I've already discussed my affinity for cats and now that I've introduced the world of felting to this blog I thought it would be a nice opportunity to discuss the endless possibilities of crafting with cat hair! I stumbled upon this book during one of my several daily perusals of the Modcloth website, but it is also available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. I can't quite tell if it's sincere or not, but I get the sense that it is and knowing how people get about their cats I shouldn't be surprised. I also can't judge, despite not owning a cat I do dress like one on a regular basis. Anyway, this book talks about the commonalities between sheep's wool and cat hair and how the two can be put to similar uses. Seems like something I would definitely try out, but also would not want anyone in my life knowing about it lest something like this happen. Clearly it's too late for that so I might as well just add another notch to my crazy crafting cat lady belt. This book seems like the perfect addition... just as soon as I actually get a cat. I'll report back with an update when the time comes.
I learned how to make felt in a fiber arts class during college and when I was asked to teach a week long camp with elementary schoolers focusing on the theme of "going green" I thought it would be a new, fun, and, most importantly, easy material for the kids to work with. I find the difficulty to be in what to actually do with the felt once you've made it. It can be a little underwhelming to kids when you show them how to make this thing and then they're like... so now I just take this square of fabric home? I feel like the technique is best utilized in conjunction with another object. I tried three approaches with a group of rowdy eight year olds and thought I would share them here as well.
There are a few different methods for creating felt, but the easiest approach that requires the least amount of materials is definitely wet felting. Your main tool is just warm soapy water, which I think is easy enough to come by. You can apply the wool to a variety of objects and the first I'm going to talk about here are rocks. So yeah I had a bunch of eight year olds create felted rocks and they were all "Wtf is the point of this???" My adult brain was like "Shut up these are freaking adorable ass paperweights... what are you going to do when you attempt to complete some vital paperwork next to an open window?! I bet you'll want an adorable ass paperweight then! Hmm? Oh you're eight and have zero use for office accouterments? Cool, happy Mother's Day to your mom..." Anyway, the technique is simple... just pull apart your yarn (that can be purchased from a variety of distributers on Amazon), place down several perpendicular layers, and wrap your object with them. Place the combination in a nylon stocking and make a knot just above it. Dip the sock in your warm soapy water and agitate the object between your hands almost like you're using it as a bar of soap (more on that later). If you're interested in adding details or patterns to the object remove it from the sock before completely felted, lay down your design, return it to the sock, and continue agitating it. Remember to dip the sock when it begins to dry out between your hands. After about 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your wool layer) remove the object from the sock and allow it to dry. You're done, it's as simple as that.
Despite not fully comprehending the utilitarian purpose of this activity, the kids had a great time playing in the soapy water and working with such tactile materials. For them I think it was more about the activity and less about the end result and that's fine by me, I will gladly give a good home to whatever adorable office supplies they find useless.
I spent a good deal of time looking at perceptually manipulative works of art over the past couple of years as part of my graduate thesis research. The Surrealists significantly influenced my writing as well as my art making and Magritte was a favorite throughout. I'm attracted to the bits in his work that are based in reality, but just feel strange. Dali is a little too inventive and Di Chirico (though technically not a Surrealist) isn't inventive enough... Magritte always felt like the perfect balance to me. After delving into this world I developed a strong connection with the artists influencing my work. I also recently decided it was time to retire my high school bedspread for something that reflects my current interests. I had a thought that it would be a cool opportunity to get some art into my decor. I've used cafepress.com in the past for small unique projects and gifts. They're great if you have an idea of what you're looking for, but can't find it anywhere. You can upload your own images or artwork to put on anything from T-shirts to drinking glasses to curtains... the possibilities are kind of endless. I landed on the site while searching for duvet covers featuring works of art. I couldn't find the particular one I was interested in anywhere on the internet so I created it myself by uploading Magritte's Son of Man. I wasn't sure how it would turn out printing on such a large scale, but a couple weeks later my fear subsided when I laid the item out on my living room floor. It's extremely soft and warm and I love it. Plus, the Surrealists were super into the unconscious so... see what I did there?
P.S. If anyone in the Philly area is interested in checking out some really great Surrealist work, there is a Peter Blume exhibit at PAFA until April 5th... his work is insane. It's worth it just to go and stare at the colors, internet reproductions don't get anywhere close so I won't bother putting one here. Just go see it, it's mind-blowing.
One of my favorite online retailers is Modcloth. I love their retro styles (A-line skirts are a girl's best friend), they promote healthy body image by refusing to photoshop their models, and you can find some really unique items from clothing and accessories to home decor. Some of my favorite things have come from Modcloth and their customer care staff is amazing, one time a woman helped me put together an entire outfit for my friend's wedding... They're amazing, I'm obsessed. Anyway, when continually updating your inventory with such unique items you're bound to have a few missteps and in my opinion this shoe is one. From the front, this is a pretty eccentric shoe... from the back, this is a freaking terrifying shoe. A shoe of nightmares. It's produced by a brand called Irregular Choice so clearly they knew what they were doing (they have an entire line of strange figurined heels), but for some reason I find this particular shoe rather chilling. It definitely comes to life at night just to throw that one sock out the window and hide your remote under the couch cushions.
I cannot believe they've actually sold out, but fear not this shoe's cousin is still available for purchase. For $165 you too can stomp around on a tiny creature's head, you sadist. It's okay, I'm sure he deserves it. Just look at his cold merciless eyes.
Good luck sleeping tonight.
