Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Ghost of Christmas Past prototypes underway

I'm working hard on producing the third pattern in my Ebenezer Ornament Series, Ghost of Christmas Past. I only have a few tweaks to make before I have the final version. I'm pretty happy with how it's all gone so far! Earlier version is on the left, Mr Headless on the right is the latest.

I've seen many productions or movies which portray this ghost as a woman, so you may be a bit surprised to learn it's actually described as a boy/man in the book. That's the version I'm going with, however, this is DIY and you are the boss. If you'd like to craft this spirit as an ethereal woman instead to match the nostalgia of your memories, it is entirely up to you! 

As written by Dickens, this ghost is kind of tricky to represent faithfully as a felt ornament. I've done my best to hit the highlights! And some artistic license is thrown in there. Here's the description of what Scrooge sees when his bed curtains are drawn aside:

"It was a strange figure–like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age, and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintery emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm."

Admittedly already a challenge to represent with a crafted Christmas ornament, but even further than that:

"Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever."

So um yeah, you'll just have to use your imaginations for that last shape-shifting part. As a designer, I landed on a candle-like youth with blooming cheeks and long white hair, sporting bare arms and feet, wearing a tunic trimmed with flowers and holding a holly branch and a hat-sized snuffer in his hands. The light pouring from his head is tricky to represent, so I'm probably going to settle for a tinsel crown with a simple flame shape in the back. I'm still thinking that one through.

New craft items you'll need to make this pattern: If you've been making the Ebenezer series already, you have most of what you need already on hand, but there are a few things that are new:

  • 24 or 26 gauge cloth covered or paper wrapped floral stem wire (for the holly branch). I've used white in my sample photo, but I will probably also use green, which is easier to find than white. It takes one 18 inch stem to make a holly branch. 
  • Benzie Design's Bellwether metallic felts for the belt, snuffer, and some leaves. It adds such a rich sheen! I love using it for this. You may of course opt to use regular wool felt for those parts if you wish. It still works!
  • Three 4 mm round jewelry beads for holly berries. I found the tiny glass seed beads just didn't have enough presence for the berries. The sample you see is made with semi-precious stone beads I grabbed at my local Michaels, just because I liked the natural variations in hue.
  • 8 mm and 6 mm sequins in addition to the 4 or 5 mm ones you are already using. You'll need them for the belt buckle and flowers.
  • The spirit's hair is white DMC embroidery floss, and you can get two heads of hair from one skein.
I think that covers any new stuff. The rest is the usual wool felts, floss, wood beads, pens, stabilizer, tinsel pipe cleaner, metallic Diamant and metallic threads that you are already familiar with. 

Ever wonderful Benzie Design will continue to offer Ebenezer materials kits to get you going with most of what you need to make ornaments that match my color guides.

I hope to begin writing the pattern soon. Sooooo back to work for me! 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Xfinity's block on my blog is now fixed!

Yay! Just to let those of you know who subscribe by feed or email, the erroneous block put on my blog by Xfinity's service seems to be fixed now. It only took seven days. :-(

I can now load my blog using Xfinity wifi on any of my devices and I hope you can too. Thanks so much for your patience, and if you notice the Safebrowse warning is still happening for you, can you contact me via FB or my shop and let me know? Thanks!

Friday, May 21, 2021

getting a warning when you go to my blog? me too >:(

UPDATE: THE ERROR SEEMS TO BE FIXED! At least on my end. If you get the erroneous Safebrowse warning, can you contact me via FB or my shop and let me know? Thanks!

I reference my own blog almost every day when I grab helpful links to send my customers. Imagine my surprise on Tues May 18th when suddenly I got the above intimidating screen (in several languages) from a URL called when I loaded it on my Mac. Panic immediately set in. Had my blog been hacked? What was going on?

As you might imagine, I started researching and testing immediately. I spent all day on it and reached out to a lot of my friends to help me test it. Here's what I figured out:

  • is a legit policing service used by Xfinity (my internet provider).
  • It was flagging my blog for no apparent reason.
  • My blog was not flagged on any other internet provider or cellular service that I could see. Non-Xfinity users and anyone using cellular data could access it just fine.
  • Not all Xfinity wifi users were getting the same screen, but everyone who got the screen was an Xfinity user.
  • If we turned off the Advanced Security Filter on our router, voila, the problem was solved. If we turned it back on, the flag appeared again.
  • The problem seemed to be with the Xfinity advanced security algorithm or blacklist.
Obviously, asking my customers to click 'proceed anyway' after getting a malicious site warning is not an option. Neither is telling them to take their security fence down on their router just to reach my site. Unacceptable.

After two long phone calls with Xfinity support, they told me that my blog was erroneously flagged in a recent security update which referenced certain server ports. This has presumably affected way more websites than just my own. They tell me their engineers are aware of my issue and are working to solve it.

I'm currently waiting for them to whitelist my poor ol' innocent blog (which is a legit web site on the internet since 2008). Today is the fourth day it's been held hostage by Xfinity, scaring my visitors and ruining the reputation of my business. 


If you are an Xfinity user, obviously you won't be seeing this post. If you did, I'd tell you a good workaround during this time to reach my blog is to turn off the wifi service on your device and access it via cellular service using the usual link: