Happy New Year!

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Shame on me!  I have not written to you all since August!

While I do apologize and ask for your patience, I will explain that I was on-and-off sick, busy, just getting by physically from summer on, just having enough stamina to get the garden taken care of…and then December was here already and I got sick.

Hats off to my family that I’m even alive to write this today.  My sister had a hunch…and she and my son decided to check up on me, wake me up even though they didn’t want to disturb me.  

I couldn’t wake up.  I don’t know to this day what caused me to go to the hospital to be kept alive in a medically-induced coma for eight days.  I may never know.  But, there it is, with all of that drama falling to my poor family.  I got through that, got home, only to be spun around and sent right back to the hospital for clots going from leg to lung, for the rest of the month of December. 

To make a long story short….I am alive, thanks to my family and the amazing medical teams over at Griffin Hospital.  I feel a lot better, but will need a little physical therapy for my legs, which really want to stay asleep.  

So!  I’m alive.  I’m back in WordPress, saying Happy New Year to all of you…and I’ll return a lot sooner to talk about gardening and crochet, tomatoes and toys.

And a brand new Amaryllis that will be getting photographed very soon.

Happy New Year, Everyone!  I’ve missed you!

 

Shameless Self-Promotion!

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Should I apologize?  I feel like I should apologize for being so shameless in promoting this…so, I apologize.  I feel… cheesy!

Not too cheesy, though, that I won’t tell you about the fractal I just put up in Chauncey and Earl’s Etsy shop!

Cheesy enough that I’ll make it brief…go on in and take a look!  No, of course you don’t have to buy anything, just browse.  No one will spray stinky stuff in your face….

Thanks for looking!

Etsy Shop of the Week 8.09.2013

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Gentle Readers, I’ll start out tonight with an apology for not doing the blog of the week, but instead, doing another shop…Mine!

I did it! I finally got Chauncey and Earl’s open at Etsy, with a whopping eight items up for sale.

That’s okay! I’ll start stitching and felting, and make more.

 

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Come on in! And, thanks for your patience. I promise, next week, I’ll highlight two great blogs!!!

 

 

Etsy Shop of the Week, 7.27.2013

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Here we are again, poking into an Etsy shop that I particularly like.  Let’s go shopping!

Today, Gentle Readers, we’re going to go “Girl shopping.”  Let’s go buy some hair extensions.

They’re all the rage these days.  You see them on heads from nine to ninety, in all manner of colors and styles, from silky straight, to wavy, to dread locks.  All you have to do is dream up a look, then look for a seller that has what you want.

And, did I ever find a great seller!  I got a beautiful, generous set of acrylic hair extensions from Robin at Tressesinseconds at Etsy, for a fraction of what human hair extensions would have cost.

When I say that Robin’s extension sets are generous, I mean it.  Most hair extension sets, it seems, come with about 100 grams of hair.  More hair, more money…a lot more money.  Yet, here’s Robin, offering  gorgeous 150 gram sets of extensions for a pittance.

Don’t let the word, “Acrylic” fool you.  This hair is soft, silky, durable and lovely.  It feels,  weighs and wears just like real hair,  It doesn’t look like doll’s hair, but like…well, like hair!  The extensions clip in fast and easy, too…literally in seconds, hence the shop’s name.

Robin also offers beautiful human hair extensions.  This 19-inch set of  is one of her most expensive, but she has others priced much, much lower.  Comparatively, extension sets with this much real human hair, at this length,  start at over $200, and go up, way up, from there.  

Not a single store I went to on line had “my” hair color, which is mouse brown  with about 40-50% gray.  Robin had it, though, and just let me know that has more.  I’ll be ordering another set of these amazing extensions soon!

So…want to play with hair?  Play with color? Just add fullness and length?  Go see Robin.  You’ll be glad you did!

Oh, I almost forgot…don’t be shy about asking for special cuts or colors!

Blog of the Week 7.23.2013

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Good evening, Gentle Readers!

