Saturday, June 30, 2007

Skull Pillow

Stacey, who is the most voracious knitter I know, made us this really awesome El Dia de los Muertos skull pillow as a wedding gift. She used a skull pattern that she'd used to make a sweater, and then needle felted the flowers on to make it more colorful. I love it!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Geode Sun Catcher

I bought these geode slices a long time ago, with plans to make a mobile. That never came to fruition, but I recently realized that I could use a few dabs of E6000 glue to hold the slices together, and that one of them already had a hole that would serve as a hanger. The steps for this project are really simple:

1. Find geode slices you like. It's preferable if one has a hole that can serve to hang it up. Position hole near the top of your formation.
2. Arrange geode slices into a formation you like and think would look nice hanging from a window.
3. Use small dabs of E6000 glue (which dries clear) in a well-ventilated area to adhere slices together.
4. Place finished product on a piece of plastic (rather than paper) to dry, as paper bits will stick to the back and are hard to remove (yes, I speak from experience!)
5. Let dry for at least 24 hours.
6. When dry, pick up and remove any bits of glue that are highly visible on the front or back. Use small embroidery scissors to cut away excess glue in the empty spaces between the geode slices.
7. Fashion a jump ring out of a piece of wire, attach it to the existing hole, run a piece of yarn through it and hang it in a window.
8. If you're wondering where to get geode slices, check here or on eBay, of course. I got these from a little store on Markham Street in Toronto but they're pretty readily available.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cuteness in a Skirt

Ta da! A photo of Islay in the skirt I made and talked about here last week. This was taken at the end of a long day, featuring Islay's first trip to the Royal Ontario Museum (including the new Crystal wing) and to Bombay Palace. So Islay wasn't up to changing into another onesie, though you definitely get the idea of how cute she'll look in the whole ensemble from this photo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lone Wolf and Cub Table

A few years ago, I drafted my then-boyfriend/now-husband into a whole weekend of crafting! Drawing on his love of comics, I enticed him into a decoupage project. We first found old issues of a comic he loves, Lone Wolf and Cub (Japanese manga first published in the 1970s) and cut out zillions of pictures. We used a table we got from Goodwill, and spent two days with mod podge, adhering cool the cut-out comics all over it. After it dried, we put on a couple of coats of varnish for protection. It's gotten a little yellowed over time, but I plan to varnish it again this summer and hopefully that will even out the discoloration.

Our cats like it too (as well they should, since the one on the left has the middle name of Kogi Kaishakunin):

We made another table with my sisters-in-law, featuring Ranma 1/2 comics, but I don't have any pictures of it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Will This Become? Place Your Bets

So I started crocheting something on our way to Toronto this past weekend. Anyone care to hazard a guess about what it will become?

Monday, June 25, 2007

What To Do With Leftover Business Cards

My friend Lara recently issued me a challenge. She's finished her Ph.D. program (I'm glad for her but pining away for my own end date as well) and has tons of leftover business cards. What can she do with them?

Well, I immediately thought about an article I'd seen on this very topic in ReadyMade magazine. A reader submitted the cool pop-up card shown above. The article also talks about business cards being used to create address books, clothing, clocks and hanging curtains. Here's a tutorial on Craftster for making a wallet- you could use the business cards where it calls for cardstock.

Although I currently don't have any business cards with which to try this idea, I was also thinking that you could make a really neat miniature photo album from them. Since leftover business cards usually indicate a life change of some kind, it could be cool to incorporate them into a gift that way.

Weigh in, fellow crafters! What would you do with 250 out-of-date business cards?

ReadyMade ReJect Follow Up

Some of you will recall my first attempt at entering ReadyMade magazine's MacGyver Challenge. Of course I was sad that my clutch purse didn't win, but I have to say that the people at ReadyMade are super nice. I received my precious back in the mail a week or so ago, along with a note from Associate Editor Jen Trolio encouraging me to enter again sometime. Their current challenge is to make something out of old, non-working pens, which isn't an inspirational challenge for me... but I'll definitely enter again sometime. I want to be a MacGyver winner!

I still haven't given the bag away... uh oh, is it really my crafting precious? Does it have a strange, magical hold over me? Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Knit for Peace

My friend Amy, who is truly one of the most skilled knitters I know, is going to be organizing a Knit for Peace event through the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo. Happening later this year, the event will aim to bring together Jewish and Muslim knitters from around Buffalo to make the funky potholders you see above. All proceeds from the purchase of supplies will go to Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam ('Oasis of Peace' in Hebrew and Arabic), a village in Israel established jointly by Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship. The village is comprised of fifty families that live and work together on a hillside looking out towards the west and the Mediterranean Sea.

