Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Make it quick ...

I have to admit that I'm an Olympics junkie: figure skating, skiing, bobsledding, and especially curling. I like the sentimental stories. I like the crazy announcers who get so excited about their sport - the cross country guy on NBC comes to mind. So the weeks of the Olympics include an awful lot of TV watching. Lately, I've spent that TV time challenging myself with a knitting project. I made sweaters in 2010 and 2012. This year I decided to finish a few things. I succeeded with one shawl but am still plugging away on another. It is lace weight, beaded, and a HUGE square. Almost 1000 stitches around.

So, how does that relate to the weekly ornament? I needed a quick project! Fortunately, I had one at the ready for just this sort of time. It's a cute little woven felt heart. A 10 minute project once I figured out the proportions with a paper model. Actually I have to give credit where credit is due: I showed Ward and Chris the non-working paper model at dinner last night and they diagnosed the necessary change to the shape. Thanks guys!

The picture could be better - the colors are SO much nicer. This was some beautiful wool felt from Sweet Emma Jean on Etsy.

Finished at about 9 PM Tuesday (my week starts on Wednesday since January 1 was a Wednesday).It still needs a cord to hang it but I call it done.  9 weeks, 9 ornaments!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I spent half of this week at the Madrona knitting retreat in Tacoma. It is a great event - big enough to be interesting and small enough to not be overwhelming. It's held at the Hotel Murano which is a wonderful place - a featured glass artist on each floor with a piece of their work, short bio and photos along the corridor. Lots of my Knitting Bee friends were there and every year I get to know them better. I took 3 classes including one on steeking which is cutting your knitting. Yes, with scissors! Sharp scissors. I survived as did my knitting.

But I digress from the ornament at hand.

I thought with much of the week spent knitting, a knitted ornament was required. And I'm trying to finish multiple knitting projects during the Winter Games.And I had an ornament I had started in December but hadn't gotten too far on. Perfect choice. I think it's very cute.

Monday, February 10, 2014


The first ornaments I made when I had my own tree after my move to Oregon were small painted wooden ones. My painting wasn't perfect and the ornaments were rough. But, there are a lot of them! And they are varied and cute small additions to the tree. They are always the last ones I put on, filling in any open spaces.

 In 1988, my mother in law Jane Cunningham painted a set of ceramic ornaments for us. She was a patient and precise painter. They are beautifully painted, smooth and finished with a nice shiny glaze. They are some of my favorites; I'm very protective of them.

I finally got to my painting this week. I had a kit with a dozen wooden cat ornaments. I chose my favorites - I really don't need 12 on the tree - and set off to paint them. First step sandpaper - a step I left off on my earlier ones. I sanded the edges quite a bit and the face lightly, so as to not sand off the design lines. I think I could have been more aggressive on the surface.

One thing I learned from the directions on this set was to take a piece of brown paper bag and rub the painted surface after one coat dries. The first coat seems to look rough until this is done. My last step was to put a coat of varnish on them. This makes them look much more finished than my early ones did. My biggest problem: eyes!

As I went through my ornament kits (which I have NOT put a dent into yet) I found a ceramic santa. I thought it would be a quick and easy extra. The three dimensional ceramic shapes are much easier to paint - instead of lines there are defined indentations for different colors. And they are smoother and look less "rustic."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Not my favorite ...

I suppose I was doomed to disappointment this week. I wanted to paint some wooden cat ornaments a few weeks ago. The paint was dried out. A trip to the store for some fresh paint - the kind with the little (3/4" or so) plastic tubs attached into a line. Some sandpaper too. I was going to paint them Saturday and I woke up feeling sick, Sleep instead of paint. I thought I'd paint on Monday but I couldn't get the paints open. Before I started having manicures I'd just have broken nails. I figured out Tuesday to use the blunt end of a bottle opener. Next week I paint! This week - what a weird (and kind of ugly) one!

I am inclined to buy most kits and instructions that look interesting. Most of the time it works out. Every now and then it was definitely a mistake, This was one of those times.

Occasionally there is a definite disconnect between the picture and the reality. It might be that the materials are not the quality I hoped - a kitty made out of plastic beads and pope cleaners comes to mind (although I actually ended up liking that ornament). Sometimes it's a matter of the construction being different than I expected - I bought a kit on etsy once that used paper for what I had thought was some nice detail. Other times I just didn't pay enough attention, either to the size of an ornament or to some bizarre details.

I think this fits into the third category. The pearls and beads are reasonable quality. It's made on wire the way I'd expect. It's a bit smaller that I expected - you'd think I'd know how big 18 mm (the larger pearl) is. But why are all the beads silver? I get it for the arms I guess. They actually look okay. But why a silver hat? Black beads would have looked better. And the beads glued on (silver again!) are seriously strange. Especially the one on the middle pearl - looks more like a belly button then a button. And no snowman I know has a belly button :-)

Oh yeah. I have stuff to make 5 more. Any takers after this great sales job?