Wool Gathering 2010

With a sated grin, I’m here to report on this year’s Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, which at this point is my only fiber festival each year. I have to say that this year is the very best it’s ever been, only shortcoming being that it was impossible to do the entire place “well” in just one day, as it’s grown dramatically this year! If I’d not had my focus list, I’d never have seen even half of it, and as it was, much of what I did see was just as I cruised past. Much to my chagrin, there were many booths to which I wanted to return, but I simply ran out of time – not that I didn’t find a “few” things that did come home with me. I’ve just never had it play out that I couldn’t go back for those few special things that were sticking in my mind as “must buys” – you know, the ones you walk away from, then can’t get out of your mind later… Anyway, in addition to the increased size, I was also struck by how much “tidier” the grounds looked this year. This isn’t in reference to litter, but rather to the set up. It just had a clean and organized appearance which was nice and approachable. Somehow, they also managed to arrange for lovely weather, though the big tents in particular became extremely warm by the middle of our sunny afternoon. My biggest challenge was that this was my first major outing since I fell, and I have to confess that I arrived home last night somewhere beyond exhausted, feeling a bit like someone who has been an invalid for the past two months and tried to forget that fact for a day…ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have to confess that when I arrived and saw three main tents and more, I felt a bit like an Indy driver at the starting line so neglected to take any pictures of the venue. I’m glad that I started out in the smaller livestock tent first, though. If I’d not gone then, I would have run out of time. In the past, there either hasn’t been a livestock tent or it’s been elsewhere and I’d not seen it. I could have spent several hours in there happily taking pix as I watched the goats, sheep, and llamas (and would have had better shots had I done so), but even though my time was much shorter, I had fun, and I’m SO grateful to those who brought their animals to share with us.

Shropshire Sheep

Finn Sheep – Extra fun for me to see since I bought a Finn fleece a few months ago

Tunis Sheep – VERY fun since I’d taken the notion that I wanted a Tunis fleece this year! Quite endearing with their ultra white coats and sweet brown faces. ๐Ÿ™‚

Border Leicester Sheep – Undoubtedly the “ugly duckling” here, but looking ever so dignified and intelligent, and I took quite a shine to them. They were fascinated by the children’s train ride directly outside the tent and would run to watch each time it started up. I meant to go back and get one of their fleeces, but ran out of time, so will have to contact the owner later.

Mystery critter – This pen was not identified, that I saw, and was the least cooperative of the bunch when it came to picture taking. I didn’t manage get even a half decent shot of my favorite, a shiny locked little white gal, who I could have brought home in a heartbeat if I didn’t live in the middle of town! She was an angora goat, but I have no idea what this endearing fellow is.

Llama – Definitely the prima donna of the entire livestock tent, posing and repositioning, then giving me this look like, “You are going to take another picture, of course?”

There were also alpacas and of course, a profusion of angora bunnies, but they were in the vendor tents and by the time I got to them, my camera was buried under ummm… a few things… ๐Ÿ˜‰

A definite highlight of the day was meeting up with some online friends, members of the Handprepared Fibers Group on Yahoo. What fun to put smiles and voices names!

I had a mission list – things I needed to find and some people I definitely wanted to see, and as mentioned earlier, this kept me moving. I ended up getting very little that wasn’t on my list, but I did still find some wonderful surprises!

I called The Yarn Shop in Columbus at the end of last week, and they brought my Seville pattern to the show. ๐Ÿ™‚ This pattern is a spinner’s dream! It has 6 sizes in the pattern, plus each size is written for 3 different yarn weights. It could easily be made in a half dozen ways and look totally different each time, I think. I also found a pound of black merino (with crimp this time!) to blend with my nasty no crimp stuff detailed in my Double Detour post. When I did the math, I realized I wasn’t going to get enough yarn from the 14 ounces I had (duh!), and I’m guessing the finished yarn will only be improved by the addition of some crimp anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Added bonus is that I got my black merino from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers for half of the best price I’d found in my quick search online. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also got an 8 oz. black Suri alpaca batt from MOA Handknits, but I decided I wouldn’t post pix of either of those items. Somehow, black fiber tends to look like black fiber, not very interesting to see in a photo, no matter how marvelous it is in person. And the Suri is definitely that! It was delicious enough to entice be to purchase it before I finished my rounds!

I seldom spent much time at the booths that sell basic supplies and manufactured yarn lines, since I can get those items easily at other times, but while I was picking up my pattern at The Yarn Shop’s booth, these neat little charms caught my eye – and came home with me. They are called Sig’nits, and they are designed to be knit onto a project in the same fashion as beads are added. They are nice quality, and I couldn’t resist. Besides, I knew what I was doing with them about 2 seconds after I spotted them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I always have to find some little trinket to bring home for “the girls.” This year the Bleuettes got these cute little sheep from Three Bags Full. The Hittys got a surprise gift from a vendor. The tiny llama in the next picture is nearly identical to a large one I have, and it was gifted to me with my purchase from La Llama Place, a booth I spent a very long time enjoying! The llama will look ever so cute standing on their knickknack shelf. ๐Ÿ™‚

I brought home all sorts of goodies from Peru. ๐Ÿ™‚ The beautifully made knitted doll came from Cupola Alpacas, and she will go on my high shelves in the sewing room.ย  The beads, finger puppet, and llama were from La Llama Place, which specializes in treasures from Peru, as well as items from Mexico and Central America. My best treasures from that booth are…

these two spindles

and this backstrap loom and weaving, which was such an exciting find for me that I couldn’t possibly walk away and come back later, despite my resolve to complete my list shopping before digressing into other items. I just had to have it! Neat or what? ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve been told that the piece of tubular weaving is very special stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

When previewing the vendor list, I was thrilled to see that two Etsy sellers I frequent were having booths this year. It was definitely a high (and costly!) priority to meet them in person. I have to say that both ladies were as delightful in person as they’ve been online, and they both managed to lighten my purse a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

From Lunabud Knits, I bought these gorgous silk noils as a gift for my drum carder…

some yummy angelina, and one of my fleeces (hang on a minute!). She also insisted on toting my fleeces out to my car for me because of my leg, and it was NOT a short trek! She said she wanted to stretch her legs, but I think it’s more that she’s a genuinely nice person. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Whatever the reason, she’s got a customer for life!

