Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cuidado! Hay pterodactyls!

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You know that Doctor Who episode where time has been borked and there are flying cars and pterodactyls and Winston Churchill and Cleopatra, because history is all happening at once?

Yeah, kind of like that. At this stage it’s not one week, one craft. I have a whole whirlwind of projects I’m in the midst of at the moment, on top of the item I finished last Friday as a birthday gift but haven’t posted yet.

Those items would happen to be (because I know you are burning to know):

• Dyeing several silk scarves as gifts to internet strangers, which I will be posting about soon.
• Finishing a “sweater surgery” knit scarf I keep fiddling with and rethinking
• Working on funky and functional storage for my craft room/guest room, which I hope to have finished before I have a guest soon, and which may account for more than one project
• Infinity scarf/necklace project
• A geek craft project, which I shall not describe just now
• Birthday present I should be working on this very second.

Plus I need to:

• Send photos for the art show I’ve applied for.

Plus I want to:

• Experiment with a cool new idea for that art show.

I expect things will sort themselves out eventually and time will become unborked.

I feel like I ought to post a picture for you all, though. Chosen at random:

You can never go wrong with a cat picture.

Dye dye DYE!!!

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Paying attention to wash cycles is NOT my strong suit, people! But I have some items in the wash machine to dye, and I have to keep it from going into rinse and keep the wash cycle going for 50 minutes to an hour or so. Which is why I’m sitting in my hallway (the washer/dryer are at the garage end of the hall) with the timer set every three minutes so I can track how long a wash cycle takes.

This isn’t a project at this point, but it’s a little prep work for one that will happen later. And also just rescuing (I hope!) a pair of jeans that are a little too weatherbeaten to wear to work on the days when we’re allowed to.

I’m using iDye, which I’ve never used before. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever dyed anything with dye that is supposed to be used for that purpose. Never dyed anything in the wash machine before. I hope it’s as easy as the packet claims! Though I do generally trust Dharma Trading.

ACK! Good thing I was paying attention. It started to drain way before I would have thought based on what the dial setting looked like. Pays to be neurotic sometimes…

Watch out! Project #1

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I got into a big felt frenzy shortly before Thanksgiving and went out and bought a ridiculous amount of sweaters to felt in the washing machine. That’s an activity which is very satisfying all on its own. You throw a big honkin’ woolly mess of a sweater into the machine and out comes a thick, felty sweater perfect for a toddler whose knuckles drag the ground. Everyone needs dozens of those, right?

So my first few projects will include some small feltiness, and sometime during the year I will I will work up to some large feltiness.

The project I’m going to start with is a birthday present for a friend. It’s one I did before I started documenting makies on a massive scale, so what I have is just a couple of pictures. I didn’t follow any specific pattern on this. I was inspired by a French press cozy I saw in Felt Frenzy (Heather Brack and Shannon Okey, Interweave Press), the first book I got on felting, and a picture I saw of a knitted cup cozy in an ad. I didn’t even know cup cozies were a Thing then, but I instantly thought they should be. I was about 90% finished and close to the date of the party when it occurred to me that a top-to-bottom design worked for a French press because, y’know, people weren’t going to be putting their lips on it. I cut it down a little, but it also dropped a bit when the cup (which was part of the gift) was picked up. Sort of a plus, I guess, but sort of not. When I gave it I felt the urge to preface it with a big disclaimer.

Here it is: Cup cozy with matching coaster. Alpaca beige felt and merino wool aqua. Needle felted flowers

A day or two after the party I got a lovely email from one of the women who’d been at the party but wasn’t the recipient of the present, saying how beautiful the colors were and how she loved the hand of the fabrics and how each hand stitch had such love in it. What a wonderful thing to have someone see in your work, and to be reminded of. We see our uneven stitches or other little faults because we want to produce good work and we want our gifts to be perfect. It’s a gift to have someone see and remind us of the beauty that doesn’t show on the surface. And looking at the picture right now, it is a sweet little thing.

 

And the person I gave it to wrote me a note and said she has been using it and enjoying it.

Chaos!

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One thing that drives me nuts about crafting: I’ll be searching for something I need for a project and won’t be able to find it where I think it is, but I’ll run across something else and think. “Huh. What’s that doing there?” Without fail, 2 weeks later I need the thing I did run across and now I can’t remember where that thing is.

I am currently wanting to find two groups of objects:
1. A small group of metal pieces and parts from the found objects box at the arts center where I hang out. I chose them because they have personality and I thought they’d be cool in an assemblage. But now I’m thinking they would make good objects to use for rubbings to make robot designs on some silk scarves for Wiscon. (Wiscon is the feminist science fiction convention that’s been going on yearly in Madison, Wisconsin for 35 years. It attracts some very cool people, and I’ve participated for the last few years in the art show there and you should go.)

So while looking for the still-at-large robot bits, I ran across:

2. The ball-bearing shower curtain rings that glide smoothly on the rod. I took them off when I got some that looked snazzier, and put them someplace that makes no sense. And now that I bought a shower curtain to use as a window curtain, I want those curtain rings. Haven’t yet started the search, but it will probably be epic.

