Monday, December 27, 2010
Let's begin with the stockings. I knit stockings for my family years ago but the colors just didn't translate to this house once we moved in. The knit stockings are bright cherry red, kelly green, etc. They looked really horrid with the Early American color scheme here. So, they are relegated to the trunk to be given to the boys once they leave home and have mantles of their own. I knew I wanted a blue and ivory scheme for this house. The boys' stockings and the dog's were made by me. Ivory wool and hand-dyed blue wool (for my blue-eyed blonde, Andrew) plus the very coolest lining printed with little boy angels. Honestly, when I found that fabric, I was elated. Very funky Mexican print. Love it.
Tom's stocking and mine were both won from our town's stocking contest. Both are made by my good friend, Brigitte. She does the most amazing Father Christmas figures and Tom's stocking has one of these. Fur-trimmed, even. My stocking is a collage of vintage lace. When you put them all together, it is exactly the look I want. Coordinated but not matching.
Now to the mantle. I grow a lot (A LOT) of alliums in my yard. They are deer-resistant, come up every year, and have a great, architectural shape for the garden. But, most people cut them down once they've bloomed. I took the dried seed heads and spray-painted them gold. Now they are snowflakes! Back-lit, they are amazing to look at.
Along with the alliums are some wire snowflakes picked up at Target or wherever. In the photo above, the wire snowflake is to the left of the allium seed head. Amazing how something natural and something man-made can work together.
All around the snowflakes and seed heads are crystal candlesticks of varying heights. These came from thrift stores and Ebay. I'm going to be looking for a few taller ones in the next year. I think the mantle needs a bit more height. On top of the candlesticks are inverted Christmas ornaments in shades of gold, silver, and amber. The more glitter and shine, the better. My favorite is a perfectly plain amber glass ball.
To the sides are several birch bark trees. Clearance sale from Wisteria catalog which has GREAT stuff. I think these were 75% off when I bought them and they are just the thing. They'd be equally at home in a rustic, natural setting or any other decor. Bulky to store, though.
The entire thing is placed on a single rope light and some glitter mesh fabric. I love sitting in my knitting seat because the whole mantle is there for me to see as I work. I almost hate to put it all away when the season is over.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
If you've been with me for awhile, you'll remember my stair risers. I'm doing each riser in a slightly different technique. Here's the original post: http://ragingwool.blogspot.com/2010/03/life-in-old-house.html So far, I have wool applique, lace knitting, crochet, rug hooking, penny rug, and embroidery. This is my latest finished riser. It's an homage to my hometown of Redlands, California. Redlands has a lot of history including being the former orange capitol of the country. Beautiful Victorian homes line the streets and mix with Spanish and Craftsman architecture. It was a great place to grow up. We had an orange grove in our backyard and, in season, my brothers and sister and I would eat at least 4 navel oranges straight from the tree.
Obviously I wanted an orange tree as the focal point. I've used this applique technique on a couple of projects lately. You can create a surprisingly delicate tree even with bulky wool. The key is to take it slow.
Once you have your base fabric and your motif fabric, you very carefully base them together.
Once you've got it basted, draw your motif on the back and then slowly sew each line. It's very important to use a locking stitch at the end of each line. After sewing, it looks like this:
Next you get your small, sharp scissors and very carefully, under good light, cut away the excess wool. This takes forever, especially with a large tree like this. Do not overdo the wine during this process. One wrong snip and you have a mess.
For the oranges, I ordered some felt balls from Etsy. I could have made them myself, but they are really inexpensive to buy and, frankly, I have better things to do. The leaves are made from some boiled wool. Actually they came from the sash tie of a boiled wool duster I got at a sale. I knew I'd never actually tie the coat but couldn't bear to throw away the long strip of beautiful loden green wool. That was about 5 years ago and I finally used the strip. Never throw wool away.
I added a little embroidery to the sides just to fill in the space but the tree is really the star. I only have three more risers to go. I think I've been working on these for about 5 years. I wait for inspiration to strike. Who knows when they'll be done!
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Once I had all the petals made, I made the center. I used a piece of wool and stuffed it with some offcuts from wool or cashmere or whatever I had. I really don't like fiberfill. Ever. Once it was stuffed, I took thinner floral wire and wrapped just below the stuffing. Then I sewed some glass beads on for a bit of sparkle.