Sunday, September 30, 2007

Always be prepared ... to craft

When I was a kid, I tried a lot of extra-curricular activities. There was guitar, piano, archeology, theater, space camp, baseball, swimming ... it seemed that every year I had a new activity to explore.

The one thing I didn't do - and deeply regret not doing - was Girl Scouts. I can't remember why I never joined a troop - my guess is that my mother was much like I am today: pretty stingy with how many activities she'd let her daughter engage in at one time. Call me lazy (I like to think I'm just super aware of the energy that is required to maintain a busy activity/school schedule, and know my limits) but I have a one-big-extra-activity-and-that's-it rule about my kids. Whether it was time or money that kept me from doing Girl Scouts as a kid, it was something I always really wished I could do.

One of my best friends was in a troop lead by her mother - an incredible artist and craft guru. I would have killed to be in that troop. They were always doing such cool things - especially crafts. Oh the crafts! Egg carton worms, plastic berry basket projects, paper mache! Oh dear paper mache! (can you believe I've still never done paper mache!? I know, it's sick.)

So from a very early age, I knew I wanted to lead a Girl Scout troop for my daughter. And finally, the time has come. I spent all day yesterday at Girl Scout Leader Training. And while there was no direct talk of crafts (we were more concerned with business/safety training) I could feel the crafty possibilities bubbling up.

And don't forget the cookies! My fabulous co-leader, Anna, has agreed to handle all the cookies sales. Which is perfect, given her rockin' blog is called "Cookie Madness." Between the two of us, we'll have some fantastic crafting and cooking going on in our troop. Be prepared to see some of the fruits of our labor (and fun) here.

*These images are from a 1975 Junior Girl Scout Handbook that I found at Half Price Books last week. It is choc full of really cool stuff! :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Silly Fun Crafting

Silly Fun Crafting
Originally uploaded by burb_mama
I have a few things I've been wanting to post about ... and I will. But for now, just some fun, silly crafty goodness.

(Click on the picture at the right to see a larger version and click to individual images ... if you're into getting up close and all)

When Sister Diane first posted her Glove Monsters, I was giddy at her brillance. The she went and posted a tutorial and I knew I had to make one. Fortunately, Target happened to have knit gloves in the Dollar Spot this week, so I grabbed a pair. This little guy (gal?... not sure) was a blast to whip up while watching TV on the couch. My favorite part is the hair. I'd cut open the cuff of the glove to unfold it for more height (per SD's tutorial) but when I tried to gather it at the top, it just wasn't working for me. I ended up just stitching straight across, which left just a flat piece of cuff sticking up at the top. I decided to see what would happen if I clipped along the ribbing of the cuff.

BRILLIANCE! It curled all on it's own, and in 30 seconds, the monster's personality popped forth. (Can you pop "forth"?) It was so much fun.

I'd also nipped a little hole when I was clipping the seam of the cuff, so I stitched it roughly to make a "scar" on the face. That was fun. I can't wait to make another one. I'm so glad gloves come in pairs (aside from obvious reasons) because these little guys are addictive.

Then I had the chance to go to a Shrink Art class tonight at the Work*Shop (in love with this place!) and I had such a blast. I brought along my stash of Sublime Stitching transfers, and they made great patterns to trace, color and shrink. Next thing ya know, I've got a rad pair of robot earrings, some smoking flame earrings, and a sweet, stylish swallow pendant.

I told my husband I'd be home at 9:00 tonight. I got home at 11:00.

Time evaporates when I'm crafting ... and that's just how I like it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

That's it. I'm hooked.

Mom and I took a crochet class at Craft-O-Rama last night (FUN place, and so much yummy fabric and fun stuff and great people) and it was a blast. I really enjoyed working with yarn and the hooks (I have this strange love for the actual *motion* of moving the hook in and out of the loops of yarn) and I had fun practicing a bit once I got home.

I'm still working on how to hold the yarn/hook/piece - it gets confusing to me. And, of course - like most beginners - I have the tendency to go waaaaay too tight. I'm also still a bit confused on identifying each stitch and spot where I need to push my hook through. My things got a bit wonky because I kept missing stitches or adding stitches. I admit it, I was chatting too much and not paying close enough attention. That's my only fear with crochet - can I chat or daydream while I do it? So far, I feel like I need to count a lot and pay attention. Two things I tend to avoid when crafting.

Mom had loads of fun and did really well. She was a little nervous and cracked lots of jokes about how "badly" she was doing. Give it up mom, you were rocking like nobody's business. Own it!

