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Archive for November, 2010

Shop Roberts, Save Big

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
By Twistie

There’s nothing like a good sale to warm the cockles of my tiny heart! Right now through November 20, Roberts Crafts is having a great sale that’s making me all glowy.

It’s not specifically on the book illustrated above, though you can certainly use the sale to get a deal on it. No, it’s based on how much money you spend. Save $5.00 on a purchase of $25.00 (sale code: ROBERTS25W), $12.50 on an order of $50.oo (sale code: ROBERTS50W), $20.00 on a purchase of $75.00 (sale code: ROBERTS75W), or $30.00 on a $100.00 purchase (sale code: ROBERTS100W). The sale isn’t good on sale items, but that’s pretty much the only restriction I can see.

So whether you’re looking for books, notions, tools, or beginners’ kits, knitting, scrapbooking, leather, or glass crafts, chances are you can find something you can use.

But hurry! This deal is only good through November 20.


Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
By Twistie

Take my spoon, Blodwyn

Make it soon, Blodwyn

The valley knows the way I feel today

Take my spoon, Blodwyn

Make it soon, Blodwyn

Before some other spoon takes you away

Blodwyn by Badfinger

Okay, so now that I’ve referenced The Tick and mildly obscure British rock bands launched by The Beatles, let’s get down to what they have to do with crafts.


This is an antique Welsh love spoon. The one above dates from circa 1900.

Nobody knows for sure precisely how the tradition got started, but as far as anyone knows, it started in Wales, though they have also been carved in Scandinavia and parts of Eastern Europe. The earliest known example dates back to the seventeenth century, but they are made today by artists all over the world.

The idea is that when a young man falls in love with a girl, he should sit down and carve a spoon for her using various symbols to express his hopes for their life together. If the girl accepts the spoon, they are engaged. When they get married, the spoon hangs in a place of honor in their home. There’s no particular word of what happens to the spoon if the lady rejects it. Perhaps the gentleman uses it to eat a heaping helping of crow.


Quickie Question: Who Got You Started?

Monday, November 15th, 2010
By Twistie

(Admin: Sorry this is so late in the day, and for the delay in approving comments. I had some connectivity issues which have finally been sorted out. Now back to our regularly scheduled post… at a less than regularly scheduled time.)

Back in my demonstrating days, my partner and I were often asked… well, that’s not quite right. It’s not so much we were asked as people assumed that we had both been taught bobbin lace by some female relative. My partner actually did learn it from her grandmother, but I didn’t learn it from a family member. In point of fact, I taught myself with a mail order kit. The package arrived at my house one fine day filled with a basic pillow, two dozen bobbins, two reels of tatting cotton, a box of pins, a piece of pricking card, and a beginner’s book. By the end of the evening, I had finished the first project in said book and was on my way.

But I know that I would never have ordered that kit if it hadn’t been for my mother, ironically enough since she died just a few months before I ordered the kit. She taught me to do so many handcrafts over the years, always hoping this would be the one to really stick and be my ‘thing.’ Well, Mom, I finally found my craft. It wasn’t one you did, and you didn’t get to see me in action, but without you always showing me by example how fun it is to make things by hand, I would have assumed it was too complicated for me to learn on my own.

I find that most people I know who do handcrafts have someone they can point to who got them started down the path. It might be a parent, a teacher, a sibling, a friend, or a counsellor at summer camp, but somebody taught them something that led to years of crafting.

So who was your mentor? Who pointed you at your first craft efforts? Do you still do that craft?

Good Enough to Eat

Friday, November 12th, 2010
By Twistie


I love an artist who comes up with an original way of using a time-honored craft. I also love a good meal. Enter Kate Jenkins and her crochet hook. Once she got her degree in Fashion and Textiles from the University of Brighton, she went into freelance knitwear for a variety of designers, including Donna Karan, Sonja Rykiel, and Missoni. Eventually, though, she went another way and founded Cardigan in 2003.

So what is cardigan? It’s crochet art and knitted accessories. The knitwear includes some classic cover ups with a nice twist, such as this rather tasty wrap:


Crafting With Kids: Baker’s Clay

Thursday, November 11th, 2010
By Twistie

Ah baker’s clay! How I have loved thee all my days!

via (Not me, but this captures the vibe pretty well)

Okay, maybe not all my days. There were a few days before I could be trusted not to put everything I touched into my mouth and when my fine motor skills were insufficiently co-ordinated to make playing with baker’s clay a good idea.

But certainly before I hit kindergarten I was making fun things out of baker’s clay. Most of them got hooks and were placed with loving care each year on the Christmas tree. A few were given to friends and relatives as gifts for special occasions. Some got dropped and smashed when I tried to take them off the cooling racks before they were cool enough. Hey, I’ve always been a bit impatient, but I did learn to respect the warning of: don’t pick that up; it’s hot.

Anyway. If you’re looking for a craft to get kids involved with making their own art, you could go a long way before you find a better one than baker’s clay. Kids love molding things. playing with dough, squishing it through their fingers. Not only is it fun, it’s easy and made of things pretty much everyone already has in their kitchens. If you don’t already have flour and salt, they don’t cost much to buy, either.

