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Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween from Crafty Manolo!

Monday, October 31st, 2011
By Twistie

The pumpkin says it all.

May you all have a crafty day and more than enough candy to go around.

Project Accessory: So Very All But

Friday, October 28th, 2011
By Twistie

Darlings, I love me a good accessory. People have been known not to recognize me when I go out without my signature hats and rings. I’m also a huge fan of Project Runway (Call me, Tim Gunn! I’ll bake you scones! Bring Heidi! I’ll make strudel, too!). So you can imagine my excitement at learning about Project Accessory. It debuted last night on Lifetime.

For those of you who missed it and plan to catch it in reruns, those who haven’t yet checked it out on their DVRs, and those who just plain don’t care about the show, I’m going to cut before giving my unvarnished thoughts on the matter. Also, there is a Project Runway finale spoiler. Just FYI.


Scare Up Some Party Treats for Halloween

Thursday, October 27th, 2011
By Twistie

With Halloween on monday, a lot of us are having parties (or going to them) this weekend, and parties require fun and delicious goodies! Halloween parties require ones with an extra drip of delicious venom. Or at least some cute marshmallow ghosts, like the ones featured here on a cake from Martha Stewart Living. As much as Martha kind of scares me, and as much as I detest marshmallows… yeah, I’m kind of feeling this cake.

But of course, Martha isn’t the only one to come up with clever ideas for your ghostie and goblin needs.


Who Says It Has To Be Wholesome?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
By Twistie

The common  assumption when you tell people about your crafting is that you make things that are kewt and kwaint and kind of cheesy. But that is not necessarily the case. Nor is it necessarily all about artistic and classy. Just as with any other segment of the population, we crafters have our resident sickos who make life that much more… interesting.

And so it is with Croshame aka Shove Mink. She’s a San Francisco crocheter, zine author, and generally delightfully sick puppy. In her crafting, she concentrates on designing and creating surprisingly macabre amigurumi pieces which she calls ‘antigurumi.’ Thus the adorable monkey committing suicide at the top of this entry. I chose it in part because it sums up the attitude of her work so well, and in part because it was quite possibly the most family-friendly SFW image I found in her gallery.  But really, do be sure to see the Exorcist Playset. It’s devilishly good.

Look, just check out her stuff and read a few entries in her blog. You’ll be as hooked as I am in no time! Geddit? Hooked? On a crochet artist?

I’ll… just… be over here while you do that, m’kay?

What We Learn At Mom’s Knee

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
By Twistie

Crafting has always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother sewing, embroidering, knitting, and generally creating beautiful things out of nearly nothing. A ball of yarn, a bit of thread, an unassuming yard or two of cloth, these homely things became magical in her hands. They turned into art for the walls, fanciful dresses I wore to school, and warm, snuggly scarves to ward against the winter chill… such as it was in California.

She taught me, one by one, to do the same things. Most of them didn’t stick particularly well, but I learned from each and every one. I learned from observation and from getting my hands stuck into the middle of things, too.


Quickie Question: Best Halloween Costume?

Monday, October 24th, 2011
By Twistie

I love Halloween. I love a chance to dress up and I love candy and I love giving stuff to kids. Put all three together, and bingo! it’s Halloween.

But sometimes I don’t get around to dressing up. It’s sad, but true. Heidi Klum always dresses up, but she’s got a budget and stylists, and (apparently) a dentist who made custom-fitted vampire fangs for her. Now that’s dedication to Halloween!

Still, I usually do dress up and I take a certain pride in being able to rummage randomly in my closet and create a visual pun on the spot (or with a quick trip to the dollar store for a prop or two).

I have two favorite last-minute costumes I came up with. For one, I used pale makeup to make myself look ashen, wore a flowing long dress and tied a very long scarf around my throat to go as the ghost of Isadora Duncan. Sick, but those in the know got a blast out of it.

The other was inspired by a rubber pig snout someone gave me. I wore a pair of slacks, a dress shirt, and a man’s vest all with play money coming out of the pockets, and put on the pig snout. What was I? A capitalist pig, of course! The people who bought books from me that day (I was working in a really great book store at the time) got some good giggles out of that one.

So what about you? What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever done? Was it for you? Your kid? A friend? Did people get it at first glance? Or were they as mystified as the time I went out as one of the chorus of professional bridesmaids from Ruddigore? As it turns out, when I was eleven there wasn’t a single Gilbert and Sullivan junkie in our entire neighborhood who didn’t live in the same house as I did! Who’da thunk it?

