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Archive for the ‘other craftiness’ Category

I survived hosting my first Christmas. My inner Monica Geller wasn’t totally satisfied with my time management (dinner guests arrived before the overnight guests had even had brunch–oops!), but it was really nice to have my house full of family. It was exhausting, in a good way. Although the next morning I wondered if I had hosted a raging frat party, rather than a lovely family holiday. Picture half-consumed food and beverages on every surface (well, obviously), garbage everywhere (mostly wrapping paper), furniture strewn haphazardly about the house (to make floor space for the baby nephew), and the best part–little piles of barf for me to clean up (because the cat just can’t help himself when it comes to nibbling on Christmas ribbon). Nice, right? Anyway, gifts were exchanged and apple pie was baked and the fire was flickering away and a turkey was fried in my backyard. It was a little bit epic.  

As you might expect, I gave several handmade gifts…just the way I like it!

A stocking cap made for my nephew. He is not so sure…

Also for my nephew, a personalized silver ornament to commemorate his first Christmas…

French Press Felted Slippers for my sister…

A sterling silver belt buckle for my other sister. My life’s work…

Mimosa Neckwarmer for my Nana…

And my sister gave me some vintage letterpress blocks. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them yet, but I LOVE them.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.
(More Christmas pics on Flickr!)

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I love handmade Christmas decorations, but I hardly had any that were made by my own hands…until now…

I think I meant to make this felted garland last year…but I never got around to it. (That’s a familiar tune around here this time of year.)  It was not *quite* as quick and easy as I had hoped, but that’s probably due, in part, to my perfectionism rearing it’s ugly head halfway through this thing. That’s not to say that it was difficult, by any means. I just added some extra steps.

I used about 1.5 oz. wool roving in several colors, and got about 48 balls out of it. I needed two pairs of stockings to tie up the roving, and used the washing machine technique for felting. The problem was that wherever the stocking gathered between knots, it created a crease in the felted ball. I wound up with 48 little brightly colored…fannies (which you can sort of see in the bowl in the photo below). Ahem. So I hauled my fanny to the craft store and bought some needle felting tools. I’d only tried needle felting once, at a sheep and wool festival, but that little demo provided me with all the knowledge I needed for this project i.e., stabstabstabstabstabstabstab…

I arranged the various felted balls in a perfectly random pattern (I know, I have a problem), and used a natural, twine-colored worsted weight yarn to string them.

I love the handmade touch they add to my mantle.  

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The Second Storie Indie Market was simply wonderful. The show has grown significantly since last year in terms of attendance and vendors, but what remained the same was the warm, inviting atmosphere that Cris, JoAnn, Karen, Rachael, and Shanna worked so hard to create. It had a lot to do with the handmade paper bunting, I think. 😉

It was great to see some of last year’s vendors in person once again, as well as some of the same shoppers! Getting a chance to meet people face to face and hear so many sweet and genuine comments on your work never gets old.

I also enjoyed sharing my table space with a couple of my favorite sidekicks. Having a day to sit and chat together was really a treat for me.

Oh, but enough of this mushiness. On to the loot…

My first order of business was purchasing a pair of earrings from Amber of Mani Designs. I do not have a picture because they have not left my ear lobes long enough to sit for a photo shoot. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you they’re absolutely gorgeous.

I also left with a tumbler which is a collaborative project between Shanna Murray and Vicki Hartman. I knew exactly where I wanted to put it when I picked it out, and I think it is very happy in its new home in my dining room.

This tea towel by Shanna and Betsy of Hello Handmade (which looks so darn cute all tied up that I just haven’t had the heart to undo it!) will definitely be put to use in the kitchen, once I put the Christmas towels away….

…and this pillow by Lizz Switzer looks better than perfect in my living room.

Thanks to all of the vendors who traveled from near and far to make this show the high-quality event that it is, thanks to the Second Storie gang for all their hard work and thoughtfulness in putting the show together, and thanks to all of you who attended the show and stopped by my table to shop or chat! What a nice way to start the holiday season!