And what makes learning a new craft even more fun? How about having the sweetest little dog you could ever hope to meet curled up in your lap while you crochet? The teacher's dog (named Olive) sat in my lap for the first half of the class. I'd scratch her belly and snuzzle* her head and then get back to stitching. Every once in a while, she'd bop me with her head or paw, looking for some more lovin'. She even got tangled in my yarn. Nothing says fun and cozy like crocheting with a cute pup in your lap.

*Snuzzle is a technical term meaning to smoosh your nose into the dog's head and kisskisskisskisskiss while making idiotic lovey noises. In case you didn't know.

Monday, September 17, 2007

oooooh ... fun stuff!

Good stuff comes in threes, I think.

  1. Last week I received a stack of vintage embroidery transfers from a fabulous woman in England. There are some really cool ones in there, and I'll scan them as soon as I get a chance. The bonus: they came the day after my birthday, so it felt like a little birthday gift. Plus, I love getting mail, so .... it was just a really rad package.
  2. Moxie and the Compound is hosting an awesome Project Runway viewing/contest. How freaking cool is that? It's times like these when I wish I had any grasp of garment design/construction. I'm so tempted to enter one week just for kicks.
  3. I found out today that I came in third place in a little naming contest I'd entered. Let me tell you, third feels FANTASTIC! I entered on a whim (the sewing studio owner decided to change the name of her sewing class business and asked for suggestions, then people voted on those suggestions.) and wasn't too confident in my entry (Third and Thread, because her studio is on 3rd street) but what do you know, I came in ... THIRD! And I won a $75 voucher toward classes with her. That's freaking awesome! I took an embroidery class from her about a year and a half ago, and she was so fun. I've wanted to take more classes, but haven't had the budget for it. Now I can. Woohoo! What to take, what to take...... I swear, I could take sewing/crafting classes every day of my life and not get bored.
And this week is when I'm taking the crochet class with mom - can't wait. And I'm working on a birthday gift for my best friend, so that's fun. And I finished the dish towel for my grandmother-in-law over the weekend. And I read Doodle Stitching (fantastic!) cover-to-cover. And I found out about a fun shrink plastic class at the Work*Shop.

Whew! Super fun crafty goodness all over the darn place!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Thrift Find is complete

Whew - wrapped her up last night. The flower border got frustrating after a while, and I have to admit that I cheated and didn't cut and finish each one - I just strung on to the next one. So, the back is .... not perfect, but considering that I'm framing her - no one will ever see that. I love the way she turned out, though! I used little sequins around the border - something I haven't done before - and I like how they turned out. They were super easy to work with. AK keeps saying she wants her hung up in her room .... is it totally wrong that I want her in my office/craft room? Argh.

We're heading up to my husband's grandparent's house today for a loooong road trip (up and back in one day). I've stamped a tea towel with one of my favorite designs so I can stitch a little something for his grandmother on the way up there.

Happy weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Crafts from the past

Since I was crafty before I started this crafty blog, I thought I'd pull up some projects I've done in the past. Plus, it's a laundry day, and I'd actually like to try to sew something before I have to pick up the kids, so I'm slacking on actually posting a new project. Here's one of my faves from a while back that made me laugh.

I give you: CraftsterWoman! (the text below is copied from my original posting of this project on Craftster.)
In a couple of hours, I'm heading out to see Leah at the Work*Shop here in Austin. She's doing a book thing, and there's going to be a surprise craft swap of some sort. I had a random hit of inspiration in the shower last night, and came up with a "Craftster Woman" (think: Wonder Woman with a glue gun) accessory set. It must have been meant to be. I had all the materials I needed on hand, my freehand cutting of a felt glue gun silhouette rocked on the first try, and I was able to complete the set (and a matching tote bag to wrap it in) throughout the day, while hanging with the kids. All pieces are wearable (the headband has squeeze clip barrettes that I pirated from my daughter's old bows, the cuffs have button fasteners) and the image of "Craftster Woman" on the tote bag has the glue gun, scissor and spool details morphed into her costume. She's off to save the word one craft at a time! Enjoy. It was fun to make. Hopefully someone who shares my slightly lame sense of humor will get it tonight and will model it. I'll have to take my camera.

