Thursday, August 3, 2017

Little Felt Houses

This post follows on from my last one where I shared a little felt house I made.  Since then I've been working on some other designs.  As always making the first one of anything takes a lot of extra time.  There's the pattern to draft, the felt colors to choose and design details to work out.  

These little houses seem to have taken a long time but I'm getting faster as I work out the process.  These sweet little houses are intended for use as pincushions and are perfectly functional but I have to say, I can't quite bring myself to put them away in the box yet!  I am enjoying them on the counter in my workspace!  



This little cottage was inspired by the golden stone cottages of the Cotswolds.  There are roses growing around the front door, some on the side wall and a herb garden in the back.  Each roof tile is individually cut and stitched onto the roof.  




This is another golden stone cottage.  The Cotswolds is not the only region of England to have houses made from this color stone and I'm imaging this cottage in the rolling countryside of the Midlands.  






And then, just for fun, I made fairy houses.  These are little tree stumps with doors and windows and roofs made of leaves.  There are lots of flowers and little red and white toadstools.  








Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Creative Funk

For a while there, I was in a such a creative funk or rut.  I had no inspiration, and not the slightest motivation.  I hate feeling like that!  

One of the things I do to help myself is to clean up and/or sort out some of my supplies.  I sorted and tidied my fabric stash, being ruthless with fabrics I don't love anymore.  Then I emptied the deep drawer that has all my beads and beading tools.  I'd ordered some new beads and findings so I found the proper places for those to go and once again, sorted out the beads and other things I knew I'd never use.  It felt good!

Gradually some fresh ideas began to creep up on me.  I pulled out my sketchbook and made notes.  What I was imagining was a little felt cottage, actually a whole village of little cottages, that could be practical as pincushions or just decorative.  In my mind, this one was a little white cottage with exposed stone at the corners and a clay tile roof...with roses growing around the door, window boxes and big pots full of plants.  




When stitching the stones on the corners, I had to be careful to match up the size and color of the stones with the sides!  The door has big, scented old fashioned roses growing round it.  



Here is the little cottage without a floor or any stuffing.  You can see how the corner stones all match.  The side has a window with a window box and round the back are some plant filled pots.  To keep the whole thing stable, I added some really thick sew in stabilizer when I added the floor.  The little cottage was then firmly stuffed with my favorite ultra plush polyfil stuffing. 


I am really happy with how this came out.  My plan is to make a variety of little cottages before listing them in my Etsy shop.  They will be priced a little higher than the other pincushions to reflect the extra time they take.  On my coffee table now is a book about the traditional houses of France, another about English cottages and one of traditional houses in the area I grew up in.  I'm busy sketching and planning!








Friday, June 30, 2017

Today I baked

As I've said in previous posts, we mostly eat gluten free in our house.  My husband has no choice because even the tiniest big of gluten makes him sick, but I don't restrict what the kids eat.  Gluten free baking can be a depressing thing and I love to bake.  For a long time, I stopped baking much but I missed it, especially after watching the "Great British Baking Show"!    

Lately I've started making things again, inspired by two books, one that focuses on the flavors of alternative flours and the other that tackles the thorny issue of gluten free bread.  A really good loaf of bread is the Holy Grail of the gluten free world!  



I came upon this book on Amazon and after spending a bit of time on the website that works alongside the book, I purchased it.  I've only made the basic bread recipe because I feel like I'm still getting used to making it.  The basic dough recipe makes either freeform loaves or sandwich bread in a pan and I've done both.  The bread tastes like bread.  It has a fabulous crust and it isn't at all dry or crumbly.  None of my loaves have been perfect but they're improving and all have been better than anything I've bought in stores.  


The bread dough is weird, as all gluten free bread dough is!  It is very wet and feels all wrong (I've made regular bread at home for years).  I use the whole grain version of the recipe and add some of the seed and grain mix below that I get from Trader Joe's.  


And Ta Da!!  Here is the baked loaf.  It is good, crusty bread.  It keeps really well on the counter for two or three days although I only make small loaves so it doesn't usually hang around that long!



The other book that I am absolutely loving is all about the flavors of alternative flours.  I've made several things from it and, without exception, everything has come out beautifully.   


This carrot cake is one of our favorites.


If you haven't checked out the website Gluten Free On A Shoestring yet, I recommend it.  I make several cake recipes from there and they also have all turned out beautifully.  Today I made a ginger cake.  This was a tough one, because the standard is my mom's ginger cake which I remember from when I was little.  It was soft, and gingery with a lovely sticky top.  It always reminds me of Fall and Bonfire Night and hunting for chestnuts in the woods near my Aunt's house.  

This is a pretty simple recipe and I mixed it by hand.  The mixture smelled awesome.  The whole house smelled awesome.  




When it was cool and I cut it and tried it, I was so happy to find that it tasted just like my mom's even down to the sticky top.  The cake is moist and spicy.  This recipe is a keeper.  You can find the recipe here.  Don't wait for Fall.










Thursday, June 29, 2017

More felt cacti

The last time I was up in the mountains I worked on some more felt cacti.  The hardest part of making these is picking the colors and making the flowers!  While we were there it snowed really hard (in June!!) and so it was really nice to be working on something really brightly colored while the wood stove kept us cozy.  




I was able to get them all stitched and the flowers added and then I "potted" them when I got home.  This involves very carefully hot gluing them into their little pots.  I'm really happy with how this batch turned out, my favorite one is the very pale green cactus with the pink flowers. 










Friday, June 23, 2017

Barn Owl Pincushion

One of my very first pincushions had an owl on it and I haven't made any other owl ones since but recently I decided to work on another one in a different design.  I did my drawings as usual using my bird book for reference.  This is a barred owl which seems to me to be the owl shape that everyone thinks of when you say "owl".  


I cut out all the felt pieces and stitched the branch and then put it down and left it because it just didn't feel right.  When I came back to it a few days later I realized that it was the owl that was bothering me and I went back to the bird book and found myself drawn to the barn owl.  

I see barn owls sometimes.  I live in a town but there are hills, farmland and wild open spaces all around the town.  I've even seen barn owls late at night flying across the road near a piece of open land in the middle of town.  It is pretty startling to catch one in your headlights.  My daughter works at a horse barn out in the countryside and in the Fall and Winter I see lots of owls when I drive to pick her up in the dark evenings.  It always feels like a privilege, like they've allowed themselves to be seen.  


As soon as I made the decision to switch to a barn owl, the stitching came together smoothly. 


I've made a few of these now and they sell as soon as I list them.  I need to make some more.  Sometimes it would be nice to have just a few more hours in each day!