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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!

Quickie Question: Crossing Gender Lines?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via Tatman’s Chatline)

It took me three Google searches to find an illustration of a man doing a craft more commonly considered a ‘girly’ thing who wasn’t either a) a professional in ‘colorful’ ethnic dress, or b) a woodcut illustration from well before photography was invented.

And yet, I know men who do these things. I have a brother who sews, does needle felting, spins, and embroiders. He also paints miniature figures (mostly of American Civil War soldiers), builds models, makes chainmail, and, well, let’s just say he’s the craftiest member of the Twistie family. Leaves me in the dust. If it can be done by hand, dollars to donuts he at least has a general idea of how it’s done and chances are good he can point to at least one example he’s made himself.

I’ve attended lacemaking conventions where a small but significant number of the attendees were men and boys delighted to get a chance to work with real teachers and other lacers, just as I was. Rosy Grier was almost as well known for his needlepoint as he was for his football playing.

And it’s not just men, either. There are women out there expressing themselves in media more commonly associated with men. Women sculpt, create metal art, build furniture… all kinds of things that aren’t done with fiddly needles and thread.

All the same, I will never forget one adolescent lad who showed up at a lacemaking demo I did years ago. He watched with clear – but embarrassed – fascination for a long time. When I encouraged him to try out the beginner’s pillow, he looked as though he might run away. In the end, though, he sat down and allowed me to talk him through a couple rows. He picked up the concept quickly, and got a big smile on his face.

And yet, when I asked him if he wanted some materials on where to find equipment, thread, and further instruction, he shook his head and looked horrified. His mother came over to my demo partner and quietly asked her for the information. While we were talking to her, the boy started stitching again. If one of us looked in his direction, he would go rigid… but if we looked away again, he went right back to work. After he left, I looked at the pillow and saw he’d done at least a dozen rows with nary a mistake.

I never saw him again, but I’ve always hoped he found the courage to keep lacing. He clearly had the desire and the ability. All he needed was someone to find a way to convince him it was all right for him to do it despite being male.

So I’m wondering today, do you do a craft more commonly associated with the opposite gender? Know someone who does? Have you ever wanted to try a craft but feared how people might react?

Tell me all about it.

(ETA: This was supposed to go up yesterday, and I don’t know why it didn’t publish when I hit the publish button. Sorry.)

Quickie Question: Holiday Gifts?

Monday, November 5th, 2012
By Twistie

It’s that time of year once again. Whether or not you follow a religion that traditionally believes in exchanging seasonal gifts, chances are there’s somebody you’re going to give a present to at this time of year. More than likely, several of them. And some of us have a looooooong list of friends and family we plan to give nice things in honor of the time of year.

Things are not terribly lavish at Casa Twistie right now. We’re tightening our proverbial belts just a little more, of late. And that means that this year it’s not simply a matter of choice to give handmade things, but pretty much the only way we can fit it into the budget.

So the next door neighbors will get yummy baked goods, and other people we give gifts to at this time of year will find themselves the proud or otherwise recipients of things like berets decorated with needlefelting, home baked treats, and pretty bottles of flavored oils and vinegars. I might even needlefelt a couple Christmas tree ornaments.

Frankly, I enjoy giving this way because I’m giving not only something tangible, but also something that shows I spent time thinking about the person it’s for. On top of all that, I’m giving the gift of my time and effort. Not everyone on the gift list will necessarily think of it that way, and that’s beyond my control, but that’s how I think of it. It makes me feel good.

So what about all of you? Are you handcrafting holiday gifts? Baking up a batch of holiday cheer? Going commercial? Ignoring the whole sorry business?

Tell me all about it!

Quickie Question: Best Part of the Craft?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
By Twistie

(Nothing really to do with the question at hand, but I fell in love with this knitted werewolf costume over at The Making Spot Blog and wanted to share.)

When it comes to crafting your life, there are many parts to the process, and each of us likes one better than another.

For some it’s coming up with the idea, planning it out. For another, it’s the actual process of creation, when you’re seeing whether your ideas work as originally planned or whether they must be reworked in some way. For many, it’s that satisfying bit when the work is finished and you can admire the fruits of your labor. For yet others, it’s seeing the look on someone’s face when the finished piece is gifted to them, or simply set out to be admired.

I love planning and I love seeing the finished pieces, naturally. But for me, the best bit is the actual work. It’s sitting there with my pillow tossing bobbins or with my felting needle stabbing away at the roving until it begins to resemble a flower or a scroll or a robot, for that matter. I’m utterly in love with the processes by which I create. In fact, if I don’t enjoy the process, I find that no amount of adoration for finished pieces will make me start the work. That’s why while I adore fabric and can see all kinds of lovely clothes in my head, I’ll never make them by sewing, I just don’t happen to enjoy the process enough to keep me going.

What about you? Are you the one who plots and plans for fun? Are you a process groupie like me? Is it all about the moment when you know you’re finished?

What’s the best part of crafting for you?

Quickie Question: Finding the Time

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
By Twistie

It’s a busy world.

There’s work and family and friends and all kinds of other ways to fill twenty-four hours fuller than they can handle.

And yet we need to find room in our lives for our crafting, too.

I’m lucky with this one. I work from home and create my own schedule. I don’t have any kids. The most demanding family member is the cat. And still there are times when I suddenly look around me and realize I haven’t done any crafting in days.

I’ve decided to go back to something I did when I first started lacing: make appointments with me to do my crafting. Otherwise it’s too easy to just wake up one day and discover I’m not crafting, anymore at all.

