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A Great Resource for the Beginning Tatter

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
By Twistie

Have you been thinking about taking up tatting? Rebuilding rusted skills? Teaching someone to play with a shuttle or two? Then hie thee over to Angel Babies. Yes, I know, the name doesn’t say anything about tatting, but that’s what the site is all about.

From basic instructions to individual projects to slightly more advanced instructions to books of patterns, you’ll find everything you need to get you started, restarted, or ready to pass on the gentle art of tatting to a novice. Everything – including the books – is aimed at the beginner.

For my part, I’ve never attempted the art, but I have to say those dragonflies are tempting me to try something new!

Doing Crafts, Doing Good

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
By Twistie

Many of us who craft also enjoy giving back to the world, I find. But what if you’ve been looking for a way to intertwine the two concepts?

Get thee to Amazon and snap up a copy of Craft Activism: People, Ideas, and Projects from the New Community of Handmade and How You Can Join In. Okay, the title is wordy times eleven, but the ideas involved more than make up for that.

Inside you’ll find seventeen clever projects to make, but more than that you’ll find ideas for using your projects to make the world better. This book will help you do everything from organizing an online craft exchange to organizing your own crafts fair. That’s quite a bit for a book that costs just $22.99.

But wait! There’s more! If you get it from Amazon right now, it’s just $15.63!

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.

For Happy Feet

Friday, October 14th, 2011
By Twistie

As the weather grows cooler, I find myself thinking more and more about socks. I know, I know, my sock fetish is sad and I need to do something about it. Well, that’s what I’m doing. I’m telling you all about a great book that can teach those of you who knit to make better, stronger, and more gloriously spectacular socks.

The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes starts at the beginning. And for socks, in the beginning was the fiber. Yes, she breaks down the features, advantages, and disadvantages of various commonly-used fibers for socks, discusses various stitches commonly used, and finishes up with a collection of twenty patterns by some of the best designers in the business, including: Cookie A, Ann Budd, and Melissa Morgan-Oakes.

This would be a steal at the list price of $30.00, but it’s available from Amazon for just $18.19! Now that’s a good deal, whether you’re looking for inspiration to knit Christmas (or Hanukkah) socks for friends and family, or a good gift for the knitter in your family.

That Dweam Wifin a Dweam

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
By Twistie

Is this not one of the most wonderful wedding gifts of all time?

How did I not find these people before?

Seriously, whether or not you do counted cross stitch (and they do have links to their patterns for sale on Etsy, for those who want to recreate some of their masterpieces), this is a site well worth checking out if you’ve got a sense of humor.

Here’s an amazing historical tidbit I learned about George Washington in the explanation of this portrait:

 He presided over the writing of the Constitution in 1787 on a horse made of crystal. As the unanimous choice to serve as the first President of the United States (1789–1797), he developed the forms and rituals of government that have been used ever since, such as using a cabinet system, copulation with bears and delivering an inaugural address.

Wow! Educational, too!

Let’s Get Geeky and Crafty

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
By Twistie

As I noted in yesterday’s post, the world of sci-fi seems to have little appreciation for crafts. But I’ve also noticed that crafters as a species do seem to have a lot of use for sci-fi and other speculative creativity. In fact, there’s a super-cool blog called Geek Crafts that’s dedicated to the intersection of geekery and crafting. If you haven’t ever been, go check it out now. Go on. I’ll wait.

Cool, isn’t it?

And as you can see from the illustration at the top of this post, Susan Beal, who writes for Geek Crafts, has written a book of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and gaming-related craft projects for you or the crafty geek in your life.


Will There Ever Be Crafts in Space?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
By Twistie

Like many crafters, I’m a great big sci-fi geek. I can quote you chapter of verse of most iterations of Star Trek, hold an intelligent discussion of where George Lucas went wrong with the Star Wars franchise, compare and contrast many of the societies visited through the Stargate, and quote virtually every line from Galaxy Quest (That was a hell of a thing).

But there’s one thing that has always bothered me about all of these sci-fi icons and many, many more that I’ve seen and read over the years: nobody makes crafts for enjoyment.

Sure, sometimes on Stargate or various versions of Trek they would come across a charmingly bucolic society. In these places, everybody had to produce food, clothing, shelter, etc. so that everyone would survive. But virtually all of  these charming, peaceful, gentle worlds are utterly without artistic addition. Nobody makes jewelry that doesn’t have a specific, ritual meaning. Nobody adds a flourish to the legs of a chair, or embroiders a pillow simply so it will be pretty. Nobody is shown making something of a purely decorative nature or just for fun. It’s all simply, rustic, and utilitarian.

And when these shows visit advanced societies, everything is about scientific advancement. Nothing wrong with that, of course. I’m in favor of finding cool ways to cure diseases, travel longer distances with lower environmental impact, provide inhospitable lands with food and water, and all sorts of things like that. I find these ideas and many like them to be entirely fab and gear.

