I’m back!

I’ve been buried in wool, thread, buttons and whimsy.  Just completed four commission pieces.  What fun!

The client, Rosalie.  Her mother worked in the NYC garment district and was a phenomenal seamstress.  Rosalie brought me a silver and black knit suit her mother was working on shortly before her death. Her mom would likely cringe at my stitchery.

I’ve been taking sewing lessons, so my skills have improved…sort of.  The three little purses below include mom’s knit and her jazzy buttons, Grandma’s “funeral sweater”–a black wool sweater she always wore to funerals, and cashmere Rosalie chose from my vast collection of shrunken sweaters.  One bag is for Rosalie, the others for her cousins.

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The bumblebees had to go on the back so as not to compete with the blingie buttons.

The big purse below includes the same stuff as the little ones, but I added shirred seams from the shoulders of the suit jacket.  That is the “wrong” side of the fabric.

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Again, bee needed to be hidden, so it’s on the pocket under the flap.

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The back of the bag gets really wild.  Rosalie gave me a blue cufflink that had been her dad’s.  He sounds like a marvelous dandy.  He put on a smoking jacket each evening after work!

Rosalie wanted me to incorporate some argyle from my collection.   This purse got pretty wild.

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Now, on to clean up my workspace and get back to coloring all the illustrations in Shel Silverstein’s “Falling Up.”  It’s a Christmas gift for grandkids. There are one-hundred-seventy-nine pages.  I’m on number twelve…

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My second little bag is almost done!

I just need to attach a shoulder strap.  Even managed to line this bag with black cotton, which is WAY above my pay grade.  The first lining was far too small, but I figured it out.

 

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Front of purse

 

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The back.  I’ve ordered tags that say “Crafted by Beatrice Bee.”  They will get ironed into each item.

 

 

Yesterday I went to the thrift shop and bought scads of 100% wool coats at half price.  A Nicole Miller pale pink waffle weave.  A gorgeous winter white cashmere.  Black, red, camel hair, bright green.  They have all been boiled and are now drying on chairs by the pool.  Next step to chop them apart.  The black wool one will provide a shoulder strap for this pink, black and yellow bag.  I’ve saved all the linings to use for inside my purses.

I also shrunk the doll hair. Kind of a failure.

 

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Neighbor Lynda saw these and thought they looked like dog doo.  I guess they kinda’ do.

 

The shrunken heads are now pincushions.

 

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Voodoo dolls!

Today I went to Walmart and purchased a couple of sets of plastic drawers for all the wool I’ve collected.  Now, back to the sewing room to complete my third piece.  Also lined!  Under that button is a pocket to fit a cell phone.  Tomorrow, when the black wool is dry, this will get a shoulder strap.

 

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This used to be a man’s vest.

 

 

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The back.

 

 

 

Adventures with wool continue.

Today I’ll be working on my second kooky purse. It is a commission piece. I was asked for black with bright funky colors. Since I have not a clue what I’m doing, I priced it right.

I spent much of yesterday making little roses out of hot pink cashmere sweater seams. Today the process continues. I’ve decided to decorate both front and back. Yay, a “reversible-versatile-pursible.”

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But before I resume, I have a mad scientist experiment in the works. You may remember that last year, for twenty minutes, I decided to reinvent myself as a doll maker? So, I chose to buy art- supplies-I didn’t-need-with-money-I didn’t-have. I hopped online and purchased cool fibers for doll hair. Mohair, Alpaca, Tibetan wool.

 

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This little lady has Tibetan wool tresses.  I named her “Mariposa”.  She was adopted out. Now she spends her days sitting in a hair salon, watching women pay big bucks for locks her color.

 

However, since I have the attention span of a fruit fly, I moved on. I exiled the fibers to a box in the corner of my shoe closet. For months they lived there next to a small styrofoam bowl containing three incomplete scary shrunken doll heads.

 

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The blue-eyed head used be atop Mariposa’s neck.  But it was so tiny she looked like a pitiful Zika baby.  I decapitated her and started over.

 

This morning I fished out the hair wool, stuffed it into knee-high pantyhose and tossed it into the washer on “steam cycle” along with the brown wool sweater I scored yesterday.

Prior to Super Bowl Jim tried on that rarely used pullover. It’s a Nordstrom purchase from his days as a regular customer there. Back then, each time Jim walked into the men’s department, Louis Salesguy vaulted across the service counter to wait on him. Jim loved him some Nordstrom’s. Louis loved him some Jim.

Sadly for Jim, the sweater was too small. When he stepped into the kitchen and saw the gleam in my eye, he knew that pullover was going to be way tinier before the week was over.