Abby… Something

Friday, October 21st, 2011
By Twistie

Hey all you sock knitters out there looking for a great Halloweeny project! I found it for you! Behold the Fronkenshteek!!!

Over the summer, the insanely talented and wonderful Tsarina of Tsocks posted the images and instructions at her blog.

These socks are the cure to Second Sock Syndrome in that between the two socks, the only bits that are done precisely  the same way are some connective tissues, as it were. You don’t have to repeat yourself, and yet you wind up with an actual pair of wearable socks. How fabulous is that?

Also, if you’re going as Frankenstein’s Monster this All Hallow’s Eve, you’ll have precisely the correct socks lurking in your oversized boots. Now that’s the kind of detail that will really sell the look in the Best Costume contest!

Tsock Tsarina? I think I love you.

Do Some Knitting, Warm a Penguin

Thursday, October 20th, 2011
By Twistie

Sometimes I’m seriously late to a party… but that doesn’t mean I don’t show up dancing!

After a disastrous oil spill off the coast of Tauranga, the good folks at Skeinz, a knitting store in New Zealand, sprang into action. In their spring newsletter, they asked people to use the pattern they thoughtfully enclosed to knit sweaters for the penguins in need of extra warmth and protection.

People responded. Lots of people responded. The sweaters (jumpers in local terminology) have been pouring in. Hey,  who doesn’t want to help a penguin? Penguins are just plain awesome critters.

According to Skeinz’s blog entry for the 17th, they have reached ‘critical mass’ on penguin sweaters… but they encourage anyone interested to continue knitting and sending their work.

And if knitting for penguins isn’t your personal cuppa, the same good folk organize knitting projects for other good causes, such as victims of natural disasters.

Oh, and they carry a nice selection of gorgeous all-natural fiber yarns. Yes, they also ship internationally.

Where It’s Halloween All Year Long

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
By Twistie

Have you ever visited Skull-A-Day? If not, this is the perfect time to go check out a great website with a fun concept behind it.

Way back in June of 2008, one Noah Scanlin posted an image of a paper skull he’d made and vowed to make a skull a day for an entire year. Three years and change later, it’s still going strong.

Every day you can see a new skull created by Scanlin or another skull artist. They run the gamut of materials and attitude. Above you can see a really adorable skull created from Valentine’s candy – mostly motto hearts – and a couple candy papers attached to a colorful blue base.

Other days you’ll see drawings, paintings, paper cutting, stencils, weaving, knitting, crochet, carving, and every possible material. In fact, you may well see some that seem downright impossible.

So go check it out! It’s an appropriate time of year. If your taste runs to the combination of macabre and cute that mine does, you’ll go back all year long.

Quickie Question: What Sort of Show Would You Have?

Monday, October 17th, 2011
By Twistie

Love her or hate her, nobody can deny that Martha Stewart has been a major force in bringing crafts to the forefront of the American consciousness again. Whether she’s showing us how to make the perfect (it’s always perfect) apple pie or shellacking Easter bunnies with Nathan Lane, people watch, and people talk, and people buy her books and magazines. Her empire is about showing people how to live perfect, stress-free, beautiful lives with nary a ripple in the pond of life. It’s a pretty dream and she sells it well, but I have to admit it’s always left me  a little cold. It’s too calm to be reality and too controlled for my personal taste. I like a mess.

On the other end of the crafts show spectrum, there is the late, lamented Craft Corner Deathmatch. Now that was a crafts show I could get behind! It was frenetic and silly and the crafts produced out of random junk in a matter of minutes were often tacky and usually badly made… but the helpful hints between projects often showed much more attractive things that could be constructed out of the same detritus. Since it only lasted six episodes, it clearly didn’t capture the imagination of too many other people, alas, but it still speaks volumes to me.

If I had a TV show about crafts, I would want it to be as quirky and silly and just plain fun as Craft Corner Deathmatch. I would want it to be a show that allows for mistakes and laughter at said mistakes, in a cheerful, ‘hey, we all make mistakes’ kind of way. I would probably have a show where in every episode someone comes on and discusses the basics of their craft, shows off some spectacular advanced pieces, and then shows me how to do it, too. I’d like it to be the kind of show where there’s a lot of giggling and maybe someone random from the studio audience gets to try stuff out, too. I’d want people to see that I might succeed at some things and fail at others, but that it’s still fun to try things out. And I’d want random, historic tidbits worked in somehow.

What about you? What sort of crafts-related TV show would you want to star in?

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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