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Sometime in the last few months I got it in my head that I wanted a cashmere blanket. Like, really wanted one. I think maybe I started obsessing when I was paging through Handmade Homeand saw all the cozy, cozy stacks of blankets. I just wanted to curl up with them. I didn’t want to fork over the money for cashmere, though, so I started scheming. Could I possibly find enough thrifted cashmere to make a blanket?
Sometimes it’s hard to come by, but lo and behold, there was a bumper crop of cashmere at Goodwill this fall. Some of it was in perfect condition, in my size, with classic lines. What?! I washed those and put them in my closet.
The rest of it, the out-of-fashion, the holey, the wrong sizes, I cut into rectangles (excluding the holey bits) after washing it. I added in a few washed and shrunken merino sweaters, too, to round things out and make the blanket a little bigger.
In all I used six sweaters for the blanket. It went together pretty quickly, and the kids were very excited to help place the pieces. Everyone was already fighting over it before it was even done.
I had planned to lap the edges, but kind of forgot that plan until midway through. Oh well. Next blanket, maybe. I already have some cashmere pieces waiting.
Personally I like all the little weirdnesses of sweater pieces, the rolled edges, the seams and ribbing here and there. And it’s kind of nice to have a “smooth” side and a “wrong side.” I like them both.
For sewing the pieces together, I used (I think) a regular machine needle and upped the stitch length a bit. I had no problems with it. If you want specific instructions for sewing a cashmere sweater blanket, check out Betz White’s book Warm Fuzzies.
Awesomeness is happening the world of Diana Levin Art.Here are a list of new stuff going on:
Designer Con 2012- is an annual art and design convention that smashes together collectible toys and designer apparel with urban, underground and pop art. Saturday November, 3, 2012. @ Pasadena Convention Center , 300 East Green Street. Pasadena, CA 91101
Bats Day-in the fun park. A show for all you Gothic ghouls out there. Sunday, November, 4, 2012. @ DoubleTree Guest Suites Anaheim 2085 South Harbor Blvd Anaheim CA, 92802
Co-op 28 Handmade-My wearable art jewelry will be displayed there. Stop by the store and check out some cute handmade items. @ 1728 N. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, California 90027
Hive Gallery- I will have wall featuring my original art at this amazing gallery starting November. Woohoo…Can’t wait.
Steampunk is a type of genre that incorporates fantasy, sci fi, Victorian fashion and Alternate History. Its old industrial technology meets post-apocalyptic future. And here is a collection of fabulous items to celebrate my love for Steampunk!!!
The spring Waldorf basar, with crafts, kid activities, and yummy food, happened a few weeks ago. It was our last one before we move back to the U.S., which makes me a little sad. There is really nothing like a Waldorf basar, and there aren’t any Waldorf schools or kindergartens in Charlotte that I know of.
The Waldorf handicrafts are so different from what I’d seen before, so very German, and all from natural materials. The rabbits above were what I made this year. You wouldn’t believe the hours that go into making one tiny bunny.
Below are some feather babies, who are sleeping in painted walnut shells:
Bock! Bock! Knitted chickens:
and my personal favorite this year, deer:
The bunnies in front of the deer are mine, thankyouverymuch.
I just bought Stofftiere zum Selbernähen(Stuffed Animals to Sew Yourself) by Karin Neuschütz so I can make some more animals on my own. It has patterns for camels, donkeys, giraffes, pigs, everything–except deer, which bums me out. I’ll have to find that pattern somewhere else. Looks like the book is only available in German, but you really only need the patterns and a blanket stitch to make them. She does have a few other titles that have been translated, looks like.
I also just bought Hütten von Kindern Selbst Gebaut (which translates something like Huts Children Can Build Themselves) by Louis Espinassous. I think it may be originally French. Anyway it’s all about little forts kids can build out of sticks, brush, or scrap wood. For some reason, after seeing this one, I am kind of determined for the kids to have a fort in Charlotte, though maybe I just want one to play in myself.
