Thursday, December 29, 2011

Progress on Quilt Squares

Every time I receive a new bag of fabric scraps, I go on a cutting frenzy! Making petals for flowers, leaves for trees, and exactly one square and one triangle for my quilt project.

After my usual sewing is done for the day I often sort squares and sew them into 4.5" squares of similar colors. I try to make the corners match up, but between the differing fabric types and my wonky cutting skills (clothes patterns are easy to cut, perfect squares are not. Who knew?) many squares are a little bit crazy quilt style.

I've made 103 squares, which puts me at about one third of the way done... good thing I'm not even close to running out of scraps!
I keep this rainbow of squares around to remind me that progress is not always fast, but the tower is growing!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A-viking We Shall Go!

For Yule this year I decided to fix two problems at once. My boyfriend has no hats, and often looks rather cold. Also, there is a terrible lack of raping, raiding and pillaging around the house. Let's make some changes to that ya?!
I started with handspun gray wool, a little nubbly for that rustic look. Starting at the top I made four bands of knit on purl background. The knit bands have large bobbles evenly spaced to look like rivets.

I got to the bottom and added a band of more bobbles, then started the cast off. The front and back bands are extended to a point with an extra bobble to protect the nose... or something like that. There are ear flaps in seed stitch so that Scandinavian winds don't get in. It took a good bit of steam blocking to get the points to behave...

The horns were picked up in a circle, knit for a short while with more bobbles. I then switched to handspun BFL in a creamy white to look like bone. Short rows gave it a curl, and I did all decreases on the same side for more lean. I didn't stuff them, I wanted the hat to not get too heavy and unwieldy, but I might wire the horns to be round.

If only I knew how to read patterns, I might make a pattern for this! Everyone should be able to enjoy their Northern European heritage and go around burning villages... right?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yule Logs and Sunshine

Last night was the longest night of the year, about 14 1/2 hours of darkness here in Colorado. Which means it's time to feast, enjoy friends and family, and light candles in the darkness!
A friend in the local Grove made yule logs, and I asked for one that was unadorned so I could decorate it myself. I had plenty of evergreen boughs and holly from my yard - symbols of neverending life, vitality, and general awesomeness. Yes, I am using a staple gun, it works.
We all lit the candles and shared in a meal of winter veggies and roast. We drank late into the night and enjoyed the snow falling outside. This morning the sun returned (not that we can see it, it's dumping snow!) and we can look forward to the cold months getting a little less cold with each passing day. I hope everyone is enjoying their winter holidays and lighting candles in the darkness!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


A while back I discovered that my house was very lacking, there was nothing to wipe your face with! I was also on a embroidery binge, and had plenty of left over crewel wool from my wheel of the year project. I had bought several packs of cotton tea towels to dye for use in my kitchen, and instead I set one aside for making napkins.

I penciled in swirly designs along the hemmed edge of the towel, using a ruler to make the sides somewhat symmetrical. After using all my left-over greens to edge the entire towel I cut it into fourths.
Now we all know that white things rarely stay that way, particularly if you are encouraging people to wipe their faces and fingers with them. So I tea dyed them to a nice antiqued tan. I put water, black tea bags, and a splash of vinegar on to boil. Added the napkins and kept at a low simmer for a little while (boiling wool tends to shrink it of course). I let it soak overnight, rinsed and hung to dry.
The cotton turned a lovely pale tan color, and some of the lighter greens were also toned a bit. The best part of this, if these become stained, or if the color fades too much, I can easily dye them again.
Growing up my family had a number of napkins hand made by my grandmother, a few even had embroidery and beads on them. It's such a simple easy way to add a little color and flair to your table. Have you ever made napkins, table mats, or tablecloths?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Seasons Changing

The leaves have long since changed and fallen here. The snow is covering the piles. As we approach the solstice and prepare for the cold nights of winter and return of the sun I like to curl up inside with hot tea and knitting. On the other hand, in my family everyone enjoys some kind of winter sport - skiing, telemark, snowboarding etc. It's the time of year for rich hearty soups and baking bread all day because it's nice to hang out in a warm kitchen. The changing seasons are always hard, either leaving behind a favored time of year or entering a challenging time, it's nice to reflect on the upside that each season offers.

We greet the snow with cookies, big sweaters, and sunglasses (in Colorado cold weather does not always mean clouds!). What is your favorite part of Autumn, that you will miss as the world turns? What are you looking forward to in the dark times?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finds - Snow Fall

We had several days of snowfall, and the city is still sitting under a blanket of white. We don't stay home just from the weather here in Colorado, but here's some snow-day picks! Delicate photo by Bomobob.

If you wanted to make your own warm fuzzy, check out this pattern from YarnBlossomBoutique. Protection from the cold rarely looks this cute, and the pattern explains making different sizes for everyone to enjoy!

Snowflake jewelry abounds, but with a hand-painted piece you know that "no two are ever alike". TuckooandMoocow has many wonderful pieces that are just right for a winter's night out.

Fill your alter with light and your home with the scents of the season! ArtisanWitchcrafts has these pure white sparkly gems, and many other fabulous seasonal offerings.

These elegant curls are just twirls of paper, like the delicate ephemeral snowflake it represents (but a little more stable at room temperature). QuillyNilly can outfit a tree, wreath, log, garland etc. with paper snowflakes to bring the winter goodness inside!

How about an elegant handknit shawl to protect you from the cold and snow? DagnyKnit makes these lovely pieces to order, a great combination of delicate beauty and fuzzy functionality.

I hope that everyone is enjoying a little snow to remind us that Winter is almost here!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dying to Get Some of This!

While digging thru some papers from the 1880s in my mothers storage I came across this little goodie, a cheaply printed and obviously poorly cut booklet from the Diamond Dye company! This was the early days of aniline (coal tar) dyes, synthasized from chemicals instead of extracted from plants. The dyes were much more reliable and light fast than natural dyes, but were (and to some extent still are!) extremely toxic.
This booklet told the tale of a black cat whose kittens were all pure white - totally unfashionable in the Victorian era. So she buys some dye and plunges them all into a boiling toxic dye bath... and they are magically brilliant black for the rest of their lives!
The booklet suggested using dyes to keep up with the latest fashions by recoloring clothing, to dye rags for carpets, to color ostrich feather tips (sure, I have a closet full of those..) and to keep children's clothing looking new(er). While the glowing reviews seem a little forced, the idea that one could keep altering ones clothing instead of getting new things all the time is refreshing. Would you change the colors of your clothes to keep up with the styles?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Craft Fairs

I had the best craft fair this weekend. Not because I sold a lot (tho I did sell plenty), and not because of a magical venue. This was a fair with a central money table. They took %20, which is well worth it when one can leave early to go out to dinner, and not worry about being there in the early morning on a day with a foot of new snow fall. So my friend and I sauntered in a little late, and spent the day doing needlepoint while chatting with customers. I didn't have to do any of the paperwork involved with taking money! Has anyone else done a fair like this? Not the biggest money maker but a very low stress weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Colorado Craft Calendar is Out!

The Colorado Craft Calendar is off the presses and one is hanging on my wall... This is a neat idea, why not have some cool locally made stuff decorating your kitchen wall? There's also the dates for lots of local craft fairs printed, so you can plan your weekends accordingly! As for me? I'm Miss October, modeling a fine piece in Downtown Denver.
It's a thrilling idea that some of my work will be hanging up, and I'm side by side with many truly talented artisans as well. Oddest promotion I've ever done? Yes. Most fun? Probably!