Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Project, New Craft

Ok, not entirely new. Ever since learning how to sew when I was a smidgen kid I've known how to embroider. But it's rare that I do. A sewing machine is a speedy satisfaction device. But now I am un-expertly picking away at a piece of nice hand-dyed linen with a chunky needle.
There's more to this project tho. A little over a year ago I moved back into a house after several years of apartment living. Making a large garden and yard has helped to put me back into the rhythms of the outside world. The plants need watering at certain times, when it's planting season or harvest time you cannot simply put off the work.
I began to realize how out of touch with the Earth I'd become. It sounds cheesy as hell, but I was a long way from the kid who dug bare feet into the mud summers ago. So as I began to readjust to the cycles of growing things I also renewed my interest in Earth-based spiritualities. I've been meeting with several local pagan groups, celebrating things like the full moons and the solstice. Marking the passage of the seasons. Even when I'm meeting people with healing crystals and too much patchouli I still feel more whole.

So back to the embroidery hoop... since the beginning of civilization people have made circles representing the cycle of the seasons - the wheel of the year. (Picture credit here) I am creating a circular work, a mandala of sorts, that will take me a year to stitch. I intend to finish the summer tree over the next few months, and then wait for the Autumnal Equinox to begin the next segment. A craft project that ties my creativity into the changing seasons. I'll post updates as each segment is complete.
Many of us craft for the seasons - making warm fuzzies in the winter and light airy clothes in the summer, have you ever had your creativity fueled by the time of year?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It's a little late but I thought I'd throw up some photos from my camping trip last week. I never miss a chance to show off how awesome Colorado is! My sister and I camped at Cottonwood Lake up Cottonwood Pass
And I was knitting in the woods, this should surprise no one...

We went to an old pegmatite quarry so my sister could rock hound. She and her rock hammer did a lot of "speeding up erosion"
And after I had found a pretty rock for me I practiced my archery skills. I'm getting better, but thank goodness no one is depending on me to feed them with a bow!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Come on Out to the Sweet Williams Market!

This Saturday from 9AM-2PM come enjoy the Sweet Williams Market in Stapleton. It's one part sweet local crafters, one part vintage flea market, one part yummy food trucks... There's music and lush green grass to hang out on too!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Itty-Bitty Cherry Pie Committee

It's that time again! The cherries on my parent's tree are ripening up and I'm picking them by the handful. These are not tart pie sherries, but they aren't super sweet either. We eat a lot of them raw, but I like them with just a little bit of sweet added. So first I sit on the porch during the longest day of the year and use that diabolical looking tool to shoot the pits out into the yard!

I then made a pie crust, just a simple butter and flour action. If you let your crust sit a while in the fridge it will let the gluten relax so you get less stringy bread-like crust and more flaky pastry crust. I have used the food processor to pulse the butter and flour, but it's never as good as hand chopped!

I coarsely chopped the cherries and put them on a low stove with a drizzle of honey and some flour and corn starch. It took about an hour to thicken up, you'ld be amazed at how much juice those firm little fruits have in them!

I rolled out my crust and used a muffin cup as a template to cut little circles. I didn't worry about them being perfectly round, as the act of pushing them down into the cups fixes any unevenness. This is a teflon no-stick cupcake pan (bullshit, I only tried using it for cupcakes with no cups once, it was awful); but with a regular pan I would grease if first to ensure they come out.

I baked them at a lower temp than most pies - 350F - since they were small. I could tell they were ready when the crust flaked and separated getting just a tiny bit brown on the edge. I used a cake spatula to peel them out, and they didn't give me too much trouble. They are messy and delicious to eat! Not a single one survived the night! Fortunately there are many many more cherries that still need to be picked...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Finds - Summer Solstice

The longest days of the year are upon us, the wheel turns, and solstice is more than just a feature of astronomy. This time of year we celebrate the beginning of summer harvest and the greening of the world. The Green Man and the Earthmother are busy providing for all of us, and we are busy working hard to keep up. This lovely card from EmilyBalivet features the Oak King - bringer of Litha and this fine weather we are all enjoying.

The blazing sun is the other focus of the solstice. The longest days of the year with the noonday sun climbing high and lingering long. This is when the crops flourish and nature hits her peak. This beautiful mosaic piece from DoMosaics combines bright sunshine and mottled greenery, and I bet it glints in the sun.

