Sunday, December 21, 2008

Three pets, one bed

Here's a portrait of the power struggle going on in my home every day. Poor little Sofie is sick, so I put a heating pad on the dog bed for her to curl up on. Of course Aurora wants to be on the heating pad too. And Marie's nose is out of joint because the cats are on her bed, even though she rarely lies on it. (She much prefers a human bed.) So this is a common scene. What you can't see in the photo is Marie's butt hanging off the bed cuz there's simply not enough room for three. Oh, and when Aurora slowly nudges Sofie off the heating pad or, when that approach is too subtle, Aurora sitting on top of Sofie.

Candy cane dreams

I have been very remiss with my crafting and blogging. To be fair, I've spent a lot of time shovelling. And I've got the sore back to prove it. Here's yet another festive pair of earrings for my mom.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thanks for the inspiration

While enjoying one of my favourite hobbies - ogling crafty goodness on etsy - I stumbled on a handmade orifice hook for a spinning wheel. "What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?" I blurted. Of course that inspired me to try and make my own. Here's what I came up with. Sadly for me, I don't need a hook for my wheel. Luckily for my mom, she does. Now the tricky part is putting this beauty away for Christmas. Although maybe it could be a belated Sinterklaas present. Hmm . . .

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ho ho ho, holiday earrings

My mom found these little Santa beads and asked me to make her festive earrings. They're pretty cute, even if you're a curmudgeonly grinch like me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pretty (and) sweet

Here are my two sweeties, Marie and Sofie. Sofie was sleeping on the dog bed, and graciously allowed Marie to curl up on the edge.

Aurora was busy nibbling on a marshmallow she nabbed from Marie. Marie really needs to learn to stand up to those kitties.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

How novel

Here are my experiments with novelty yarn from last week's spinning class. They're pretty cool, I say. Although I must admit novelty yarn sure does disguise inept spinning (let's call it a spinning spaz).

On the left is a yarn with slubs - where you let one of the strands twirl around the other while you're plying. On the top is a yarn with beads added. Some blend in with the yarn, others dangle. On the right is core-spun yarn with mohair. Those little curly locks are fun to work with. Mine didn't go quite like the teacher told us to do it, but I think it's a neat variation.

My favourite is the one in the middle. Here's a closer look at that . . .

It's made by adding tufts of fibre while you ply. It's so fluffy and soft - and would make a great scarf.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dip in

My few loyal readers were all at this party, so no big surprises here. Four of us got together for a dip party - meaning we all brought dips. That may sound a bit boring, but the dips got quite inventive.

The line-up:
Chicken meatballs with satay and hot sauce
Chicken with peanut satay sauce
Avocado dip
White bean dip
Curried carrot bean dip
Artichoke cheese dip
Anchovy olive oil dip
Nacho dip
And, for the finale, chocolate fondue with fresh pineapple, raspberries, apples, marshmallows and graham crackers.

Mmm . . . dip.

Birthday wishes

I made this bracelet last week, honest, but I had to wait to post it until it was unwrapped. It's curled up in a little dish by a local potter I picked up at the potter's, and weaver's and spinner's guilds sale. The only bad part of the show was only taking home a reasonable amount of the amazing goodies.

Later I'll post the cool yarn I made during last week's spinning class, when we had fun with novelty yarn.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The good, the bad and the ugly

Last night my spinning mojo was definitely off. Our class was on plant fibres, and we tried corn silk, cotton and flax. Things started off OK with the corn silk (which is not the silk from corn ears, but rather a man-made fibre using compounds drawn from the corn stalk). Corn silk has the lustre of silk, but it's not quite so slippery.

Everybody else in the class was groaning about the corn silk being a pain, but I was spinning along nicely and finished the whole whack. Perhaps I got cocky - or was hypnotized by a corn silk haze - and that's why I struggled so much with the next two fibres.

Cotton is notoriously difficult to spin because its fibres are ridiculously short, and that was sure my experience. I soon gave up out of frustration after only managing a few short samples, and terrible ones at that. I'll need to try it again on my own to allow myself free reign with the cursing. Next we did the flax. It was OK to spin, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to make their own flax yarn. It's so coarse and scratchy, about all I think it would be good for is bundling cardboard for recycling.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Stuck on silk, literally

Last night's spinning class was all about silk. Lesson learned: spinning silk is tricky. Silk sticks to everything! Dry skin on your hands, your pants, shirt, air . . . We played with several types of silk, some I was more successful with than others.

Here is a bit of yarn I made from a silk hankie:

Hankies are square layers of silk made by stretching out the silk worm cocoon. Pulling apart the layers is about as easy as separating layers of wet toilet paper. Oh, and did I mention it sticks to everything? But the yarn turns out so lovely - smooth with such a sheen.

