Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Kitty Kickerz Cat Toys ~ Etsy Store Review

Such a busy time!  Farmerboy's shearer decided to arrive last Friday to kick off the weekend.  I have been frantically listing last year's fleece in an effort to make some Shetland space.  (Okay, I got rid of some of my hoarded stock purchases as well... only a little!)   Now, I have to get a game plan for this year's haul.  *Yikes!*

Then it occurred to me, Easter is right around the corner.  Luckily, I made a pact with a fellow coworker to give up packaged candy.  No reason to trot down the candy isle for me! ;)  I will eventually pick up something for the kids and something small for Mr. Hollow and myself.  But holy smokes, I almost forgot about the fur babies!   I decided to go to an Etsy store that is very popular with Gabby and Izzie:  Kitty Kickerz Cat Toys.   The shop is operated by a wonderful lady named Tara.  She creates an assortment of fabric cat toy Kickerz filled with organic catnip.  They were a huge hit with the little ladies at Christmas.  :) 

Santa brought each of them and their nephew Elliot a 12 inch kicker.
Here are the photos after they were wore out from playing.  I must congratulate Santa on being savvy enough NOT to put them under the tree!  LOL

The Kickerz are put up on a shelf in between plays.  The ladies know where they are at and call out their request looking fondly up at them.  These Kickerz have taken a beating and no rips yet!

Tara is currently running a 10% sale off of purchases of $25.00.  I took full advantage of the discount and was surprised to find she had some play mats, too.  Of course, I had to get a few of them to try out.  If your cats are crazy for catnip like mine, these Kickers are a great deal at $7.95 a piece.   I am not going to lie.  I was skeptical about how well they would hold together.  My ladies still have their back claws and can bunny kick up a storm, but they seriously have withstood several play sessions. If you are looking for a last minute gift for your darling little feline, check out Tara's store KittyKickerzCatToys on Etsy.  Tara's creations definitely get a shining review from myself and the ladies, too... Well, once they get done with their afternoon nap anyways!  ;)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Passing the Time in January ~ Wool Roving

January is coming to a close, and cold temps are making their way back into the forecast again.  I have been spending my free time getting a workout combing and drum carding wool from my son's Shetlands .  It is a relaxing past time. :)   Makes me feel like the sheep are close by.
Here are the black and variegated grays of Marlena.  She has the softest fleece.  I call her my big bunny!

A few of my purchases snuck their way into the line up.  This is some stretchy and lofty Gulf Coast Native fleece.  It is going to make some excellent sock yarn.  It has some canary staining which gives it a nice lemon color.  How is that for natural coloring?  LOL

I save some of this lot for myself.  (Okay, I saved a fleece of Marlena for myself too!)   It is from Blackie and is created from a 1st shearing.  The coveted lamb fleece.  Blackie was black from root to tip.  You could dive into the wonderful jet black depths.  Not gonna lie... I wish I wouldn't have sold the majority of the fleece.

One of my latest projects is from the matriarch of our flock, Miss Lego.  She lends herself to the soft side of the Shetland spectrum.  The roving is from crazy long locks and is absolutely wonderful to handle.  I will be saving some for myself in the next batch!  ;)

Cocoa (a lovely dark brown Shetland) and Liam (the most indescribable color of lamb fleece I have EVER seen)  are currently on the combs.  Most of my winter's work was graciously purchased by the community on Ravelry.  It will greatly help the flock with feed and veterinarian costs.  It really is a labor of love.  :)

My goal for February is to start working on my New Year priorities, so tomorrow is D-day.   So much to do and so little time!  :) 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Studio Area for the New Year!

