Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finds - Imbolc and Brigid

In the coming week we will be celebrating Imbolc, or Candlemas as it's known to Christians. A celebration of the mid point of winter, the goddess Brigid and her Christian continuation St Brigid, and a time to light fires in the darkness.
Brigid to the Celts was a mother goddess, and a triple goddess at that. A deity of fire her dominion was the fire of the hearth, the fire of the smiths' forge and the metaphorical inspiration fires of the bard. She was a goddess of the sun then, warmth and light here on earth. Beautiful art and card by EmilyBalivet.

Her celebration comes with lots of candles, fire goddess' love candles. In the legends of St. Brigid, she is a nurse maid to the future savior, and she rescues a young Jesus wearing a circlet of candles to light their way. (Never mind that the sainted woman was born some 500 years after Christ, there were angels involved!) Wonderful embroidered alter cloth from Rainfeather13. Embroidery is also associated with the goddess, who carries with her a bag of embroidery supplies.

During Imbolc it is traditional to make a Brigid's cross. The old style are made of reeds or straw and have three sides to represent the three aspects. The Celts also simply liked things in threes! With the advent of Christianity in the isles the crosses morphed to have four sides. Either way, one makes a new cross to hang in the house for protection, and burns the one you have had hanging the entire last year. Marvelous shining silver pendant from AFMetalsmith, who perhaps receives some of the smiths' fiery inspiration.

This is also the time of year when cows and ewes are giving birth, and milk returns to the diet. In a sparse winter milk and cheese would be a lifesaving boon. The birth of new animals is also a promise of a plentiful season ahead, and a welcome sign that spring is coming. Milk and Honey bath powder from YarrowStalkHerbals to renew yourself!

Whether she is a fertile goddess of the hearth, or a saintly virgin healer, Brigid offers protection, inspiration, healing, renewal and the promise of spring to come. She is a patron of housekeeping and writers, a protector of lawfulness and woman's rights. Here in the beautiful snow covered winter she is said to be sleeping, waiting for the strengthening sun to awaken her and her mantle of green. Gorgeous print by MythWeaver with more information about Imbolc.

While I love the gray winter days, and the sparse trees, I have been flipping thru seed catalogs and plotting my garden. The dark months are still here, but there is a promise of spring just around the corner!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tree Necklace

I've been on a tree kick for a while now, carrying a little nature with me everywhere. My great inspiration has been trees, my favorite finds as well. A friend gave me a tree pendant for my birthday in the fall, I've worn it so much already that the cord is getting thin. I'd been looking to expand my collection of trees. My search has yielded ones that are too big, too heavy, too small, not interesting and then... perfect! But oh, so so expensive.

So the next step for this Craft Bitch is always to just make the damn thing myself. I dug out the bead box and the wire. This is why we can never get rid of supplies, we might need them someday! I shaped the big ring around a spool of thread and started twisting beads on with a very fine wire.
Seed beads are really tiny, word to the wise. I continued my seasonal theme (never too much of a good thing, right?) and made sections of branches with different colors. Spring is the pale buds and pink and lavender flowers. Summer is shimmering green. Autumn a flush of bright reds and yellows.

And winter is the plain silver wires as bare branches. It's always fun to step away from our favorite and most skillful crafts and do some experimenting. My respect for jewelers is reaffirmed, and my desire to shop for more beads has returned as well! I am tempted to make more of these, and perhaps in different colors for different outfits. (Even druids have fashion sense after all).

How have you pushed yourself into new forms of creativity?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Ok, I don't usually broach the tough subjects on this blog. You are here for pictures of knitting projects and garden veggies. But I feel that I'd like to speak up about the current state of social affairs. I'll return to my usual light -hearted craft fluff in the next post.

There are a number of crisis facing the human race right now. We are staring at economic instability and inequality of unprecedented scale. There has been a lot of press recently highlighting the statistics about wealth concentration. There is also an uncomfortable closeness between this ridiculous wealth and the control of our governments. (Not a new phenomenon by any means, but rather extreme for any nation claiming to be a democracy.)

There is also that continuing specter of anthropogenic climate change and environmental degradation. For some reason hundreds of years after the realization that human economic activities can alter and damage ecosystems, we are still unwilling to do anything about it. Perhaps people forget that what we do to our surroundings, we do to ourselves. We have to live here after all.

But what to do? Take to the streets? Write your Representative? Cry and curl yourself in to a ball in the corner? Write and perform subversive street theater? Yes.

There is an interesting feature of modern democracy. Perhaps once a year, at the most, we are called to insert our opinion in a ballot box. A symbolic input into the political and social structure. But everyday we also vote, with our Dollars (or Euros, or Pounds etc.). We who do not have the resources to grease the wheels with extravagant purchases of political favors are still able to buy influence.

With everything we buy (or don't buy!) we speak out about how we want our society to be. Being an educated and responsible consumer is the simplest and most powerful form of social activism. If you want to correct income inequalities, support small businesses and independent proprietors. If you are concerned about the environment start with what you bring into your own home. If you are unhappy with the politics of a company, don't support them. It takes will power and time, but our world greatly needs people who are being conscientious in their lives.