This next one is recycled sari silk:

Basically a sari is ripped up and the silk strands reused. They tangle up into a rat's nest that needs to be pulled apart while you're spinning. Although, once again, the struggle is worth it.

We also tried tussah silk, which is from wild silk worms and a brilliant white. It's tough to spin without practice because it just slips through your hands.

We had a temporary distraction from the frustration when a girl in the class brought in one of her angora rabbits. They are beyond belief - a giant fluff ball with a twitching nose. And the softest thing I've ever touched. Luckily I turned out to be much less allergic to the rabbit, than spinning with its fur. We all couldn't stop petting the little guy - well, little under the ridiculously immense mound of fur!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Curly locks

Here's a sampling from my spinning class this week. We played with a bunch more fibres, including these super lovely mohair locks. They spin up so wonderfully and have a beautiful shine. I have a whole box of teal locks that I can't wait to spin. But first, more practice.

My poor little digital camera was making some weird noises when I was taking pictures of the fibre. I guess that's not suprising after dropping it on my vacation - in the bathroom of a Communist statue park, of all places.

Monday, October 20, 2008

So lazy and surly

I'm not quite sure where last week went, but I am going to blame a post-holiday stupor for forgetting about my little blog. I even made something last week! Thursday was the first night in my Spinning 2 class. We played with several different fibres to get a feel for them, and try different techniques. I discovered I am very rusty. And I know so very little about spinning. (How is it that the less you know, the more confident you feel?) Tonight I must get back behind the wheel and do my homework.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gone fishin'

I'm off tomorrow for two glorious weeks in Hungary and Austria - including a night at the Vienna opera! So what I'll be making for the next couple weeks are lots of great memories, and of course loads of photos to chronicle the adventure. I'll post my favourites when I get home.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Welcome home

This is a welcome gift for my dear friend Darci. At last she is back on Canadian soil!

The little elephant I bought at a Guelph street craft festival a couple years ago. I've always loved its rustic finish that looks like rough skin covered with dried mud dried - perfect for an elephant. I didn't realize what wonderful colours it had until I took him outside into the sun for this photograph. I remember what a grey, rainy day it was when a friend and I went to that fair. Although the bad weather didn't stop me from buying a few unnecessary, but must-have items.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Today's secret word: salad

Today I had my family over to celebrate my birthday. I planned to take a photo of the dinner spread, but forgot until after the dishes were ravaged.

On the menu: curry couscous salad, Thai noodle salad, broccoli salad and marshmallow salad. Mmm . . . creamy marshmallow fruity goodness. My parents brought the roast 'cuz they've got a handy dandy contraption to slice it nice and thin.

For dessert: freshly baked chocolate cupcakes with ice cream from Marble Slab Creamery. Oh, and earlier in the day another favourite, nanaimo bars.

I tried a few new recipes (I know, a risky move for a dinner party), and the Thai noodle salad is definitely a keeper. I found it on Here it is:

Spicy Thai Noodle Salad

1 1/2 lbs uncooked thin spaghetti
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 sweet onion, chopped (either red or Walla Walla)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon sesame seed


4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
4-6 drops fire oil or chili oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
salt and pepper

Cook spaghetti 8-9 minutes in salted, boiling water, drain and have sitting in ice water until ready to use.
Mix sauce ingredients in small bowl and microwave for 1 minute to thin honey and fuse flavors.
Drain noodles and place in large bowl, add veggies, sesame seeds and cilantro. Whisk sauce well and drizzle over. Add peanuts and mix until the coating on the peanuts dissolves.
Additional vegetables can be added such as peas, zucchini, and snow pea pods. The longer this sits the better it tastes. Keep covered in the fridge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Calling it quits with stretchy cord

That's it for me and stretchy cord. I love the springy bracelets, but I've discovered through bitter experience that it definitely has a limited lifespan. OK, I take some of the blame because of my compulsive tugging. But this is the second time a stretchy bracelet let loose in a most dramatic, and aggravating fashion. Luckily the beads were big, and contained to the small space of a car.

So now this bracelet is on wire with a magnetic clasp. I just love these milky beads - and I don't want to risk losing them in another stretchy cord catastrophe.

This bracelet is sitting on lovely cloth napkins given to me by my wonderful friend Carissa. They will make their debut at the birthday dinner I'm hosting this weekend. They'll be the perfect accent for the table - alongside the dishes my grandparents got for their wedding and brought with them all the way to Canada from Holland by boat.

Birthday baubles

I figured today was a good time to make myself a little treat. These are cool window beads I got in Martha's Vineyard. I think. Well, somewhere on my travels. (I have a stash of pretty baubles that have accompanied me home from all over the world.)