I’ve always found the Fiber Optic shop on Etsy to be a wee bit overwhelming, but I have to say that Kimber Baldwin’s booth is exponentially more so! At shows she has items that never make it to Etsy. ‘Nough said? I took Catenary along with me so I could show her what I spun from some of her fiber, and I came away with seven times as much as I’ve already spun – and that was with seriously slapping my hands!!! This BFL should keep me busy for at least a little while. I know what I’m doing with all of it, but it’s going to take a bit of thinking and planning to execute. Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

Of my three remaining goals, one I didn’t accomplish, as I could not find any black dyed BFL anywhere. Another was to buy A (as in one) fleece. I have to confess that I more than made up for the lack of black BFL. Somehow or other, my “fleece” multiplied and I brought home:

1. Okay, my first fleece was an accident. I had several possibilities in mind, but none of them were Cormo x Romeldale lamb. Of course, if I’m not going to buy something so delectably lamby delicious, I shouldn’t look, right? This came from Denise’s Fleeces, and I’ve managed to mislay my receipt, so I don’t know how much it weighs, just that it’s soft and crimpy and wonderful…

2. My second fleece was a traditional buy for me, and one I’d considered ahead of time. The first fleece I ever bought came from Jackie Deems of Amazing Grace Farm (and was actually two fleeces, since I was unable to choose just one.) This year’s fleece came from Sarah, a white Shetland, and weighs 4 pounds. I’d gone with white in mind, since I’m going to be doing some dyeing this coming year. My tendency to buy colored fleeces sort of handicaps me there… ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. By the time I found this fleece, I was nearly to the end of the third and last tent, and scanning ahead, I’d not seen any more fleeces anywhere. Since I obviously wasn’t going to have my Tunis (sigh…), I decided I “needed” this pretty BFL fleece, donated by Emma, and sold at the Wool ‘n Wood booth. I “tried” to buy a colored fleece, but just kept coming back to this appealing 2 pounds, so ended up with a third white fleece. I justified it to myself by saying that it’s SO different from the other two, and preparing and spinning different fleeces will be great experience for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ With 3 fleeces – and still thinking I was going back to grab that Border Leicester – I was most definitely done fleece shopping – or so I thought…

4. But while hanging out at the Lunabud booth, I mentioned that I’d hoped to find a Tunis fleece, but no one had any.ย  Moments later, she was pulling from under the table, a Tunis/Targhee cross, which she was selling for a friend. She had several, but since I’d gone looking for a Tunis, I took this one, as she assured me that it leaned much more toward the Tunis than the Targhee. I felt SO guilty buying yet another fleece, but since I’d gone after a Tunis… And this one was the biggest of them all – somewhere around 5 pounds! Obviously, I’m not likely to run out of fleece this winter, but storage space is another story!!! In my defense, at least all four are distinctly different… ๐Ÿ˜€

And now I’m down to one last booth to share – one that was on my list to visit early. I’d decided several months ago that this was the year I was buying my wool combs from Ben, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t sell out or anything crazy like that before I got to the booth.

I do love his combs! They pack together in a compact, locked kit when not in use, then everything comes apart and the perfect economy of the set is evident as each piece has a second purpose. On top of that, he builds them from walnut and cherry and other lovely woods, then sells them for a very competitive price. Such a delight!

The really big surprise for me was that it paid off for me to get to his booth early. I almost inevitably save it for last, as I’m often buying a large, awkward item, but the combs were small and would fit in my pack, you see… They netted me an early bird bonus though, and I’m grinning from ear to ear over this find!

He’d built two pickers, then decided not to make any more. I now own one of the two! A picker was on my fantasy list for someday, but the combination of the large size and matching price made that seem a bit unlikely to happen. Ben’s small picker was VERY affordably priced, and its compact size is perfect for me, not to mention that it’s pretty! If you want to get in touch with Ben, he has an Etsy shop, though it never has anywhere near all the wonderful items he makes. You can convo him and ask about his hackles (next year for me!), skein winder, drying racks, marudais, and more. Tell him I sent you… ๐Ÿ˜‰

As thrilled as I am with my booty from Woolgathering this year, this and the backstrap loom are the stars of the show for me, both wonderful finds that were only untouchable fantasies for me until the moment they materialized so unexpectedly. Then I topped it all off with one of my all-time favorite desserts, a hot apple dumpling with cinnamon ice cream at Young’s Jersey dairy. Happy day for sure! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Christmas 2009 – Part 3

Before I start, the kitchen ceiling is still hanging in there – literally! Newest update is that DH claims to have caulked several days ago, but since the worst of the damage and the leak appeared after he says he did it, I’d say that there was definitely something lacking in his technique. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The dripping stopped briefly this morning, but a couple hours after his shower it started up again, so obviously, it’s not cured…

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How do I know I’m too busy? I’m just now starting to put away my Christmas gifts – a month after Christmas Eve! It’s hard to believe that as I’m writing this, a month ago at this moment, we were just starting on the final leg of our “adventure” trying to get to our daughter’s house for Christmas… The reason I’m squeezing this task of putting gifts away in right now, is that I need the box in which I toted my gifts home. It’s the perfect size to gather the parcels coming in for the 2010 Bleuette Stash Swap. (There’s still time to join!) Otherwise I fear it would have continued the way it has up until now with me grabbing something from the box when I want/need it for something, and I might have still been putting things away at my birthday in June!

