Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Mother as a Toddler, with Doll

Happy Holidays! I hope you are still enjoying the Twelve Days of Christmas, a tradition I hold dear.

I'm sharing these snapshots of my mother from 1927. This is my first Christmas without her. As I went through the ritual of pared-down decorating this year, I did feel her presence. Bittersweet memories.
My Mother as a Toddler, on Rope Swing

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sunbonnet Girl & Toys

I found this early 20th century vernacular photo a few weeks ago at a local antique shop. I love the subject matter of the little girl in her sunbonnet surrounded by her picture book, dollhouse, dollies, and teddy bears.

As December arrives and the focus is on wrapping up loose ends and preparing for a new slate in 2011, I'm reflecting on this year and manifesting what's next and participating in the #reverb10 project.

My words of the year for 2010 (which I selected last December based on Christine Kane's blog) were "comfort & joy" and "transformation".

Six weeks into the year, I lost my beloved mother, and comfort & joy and transformation were engulfed by grief.

I found comfort & joy through transformation (and a healing path through my grief) by participating in Christine Kane's Uplevel Your Life and Uplevel Your Business programs. Thank you, Christine, for providing that path.

I have selected my word for the New Year: flourishing!

Friday, November 19, 2010

National Novel Writing Month, November 2010

I've been participating in National Novel Writing Month since November 1st.  I'm polishing up some stories that I gathered from my Mother over the years and fashioning them into a memoir. There are eleven days left in the month of November and I have many more words to go to hit the magic number of 50,000.

Do you have a favorite family story that you'd like to share?  Please comment below and join me in participating in Nanowrimo.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ragamuffin Skeins All in a Row

I took advantage of the recent hot Santa Ana weather in San Diego and set the twist of several dozen skeins of handspun Ragamuffin yarn. I'm using some of it to make wreaths for a local craft show in a few weeks.

"Setting the twist" of a handspun yarn can be accomplished by steaming, but more commonly it is done by washing and drying the newly spun yarn once it has been secured with ties into a loose skein form.

I wash the Ragamuffin yarn by hand in a small wash tub like the ones my grandmothers and great-grandmothers used. Next I feed each skein through a hand-wringer to remove the rinse water.

One of my dearest friends (who loves hand-laundering) encouraged me to buy the hand-wringer from the Lehman's catalog a few years ago. It has been an indispensable tool in the making of my Ragamuffin yarn.

I had experimented with washing and drying the skeins in a conventional washer and dryer. The result: too many tangles. The old way, in this case, is the better way.

The whole process of handwashing, wringing, and hanging the yarn out on the clothesline to dry is meditative. I find myself slowing down and reflecting on my foremothers and their graceful dance of daily tasks.

Ragamuffin Wreath

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Handmade Wedding Dress

Christmas 1981, originally uploaded by stelladanza's confections.

Christmas 1981

I was a newlywed that December. In this photo taken by my sister-in-law, I am wearing my wedding gown which I upcycled from a vintage fine lawn eyelet bedspread I had bought from a sweet woman at a garage sale in Houston.

The pearls were a gift from my parents, the brooch an heirloom from my Dad's Mom. The narcissus in my hair was plucked from the neighbor's yard (shhhh!).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Family Gathering, Christmas 1955

A family gathering during the Christmas holiday season (1955, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) is captured here. My mother was the photographer. My Dad, two uncles, two aunts, two cousins, and three of my brothers are pictured. I'm in the lower left of the photo.  For an additional photo from this season, see this earlier blog post.

This snapshot requires some restoration, but I wanted to scan and post it in all its imperfect glory first.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mommy at the Civic Arena, June 1964

My Mom would have been eighty-five on October 2nd. She passed away on Valentine's Day this year. My sister and I spent her birthday together visiting some of her favorite places in San Diego and doing things that she would have enjoyed.

This snapshot of my Mom was taken by me in June of 1964 in front of the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The occasion was my eldest brother's high school graduation. My cousin and I accompanied my Mom to the festivities, and you can see the picture that she took of us here.

Love you and miss you, Mutti ♥
My Mother at My Brother's High School Graduation, June 1964

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vintage Miniature Girl Figure

One of the little treasures in my collection of miniatures is this vintage girl who stands about 3.75 inches tall. She has suffered damage and been repaired, giving her even more appeal in my book. I featured her in a little stop-motion video in a post two days ago. As I document my miniatures, they will grace these pages. Enjoy!
Vintage Miniature Girl Figure (4)
Vintage Miniature Girl Figure (2)
Collage of Vintage Miniature Girl Figure

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Yarn for the Stash

A visit to The Black Sheep in Encinitas, California, yielded this group of new yarns for my stash. Clockwise from upper left: two skeins of worsted cotton/nylon yarn (Cotton Twirl in "Lake Trail" colorway from Crystal Palace Yarns), bulky weight blue-green cotton skein hand-dyed in Chile (Patagonia Nature Cotton by Araucania Yarns), and a skein of sport weight aqua linen (Euroflax by Louet). Now to plan a few fall knitting projects....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Toy Figures from My Collection of Miniatures

Included here are three figures: a Holztiger mushroom, an Ostheimer girl, and a vintage composition girl that I found at a local antique mall.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ragamuffin Unspun & Freshly Handspun Rag Yarn

I had a mini-retreat/working vacation for a few days in Los Angeles recently. Luckily, my handspinning is extremely portable and meditative.

