Sunday, February 25, 2018

Year 18, Week 06, Day One (week 946)

Year 18, Week 06, Day One (week 946)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
02-24-18 Saturday

72 morning low, 79 afternoon high, nice breeze, threats of dots of showers that did not come into our area, scattered fast moving tiny herds of clouds heading west all day long. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

Before my foot infection, I was not in the best physical condition. I could never walk a marathon, let alone a mile or two. During the infection, I did no distance walking and there were times where I would think twice about crossing the room twice because I forgot something. Because of this, I am working on recovery of any walking distance. What has helped is one of my favorite grocery store rearranged everything and Now I have to walk most all the isles to find what I need. 
This morning, my legs were a little laggard. I did the yard sale drive route and stopped at quite a few yard sales, and skipped some also. My legs felt heavy as I got out of the truck. It will take a while to get back into shape, if you remember that round IS a shape.....
There is a lot of decorative items, and kitchen items today. A few times I had to talk myself out of getting them. One guy had things won or gifted from one of the local casinos. The one thing I fought myself over was a cast iron griddle that fit into a space in a large cutting board. I would have loved to have gotten it, but like a lot of my cast iron, I would never use it.

Later in the day, Mom was killing weeds in the back yard. They come up between the pavers and in the mulch walks. I came out and dug through various areas of the back yard. I found a stick of my two-by-two whitewood carving wood. I had to cut some pieces from it. I knew there had to be a handsaw in mom’s garage so I squeezed in there (loaded with stuff that is supposed to be under the awning) and found a dovetail saw. 
I must tell you that I have a rule of NEVER using a hand saw when power was available, which means NEVER using a handsaw. Well, I was in the mood to get something done and figured that finding a hand saw would be a whole lot faster than getting to a buried saws-all or moving things around to get the band saw plugged in. 
A dovetail saw has really fine teeth. It is a finishing saw where you want clean cuts, no tear out. This saw also had a rusty blade panel. 
A proper saw should be shiny, where you can see the reflection of the work in it. You line up the reflection with the edge you see and it is straight. Also a clean shiny blade will produce no friction to increase the effort of cutting. 
I have not used a handsaw for anything in like two years. I lined up the blade roughly by eye and started cutting. I got partly down and turned the piece so I was working with a fresh side, using the existing cut as a guide. Of course, my cut was not straight. I got part way down and turned it one more time before cutting all the way through. I then cut two more pieces off, each between nine inches and a foot long. I had to stop for a moment twice on the last cut to give my arm a chance to straighten out before cutting again. I had decided only to cut three pieces and that was enough sawing. About twenty minutes later, mom said she could have gotten me a brand new, little used Saws-all that I gave her in exchange for a light one she had. I have two somewhere in the shed, I think. I was done cutting.
I don’t spend much time standing so I was on my feet long enough. I figured I had really accomplished something. I actually touched wood and made a tiny bit of saw dust.

Tomorrow, I am hoping to start carving. I have some designs for ornaments to explore. 

I will see what I do tomorrow.

Year 18, Week 06, Day Two (week 946)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
02-25-18 Sunday

73 early morning, 78 late afternoon. Mostly blue sky with some puffs moving around. A breeze made it really nice. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism. 

I got to Mom’s late and my brother was already there. We had a great lunch, with everything tasting better than expected. Conversation was good too.

After lunch I grabbed my carving kit and went out back. My brother followed me. We are still in winter so much of the area that would be under the awning is in shade, which is nice. We sat and I tried to carve a rocking horse. I turned the wood on a 45 degree angle so to give me the most distance of wood to work with. The head was in the corner, the runners were in the lower angles. I knew what I needed to have but as I worked, I quickly saw it was not going to work as planned. I kept carving. I nearly shaved off the piece from the stick when It was time to stop. It has no resemblance to a horse. I think I can make it a laying cat or laying dog with a little bit of work, but not a rocking horse. This shape wood will never make a horse. Proportions are wrong unless I make the horse a lot smaller. 