They're sitting on an amazing handwoven scarf given to me by my talented and uber-crafty friend Tara. I just got into spinning, while she just discovered weaving. Coincidence? Or a wonderful future crafting alliance?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Turquoise splash

These are simply elegant earrings. The square turquoise beads immediately caught my attention in the store. And I got similar ones in red. Silver spacers and bugle beads, and of course my ever-favourite crystal beads add nice texture and sparkle.

The earrings are hanging from my perennially disappointing lupine plant. I added one to my front garden after a trip to Nova Scotia, where they grow wild everywhere. I just loved the flowery stalks and wanted some in my yard as a memento of the trip. Every summer it slowly, but surely unfurls its fan-like leaves. But not a single bloom so far. Sigh.

Let's twist again

I love these beads because they have a neat little twist. I played up the splashes of blue and red in them with blue crystals and red beads. It all comes together with a magnetic clasp. The birthday girl - one of my few faithful blog readers - really loved that feature!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Shades of grey

This is a necklace for my mom. She picked out a handful of grey and clear beads and silver spacers at Arton during our shopping excursion to Queen Street West to hit up all the crafty stores. It has such a nice sparkle. My only complaint is that making the three-strand necklace put a serious dent in my supply of crimp beads.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I *heart* you

Technically, this is a re-made bracelet. But I think that counts too. It should really count double because I made it not once, but twice!

I gave this crystal and seed bead bracelet to my mom after she had a heart attack to remind her to take care of herself. I'm touched she wears it a lot, so much it needed repair.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Better than a tiara

This sparkly number is a birthday treat for a friend - my birthday twin, actually. (So I never forget her big day 'cuz it's mine too!) The bracelet is a mix of blue, clear and teeny butterfly crystals with silver round beads.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fuzzy fun

Felted bags are always a fun experiment. You never know how they'll look when you pluck them out of the washing machine. This shrunk a bit more than I was expecting, but it's still a cute little bag. It's hard to see in the photo, but there are button-hole handles. And the colour is a much deeper jewel tone - the result of blending two lovely colours.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blue, white and silver sparkle

See! I do make non-earring items. Here's a simple bracelet made for a birthday present. I love the deep blue hex beads, and how can you go wrong with Swarovski crystal sliders? Crystals make everything good. Except cookies.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One trick pony

So I'm gonna point out the obvious — there has been an earring overload lately. This is not the result of crafter's block. People just keep asking for earrings! Honest. (I'm not sure if there's a need to justify my beading rut since I'm likely the only person following this blog. It's kinda the digital equivalent of talking to myself. But, hey, I live alone and I have to talk to someone!)

Last week I knit a bag to felt. I will have proof once I get a chance to pop it in the washing machine. Oh, and I made a bracelet tonight. Stay tuned for that photographic evidence tomorrow.

(Apologies for the fuzzy photo. My digital camera just does not want to focus on teeny earrings. And, despite my determined efforts, cursing does not help.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ready for the fall

I finished knitting my mini poncho - after the extreme frustration of running out of yarn with just a few rows to go. All that's needed is weaving in the ends and blocking, then it's ready to wear. Although I may need to wait for slightly cooler weather. Hot, humid summer days don't scream poncho.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I finally finished my photo album for my May trip with a friend to Cape Cod and Boston. Yay! The endeavour took an unusually long time for me. Usually I've got it done in a week. My tardiness tarnishes my reputation for extreme photo album efficiency. Now I can rest easy until my next trip in the fall.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Just about the only green in my backyard

Here's a bonus pair for a colleague who has lost at least one set of earrings I've made for her, but is very apologetic about it. Some women really seem to have bad earring luck. I offered to make her another pair since I'm still suffering the sting of losing a beloved earring. I've never lost an earring before (actually I think in my entire life I can count on one hand the number of things I've lost), so it's especially annoying that the missing earring was an amazing handmade silver one I bought at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. I wonder how long it will be before I stop looking for the errant earring, and before I stop thinking I see it in random places. Maybe cosmic forces are telling me I need to return to SF. Hmm . . .

Purple haze

Here's my second go at the purple earrings. The beads are simple - mostly seed beads with a few crystals and triangle beads for interest. I think they'll look nice when they're in and the dangles are, well, dangling.

The lavender in the photo is from my garden. I picked a bunch earlier for a bouquet and the aroma was amazing.

Friday, July 18, 2008


This is another request from a co-worker who simply asked for purple earrings. I'm not sure if I really like these. (Although the flowery background does make them look quite pretty.) So now I'm fiddling with another purple pair of earrings. Stay tuned to see those. Hopefully I'll be entirely happy with my second effort.

