Friday, September 19, 2008

Amazing Wool....

Wool is amazing. My mom introduced me to needle felting about a year ago. If you've never heard of it's a crafting process where you take cleaned and carded sheeps wool and shape and sculpt it with a barbed needle. The needle pushes the fibers in and intertwines them. It's really an amazing thing! So, my mom shared some of her pre-processed (cleaned and carded) wool with me. There was some trial and error, but all in all I really liked the results I got. I made some adorable little bunny figures...some ducklings and chicks for Easter and some pumpkins for Halloween.

I liked them so much that I decided that I wanted to do alot more needle felting. But then I ran out of wool! Buying it online was kind of expensive and finding the right processed wool locally (or online) was hit or miss... Mostly it was rougher wool which makes for hairy/fuzzy sculptures... Ick! So I decided to try processing it myself!

One weekend when I was home visiting, my mom and I drove over to one of the local sheeps farms in upstate New York and met up with the owner who showed us lots and lots of garbage bags filled with raw fleece (sheared right from the sheep with gunk and all still attached!). Each bag contained one entire sheep's worth of wool. She even had some blue and red Saratoga County Fair ribbons on some (the same fair I used to show my cows at!)! (I thought to myself...make sure I don't get any red ribbon second place wool! lol) We told her what we were lookin
g for (fine wool with a soft, not course texture). And she dug and searched and opened bags for us to look and to feel and finally, we found the perfect one! She pulled it out, weighed it, money was exchanged and it was ours! I'd like to meet the sheep that it came from. Some of the bags had the sheep's respective names on them, but not ours... :(

Next we had to find carding paddles. For this we went to another local sheep where the woman has a whole barn filled with spinning, knitting and needle felting supplies.

Finally when I got back home to Boston I was ready to process the wool! After washing it several times (being very careful not to felt it accidentally... soap+wool+agitation=matted mess!) and letting it dry, I was ready to start carding it. And boy is that a lot of work!! I had to cut the yuckiest pieces off and just keep the soft pliable wool. Pull out big pieces of hay and grass. And then tiny piece by tiny piece, brush it out with the carding paddles. It's amazing how soft and fluffy it is afterward!

This is what is looks like AFTER it's washed. It's crimpy and kind of stuck together...but these carding paddles really do the trick! (And make for some sore arms and blistered hands!)

I still have alot more of it to card, but not without doing some sculpting in the mean time! Here's what I've made so far...and it's made from the EXACT same wool pictured above!

These are a little crying pumpkin head and a smiling vintagey pumpkin head. Can you believe that they used to be attached to a sheep?!

This little witch is proud of her origin!

This little guy was shocked to hear where he came from... lol

Wool really is an amazing material! Too itchy to wear in my opinion, but it makes for great crafting!!

All of these fellas are for sale right now at my Etsy store...check them out! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lookie what I got in the mail!!

Few things are more exciting than seeing a package with your name on it sitting on your door step. (And few things more disappointing than seeing a dilectible box and getting excited only to see your land lady's name on it...) Well...this is what I came home to on Friday and it had MY name on it!

Janie Mattern and I did a little swaparoo. She sent me one of her fabulous, spooky, but still pretty witch-bat girls. Everything was even better than I expected it to be! Very carefully and beautifully packaged, she included this FANTASIC and super cute dancing vintage cat tag. He is jointed so when you move his arms and legs in opposite directions, he looks like he's doing a jig! What an awesome awesome extra!! Ben liked him even better than the witch! But the goodness! I didn't realize how detailed she was just by looking at the photos in Janie's etsy shop! She is layered with dresden and tiny rhinestones and paper....She's jointed too so you can give her different body expressions. She also holds an adorable bat wand... I love love love her!!! I hung it on one of my old horse barn windows in the hallway. She's such a great start to the Halloween season and what a fantastic trade!!

Thank you so much Janie!! Your work is really fabulous and I urge everyone who loves Halloween to visit her shop! :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meet my Family...

Ok, I have a human family too, but I wanted to introduce you to my furry, finny, feathery family. They are a big part of my everyday life and they add so much to my life as a whole. The house is never quiet and never lonely with them around.

My kitty Magic has been with me since I was 9 years old! I found her in the hay mow at the farm one Halloween. She was a spunky fuzzy kitten then and she hissed and spat at me. I chased her until she ran into a small hole in between two bales of hay and got stuck. Just her little fuzzy butt and tail were sticking out. I left her there for just a few second while I ran across the driveway into my dad's workshop to grab a pair of his heavy duty gloves (I could see a cat scratch coming a mile away). She was still stuck when I returned and I grabbed her and held her close to me until a could find a box to put her in. She also had an orange tabby brother who hardly put up a fight at all when my brother captured him. With them both in the box, we went into my Grandmother's house to call my mom...praying she'd let us bring them home. When I told her Magic was all white with blue eyes, like the fancy feast cat (a bit of a stretch from the truth) she said "yes"! My brother named Magic's brother Don Milo.

