Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kickstarter and a Children's book

Update:  The project received full funding!!  I can't wait for my copy to arrive in July.  

Have you heard of Kickstarter?  This is the description from their site:

"Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

Since our launch on April 28, 2009, over $500 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects."

I think it's a phenomenal idea.  I love the idea of helping people get projects up and going that otherwise might not make it.   The project I am backing right now is for a children's book written and illustrated by Dennis McGregor.  It's entitled Dream Again, and is about a young girl, a quilt, and the Oregon Trail. Click below and Dennis will tell you about the project. 

There are different incentives depending on the amount of money pledged.  For my $25 pledge, I will get a signed copy of the book when and if it is printed. The payment goes through Amazon if the project is able to get enough funding. If you'd like to find out more about the project and see some examples of previous work by McGregor, you can visit kickstarter at:

Even if you are not interested in pledging, it's worth  a visit just to see the author's amazing artwork.

UPDATE:  The pledge amount exceeded the goal!   My copy of the book is due to arrive in July.  I shall post about it  as soon as it arrives.

Friday, March 8, 2013

And Then Danni Said...

Danni who blogs at  Silo Hill Farm and Inspiration Cafe  suggested that I make a post about one of the towel creatures from Carnival's little book of towel creations so that you all can give it a try.  Here it is!

I'm going to show you the book pages as well as some photos of my in-the-works creature because I know I won't write it up as well.  Between the two, you should have no problems.

How ironic that I'm writing a wordy post on the very day that Danni posted her wordless one.  While she is trying to cut down of the words, I seem to be heading toward novel-size posts.  Most of this is photos--I promise!

Here's what Jumbo should look like when you are finished.
In case you missed it, I have owned up to being a dreadful photographer. As I always say, it is so much better nothing!

 First I'm going to show you the directions from the book on how to make the body portion.
Step 2 is in the next photo!  I wanted to get close so you can read it.

Step 2 as promised
For the body, you are just rolling a bath towel from the short ends into the center which will look like this:
 Turn it over and fold in half.
This looked so difficult and was so easy! I had to hold mine between my arm and body to do this part:  pull out a little tab of the four corners of each "tube".  Once you can grab the corners,  you are going to take hold of two corners in each hand and pull!
See those four corners?

Make sure you take the right two corners--see the center of the towel bundle? 
 This is what it looks like after you pull.
 Flip it over and move on to the head

The head  requires a hand towel--not one of those really small ones, though.  Here are the book's directions.

I cannot get the trunk to be as nice and pointy as theirs.  If you figure out how, let me know.  Here are my photos.
Just folded in half

I try to roll the trunk end kind of tight

Flip it over

Pull down the two edges of the towel to form the face area.
 Once you have the face area folded down, just play with it to get the trunk turned up a bit and the ears looking good.  I fold the edges of the towel under for the face.  I use buttons with bead-head straight pin for the eyes (and nose on other creatures).  The cruise people used little circles of felt.  Googly eyes would be cool, too.

 Ta da! Here is the finished product.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cruise Ship Towel Creations

Since I loved coming back to the room to find some new creature made from towels while cruising on Carnival, I bought the book!  My husband may well be regretting that he encouraged me to do this.  Almost everyday since our return, Brian has had to admire and gently move the day's creation before getting into bed at night. I, on the hand, am having a wonderful time even though my creatures seldom look like the one in the book.  Take this guy for instance.
 Doesn't he look like Alf from the old television series (for those of you who are old enough to remember that ancient show)?  It's supposed to be a rabbit looking like the one in the photo below.
 It's not the directions which are perfectly clear with wonderful illustrations.  I just need practice.  Lots of practice.  Can you guess what this one is? 

No, not The Blob.  It's supposed to be a manta ray.  I keep using the same towels over and over.  I think I need to move on to some fresh ones--and keep practicing.  The other night Brian looked at what was my version of a pig and said, "Wow! What a great monkey!  Great job!"  He's so sweet.  At least they look like SOME kind of beast.  Close enough for me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stitch and Quilt Along with Clover and Violet and Hoopla Embroidery Book Review

I've decided to join Clover and Violet's Stitch and Quilt Along!  The quilt will be made up of courthouse step blocks with a little bit of hand embroidery in the center of each block. If you want to check it out, click on the quilt-along button on the sidebar or on the lovely little pic here.

I was hesitant to join because of the hand embroidery.  It's been years since I did any hand embroidery.  However, completely by chance, Melissa brought an incredible book on embroidery home from the library yesterday.  What are the chances of that happening on the very same day?   I'm taking it as a sign that I should join the quilt along.

