I took a “stab” at needle felting!

It’s a goofy title, but very apropos if you’ve done any needle felting. I went to a meet-up and used a felting kit to create this little bit of cuteness:

Phillip the Felted Phenguin (BA, Alliteration; MSA, Onomatopoeia)
Phillip the Felted Phenguin (BA, Alliteration; MFA, Onomatopoeia; yearbook quote: “I’m a conflicted soul.”)

So this took about 2.5 hours, and he’s more “woolly-looking” and less “puffy-looking” than I might have liked for a finished felted product. But that takes a lot o’ stabbing y’all. I only poked my finger (about) 5 times in the making of this bit of cuteness. And I’m not sure his feet are attached well enough to stand much articulation. But that’s not what felted creatures are for, is it (what are they for again…? Oh cuteness, right!) So he needs a scarf that I’ll be crocheting for him at another time between projects. I was supposed to felt it, but it was such a skinny piece of wool I (tried but) couldn’t imagine felting it in the end – crocheting seemed like the best approach.


Things That Make Me Smile

You!! If you’re reading this and starting a smile, you make the list. I want to take a moment to recognize my readers out there. Love y’all and your “following of my blog” makes me smile. If you add comments, I’ll prolly smile even more…

Today while I was sewing the rest of the doll parts for my upcoming retreat I was listening to a comedy channel on Pandora and laughing out loud.


They're inside-out and not filled, but maybe you can see the beginnings of our Long-Legged Lulu doll?
They’re inside-out and not filled, but maybe you can see the beginnings of our Long-Legged Lulu doll? Pls note amazingly even hand-stitching on the orange piece that looks like machine-stitching. Oo’s and Aah’s are appropriate here – or maybe that’s just me. 🙂


It’s my newest media addiction: listening to stand-up comedy while I’m sewing in the sun (Netflix is getting way too distracting). So I started thinking about all the things that make me laugh out loud these days, and I’m happy to see that the list is not short!

(some of the) Things That Make Me ROFL, LMAO and LOL:

  1. The Carol Burnett Show (Here’s one I actually own on CD! Subtitles are a youtube bonus and my encouragement to learn a new language if that isn’t your native: Carol and the Jackson Five. It’s PURE GOLD (I think there’s an earthquake during filming and she doesn’t miss a beat. Because she’s amazing.). And there’s so much more…Mrs. Ha-Wiggins!) A whole separate sentence goes to her recent SAG Lifetime Achievement Award presentation (lots of tears, but happy tears so it counts for this list right?). SHEESH. Way to start a happy list huh? I’m crying the happy/sad/happy tears over here – don’t mind me – nothing to look at – moving on.
  2. A station on Pandora called “Comedy Death Ray” (I don’t know why it’s named that – sounds kind of menacing – but it’s not!). I added a few female names to the channel (like Kathy Griffin) and now I’m finding gems like Jackie Kashian, Tracy Ashley, Ophira Eisenberg (of NPR “Ask Me Another” fame!), Erin Foley. And of course there’s Kathleen Madigan. (The fellas are still bringing the jokes – they just came with the channel. John Mulaney, Gary Gulman and Jim Gaffigan also make me smile lots. Like this: :D)
  3. Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County – He’s back on fb only y’all, and it’s a new highlight of my day (he happens to be on a brief sabbatical at the moment but you can spend the time until his return catching up – it’s so worth it).
  4. CakeWrecks – I started following this site recently and now I can’t get enough. I also have a picture to submit of a strange T’giving cake I “captured” in an HEB in San Antonio, TX a few years back…I just need to find it in my files! This is real-life funny in every day life – can’t make this stuff up folks. Nobody’s photo-shopping cakes over there…I’m just sayin’…
  5. Jen Hatmaker – She lives near my hometown, tickles my funny bone AND inspires me on a regular basis. (We didn’t go to college together or anything, but I feel like we could have…)
  6. Scruffy Momo (a.k.a. Scruff-a-licious; Scruff-a-Doodle; Scruff-a-Bee, etc.). He’s such an old soul – a gentleman really, in the form of a small furry being. That’s why he never smiles in photos: he’s approximately 82 years old inside and really can’t be bothered. But you should see him chase a circle when it’s time for a walk! I’ll try to catch video of that to share, because it also makes me (and anyone else nearby) smile a lot.
    Grumpy Doodlebug
    Grumpy Doodlebug (taken on my lunch break today when he realized I wasn’t actually going anywhere; despite the all-black furry haze you can clearly see his frown and lack of approval. So judgmental.)

    Plus there’s the left ear that only raises on special occasions. I haven’t captured the exact details yet – it’s still a random occurrence with no apparent pattern (I’ll keep trying to get a photo – it’s kind of like the Loch Ness Monster – you definitely have to be there).

  7. Heirlooms!!
    Gift from Marge, crocheted by Aaron's mother, which means it must be at least 60 years old - probably older.
    Gift from Marge today, crocheted by Aaron’s mother, which means it must be at least 60 years old – probably older. It’s freshly laundered and kind of curly – I tried to smooth out the middle design for the pic.

