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Archive for December, 2011

A Window Into the Past, Warmth for the Future

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
By Twistie

In 1922, Farmer’s Wife Magazine polled their readers: “If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?”

More than seven thousand readers responded with letters, discussing their lives candidly. Now the best of those responses have been compiled into a book, along with the quilt squares inspired by them.

The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt offers you the chance to read the unvarnished thoughts of farm wives in 1922, and to create something beautiful inspired by their words. The templates are included on a CD-Rom.

But even if you don’t quilt, the stories are a compelling document of a world most of us can barely fathom today. And yet I see many small connections to the life I lead today. One woman talks of the fun and convenience of ordering dresses from catalogues. That’s not so different from the way I log onto my trusty computer to order goodies from Amazon and other e-retailers.

Speaking of Amazon, The Farmer’s Wife Sampler  Quilt is available from them for a mere $18.47. That’s 34% off the suggested retail price of $27.99! Oh, and it qualifies for Super Saving free shipping if your order totals at least $25.00.

I have to say, I can’t think of anything much cozier than reading some of these letters while curled up in the quilt made from the book.

Alpha Awesome

Monday, December 19th, 2011
By Twistie

Have you visited Alpha Stamps yet?

This rather fabulous sheet of collage images of dancing men is one of theirs, from the steampunk collection. The price varies slightly depending on whether you would prefer it in cardstock, clear sticker, or transparency form.

Not wild about dancing men? That’s okay. They have everything from bathing beauties and Mother Goose illustrations to bicycles and birds. And that’s just the tip of the collage iceberg!

They also carry rubber stamps, metal findings, buttons, charms, adhesives, stencils, glitter, ribbon, shrine forms, chains, tools, instructional materials, kits, and all sorts of other wonderful shiny things for the crafter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go browse a bit and dream some pretty dreams. Or you could join me there.

It’s Curtains… Or Blinds

Friday, December 16th, 2011
By Twistie


We all need them somewhere. They protect our privacy, help control room temperature, and make the room they’re in look prettier.

They can also be tremendously frustrating when you can’t find ones you like in the stores.

Whether the thing you’re having trouble finding is a particular color, the right weight fabric, exactly the length, width, or trim you’ve been dreaming of, chances are you can find what you need to create it yourself when it’s not on the shelves at IKEA.

So I went looking for some good, basic tutorials on curtains and blinds.


Quickie Question: What Are You Dreaming Of?

Thursday, December 15th, 2011
By Twistie

At long last WordPress has allowed me in! During this brief  moment of access, I’m going to ask you all a question : what piece of crafting equipment or memorabilia are you dreaming of owning?

For my part, I would love to complete my collection of hanging bobbins.

I’ve got two, but I would love to have all seven. If I could have only one, though, I would want the one for Sarah Dazeley, the only murderess among the bunch. She was hanged for murdering her second husband at the tender age of twenty-two… and has been suspected ever since of poisoning her first husband, as well.

Yes, I have a fascination with both lacemaking and true crime. Is it that obvious?

So what about all of you? What are you dreaming of adding to your equipment or your collection? Tell us all about it!

Well Fancy That!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
By Twistie

Hey all you baking mavins out there! Fancy Flours is having a series of one-day sales for the next week. The shindig starts tomorrow, thursday, december 15, with a one-day 25% off sale on all cupcake liners, wrappers, picks, and decorations as well as books and DVDs.

Now’s your chance to get something like this rather glorious Nutcracker Suite cupcake decorating set for a quarter off. The set includes 24 cupcake wrappers in two styles, and 24 picks in four different styles: the Nutcracker, Clara, the Rat King, and the Sugarplum Fairy.

Then check back each day for more sales!



Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
By Twistie

I’ve never been a fan of dressing up animals in human clothes. I deal in my own way with the fact that so many people take poor, defenseless dogs and put them in silly hats or little Sherlock Holmes costumes, or whatever. But cats….

The majority of us who live among cats would never dream of doing such a thing. We know who’s in charge around the scatter. I’ll give the rest of you a hint: if you have two legs? It ain’t you.

And yet today I was pointed in the direction of a blog where I saw this:

Someone had to make that terrifying outfit, get the cat to wear it and sit still, and come up with that… cake, for lack of a better descriptor.

But that’s not all. Oh no, it’s not.


Quickie Question: Worst Misrepresentation of a Craft You’ve Seen

Monday, December 12th, 2011
By Twistie

This gentleman is known as Greasy V. The picture of him is from the fabulous Carrieoke’s Knitting Blog. She stopped posting in May, but her archives are still around, featuring a lot of great projects and fun commentary on her life.

