Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Gifts Received

Filed under: Blogfriends,Family,Holidays,Movies,Spinning,Stitchery — folkcat at 4:00 pm on Thursday, January 4, 2007

This was a year when I felt the blessings of family and friends very strongly in the wonderful gifts I received. For the first time ever, I exchanged gifts with blog friends as well, which is even more magical – heartfelt gifts from people you’ve never even met!

Cool Entertainment From My Brother

My brother, out in Los Angeles, sent me some great movie selections:

Clerks X and The Haunting DVDs
The Haunting & Clerks X

These were purchased at Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Los Angeles, which is director/actor Kevin Smith‘s own store. Hence, the autographed copy of Clerks. And The Haunting shown here is the earlier, 1970’s version of the story told in the book The Haunting of Hill House, considered by Stephen King to be one of the top horror novels of all time (as listed in his non-fiction book on the horror genre, Danse Macabre).

Though I’m a fan of Kevin Smith’s work, I’ve never seen Clerks, his first film. And I enjoy a well-made horror film – which, from the reviews I recall, this version of The Haunting is reputed to be. I’m looking forward to seeing these!

My brother’s day job is as the head of the Disney Studios Photo Library, and that gives him the opportunity to send me things like this as well:

Signed Beauty & the Beast Artwork

An 8×10 photo of original artwork for the character of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, personally signed to me by the artist, Andreas Deja! I’ll be adding this to my collection of other stills from the movie – which is one of my favorites of all time – all of which were gifts from my brother. Thanks, Ed!

Gift of Choice From Parents

My parents gave Gryphon and I a little cash each, and we got to pick our own gifts. I mentioned yesterday that Gryphon bought himself some really nice beer and a pub glass at Middle Ages Brewing Co. as his gift.

As for me, the gifts I found came from two local crafty shops. Both are new since I moved from Syracuse to NH some 14 years ago, and both were absolutely new to me as of this visit (though at least one has been around for seven years).

First up was Mission Rose Quiltery, on South Main St. in North Syracuse. This shop, which has both quilting and knitting supplies, was jam-packed with beautiful yarns and fabrics. In the end, though, what called to me loudest was this little travel iron:

Travel Iron

Only $8, it’s simple and small. The woman behind the counter said that they’ve sold over 300 of them, and only one ever got returned (and it was merely dead right out of the box). It’s got only two settings – on and off – but these irons are apparently commonly used by quilters going to classes, since they pack easily and both warm up and cool down fairly quickly.

I hadn’t seen one like this at any quilt shops in NH, so it was a must have. Since I started sewing an occasional stuffed toy, I’ve been wanting a way to just press a quick seam right next to the sewing machine. All I need now is a small pressing board!

Next was a needlework shop that I discovered on the Internet before this visit: A Stitcher’s Garden.

I don’t blog about it much, but in addition to the beadwork, knitting, and spinning I also do needlework – cross stitch, needlepoint, and so forth. So I was curious to see what this little specialty shop had to offer.

Well, I found my next gift from my parents there. See, I’m also fascinated by miniatures, and in almost the last corner of the store I looked in, I found a series of kits for tiny miniature rugs. Designed by Teresa Layman, these kits use French knots and Colonial knots to create the look of a hooked rug.

The detail is amazing, the designs are adorable. I fell under the spell, and bought this one:

Kitty Corners Knotted Rug Kit

This is actually one of the largest designs Teresa makes – 3 3/4″ by 3 3/4″! The kit includes the printed fabric, two size #10 English crewel needles, and full instructions. You supply the threads, which in this case include 24 colors of DMC floss, and 4 colors of a special over-dyed floss from A Gentle Art.

Every bit of the design is filled in with either French knots or Colonial knots (which are a slightly larger stitch), worked with only a single strand of floss. Depending on which knot you’re using, that’s anywhere from 1,100 to 2,000 knots in a square inch.

Here was my progress after nearly an hour of stitching:

Kitty Corners Detail
Kitty Corners in Progress

In case you can’t see that (click on the photo for a larger image), I’ve stitched the eyes and the insides of their ears on both mice, and the outside of the ears, part of the hind leg, and the tail on one of them.

