Sunday, April 18, 2021

Slow and Steady

 

A tall stack of crochet squares. At this rate, I will have a blanket before winter sets in. This project is exactly what I needed during a weird week.

In a non-pandemic world, Henning would have stayed in hospital for three days but things being as they are, I brought him home ninety minutes after he woke up from a four-hour anaesthesia. Our compassionate surgeon prescribed morphine and oh boy, did the patient need it! A bone graft is the kind of torturous operation that should only be performed in the seventh circle of hell.

In a bizarre twist, the drug that makes you drowsy had the opposite effect on Henning. Although it definitely made him forget the pain, he was awake for 48 hours straight and was babbling an endless stream of uproarious blather. For a man whose daily quota of words usually runs out by 9am, this is quite a record. I'm exhausted.

Now we face two weeks of recovery, followed by six weeks of rehab. I think life will slowly start returning to normal. This coming week, I hope to have snatches of time to  get back to work on miniatures and teddy bears. In my next post, I should have something to show.

Wishing you a sunny, creative week.

P.S. Are any of you who use Blogger researching alternatives to Feedburner?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Not My Cup of Tea

 
This is a blanket I made ten years ago, when I first learned to crochet. It was a block-a-week series that you could subscribe to via the stationery shop. 

Of course, like many subscription traps, when you add up the total cost, you could have bought yarn for several blankets by the time you paid for all 100 issues. But for once I feel that it was good value for money. If you followed the lessons every week you received a very thorough instruction in the art of crochet and they were generous with the yarn. So generous that I started a second blanket with the leftovers.

 
This is where I am. There won't be enough yarn to complete the blanket so I'm adding colours from the project I frogged a few weeks ago. It's the ideal activity to keep my hands busy while other things are happening.
 
Henning's next (and hopefully final) surgery is scheduled for this coming Thursday. It involves a bone transplant so I think it will be quite uncomfortable. There are still many squares needed to complete this throw so he can rest and take his time with recovery once he is home.

In other news, there's a kettle ghost loose in my kitchen. First, my trusty blue enamel kettle was posessed and it started switching off as soon as the water was lukewarm. Once off, nothing could convince it to turn on again for an hour, by which time I had forgotten that I wanted a cup of tea. After several days of this, I admitted defeat and swapped the kettle for an old stainless steel one from the junk room. 
 
Unfortunately, it had a plastic spout and it was immediately apparent why it had been banished. It was leaking quite badly from the seam. In an attempt to salvage the kettle and stop scalding water from running down my arm every time I tilted it, I disassembled the kettle and fetched the superglue. In short order I managed to glue two fingers to the kettle and the kettle to the table but no way would the spout stick to the kettle. Into the dustbin with a clang.

Next, I unearthed an old plastic kettle that I used in the studio in the past when I needed hot water for mixing art materials. This one boils the water, but it makes tea that taste of plastic. Like a shark can smell blood, I can detect foreign substances in my tea when it's one part per billion. I'll admit that I'm a bit fussy.

I've done an online search and saw a ghost-proof kettle that I like. Now all I need is to find a shop that has it in stock.




Wednesday, March 31, 2021

An Arm and a Leg

I have a bit of a fetish for miniature dolls. Even just parts will do. I recently sorted and consolidated all the bits and pieces which were stashed in various boxes and drawers. Instead of putting them away again, I decided to display my collection where I can enjoy it. What better way to exhibit body parts than in specimen jars?! 

So far, I've received a few eye rolls and a 'no comment'. I guess not everyone has their head screwed on the same way, ha ha.


Wishing you a peaceful Easter weekend. If it's spring in your part of the world, enjoy the sunshine. If it's autumn, pick up a few colourful leaves.

