Monday, March 30, 2015

Report - Anomaly Con


I just began recovering from the weekend at Anomaly Con. It was packed with fantastic, creative people, interesting and engaging panels, beautiful outfits, and mad science.

I was spotted with Teh Ebil Bunny the first two days... (Check out his page, and Tofu Snow for more great pictures of attendees.)

But managed to escape his notice on Sunday, and instead played the mad music of the Dyne on the
mighty pipe organ. (Disclaimer - I am not, in fact a Heterodyne Spark, nor a mad scientist, nor terribly skilled at the organ.)





And costumed Life Drawing! Which is far more exciting than nekkid people, trust me on this one. Naked bodies are basic anatomy, clothing adds expression and movement.
Particularly if one is drawing wild characters like this guy. Yes, that is a sock on his hand, I believe they were having a very deep interview...


I had a great time, and was able to send a few folks home with accessories from VonKlank's. I'm already plotting and planning, designing and drafting, and generally excited about next year!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Finds - Anomalous

I am preparing, once again, to enter the strange  strange world of Anomaly Con! Each year the costumes get better, the mustache contest gets wilder, and there are more and more great panels. (Anthropology of Mythical Monsters, anyone?)

In honor of another fantastic year, here's Mme. Vonklank's Top Six Anomalies.

An ACEO, the modern carte-de-visite, by AlteredHead 
A magnificent image of Annie Jones and her lovely beard, reproduced by FringePop
A wee cephalopodic friend, jarred with care by TinplateStudios
A visit from Madam Spirit, practitioner of occult arts, image by DecayedPixels
A sweet little anomaly, made by AnomalyJewelry. 
The sixth Anomaly? It is the fact that only these Five Anomalies exist. I hope to see some of my local steampunk friends this weekend! To the Con we go...

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Renewing Light - Eggshell Candles

 Spring is the time for renewal, for rebirth, for regeneration. Many ancient peoples saw the symbols of the cycle as snakes - shedding their skins; and eggs, holding the potential for new life within. As the celebrations of a new spring season morphed from honoring Eoster, Freya, Idunn and other Goddesses of fertility and new life into the Christian Easter celebration of a literally reborn son/sun; the use of eggs for the holiday continued. Sensable, really, as this is the time of year that poultry begin to lay eggs again anyway.

The last two years I've made eggshell candles, simple and neat. It takes almost no special preparation or skills, three ingredients, and only the time required to melt the wax. I've been collecting wax bits from the bottom of tea lights and candle ends for at least a year, this picture only captures the first of them! As the wax melted I emptied all the little tins into the pot. (Those metal circles are usually aluminum, so they can be recycled.)
 I always keep my egg shells to give back to my egg provider (like a drug dealer, only tastier), the chickens happily eat the old shells and produce stronger eggs. I went through a few cases and picked out the halves that were large and sturdy, I also chose a variety of colors.
 The hot wax was spooned into the shells, filling each one as high as possible. The wax happens to be red from some red candle ends used, but wax is easily colored by adding an old crayon to the mix.

 I cut the wick string into short pieces, and dipped each piece in wax. Any cotton fiber twine will work if well soaked in wax, but official wicking is inexpensive and quite superior.

After the Wax has begun to harden slightly, and a small film forms on top, the wick is stuck through and pushed to the bottom. If the wax is too soft the wicks sink off to one side. If it is too hard it will be tough to push the wick down.
Ta-da! The wax gets quite a bit lighter as it hardens, so don't be afraid to use plenty of color for a brilliant candle if you want it. These make great crafts for kids, or craft loving adults. The shells can be decorated for added excitement! They are also perfect for outside spaces, as they are entirely biodegradable.

Enjoy your Equinox, welcome to spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Greenin' Time

It's that time of year again - garden fever is gripping me and seeds are being sown. I started tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in greenhouse boxes (upcycled lettuce bins) back in February. Yeah, when it's cold and snowy I plant seeds, totally makes sense. I'm preparing to transplant into little paper pots (see my how-to about it here), and very soon they will be clamoring to go out into the ground!

 Of course, as family tradition dictates, the peas were planted on St. Patty's. As were radishes and carrots. All plants that can stand a snowfall or two, which we will certainly have before summer is fully here.
And in the herb beds, new leaves are appearing. Last winter it never became harsh enough to force many of my perennials into dormancy. This year most of them lost all leaves, had stems broken off, and generally disappeared into the ground. I'm waiting anxiously to see if they all return!

It's the season for preparation, what are you doing in your garden?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Looming Project

 At the start of the month I was invited to give a talk at Metro University for Women's History Month, and the theme this year is "Weaving our Stories." Naturally, I was there to speak on textiles, and on literal weaving. And so, I decided to make it interactive and give the attendees a chance to experience weaving.

