Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Needle Felted Alpaca Kit Product Review

Make a Needle Felted Alpaca!

Needle felting has gained enough popularity in recent years to have encouraged craft supply companies to create easy-to-complete kits. Dimensions kits, available online and in craft supply stores, has several kits available, including kits for making animals in molds or without molds.

Included Needle Felting Supplies

The alpaca kit by Dimensions comes with everything a crafter needs to create a finished felted animal without a mold. I chose this kit because of its reasonable price and because the supplies were all included.  I was able to get started without worrying about whether or not I had purchased all the right supplies or the right amount of wool: The kit includes just the right amount of wool, a felting needle, a small piece of dense felting foam, an embroidery needle and floss, and basic instructions with measurements.

Basic Instructions Included

Needle Felting Measurements
As a complete beginner, I was able to successfully complete the project in about four hours.  I found the instructions sufficient for making the alpaca, but I did read a few "basics of needle felting" posts online after starting.  I recommend anyone starting any kit read ahead before beginning a sculpture. Some of the great tips I learned could have helped me ensure my centers were well felted and I was using my needle properly, pushing it into the sculpture far enough to use all of the barbs on the needle; slowly, but surely, wins the race when needle felting.

One excellent benefit of the instructional sheet was the included measurement charts. I was able to compare my shapes to the 1:1 shapes in the instructions to be sure I was on the right track.

Dimensions Needle Felting Kit Pitfalls

The most difficult part of the process was making and attaching the ears for the alpaca. A very small amount of wool has to be folded into shape and felted for quite some time.  Because the ears are flat and the foam is dense, I was not able to take advantage of all the barbs on the needle as was recommended. Honestly, the ears seemed to take forever, but I persevered . . . after a long break and some more online reading about how to make ears.

The Finished Felted Alpaca
Most importantly,  I only stabbed myself with the felting needle once.  However, because of the danger involved (I did bleed copiously), I would not recommend this project for a child unless the child wears finger protectors of some sort. As a matter of fact, because I enjoyed this project so much and plan to do more needle felting, my next order from Amazon will include a needle felting tool kit that includes finger protectors, a nicer felting mat, and additional felting needles of various sizes. Having these tools ahead of time may have made my project go a bit more smoothly, but I still had an excellent, successful afternoon with this kit, and in the end I made a brand new felted friend.

Want to read more about arts and crafts? Try

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sentence Diagramming - Diagramming Determiners

A determiner is a word or phrase that modifies a noun that cannot be counted.  In this post's first example, the interrogative sentence "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood," the determiner is "How much," and the noun it modifies is "wood." Although we may be able to count logs, which is another word for wood, we cannot count wood.  We can say "There are 3 logs," but we would not say "There are 3 woods."

Because "How much" modifies "wood" in the first clause of this sentence, it is diagrammed on a diagonal line under the word "wood," which is the first clause's direct object.

Would you like another example?

Another uncountable noun is "love." We may be able to count Valentine's Day cards, but we cannot count "love." "Endurance" is uncountable, too, just like "courage" and "fear." Could you diagram the determiner for "fear" in the following sentence?  "She had some fear about her new school, but she showed courage on the first day."

Don't let the length of the sentence throw you off.  Simply pick out the clauses and prepositional phrases, first, then diagram the subjects and predicates.  You can save the modifiers until last, which will include any determiners. In this case, the modifying word for "fear" is "some."

Can you think of any other non-count noun and determiner combinations you'd like to see in diagram form?  Let me know in the comments!

Want to read more about diagramming sentences? Try

Gypsy Daughter's Sentence Diagramming List
Gypsy Daughter's Sentence Diagramming Book

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lyme Disease and Aromatherapy: Rocky Mountain Trail Essential Oil Blend

Hiking near Boulder, Colorado

I was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  Part of the effect of the antibiotic treatment includes the release of endotoxins by the microbes as they begin to die: Those microbes and endotoxins, in addition to making me hurt everywhere all the time, cause hormone imbalances that cause severe mood swings.  

Sadness and Frustration 

To be clear, the swings of sadness and frustration I am feeling are probably more to do with my lack of physical energy, which has caused me to be homebound for the last few weeks in a dirty home, as I have not had the time or energy to do much of the cleaning I normally like to do.  The depression, itself, however, goes deeper and causes irrational feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and worthlessness, or even hours at a time of complete apathy and emotional numbness.  The feelings, or lack of feeling, comes and goes in waves, luckily, so I "snap out of it" as the day goes on and feel like myself in the late afternoon or early evening - before I take another antibiotic, and it starts all over, again.


Native Cactus near Boulder, Colorado
One thing that is persistent, however, is my fear that I will never again be able to enjoy the outdoors like I once did for fear of being reinfected. Once I take my morning antibiotic, I know that for the next several hours I am going to experience the physical and emotional effects of the microbes and endotoxins, and that my fear is going to grow over the course of the day until my body can catch up on eliminating the toxins causing my reactions. Although there isn't a whole lot more I can do to quickly eradicate the microbes and their toxins, I can combat some of that daily emotional upheaval with aromatherapy via my oil burner. Specifically, I think I have perfected a blend that reminds me of one of my most favorite places in the universe, the wooded mountain trails near Boulder, Colorado.

Aromatherapy Outdoor Blend: Rocky Mountain Trail

I use an oil burner that has been saturated with my own Thieves Blend over the course of several years, which adds a hint of cinnamon and clove to all of my aromatherapy recipes (and helps cleanse the air). If you do not have a Thieves Blend, simply add a one drop each of cinnamon, rosemary, clove, and lemon to this recipe.

5 drops Cedarwood Oil
3 drops Pine Needle
3 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Jasmine

This particular recipe utilizes all three, top, middle, and base notes for a great balance. Because it is an oil burning recipe only (not meant for skin contact or ingestion), there are few risks for side effects.  It simply helps me relax by reminding me of a place and time that made me happy.

Medical Care 

Boulder, Colorado, 2007
If you are new to aromatherapy, please be sure to research the effects of any oil that's unfamiliar to you - just in case.  Remember to wear gloves, if you aren't using pipettes, to be sure there is no skin contact with any of your aromatherapy oils to prevent irritation.  Of course, you should also talk to your doctor, LLMD, integrated medical practitioner, or herbalsit if you have any questions or concerns about your Lyme treatment symptoms or using aromatherapy, especially if the symptoms seem to be worse than you can handle. Although aromatherapy is a great addition to your care, it is definitely no substitute.

Be well,

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.