Thursday, April 17, 2014

Knitted Opossum FAMILY this time!

The feedback on Facebook was so overwhelming that I had to work on another opossum.  Of course I never write my designs down, meaning not one will ever look exactly the same.  I like it that way.

I decided to give this opossum slightly more adult facial features.  And once she was finished I couldn't resist but try my hand on a baby.  Trust me, while that might sound easy, it was not by any means.  I had to resort to very fine needles because thicker ones would have made for an ugly face and feet.  Just the legs and feet alone took about 90 minutes per foot = 360 minutes for just the four little legs and tootsies per baby.  I was pretty tired of pink toes afterwards, but I had to give her at least two babies.  

Some people do a double-take thinking this is a real live opossum family.  Of course I worked with pictures I had taken of opossums that have been in my care, so I knew exactly what I wanted to recreate.

So here she is, my possie mom.  She stands 7 1/2" high and measures 17" long nose tip to tail tip.  No wires of any kind, it is 100% yarn and poly fill.   All total it took well over 70 hours to create this family which is a true one-of-a-kind.  You can scour the internet high and low, there is nothing else out there even remotely like my design.  I am very proud of this.  The weird thing is, whenever I am finished with something that came out extremely well I then look at it later on and wonder how on earth I made that...

So, what do you think of this threesome?  It will be for sale in my Etsy store, just click on the squirrel with the red cast.  This is a true high end collector's item. And the fun will be over when I can no longer get this particular yarn.  

Marianne Craftables Release

Hello fellow crafters!

It's been a while since any of my creations have been published, but the wait is over and I can show you what I came up with when I was presented with the Marianne Craftables dies CR1228, CR1229, and CR1230

 The first die is called Scandinavian Hearts, and it consists of two dies, a flat heart and a dimensional heart which interweaves to create a tiny little heart basket.  I STRONGLY urge you to keep the instructions on how to make the little basket since I guarantee that you will forget how to do it and get frustrated.  If done correctly, it is actually fairly easy and creates this lovely little heart pocket that you can fill with whatever you desire.
This is a folding triangular card, and I hand inked with a pen around the cutouts in the back.  The heart stems are hand cut and hold the little hearts that get cut out when you run the die through the machine.  The mechanism to make the image stand is my own design.

Here I used the same die, yet it looks quite different, doesn't it?  This time I adhered the images onto a Spellbinders heart die cut which I hand colored around the embossing to match the hearts.  I then filled the little heart basket with my handmade flowers and added a pretty ribbon so the greeting can be hung up if so desired.  On the back of the card I added "Happy Mother's Day".  However, this could be a birthday card, a graduation card, a Welcome Baby card (add baby toys instead of flowers) -- in short, anything you want.  This isn't a die you see coming and going, I love that.

 Here is "Eline's X-mas Star, but it is also called Ice Crystal.  Weeeell, we've been through quite a long and depressing winter and I just could not get myself to make a Christmas card right now.  To me, this die also looked a bit nautical, and so I laid it on top of a stylized ship's steering wheel.  I made the flower in the center which is quite sturdy to hold up to packing, and I used distress ink to give the spokes a little color.  The corners are again pieces of the star.

Hmm, the first card I made with this star certainly wasn't anything wintry or Christmas'y.  So I decided to add one more card, a winter card with the star cut out from silvery specialty card stock. The center and outer snowflakes are Martha Stewart punches.

And here is my final card.  The die is called Eline's Wooden Tree, but my husband said "looks like one of those road signs you see all over out west."  I ran with this idea.  Didn't want to overcrowd the post, so I settled for East and West Coast.  To represent the differences I decided to use Maple leaves for Boston and a cactus for the desert areas around San Francisco.  There is no such thing as a cactus die as far as I know, nor do you need one.  I hopped online to see which cactus I wanted to recreate and decided on this one.  A tutorial on how to make a cactus will follow.

As for this release, I hope you had as much fun watching, reading, and looking at the pictures as I had working it.  And as always, I invite and welcome any and all feedback!

Happy Crafting, and for all you non-crafters, Happy Spring!