You can view more photos of the event on Ashley R. Thompson’s photostream, and read lots more about the show by following the links in the Second Storie post!

And while we’re sort of on the subject, allow me to do just a bit of housekeeping by pointing you in the direction of my holiday shopping info. I’m still working on restocking the shop, but feel free to contact me if there’s an item you are particularly interested in!

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I found this orange vinyl chair at Goodwill a couple years ago. It’s in great shape, it has nice modern lines, and it’s actually pretty comfortable! So I convinced myself that the orange vinyl was groovy and lived with it in my apartment for a while and rather enjoyed this weird little piece of furniture. Now that I’m moving, I have a whole new idea of what I want my home to look like…and it does not include orange vinyl. (Aqua Naugahyde? Perhaps…) Now, I watch more HGTV than any person really ought, but it still took me longer than it should have to realize that reupholstering the chair was the perfect solution for my limited furniture budget! After a few e-mails back and forth with my sewing guru, some ordering and returning of mislabeled fabric with an online fabric store, several trips to good old Jo-Ann’s, and finally working up the courage to just go for it, I have a new chair! It should be noted that I really have no idea what I’m doing, but here’s a little peek at my process:

disassembling the chair.

disassembling the chair.

 

sewed a strip of fabric that fit tightly around the bottom cushion.

sewed a strip of fabric that fit tightly around the bottom cushion.

 

tightly pinned the lid on the bottom cushion.

tightly pinned the "lid" on the bottom cushion.

 

the cover for the back cushion, all sewn up for a snug fit!

the cover for the back cushion, all sewn up for a snug fit!

 

my corners are bunchy. im not skilled enough to know how to make them smooth.

my corners are bunchy. i'm not skilled enough to know how to make them smooth.

 

brand new old chair!

brand new old chair!

At first, I was looking for a fabulous fabric to use, but finally decided to use a plain canvas, since I was pretty sure I was going to mess the whole thing up. And I know all the cool kids would tell me to remove the vinyl and use it as a pattern, but I wasn’t about to take that chance, either. If I botched the reupholstery, I at least wanted my orange chair to remain intact!  Turns out, the chair looks really great. Mass-produced, even! I don’t want to say it was easy…but it kind of was. Being my first attempt at upholstery, I’m not sure if it was easier because the entire chair came apart, or because of the shape of the cushions, or what, but I am completely proud of myself and SO excited about finding the perfect pillow to accessorize my “new” vintage chair!

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getexcitedI would not have seen this if not for Ashley’s Monday Faves Flickr mosaic. Although some may find the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster reproductions like, SO cliche, I still like ’em. Since I am way better at getting excited and making things than keeping calm and carrying on, I found this poster reproduction parody pretty humorous. And it was begging to be printed and framed for the person who talked me into the simple-paper-deer-head-turned-half-day-woodworking-project, who also loves the Keep Calm posters. It was just too perfect. The designer has generously offered up the file for you to print. I resized it to 8″ x 10″ and altered the color to more of a muted blue-green before printing.

I printed one for myself, too. Because…well, duh.

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So I have renovated my blog. When I started Knits ‘n Pieces nearly 3 years ago, I never imagined that I might want to blog about anything other than knitting. Turns out, I do. I want to keep track of everything from my jewelry work to…well, paper deer heads (for example), so I’ve moved. And here we are. Welcome. 🙂

For months I’ve been knitting nothing but baby items, and my knitting mojo is on the skids. I’ll get it back, but I don’t even care to post progress photos of what I’ve been working on because it seems so painfully dull to me right now. There are several projects on the sticks, and I’m still plugging away, but I’ll save that for another post. In the meantime, I am all excited about a couple of new crafty endeavors! I feel like learning how to sew properly is long overdue. I can get the machine loaded up and head in a straight line, but that’s where it ends. I want to know all the little stuff that I don’t know, so I signed up for a sewing class. I went to the craft store to get my materials the other night, and just wandered aimlessly for what felt like hours. No kidding, it really may have been hours. I didn’t bother checking the time. And I don’t even know if I got the right materials. Which confirmed that some basic sewing instruction would indeed be beneficial.