I thought I’d take a few quick pictures and share what everybody got for me, because I think I received some neat stuff, even if it is somewhat lacking in fiber… ๐Ÿ˜‰

For paper crafting, hubby bought me a Bind It All (neglecting to get me any accessories whatsoever, so I’ve not been able to try it yet) and a new design card for my Slice machine. He didn’t understand that there were different cards and just bought one off ebay. Thankfully he got one I didn’t have already – and now I don’t need to re-prioritize when I make my birthday list. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you don’t know, the Slice is a compact design cutter with hundreds of shapes and fonts in a multitude of sizes. The design cards are very well priced and contain clever and useful designs and a themed font. I’m not sure where those folks at Making Memories get their ideas, but they think like I do – and it’s an affordable system if you shop smart. ๐Ÿ™‚ The Bind It All is a Zutter creation – again a compact machine. It slots pages and covers, then installs wire bindings, turning anything you wish into a book. In addition to the paper crafting applications, I’m thinking it will be nice to be able to bind such things as my Queen Susan Shawl print outs and other ebook downloads, so I can easily put them on my bookshelf with my other knitting books.

I received a nice assortment of doll related items this year, including a lovely Bleuette dress, china paints, and the complete Re-ment Bread and Butter set, which thrilled the Hitty gang. I wish I knew who had made the dress, but he bought it on ebay, and it didn’t come with a tag or sewn in label. It’s very nicely made, and I’m sorry I don’t know who to praise for the workmanship. We haven’t decided who gets to wear it yet (After all, it IS short sleeved and not seasonable right now.), but there is going to be a clamor among the early girls when they see it!

My younger daughter condescended to walk through the door of an antique shop and found an adorable baby tintype for me, which contrasted amusingly with the “purrfect” pet cat mannequin she picked up for me elsewhere. I love both of these surprise gifts, which just goes to show what an eclectic nut I am!

And last, but very certainly not least, is this wonderful mobile! When I was in Honduras the last time, I fell in love with it, but I’d spent my money by the time I saw it, so I had to leave it behind. My older daughter told DH how fond I was of it, so he had her bring it home when she was up on furlough. What a surprise it was to find it among my gifts! Other than just being an attractive sculpture, when the ball at the bottom is tugged and released, the bird begins a slow, graceful flapping that is utterly enchanting – very peaceful and rather addictive! I’m trying to figure out where he will be best hung now. The wingspan is rather wide, and he really argues with my somewhat Victorian decor. That’s not going to stop me from having him somewhere that I see him often, though. I just need to work on finding the perfect long term location – and that is NOT hanging from the ceiling fan chain! :))

Christmas 2009 Part 1

Remember? I said I’d get to this eventually! Honestly, I’d have probably let it slide except it was pretty special to me. I HAD to share!

When my daughter came home on furlough in November, back when I was offline for so long, she brought me both my birthday gift and Christmas gift for last year, and I think she really outdid herself. I wanted to show off her work!

My daughter doesn’t have a Bleuette, but she’s an excellent seamstress, so she arranged with AnneLise Wilhelmsen of Londonberries to get one of her patterns. Working from that pattern, which she customized, and using fabric she purchased in Honduras, she made this lovely dress for Josianne Carol (Mary Raleigh Daisyette). Josianne is thrilled, as the only thing she had to wear until now simply did not suit her. Now she’s wanting me to make her shoes and socks. Reminds me of the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for some reason…

Then, with nothing to go by except the pattern, DD guestimated the measurements and produced an outfit for Elayna Noelle (Raikes Bobette “Brandy”), modeled after the Guatemalan huipils. This suits Elayna so well that it looks as if she’d going shopping with her in mind, but she actually made it having no idea that Elayna had been craving a Central American outfit of some sort. I can’t imagine what I could make her in the future that would convince her to change out of this ensemble!

Just the other day, I overheard the girls whispering, wondering when their “big sister” might be coming home for another visit. Any wonder? ๐Ÿ™‚

Goals Post – Forward to 2010!

Perhaps this post should be titled “Living in Dreamland.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s unquestionably the most ambitious list of goals I’ve ever set out at the beginning of the year, and I’ve not ever completed my shorter lists, but my philosophy of goals remains that having a higher target means I hit more, even if I don’t complete them all. The most important factor for me is to remain realistic in that I remember it IS an overly ambitious list, and that anything I do accomplish is a victory; it’s not a defeat to not do all of it. These are goals to help me stay on track, not requirements that identify whether I’m a worthwhile person!

That said, here are my goals for 2010:

My online miniatures group is doing a goals based project, and we were asked to spell out five mini goals, so I will start with those:

  1. Finish the interior and/or exterior of Friendship Cabin, a Real Good Toys Adirondack Cabin that we started several years ago, but which has languished untouched since sometime before the beginning of 2009. Here’s the album where I chronicled our first days working on the project.
  2. Finish my Gail Wilson Hitty, which was started with enthusiasm during the online class, worked on for three nights, and now has the rest of the girls giving me โ€œthe lookโ€ for not getting their sister done. I have a little glitch in the painting, and since this is a challenging project for me anyway, the moment I encountered a problem, I put her away for a time when I could really feel relaxed. ‘Nuff said? :S
  3. Finish my Teresa Layman Cottage By the Sea project โ€“ actually barely started, and a massive project for someone who really doesnโ€™t like embroidery or French knots. This will be a rug for Friendship Cabin.
  4. Finish my Boat Sampler โ€“ stitched on silk gauze โ€“ lots to go on it, but most of the hardest part is completed. Like the Layman project, I started this on our last cruise. Unlike the Layman project, I loved working on this one, so I did quite a bit more of it. Also belongs in Friendship Cabin, and perhaps will be finished on another cruiseโ€ฆ
  5. Knit something tiny โ€“ size 4/0 needles or smaller โ€“ probably something for my future miniature yarn shop