My knives were started from files, grinding away the teeth and then shaping them. The back of the blade is comfortably thick. When carving, I will move my hand onto the back of the blade to use the point, or back at the handle to use the long edge. When done right, you will not hold the sharp edge. This style allows you to place pressure where needed, and have control where needed. 
There are times when you want to shave a large area. There are times when you want to dig in, or shave inside something. The length of my blades give you more options on h ow to use the knife. The wedge shaped end is great for removing wood in valleys and holes. 
The first time I made one of these flat ended knives, I had a file and cut it apart and made a long knife that had somewhat of a point. I then took the short end and just made it sharp, keeping the end flat. I did not want to make it shorter by reducing the end. When I used that knife, I found I loved the flat end. It worked great and was less likely to stab through carving gloves. 
We had metal mesh, Kevlar “cut proof” gloves, and they had the problem that sharp knife points will go through them, even if the blade edge would not cut them. The flat point turned out to be safer, though it would cut on the edge on the end, but had limited penetration. 
Of course, paying attention to where skin is comparted to the blade makes a difference. If the blade is flying into the air, you are doing it wrong. I know, I did it wrong a few times, such as when I cut a couple tendons in my left index finger. If that hand was able to actually do something useful other than holding, it would be a problem.....

My nephew called and my brother put him on speaker phone and we had a very good three way conversation. That made the session a lot more fun.
I was really happy that my hands knew how to work the knife and remove the right wood. I did not develop any spots that might become a blister. My hands were not stressed from the work. Even though the shape did not look like what it was supposed to be, it was a very successful session.  The nice thing about carving is that I don’t need a lot of space and don’t need to pull out a whole lot of equipment to work. Out of the stuff in my basket, I just needed a knife and a strop to do my work. 

I will say because I was not wearing a carving glove for protection of my hands, I put a little more concentration on where my fingers were at any time. It was not a carving that depended on my hands being in the way for any particular cut. I will have to figure out where my leather gardening gloves are, which is what I usually use as carving gloves. Nicks in gloves are better than nicks on fingers.

I hope to do some more carving next week. It is a little heady to have some form of production of any kind. 

On the scarf I am making, I am on the second to last row on the width. I will then have to work the ends and can then call it finished. I am trying to figure out what to do next. I don’t want to do dishcloths, which is in cotton. I don’t want to do another scarf. Not many people to give them to down here. I won’t do anything bigger than a scarf. Too much work. I will come up with something small that can be done all over the place. 

I will see what I do next week. 

the rusty saw and the weathered stick of wood.

one side view. looks nothing like a rocking horse

opposite side view

partial front view

another partial front view. I think I can make this into a laying dog or cat.
handle of knife beside it holding it on the angle

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Year 18, Week 05, Day One (week 945)

Year 18, Week 05, Day One (week 945)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
02-17-18 Saturday

73 degrees early morning, 81 high, blue skies all day long, light breeze, just enough to remove some of the heat. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism. 

After breakfast, I made my yard sail run. At one yard sale, a woman had all sorts of the fantasy swords. I considered a pair of Japanese katanas but decided I would not use them even on display. I have some swords but haven’t looked at them for a year. More swords would not be a good idea. I then saw a dragon letter opener. The next thing I knew, my wallet was lighter and I was climbing into the truck with a new dragon. 
At another yard sale, I did not recognize the people or the location until I saw some wooden faced teddy bears. I instantly recognized the place from a year or two ago. These teddy bears were collector items. I could not afford the price they were asking last time. This time, they were priced to find them a new home. Two of them leaped into my arms begging me to take them home. One had a puppy attached to it and the puppy licked my face so much I had to bring them home. I only adopted the boy with the puppy and a girl. The others looked sad but I reminded them that they were still at a home. 
There were other yard sales, but they had nothing I absolutely had to have. 

Year 18, Week 05, Day Two (week 945)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
02-18-18 Sunday

Blue sky 73 early morning 79 late afternoon, a light breeze makes it nice. I see I have to work a little to get used to the heat again, the way I like to be for the summer wood working. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

I got to Mom’s earlier than planned. We had some time before we were going to go out for lunch, so I went out back. I located my carving basket, nestled in the still full shed. The awning is still not up. 
I had planned on some carving, but I think my carving wood is in the back of the shed. Instead, I empted my carving basket and started the process of sharpening my blades. 
While they were protected for the most part, every blade still had surface rust on them. Not completely, mostly in spots. Some blades were in better condition than others. 
I started with 100 grit sand paper, then some finer sand paper, Some spots needed more muscle. I had an abrasive wheel but decided not to dig out a drill or dremmel and used it to scrape the worst of the rust off. 
Once the steel was clean, I then used diamond hones to reshape and recondition the blade and the edge. I used a 260 grit and a 360 grit plate, then I used a leather strop to fine tune the blades.

