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Knitting and What-Not

   A few days ago I attended a local fiber festival that I'd heard good things about, but never gone to. Isn't it funny how sometimes these things happen in your own backyard? Well, this year I made a point of stopping by the Fiber Christmas in July event at the Creek County Fairgrounds and it was a fiber lover's dream. There was everything from raw sheep's wool waiting to be processed to finished and hand-dyed yarn. Although I saw a lot of beautiful things I would have loved to take home with me, I chose some pretty pink artisan yarn from Two Windows Dye Co. that knits up in a beautiful and quirky way and I'm making a floppy little gnome hat for Audrey with it. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

   I've also decided that I'd really like to learn to make some mittens. I saw some amazing Scandinavian-style mittens from a local business called Lost City Knits and talked with the owner a bit about what goes into making them. She assured me that I probably was at a level I could make them, but I'm not sure yet. I've never done color work. I think I'll make some plain-Jane mittens first just to test out skills like making cuffs and thumbs. Anyone have a really easy mitten pattern to share? In the meantime, these are the beautiful mittens from Lost City Knits-- she sells a kit where you get the pattern and yarn for two pairs HERE.

   And when I'm not scheming about what to knit next and fawning over pretty yarn, I am managing to get some good painting done! I just finished a really special family portrait that I'm eager to show off. It's on it's way to Connecticut right now, and I hope the family loves it!
   I am also building up some fall and Halloween themed paintings, including this little cutie that I just sealed up this morning! If all goes *according to plan* I'm going to have a lot of new things to share with you all come the beginning of September and I'm so excited! It will be the beginning of a lot of new things here at Audrey Eclectic.

So, while I'm mulling over Halloween and the fall season--- let me know, what are your favorite things about these times of year? They just might make their way into a painting!~

Also, just wanted to let you know that while we've taken a summer break from Tasha Tuesdays, they will be back! Tasha's birthday (Aug. 28) falls on a tuesday this year, and so I think that's a sign that we need to have a big celebration and bring back the series, don't you think? Time to start planning :)

Well, lots to do today.....

New Items

  A big thanks to all who came by to take part in the Mad Tea Party yesterday! It was nice to hear from all of you, and I had fun getting to see all the other parties going on around the web!

All this partying has got me thinking about upcoming seasons and holidays that I am very much looking forward to, and I think we'll do some celebrating here at Audrey Eclectic. I've got my eye on September as the time to celebrate the coming of fall and to debut several new things--- including art, cards and prints in the shop.

I do have a few new things that I just added however--- including a print of "Lars", and I replenished my postcard sets, including the "Bygone Beauties" set which sold out and a new set (pictured above) with some new, never seen before postcards--- including "Maple and Bittersweet" and my Little House inspired "Prairie Girls." These cards are called "A Girl for All Seasons" because they feature a scene from every season, so there will always be a perfect card to send no matter what time of year it is! You can find all these items ready to buy in my etsy store.

Some things I am also looking forward to debuting include a Swedish Christmas postcard set, and the arrival of notecards, which I just ordered! I've never before carried notecards (they'll be traditional cards with envelopes) so I'm excited to see them and hope you like them too.

Well, I guess I better get back to painting--

Mad Tea Party: Prairie Alice

    Once upon a time, on the vast and open prairie there lived a little girl named Alice. She wore a straw hat and a pretty cotton dress and combed the wild grasses on the search for adventure. One day she started out from her little sod house near a creek looking for some excitement. She was a very curious sort. When out of the bramble she spied a fat white speckled rabbit springing down a little path....

   She followed the  rabbit down deep into the bramble. Once she even caught it and gave the rabbit a sweet nuzzle. But the rabbit decidedly had somewhere to be!
   "I'm late, I'm late!" The rabbit said, twitching it's little whiskered nose, and scrambled out of her arms and down a hole beside a tree.
   "Don't go! Wait for me!" Cried Prairie Alice, and down the hole she went, after the rabbit.

   After tumbling through much dirt and vines and silly things like pianos and wardrobes, Prairie Alice came to a strange little house where she could hear laughter and music. She saw the little rabbit bound into the house and so she followed, where she saw the most amazing tea party being held.
   There were all sorts of singing animals and creatures lined up at a table drinking tea and eating toast with butter and jam. Prairie Alice soon found herself being ushered in and sat at the table.
   "Don't mind if I do..." She smiled, taking a plate and a tea cup and joining in with the merriment...

