going to go scribble at my desk now. On purpose.

Share your own thoughts and stories. What is your passion and what happens if it doesn't seem practical at first glance?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Red Birds

Little red birds make me happy.

Esme makes me very happy. She likes her red bird too. Here she is telling me all about it. She has gotten very loud the past couple of days, but it's mostly happy loud and quite cute.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

Alien Monsters and tiny keychain friends

6 inch keychain aliens with lanyard

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Esme and Doddi

Esme isn't quite so crabby today. I was able to get a picture in before I went to town. It gives a better view of Doddi Bear's face than the last one :) Jhoanna is a very talented toy artist and uses so many different textures in her work. Here is Esme trying those textures out with her fingers. She is reaching out to touch everything now - her clothes, toys, blankets and more often than not my nose, ears, hair etc... Doddi's round fleece ears have already been in Esme's mouth as well ;)

I'm in Alien Monster Doll central today... there are stacks of them on the sewing machine and several lined up on the counter for the sewing of eyes and mouths.

Did you see the story of the baby thrown by the tornado here in Tennessee? Truly scary. I feel for both the poor mother (who died) and the baby boy who has to grow without her. If Esme was torn out of my arms during a disaster... *doesn't want to think about that*

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No Tornado Here last night

Memphis and Jackson, large cities to the west and south of us, were hit hard by tornadoes last night. They have a lot of damage. (The Jackson Sun Newspaper) Several buildings collapsed, were taken away or otherwise damaged. Several people were trapped in roof collapses and some were killed. There is a huge fire northeast of Nashville with flames up to 400 feet high. On a Fark thread we saw a picture someone had taken at midnight that looks like a beautiful red sunset, but is actually the fire viewed from 30 miles away.

Here we just got the scary wind, rain and hailstones. It got loud a couple of times and the scanner issued a tornado warning twice. Among all the 'road blocked by tree' reports on the scanner we heard that a barn had been deposited in a road to the south of us. That's funny in a way, but shows it was a powerful storm even by the time it got here!

Lynn emailed me this morning and said the storm that hit this area is now a blizzard up there. What weird weather!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More Severe Weather

More severe weather is coming in tonight. It is already raining sheets. It's been unseasonably warm, tornado weather Mark says. It was over 70 degrees this morning and I was sweating in a t-shirt walking at the flea market.

I'm working on the giraffe prototype more - it is more difficult than I had planned.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A new friend from Down Under

Esme is 3 months old today! She has also received a new friend from Australia, made just for her by Jhoanna of One Red Robin :) Thank you Jhoanna!

This is Doddi bear, and she is almost as big as Esme is herself! Esme really liked the red striped legs. She reached out to touch them immediately. However, she has been quite cranky today. She was in one of her 'I want to be held and you have to be moving all the time during it' moods. When she gets in that mood she cries whenever I set her down or sit down myself. It can get quite tiring :( I finally took her for a bath and she settled down soon after. I just got her down to a nap a few minutes ago.

Elizabeth now weighs just about the same Esme did when she was born! I went through all of Esme's clothes and picked out everything Esme has outgrown. It boggles my mind. Things I put aside two weeks ago as too big are now fitting. It's time to pass the outgrown clothes along and return the favor so many of our friends and family gave when they sent them to us.

5 inch rag doll
pattern available
at KnitOwl toys

I’m also able to announce a new small toy pattern for KnitOwl. It is this tiny rag doll that is just the right size for baby hands. It is five inches tall sitting and eight inches if you balance it on tiptoe like in the picture. I made a similar one for Esme last night and she was turning it all over in her hands grabbing on to the tiny arms and legs.

Esme looking 'shell-shocked' at the flash

Saturday, February 02, 2008

New Colonies of Alien Monster Dolls

Trio of aliens for Wendy (custom order) and Valentine's day aliens in shop

Friday, February 01, 2008


The second month of our new year and we are working hard
on some of the big questions of life.

Esme is working hard too, to grab her feet.
She hasn't succeeded yet, but I bet when she does the next task will be to get them in her mouth ;)