Saturday, February 6, 2021

I love you, Dad

It still does not seem real, but my Dad passed away January 29. He was injured in a fall and ill for a couple of months, and for the last half of January he was hospitalized. I was very lucky to be able to travel to him and spend many hours with him at the hospital, despite COVID restrictions. (My Dad was not able to use his hands very well at that point, and because of understaffing I was allowed to come every day to help him eat and drink.) One of my sisters is also a nurse at the hospital, so I shared those hours with her and another sister who were also his caregivers at various times. I will be forever grateful for those days with him, because none of us anticipated losing him so soon. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.

These are some of my favorite photos from his memorial service, and one from a Christmas before I let my hair color match my dad's. I can strongly see the face of my youngest daughter in his adorable grumpy school photo. I'm sure little overalled Bill Lewis (called Lebo by his family) would have much rather been running in the woods with his dog, Rook, than having his hair slicked down for picture day.

My grief is so weird. I'm fine a lot of the time. At peace. And then random memories or objects will make me break down in sobs. His eyeglasses. Stepping inside his RV. Discovering he carefully kept a birthday card I drew for him in 1987. It feels as though there were two strong ropes which tie me to where I belong and who I am, and one of them has been cut.

It's been a very difficult couple of months for my whole family, but I know that God, who so richly answered our prayers all through January, will carry us all through in the coming days. I'm resting in Him and slowly getting back to my every day life and to do list.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

sewing up 2020

Sewing: A couple of Twelve Days ornaments for some special people. Do y’all flip them over backwards to check the color as you go, too? (Pardon my messy reverse sides. I’m not one of those talented embroiderers who can keep the back looking as great as the front. And that’s OK.) 

Watching: Freelancers. So funny. Actually snort-laughed several times. All part of my charm. 
#mmmcrafts #sewingup2020 #benziefelt #happybetteryear

Friday, December 25, 2020

a very merry Christmas to all

I'm not sure how I have missed it, but I had never heard the Pentatonix version of Mary, Did You Know. There I was, driving through my town to pick up my kid from school, minding my own business, listening to a Christmas playlist, and it filled my car. Then it filled my heart. Then it filled my eyes. Then I started to ugly cry right there behind the wheel as I was negotiating an intersection. It was an unstoppable force. Not good for driving safety, so I had to take some very deep breaths and just let it wash through me. 

I resist crying. I just do. Some folks only become more lovely when they cry. Their eyes get dewy and large and reflective. Crystal tears fall from their lashes and they become angelic and shimmery. That is exactly unlike what happens to my face. It collapses in on itself and my throat constricts and my nose becomes swollen and red. For several hours it's apparent to everyone from my puffy, red eyes and glowing nose that I've cried. 

However. Despite my blotchy appearance, it was a thing of true beauty that the account of God With Us in the arms of his mother touched my spirit like that, even when I've read it and pondered it and treasured it and heard it a thousand times. 

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered,
will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would calm the storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby
You kiss the face of God

The blind will see,
the deaf will hear,
The dead will live again
The lame will leap, 
the dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven's perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you're
Holding is the great, I Am

Somehow I don't think younger Larissa With No Kids could have been as affected. She no doubt would have found it a faith affirming and lovely song. Current Larissa, Mother of Two Non-Divine Humans, hears it and it just cracks me in two. It gives me chills. What a blessed woman Mary was. And yes, she knew.

It was a moment I needed.

Merry Christmas to you. Today, whether or not you share my faith in Christ, wherever you are in the world, I wish for you a peaceful, joyful day, surrounded by those you love and filled with all good things. And only happy crying.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Little Elves pattern is now available!

Little Elves, the third (and technically fourth) pattern in my ongoing 'Twas the Night Ornament Series, is now available! These ornaments are inspired by Clement C. Moore's 1823 poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, better known as The Night Before Christmas. As you may have noticed, elves are not mentioned in the poem (except for the right jolly old elf himself of course!) but we are taking a little tour of the North Pole to pick up some beloved characters before we dive into the actual lines of the poem. 

I'm designing this intermediate level ornament series with what hopefully seems like a vintage-meets-modern type of style, with sparkly sequins and beads and plenty of tiny, charming details.

The Elf Girl is just coming back from the mailbox with Santa's letters. She's sporting a scarf and mittens and carrying a teeny mailbag with removable letters while she reads the message on the back of the envelope in her other mitten. The Elf Boy is helping Mrs. Claus check off the Naughty Or Nice List with his little adorable pencil. You can, of course, customize the Naughty Or Nice list for your own family. :-)

This design basically went well but MAN it was just a lot to get done. A LOT. It's two very detailed patterns in one, with no fewer than 139 steps. So many illustrations! I had thought at first to make them separate patterns but soon decided combining them into one pattern just made more sense.

It takes me about three crafternoons to make both Little Elves, and if you have the materials for Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus already in your arsenal, you have most of what you need to make this pair of cheerful helpers. I think the only additional thing might be the toothpick and colored card stock? And if you'd like the metallic felt for the mailbag. But regular felt works well for it also!

The 29 page detailed PDF pattern comes with two extra pattern sheets containing 20 years worth of dates for the backs of both, if you are like me and appreciate the years noted on the backs of special ornaments.

Just like my Twelve Days Ornament Series, these ornaments also utilize Sulky Stick 'n Stitch to make the embroidery, beading, and pattern assembly a snap. More ornaments are to follow in this series, so stay tuned later in 2021. I will be back to working on the Ebenezer series in the first half of the year. You can be sure you will see updates and posts right here and on my other channels.

