Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm stalking this poor woman

Malka Dubrawsky creates such beautiful work and was recently featured as an etsy seller. That's how I found her... check out her amazing textiles at a stitch in dye. Her technique used on the pillow is something I want to learn. She calls it dyeing and discharging. I've called all over town trying to find the Dec/Jan issue of Quilting Arts. She's featured on the front page and has an article describing her technique. A back issue would cost me $20 online. I just can't justify that, no matter how desperately I want it. Should anyone have this issue or have a way to copy it for me, I would really, really appreciate it! Otherwise, I will be watching for her book to be published. She is a rising star, in my opinion, and I wish her so much success.
P.S. I am insane, I know. I managed to track down her article in Quilting Arts on the internet later this afternoon. Here it is, but without pictures which may impede learning just a tad. Gotta love cyberspace.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fairy haven

It's nearly 65 degrees today. I've been working in the garden, and enjoying the glimpses of spring. The bees in our hive are very busy on an afternoon as warm as this. Every where I look I see tendrils of new life soaking up the sun. I hope you're enjoying some moments of your day as well. It would be so easy to give in to fear and despair right now, instead I refocus every day on beauty and hope.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pillow covers from the stash

The old covers were pretty darn gross. It's been time for a while, and I've had the fabric set aside. I just hadn't gotten around to making them. My friend Liz inspired me. Well, actually, I flat out wanted the pillows she made. I have three more pillows to make up and have some other fabric picked out for those. We'll see if it takes me another year to get it done.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A little bit of gluttony

I found this tablecloth at Target. Yes, I shop there. It's a really nice linen, 60 inches wide and 2 1/3 yards worth. Can't beat the price if I got it off the bolt. I also snatched up an awesome brown geometric flower print. I have plans to use it in some bags... or maybe keep it all for myself. A new shower curtain perhaps? Some day I will get around to making REAL covers from this linen for my chair. You know, the kind with zippers, that appear well made and store bought? For now, I am very content to have it tucked in around the existing cushions like a kind of cover. You can even see the corners of the fabric poking out in the picture. I don't care, though, because it makes me happy. If I spent the extra time to make it perfect, my two year old would destroy that illusion in about a minute.
Happy Fat Tuesday, friends. It's getting warmer here. Hip hip hooray!

Monday, February 23, 2009

curled up like a cat on the couch

When I was a little girl, I could spend hours and hours reading. Now, I like to spend long chunks of my winter knitting with some reading mixed in. It's easy to give up my machine this time of year. My sewing room is on the front porch. It's enclosed but drafty... not for the fainthearted.

I get stuck on patterns like I get stuck on songs or albums. I've made six of these hats since right before Christmas, all as gifts. I love the pattern. It's from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. (This is an aside, but Hoverson's book Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts is wonderful, as well.) The pattern is called Kim's hats and there are several variations of it. These are the roll brim hat. I added a hat topper for the women's hats that isn't in the book. All of them are knit with Manos del Uruguay. I can't tell you how beautiful this yarn is. It's handspun, kettle died by a co-opertive which employs mostly women in Uruguay. The wool is not as soft as a merino, but nearly so. I could work with if for every hat I ever knit. Now I just need to knit one for myself.

Friday, February 20, 2009

printing some more

Oooo... I think that I am addicted. I really got jazzed creating these prints. I love drawing the picture, then carving the stamp, then designing with the print. After this first attempt using paint and roller, it became very clear to me that learning to use the right amount of paint is a bit of a science. Still, I had a ball playing around. I purchased my first fabric paints the other day, but wanted to practice with our cheap acrylics on paper first. I'm glad I did and I think I will continue fussing around with this technique on paper before I use my expensive fabric paints on some of my precious linen.

This ginko leaf is one that I drew in January on the day that we helped our 13 and a half year old dog pass away. It was such an emotional day and I felt so empty. I wanted to create something from my grief and found myself drawing. It feels good to print something with this leaf drawing, now carving, a month later. It is a nice sense of time passing, healing even as we continue living. Our dog was a sweet old soul.

Remember my owl? My friend was carved with PZ Kutz, Grade B . I really enjoyed this material. However, I have a strong opinion about the material I used for the ginkgo leaf. Speedball Speedy-Cut. I will NEVER use it again. It is very crumbly, difficult to work with, and clearly will not last over time. I recommend never buying it. Anywho.... so fun to print with the owl, and now I know that I want to carve away at it some more to make the lines more bold. Fun stuff... experimenting, and changing as you go.This one has a calling to be used for some of my daughter's birthday invites, I do believe. We'll see if she agrees.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

kids love to felt

I have discovered that kids LOVE to needle felt! Upon a suggestion from my friend, a Montessori teacher, we brought out the cookie cutters for our adventure. I also later learned from Golden Sun Family that you can use chop sticks to hold the felt out of the way of these painfully sharp needles.

For our crafting event, long time friends came over to join us. As is often the case, this mama and I were on exactly the same page. She had planned to felt with cookie cutters, as well, after reading about it in Jenn Docherty's new book, "Sweet Needle Felts: 25 Projects to Wear, Give, and Hug."

Our five and six year old daughters had no trouble getting the hang of felting within the cookie cutter. Soon they were creating their own work, adding wool and colors as they pleased. Each girl, I think, suffered one needle poke, but it was all they needed to learn and really no big deal.

