Friday, April 27, 2012

If You Give a Girl a T-Shirt...

Before I say another word, I should make one thing perfectly clear:  I. Heart. Threadless Tees.  I love that their shirts are consistently soft and comfy, I love that their designs are clever and I love that their prices are reasonable and their sales are frequent.  That's a lot to love. 

A couple weeks ago they posted that they had had thousands of Tees come in that didn't measure up to their high standards.  Rather than throw them in a landfill, they offered to send a box of tees to anyone who would host an up-cycling party.  For free.  Zero dollars.

Now Lea has been up cycling tees for some time.  The bulk of her wardrobe is comprised of T-shirts that have been repurposed into skirts or deconstructed and reconstructed into tops.  It is very cool and very punk and I am pea green with envy.  Lately she has taken to making bracelets and key chains with T-shirts and pop-tabs.  You could say up-cycling T-shirts is definitely her thing and I don't believe you'd find anyone to argue with you.

So for zero dollars?  We were in.

All they asked for in return was a few pictures.  I was drinking sangria and may not have been the best choice for event photographer, but I'm what they got.

Twenty-four T-shirts, 2 moms and a handful of teens later, this is how it played out:

Lindsey and Jessie modeling two very different zombie dresses
The girls started slowly - not wanting to take scissors to the super-cool abundance of T's before them right away.  All of them tried out one of Lea's favorite tricks:  Find a T that is a couple sizes too big for you, slip it on so that the neckband is under your arms, tie the sleeves together behind your back.  Bada bing, bada boom, sexy cool.

Karen and Addie working on a plan

Addie modeling the completely fabulous result

Addie knew she wanted a skirt and she and Karen worked together to come up with this absolutely great one.  I can't wait to see it with a plain little summer top... This was one of my favorite projects of the evening.

Jessie, Lea and Karen working together on a design

Jessie liked her zombie dress so much, she decided to go for a tube top as well.  This is how it came out:

Bad photographer.  Good Jessie.  Great top.

Lea sporting a Trojan Seahorse.
Lea has a whole wardrobe built around tops like this.  Her skirt is made from a T, too, for the record...

Addie made a tote bag.  You could, too, if you're not chicken...

Karen and I made totes, too.  Large enough and sturdy enough to carry a happy teen...

Ok, I have to tell you.  When I opened my box of free T's and this one fell out, I squeed right out loud.  I have loved this design since it first came out and it has been in and out of my buggy many times.  I always ended up taking it out because I was pretty sure I didn't want the focal point of anything to be on my hip.  But now I have this design and it's on a bag and I love it.  Looks like Karen is pretty happy with hers, too...

Addie and Lea made non-sparkly vampire halters.    Addie closed hers in the back with safety pins and Lea closed hers with more of those tied fringes you've already seen so much of.  Both were excessively cool.
The morning after the night before.
So that ended the party - but I think I see some potential flowers, maybe a few necklaces, and definitely some more of Lea's bracelets and keychains in that pile of scraps on the floor.  I'm not going to throw anything away quite yet.

Thanks to Threadless for such a fun night.  This is only a fraction of the fashions that the girls created - and, like I said - the party's over, but the designing is not.

Thanks also to Pinterest and Generation T for the inspiration.

Free T-shirts.  Teenage girls using their powers for good.  Time with one of my besties.  Sangria.  And an excellent soundtrack.  Yep.  I think we can put another mark in the win column.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Odds + Ends = Bracelet

A month or so ago, I told you about Chinaberry Beads.  My stash finally arrived.

Such good things come in Peanut Butter jars!
I was thrilled and couldn't wait to play with them.  Let's call them the odds.  Why?  Because they are nature's beads!  They are detailed, which is cool, but perhaps even cooler is the fact that they have a natural hole straight through them. In the original post, I told you we drilled holes in them - and we did - until we discovered that that step was absolutely unnecessary!

They just come like this!  Like Mother Nature was saying, "You ought to have some jewelry."

It's not nice to fight (or fool...) Mother Nature.

And I'm very nice.

Ask anyone (except my kids).

Allow me to digress for a moment.  We'll get back to the Chinaberry Beads, I promise.

Any knitter will recognize the next picture.

All the little snippets that remain after the knots have been tied back during the finishing stages of a project.  In this case, that project was my little hearts and the snippets were wool.

Wool, as you know, felts.

So I filled a little bowl with very warm water and a little bit of dish soap.  I grabbed a little handful of snippets , dipped them in the soapy water until they were soaked, and then rolled and rolled and rolled.  When they were the size and firmness that I was looking for, I quickly ran them under cold water and gently squeezed out the soap.  When they dried, they looked like this.