My knives are designed so they are laid flat against the stone and rubbed. The taper of the blade goes right down to the edge. I designed them this way so I will get the angle of the edge right every single times. The edge is delicate, but the angle will be consistent each time I work the blade. It is recommended to have a sharper angle at the edge so the edge will be strong, but I could never do the same angle twice, even in the same sharpening. 

When using a sharpening stone, It is suggested to slide the edge into the stone like you are trying to shave a slice off. Basically grind with the edge leading.
The main purpose of using the grind stones is to straighten the edge, get rid of nicks and chips so the blade edge is straight and even. Once the edge is in condition, one should never need to use a grind stone until you get chips and nicks in the blade again.

My final step is to use the leather strop. When you sharpen a blade, you end up with “a wire” on the edge. It will sometimes curl away from the last surface you stoned. By dragging the edge of the blade across the leather strop (or a steel for some types of knives such as kitchen knives) the leather will straighten the wire until it is a clean straight cutting edge. 
Once the edge is ready, you can start carving,. Each time you set your knife down, when you pick itt up again, give it a few strokes on the strop and keep carving and a grind stone won’t need to be used for several carvings. 

I have some chisels. I went over their edges also. I seldom use these but have them anyway. They are not really carving chisels. They are for like cleaning joints.
I also have a Scorp set. A scorp is a side facing chisel. It is pulled by the fingers into the wood rather than pushed on the end of the handle. 
Rounded blades are tougher to sharpen than flat ones. I mainly touched on them before putting them away. 

I was surprised there were no paints in the carving basket, then I remembered I removed the paints so I could paint my Christmas cards. Some of the stuff in the basket (such as a stack of skewers) will go someplace else but for now it will be all right in the basket. 

I will tell you that a dull carving knife is sharp. They love fingers. With one of the knives, I took some sandpapers and ran it down the blade with the edge aiming at my thumb. My thumb got nicked and it bled nicely. I bandaged it for about an hour while I was working and when I was done with my work, I removed the bandage and it no longer bled. The bleeding kept the rust out of the wound. 
After the nick, I made sure I kept track of where the edge and my skin were in comparison to each other.

While I did not accomplish much today, I got something done in the direction of wood working. Now I need to figure out where my carving wood is and get to work. 

After the Chinese Buffet, I feel like a pig, and want to just sleep my meal off. 

Will see what happens next weekend. 

My scorp set. I broke the handle of the bottom one so I replaced it.

These side-pull chisels. have advantages and disadvantages to center push chisles. 

My chisel set. the second from the top as a curved blade and I have used that the most.

these are my knives. The blue knife on top was made by my dad. I used to make my knives like his.
carving gloves do not stop that nice sharp point on the end.
the bottom blade was one of the last I made without a flat end.
the middle two blades are what I make now. the flat end acts like a chisel. they do not poke through gloves as easily.
I also make them long as it gives me more options of cuts on the work, close to the handle for shaving, out on the end to dig.

dragon letter opener

wooden faced teddy bear girl 

wooden faced teddy bear with puppy

close up of puppy 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Year 18, Week 04, Day One (week 944)

Year 18, Week 04, Day One (week 944)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
02-10-18 Saturday

76 degrees early morning 83 degrees late afternoon, some light showers zipping past from the south, but not around long enough to warrant opening an umbrella, but slow enough to get you wet. These died down quickly as the day went on. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.

The awning of the work area is still not repaired Parts were being made but the time had not been available to do it. My lathe is still in storage. I have not touched it. I have not touched the knife either. I should sit outside and make some wood chips and work on ornaments for next year. I have many ideas of what I could do.

One family member is ill so I have spent all my spare time with them, giving the care givers support. That has eliminated ANY spare time I normally would have. 
My feet are healed but I have to get back into condition again. One of my favorite grocery stores relocated absolutely everything in the “dry good” isles. I’ve walked the entire store just to get a concept of where I might find something. I do not like the arrangement but won’t stop going to the store. It is good exercise to walk all the isles as it is one of the superstores.  I do walk a couple other stores but they are smaller ones so it is not any real exercise. 