 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Hello Everyone Just a quickie to let you know that Henning is home and all is well. Now we're trying to get his third, and hopefully last, surgery scheduled ASAP, before the next wave of Corona infections cause the hospitals to close their operating theatres again. I'm abusing the situation here by alternating betweeen napping and sitting on the bed next to him working on a crochet blanket. Not much real work going on and nothing to tell unless you want to know about the boring routine of a nurse/cook/ laundry attendant. Thank you for your kind thoughts and wishing you a wonderful week!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Before and After

 

Before
Several years ago, I started making a crochet blanket while sitting next to a hospital bed. It was a really unhappy time in my life. Sadness was woven into the blanket together with the yarn. Also, the colours were much too busy for the design and being a beginner at crochet, I made many, many mistakes while trying to count the rows and figure out the complicated stitches. Whenever I worked at this blanket it felt wrong but being stubborn, I continued with it off and on between other projects.
After  
No, I don't have the captions the wrong way around. Over the last few weeks, I've been slowly frogging the entire thing and this is what remains. A project that won't end up as a UFO. I have a basket of yarn neatly wound into balls. Plus, I am making a different blanket that uses some of the same colours so the yarn will go directly there.

Rather than feeling guilt at my destructiveness, ripping out the stitches was therapeutic and just what I needed as I once again go through a time of extreme stress and hospital visits. I'm very concerned about Henning and what lies ahead for us this week. All I can do is believe in a positive outcome, and try not to worry about things that might never happen.

We had a lovely bike ride to the river this afternoon, probably our last for a long while. The harvest is in and wildflowers have taken over the edges of the fields. And yeah, we kept one eye on the sky all the way ;-)





Sunday, March 14, 2021

Never Pee Against a Witch's Door

Today I have a naughty treat for you. Remember when I was complaining at the start of lockdown exactly a year ago that I didn't have the right bits and pieces to make a birdbath? Well, while I was confined to the house, I had lots of time to mutter to myself and scratch around until I was able to make something that fit my mood.

My personal version of Mannekin Pis. The original lives in Brussels and has been making a statement since the 15th century. Legend has it that a little boy had a pee against a witch's door and when she caught him in the act, the furious crone froze him in place forever. Totally sounds like something I would do...

My Mannekin had humble beginnings. A plastic charm, a metal bead cap, and a pie crust from Barbie play food, here already painted grey. Assembling the birdbath was a simple matter of glue and paint. The water however, made me scratch my head for quite a while.

After watching some Youtube videos, I decided that the best course of action would be to use nylon thread to guide the flow of resin 'water'. I drilled a small hole in the strategic spot and glued several strands of filament in place.

Initially, he overshot the mark by quite a bit but after adjusting for flow pressure and wind force, I managed to glue the strands down where I wanted them. I mixed up a batch of clear resin, let become sticky in the measuring cup, then sculpted it into place over the thread and into the basin. 

At the same time, I worked on a birdbath that my friend Cheryl printed for me using a 3D printer. This being in the middle of lockdown, friends were not allowed to visit one another at home and the police could stop you on the road and ask your business. We arranged a clandestine meeting at a petrol station, fully masked and gloved. I walked past her car and threw some homemade fudge through the window. She walked past mine and tossed my printed goodies in the back seat. We never made eye contact and drove off in different directions like spies, mission accomplished.

My Cheryl-printed birdbath, also mounted on a bead cap. And below are some more views. Resin printers allow for minute detail. How I wish I had one too.



We are in this for a year already and some days it's hard to find a ray of light. Wishing you a blessed week my friends. And whatever you do, remember the consequences when you pee against a door!


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sometimes life is just the same old, same old. Nothing to report here. I did finish painting a battalion of tiny (23mm, 1 inch) teddy bears. Wishing you a great week!


 

P.S. Sherrill just drew my attention to the battalion of bears currently invading Paris. You can read about their antics daily on Facebook.

Monday, March 1, 2021

 

I woke up with a start at half past midnight and thought, Kuki. Not as in cookies and milk for a midnight snack. And I knew just where to find it.