Fall has always been a busy time for me at work and at home.  Last year was even worse... but with a great outcome.  I sacrificed my couple weeks of relaxing vacation to take on the task of renovating Farmerboy's bedroom into a new studio for myself.  Mr. Hollow was extremely skeptical on whether or not I could fit everything in there, but I managed to utilize every inch of wall space to its maximum ability.  I still have a ways to go with fine organizing, but I couldn't be more thrilled with the early results. :)   Plus, I can begin to create again!  Such a fabulous start to the New Year.
My first vacation in September was mainly dedicated to fixing and painting the vintage plaster walls.  The last remaining original plaster in the house.  :(   Then, the second vacation in October was spent painting... and painting... and painting trim.  The white trim took FOREVER.  I have made a mental note to listen to my daughter in law and buy the one coat coverage paint for the rest of the rooms.  ;)  Finally, Mr. Hollow and I ripped up and replaced the carpet.  I didn't want anything expensive in the room, so I went with a mid range carpet.  After all, a studio can be a very messy place at times. 
My favorite spot is the  huge island in the middle of the room.  It is just wonderful!  I purchased some inexpensive cube storage for the base.  It works perfectly for holding loads of fabric.  The top is actually the other half of our kitchen island.  I am so happy the gentlemen at our local Spahn and Rose talked us into paying only $20 more to get the wasted half of the island counter top finished.  It has been stored under our bed waiting to be used!  If you look closely, the island is big enough to house my wool combs and yarn winder.  They can be removed easily to transition the space over for painting, writing and cutting fabric for quilts.     
Mr. Hollow made a nice wood cabinet to set my floss bins into.  It really looks like a more finished and cohesive piece now, and the white really makes the colors pop. 

My huge drafting table has been stored for too many years to recall.  I was thrilled to finally give it a proper space to live.  Under it, I flipped a wood box to utilize as storage for all of my Prismacolor drawing pencils.  The wood filing cabinet, on the right, was left at home by Farmerboy.  It currently holds all of my DVDs.  The sectioned wood soda pop cartons are stacked on top and work great as cubbies for all of my various art supplies.  They use to hang in my old studio area, but I just can't see a point of mounting them on my walls.  The box in front of the drafting table is the fuzzie's mobile bed.  LOL

Each wall was suppose to have a purpose in the initial layout.  The photo above is the fine art station.  The photo below is the fleece and fiber station. This is where the carding machines reside for making roving.  Due to space constraints, I also have moveable carts parked there for the time being.  The first cart is for writing and sewing supplies.  The second cart can be rolled over to the drafting table and used as an art supply cart.

Since, I will be doing my Tole painting at the island.  I gave one of the walls over to storage.  My barnboard storage unit that Farmerboy made me fits neatly in the corner and is flanked by my reclaimed wool material cubbies. 

The final wall is the sewing area.  I purchased a sewing table on OverStock.com for quilting.  It was Mr. Hollow's idea to keep my other small industrial table for a second machine set up.   In the far corner, my barnboard pie safe sits filled with fabric.  I found a really cool vintage wood filing cabinet to use for patterns and set it on top.  To finish the wall off for now, Mr. Hollow mounted a television. 

I am sure there are some more changes coming in the future for the layout, but I am thrilled to be up and creating again.  Mr. Hollow will be finishing up the window trim, after he finishes the renovations in my old studio.  It is going to be a laundry/kitchen storage area.  I am really excited to get that finished too.  Not only will I be creating in my studio, but the kitchen storage area will make it so much easier to cook, bake and create in my kitchen as well!  :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Free Pattern for a Happy New Year!

Cold temps welcomed in the New Year of 2018 in Northern Illinois.  It also welcomes in a free quilting pattern from one of my favorite designers, Sindy of FatCat Patterns.  The new design is  appropriately named "Gnome for the Holiday".  This pattern is so darling and is just begging to be done in wool applique.  Sindy is so talented and generous.  I could imagine these blocks as mats and runners as well.  If you want to create along with all of Sindy's followers, you can download the instructions monthly here.  Please take the time to visit Sindy's shop.  I have purchased  some of her designs and am never disappointed.  
A huge "Thank - You" to Sindy for making this year kick off with quilting excitement.  :)  Below is a peek at Sindy's offering for the New Year 2018.

Wishes for a Joyful & Adventurous New Year!  :)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

And plenty of time to rest up for the New Year! ;)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October is here!!!

Aaaah October... My favorite month of the entire year.  I always make sure to take a week off from work to enjoy the glorious weather and scenery.  It doesn't matter if it is windy, cold, gloomy and/or rainy... I LOVE IT!!  :)

September and October are really busy months for me at work.  I have to put in some long hours.  So to make the hours seem a little less daunting,  I decided to take some of my extra revenue and invest in a lovely spun cotton creation from artist Flora Thompson over at Bone Head Studios.  If you have never visited her site, you can skip on over and check her wonderful art out by clicking here.    Flora is an amazingly talented sculptor.  If you haven't been to her site before, take the time to go through all of her early posts.  Her whimsical creations are from the most enchanting world of her imagination.  The sketches of her creations, prior to being sculpted, are equally as fantastic! 