Fiber Goals:

  1. See #5 in the miniatures
  2. Publish at least 4 knitting patterns – should actually be more than this, as I have 3 projects that just need the paperwork part of this goal in order to be ready. The paperwork is the hard part of course… I’m knitting my next shawl design right now, and I’ve promised another KAL for the spring, so I’m going to be busy with this!
  3. Finish my spinning wheel – I can’t believe this sat untouched for an entire year. Where on earth did the time go??? The staining is about half done, but it’s an involved project. Once that’s done, I need to finish and assemble it.
  4. Learn to use said wheel
  5. Knit a project from wool Iโ€™ve cleaned and spun, using a pattern Iโ€™ve designed – I have a bit of a jumpstart on this, as I’ve cleaned a goodly pile and picked some of it already.
  6. Stash all my yarn on Ravelry โ€“ yes, maybe Iโ€™ll get it completed this yearโ€ฆ – Starting with 550
  7. Get competent purling continental. I think I need to have a dedicated project for this… maybe a washcloth. ๐Ÿ™‚
  8. Make another 2 pairs of socks for myself (maybe Iโ€™ll get the next done before I wear holes in what I have?) This was one pair until a friend twisted my arm and said I should try for two โ€“ and one pair has to be top down, to boot! Bad thing here is that I also promised a pair to my daughter, so this means three pair this year, when I’ve never done more than one. Gulp!
  9. Finish at least 3 of the projects currently languishing in my WIP/UFO tubs โ€“ items started before July 1, 2009. This one will also be a challenge. I love the stuff in my UFO tub, even though it’s all pretty good at inducing guilt. I’ve found that designing really slows down the knitting, though, especially on other people’s patterns!

Other Creative Goals:

  1. Finish at least one of the remodeling projectsโ€ฆ sighโ€ฆ Acceptable candidates are the kitchen (which is in the impossible dream category), painting the door to my future studio (easy), or finishing the nook, laundry room, or my sewing room. Nook and laundry room both depend on hubby – most especially the nook – though I have a load of work to do in those two areas, too.
  2. Organize my computer photos, then print and label as I think necessary. I’m rereading this and laughing at the thought of actually getting it done, but…
  3. Spend at least a few minutes every week making music – LOVE doing this, but I’ve really ignored this part of my life for the last few years. Looking for a flute – like I need more instruments around here?
  4. Learn my new camera – for starters, needing to know why I can’t take a decent close up with a camera that cost this much!
  5. Make up a Gail Wilson kit โ€“ see mini goal #2
  6. Finish Reba – poor thing! Her sisters were finished in 2006 (pix in this album) but my teacher suddenly stopped classes with Reba just one firing away from being done. Every attempt I’ve made to get her fired since then has ended in failure. Need to get a kiln up and going here so I don’t have to depend on anyone else.
  7. Make a pair of socks on my CSM – This could be anything from amazingly easy to a terrible headache, based on things I’ve heard. First task is getting the new needles and such that I need.
  8. Probably crazy, but I joined a Navajo style weaving Yahoo group, and now I have the bug to weave something, even if itโ€™s small. I’m torn between tri-loom and Navajo style, but would adore trying both. One item is enough to qualify.
  9. Move one of my dolls from hospital patient status to display status โ€“ maybe Aaron, so he can show off his adorable knitted romper? He is on this page.

Personal Goals โ€“ and these tend to have a very familiar ring to them:

  1. End the year 25 pounds lighter than I started it. Why is this so hard?!
  2. Read 100 books
  3. End the year debt free โ€“ both money and promises made
  4. Go somewhere new โ€“ state or country. I have a life goal of visiting all 50 states and all 7 continents, and I need to keep at it if I’m going to succeed!
  5. Clean out one of my email accounts – frighteningly big project, but I’ve made a lot of progress already in the first two days of the year. It’s amazing how quickly this can fall behind again, though.
  6. I have a challenge with a friend to blog at least once each week
  7. Solidly memorize the scripture verses on my calendar
  8. Get the treadmill inside – Sounds like no big deal, but it’s going to need cleaned up, and the area where it belongs is packed solid with things that don’t belong where they are – which aren’t where they belong because their spots are filled with stuff that doesn’t belong where it is, which… well… you get the idea!

Running Away From Home

(As always, please excuse these stupid out of focus pictures. I’ve still not managed to get my camera problems resolved – too much going on! Also, at least as of this moment, I’m finding the photos to be showing up somewhat sporadically. If you see a big blank spot with the word “Atlanta” and a number, it means a picture is supposed to be there. Try clicking on the title of this post. For some reason, I’m seeing different photos when I do that.)

So, last week, on rather short notice, I ran away from home. A friend wrote in the middle of June, asking if I’d like to go to Atlanta for the UFDC Convention. I had next to no money, but I couldn’t resist the draw of some time away from home, so as crazy as the idea was, I said yes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I knew I could scratch together enough for my flight and my share of the room (which wasn’t inexpensive!), but past that, I would have to depend on peanut butter crackers, potential birthday money, and whatever sales I could stimulate in the few weeks before the trip. Happily, I came up with enough that I could eat one cheap meal out each day and have something to spend in the sales rooms, and a last minute addition of another roommate made it even a bit better. Still, I have to say that it was really tough being in such a fantastic sea of awesome dolls and accessories with so very little money, and there were a couple of wonderful dolls I lost out on because they were just a little beyond what I had in my pocket. But I didn’t come home empty handed –ย  and now that it’s a week after the event, I don’t even mind having eaten so much peanut butter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Hotels that look like this inside don’t come with cheap rooms…

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View out our window – see the capitol building?