All the samples you see here were made using Benzie Design's wonderful wool-blend felts, glass seed beads, and sequins. Such lovely quality! I really enjoyed working with them, and highly recommend them for yours. I'll be posting detailed Little Elves color guides for these samples but probably not before I make the other samples I need. I'm missing the mint/pink/green palette samples and need to get those done. They will be similar to the samples you've seen already for the rest of the series. (But in the meantime I am taking a break to get ready for Christmas. Holy cow. So much to do.)

If you are wondering, Benzie Design already offers kits for these ornaments! Yay! (They are the Classic and Retro 'Twas the Night bundles.) The red/blue and mustard/blue samples in this post are all made from the Classic bundle. Thank you once again, wonderful Benzie folks! Stay tuned for more information on the color guides.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

huge THANK YOU to you, and it's back to work for me

The halls of my house have been decked, pecan pie has been devoured, leftover turkey and ham have been reinvented several times over, shopping has been semi-completed. I even managed to lose a pound after Thanksgiving weekend at my weigh in. I did not expect that I can tell you.

ONE THOUSAND THANK YOUS for making my annual sale the best one ever! It's clear y’all have some serious sewing to do. Chop chop! And I also have some serious ground to cover for this pattern. Nose is directly on the grindstone, I promise! Working working working. No one wants to finished with this two-in-one pattern more than I. 

Every year I say to myself, LARISSA, I MEAN IT, DO NOT BE WORKING ON A PATTERN AFTER THANKGIVING. One of these years that is going to work out but it's laughable I thought that might actually happen in 2020. I had very strong hopes to be finished with it by my sale but that was not to be. #life

I'll shout about it on every available channel as soon as it's in the shop. And that will be a wrap for 2020 and patterns. My goal was to release four patterns this year and that is what I'll have done:
Mr Marley (he was such a pain)
I decided in the end to make the girl and boy elves a two-in-one pattern, because it just makes more sense to me that way, even though they are mostly different. Oh. And I'm not sure I've mentioned it here, but I've expanded the 'Twas the Night patterns to nine patterns. I just couldn't get it done in six and still be happy.

My goal for 2021 is the same, only this time I hope to be finished by Thanksgiving. #goals #icandoit #timemanagement #morecoffee

Thursday, November 26, 2020

happiest of Thanksgivings to you, and my annual sale is on!

Hello hello to you. Today I plan to mindfully and thankfully devour sausage balls, smoked turkey, ham, pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, the WORKS. And to be especially grateful for delicious, lovely fat and sugar as I have been on WW since May and I'm ready to eat allllll the things to celebrate the day. There may be a faceplant in a plate buttered yeast rolls. (Humor and holiday splurging aside, WW has actually been really great, and I highly recommend it. I love to eat, and there's always something tasty I can eat for zero points. I've lost a good bit of weight and I'm feeling pretty fantastic about that. I plan to stay on it for the long haul. Tomorrow.)

Besides butter, there is much to be thankful for in my life this year, yes, especially this strange, sad, and challenging year. I've heard from so many folks who found a special refuge in all forms of handcraft this year, and goodness knows I have. I can just see in my mind's eye lucky people around the world being delighted and amazed to open their special handmade gifts on Christmas morning as a result of worldwide lockdown crafting. What a lovely vision. I'm so grateful if my patterns have played any small part in that joy.

Do you have plans to sew for Christmas? Better get crackin'. (I'm mostly speaking to myself there.) Today through Monday there's 20% off of all patterns in my shop, so be sure to take advantage of that if you've had your eye on a project or two. Be aware the sale is automatically keyed to my US time zone, Eastern Standard, so factor that in if you are in a different zone on our wonderful planet!

I wish you the warmest, happiest, most delicious time spent with your loved ones today, whether an unlucky turkey figures in there or not. We can all take some time to count our many blessings and say a prayer of thanks. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Little Elves preview

Here's Little Elf Girl, the first design included in my upcoming new 'Twas the Night pattern. She's just coming back from fetching the letters in Santa's mailbox. It's cold out there!

...and Little Elf Boy, the second design included in the pattern. He's busy helping Santa to check off who's naughty and who's nice. You can customize the list to suit your own family. All nice I'm sure! ;-)

Toothpicks, permanent markers, gel pens, card stock, and a very fine tip writing pen will come in handy for the tiny accessories. You can use metallic felt, wool felt, or even card stock for the mail bag. Ooh or glitter felt maybe.

Both of these elf designs are almost final, with only super minor tweaks needed. I'll be writing the pattern and making the final samples next! All the samples will be in the two Benzie Design felt color palettes I've chosen for the series, Classic and Retro, but of course you can make your elves in whatever colors you like! 

Ah I see there's a helpful note on the back of the envelope. Santa's policy is 'trust but verify', little Tucker. :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

sneak peek of the next ornament in 'Twas the Night

After finally releasing Mr Marley (great SCOTT he took forever) I'm happily designing the next pattern in the 'Twas the Night series, Little Elves. This is a glimpse of the first draft, hence no embroidery. I'll add in the embroidery and *sparkle* on the next round of test ornaments. Fun! I'm excited to show you more when I get to that stage.

Note: These little guys are a bit smaller than Santa and Mrs Claus (#becauseelves), so I recommend finding something skinny to help you stuff them if you don't already have something. I am using my beloved Barbara Willis stuffing fork, which is the regular size, and it's working fine, however I just purchased the mini to see if it is easier to use on these skinny lil' legs. I'll report back. 

"But wait, there are no elves in the poem, Larissa!"

Yes! That's right. No elves besides the right jolly old Santa himself. Don't worry, we will get to the body of the well-loved poem itself, but I wanted to make a stop at the North Pole first to pick up Mrs Claus and the elves. Thanks for hanging in there with me! :-)