Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'm Excited About Napkins - Shoot Me Now

At some point tonight I had a terrible realization - I'm an adult. Not just any adult, I'm an adult who owns napkins that require ironing. *Shudder* To be fair, I'm the only one to blame for this early onset lameness, I made the damnned things. They are lovely! But they require ironing, like with steam and everything. I often have pleated skirts dry cleaned to avoid having to iron them. But I guess I'll have to buck up and embrace my stuffy adult-ness, I guess that can go on my list for the new year.

These are embroidered tea towels, dyed with onion skins to make them subtly pink. I documented the process in this post last year, made with green thread and tea-dyed. So now there's eight iron-needing napkins in my house. Fabulous.

If anyone needs me I'll be in the kitchen drinking metamucil and changing my hearing aide batteries...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chair Re-fab

The number one way to get that vintage distressed look? Buy some beat-up chairs from estate sales, store them in your garage for a decade while you plan to do something. Find them while cleaning up, throw away the wonkiest one, then place them on a back porch in the sun thru a few snow storms.

No seriously, that's what happened. This were in my parent's garage until a major cleaning a few months ago. My father cursed under his breath and asked if I needed any chairs. They are, strangely enough, almost a matching trio. At first glance identical, then you notice the slight variations in shape on the back piece. Each seat is leather, of a slightly different shade and thickness.
I first took off the seat, taped the screw to the bottom, and attacked with sandpaper. Not pictured is Miss Pink the Bandito... I wore a damp bandana around the face to protect from inhaling decades old shellac.
When stripped the natural color of the wood appeared, with a gentle grain and a smooth surface.

Then I attacked the seats, the leather was cracking and dry, and held on with rows of petite upholstery nails. The stuffing was an odd mix of dirty cotton fluff and shredded wood.

I bought seat foams (in sets of two naturally, I will have to find a fourth for my collection!) and used a vintage mid-weight canvas from my collection. Notice the screws taped to the bottom? If you're like me and you don't always finish projects in one day, then that little detail is imperative.
The edges were stapled down tautly. I first stapled one spot on each side to keep it square, then worked all the way around.
The bottom edge of the chair hides the fabric edging, and if not for the "holy-shit-no-commercial-joint-would-ever-make-this" fabric, one might call it professional. The wood is currently lightly oiled but not stained, I might decide to color it up a bit in the future.
Looks dashing with my new walls ya? Now to ditch these ugly tan curtains...

Have you ever done a furniture project? It's easier than you think!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Finds - Winter Solstice

As the longest night of the year has passed, and the sun is once again growing in strength. May the light shine from within you in this coming year!
Lovely image by MoonlightPhotography, perfect for a cold winter's night!
We burned last year's Yule Log in our bonfire, but if you need something to add to your celebrations try this incense blend from DewberrysHerbal.
It's time for new beginnings and that includes new projects, how about some lovely yarn by ValentineArts?
The beautiful colors of this glass pendant remind my of the winter's sky. From FancyAngel.

Celebrate the returning solar energy! Adorable felt doll from PaintingPixie.

I hope you all have wonderful winter holidays, let's get crafty in the New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blog Break, I've Been Busy

Sorry for the lack of post lately, I've been doing hard corp cleaning and organizing, not to mention getting around to the painting I wanted to do when I moved into the house! I've got two rooms done in rich red and brilliant turquoise, I'm planning on a green room and and light green breakfast nook. I'll be back to my usual "light crafts" soon...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


 During this year's Holiday Break I've dedicated myself to getting some house things done. I have grandiose plans to have some rooms painted by Yule, and of course a house that's clean enough I can have people over and they might want to come back sometime....

I told these hopes and dreams to a Stitch-n-Bitch buddy and she said - " Oh, you're Unfucking."

I was disappointed to find out that unfucking is less fun than one might hope, but you feel every bit as good afterwards. Here's the Blog "Unfuck Your Habitat" with lots of motivational stuff to make you want to clean your house, and an article by the author on why it's good to do.

Now Pink, why do I need a website to tell me to clean my shit? Here's the genius, it's not about being fucking Martha Stewart and giving your entire house a one time awesome clean (those always assume your house is not a disaster to start with), it's about tackling little things and getting a pat on the back from the internet when you do. Here's the strategy - clean one small little part of your world and only spend like 20 minutes on it. Then go do something else, like knit, or look at lolcats, or sit on the couch like a vegetable. Then if you want go clean something else.

 I have lots I want to get fixed up in the next week and a half, but I'm dividing it into little parcels, and of course one then needs to be dedicated to keeping it clean. How do you get motivated to make your house work better?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Apples, Apples, Everywhere...

Seriously. I've been receiving apples as part of my farm share for weeks now, and even with apple pies and apple crisps and apples for lunch everyday I still had bags of them covering my counter tops. I've already filled my freezer with the fruits of our bountiful harvest, and my canning jars overfloweth (with jam and pickles and such.) So, I went to the oldest technique in the book (OK, it actually predates books and even writing systems by many thousands of years. Did you know archeologist found signs of deliberate food drying dating to 12,000 B.C?)