As promised, I’m back to highlight a blog that, in some way or another, strikes my fancy and shows us an exceptional personality.

This week, allow me to introduce those of you who don’t already know her, to a richly talented and deeply loving woman named, “Mtetar.”

Steeped in an emotional and religious Faith that I can only hope to achieve a fraction of in my life time, Mtetar’s blog entertains us with project tutorials, mostly for children, and stories of family and Faith.  She and her lovely side kick, her grand daughter, paint, sew, read, write and count (among other things!) their way through life together, in such a way that teaches and delights this jaded soul, and leaves me feeling that we, as a species, just might make it after all.

Do stop in and say, “Hello,” to these two talented, loving ladies, and enjoy the blog and its stories and crafts tutorials. If you’re anything like me, you’ll leave with a fresh, upbeat outlook, and instilled with a level of peace and inspiration that will make your day.

Be Blessed, Mtetar, for you are truly a Blessing!

Etsy Shop of the Week!

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Sweet Readers, it is time for the Etsy Shop of the Week!  For those of you just tuning in, this is where I highlight a shop in Etsy that catches my eye, for one that I have shopped previously that offered exceptional products, service, and personality.  

Remember, with shopping, it isn’t always about the money.   These days, money is important.  The money is huge.  Believe me, I get it.  Sometimes, it is always about the money.  I understand.  I’ve been there.  Heck, these days, I’m there, more often than not!

That said, I can buy a bar of soap on sale at the store.  I can buy a bar of soap for a buck at a Dollar Store!  But I can not buy soaps like these, anywhere.

That brings us to Heart J Creations beautiful soaps.    Jodi, the shop owner, is a wonderful person, very sweet and friendly, and  hand-processes her soaps the old-fashioned way in her little log home in upstate New York.   She also offers some very intense, lovely stained glass and agate art pieces.  About the money?  Etsy is a great place to shop when you need to save some money, and all of Jodi’s creations are very reasonably priced.  I’ll even call her soaps priced low.

And, OH!  What a soap!  I bought a bunch of them, in a variety of  types and scents.  They’re nothing short of delicious.  Want to lose weight?  Skip dessert.  Take a shower with Jodi’s soap.

Want your shop highlighted in my blog?  Send me an email and we’ll talk! schmoozelfleugen@gmail.com

New Feature! BLOG of the Week!

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Fellow yarn and garden freaks, it’s time to introduce this week’s blog of the week.  

This is a new idea, which coincides well with the, “Etsy Shop of the Week” idea.  I believe I posted that one on Tuesday..so let’s look for that on Mondays or Tuesdays, and look for cool blogs on Fridays or Saturdays.

Let’s kick off the festivities with Daniella Joe’s incredible blog.  This is one talented lady!   A true fiber artist, she is self-proclaimed as being, “not good with patterns.”  So, rather than be daunted by confusing text and convoluted graphs, she sees a need for something…and makes it up as she goes along. That stuns me to silence. What an amazing talent!

Her blog is a delight; Colorful, friendly, and endlessly informative. She gets her readers involved, always suggesting new ideas to tickle our own Muses.
Go on in and check out her pineapple doily, a work in progress. It will boggle your mind, that she made this piece up as she stitched. And, check out her magic Technicolor couch! You’ll be glad you did,

New Feature! “Etsy Shop of the Week!”

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Hi there!

I think it’s time to introduce a new feature to my little space on the web.  Let’s go shopping!

Here, I’ll post a shop in Etsy that I like, that looks like it has something for those of you out there that frequent my pages.  It might be a needlework shop, or crafts, or gardening…it’s all in the air at the moment!

For today, let’s look to my blog roll and start with my friends.  For today, let’s start with G-Ma Ellen!

Ellen’s a wonderful gal, who has a few great crochet patterns up in her shop..it looks like she sold everything else out for now!  Drop her a line and tell her it’s time to restock!

My favorite pattern from her is her Open Shell Cowl pattern. This lovely pattern is so easy and fast, and so customizable, I’ve flown through making something like six of them. I LOVE this cowl!  Isn’t this a beauty?

