Flashback: Free pattern for Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag Ornament

Doing a good bit of Christmas gift stitching these days and I can't post photos of what I'm working on until my items are in my loved ones' hot little hands. I know other bloggers must find this time of year challenging for this reason, too!

So instead, at the bottom of this post, I've included my simple knitting pattern for my Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag Ornament. They are easy, quick and fun to make, so there is still time to get them on your tree!

I made these bags in earnest last year. My life could not be more different now than it was at this time a year ago. After being married for many years, I now live on my own (for the first time in my life) in a sunny, brightly colored apartment. I have many new people in my life, including a foxy new squeeze. The present is filled with art, stitching, music, friends, hiking, red wine and my current baking obsession. The future is enormous, wide opened... terrifying and exciting at the same time.

This year Christmas feels shadowy and distant. It's as though I'm looking at it through the milky film stuck to the sides of glass, after I drank the milk. I'm aware that it is happening, but I am not immersed in it, beyond stitching a few gifts.

But that's OK. Time is mercurial, as is life. And my eyes and heart are wide opened and ready for adventure.

And I take another step forward...

Pattern for Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag (adapted from my Ornamental Joy - Tiny Handbags pattern that was published in the String Thing Theory pattern book back in 2009.)

Approximately 30 to 40 yards of any type of feltable yarn. In order to felt, your yarn must be animal fiber: cottons and acrylics will not felt. 
Set of 5 dpns in the appropriate size for your yarn.
Gauge is irrelevant!
Body of bag: 
Cast on 11 stitches 
Knit garter stitch for 6-7 rows to form a little rectangle. This will become the base/bottom of the bag. At this point you’ll switch to knitting in the round.
Pick up and knit 3 stitches along the first short side of the rectangle base. 
Pick up and knit 11 stitches along the other long side of the rectangle base. 
Pick up and knit the remaining 3 stitches on the second short side of the rectangle base.
Place marker to indicate beginning of round.
At this point you’ll knit in the round (in a rectangle shape) by knitting all rolls until the bag is about 3 inches, or as tall as you want it to be before felting, ending on a short side of the rectangle. You’ll now do one decrease row.
Long Side one, K2tog, K until the last 2 stitches from the end of that side, K2tog. 9 stitches remaining.
Short Side one, K2tog, K. 2 stitches remaining on that side.
Long Side two, K2tog, K until the last 2 stitches from the end of that side, K2tog. 9 stitches remaining.
Short Side two, K2tog, K. 2 stitches remaining on that side.
Knit one more round.
Bind off all stitches. 
Weave in ends.
Felt the bag: 
To felt, place the bag in a lingerie pouch and run through the washing machine cycle on the highest heat and agitation available for your machine. Include a towel or pair of jeans with the wash so that the bag is agitated as much as possible. 
Decorating your bag: 
Use any fluffy white novelty yarn as the faux fur; simply sew around the top of the felted bag. I make my bag handles out of pearl beads strung on florist wire. Simple string beads onto 3 or 4 inches of florist wire, twist of the ends, and using a clear thread, sew into the inside of your bag. 
Just play!
Copyright Olisa Corcoran 2011 

Belligerent Ninjas from Hell & More Alien Creeps

These little pugilists don't know if they are good guys or bad guys.  They just know that they like to fight!

Meet BAM, POW and KA-POW, three wool/rayon felt ninjas. I had a lot of fun making them.  They are  very lightly padded.  Their eyes are embroidered and they sport cartoon captions that I made from art shrink plastic.

I also finished four more Alien Creeps. I've listed one in my etsy shop at OJDesignsnc.etsy.com

I don't know why I can't seem to make anything that is friendly and cute any more. Just a phase I'm going through, I guess.

I didn't wind up going to the Vega Arts Market today to sell my work.  I'm in a more homebody mode and I'm enjoying making things for friends and family.  I have so many Christmas presents yet to finish making!!

The Alien Creeps are really growing on me.

Tomorrow I'll post some updated photos of my German Do Not Enter sign.  The stitching on that piece is so involved... I love the methodical process of the fill embroidery.  Thousands of stitches, thousands of moments.

Making felties, new and old

My alien ornaments have been surprisingly popular. I've sold or had special requests for the ones I made, so now I'm making a few more for the craft fair at Vega Metals in Durham that I'm hoping to attend this weekend.

Rico says that when he sees them in piles like this, with arms and legs strewn about, he is reminded of an alien autopsy.  We're going to work on a series of Area 51-themed ornaments (and other mid-century alien) soon.  I like the idea of little alien pieces. He recommended that I make an alien with a post-vivisection scar on its chest.  Love that idea!!

I'm also playing around with a new feltie for my String Thing Ornament Swap.  Here is a first pass at the cut felt.

It usually takes me several tries before I'm satisfied with a design, so we'll see how these ultimately wind up looking.  Can you tell what they are going to be?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and my birthday. I'm headed to my parents' for a combo celebration.  So I'm going to try to spend several hours today working away in my little workshop.