   Alice stayed at the party quite a long time. She ate and drank her fill until all the strange animals decided to go home. Alice followed them out, and discovered she was quite sleepy.
   "I'll just shut  my eyes here in this flower patch for a moment," yawned Alice as she settled among some sunflowers near the funny little cottage. She wasn't certain how she would get home, but she was too tired to care.

   A moment later Prairie Alice opened her sleepy little eyes and, oh! She was back in her little sod house on the prairie, in a pile of Mama's best quilts and her little cat Dinah snuggled beside her!
   Had she really been gone? Or had it all been a dream?
  She tasted a bit of raspberry jam on the corner of her mouth. She would never know for certain if she had truly been down the rabbit hole or not....

"Prairie Alice"
Miss Audrey as Prairie Alice
Lilybel the rabbit as The White Rabbit
Cocoa the kitty as Dinah

Thank you for stopping by our Mad Tea Party post! The Mad Tea Party was hosted by our lovely friend Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist. Stop by her blog and visit all the other tea parties going on this very same day for more treats and fun, giveaways and surprises!

If you enjoyed your stop here at the Audrey Eclectic party, leave a comment for a chance to win a set of Audrey Eclectic postcards! 
Thanks so much!~


We're all mad here

 It's time again for the Mad Tea Party hosted at Vanessa's blog A Fanciful Twist! We have decided to host our own dreamy prairie Alice tea party, and hope you come check it out tomorrow July 28 when all the tea parties go live online. 
   Our tea partiers have several special guests, including Lillybel the rabbit and Cocoa the kitty. We couldn't resist giving you a little peek at what's in store...

  Come back tomorrow and bring your tea and crumpets!
Until then....How is a raven like a writing desk?


Oh, Autumn!~

  It is not such a big secret that I love autumn and Halloween. I kid my mother that I was nearly a month over-due (I was supposed to be an August baby) because I preferred the season over summer. Some years my birthday is the first day of autumn, and it makes me feel special. I am a child of this season!

   This afternoon after I'd made some good headway on a commissioned piece, I started digging through my stash of old magazines looking for one word: OCTOBER. Because good gracious, I love October. My husband was born in October, our anniversary is in October, I wear an opal ring that isn't even my birthstone-- it's the birthstone of, yep, October. 

  When I was in college I worked at a plant nursery and every year we'd get truck loads of pumpkins in huge boxes. I'd always get hoisted in the box and have to lift out each heavy gourd one.at. a. time until the box was empty and I had to scramble up from the bottom. But I loved it, because it meant my season was here.

  My plan this evening is to leisurely browse through these old magazines and soak up the colors and the scenes. Once I get the season in my brain, I know I will be ready to paint!

   So, while I am undoubtedly an Autumn Girl, what season do you prefer? Is there a time of year that makes you so happy and excited? What is your favorite thing about it? And if you love autumn, what are you most looking forward to? I'd love to hear!~


Flowers, Dolls, Knitting!

   Oh, friends. It is hot outside. Of course since it's so hot I want to tear up my gardens and redo them....sometimes its a fine line between 'rambly cottage cuteness' and 'gangly mess' when it comes to my flower beds. We were edging in on 'mess' so I've been yanking up old flowers that didn't quite live up to expectation (lol) and cleaning up the rock boarders. 
   This is also the time of year when perennials are often marked down to dirt cheap at the store, and so I have found myself in possession of some perennial salvia, some Russian Princess flowery things that attract butterflies, two new rose bushes (Queen Elizabeth and Caldwell Pink) and two Bombshell hydrangea bushes. Hmmm...that is quite a lot, isn't it? But they were on sale....
   The project now is to figure out where to put the hydrangeas because I know they'll need shade and I didn't realize until I looked them up online that they were dwarf plants. I had anticipating them become huge monsters of white blooms. But little ones are ok, and probably easier to tuck in somewhere....anyone else ever planted this variety?

   Oh, and in case you didn't come here to read about me think out loud about plants, I have been doing some arting and crafting! I (finally!) finished these two little babushka dolls I've been trying to complete for a good long while--- I think they turned out so cute! Each one is made of vintage fabric with a vintage hankie for a kerchief. The girl on the right is on her way to her new home in Sweden, but the lovely lady on the left still needs a home!

