Friday, July 27, 2012

summertime summertime sum-sum-summertime fun


Here at the Holland Academy for Young Ladies we school mostly year round, but we are now in our late summer break and no more book learnin' is happening here until September 1st. That's the theory anyway, but the two children who were moaning about school last week are the same ones who are now voluntarily watching educational videos on the Civil Rights Movement and reading geography books for fun. *snort* These people need to take lessons from my nine year old self about how to let your brain atrophy properly while school's out.

We celebrated the end of this school year with joint birthday art party for the girls and some good friends. If you live in the Peachtree City area of Atlanta, I really recommend Big Arts Studio for art classes, summer camps and art themed parties. We've done all three and always had great experiences there. Elise Lacey (with my kiddos above) is a talented artist, but also has the gift of ably teaching it to others, especially kids.

The artistes got to pick their own theme and rough it in on canvas board with help from Elise, then they all painted up a storm after a few tips. I thought it was really cool that our group was mostly boys but they were just as into it (or more so) than the girls. The ages in our party ranged from 6 to 10, and they all were very proud of their paintings. Elise offered to draw on colored, sparkly or glow-in-the-dark paint pen outlines if the artiste wanted them, which added a big cool factor. Her studio also partners with Rockbridge Adventures next door, so the kids got to tumble, bungee jump and rock climb after they finished painting.

After painting, tumbling, pizza and cupcakes, all the kids took home their masterpieces, along with these art-themed party favors I put together: canvas board, paint tray, paintbrushes and a treat (which the girls said was the main point of a party favor), all wrapped together with baker's twine. The girls wrote the name tags. I was so hepped about these favors, and they were only $3 a piece after the coupons. So much better than a bag full of useless plastic toys that will be thrown away after a couple of days. My opinion.

I forgot to take a photo of their finished homemade party invitations. I put together the wording in Illustrator and printed them on white card stock. I had the girls draw mini-masterpieces on the blank side of the printed invitations, then they added yellow card stock frames I had cut out. I thought it was really sweet how the girls put so much thought into each drawing, keeping in mind the tastes of the invitee.

All in all, a pretty great way to kick off our summer break.

Friday, July 20, 2012

put on the brakes, Pippi!

After doing some research (thank you, Holly), I've decided not to finish the Pippi pattern for the shop. Bummer. Sorry for the build then the fizzle! I had assumed (wrongly it turns out) that the story/character of Pippi Longstocking had entered the public domain since it was published in 1945, almost seventy years ago!

Interestingly enough, if my internet research is to be relied upon, the story was in the public domain, but via the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1996 it has been taken out of the public domain and its copyright and trademark extended for who knows how long. I'm still not sure exactly how all that legally applies to the persona/likeness of Pippi as it relates to a doll pattern, but I am sure that I don't want to proceed if I can't feel confident about it. If you are curious and have some time you can read more about it here, here, here and here.

I might repurpose some of the doll design and possibly the little monkey into another pattern. I was thinking it might be cute to have two best friend dolls, one who is messy and tomboyish and one who is neat and girly-fied. That sounds fun! I'll get it sorted out.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

hello, Mr. Nilsson

"Where have you put your jacket and hat?"

Still prototyping like crazy over here*. Not sure about separate jacket and pants for Nilsson. Maybe I'll try integrated.

There seems to be some debate about the color of Ms. Longstocking's clothes. I'm feeling loyal to the blue homemade dress with red patches that is in the book I have, but a reader tells me a yellow homemade dress and blue spotted underpants was in her beloved childhood Pippi book. Not to mention the movie version of Pippi that has an entirely different green/orange look which many love.

Good thing is, you can make her dress and stockings whatever color or print you like. That's the lovely, lovely thing about DIY.

*Due to trademark concerns, this will not be available as a pattern. See this post for the details!

Monday, July 16, 2012

waiting for Mr. Nilsson

Two Pippi prototypes, impatiently waiting for a loyal monkey friend. You can tell I'm having fun with crazy braid placement. The pattern* will allow you to attach the braids after the rest of the doll is completed, so you can experiment with the look you want. The braids don't have any wiring, they just stick out on their own from sheer mischievousness.

