the next phase

I am fully committed to my porch project, and making a lot of progress. Even though I have a lot more that I want to do, it’s now my favorite spot to hang out. I can eat out there, sit and knit, read, or even take a nap.

I finished two pillows and have a couple more pillow forms waiting for covers. I played with batik again, and again, it was a lot of fun. This time I went bright with pink and orange dye. I originally added the orange to the pink dye bath when I was finished with it, hoping for more of a coral color. Obviously, I should have added less orange for that to happen. I’m fine with the bright tangerine, though.

pillowsI just used a paint brush and beeswax on drop cloth fabric, like last time, but I think if I do this again, I’ll invest in this special tool to see if it gives me a little more control. I just keep calling this sort of imperfect outcome ‘organic,’ to legitimize all the gloppiness of it.

I love the texture of the drop cloth for these pillows, which will be outdoors much of the time. The cushion covers are simply two squares of the dyed fabric with an invisible zipper in the bottom seam, so they’ll be easy to remove and wash.

pink pillow

I know, I need to paint my rocking chair. It’s an old, cheap one from Wal-Mart that Mr. Heylucy surprised me with one day, years and years ago, so I can’t complain. Painting it is on the to-do list, but it’s at the bottom for now.

Completely unrelated to all this, I made a little rosemary wreath after work the other day, just for fun. I have two giant rosemary bushes in serious need of pruning, so I cut enough sprigs for this project. And you can’t even tell, the bushes are still spilling over the walkway. I could probably make a couple dozen wreaths from those monsters.

rosemary wreath

Here’s a quick how-to, in case you want to make one yourself (it’s super easy and fun!): cut lots and lots of rosemary sprigs. Strip the leaves from the bottom few inches, and bunch three or so together and wrap with floral wire (I have a paddle of very thin, green wire, so it’s easy to wrap). Don’t cut your wire. Gather together another bunch, again striping the leaves from the bottom, and overlap the first bunch, wrapping the two bunches together and continuing down the stems of the second bunch. Keep repeating with new bunches until you have a string of rosemary long enough to shape into a circle. Wrap the last bunch to the first bunch. If you have a lot of wire showing, you can just add more sprigs here and there with short bits of wire to cover it up. And that’s it! Hang up your wreath and admire your handiwork, and marvel that it just took a few minutes to make. If it’s a bit wonky, just call it ‘organic.’

And going back to the porch, here’s a gratuitous picture of Pulley, who likes hanging out there as well.

pulley on the porch

 

 

 

 

making things

My little studio is a disaster area right now. I have too much stuff. So I’m determined to either use what I have or get rid of it. The two quilts made a dent, but there are still four vintage quilt tops and a couple other in-progress quilts. I was happy that my batik project used materials I already had, except for a $3 box of dye that I had to buy. I’ve even done some more batiking (new word, I just made up), which I will share soon.

Then there were two boxes of tiny yogurt bottles I had been saving for years, because: cute! Also, it was delicious yogurt, which Trader Joe’s no longer carries, so sad. They are the perfect size for tea lights and I’ve had this vision of an elaborate chandelier to hang on the porch to be all romantic and stuff. I decided to just whip something up with what I could find laying around. A bit of weathered branch from one of our dead oak trees served as the hanger for all the little jars, which I just strung together with some copper wire. It took all of about fifteen minutes, and viola! I have a chandelier.

tea light chandelier

I’ll be honest, I don’t LOVE it, but it looks pretty magical when it’s all lit up. It’s just a little too rustic, but we’ll just call it Organic, and let it be for now.

lit chandelier

I was, perhaps, too impatient, because then I went and did some Pinterest research, and found some inspiration for some lights that I like better. I have some chicken wire, and lots of scrap wood, so I’m going to think on what I can do with those materials, and maybe some day I’ll disassemble the whole thing and try again.

In other news, I had the best Sunday afternoon nap ever right out there on my little cot. It was cool and breezy and birds were tweeting in the lilacs.

inspired by

I actually pinned something on Pinterest, and then made it, and it might not be quite as pretty as the original, but I really like it. Plus I learned something new and it was really fun.
batik5

I love how this takes a traditional (and beautiful) technique and imagines it a little differently. Also, now I’m in awe of artists that do create traditional batiks.

