Crafty Manolo » 2011 » February

Archive for February, 2011

Fat Tuesday and Fine Footwear

Monday, February 28th, 2011
By Twistie

As some of you may be aware, Mardi Gras is one week from tomorrow. In honor of the occasion, reader Margot Silk Forest and her partner in crime, Destiny Carter of the Glitter Sweatshop, have created these rather fabulous boots as part of the San Luis Obispo Arts Organization’s Mardi Gras fundraser, Walk on the Wild Side. I think these definitely fulfill that promise and more!

If you want to see how it was done, just click through here to go to their page about it.

Fabulous, ladies!

Oh, and if you want instructions to make a King cake to go with those shoes or don’t know where to get beads, just check out this site.

Inspiration Gallery: Macrame

Friday, February 25th, 2011
By Twistie

via Artblahg

If any of you grew up in the seventies like I did, chances are you saw plenty of macrame every bit as disturbing as this piece… though you probably saw a lot more wall hangings of owls done in orange or harvest gold on dark brown trees.

The thing is, macrame doesn’t have to be anything like either of those things. I would, however, point out that there is some seriously good work going on in that bra. It’s just that it’s sort of Mata Hari’s nightmare as an actual finished piece.

But if one is interested, it’s possible to find macrame that’s worthy both in technique, design, and purpose. Let’s take a look, shall we?


Getting Ready for Renaissance Faire

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
By Twistie

I have a great fondness for Renaissance Faire. For one thing, it’s where I met Mr. Twistie. It’s where I first discovered the Reduced Shakespeare Company (one of the founders of which was someone I knew but was not in close contact with) when their act consisted of their two-man Romeo and Juliet.  It’s a place to dress up and  do some play acting. I even spent a summer demonstrating bobbin lace for the masses at a Renaissance Faire. Good times, good times.

I’ve been to a lot of Renaissance Faires over the years, but there’s one thing that I’ve found consistently to be true: it’s a lot more fun if you go in period garb. People assume you’re a part of the show, and the odd vendor has been known to give me a worker’s discount without asking if I’d earned it. Mind you, when asked I always told the truth… but if they just assumed, well, I usually didn’t bother to disabuse them. After all, I didn’t want them to have to rework their calculations.


If you decide to go in garb, there’s no point in doing it halfway or just plain all wrong (like the gentleman who used to show up every year dressed as Abraham Lincoln, for reasons passing understanding). That means you’ll need to do some research.

Darlings, have I got a source of sources for you! Hie thee hence to The Costumer’s Manifesto and check out their page of Renaissance resources. Here you’ll find articles about various styles and forms of clothing worn in the sixteenth century, dye recipes, blackwork embroidery patterns, sources of patterns and of finished garb. You can even find links to period recipes, in case you want to make sure your party dines in accurate Elizabethan style.

Remember, if you’re going to make a new costume for Faire, chances are you’ll need to start soon! Good garb takes time.

Some Thoughts On the Value of Crafting

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
By Twistie

via the University of Pittsberg

The gentleman pictured above is John Ruskin, as photographed in 1875 by the Rev. C. L. Dodgson, better known to many as Lewis Carroll.

John Ruskin was an art critic, philosopher, poet, artist, and infamous crank. His marriage to Effie Gray was annulled after six years on the grounds of Ruskin’s ‘incurable impotency’, a charge which he vigorously debated, offering to prove his virility should the court request it. Well. Effie went on to marry the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Edward Millais, who she presented with eight children over the course of a long and happy marriage.

Personal oddities aside, Ruskin did say some pretty smart things here and there. And one of those things strikes me as kind of meaningful to those of us who practice various handcrafts. People tend to assume that we do crafts either to save money or to make money, and it’s possible in some cases to either save or make money by this means, it’s true. But that’s not the only reason we do this. There are far easier ways to make a living, and we can often buy mass-produced items that serve the same function for considerably less money and a great deal less effort and trouble.

And yet we continue to do what we do. This is where Ruskin’s words come into play:

The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get from it, but what they become by it.

What do we become when we craft? I think we become more patient, more creative, more thoughtful. We build confidence that we can do things for ourselves by our own hands. We become more appreciative of the efforts others make.

We don’t get rich from it, but we enrich ourselves profoundly.

Progress Report

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
By Twistie

via Curbly where you can get the instructions for free from the designer!

So… if you’re participating in the Crafty Manolo yarnbombing event in just one week, I’d love to hear how it’s going. How many bookmarks have you made? How are you making them? Have you picked a library yet?

I have just four bookmarks made, so I think I’m going to have to change techniques. My lace ones are pretty, but this has been a crazed month and I haven’t had the time to make as many as I’d like. Time to head out to my local friendly crafts store and find some likely materials. It would be nice to have at least a couple dozen to bomb the library with. It’s also about time I figure out the hours my local library operates so I know when to be there. City budget cutbacks have reduced library hours, after all.

What about you? Are you playing? How are you making your bookmarks? Are you happy with how many you’ve made?

