Dear Miss Potter,

May 16, 2014 § 2 Comments

 

I do love the Beatrix Potter books and I admit that it is mostly for the sweet watercolour illustrations, even though the stories can be quite rivetting. Animals in human clothing never cease to amuse me and Miss Potter captures the whimsy of it so well.

 

Lately, I have decided to take on a new project: up-cycled stuffed animals. I picked up a pile of unwanted wool and cashmere while thrifting and then felted them to make them washer/dryer friendly.

IMG_9749Then I proceeded to procrastinate over actually beginning the work for a few weeks…about a month or more. With no real deadline (like a baby due-date or kid’s birthday), motivation was hard to come by.

BUT! Today, I have triumphantly began working on this project. No online patterns were quite what I liked and I was feeling inspired by Miss Potter, so I took out a Peter Rabbit book and used the pictures as models for my own pattern making. Holy smokes. I have not made many patterns, and never for a 3D animal, and so this proved to be quite the mind bender. After a few hours of drawing, cutting and taping (I only have letter size paper!) I feel quite accomplished!

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I still have no idea if it will work out correctly, but I have high hopes… :S

I hope Miss Potter will be proud!

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what is wrong with me?!

April 19, 2011 § 4 Comments

Swiftly after posting a bunch of new and fun crafting projects (having nothing to do with yarn), I started knitting a sweater. What is wrong with me?!

Knitting is addictive. I can`t watch a TV show without it, I knit during my lunch break and find myself prying the needles out of my own hands to keep myself from starting a new row, “just one more, just one more!”. I may have a problem.

There are several factors figuring in the reasons why I am in such a state. One is that I just recently recieved a super awesome INTERCHANGEABLE, CIRCULAR KNITTING NEEDLE SET! Say that five times fast. For my birthday, my friends went all out to give me this most coveted item and now that I have it, I must knit! I must knit until I go cross-eyed, my fingers start bleeding and my shoulders begin curling in…if I`m not careful we may have a Rumplestiltskin situation on our hands (But how excellent would it be to knit hay into gold?! Rock on).

Secondly, I am moving soon. After living inJapanfor what will be two years this summer, I am heading back to the true north strong and free. I have no intentions of packing the mounds of yarn I have accumulated and mailing it back toCanada, so I am trying to knit as much as possible before we must be parted. This has also inspired some more creative projects (and subsequently, some very creative messups).

This toque is made of three different yarns: two leftover from the Lucky Clover Baby Blanket and one full skein I bought on a whim because it was on sale. It has served me well during the cold mornings and evenings this spring.Me wearing the toque and…

Gaspard trying it on for size (or is that Lisa, I don`t know which is which).

Thirdly, I am certain that there is one more very rational explanation for this little problem of mine, because all good things come in threes. Alas, it escapes me.

I haven`t started knitting up tree clothing yet, but there is something inspiring about it. Isn`t there?

Washi paper: Japanese handcraft

March 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

In Fukui prefecture of Japan, where I have lived for almost two years now, there is a paper village called Echizen. In Echizen paper village, there are many artisans who make the various kinds of traditional Japanese paper called washi. I have gone there many times since I first came to Japan to make paper and also to learn how to use the paper to make other things, last class we learned how to make books!

Washi is a great product, as it uses fewer chemicals than other methods of paper making, but in order to prevent bacteria from decomposing the paper fibers, it is usually done with very cold water. Traditionally it was a way for farmers to make money during the winter time. The most common plant fiber used is Kozo. This plant grows very quickly and can be harvested annually. After being processed and some colour added, this is what the fiber looks like:

Then, to make the paper, the pulp is mixed with water and usually neri (a kind of binding agent from tororo plant). The mix is poured out onto a screen. To even out the paper, the screen is usually shaken. Then it is air or sun dried.

Above is a picture of two pieces of mine drying in the spring sunshine.

In Fukui Prefecture, the Echizen Paper Village is well known for it`s washi making. Many artisans live there and make paper year-round.

My friend, Rina, has been working there since 2000. She does washi classes and tries to promote washi paper making in Japan and internationally. This is her website: http://www.echizenwashi.jp/english/index.php. To the right is a picture of her with her sensei. He likes to visit her classes and make sure things are going well. Her site has information on classes in the area, and local artisans. I hope to participate in at least one more washi class before I leave this summer.