I head back to work next week after several weeks of medical leave.  I'm very nervous about it.  Among other, more personal medical concerns, I'm worried about keeping up my creative mojo in that thankless, very uncreative corporate work environment.  Have to keep carving out time to make things or I'll go quite nuts!

No radioactive material in these felties

Since I was a wee lass in New York City, I was always attracted to radiation signs and fallout shelter signs.  In fact, until I was an adult, I honestly thought that the fallout shelter symbol was an official symbol of the NYC public school system, because it seemed like every PS had this oddly comforting sign attached to the brick face.  Embarrassing, but true.

I often wear an embroidered radiation symbol button/brooch that I made and I'm working on a series of radiation and other hazard symbol embroidered pillows, so why not bring these happy little guys to my world of felt holiday ornaments?
I think that these are perfect for when elves and candy canes don’t fit your edgy holiday mood. I'm starting a collection of not-quite-right Christmas decorations.

I made these from a wool/rayon blend felt and embroidered them with a questionable “Ho” on each propeller, which sounds a little nastier then I'd intended. They are very lightly padded with quilt batting dangle from a string of black ric rac.

I like ornaments that acknowledge the darker side of Christmas... the alcoholic grandma, the brother-in-law with a secret, second family, the burned, inedible ham, the extra Valium a girl has to take to face her mother's magnifying glass... that kind of thing.

(My grandmothers had other problems, trust me, but they didn't drink, and they are long dead. As far as I know, my only brother-in-law has just the one family and I don't eat mammals, but you get the idea!)

UPDATED: These are now listed at my new etsy shop that I started with the hugely talented Juline, OJDesignsNC.etsy.com!

Also, OJ Designs will be at the craft market at the Durham Farmers' Market on Saturday, Nov. 13th.


The Evolution of Christmas Aliens!!

Been playing around with wool/rayon felt, making a new set of holiday ornaments. These Christmas Aliens make me oddly happy.

Here is a little about their design...

It started as a very rough, random sketch in my sketchbook.

I made the first one with very similar proportions to the drawing, but I didn't like it. It looked too misshapen to me somehow.

So I redesigned the head and eyes to make them much larger and cuter.  I added a bow for the girl alien. I liked the way that these turned out.  Very cutesy and sweet aliens.

Although I really like these sweet aliens, my original intention was something more sinister and creepy, so I made the eyes a little smaller and less cute, embroidered humorless mouths and made them silver collars with red buttons.

Now these guys are the menacing aliens I'd originally intended!  I will continue to make sweet aliens and explore threatening aliens and various colors of wool/rayon felt and with various collars and accessories. I'm thinking purple and blue aliens, among others.

Next up: Create a radiation sign felt ornament!  My obsession with the radiation sign will not allow me to work on anything else until I at least make an attempt.

Mrs. Claus’ Date Night Handbag Ornaments

Making ornaments is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.  I’m calling these "Mrs. Claus’ Date Night Handbag."   It is a very simple pattern that I wrote up 2 years ago that I call Ornamental Joy Tiny Handbags.  I’ve made this pattern in all types of yarns and with all types of embellishments.  (I’ll post photos of the various versions over the next few days.)  Mrs. Claus doesn't always want to be a frump.  But she is a hard working woman, so she never ventures forth without her "Naughty or Nice" notebook.

Fortunately for those of us who are on the wild side, Mrs. Claus enjoys drinking rich, red, Italian wines (vino nobile di Montepulciano is her favorite) and, despite her ample frame, is a bit of a lightweight.  She is a happy drunk and after the first glass and a half, she simply adores every person she sees and we all get our names scrawled into the “Nice” side of her notebook.  

Forgive me for this hopping around among the holidays, but back to Halloween… Rico and I carved these faces into our pumpkins and presented them to my parents.  Mine is the friendly face on the left. (Looks like one of my creatures!) Rico’s is the deranged face on the right.

Today we roasted the seeds and OH MY, I’d forgotten how yummy freshly roasted pumpkin seeds are! We soaked the seeds overnight in salt water, let them dry for a day and then roasted them for 45 minutes at 300 degrees in a mixture of butter, salt and garlic.  Shazam!!

Getting lost in my own gray town

Today the world was gray, rainy and oddly warm. The air felt like mushroom soup. I got hopelessly lost in a town that I’ve lived in for 10 years.  So profoundly lost that I wound up in a huge cemetery that I’ve never seen before and hope to never see again.  The sense of disorientation was almost overwhelming.

Imagine this: Instead of being alone and surrounded by muted grays of the tombstones and the clouds, you are awash in color, radiating red or orange or fuchsia from the core of your tiny body out, immersed in a sea of your vibrantly colored friends.

That is what these needle felted bulbs must feel when then roll around together.  Can you imagine their intense joy and sense of connection to each other?

Even adults need colors and toys.