The event was great! If Leah is coming to your hometown (or close by) you must go! You'll have fun, meet crafty folks, and get to make some cool stuff. The craft swap was great, and I am pleased as punch that Lisa (co-founder of The Work*Shop Austin - very cool place) picked the Craftster Woman set. It was insanely perfect. The woman OWNS and spends most of her time in a C-R-A-F-T S-H-O-P, folks! It was right up her alley (which was good, because I was afraid that someone might get it and think I'm really weird) Can I say how completely stoked I was that she not only donned the ensemble, but wore it all evening. How cool is that! Here she is looking ready to fight off bad craft vibes with her cuffs. I added a note to the bag that said something like "The head band will keep you focused while crafting. The lasso will rope in good ideas, and the cuffs will deflect any self doubt you have while crafting." or something to that effect ... I was writing it while my kids were crawling on me, so I don't remember. Fun stuff!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Signs your kid watches too much Stylelicious

What can I say? The kid's a regular Andie Walsh. She dismantled a Barbie dress to make a new outfit for her Tinkerbell dress. (ripped the bodice off the skirt, dug up this net business from some other character of hers, added a headband from a My Little Pony) I seriously think she got the idea from watching Stylelicious with me. I'm surprised she didn't use the phrase "gussied up" when she was describing her work to the family.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You are now free to craft about the cabin

I just returned from a blissful weekend away with my mom and sister. My mom treated us to a birthday weekend at an amazing place in South Carolina - four days with out the kids, spa treatments, wildlife river boat excursions, great food .... luxury beyond my wildest dreams. (side note: thank you, Chris, for being such a champ with the kids all weekend long - you ROCK!)

Of course, I had to bring along some crafty fun. Nothing says luxury and relaxation like being able to craft for hours straight, uninterrupted, and listening to your favorite music. I didn't do much stitching while we were at the resort, but the airplane travel was the perfect place to plug in my headphones and get lost in the floss. I even ran in to a woman who was knitting on the plane. She'd just taken a knitting class this week and was working on a dishcloth. I love meeting crafty people at 35,000 feet in the air.

And when I got home - more fun! Chris got the books I was wanting for my birthday (in addition to one I'd sneaked a peek at last week) and the kids made fun cards for my birthday. It was a blast.

With the new books, I have all kinds of inspiration and ideas for things I want to make. Ack - what's that feeling ... oh yeah, Craft Overload. It's the topic of Sister Diane's latest CraftyPod, and you should listen to it. Her shows are always great, but this is one of my absolute favorites. Go listen ... NOW!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

She's designing projects now

AK and I were driving around the other day and all of a sudden, she started spitting out ideas for craft projects.

"I know! I know! You could make a reindeer and then a sleigh and then put velcro on the reindeer and then have a thing from the sleigh that attaches to the velcro so if you wanted to take it off, you could .... and and and"

Holy cow. She's designing craft projects. She's thinking in craft projects. She's looking around at stuff she has and thinking about stuff she wants, and she's figuring out how to do it - craft style. It's not just, "I wanna sleigh!" - she's figuring out how to craft what she wants.

How cool is that!?

And tonight, she started digging through my scrap box and pulled out some fleece from one of Ben's old baby blankets. She grabbed some other supplies and set to work - creating a custom-designed blankie for Ben. Since she didn't have any sewing stuff handy, she started taping pom poms, pipe cleaners and foam shapes to the blanket. I think she said they were animals - I'm not sure.

The best part was when she stood up and said, "See, mama, you could do this for one of your projects." Next thing you know, she'll be writing tutorials and posting them for download.

I love being around a crafty kid!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stitchin' with mom

Despite the fact that my mom used to be an embroidery whiz (stitching nearly every piece of clothing she owned in the 70s and since amassing a collection of embroidered clothing that has lead us to wonder if we need to have some type of intervention) she hasn't picked up a needle and floss in nearly three decades.

I guess floss addiction is genetic, because it didn't take much for me to get completely addicted to the craft after I took a class with Jenny Hart at the Work*Shop back in April. Since then, I've been stitching almost every single day, and mom's taken notice.

At first, she just admired the work - laughing about seeing her daughter doing something she used to do, doting on my work (uneven stitches and all) the way only a mother could. Then she started dropping hints that perhaps she'd like to try her hand at embroidery once more. Of course, in the same breath of her hints to try the craft again, she'd mention all the reasons she shouldn't. She didn't want to buy the supplies if she ended up not liking it (um ... embroidery is one of the more budget-friendly crafts you can pick up) and was worried that her aging eyes wouldn't be good for stitching (even though she has some crazy-cool bifocals) and she thought, "why would I need to stitch anything when I have everything I need?" (she's beyond practical)

But the floss is hard to resist. Finally, I just said, "Mom, I have an extra blank tea towel and a transfer I know you'd love. Let me stamp it for you and we can stitch together." She was thrilled.

