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Archive for April, 2012

I Hope It’s What They Want for Christmas….

Monday, April 30th, 2012
By Twistie

… because most of the people I know are going to get something a lot like this:

Not this specifically. It’s the work of Etsy artist chicthrills, and it’s beyond fabulous. It reminds me of Raoul Dufy’s work.

Image via

My needle felting isn’t quite that advanced yet, and my style is coming out a little different. Then again, I’ve only been doing this for a couple months.

All the same, I’m going crafty for the holidays and I’m giving myself a lot of lead time. It’s only April and I’ve just gotten myself a bunch of inexpensive wool berets from Amazon in a variety of colors that I know will appeal to those around me. We’re by and large a hat-wearing bunch, and berets are popular in my circle. So with some pretty wool rovings, a couple sharp needles, a few budget hats, and some of my infamous creativity, well, my friends and family will find themselves getting custom headwear from me and Mr. Twistie.

The journey starts today with a brown beret and some rovings in gold, maroon, and red. This one will be for me and will feature autumn leaves. After all, I want to start with something fairly simple that’s for me. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll get some good pointers for doing better with the next one. If it goes well, then I’ve got a new hat for my collection and a boost to my confidence.

Wish me luck, gang! I may need it.

Sunrise, Sunset

Friday, April 27th, 2012
By Twistie

Paper is a remarkable medium. It’s endlessly adaptable, easily colored, light as a feather, delicate, yet strong. It’s a medium Etsy artist Sarah Knight works in quite well.

This bowl, for example, is handmade from paper pulp Knight made mostly from recycled paper from an office. She’s turned printer paper and cardstock into something new and wonderful.

Once the bowl is shaped, Knight paints each one by hand. Every bowl is completely individual, even when she uses the same colors and motifs.

All that, and it only costs $35.00 plus shipping.

For decorative use only.

Oh, and be sure to check out Sarah Knight’s entire Etsy store, which features her paintings, photography, mixed media pieces, and aptly named ‘weird things’ as well as more pretty paper bowls. You’ll be glad you did.

Hedgie Love!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
By Twistie

(Image via Tumblr feed Ask Hedgehog, which is well worth checking out for its own sake)

It has long been my considered opinion that hedgehogs rank well up among the cutest creatures in the world. They’re pocket-sized and sneeze in self-defense. How can you beat that?

Well, there are other people out there taking inspiration from hedgehogs, and I thought I would share a couple of them with you today.

Gilad’s Origami page features this noble example of the hedgehog. Be sure to scroll down to see a couple kick tushie badgers, an awesome okapi, and a rather spectacular anteater… and then go check out the rest of the site, including some diagrams of  fun origami projects you can do. The hedgehog, alas, is not included.

If you’re looking for a fun project to do with your kids, you might do worse than head on over to Kiddly’s archive and check out the instructions for making this pine cone and polymer clay hedgie.

The blog has been on hiatus since 2007, but there are some really great ideas if you go browsing.

This delightful hedgehog plushie was featured at The Art Zoo. I only wish instructions had been included.

And finally a graphic reminder from Disney Family Fun that just because it is possible to do something doesn’t always make it a good idea. I give you the hedgehog cupcake:

Quickie Question: Crafting Epitaph?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
By Twistie

This, for those of you who do not recognize him, is Anthony Trollope. He happens to be one of my all-time favorite novelists, though I also enjoy many of his essays and short stories. In addition to writing nearly fifty novels, scads of essays and short stories and even the odd poem or two, Trollope came up with an idea that changed many a life and still has an impact on us today: while working for the Royal Mail in Ireland, he invented the public mailbox.

Then he published his first novel and, well, let’s just say that for the rest of their lives he and Dickens were more or less neck and neck in popularity. In fact, Trollope wrote an obituary for Dickens that still stands as one of the finest tributes one author has paid another.

What does all this have to do with today’s Quickie Question? Well, one slightly overcast October day in the latter part of the last century, I stood in the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey and read the memorial stone for Anthony Trollope. It read:

Anthony Trollope

Novelist. Public Servant.

Pioneer of the Postal Services

The creator of Barsetshire

1815 – 1882

Now I stretch out my hand

from the further shore I bid

adieu to all who have cared 

to read any among the many

words that I have written

The quote at the end is the final line of Trollope’s autobiography.

I love this memorial, not only for the lovely quote, but because I firmly believe Trollope’s accomplishments are laid out in pretty much the order he would have wanted them.

And that makes me think about how I would wish to be remembered, should anyone bother to do so in the distant future. I’m thinking it goes something like this:

In Memory of Twistie

Blogger, baker, bobbin lacer

She never met a recipe or a craft

she wouldn’t try once

How about you? How would you like to be remembered?

Newsflash: Crafts Are Good For You

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
By Twistie

(Image of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, working on a mosaic via  South Bank Mosaics)

We all know that doing various crafts can be fun. We know they give us individual fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment. Many of us find crafting relaxing, too. Crafting can add beauty to our lives and homes.

But it’s also good for us, both physically and mentally.

According to this article by Sara Gormley, OTS, College of Saint Mary, crafts can be an important part of recuperative therapy:

A simple mosaic craft activity that includes pre-cut tiles and all items prepared and set up for the patient provides illustration for the benefit and appropriate application of the use of this craft for treatment of either a physical or cognitive disability.  While creation of a mosaic tile may appear to be a simple leisure activity, this task places demands on the patient.  The patient needs to understand and remember the instructions, attend to task and maintain body position.  Selection of and picking up the tiles requires oculomotor control, visual discrimination and specific movements of muscles and joints. These include, but are not limited to: scapular protraction and retraction while reaching for materials and finger flexion, extension and thumb flexion and opposition when manipulating the craft tiles. Applying this craft in a group setting would provide the opportunity to address social and communication skills as well.