Valentines Haters Anonymous

February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Valentines seems to get a lot of flack. When you think that Valentines is supposed to be a day for love, there is a lot of hatin’ going on. There are the chronically single, who find the awareness of their condition to be heightened by such a holiday: one friend referred to it as, “single persons awareness day”. Then there are the love spurned, who bitterly detest all that Valentines represents and may dedicate that sacred day to pay homage to Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin for a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T. And how about the Hallmark haters? For these individuals the celebration of Valentines and similar holidays is a matter of morality. Money hungry greeting card companies must be stopped and meaningless holidays boycotted. They will not celebrate with the buying of frivolous folded pieces of paper; they will not be wooed into a sugar coma of compliance by the abundance of teeth rotting heart-shaped goodies. No, they stand in their fight against outrageous romantic delirium that threatens humanity.

Now, unless you have always been among the “in a relationship” and it’s not “complicated” crowd, then at some time you will have found yourself hating on this particular holiday. Personally, I can relate to all three of the above categories of Valentine haters. That said, there are ways to cope my friends. Welcome to VHA: Valentine Haters Anonymous. Let the healing begin.

Let us join together in a united effort to bring back the love. In highschool I used to give little gifties to my single girlfriends on Valentines. It may have been a simple act of consolation, but there is no denying that it made the day a heck of a lot more festive. It softened the blow of being the only person in class not to get a candy-gram. THEREFORE, this week a red ribbon will be dedicated to little ways that we can all craftily cope…no, not only cope, but enjoy this upcoming holiday. And no projects will involve doilies or pipe cleaners. Pinky swear.

To begin, we go with a new twist on an old classic: the Valentines Card. This site posts printable cards themed with romantic inventions. The cards have the original patent illustrations, short descriptions of the invention and a quirky pick-up line. You can print them of for FREE.

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How nifty is that, right? I think they are cheeky but not cheesy which is hard to come by in a store. But check out the original site and you can find a variety of cards with all the hard work done! I like how the poster calls himself a “maker” – I mean crafting tends to get a old lady rap so I can see why he would choose a term which is a little more masculine…almost Biblical. Anyways, all you have to do is press print. Let’s show our friends a little love.

Christmas means carnage!

November 16, 2010 § 3 Comments

It`s only a month until my favourite holiday of the year and crafting is in full swing!

Inspired by a recycled Christmas tree craft sent to me from my friend Martha Stewart, I began crafting multiple trees for a charity auction. The auction is in just a few days and I only finished painting them with glue and dusting them with glitter last night. I committed to auctioning off a Christmas craft grab-bag and because of this my apartment has descended into chaos from my frantic late night crafting to finish everything in time. In Japanese, “giri giri” would describe my situation quite well: looks like I am going to make it by the skin of my teeth.

The auction project is not the only culprit in the disaster zone that is my apartment. I also have various `break from the auction project projects` strewn throughout my small living space. And it`s not like I have a lot of room to go around. As I was doing some finishing touches on Christmas cards I was stenciling I looked up at the chaos and the words of a duck named Ferdinand came to mind: “Christmas means carnage!” Anyone familiar with the movie of talking farm animals called Babe, will remember the scene when Ferdinand has a melt down, because he knows the truth about Christmas dinner. I didn`t have a melt down exactly, but as I looked around at my apartment I thought carnage was an excellent word to describe my current situation.

And so, I took the time to document the carnage on your behalf. My sister says she wishes she could be crafty like me, but Shannon, after you see these photos you may have second thoughts.

This is what used to be my couch and is now the cloth origami brooch project area (anyone got a better name?). You can see that what I require for this small creation is cloth, an iron, lots of fabric starch and origami instructions of course. I am worried that this craft will eventually involve a more literal carnage if I am not careful, but so far no fingers have been ironed.

What used to be my coffee table. This is where the recycled Christmas tree magic happens…well actually the folding happened in numerous other places, but the trees all congregated here afterwards. These are made from monotonous folding of individual pages of old magazines, much like the one in the foreground. Later these will get messier.

On top of my kutatsu blanket just off center is the scarf I am working on. I am striping with a yarn that changes colour and it has proven to be quite addictive to see the colours evolve.

These felted balls are what is going to be my new niece’s mobile. I plan on attaching them via yarn to the top of the mobile after the auction project is finished and just in time for her first Christmas! The balls are loads of fun to make.

I used to eat here. This is my kitchen table all decked out for Christmas card making. Rilakumma is supervising.

It is a set of five. Very simple, but festive I think. The stenciling was done with a doily. And the letters were done with my nifty new box of letter and number stamps!

I got a little carried away and started stamping on the back of the cards too.

In a few days I will post some pics of the finished project for the auction. In the mean time, it’s back to crafting! And my day job.