I know that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is so intense as to even make the above description somewhat contentious. But I congratulate Amy on starting a dialogue with Buffalo knitters interested in peace.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Homecoming Potholders

My friend Tomoka recently returned to her hometown of Nagoya, Japan from Buffalo. We spent 3 lovely, ice-cream filled years together here as grad students, and I am really sad that she's gone. Once she got back, Tomoka sent us a package filled with information about visiting her in Japan, which we intend to do soon. She also enclosed two Hello Kitty buttons in the package. I decided to use them as adornments on the potholders I made for her as a housewarming gift since she just moved into a new apartment. So these particular Hello Kitties came from Japan, spent about 3 weeks in the U.S., and are now on their return flight.

I don't know what's prompting it but I find I've been sewing a lot lately. My newest obsession is making knitting needle/crochet hook holders. I'm sure I'll post about those in the coming days.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One Reason Why I Am A Pacifist

At our wedding, my husband's brother announced to all that he would prefer to be referred to as my "brother by another brother" (BYAB) rather than brother-in-law, reflecting the quirkiness of the day as a whole.

Here are my two attempts to satisfy my BYAB Matt's recent request for a knitted camouflage hat. I made the hat on the bottom first-- it's not bad but the brim is enormous. That's what I get for going patternless and roughly estimating the size of Matt's head. (No, Matt, I don't really think your head is that big.) I used size 4 needles to make it, so I really didn't want to rip the whole thing apart. I toyed with the idea of sewing in a seam, but then I decided to use a different yarn and crochet another hat. Which I thought looked better, until my BYAB's brother (also known as my husband) weighed in with the opinion that it looked kinda granny-ish.

So, gentle reader, I look to you for your opinion: which hat should I send to Matt? The modified one or the granny camo one? I've got half a mind to send both and let him decide, but I'd love your feedback!

Bottom line: Camo and I just don't get along. I guess that's why I was in the Peace Corps.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Strawberry Picking in the Summertime

Going out to the countryside to pick fruits and vegetables is something of a tradition in my family. It's a tradition that seems to divide itself by gender in terms of enjoyment level. While my mom, sister and I are always game to pick whatever is in season, my father and brother (and now my husband too) are usually far less enthusiastic about the adventure. But this past weekend my mom and I dragged my husband to Murphy Orchards in Newfane, NY to pick strawberries and rhubarb.

You may be thinking, "Nice, but what does this have to do with crafting?" Behold the canning handiwork (which I consider a craft):

In addition to pick-your-own vegetables and fruits, Murphy's Orchards also has homemade jams and jellies for sale in very cute little jars. And one of the neatest parts of this place is that the original owners of the farm, the McClews, were abolitionists and are believed to have been members of the Underground Railroad. In the barn you can see the trapdoor entrance to a concealed chamber where people escaping from slavery hid until they could travel on to safety in Canada.

There's also a tea room where you can sit and sample some of the aforementioned jams and jellies, along with whatever desserts have been made from the in-season fruits. And while you're there, you can check out a hard copy of the book Mothers and Daughters, which features Carol Murphy and her daughter Alixandra Matalavage.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cheezburgers and Trashion

So I guess I'm not as internet savvy as I thought I was... apparently lolcats are the biggest craze right now, and I knew nothing about it until a few minutes ago. Am I totally out of the loop? This article helped me understand it all a bit better.

I guess maybe I am living under a virtual rock, because I also learned there's a new word for the kind of crafting I like to do: trashion. As in, trash that has been refashioned. Who knew?!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Whimsical Water Spigot

Since I finally finished planting flowers, shrubs and a tree in our front yard a week or two ago, I have been looking for a way to keep the hose from crushing the flowers when I pull it from the side yard to the front. Internet research led me to learn the proper terminology-- in the parlance of gardeners, such a device is called a hose guide. Who knew?

Anyway, at a craft show recently I saw a variation on the decorative (read: non-working) water spigot shown above and below.