Cactus Tutorial

Materials needed:
Green card stock
Shaping tool (rounded end of a bone folder will do in a pinch)
Chipboard or cardboard from cereal boxes or packing material
White ink permanent marker with fine tip.  (Michaels, Staples)

1.  Cut out strips of card stock app. 1" in width and about 3-4" long.  Round the edges free hand.  Using the shaping tool, work the wrong side of the strips until the paper looks hollow.  You want a shape that drapes over the chipboard backing, so work the paper until you get the desired shape.
2.  Cut out strips of chip board or whatever card board you have about 1/8" less in width and round ends the same as the green card stock.  All total you need about 3 strips of thin chipboard for each piece, each strip a hair more narrow than the previous one.  Glue strips together.
Look at the image and make a total of three short pieces and one long one.
4.  Again, look at the image and cut out shapes similar to the ones I have on the top sides of the cactus.  Build up the same way as the other pieces except for the little "handle" pointing to the body of the cactus.  Make sure that the green card stock is smoothed nicely over the edges to give the pieces a rounded and dimensional appearances.  Take your time doing so.
5.  With white pen, paint a cross-stitch design in lines up and down the body and other pieces of the cactus.
6.  Glue finished pieces onto body of cactus, slightly offsetting each piece to keep the cactus from looking too symmetrical.  The two top pieces are glued so the little handles tuck under the main body a bit.

Voila, a cactus!  Now, whatever you do with it is up to you!...

Friday, April 11, 2014

My knitted Opossum...

When I searched in the craft stores for more chenille yarn I stumbled across a tiny ball of a thin specialty yarn with strands hanging loose instead.  It was a mottled gray.  The instant I saw it I thought "opossum!" and grabbed it.  Then I sat and thought about how to create an opossum, and once I had formed the idea in my mind I went to work.
This guy took over 5 days and nights to create, about 30 hours in total.  I wasn't sleeping much anyway, I was fighting a terrible battle with diarrhea in my tiny baby squirrels and didn't dare go to bed for fear of not waking up and giving them fluids and food on time.  So I kept my hands busy.  

Here is my opossum, and it looks so real that my husband took a step back when he saw it sitting on the table.  

When I posted these pictures on Facebook the response was overwhelming.  I must have fielded over 300 comments by now with well over 600 "likes", and the pictures are still being shared.  Of course my friends on FB are all animal lovers and/or wildlife rehabilitators, and several have asked me if they can buy one.  Sigh, when will I get back to paper crafting?  My hourly wage would probably be in the whopping 20 cent range, so I am not sure if I want to commit to this.  Creating has to remain fun for me.  

This opossum is not small.  It measures 11 inches from nose tip to butt and 16 inches nose tip to tail tip.  That is the size of a juvenile real life opossum.  

A friend decided that it can't be that nobody else makes opossums and started an in-depth internet search.  He came up with one 7" tall felted opossum sold on for $75 that is wired and wears a dress and a rather rudimentary knit pattern that sells for $4.95.  I knew that up front even without looking, I simply do not have any competition when it comes to my designs.  

While this is not paper craft, I hope you like my possie and look forward to your feedback.  


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rescue of squirrel stuck in dumpster

This actually happened on 21 September 2012.  The Worcester, MA Animal Rescue League called me and asked if I wanted to see if I could help.  All they told me that a squirrel was stuck in a dumpster's drain pipe, no additional information was given whatsoever.  And no, they weren't going to do anything about it, it was up to me.

I called my tree cutter friend Troy.  He had told me before that if I ever needed help to call him and he would drop everything.  He did.  This rescue cost Troy a job and a lot of money...

Not knowing what we'd be faced with, I grabbed my husband's Saws'all and Troy came with several extension cords, another power saw, and a gas can.  Aside heavy gloves, a carrier, blankets, and towels I had also grabbed a bottle of baby oil in case we needed to grease the squirrel.

Halfway to Worcester, which is about 35 miles south of me, I tried to program the address into my GPS and learned that the address did not exist.  I dialed the Worcester Animal Rescue League but ran into their voice recording.  They had left for the day already.  Now getting really upset, I called Worcester police and explained the reason for my call:  faulty address, squirrel stuck in dumpster.  Dispatch knew about the squirrel and thankfully had the correct address for me.  Then she added that the dumpster was located in "a really bad neighborhood" and did I think this was such a good idea?  I said I have my friend with me, but would they maybe send an officer out as well?  No, they couldn't, and no, they had no intention of trying to help us with the rescue mission.  And she added that the Fire Department also would not come out, they do not go on animal rescue missions.

Troy and I looked at each other, and then we decided that people who care enough about a little animal to call that in can't be all bad.  Besides, it didn't really matter, we had to help the squirrel, and that was that.

