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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vote on Favorite Baby Shower Gift

  I am having a difficult time deciding which gift to buy for an upcoming baby shower, so I thought I could enlist the help of all of you. The gender of the baby is unknown and is the second child. I usually like to get either gifts specifically for mommy or for when the child is slightly older because I feel like everyone gets the same wash clothes, baby bottles, etc. Plus this is the second time around, so there will be lots of left overs. What does one usually need/want the second time around? Anyway, there were just too many things to choose from! Here is my final list, so let's see if you can help me narrow it down.

Number One- Mini Monkey Flap Hat


Thanks to these Etsy shops (in order 1-6):

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tips & Tricks- Card and Paper Crafting

  I have never been terribly fond of the greeting card industry as I feel like it is just one more way for us to detach ourselves from genuine connections to our loved ones. I just don't understand the sense of obligation to send a generic, mass produced waste of paper that required no thought. I get really irked when people merely sign their name and don't even bother to write a personal message. If you don't know someone well enough to write a heart-felt letter then save the paper and postage.  I understand greeting cards were made for the busy and creatively challenged, but the least any one can do is choose a card with personal meaning and write a quick, but meaningful note.
  To remedy the tradition of receiving and quickly disposing of generic cards, I hand-make almost every card I send through the mail or with a gift. This does require more time from me, which often means that extended family and friends don't receive a card for every occasion, but I feel like the ones I do send are infinitely more worthy of the paper, time and energy put in.
  It has taken time to collect a healthy supply of scrapbook papers, embellishments, stickers, fancy pens and other ephemera, but it helps the creative process to have things on hand and not need to rush off to the craft store. I like to look for whatever discounts I can find when I am out shopping, so that when I get inspired or an event comes up that I have lots of treasures to choose from.
  There are several things I can't live without and always make sure I have stocked:
The Glue Lines and Photo Corners help mount papers flat, and without worrying about oozing liquid glue smearing or tearing paper. Glue lines help mount ribbons too. Decorative scissors are good for adding texture to pictures and papers, and hiding crooked lines. Distress Ink used with a sponge or foam brayer also adds interesting texture and can make pre-made cardstock cards look antique. Paper scraps are essential for mounting pictures and words. Use contrasting colors and patterns to add creative flair. These are just the basics but definitely standards in my craft pantry.
   Combine these with photos, printed images, magazine pictures or any other creative findings, and you can create many different kinds of cards for all occasions. Remember the most important part is that it be meaningful to you and the recipient. If it is sewing you like then add scraps of cloth. Use what you have around the house and remember to have fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Inspiration- Brian Froud

  I think I learned more about fairies from Brian Froud than I ever did from any "fairytales" as a child. It wasn't until I was about eleven that I discovered the wonderful world his imagination has brought to live. He is also well versed in traditional folk myths and legends making him both valuable as an artist and a writer.
  My favorite of his works is Good Fairies/Bad Fairies. It is a collection of the beautiful and the curious. He does a great job of not creating impossibly perfect female fairies. I feel more closely drawn to this version of the feminine. In my mind, it is the imperfect that makes it so perfect.
   As a child, I was always seeing creatures in the knots of trees, in the wood grains of my bedroom door or little trolls in the clumps of grass. Froud has brought these creatures alive on the page and in my mind. I think it's their big eyes that suck you in.
   The wings are probably his signature. They are not the sparkling insect wings or feathery bird wings that are traditionally imagined, but a more natural and camouflaged appendage more for decoration than function. In college, I saw a punk version of A Midsummer's Nights Dream where the fairies had tattered garbage bag wings that were undoubtedly inspired by his leafy creations. He's influenced many in his long career, and his works are those I treasure and come back to often when I need a whimsy fix.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tips & Tricks- Knitting Tube Scarves

  Recently, after many years of trying my best with needles, I discovered how easy it is to knit on a loom. With needles I was always going too fast, dropping a stitch and not realizing it until way later. I love knitting though and the old-fashioned idea of making my own clothes (and someday my own children's clothes). It also gives my hands something to do, which they always seem to be in need of these days.

  Thankfully, my local craft store had one of those tiny knitting looms for sale and curiosity got the best of me. Unfortunately, I had no idea that they were used mostly for making flowers. I was bummed until I realized that I didn't have to make flowers with it if I didn't want to. Instead I decided to try a magic/tube scarf on it. It not only worked like a marvel, but I haven't dropped a stitch since.

  The thing to know is that this scarf isn't going to be big enough in circumference to be worn like a hood or a mini dress, but instead is about the circumference of a skinny adult arm. It makes a great spring scarf if you use light weight, bright yarns. It adds an interesting texture and the ends remind me of flared shirt sleeves. The other benefit is that because you are working on a smaller loom you won't use as much yarn and it won't take you as long to finish one scarf. This appeals to me greatly as I have many craft adventures to attend to.

  Simple Pattern:
*Use any cast-on method you prefer (I like the crochet cast-on)
*e-wrap and knit scarf to desired length
*Use any cast-off method you prefer

Note- With light weight yarns it can be easy to pull too tight and snap the yarn. Make sure your hands are relaxed and let the pegs do most of the work.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gardening- Spring Starts

  Gardening is one of my many other hobbies. One which threatens to consume all my free time as I have recently discovered the ease and joy of germinating your own plants indoors. I've used several kinds of Burpee Greenhouse Kits, and each time I am amazed at how easy and fast the plants germinate. The germination rates, if you follow the directions exactly, have been close to 90% for me. I even decided to use these at school this year to start our Butterfly Garden indoors, so that the children can see what is growing before they leave for the summer.

  Today was an overcast day left over from the thunder storms last night (I love sleeping during storms and listening to all the pretty sounds), which is when I love gardening the most. I decided my Mammoth and Velvet Sunflowers had to go into the ground because they keep falling over. Does anyone know how to keep those babies straight and tall? Do I have to stake each one?

  I barely had room for all the plants with my Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes taking over, so I just created some new garden plots. Our grass is very spotty up against the house and we rent, so I don't want to invest in a fancy border, which is where the sunflowers are going to fit in. I figure it will add color and feed the birds.

   I also got a chance to plant my cukes, which is a first for me this year. I'm really excited to eat my very own grilled cucumbers this summer! I'm also planting Ghost Pumpkins and Loofah Sponge Squash. Hopefully they will take over the whole yard and there won't be any need for mowing this summer (yeah right!).

  I'm sure there will be many more gardening adventures this spring as we plant our Butterfly Garden at school and more vegetables as the soil warms up here.

  Look for pictures from my own garden coming soon!