I thought it was kind of clever; a little cheesy, maybe, but I liked the concept. Not enough to pay $30 for it, but enough to stop by my local hardware store this morning on my way back from the dentist (yes, the root canal saga continues) and buy a spigot and an elbow joint. I already had a piece of galvanized steel with a threaded lip and a chandelier crystal, so I just bought the spigot ($5.50) and the elbow joint ($1.79) to fit my existing materials. If you wanted to make something like this entirely from scratch, you could definitely buy a pipe at the store as well. The three pieces just screw together, and here's a nifty tip for adding the crystal: take a piece of copper wire (fairly thick gauge), add the crystal to one end, open the spigot as if you were turning it on, insert the other end of the copper wire in as far as you can, and close the spigot. The closed spigot will hold the wire in place.

I got the crystal a few years ago from a lighting store on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito, California. I was making a necklace at the time and wound up using a dark crystal instead (see below), but in true crafter/hoarder form, I kept the clear one for eventual use. I just walked into the store and asked them if they had any loose crystals for sale-- I'm sure you could do that at any lighting store. You can also find millions of them on eBay. Alternately, you could wait to see if the Garage Sale Deities smile upon you... this is just the sort of thing you can score at a non-baby stuff garage sale!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Necklace Giveaway!

In order to encourage people to start commenting on my blog, I've decided to give away this necklace that I just made to the first person to comment on this post! Write a comment, and then send me your address at and I'll stick it in the mail for you ASAP.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Robot Outfits, Completed

Here are the completed robot outfits! I really like the way they turned out. They're sized at 6-9 months, and I'm sure that Islay, Ophelia and Isobel will all look adorable in them!

I sewed a little bit of fabric on the back of one of the onesies as decoration. It looks cuter in person than in this photo, though:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mr. Roboto

Yesterday I used the robot iron-on transfers I purchased from The Mod Dots Shop. In addition to this super-cool addition to my husband's now probably-not-for-work shirt, I also made three baby robot onesies:

So cute, right? I am planning on modifying these onesies by adding little skirts. They will be gifts for Ophelia, Isobel, and Islay (Islay is the new addition to the McLeod clan who we will be meeting- finally- next weekend.) I'll post photos of the finished onesie outfits in a bit.

Every baby should have a robot onesie. Not every baby, however, should be subjected to viewing the Mr. Roboto video by the Styx. How do we explain this cultural manifestation? Stuart Hall, I need your guidance on this one. Domo arigato. (Mea culpa, I'm a child of the 80s and couldn't contain myself.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Zombie Sock Monkeys in Love (or, Why I Love My Sister-in-Law)

My husband and his brother and sisters are all a bit obsessed with monkeys. Okay, a lot obsessed with monkeys. As I've mentioned elsewhere, my husband is also a fan of zombies. So what could be more perfect than a zombie sock monkey? Well, how about two zombie sock monkeys, given as an engagement present?

Ginny did a fabulous job of creating realistic-looking brains and wounds. As you can see, we definitely share a love of crafting. I married into the right family, I guess. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Crafty Buffalo Public School Bears

Yesterday was "Bears and Reading Night" at the school where my mom is principal. It's a public Montessori school in Buffalo, and the school is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of what the magnet school vision was all about.

[Sidebar: Magnet schools were originally started in the hope that their geographically open admissions would end racial segregation in "good" schools, and decrease de facto segregation of schools in poorer areas by offering a more enticing educational program.]

But I digress. This post is about bears, not the politics of school desegregation. The idea behind this activity was to give students a chance to create their own stuffed teddy bear (a pal with whom to cuddle and read a good book), but to do it at a fraction of the cost (and without the strong-arm marketing) of the make-your-own-bear stores in malls across the country. For a mere $5 (just to cover costs), each child got a hand-sewed felt bag, an unstuffed bear and an item of clothing (hat, shirt, feather boa, etc.) There were additional items available for purchase for 25 cents to $5. For example, one retired teacher made several cute crocheted dresses and hats (the hats had little loops to slip over the bear's ears!):

Kids went around from station to station. First they picked out a heart for their bear and wrote a wish on it:

Then they continued on to the stuffing and sewing station, where parents and other volunteers helped the kids to make their bears whole:

Then, prior to going to the bear dressing room, the kids prepped their bears at the brushing/fluffing station:

And ~ta da!~ after signing adoption papers and picking out a book to read with their new stuffed friend, we have some proud bear crafters:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day of the Wed 2006, part 2

Elsewhere I've posted about some of the crafty projects we undertook for our wedding. We alerted guests to the fact that our wedding was a bit out of the ordinary from the very beginning with our invitations. The front of each invitation was adorned with art made especially for us by our amazingly talented graphic designer/comic book artist friend Kagan McLeod. That's the picture you see up above. I designed the invitations so they could be printed double-sided onto an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper, and then folded in half. I got all the paper for free from a company who was discontinuing extra card stock-- that meant that our invitations printed onto 4 or 5 different types of paper, but I figured that just made them more unique. I mean, each person just gets one invitation anyway, right? Does it really matter if your Uncle Joe's invitation looks exactly the same as the invitation sent to your high school friend?

