I have to finally admit that keeping up with a blog takes a special kind of effort. I truly admire those who do it as their livelihood. After checking back to my last post, I’m appalled to see that it’s been almost 9 months since I last blogged. It seems that life keeps getting in the way. LOL! Of course I can claim the last months of 2016 were focused on the holidays and family occasions. Then in January I was determined to create some new patterns – and I did! Hooray! Except it took almost 3 months to complete the process. Can I blame an old slow computer – or better yet – an old slow operator?? 🙂 At that point, it was April and time for taxes and trying to squeeze in a few personal projects that had been begging for attention for well over the past two years. In May, we decided to ‘retry’ a trip to see family out west; we had cancelled this trip last year due to excessive heat. (That ‘adventure’ is worthy of it’s own blog, so tune in later.) So here I am looking at the end of June…

Backing up to January, I finally managed to create the patterns for some larger wall hangings that I had created over the past few years. Because of their size and the design program I use, these were time consuming patterns to create, but I was very satisfied to have them done.

It’s Snow Wonder and Fall Frolickin” (the first 4 photos) are similar patterns based on a similar layout. I had wanted to make one pattern with ‘change out’ elements, but after several trial and errors, it simply wasn’t going to work and I went with two patterns, deciding instead to create a spring/summer version in the future. I have even pulled out the wool for project. While larger sized, these are projects that allow for you to have some fun with embellishment and personalization. I have long wanted to try Shiva Paint Stiks on wool, so Fall Frolickin’ was the perfect project to experiment with them (LOTS of fun and to my delight,they are quite permanent!) – I will be using them in future projects. While they are not cheap, once purchased they last a long time. I used Glad Press and Seal for the lettering (works quite well) and posted photos as to how this works. Marking on wool can be a challenge so this is a welcome technique. The next photos are of the Indian Corn Beauty pattern which is a beautiful medium sized wall hanging. I love making corn with wool. I used colored pencils to add the varied coloring of the corn kernels. The last photographs are of my Festival of Lights pattern. There seems to be an unending number of Christmas patterns out there, but I got to thinking of all the other traditions that are celebrated throughout the year and decided to make a table runner for the Jewish holiday of Hannukkah ‘The Festival of Lights’! For this pattern, I combined the use of batik fabric with the wool/wool felt. The pattern has two versions each with 8 stars and a larger center star on which one could place a lit candle. After it was complete, I couldn’t help but think that it would also make a great 4th of July design – done in red white and blue and perhaps shortening the overall length to fit your table, etc. I always hope that I inspire others to take my patterns and ‘run with it’! Feel free to check out the details in my shop!

Late this spring, I decided to create a piece to work a bit more with the concepts of using only one or two stitches and only two colors of wool in a project. I also decided to try something in the art nouveau/craftsman style. The photos below show what I came up with. Note the fun I had with beads as well as the blanket stitch edge pattern as seen from the back. It always takes me awhile to like my own work and while I like many things about this piece, I am going to ‘sit on it’ a bit before I decide if it should become a pattern. Your feedback is always welcome!

During our May travels, I managed to convince my husband that a visit to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Outlet in Portland was a necessity. I have previously been to the outlet store in Pendleton, Oregon but had read that the store in Portland was worth a stop as well. I can only apologize for my love of anything Pendleton wool – it is simply pure luxury! I really don’t shop much on our travels anymore, but for this stop I had saved my pennies! The photos below will show what I came home with. It’s a good thing I don’t live anywhere near to Oregon!

The first photo represents the best deal – $5.00 a lb. for various ‘scrap’ pieces. I believe I paid around $50.00 for the lot! Not bad for wool that can run upwards of 60.00 a yard – and the scrap pieces were large – 12-15″ by 54-60″ with a small piece cut out! You had to dig around in a bin, but I loved the colors I found. The middle photo shows yardage I purchased of their EcoWool fabric. I thought this was a clothing line wool that was not likely to felt (full) well. WRONG! They had felted samples of all their wools and this felts beautifully. It is called Eco Wool because it is created to high ecological standards regarding dyes and production. Thankfully these pieces were on sale as it normally sells for 60.00 a yard! The last photo is of the beautiful Christmas red and green melton wools I managed to find. Melton wool felts well, but is a heavier thickness – great for backgrounds and projects that need a bit more weight. I was excited to find these colors. The camera had a hard time capturing the correct red as it really is a beautiful more cherry Christmas red and the green is perfect for not only Christmas but for some of my ‘nature’ and ‘outdoor’ projects that I have in mind. I didn’t show a photo, but also got some yardage of their wool flannel in a denim blue color – a lighter weight fabric even after felting, but since I tend to use a fusible it really doesn’t affect my designs. I washed all the wool in hot water and dried it in the dryer – it all came out incredibly soft, wrinkle free and worthy of fondling!

