Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Needle felted dog from photo, old memories, and the dogs of my life...

Good morning!  I hope everyone is having a nice day.

It was my Mom's birthday yesterday, and after spending half a day trying to wet felt some soap for the first time (I blogged about that yesterday), I moved on to needle felting. I made this little dog.
Needle felted dog from photo
Using this photo:
Pippity and Annie

Years ago, I found this dog as a puppy, half frozen in the snow waaay up north in Moosonee, Ontario  (there are no roads to Moosonee; you have to fly or take the train, the Polar Bear Express, from Cochrane, where the highway ends).

I named her "Pupsicle" while I waited for her owners to claim her.  They never did, so I kept her.  She was a sweet little dog, half dachshund and half black lab, sleek as an otter, and so gentle and good.

The cold in Moosonee didn't kill her, but it almost killed me, so in May, my principal forced me to move home because she didn't want "another of her teachers to die from asthma".  One had died the year before, but they forgot to ask if I had asthma in the interview.  After me, they warned asthmatics that the cold in Moosonee might just kill them.  I didn't want to go home early; it was my first year as a teacher, and i was concerned it would look bad on my resume, but I'd been sick for 10 months straight, had gone from size 9 to size 22 due to high doses of prednisone during that time, and was told by the doctor that if I stayed, I would die...but that's another story.

When I moved home to recover from pneumonia and severe asthma, my Mom was ready to kill me; possibly a bigger threat than Moosonee's climate.  She had her reasons. I came home with  Pupsicle, now almost a year old, and 6 of her pups (no vets in Moosonee at the time, and she wasn't fixed.  A babysitter left her out unsupervised while I was in hospital).  I also had an arctic hare I had rescued from a trapper,  two birds, and a few rodents (hamsters or rats, I can't remember).

My Mom didn't like the dog at first, but by the time I was well enough to move to the Toronto area to teach, she had fallen in love, and wouldn't let me take her.  She renamed her "Pippity Pop" or "Madame", depending on her mood, and I ended up buying an African Grey parrot and a miniature poodle (also another story, lol).

Pippity Pop lived a long and happy life.  My parents took her out to camp (the cottage), fishing, on long walks, and treated her like a queen. Pip was always happy to see me, but I knew she was happy with my parents, happier than she would have been with me, in the big city.

My Mom was devastated when Pip died, even though she'd lived to a nice, old age.  I was back in my hometown, and my Mom stopped off at my place after Pip died to "borrow" my dogs, so she wouldn't have to go home to a dog free house.

She basically stole Annie, and my other little dog, Sandy.
Me and my girls

I kept stealing them back, but would only have them for a week or so before she and my Dad would come to take them again.  We shared custody, but i missed having a dog all the time so I bought my Mac.
Here's a photo of all 3 of them taken the week before their grooming session.  It was Christmas morning, and they were waiting to go to Grandma's house.

Annie,  Sandy, and Mac
My girls are gone now; Sandy from cancer at the age of 12, and Annie from old age at the age of 20.  I almost lost my Mac last spring, and blogged about that.  Thankfully he's doing well now.  I'm praying that the other disc in his neck will stay strong and not give out because he can't get another operation.  So far, so good, thank God.

Here's my little Benji.  I adopted him about 6 years ago.  He's getting old now, poor guy, but he's still happy and active.
Benji in his crocheted sweater
I hope to make felt sculptures of all of my fur babies.  I really hope I'll get better with experience.  I think I'm improving, but i have a long way to go.

I did the Beagle over a year ago, and I think Pip is nicer; a bit more realistic.  Pip used to have a beagle friend named Blue.
Needle felted dogs

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A felted soapy mess

I don't know about you, but I get excited about new craft ideas.  Freaky excited, like a little kid at Christmas, lol.  It's like part of my brain lights up when I see a new craft I might like to try.

I love needle felting, plastic canvas, and crochet, as you might know. Today is my Mom's 69th birthday.  She isn't into needle felted animals, so that gift idea is out.  She has enough of my plastic canvas and crocheted items to start her own store, so that's out too.  She's forbidden me from buying her something, and  in the past 5 years has taken to recycling all of her old cards, so she doesn't even want a card (I buy one anyway).

So I was thrilled when I saw these cute felted soaps online at: http://greenscenesoapcompany.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/wet-dog-soap-or-a-quick-lesson-on-how-to-felt-soap/

The blogger over there at the green scene soap company called it wet dog soap.  The tutorial made it seem easy.  I decided to try it.

I used a bar of imported Greek Olive oil soap.  It was given to me as a gift years ago and i never used it because it was the 'good' soap, lol.  It foams up like crazy.  I'm talking bubble bath foam here.

I used some of my core wool, and some green for contrast.  I wanted to needle felt it first, but none of the tutorials I read suggested that.