After sketching out a design I used melted beeswax and a small paint brush to fill it in. I didn’t have much control over where exactly the wax went, but it ended up looking very organic. Since that was the whole idea behind the botanical garland, I think it worked out well

batik1

batik2

It took awhile to paint the whole thing, but it was a nice, meditative process. And then it went into the dye bath. I didn’t get too crazy, and just used a box of Rit dye. I had hoped for it to come out a little darker, but in the end, I like the grey.

batik3

I ironed the fabric between paper towels to remove the wax, although there’s still a little left in there. Since it’s just going to be hanging on the wall, it’s not a big deal.

batik4

Then I just stitched up one side and inserted a piece of scrap wood and braided some cording that I had for hanging it.

batik6

There’s a huge breaker box in my office, and it’s the perfect cover-up. I love that I made something with stuff that I already had, the only thing I bought was that box of dye. I’d like to learn more about dying fabric, though, and do some smaller pieces in bright colors to make into cushion covers for our living room. And there you go, a fun weekend craft project that came out just right!

books books books!

I have a book to give away here on the blog this week, and you can give away 20 books if you hurry! I'll tell you about mine last, because it's not as important or exciting as World Book Night! Have you heard about this? I should have mentioned it sooner, but I signed up at what I thought was the last minute and then didn't think about it again until I got an email the other day that I had been accepted and would get the opportunity to share twenty copies of a favorite book. 

Books

So, what is this World Book Night thing, you may be asking? It started last year in the UK and has expanded to include the US and Ireland this year! It's a charity for the promotion of literacy and reading, which is very dear to my heart. Anyone in these three countries can apply to recieve twenty copies of a favorite book (you choose from a list of 30 very good books-I had to really think about which I wanted to share) to be given away in a location of your choosing-preferably to non-readers, on April 23. I chose Peace Like a River, which is that rare kind of book that stays with you for years and years. Narrated by a young boy whose voice has been compared to Scout Finch or  Huck Finn, it is the story of a family and a tragedy and miracles and goodness. I can't wait to share it!

Go apply right now, the deadline is Monday, February 6th at midnight EST. You don't have to write long essays for each question, just give succinct but thoughtful answers and I think you'll have a good chance at being accepted. At least that's what I did. 

Now for a little blog giveaway. It's been awhile since I've done one, but I just received a copy of the new paperback edition of Creative Quilting with Beads, which I contributed to a few years ago.

image from www.flickr.com

It's got lots of fun projects, and even if you don't want to replicate them exactly, it's good for inspiration for everything from bags to wall hangings to fridge magnets (I think theses are super cute and would make great little brooches). I recently cleaned out my bead stash, so I might even include an assortment of seed beads and a little sewing kit along with the book.   

Quilting

To enter, just leave a comment and tell us about a favorite quilting project or beading project (links to pictures are encouraged!) you've done or dream of doing. I'll leave the comments open until next weekend. 

untitled

Some random things I wanted to share, with nothing in common, other than the fact that I enjoyed them:

I think this song and video are just beautiful. Passenger was definitely my favorite album of 2011.

Tumblr_lve7xp1xgN1qk63rvo2_250

This is making me want to bind a book. It's been a long time. So many crafts, so little time.

When you find yourself with fifteen minutes to spare, go watch The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (inspired by The Wizard of Oz, Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton and a love of books. Trust me, it will make sense).

"When you knit something for someone, you're thinking about them. I think it just conveys love" 

We've had some beautiful days lately. Sunday afternoon I went to a winery in Escondido, in support of a friend about to start chemotherapy. The view was lovely.

image from www.flickr.com

pincushions for sale and a pattern for free

I did it, I wrote up a knitting pattern and made it all pretty, and you can download it here, or on Ravelry, and there will also be a link in the side bar. I called them Bridge the Gap arm warmers for obvious reasons, not to mention, they will keep that gap between elbow and wrist cozy too. 

 

image from www.flickr.com

 

Please do let me know if you happen to knit yourself a pair and if you find any errors or anything unclear in the instruction. I am studying up on pattern writing, which is like learning a new language. I can read it, obviously, but it's a little different to write it. I'm nervous and excited, and ready to move on to the next design, which I hope will be even better. 

Meanwhile, other sorts of making is also happening as I tidy up my little house studio. This is kind of fun, cleaning up all my stuff and making things with what I have. I finished up a bunch of pincushions and a few needle books and listed them on Etsy.  

All pincushions

 These were made with some vintage copper candy molds I found at an antique mall. I really like them, and I might have to keep the pink one for myself if it doesn't sell. The others, sold in sets with matching needle books, are tiny tart tins. I do love a good needle book. 

All sets 2

I sorted through all my vintage buttons to find just the right ones. I've done these before and they sold out pretty quick. I'm working on a new, bigger pincushion. I'll try and get some of those listed next week. 

autumn making

I have been knitting lots and lots. A few things are finished, including the sweater I started in October. I love, love, love it! 

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.comI originally wanted to find some vintage buttons, but had to settle for the wooden ones from Jo-ann. I think I'm okay with them, and I've gotten lots of compliments on them when I've worn my sweater. No one mentions the sweater, just that they like the buttons. That's okay, I love my sweater 🙂 How cute is that pocket? 

