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Sunday, April 06, 2008

I *Heart* Red & Aqua (pt 2)

The purse is the result of a fascination with graygoosie's crochet bolero. I was wondering how the hell to crochet something with motifs and no real pattern. Then, I sat down and actually read a book, instead of a computer — I know, wacky stuff. I turned to the section about Irish Crochet and had my answer: first, motifs are basted onto fabric templates; then a crochet chain is basted to the edge of the fabric; finally, random lace is worked from the outside toward the motifs.

So, I tried that with this purse, but the lace was *too* much. I had made a spider's web connected to the flower. The weight was too bulky and loose — I knew I'd be catching things on it all the time. So, I frogged the web and embroidered on some western-style loop decoration.

The real breakthrough for me was making a bag. I know, y'all make bags all the time. But, I haven't wanted to make one since my first attempt, which was a sorry lopsided thing made with a reclaimed polyester patchwork quilt, vinyl backing, and polkadot lining. It was a mixed-media nightmare and I never finished it. (see picture at right)

The other blue and red goodness, from left to right: metal bird ornament made by Regina at Creative Kismet; handmade pincushion and imported gnome-ish ribbon from Kristin at Kleas.


Just found this great series of tutorials for making modern clothing with Irish Crochet. Wish I had found this first, but, then, if you don't even know what it's called, it's hard to google.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Own Personal Bokeh

Alice in Wonderland Cookie Cutters
Here's a set of Alice in Wonderland cookie cutters that I made for my sister many years ago. I consider these a crafty personal best. My favorite is the Walrus (top left) — those tusks were tough, I tell you. I like how he turned out. These were all done about the same time as the gnome cutters — that's why my wrists got so wrecked!

This year, I had wanted to make and decorate the Alice cookies for an Easter tea party like we used to do — but, kid-wise, I'm still a year or two away from that. I'm OK with them making messy kid versions, but, I want to have the freedom to be perfectionistic and spend *lots* of time getting all detailey. With kid interruptions clocking in every one-to-two minutes, it's just not going to happen anytime soon. That's been one of my parenting lessons — to be looser, to let things go, to not get caught up in the details.

Some who know me may laugh at that idea — that big ol' sloppy Michelle needs to loosen up. I'm not really known for being neat and tidy. I once got fired by my dad for not mowing the lawn correctly (I liked spiral, he liked straight lines). I do tend to let *a lot* of things go. For instance, just the other day I had to choose whether or not to take my shoes off when stepping onto our white-ish carpet. I thought, "Which are dirtier: my feet or my shoes?" I kept my shoes on. When I told my sister that story, she said, "That's *so* you."

Dirty feet just aren't something I focus on. Creating — even if it's just cookie decoration — will always take precedent over hygiene, or, any cleaning, really. Perhaps I'm set on macro? My personal bokeh is large — it's big enough to artistically blur my dirty, size 10.5 US feet; or, the twenty-odd loads of dirty laundry; or, two days worth of dishes. I'm OK with that. And, kids definitely have a macro way of seeing the world. Now, if I could just set my husband to have a narrow depth of field when viewing the house. ;)


More cookie cutter pics over at flickr.

Thanks to Emily at Five Flowers for teaching me about bokeh.

P.S. The title is set to this tune.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crafts of Yore: Knitted Hats

I don't really knit much these days, because poke-y sticks are just too attractive to the littles. But, I used to knit, for a short time — made some hats, some dolls, a blanket. Ravelry inspired me to take these pics of past projects, and it's also tempting me to knit again. I kinda, sorta want to make a sweater for myself. [Insert nervous nail biting here.] I'm thinking about the Sophisticated Rustic Jacket over at Interweave's Knitting Daily. Has anyone made it? Suggestions on another sweater type garment that would flatter a big breasted, big waisted gal like me?

The beehive hat is from Stitch 'N Bitch Nation. The stripe-y hat is Tychus from Knitty. And, the baby bonnet is from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I added the fuzzy crochet border. The weird baby head is a leftover Bedfellow head that now gets used as a ball. I left the yarn string on it and the kids love to chuck it. The eyes and nose were done in Photoshop. Sorry, I don't remember too much about yarns and needle sizes.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Making Tradition By Hand

Growing up in a half atheistic, half non-church-going-believer type of family made my childhood holidays a find-your-own-meaning sort of situation. My mom created the mood, my dad tried to ignore the whole thing. I don't remember wondering what the meaning of it all was — I suppose getting presents was my main concern. But, I do remember loving the ritual of our family's traditions: opening family presents on Christmas Eve/Santa's in the morning; baking a long list of very specific goodies (Granny's Fudge, mom's Russian Tea Cakes, Becky's Peanut Butter Balls, grandma Ruby's Peanut Butter Cookies, Renie's Magic Bars, etc.); and, most importantly, the making of handmade gifts and decorations. We did *a lot* of making. We never stopped making, not even in those awkward teenage years.

When I was in college I printed a very small edition of miniature books about our family's Christmas traditions. Talk about being a dork! There is nothing more un-hip than illustrating Christmas when you are a fine arts major — my teacher was not impressed. It was an earnest book, though, full of love and memories. Each spread features an item handmade by family or friends: my sister's toilet paper tube angel; Wayne's machine-lathed aluminum tree; my soft sculpture snowman; Kathy's felt advent calendar; Patty's patchwork placemats; even our favorite baked goodies are in there.

My printmaking teacher might not have liked it, but it was tear-worthy over at our house that Christmas. It's probably the best present I ever gave to my mom. And, in a way, it's one of the best presents she gave to me.

Here it is:
Miniature Book

Becky's Angel / My Snowman:

Patty's Placemat:

Kathy's Advent Calendar:

Wayne's Aluminum Tree:

The Goodies:

The End:

Some technical info:
I printed the book on a stone lithography press with black ink. I hand-colored each illustration with Prismacolor colored pencils. The text is handwritten (I forget what kind of pen — heck, it was 20 years ago!). Each page is glued together accordion-style. The binding is red leather with what used to be gold ink.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Cobweb Christmas

Snowflake Beaded Ornament
There have been a lot of book recommendations going around these days — always a nice thing, to my way of thinking.

Lori over at Camp Creek has a bunch of great lists, including: holiday favorites, read-alouds, and books for 8-to-11-year-old set. Amanda has her Winter reading list up, too. This got me thinking about The Cobweb Christmas — a favorite of our family. It's the story behind the tradition of putting tinsel on trees.

This spiderweb ornament that I made was inspired by the story, as well as the wonderful MSL beaded snowflakes. I put it together many years ago while recovering from surgery. It was definitely a pre-kiddeos endeavor — I can't imagine having little trays of beads and wire cutters lying around right now.

I didn't find a link to the version of the book that we have, but here's a picture.

Cobweb Christmas

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Advent Calendars 1976

Advent Calendars 1976
Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
I was going to put together the list of all the advent loveliness out there, but Steph beat me to it. This photo is from Christmas 1976—I was eight and my sister was three. We're standing in our white, faux-wood paneled living room next to our Advent calendars that my mom put together with something like interfacing and Liquid Embroidery. I got to draw the scene on the top of mine, but mom did the Santa for sis. Each day had a present tied with ribbon to a little ring. I remember exactly what the rings looked like, how the ribbon felt, how cold the linoleum was. I probably examined each present for hours, never sneaking a peek, although I did do that with the big presents. I think the secret was that they were wrapped well and had lots of ribbon to keep it secure to the calendar.

It will be a year or two before I get it together to do an Advent calendar for my boys. So far I only have one present for Christmas, let alone Advent!

Go check out Kim's photo that my four-year-old thought was me.

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