Since then she has been my best friend, my cuddle buddy, and my confidant. She's still with me today and I hope she'll be with me for years to come. :)

Then of course are the silly goldfish. I've had many goldfish in the past 8 or so years, but this big guy, Frasco, has been with me the whole way. He was full grown when someone brought him, along with several other large fish into the pet store I worked in at the time (a horrible place by the way). Since they technically didn't belong to the pet store, I brought them home. Frasco is now approximately 11 or 12 years old and still gets excited to see me everytime I walk by the tank (he hopes I'll a Cheerio in for him). He lives with Little Guy, who I rescued from the feeder fish tank at the local pet store about two years ago. They live in a 55 gallon tank in my dining room where I can feed them bits of my breakfast and dinner (they love bread, cereal, cooked veggies and fried eggs!)

Little Blue is the sole fish in my salt water tank. I have lots of polyps and limpets and tube worms and crabs, but he is the only fish! I've had him for about two years...he's a bit territorial, so I think he likes having the whole tank to himself!

Then finally I have Sam and Michelle. They're a bickering pair of budgies who never keep quiet. While they hang out in their cage alot, the door is always open (Magic's a lover, not a and this is their favorite outside-the-cage hang out spot...on the cake pedestals in front of the mirror in my dining room cubby. They seem to always be annoyed with each other, yet you never see them apart. Parakeets are flock birds in the wild and like to be around other birds, even if they can't agree on anything! lol It's kind of sad to think about all of the parakeets sold individually by pet stores to live a life of solitude. It's ok if their owner is home all day to be companion, but that's rarely the case. They also need fresh greens (lettuce, broccoli, clover, dandlion leaves, etc.) almost everyday to have healthy long lives. Pet stores don't tell you this either. Grrrr...that makes me mad. These darn pet stores are only out to make a buck (I should know, I used to work at one in the mall!). The only pet store I've ever encountered that I feel good about is PetSmart. They don't sell cats and dogs (they adopt them out and then you can buy the food, supplies, etc. at their store) and they take great care of their small animals and fish. Sometimes you'll even see little treats of veggies in the fish tanks for them to eat! :)

Animals provid endless love to loving humans and are really important in the lives of many people all over the world. Good pets reduce stress levels and provide some of the best companionship around. Who doesn't love to be greeted at the door by a wagging tail? (Yes Magic runs to the door meowing to be picked up and held everytime I get home.) I hope to invite many other animals to come live with me in the future.

There are so many animals out there in need of loving homes. There are sheltors who even adopt out small animals like birds and rodents. Check your local listings for sheltor numbers. You can also donate to help animals in need by visiting It feels good to help and feel even better for the animals you'll help save. :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

More treasures from Brimfield!

Sadly, the third and final Brimfield Antiques Show of the year has come and gone...but not before I grabbed some goodies! Yesterday was the last day of the show...AKA: Good Bargains Day. I've discovered that the best deals usually come from older gentlemen who leave most of their wares out in the rain. They're pretty nonchalant and will practically give their stuff gabbing them up a little bit never hurts and they often have some pretty interesting stories to tell!

Anyway, I got this really fabulous turquoises piano from a great guy with white hair for only $10!! It's about the length of a loaf of bread and really plays (luckily he didn't let this one get rained on)! Ben plays the piano so I told myself I was getting it for him. Even though it was really more like 80% for me and 20% for him. Still I think he appreciated it. I also found loads of vintage doll house furniture and mini animals. Baby blocks and old sweet faced dolls. Plus a doll in scary condition. I bought her just for her head and threw away her hair and was much too damaged to save. The white birdcage sits on top of our entertainment cabinet. And isn't that old miniature clock just fabulous?! You turn it with a key and it really works!

Some of these items I'll be selling in my vintage and supplies Etsy store this week. Go and check it out! :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bugs make everything better!

No need to be squimish... These bugs are cute! I just finished these little buggers (couldn't resist the corny pun). They're miniatures at only about 3" tall each. There's
Lizzie Lady Bug, Billy Bumble Bee and Molly Moth. They're my way of holding onto that last bit of summer!

Now... anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE bugs! Some, I understand, are a little scary, but living in New England I'm at ease to know that there really are very few very poisonous creepy crawlies in this neck of the woods. Some will bite, some will sting...but for the most part, they're very misunderstood creatures.

Take earwigs for example. You know the old myth about how they crawl into your ears and eat your brain or something silly like that? Well, those scary looking pincher's they have on their backside are used for courtship and aren't strong enough to hurt you at all. Wasps are another widely misunderstood creature. These predators are great for pest control and if you see one in your house, just let in crawl onto a piece of cardboard or other sturdy surface and bring it outside. They only sting when they get scared (imagine what you would do when startled by a much larger creature whose fingernail is bigger than your whole body!) When I was a kid I saved many a wasp in great haste from my wasp squishing father by letting them crawl onto my finger and walking swiftly outside with them and then letting them crawl onto a leaf. Never once was I stung doing this!

Ok, ok...enough about my less than normal fascination with bugs. They just have it so hard...being so tiny in such a huge, huge world!

Anyway, I hope you like these little critters I whipped up! They'll be for sale on
Etsy soon! :)