Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shop Local with Earth Fare is about to wrap up the holiday event.

Hey, All. The Shop Local event that has been so much fun at Earth Fare this month is drawing to a close. There are only two days left: Thursday, Dec 22 and Friday, Dec 23.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stuck in bed today. Boo.

     How I love the fall/winter and when Mother Nature cannot decide if she wants rain and chilly or frosty and COLD. So my response is first to have a few weeks of "eh. Maybe I am getting sick. Maybe not." The next (and current) reaction after a little while of this flip-flopping weather is to have an evil cold sneak in and shut down my ability to speak without whining, increase my moodiness tenfold, make me both too sleepy to get up and yet too restless to sleep, and make me feel as useless as a magazine rack in the shower. So, oh goody. I am sick.

     I figured, since standing takes a lot of effort (our house must have become a sailing vessel since the rooms seem to sway in a way they did not yesterday), I would work on my recently neglected blog.

     "Why have you been away so long, Kitty? Where are the great tutorials we discussed? WHY HAVEN'T YOU MADE ME FABULOUS YET?" asked my blog the minute I logged in. Gee. Pushy much? To answer those questions. I have been working in the studio quite a bit. Holidays are always crazy. Ask anyone and they say this. Even those folks who spend no time laboring over decorating, have their Christmas shopping finished in one day, and have rather gentle family dinners each year will tell you, "Wow! It has been just crazy this holiday season." I say bah-humbug to them. You know crazy holidays when you craft for your own family's gifts as well as create custom works for others to give as gifts AS WELL AS craft for trade shows and bazaars. A few nights ago, I was up sewing until 4:30, then a quick shower, then a couple of hours sleep until the alarm rang at 7. I got up and served breakfast to my kiddo who had very important learning and kindergartening to do, sent her out the door full and festive, then went back to sewing. Somewhere in there, I answered quite possibly 643 phone calls, paid bills via online sites, did minor (oh so minor) housecleaning then went to pick up kiddo from her crayon-filled learning establishment in the afternoon. I. Was. Tired. So, yes, in my holiday craziness, I have neglected the blog a bit. I apologize, Blogspot, please forgive. I will be adding another tutorial very soon. Promise.

     I have been working on diversifying my crafts/gifts inventory a bit. I have been adding a few new goodies to the dolls and stuffies but the fun stuff lately has been making the bags and aprons. It is refreshing to step out of my normal routine and shake it up a bit. I have found that patterns (I rarely use them) can be pretty fun! I made a few reversible bags that are pretty neat. I like them and most of my clients have enjoyed looking through them when they pick up custom dolly orders. I look forward to getting them out for sale.

     After some mild-mannered complaining over the last few days about being tired of sewing...I am now in withdrawals. I am trying to imagine a contraption that might allow me to be reclined in bed and still able to drift off for momentary naps (like the three that have happened since I began this post) yet also let me cut and sew some dollies. Ugh. Being sick is not my favorite thing to do. I hope, after another swig of particularly gross cough medicine, a few squeezes of nasal spray and a well timed nap (beginning ASAP) that I feel well enough to head to the studio. Wish me luck, straight seams...and chicken soup.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

UFO Sightings and Assisting the Home Crafter

     No. I do not have an assistant. How lovely that might be. I am not keeping up with everything very well. Haha. I found yarn in a bag the other day that I didn't recognize. So, much like my daughter and her friend did a couple weeks ago, I began to pull it. I pulled...and pulled winding it around my hand still wondering what it was doing in a purse?! I stopped pulling when I noticed the kinks in the yarn proving that I was, indeed, frogging something. Eeeeek! It all came rushing back to me in a nightmarish flood. There wrapped around my hand was most of my progress on a sweater I had started for my little girl for Christmas!!

