Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Three in one

This was an idea I had for a new necklace. I thought rather than just making one dangling pendant, I'd do three in one. My idea was to simply slip a chain through the two loops at the ends. But it would also work to add a beaded chain in a nice, bright colour.

Does it work? I'm not sure yet, which is why, like so many before, he's become a creative orphan abandoned on the craft table.

Not quite Calder

Ages and ages and ages ago, I bought a mobile photo holder at the San Francisco art gallery. I had a grand vision of making little beaded ornaments to hang on the mobile. I bought a whole bunch of beads in shades of teal, even a few sparkling Czech buttons. I put them all in a special tray with little wells for about two dozen beads of different size, shape and sheen. (Is it just me, or is organizing crafts just as enjoyable as the actual crafting? Or does just admitting that make me a super huge nerd?) Anyway, over the years I would pull out the tray and make another ornament or two, each taking a couple hours.

I'd start with a length of thick metal wire and start bending. Once I made a shape I liked, then I got the finer wire to start wrapping around the shape and adding beads. It was great fun to see how each one evolved. I didn't really keep track of how many I made, just dropping them into a container. Yesterday I figured I'd finally put it all together - which meant first unearthing the mobile from my craft closet (and, wouldn't you know it, one of the clips was missing. An excuse for a SF trip?). Then I started clipping the little beaded bits on.

It's hard to get a good photo of the whole mobile. Here are a few attempts:

It's more interesting close-up where you can see the details of the beaded ornaments. I like to think of each one as a little piece of art.

So it's not exactly the amazing mobiles of Alexander Calder, but kinda a neat idea. (And, as you can see, I am fond of the colour if you noticed the rather bold teal paint in the background.) I got to thinking I'll try making these beaded ornaments on a smaller scale as pendants.

Bronze and blue

Here's a pendant I put together around two flamework beads. This is where a slightly more than modest bead stash comes in handy. I gathered all the complementary beads from my collection. Sometimes you just need those few perfect beads. And that's my excuse for never having enough beads. You never know what you're going to need!

Well . . . hmm . . . I dunno . . .

Not every endeavour in the craft room is an overwhelming success. These earrings were made with beads my mom gave me. They were her colours, so I whipped up a pair of earrings. Adding the little silver dangles on the bottom was a new idea. But I'm not so excited with the overall look.

Maybe the colours are throwing me off. Or maybe they're just more chunky than I usually like. I dunno. I hesitated even posting a photo. My mom seems to like them, but then a mother's view isn't quite objective. Let's all flash back to that misshapen, unidentifiable pottery project we so proudly presented on Mother's Day. Moms should all get an Oscar.

Every snowflake is unique

When I sit down at my craft table, I push myself to try something totally new. I had this snowflake bead leftover after making my mom some Christmas earrings. Often I stick with a simple design for pendants, but this time I got out my wire jig to make the flourish for the bottom. Then I added a wee crystal in the opening. My mom decided to put it on ribbon and fibre cord, which I think looks quite nice. I fixed it up, though, so it has a clasp instead of having to tie it everytime. I left bits of ribbon at the ends to cover up the clasp to preserve the charming improvised look.

About time

I posted earlier yarn I spun from a crazy batt. Well, I used that yarn to weave a scarf - with much help from my mother, who owns and actually knows how to set up a loom. We both made a scarf using a pattern from a recent Spin-Off magazine for a felted woven scarf. I found a complementary yarn to use for the warp, then started weaving with my handspun. The pattern calls for a few inches of weaving, then a space, then weaving, etc . . . When it's done, you toss it into the washing machine to felt.

You can see the bits of different fibres and angelina in the handspun. (The photo makes the scarf look much lighter than it really is.)

The scarf looks quite solid because of the felting. But if you hold it up to the light, you can see the lacy spaces where there was no weft.

This was the first project I made using my handspun, and I'm pretty happy with the result.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ocean waves

A co-worker brought me a clipping from a magazine of a lovely tropical island-inspired bracelet and asked if I could make something similar. Of course I can! And mine will use much nicer beads and be finished much more securely than anything bought in a store.

I found these beads in brilliant shades of blue, green and purple. You can almost hear the ocean waves lapping on a sun-soaked white sand beach. I found neat bead caps that added an extra element to the bracelet while also making the strands hang better without getting all jammed up at the findings.

And I even had enough beads leftover for a matching pair of earrings.

Going crazy

This is yarn I spun from a crazy batt during a workshop at Wellington Fibres. Making crazy batts is crazy fun. You spread out a bunch of fibre - we used wool and mohair - as the base, then start adding in dashes of just about anything. We tossed on mohair locks, sparkly angelina, sari silk bits, yarn, clumps of mystery fibre. Then it all goes through the giant drum carder and mixes it all together into a bat. You can even toss in more bits while the carder is doing its work.

Then we started spinning. It's cool spinning a crazy batt because you never know what bits are going to appear as you go. Depending on how you spin, you can make bold segments with the accent bits or blend it in for a more subtle effect. I liked the look of keeping the accents mostly intact. You can see the bits of bright blue and lighter colours dappled throughout the mostly dark fibre.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stuffed friends

This photo features something I made and my too-cute cat Ariel. Honest to god, this photo was not staged. I found Ariel curled up with her stuffed friends just like this, complete with the sock monkey's arm around her. I made the sock monkey, and actually in the background is a pillow my mom crocheted and another my grandmother embroidered.

Spinning "helper"

The first time my kitten Ariel saw the spinning wheel in action, she couldn't help but get involved. Her paws grabbing the fast-moving drive band and whorl were not so helpful, not to mention her fondness for fibre tasting. But, still, it was pretty cute.

Generally, Siamese cats are very elegant and graceful. But not always. My caption for this photo: Wha?!

Cottage life

Nothing is quite as relaxing as time at the cottage. You can totally zone out looking over the water. What can beat a beautiful sunset?

What would newbie crafters do without scarves?

This scarf was made during a weaving workshop I took with my mom. We learned the whole process from the beginning of picking the pattern and making the warp right to the end of twisting the tassels. I'm not so fond of the scarf and have never actually worn it because we didn't use very nice yarn, but it was a good learning experience. I think it's always good to try a craft because then you can really appreciate the work that goes into it.

My mom is totally into weaving now and bought her own floor loom. I'm not so much a fan I think because there's a lot of math involved. It's ridiculous the amount of calculations you need to do even for a simple scarf. Half our class time was spent doing practice calculations. I'm more of a dive in and figure it out along the way sort of person.

Soft and super cute

I spun this two-ply yarn with alpaca fibre. What a treat to spin! Actually, it kind of ruins you for anything else. It's so soft and just glides through your fingers. This yarn is actually on needles to make a cowl. I should get on that before spring is here. Although it hasn't been a terrible winter where you have to cover up everything to survive the cold. Still, it would be so nice and soft around your neck and face.

Spurred by my love of alpacas and all things fibre, I wrote this story about the place fibre still has in our lives today. Really, it was a good excuse to go to a local alpaca farm and pet the cute creatures, as well as talk to spinners about the craft.

Have a read at


My poor little blog. How I have neglected you. The silly part is that I have been making stuff, but just not posting pictures. I think that's an even worse laziness. I'm not going to make any promises, but I'm gonna to at least catch up on my creative accomplishments. Hmm. Maybe if I broaden my approach beyond crafty stuff to creative stuff in general, I'll feel a bit more inspired.

On that note, here's a photo I took last fall at the Hamilton Botanical Gardens. Peony petals look so soft, almost like velvet.