I've got some fancier equipment than our forebears, but the system stays the same. Slice the apple thin, dip it in a lemon juice and water mix, lay it out to dry. Apples were long prized in Europe because they are easy to dry and tasty to eat that way. 24 hours in the dehydrator is all I needed for these slicers, living in Colorado does help wince it's so dry here naturally.

If you don't have a dehydrator you can place them on a pan in a low oven cracked open, turning the oven off after a few hours. I've dried not just tasty fruits, but also chopped veggies and herbs with this method. It's nice to have some "emergency" stores for making soups and such all winter long. I also make awesome camping meals with dried stuff!

How do you preserve the good stuff from this time of year?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finds - Winter in the Rockies

It's time for snow drifts and starry nights (Let's pretend it hasn't been in the 60s here lately), here's a collection of wintery items all from local folks! This weekend is Holiday Handmade, and I intend to spend the day shopping the latest and greatest local goods.

Photo by AmeliaKayPhotography with all the lightness of falling snow.
Adorn your door with fluff and snowflakes from AshcraftCreations

Adorn yourself with sparkle and style by Paperfarm

These beautiful stones are a gift of the earth, shouldn't they also be a gift from you? By AncientSunJewelry

Need a vessel for your favorite steaming hot winter dish? Sublime ceramics from LightaFire.

The icy tones of winter always enchant me, hopefully soon we will have some of our own snowy fields here in Colorado! I'm off to shop local, hopefully I'll find some excellent goodies...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What We're Thankful For - NO PANTS

 Back in the old days (before Pintrest) when you found something cool on the internet you wanted to make you dropped it into a folder of funny cat pictures on your desktop where it languished until the right opportunity came along...

Now that people have Pintrest all your unmade inspirations are out for the world to see, neatly organized into "Crafts I do but don't want to start a big project until I wrap up all my current ones", "Crafts I want to learn one day" and "Crafts I once knew how to do but have since forgotten even though I still have all the tools in my craft stash".

Here's an item from my stash of photos, I can't find the original site (let me know if you recognize it!) that I just had to make for my sister. She's 30 this Friday, and we're going to Vegas to get stupid drunk and make fun of the other stupid drunks (I guess some people go to gamble too.) The rule at her house? NO PANTS!

I personally am a skirt girl, but I agree that home is no place to be wearing clothes! She is thrilled with it (of course I handed it over early, I was so excited!) and requested a tacky lace trim and ribbon hanger for that... classic feel?

I hope all of you have a lovely Thanksgiving, stuff your face, stay home tomorrow, and never put on pants unless you have to...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Slippin' Up

After weeks of making socks of lace weight yarn and sweaters on size 4 needles, I needed a quick satisfying project. It's also been getting colder, so I needed more feet fuzzies. (Let's not talk about my bag of socks that need darning, that's unimportant in this discussion...)
In a single session of light knitting (that is, a day in classes) I finished one pair and started on the next. This is Aläfoss Lopi yarn from Iceland, it's thick and lofty. I'm using size 10.5 needles.

I first cast on to two needles like any toe-up sock, then knit the toe cap. I cast off about 10 stitches across the top and knit flat to where my heel begins. I did short rows back to be the length of the foot. (these are actually a little big, since I will be felting them down and I needed to allow for shrinkage.)
Then, I knit a full round, casting back on those stitches I had eliminated earlier. This joins the slipper across the arch of the foot.
I knit a few rows around, then cast off those stitches again. (Easy come, easy go.) I finished the short row heel, picking up two stitches per side on each turn. I wrapped up the top with some rows of seed stitch to keep it flat, then bound off.
I made two pairs, one slightly larger for the boy. Felted them in the washer and dryer, rubber balls added to the dry cycle (and a sweater that was too moth eaten to salvage *cry*.) The Lopi wool actually has some resistance to felting due to the courser top coat hairs in it, so there was not a lot of shrinkage.
And so, we have fuzzy house slippers! I'm not usually one to add cutesy details, but I may need to mark mine as my boy's feet aren't much bigger. One could add all manner of wooly designs to your slippers of you wanted. Now we're ready for the cold...

Are you staying warm?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finds - Thanksgiving

It's time to welcome friends and family into your home for an orgiastic explosion of seasonal food. It's my favorite holiday - food, drink, crazy ass family - what could go wrong?
Welcome people to your door with a splash of color and a woodland feel. Wreath by ChloesCraftCloset
Offer up a sweet hostess gifts of harvest season homemade jams to brighten the table from ThePolkadotMagpie.

Lay down this colorful and traditional runner hand-woven in cotton, perfect on raw wood or a bold tablecloth. Made by AclHandWeaver

Decorate the table with a light-hearted touch, paper centerpieces from kNotesforkNitters (also one of the coolest shops names on Etsy.)
Light up some candles for atmosphere and soft glow, harvest candles byArtisanWitchcraft.

Finally, raise a toast to friends and family, to the plenty of the harvest and the goodness of the earth! Hand thrown pottery by NancyBloklandPottery.