     So, here I sit, sipping tea, wondering why it is noon when it seems like 9am was only moments ago. I am halfway into Saturday after Thanksgiving which should mean all the Christmas creations are complete... they are not. Time management has always been a bit of a difficult thing for the artist in me. I get distracted by ideas and go off to begin another project before I have finished the first. Fear of forgetting that grand idea (before I get it started) is my downfall. They are called UFOs. Unfinished objects. I have many of them. Apparently, I have ones that I may have forgotten. :-(  My requested orders somehow make it to finished by the date due (with a few exceptions based on crazy circumstances) so I must be doing something right. The items without deadlines, though. are sometimes doomed to sit on the "In the Works" shelf for a dust-collecting minute.

     My goal today is to create a schedule. This wonderfully organized reference tool will be amazingly helpful...if I finish it! Aaaaaaand it will only work for a couple of weeks. My child and husband will go on Christmas break soon and my work-from-home will be shuffled aside til the wee hours so that we can play towering games of Jenga together, watch Christmas movies, and eat enough home baked goodies to move us well into the next pants size.

     So off I go into the land of half-beaded cowboys and unpainted Halloween sculptures (so embarrassing), incomplete embroidered dolls and cloth cut into the shapes of chickens (?), skeletal armatures with polymer heads that never grew bodies and partially crocheted sweaters. I have a plan if I don't get distrac... oh, look shiny.... 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crafter's Choice

I have been asked, time and again, "Where did you get such a wonderful craft book?"

I have quite a collection of books on this and that craft and love looking through them for inspiration and to learn something new. I don't know why I did not post this before now. I use Crafter's Choice, a fabulous online book club. You get great books direct to your door and the shipping is good. You even get the first four books for 99cents. The commitment is 2 more? or possibly 3 more in the year, but I have quickly went beyond that number. You can click the link below to get directly to the site. Spend some time, look through the site. I promise you will find a few things that interest you. :-)

Good luck finding some great books!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Earth Fare Holiday Bazaar

Shop with Dolly Dolly Oxen Free on Friday at Earth Fare's Holiday Bazaar. There will be a drawing for 2 $10 gift certificate from DDOF!! Make sure to drop by and register.


Etsy shop is temporarily offline because all inventory is going to the bazaar. See you all there!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Free Shipping Day!



I have a few items there and would love to get those bits gone and the new inventory up soon.

No more cold feet

phot from http://healthylifecarenews.com/signs-of-abnormal-when-the-body-will-sick/

I have been sick. Nasty sick. I have had fevers and headaches and trips to the ER and injections that hurt and medicines to fix the problems from the injections and ...whew. I am tired but extremely bored of sitting around accomplishing little more than whining, napping and boiling in my skin.

I have crafty ideas that I would love to work on, but sadly I have no energy. It has been pajamas, juice and blankets for the last few days. Yuck. Somehow, even with a fever that makes me want to take my skin off like a coat and hang it up (eeeww), my feet have been so very cold. I fear frostbite when this whole sick thing has passed. My piggies feel like Popsicles! I have lost one of my favorite Hello Kitty slippers and have no others to tromp from bed to couch to bed in. It makes me (and my frozen piggies) sad. So I have started looking into making homemade slippers. I have found fabulous links with great patterns and (as soon as I feel a bit better) my feet will be chilly no more.

The first link I found gave me ideas for some great vintage cowboy and Victorian romance fabrics I have. (Thanks to my friend Bob B. for bringing those gifts to me.)   http://www.prudentbaby.com/2010/10/how-to-make-fabric-slippers-with-free.html
I absolutely love the Prudent Baby site. I have several friends who are expecting and this site has given me one million and six gift ideas. Maybe I am stretching the number a bit, but the site has given me quite a few ideas for gifts. The neat thing about the site is that not everything (like these slippers) is baby related. It is definitely one to check out if you haven't already. Once I start going through crafties on their site, I find the clock speeds up and suddenly an hour has passed.

The second site I love about slipper making is great because it reuses old sweaters. http://www.craftstylish.com/item/40130/how-to-make-snuggly-slippers-from-old-sweaters
Keep your feet warm with these cute slippers made from an old sweater.
I really like this because I try to reuse clothing that might not be in wearable condition. A little cutting sewing and crochet edging and you have an adorable pair of slippers. Simple and green!!