About the only crafts I have worked on is crochet. I am about two rows of finishing a scarf. It is in yarn given to me for Christmas. 

The South Florida Renaissance fair is starting this month. I would love to go to it but I am not in any condition to walk the distance from parking to the gate, let alone inside the fair. In the years I used to go to the fairs, I would walk it quickly first, to see what venders were there as you get to know them after many visits. After that, I would go one more time around, at minimum, with the idea of really looking at everything. They have some great crafts. I was never one to sit and watch the shows and I never made it a day. That was a problem back in the 80s when I was heavily in photography. I have a tendency of going and going until I can go no more, before stopping.   I never wanted to rest, but instead to see what was around the corner. That does not work in my condition right now. 

The weather has not been great for yard sailing. Morning showers or early rains dissuade people going through the effort of dragging all the stuff out. The yard sales I have visited over the past month has not had much that needed to come home with me. The only thing I can mention of any worth was a pair of metal saw horses that I picked up last month, and a pair of bongos with carrying case. I have not picked up more than about ten dollars of small stuff over the past month, and that would be stretching things. 
Most of the stuff that were really interesting, was stuff I had no place for. Also, a lot of the really interesting stuff that was really interesting was stuff I already have too many of. 

I entirely missed the Wood Turning Club meeting last week. I realized it was that week two days later when I received an E-mail about it. I will miss this month’s meeting as it is on a day I already have scheduled. They had problems with the meeting site and had to postpone it to the week later and on the wrong day for me.

I need to get back to wood working. I am itching to get started but life has gotten ahead of me. 

I will see what happens with the next post, since these have not been weekly as of late.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Year 18, Week 01, Day One (week 941)

Year 18, Week 01, Day One (week 941)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
01-20-18 Saturday

During the week, we had some bitter cold temps in the low 40s. I started a fire in the fire place to warm up the house and the flame froze. I started another flame. Both are shivering under a blanket, too cold to do anything.... a giant iceberg crashed into the Titanic and sunk her. At least that is what the fisherman said was the cause of the sinking of his row boat. It has to be gospel if it is from a fisherman. Traffic was really backed up due to slipping and sliding on the icy roads. It is either that or their normal driving style. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach department of Tourism.

This week is the celebration of my starting wood working back in January 17 2000. Before that year, I was writing stories and building model houses for a model railroad layout. Dad kept asking me to take up carving, and I had no interest at the time. One day I decided to try it. I borrowed one of his knives and a piece of wood and carved a man with his arms down his side. The brim of the hat was supposed to go all the way around, but kept breaking. It ended up looking like Charles DeGaul. The french leader near that time.
Dad had gone through a period in learning to carve where you could see the shape of the wood he started with, as he was doing more like relief carving rather than shaping. I had made the decision that I would, instead, dig deep into the wood with my carvings. I still have my first four carvings. 
Dad did a carving style popular at the time where you have like tall cowboys, their legs straight and arms at the side. The head might be made separately and stuck on, turned to a different direction. I wanted movement from the beginning, legs bent, arms crossing the body. 
Dad had a really good way to teach me carving. “He would pat me on the head and tell me to do another.” is the best way to describe it. Other than having his stuff as examples and showing me how to make my own knives, Dad really never taught me how to carve. “A self made man is a prime example of unskilled labor”. 
It was not until the last couple years of his life that I saw how good a carver he really was. He had taken classes from some of the best carvers in the world . He made some clay platters with 3D faces of my nieces and nephews. They were recognizable. Like with my fairies, I as lucky they looked female. 
In 2003, I got a lathe and that took up a lot of my carving time. I would turn for many weeks, then carve for many weeks. Each time I swapped, it felt like I was returning to an old friend. In later years, I have done more turning that carving, though I did a series of vases with faces carved into them. 
In my carvings, I concentrated on the knife. I avoided chisels because you had to have so many of them to do anything. I figured if I learned the knife, I could master it, and would fully understand when it just would not do the job. I did find that a chisel would solve a few of my carving problems, most of the chisels were intended for relief carvings with different sweeps. 
I also used the dremmel or other power for much of my carvings. I am not a purist, where “all work must be by hand” or “Only use specific tools.” I worked from the idea that whatever gets the job done is to be used.