 The funny thing is, before she took a course in the uses of crafts in therapy, Gormley found the concept laughable.

Twistie Gets a New Toy

Monday, April 23rd, 2012
By Twistie

The weather of late has been seriously bizarre. A week ago I was using the heater nearly every day for at least a few hours.  Last week we had torrential downpours complete with a massive thunderstorm. Today, for the second day in a row, I’m fanning myself and seriously considering sticking my head in the freezer and leaving it there for a couple days. Later this week? Rain is predicted.

But whatever the weather decides to do for the next few days, I’m set here in Casa Twistie. I have a gorgeous, huge oven to bake and roast warm, comforting goodies when it’s icy out of doors… and I just got this great new Cuisinart ice cream maker for when I want to take a trip to the North Pole for the weather. It’s even the same, cheery, candy apple red as the one in the picture.

The upside: This sucker makes 1 1/2 quarts at a go with a flick of a switch and a tiny bit of advance prep. Basically, once you put your milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and flavorings into the bowl, you’re roughly half an hour away from icy, creamy goodness. The base is stable and its footprint isn’t large, so it can be used or stored in a kitchen with limited counter space easily. In fact, when not in  use, the cord can be neatly fitted into a depression in the base so it doesn’t get tangled up with anything else. I love that design feature! And while it’s not precisely silent, the motor isn’t terribly loud, either. It’s much quieter than my KitchenAid stand mixer.

The downside: Well… I may find myself eating more ice cream than is necessarily good for me for a while.

The really upside: It’s available at Amazon for just $61.89 (list price $77.99) with free super saver shipping.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that an ice cream maker is great… but only if you have recipes to work from, check out this great site all about ice cream. From recipes to history to trivia, they’ve got it all when it comes to getting the scoop on frozen goodness. There’s even a page for those who don’t have an ice cream maker, but still want to make ice cream.

Quickie Question: Who Would You Teach?

Friday, April 20th, 2012
By Twistie

Many of us who do crafts also teach them. You may teach formal classes and workshops, do demonstrations, talk to random people in the street who show interest, write books… we do our best in our individual ways to pass on our knowledge to others.

But some of us have someone we would really love to teach who just isn’t biting.

Perhaps it’s a friend who would be fun to play with… if only (s)he played with the same toys you do. Perhaps it’s someone famous you dream of having a good stitch and bitch with. Perhaps it’s someone you know who desperately needs an outlet for creativity or a good stress reliever. Perhaps it’s even someone you couldn’t actually teach because that person is gone, or never existed in the first place.

For me, it’s that lost person. I would truly love to be able to sit down and teach my mother to make bobbin lace. She taught me the basics of craft after craft only to see me put them down again and not bother with a second project. I know that made her sad, but none of them were my crafts. If she were still here, I know I would have sat her down at a pillow to toss bobbins long before this. She might well never have done a second project, but I think we would have had a really great time making lace together, even if she didn’t go on with it.

We bonded over crafts quite a bit, as we did over cooking and her soap operas, and classic literature. I would dearly love to have one more chance to bond over handcrafts.

So what about you? Who would you teach? What? And Why?

Best Foot Forward

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
By Twistie

Reader Annie pointed me in the direction of this deeply cool gallery of art shoes. Unfortunately there isn’t any indication I can find of who made them, or even if they’re all by the same artist.

All the same, do go check them out. The inspirations range from children’s toys to birds to Madonna in the eighties. The two things they all have in common? They are high-heeled ladies’ shoes, and they freaking rock!

Thanks, Annie, for pointing me in their direction.

ETA: Sarah J informs me the artist is Kobi Levi and more of his work can be found on his blog here. Thanks, Sarah J!

Toothbrushes, Rugs, and Naalbinding

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
By Twistie

This fabulous lady is Maymee Campbell, as photographed by one Schmalstig. What, you may ask, is she doing with that big, honking knife? Why, she’s whittling an old toothbrush, as you do.

And for what purpose is she whittling that toothbrush? To make a rug with naalbinding techniques, of course!

Okay, it’s not something done much now. It’s something you may never have heard of. I know I didn’t until I started learning a bit more about naalbinding as a technique this year. But it’s something that has been done for generations, apparently.

Maymee Campbell learned the technique when she wanted some old-fashioned looking rugs. How did she learn? From a friend of her daughter’s! I love that. When people see you doing something crafty in public, or see your craft work, they usually assume you learned it from an older relative… but some people get the skinny on old-fashioned crafts from younger friends of the family or the internet, too.

Anyway, if you want to read Maymee’s story and get learn how to make her ‘toothbrush rugs’, head on over here to this 1981 article from the Springfield-Green County Library.

And if you happen to have an old toothbrush (or very large naalbinding needle) and some cloth in attractive colors that go with the room you want it for… well, you can make yourself a dandy rug!

Beautifully Adoorned

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
By Twistie

I love me a good tote bag. They’re useful. Whether I’m making a quick run to the grocery store and would rather not come home with more disposable bags or getting my crafts supplies from point A to point B conveniently, they serve me well. Not only that, they’re fun and attractive, to boot!

For instance, this gorgeous tote (complete with internal pocket for your phone) is printed with a photograph of a door in Brugges the artist, Melanie Saucier, took in her travels abroad from her native Canada.

If you like this, you can find it right here on Saucier’s website.

Some other favorites of mine include a messenger bag printed with a photograph of a manual typewriter keyboard, and a fabulous pot holder with a London street scene on it.

The prices are reasonable, and the items are really useful. Whether you’re looking for a birthday, graduation, or wedding gift for someone who loves to travel, or wanting something for your own home, this is a great place to start the search.

Me? I’m dreaming of going through the door on that tote bag and finding myself in Brugges.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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