Third (and also the one I am working on tomorrow) is a crochet pattern. It looks simple and I have yarn on hand already just staring at me with no project in mind. Til now! http://zoomyummy.com/2011/01/21/how-to-make-simple-crochet-slippers/
Just look how sweet!! how to make simple crochet slippers free pattern free tutorial free picture tutorial free picture pattern

These slippers may be my gift go-to from now on!!

If you like these but don't know how to crochet, learn how with Lion Brand Yarn: http://cache.lionbrand.com/cgi-bin/faq-search.cgi?store=/stores/eyarn&learnToCrochet=1


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beginner Needle Felting

          I have an interest in almost every craft medium out there. I see something done and my curiosity takes over and, in the blink of an eye, I have bought everything the craft stores offer and watched every tutorial on the internet on that subject. I do not know when the needle felting seed was planted, but it grew and grew. Since then I have made tiny flowers, doll hair, beads, small sculptures and, once, large turtle sculpture. I have embellished clothes, gotten creative with knitted hats, and found ways to use my felting technique to attach clothing to my dolls. It is a very flexible medium and fiddling about with things makes it more fun. I have learned a great deal about it from books and websites, but I learned so much more when I just put the books away and got started.

Needle felting is a dry felting method. You may know about wet felting already. Most people know about it on accident. You toss your wool sweater in the washing machine and, when you take it out to move the laundry to the dryer, your sweater will now fit a small toddler. This is because the wool fibers have fused via wet felting. I won’t be covering that process right now. We will be focusing on Needle Felting, a dry and very portable craft technique that is quick to learn and fun to do. I have chosen a few videos from YouTube that illustrate felting. There are hundreds more out there and I urge you to go on your own searches and find them. Some instructors in the videos have their own way of doing things. It is great to know how different crafters approach a medium so that you can find the best and most comfortable way for yourself.


DO be careful of the needle. They are very sharp and will hurt if you get poked with one. They are triangular and barbed so they pack a bit more of a punch than a standard sewing needle. (*A handful of crafters say to let a felting needle booboo bleed before bandaging it.)

DO use a foam pad or under your project to protect your needles. They will break if they hit a table top. The foam pad will also help to protect your person from the above mentioned puncture wounds.

DO NOT wiggle the needle once inserted into your project. They can and will break if not removed at the same angle they were inserted. Stabbing in and out at the same angle, up and down, is an easy thing to learn, but practice is necessary.


How to needle felt: A general explanation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTBirUlvPNo

A bit of information for someone already familiar with the technique. This video has a great deal of sites mentioned. This is great to show you the possibilities of needle felting.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8fMtHwIt4w&feature=related

This is a preview for a 10 hour DVD series to teach needle felting soft sculpture. I have never watched this video series, only the youtube video itself. I want to share this to, again, show the possibilities of needle felting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdJnOF5kORw&feature=related


(picture from http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2008/how-to-making-a-needlefelted-turkey/)
Size 38 felting needle (different sizes are available, but this is the most universal size)

Loose wool roving

foam pad

(Such a simple list.)


Always check your local art supply, fabric and yarn stores for felting supplies. Sometimes you can find great things at small shops. Never hurts to ask.

*Artopia, 316 Main St, Johnson City, TN, 423-282-1861 has a few already felted items in a kit. Felted beads and baubles to get the feel of what can be done with felted wool.

*Yarntiques, 410 East Watauga Ave, Johnson City, TN, 423-232-2933 has a great selection of yarn. I spoke with the owner, Candice, who does not carry specific needle felting supplies, but she has a vast knowledge of yarns.

*Some big box craft stores carry wool and supplies for felting. Call your local stores and ask.