Maybe my ambivalence is due to the difficulty making them, and this happens more than I care to think about . . . The first pair accidentally came together perfectly - without a plan even. Then of course my effort to duplicate the effect was a disaster. And so was the second try. I think I finally settled with the third go. But still it was no where near as perfect as the first one. So apparently beginner's luck counts for crafting projects too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

All grown-up candy bracelet

This bracelet started with gorgeous bamboo fibre. I bought the little package of hand-dyed bamboo in Port Hope, along with equally beautiful packages of tussah silk, seacell/silk blend and soy silk. They're like little bags of candy — and the fibre is so glossy. But I couldn't just look at them in the bags forever. It was time to make something so I could wear the fibre — so I could enjoy a close look all day.

I got out the felting needles and started making little balls. A few jabbed fingers, and two broken needles later, I had enough for a bracelet. I tossed in a few milky glass bead and put it together with a magnetic clasp.

The bracelet is modeled by a stuffed bear made by my mom. Oddly the bear has a bigger wrist than I do because the bracelet was snug on him.

Here's a close-up of the needle-felted bamboo beads. I can't wait to wear my new creation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dainty and Dangerous

A co-worker asked me to make her a pair of earrings in copper or gold. Any time I get a broad request like that I end up sitting at my craft room desk, rummaging through my bead stash, pulling together different combinations and seeing what can work.

I found these coppery beads I bought long ago - just five of them - and never found the right project. They're a sort of mottled colour with a twist in the rectangular shape. Oddly I also have copper-lined clear beads I love, but rarely use.

I grabbed some thin copper-coloured wire and started playing. I ended up slipping on the beads and using the jig to create a neat flourish on the bottom. And voila - a new earring design!

Taking the picture was the tricky part. I'm always distracted by the rugged beauty of the Prickly Pear, and forget about the prickly part of its name. Too late I remembered the danger as I brushed off some spider webs from the cactus, and embedded dozens of microscopic spines into both my hands. After the photo was snapped, I started the tedious task of plucking the spines from my hands.

Monday, June 23, 2008

In the bag

This is one of those notorious projects you get 99 per cent done, then tuck it away to be forgotten for months. The knitting was finished (and I have turquoise wooden needles to prove it) and all that remained was closing the bottom and the felting.

I finally pulled it out of the closet a couple weeks ago and took it to my on-call Crafting Expert (aka Mom) to help me stitch up the bottom.

Then I tossed it into the washing machine to felt. It came out beautifully. But I wasn't done yet. Part of the handle is pink, not because that's what I wanted but because I ran out of the turquoise wool. So I figured I'd tie the pink in with needle felting in the same colour. I think it turned out quite well.

Here's a close-up of the design wrapping around the side and onto the back.

The trick was deciding when to stop with the embellishment before it reached a Liberace level. I'd stick on a squiggle, then hold it back for the full picture before adding another. I think I stopped at the right point.

Sweet Sofie

An impromptu portrait of the most lovely kitty.
(And a very proper kitty with her paws crossed.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mmm . . . food

Welcome to Sunday brunch! I hosted a late morning meal at my place for a few co-workers. I wish I could take credit for all the yummy food, but I was only responsible for a few treats.

On the menu: quiche, yogurt parfaits, strawberries, mixed fruit, freshly squeezed grape fruit juice, tea biscuits (plain and cheese!), hashbrown casserole, squares and of course coffee.

Everyone ate so much we were all slumped, and nearly slumbering, in our seats.

Little blossoms

This teeny bouquet of teeny roses was a happy gardening accident. While I was toiling to dig up a dying euonymus bush in my front garden (it took forever and nearly killed me, but I did it all on my own!), I trampled on a poor little rose bush. So now it brightens up the inside of my home, and I'm hoping it will grow back in my garden. They're tough little guys, especially since I bought the mini rose bushes for a couple bucks at the grocery store.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pretty in pink

I made this bracelet again after it broke in a spectacular explosion of pink baubles. These are vintage beads I picked up in a bead shop in Berkeley, CA.

Just about anywhere I go, I find a bead shop. So far the biggest and best one I've found was in Martha's Vineyard. But my quest will continue with my travels.

Memories of Martha's Vineyard

This bracelet is made with vintage lucite beads I bought in Martha's Vineyard this spring. The design is very simple, but that's perfect for such lovely beads.

The bracelet is sitting on the wild pansies covering most of my backyard. They're a pretty diversion from the dead grass and weeds. Instead of toiling on fixing the mess, I took photos of my bracelet in the pansies. (Unfortunately the photo is not the best, but I only had brief chances to snap a few shots between downpours.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Getting started

I'm starting this blog quite simply to share stuff that I make. I figure it's a good incentive to get busy and give my creativity a push.