Here is a bit of my handspun harvest from earlier this week. The skeins were handspun in a local cafe in the San Pedro area, Sacred Grounds on 6th, in the arts, culture, and entertainment center of the city.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Khadi Being Handspun on Charkas and Woven in India

Marvel at the beauty of people handspinning cotton to weave into khadi (handwoven cotton cloth) in India....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Antiques Shed at the Country Loft

Every August, one of my favorite quilt shops has an outdoor quilt show and open house. My sister and I dropped by two weeks ago and had a great time viewing the quilts and the interior of the Country Loft, a treat in itself. We always come away with some little treasures--fat quarters, patterns, threads....

I happened upon this quote from Iris Murdoch last night:

"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."

There's no better place to seek out lovely small treats than The Country Loft.

Interior of the Country Loft

Kitchen Cupboard at the Country Loft

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sweet Niece in Smocked Pink Linen Dress

This is a recent scan of a picture I took in August of 1990. My sisters and I and my 13-month-old niece went to afternoon tea at the Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego.

My sister made the hand-smocked pale pink linen dress that my niece is wearing. Her floral pilot cap is by Hanna Andersson. It's hard to believe that my niece just turned 21 in July....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nostepinne & Handpainted Wool Carded Sliver

Handpainted fiber and the resulting spindle-spun yarn wound onto a walnut nostepinne by Craftiness of Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spindle Spun Wool

Spindle Spun Wool, originally uploaded by confections.

This thirty-yard skein was handspun on my supported spindle, a Rose (French/Russian hybrid) that was hand-turned by Lisa Chan of Gripping Yarn (plied with a thin metallic Sulky thread).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Delightful Pink World of Kitty Kat Dance

***** I love my Toys*****, originally uploaded by KittyKatDance.

My good friend Kitty Kat Dance is a doll dressmaker extraordinaire. This whimsical photo of hers offers a glimpse of the magical worlds she creates for her dollies and friends. You are in for a treat when you visit her Etsy shop or her flickr photostream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rose Spindle with Handspun Wool Yarn

Rose Spindle originally uploaded by confections.

As promised, here is some of the first yarn that I handspun on my new Rose spindle. It is a French-Russian hybrid supported spindle that was made by Lisa Chan of Gripping Yarns. The fiber is carded wool sliver that I hand-dyed with Kool-Aid.

Below are my kick spindle and Spindolyn, each sporting yarn that I handspun in July for the Tour de Fleece.

Mother Marion Kick Spindle & Spindolyn
Spindles, Yarn & Fiber

Monday, August 9, 2010

William Henry Goyne Family, 1918, Tillamook, Oregon

The elderly couple in this photo, William Henry Goyne and Nancy Eade Stevens Goyne, are the great-grandparents of a good friend of mine. I had been working on a family tree for her on

I was contacted by a member who recently found this photograph tucked into a Charlie Brown/Peanuts book she had bought for her children at a thrift store. She contacted me and shared a digital file; she is sending the original to me as well, and I will pass it on to my friend.

Obverse of Photo of the William Henry Goyne Family, 1918, Tillamook, Oregon

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Fiber Arts Tool: Birdseye Maple Hand-Turned Spindle

I recently spied some beautiful spindles hand-turned by Lisa Chan of Gripping Yarn and immediately knew I had to start a collection. Here is the first one I chose, a beauty in birdseye maple.

It is a hybrid French/Russian style hand spindle that Lisa calls a "Rose". I'm getting the knack of spinning with her and will post some photos of my efforts in a few days. "Practice, practice, practice!" is my current hand-spindling mantra.

There are at least two general categories of hand spindles: drop spindles and supported spindles. The Rose fits into the latter category and that realm is relatively new to me. I've been a lurking member of the Yahoo group "Spindlitis" for a couple of years now. I guess I am smitten with all things related to hand-spindling at the moment ♥

Birdseye Maple Hand-Turned Spindle

Detail of Point on Hand-Turned Spindle, Birdseye Maple

Friday, August 6, 2010

Flickr Signs

I was playing Whirly Words with a friend last night and continued the fun with My Cool Signs dot Net....




stelladanza_s-confections Made with My Cool Signs.Net