I got some good writing done this week. Trying to get as much done as possible before our move. The weather has been amazing this week, after a long, long winter. We hope to get in some bike riding this weekend. Have a great one!
Here are a few items I finished up for Kid’s Clothing Week over at elsie marley. I made them the same way I did this hat except this time I cut out the picture I wanted and appliqued it on the hats. These are all made from outgrown pajama tops, though the little dog applique came from a normal, completely wrecked, but favorite T-shirt.
Here in Germany it has just now gotten really warm, but before that, the kids needed spring hats while biking. These thin ones are perfect for tucking under a helmet.
Next up is a dress for my 8-year-old, or is it a nightgown, or is it a shirt for me? We haven’t decided. It started out life cut out to be a Go-To Dress from The Train to Crazy, like this one. But the fabric is really too stretchy and thin to work very well for that pattern, so I thought I’d make it into a nightgown by adding knit bindings. By the way, very good knit binding instructions here.
The knit bindings were kind of wide so they ended up looking more like a funnel neck and sleeves, which is fine. And bonus!–the whole thing fits over my head and works as a top. Maybe I’ll steal it.
I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, seeing as how it sat so long just cut out and being nothing and seemed to have no future.
A few more sewing items to come as well as pics from the Waldorf basar. We’ve been doing some exploring nearby within Germany, so hope to share more about that soon. It’s only about 6 weeks now until we move back to the U.S. I can’t believe it.
You may remember this sweater and its issues. I started knitting it 5 years (!) ago in what I thought was size 4T for my then-2-year-old daughter. When I ran into problems with gauge, it went on the shelf until last fall, when Little Miss found it and begged me to finish it for her.
Well, I finished it. Only, as you see, it fits me rather than my daughter. Guess the sizing was off even more than I thought!
It’s the first sweater I’ve ever knitted, and even with the sizing craziness and various other flaws, I’m still pretty proud of it.
My daughter has been a really good sport about it. She knows it’s hers as soon as she grows into it.
I like the back the best:
This sweater pattern (free on knitty.com) actually does come in an adult size version, but I’m glad I didn’t start with that, since I don’t think a husband-sized version would get used very often. I don’t fault the pattern, just my understanding of gauge.
In other news, I’m combing through my photos from Spain to share with you soon, and next week I’m participating in Meg from elsiemarley‘s Kids Clothing Week Challenge, which is like a big online sewing-for-kids party.
I haven’t been feeling very inspired about cooking lately (though I did have some awesome food in Spain which I’ll tell you about), so let me know if you’ve tried any great vegetable recipes lately. It’s just the beginning of white asparagus/ strawberry season here in Germany, so hopefully that will inspire me.
Also, slogging away at revisions on my novel manuscript. Off to go slogging.
Still fiddling with these ovals, trying a new layout on for size before I start sewing the suckers down.
This project started out as a variation on Amy Butler’s patchwork duvet pattern. See an earlier post about it here. The original pattern calls for a patchwork background topped by these ovals, but I decided just to do the ovals on top of a plain light green background.
Last time I was laying these out, I was still following the general layout of the original pattern (see the earlier post), but that design minus the patchwork background seems too static to me. I’m liking this much better. What do you think? Of course you have to imagine away the navy blue because it will be light green in the end.
I’m not loving the colors as much as I did when I started, but oh well. I’m committed now, and I’m ready to finish this thing. I got really bogged down with the ovals because of some fabric shortage issues, which led to some creative piecing on the fly.
I’d been looking for awhile for something cool to add to the hall art gallery. Our apartment has a long, long, bowling-alley-like hallway that is just begging for more artwork. Since it’s a hall, you can’t help but stand fairly near the walls, so it’s a good place for groups of smaller pieces that need a more intimate setting.
I found the birds and flowers at thrift shop #1. I love the way the black backgrounds make the colors pop. Somehow it makes them look more modern to me, too. I’ve considered painting the frames aqua or something like that. What do you think?
I found the little house piece at thrift shop #2. There’s just something about it that’s so sweet but not sugary.