And now, back to the making of things...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sweater Time

A while back I picked up Ysolda Teague's sweater book, I couldn't resist the shiny photos any longer. Much more important, it's like a "pick your own adventure" pattern book! There are gauges, measurements, and tips on making a custom sized sweater. So the pattern looks like a more complex version of the patterns I've made for sweaters in the past - "knit for 3 inches, increase to 54 stitches..."
I decided to work the cover pattern first, not because it's on the cover but because I wanted to do some stash busting. The nice thing about patterns, is being able to gauge about how much yarn you need, so you don't worry too much about running out.
I had just barely enough of this vintage sparkle wool for the sweater. However, just to be safe, I'm knitting the sleeves first to ensure that they are long enough, then I'll knit the body to what ever length I have the yarn for. This is my first time following a pattern this big, and there has been some head scratching, but this book really is pretty good at explaining all the techniques. Any of you starting new projects?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Crafting a New Skier...

I did so make stuff over my vacation... My father and I subjected my boy to four days of skiing, and he learned quick! Great weather makes it much more fun too. I'm going thru photos from the trip, and as always wishing I took more.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I (Heart) Fabric Scraps

Guess what time of year it is?! That's right, time to pray on the romanticized views of romance and force couples to spend money on each other... I mean... uh. Time to celebrate the season of love! Hearts are starting to pop up just about everywhere.

I shy away from making items that are too specific to a holiday. Who wants to own something they only use one month of the year? Fortunately hearts are universal enough that one can carry a heart covered bag without looking "out-of-season".

And it's a great way to explore color groups and have fun with little bits of fabric. I can use even very small pieces so long as they are a good shape! And if anyone ask about the pile of hearts growing on my cutting table, I'm in love with life or something cheesy like that...

Do you have any special crafts for Valentine's? My heart collection is growing daily...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter in the Rockies

Here in the Teton Valley they appreciate snow, so much that they are dedicating this week to a Snow Fest. From Skijorning (horse racing with skier in tow) to snow sculpting the town is full of enjoying the white stuff. The parking lot of City Hall is full of giant blocks slowly becoming other forms.
The first and most important item is a snow bar, almost ready! But those bartenders look a little young...

There were a myriad of plans, models, systems and tools. from axes and chisels to simple glowed hands. A few of the pros made grids and lines, some just dug right in.
Some folks like to hide inside when it's cold, some folks embrace the snow! What is your favorite winter activity?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Finds - Mountain Vacation

I'm preparing for a week long snowboard vacation in Teton Valley Idaho, a regular destination for us to visit family and my home for a season. The range there possesses a distinctive geology, and from both sides the Grand Teton (that means big boob in case you're curious) is visible. One never forgets the view of these majestic peaks. Painting by JoeTringall.
Simply but lovely pendant from HattieRex
An unusual piece of art, this scene is skillfully painted on a gourd by GreatGourds.
For the adventurous soul this intrepid gnome from CourtneyGrigg
A distinctive silhouette from Mountainvenbaby
Vintage souvenir plate from NaturalandVintage featuring the iconic range.
Other than knitting in the car there won't be much crafting this week, just sitting in front of the fire and playing in the snow...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Etsy Shop Coming!

Today was another marathon day of photographing in preparation for opening a second Etsy shop. I've decided to take my hobby of costume accessories (or everyday accessories for us bold dressers) and present it to the public! I've been creating dozens of cuffs in satin, velvet, and lace for gothic, victorian and steampunk endeavors.

I've been brainstorming and creating design ideas and digging thru the stash for good stuff and pretty shiny things. The holidays were busy but I've been able to spend some time making cuffs.
I'm hoping to have plenty of inventory in time for AnomalyCon in March, but I hope there are enough customers until then that I must work hard to keep up! Check out my shop - Von Klank's Emporium of Design - and be sure to share it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eggnog is the Best Nog

We all have favorite seasonal treats, phefferneusse or pumpkin cookies, latkes, and many people wait impatiently for eggnog. But the store bought stuff barely whets my appetite, I like to splurge on some homemade nog, the boozy kind of course!

It's a simple mix, egg, cream, booze (I like scotch, but there is something to be said for rum, whiskey and brandy.)something to sweeten and a little bit of nutmeg.

Separate the egg, multiple batches can be made but they need to be drank soon after completing them, I drop the yolk directly into the drink glass because I dislike washing dishes. Beat the egg white until white and frothy. (If you're feeling strong whip it up to stiff peaks...)
Add a shot of cream and a shot of booze (generous shots are best!) plus some sweetener and a dash of nutmeg. Mix it up thoroughly.

Add your exquisitely whipped (slightly frothy in my case, I'm lazy and want to get to the drinking! ) egg whites to the yolk, stir in a good bit and sprinkle some more nutmeg. Kick up your feet and don't count calories. If it's a little thick (or you slipped with the booze) add some milk until it's as smooth as you like.
What's your favorite winter beverage?