*This site carries, in addition to a great many other fiber arts tools and materials, a selection of felting materials. http://www.mielkesfarm.com/Products/felting.htm

*CR’s Crafts is a great site. I found some needle felting items here. http://www.crscraft.com/products/productList.asp?cat=crafts&sub=Needle+Felting&L1=3&L2=16&L3=0&L4=&L5=

*Living Felt http://feltingsupplies.livingfelt.com/

*An all things felt blog that is really neat http://americanfeltandcraft.wordpress.com/

There are so many sites that I cannot possibly list them all here. If you are curious, go to Google and enter “needle felt supplies” as a search. Wow. At the time this article was written 1,270,000 hits.

*Thrift Stores are great resources for material. Discarded yarn, old needlework kits and donated sweaters are all fantastic finds. (I like to carry my single needle with me when I hit sales at thrift stores. You can check feltability (is that a word?) of fabrics of sweaters by holding the sleeve out flat and felting (by stabbing the barbed needle through the flat sleeve being sure to WATCH YOUR FINGERS!!!) the sleeve to itself. If the fibers begin to mesh the sleeve together after a few stabs, then you have a great piece to play with. If they do not fuse, then leave that sweater on the hanger and keep moving. BE SURE TO PULL APART THE SLEEVE WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED AND LEAVE NO MARK ON THE CLOTHING. If you do leave a mark, buy it. Be honest. Only try this on items you plan to buy. If someone sees you, explain to them what you are doing and buy the sweater. Sharp objects make some people nervous and who knows what they might think you are doing. If there are tags in the sweaters, you can just look at the material type and then there is no need to test. I find alot of sweaters that have had the tags removed, this is why I experiment. I buy a lot of sweaters.)


Additional needle sizes for different projects. Size 32 for course materials, size 40 for fine detail.

A multiple needle holder. These are not necessary but crafters choose to use them when felting large flat surfaces. Multiple needles make the project felt faster. I do not use them since the majority of my projects are 3D animals and people. But I know crafters who swear by their Clover needle tool.

Wool yarn and bulky yarns are great for felting lines onto projects.

You can also needle felt cotton batting, some fleeces, some different cloth materials.

Cookie cutters (to make shapes, such as the flower petals shown in the video)

Embroidery floss and needles to add embellishment

Beads, sequins and sewing supplies to sew on to projects


1 ) Choose a base fabric. Draw on a design lightly with a pencil.

2 ) Place your base fabric on your foam pad. Pin it in place with a few stick pins from your sewing supply kit.

3 ) Take some of you loose wool and pull it apart. Try to line up the loose fibers.

4 ) Place the fibers on your drawn on base fabric. Create a sandwich of one thin layer of fibers horizontal and one thin layer vertical. Do a few quick up and down punches with your felting needle to hold it in place.

5.) Now you are ready to punch it repeatedly up and down to make your design permanent.

Stop once the design is embedded in the base fabric, but before it gets punched down so far it appears muddled with the base fabric!

**It is a good idea to felt in lines or borders then go back and fill in. If you are using a cookie cutter to create a shape, placing it on the fabric would be done before step 3.

Needle felting is an interesting art form and the possibilities are endless. I hope you will take the time to try it out and find it as fun as I do.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Oh, hi, Ohio! Your Dolly Dolly is on the way.

   If you can overlook the obvious changes in lighting, I will show you one of my favorite dolls. She began as a funny little sketch.
   A customer ordered a doll that looked like her little girl. The guidelines were: roughed up dolly, no frills, chubby, and NO PINK. I looked at pictures of the little girl and fell in love with a less than happy picture of a really adorable little girl.
   The little dolly was easily my favorite from the beginning. I used a different stuffing method with her. Her hands, feet and bottom were loaded with poly pellets. I wanted the weight to make her more stable as a shelf sitter. No stand required! I continued stuffing her with polyester fiberfill.
**(This is standard for my dolls since it is hypoallergenic.
I sometimes use other materials and I am sure to list the filling on the description list.)
   The arms and legs were sewn separate from the head/body. This was a fun change since it required more hand stitching than I normally do. I had relied on the machine a great deal to create the body for my dolls until trying this new method. I toted her along with me on errands, stitching a bit here and a bit there til she was finished. (I really just wanted to carry her around with me!!)