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I love the details.  Feminine without being too frou-frou, this can be a casual neck warmer, or made to dress up in.  It’s all in the yarn with this beautiful piece.

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Ellen also has a pattern for a delightful Wine Bottle Cozy/Caddy in a stunning yet casual shell lace, perfect for bringing a bottle of bubbly to a picnic, or for gifting a special friend with their favorite Merlot.

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I’ll bet this would even dress up a little girl’s cream soda bottle when she has her friends over for a party!

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So…for now, stop in and visit Ellen. She’s cool!

Thanks for looking! And, stay tuned…next week, along with the shop of the week, I think I’d like to start shining a sweet, bright light on some of the really awesome blogs I read all the time.

Heads up, Friends…you’re next!

Two VERY Special Crochet Hooks

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Gentle Readers, you have just got to see the newest hooks I received from Dot Dot Smile!  If you remember, this is the Etsy shop that I ordered the cool clown hook, the awesome clown cow hook, my sweet, sleepy swan hook, and the Dr. Who Tardis knitting needles, which my sister is totally enamored with.

Kellie didn’t let me down this time, either.  This time, I asked for aluminum knitting needles with little turtles on top, for my sister, and Kellie delivered.

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Aren’t they the sweetest little turtles?  She even got the flowers on their heads to match the needle color!

I also asked her to try a real challenge…and Kelli said, “Bring it on!”  Working only from pictures I sent to her, Kellie made perfect replicas of my beloved sidekicks, Chauncey and Earl.

Yes!!!  My babies are permanently mirrored in polymer clay.  The details are astounding!

The mini-boys arrived beautifully packaged, as usual…

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Even in the packages, you can see that the details are amazing.  Kellie got the colors down perfectly!

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Chauncey’s grip is fun and care free, just like Chauncey, and Earl’s grip matches all of his colors.

Now, check out the incredible details this lady laid into these art pieces…in clay!  Oh, my gosh, those perfect little toes!!!

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Sizes are clearly marked, and just as much fun as the colors…

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Lovin’ the sparkle in their tribal blings!

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Chauncey has his cable needle thing, and Earl has his mini crochet hook.  Seriously, the details are stunning.

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Kellie even got their pins!!!

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How talented do you have to be to lay a tiny safety pin into the head of a crochet hook, in clay!

Now, you ask, “How do the boys like their, “portraits?”  Well, I introduced them, and they looked at them closely.

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Then they looked at me and said,  “They’re little US-es!”

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Earl, a little wary, asked, “We can keep these?”

Chauncey, almost never wary, loudly proclaimed, “MINEMINEMINEMIIIINE!!!!!”

I, in my most indulgent voice, assured them, “Yes, Boys, you can keep them with you.”

Chauncey, who was not expecting this, said, “Really?  For really, we can keep them?”

Like I said, Chauncey is almost never wary.

The party ensued, with lots and lots of running in circles and playing face-splat, bopping up and down, singing, “We can keep them, we can keep them!” and discovering the unparalleled wonders of bubble wrap, which they’re still playing with.

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I finally got them to calm down, with the promise of wearing their new, “Mini-Us-es” for the camera..and the promise of letting them go back to the, “poppie paper.” 

And here they are, my little side kicks, with their wonderful new hooks.   They’re a portrait in polymer, lovingly crafted by an artist named, Kellie.  

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The boys hang out now, with the little boys riding their…er…backs?  Heads?  Whatever, they won’t part with them just yet.  I suppose I’ll actually get to crochet something with them one of these days.  

And, Miss Kellie, some day when I have monies, I’m coming in to your shop to go bananas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Is The Way We Felt a Hook, Felt a Hook, Felt a Hook!

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I’m baaaa-aaack!  Just like a poltergeist tangled in yards and yards of brightly colored yarns…I am back.

And I missed you!