I have admired Flora's work for years and began following her blog after falling in love with her impish elf creatures.  I just cannot say enough about my admiration of her talent.  A quartet of her latest creations, recently revealed on the blog for Bone Head Studios, were too cute for words... They were a little group named the "MushMellies".   All I knew when I saw them was:  One of those little guys needs to come live with me!   So I got on Flora's  waiting list...

Look at the package that just arrived in the mail. I didn't know it was on its way.  So, I almost passed out from excitement when I saw this guy on the side of the box!   It screams Bone Head Studios...

Flora's attention to precise detail and decoration is unmatched...

It makes me smile looking at this photo.  I cannot believe he is mine!!  His expression is absolutely priceless...

Can you see his little teeth?  I am in love... My own little slightly toasted marshmellowie "MushMellie". 
Even Mr. Hollow was impressed with this little guy.  He told me to arrange him, so he could stay safe in his wonderfully decorated bag.  My little "MushMellie" will be taking his place of honor in the display cabinet with his "soon to be" Halloween friends.   What a lovely handmade creation... *sigh* 

Flora's work is as impressive in person as it has been in the photos I have marveled at over the years! :)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Flea Market Find ~ Fischer MEWA Sewing Machine

On our trip to the Jefferson Speedway flea market, Mr. Hollow spotted this Fischer MEWA sewing machine at a gentleman's booth.  I walked right past it.  Honestly easy to do if you saw the size of it; although, the colors should have smacked me in the face being so similar to the old singers.   The man selling it was liquidating an estate.  His friend's mother had passed away and the son just wanted all of the stuff in the house hauled away... Quite a bit of sewing notions, some beautiful pristine crocheted quilts and this sewing machine. 
Do I need to say for the millionth time that I do not need another sewing machine?  I know!  But this machine is so terrifically odd and about the size, color and poundage of my Singer Featherweight.  I have honestly never seen one like this.  My initial thought was to pass, but Hubby really took to this one.  He started haggling with the guy.  The guy started at $150 and Mr. Hollow was at $50.  The vendor turned it down, since he just got all of this stock.  We completely understood.  But Mr. Hollow couldn't resist a parting shout over his shoulder as he walked away , "Will you take $75."   The guy smiled and yelled back, "$80."   This started another haggling session, and it was beginning to get really hot outside.  Miserable hot, what can I say?   I'm a wuss...  Much to the chagrin of my Hubby, I pulled out the $80.00 and ended the fun.  Sorry people, I love a deal as much as the next guy, but I was starting to majorly sweat in the heat of that darn unrelenting summer sun. :(  LOL   
So here is a photo of the newest sewing machine to join the herd, I know absolutely nothing about except the fact that it is German.  The gentlemen did not bring the little notion carrying wood box that goes with it.  He said there was thread in it and did not mention any extra feet.  Unfortunately, the wood had a doggie smell to it, so it got left at home.  If there weren't extra feet involved, it was all for the best. :)

See the flaps in the front and the wings on the side?  When the machine is finished being used, these fold up and end up on each side of the harp/sewing platform.  The bent metal rod at the bottom back of the machine functions the same as the "foot pedal" for other machines.  Pretty neat little unit.  And let me say, someone took great care of this machine.  The black paint and gold design is beautifully preserved. 

She even came with her original instruction manual.  Of course, it is all in German.  LOL    This is a small manual like the Singers, so you can just imagine how narrow this machine is!

Once the sides are all folded up, the bent rod has a hole in the center so it can balance where the thread sits during use.  And this wooden case goes right over the top and locks shut.  I did see, in the photo on the front cover of the  instructions, where this case lines up with the front flap to create a sewing table to the side of the machine when sewing.  A lot of thought went into the design of these machines.  It really is a neat little unit.

I am guessing that maybe this was a machine from the 50's, since it is electric.  But I cannot find any information about it.  If anyone has some info or direction on how to locate some info, I would greatly appreciate any input.  :)