The book is Hoopla:  The Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain.   Melissa thought I would be interested in it.  Truthfully, had she called and asked if I would like to see a book on mostly hand embroidery, I would have said no. Taking on another form of stitchery would have seemed too daunting.  Thumbing through the book when it arrived, however, I realized that some of the simplest pieces shown were such special expressions of conviction and emotion.
Embroidered poem by Jamie Chalmers
I can think of a lot of places other than an ouch pouch
where I'd like to embroider a band-aid.
 (And, some are just plain fun!)

Embroidering on photos!  See the mustache on the baby?
Who wouldn't want to send a special someone who's far from home a photo
like this embroidered with hearts!

IMHO, anyone who sews beyond simple repairs, has a need to express themselves creatively.  Prain's book shows you how to do just that with beautiful, contemporary, artistic embroidery from the absolute simplest lines to the most complex.  The book has gorgeous photos, instructions on techniques, full directions for some of the projects, and interviews with artists.

As for a few of the more complex--but still doable, how about embroidering your furniture?
Sorry for the distorted photo.  It's the best I can do.
Wish I had embroidered a little something when
I reupholstered my denim set.  Not this much though!

How cool is this map!
You know I own this book now, don't you?  Well, it's on the way from Amazon, anyway,  for $19.77, down from the $29.95 list price.  Check it out at your library or click on "Amazon" above to see more about it online.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Butterfly Cabinet, A Novel by Bernie McGill

I loved this book despite it's dark theme.  The Butterfly Cabinet is  loosely based on an actual incident that happened in l892 in Ireland.  A well-to-do mother is accused of having caused the death of her child.  The chapters alternate between a  woman, now in her nineties, who was employed in the house at the time of the death and the prison diary of the mother.  While the central mystery revolves around coming to understand what really happened that day, much of the writing brings the reader to understand why it happened, what about these characters brought them to their actions on that day.

To me McGill's is descriptive writing at it finest.  With some authors, you see the descriptive writing.  It jumps out at you.  It is distracting.  I'm usually thinking about the fact that the the author is working at being descriptive rather than focusing on the story.   In this book, however, you see the story.  It unfolds tugging your emotions in countless directions.  Just when you think you know a character, McGill gives you more information forcing you to rethink your previous conclusions.

The only negative for me was that the modern day story (well, if you can call 1968 modern;-})  is hardly developed. The book is comparatively short.  There was certainly room for showing how these past events affect later generations.  The main story line, though, is well worth the read.

It's a great choice for a book club because McGill does not force answers on the reader.  She presents the information.  We decide--and it's not as easy as it sounds.  It's the kind of story you think about long after finishing the book.  I don't often push for books in my book club, but this is one I'd love to delve into with others.  You can click on the book cover below to see what Amazon reviewers have to say.  If you do read it, let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin

Bloggers and blog readers are creative people. They just have to be.  Bloggers share their thoughts and ideas and readers are looking for inspiration. Often readers are bloggers or would be if they had more time.   Time.  Therein lies the creative dilemma for most of us.  Finding time, using it effectively, overcoming the guilt we often feel for doing something creative when we think we should be doing more "useful" things. Who hasn't had this problem?

Gail McMeekin's book, The 12 Secrets of  Highly Creative Women, is filled with explanations of how we can nourish our creativity effectively.  McMeekin looks at many things that affect our ability to unleash our creativity including the innate differences in male/female thinking and cultural influences that are so ingrained we may well not realize how they are affecting our decision-making.  Through the lives, thoughts, and experiences of many women who have succeeded in creative endeavors, McMeekin offers countless ideas for setting up our lives to encourage our creative talents.

I don't know how I missed this book before!  The one I just got is the tenth anniversary edition.  There is so much inspiring, profound, and just plain useful information in this book.  I'm getting copies for all the females in my family for Christmas. How great if the young ones begin their adult lives knowing they deserve to take the time to nurture their creativity.  What great things might come of expanding our views of  women's roles in society and what great new cultural traditions we might pass down for future generations.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting started on the Gift Making - Embroidered Towels

I've been doing lots of things lately--just not blog-worthy--such as making 15 pillow cases from old sheets cuz one of my kids likes to change his pillow cases every night or so.  Of course, he's also the one who uses two pillows.  Here's a portion of that chore.
Nice, easy, straight sewing. But still a bit time consuming.

I did start something blog-worthy! I'm making embroidered dish towels from Huck toweling as Christmas gifts.

These are some of the designs I got from Embroidery Library during the summer when I was making the baker's apron for Melissa.  I love this design company!  They have so many designs, great prices, lots of sales, and downloading orders is so easy even I can't screw it up.  Every design comes up beautifully.  (No, they are not paying me.)  In searching for a design for the apron, I found the "Savory Swirls" set that I thought would be great on dish towels. These are four of the eight designs in the set. 

I love this fabric.  It is so easy to work with and takes machine embroidery exceptionally well.  I got it from Joann's with a 50% off coupon.  You don't find those too often anymore!   It's usually $5.99 a yard.

