Thank you Fanie, Alice, Sasha and Gail

Crocheted Owl, Dala Table Linen, Huichol Ornaments and Christmas Cards!

Today's post, and the next one, feature bloggers who have been a part of my crafty family almost from the very beginning of Gingerbread Snowflakes! And in that time they have offered their friendship, helped me time and time again solve creative conundrums, and when needed, have remind me why I love being part of the crafty blogisphere.

Whenever I need help, I know they will be there - whether it is enlightening me about an artist's tool I have never used; sharing a recipe or a tutorial; letting me join in on lovely walks in the countryside; or becoming my "pen pal" and adopting me as a mom! Sister Diane has always told me that the connections made during the first year of blogging often blossom into friendship. And she is right!!

So - today - meet four very special women who have been a part of my online family from the beginning: Fanie at; Alice at Futuregirl; Gail at That Artist Woman; and Sasha at Squashed Tomatoes.

Tomorrow - four more!! I hope you will come back to meet them as well!

How to draw a dragon...

Dragon drawing from "How to Draw Fantasy Characters" by Fanie Gregoire

What child would not want to be able to draw a dragon - or a wizard or castle or fairy? Fanie, who blogs at "", has created two downloadable booklets designed to help children learn to draw cartoon and fantasy characters. You can read about them here find them right here in her Etsy Shop, Fanie's Boutique.

She sent me a copy of each booklet hoping to get some feedback from the children in my life! The results spoke for themselves! In just a short time, castles, dragons and knights appeared on sketch pads! It brought a big smile to my heart to see how Fanie's little gift made such a difference in a child's drawing skills.

Fanie breaks drawing down into it's simplest parts and then shows kids how to build from there. I highly recommend both How to Draw Fantasy Characters  and Step by Step Cartoon Drawing for any child you know that is beginning to show an interest in drawing.

Drawing booklets are not the only thing to be found in Fanie's shop - one can find hand made stamps, buttons and greeting cards featuring some of Fanie's illustrations. I put a few of Fanie's hand carved stamps (including a Dala and Matryoshka) to good use this past Christmas making Christmas cards.  As you can see in the collage above - my dining table was covered with card stock, ink pads and stamps! Happy hours spent in Christmas making.

Fanie, thank you! Your little booklets even have me wanting to try my hand at fantasy sketching!! It looks like fun! And who knows - my new skills may come in quite handy for future embroidery or quilting projects! Embroidered enchanted dragon anyone?

Handmade Christmas Tree ornament treasures

Alice makes me ornaments! Beautiful, perfect hand made ornaments! The adorable little owl in the collage above and the pine cone and star here. (I left all the pixels in the shot above so you can pop over to Flickr and clearly see Alice's perfect stitching!)

I suspect that the pinecone pattern is one of June's designs available at Planet June. June and Alice are good friends and as a result I have benefited by meeting June and learning Amigurumi crochet!

Alice is brilliant! She can deconstruct almost anything and put it back together in a new and better way! And often after learning a new skill or figuring out a better way to do a thing, she takes the time to create a tutorial so the rest of us can benefit from her experience as well. Check out these tutorials to see what I mean! A new and better way to make seamless single crochet and this intarsia tutorial featured on CRAFT and this one for dealing with those pesky loose yarn ends needing to be tidied up. If you are playing with felt and trying to decide - blanket or whip - Alice can help!

I am on Alice's postcard list! Are you? I don't know how she does it but she is keeping in touch with - I think over a hundred people now! You can be number 101 - check out how here and see what she is up to with her new "scribble cards"!

Thank you Alice! First of all, I love being your "mom"! I have learned much that I value from you in the time I have been on line; but the most important and valuable thing you have taught me is to make the time to respond to comments - especially those that come from new readers who have taken the time to say hello and express their appreciation. I do not ever respond that you are not sitting on my shoulder!  Responding with appreciation is one of the most satifying activities I engage in during my time on line.

Cutest Ever Easter Witch

"Easter Witch" - image taken by Sasha and shared on her blog "Squashed Tomatoes"

Skartorsdagen! Valborg! Midsommer! Easter Witches! Until I got to know Sasha, I had never even heard of any of these - and now I celebrate them all!!!

Sasha is a young mother of four beautiful children living in Sweden and she uses her blog "Squashed Tomatoes" to create a log, a diary if you will, to record her family's adventures - a record her children will be able to return to in years to come! And because I follow Sasha's blog and she does such a brilliant job of sharing the adventure through images, I am able to join in on trips to Swedish farms, scout camps, museums, parks and heritage sites.

I still don't know what I ever did to deserve her kindness, but that beautiful little Dala in the collage appears on absolutely gorgeous fabric Sasha sent to me from Sweden a couple years ago. She tells me she sent it because I love Dalas! And now that I have learned that Dala Horses are not a "Christmas" thing, but enjoyed all year 'round, when my dining table isn't being used as my crafty space, it is all dressed up in that gorgeous fabric.

Sasha, thank you! Thank you above all for your friendship and for making time in your crazy busy life to keep in touch when time allows. The Dala fabric is an almost constant reminder of your kindness. I have learned so much about Sweden through your eyes and appreciate so much the time you make to create your family diary in a way we can all enjoy.

Huichol Yarn Painting and cookie cutters + holiday tree ornaments

Gail is an artist and teacher. I have said time and time again, if I were a young student again, I would make sure - by hook or by crook - that I have a seat in Gail's art class!! She is a fantastic art teacher! Just scroll through her blog "That Artist Woman" and you will see what I mean!

I remember art class in grade school as being pretty much a mandatory, one hour sit and color. Gail's classes are nothing at all like that! And I am sure her students are all the richer for having her as their teacher.

Gail shared a tutorial some time ago for making artful Huichol designs using yarn and glue. It immediately found it's way into my bookmarks and this past Christmas I used it to create a set of cookie cutter shaped Huichol ornaments. I shared them here. I have totally failed at capturing how pretty these brightly colored yarn ornaments look dancing among the evergreen branches. The cookie cutter shapes (inspired by Meg at Mega Crafty) and brightly colored Huichol yarn painting perfectly compliment each other.

Gail, thank you! For sharing your Huichol tutorial! And especially for continuing to share your talent and creativity with all of us while at the same time giving your art students a richly rewarding opportunity to explore and express their own creative skill sets. We all benefit from your generous gifts.

Hi Pam, Thank you so much for

Hi Pam,
Thank you so much for being a great friend who I can contact with my own craft questions. You never cease to amaze me with your ideas and inspiration. It's hard to believe that we both have been blogging for so many years.
You made my day :)

You are welcome!  It IS hard

You are welcome!  It IS hard to believe, isn't it - all this time gone by and so quickly!  I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with these next five years!!!

So wonderful!

So wonderful!