Actually I don’t know if I’ll ever get to hang them because the kids want two for their own (girl wants birds, boy wants house). I’m stuck on the hallway idea, though, so we’re kind of in a deadlock over it.
Here’s a detail on the birds. The handwork is really impressive.
Next up: a platter, a Christmas tablecloth, and two skeins of cotton yarn.
I’d been looking for a platter like this for a long time to go with but not match our china (see it here). This one is perfect except I wish it were a little bigger.
The yarn is for our little weaver, and the Santa cloth—-well, I just couldn’t resist. It’s kind of a funny size, but I figure we can use it as a runner or as reuseable gift wrap.
“It’s just a cup of flour, a cup of sugar and a cup of fruit cocktail with the syrup, stir and bake in a hot oven ‘til golden brown and bubbly. I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness.” Dolly Parton as Truvy in Steel Magnolias
For awhile I was calling this the Candy Rainbow patchwork, but now when I look at it, I keep thinking of Truvy serving ice cream with her Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa cake. The intense, sweet colors here were just begging for a little something to cut the sweetness.
I’m liking the quiet spaces the white is making. The front of this is finished now, so hopefully I will finish up the back (all white) and show it to you soon.
I’m getting a little weary of the candy colors, or at least in using them all together. My next new quilt will have to be something a little quieter.
For earlier pictures of this patchwork, click here.
If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy seeing an earlier patchwork of mine that appears here.
For the best Halloween decorations ever, look to Blair Peter of wisecraft’s posts here and here. And here. She does the WAY coolest stuff with things found for pennies at the thrift store.
I’m not sure what we’ll do for Halloween this year. It’s not really done in Germany, so last year we called friends around the neighborhood to warn them we’d be coming and begging for candy. It was fun, but I do miss our neighborhood Halloween back in the U.S.
Photo from The Creative Connection site for Julie Cole's class
I want to go to The Creative Connection so darn bad!!! I have ever since I first heard about it. It's got everything I want: business, cooking, and making workshops! I would love the creative business and making parts the best, and my family would sure be happy to see better cooking around here ;-)
What really got me excited were the pitch slams! How amazing would it be to pitch to Hallmark & Demdaco for a licensing deal? It's too much to imagine.
I'm really super intensely hoping that I win the two free tickets. Puh-lease! Go check out their website so that you can go or just sit home and be envious, like I'm doing.
Courtesy of Charlotte Lyons
I bought an embroidery pattern from Charlotte Lyons, that I'm planning on working on when I'm in St. Louis this summer. I just love the design and the colors she used. Cute, right? My friend, Bari, got me all excited about embroidery with the launch of her new site, We Love French Knots. Go check it out as there's lots of fun stuff going on over there, including an awesome giveaway!
Little Hottie Pink & Cute Monster is a round 1″ in diameter glass Pendant with a white background. He is a cute hot pink monster with devil horns and a pointy tail. He is both adorable and a little bit mischievous.
This necklace comes with a Silver plated Chain. 16″ and 18″ chains are available. Send me a message specifying whether you want 16″ or 18″.
I make all of my jewelry by hand.It signed in the back
This pendant is not waterproof. Please do not wear while swimming or taking a shower.
It’s a perfectly dreary, drizzly day; not good for photo-taking but just right for hot chocolate (which I’ve already had) and split pea soup (which I plan to make for lunch). Regardless, I snapped this photo of my latest creation, a rag doll named Lucy!
Drafting a pattern for this doll has been a surprisingly slow process. It was important to me to make this doll from scratch and while I felt like I was reinventing the wheel at times, it’s satisfying to finally get the proportions down. My doll-making supplies box is full of forlorn and random limbs, which is both a little creepy and amusing. But finally something just clicked and I drew up these plans rather quickly.
And the hair is completely experimental - how does it look? It’s a mohair/silk blend yarn from Rowan. And painting on fabric - did you know? It’s FUN.
Like with my Leda softie pattern, I’ve looked to old-fashioned dolls for inspiration. Lucy looks like something you’d find in an old chest in the attic, amidst bone china teacups, lace collars and tattered school primers.
