Friday, August 31, 2007

This is the cake that my husband would probably like for me to make for his birthday, which is today. Unfortunately, I didn't. In fact, I haven't been very crafty at all for his big day... probably because I'm frantically working to get my dissertation proposal finished and preparing for our upcoming trip to Mongolia. But I don't think he really minds-- I did make him a cake, and I also got him The Office (U.S. version-- we watched the British version when it came out but haven't yet seen the U.S. one, and by all accounts it's really good) and Heroes on DVD.

Oh, and I went to the movies and watched a really creepy Kevin Bacon movie with him (the name of which I've already forgotten). At one point I said, "I think I'd rather just be sitting in the lobby than watching this," to which he responded, "Now you know how I felt when we went to see Mamma Mia." Fair enough. Happy Birthday, buster!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Extra-Cute Hair Clip Tutorial

Magda at Little Thing has a tutorial for really, really cute hair clips. Like them but don't feel like working with felt yourself? You can also buy felt key chains and other crafty goods from her Etsy store, Craft Pudding Handmade Goods.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Montessori By Hand

As the graduate of a public Montessori school and the daughter of the principal of aforementioned public Montessori school, I am a huge fan of the Montessori philosophy, and am particularly fond of the public school variety.

Montessori by Hand is a wonderful blog written by a Montessori teacher who writes,

"I have always been fascinated with making materials for my classroom. I have an on-going love affair with beautiful fabrics and nature photos. The sewing machine and I enjoy a symbiotic relationship. At night, visions of felted, child-size meditation mats and handmade books dance in my head."

Check out this great blog... many crafty Montessori ideas abound!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bottle caps!

My friend Lara is working in Kibondo, Tanzania right now. She has an interesting post about bottle caps on her blog. Check it out, and feel free to give her ideas about what to do with her new collection.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Baby Hat

I made this little cotton baby hat for my friend John's impending arrival in Manila. I made it from cotton because frankly, being from Buffalo, I know little about head covering practices for tropical babies! Does anyone out there know what kinds of hats (if any) babies wear in tropical weather? Up here in the cold climes, we definitely are a hat-donning culture. But what about the Philippines?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Proof of Monkeys

As mely pointed out in her comment, it is difficult to see the monkeys in the curtains I made. Here, then, is a close-up of the fabric I used. This poor monkey had part of his head cut off, but you get the idea.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Monkey Curtains, Completed

Ta da! The monkey curtains I made for our dining room have been completed. I was torn about the fabric (I'm not usually a fan of huge flowers) but it's actually quite nice because the yellow background color helps to keep the curtains from darkening the room too much.

On another crafty note, I also made the seat cushion for the window bench a long time ago. I love that it's velvet but unfortunately so do my cats (and their many, many hairs).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Super Easy Baby Hat

Radical Cross Stitch has a tutorial for an easy-to-make baby hat using an old knit dress (though you could use anything knit, really).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ebay Craft Auction for a Good Cause

Quick! Check out this website before August 24. There's an auction going on for items that crafters have graciously donated because blogger/crafter/writer Eireann's mother is in serious need of financial help with some medical bills:

"On June 4, an aneurysm on an arteriovenous malformation in my mother's cerebellum ruptured, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding between the brain and skull). Blood also collected in the center of her brain and caused a stroke. She was in the ICU for 3.5 weeks, then in physical and occupational therapy (inpatient) for 1.5 weeks.

We were told by the doctors only a week ago that one in ten people survive this. Very few people are expected to recover. My mom has astounded her doctors and therapists with her tenacity, her strength, and the progress she has already made and continues to make. She has diminished function in her left side and has lost her hearing in her left ear. She is expected to make a complete recovery within a year, for which we are unspeakably grateful.

Although my mother does have some health insurance, a pre-existing condition makes it such that the insurance she does have will not cover things like this. My dear friend Shana suggested an auction of handmade things to help cover my mom's medical bills.

The making community is incredibly supportive, kind, loving. I've been borne up by your comments and prayers over the past 5 weeks. My family and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

No one, and I mean NO ONE, should have to worry about money as they're recovering from something like this. People need to stop saying "socialized medicine" with disdain in their voices and start realizing that situations like these are completely unethical and reflect poorly on who we are as a nation.

Go check out the auction...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monkey Curtains

Today I'm making monkey curtains for our dining room. I have finished one of them already-- see above. I'm not sure if I really love this fabric or not, but it (1) matches our dining room walls and (2) was super-cheap ($3!) at an interior decorator's garage sale that I hit this summer. It has monkeys on it, so I can't REALLY go wrong. It's better than staring at the house next door, anyway.

Monday, August 20, 2007

So Much Paper...