They made several beautiful pieces. To some, we glued pin backs on. These looked so sweet on various friend's and family member's jackets. They would also make wonderful ornaments.

Of course, I had to give it a try with my trusty elephant cookie cutter. I love that little guy. (I swear I didn't have kids just so I could have an excuse to sit around and craft!) So... in Jenn Docherty's book, there is instruction for putting your felted object on a t-shirt. I gave it a try, and it turned out pretty cute. You simply needle felt the object onto the stretchy t-shirt with the foam underneath. Easy peasy. Then I hand sewed a button on for an eye. Now, I have to see how it washes. Stay tuned for more detail on that.

I definitely see more needle felting in our future. I can't rave enough about how inexpensive and fun it is.
(P.S. for you locals, this book is in our library system... go check it out!)
(P.P.S. I did wash this shirt in cold with my machine which has an agitator, and hung it to dry. It turned out great!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Friendship's gifts

Do you ever have days where you are just dragging? It can be really hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you have kids. The saving grace in having kids is that there's no way to stay down for long. I've found that when I'm really down (with a cold, with life circumstances, with those monthly hormonal shifts), I simply must pull myself up, cruddy mood and all, and put on a smiling face. This I call my "fake it till you make it" life skill.

A few days ago, on a particularly rotten morning my friend brought her daughter over to play. On that day, even my "fake it till you make it" strategy was not winning out. I just wanted to sit down and have a good cry, not break up sibling arguments and wrestling matches. Now I have learned over time that my friends (and my sisters) are a must. Even though I'm an introvert at heart and can go days without talking to anyone, these relationships are the thing that keeps my soul full. I need the hugs, the shared stories, the camaraderie, and yes, all the special little gifts that friendships bring to my life. On this morning, it was a tangible gift. A lovely little journal that she made for me. Isn't it beautiful? I love, love, love it. Unlined pages, moleskin, and fabric. So of course, I hugged her and cried. This was the view from our property some time last week; we had snow. It is not where we live, but where we wish to build. A dream that we keep visualizing. Some days it feels very possible, other days it seems a fairytale. Nonetheless, it is an amazing (and private) place to hike.

Within days after this snow we had temperatures in the mid 60's. My daughter and I could not resist getting our hands dirty in the garden. We planted potatoes, spinach, spring lettuce, arugula, beets, and carrots. Some of it will need row covers because the deep freezes are not over. Still, I'll take these temperatures for now. Every little promise of rebirth is good enough for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kid's swap their art work

This promises to be so much fun! Thanks to the awesome women who are coordinating it. Check out this post at House on Hill Road and Wisecraft. I'll leave all the explaining to them; they do an excellent job. My daughter is signed up to participate and she can't wait to get her names. You have until Friday, friends.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

brown robin... felted, that is

You just wouldn't believe the little pile of wool this was before I made my feathered friend. I should have taken a picture. This newest undertaking for me has been a wonderful diversion from the winter blah's. It comes together really quickly and is so satisfying, like a good pot of chili. It's a very inexpensive adventure, as well. A huge bag of wool, plus the needle, plus the foam pad was all of ten dollars. I have plenty of wool to make several more. Holiday ornaments for next year? That would put me more ahead of the game than I've ever been in my life.

My friend who introduced me to this latest bit of crafting checked out two books from our local library which she shared with me. They're both fantastic, and super helpful. The first is Wool Pets by Laurie and Kevin Sharp and the second, is titled Little Felted Animals by Marie-Noelle Horvan. You can bet I'll be checking them out once I reach the top of the wait list.

Now I'm wondering if my almost six year old could try her hand at felting. I was inspired by this lovely woman's blog. In this post, her daughters made a felted landscape with some help from their grandmother. My sweet girl is chomping at the bit. She asked repeatedly if she could try when I was working on the robin. I kept telling her I didn't think it was a good idea. Now I'm reconsidering. Speaking from experience, it really hurts when you prick yourself with that needle. On the other hand, a needle piercing probably won't lead to death, and she's really good at fine motor work. (She's been weaving up a storm on her little loom from Christmas. ) I have a Montessori teacher that knows my daughter really well whom I could consult. Hmmmm...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Block Printing

I got myself "Printing by Hand" by Lena Corwin for Christmas, and I totally recommend it. It really is very useful and informative, as well as inspiring. It also includes some patterns for printing should you want to get started without coming up with your own. For me, part of the fun has been keeping a sketch book and drawing when I feel inspired. This owl was one of those creations.

I was careful about the next part of my investment. A friend told me about Craft Pudding. This woman is one seriously talented lady in the craft of carving stamps. She shares in this post different folks (with links) that she's learned from. It's fantastic for a beginner like me. I learned much from this guy, Kirbert's site which is on her page. He gives very practical and helpful advice about what to purchase and I also followed his direction by using this company, Stampeaz for my materials. I was very pleased. This owl I carved out of their with PZ Kut, grade B medium. Good stuff. I went ahead and purchased the sampler pack so that I can experiment with the different materials to see which one I like best. This was also one of Kirbert's recommendations. Now, I'm contemplating fabric paints, and have been considering Dharma Trading Company and Pebeo fabric paints. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions?

Now, if only I could carve as well as this! If nothing else, check out the talented lady at Craft Pudding. Her stuff is seriously cute.