I have this habit of buying vintage for a bargain (because pieces are damaged, ill-fitting, etc.) and taking forever to getting around to making repairs and thus wearing said items. But I’ve made the commitment to change this bad habit into a good one and I’m working my way through my to do pile. This is the first post of my vintage dress parade and I’ll detail the fixes and tweaks I’ve made for each one. I’ll try to remember to include “before” shots next time, hee hee.
The above late 1930s or early ’40s dress was quite the steal as it was falling apart in various places, had a motley crew of ugly buttons and was an unflattering mid-calf length. My fixes:
Changed the buttons to clear glass ones with faceted edges; I figured this would work well both in the light-colored printed (and flocked!) fabric as well as the navy blue organza. (My camera died before I could get any close up shots.)
Added bust darts for a better fit.
Trimmed the flutter sleeves for a little bit more modern look. (I felt like I would fly away before I narrowed them down!)
Hemmed the skirt by a few inches. Each tier in the skirt was a little bit wider (taller?) than the proceeding one, from waist to hem. Instead of hemming just the bottom tier (and messing up the sequence) or hemming each tier (too much work!), I hemmed the second navy blue tier to match the width of the first one. This way there is still some order/design to the width of the tiers.
Used the piece I trimmed off the skirt and turned it into a sash (original belt was missing). I can see here that the sash could stand to be shortened (that’s the beauty of taking photos of your projects - you see things you might miss in the mirror!).
Made other minor repairs like loose seams, wonky tiers, etc.
Next: I love wearing this ’50s dress. I found it soon after seeing (500) Days of Summer and thought it looked like something Zooey’s character might wear. I bought a pale grey-blue crinoline just for this dress. I’m also wearing the same pale blue slip I’m wearing under the dress above. I considered going dark but then you wouldn’t be able to see the print on the sheer fabric very well. Anyway, here’s what I did:
Removed the sleeves: this dress had half sleeves with quick and dirty hems that were not so great. Since I don’t like fixing/sewing sleeves I just took them off and finished the openings by simply folding under the edges (which doesn’t always work due to the curves but luckily it did in this case).
Let the waist out: the wearer before me had a tiny waist and had taken it in in several spots around the ruched waist panel.
Hemmed the skirt. (I will almost always do this!)
Repaired little holes and opened seams.
(I thought about pinning on that dark blue rose that I’m holding at the waist along with a ribbon sash but the flower is a bit dark and I think the dress looks nice unadorned.)
Hope you enjoyed this little dress tour!
(By the way, thanks for the Lucy love from the last post - it made her blush!)
My mother-in-law made this beautiful wool rug as a wedding gift. She let me pick out the shape, size and colors (she even dyed a couple herself). We didn’t really know what to expect with the grey, yellow and ivory color combination. Though it seems trendy, I figured these colors would make the rug look more modern while still retaining the old-fashioned feel from a braided rug. I have to say I was completely thrilled when I open the box!
The photos don’t do it justice, plus you can’t feel how soft it is. As you can see, even the four-legged member of the household approves! This photo was taken soon as I unrolled it (you can see the edges are still a little wavy) and Spoo has pretty much claimed it as his own. Because of this I’ve had to move from the living room it to my office (oh geez that’s a real shame, now i have it all to myself) where I can shut the door when I’m not around. See, Spoo Kee likes to dig his claws into the wool (as most cats would); he knows he’s not supposed to. In fact, while I was on the computer the other day, I heard the faintest of sounds behind me: *pick* *pick*. Yes, that was Spoo Kee trying to be ever so quiet while scratching the rug!
My dear husband, for reasons yet unknown, picked out these shades for the lights in our apartment living room. In most apartments here, the lighting fixtures are not included, and since we’re here for a limited time, we didn’t want to spend a lot on them. We have no pink in our house otherwise, so I can only guess he was asking for a dose of color in our lovely but very white white white apartment. Reactions from guests have ranged from: “Fresh! Modern! I love them!” to “Hmmmph. Why? Why?”