It’s been a little weird here.  Not bad!  Just…quiet.  I’ve been busy, of course, stitching, dreaming, reading blogs, and endlessly wandering, collecting crochet patterns.  I even learned a new stitch or two, thanks to “Mikey’s” You Tube channel, and found a wealth of tutorial videos on Bob Wilson 123′s You Tube channel.

From Mikey, I learned this great “crinkle stitch,” for making a textured, dense fabric, perfect for sweaters, coats, rugs, blankets…anything you can think of.  He’s also got the tutorial video up for this stitch, for lefties!  Woo-Hoo!  We GO, Lefties!

From New Stitch a Day, I found the sweetest
single crochet stitch variation.  Very simple and basic, it adds a cool twist to our beloved, boxy single crochet.  Those of you who are just starting your grand journey into the vast and wonderful world of fiber and hook, will greatly benefit from any of these video tutorials, as will we veteran “hookers!”

I can not describe how much information I found in Bob Wilson 123′s YouTube  channel, or on their website, or Facebook page.  Not enough paper!

What’s that, Earl?  We’re not using paper? Oh.  Can I still change the color of the crayons I write the posts with? Yes???  Cool!

So, I have been doing my thing, stitching, spinning, dreaming…started the garden, finally!  LATE!  The weather isn’t the best this season, but compared to what’s been happening out West, I’ll take some Connecticut gloom.  It’s a banner year for weeds!

Among the infinite number of unfinished projects I always have going, I settled down to felt a few more of my older hooks, ones that didn’t have grips to make my fingers happy.

This time, you all get a little tutorial!

I started out with an assortment of aluminum and steel hooks.

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To keep things a little less splashy, I wrapped a piece of cardboard with plastic wrap.  And, to anchor the roving to the hook well enough to get a start, I used washable fabric glue, Aileen’s,  “OK To Wash It.”  That’s just what I had on hand.  Any washable glue will do, of course.  If all you have is Liquid Nails, go for it!  Just remember to wear gloves so the wool and glue don’t make you a new pair of unintentional fuzzy mittens.

I do not recommend the use of super glue.  You’re going to get a little glue on your fingers, and if you’re using super glue, you’re about to go through the rest of your week with a woolly crochet hook stuck to your hand.

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I put a selection of different colored roving pieces together, some dyed, some natural.  It’s way too cool to wrap your hooks in multi-colored roving, and you can even lay the wool out to make patterns!

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Now that we have the tools and the fuzzy stuff, let’s get started!  This is so easy, and so much fun, you’ll soon find yourself ransacking your hooks stash to find more hooks to felt.

I grabbed a hook, and a small patch of roving, stretching the roving out to measure it against the hook.  I wanted the felted handle to cover the hook up to the finger grip, so that I would have that finger grip, and also be able to tell what size hook I had in my hand.  After the hook was measured against the roving…and believe me, this is not an exact science…I dipped the hook into the bottle of glue, covering it up to the grip, like so…

02-light glue hook to roving

I also made a hook with a “patterned” roving patch, which requires just a little more finesse, but really comes out cool.  For this, I got my loose measurement against the roving, with the pattern side UP, then when it looked good to me, I flipped the pattern side down to do the wrapping.

03-measure hook against pattern

Once the hook is dipped, just lay it down on one edge of the roving, and start rolling.

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Roll it all up and tuck in the end, close, but not too close.  Leave a little pillow on the end.

06-rolled roving ready to felt

Now, here comes the optional part of today’s program!  Any needle felters out there?  Here’s where, if you have some needles about, you get to needle felt the hook sleeve into place, making the wet felting easier.  Of course, if you really, really go to town with the needle felting, you won’t even have to wet felt.  Your cover will be softer and looser, but perfectly usable.  This hook was needle felted into place…you know the drill…poke, poke, jab, jab, all over, again and again, stick, move, stick, jab, swear, wipe up the blood…..

Yeah, there are two types of needle felters, those who have jabbed their fingers with those deadly sharp little barbed boogers, and those who will do so eventually.