The "really bad neighborhood" turned out to be a Puerto Rican community.  The people started to come out, curious, and quickly the overtone changed to empathy for the trapped animal.  We soon were surrounded by a group of very caring, very nice people, and never once did I feel any uneasiness.  I would trade them in for my neighbors in a heartbeat!

I was glad that Troy was with me because I would not have been able to kneel on the concrete patch, my repeat knee replacement still did not let me kneel on the incision which had not yet completely healed.

The tongue depressor actually came from one of the residents.  If I ever get another call like that one I will know exactly what to pack!


Note:  Due  to 10 seconds of third party content YouTube restricts the video to be viewed on desktops and laptops only.
This was definitely NOT "just another day" in the life of a wildlife rehabilitator.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Knitted Flying squirrel

I had been tossing the idea around in my head for some time but wasn't sure how to tackle that.  Flying squirrels are velvety soft, dainty little rodents with one of the cutest faces in the animal world, and I was afraid that no matter what yarn I'd try it would not do the animal justice.  But then I finally simply started working on the body, and slowly the solutions formed in my head and then merely needed to be executed with the needles.

This is how I design everything, I see it in my mind first and then create it.

Well, here are a few pictures of the finished little squirrel depicted in full glide.  The head and face were the hardest part since getting that not quite right can ruin all the work until then.

Unfortunately, since I have discovered that my designs have also been copied onto some websites without credit given and one shadow box's image was actually sold on another website, I am forced to now watermark everything I post.  I hope you understand.

But now I want to give the needles a break and pick up some papercrafting once again.  It is time for new designs!

 I always hope for and welcome any and all feedback!

Happy spring, everybody, regardless how wet or cold -- it is officially spring!  If my snow bells can be eternal optimists and believe that warmer weather is on the way, then so can we, right?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Season has started

I thought the cold weather would keep babies safe a little longer, but I was wrong.  On 24 March an apple tree had to come down, and it housed a nest with three neonate baby gray squirrels.  The babies spilled out on the frozen ground as the tree fell and were lying there exposed to frigid temperatures.  The man didn't know what to do and left them on the ground as he went to call our police dispatch who in turn called Animal Control who then told him that she "doesn't touch wildlife" but may know someone who can help.  At least she called me right away and when I realized that the babies were still lying on the frozen ground I hung up on her and called the man.  He immediately followed my directions and whisked the babies off the ground and placed them in what was left of the nest for warmth.  Then he drove them over.

Normally I would try to reunite babies with their mother, but the freezing temperatures prevented that.  There was no way the babies could last for an hour or longer for mom to return and start transporting them.  And even a transport would have been risky and could have resulted in frostbite.  Neonates are unable to self regulate their body temperature and need a warm water bottle or heating pad on low underneath their bed to keep them from becoming hypothermic.  Once they are 7-8 weeks old they start to self-regulate, but not until then, regardless of how thick or thin their fur may be.  Hypothermia is a huge problem for us because until the babies are warmed up we cannot do a thing to help them.  Often finders try to feed an ice cold baby and then are surprised when it dies.  Never feed a cold baby, not even fluids, try hard to find a wildlife rehabilitator and only keep the baby warm.  A starving, cold baby cannot handle food, it needs the skilled help of a wildlife rehabilitator to bring it back from the brink of death.  Keep it warm and dark and quiet, and never allow children to handle a baby squirrel.  It runs on adrenaline, not food calories, and children can literally play a debilitated orphan to death.  I have had seemingly fine babies crash and burn once they came off the deadly adrenaline rush.  They need as much sleep as a human baby but hunger has kept them awake far too long already.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring flower cardmaking challenge entry

Well, since that thief already posted two of my designs on the current spring flower cardmaking challenge on, I decided I should enter a few legitimate ones as well.  I expect the others to be taken down, of course.

Here are the cards I have entered.

But then I decided that I should add the cards that were stolen as well, so I did.

I think I made my point. It will be hard to dispute the rightful owner of these cards...   Of course it would be lovely to get an honorary mention, but this Melissa1986 may have ruined that for me.  

Happy Spring, everybody!

And while you may hate the snow and the cold, it does have a bright side:  it keeps people from cutting down trees on their property, leaving squirrels and their nests full of tiny babies in peace--for the time being...  
Please, always check for nests before taking down a tree!  If there is one, I beg you to be kind and not break a squirrel mother's heart.  Squirrels are devoted mothers and will fight for their babies if need be.  

How would you feel if someone destroyed your house and stole your children?  Animals have feelings just as strong as we do!