I pre-washed and dried on hot with very little shrinkage or wrinkling.  The fabric is 15 inches wide with finished edged so you only need to hem the ends.  I cut 27 inches for each towel, turned the edges under 1-/2 inch twice and did a straight stitch that you can see here.
Frankly, these looked great without the embroidery, too.  While Joann's doesn't have any other material like this, I did find a number of different toweling options/colors online at    I'm going to order a bit of each to see how they wash--will let you know.

That is four towels down and about 20 more to go, a couple of aprons, countless napkins--It's going to be a kitcheny Christmas.

Equally as nice as getting some sewing done is being able to listen to some books while I'm working.  I finished Michael Chabon's Summerland.  LOVED IT!   Just as Neil Gaiman's American Gods uses many mythological gods throughout the story, Summerland uses many characters from folklore.  That and the great writing in each is where the similarities end.  Summerland is NOT a dark tale at all.  I have a whole new respect for baseball.  You'll understand if you read it.

I also listened to Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, an amazing story about a guy's World War II experiences.  She also wrote Seabiscuit.  I didn't think I'd be interested in that one, but after, listening to Unbroken, I'm going to give it a try.

Anyone else getting a head start on making Christmas gifts???  Let me know what you're doing.  I'm always open to stealing sharing ideas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hoo Are You? Questions for the Week from Night Owl

I have not done this before, but Night Owl apparently posts a set of questions each week.  I found out through A Creative Princess blog. You answer the questions in your blog and post a link at the link party.   I'm joining in the fun cuz it's nice to get to know other bloggers.  Here are the questions and my answers.

1. Do you decorate for the 4th of July?
    No!  I'm way too lazy.  Now that the kids are grown, I only decorate for Christmas and not too much of that.  I do, however, love looking at everyone else's decorations.

2. Do you you buy fireworks for the 4th of July?
    No, again.  It's illegal in New York.  If I wanted to risk getting my name in the papers for breaking laws, I'd probably in for something like growing weed.  If nothing else, I'm practical.  I'd have to be making money.  Of course, I'd claim it was medicinal.  (And, no, I don't smoke weed.  I am much too cowardly to risk getting caught.  They'd take my picture, and I just don't photograph well.  It always ends up looking exactly like me.)

3.How  do you celebrate the 4th of July?  
    It's never the same.  Sometimes, we go camping.   If I can get the family together at home, we have a cookout and make use of the pool.  If not, the hubster and I hike or bike somewhere.  We always go see fireworks at night wherever we are.  Darn, we are boring, aren't we!

4. Do you have a family member that is serving our country?
    Yes,  my nephew, Rusty,  is in the Marines.

5. Do you dress in red, white, or blue on the fourth?
    Only accidentally.  It would require planning at  which I suck..

So there you have it.  This year I have a little more respect for Independence Day since I just finished reading David McCullough's book, "John Adams" for my book club.  It was a powerful, moving reminder that by and large, ordinary people made this nation happen with a lot of hard work and personal sacrifice in those early years.  

Interesting July 4th Fact
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day--July 4th, the fiftieth anniversary of the big day.
What were the chances of THAT happening?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kite Flying Time!

With the warmer weather, I'm in the mood for flying kites again.  It's been a long time since I made these kites using David Michael's book, Making Kites, but they were easy for a novice to make and are as nice as the first day they flew about 12 years ago. 

Michael's book has a ton of ideas for making kites and spinners from all kinds of materials--poster board, shiny metallic wrapping paper, acoustic tiles, garbage bags, and, of course, ripstop nylon.  While the book gives clear and concise measurements and directions for some of the kites such as the Delta Star on the cover, sometimes you are on your own to figure out the measurements.  That can't be too hard, though, since I managed to do it easily for the two kites above!   

Want to start with something easy?  Try the Delta Star with all the measurements and directions.
 Making Kites (Step-by-step) 

Since I wanted to do a plain, old-fashioned kite, I used the Diamond Two-Stick pattern from  the book.  Unfortunately the books lacks measurements for this one.  Just in case someone else wants to try this one, I'm posting a semi-tutorial with the measurements I used.  My kites are about 31 inches across by 34 inches finished and fly just great.  Why those numbers?  No reason whatsoever.  It just kind of looked right and was smaller than the dowel length sold at the store.

Did I follow the Diamond's directions exactly?  No.  I don't think I am capable of that.  Rather than cutting out two triangular pieces and having to sew them together, I cut on the fold for one main piece.  I used a 35" line on the fold, slanted down and out 21" on the side, and drew a straight line from that point to the bottom on the 35" line.  All edges have a 1/4" seam folded twice for a clean finish.

