Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Annabell watches as I try a pattern

Yes, I can be obsessive. I’m affirmed through my projects and quickly addicted. Right now it’s about dressing teddy bears, which isn’t of general interest, I’m sure. I say that, but I appear to have readership anyway. Plus – we’re midway our winter hibernation. Nothing is happening, which we acknowledge as a good thing.

So, I’ve been researching online for bear clothes to make, which is just crazy since I already know that my plethora of 18-inch doll clothes patterns will work (with some alteration) for the Build-a-Bears. Or, the one or two Cabbage Patch patterns in my collection (but at the farm) would probably be better. Oh, you can find some clothes for bears, but Rosabell and Annabell (Build-A-Bear cousins, you know) are really contemporary in their interests. “We don’t want jackets, vests, and hats that make us look like home d├ęcor,” they call. “No froo-froo stuff for us, please.” They want to wear t-shirts, skirts and jeans, and plenty of comfy stretch knits in bright colors instead of sedate pastels and floral prints.

There are bears -- and then there are bears. Traditional bears remind us of English cottages, rose gardens, and tea parties. We all know about Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh, both of whom had adventures. Remember Corduroy? Corduroy is my favorite. But Rosabell and Annabell are the kind of bears whose eyes sparkle with mischief and get down when you’re not looking to hide your sewing scissors, your thimble, or your seam ripper. When I check on Annabell she’s managed to slip back into her place, her change of position barely perceptible.

I gotta tell you, though – there’s not much out there if you want to dress the contemporary teddy bear. If I’ve seen one online pattern I’ve seen two thousand, but they aren’t for active bears. Yet, I pick up my laptop and go through it all again. I joined Craftsy, checked out Ravelry, and Pinterest begins to make sense.  Pretty much, though, you’re on your own to figure out how to make your Build-a-Bear some clothes. Maybe it’s because bears are basically sort of square in shape. Maybe it’s because bears don’t need to wear clothes.

Yes, I know. Some people would just quickly trace around the bear or copy the shirt she has on, but I don’t do that well. I like corners that come together and make a nice finish.
Nellie -- tired after a hunt

It took a long time for the light bulb to come on. I had read that someone made bear clothes by decreasing a baby pattern by 20 percent. Two days later it sank in: “Use the copier. Enlarge the American Girl patterns.” And that’s what I did. But the outcome of that is a report for another time.

Now I really need to set the laptop down and make the prototype t-shirt . . . KW

Friday, January 23, 2015


Today is Mike’s birthday, but never mind that. I’ll make him a mystery pecan pie and give him a hug and the gift he bought for himself (whatever it is). But enough about Mike. This is the day that my teddy bear comes.

I admit it – when I heard that Emmy’s American Girl dolls were under the bed, I felt a little lost. I wondered where I would go from here in an effort to be an absent but supportive grandmother. The fact that the bear was wearing the doll clothes was somehow not inspiring.

My first teddy bear clothing book
Things turned around with the special order. Knowing that Rosabell wanted clothes of her own, I researched online to learn about the Build-a-Bear Workshop where Rosabell was born, and I was totally captivated. Then I could understand that Rosabell means so much to Emmy because she was involved in the process. Rosabell came to life before Emmy’s eyes.

With further research, I discovered another facet of adult involvement in childhood things, including clothes for 18-inch bears and how to better fit a bear with doll clothes patterns, or conversely, to fit your doll with bear clothes. And with that, I wanted my own bear.

Messaging with Kelly ensued. “What am I looking for in order to have a bear like Emmy’s?” I wanted to know. Long story short, Kelly (a very busy person who travels frequently for her job) took Emmy to a Build a Bear Workshop, and Emmy made a bear for me. Together we agreed on the name “Annabell.”

I’m waiting for Jeff, the UPS driver, to deliver Annabell. Jeff usually comes in the mornings . . .

And she’s here!! Isn’t she cute? “Don’t mess with me when I’m in my pajamas,” she says. Perfect! It just doesn’t get better than this. KW

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Yesterday (Friday, Jan. 16) was a wonderful day. I received my first special order in the mail. Naturally, it was from granddaughter Emmy.

The envelope was addressed to “Grandma Kathy’s Scrap Bin,” which is what I call my unregistered, unofficial business. (The Scrap Bin sells nothing and collects no sales tax.) But the return address on my mailings of doll clothes to Emmy is “Gramma’s Scrap Bin.”

The envelope contained a piece of 8 ½ x 11 paper folded and refolded and then taped. Written in typical first-grade printing was the request: “Can you please make me this?” 

Unfolding the paper, I found sketches which I interpreted as a skirt and t-shirt with the name “Rosabell” embroidered on it.