But these societies seem to have little or no art. Sometimes there’s a terribly refined style of music (which sounds much more like Muzak to my ears), but nobody seems to create visual or textural art. Nobody creates a thing that isn’t either scientific or intensely practical. It’s all smooth, shiny, refined and utilitarian.

Come on, producers of sci-fi worlds! Would it kill you to have some form of embroidery or model making survive the millennia? If there’s someone on a starship who plays the trombone, couldn’t there also be someone on that ship who tats? It takes up a lot less space and makes a lot less noise, after all.

Okay, Data paints. There is that, and I’m in favor, entirely. But wouldn’t there have been one traditional Bajoran craft that Ensign Ro picked up in the camps? Didn’t Guinan’s people have to do something when they weren’t all listening to each other? Out of all the human societies the Goa’uld transplanted into outer space, wouldn’t Daniel Jackson have found one that still created purely decorative jewelry? Couldn’t Amy Pond scrapbook about her journeys with The Doctor? Well, no, actually I don’t think she would. But Rory totally would. In fact, I feel quite sure he does it whenever Amy isn’t looking.

I love speculative entertainment. But I also love making lace. I appreciate many forms of craftwork, and want to encourage them. I don’t believe that the human race will ever get to a place where we don’t need to express ourselves creatively by hand.

Just once, I’d like to see someone create a sci-fi show or film that agrees with me on that.

Kindle Your Interest in Crafts

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
By Twistie

I’ve been thinking for a while about getting a Kindle. Don’t worry, I have no intention of giving up physical books! I love books. I love how they feel, and I love how they smell, and I love all the emotional ties they create over the years with use and lots of petting. But sometimes an electronic reader would be really handy. You know, for trips and such. It gets heavy packing real books on the road. It would be nice to have more space for clothes and maybe even some crafting supplies in my luggage.

But what would I do with those crafting supplies if I didn’t have my crafting books along? Well, I decided to take a look and see if the Kindle would help me with that.

Seems I didn’t need to worry. Using the search term ‘crafts’ in the Kindle library, I have found more than eight thousand titles. Sure, some of them are short story collections and books about magic, etc., but the majority of them seem to have either instructions or historical information about various and sundry handcrafts. Origami, ribbon work, quilting, woodwork, blacksmithing, crochet, running a crafts business… and the list goes on.

Using the term ‘lace’ is less useful. Many of the ebooks that brings up are more erotica than instructions for making dainty trims. Still, there are a few books of interest to someone wishing to make lace rather than have sexy reading fun. And it’s more than possible that some of you would find both rewarding. I wouldn’t judge.

‘Knit’ produces less titles, but more of them on point.

The really nice thing is how inexpensive most Kindle books are. Most of them are under ten dollars, and there are some that are free (out of copyright and often converted to the eformat by volunteers, with varying levels of success, according to reader reviews) or under five dollars.

In the end, I’m not giving up my collection of craft books any more than I plan to dump all my novels and cookbooks anytime soon. Still, as soon as funds allow, I do think I’ll pick up a Kindle and a few ebooks to go on it. It’s one more way I can use modern technology to help me pursue archaic interests… and that’s my favorite way to live my life.

Time for Tiles

Friday, June 24th, 2011
By Twistie

Sometimes we dream of doing upgrades to our homes, but find the decorative materials available lacking in some way. You can’t find precisely the shade of blue you wanted for the tub surround, or just the style of eggplant motif you need for the kitchen backsplash. Maybe you have visions of a very specific kind of stepping stone in the garden.

Well, despair no more! Because now you can head over to and help yourself to a copy of Making and Installing Handmade Tiles by Angelica Pozo. It’s published by Lark books, which is always a sign of quality in craft instruction manuals, whatever the technique.

You’ll learn about basic tools and techniques, how to apply glaze, carve, inlay, do mosaic work… nearly anything you could possibly want to know about making and using ceramic tiles!

Best of all, it’s a steal right now. Originally priced at $17.95, it’s been reduced to just $8.55.

At that price, you can probably afford the tools, too. Just a thought.

Crafting With Kids: String Them Along

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
By Twistie

When you want to get kids into crafts, you can’t go too far wrong by coming up with projects based around strings, yarn, or thread. Of course, sometimes you could use a hand finding the inspiration.

And that’s where Design Original Strings & Things Book comes in. It’s got a plethora of fun projects for thread-based amusement whether you’re entertaining small fry or teens. The projects include things like making dreamcatchers, creating jewelry out of old bottles and thread, embellishing clothes and more. Most of the ideas are based around recycling things from around your house, so they’re even designed to be easy on the budget.

Speaking of tight budgets, this book is easy on them, too. It usually runs a thrifty $8.99,  but if you order it from Create For Less, you can get it for just $5.19! At that rate, you’ll have money left over to get some thread, too.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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