    Me and Scruff visited Marge and Aaron today and she shared some more amazing things with me that carry so much of their history. The doily above is one example, and the rocks below are another.

Petrified wood, Rose Rock, Mica, and some other stones I haven't identified yet (clues welcome)
Petrified wood, Rose Rock, Mica, and some other stones I haven’t identified yet (clues welcome)

Aaron was doing well today and we talked about Scruffy as he sniffed around the house. On a good day dogs make Aaron smile, and this makes me smile. 🙂

Serendipitous Sewing

Greetings after a quiet weekend here on the annabella blog. Craftin’ was a-happenin’ in the interim, just no postin’. I continued to follow the sun around the house and garden, take pictures, contemplate (my navel and others’), read and think about my current art path.

Here’s a quote from the Tom Robbins book I mentioned that I’d like to share:

That’s the value of artists, isn’t it? Even when they aren’t aware of it, they’re dreaming our dreams for us.” (I would argue this might better read, “that’s one of the value of artists…,” but I’m taking this out of context, plus who am I to split hairs with Tom Robbins?) The bottom line is that we are all, as artists, dreaming our own dreams as well as those of the collective conscious. What we do with all that energy and content is up to us.

Embroidering Escher

I spent some time with the embroidery quilting square and tried out another outline stitch.

on the left, the beginning of Whipped Running Stitch, a.k.a. cordonnet stitch); base stitches are yellow
on the left, the beginning of Whipped Running Stitch, a.k.a. cordonnet stitch); base stitches are yellow (they’re kind of covered by the thread in the needle)


1st round finished: the metallic red thread doesn't have enough punch the first time around
1st round finished: the metallic red thread didn’t have enough punch the first time around; book suggests going back over everything to get a heavier wrap (will do!)


(I flipped the image for this pic so the comparison isn't as easy) Here's the double sewing of red metallic thread - better I think.
(I flipped the image for this pic so the comparison isn’t as easy) Here’s the double sewing of red metallic thread – better I think.

The swirls are slightly different from this angle, and it becomes obvious how the consistent outline stitch brings the curves forward more than the broken overcast stitch.

And a side image

Interesting effect to use the much smaller metallic thread with the thicker no. 8 base thread
Interesting effect to use the much smaller metallic thread with the thicker no. 8 base thread

I have my next outline stitch picked out, but I think I should add beads to those blue dots on the first “L” so I can get a balanced view of my next stitch. It’s a fun project to pick up from time to time to push my free form skills.

On the patterned work front (also related to my upcoming Art and Soul Retreat…plus the reason for today’s serendipitous title…):

This weekend I started sewing the arms, legs and body as pre-work for a doll I plan to make at the Art and Soul Retreat. This would be quick and easy work with a sewing machine, but alas. I got an awesome sewing machine as a gift recently, and I’ve read the manual front to back (with the machine in front of me, identifying each part), but I’m very intimidated when it comes to threading this bad boy and engaging that foot pedal with some cloth involved. I’m on a waiting list for a class in which I get to bring my machine, pick out a pattern, and pay an expert to walk me through the process.

Until then, here’s my hand-stitched version (front and back). Hopefully this holds up in the “stuffing” process for an appendage so skinny. Please note strategic positioning of hearts – at least one of those are gonna be a tattoo y’all!!

Arms for my doll, hand-stitched to look/act like machine-stitching
Arms for my doll, hand-stitched to look/act like machine-stitching

I’m working on the legs and body next, but the serendipitous part is that I found what appears to be a machine-sewed skirt at the very dimensions of this future doll!!! I was unfolding the material to lay out the arms and legs and found this!

pleated skirt in complimentary material, created by someone else's sewing machine!
pleated skirt in complimentary material, created by someone else’s sewing machine!

I can’t decide if I’m more pleased by the triangle of sunlight on my dining room floor or the ready-made pleated skirt. They’ll each get reused multiple times…it’s a skinny doll.

Here’s what we call “stress flowering” in a plant we got from a neighbor. (Get that baby in a better pot with auto-watering asap!)

String of Pearls plant and its other-wordly bloom
String of Pearls plant and its other-wordly bloom

There’s lots of wackiness going on in the garden these days – I’ll try to capture some better photos to share soon.

Paul the Mushroom

Bringing the Pieces Together

I realized (after the fact) that on Sunday I could have taken pictures of all the things in my daughter’s dorm room that I’ve made for her over the last 2 years. Some used patterns (which doesn’t really fit my requirement for original art every day, but I have Christmas presents to make and they can’t all get done on Christmas eve!), some I improvised based on an idea I saw, and some I just made up.

So here’s some fun characters I’ve conjured up in the last two years from patterns (all hail the queens and kings of crochet pattern-makers, for they make it possible for the rest of us to make coherent gifts from time to time).

These first two patterns are by lalylala (here she is on Etsy and here’s her www site). I love her dolls and I may or may not have bought three other patterns that haven’t been made yet. They call for something called “fingering yarn” or “sock yarn” – it’s 4-ply and feels so delicate to work with. Plus her patterns cite yarns from Europe that I sometimes can’t find – so it’s a fun challenge all round.

