Fun Fabulous Felting

We sat in a circle, baking pans in our laps, pummeling the pieces of wool with our fingertips. Soaked by a spray of soapy water, the fibers began to fuse together into what we hoped would become change purses, Kleenex caddies, eyeglass cases.

I had always been interested in felting, so when a class was offered at our local library, I quickly signed up. Here I found myself on a frigid winter evening, huddled in a cozy room with about a half-dozen other new students of the fiber art.

Our friendly instructor-storyteller Marie passed around some finished projects, then explained the craft further as we worked. It seems that felt is very simply, matted fiber (traditionally carded wool). Moisture, heat and pressure combine to compress and entwine the fibers. Hot soapy water makes the wool slippery and causes scales to open up. The scales keep the fiber from backing up, so they get hopelessly tangled together. When they are cooled and dried the scales close and lock the wool into a tough, durable material.

We used a pattern of bubble wrap for the items we were making that day. The fibers completely encased the wrap, then the wrap was removed once the items were finished, by cutting in the appropriate spot and pulling the wrap out.

As usual when learning a new hands-on skill, I was way behind the rest of the class. They were turning their creations over, lifting, squeezing, rolling their material fearlessly, while I tediously waited, uncertain when to proceed to the next step. I was certain my project would be a complete failure.

Surprisingly, as the class came to a close, Marie helped me cut a slit in my new forest green change purse (never one to think like the crowd, I had unwittingly been the only student who hadn’t chosen purple wool for the project). All I needed was a cute button to sew on for a closure. My purse had turned out quite successfully for a first try (actually better than some of the others if I do say so myself).

I look forward to checking out more ideas for projects for this fun fiber craft as soon as my schedule permits.

Final Blast of February 2015

The day was sunny. Then suddenly it wasn’t.

As I drove homeward, a dark triangle of cloud covered the northwestern sky, led by a top layer consisting of rows of wind-flattened mare’s tail cirrus.

This morning the temperature had hovered at minus twenty one, but it was now a comparatively balmy plus nineteen. For all practical purposes it didn’t matter as a wicked wind had just moved in, making the real feel a great deal less.

Wispily drifting snow snaked onto the finally cleared, but still salt-whitened road. An inch of new fall is predicted for tonight, then yet another temperature plunge to last into next week. What sort of weather will March winds blow in?

We can only wait with the faith that each year spring has come again, though we never know precisely when.

Posting by Penny

Where Would We Be Without The Beatles?

The lighthearted cheer of Paul, the boyish whimsy of Ringo, the deep thoughts of John, the quiet reflection of George. . . they each gave a different vibe to the group. Together they made harmonic resonance, like the theoretical coming together of the universe.

I often wonder how different our world would look had they not met, or not had the opportunity to perform on the world’s stage.

Whose life wasn’t touched in some way by The Fab Four? Maybe you had a favorite. Maybe you were like me, and liked them pretty much equally (though I do think Paul and George would have been closest to “my type”).

Of course they created controversy because they did things differently. Just as so many people who invented something new, or brought us fresh ideas have been ridiculed for what we now accept as the norm. Parents and politicians thought they were leading youth astray. I think they led us into a new way of seeing the world.

Elvis and the fifties rockers made music fun. They were the first rebels of the new age. But The Beatles did more. They gave the new music meaning. They aspired higher than playing sock hops. They wanted to save the world. The music they and the bands that followed closely in their footsteps made preached peace and love. What greater concepts could there be? Sure, some took the sentiments a bit too far, but you’ll have that. Every belief system has it’s extremists.

The group spurred us to think about what is really right or wrong, to set aside difference in details and decide what is truly important. They made us less ethnocentric by bringing together those from varied backgrounds. They opened minds. They drew together eastern and western philosophies. They weren’t just out for a good time. They were seekers, and they inspired many of us to begin our own sojourns in search of truth.

It’s so sad the world can’t seem to accept love is all we need. The all-inclusive concept seems too simplistic I suppose. I guess perhaps, realistically it is, due to the unfortunate nature of human character. But I do believe The Beatles at least helped to encourage the decline of racial conflict and the tendency toward greater acceptance of cultural differences.

Born a teenager, I loved all the songs from the cute, charismatic British boys from the start. From the sweetly simple “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the lightly lyrical ballad, “Penny Lane”, the vibrant beats of “Paperback Writer”, to the gently haunting sounds of “Somewhere”, and “Let It Be”.

Even after they broke up they continued to create, each in their own manner. They brought us thoughtful works, as well as Ringo’s “Photograph”, “Sweet Sixteen”, and McCartney and Wings’ “Band on the Run” and “Jet”.

I know I’ll never have enough of their silly love songs or their more serious works. I still need them though they’re more than sixty-four. Paul and Ringo that is.

Sadly, John and George left this plane of existence much too soon, but their legacy will always live on through the ways of today’s world that might not have been made possible had they not come together to prepare us for The New Millenium.

Posting by Penny Mason—All rights reserved.