Head hugger, tree hugger

November 9, 2010 § 2 Comments

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love second-hand shopping. I believe this hobby of mine began at a very young age. Growing up as the youngest of four children, I lived off of hand-me-downs and was always waiting for that day when I would inherit coveted items from my sister`s closets. I also had a young play-mate who`s mother took us garage sale shopping on Saturdays and who first introduced me to the joys of bargain shopping at a place called Mary House. Once a month, Mary House opened it`s doors and with a garbage bag in hand we waited our turn to scavenge the boxes of clothes in the basement while fighting off old ladies with a strong sense of ownership. There was no opportunity to try clothes on, just one turn through the boxes and then a payment of five dollars would get you out the door with a garbage bag full of goodies. Being still quite young and small, I remember hurling myself into the bottom of waist-high boxes to find that one overlooked item and occasionally getting some stranger`s cast offs in the face. It was all part of the chase for a bargain which, being nurtured at such a young age, is still with me today. Of course, now I find myself searching through more organized collections of clothes and in a more civilized manner. But I still feel that little thrill of finding an item for more than half the original price and…admittedly, I still get a little possesive when I see someone eyeing what I am hoping to purchase.

“So what is all this hugging got to do with second-hand shopping?” you ask. Well, one day, while purusing my local thrift store, I came across some pretty neck ties. Normally I would never venture into the men`s section of thrifting, but these ties were hanging right across from the ladies` scarfs and I had an idea; a crafty idea. Why should these ties live such a purposeless life, hanging there on the shelf, surrounded by the smell of unwashed clothing? So, I rescued these neck ties. I brought them home, washed them and made them into headbands of various shapes and sizes.

Let the tree-huggers of the universe rejoice! Another way to put those skills of reducing, reusing and recycling to good use. Elementary school brain washing is finally making fashionable sense.

My friend who helped model these re-purposed items, said of the wrap-around variation, “It`s like a hug for your head!”. This coming from a girl who consistently finds headbands uncomfortable, now that is something. In the projects pages I will be devoting more posts to headbands (some new, some old) and I hope to eventually get a DIY together for the head-huggers themselves. In the meantime, you can admire some new handiwork in the gallery pages of the site. Here`s peek.

giant cat saga : episode 1

October 19, 2010 § 4 Comments

A girl can be busy now and then.

I was explaining to my sister why there were no new posts on a red ribbon and I began saying that I was so busy that no crafting had been done. But that was a lie. Only after writing a few more sentences did I remember that knitting project I was working on for Halloween. Why did it not register as crafting initially, I am not sure. Maybe, because I filed it under costume in my brain and though the two categories have a lot of cross-over I just didn`t make the connection. But connect they did, and so I had the brilliant idea to share this not-so-serious, actually-very-silly side of crafting which I enjoy indulging in every so often. Because when you are busy, there has to be an outlet for the nonsensical somewhere.

This post will have several parts over the next few days before Halloween, so if you find it interesting, please check back often to see the progress. It will be like your favourite TV show having back-to-back episodes: a crafting special! Or, you could catch all the action in one sitting after Halloween and it will be like a Saturday morning cartoon smorgasbourg of crafts. I leave that up to you.

Let`s start with the inspiration. My photographer friend, Lindsay and I were spying on other crafters` photos on etsy and came across the cutest, crochetted, lion hat . Lindsay and I happen to be a little obsessed with this Japanese stop motion video of cats and their owner. There is a song and giant cats and violence…what more could we ask for?
Though I can`t remember exactly who should be credited for the idea, we decided it would be great fun to dress up as giant cats for Halloween. Of course I volunteered to use my crafting skills to make the cat hats once again sans pattern. And so the saga begins…

First, I made this beautiful swim-cap-esque toque. Some would call it a “scull cap”, but that creeps me out so, how about tight toque? Anyways, since I didn’t have a pattern, I just used the pinwheel blanket pattern and decreased around the ends to get it to curve inward. Actually, I may have to loosen it a bit, because it is a tad tight, but you get the idea.

What’s that harrowing silhouette?!

Oh, that? Well that’s a giant cat…

A giant hairless cat.

So I still have the ‘hair’ to add yet, but I do think the ears turned out quite nicely. These babies are made with mad crochet skills and are basically folded pouches. Before I stitched them on the hat I could fit my fist inside. Well, I didn’t try, but my visual-spatial skills are usually quite excellent, so I am most definitely, maybe right.

Here’s an ear close up (the best I could do, sorry!)

The ear is simply sewed onto the toque with the same yarn using a tapestry needle.

 

Stay tuned for episode 2: the giant cat grows hair!

These last three shots I took by putting the camera on a timer to take them in succession. The first two are decent and informative, the last one is just more nonsense. You know what they say, you go crazy if you wear cat hats for too long.

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