Anyway, as you can plainly see, Greasy V is not really well-versed in the art of knitting. I mean, we can see that, because we know what knitting actually looks like. There are a lot of people who would never see what was wrong with that picture.

Which reminds me of my bookselling days. Ah yes, once upon a time I worked in book stores. In one of them, I ran the fiction section. In that section resided a novel entitled The Lacemaker. I have long since forgotten who wrote it, and I never actually read it. I do recall that it was the harrowing tale of a French lacemaker who got caught up in the horror following the revolution. In point of fact, a surprising number of lacemakers, silversmiths, pastry chefs, silk weavers, and other crafts people did wind up facing the guillotine during the Reign of Terror for their part in supplying the crass material desires of the nobles who had already died.

But I digress.

What I remember most about that book is the cover. On it, a lovely young woman sits at her lace pillow before an open window, allowing plenty of light and fresh air into the room. She’s making an elaborate border… with just three bobbins on her pillow, one of which she’s holding roughly two feet in the air!

Anyone who has ever seen bobbin lace made knows you don’t haul your bobbins randomly into the stratosphere, and you can’t make a pattern with just three bobbins. And anyone who knows how lace was typically made for commercial purposes in eighteenth-century Europe is well aware that the workers rarely sat alone in well-lit rooms. More often they were clustered in groups around a single candle in a room with no open windows and no fire, for fear that dirt or smoke might discolor the lace.

And so it was that every time I shelved a copy of that novel, I giggled a little.

What about you? Have you seen someone illustrate or attempt to explain your craft and get it completely wrong?

Quickie Question: Crafts for the Sick

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
By Twistie

It’s that time of year! No, I’m not talking about glitter and faux snow, I’m talking about fevers, and coughing, and snot, oh my!

It’s no secret that at this time of year more people catch more bugs and spend more time in bed with snuggly blankets, chicken soup, and reruns of their favorite mindless television shows. I’m under the weather myself, and sitting here wishing I had the complete Pushing Daisies to make me feel better.

But I’m curious, my fellow crafters. Do you ever do crafts when you have a cold? Has anyone come to your sick bed with something handmade to make you all better? Let’s hear about it! And please pass the Kleenex. I’m all snotty. Sniffle.

Taking Apart Craft to Make Art

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
By Twistie

This installation art piece by Jean Shin is titled Unraveling. Actually, it’s one of several installation pieces of the same title by Shin. Its composition intrigues me as someone deeply interested in crafts and what they say about us as individuals and as cultures.

You see, this concept has been played out in a number of cities. Washington DC, Berkeley, Houston, New York, and Honolulu have all hosted versions of this piece. In each city, it has been a new piece, unique to that place, yet universal in its intent.

As Shin took the concept from place to place, she gathered up sweaters in each of the host cities from Asian women in that community. She then silkscreened a label with the donator’s name and attached it to each sweater. Then the unraveling began. All of the sweaters remain partially intact, but the threads of them interweave to create a colorful web that binds them all together, as well. It’s meant to represent the interconnections in Asian art communities, but I think it goes beyond one culture, or even one life pursuit.

We are all individuals, and yet we are also part of a whole, no matter where we are, no matter how we choose to live our lives. It’s nice once in a while to reflect on our place as individuals, and also on our part of the whole. In a funny way, I find myself quite moved by this illustration of that universal truth.

And it couldn’t have been done without a lot of people knitting sweaters in the first place.

It’s a Piece of Cake!

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
By Twistie

‘Tis the season for lots of holiday parties. And if you’re known for your baking skills, as I am, chances are someone is going to ask for a goodie to round out one holiday feast or another. Sure, it’s going to taste great. There’s no question of that. But you may want to add a visual touch or two to kind of gussy things up a bit.

If you head on over to Cake Central, you can find instructions for making the charming buttercream poinsettia shown above. Oh, and it works in royal icing, too, if that’s more your cake decorating speed.

Not interested in poinsettias? No problemo! Cake Central is an entire cake decorating community. Whatever you’re trying to do from seeking inspiration for your kid’s birthday cupcakes to instructions on making a 3-D roast turkey cake, to finding a delicious new cake or frosting recipe, if it’s about cake, you’ll find it here. They even have classes available with renowned cake designers.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to learn about making cakes as pretty as they are delicious, so I’m going to spend some time there.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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