Quickie Question: How ‘Out’ Are You?

Monday, February 21st, 2011
By Twistie

via Fickle Cattle

No, I’m not asking about your sexual orientation. That’s really between you and, well, whomever you wish to share your sexuality with. If it comes up otherwise, you certainly don’t need to fret about what I’ll think of you, and if it doesn’t, I’m not that nosy.

But a recent post at a blog I follow and enjoy got me thinking about the fact that we can be closeted about a lot more than what gender we find more sexually appealing. And that leads me to the thought that crafts are often not valued, and some crafters find it easier not to talk about what they do than to come right out and say “My name is Twistie, and I make bobbin lace” in front of other people.

Me? I’m out and proud. If someone holds still long enough, chances are I’m going to say something about making lace. And if that particular craft doesn’t come up naturally, I may well steer the conversation in that direction.

So how out are you? Do you keep your crafting habits to yourself outside of ‘safe’ places like this? Are you more likely to mention it with close friends and family but reluctant with a relative stranger? Do you find ways to bring up the subject if nobody else does?

Oh, and if anyone can tell me who the artist is who made that fantastic piece pictured above, please let me know who it is. The source I found it at gave no credit and I want a) to give credit and b) to find more of the artist’s work.

Man’s Best Friend on Your Terms

Thursday, February 17th, 2011
By Twistie

Traditional dog ownership is not for everyone. You may be allergic. You may live in a space that doesn’t offer a dog enough room to run. You may not have the time and energy to put into training and caring for a dog.

Whatever your reasons, though, there are options available for those who are determined to have some form of canine love in their lives.

If Fido doesn’t fit into your life, but you still want a dog, head on over to Amazon get yourself a copy of Knit Your Own Dog: Easy to Follow Patterns for 25 Pedigree Pooches by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne.

Whether you want a whippet or an afghan, a poodle or a Portuguese water dog, there’s a breed for you between these covers, and the patterns are designed to be as easy as possible.

Oh, and this book is a bargain, too! Regularly priced at $14.95, it’s now available for just $8.49! Even with the cost of yarn, knitting needles, and other materials involved, that means your dog will be a lot less expensive than a purebred… and that’s before your savings on food and vet bills!

Inspiration Gallery: Scrimshaw

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
By Twistie

via Blackbird Blog

Scrimshaw is a controversial craft, and rightly so, considering its best-known materials. Whalebone and elephant ivory are scarce and getting scarcer. the good news is that using them for scrimshaw has been outlawed for a generation. The bad news is that many people don’t realize that most current scrimshaw is done with either heritage ivory (reused antique materials, such as broken ivory pieces or fossilized ivory) or with new, imaginative choices such as ostrich eggshells, tagua nuts and even man-made materials like acrylic.

The two gorgeous pieces above, obviously, date from the days when whalers on their way home from the hunt would pass some of the time by making amazing pieces of folk art for their loved ones back home. Obviously I’m not in favor of continued whale hunting, or the killing of elephants for their teeth. I’m glad both materials have been banned.

Once the work is divorced from the slaughter of endangered animals, though, it’s a rather spectacular craft. And made with sustainable materials, it’s still thriving around the world.


Allez Crafting!

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
By Twistie

I love Iron Chef… the Japanese version, as represented by the Chairman here. Sure it’s fun once in a while to watch Bobby Flay get his backside handed to him by a gutsy challenger, but it’s the original that appeals most strongly to me. The OTT presentation, the Chairman’s flamboyant sartorial statements, the bad dubbing of the obligatory ‘cute’ starlet saying a dish ‘makes my mouth giggle’ or some such nonsensical observation, it all makes me bizarrely joyful.

I wanted something similar for crafters. It existed for one brief, shining moment that was known as Craft Corner Deathmatch, but that went away after a mere six episodes.

But did you know there was something similar exists on the web? Oh my friends, if you have not already done so, go thou forth and check out Iron Craft. “1 Year, 52 Challenges… Are You Creative Enough?”

I’m betting a lot of you are.

Quickie Question: Books or Teachers?

Monday, February 14th, 2011
By Twistie

We all learn in different ways. Some of us are visually oriented, some manually, and some through auditory means. My grandmother knew that back when she was teaching kindergarten in the 1920’s and 30’s. It took a while for the teaching philosophers to catch up, but she knew.

I find that for me the best path is a combination of visual and manual input. I read about things, let them absorb for a bit, then stick my hands into the project. Once I get the feel, I get the idea, but I need to see something first. My ears are the least effective route for me in learning a new craft, I find.

So for me, the best way to learn a craft is to get myself a book on the subject (and usually more because I am a lifelong, unabashed biblioholic). There are others, though, who need a teacher telling them how to do things before they can really figure out how a craft works. The books won’t help them until someone explains it in their ears.

I’m curious. What method (or combination of methods) works best for you? Do you prefer books? Demonstrations? A teacher? Tell me about it.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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