Martine and Hitty Darlene went along with me, so they did a bit of looking around for treasures. Hitty D. found little in her price range that she liked, but she was quite pleased with the pretzel, which reminded her very much of the huge German pretzels one can purchase at Englischer Gartens in Munich.

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She really wished she had money to purchase the great bobbin lace pillow, but it was definitely out of her price range,

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and the horse was fun to ride, but she couldn’t imagine paying $200 for it!

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Martine, with some judicious bargaining and her sweet smile, brought home all sorts of goodies for her brothers and sisters, and a pair of Joyce Nicholsen’s espadrilles for herself. The little doll in the trunk is one of Alison Harwood’s fantastic creations. Jean-Paul apparently already ran off with his little wooden floor puzzle. Martine has promised to teach Gayelle to knit with the dress kit she bought for her. The purse is “so Malloree” that I chipped in a little bit of my money when Martine found herself a bit short at the end of the day.

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We also picked out a few pieces of fabric.

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And I bought a little something for my sewing room…

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I really had a strong desire to bring home a new doll this year, but on my budget, the only things I was finding I could afford were the mundane – which I really don’t need. I’m definitely sufficiently stocked with those. If money were no object (That will be the day!), this is the one doll I’d have had to have owned. She wasn’t the most expensive doll there by a long shot, but she’s the one who stole my heart most completely.

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This beautiful Kestner pink tint, covered wagon, china I thought was going to be mine. She wasn’t priced too badly, but still out of my range, but since it was the end of the last day of the show when I found her, I took the info and intended to contact the seller in a few weeks. However, I went back a half hour later and she was gone – sold. I embarrassed myself by crying. I’d so wanted her! However, she was $25 more than every penny I’d brought along, so…

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I did find someone to come home with me, though, and she’s a pretty little gal who is unlike anyone else I have, so a nice addition to the family. And I could actually afford to adopt her, which was a big plus. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s an ABG Dolly Madison china doll, from the early 1870’s, about 25″ tall. Clothes are not original, nor do they come remotely close to fitting her. In fact, they are so small that it’s going to be a trick getting the dress off of her. Her seller was a bit of a sourpuss, too, so she was more than happy to come home with me. I’m looking forward to having some time to dress her more appropriately, and I’m hoping I happen to have at least some underthings to fit her – though I’m not holding my breath on that count.

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On Friday, we went to the Atlanta History Center. We saw some wonderful stuff there, but sadly weren’t allowed to bring any of it home in pictures, making it hard to retain what we saw and learned during our visit. These are two of the period homes which we toured – the Swan House and the Tulley Smith Plantation, two totally different types of homes, and each utterly charming in its own way.

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And our trip through town netted me one of my favorite styles of city pix. ๐Ÿ™‚

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And in addition to the touring and shopping, there was all sorts of great fun, meeting a number of people I’d only known online until now, room parties, aching feet, and the pride of conquering the public transit system in Atlanta… All in all a very nice week!

Today’s Guest Blogger

I’d like to introduce you to today’s guest blogger, a charming gal I just found out about a couple of weeks ago. She was born in Hong Kong and has just recently moved to the United States, and I’m very happy to say that this young lady is going to be living here in our home for the foreseeable future. I’ll add a few words in closing, but for now, I’d like to turn the computer over to Miss Melodie Pascaline.

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Hello, Everybody!

Wow! This is really exciting! I never dreamed I’d be blogging, especially so soon after my arrival here in the States. It’s been a very exciting day for me, and I hardly know where to begin! I guess the best thing is for me to just tell you about myself.

As Maman just told you, I was born in Hong Kong, and my first memories are from Ruby Red Galleria, where I lived temporarily with quite a few of my sisters. We were told that we were very special girls, as we are the first ever resin Bleuettes, and we would have the important job of being ambassadors to everyone we met, so they could see just how special we are. About two weeks ago, I learned that I had been assigned a forever home in Ohio, so I snuggled down into my satin travel blanket for the 2 week long trip halfway around the world, and arrived safe and sound Monday morning, the day after Easter. (That’s why my middle name is Pascaline.) At the same time she adopted me, my wise maman also bought several pairs of shoes, some undies and a sailor dress for me, and a couple of extra wigs, which I understood I was taking to America for some of my new sisters.

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I really think Maman likes me very much! She keeps saying that I’m much cuter than my photographs, and she loves my silky smooth skin. She’s also impressed with what she calls my range of movement, a term which I don’t quite understand, but I do know she asked me to do all sorts of things while she took lots of pictures. I don’t want to talk too much (Everyone says I do that all the time.), so I’m going to let you see the pictures instead, if you don’t mind too much.

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See my pretty little ears? Maman says that if I write a very nice post, she will get me some earrings, too!

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I really impressed her with the way I sit so prettily, and she was amazed that I can hold my hands so neatly in front of me.

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I can rub my belly and pat my head perfectly! Can you?

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Holding items in my hands is very easy for me, which is good, because I don’t want to let go of my Ruby Red Galleria shoes. They fit absolutely perfectly over the pretty hand knit socks Maman found in the accessory tub here, and I think some of the other girls are a little bit jealous, as they say their shoes pinch their toes and some even have to go entirely without socks. Not me! I get to wear the special socks and really pretty shoes both!

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This is myย  sailor suit from Ruby Red Galleria. It’s really nice! The jacket is fully lined with slippery fabric that just glides right on and feels great against my skin. The trims are fine and just right for my size, and it fits perfectly – even the hat! See how well I can salute? And I can stand all by myself quite easily, even in my shoes!