Seven years ago, I put down a tray of unfinished teddy bears for a few minutes. Where did the time go? I must not have had it back then either, because the teddies in the tray need only small things still to be finished. When I woke up in the night with thoughts of Kuki, I immediately realized that I must find that tray. Not that I could have told you about one thing that was in there. When I unpacked it, I rediscovered many teddies that I would never have recalled if they didn't whisper to my subconscious mind while I slept. 


I designed the Kuki Needle Keeper teddy bear in 2007 in honour of a bear maker and quilter, Kitty, who is a friend. At a time when I needed an extra pair of hands, she was a tremendous help in my studio. Kitty is practical and organized, serene and funny, and I think Kuki portrays those qualities beautifully.

During the next three years, I used the Kuki pattern to teach teddy bear making at a craft fair and over 600 students became the proud owners of their own teddy needle keepers. Kuki was so popular that I decided to publish the pattern so that bear makers all over the world could make their own.

As you can imagine, my original pattern sample soon started looking a bit worse for wear with all the passing from hand to hand in workshops. I started making a new one but like most things, once the novelty of figuring out the process is over, I become bored with it and I'm ready to move on to a new challenge. Kuki was consigned to 'The Tray' in this condition.

She only needed a pair of eyes and her insides. Once I dusted her off and took out my pattern templates to cut the missing pieces, I felt inspired to create and I made her a collar, not part of the original design.


Soon she was assembled and ready to lead a long, useful life.

Magnets in her hands can hold your scissors, and keep the needle book closed when not in use.

She opens up to reveal that at heart, she's a sharp cookie, ha ha.


 Here's the new Kuki, together with the original.

While I was at it, I revamped the pattern sheets, rewrote the instructions, and added some fresh images. The pattern is available to download in my Etsy store, and on my new website.

Now that I've rediscovered The Tray, I might dive in there and finish a few more teddies.




Sunday, February 14, 2021

My Valentine Adventure

 If you celebrate Valentine’s Day, I hope that you were showered with attention and gifts. In our household, I am in the Jane Laverick camp and Henning is of the opinion that he’s my Valentine every day, so he doesn’t need to make a special effort on someone else’s say-so. None the less, we had a peaceful and mutual be-kind-to-each-other day. Mostly because we were exhausted after our adventure yesterday. But first today:

I glued together a batch of gorgeous little 1/12 scale boxes for storing miniature treasures. It is the perfect project if you need to sit quietly and not move too many muscles. They are made from a printy by Sandra Morris from Tower House Dolls. She has just published a book, Making Miniature Mignonette Toy Dolls. If you buy the book, you will be invited to the Facebook Mignonette Doll Club where we have hilarious fun. If you are into tiny dolls, I highly recommend it.

So, what happened yesterday? Henning said, won’t you be my Valentine on a bicycle? Let’s cycle to the river. It will be fun, he said. This is a man who loves anything on wheels and obviously I wanted to be loved on Valentine's day. That is how the adventure started.

The river is about 10km from our home. When we are fit and healthy, we can do the round trip in our lunch hour and it’s just the right distance to feel the breeze in your hair. Sadly, Henning has not been well lately, and we hadn’t cycled in a long while, so I was happy when he suggested the outing.

We hopped on our mountain bikes at lunchtime and set off at a leisurely pace. When we reached the river, we had a short break as we always do, then turned back for home. It was a lovely day. A few clouds high in the sky and just enough of a breeze to rustle the soybeans in the fields beside the road. On a whim, Henning said, let’s turn off the road and cycle on the sand track through the fields. It runs parallel to the main road and it will be an adventure, he said. So we did.

The soybeans were about knee high and brilliant green after the recent rains. They were also in glowing health because they’d recently been fertilized with the stuff that comes out the back end of farm animals. Soon, we were surrounded by a revolting pong and a black cloud of flies. We sped up to get rid of the flies and to our relief, the soybean fields gave way to corn and we left the pesky insects behind.

