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Archive for May, 2012


Announcing Theme Week!

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
By Twistie

I think it’s time we had a theme week here at Crafty Manolo, don’t you?

So next week, all week long, we’ll be talking about one subject dear to the hearts of many crafters:

 

 

Beads!

Yes, we’ll be talking about how to use them, where to buy them, how to make them, and their history for a week.

So if you have a question about beading or beads, leave it in the comments and I’ll get to as many queries as I can in the coming week.


Fun Crafts, Free Patterns

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
By Twistie

(Magnet available from Zazzle)

Sometimes it’s fun to wander the web and see what goodies we can find to try out for free in the crafting world. Whether it’s a new craft entirely or a new technique in something we’ve done before, or just a fun variation, there’s always something fun and free out there. But don’t just take my word for it! Here are a few examples to whet your appetite for crafty goodness online.

Mosaic Patterns Online features a new free pattern each month. This month it’s your choice of this gorgeous butterfly or a really spiffy dragonfly. Oh, and if you download the free pattern, you can also get a discount on some of the supplies for making it a reality.

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Not Just Soft Soap… Bars, Too

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
By Twistie

Have you ever thought about making your own soap? I’m contemplating the concept right now. And what got me thinking about creating my own body cleansing products? Finding the site Soap Making Essentials. If you’ve had dreams of your own bath bars or just have been curious about how it’s done, this is the place to go for more information.

Cold process, hot process, room temperature process, whipped cream soap, there are basic instructions for a variety of methods of soap making. Then  there are the recipes, the soap making forum, the source directory, galleries of reader’s work, and the blog. In short, if you want to know from soap, this is a great place to begin.

Why not go check it out? It’s good clean fun!


Happy Memorial Day from Crafty Manolo

Monday, May 28th, 2012
By Twistie

Today is a good day to thank a service person in your life… and to think about sending some yarn to someone in a war zone.

Meanwhile, I’ll be wishing everyone in harm’s way a safe and speedy return.


INspiration Gallery: Hardanger Emboridery

Friday, May 25th, 2012
By Twistie

(Image via Lynxlace, where you can find many more attractive images and instructions)

The first time I heard about Hardanger embroidery, it was described to me as ‘Hardanger lace.’ I can certainly see why people wanted to call it lace, with those pretty openwork areas. Still, it is technically a form of embroidery rather than a true lace… but if you call it lace, I won’t report you to the Crafts Correctness Police. I tossed their number yonks ago.

So what is Hardanger embroidery and how is it done? Basically you take a piece of 22 count evenweave fabric like this, available for just $2.99 in white or ivory from Roberts Crafts:

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Quickie Question: The Rites of String?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
By Twistie

Ritual. We all follow some ritual or other at some point in our lives. The illustration above is a representation of an ancient Druid rite, but it could just as easily be of a wedding ceremony, a Bar Mitzvah, or a high roller having a pretty woman blow on his dice for luck in a casino.

When it comes to crafting, some of us just pull stuff out and get making things… and others have more or less elaborate rituals. Some have different kinds of rituals for different crafts, others keep to one ritual for whatever they’re doing.

My rituals? Well, they’re pretty much the same for lacing or needle felting, though there’s less set up involved for the felting. In either case, I make sure I’ve got plenty of elbow room while seated on the couch, get all my equipment and materials laid out within easy reach, put a drink nearby but in a spot I’m unlikely to jog with an errant elbow, put something amusing on the television (most often a film or a marathon of a series I like, but never, ever the news because it’s not relaxing for me), take a deep breath, let it out, and get going.

Most of these things I can easily explain in practical terms. Who wants to have to put aside a heavy bobbin lace pillow to run down another ball of thread? I quickly get bored when things are too silent around me, hence the entertainment. If I don’t put a drink nearby, I’ll forget about eating or drinking until I’m in a pretty dire place.

But that breath? No explanation. And yet I do it every time, whether I’m alone or in public. It’s pure ritual. It just seems to ground me and allow me to work.

So what about you? Do you have any rituals you follow? Do they differ depending on what you’re doing or not?