   After putting her body together, I embroidered her simple facial features and her primitive hair sprigs. At that point, she had an undeniable personality. I had planned to sew her with her hand on her hip, but her expression called for crossed arms. Defiance!! Her missing button (replaced with an "x") gave her a little toughness. I don't think I would try taking candy from this baby! Speaking of candy, I gave her a green lollipop. It was an over sized wooden bead on a short dowel rod. I chose green since she seems like a sour apple kinda girl. Her dress was from bits of cotton blend cloth. She does NOT do pink, so her colors were more sedate. No bright flowers, no frilly bows.

(This photo was taken BEFORE she was completed. The lighting is a bit more yellow than I would have liked.)

   Later, I added a thin line of vintage lace at the skirt and the neckline. She was finished up when I painted lovely little Maryjanes on her little feet and tucked the lollipop into her arms. She and her brother (another doll for the same customer, her other child) were signed, packaged lovingly, and shipped to their new home.

   I think she might be my favorite (sorry Bride of Frankenstein) doll, to date, that I have worked with. It may have been the change in methods, the difference in stuffing, or the difficulty that those changes added to this hand sewn projects.

   This is the brother and sister set. She with her lolli and he with his monkey. Thank you, Sara, for the great pictures.

  This is Burp, the monkey, ever present sidekick of Big Brother. He was needlefelted from wool roving to create the perfect little pal for this stuffed fella.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happy, happy news!


There is (finally) one item in the Etsy shop. I am happy and quite excited to see Currently for Sale has a listing!! *happy dance, happy dance, starts wheezing, sits back down   I will be posting more items after some new pics are added and measurements taken.

I got a great deal on business cards and promotional postcards with Vistaprint.com. Those will be in this week (fingers crossed). They are adorable cards with a picture of little Abilene. I will be proud to hand those out...to everyone. :-) *happy dance again, more wheezing, sits once more.

Dates will be posted soon for the doll workshop at Shakti (http://www.shaktiinthemountains.com/), the craft show, and the ETSU art sale. Lots of great things are moving along. There is even a catalog brochure in the works!! I really did not think that so many people would express an interest in my dolls. I am oh so appreciative of the support and encouragement from all my friends, old and new.

Its time to log off the interwebs and get "all wrapped up" in work again today. teehee

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Halloween from Dolly Dolly Oxen Free!!

Happy Halloween from the DDOF family. We hope all the ghouls and goblins have a safe
and chocolate-y trick or treat.


The Etsy shop is up and active!! Very excited are we!!

Take a look at http://www.etsy.com/shop/DollyDollyOxenFree

I have added a coupon for free shipping when you purchase 3 or more items. I hope we sell out repeatedly.

There are several craft shows coming up soon and I am very happy to be part of one or two of them. I will post details as soon as I have a list. I will probably shop them all but only vend at a couple. Things seem to be falling into place. I enjoy my art. I hope everyone else likes it half as much. We will see. I owe lots of thank yous to my facebook support group and all the customers from there. I appreciate everyone very much.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Heavy is the Hand that Wears the Splint

Moved in? Check. Boxes ready to be unpacked in craft room? Check.
Inevitable hand injury that halts all things right hand related?? Yep.

Dang it! I managed to work on this house for the last couple weeks with no major injuries. I even had a smashed hand (an altercation between the moving dolly and the door frame which my hand just HAD to jump into and get caught in the middle) which recovered quickly and only slowed me down for a bit. I have either recovered from or avoided injuries altogether and THOUGHT I was on the road to new studio set up this week. Instead, I spent a coupld hours in the ER last night to find out that I have developed rheumatoid flexor tenosynovitis. Freakin ouch. I am now one hand typing and have quite the splint on a finger of my right hand making it rather useless.

