Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

So, I spent most of September and October working on presents for other people. I did find the time to try out some new recipes and make a couple Halloween costumes. To sum it up, Over the last 8 weeks or so, I've made:
-an A-line skirt for myself in Alexander Henry's 'Koto' printed cotton
-bag to match the skirt
-four pairs of beaded earrings
-red/gold wool handspun hat for my 4 year old niece
-red wool handspun hat for my 3 year old nephew
-baby blue organic cotton hat and washcloth for my friend's newborn boy
-fulled sweater teddy bear for my 1 year old niece
-brown wool hat with earflaps for my husband
-embroidered wall hanging of a Chuck Palahniuk quote
-Jedi robe for a friend's Halloween costume
-silk dress with chiffon wrap and matching clutch for a friend's Halloween costume

I've also been sporadically working on other stuff, like:
-a pair of red bamboo wristwarmers for my Nana
-dyeing a skirt for my Halloween costume
-my anniversary quilt

I've also taught myself the basics of knitting. I'm going to be exploring some more intricate patterns in the near future. But, I have a dozen projects to finish before I cast on anything else...several dolls are sitting around without body parts, an un-quilted quilt is languishing in my sewing room, and several scarves are on needles or wrapped around their respective balls of yarn and taking up my stitch-markers.

The teddy bear that I made was loads of fun. I drafted a pattern and used up an old sweater that I had shrunk in the wash. I had such a difficult time with the eyes, but I finally ended up needle-felting them on along with the nose. It was very well received by its tiny new owner.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Student of My Very Own

In keeping with my usual habit of learning several new crafts every year, I've taken up needle felting. It's a great way to use up the scraps of wool that are left over from spinning. I had seen a tutorial on needle felted hats, and, being a lover of get the idea. I made a miniature top hat for a doll that I'm working on. Most fun ever. I also felted up a couple of balls for the cat...she's always munching on my wool.

I also decided to teach myself to knit. When my mom moved, she left me her knitting needles. The collection amounted to just about everything a knitter could ask duplicate! I borrowed half a dozen books from the library on the subject, and several days later, I can cast on three different ways, knit, purl, bind off and even manage the stockinette stitch. Admittedly, I thought it would be harder than it has been so far. Not to imply that my stitches are very uniform...

My sister-in-law's family is hosting a Chinese foreign exchange student for the school year who has, in the past, been a guest and then, a hostess of theirs in China. She just turned 16, and is a fascinating young lady with a sharp mind and easy manner. Not having much to do before the school year starts, she had been somewhat bored. I'm never bored, so I offered to teach her one of the crafts that I know in an attempt to occupy those empty minutes in a stimulating way. I showed her samples of everything, and she chose crochet...she wanted to be able to make something that would keep her warm in the coming months. Michigan winters can be extremely cold, with wind chills dropping into the negative 10s and 20s for weeks at a time. I would be intimidated at my first Midwest winter, that is, if I hadn't experienced them for my entire life. I digress. She is a fast learner and a delight to talk to. I'm looking forward to teaching her more, and seeing her progress. And, I'm quite happy to say that she is a fiber 'snob,' just like me! =)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer is Here!

Finally, it really feels like summer here in West Michigan. It's been so chilly lately when you consider we've only had a few days where the temperature climbed above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, while the weather hasn't been conducive to a dip in the pool, it has been wonderful for my sweet peas and green beans! Every week for the past three weeks, I have harvested pounds of fresh greens...and there is still so much left on the plants in all stages of ripeness. Amazing. And the corn is developing faster that I knew it could. Most of the plants, even the ones that are less than four feet tall, have ears on them. Yay! for organic gardening!

Aside from the garden, I've been quilting clandestinely. My 5-year wedding anniversary is not too far down the road, and I decided to spoil my hubby with a quilt. I've been amassing fabric since last Fall...slowly, but surely gathering up fabulous batiks and quilting cottons. If my mother-in-law has electricity, I'm going over to her house to borrow the use of her banquet tables to get my quilt pinned today. Eh, even if she doesn't, I'm going to find a sunny room in her house to do it in. I'm quilting by hand, so, the sooner I get to it, the more likely it will be done by my deadline! (The quilt top is pictured.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Patrick Henry is my Hero

I'm posting this historical speech for two reasons: First of all, this is a statement that changed the world and continues to inspire American patriots more than 234 years later, and; secondly, because I'm one of his descendants.

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Horizons

I've spent the last couple weeks just grinding away at some WIPs...most notably, my vegetable garden. But, I've been expanding my horizons as well.

The garden (everything is grown from heirloom seeds!) is doing better than I expected. This is my first attempt, you know. We'll be hoping for a bumper crop of sweet corn - it's already well above knee-high. The peas and beans are growing like weeds and the cucumber and broccoli are sprouted. We've already had some lettuce for our sandwiches that I had to thin out anyway. And I'm really looking forward to lots and lots of pumpkins this Halloween! I have something like 25 vines!