All of the tutorials said it was easy to make felted soap.  Easy my butt.  First you have to wrap the soap in a felty blanket.  OK, so that part is easy.  Then you have to put it in a nylon, or sock if  you don't have a nylon (some of the tutorials said socks were OK).  Then you have to use hot water, as hot as you can stand, wet everything. and rub it on a bamboo placemat, bubble wrap, or anything that causes friction.  I'm thinking an old fashioned washboard like this would do the trick:

You know, your typical torture device from hell.

So, I rubbed and squished and squashed and my fingers went prune-y from the hot lather.  I was sweating.
My arms and shoulders were sore.  I figured, "it has to be done".  I opened the sock.  Nope.  It was a wet, soapy mess.

While it didn't smell like wet dog to me (I have two poodles, a standard and a toy, and I sewed them both raincoats in order to avoid that wet poodle smell), they sure do resemble matted dogs.  Wet, soapy dogs.  Wet soapy dogs who don't want to take a bath. The only difference is that wet soapy dogs do mat up easily.  This darn soap didn't.

So, I rubbed and squished and squashed some more, imagining I was Ma from Little House on the Prairie, that kind, gentle woman who always smiled as she did the work of 10 modern women without complaint.  The soap went flying, I swore, and realized I was nothing like Ma.  I looked in the handy mirror above the bathroom sink and saw myself frowning, rather like the  nasty Mrs. Olson.

I dropped the sock encased mess into the sink, rinsed my hands and arms, and poured a coffee.
I have a whole new respect for the people who do wet felting.  It is not fun.
I'll stick with dry felting, any day.
I wonder if my Mom would like a new crocheted scarf ;-).

The next day:

OK, I did manage to finish the felted soap.  It doesn't look great, but it does feel very nice.
felted soap
Needle felted dog, felted soap

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Plastic canvas Elves with needle felted kittens and bunny

I made these elves for my Mom for Christmas.  I put the felties in them for the photos, but kept those for myself.  I was tempted to keep the elves, too.

I made so many needle felted gifts but I can't find the other photos.  Maybe I forgot to take them?  I can't remember, lol.
Plastic canvas Christmas Elves with needle felted kittens and bunny

Plastic canvas elves with  needle felted kittens and bunny

plastic canvas elves with needle felted kitties and bunny

I was really pleased with these little guys, and plan to make a set for myself.  They were just so much fun to make.

Needle felted mini piggie and cage,

needle felted dollhouse mini piggie and cage

needle felted dollhouse mini piggie and cage with bottle, bowl, and bedding

Finger tip sized needle felted guinea pig

Needle felted mini guinea pig with cage, bowl, water dish, and bedding, in plastic canvas dollhouse
Before Christmas, I made this little mini guinea pig in what I hope is 1:12 scale, or close to it. It's the tiniest needle felt I've done so far.

I figured a guinea pig would be an easy way to start learning how to needle felt tiny items, and now I want to make lots of piggies, lol.   The cage is just green plastic canvas stitched together to make an open topped cage.  The bedding is newspaper.  The bowl is the thing you pull off coffee creamer bottles, and the water dish is a mni lightbulb.  I wanted to paint the tip silver but I didn't have any silver glass paint.

Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary

My Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th Anniversary on Dec. 30th, 2012.
Can you imagine, 50 years together?  Wow!
I hope they have many more happy (and argumentative, lol) years together (My Mom and Dad are like Marie and Frank on "Everybody Loves Raymond").

Mom and Dad didn't want to go out to dinner and they wouldn't let anyone help them; they wanted to do their own 50th party.  My Mom was (and is) thankful to be here, and thankful that her appointments for her throat and bladder were good, and clear, with no sign of the dreaded C word.  She said that was her best gift.  They don't let anyone help in the kitchen (except for clean up after, lol).  

My uncle brought over some pizzas to add to all the food my parents put out.  Everything was delicious, and dessert was to die for.

Left to right, Linda, Pam, Judy, Carlo, and Buck

Cobie, Karen, and Lyle

Dad serving munchies.

Time to eat!

Johnnie's girlfriend (can't remember her name), Johnnie, Tony, and Pam.

My handsome baby brother, Steve, drove in from Arnprior (outside of Ottawa) as a surprise.  It's a 9 or 10 hour drive, so he doesn't come often.  My parents were thrilled.

Mom and her childhood friend, Karen.
Cobie and Lyle.

Dad and Steve

Cousin Andie.
Tony and Carlo

First Schopp family photo in ages; me, Mom, Dad, and Steve.  I still have a slight fever here,  but it's much lower than it was at Christmas and I was starting to feel better.  Thank goodness my face wasn't beet red, like at Christmas, lol.

Mom, Judy, and Cobie

Carlo and Judy