In my never ending attempt to exhaust my craft supply, I decided to break out some old wool roving left over from college. I posted a few times about felt as a medium way back in the archives. You can read about them here, here, and here if you're interested in some other methods, but this time I will be focusing on needle felting. Out of all the techniques, needle felting is my personal favorite because you can work with more precision than wet felting. My fiancé won't come within several feet of me while working however, since it requires that I wield a very pointy needle in a very stabby manner. I admit that I did draw blood twice throughout this process, but don't let that deter you! It really is so fun when you're not bleeding... promise. Traditionally, you would felt wool roving together to create a distinct piece of fabric, but I also had some old stretcher bars I was looking to get rid of so I brought the two together to create a felted image on stretched linen instead. Here's how:
The technique is pretty simple as long as you avoid impaling yourself in the process. Just place your backing fabric on top of your felting pad, place your roving in the design you like, and poke it repeatedly until the fibers become matted together. Blending different colored roving together before adding them to your design will create a subtle transition of color and give your image a more realistic appearance. Felting needles are particularly heinous because they are covered with backward facing spikes that draw the fibers up and through on the way back out of the fabric. This unique design is what creates a strong bond between the fibers. So to review: place, stab, and repeat until you have your desired image.
Once your image is to your liking, stretch it around a wooden frame. Start in the middle on one side, stretch and staple, then move to the opposite side and repeat one staple at a time moving outwards until you reach the corners.
To create a nice clean corner fold fabric diagonally from the corner, staple, and wrap the excess parallel to the edge and staple again. This is a skill I learned years ago in a college painting class, my apologies to my professor for not doing a better job... I'm out of practice.
To add a more three dimensional element, use a crochet hook to push aside the fibers of the backing fabric and thread a piece of twine through it on either side of the bouquet. Tie the twine in a bow and you're done! This piece is getting shipped off as a gift, but it was fun to make so if you like it too keep an eye on the Etsy shop or hit me up for a custom piece!
About a week and a half ago, Wallace and I embarked on a very special journey. It's been a rocky one at times, but I feel it has made us closer. I now spend most of my time monitoring the state of the bathroom and sniffing all plush surfaces in my apartment and Wallace pretty much does the same thing, but with the opposite purpose. That's right, we're toilet training... add this to the ever growing list of reasons why I am an insane person. Litter Kwitter is a product designed to gradually transition your cat from using a litter box to using a toilet. The website has a number of testimonials and if you watch their promotional video, you will not be disappointed by the amusingly outdated soundtrack and graphics. It might be a huge cat parent mistake, but if we are successful I will have more reason to brag that my cat is a genius and spend less time handling his waste so the benefits are significant. I will spare you any photographic evidence of our experience so far because it's not pretty, but I will update you once we are successful. If you never hear me touch on this subject again, you know what happened. I'll leave you with this:
This week the powers that be have decided that, despite being early November, winter is upon us. Yesterday night temperatures in New York actually dipped into the 20s... the 20s! Don't get me wrong, I love curling up with a fuzzy blanket, cup of tea, and craft project like the true granny that I am, but unfortunately life requires that I go outside. As previously stated, I don't do well in the cold. My nose and ears fall victim to temperatures below 50 almost immediately and if there is any hint of wind, forget it. So I have amassed quite the collection of ear warmers. They keep the most critical part of your head warm and create minimal hat hair, a win-win. From a knitter's perspective, they are great for your left over yarn stash; they are quick, easy to make, and don't require much material. I found three patterns around the web, two crochet, one knit, all incredibly easy to make. All three patterns are slight stylistic variations on each other. The twist headband is made using the moss stitch, the cinched headband is made using alternating double crochet and half double crochet rows, and the bow headband is made with a seed stitch. You can find them here, here, and here. You can also find them available for purchase on the Imitation Retail Therapy Etsy shop. Fortunately, temperatures should be returning to manageable levels in the next few days, but yesterday was a sufficient reminder of winter's wrath and I will be prepared this year. Stay warm out there, kids.
About a year and a half ago, I bought my fiancé a birthday present that I (and he... because I spilled the beans before I even bought it) thought sounded super fun. It was a build your own mechanical clock kit from Abong. Having expressed some interest in woodworking at the time, I thought this would be a nice introduction for him. Some relevant back story: he has a habit of declaring newfound interests and hobbies that he never actually pursues... I didn't realize this at the time. So I presented the idea of this mechanical clock kit to him and he seemed enthusiastic until the gift arrived and he had trouble getting around to opening it. Being pretty handy myself, I offered to help build it. Some time passed, his birthday rolled around again, and the clock was still unfinished... mostly because I only visited on weekends and, if we're being honest here, I was the only one working on it. We joked that gifting the kit was one birthday present and building it was the following year's, but it was pretty ridiculous how long it sat in the box partially assembled. So I resolved to finish it by his birthday this year and I did... except hanging it turned out to be unexpectedly complicated so now here we are 6 months post second birthday and, after creating more holes than I'd like to admit, it made it onto a wall just in time for daylight savings. Both the concept and the physical clock are just as cool as I initially thought. The kit comes with laser cut gears and dowels and a lengthy instruction manual. Assembling it is 90% of the fun and the result is a kinetic sculpture that happens to tell time. TBD on if it tells time accurately. In my opinion, if it moves we've done our job. Whether it's functional or not, it still looks awesome. My biggest concern going forward is that Wallace will decide the swinging pendulum is a toy because... he's a cat... and knock the whole structure to the ground shattering it. Time will tell... get it? I'm sorry... I'll just go.
If you've been keeping up with things, you might have noticed that I haven't had many traditional DIYs lately. One reason for this is outlined in my previous post, the other is related to my last DIY and a particular piece of highly symbolic jewelry. Because I accepted the ring, I'm now required to plan a big party for all my friends and family (I've heard there's some sort of public declaration of love and commitment involved as well). Apparently, the planning process will be eating up a good chunk of my free time for the better part of the following year so I figured I could chart my journey here. Who knows, there might even be a few wedding related DIYs to share. Today, I am featuring the venue we booked a couple weeks ago.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the country's oldest art museum and school. It houses an impressive collection of American art ranging from colonial to contemporary, the bulk of which is displayed within their Historic Landmark Building. Constructed in 1876, the ornate Victorian Gothic structure was designed by Frank Furness and features "fanciful floral motifs... richly tiled floors... [and] gothic arches carrying gold rosette-studded walls". It really is a beautifully designed building plopped among the towering concrete structures of center city. I could spend days studying the building itself before even glancing at the collection inside. I know this because I did, PAFA also happens to be my alma mater and former employer. I had countless opportunities to get to know the intricacies of the museum and I still feel like I notice something new every time I visit.
I was never one for planning my hypothetical future wedding at a young age, but I do remember fulfilling that stereotype once when I stumbled upon PAFA's events page at around age 16. I then quickly reminded myself that you have to actually date someone in order to have a wedding and that didn't happen for me until a couple years later so I tabled the idea. I did not considered it again until I actually had a reason to this past summer. My fiancé and I both wanted to get married in the Philadelphia area since it is close to our families, but also because the city itself has special significance to our relationship. After touring a few venues, it didn't take much consideration to land where we did. Despite being a somewhat untraditional venue, the decorative architectural elements along with my personal regard for the arts and our association with Philadelphia make the space feel sacred to us. Step one was a pretty easy decision for us, but I've heard horror stories about wedding planning so stay tuned to witness the slow deterioration of my sanity as this process continues. Should be fun!