The light this time of year is special as the sun angles high in the mid-day and takes it's sweet time waiting to set. This photo from AnnWilkinson beautifully captures to lush greenery and the soft light. If this doesn't bring you a warm fuzzy feeling you might be a robot!

We're having a gray day here, so I might need to have some artificial sunshine to brighten the room. This window hanging in lovely yellow from HarvestMoonByHand is both intricately made and simply beautiful. Try not to get lost staring at it...

Bring color and warmth to an outfit year-round with this necklace from 13thStreetJewelry. Lush olive green with little bits of sunshine, just right for the midsummer. But you can brighten your life in the winter with it too.

Some yarn for you crafty folks, fiber sunshine! This cheery yellow from SweetBasilFibreWorks in perfect for summer months. Get some colorful needles out and get knitting! Make something light and lofty - tho in these parts summer still has those chilly days...

So to celebrate the summer months and the Green Man be sure to get outside! And you can bring a little bit of outside in... This sweet mask from MythicalDesigns is colorful enough to hang on the wall when you aren't wearing it out to your local solstice party. No parties you know of? Then get your crew together and make your own!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

So I decided to start doing millinery ...

One day while at the fabric store I got a crazy idea, why look around for the perfect hat to match an outfit when I could make one? So I found an absurdly stiff interfacing and brought home a yard of it. I naturally had piled of black sateen and maroon lace just sitting around gathering dust... ( Doesn't everyone?)

I determined a head shape and made a paper mock up to try on, then cut out my interfacing. So far it looks like it might actually work. It also reminds you that these are sometimes called stovepipe hats.

I carefully layered the lace over the black to cover the pieces. I didn't end up fusing the interfacing, I simply held it in place with good top stitching. This is the first place I started to doubt that this was going to work.

More and more pieces coming together. Slight headache. My doubt increases. I take the project to my mother's house to make use of her machine. The Green Meany (my Bernina) is a flat plate machine, not good for cuff hemming, and hat sewing it would seem.

After fighting my mother's sewing machine for a bit, some cursing and some creative presser foot shenanigans, the hat is in one piece. I use the inside layer of black to make an inside hem and cover up all my madness.

Some shaping and accessories make for a serviceable hat. I don't imagine I'll be heading into the hat making business, but I am already plotting ways to better this design!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Time Travel Adventure to the Renissance Festival

For the opening weekend of the Faire a large contingent of Victorian adventurers boarded time travel devices and ventured into the far past to explore.
Within the walls of this Medieval village a plethora of festival goers milled about in their finery.
Music included these fine gentlemen wearing fabulous kilts. I find this sort of attire quite fetching, and future time travel expeditions may include a trip to Celtic lands.
A large variety of entertainment abounds - animal acts, slight of hand, acrobatics, comedy and wandering minstrels.
The King of the realm called for a competition of some sort. This "jousting" seemed to be a mix of mock warfare and insult trading. It seems unclear if the purpose of this act is to injure the opponent, and the participants seemed equally confused.
The dashing "Knights in Shining Armor" did carry on an impressive display of horsemanship. They seem to have a system of address and cover their items in symbols with cryptic meanings.
Our day was filled with fruitful observation on the odd customs of the past era, the costumes were varied and colorful, the food was unusual. This historical research will be helpful in future expeditions, and in understanding the past.
The locals still however seem to regard us warily.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lucky Pearl Bazaar Tomorrow!

If you're in South Denver tomorrow morning be sure to swing by and check out both the Pearl Street Farmer's Market and the Lucky Pearl Bazaar! There will be lots of locally grown and made food, and great craft vendors. We'll be down there from 9am -2pm On Pearl Street in the blocks around 1500 south. Hope to see some folks there!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Finds - Greening Up

As the garden has been thriving, and all the plants are enjoying the early rains we got, outside has become a shade of green so saturated I can hardly describe it. The bright and brilliant greens are almost tropical (unusual for Colorado) and I'm loving it! Just like this silk scarf from Essiewb you can wrap yourself in these great shades of green!

I think this should be me motto, like go big or go home right? The bright chartreuse cozy is as much a pick-you-up as whatever is in the cup. And a not so gentle reminder that you need to be doing wonderful things doesn't hurt. Knotworkshop wants to make your morning!