Rosabell, a “Build-a-Bear” stuffed bear, is Emmy’s favorite companion at the moment. Yes, the American Girls are under the bed, her mother confirms, and possibly naked, but Rosabell has been wearing their clothes. Clearly, though, Rosabell is wishing for an outfit she can call her very own.

I know almost nothing about these “Build-a-Bears,” but if I had known about Rosabell before Christmas I would have asked Santa for a bear of my own. Fortunately, advice and patterns are available online for those who want to make clothes for a bear, and Emmy’s mom assures me that the American Girl doll clothes work great. KW

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Any excuse to get out of the house seems to include geocaching.

Mike is now scheduling “Dog Daze,” his wintertime volunteer activity wherein he takes one of the dogs to visit nursing / retirement homes. These days it’s Bess who serves as the visiting dog. While it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Nellie might also serve (she has in the past), she’s really quite happily retired. She would really rather sleep on her pillow while Bess is removed from the house. And Bess? – Bess just LOVES being the visiting dog. Her whole body wriggles in delight and her enthusiasm is infectious.

Mike and Bess had an appointment to “meet and greet” this morning, and on the way they dropped me at Goodwill. You see, I need a white, long-sleeved blouse for an event next week. Such a blouse used to be a staple in every well-dressed woman’s closet, but no more! (And that’s probably because we are no longer well-dressed.) I couldn’t find one in local shops, and ordering at this late date is problematic. At any rate, I did find a lovely ivory “Liz Claiborne” at Goodwill for $7.00. It will have to do.
Mike picked me up at Goodwill, but that was not the end of our outing. We found a geocache on O’Connor Road near the airport. As it happens, the sun is shining today – a winter rarity here -- and the view over Clarkston was beautiful. I didn’t have the camera with me, so I took these pictures with my phone. Then on the way home I found a micro geocache in Swallow's Nest Park that has been eluding him.

Closet cleaning continues. The trouble with cleaning is that it brings me face-to-face with my dreams and unfinished projects. I guess bringing them into focus is a good thing. I finished a doll afghan I started several years ago (see photo right). And once again I’m trying to gently whiten vintage pillowcases in varying stages of “worn out” so that I might re-purpose the embroidery – and that’s one of my dreams. After soaking and washing them in Borax and Woolite, the pillowcases are now drying in whatever sunshine we have left today. (Grandma's way of letting the sun bleach the whites is still recommended today.)
I have many more pillowcases to wash, but unfortunately there's rain in our forecast. Mike is taking advantage of this sunny day to clean the vehicles and then ride his bike. KW

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I saw it Friday morning. I didn’t see it Thursday. I had used the iron Thursday, and I didn’t see it. I think I would have.

Nellie and Bess -- no mousers they!
It was on the ironing board. I walked into the sewing room and saw it immediately. I don’t believe for a minute that I overlooked it Thursday. It happened overnight.

No-o-o-o! Mouse sign!

I carried the evidence in the palm of my hand to show my husband as he sat with the morning paper.

“This looks like mouse sign to me,” I said woodenly.
He agreed and advised me to set a trap in my room.

I’ve been a little nervous about mouse infiltration lately. They’ve been quiet those mice – too quiet. Don’t you believe for a minute that there’s a truce in the great rodent war or that their numbers have decreased, The problem is that I’ve been lulled into complacency. I saw Bess lunge toward the sofa the other night, but she quickly lost interest. And I heard a small “nibbling” sound as I sat in quietude one morning. But oh! The possibility was too horrid to contemplate, and I just let it go.

But now my work has just begun. I will have to clean out the closet in my sewing room where half a dozen unfinished yarn projects languish on the floor. Oh well -- I have to clean it out anyway since I expect to install a new closet organization system there soon.

“We’ve caught them handily with traps before,” Mike replied, a little impatiently, I thought -- as if this were just nothing, just a little blip on the road of life. “Just line the room with traps,” he said. But I feel that at any moment I might turn around to see a giant mouse behind me, sort of like “Harvey, the Pookah.” At least the issue looms that large in my thinking.

Mike installs new weather station
You know, mice don’t tend to dance in the open, but I wouldn’t say they lurk. They’re nocturnal, so they play while humans sleep. But -- they just aren’t clever enough to hide their presence. If you have a mouse in your house, you will notice sooner or later.

So I set two traps in the sewing room, and this morning I crept in there to check them. Sure enough! One in a trap.

This morning I opened the linen closet in the master bath to remove fresh sheets, and I saw it immediately. I don’t think it was there yesterday. I know I would have seen it . . .

I bought more traps. KW