I have a lot more to share with you and I’m hoping that I will be posting a bit more often in the coming weeks. I hope to share a bit more about our May travels, as well as projects that are on my mind! I just had to share this photo of the new sculpture at a wayside in Chamberlain, S.D. Notice the beautiful ‘quilted’ star on the fancy dancer’s shawl? It would have been fun to see it at night as it is made so that light comes through areas on the shawl. It is worth the stop to see it if you ever pass that way. The second photo is one that was taken on the Navajo trail in Bryce Canyon – I love ‘path’ and ‘door’ photos and have been collecting photos of various ‘paths’ I have been on or seen throughout my camping travels. Someday I hope to use these photos to create some fabric/wool ‘path’ collages. I’ve long learned that our lives are all about the paths we are presented with, the ones we choose to take and the ones that make us who we are.

On a personal note, my CFS/Lymes has definitely been more present in my life and so I have to be satisfied with the things that I DO get done. I appreciate your reading my blog and visiting my website despite my habit of ‘irregular’ posting! Thank you! Currently, my head is filled with all kinds of ideas and the Pendelton wool is continually calling my name to be put to good use! Stay tuned!

6 Responses so far.

  1. Judy Bomkamp says:

    Mary, I came across your Candles pattern on Prairie Woolens and just purchased it and went looking for more of your patterns and found your blog. Your Art Nouveu/Craftsman Style mat is gorgeous and please, please put it out as a pattern. I fell in love with it (if you could fall in love with a beautiful wool mat) and will buy it in a heartbeat when it is on the market. I love the concept mixing the different arts with beads as I have been using beads instead of French Knots as it dresses up your work so nicely and just adds that extra zing.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Judy! Thank you for your kind remarks – I am so glad you enjoy my designs. I have always tried to create designs that were a little different than so many of the primitive look designs (and please do no misconstrue this to mean I dislike the primitive look!). After all, you may not know that my start in designing for wool was a result of looking for patterns to make for my adult children – none of who would enjoy the primitive look! When I started designing in late 2011-2012, there were considerably fewer designs (than today) and I don’t remember finding anything of a more ‘contemporary’ look – thus I went to work designing. As time has passed, I have tried to create designs that are different from what is already out there as well as designs that encourage creativity on the part of the hand worker. (I believe very strongly that all of us are creative and have something to offer – unfortunately too many have somehow gotten the message that they are not creative). I will soon begin drafting and writing up the patterns for at least 3 new designs – and yes the Art Nouveau/Craftsman style mat is among them. Actually the pattern will have 2 versions – a larger version (as shown in the blog post – although it is kind of deceptive as the photo makes it look more of a square when it really is about 16 x 21). and I also created a smaller version that is about 11″x11″. I spent time last year creating all the models – 1 of the larger size and 3 of the smaller size – all in different colorways; the large version and two of the smaller versions are felted woven wool while the third one is a wool/rayon blend from National Non Wovens. I guess it harkens back to my years of teaching high school art, but I like to consider that everyone has a different tolerance for complexity as well as their own budget etc.
      I always work backwards when designing – first creating the project(s); usually 1 in felted woven wool and 1 in wool felt blends. I then photograph the models and use these photos to trace pattern layers that I scan into my computer to use within the instructions. I also make a large actual size tracing which I also have scanned – this is placed in Photoshop and the designing program for creating textures, instructions etc. and sometimes ’tiling’ for the larger sized designs. (All of my patterns are actual size as well as being 1 sided – NO flipping pages (a personal aggravation!) Once the instructions/illustrations are done, I usually photograph the cover photo and have the instructions printed. After that there is a matter of folding, packaging, etc. and adding to the website. (I truly am a one person operation.) Then I heave a giant sigh of relief!!
      The other two designs are 1) a ‘faux birch bark’ mirrored tray and 2) a simple modern 3 star runner suitable for small tables, dressers, etc. along with a smaller sized version single star mat. That’s what I have on the dock right now – I did do the drawings and got the scans done last fall…..right before my computer decided it had lived a good life and really wanted to go to where all used up technology equipment goes! The bigger problem was that (long story) I could no longer update the designing program in a way that would be affordable. Grrrrr, So in mid December I finally got a new computer and thank heavens for smart adult children, I have a designing program that I can work with. Darn, it’s hard to keep re-learning this computer stuff with every birthday I celebrate! LOL! I hope to start on this in another week or so – I’m giving myself about a month apiece – start to finish – and that’s if the designing program cooperates! Keep your fingers crossed for me.
      I am glad to hear you enjoy the beads, etc. Yes yes yes – I love it when people incorporate other materials etc, in their work. My background includes a stint as a fiber artist way back in the early 70’s as well as beadworking; then more beading in the 90’s (including working part time at a bead store) – all of which resulted in a HUGE collection of beads. When I started working with wool, I thought ‘good, a way to use my beads’! Well, LOL! that certainly was misguided. I think I could design till forever and never use all my beads! But seriously I like educating people about beads and how to use them – most are so afraid that can’t work with such small ‘things’ and are quite often surprised when given the right materials, it is much more fun and doable than they thought.
      Just saw your order Judy – it will be in the mail on Monday! I hope you will enjoy the patterns. Thank you again for your comments – when you are on line, it is so nice to hear what people are thinking and I appreciate the time you take to make the comments. Stay warm and have fun stitching this winter season.