This late in summer, the corn is fully grown and more than two meters tall. By now we had traveled quite a bit further than we intended and the breeze was picking up but the track through the fields was level and sandy, ideal for off-road cycling. We knew that we were traveling in the general direction of home and although we had lost sight of the main road a while ago, our GPS said that it was just on the other side of the ridge running parallel to our course. I didn’t want to turn back for a second encounter with the flies and Henning reckoned that sooner or later the farm track would meet up with the road again, so we continued through the corn fields.

After another three kilometres, there was still no sign of the road, the skies had darkened with clouds, and the breeze had become a tremendous roar in the corn. I had no idea that corn could be so noisy. We realized that we would have to turn around or risk being on the road after nightfall.

Just as we turned to go back, the skies opened. We were caught in a downpour in the middle of an endless cornfield and the rain was coming down like bullets. Not only did it sting on the way down, but every drop seemed to ricochet and hit us from beneath with a lukewarm splash. We were drenched and muddy within moments but not only that, the rain instantly washed away our tracks in the path. We took a wrong turn, turned around when we realized our mistake, could not figure out where we had come from, and then we were properly lost. With corn taller than our heads on all sides and no sun to guide us we could only keep heading in what we hoped was the right general direction. It felt like hours later when we finally washed out on to the road like two drowned rats.

We were back at the river at sunset, bedraggled and tired, and still had to face a ten-kilometre trek home. It drizzled all the way and after dark it became quite cold in our wet clothes. I was ever so relieved when we finally heard the welcoming bark of the dogs at our gate at 8pm. Our lunchtime jaunt turned into a 50km ordeal and today, we can feel it in every muscle.

The story does not end here though. Just in case you are thinking of going on an adventure of your own, let me tell you the things the explorers do not warn you about.

Fifty million mosquito bites itch like crazy, and I washed a sand dune out of my ears. But the worst part is this; splashing mud seeps into every crevice. Cycling with sand in your butt crack is abrasive. It will be a few days before I stop my bandy-legged sailor walk.

If you are looking for me, I will be sitting quietly making miniatures.

 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

A Love Triangle and a Happy Divorce

Everything's fine at home, thanks for asking! Ha ha, but now that I have your attention, let me tell you the sordid details of my social media affair. It's a really boring post so I tried to put a fun spin on it. Skip right past if blogging problems and websites are not your thing.

When I created this blog, it was about products and workshops in my studio. In time, the blog gathered a following of people who have become friends and I started chatting about more personal things. My business is also evolving and I progressed from having a physical shop to trading online. This created a quandary because I don't want to spam you, my friends, with marketing posts. 

At one time, we bloggers noticed that the Blogger platform was staggering around like a drunk with amnesia and I wanted to have a backup blog in case Google pulled the plug on us. So, I started a Wordpress blog and hooked it up with my Blogger account. Not the ideal marriage, but it kept things stable for a while.

Then I rebuilt my business website and a sexy, new, business blog came on the scene. Uh oh, love triangle. I had a Wordpress blog, Blogger blog, Website blog, and they were all tangled up in the same domain.

On the 7th of December, I had to request my domain hosting company to perform a divorce between the Blogger blog and the Wordpress blog  to eliminate the conflict. Sadly, the result was that they both disappeared off the internet and for a whole month no one could see this blog. Eventually, we figured out that the culprit was something called a 'naked URL'. Oh my gosh, don't ask me to explain that, just look it up on Google.

With a lot of help from the technical team at the domain hosting company, things are now finally straightened out. The Blogger blog and the Wordpress blog have happily parted company for ever. Blogger will be where I chat with you, my friends, and Wordpress will be the business blog. 

Some of the same posts might appear on both, but look slightly different. 

So, if you only want to receive business-related posts in future, you can unfollow this blog and follow the blog at CreativeMe instead:

https://www.creativeme.co.za/blog/

The Blogger Megan's Tiny Treasures blog (which you are reading here) will have more frequent posts - the same posts as the business blog minus the marketing plus the personal stuff.