In hopeful anticipation that I'll someday finish my dissertation, I have been thinking about what I'll do with all that scrap paper. I mean, a dissertation, even printed double-sided, is an enormous amount of paper. And I'll definitely need to print out at least one less-than-final copy of it for proofreading purposes. So I'm looking ahead to the day when that happens (please, oh please, let it be closer than it feels right now...) Here are some useful links for paper crafts:

1. Two links for how to make your own paper:
Pioneer Thinking
Making paper with kids

2. Paper crafts for kids that don't involve actually making paper, just reusing it.

3. What one crafter does with her leftover paper.

4. In case you want to get technical.

5. Paper crafts galore!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cutting Edge Brownies

I've started contributing (on a very occasional basis) to the YUM! section of a local website called Buffalo Rising. Check out my article on the Edge Brownie Pan, a very cool item that my brother Adam got me for my birthday!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Grocery Tote Crafting Saga Comes to an End

I am pleased to report that I've finished my third grocery tote, bringing the saga of the crocheted grocery tote to a close. The nice thing about having 3 of these is that I don't need to supplement with plastic. I found that when I took two of them to the store with me, I sometimes needed one more bag, and I had to use at least one plastic bag. This is especially true if you're buying a lot of fresh produce, and you don't want it to get all banged up and smashed. But now that shouldn't be a problem.

I'm getting pretty good at remembering to bring them into the grocery store/to the farmer's market with me. Now I just need to remember them when I'm running a random errand at a non-food store (like the pet store for cat food). I'm thinking about keeping a plastic bag knotted up in my purse at all times for just such a forgetful moment. (The busier I get, the more frequently I experience such moments, I'm afraid.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Well Wishes Needed

My grandmother-in-law is in the hospital right now, and she is very much on my mind. I lost all my grandparents relatively early in life, and Grandma Angie is really special to me because the combination of sweetness and strength she has reminds me of my maternal grandmother. Float a get-well wish into the universe for Grandma Angie today, please. She taught me the craft of refried beans, something my husband is eternally grateful for. (FYI, Grandma Angie is in the middle of the photo, and John and I are right/back.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Crafty, Lucky, and Delicious...

No, those aren't the names of Snow White's three lost dwarves. Come to think of it, though, wouldn't it be cool if one her dwarves was named Crafty? Anyway, these are the adjectives that best describe the delicious pound cake (made with one whole stick o' butter) that my friend and colleague Susan brought to me today. In addition to the joy that the consumption of this loaf of tastiness will bring me, Susan also included a lucky rock on the beautifully and simply wrapped package. So I fully expect that any writer's block I'm experiencing on the slow journey that is my dissertation proposal will melt away. The pound cake alone already makes me feel I've come into some good fortune.

Note at 8:30 PM: Susan just informed me that the cake actually has one POUND (or four sticks) of butter, not one STICK. I best go easy... ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gen Con Crafts

My husband left for Gen Con today, one of the largest gaming conventions in the world. I don't just accept the dorky overtones that such an event carries, I think they're awesome. So, in honor of Gen Con Indy 2007, here are some gamer crafts:

1. Courtesy of Z Studios, some StarCraft origami.
2. A large Pac Man necklace, courtesy of Wonderland.
3. Tetris fridge magnets from Kotaku.
4. Look at all the crafting-related events at Gen Con for gamer "widows" and "widowers;" maybe I should go next year!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Birthday Report

Yesterday was my birthday. I mostly "celebrated" by working on my dissertation proposal. Sigh. But I did receive presents from my nearest and dearest, including Margaret Cho tickets, some much appreciated $$, a nice post on a friend's blog, Malcolm Gladwell's new book Blink, and the wonderful vintage (1970s, I think) framed embroidery shown above. Thanks, Sarah, for rescuing this little gem for me. It's found a new home in my kitchen.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Birthday Links

In case you're like me and have a lot of summer birthdays to celebrate, here are some crafty links to help you prepare:

1. In case of birthday emergency, download this card.
2. How to make a birthday banner.
3. How to make a balloon arch.
4. Or how about a sock monkey pop-up birthday card?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grocery Tote #3 (halfway there, with kitty guard)

So my never-ending ball of yarn has finally ended. I thought I'd be able to get 3 grocery bags out of it, but I wound up with only 2 1/2. Not a problem, really, since I bought 2 of these monster skeins at the same time, so I should be able to make 5 totes total. I continue to LOVE them at the grocery store-- I can fit the same amount of groceries in one crocheted tote that would normally fill 3-4 plastic bags.