Hope it's a good stuff-your-face week, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Upcycling and the Environment

 Recently I was contacted by a design student working on a project about upcycling, she ask me about my craft and how I think upcycling can effect the environment and the world. Here's some of my responses.

My inspiration was not initially any concern for the environment, it was actually the fact that I couldn't stand to dump my favorite pair of jeans. I made a very functional bag from them, that I still use from time to time (that was more than a decade ago.) I later became involved in the environmental movement, and I started making bags to offer up an alternative to plastic sacks.

I do feel strongly that the current trends in fashion to make cheap, poorly constructed, very trendy and disposable clothing is a huge waste! Not to mention, I much prefer classic styles and the idea of buying a few very well made items to wear for years to come.

The tragedy of disposable fashion is now more than clogging up thrift stores and landfills, but also the ill effect it has on the third world where our old clothing is dumped as a "charitable" act. This kills any local textile and clothing industry, and pushes out indigenous and locally invented fashions. I love to see difference when I travel, and universal fashion is as ugly as it is unsustainable.
I think that the current craft movement has been a huge boon to upcycling. It's currently quite hip to learn to knit and sew, and once people have those skills it opens a door of creative reuse.

 I'm not sure the best way to encourage people to learn these arts, most newbies I meet are simply inspired by people they know, so organic growth seems the most likely avenue of involving more people.

There is a second challenge however, even after learning to craft many people lack the confidence in their skills to work without specific patterns and instructions. The craft movement will also need to encourage free-form learning instead of simply sticking to pre-made designs; the craft stores and teachers have less possibility of profits if people are making their own patterns and supplying the materials (their own clothes).

What is your reason to upcycle? What inspires you to reuse something?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I had a Notion...

 In fact, I have dozens of them. Bags of vintage cards covered in seam bindings and hem tape. I'm not much of a seam finisher, I use french seams when ever possible to reign in those fuzzy ends.

But I must admit, seam binding made an easy option for what would otherwise be a tricky hem! I bought new fabric this weekend (just what I need, it was on sale! Don't give me that look...) I wanted  simple A-line skirt, but I always want pockets! So I cut a pocket opening and a pocket backing. I opted against a hanging pocket since those always ride up on me.

 I dug out some lovely light blue seam binding, and quick as a cat chasing a squirrel who ate the face off a jack-o-lantern it was hemmed. A nice contrast to an otherwise plain skirt.

 It was quick to sew up, the most time was spent on the zipper and four buttons! I bought two fabrics, and I think with the other one I'll make a wider skirt for more fluff! Perhaps the best way to keep the stash under control would be to sew with fabrics almost the same day you get them home...
Oh, and did I mention I finished my heirloom Peardrop? Local Colorado Black Welsh and Shetland in marvelous heathered charcoals. Now I'm ready for my day!

Are you stash building or stash busting? What about using up those old notions?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Flowers Everywhere!

 I know, it's not the season we would usually think of for flowers. Everything is all dead and dormant right now (let's pretend it's not been in the upper 60s all week and the spring bulbs are not trying to come up...) and it's not really the time for lush bouquets.

Fortunately there is never really a time without flowers, nature keeps that ball rolling 365! I'm also working on a new "Wheel of the Year" project, this one is themed with flowers instead of trees. I started with Lavender for Midsummer, and Sunflowers for Lughnassahd. I'm now working on Marigolds for Mabon.
It's been an adventure deciding how to portray specific species, and finding suitable accurate colors for each plant. I'm behind in starting on Samhain's Nightshade plant, but hoping to catch up soon. I also had a small epiphany that should be helpful, I find myself constantly redrawing the layout boundaries on the ground, it's dark and the white of chalk pencils seems to disappear quickly. I'm going to try bating a thread along the lines to delineate the space for each one, hopefully it will stay longer!

What are you crafting for the fall season?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Many people like to vote early and send mail-in ballots, but for me there is nothing more satisfying than walking in to a polling place on Election Day and casting my ballot! I hope all my American readers have done their civic duty, whomever you are rooting for. Unless you have ten million bucks laying around to make a SuperPAC your vote is your loudest voice in our government, don't let it go to waste!

Crafty fluff to return tomorrow...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Samhain Workday

 Usually it's not good to start things this time of year, but it is a smart idea to finish up projects and put things to bed!

I spent much of the day digging under frozen plants in my garden and covering them with fresh compost to prepare the soil for next year. This mirrors the work our ancestors have done for millennium, laying aside the fields for the winter.

 Then I covered it up with leaves to mulch it and add more material to compost in the winter months. Naturally I had a lot more leaves than I needed for this, so they quadrupled the size of my mulch pile!
 It's also an important time to put up food for the cold months. I've been receiving a bag of apples each week from our Farm Share, and the pile is growing! I decided it was pie time...
But not to eat all at once, I want pie all winter long. I like to prepare fruit so it's ready for use, I use little pie pans to freeze fillings in the perfect shape. After it's frozen I take it out of the pans and seal the bags, I already have piles of peach fillings from earlier in the summer.

It seems so natural to be doing these task this time of year, my oven was full all afternoon preparing the fruits of the season. What are you doing in the dark time of the year?