We were out at the ranch last night, and once the kids were tucked in bed, she and I piled on to the couch and started to stitch together. I showed her the back, split and stem stitch. She practiced on a piece of fabric I started stitching on, but had decided to ditch. When she got stuck, she turned to the Sublime Stitching book for back up. It was so much fun.

And I have to say, I felt awfully colonial sitting in the ranch house living room (that's very log-cabin-ish) and stitching up a storm. Having my mom there with me, sharing in the experience - it all made me feel very connected to the long history of women crafting together.

All that from a little floss, some needles and fabric? Not bad for a holiday weekend.

And what was I working on last night? It was a fun little find from a thrift store visit earlier this summer. It came in a pack with some yarn and a giant needle. There were two panels - one of a boy and a mushroom, one of a girl and a mushroom - but the boy panel was partially completed with the yarn. I tried stitching with the yarn on the boy panel, but didn't like it. I decided to cut the panels apart, and just do the girl side in floss. I wasn't particularly attached to it, but now that it's about 80% done, I am in love with it. I can't wait to frame it and put it up.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Early craft - RIP Weekly World News

This is one of my first crafty things I made. I made it sometime in high school or college - I can't remember which. A few copies of the fabulously hilarious Weekly World News, a clear glass and some Mod Podge, and I had the raddest desk accessory ever. It's embellished my desk while I studied, when I was a teacher, and now resides in my home office. It's a great conversation starter. But really, with headlines like, "She's covered in hair, but had a wonderful personality" why wouldn't it be. This week marked the last printed issue of Weekly World News, and while WWN will still be available online, collaging with a print out won't be nearly as fun.

RIP WWN hard copy. Our crafty cravings will miss you.

I'm so not crafty ....
so why am I starting a craft blog?

Most of my crafty friends are clear on where they get their crafty-ness. Typically, their mother and/or grandmother crafted with them as children, and they've been crafting ever since. Until recently, I denied my crafty nature. I've sworn - most of my life - that I am "so not crafty." Regardless of the fact that I was decoupaging pictures of Mork and Mindy to my side table in college, I saw no craftiness in my past or future.

Somewhere, I had knowledge of the fact that both my grandmas were master seamstresses, that one grandma could crochet and knit like nobody's business, and that my mother - in typical 70s fashion - embroidered anything that stood still and macramed her little heart out.

But why did I feel no connection to crafting, or have any desire to craft?

I blame my mom for both neglecting my craft potential, and feeding it. We never really crafted together when I was a kid. She wasn't the type to save peanut butter jar lids to make Christmas ornaments, and we never once made paper mache. I think by the time I came around, she was burned out on crafting. In her words, "How many needlepoint pictures can you hang on the wall?" By the time I was a kid, she was in to other things - like breadmaking. And so, my crafty influences and training would have to come later.

Occasionally, I'd find my way in to a craft or hardware store, and that tingly sensation of standing in awe of possibility would overwhelm me. I'd sometimes pick up supplies, but lacking anyone to craft with or any guidance, I'd get frustrated with the process and results. Instead, I just swore I was "so not crafty."

So when did I embrace my crafty side? I can't remember exactly, but I think it was partly during a sewing class I took (a year after my mom gave me my first sewing machine) a few years ago, and I know that Craftster had a lot to do with it. A friend clued me in to Craftster, and with my first visit, I was absolutely hooked. Finally, cool crafting, and even cooler crafters. A community full of ideas, lessons and support - I was smitten.

Over the last several years, I've taken sewing classes, embroidery classes, expanded my collage skills, learned about ATCs, and indulged in the inspirational goodness of Flickr. This year, I've become completely addicted to craft blogs/podcasts, magazines, and have had the opportunity to connect with fun crafters across the country. I'm hooked. No more denying it. I am so crafty. So very crafty.

And the best part? Aside from having a creative outlet, something to soothe my mind, a fun connection to other people, my mom is finally getting crafty again! She's been watching me embroider non-stop for months, and now she's finally taking embroidery up again for herself! In two weeks, we'll be taking a crochet class together. The crafty blood line is running strong now. My daughter is picking it up, too, and with a Girl Scout troop we'll be starting later this fall, we're sure to have some fun whipping up crafts.

So I'm a newbie-ish crafter with an old crafter's soul. And no matter how many times my husband rolls his eyes at the fabric stash, or friends say, "Why would you spend hours making something for your kid you can buy at the store." the crafty denial is done with. This girl has craft in her blood, and it's time to let it flow.