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Archive for the 'Crafting Equipment' Category

Quickie Question: Dear Santa?

Monday, November 26th, 2012
By Twistie

Dear Santa,

There are a couple things I’d love to find under the tree this year. Here they are:

First off, I’d like a nice selection of rovings in pretty colors to do more needle felting with. I like this selection of 50 colors from Mielke’s Fiber Arts. At just $32.00, it’s even a deal.

I could also use some pretty new lace bobbins from Knotwork Lace Tools. Pretty and practical. I love these bobbins!

So what about all of you? What crafting goodies would you love to have Santa deliver down your chimney?

Tell us all about it!

You Can Take It With You

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
By Twistie

Need something to help you carry your embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, tapestry, or patchwork quilting materials with you when you’re on the go? Take a look at this lovely quilted cotton organizer from Roberts Crafts.

The upper section features two see-through pockets and a space for larger equipment such as scissors, patterns, and fabrics. The lower section has six large zippered see-through pockets for things like thread, thimbles, needles, and so on.

Here’s a view of it closed. Oh, and that aqua color? Yeah, that’s the one it comes in. Apparently the red is not available.

The dimensions when closed are 9.5×9.5×7.2 inches. I don’t know how clearly you can see it in the illustration, but there’s a self handle on top for easy transport.

You could carry enough crafting materials to get you through a good long vacation or boring conference with that kind of space!

All that for only $62.00? Sign me up!

By Knook Or By Crook

Monday, September 10th, 2012
By Twistie

There’s a really cool perk to being a professional blogger: every once in a blue moon, someone sends you stuff to review. Well, that happened to me a few weeks ago when I was sent a Knook Beginner Kit to review.

For those who haven’t heard of them, Knooks look like crochet hooks only with a hole drilled low on the handle. You see the brightly colored cords that come with the kit? You thread one of those through the hole, and then use the Knook to knit with the single hook.

I was intrigued by the concept right away. Then I read what some others had to say about working with Knooks, either the commercial ones I was waiting for or homemade versions. The most frequent comment on the difference between knitting with Knooks and knitting with needles is that the tension tends to be looser on the Knooks. Since my biggest problem with knitting back in the day was keeping the tension loose enough, I figured I might have found something that will work well for me.

On receipt of the Knook set, well, I was further impressed. The instruction manual has both right and left handed instructions side by side from casting on to finishing. That made it easy. I didn’t need to either rework the instructions in my brain or use my hands in ways that are uncomfortable for me. I just had to look and see which side had which instructions and ignore the one for the rest of the populace.

Another cool thing about Knooking is that Leisure Arts has produced and posted quite a few instructional videos on YouTube. So if reading the words and looking at the static photographs isn’t getting the concept across for you, well, you can watch film. Again, both right and left handed instructions are readily available.

And yes, I do find that I’m knitting more loosely than I did when I tried needles. Since that was my huge bugaboo, well, I think I’ve found my way of knitting. It’s also going to be nice to have a craft I can take and play with on the road. Bobbin lace is bulky for cars and needle felting in a car on a bumpy road could lead to serious injury, after all.

Obviously this isn’t a product for the experienced knitter, per se. Some  might find it a fun alternate way of doing things, but I think the target audience is a little different. It seems a handy way for crochet enthusiasts to try out knitting, and, as I say, it’s great for those of us whose biggest problem knitting the traditional way was one of too firm tension.

All in all, though, it’s good clean fun for the whole family, and I’m halfway through a pretty winter scarf in variegated thread that’s making me feel both happy and accomplished.

Oh, and if you want to try it out, it certainly isn’t going to break the bank! You can get the precise same kit I was sent from Amazon for just $6.23 ($9.95 retail) or a bigger bells and whistles kit for working with bulkier threads for just $19.95. In addition to Knooks, guide threads, and the instructional manual (including instructions for making afghans), it also includes four cord clips and three yarn needles.

If you’ve got a few bucks to spare and an itch to try out something new, you could do a heck of a lot worse than this. I know I have!

Left Out No More

Monday, August 13th, 2012
By Twistie

(Image via M3)

Happy Left-Hander’s Day!

Yes, it’s a real day. August 13. And this month friday the thirteenth lands on a monday, which makes it more dangerous. Bonus points to anyone who knows where that concept comes from.


As a southpaw, sometimes it’s hard to find equipment set up for me, let alone instructions to use it properly.

So in honor of the day, I have found a selection of tools and instructions to help my fellow right-minders be super crafty.


Get Mod!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
By Twistie

I remember my first – and thus far last – decoupage project. It was in about second grade, an art class project. Of course construction paper and Elmer’s Glue aren’t the best materials for the craft. And of course at seven I blamed myself rather than the materials for my utter, disastrous failure.

But over the last few years I’ve been seriously considering giving it another go. These days I know a lot more about the correct supplies and my personal aesthetic is better defined. Oh, and I discovered the blog Mod Podge Rocks.

It’s an homage to a fabulously versatile and endlessly useful crafter’s tool: Mod Podge. Oh, and author Amy Anderson has written a book about using Mod Podge to decoupage your world. You can see an illustration from it above. It’s available from Amazon for just $10.17 (list price $14.95) and qualifies for free Super Saver Shipping with a $25.00 purchase.

Oh, and to make up the rest of that $25.00, you can also purchase Mod Podge, scissors, foam brushes, or anything else you need for your project.

Seurat Would Have Loved This!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
By Twistie

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories strikes again!

Two months ago, they introduced StippleGen, a program to create stipple versions of images. Now they’ve updated to create StippleGen 2. It’s a free, open-source program available for Windows, Mac, or Linux and can be downloaded here.

What can you do with StippleGen 2? Check out the gallery, here. I think Ernie Kovacs turns out quite striking n this format. Download and create to add your own image to the gallery.

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?
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.

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.

Dying to Please You

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
By Twistie

Mmmm… pretty colors.

It’s fun to have lots of pretty colors of yarn to play with. Whether you plan to knit, crochet, or do massive string art with it, color is an integral part of the charm of your finished product.

But not everyone loves to do the actual dying. Sort of like the way not everyone wants to spin the yarn. And of course there is that learning curve when you’re playing with techniques, but can’t count on the best results, yet.

And that’s where the aptly named Decadent Fibers comes in.

They carry a wide variety of yarns in natural fibers, such as: merino, silk, organic cotton, and mohair. Some varieties do contain a small amount of nylon to help keep the shape of the finished product, but it’s just a touch.

Best of all, every kind of yarn they sell can be custom dyed. Sure, they’ve got a lot of great colors they make every single day, but if you don’t find what you want there, you can request the color you need and they will create it for you.

Don’t want yarn? If you’re looking for roving to spin or felt, you can get the same great range of colors.

Need something to do with all this yarn/fiber? They also carry a range of books, patterns, and kits to get you going, including their one-skein knitting projects.

Then again, maybe I’ll just splurge on a few skeins to fondle when nobody else is looking.

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.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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