   I'm also enjoying a lot of knitting time when I can, and I've started on a second ear warmer and really enjoying this treasure trove of knitting items from Cassie! She was so sweet and sent me this beautiful yarn, some knitting magazines and great books when she was cleaning out her knitting stash. Thank you so much, Cassie!!

   And while it may seem a bit quiet around here with the art, it's because I have some pretty large format commissions I'm working on, and I just finished one commission that I can't wait to show you! Oh, there is a lot of art going on around here :) but don't you fret--- I have plans for fall art and I have my first order of Christmas postcards being printed at this very moment. My tentative plan is to have a lot of seasonal art debut in the shop around the first of September. I'm not going to set a date just yet and jinx myself, but I'm looking forward to the start of all my favorite seasons and holidays!

   Hope you are having a good day, and thanks again to those who watched my video :) And I wanted to say its not that I think I sound weird, but its just different to hear yourself on a recording, you know? Not quite how I sound in my head. And yes, I do have an American accent, lol, my family has been here a good long while! I was just glad I didn't sound too country ;)

  Well, lots to do! Will talk with you later!~

My RAW interview!

Ahhh, you guys! My interview from the RAW show last month is finally online. I'll be truthful, I was a little scared to see it! They filmed it out on a busy rush-hour street corner with lots of random goings-on happening around he and it was hard to focus, not giggle, and not ramble to a complete stop. So-- THANKS--- to the editor! And also...is that really how my voice sounds? Hehehe....

Enjoy! And happy weekend!

Summer of Love

    Now that it's safe in it's new home, I can show you this latest commission I did recently for a couple in anticipation of their first wedding anniversary! The theme she wanted was a 1960s/summer of love vibe, which was new for me but a fun challenge! I took her favorite colors and used them as the palette for the piece and also added a big floral motif to it, which I am all about these days. Love the bramble of flowers!

   I hear they both like it and I'm happy I could do this for them! I've got several commissions to complete at the moment, which is always a good thing, and each one is so special. It's always an honor to be chosen to make these important pieces that celebrate milestones or honor a family. I always try my best to make them something that the people will really love--- nothing less than true love will do when it comes to these paintings!

   Since my post about my plans for paper goods the other day, I've gotten lots of great comments and thoughts on the plan. I wanted to say too that going in this direction doesn't mean I'll stop doing originals or commissions--- what it really means (for me) is just getting more streamlined and focused on what it is I paint. I have a terrible habit of getting distracted sometimes, and it can lead to things not being as cohesive as I'd like or just flat running out of time to get the things I need to do completed. So I think getting more of a 'game plan' will not only make it easier to create special sets for paper goods, but also leave more time for me to do side work, like commissions! So...we all win!

   And speaking of the post with the about-to-open sunflower--- it opened! And it is so pretty. All the bees and butterflies are excited about it too ;) It is the most gorgeous, intense yellow. And these flowers always make me think of my mama, because they're her favorite!

   And speaking of goings-on in the garden, this foxglove just randomly decided to bud and bloom! I think it opened up with a shock when it realized it was 104* outside! Poor thing! I bought this plant and one other foxglove mound at the beginning of summer and the other one hasn't done a thing. I honestly thought neither would, thinking perhaps they'd need to take a year to get acclimated before they'd bloom. I'm not really sure if this is the right time for it to bloom--- I had imagined it would be blooming with the Hollyhocks in May. But anyway, it's here! It's blooming! I hope it lasts!

   Well, more paintings to work on! And I need to get the day started. 
Have a good one,

'God Jul' in July!

   Hello and good morning! It's been a few days since my last post, mainly because my days have been so busy! But I thought I'd take a minute to show you some sweet little treasures I got to help cool down this hot summer, and a pretty little ear warmer that I just finished--- in anticipation of cooler days in the (distant...) future!