This year, I had a scheduling problem, health problems, a storm combining together to keep me from working wood. Some other projects also got in the way. 
Right now, my mom’s awning, where I do all my work, requires repair. It was put up years before 2000 and many of the support pipes are rusted through and needs replacement. I have no other place to use my lathe. The lathe needs a repair too. Scheduling problems prevent me from just sitting down and carving some place, especially since a lot of my carving stuff is stowed away when it was picked up for the storm. 
I am hoping this year will change. I have a life-time of wood that needs to be made into sawdust, with something to show from what is leftover. Both carving and wood turning will require retraining my body to be able to do it again. 

Will see what happens in the upcoming times.

the left hand carving was the very first I did. The second from the left was my second carving and it was a cedar board.  The left hand carving was one I posed myself to get the position right. Other than the arms crossing being done wrong, it is still a good carving. I also learned on that one that I hated sanding.... These are examples of carving deep and hiding the original wood shape. 

Year 17, Week 51, Day One (week 937)

Year 17, Week 51, Day One (week 937)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-20-17 Saturday

Some fog, solid featureless clouds, 61 degrees early morning, 62 after noon, 71 high. Light breeze that takes away any heat you have, some light foggy mist on the windshield at times.  It is supposed to get down to 56 degrees tonight. The area should be covered in a nice frost. During the week before Christmas, we got some frosty temps down to 46 at night. The ice buildup was horrible. I was able to use canals as short cuts to get around traffic. A few places when driving over bridges, the black ice build up was such that my truck fish-tailed badly.  One morning, I tried to drive over to the Bahamas on the great ice shelf that had formed, But the icebreakers kept shipping channels open so I never left the shore.. This weather report is brought to you by the city of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism. 


The doctor said I could start wearing boots again over the healed areas of infection. My feet no longer hurts. I can walk again. It does not help that I have no endurance  now since it has been a while since I walked any distance for over a month. The wound is starting to look normal when dry, but shows red when wet. It will be a while before it is fully healed, but at least there’s no pain.

During the week before Christmas, I painted a batch of 17 cards to hand out. Some went to people at work, some went to some friends. I did keep a couple for myself I have a copy of most all the cards I have made over the years. 
Saturday, I started another batch of cards and had them finished, except for the lettering inside by Monday when they were to be given out. We usually give out presents Christmas Eve so the kids have all Christmas to play with them, or early morning if they have to go some place else. This time, the Kids parents decided they were going to a Church event in the Evening so we got together for Christmas dinner instead.
I lettered just the cards I was giving out that day plus took a few extra just in case I missed someone. My brother’s friend was there. We made a decision not to give out adult presents. It worked out well as I did not have the opportunity to do much shopping this year because of my feet. It has taken me until about five or six years ago, to fully understand that giving is much better than getting. Since then, I did not care what I got as I was happy to just give. Someone gave me a gift certificate for Cracker Barrel. That was my only gift. This year I would not have cared if nothing was going to be given out. Just being together was a true pleasure.

During the week, I finished lettering and handed out more of my cards. Some still have to be mailed out. I thought I was doing good starting as early as I did, but reality had set it quickly that I needed to start a week or more ahead of that. I had a problem coming up with a design. I had an idea for the central subject and made two attempts at painting it and saw it was not going to work. I am painting too small and using the wrong paints to be effective.
The Acrylic paints I am using don’t mix together for shading. They tend to be two colors mixed together to get the tones they have. With green, it might have some yellow for a spring green tone, red for leaf tone, black for shadow tone. A red might have yellow for something bright, blue for something dark. 
When mixing pure colors, blue and yellow make green, red and yellow make orange. Blue and red makes purple, etc. Because the paints I am using are not pure colors, you mix them and you get mud.  You basically take the colors you have and make them work as they are. The only pure colors are black and white.
With the size of the cards I am doing, the slightest slip of a brush shows. Also I am not using the right brushes. They don’t make a “knife edge” for really fine details. There is a lot of slop in the work I do on these cards. 

The main cards I made this year. The bottom right card was never finished. It fell behind something when drying and was skipped.