Yes, it takes patience, careful focus, and my Mag-Eyes to do this. Teresa Layman’s instructions estimate between 3- 6 hours of work per square inch of finished stitchery. But I’m loving every minute of it!

And I’ve got to tell you – my mother was pretty impressed with how well she chose a Christmas gift for me this year!

Teresa Layman offers many different designs for rugs, needlework accessories, and jewelry, all using this knotting technique. She doesn’t have a website of her own, but if you Google “Teresa Layman Designs”, you’ll find many online stores that offer them – complete with pictures. Be careful – if you’re inclined towards this type of stitchery, you may be hooked.

Blessings From Blog Friends!

This was the big change in the holiday this year. I had a number of blog friends I made gifts for (more about them in another post). And I received gifts from two blog friends – one as a planned exchange, and one as a spontaneous surprise!

The planned exchange happened with Claudia of Heal My Life. The story I’d linked to about The Spoon Theory had resonated with her, and we decided that a collection of spoons, to symbolize the hope that you’ll always have enough of them, was a great idea. And Claudia suggested there was no better way to begin that collection than with an exchange of spoons among friends.

And so, I found a lovely spoon at a local antique shop, added some chocolate goodies, and sent it off to Claudia as a Christmas gift. And in return, she sent me this amazing piece of work:

Honey Spoon from Claudia

It came with Claudia’s advice to not “forget to add the sweetness!,” and an assortment of flavored honey straws and a honey/nut/berries bar.

Gryphon, being a fan of granola bars, snarfed that up, and I’ve been finding the honey straws very soothing when the coughing gets bad and my throat becomes sore.

Meanwhile, this beautiful, carved cherry wood honey spoon just leaves me breathless. My next step is to find the jar that will hold my spoons on my dresser top alter, with a prime place of honor to go to this gift from a special friend.

Claudia, you’re a doll! Thank you!

Another blog friend, the very talented Valerie of Further Adventures of the Secret Yarninator, gave me a gift to use with my new spinning wheel:

Valerie's Gift of Roving

Click through to make larger, and you’ll be able to make out the website for Spritely Goods, the folks that produced this wonderful bat. It’s a blend of several colors of merino wool, and a sparkly fiber called firestar. I don’t know that the full effect can ever be captured by a camera. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that the colors are wonderful – and surprisingly, very similar to the colors in the gift I sent Valerie! (But more about that later.)

Part of me wants to tear into this bat and start spinning it right away. But I think I’m going to wait a little longer. I’m still working on perfecting my hand/foot coordination for basic spinning on my wheel, and haven’t moved to thinner, laceweight spinning yet. And I think this will be gorgeous in a thin, thin yarn! Should be enough for a scarf, at least, if I can do that right.

Valerie, thanks so much for this soft, warm gift!

I feel so blessed and so rich, receiving such well chosen gifts from the heart of family and friends. Hugs to all of you!



Comment by Elspeth

January 4, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

What great gifts! I love Clerks, and have never made it to their store, but wanted to. Now that it’s in L.A. too I’ll have to check it out! Friends of mine in library school went to the Disney Library (we went to UCLA) – what a fun place to work!


Comment by Valerie in San Diego

January 4, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

Aww, you are most welcome for my small contribution. I can’t wait to see what you spin this year!


Comment by Holly Burnham

January 5, 2007 @ 11:19 am

What wonderful gifts…the iron is truly a find. My husband cut a 12″x12″ piece of thin plywood and I covered it with batting and muslim. It works great by my machine.


Comment by Claudia

January 5, 2007 @ 11:27 am

I’m so glad you like it!! I have to photograph the one you sent me – it’s so pretty!!! It’s sitting on the ledge in front of my granddaughters photo. I broke the pretty little jar I had picked to hold my spoons and now have to find another. Your other gifts are just awesome and that rug kit is just mind boggling! Off to look at bats from your link!


Pingback by Crafting Jen » Of Mice and Bones

January 13, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

[…] I spent a couple more hours last night stitching on my Miniature Knotted Rug Kit. […]

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