What about all of you? Do you have an appointment with yourself? Do you take classes or have meetings with other crafters? Do you ever gasp at the realization that you haven’t threaded a needle or prepared dye stuffs or used your lathe in months?

Tell me all about it!

Quickie Question: Favorite Craft in School?

Monday, September 17th, 2012
By Twistie

I don’t actually have that many fond memories of school. To say I wasn’t popular is a laughable understatement. And of course there were subjects that bored or confused me with teachers who had no clue how to reach me. That happens. Learning is something I adore, but formal schooling and I were not the best of friends.

Still, there are bright spots in my memory of those days. I’m sure it will come as no great surprise to many of you that quite a few of them revolve around handcrafts.

Probably my single favorite, though, was the section in my high school art class that was spent learning to make various kinds of prints. I loved silk screening, in particular. I tend to enjoy fiddly bits, like fjords, so the precise cutting with the craft knife appealed. Oh, and while I have had many an anxiety issue, knives are something I’ve always felt comfortable with. Then there was the fun of smooshing the paint through the screen. In some ways it reminded me of playing with dough… hmmm… and suddenly I’m getting why this appealed so strongly to me: there are a lot of parallels with baking, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do.

And as with baking, there’s the joy of the reveal of the finished product. Whether it’s a loaf of crusty bread or a cool design on a tee shirt, there’s nothing quite like transforming humble materials into something unexpected and useful.

What about you? Is there a craft you learned to do in school that you found particularly rewarding? Is it something you still do?

Quickie Question: Worst Craft Idea Ever?

Monday, September 3rd, 2012
By Twistie

A good friend of mine recently sent me this hilarious picture. It’s the real cover of an issue of Radio Electronics Magazine from 1949. The lady posing in the picture is actress Hope Lange. Even more amusingly, the picture is displayed prominently on her Wikipedia page. Don’t blame her. She was only fifteen. Also, being dead, she has no control over how people represent her on Wikipedia.

But every time I look at that ridiculous radio hat, I have to wonder what on earth possessed someone to design it, let alone feature it on a magazine cover. It looks like it stepped straight out of an Ed Wood Production and couldn’t have gotten good reception.

All the same, it is rather amusing… and it begs the question: what’s the most ridiculous crafting/DIY project you’ve seen featured in public?

Tell me all about it!

Quickie Question: Words to Craft By?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
By Twistie

I love this variation on the popular Keep Calm and Carry On meme. Another one I love is the one that says Keep Calm and Simply Walk Into Mordor. This one, however, strikes me as particularly appropriate to those of us who get crafty and create stuff.

I’ve always been fond of a good quote or seventeen. Over the years I’ve collected lovely quotes on a wide variety of subjects. Every once in a while, I find a pithy quote that really seems to sum things up for me and put things in perspective.

For my crafting side, I have a particular fondness of this quote from the late, great Gilda Radner:

I can always be distracted by love, but eventually I get horny for my creativity.

I, too, need to be creative despite all distraction. Of course quite a few of those distractions (husband, cat, friends, physical appetites) also fuel my creativity. They inspire my need to create, to craft, and to write.

Ultimately, though, I need time by myself to get into my own brain and start making things. If I don’t get that space… let’s just say you’d probably rather spend quality time with The Hulk.

And so it is that this quote resonates with me on a visceral level.

What about you? Have you ever found a quote that feels like it sums up your feelings about crafting, your specific craft, or generally being creative? What is it and who said it?



Quickie Question: How Far Back Were You Crafty?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
By Twistie

People make a lot of assumptions in life. One that I keep running across is that if you’re crafty as an adult… you had to be crafty as a kid.

It makes sense, seems reasonable. Then again, it seemed reasonable to a heck of a lot of cultures that the sun moves around the earth and that caterpillars have nothing whatsoever to do with butterflies once upon a time, until someone came along and did some scientific research that blew both theories out of the water.

In my case, the obvious theory rings true. Even as a very small child I loved to play with yarn and paper and clay and whatnot. I was always trying to create something out of next to nothing. I kept trying one thing and then another, sure that just around a mental corner was the craft that would stick. It just took me twenty-seven years to find it.

To this day, I’m always trying out new things to see how they fit my world and my hands.

But what if there’s another way people come to craftiness? Are there people who didn’t come to craft until adolescence or beyond? Are there people who crafted like crazy in preschool but gave it up later in life?

What about you?

Quickie Question: If You Wrote the Book

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
By Twistie

There are a lot of books in the world. More are written every day. Some of them  actually find publishers and reach real bookstores, both brick and mortar and virtual. quite a few of these books have something to do with crafts.

From instructional manuals on knitting, crochet, woodwork, quilting, and making odd things out of pop top tabs to tips on starting your own crafting business, to Life Lessons Learned while doing origami, to novels, to histories, to books of cartoons and funny sayings about one craft or another, there always seems to be room for one more book on the shelves.

So I’m curious: if you were going to write a crafting-related book, what sort would it be? Would it be aimed at adults or children? Do you think it would hit the New York Times best seller list?

If I were to write a crafting-related book, it would probably be a novel for adults. Most likely it would follow the life of a lacemaker sometime in history. Possibly in the early days of machine laces, where there’s the handy conflict of technology vs individual work, and the opportunity to discuss the up and down sides of both. I’d like to have a special edition available with a special bobbin designed for the purpose and basic instructions for bobbin lacemaking included.

What? I’m a dreamer?

What would your book be like?

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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