Shoes for Industry! Shoes for the Dead!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
By Twistie

I got a cry for help in my mailbox yesterday from reader Dawn:

Can you recommend a site/book/ anything for making shoes?
Help?????
Well, Dawn, I didn’t yesterday, but I’ve been researching the question and I think I’ve got a couple sources for you. Of course, it’s always easier to find the right thing when you’ve got a few more parameters, but at least one of these should set you on the right track.
Etsy store simpleshoemaking sells books on basic techniques of shoe and sandal making. The books are self-published and available in both hard copy and pdf format ranging from about $30.00 to $45.00. The books recommend recycled soles, and the shoes look pretty crunchy granola, Berkeley in the seventies. Still, the techniques are for shoes created with few or no specialized tools, and the books are budget friendly. This could be a good place to start, especially if you don’t plan to get too exotic with styling.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive source emphasizing a more elegant approach and much more complex work… at a correspondingly higher price, you might want to check out Bespoke Shoemaking Book. This is for the person seriously interested in making a lot of custom shoes. The basic book runs $140.00AUD, plus shipping. And then there’s the sandal book, the sandal kit, and the instructions for making a professional grade sole press.
Amazon has several pages of books on shoes and shoemaking available. These range from reprints of historical manuals (often meant for professionals) to books on embellishing shoes you buy commercially to more general books on leatherwork that happen to include a pattern for a sandal or two to books that show what sorts of shoes were worn when and where. It’s a little scattershot, but you might find a good book there.
All of these sites have their advantages, but I think the best source I found had to be Walrus Shoe. In addition to books on how to make shoes, they carry lasts, a book on making your own lasts, cobbling-themed jewelry, and say they will soon carry tools, findings, and machines to help your shoe making dreams come true. I’ll be keeping my eyes on this one! Again, these books and tools are meant for the professional or the very serious hobbyist. They don’t come cheap, but they result in pretty footwear. Then again, if you’re going to make shoes… why not go for the gusto?
And if you’re just looking for a bit of fun inspiration, why not check out the Bata Shoe Museum? You may just find a good reason to buy one or two of those books so you can reproduce something special.
I hope that helped you, Dawn! Best of luck with your shoemaking endeavors, and be sure to let us know how it goes.

Hilarious Tale of Crafting Disaster

Saturday, May 19th, 2012
By Twistie

Yes, I do have time on my hands today. Why do you ask?

Anyway.

If you’re looking for a good laugh today, you might want to check out this entry at The Dabbling Crafter about her adventures with a garden stepping stone kit.

My belly is sore from all the laughter.


How To Use It: Playing Dress Up

Saturday, May 19th, 2012
By Twistie

We love to craft. We love to make things with our hands. We love to show off our work.

Then again, the last thing we want is to look like we’re auditioning to play Ma Ingalls in a low-rent touring company of Little House on the Prairie. We prefer to exhibit a sense of style, a little elan in our homes and our wardrobes.

To that end, I’m going to show you a few classic, well-cut clothes and suggest some hand-crafted embellishments to go with them.

For instance, this silk cashmere knitted turtleneck dress from the Spiegel catalog is a stunner in its own right. It’s a versatile style that can go from the office to an evening of dining and theater without missing a beat. You could wear it to a wedding or on a romantic getaway. It’s also a breeze to accessorize with handmade jewelry, a painted silk scarf, or a jaunty hat of your own devising.

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I Have an Inkleing About This

Friday, May 18th, 2012
By Twistie

(Image of Mary Meigs Atwater via Robin Spady’s Blog… which all weavers should know about)

There’s a lot to be said for weaving as a crafts pursuit. Not only does it have a built in cool factor, you can make rugs, tablecloths, placemats, yard goods, and plenty of other useful things.

Of course, there’s also a problem with weaving for a lot of people: where to put that great big loom in a small apartment or crowded house.

Ah my friends, that is where the humble inkle loom comes into play. If you’ve got a clear table or desk top, you put your loom there and get weaving in a jiffy. Once you’ve got your warp threads properly threaded, you can have a new belt or custom purse strap in a matter of a few hours, even if you’ve never woven in your life.

In fact, I’ve got an inkle loom, which I’ve used several times. Okay, so it wasn’t as cost effective an investment for me as that full round Swedish bobbin lace pillow, but I’ve gotten hours of fun and a few only slightly lumpy samples out of it. I think if I ever started using it consistently, I would quickly get rid of the unintended lumps, too.

For more information on getting started in inkle weaving, check out this free tutorial at Earth Guild. It’s a good basic overview of the technique with clear illustrations. If you decide it looks like fun to you, head on over to The Woolery and get yourself their inkle weaving beginner’s kit. It includes an Ashford Inkelette loom, three half pound cones of color coordinated 8/4 cotton warp, and an instruction book by H. Bress. All that for just $99.00!












Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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