I made a very simple frame loom, large enough for two people to stand side by side. This type of loom is commonly called a Tapestry Loom, and the warp will not show on the finished weaving.

I made marks every 10cm, then holding the two beams together I sawed a groove. I found that the only way to get good control was to draw the blade slowly towards me. I then screwed the top and bottom beam (with grooves) to the side beams, and used a piece of 2"x4" to make a base.
 I then warped the loom. Literally...

Usually one would turn around each groove and make a surface of warp threads on one face of the loom. I wanted the loom to be accessible from both sides to allow more people to work on it at once, so I wrapped the yarn all the way around the frame, making a continuous warp on both sides.

The pressure from all this tension, however, caused the loom to twist and warp slightly... oops?
I set up a selvedge to get the project going, and packed all my crummy yet brightly colored acrylic yarns into a bag. The loom will spend the month at the Gender Studies office, hopefully people will get a chance to weave on it, and at the end we'll have a crazy colorful woven fabric!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday WIPs

Sometimes I show all your lovely people my great triumphs, this is not one of those times. This is a time to admit that, perhaps I have too many things on the needles. But casting on moves yarn out of the bins, thus making room in the stash... it's legit, ya? So, let's take a tour of the WIPs, (that's Works in Progress, as opposed to Wery Important People.)

I took part in a Knit-a-long with the crafty friends at Fancy Tiger. We were all working on the Blank Canvas by Ysolda Teague. I'm using a couple of skeins from the sale bin - Anzula Squishy. Naturally, since I can't have it remain blank, I added lace panels to it. Things I learned -
1.) Size 4 is really small for making a whole sweater. (I knit rather tight, many folks would use size 2 with this yarn.)
2.) I HATE bobbles.
3.) This thing is taking forever because of 1.) and 2.).

We had two months to work on it, and I am usually one of the first done. But alas, I have only the torso and starts of sleeves. I think it will rest a bit until I've finished something else.

These mitts, perfectly portable, not so good for mindless knitting! I started with a pattern, but quickly realized how stiff and unnatural the trees looked. Since it was too tight I went ahead and frogged (*gasp* What? I never frog!) back to the beginning and have been making a pattern up as I go. Thus, it is not mindless, there's no repeating, each row has to be considered and each stitch judged. The yarns are Tracie, left over from my Viking Boat sweater; and a surprisingly soft mill-end bought in New Zealand.


Having been slaving on those two projects, each inching along and requiring focus, I started a quick and easy instant gratification project. My father had requested a dickie - basically just the yoke of a sweater to wear for extra warmth under a coat. So I am revisiting the Riddari lopi, nice greens and grey, size XXXL. It may seems large but it has several nice features for the knitter -
1.) Worsted weight yarn, size 8 needles, 'nuff said.
2.) A simple pattern, colorwork that can be memorized instantly, then repeated 42 times.
3.) It's only the yoke, once I split the sleeves I will do a few inches of ribbing and call it good!

Let's not talk about the Laminaria, it's hibernating on the back porch to avoid any further moth damage. I will pick it up next time I feel like doing 650 stitches at a time...

What are you working on?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

No Waste Sewing (Almost!)

I made a thing! Not just anything, a Hangeroc inspired dress, with functional pockets and a fun swishy hem line. And this entire dress only took two yards of fabric. Yep, two yards.
Why is that number important? I mean, it's not that hard to make a dress with two yards... is it? Actually, it is. For a dress with an ample swingy shape that fits a medium sized frame two yards is almost a miracle. Two yards of fabric means saving lots of money (have you seen the price of fabric?) And also saving a lot of waste.


Let's talk scraps. Because I have lots of scraps. (Seriously, lots) And I LOVE scraps, cute little bits that are a memory of making a piece of clothing. I get bags of scraps from family, friends, estate sales, the local craft shop... sewing makes scraps. 

 This, this is all the scraps I have from making that dress. A few strip from squaring off the end of the fabric, the corners of my pockets, and those triangles are from straightening one section of hem. I think with some fiddling I could do away with that as well.


 How? Well, for inspiration I went back in history, waaaaay back! Consider this, if you have to hand wash, card and pick, handspin, dye, weave, and full every square inch of fabric in a garment, you ain't wasting it! Medieval reenactors have come up with a scheme for making an "Apron Dress" which has only straight line cuts and no waste.

The main shape of the dress is on the bottom of my drawing, the triangles above become the extra gores to make it ample and full, straps, facings, and pockets are all cut from the rest. The main difference from this and a reproduction piece is that I added some shaping for a modern silhouette. Thus, I needed a closure instead of having it loose enough to simply pull over my head.
 And here we are, a few hours of sewing, two yards of fabric - a cute, functional piece. And almost no scraps! Whatever will I use for decorating bags...