I felt the need to echo the pink somewhere else, so recovering our pillows was my first thought. Finding fabrics here has been tough, so I hit up the thrift store, bought old white cotton tablecloths and turned them into something that works.
First I doused the tablecloths in a good strong brew of coffee (no, I did not use the good stuff, honey). Then I broke out a favorite childhood toy.
I love these stamps. I used Deka fabric ink that I found at the local art store. I’ve used Deka ink before, a long time ago, which was more like a gouache consistency. This was different, more gel-like.
You may recognize this shape from another project using dishwasher gel.
I think it's probably obvious that I'm a handmade kind of person. I buy handmade things, and I sell handmade things, and if I'm lucky I occasionally get to swap handmade things. This is great because to be frank most of us aren't getting rich selling handmade and I'm constantly surrounded by talented crafters and artists whose work I covet.
This holiday I'll be making handmade items for gifts and for upcoming craft shows. Over the years I've found lots of presents myself at craft shows and I love skipping the mall and finding something that's one-of-a-kind and didn't come from a factory. To inspire you, I thought I'd post some of my favourite handmade treats.
Now, how can you go wrong with barkcloth? It's a great search word to use if you want to find something special. This oversized pincushion is just one of many gorgeous items in this artfire shop. I also love the pretty vintage-style necklaces.
Does your little monkey need a little monkey? Etsy makes me wish I had more kids to buy for, so many cute things! I love this monkey's plaid jumpsuit. He looks a little perplexed: why am I still here? why hasn't anyone bought me yet??
I can't say enough about this talented artist! Sabrina's necklaces are made from recycled glass and hand-painted with beautiful lace/nature-inspired patterns. Bradley gave me one for our anniversary and to say it is a treasured possession is an understatement! Absolutely beautiful.
I love pretty much all printmaking techniques, especially when they have a textured look to them and charming content such as this "egg basket" block print. This print is part of Amanda's "happy kitchen"" series so you could even have a little grouping of them!
This post is all about gifts for guys. Harder to shop for, right? I think so anyway. I used to think I could just get Bradley anything with a robot on it and he would be happy. But after I asked him to look for things on etsy he thought guys would like, I was surprised by the results. This is the history of keywords he looked up:
zelda triforce, musette, tour de france, cycling, lumberjack, axe, army of darkness, new pornographers, wolf parade, animal collective music, band of horses, grizzly bear, firefly mal, walking dead, himym, the wire hbo, deadwood, community troy abed, cuff links, dice, deck cards, wooden pen, wire puzzles, geocaching, camping.....robot friend
Not everything had results but maybe that gave you some ideas! My general suggestions are: wool socks, wristwatch, toiletry bag, coffee cup, coffee cup cosy, messenger bag, ipod cosy, ipad etc. cosy, artwork, passport case, notebook, pen, wallet. Anyway, here are my picks:
I've been admiring this shop for some time now, fascinated by the notion of embellishing handmade items with crocheted mold and lichen. And the results are stunning! I love how Elin captures a variety of textures with her choices of yarn and stitches. Each piece is a beautiful microscopic landscape.
Jamie takes vintage items and adds her own wood grain embroidery. What a great idea! The embroidery really updates each piece and makes it so cool. I like them myself, but they're definitely manly. Practical too, this would be the perfect toiletry case to take on a camping trip.
Announcing a number of art shows going on this weekend, Dec. 3-5. This is a great time to support your independent artists, crafters and musicians. Get your loved ones something unique and one-of-a-kind this season. It’s so much more fun than hitting the malls. Instead enjoy a weekend of creativity and inspiration.
Friday: $99 Only Show Stoneworks Studios & Gallery * 300 N. Ventura Ave. Ventura, CA
First Friday at Stoneworks! 5% of all artwork sold helps local food banks and charities! Help local artists, help the community, and score some sweet art gifts for your loved ones!
An evening of pure awesomeness!!! Come see some great art by some of LA’s most talented and exciting artists. Enjoy live music and be around fun and creative people. We will have snacks and refreshments available.