Some cards I made for non-Christians.

a collection of the cards I have made over the years. some "repeats were second versions of the same card.  In the middle on the bottom was the first batch of cards I made, with a sleigh. I did not like the look of it but loved the background so the two cards on either side are the results. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Year 17, Week 47, Day One (week 933)

Year 17, Week 47, Day One (week 933)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-02-17 Saturday

77 low, 82 high, partly cloudy with the sky filled with sheep like clouds crossing the sky. Light breeze and lots of sun. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach department of Tourism.

The infection in my feet has kept me from doing much of anything. At times, walking from my truck to the door is all I can handle. Shopping is sometimes a real test of endurance. The feet are healing quite well, and the pain has shifted from a raw scraping feeling to more like a bruise. My best course is to stay off them as much as possible, and elevate them when possible also. Also they hurt at night many times so getting a full night’s sleep is tough, so getting as much sleep as possible during the day is important when possible. 

For Thanksgiving, I planned on walking over to my nephew’s home, which is about a block away, which is about the maximum of my range if I put my mind to it, but it was raining really hard, so I drove over to their parking lot, which cut the walk to about a third, and by that time and distance, the rain had dropped to a drizzle. My job for the gathering was to bring flavored coffees. Everything else was handled by the three other families. 

The awning is still not up and my equipment is still in storage. It looks like a while before I can do any wood working again. With my feet the way they are, that does not bother me as much as it should. 

The one craft I have done something on is crochet. I have made a skip-stitch scarf where there are three stitches, then a space and then three more stitches along the length. It came out pretty good. It is about seven feet long. I have to tie in the ends, but it is otherwise done. 
I started a wave stitch dishcloth where I do graduated stitches from very short to long and back down again across it, then change colors and do the exact (at least supposed to be) opposite stitches going back the other way. I got a ways into it and found I am not even in my stitches, I do a standard row of stitches between the waves. As of this moment, the last straight row I did is not straight. A quick glance indicates that I have added stitches here and there which causes it to curve. 
To take a break, I decided to do a simpler stitch dish cloth – double crochet, triple crochet, double crochet – as something that can be done quickly. I have only had a couple sessions with this one so it is not too far. It will, though, go quickly as I am making it smaller than others I have done. This one is 25 stitches across. Many dishcloths I do are 30 stitches across. Five stitches does not sound like much, but it shows when beside each other. I always make them square and the five extra stitches adds up to about 200 stitches for a whole piece.  

It won’t be too long before I will be starting my Christmas Cards. I am gathering my card stocks and paint, and have started the process of eliminating designs that are too difficult or not worth painting. 
I looked at copies I have kept over the years. I don’t want snow men, Christmas trees, even if they are palm trees. Eliminating those reduces the choices greatly. It is the same problem I have had with the Christmas ornaments I carved. There is a limit on how many versions of snow men and trees you can do.  In both cards and ornaments, one does not want to copy something you have done before. I have to get to work searching for ideas.

I don’t see much wood working in the near future. I will work crochet and will paint my Christmas Cards. Beyond that, I don’t see much else happening.

Skip stitch scarf. Just have to weave in the ends.

Wave dish cloth. about a third done. The ripples in the fabric show my mistakes.

'alternating rows dish cloth. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stuff I made...

I'm trying to post here a little more often. Being a busy writer and spending time with family doesn't always leave me a lot of time for blogging. So forgive me while I play catchup...

I will eventually be posting about the house renovation, just have to dig the pictures I want off the portable hard drive, sort and resize them, and put together an explanation. Working on the house is an ongoing project, so we're far from completed yet. This was just Phase 1 of a long string of things this old house needs to have updated. We kind of ran out of money, so it will be a while before we can get anything else done.

Anyway, almost all of today's post is about crochet. So on to the recent projects...

Remember the crocheted bald & naked dolly from my last post? Well she now has clothing and hair. My granddaughter loves her, and named her Rosie. So here's Rosie, who had 100% removable clothing, right down to her white granny panties.

 That ombre yarn on the dress is from that last thrift store visit. The rest is from my stash.

I didn't think of the buttons for the straps until after I designed the jumper, so they are on the back. Pretty easy to get on and off.

The panties were made first. Must have proper clothing!
I didn't follow any patterns for the clothing, it was all trial and error. You should have seen Terralyn's eyes light up when she saw the doll. Makes it all worth while.