Let's call them the ends.

They sat in a pretty little ceramic bowl on my side table for months, waiting for a project to find them.

When my odds met my ends, I came up with this:

What do you think?  Pretty cool for some scraps and seeds, no?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Super Soft Super Secret

Don't worry - I didn't even attempt to say that out loud.  Not the dream title for someone with a slight (it IS slight, dammit!) lisp.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I have been posting little teases about a super-secret project.

It started with a picture of my yarn purchase.

This yarn is really divine.  It is a naturally dyed organic cotton in a light DK weight.  Soft, soft, soft.  It has also been discontinued.  I will never understand what causes a company to make that decision, but I'm sure they had their reasons.  Now one of two things happen when something cool is discontinued.  Some folks put the price through the roof - because now it is coveted.  Others bring the price way down because they want to clear out inventory and make way for the new stuff.  I lucked onto one of the second kind of distributors.  Yay me.

I've only shared this picture for two reasons:  to further stretch out my little tease, and because I really love close up pictures of knitting and I kind of can't believe I took this one with my phone.

Any guesses where we're going with this?

If you guessed baby romper, well, pat yourself on the back.

I have two friends co-grandparenting the same baby - mother of the dad and mother of the mom.  If there's one type of knitting I love above all others - it's knitting baby clothes.  Instant gratification, super-soft yarns, and an excuse to embellish freely.  (No embellishment on this piece, because it needed to remain completely gender non-specific - but that's beside the point.)

Hopefully this isn't the last picture we see from this project.  I'm hoping at least one of those proud grandmas sends me a picture of it filled up with something even softer and sweeter than naturally dyed organic cotton...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Have a Heart

A couple weeks ago, a friend was having a really wicked week.  We've all been there.  One thing goes wrong, then another, then another.  It becomes almost comical at some point.  It was in the middle of that week that I thought - I wish I could send her a hug that was a little more substantial than ->(((hug)))<- this.  I could take you on the whole thought-train ride, but it's not really necessary to the story.  Ultimately I decided to make her some little handmade hearts and send them to her.  Getting something in the mail that is not a  bill and is not junk mail is fun.  Getting something intended to stand in for a hug?  How could that not be fun?

I got to work.

I found this pattern for a knit heart and I started there.

I had some wool lying around, left over from making pillows.  Maybe I'll show those to you someday.


I made one in red.

Yes, I am aware that this is blue.  The red one was a bit camera shy. 

As you can see, at this point it was a bit curly and unruly.  I mentioned that they were wool, right? I do so love felting...  So through the hot cycle they went - once, twice, thrice.

Now they're behaving a bit better.

When they were dry, I joined them with a blanket stitch and stuffed them.

Imperfect - but I think that with a folky craft like this imperfections can be quite charming.

Cute, right?

But one seemed so insubstantial.

Four seemed just about right.

Hey, this isn't the last time I'm going to have a friend with a rough week, now, is it?  

I made these with no greater hope than that of making someone smile for a moment. Sort of like a Hallmark card on steroids.   But as I was whipping these out (so quick and fun!) I was thinking of more ideas:

  • knit them in pastel colors then use embroidery floss to add conversation heart type messages.
  • attach 2 hearts to either side of a cord and use them to tie a gift in a brown paper wrapper.
  • attach them to a headband, barrette or pin back.
  • attach them to floral wire and make a bouquet - or embellish a cookie or lollipop bouquet.
  • knit each side in a different color to represent team/school colors and fill a bowl with them as a centerpiece for a party - guests could take them as a token when they leave.
  • on and on and on - I bet you can think of something to do with one (or a couple dozen!) of these!  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Study in Sherlock

I have recently been doing research on the studies of crime of my dear fictional friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes. In case you (blasphemously) have never heard of him, he is very observant to the point that his talent has caused him the need to create his own job, thus making him the worlds only consulting detective. I find myself intrigued by him to the point that I felt the need to show my appreciation of his works through crocheting and knitting. What follows is the result.

This is the scarf of his friend Dr. John Watson as portrayed by Jude Law in the most recent Sherlock Holmes movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. All of the Sherlock Holmes stories are from written in Dr. Watson's point of view, in the books and movies through the means of his journal and in the most recent BBC series through his blog titled "The blog of Dr. John H. Watson".