Some things I learned along the way:
  • See that little green square between the two green circles above?  Don't do that.  I thought I would sew some of these squares on to thread the dowel through.  I actually had another one 3/4 of the way down.  They make it difficult to bend the dowel to fit into the pockets--very bad idea. After breaking a few dowels, I removed the one I had put on toward the bottom.  Putting on ties is a much better idea.  You absolutely need the tie at the point where the dowels meet anyway. 
  • I  also tried using 1/8" dowels figuring they would be lighter.  They are but they also break easily. The book says use 1/4" dowels and now I do!
  • Buy extra dowels and carry them with you.   Cutting the kite flying trip short because of broken dowels is so annoying!
  • For the side dowel pockets, make them rectangular rather than square.  Some of mine are square, and I think it gives the dowel room to move around.  I ended up sewing another line to make them narrower. And, don't make them too long!  It just makes it harder to bend the dowels into place increasing the chance of breaking them.  An inch and a half finished length is more than enough.
  • Use button or even upholstery thread to sew on the plastic ring for the kite string.  Those rings take a LOT of punishment from the wind.
  • Carry a needle, thread, and a couple of small rings to make repairs if needed.  You may never need it, but it's nice to know it's there. 
Back to the construction.  The fin is attached in the middle as you will see in the book (and in the pic below), down 3 1/2" from the top.  This is the piece that will hook to the kite string.  I used a 26 1/2" long  piece of fabric for the fin, slanted down a bit and out 16".   (This is not on a fold--you only want 1 triangular piece not a diamond shape.)

You don't want to come all the way back in at the 26" mark, though as you would on the main piece.  Square that off by drawing a line 2 1/2 inches down at the other end and drawing the line from the 16" point to the 2  1/2 inch point.  I think this picture shows how the end is squared off as opposed to coming to a point as on the main kite piece.

Sew on those corner pocket pieces and a circular plastic piece on the tip of the fin.  You are ready to tie on your string.  I used the plastic pieces they sell at Joann's for making Roman shades. You do need a tail--just a long strip with smaller rectangles spaced down.  I took a tuck in each of the small rectangles to make them look a bit like bows.  My tails are 30" long with five 5 1/2" long "bows" about 6" apart.

Last, about all those geometric shapes on my kites--I was just in the mood for doing appliques.  I cut out shapes, pinned them on, and did an applique stitch on the machine.  Then I cut out the main fabric on the other side to have the shapes show on each side.  

Next on my sewing list is to make bags for toting these around.  Why didn't I think to do that before?   I'll post a tutorial.  UPDATE:  Click here to see my version of a kite carrier.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Reading Boat and Book

I made this a while back with my niece when she was working on her master's in education.  She wanted to make something for special needs kids who needed help in defining where they should be during a given activity.  While is is great for these kids, really any little guy will enjoy and benefit from it.

The boat is a really simple design with a back V-shaped panel that gives it depth. There were no little people around to demonstrate it,  so my plushy monster, Elliot is in there.  There is a pocket on the center where the lifesaver is for the book that goes with this.

The book was done with appliques and iron-on transfers for the lettering.  I covered the binder clips with cloth tubes to prevent the shiny chrome from vying for the kids' attention.  The overall purpose of the book is to teach the child about patience and the value of staying focused and on task.    It also, as you will see, contains a number of learning activities as well.
Inside the cover is a long poem that is probably NOT going to be read in one sitting at first!  It can be read  in part as the child is being introduced to the idea of using the boat, getting the boat out, and as the child gets settled into the boat.    The poem explains how another child named Patience Bean learns about being patient.  Over time, as kids pick up the rhymes, you should be able to read more and  more of the poem.  If the little one is getting impatient, read the important parts, explain the gist of the it, and move on to the rest of the book.  Click on any of the pictures to enlarge it for reading.

The actual story has few words and lots of activities.  Our "Patience" was drawn by my niece and painted on a little stuffed pillow form, but you could use a photo or scan in a picture for iron-on transfer.  That dot next to her is a Velcro dot.  Kids can move Patience from page to page as you read.
Here Patience asks the reader to look in the pockets for her treasures.  The pockets have different kinds of openings--button, snaps, Velcro--for practicing those skills.  Each treasure is a different shape and primary color so you can get some practice in on those.  Be sure to change up the placement on occasion.

The next page has zippered pockets.
Here a plastic side pressure buckle closure is used to hide the treasure.

 Last is a bottle with a message tied with a ribbon (tacked to the back) that has washed up on the beach.  Plastic cut in the shape of a bottle is sewn on with a zigzag stitch just as the appliques are.

How cute is that!  My niece is so creative!  The message in the bottle for the little person congratulates their patience and perseverance.
If you can't read it, again, just click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

We thought about making oars for the boat but decided against it.  Kids can make imaginary oars that won't accidentally hit someone.  The whole thing folds up nicely and goes into this tote with Patience Bean's name embroidered randomly across it.

If you want to give this a try for personal use and need any information, let me know. ( Please don't make these items for sale.  Thanks.)