*Due to trademark concerns, this will not be available as a pattern. See this post for the details!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

big eyes, little eyes

The size of the safety eyes you use for your TravelWees can give a different look to the face. Flotsam on the left has 6 mm eyes, and Daisy on the right has 4 mm eyes. Smaller eyes work better if the synthetic fur is more wispy. They might get lost in really thick fur.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

math is better with friends.

Blueberry, Daisy, Cheddar and Wallace look on as Thing 2 soldiers through her math lesson. Counting down the final days until our late summer break. We love year round schooling, but this mom my two students are really ready for the year's end here at Holland Academy For Young Ladies.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I made lemon curd.

I used Ina Garten's easy recipe. It turned out really great.
I had to strain it though. Maybe it cooked too long? I promise I stirred the whole time. I'll bet Ina doesn't have to strain hers.
I used the lemon curd to make these:

Which were inspired by this Madigan Made pin. Aren't they pretty?
No Bake cheesecake + curd + graham cracker crumbs + fruit.
It's fun to eat them with tiny spoons.
I made the trifle cups for this:

Which was inspired by this shower theme on MS. I have two lovely friends who are both expecting their first babies, and I have always longed to give a children's book shower. This shot was taken before my small gathering arrived. There's a better shot of this including the mommies-to-be with all the food on the table, but I might be in trouble if I published that photo. Not going to risk it. Many thanks to my wonderful co-hostesses who brought even more yummy treats!

Sorry for the flash. Just as I was going to take the photo, a large, angry afternoon thunderstorm rolled in and I lost the light.
 I used the free download on the MS site to make these:

Pretty bookplates painted by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. I love just about anything from Rifle, and these bookplates were perfect for the girly party. I had pink fabric crates to hold the unwrapped books for each Mommy and pens and glue stick available to personalize and attach the bookplates.

The paper books hanging on the lamp were stapled together from colored paper and taped to baker's twine. The paper "Mommy, will you read to me?" garland I made by cutting out quick hand-sketched letters and taping them to baker's twine. Easy.

A not-that-much-better shot of the cake and the book garland hanging from the lamp. I'm not a baker, but Publix has bakers. And they make cakes for you! However, they get a bit puzzled when you say "Just plain. I don't want decorations on it." I ordered a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and raspberry filling, then quickly stuck on raspberry M&Ms* for decoration. No, sorry, it was much more complex than that: I artfully arranged alternating colored M&Ms around the cake. Sounds much more skilled, yes? The pennants on top were made with colored paper folded around and glued to lollipop sticks.

Notice my curtains are different? *Sigh* I know. I'm so dysfunctional. These new ones are from IKEA (thanks for pushing me over the edge, Rae) and are way too long at the moment. But the ones I made were just not working for me colorwise. Anyone interested in purchasing four gently-used handmade curtains? LOL.

And now I'm afraid the hutch interior needs to be green. Right?

*I didn't know there was such a thing as dark chocolate raspberry M&Ms until I mentioned I was looking for pink and red candies to decorate a cake with, and the nice drugstore cashier lady suggested it. Thanks, nice cashier lady! They were perfect! And delicious! And much larger than normal M&Ms. I would give you guys an official link to them, but the M&Ms website asked me to confirm my age first (as if) and I protest. I found them in the candy aisle at the drugstore.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

how to: French knots

I thought I'd publish this quick basic tutorial for French knots. I use them a lot for tiny eyes, noses, flowers, polka dots, etc... so they appear often in my patterns. This is how Larissa Holland does it. You may have a different way? But I find this is a foolproof method for consistent, good-looking, nicely round French knots. 

You'll find a version of this tutorial in the Resource section of my patterns. Keep in mind I was photographing this myself, so I couldn't have my hand on the needle and the camera button at the same time. I drew in a quick stand-in for my fingers up there.

Some ways you can vary the knot:
  • You can make your knot look larger or smaller depending on how many strands of floss you use.
  • You can also make the knot look long instead of round by wrapping the floss around the needle more than two times. 
  • Use lots and lots of knots to completely fill an area with an interesting nobbly texture.
  • There's also a variation of the French knot called 'colonial knot', which usually ends up looking a bit larger and rounder than the French version with the same number of strands. You can see it here. I prefer the French knot just because I'm used to it, it's quicker, and it gives great results.
Once you get the trick of doing them, you'll realize French knots are not scary at all and maybe even a little fun! They are certainly a great way to add charming texture and details to your embroidery.