Without further ado, here is Paul the Mushroom:
(click on each picture for a bigger version)

Paul the Mushroom with his cap

Paul the Mushroom without his cap
without hat (the hair is my design – most of her patterns are bald)










And more recently we added Rocco the Raccoon to the family.

Rocco and his mask
Rocco wears a mask so no one knows he’s a raccoon. Ssshhhh!
Rocco without his hat
Rocco has a bowl cut
Rocco's rockin' the bowl cut!
Close-up of the bowl cut (all hair my design!)










Argh! I just realized I didn’t take a pic of him without his mask…’cause it’s remove-able y’all! Too bad. I’ll ask my daughter to grab a shot for me of him in the Santa Cruz wilds going sans mask. (Extra info: I made additional masks for him but didn’t have time to attach the strings. There’s a purple sparkly one for when he’s feeling disco and a green one for when he wants to hang out with Paul and pretend to be a mushroom. Maybe he’ll get them for Christmas next year.)

My next doll was many years in the making. It’s one of those patterns where I got stuck and “put it away for later.” But my recent foray into my WIPs brought it to the forefront, and because my best friend requested it (about 5 years ago) I thought I’d better get on it. So I pulled it off as a Christmas present this past year (finally!) and I’m so glad…’cause she’s pretty cute. I added tiny beads to the edges of her wings, bodice and skirt but I’m not sure they show up in these photos.

(Pattern by rabbizdesign: on Etsy)

Tinkerbell in her garden
Tink with her arms crossed
She’s so cute!
Tink's flying apparatus
From the back – maybe you can see the beads on the wings?










It wasn’t the easiest pattern to follow, but it’s the best one I’ve found online for Tinkerbell.

I really enjoy crocheting dolls, animals, amigarumi. Putting the pieces together kind of stresses me out but it’s worth sticking with it because the results are so cute. In the past I’ve made ninjas, amazons, medusa, rabbits, monkeys, dogs…wonder how many pics I might have taken of those past efforts…maybe we’ll see in another post. Anyways it’s fun seeing the pieces come together. More to come on that.

P.S. This post made me think of the very first doll I made, who happens to be on the shelf right next to me. So we had a quick photo shoot. I figure I must have been somewhere between 7 and 9 years old. I suspect Mrs. Stoddard helped me with this (love to that sewing angel). Her pinafore dress looks like it gave me a run for my money – there’s gathers where they prolly shouldn’t be and messy connection points all over the place. But she has distinct legs and a dress that covers them – I’m impressed!

My first sewn doll!
My first sewn doll! The facial detail amazes me. eyes, rosy cheeks and lips challenge me to this day. So brave, this new seamstress.
detail of back
Backside of the dress. Looks like a crossed pinafore w/ gathers was challenging…but accomplished!
vintage buttons

Keep On Keepin’ On

Today’s art was more about process than end result. I’m pretty close to the end of the crochet bag I posted yesterday, but the picture won’t look much different. I think I finished the last part of the strap tonight (I got very distracted on the last/50th round by “Meet the Patels” on netflix – I gave it 5 stars even though the captions didn’t cover all the parts in Gujarti. I had to guess and extrapolate for those parts.).

I suspect I just need to connect the two pieces of strap and attach the Grisly Adams elkhorn button and I’ll be done (if I decide not to line it…should I line it? what will I put in it that might fall out of the crochet holes? Maybe a crochet hook for the next project? I’m pretty sure I’ll line it with a piece of white curtain that doesn’t fit any of my current windows.).

So I’m back to the buttons. There’s so much life in all these collected pieces, I’m taking my time sorting them and stringing them (back) together. It’s occurred to me that using sandwich bags or containers might be quicker to categorize them, but I’m sad to cut the old thread system that held them all (as soon as I lifted it they started breaking off). So I’m sewing them back together in loops like Marge must have done at least 60 years ago. It seems like the best way to store them for their next life in crafting.

As they arrived
As they arrived

I think I just figured out the way to link to larger versions of images!! Watch out. 🙂

All connected on one string
All connected on one string
The green background w/ white tree is part of the tin she's storing these in.
The green background w/ white tree is part of the tin she’s storing these in.
She told me these were buttons from a sailor dress!
She told me these were buttons from a sailor dress! Hand-painted for sure – they’re so big and impractical. It must have been an amazing dress.
I have never seen white buttons this BIG and this SMALL! What shall I do with this amazing windfall?
I have never seen white buttons this BIG and this SMALL! What shall I do with this amazing windfall? (can you spot the square button?!)

(P.S. Speaking of made things, the background is our dining room table to which I affixed a National Geographic map when my kids were young. We played lots of fun geographic games over meals in those days…I still think it was genius, if I do say so myself.)

And now for something completely different…

Scruffy ears, with pine cone frame
Scruffy ears, with beginnings of pine cone frame
Meditation Session
Meditation Session

OK – so here’s my next project. I’m heading to an art retreat in early March and I need to sew some arms/legs/body for a doll. So here’s the materials I’ve picked out from my stash.

I think dots are legs, orange is body and hearts are arms (tattoos!)
I think dots are legs, orange is body and hearts are arms (tattoos!)

(Clicking on those images will give you some close-up opps.)