I just finished up a batch of 8 handbound journals. I tried out decoupage for the first time and up-cycled an old paper-back copy of a great novel - Frank Herbert's Heretics of Dune - into book covers. I also used some premium papers for the signatures - papers made from straw and from banana peels! They're in my Etsy store (*), as of last night.
*shameless plug

As for the new stuff...
Already tired of using other people's patterns for dolls, cute as they may be, I've been determined to make my own patterns. Well, I'm in the process of trying out my designs. I had to reconstruct my hands and arms once already as they were entirely too tiny to turn even with a pair of hemostats.
I have also been a bit more daring with my crochet. I dared a pattern, recently, for a shrug. I was mildly pleased with it, even though it was rather simple. The other day, I attempted a beanie and I loved it! So, I used up my first handspun in a similar manner and then used up some more handspun to make a fabulously variegated and super soft hat! I used three coordinating blues to create a dip-dyed effect. I'll be using the few yards of my yarn that I have left to make a flower for this one. I made a pair of apple cozies, too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dreams of Pirates and Dragons

Boy did I get side-tracked...I meant to post pictures of these pillowcases weeks ago! I have no idea how long it took me to do all of this stitching, but I worked on it for a month straight. The ship is roughly 10.5" square, and the dragon scene is about 9"x 12".I used Google Images to find inspiration for the designs. The dragon was from a sketch that some one had done of a very hairy Oriental-style dragon, that is, serpentine and wingless. The scenery is taken from a Japanese monochrome painting, with the substitutions of a cherry tree and waves. The clouds were free-handed using a tutorial for drawing Akatsuki clouds and stitched using variegated thread and small satin stitching. I used a vintage tattoo flash image for the pirate ship and waves. Creating these designs and transferring that into stitching was so rewarding for my inner perfectionist. I'm already planning to do two framed for each side of my bed.

Stitches used: satin, long-short, back stitch, split.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Last night at 11:30, I finished up the embroidery for my pillowcase swap. I sent the package this took two tries! The post office branch that I went to was closed for lunch the first time I stopped by. But, I'll post pictures this weekend after my partner receives her box of goodies.

On another note, I've been working on a doll using patterns by Patti Medaris Culea. Her body is sewn and stuffed and her eyes and head are all in place. I hand-painted with food coloring and spun up some wool for her hair, too. I intend her to be a water spirit in the form of a mermaid. Her arms and fingers are wired and she's constructed with batik-dyed cotton fabric. Her eyes are satin buttons that I colored with fabric markers and sealed with acrylic spray, and with real hair eyelashes. I still have to lightly needle-sculpt her face and add a sh*t-load of beading to her...from flukes to hairline. I think that she will be therapeutic, and I know that she'll be time-consuming.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Feeling Better

I'm finally feeling better after being sick as a dog for the last week. Oh, how I hate being sick.

The laundry didn't get done, but a lot of stitching and spinning did. I'm almost done with one of the pillowcases for the swap and I ran through all of the wool I had dyed. It was strange, for the first time all week, my fingers hurt after a day of embroidery. Somehow, I managed a few hours every day of steady stitching last finger pain. But, I'm making great progress.

I dyed some more wool, sky blue and a Blue Jay-colored blotchy mess. Well, not a mess...I really like the colors. My acid levels were too high again, apparently.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Dyed This Week

I spent a lot of time this week dyeing and spinning. So much fun! I mixed up every color of Wilton's food coloring that I had and even combined a couple. I learned an important lesson about acidity and food dyes...and now I can experiment with fractured colors! In fact, the 'purple' that I dyed ended up looking like a Blue Jay's feathers. So pretty! I can't wait to see how that spins up. I had to re-dye the red. It was neon pink after the first dye, and far too difficult to look at. I added some blue to soften up the red a bit the second time around. I'm intending the roving I dyed green/blue/purple for doll hair on a mermaid that I'm working on... It matches my fabric almost perfectly. =)
And, I spun up the extra yarn that SSS threw in my order. Some awesome black wool with turquoise and white mohair accents.

(I'll post pictures once I make them smaller... =/ )

Monday, April 13, 2009


I spent my long weekend coming up with ideas, tracing, sketching and finally transferring embroidery designs onto a pair of pillowcases. (Can't share, 'cause it's for a swap.) I use my coffee table as a light-box and I'm a Catholic, so I did a lot of kneeling this weekend! Well, I needed everyone's opinions on my designs before stitching...I asked my Aunt, my mother-in-law and my niece - they all loved it. I asked my mom and she loved it. However, my mom also asks me if I really think I can get it done in less than four weeks. Am I too ambitious? I think not. But, now she has me second-guessing my ability to get things done. It's kind of a downer. I think I'll just try to ignore her and start busting my butt to get done early. =/

On a separate note: I hope my wool gets here today! and that I have vinegar in my cupboard...

Update: I got my wool (^-^) and bought some vinegar. I also got stitching on the how it's looking.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The First Word

I've been wanting to start my own blog for a while now...I tried using MySpace, but I didn't want my profile to be public just so that my blog could many creepy people on MySpace...and, I just wanted to be able to chronicle my craft-room adventures without posting it all to up all of their bandwidth...boring them to death... =)

So, here I am. I'll be sharing some ideas, works-in-progress, finished objects and whatever else I see fit to talk about...'cause, it's my blog and I'll do what I want. haha