  I was so thrilled to get a little package of Swedish Christmas treasures from Lycke at Till-Vidas-Ara who lives in northern Sweden where they are enjoying a summer of midnight sun at the moment! She sent me the most adorable sheets of vintage wrapping paper, one illustrated by Swedish artist Jenny Nystrom, and some little gift note cards with adorable snow scenes and tomtes and Swedish Christmas greetings on them. I think they will definitely inspire my Swedish Christmas fascination and put me in the 'god jul' spirit as I paint holiday scenes! *Thank you, Lycke!*

  I also finished that cable knit ear warmer the other day and I think it turned out really cute! I used a very soft white yarn that a friend gave me back in September that I was saving to use 'for something special.' I think it will serve me well once the weather turns chilly! And I'm proud to have conquered a cable knit!

  I also got my hair cut even shorter a couple of weeks ago--- it's about shoulder length now in a long bob and I like it! Much easier to manage...I have a ton of hair and it can get a bit overwhelming to try to control. My shorter locks have also inspired me to try new hair styles, and I think it'll look nice with some knit wear hats and warmers like this. Come on, October!!!

  Well, hope you enjoyed a little 'God Jul' in July! I feel cooler already, don't you?
have a good day, and chat with you later!~

About to Bloom

    This sunflower is growing in my herb bed and it's about ready to unfurl. It's a good 6 or 7 feet tall now, one of the Russian Giant seeds we tossed around the garden. There's a lot of anticipation about it--- how big and beautiful will it be? Will it draw in the birdies? Will it survive Cocoa trying to climb it? Only time will tell.

    This sense of anticipation is something I feel about my art as well. It's been 6 months now since I've done a show, and I've really looked closely at what I want out of my selling experience and shows, what people seem to want from my art, and how best to go about growing my business.

   I've come to the conclusion that my strength in selling is in paper goods--- although I honestly fought that for a good long time. Pre-recession, it wasn't too much to expect that people would want to buy originals. At my very first craft show, I only had originals to offer. And surprisingly--- I sold some! But the economy has changed and buyers have changed, and while they've subtly been telling me what they like with their dollars (prints, postcards, etc.) I was really set in my ways and refusing to listen. And it was frustrating.

   But luckily, (finally!) something has clicked in my brain and I see new opportunities. This summer I have been working on new projects and new ideas, mainly to do with paper goods. My plan is to start offering greeting cards and more postcard sets, generally more paper items. Perhaps even invitations--- I've never done art for a wedding invitation, but I've done several couples paintings and I think it would be a fun transition into something new.

   I've kept these ideas close for a while now, but I thought perhaps it was time to share so we could brainstorm together. What kind of cards would you like to see from Audrey Eclectic? Do you prefer sets with all the same image, or a mixed variety? What seasons or events spur you to send cards--- Christmas, Valentines Day.....or what other type of paper good would you like to see in the shop in the future?

    I'm hoping these changes will be positive and beautiful and natural. I have a feeling they will be, because it's amazing how when you finally get on the right track, things start falling into place. I'm trying my best just to follow along and trust that this is where I should be going. And I can't wait to take you along with me!

   Have a good weekend,

Indoor Persuits

    These blistering summer weeks have made all our activities of late take place decidedly indoors. The rain and "cool" we were expecting never came. Instead of the 89 we were promised, we got 98. *insert cranky scowl here."

   Some of you who are lucky enough to be in much milder climates have asked how I survive it. Well, I routinely complain about it and daily hide from it. More often than not, all the doors are closed and shades are drawn. You either do what you need to do early in the morning or at dusk. In the middle-- the small girls and small dogs prefer to sleep!

   I'm keeping myself pretty busy though! I've got several projects going all at once-- you should see the pile that is my desk! It's a good thing though. And I took SisterlyLove's advice though and started work on a cable knit ear warmer and it's keeping me very entertained and pleased with its progress so far. I've been watching Emma and knitting a bit between chores and painting. So far, so good I think! I think after this I might tackle a larger cable knit scarf. I love that it looks so very complicated when it's really...not!

   How are you spending your July days? This is always such a busy month, despite the weather. I am looking forward to September myself. My birthday is at the end of the month, and we're one step closer to sweater weather! It's also when my next show will be, Indie Emporium, and I'm looking forward to it! I think I've had a nice break from shows since my last full craft show was in December. I am vowing to not over commit myself this December though, and I really want to enjoy the holiday season with my family and not be fretting about things I need to get done. I've got some new ideas up my sleeve for the fall and winter, and I hope that you all will enjoy them as much as I've been plotting them!