For three cups of  baker’s clay, mix:

2 Cups flour

1/2 Cup salt

3/4 Cup water

If you like, you can also add a few drops of food coloring. Mix the ingredients together, knead for about five minutes. Mold into desired shape(s). Place sculptures on a baking sheet and bake at 300F for 1/2 hour to an hour, depending on size. Finished pieces may be painted and/or  shellacked.

It’s that simple.

But what to make out of that lovely dough? I’ve been looking around the web and have found a few fun projects easy enough for kids, but challenging enough for adults to enjoy, too. How about these adorable Humpty Dumpty ornaments made with baker’s clay and walnut shells by Cali Wild Violet?


Or maybe you’re looking for the perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece, in which case you could do a lot worse than this rather spectacular cornucopia from Oodlekadoodle Primatives:


Or just let your kids experiment and find their own artistic voices. Trust me, they’ll find something to say.

Hello, Crewel World!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
By Twistie

Even though my hands are not good at it, I admire a good piece of embroidery more than I can say. One style that has always particularly appealed to me is crewelwork. I love the flowing lines typically seen, the texture with the slightly raised bits, the long history of the technique. If I were any good at embroidery, this would be the one I think I would do most.

If you love crewel, or if you’re thinking of giving it a try, consider heading over to The Crewel Work Company & Historic British Needlepoint and looking into one of their historically accurate kits.

The crewel kits start with historically accurate Jacobean ‘Z’ twist linen to work on. They go on to provide quality thread, one gold-plated needle for single-thread stitching and a nickel-plated one for double threads (so easy to tell apart at a glance!), a booklet of basic instructions in crewel, and a full-sized chart of the work showing the exact stitches and colors used.

I’m in love with the Jacobean period Rabbit pattern shown above. It runs 39 pounds sterling. Other kits are priced individually, and there’s a handy currency converter right underneath each price so you can know what you would pay in US dollars, Canadian dollars, or whatever currency you’re using.

Also, be sure to check out their gorgeous needlepoint canvases. They have me seriously considering taking needlepoint up again.

Inspiration Gallery: Cross Stitch

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
By Twistie

When it comes to cross stitch, this is pretty much what most people (especially those who have never done it) tend to think of:


Is there anything wrong with that? Well, no, not really. That style is certainly out there being done every day, and that’s just fine. It’s just that’s not the whole story. There are cross stitchers doing amazing pieces of astonishing creativity based on everything from ancient art to outer space to pop culture to… who knows what might inspire them next?

Being of a Scottish background, I find myself delighted that there are folks out there doing Celtic knotwork in cross stitch:


Who could help but smile seeing this cross stitch rendition of the Mona Lisa?


Quickie Question: Do You Give Your Crafts as Gifts?

Monday, November 8th, 2010
By Twistie

One thing that intrigues me is how people react to the idea of handmade gifts in this day and age. Some people love getting handmade goodies, others can’t wait to hate on the idea. There are people out there who consider handmade gifts not a generous offering of time, effort, thought, and skill but as a way of cheaping out on a present.

I’ve got friends I give my handmade items to. And then there are others I wouldn’t bother to do that for because they just plain wouldn’t appreciate it. In their minds, the word ‘crafts’ equals ‘ugly project made of useless junk designed to keep small children sitting still for ten minutes and clutter the walls of indulgent parents.’

So what about you? Are there people in your life who love getting things you’ve made by hand? Are you surrounded by people who think all crafts are is a way of not spending money on them? Do you know some of each?

Just a Quick Laugh

Sunday, November 7th, 2010
By Twistie

Found at The Paper Forest. See an awesome paper robot melee set to original Star Trek fight music. Giggle a lot. I know I did.

Big Wheel Keep on Spinning

Friday, November 5th, 2010
By Twistie

if you love to spin, you need a good spinning wheel. Of course, you’ll also probably want a good deal on your wheel. That’s where Pacific Wool and Fiber comes into play. They’re having a special deal on spinning wheels right now. It’s not a sale, per se, but a case of adding in some free goodies to sweeten the deal.

For instance, I find myself intrigued by this Kromski Sonata folding spinning wheel. It’s the perfect tool for the spinner who does public demonstrations or wants to take her work along to crafting circles.

Weighing in at just 11.5 pounds, it folds down to just 22″ x 19″ for easy transport. It comes with three bobbins, a built in lazy Kate, threading hook, and carrying bag. Even the shipping is free.

Depending on the finish, the wheel will run you $520.00 to $540.00. But wait! There’s more! You can choose your free gift of two extra bobbins, a niddy noddy and an extra bobbin, an instructional DVD on learning to spin, or 24 oz. Corriedale top.

Of course, just because it’s a good deal doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. If you think you might prefer a drop spindle, or if you can’t afford a wheel, drop on by the Joy of Handspinning to learn how to make your own drop spindle for next to nothing.

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