If you like to dress for the season, or you just enjoy bright colors, this necklace from SilverLiningDecor is cute and colorful. With brilliant greens that remind me of the foliage and yellow blooms this piece screams summer fun. And it's not fussy so you can dress it up or wear it with something casual!

Just what the procrastinating seamstress needs, something to remind her that she's hungry... This adorable green felt pincushion from Shmugusta is based on a yummy tomato. Oddly enough my attempts to stab real tomatoes with pins and needles just make a mess...

I am always in awe of woodworkers, they use big dangerous looking tools and bring out the natural beauty of the materials! This bowl from Makye77 is no exception, the smooth bright green interior contrast with the grainy black outside. The rough and cracking edges are a nice reminder of neighborhood trees, so fun to see the origin of items.

Perhaps you would care to enjoy a spectrum of brilliant greens year round? This sassy modern quilt from PeaceLoveandQuilts has greens front and back to bring color into your house. The tan background makes the colors pop that much more, and makes it work with many color schemes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shortenin' Bread!

Actually, shortbread cookies...
These classic flaky pieces of yum are quick and easy, I combined them with homemade jam for super yummy amazingness. Take 1 cup butter and beat until soft, add 1/2 cup sugar and cream together until really soft and smooth. Add 1 and 1/2 cups flour (I mixed whole wheat pastry and whole wheat bread flour). You can also add spices like nutmeg or allspice at this point. Mix until just past sticky, you may need to add a little more flour...
Let the dough chill in the fridge for an hour. Heat oven to 350F. Drop little piles in a baking sheet and press them flat. A nice rocks glass dipped flour is perfect, but be sure it's not the glass you have your drink in. (You are sipping a lovely cocktail while you work right?). The cookies will spread a bit so space them generously.

Bake 10 or so minutes, they shouldn't be left to get brown at all, so once the shine is starting to disappear pull them out! Let them cool 10 minutes or so. They should slide easily off the sheet and be still a little soft, so lay them flat.

Add a good layer of yummy jam, sandwiched between two cookies. If you're stacking them put a layer of paper between your cookie pairs (learn from my mistake!). Take them to craft night, and watch them disappear! Magic...
If these aren't decadent enough, follow my mother's lead and dip one half of the sandwich in chocolate!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Ha! Made you look! Today I'm sharing with you all my process for adding some leather strap details to clothing. I'm using the finished object for steampunk cosplay, and the straps are not only aesthetically pleasing but useful for attaching tools and such. Some things of note...
1. Do not use your good fabric scissors to cut leather. Ever.
2. Tools like a good awl and a leather hole punch make life easy.
3. you can use normal sewing notions, go for big needles and heavy thread like button or quilting cord. Really large needles will be tough to pass thru the leather tho.

I purchased leather already cut into long strips for this project. After determining the placement of my straps I cut them a little longer than the distance they are to span. Add quite a bit extra if you think you will want to use them for securing large objects. Using a few layers of cardboard I punched sewing holes in the send of all my straps. A piece of scrap wood also works well for this, but don't use an awl directly on a table or your leg...

I hand stitched the straps in place using the punched holes and button cord. If you're having trouble finding a hole from the backside of the leather use a second needle to show you where it is. I doubled back on the holes so that all of them have thread going from both sides. Not only does it look neater to have a continuous line of thread, but it makes it a bit sturdier.
I bought commercial buckles for this project. One can also make your own from some hardware store pieces (D-rings and heavy gauge wire in case you really want to punk it up). I took strips of fabric, doubled them over for strength, and poked a hole in them. The middle bar goes thru the hole and the two sides of the fabric strip are sewn down. Then I used the leather punch to create a row of holes. You can also use an awl if your buckle is small, but a punch makes nice clean holes.
I added these to a corset I made, but any garment could use them. Leather straps would also work well on bags and purses, even some household sewing! I've made friends with the local leather warehouse, and the possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

See My Bloomers?

The cycles of spring are turning- tulips are long gone, lilacs have faded... so it's time for irises! I am fortunate enough to have moved into a house with lovely purple iris plants all around the beds, from small pale lavender to big bold plum purples. Enough for my to bring some inside so I can enjoy the scent all the time, and still have dozens out in the yard. Perhaps some day I will even weed the flower beds...

Also - Radishes! Crisp and spicy, put the bottoms in salads and eat the fuzzy tops steamed with a little butter, the upside to the cold wet weather is how lovely my cool weather crops are this spring.