  Well, the painting table is calling and I need to take advantage of this time when a certain little home-from-school-girl is taking a nap!
   Til next time,

May I present Miss Elizabeth Bennet....

The sun is setting on this weekend and I've got one more Austen portrait complete. This is, of course, Miss Lizzie Bennet. And she is such a favorite that I had a hard time getting her down in paint in a way that satisfied me. I decided to let her hair down wild, with some apple blossoms tucked in, and probably 6 inches of mud on her hem, walking down a pasture path with a favorite book. I like my Lizzies a little wild and disheveled. She's a nice contrast to my Emma painting, although I used the same color palette. They are two very different girls.

   I keep thinking as I delve into this little project that I really should get myself to the U.K. A land of tweed and knits and it's probably all of 65 degrees there! Oh, to be somewhere (anywhere) where its green and and lush.
   Still waiting on the promised rain here. I've seen storms pass just over the horizon and clouds gather and never arrive. It's frustrating. I really think summer in general gets me all out of sorts.
   But I am still eager about starting a new knitting project. There is a nice knitting store in Tulsa that offers different classes each month, and it was there that I initially learned how to knit (FYI to locals--- Loops in Tulsa will teach you to knit for free on Monday evenings! It was lots of help to me!)
  Anyhow....not a lot to report that's of much excitement. What's going on in your part of the world? Let's chat :)

Jane Austen Knits

   It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is nothing more dangerous than a girl let loose in a craft store with a 40% off coupon. Don't you agree? That's how I ended up treating myself to a copy of Jane Austen Knits, and became inspired to get out the needles and actually finish the project that had languished on them for months (since Christmas, ahem...) and start another!

   Now, I had seen this magazine out in its first edition but thought "there is no way I can knit that complicated stuff, I'm not even going to look." Now I'm sorry I didn't because I didn't realize they also had articles and didn't anticipate that the patterns would get me so inspired to drop everything and knit a bit, it also has me a bit curious....

   You see, I am a pretty adept simple knitter. I can cast on and off with ease and make nice stitches, knit, purl, increase, decrease, rib, and do simple knitting patterns like the seed stitch. I also finally figured out knitting in the round and can whip up a pretty adorable gnome hat, thanks to Dani from Pumpkinhaus.
   But I'm curious about those of you who are skilled knitters--- whipping up things like socks and mittens and sweaters and the like. How did you take your knitting to the next level? How did you learn to make a pattern make sense in your mind and not just like some complicated code made up by the Bingley sisters to keep you in utter confusion? I'd love to know!

  So, any advice on making my way towards advanced knitting would be greatly appreciated. Who knows, maybe I'll get a good jump on this year's Christmas presents! That would be good! At the moment I have some of the blue wool I bought at Shepherd's Cross on the needles and I'm making a button up cowl in the seed stitch. I think I might just make a bunch of odds and ends and then when Christmas comes, decide who gets what. It'll be like shopping in my own knitwear store!

  Of course there will still be lots of painting to do, and I'm still working on the Austen project (Austen on the brain, much? Yesterday I watched Sense and Sensibility and Cold Comfort Farm while knitting. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Cold Comfort Farm and it's tongue-in-cheek gothic parodies and the costumes!)

  Well, have a good Friday and a good weekend!
Til next time,

 PS: I redecorated the blog yesterday! What do you think of the darker look?

Independence Day

   Oh dear. Here it is Independence Day, and I'm drinking tea and I'm surrounded by this and painting Austen portraits....Luckily, I don't think I'll find myself thrown in the harbor. Sure, it might be a welcome relief with it being another triple digit day, but despite my anglophile tendencies (I've found in my family research that more than anything, my ancestry appear to be English! No wonder then, right?) I am very firmly an American girl and patriotic in my own little ways.

    In my artistic endeavors, it has become important to me to support and use local items and supplies. Some are very local, others more regional, but still, the bulk of Audrey Eclectic is indeed American Made. The wooden plaques I paint on are from Texas. The paints I prefer, Americana, come from Kentucky. My postcards and business cards come from Tennessee and my prints are done in Tulsa, Ok. And the painting, of course, is done right here in my little house. Can't get more local than that!