  2. Mary Lou schmitz says:

    DId your dad work at the post office with my sisters husband,Arnie mueller -my sister died last Dec.. her name was Lucille .?

    • Mary says:

      Oh my goodness! Yes, yes yes, my dad was Al Holbach, mom was Marie and he did work at the St. Paul PO for many years…and they were good friends with Arnie and Lucille! I am so glad you sent this message as I have wondered over the last few years what had happened to Lucille. I began getting my Christmas cards returned and figured that she must have moved and things ‘got lost’ in the process. I had no contact info for Joan – who would have been closest in age to me (as we played together as kids). After Arnie passed and then my dad in 2009, Lucille and I would occasionally visit on the phone, etc. – talking about quilting and, of course, the kids and family. I thought it was so nice that she kept contact with the daughter(me) of her ‘adult friends’! She was such a nice lady and also talented with sewing etc. I remember that I took/went with Dad to Arnie’s funeral. Time passes and so many are gone. Don’t get back to White Bear much anymore. My brother Mike is in nearby Vadnais Heights, but has Parkinsons and seems to be declining rather quickly. I have good memories of growing up in WBL, but feel a sense of sadness in the recent years when we have passed through. Guess it’s just time marching on. Where are you located? And how in ever did you find my website? Are you also a quilter? I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and please, if you see Joan, give her my condolences. I hope that Lucille did not have to suffer before she passed. I apologize for the delayed response to your inquiry as I had a busy weekend with Easter and I also still deal with CFS, chronic Lymes, and adrenal insufficiency so am just slower than mud sometimes! Take care!

  3. Judy Young says:

    I would love to see that square as a pattern. And love beads in it also. I would rather work on larger sizes, often enlarge patterns to make a statement.

    • Mary says:

      Hello Judy! I’m not sure which pattern you are referring to, but I’m guessing that it is the Art Nouveau Table mat. That is already a pattern and it includes driections and templates for both a larger rectangular version as well as a smaller square version. See it here in my shop http://www.designandbemary.com/products/art-nouveau-table-mat/. The other photos are of larger wall hangings; however you could certainly pick and choose the elements you would like to make a smaller square version. I’ve also had people make scans at a reduced size. All my patterns and templates are actual size and they are printed on one side of a page only (no flipping!). They include complete illustrations and written instructions. Hope this is helpful to you! Thanks for leaving a comment and visiting my site!

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