I’m a veteran.

So, anyway. this is what that blue and black hook looked like, needle felted.

07-needle felted, soft ready

It’s ready to use!  It’s softer than I want it, though, so I’m going to wet felt it, with the others.

This is important!  You have to wait a day, for the glue to dry.  Otherwise, it will wash away and your hook cover will fall off, or worse, fall apart.  So, wait a day, and come back for the rest of the tutorial.

Oh, hi!  You’re back!  So, you have your hooks, with the roving glued to the handles, all wrapped up and ready to felt.  Cool!

And that brings us to…ta-daaaah!  The sink.

Wet felting the hooks is easy, easier if you did the needle step first.  If you didn’t, just take your time.  We’ll go through the process as though you had not needle felted your hook cover, first.

You’ll need hot water, and soap.  I just use the bathroom sink, and some liquid soap that I keep there.  Fill the sink with hot water, and dunk your hook.  Make sure it gets thoroughly soaked!

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Next up, grab up some soapy stuff.  You can see in the picture that I have liquid soap, but if all you have is bar soap, then go for it!  Very gently, get up a good lather, by squishing and releasing, adding a few drops of water when you feel like it.  No heavy rubbing yet!  If you are using bar soap, you might want to let the hook soak while you get a good lather happening in your hands.

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Now, remember, at this early stage, you’re working very gently, so that the wool doesn’t pitch a fit and fall off the hook.  At this stage, I bring up a good lather, and squish it between my fingers, being careful not to rub too hard.  You do have to rub a little, to get the fibers to start blending, but…not too hard.  Just use a light touch, and some gentle squishing and patting.

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The fibers will tell you when it’s time to start putting a little more pressure into your felting.  This is where I start to dig in with my fingers a little.

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Don’t forget the end of the hook!  A little squish-and-rub there would be a great idea right about now.  You’ll probably, sooner than later, have to start pushing the fiber down onto the hook a bit.  If your hook pokes out, just pull some wool back up over the end of the hook and keep rubbing.

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Now that you’ve got some rubbing, squishing and lathering done, it’s time to rinse, and check your progress.  Rinse your hook in hot water, then switch to cold, then back to hot.  This “shocks” the fibers and helps get them to shrinky-dink around the hook.  Hot water expands the fibers, then the cold water shock makes them contract. 

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Now, for more hot soapy water.  You can see in the picture that I’m involving my whole hand, squishing and rolling the fibers, putting some pressure on the wool.

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More rinsing and checking…again, hot to cold, back to hot.  You can now roll the hook between your palms, roll it between a couple of small sheets of bubble wrap, if you have it, dig in with your knuckles, if you like,  rinse hot to cold and back again a few times to shock and check progress…

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And now, as you see, I have a finished, felted grip on my hook.  It feels wonderful in the hand!  I went a step even further with my hooks, and after I wet felted them, I rolled them up in a thick towel to get the excess water out…then popped them into the dryer.  Oh, BOY, do they make a racket!  Toss something in the dryer with them, give them something to rub up against.  The added agitation is what makes them further felt in the dryer, and when they’re done, you’ll have perfectly felted hooks to enjoy!

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This seems like a lot of writing, but don’t feel daunted.  This is not a lot of work.  This is even something that the kids can do with you!  You’ll use warm instead of hot water, but that’s okay, as long as they get the rubbing down.  Felting has a lot to do with agitation.

If your sleeve slides off your hook, like one of mine did, just dip the hook, gently slide the (DRY) sleeve back on, and use the glue that squishes out to seal the open end of the sleeve.  That’s right,  just use a finger tip to work it right into the edge of the wool.  It will disappear, and be soft, as it’s fabric glue.  Then, just put the hook aside for a day while the glue sets, and you’re all fixed!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial…if you have questions, please feel free to leave comments, and I’ll get right to answering them, if I can.  If I can’t…I’ll Beseech The Gods of Google!

Stay tuned…next up, some VERY special crochet hooks….