“Into the washer with you,” I howled!

I also tossed in two random wool squares I worked on during Super Bowl. While (sort of) watching the game, Erika, Lynda’s darling German mom, taught me a new more efficient way to knit. Last night when I woke at 3 a.m. I practiced until finally, happily, sleep overcame me.

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Ah! The steam cycle just ended. Time to shove the wool research experiment into the dryer. Then off to play in my “studio,” aka mixed-use-messy-guestroom.

For your viewing pleasure here are a few more shrunken heads.  I didn’t craft these.

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Another day, another strange purse.

The second purse completed!

I’ve been sending “What do I do now?” thoughts into the Universe, and as always the Universe delivered!  I have been invited to show/sell my funky little handbags at the Anna Maria Island Community Center during their annual Housewalk.  So between now and March of 2019 I’ll be chopping up shrunken woolies and combining them with all the random junk I’ve collected over the years.

This little purse is a combination of a navy Nordstrom wool sweater Jim donated to my cause. The blue denim bits are pieces of a scarf I began fourteen years ago for my son. But I screwed up the casting off part (my knitting skills leave something to be desired). It’s been living in a plastic baggie all this time.

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The yellow parts came from a thrift store cashmere sweater. $2.99 and dammit I’m worth it.  It used to be an extra large; now it would fit an American Girl doll. Beads are part of my stash from when I decided to make jewelry. Buttons are my passion. These three lived with the navy blues in my button drawers.

All my items get a bumblebee, as I stated before. Next, I plan to purchase tags the say handcrafted by Alice Jay Tate. I’m off and running, again! New year, new Alice.

Money from this little venture is ear-marked: twenty-five percent to a cause near and dear to my heart, twenty-five percent for my grandson’s college fund, and the rest for greedy Alice. Yay! I’ll probably spend it on more thrift store junk to shrinky dink.

I learned that every other Wednesday the Dunedin Main Street Thrift store sells all clothing half price.  You know where I’ll be twice a month.

 

I’m Back!

I’ve been MIA since Thanksgiving. My fan complained and demanded a new blog post. So fan (you know who you are) this one’s for you.

Christmas was lovely.  We spent it with our sweet neighbors, Rusty and Lynda and their extended family. Then on New Year’s Eve, we took a short cruise with other friends. Following that, I got sick. Cough. Sniffle. Sneeze. Headache. I finally broke down and took myself to the doctor.

We had to get on an airplane. I didn’t want my head to explode.

He diagnosed me with a sinus infection, prescribed antibiotics, and off we went to Southern California to check out step-daughter Amy’s new home and life.

She took us to the Chapman University, in Orange, California.  She works there as Assistant to the Dean of the Law School. I fell in love with the town of Orange. Small, quaint, charming stores and restaurants. If it weren’t so far away and expensive I’d want to relocate there.

I also fell in love with Magna Tiles! Amy’s kids, Deven and Mishri, have vast quantities of the creative magnetic shapes.  Magna Tiles are the next gift I’m buying for my cute grandson, Tate.  Mo and Stephen, don’t tell him. I want them to be a surprise.

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When we got home from California we headed to Anna Maria Island to pick up Bronson the Wonder Dog.  He was staying with his surrogate parents, Brookie and Earl.  While there I saw colorful felted scarves used as a wall hanging. I immediately decided my next creative endeavor would be knitting wool and then felting it.  I would reinvent myself as felter extraordinaire.

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This is a felted scarf I found on Etsy.

 

What’s felting, you ask?  If you’ve ever accidentally thrown a 100% wool sweater in the wash and shrunk it, you have felted.

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The following day I drove to JoAnn’s Fabrics, plunked down thirty-five big ones on six skeins of Paton’s Wool yarn and set out to knit my first felting project.

First I made a small test patch. I boiled it on the stove top until our kitchen smelled like a barnyard. The wool shrunk.  A lot. That’s when I realized I do not have the patience to create a super long scarf only to have it turn into half its original size.

But what to do with my yarn?  I couldn’t return it, I’d already ripped the labels off and tossed the receipt.  Therefore, I made dryer balls. Easy as pie. (Which isn’t that easy, therefore the expression is dumb.)

I made twelve in total. Here’s how. I wound the yarn into balls, stuffed them into knee-high stockings and tied the sections between with string.

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Looks like this artist used socks.

 

I dumped them into the washer on the steam setting. Then thru the dryer at the hottest temperature.

Voila! Wool dryer balls. Supposedly they make your clothing dry faster, eliminate static, soften clothes and are earth-friendlier than fabric softeners.

Now I just hope our clothes don’t come out of the dryer stinking of wet sheep.

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