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And I’m the best one here for playing peekaboo with the babies!

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You should have heard Jean-Paul giggling!

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Now I ask you this: what is there not to love?

Maman, did I do well? When do I get the earrings???

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Oh dear… What an interesting little gal! You can see by that determined jaw of hers that she’s got character. ;o) And she talks a bleue streak!

There were a few things I wanted to add to her comments, coming from an adult, human perspective. I was slightly hesitant about the thought of a resin “Bleuette,” but I honestly couldn’t pass up the price, and I have to admit the photos on the site stole my heart. I must have looked at them three dozen times or more in the space of two days before I decided I absolutely had to arrange an adoption. I have no regrets!

One thing I would like to address is the concept of a Bleuette in resin, which might seem rather strange. No, she can’t “really” be called a Bleuette, but then the truth is that none of our reproduction girls can legitimately bear that title either; we just call them Bleuettes and love them dearly, even though most of them aren’t antique originals, but rather Bleuettes in heart. It amazes me to see this little girl carrying so much of the Bleuette feeling, while having a look of her very own, and she blends in beautifully sitting with all her new sisters. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Bleuette was always cutting edge in fashion and style of doll, changing from bisque to compo and then finally to hard plastic, and I believe that it’s very likely that if G-L was still manufacturing Bleuette today, 50 years later, she would have an extremely good chance of being very much like this little lady, resin and all. I think it’s fun to see what might have been entirely possible come true.

Melodie is beautifully made. She’s a little startling at first touch, as her skin is flawlessly smooth, and she’s much heavier than a bisque or compo doll of the same size. She’s also much better balanced than a bisque doll, since her body is resin, too, meaning she isn’t top heavy. The body is beautifully engineered. Although it looks very much like the popular bodies we see on our reproduction dolls, it is far more posable, not only achieving more positions more easily and showing more flexibility, but also in that it holds those positions, which are tweakable even in very fine degree. And there is no “restless leg syndrome” here. If you aren’t a dyed in the wool traditionalist, and you love playing with and staging your Bleuettes, but the legs and other posing problems drive you nuts, this just may be the perfect answer for you.

Other things to note: The pate is a removable resin dome that is held in place with an integral resin hook and a strong magnet. I believe this is similar to BJD’s, but might be new to many Bleuette people. The eyes are accessible and are puttied in with some sort of flexible compound that allows them to be readjusted or even changed. I chose to tweak the alignment on Melodie’s, knowing that even the tiniest change can greatly affect the overall appearance of a doll’s expression. I’m not quite sure I’m done tweaking. ;o)

Because of the slickness of the resin, gluing a wig in place isn’t very feasable, but the company recommends attaching the wig with Velcro. I know a lot of people choose to do that on their bisque dolls anyway. Looking inside the wig, I see that all I need do is add the burr side of some Velcro to her head, as there are receiving pads already in place inside the wig. Until I get some thin Velcro, we are using double-sided tape.

I also bought 3 pairs of shoes and three wigs from Ruby Red Galleria, and I’m very impressed with them all. The wigs are an especial pleasure – probably the nicest doll wigs I have ever purchased – and I could not be happier with them! I’ve bought from every single one of the major wig companies and some individuals, from budget models to budget buster, but these stand alone! There is no wig cap showing through skimpy hair, requiring a brush over or constant hat wearing. Instead, there is full, generous coverage of soft and lovely hair. The wigs are scaled perfectly for the doll, and they are trimmed nicely and curled tightly and evenly. The three I bought were ready to go on dolls straight out of the package, which is, in my experience, nearly unheard of. This is really important to me, as I’m severely hair handicapped. If a wig doesn’t start out great, it’s not going to work for me, and I have a pet peeve with paying money for an expensive wig that has to be styled before it can even be worn by a doll. These wigs are quite simply perfect. The only thing I will be changing is that they use the little silicone bands to secure braids and pull backs. Experience has shown me that those bands are fairly short lived, so I will be swapping them out for secure thread wraps, which will stand the test of time, while not doing any damage to the hair. That is one thing I can actually do to hair. ;o)

One last glowing comment about Ruby Red Galleria… Their customer service is fantastic! Communication is prompt and sufficient to let you know you have been well tended. My parcel arrived in just two weeks, which is really not bad at all for the distance it came. My order had one small error in it, which they told me about before it even arrived, and in correcting it, they have gone far above and beyond any company with which I’ve ever dealt. To be quite blunt, I’m absolutely amazed, and it would be wonderful if more companies handled their business in such an honorable and service oriented manner. I’m an extremely happy customer, and I’m looking forward to placing my next order with these great people. Three cheers for Ruby Red Galleria!!!

The Loot!

At last! As of midnight it was finally time to open the Stash Swap packages! (Click here if you didn’t see the original post a few days ago.) The boys had been guarding the pile all week, armed with pea shooters. They were just sure the girls wouldn’t be able to stay out of trouble – or so they said. I think they just wanted the opportunity to be obnoxious… Anyway, when the clock struck twelve, the party was on!