I designed the layout myself in Publisher, and then took them to an office supply store when they were having a special on color copies. I did have to purchase the envelopes, but in the end each invitation cost me 50 cents to create. (40 cents for the copying, 10 cents for the envelope.) And they were light enough that we didn't have to worry about paying extra postage. Rather than a reply card, I asked people to call or e-mail their RSVP. FYI (because I looked it up just to make sure), this is proper wedding etiquette.

I figured that the skeletons on the invitation might really freak out some of our elderly and more conservative relatives, and perhaps just confuse others. So I included an explanation of the "theme" of the wedding:

El Dia de los Muertos
(or Why are there skeletons on the invitation?)

Our wedding is loosely themed around the holidays surrounding it: Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos. While most of you are familiar with the costumes and other traditions surrounding Halloween, we imagine that El Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, is new to some of you. It is a Mexican holiday celebrated the first week of November throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States. During The Day of the Dead, families remember those they have lost and celebrate the continuity of life. Great feasts are prepared and altars built and decorated to honor dead friends and relatives. The altars are decorated with marigolds, a special type of bread, and sugar skulls.

Images of a skeletal bride and groom are common during The Day of the Dead celebrations; this happy couple continues to rejoice in their bond even after they have left the physical world behind. As we proclaim our commitment to love and honor each other on our wedding day, we hope that you can enjoy our slightly macabre decorations in the spirit in which they are intended, as festive and fun for everyone, and standing against the idea that death and loss can undo the bonds that keep us together.
People seemed to really enjoy the invitations-- one person misplaced hers and actually asked me for another copy because she liked it so much! And the coolest thing was that Kagan gave us the original drawing as a wedding present.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Welcome to the World, Peter Kenneth!

My cousin-in-law and fellow Rachel (yes, that's Rachel with an "el," not "ael;" you might not believe how much it matters unless your name is Lara and you're constantly called Laura) recently had a little baby boy. Prior to his arrival, I sent a polar fleece blanket to welcome him. I understand that his big brother Nate promptly fell in love with it, however, so I believe there will be two more polar fleece blankets (for Nate and his sister Eliza) on my crafting to-do list this summer.

I like working with polar fleece because it's made from recycled plastics and the softness and bright colors are, as Nate's response indicates, fun for kids. I'd be interested to know if anyone's heard anything negative about it, such as adverse impacts of production.

If not, a tip for those interested in making baby blankets like these: If you check the discount bins for fleece remnants at your fabric store and find two complementary pieces of 1/2 yard each (or so), you can cut each of the 1/2 yard pieces into two, and then sew one of each piece together (as above with Curious George and green), do the same thing with the other two pieces, and then sew those back-to-back so you've got a double-thickness fleece blanket, perfect for a little one. Because of a special remnant sale, I spent only $3 on the supplies for this. Crafty, cozy, and cheap!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Allentown Art Festival: A Crafter's Delight

This weekend is the 50th annual Allentown Art Festival in Buffalo. It's a huge festival, filled with enough funnel cakes, kielbasa and deep fried oreos to satisfy the art-disinterested, and more than enough artisans and crafters (well, can you ever have too many?) to satiate me for a weekend. There are over 400 juried exhibitors, as well as a super-fun non-juried fringe festival.

I took some photos of exhibitions that caught my eye. Enjoy!

#1: Kreepy Doll Factory

In addition to the fact that their creations are colorful, playful and one-of-a-kind, the members of Kreepy Doll Factory are all dedicated to making the world a better place with their own hands... an idea that resonates with me, as do the comics on their website. Independent crafters who focus on reusing existing materials make me happy.

#2: Can Do Planes

Most of the Can Do Planes exhibit was full of, perhaps unsurprisingly, planes. They are all crafted from used aluminum cans. I was particularly smitten by this small gold elephant. I may try to make one myself, though I'll have to get a can from someone because we rarely drink from them. I have a feeling my brother may be willing to oblige, given that he's currently the beer writer for a local website.

#3: Flying Fibers

Here's my lovely sister Sarah modeling a cool hat from Flying Fibers, run by fiber artist Jeri Robinson-Lawrence, who also retails imported rare breeds and organic yarns.