A Poetic Moment on a Midwinter Morning

The way a crow Shook down on me The dust of snow From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued

By Robert Frost (my apologies for inappropriate line sequence and punctuation)

It was a frilly-fronded pine tree rather than a hemlock, but the ebony crow, silhouetted against a pale gray sky did indeed dust my car with snow as I passed below on my way to work this morning. The  magical misting of nature’s fairy dust transported me back to third grade where I heard Mr. Frost’s poem for the first time as my teacher, Mrs. Graham, shared her love of the New England wordsmith with us.

My mood was transformed, my pessimism gone. The dread I had felt for the day ahead as well as worry about the slippery roadway had disappeared. Awakened to the beauty of breeze-blown snow, I traveled along my relatively rural commute feeling thankful. At least we don’t have as much snow as Boston, I reminded myself, where two feet have fallen twice within the past few weeks.

And I had to admit, the brave Bostonians seemed to be facing their wicked weather with grace, just as they have born up to bomb blasts and other traumatic events today and in times past.

The day passes much more pleasantly than I had expected. My spirits had been lifted by the simple yet surprising conjunction of the crow, the snow, and my schoolgirl memories of Mr. Frost.

Posting by Penny

Elegant Gems of Early Spring

Snowdrops came into my life some years ago when my husband presented me with a bouquet of the exotic looking blooms. A man he worked with knew of my interest in gardening and had thoughtfully left the stems attached to the root-bulb so I could plant them.

I had never seen such flowers before–drooping yet cheerful elongated ivory pendants sporting bright spring-green trim, shadowed by delicate ivory wings.These jewels of nature were suspended on gracefully arched, slender stems, accented by tall narrow ribbon-like leaves.

Since that day, snowdrops have graced my garden each spring, sticking their heads up through the mulch of last season’s leaves even earlier than the tiny, colorful snow crocus, clowns of the springtime garden. They are relatively carefree plants, growing larger when fertilized, but surviving through seasons of neglect. Unlike many bulbs, they seem to escape becoming food for hungry rodents.

Some years they’re here by this time, but I believe it’s been awhile since we’ve seen a February spring. I’ll keep an eye out for their arrival, but won’t hold my breath until March. Early or late, the appearance of these debut debutantes of the spring celebration is always an enchanting event.

Marvelous Men of Snow

Marvelous Men of Snow

I stared out the window of the small store where I work (no best-sellers yet so I must keep my day job. It was several weeks ago, and I looked upon wall to wall snow, as I have for most of the year so far.

Suddenly several children exited the small mid-century Gothic style home across the street. They were of stair-step ages, and the trio proceeded to roll balls of snow, the sizes corresponding with the height of each child. The tallest girl piled the balls on top of each other. Thus a snowman was born. Soon he sported a jaunty carrot nose, eyes of stone, and mouth of stick. A colorful scarf was draped about his neck.

I was touched by this display of traditional sibling camaraderie, as they performed a seemingly dated pastime. I was so glad they took time away from computer games to enjoy the fresh chill afternoon, and to bring a breath of fresh air into my life as well.

Since that day, it seems my winter has been filled with snowmen of one sort or another. It often seems that when we take special note of something, that thing becomes drawn to us or we to it, however the ways of the world may work? Maybe something like the marvels of Facebook, my latest discovery. Subjects we show interest in begin to fill our homepage or our real life days from newly discovered sources.

One of the most inspiring encounters with snowmen was indeed a post on my Facebook page, from a friend in Maine. The picture showed an entire field of small snowmen with varied expressions. A news video shared the saga of an unemployed man in Illinois who had spent the winter making them. Unfortunately, he is currently being evicted from the home he had shared with a friend who is now deceased.

What a wonderful demonstration of the power of giving whimsy a prominent place in our lives. I like to think that I share an appreciation for the simple, special aspects of life as I endure trying times. But I know I would never have the strength of character to produce a field of snowmen while facing eviction in the middle of winter. It is those of us who maintain a childlike character who remain truly happy throughout life.

I was prompted to record these thoughts this morning as a large snowman smiled at me from the feature photograph on the front page of our town’s newspaper, seeming to send me a message. For whatever reason, there seem to be more snowmen in my area this winter than there have been for sometime, maybe because we need them more.

Posting by Penny Mason

Presenting The Penny Mason Post . . . A blog for better living.

I’m a firm believer that vintage values combined with futuristic innovative ideas can make the present much more perfect.

Old-school is way cool.

My passions include cozy mysteries, both reading and in recent times, writing them, pet training, gardening, and finding secrets of family history.

Occasionally I like to visit a flea market and share my fun finds and the story behind the items with others who appreciate quality design that stands the test of time.

I’m always considering ways to make the world a better place for one and all. Since there are so many opinions on that topic I’ll try to keep my most radical ideas regarding controversial topics to myself as I want the spirit of this blog to be inspirational and fun.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you’ll visit again soon, or better yet subscribe. Stay tuned for updates on the progress of my mystery manuscript, and please feel free to connect with me on The Penny Mason Publications webpage, and social media sites. Don’t forget to invite your friends. The more the merrier.

Posting by Author Penny Mason