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There were many excited exclamations, more than a few shouts of “MINE!” and lots of planning and page turning in the pattern books, to be sure. Our loot included:

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  • Fat quarter of plaid silk
  • Fat quarter of crimped organdy type fabric in white
  • Two pieces of lace – one antique netting and the other a narrow white cotton
  • Vintage ecru rickrack
  • Tiny gold and red buttons
  • Faux rabbit trim and daisy chain trim with beaded centers
  • Blue seedbead assortment, blue ombre ribbon bows, Eiffel Tower and letter “B” appliques
  • Handspun wool yarn (What more could an avid knitter wish to get?!), which was wrapped in a piece of white on white cotton fabric
  • Pattern for stuffed bunny
  • Two special thank you gifts from participants – a completed stuffed bunny and a delicate embroidered hankie with crocheted trim

The next part of the Stash Swap is the BIG BONUS ROUND, in which participants receive a prize if they use three of their items to make something for Bleuette or her immediate family by the first day of spring. I don’t exactly end up with a prize, as I run the show, but I still like to try to get at least one thing made from my new treasures. Some years I’ve been able to use three items on one project, but this year looks like that won’t happen. Although we have some really lovely things here, none of it really seems to go together well – at least at first blush. I think we should sleep on it, though – or perhaps look at it somewhere that the girls aren’t. It’s tough to hear myself think with them all chattering away about what each of them thinks I should make for her.

And this is what we sent out in our packages:

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I loved how it all went together and couldn’t resist taking a photo before I sent it umpteen different directions, from the east coast to the west. The fabrics are vintage, as is the pink-edged lace, along with most of the buttons. The mystery items are hat straw and very soft and supple leather, both items from my doll store. I can’t wait to see if the recipients like what I sent as much as I do – and to see if someone uses it in their challenge project. Digging around in my own stash made me want to drop everything and make some things for the girls from the items I settled on sharing, each of which still resides here in usable quantities. With everything going on over the next 6 weeks, though, I’m going to have to settle for vicarious pleasures. Oh for more hours in each day!

And on a totally different note, after fighting to get decent pix again tonight, I gave up and bought a new camera. I went with fewer bells and whistles than my old one, as I just don’t have the money to put into what I really want, but what I ordered has really good reviews, so hopefully it will do until I’m in a better financial situation. It would have to be a pretty lousy camera to not be better than my poor, hurt Canon A620. I’m still miserable to have had it wounded so soon. Sigh…

Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Many Hands Make Light Work

We are in the midst of one of the big events of the year around here, and I thought you might like to have a peek into how things are actually run.

This is the fourth year I’ve hostessed the annual Bleuette Stash Swap, an activity I developed in order to help cope with the post-holiday, cabin fever doldrums. The Swap was born on one of the Yahoo groups to which I belong, but this year I decided to open it up to a wider audience, so I created a new group specifically for the Swap. My plans are to have a few other activities for the members sprinkled throughout the year, in addition to this grand kick off event. The basic premise for the Swap is that all of us end up with leftover “stuff” from our projects for our dolls. Minimum purchase might be one yard on a fabric, but we need only half that amount, or we stumble upon a gorgeous bolt of delicate lace on markdown, a box of vintage rickrack at a yard sale, etc. This stuff is wonderful, but our girls don’t want every outfit they own to have the exact same buttons or whatever. The solution is to swap our stash! To that end, each player sends me the items from the list I provide at the start of the event – two fat quarters, 2 yards of lace, 2 yards of other trim, 6-12 buttons, and optionally 2 mystery items and some yarn or thread for crochet or knitting.ย  These items are to be of an appropriate scale, style, and fiber for our Bleuettes, and not stuff we ourselves wouldn’t use. Each offering is wrapped and labeled, and arrives here with a $5 entry fee (which helps defray the cost of postage and prizes) and a mailing label (which makes the shipping easier and more accurate). We scramble the individual offerings and send them back out, no one getting more than one item from any other player. On Valentine’s Day, everyone opens their loot, grins… laughs… cries… and then phase two begins – the BIG BONUS ROUND. The goal is to use any three of the new treasures to create something for Bleuette or her immediate family – the thought being that a person hasn’t done any stash busting if they just stick the new stuff back on the shelf. Anyone who succeeds in using three items by the first day of spring wins a special prize – no competition among members, only with one’s self. In past years, prizes have been:

  • Year 1 – Bleuette scaled Eiffel Tower purchased beneath the real McCoy, and vintage French lace obtained in a flea market in Saintes (France).
  • Year 2 – A lovely goodie bag from Farmhouse fabric, jammed with vintage fabric, laces, and buttons
  • Year 3 – Fabrics and embroidery yarn brought home from a trip to Honduras

It’s always loads of fun for everyone – even me, once the shipping phase is over. ;o)ย  And now that I’ve explained the basics, here’s a peek into how the shipping process actually works around here…

There is never a shortage of volunteer workers, as you will see. This year, the boys took over the job of unpacking. Some of the stuff arrived in boxes, so Remy had to climb in and hand stuff down to the littler boys.

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Of course, no one was watching Mikkey and Mariette for all of 30 seconds, so we didn’t realize what was going on until Mariette shrieked when she lost her grip on her twin’s foot. Those two…

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Packages were toted over to Mariko and Claire who inventoried everything on the master list. This is an important step because of the optional items. We want to be careful to make sure everyone gets back in kind.

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Not entirely trusting the little boys for some reason, Flora gathered the money and delivered it to Rikki, who was our acting banker this year.

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Once items are checked in, they go to the “mountain,” as the crew was calling it. Memo to self for future years: Don’t leave the room when inventory is nearly finished…

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At least this stuff isn’t breakable!

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And not to be a tattletale or anything, but yes, I caught Mariette trying to figure out what was in this enticingly curious mystery package. Can’t say as I blame her. The mystery packages about drive me crazy! However, my arm doesn’t fit. ;o)

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Next step is to sort all the little packages by type – fat quarters to one stack, lace to another, and so on. The girls were surprised to realize that there was more than 10 yards of fabric in the tower!