#4: Nguyen's Chi Art

Though there's a bit of a glare on the glass, hopefully you can see that Lee and Christina Nguyen have mastered Vietnamese embroidery art. I bought some beautiful embroidered art in Hanoi a few years ago, and have been fascinated with the skill and patience required ever since.

#5: SiOx Glass

My fellow crafty friend Diane is currently pondering how to garden in her very shady front yard. She gleefully purchased three of these glass flowers- they're certain to bring color to her house's exterior in the summer, and to the interior in the winter. Note the red and blue glass mushrooms, for those wishing to suggest a Through the Looking Glass feeling in their gardens and/or abodes.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Joint Project: Baby Afghan x2

My best friend from high school, Becky, and her husband Eliot recently had twin girls (Isobel and Ophelia). The girls are little bundles of C-U-T-E. Early on in her pregnancy, Becky decided to make an afghan for each of them. Many granny squares in, however, her wrists swelled up and crocheting was no longer an enjoyable-- or even possible-- activity. So when she came for a visit in December, Becky brought me the goods, and we tag-teamed to ensure that the little critters could be swaddled in handmade warmth upon their arrival into the world.

I am especially fond of Becky's color and yarn choices here. She chose bold, bright colors and we just made granny squares (large and small) at random until we had enough to put together two blankets. I love that the colors don't immediately connote "Baby" or "Girl" and though the blankets share a common color scheme, they are distinct. Just like Isobel and Ophelia.

And, in the spirit of good actions coming back to you many times over, Becky and Eliot got me a subscription to CRAFT magazine as thanks. (I'd been coveting CRAFT for several months, ever since my sister got me a copy for a Christmas present... but as a grad student, it seemed a big luxury.)

If you're interested in making warm things for new arrivals and/or their older siblings, consider joining the Dulaan 2008 Project. Dulaan 2007 just finished up, so you've got a year to get knitting! (Many thanks to knitter extraordinare Amy for the info on Dulaan.)

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Biggest Craft Project I've Ever Done

The biggest craft project I've ever undertaken is approximately 4,000 square feet. In July 2004, I bought a two-family Victorian house in Buffalo. I thought I'd share the exterior of the abode where much of my crafting happens... after all, Craft Buff is an oh-so clever double entendre referring to my love of crafting and the City of Good Neighbors.

Built in 1901, the house had much to recommend it: a ridiculously low price (one of the best-- but certainly not the only-- answers to the inevitable "Why Buffalo?" query); lots of original, untouched oak woodwork throughout; beautiful leaded glass windows; a great backyard; the income from a downstairs rental unit to help with the mortgage; and more. It also had/has its share of challenges: wiring that hadn't been updated since the 1960s (fuses instead of circuits- fun times with both a coffeemaker and a computer plugged in); a maze of plumbing to confound the novice; a downstairs unit desperately in need of rehab; and lots of little (and sometimes not-so-little) things constantly breaking. But after 3 years of pretty steady improvement projects, the exterior transformation mirrors the changes within. Isn't it pretty? I haven't given this away per se, but I do like to share its charms with friends, and our spare bedroom has gotten lots of use. Come visit!

And for more information on the heavy-lifting required to revitalize Buffalo, check out Blueprint Buffalo and PUSH Buffalo.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Karma of Quilting

What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around...

When my wonderful friend Carey got married a few years back, her sister-in-law-to-be sent every wedding guest instructions for making a quilt square, which she assembled and presented to Carey and Michael at the wedding. I thought this was a wonderful idea, as it gave me an opportunity to use some very cool fabric that connected me to Carey in a deeply meaningful way. In true crafter form, I had been hoarding that fabric for many years. Here's Carey's finished quilt (My square is 4th from the top in the far right column):

So when my very incredible friend Lydia got married last year, I decided that I would initiate a quilt project for her. It was more work than I imagined... I had never made a quilt of that magnitude before, and I didn't expect that so many people would interpret my instructions as... well... as loosely as they did. 12 inch by 12 inch squares came back as 10x12 or 11x11 or 14x14 or something very far removed from a square and closer to a parallelogram. But it was a great project nonetheless, and Lydia and her husband Gera professed to love the finished product:

Several months later, when I jumped on the wedding bandwagon, Lydia offered to do the same for me. I tried to warn her that it was loads of work but she was not to be dissuaded. Viola! This is the fruit of her labor... as well as the labor of many crafty family members and friends, of course.

Isn't it great? As you can well imagine, each square captures a story and relationship(s). Bonus points for those of you can figure out which square Carey made for me.

