Tuesday, September 28, 2010

National Alpaca Farm Days!

This past weekend was the annual celebration of National Alpaca Farm Days (Sept 25-26) http://www.nationalalpacafarmdays.com/ . Though the weather was overcast on Sunday, after church we decided to visit Abenaki Acres Farm in Stockton NJ (http://www.abenakiacres.com/ ). So glad we did!
This clean and spacious alpaca farm offered an inviting open house tour, where you could get up close and personal with their herd of alpacas.
Our daughter was comfortable enough with the alpacas to have them eat out of her hand (a trick she taught me to do years ago!)
Gracious hosts Bill & Elizabeth Johnson were on hand to answer any and every question you could possibly think of about alpacas, and their staff was remarkably kind and helpful too! Naturally I was drawn to the fiber art offerings (an assortment of clothing, finger puppets, alpaca yarn, etc.),
My wife found an awesome poncho that looks like it was made for her, for a great price! And there were some people there demonstrating felting techniques, as well as spinning.
One of these days I will get a wheel and learn how to spin also. Our daughter seems pretty interested in the wheel every time we see one at various fiber events we go to, so it might be a good craft for her to learn as well. When I get one, I want the large old fashioned solid wood kind, though I'm sure I need to experiment with several kinds to see which one I might actually like best.
It was obvious that our hosts and their staff loved the alpacas and loved caring for them. Though it rained off and on during our visit, it didn't dampen our spirits and we had a really nice time.
Did you attend any alpaca farms this past weekend?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fruit, Dolls & Toys Galore!

On Saturday, we went on a family outing to enjoy Apple Day at Terhune Orchards in Princeton, NJ (http://www.terhuneorchards.com/). It was a lot of fun walking around the farm,

taking the wagon ride through the fields,
watching our daughter ride a pony, getting lost in the corn maze, and of course, picking apples.

As we were driving back home, I noticed a sign that read "Doll Museum." I said to my wife, "You wanna go?" She said, "Sure!" So we visited the Princeton Doll & Toy Museum in Hopewell, NJ (http://www.princetondollandtoy.org/).

It was truly an unexpected delight, with dolls and toys everywhere you could look!

Some exquisitely rare,

a Shirley Temple section (with a delightful video of her singing songs from her movies),

a doll research library, miniature rooms, and a thoroughly knowledgeable museum director and gracious host, Ms. Virginia Aris. Though it was a relatively small space, there was so much to look at! Much of the museum was a "do not touch" zone, but one of the best features was a play area for small children (like our daughter) full of small toys that were "ok to touch and play with." I really appreciated that! It was only $5 per adult to get in ($3 per child), and well worth the admission. Plus there are 2 separate display houses with even more dolls and toys on display, one house entitled "Alice in Wonderland House," which of course I took special interest in (considering my own doll).

If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop in and visit Terhune Orchards and the museum; they are close to each other!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I interviewed Barney & Hip Hop Harry!

I’m happy to announce that I just posted my interview with David Joyner, the man who knows Hip Hop Harry & Barney inside out. He’s the actor who has brought these characters to life for many years, and he has some very interesting stories to share! I hope you’ll take a look at the interview by clicking this link: http://www.creativehelps.com/interviews_3.htm#ANOTHER_COLORFUL_LIFE_~_DAVID_JOYNER . Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Curiouser & Curiouser! Alice is Here!

Here’s my little Alice! She finds herself in wonderland...
Poor dear, she seems to have drunk from the bottle marked, “Drink Me,”

and it has caused her to shrink down to a tiny size!

How curious!

No, I didn’t employ any tricks in photographing her, she really is that size!

She’s tiny, but she looks ever so sweet in her blue dress and apron!

Here’s my original drawing of her:

Early progress:

For her dress I alternated knit and purl stitches.

Her apron is all loom knitted in one piece.

When it came to her headband, she isn’t wearing one in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She is wearing a ribbon in her hair in Through the Looking Glass. But instead of a ribbon I decided to braid a headband for her instead. At first I thought a dark blue yarn might work, as I’ve seen her with a dark headband many times before. But something about it didn’t look quite right to me.

Next I tried weaving a string of pearls into the braiding and changing her name to Elegant Alice. But that didn’t exactly suit her either.

Finally I decided I would braid together two strands of white and one strand of blue yarn, the same as I had used for her outfit. This looked best, so I braided two and then sewed them together with a little white thread.

To me, John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice will always be the definitive image I have of her, since that is the version I grew up reading and loving. However, did you know that you can see what Lewis Carroll’s original illustrations for Alice looked like? Take a look! Go to http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ttpbooks.html and scroll down, click on “The Original Alice” at the bottom center of the page. Be sure to leaf through the entire book, which is written in his own handwriting; at the end there is a photo of a little girl, presumably the real Alice Liddell. If you plan to do research on Alice Liddell, you will find that Lewis Carroll is a pseudonym for the author’s real name, Charles Dodgson. Just a little Alice trivia I thought you might enjoy!

Sheep & Fiber Festival

This past weekend my family and I went to the 16th Annual NJ Sheep and Fiber Festival by the Garden State Sheep Breeders (http://www.njsheep.org/festival/index.html). There were plenty of sheep there, as you might imagine. Many different kinds, too. Some with tight curly hair, some recently shorn, others huge, some small.

All bleeting, but not at the same time. It was held on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Hunterdon County Fairgrounds in Ringoes, NJ. The Fairgrounds feature a midway with four large “barns” where the sheep and vendors were. It was our first time going, so we didn't know what to expect.

Vendors included fiber farms (alpacas, llamas, sheep, angora rabbits, etc.), jewelers, fiber craft vendors, strolling musicians, face painting for the children, sheep judging, and knitting, spinning, and shearing demonstrations.

Spinning at the wheel. There were lots of women, but men also. All ages were there.

Weaving demo for my daughter. Earlier the lady showed me how to knit with needles!

North County Spinners Spinning Class (I just missed it, I had wanted to take it while we were there)
It was quite an extensive display. Our daughter was fascinated by the sheep and the spinning wheels. Though my wife and I just looked and chatted with the vendors, our daughter found a couple of cute Christmas ornaments she wanted:

There were many different kinds of wonderful handspun yarns to drool over, and plenty of creative handcrafted items as well. They had food too, but we didn't eat there. I saw people eating french fries and cheesesteak sandwiches.

We really enjoyed ourselves!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hobby Lobby Visit!

I love Hobby Lobby! Just going there makes me drool with delight about all the crafty projects I could make, and this visit was no exception. Rows and rows of wonderful stuff, so hard to keep from buying more than what I needed! Just look at all their wonderful stuff! Made me get emotional right there in the store:

I posted two other videos at http://artmangreg.blogspot.com in case these aren't enought for you!

My First Loom!

Well, knitting friends, I was sorting through the boxes in my storage area and came across this little gem. This is the first loom I ever used, I saved it since I was a child!
You use it with yarn to make squares that you then sew together with yarn. I got it from a thrift store that we used to go to a lot when I was a kid. I've probably had this loom since I was 12 years old! I used it to make a scarf and a wall hanging, as well as a carpet and a blanket for a bed for my sister's dollhouse. I used it to make other things as well, but those are the main projects I remembered. It is called the Wonder Weave, manufactured by Karbercraft Co back in 1964. I still have the project book and the instructions that go with it.
I don't recall if I have any pictures of the projects I made with it, but if I come across any I'll post them. Who knows, maybe I'll start using it again!