As you can see in the above photo, the original mason jar lid is pretty wrecked. Note to self: steel, water, and oxygen do not mix. The lids are also coated in vinyl, however once you drill through that waterproof coating it's pretty ineffective... obviously. The crucial step I skipped last time was to coat the opening with a sealant to protect the metal from rusting. My thought process was, "Wow, the pump fits perfectly I bet it doesn't even need glue." I was wrong. So this time I went a little overboard. After making a hole in the center with a half inch drill bit I basically smothered all exposed surfaces with a silicone sealant and pieced the parts together. The packaging says it can be used on aquariums so I expect it to be locked tight for life.
If you read my introductory post you might have noticed one of those mason jar soap dispensers that are oh so trendy as of late. I made it about a year and a half ago and over time the lid rusted and crumbled in to pieces and the pump pushed through the opening. It might sound like this occurred because Pinterest is full of lies and to successfully complete a Pinterest craft is impossible. Unfortunately, this mishap was actually due to an act of lazy crafting on my part. I skipped one vital step in the process and it led to this item's eventual destruction. So I thought I would rehab my soap dispenser the correct way and document it for anyone interested in attempting this Pinterest favorite.
I just want to conclude by acknowledging the amount of innuendo in this post.
It wasn't intentional, but seemed to be unavoidable.
You guys, this week has provided this year's first evidence that winter will actually end. Today it was in the high 50s. As a severe seasonal allergy sufferer, this time of year is the best. The weather is finally warming up, but things have not yet begun to pollenate so I can actually go out in the world before being banished back indoors by the beautiful nature my immune system has decided to flag as its number one enemy. While perusing some spring collections online I came across these nifty armbands from Free People and because I was finally able to bare my arms this week I thought I would sit down to make one. At $28 they aren't prohibitively expensive, but a lot of the reviews were negative in regards to size and quality issues so I thought I could do it better and cheaper. Here's how I went about it:
I was able to gather all necessary supplies with one trip to AC Moore and the total cost added up to $12.46 (I neglected to include pliers for cutting the chain in the above photo... you'll need pliers also). Most of the problems I read about this piece had to do with the metal band being too large despite the elastic at the back. I had some difficulty tracking down a metal cuff that would work for this so I decided to make the whole band elastic. The material I found is actually the same as those trendy hair ties people are giving out left and right (like seriously, if you google "trendy hair tie" there is an entire website dedicated specifically to these products). So I measured the circumference of my upper arm with the elastic leaving a little extra room for folding and stitching the ends. I then laid out a tentative design and used invisible thread to attach the beads where I wanted them. I was a little bit worried about the beads falling off so I researched different types of knots used in jewelry making and ended up going with the surgeon's knot. I then connected the ends of the elastic with the invisible thread by folding over the frayed edge (like you're creating a hem) and stitching the elastic together at the folds. Then all I had to do was trim the invisible thread and it was good to go.
Full disclosure: The thread worked really well except on the one central dangly bead that kept flipping over so I secured it with some epoxy beneath the iridescent stone.
I really love the idea of these arm bands because I hate wearing bracelets since they are generally too big or just uncomfortable on my bony wrists. When I do wear something on my wrist it's usually a hair tie so the choice of materials for this project felt right to me. Anyway, here's to baring and accessorizing our arms in the near future (see what I did there? bare arms like to bear arms, but like the body part... it actually took me a while to figure out which was the correct one soo I'm pretty proud of the pun... also it's very late).
Finally tapping into my last DIY Christmas present resource... here we go. My mom has this dog. It's small and white and more beloved than I. So when it comes to getting my mother presents, anything Lily related is guaranteed to be a slam dunk. She particularly enjoys putting the small white creature in people clothes (several Halloween costumes, fancy Christmas outfits, and even a "surfer" ensemble for the summer... I don't know) and with my free time this winter already being taken over by yarn, a sweater felt right. I used this pattern and a marbled yarn that I thought complimented Lily's fair complexion. She hates people clothes... look at that picture, can you see it in her eyes? She protests having to wear them by going catatonic until the item is removed. She was not having that hat... at all. The sweater did, however, give my mother her much loved photo op so I consider this gift a success.
I said I would so here they are. I promise, I'm running out of yarn stuffs to talk about on here so hopefully the content will vary a little bit in the near future. This is another left over yarn project. I don't know if it's poor planning on my part or what, but I frequently run out of yarn towards the very end of a project and end up having to buy an entirely new skein for just a handful of rows. It seems to be a never ending cycle: I buy a skein to finish a project, use the remainder for another project, and run out of that skein at the very end as well. I guess this is how yarn collections develop. Anyway, I decided to make some leg warmers for my chilly walk to work and really liked this design. The technique is not what I generally think of when making this type of item. The number of stitches you use needs to be the appropriate length of your shin because you're actually working around the circumference of your leg instead of from top to bottom, this is due to the scalloped side. I had to do a little adjusting of the pattern to accommodate the orange edge I wanted around the piece, I ended up doing two fewer rows with the navy so they still fit around my leg snuggly. I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out, they actually make a huge difference in the cold. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the remaining yarn that will not require an additional trip to AC Moore... suggestions?
Easter is right around the corner and hopefully it will bring with it some nicer weather. Until then, my tactic is to power through the frigid month of March by perusing spring collections on various retail websites. I came across this hat at Anthropologie and wasn't quite sure how to interpret it. I can't tell if it's meant to be taken seriously or not, but I also cannot imagine someone purchasing this hat in earnest. It's a strange marriage of church hat and bunny costume that I guess could be appropriate for an Easter Sunday church service... at like a really progressive church. Throwing around $300 for a hat that is only relevant one day a year though seems a little extravagant to me.
For some reason I'm less turned off by the cat incarnation of this hat... go figure.