I’m not sure where the urge to embroider came from, exactly, but I have a feeling that Cauchy may have had a lot to do with it. I ordered a couple books (Doodle Stitching and The New Crewel), but I’ve only gotten as far as winding my embroidery floss. I have to find some time to sit down and teach myself. Hopefully that will happen soon. Still, I’m looking forward to make some pretty, delicate, kitschy little things. I think they will make me quite happy.

And in the “kinda new, but not really” category, I have a new sea glass ring in the shop! Some of my Twitter friends helped me critique a white sea glass ring some time ago, but it just didn’t captivate me the way the green one did. Or does. I found some rare lavender sea glass (the history of which is really interesting!) and sort of had a feeling that it would give me the look and feel I was going for.  And I think I sort of love it.

After leaving Etsy, I wondered how I would be able to get my work “out there” for people who weren’t already familiar with me. I made a Facebook page, but I’m not so good at playing Facebook, so I don’t know how much good it’s done. What has seemed to make more of a difference was participating in a couple of online marketplaces. In a previous post, I mentioned that I was part of the Paper ‘n Stitch exhibition, and I decided to stick around for another month! This month, you can also find me at the Poppytalk Green Pop Handmade Marketplace, as well as a whole bunch of other fabulous indie shops. Both of these sites are great places to find new handmade shops that may or may not be on Etsy, so be sure to check them out!

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To everything there is a season, and sometimes, in life, you just have to make a deer head. I am smitten with all things antlers these days, and probably have more deer-head-type things hanging on my walls that I ought, none of which are made from actual deer parts, FYI. I really have to learn how to edit, but this was love at first sight. What can you do?

I stumbled across this project while browsing my daily blogs, and immediately sent the link to my most crafty friend. Within minutes, this crafty friend was standing before me saying, “We have to make them.” And I said, “Yes.” And she said, “But we should make them out of wood.” And I said, “Absolutely.” Yep, that’s pretty much how it started.

First, a mini foamcore deer head prototype was created (more out of deer head project excitement than anything else, really), and revealed that the proportions of the pattern do NOT match the proportions of the deer head in the project photo. And the slits are not the correct depth for keeping all the parts aligned properly. So together we redesigned some of the pieces, correctly measured the depth of the slits, created a new pattern, and started searching for materials. My friend is much more of a grown up than I, so she actually owns power tools AND, most importantly, a place to make a mess. So we gathered our materials and got together for Woodshop Saturday! 2 band saws, 1 jigsaw, 1 belt sander, 1 electric hand sander, 1 Dremel, some sweat, little to no blood, zero tears, and a couple bagels later we had our deer head pieces.

Ok, I glossed over the hard parts. The project was actually more challenging than we had anticipated. But I hadn’t played with power tools in a very long time, so it was WAY fun. Would I do it again? Probably not. Am I glad I did it the first time? Oh, you betcha.

My friend’s deer head will likely remain as is, with just the natural wood grain, perhaps just a clear coat to finish it. She has what’s known as “good taste.” For me, when it comes to stylized deer hear wall hangings, I tend to go big or go home. I chose some fabulous, kitschy, flocked paper that I found here, and spent quite a bit of time gluing, trimming, and painting the exposed edges. In retrospect, I should have cut the slits a bit wider. I had a nice, snug fit after all my cutting, which was shot all to heck when it scraped up my beautiful paper upon assembly. Argh. But I worked with it, finally got the thing together, disguised the mistakes, and the overall result is pretty flippin‘ sweet, if I do say so, myself. 🙂

I wish I had a better photo of the deer head. Alas, there is no light. There is only rain.

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