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in a divorce, you can't get rid of your ex entirely. Megan's Tiny Treasures (this blog) has to retain its married name for legal reasons. In future, you can follow this blog under two names:

http://www.blog.creativeme.co.za/
or
www.meganstinytreasures.blogspot.com/

If you received a notification twice for my last two posts, you might be subscribed to both. Try to unsubscribe from one, it doesn't matter which.

So that's it my friends. Social media drama over. I tried to explain what's happening in a way that's not too dry. I'm certainly much happier that I now have a personal space where I can be myself without penalty, and a professional space where I can put marketing blogs.

Thank you to every reader for being a light out there in the darkness. 

The blog is dead, long live the blog!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sweet Dreams are Made of This

If it weren't for the worldwide predicament, I could invite you for a sleepover.

We certainly have enough beds. Instead, here is a little dollhouse mattress making tutorial.

My project for January was to construct 1:12 scale dollhouse beds. They are made entirely of scrap materials I had in my stash. I loosely followed the YouTube tutorial by Julie Warren. Some of the beds will go to Dawn @livecreatively365 for decorating and dressing, and the rest I will paint and furnish with mattresses so that people can add their own finishing touches.

These are the colours I have in mind. The beds still need some sanding and several coats of paint, but I couldn't wait to get started with the mattresses so let's jump right to that.

I had a large piece of old stripy curtain in my stash. You can see in the selvage that it was originally blue with a charcoal stipe but now it's a gentle, faded grey. Perfect!

 

My first attempt was the mattress on the left, following Ara's tutorial at Bentley House. Hers is a tutorial for a no-sew mattress using foam core board so if you are averse to sewing, head straight over there. Ara's tutorials are inspirational. I spent hours trying to glue the sides of the mattress neatly. I don't really like using glue on fabric. I believe that if it can be sewn, it should be sewn. Eventually, I gave up and sewed the mattress by hand, but it still didn't look great. Then I invented my own method. Ta da, mattress on the right. I can make three of those in an hour.

The core of my dollhouse mattress consists of three layers - a piece of cereal box measured to fit the base of the bed, a layer of 14mm foam, and a layer of blue craft felt. This is what I had in my stash. When I make more mattresses, I will use slightly thicker foam and possibly quilt batting instead of felt but the materials I had on hand actually worked better than I expected. Glue the layers together.

Mark out a 15mm block grid on the card, then use an awl to poke a hole at each intersection. You can see that I snipped a small triangle off the corners of the card. This is because I want the mattress corners to be rounded.

I used a piece of card the same size as the mattress as a template and added a 10mm seam allowance all around. Cut the fabric with the stripes running lengthwise. Next, I cut a 30mm-wide strip of fabric long enough to go around the mattress. This time the stripes run across. Sew the strip around the mattress cover. Here you can see how it looks on the wrong side and turned right side out.

When making miniatures with fabric, ironing the seams is very important. Compare left and right, smooth seams make all the difference.

The mattresses inside their covers. You can see the wrong side and the right side. It should be a snug fit.

Fold the raw edges over the card and glue down. Start with the long sides, then glue the short ends.

Now comes the fun part. Using a long needle and strong thread, start from the back and sew a little tuft in each of the grid holes you made. It is important to stick the needle straight through the mattress. Make a 2mm stitch on the top side of the mattress, then poke the needle straight through to the back and out the same hole. Move on to the next hole and tuft the entire mattress. You can pull the stitches tight as you go. Because you're using a continuous strand of thread, it's possible to pull on the thread at the back to tighten or release the tufts until they are equal.

Back and front of the finished mattress.

I tidied up the back by gluing a piece of grey felt over the threads.

I love my dollhouse beds so far.


This little bed is mine. I'm ready to crawl under the blankets and read a book.