And yes, for those of you who were wondering... that is a Justin Timberlake reference at the beginning of the post. T.S. Eliot (1948) argued that high culture and popular culture are both necessary components for a complete culture. While I'm sure I could provide a much more intellectually stimulating quote on karma, you've gotta admit that this is a catchy song.

What Goes Around lyrics

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Day of the Wed 2006

My husband and I decided to bow to tradition (kind of) and get married in October 2006. Before doing so, we'd each moved across the country for the other, had maintained a relationship across continents, and had, in fact, actually met as Peace Corps Volunteers in Mongolia. We'd also bought a house, supported each other through some pretty tough experiences, and acquired two cats together. So six-plus years into the relationship, it didn't really feel necessary to stand on ceremony when it came to getting married. Actually, I guess we wouldn't have done the traditional thing even if we got married six days after meeting... it's just not our style. And I have strong opinions about the wedding industry, and the implications of being inundated with marketing about being a princess for a day. It frustrates me to no end that rampant capitalist forces have convinced many women that love is synonymous with spending $50,000 for a party.

So our wedding was, in part, a commentary on that, while also being a really fun party where we got to make a formal commitment to each other in front of family and friends. Because my husband: (1) loves Halloween and horror movies; and (2) is of Mexican heritage; and because I: (1) love crafting; and (2) also love the spirit of both Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos; we decided to throw a wedding in October that would draw upon the color and spirit of El Dia de los Muertos (honoring the spirit of the dead) and the fun of Halloween (Costumes! Everyone in costumes!) One of the many craft items I/we (we being my family, including my mother, sister, sisters-in-law, and anyone else we could rope into participating) made for the event were sugar skulls. At the end of the night, people who wanted them could take a skull home. The photo above is one of about a dozen that we had scattered around the venue. I got the sugar skull mold from Mexican Sugar Skull, an online vendor with tons of great supplies. We decorated the skulls with fondant and I think they added a lot to the day.

I'll post more about other wedding/muertos crafts in the future.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Granny Square Goodness

Recently I had two root canals. The first one required emergency work just before I flew (read: intense cabin pressure change) to a conference in Chicago, and the ensuing infection was hands-down the most painful week of my life. Even percocet wasn't enough to keep me from keening and rocking in agony for a few horrid days. Then, just as life was returning to tooth-related normal, another one bit the dust. I spent a fair amount of time on the couch during recovery, and this blanket is the result.

I wasn't sure if this blanket was postable material, really, since it's one of the few craft items I've kept upon completion. But I love how it turned out, and it's a nice reminder of one of the most memorable dharma talks I had from a Buddhist instructor (Godwin Samararatne, a Sri Lankan Vipassana instructor who taught me in Bodh Gaya). He said, "It is always important to recognize when you don't have a toothache." The idea being, of course, that a toothache can be incredibly painful when you're experiencing it, but that when you don't have one, it's easy to forget the pain.

There's a reminder of that lesson woven into this blanket. Perhaps it's ironic, then, that I've decided to hang onto it. Impermanence generally saturates my crafting; part of what I find most satisfying about making things is giving them away. In this case, however, the blanket isn't only a rainbow of granny square goodness. It's also a vibrant reminder that I don't have a toothache.

Baby Stuff!

I'm a big fan of garage sales. Apart from the political implications of reusing rather than purchasing new (which is super important to me), I also just really, really enjoy finding good crafting supplies. Like a bag full of wool yarn that someone's brought back from a trip to Ireland, has never found the time to utilize, and is now selling for $3. But lots and lots of garage sales are filled to overflowing with baby stuff.

Stuff that makes my head spin and makes me ruminate on who, what, and where we are as a culture. In my vocabulary, "baby stuff" has become synonymous with "a garage sale that has nothing I will purchase." So, for example, when we pass a garage sale and are deciding whether or not to stop in, if I say "baby stuff" to my mom, sister, husband, father or uncle (whomever has tagged/been dragged along for the morning), it's code for "Just keep walking, I don't want to stop at this one."

But when referring to recently handcrafted items for new babies, BABY STUFF takes on another, much more innocuous, meaning. It just means fun items I've made for babies that are on the way. So here is a photo of the kind of baby stuff I think is worthing stopping for-- a knitted sweater I recently made for a dear friend who is going to be a kick-ass momma:

I also sewed a fleece blanket and matching hat for the little critter. Notice the spiral design-- I did not intend to evoke Uzumaki, though I guess I may have!