My guard kitty Mochi makes an appearance in this photo-- she loves all things fiber, and is constantly carrying balls of yarn around to form "webs" in our house. She will basically unwind an entire ball of yarn around the legs of tables, into hallways, under beds, etc. until she's created a huge lair. She also has pica, and her non-nutritive substances of choice are wool and cashmere. I found this out the hard way-- I have two cashmere sweaters with "extra" seams in them now, in addition to scores of wool sweaters and socks that she's eaten. Anyway, the point is that Mochi has an inordinate fondness for the fiber arts, and she is quite enamored with these new grocery totes. Fortunately they're made from cotton yarn, so I don't have to worry about her munching on them.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I've been reading the 7th Harry Potter book over the past few days (my husband finished it-- I've been waiting and hoping that I'd hear no spoilers in the interim). So, in honor of all things Harry, I present some links to cool related crafts:

1. Dark Mark Illusion Scarf
2. Harry Potter puppets
3. Great link to all kinds of Pottercrafts here.
4. Cool pattern for the wizard trio and owl here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Adventures in Silver Jewelry Making

I recently realized that I'd not yet posted about my foray into silver jewelry making. It was simultaneously a successful and painful foray, as you'll learn below.

From 2002-2004, while I was living in the Bay Area, I bought class and studio time at a Precious Metal Clay studio in Berkeley. (Actually, if you click on that link you'll see my sister's picture, she was visiting me and happy about something I'd made for her.) I'd never heard of PMC before I started, but it is basically a clay that bakes down (in a kiln) to 99.9% pure silver, or to 14K gold. I worked in silver (since it was a lot cheaper than gold) and wound up making lots of jewelry, and I even made 2 small incense burners. PMC is an interesting medium to work with because you can add texture to it. The silver bead on the necklace above is an example of a textured piece. I haven't heard about many people working with it as a hobby, but I have seen many PMC pieces at craft shows and in boutique jewelry settings.

Perhaps one of the reasons it's not a commonplace hobby is because PMC requires equipment and a longer-term commitment than some other forms of jewelry making like beading. You have to create the piece, let it dry out, put it in a kiln for several hours, buff and refine it, polish it and then [as in the case of this necklace] use it in a jewelry piece.

I learned the hard way that PMC can also be dangerous if you've got long hair. I was working on buffing a ring one day when a lock of my hair slipped out of my pony tail and got caught in my Dremel tool. A hunk of hair (big enough to be noticeable but small enough to be able to cover up!) actually got pulled out at the roots. I basically scalped myself. The next day when I showed up to work, my co-worker Julie (who is an ultra-observant person) said, "Oh, wow, you put a barrette in your hair today! It looks nice!" A little while later she said, "So what made you decide to change your hairstyle?" I kind of flubbed a non-answer, and a while later she asked again. I finally admitted to her that I'd pulled out a chunk of hair and showed her the damage. It grew back in slowly but I did modify my hairstyle (such as it is) for several months. My husband loved the little buzz cut, and I grew to love the physical reminder of my PMC mistake as well.

After I moved away from California, I haven't had enough free time (or money, as a grad student) to work with PMC anymore. I'm sure my scalp is grateful.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Scream...

My friend Tomoka is a great lover of ice cream. I thought of her last night while watching my favorite guilty-pleasure TV show, Top Chef. One of the challenges was to create an ice cream flavor, using sweet cream as a base.

Tomoka truly amazes me with her ice-cream eating prowess. This Christmas she spent the holiday with us, and we made ornaments out of fimo (clay). Tomoka's ornament was a lovely ice cream cone. This is perhaps unsurprising to all who know her:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sun Jar

Not Martha notes some new ideas for a DIY sun jar (a rechargeable light in a jar), including Shrinky Sheet tags, LED lights to simulate fireflies in a jar, and glow-in-the-dark stars suspended in a jar to create a soft night light. I especially like how the last project uses a recycled glass jar.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Never-Ending Ball of Yarn

I've finished my second grocery tote (see the first one here) and I still have enough yarn left over from my mega-skein to make a third bag. Unbelievable! This particular skein of yarn started out looking like this:

And now is down to this:

This yarn was originally $8 at Michael's. They may be discontinuing it, because it was on sale for $2 when I went there a while back (the same day I bought the little gift boxes I talked about here). So, for a whopping $2 I'll able to crochet 3 shopping bags! That's about 67 cents per bag, and a whole lotta good environmental karma.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Yarns Away...

After I finished my first grocery tote on Friday night, I decided to make another one because I had a huge skein of yarn (Lily Sugar 'n Cream, 400 grams in ecru) and my first tote only used up approximately 1/3 of the skein. This one is going to be a bit bigger than the first. It's coming along but I'm going to have to move on to another type of project after this-- I'm getting really sick of double crocheting without thinking. Maybe I'll make the reversible mouse pad (shown above) next. Here's the link to the tutorial on Gruene Tree, via CRAFT.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Congratulations, Andrea!