Ironically, this post was written in a fit of frustration at a time when the blog wasn’t happening yet. I ran across it while getting ready for my first project post. Both items, by the way, have been found and are in use or are about to be.

Why so dangerous?

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Let me count the ways:

• First there’s the obvious. Like the time I was dyeing a wool/silk scarf in the microwave and completely spaced on Rule #1 of microwaving and put a couple of straight pins in my ombre-dying experiment of scarf wrapped around chopstick. And felting needles, the crafty gal’s fishhook. OW.

• Money. Every craft aisle or craft store is like a densely populated drug corner. All so shiny, so ripe with possibilities. (So full of mixed metaphors. Just go with me here.) First one’s not free, kid, but it might be cheap. Just this one time, what can it hurt? ::cue dark, evil laughter::

• Time. Which subdivides into housekeeping time and cooking time.

* Space. I have seen more than one episode of Hoarders where someone says, “Don’t throw that away! I’m going to make something with that!” Some of them are even crafters, and one had a hoard of perfectly organized, plastic-binned crafty stuff — it’s just her house had been reduced to a rabbit warren by the towering piles of bins. The tricky bit is, most crafters have projects they started and put aside for a year or two, or a medium they haven’t touched since they bought it, and then suddenly it all comes together into something amazing.

• Future arthritis or carpal tunnel?

• Disappointment. There was such a beautiful vision in my head, and what I wound up with was just a sight. Sometimes it’s that my skill level isn’t up to what I want to do, sometimes I’ve half-assed a project. Both these can be fixed over time.

• Pinboard. See Time, above. Man, is that a time-suck, but it’s so inspiring too. I have a feeling a good many things I make over the next year will be projects I found there.

• Some projects tell the world that I’m a big ol’ geek. You know, the Tardis makeup case or Supernatural toilet paper cozy. There is no help for that, because I am going to make them.

• My own personal danger zone is my love for crafts with unknown outcomes. I got interested in fiber arts via a class on dyeing silk scarves with flowers and/or vegetables. Even when I tried to reproduce a color or effect exactly, I might get something entirely different. It was cool because I’m not talented at drawing or painting and I could make really beautiful things, but sometimes the results were much less exciting than I’d hoped and expected (wildflower scarves, I’m looking at you).

• Another dangerous factor for this year will be the Random Tutorial Generator. I’m going to pick a point sometime this year when I use it to determine a project, though I’ll probably mitigate the terror by giving myself a few rolls of the dice if something totally unsuitable comes up, or if I have to buy a mangle to achieve it. (Maybe I would buy a mangle. Because I just love saying mangle. (In Barney Fife humble-brag casual tone: (sniff) “Yeah, I just bought a mangle.”)

Anyone still with me? What are your personal danger zones?

DANGER, PENNY ROBINSON!!

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I blame Misha Collins.* Partly because he’s so darn easy and fun to blame for all manner of chaos. Partly because it really is his fault. The crafting frenzy I’ve recently been indulging in got kicked into high gear with GISHWHES, aka the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, brainchild of Misha Collins. Instead of merely finding things the game commanded us to make things or to cause various bizarre events and document them. Did you happen to see the news story about the floating Christmas tree that was carried toward a British Columbia airport, prompting the woman who unleashed it to call the RCMP to alert them? You could blame Misha for that, and you’d be correct. That was a GISHWHES team in action. Incidentally, GISHWHES was not just a scavenger hunt but an attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for largest international scavenger hunt. We’re all still waiting for word from Guinness on whether that happened, but with over 600 teams, I think we probably did it.

So. Yes. Craft frenzy. In the course of the 10-day hunt, I made several things: a laptop made entirely of felt, a chandelier of kale, a 2-ft. sculpture of a seagull made entirely of tampons and sanitary napkins. I’ll pause while you let that sink in.

And the frenzy has continued beyond the hunt. I’m still playing with felt, as well as silk and wood and Mod Podge and dye. I am backing away slowly from the sanitary napkins and kale.

I also blame Jonathan Coulton.** Some years ago he did a weekly podcast called A Thing A Week, which lasted over the course of a year. Each podcast was a song that he’d recorded — most of which he wrote. So his creative frenzy inspired mine.

So basically that’s the deal here. I’m planning to make things for the next year, one per week. What does not kill me makes me stronger — and may make me a buck or two on Etsy.

This isn’t a tutorials blog — I’ll provide links to project sources, unless I made the thing up, in which case I will provide information on how to do it. (Or at least how I did it.) This is mostly about the process and the pictures. And the disasters, on occasion. Think of this as more Julie/Julia than Martha Stewart. (Oh yeah, I blame Julie Powell, too.)

* Who is Misha Collins? He’s an actor, recently a regular on Supernatural, as well as a bad guy that Kiefer Sutherland punched in the throat on 24 and a talk show host who’s a mixture of Art Bell and Carl Sagan on Stonehenge Apocalypse. (And may MY dying words echo his: “IT WAS A ROBOT HEAD!!”) He holds a really rather unseemly sway over his fans.

** Who is Jonathan Coulton? The troubadour of science nerds and science fiction geeks and pretty damn funny. Known for many many things, but I’ll take the anthem of corporate drone zombies “Re: Your Brains” and the folkie cover of “Baby Got Back.”