Also we will have a merchandise table full of unique handmade goodies that artists will be selling at the show. You won’t want to miss out on this.
I’m organizing this show and so excited by so many talented contributions.
The kids decorated this bag together the other day for a friend’s birthday. It’s a shopping tote that zips into pouch-shape so you can store it in your purse and have it handy. Here in Germany pretty much everybody has re-useable totes because you have to pay extra for grocery bags.
The bag comes from dharma trading, which has a ton of other bag options for very reasonable prices. I think you can get some blank totes at Michael’s, too, but maybe not the lightweight zipper kind like this. The kids used Sharpies because we couldn’t find our Tee Juice markers, but I would recommend the fabric markers because the colors will wear better.
I've been very busy getting ready for City of Craft! Here's a sneak peek..
I sold my last crocheted pincushion at Crafternoon Tea, so I decided to make some new ones. These are crocheted from my own handspun wool yarn combined with vintage feedsack floral fabric tops and vintage buttons with wool flowers or leaves underneath. They come with their coordinating pins! They're all stuffed with 100% wool fleece.
I've also embroidered lots of new brooches. These are made from thick white felted wool circles embroidered with crewel wool with a brooch clasp sewn on the back. I love making these! I generally just make up each picture as I go along.
And lastly I have some new necklaces. These are based on a new idea I had last year but I didn't have time to make more than one. I've added wool felt flowers to the usual beads and silver charms I use. I love the textile element and I've used lots of my favourite aqua and mustard. I'm just not tired of this colour combination! p.s. I only bought one pony charm (why? why?) so there is just the one pony necklace.
I hope I've tempted you to visit my table at City of Craft! I'm going to be inside the theatre in front of the stage steps close to my spot last year. If I have time this week, I'll show you another sneak peek. In the meantime, here's all the info:
Want to try dyeing things but don’t know where to start?
A reader wrote me recently asking for help.
Where to start, what to read?
The easiest kind of dyeing to start with is food dye on animal fibers. I love this because you can do it in the kitchen with grocery-store items, the results are super-satisfying, and the kids can join in.
What are animal fibers? Wool, silk, cashmere, you get the idea
Wool and Cashmere:
You can do some beautiful things with Kool-Aid and wool, and IT WILL NEVER WASH OUT.
Kool-Aid (or Easter egg dye) and wool yarn is a perfect starter project, especially if you knit. You can dye it with a rainbow of colors, using your microwave. Check out this article for details. Lion Brand makes an undyed 100% wool yarn called Fisherman’s Yarn that is very reasonably priced. I used to buy it at Hobby Lobby, but it may also be available at Michael’s and other craft stores. Knitpicks also sells undyed yarn, in a wider variety of weights and variations. Their prices are very reasonable also, but you do have to order it. Also try dharmatrading.
You can dye pieces of old wool or cashmere sweaters in a similar way, but it’s a little tricky—-you should be prepared for uneven results. Here’s a project of mine with Easter egg dye on cashmere. I would recommend starting with a light-colored sweater and dyeing smaller pieces (an arm or less) at a time, as a sweater acts like a sponge to the dye, absorbing the color before it gets the chance to circulate around the fabric.
The process is similar to the yarn-dyeing project, but use a larger amount of dye and a larger container, on the stove instead of the microwave. I used my big soup pot. The same process should work for wool and cashmere wovens, though I’ve never tried it.
Kool-Aid, Easter egg dye, or food coloring also works well on silk. I’ve used it to make playsilks, with the directions here. I’ve also dip-dyed silk scarves, which you can see here. After heat-setting, these dyes are not quite as colorfast as in wool and cashmere, so I would recommend hand-washing, but the bleeding is very little. Also, dry out of direct sunlight.
With any dyeing project, there’s a certain amount of risk involved. You never know exactly what your finished project is going to look like, and for me, that’s part of the thrill. Be prepared for that uncertainty, because even if your project turns out beautifully, chances are it won’t be exactly as you envisioned.