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While the kids do the sorting, I’m busy creating a second chart designed to make sure that no one gets two items from the same swapper, none of their own, and everyone gets what they should. This also solves mysteries like “Uh-oh! There’s a package of buttons left over!” I can just check the chart to see where they belong instead of opening every single packed envelope and box. When everything is sorted and the chart is ready, we chase the little ones out of the way and get down to the serious work. Each of the older volunteers has his or her own station, and I must say they make an excellent team! I was very proud of their efforts this year. We only had two small mistakes, and it was the biggest Swap we’ve ever packed!

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The last step is mine – taking the mountain of parcels off to the post office. I’m glad I live in a small town at times like this, and even more glad that we have such a wonderful and friendly postmistress. It took nearly 45 minutes to get everything finished up and paid, and I came home ready for a nap. Even with the help of my crew, the project took me 6 hours longer than I’d set aside, and I was tired! I went to tell the kids I was going to lay down for a while, and was very glad I did. I’d made another error in judgment, it seems…

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In response to my calm and evenly tempered query into what was going on, Mikkey explained, “We is getting us a be-cation! Gonna see Tante Nancy!” Memo two to self: Stop saying, “I need to get myself packed for the trip…” Sigh…

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 12:11 am  Comments (3)  
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Don’t Peek Before… OOPS!

I told the kiddies I didn’t have the time to shop for them each a gift of their own this year, but I would be getting them one big special gift that they could all share. That gift arrived today, and… well… the understanding was that “it” promised to be very still and quiet until Christmas morning. Best laid plans and all that…

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Some of the younger children were looking for something to do this afternoon when they heard an odd sound coming from a beautifully wrapped gift. It sounded very much like a little boy sniffling and trying not to cry, and there was no question in their minds what they should do. The package was open in moments!

Good-hearted, though impulsive, little folks that they are, they were totally oblivious to the fact that they had just, without permission, opened the only Christmas gift – and without even having the rest of their brothers and sisters there to see. Their only concern was that someone was crying, and they intended to fix that!

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To their chagrin, Mikkey, Mariette, and Mae Lei could do nothing to assuage the little newcomer’s sorrow. He wasn’t scared, nor was he homesick. He was just dreadfully sad. In the excitement of packing for his journey to Ohio, somehow he neglected to get his doggie into the travel box before the lid was sealed shut. Though he knows his foster sisters will take good care of his beloved pet, he’s just sure he’ll never see his puppy again.

Vital stats: William Jacob arrived December 23, 2008. He is named in honor of my paternal great-grandfather, William Owen Spitler. Will was born in Candy Anderson’s Studio, and was made using the Twirp mold. Oh, and he’s cute as a button!

Post script: I just heard Emmalyn tell Little Will that that wonderful things happen at Christmas time, and that she’d help him write a letter…

Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 2:28 am  Comments (1)  
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Look What the Stork Brought!

Yep! There’s a new baby at my house, and it’s been a very long anticipated event – actually two and a half years in the waiting, to be exact!

It all started back in April of 2006 when I had the opportunity to attend a Bleuette Retreat in Kansas City, MO. It was my first opportunity to see a wide variety of Bleuettes and kin in person, and I was quickly able to build a small wishlist of favorite artists by seeing their work first hand. The three I wanted to collect the most were dolls by Barbi Kantor-Goldenberg, Ann Ghist, and Thu Tam Freeman, plus there was a one of a kind Rosette that Barbara Hilliker had there that weekend. Thu Tam brought Bambinos, and though I was torn between them and one of her Bleue girls, I’d never seen a Bambino I loved more than the ones she had painted. I could have very happily gone home with one of her little fellows and Barbara’s Rosette. However, this was just a small part of a 3-week roadtrip, so the budget wasn’t flush, and event transpired to make it even skimpier, much to my dismay. Under these circumstances, it just wasn’t wise to arrange for an immediate adoption, so I just kept going back and looking at the Bambinos and sighing…

Since Bleues tend to find me when I least expect it, it is in turn more difficult for me to instrument planned adoptions, as the opportunists are quite adept at commandeering the dolly dollars I have available. I’ve managed to adopt sweet Mae Lei from Barbi and Celeste from Ann Ghist, both pre-arranged, but I was still waiting for my Bambino… and waiting… and waiting… However, a few weeks ago, a special trip that I’d planned with a friend fell through, and I found myself sitting with my entire deposit refunded, nursing more than a little bit of disappointment. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to come up with the perfect salve for my wounded expectations, and oddly enough, within minutes of making my decision, Thu Tam’s business card, which I didn’t even know I had, showed up quite surprisingly in a very strange location – and unavoidably right in front of my face. Of course, this was undoubtedly pure coincidence… assuming you don’t believe the Flock (my Bleuette family) had anything to do with it… A few quick phone calls, and our new baby was on his way home!

Officially adopted November 5, 2008, I’m pleased to introduce Jean-Paul, a bouncing baby Bambino, 10 inches long and named in honor of my maternal grandfather, a man I sadly never had the opportunity to know. jean-paul-003-blog

He arrived in this adorable little outfit with his own little teddy bear, Orson, and is as precious as can be. The girls are hoping to get an outfit knitted for him very soon, but beings as they are Bleuettes, they aren’t able to knit as fast as they would like.

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He has beautiful blue eyes and a teeny identifying freckle as a birthmark, but the odd light spot you see on the side of his head is (not surprisingly) a bit of yarn fiber that found my camera lens, apparently having migrated there while I was taking stash pix just before doing his portrait. That seems to be a common problem around here for some reason…

So, I was going to ask, “Isn’t he sweet?” but figured that was a little bit silly, as I know he is, and I’m quite sure you agree with me – and if you didn’t, you’d never be rude enough to say as much. If I had to lose out on the trip, at least there’s been a bit of a silver lining, so I’m not pouting now – or at least not nearly so much. ;o)

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 2:06 pm  Comments (2)  
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