Today I went to my friend Andrea's baby shower. I already blogged about the sweater and blanket I made for her when I found out she was going to have a little one; above is a photo of the hat I made to match the little yellow sweater and gave her today at the shower. I am also pleased to report that I won a prize at "Baby Shower Bingo"-- a very nice, handcrafted sugar scrub. The favors were great as well-- Andrea's crafty friend Nora made earrings for everyone. I love my new amethyst and silver ones!

Congratulations, Andrea! Can't wait to meet the little activist...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Finished: Grocery Tote

I finished my grocery tote in time for it to make an appearance at the farmers' market this morning! I simply double crocheted (as if I were making a huge hat) and when it was tall enough to resemble a grocery bag, I started double-crocheting a handle (back and forth 7 stitches to make a long scarf-like thing protruding from the bag). When the handle was the length I wanted it to be, I connected it (single crochet) to the other end of the bag. Ta da! Above you see the bag itself, below are the spoils I brought home from the market today.

I bought delicious plain yogurt from White Cow Dairy, some lovely dark leafy greens from Native Offerings Farm, and 4 tasty squash fruits. The bag could have held more but I didn't have a lot of cash at the market this morning; I'd forgotten that I spent it all on admission and drinks at Qualia's excellent show last night. (It's not like the show was expensive, it's only that I only had a $20 bill to begin with!) If you're in the Buffalo/WNY area, check them out:


September, 7 2007 at Club W
Delaware, near Chippewa, Buffalo, New York
Cost : $3


Friday, August 3, 2007

Making My Own: Grocery Tote

I decided to make my own grocery bag this week. I'm just using a neutral (undyed) cotton yarn and crocheting it like a big hat. I hope to have it finished in time for my weekly trip to the producer-only Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market tomorrow morning. I don't know if I'll have time to finish it today or not, because I'm working during the day and making a trip to hear/see my brother's band Qualia tonight at Soundlab. Regardless, I'm hoping this will work out well as a shopping bag because it's been a challenge for me to find grocery totes that hold up over time and are big enough (or have enough give) to hold a bunch of stuff.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Knitted Knitting Bag

I made this knitted bag to hold my sister's knitting supplies a while back. I gave it to her when she first was learning how to knit, and then she knitted her own bag (a massive felted bag that reminds me of cupcakes because of the yarn colors) and gave me back this one (whose colors remind me of Grover or Cookie or Harry Monster). I used a silk scarf I bought in China to line the inside of this bag, so it's kind of impractical as a grocery tote, although it is not a plastic bag. I'm including a photo taken at a strange angle so you can kind of see the lining. Also, the button on the bag (somewhat camouflaged) is a vintage button I bought at a street fair in San Francisco a few years back. I actually think the button is my favorite part of the entire bag.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fashion and Eco-Sensibility Collide: I'm Not a Plastic Bag

I basically live under a fashion rock, so I was until recently unaware of the buzz around designer Anya Hindmarch's wildly popular new tote, the "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" (cloth) bag. Actually, "buzz" is likely too soft a term; people are lining up for these bags like I did for Cabbage Patch Dolls in November 1983.

There's something ironic about people waiting in line for hours to buy a canvas tote for $15 and then turning around and selling it for over $100 (yep, it's true- check eBay if you don't believe me) when the bag itself is making an environmental statement. After all, isn't the idea that by using canvas, rather than plastic, bags, people will curb environmentally degrading, materialistic habits? Sigh. The bright side is that people may actually stop using so many plastic bags now, I guess. And because I am eternally hopeful, I present to you several tote bag pattern links. In the amount of time you would spend waiting in line for one of the I'm Not A Plastic Bags, you can make your own:

1. Singlet style tote bag, link via CRAFT.

2. Knitted bag folds up onto itself, link via CRAFT.

3. Really simple sewn tote bag.

4. Fancier sewn tote bag.

5. Easy oilcloth tote bag. You can always buy oilcloth from one of my favorite websites, Mexican Sugar Skull, if you don't know where else to get it.

6. There's a nice photo tutorial for this sewn tote bag.

7. A pattern for a cute crocheted and felted tote bag can be found here.

8. Don't sew, crochet or knit and don't want to pay $100 or wait in line for something that's not a plastic bag? Here are some cute and inexpensive options I found on Etsy:

1. Little Odd Forest Shopping Bag
2. Tree Hugger Tote
3. Vintage Farm Scene Tote
4. Big Brown Bag
5. Blue String bag