   So if you've ever wondered about the origins of the art done here, now you know :) and while I will indulge myself in some English tea and Swedish coffee, love Russian art and admire movies from Japan, by and large Audrey Eclectic is an American endeavor, and I'm proud of that!

   Happy 4th of July my friends! And I'm glad that things have settled into friendship between us and the other side of the pond ;) if you could only see how much Union Jack stuff I've seen in the stores lately....I'd say America was having a bit of a British Romance at the moment, perhaps because of the Diamond Jubilee. Just don't tell Uncle Sam ;)

Send you peace, love, and freedom*

First Harvests

Cocoa enjoying the shade in the pepper patch

   In the mornings its not so bad here. The dew is quick to burn off (if we even get it) and the weather is cool and not as oppressive as  the rest of the day. It's the perfect time to get some yard work done-- weeding and pest patrol (I hate those green worms that eat the tomatoes! And squash beetles! And gophers...lets not get started on the gophers!)
   All the animals have to be fed first thing or they might have a nervous breakdown...but after that they are happy to just follow along. Cocoa has been finding new and interesting ways to find shade. One morning he hopped up into the bunny hutch while they were eating their breakfast, and quickly hopped out! You don't get between a bunny and her salad.

   We also picked our first ripe tomatoes of the summer, which is quite a feat when you realize that last summer it was so hot the tomatoes didn't even bare fruit. They just flat gave up before they even got started. Now we've got some nice plump ones on the vine, and peppers too. The cucumbers are also itty bitty right now, but they're coming along. Everything is surviving the heat, so far. Although I'm still hoping for some rain.  I miss 75 degrees.

   The hot is keeping us indoors during the bulk of the day, but last week we did venture out to Shepherd's Cross to visit the farm, check in with the gift shop (where I have some of my art for sale!) and see their garden. They have the most beautiful white farm house and loveliest big garden....

Audrey chasing baby ducks through the vegetable garden at Shepherd's Cross
    We pet some baby sheep. We walked through the beautiful garden. Audrey gleefully lost herself in the rows of corn, and they sent us home with a bagful of fresh produce. What I always love seeing though, is the yarn and the wool. How could I not?!

    I am always so impressed with their fiber making ventures at Shepherd's Cross. They literally raise the yarn--- they raise the sheep, sheer the sheep, clean and process the wool, spin the yarn, dye the yarn, sell the yarn. And you can also buy some already knitted items there in the gift shop! It makes my little knitter's heart go pitter-pat.
Some of the yarn and fibers available at Shepherd's Cross

   I bought three nice skeins of yarn and I'm eager to get to making something. I dont know why this hot weather makes me want to knit--- wishful thinking perhaps? I long for sweater weather! They also do a pumpkin patch there at the farm in the fall, which is nice. It's just an all-round beautiful place, so restful and calming. And all those little sheepies....and yarn...oh my!

   Well, I am still working away on my little Jane Austen project! And eager to enjoy the holiday tomorrow. We bought an ice cream maker and I'm excited about all the ice cream possibilities! I'm sure it will involve chocolate!

  Til next time,

New art in the shop!

I've been working away at my little Jane Austen inspired project, and just finished this painting above as part of the series! Can you guess who she is? Does she look like she's just figured out who your perfect match is and how she must throw a dinner party to ensure that it happens? Well--- I'm sure her mind is working with all sorts of mischief behind those pretty blue eyes-- it's Emma Woodhouse, of Emma, of course!

   I just listed this painting in my etsy shop, because she tells me she's eager to get settled in her new home and start keeping house and matching hearts. Perhaps its your home she's bound for? I've also listed the painting of Mr. Darcy's proposal...so epic and lovely, even 200 years later!

    I've also listed a few sets of postcards in my shop, four different variety packs to be exact, so be sure to take a look before they're gone! They started selling within minutes of being posted online, which is always nice to see! Maybe there's a pack that you simply have to have? I'd love to send you some :)

   Thank you for your visit today! I hope you're having a good weekend! I've been getting a lot of things done, supplies orders, projects taken care of, ideas for paintings rolling in. Trying to stay out of the heat, although its supposed to be only 97 today! And 93 tomorrow! I'll positively need a sweater, hehe. Praying for rain since we have a slim chance in the next few days. 

  Enjoy the rest of your day and have a good week~