I was also in the mood for making a little something with some Malabrigo lace, and whipped up a Damson shawlette in pink.

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

It's so soft and light, and the pattern was nice and easy and quick. I might have even cast on another one with some Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the Tern colorway. It's a nice purple-y charcoal grey.

  image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com
I even took a little break from all that yummy yarn and did a little embroidery. My sister gave me some vintage embroidery patterns a long time ago, and I finally got around to using one. I'm not sure how old they are, but the transfer ironed on perfectly. What kitchen doesn't need some chicken tea towels?  

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com

So now I'm planning some vacation and holiday knitting. I am super, super excited, because I have the whole month of December off, and for part of that time I'm going to South Africa to see my parents! So now I have to figure out what I am going to knit for the hours and hours of flight time I have ahead of me! Oh, and I should have lots of fun photos to share when I get back! 

pincushions

image from www.flickr.comComing soon to an etsy shop near you. Pincushions! With ribbons! There will be some needle books too, I think.

image from www.flickr.comI'll post again, when they are in the shop. 

long weekend

Yay for three day weekends! I know some people might go somewhere fun, or throw a party, or go to the beach, but I was happy to just stay home and spend some time in my little house studio. It's been awhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed just puttering. Plus, now I have lots of blog fodder for the rest of the week, I can't wait to share some of the things I've been making. For now I will just tell you about some little necklaces I finished up and listed in my etsy shop

image from www.flickr.com
You might remember these from earlier this summer. I'm happy to say that I finished them and listed three on etsy. I kept one for myself, of course, and another is going to someone who I think will especially like it. 

image from www.flickr.com
I had all my jewelry/beading supplies out and spread all over my work table. I'm a terrible jewelry maker, but it so fun to play with the little bits and pieces. 

image from www.flickr.com
I kept these simple, and just hung them from a bit of leather cord. I don't wear necklaces often, but I tend to like this sort of long, silly pendent type jewelry. Pretty soon I'm going to need something to organize all these necklaces I can't stop making. I'm thinking something like this is awfully cute, and thrifty too!

absolute beginner

I briefly mentioned a recent book purchase, Plate to Pixel, in a post earlier this month. I'm not done reading and absorbing, but I've been skimming through and one of the things I've really loved about Helene's styling is the rustic table top backgrounds she uses. I didn't see any explicit directions in the book or on her blog (although there is a brief scene of her painting some wood in this promo video), but I've got piles of old fence boards, so I made up my own version. I finally finished it this weekend, and when the skies went dark and a freak thunderstorm rolled through this afternoon, I decided to set it up on the porch and try it out. 

image from www.flickr.com
I painted one side a robin's egg blue that I had laying around (someday it will be an accent wall in my laundry room), and sanded the other side, so it's two backgrounds in one! I still need to work on adjusting my camera settings, I think these might be a bit too bright and over-exposed, despite the grey skies. I even started playing around with this reflector set I recently bought, it was quite a bargain! I used the diffuser disc on the photo above and directly below, but there's still some glare. I think I better go read some more, and learn how to adjust my camera better. 

image from www.flickr.com
Obviously, my styling and composing skills are rather lacking still, but I am going to keep practicing. In the meantime, I've got some raspberries and cream to eat. Oh, I thought you might like to see the whole background thingie: 

image from www.flickr.com
Here are the very technical instructions (wherein I probably don't use any of the proper woodworking terminology): I took three 6' fence boards, and sawed each in half. Then I cut a couple pieces of 1×2 boards that I also had laying around to the width of the three boards together. I sanded everything and laid three boards down, wrong side up. I put wood glue along one side of one of the 1×2 boards, and positioned it across the three boards. I tried to just nail the 1×2 to the fence boards, but the nails just wouldn't go in, so I used my smallest drill bit (1/16") to drill through them (two holes for each fence board) and then pounded the nails in. After doing this four times, my drill bit broke, so I went up to the next one, and hoped it wasn't too big. Luckily, it wasn't so I continued to add the second 1×2 to the other end. Then I placed the remaining three fence boards on top of the 1×2's, and did the same thing again, except instead of the nails going from the 1×2's into the fence boards, I went through the fence boards into the 1×2's. the nails I used had flat heads, and this is the side that I painted, so they show a little through the paint. I was going for rustic, so this doesn't bother me, but I probably could have used finishing nails and counter-sunk them and used a little wood filler to hide them. Then I painted and sanded the one side. I've left the other side naked so far, but I may stain or wax it eventually. This is so much nicer than my ugly green counter tops for taking pictures of food (and maybe other things too!).