Will Dolly Dolly Oxen Free die under all this fabulous frenzy and crashing of waves?  Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion of 'The Dolls that Cannot be Made" (yet)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Still Available: Sylvia

A tall drink of water at 18 inches.
She longs to be a dancer like her sister Serena who is going New York very soon. She wears dresses with skirts that fly out if she spins very fast.  She hopes to be discovered when she grows up, too. She wants to leap and twirl across the stage. She wants to have roses thrown at her feet as she thanks the crowd after a brilliant performance. Oh, the costumes and tights, her name in lights, won't it be grand? Her legs are long and her dreams are large.

Sylvia is an art doll. Your decision to allow a child to play with her is your own. She is not washable and is best cared for with only a dry cloth and a gentle dusting. Clothing and body made with cotton blends, stuffed with fiberfill, with a craft wire skeleton. The hair is eyelash yarn, sewn and needle felted on. Eyes are safety lock acrylic. Facial details hand painted.

Sylvia is now at home with her new family and dreams of inviting them to a recital one day soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Address Change Form is Necessary!

There is only one possiblity standing between us and a new house. If that sweet little box of home-iness passes the radon testing this weekend, she is ours. If not, we have to wait for the seller to correct and mitigate the gases.

So, as long as there are no natural disasters (or gases) at the address, Dolly Dolly and the rest of us will be relocating. There is so much to be done. The boxes are stacked in the kitchen with care, hoping that (with the upcoming yardsale) less items to pack will soon be there. We have been sorting and getting rid of things since we signed the contract. The (current) house looks like it has been robbed! There are empty spaces on every shelf and the artwork has been taken off the walls.

The past few weeks have been filled with long drives, paperwork, a sick relative, and many, many chewed fingernails. With all those distractions, I didn't realize my container garden on the porch has been working hard. I have barely had time to water the plants (thank goodness for rain) before running off on another road trip. even with the abandonment issues my plants have surely developed, they are still reaching out with produce. Teensy sweet green peppers, reddening cherry tomatoes, and there...what's that there??...YES! sweet little strawberries. Downside?? The bees and me. Not a huge fan of stinging divebombers. But I overlook them so I can enjoy a bit of time on the deck staring at those sweet little plants. Plants! OH! Did I mention, the new house has a garden?! The seller has a garden with tomatoes, peppers and squash growing happily in the corner. This garden looks like it will reach maturity after we have possession of the property. There may be a few pluckable pretties before we get there, but the later fruits will be ours.

(This was written 7/7/11. Update: The house obviously passed all tests and is now ours.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dolly Dolly gets off the ground.

Dolly Dolly Oxen Free is a great name. Right? Yes. I thought so, too. My fantastic and brilliant friend, Lindy, came up with it.

I began this adventure a long, long time ago when I stitched up my first doll for my little girl. The doll was...well... she was a mess! I used wool roving for hair which would have been fine, but I did not take into consideration, I was giving it to a toddler. In no time, her lovely locks were two dreadlocked bird's nests. the body was made by stuffing a pair of tights that my kiddo had outgrown. The stuffing was part fiberfill, part yarn scraps, part "whatever I had lying around that was soft". This chaos did not hold up well and in no time, the dolly had one very short, thick leg and one long and skinny leg. Aparently, not coordinating the stuffing materials in a stetchy body was a bad idea.

To be a bit dramatic with my description, I could say: it was as if I had packed one leg with jeans and the other with newspaper. But to my kiddo, the doll was great. Even my husband gave me an "Aww, good job, Honey. She looks great." But I saw a possibility. If I could make this poor little thing, which I was embarassed to give to my child, and people liked it... what more could I do?

I began thinking more about dolls and stuffed monsters. Toys that were just as eye-catching as the things for sale on store shelves, but with something more. I started playing with fabrics and learning more about sewing and embroidery. I scouted discount bins, thrift stores and yard sales for fabrics with personality. I drooled through every book on dollmaking I could find. I doodled dollies on envelopes, napkins, and magazine covers. I began to really look at the toys in Kiddo's room. I am not sure when it happened, but not long after the obsession started I had a sketchbook with plans and my sewing machine threaded. Oh, how gently it started way back then...