Halloween was coming, and since I've had a full year of crocheting holiday decorations for the house, I had to make something for that as well. I planned to make garlands again, so I started thinking about ghosts and pumpkins, and began researching patterns online. I wanted something on the small side. One night I sat down with hook and yarn and made a ghostie freehand.

Well, he turned out too big to hang on a garland and I didn't like the idea of looking up inside his winding sheet, but he happily sat on an end table in the living room for quite a while.

Then I found some pumpkin and ghostie patterns online that looked promising (can't recall where I got them) and went to work.
The initial pumpkin was far smaller than I wanted, about the size of a quarter. So I increased the size and got the jack-o-lantern I wanted. It was just a matter of adding extra rounds with increases. Each one is doubled; in other words I made two pumpkins for each side, decorated them with faces using yarn and my terrible embroidery skills, and sewed them together with the bad side inward before adding the little stem. Below you can see the results.

This is one side of each jack-o'-lantern... These are about the size of golf balls.

And here's the other side. Where they were hung, both sides could be seen. The pumpkins were going to be alternated with ghosties on a beaded garland, so a dozen was plenty.

Here are the ghosties I chose, a really neat pattern. One again, to get the stiffness I wanted, I made two for each and sewed them together. Getting French knots in the right spots for eyes was a little challenging because I was using worsted weight yarn on a big blunt needle, but it worked.

The beaded garland. With a string through the top of each ghost or jack-o-lantern, and some trial and error, I was able to space them out properly along the garland.

The finished result. My helper hung them in the wrong area, and we moved them later, but I took a couple of quick shots.

You can see how I hung them. The fine little strings really don't show that well at a distance.

That knot at the top helps hold the crocheted decorations between the pony beads.

Actually, we used that area with the hanging baskets for the second garland, which somehow I neglected to get a picture of after it was done. All I have to show are the component parts below, as I finished them. But they were hung on an orange pony bead garland base, and alternated just like the ghosts and jack-o-lanterns.

I knew from the get-go that I wanted black bats, and had to try a couple patterns before I found what I wanted. While I was researching all that stuff, I kept seeing the Mexican Day Of The Dead skull motifs, and decided I had to have skulls. I had just the right color yarn for something a little more sinister.

I never used the bigger bat with the feet, because the little ones were perfect. Love those bright orange eyes. The first skull I made was far too large and floppy, so I modified the pattern and came out with this: 

As with the first garland, everything is doubled. Lining up the eyeholes in the skulls proved problematic, so I would up crocheting little discs in 4 bright colors and shoving them inside. They stayed in place nicely and gave the skulls some 'pop'.

Now a lot of people might wonder, why go through all this trouble to make decorations when you can buy some really nice things after the holiday for quite a bit off? Or perhaps get something from a local crafter and avoid all the mess and hassle. Well, maybe it's hard to understand, but I actually enjoy making things. I like the planning process and all the little surprises along the way. As with writing, what I had envisioned and what the end result was are often two different things, but that's the beauty of handmade. It's always one-of-a-kind, and there's a lot of self-satisfaction that goes into being able to say, "Yes, I designed and made this myself." My family gets a big kick out of looking at my creations, and I like to think of them as heirlooms for future generations. I will be leaving something tangible of myself behind when I part from this mortal coil. It also says a lot about how my time here was spent. 

I do most of my crafting at the end of the day. It gives me a chance to unwind while I watch TV, and something else to focus on if I'm not particularly interested in whatever is on. I'm still sitting with family regardless of what I'm occupied with. Writing is my primary occupation on the days when I am home, and that requires incredible concentration, and so I must shut out most of the world. By evening I am done writing and want to be in a more gregarious situation, though I still prefer it to be fairly subdued. I could be wasting that time online involved in social/political debates, taking pointless quizzes, or playing games. Those things don't necessarily lead to anything remotely productive, though I suppose they provide some self-satisfaction.  

I see people endlessly bent over their smartphones and I have to wonder, just what is the big attraction? I stare at a far larger and very bright screen for hours during the day, so the last thing I want to do is stare at one all evening too. So no thanks, I'll pull out the crochet hooks and yarn, the beads, buttons, and other trinkets, and make something. That's more my style. 

Till the next time,