This is the hat Sherlock often wears when going out to solve crime. In this picture he is examining the writing on the wall in a room in which he and Watson found themselves on their very first adventure, A Study in Scarlet. In this story, the killer carved the German word "Rache", meaning revenge, on the wall, trying to pass himself off as a German person so that the real person would never be found. Sherlock Holmes, however, was not fooled for a second.
This is a doll attempting to portray Sherlock. If I were to judge, I'd say he does a pretty good job at that.
That is all I have of Sherlock Holmes right now, however that count is subject to change at any given moment. If I ever try to make another Sherlock Holmes depicting object, you can be sure to hear about it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chinaberry Beads

The coolest thing about being a crafter (ok - ONE of the coolest things) is that there is always something new to learn.  

My latest lesson occurred quite accidentally - the best lessons do, no?

I had just gone on a day trip to Charleston with my mother and two of her friends.  When we returned, we were talking to her friends' neighbor about our trip and we mentioned the sweetgrass baskets uniquely characteristic of that area.  She asked if we'd seen any chinaberry beads and - while we were not completely sure - we thought that we had not.

A fellow crafter, she was anxious to share.  (Yet another cool thing about the crafting community.)

She went back into her camper and emerged with a handful of necklace and earring sets.  I was immediately intrigued.  We all were.  This project appealed to me for several reasons.  First and foremost - I am a Cheapy McCheaperson and the prospect of making something cool out of something free is right up my alley.  Second - I really enjoy natural substances - wool, wood and stone pop instantly to mind.  Third - it was a shared project.  

We couldn't wait to get started.

The first step was to find a source for chinaberries. Which we did.  They look like this on the tree.

They were picked then soaked in a bucket of water where we rubbed the outer berry off. 

That felt exactly like it looks like it would feel, by the way.  But getting a little dirty and doing a little squishing was fun.  The price of art.

Then we further cleaned them with a little bit of netting.  We tried other methods, but this seemed to be the most efficient.

Then we dried them and drilled a hole through them.

They could be used just like this - in their natural state - but most folks choose to dye them.  Rit dye, food coloring, natural dyes (beets, teas, etc...) can all be experimented with.  

The end result looks like this:

The woman who introduced us to the craft gave me these earrings.  Because crafters are the coolest people.

Is this not the best souvenir to take home from my vacation?  A new craft (and a new pair of earrings) unique to the place where I'm visiting.

I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to do with my beads when I get home.  Watch this space.  

(Big thanks to my fellow crafters, my mom Nancy Hunter, Kent and Caryl Roach, and Alice - who gave me the gift of a new craft as well as the earrings and I don't even know her last name!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Greatest Dolls in the Whoniverse

So recently I have been getting into the Doctor Who spirit with my crocheting, knitting, and..... well..... everything. Completely obsessed with it. Anywho, (hehehe...get it? anyWHO! HA!) I have some photos of all the Doctor Who dolls I have crocheted within the last year. Here we go.

This is a weeping angel. They are some of the scariest villains EVER. They send you to the past and feed on the potential energy you had in the present. They're the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. They turn into stone when you look at them, but they move fast, so you can't blink. Don't turn around, don't look away, and don't blink. Good luck.

These are daleks. They are my favorite villains. They're Kaled mutant things that used to live by feeding on radiation, then they evolved. They are the first non-human creatures on Doctor Who (other than the Doctor and Susan, of course). They move around and say EXTERMINATE!!!! in a very grated, cause-your-ear-pain kind of voice. They're just plain awesome.
All eleven of the Time Lord himself! From bow-ties to 16 foot scarves, he's the man to call if you need either to save the universe or plan a halloween costume! He can call off multi-planitary armies with just the mention of his name! Don't believe me? Would you believe me if I told you he's over 1113 years old? And you thought you were old! Anywho, (there I go again) he flies around in his TARDIS (time and relative dimensions in space) picking up hot girls and showing them the universe and often getting in a lot of trouble doing so. He's basically the greatest super-hero of all time. Just saying.
This is an ood. They are kind, selfless creatures that are born with their brains in their hands. They are often enslaved by ruthless aliens who don't give a crap about other creature's well being. They speak through that round white thing that I have sewn to his hand (it holds their brains inside of it) and they say things through it telepathically. Unfortunately, that makes them considerably more vulnerable to being taken over. They are the good guys, but because they are taken over by bad guys, that makes them bad guys and it is really hard to save them. The episodes with them are often quite emotional. On a happier note.....This is K-9! He is the fourth doctor's best companion (in my opinion) and he is a metal canine (get it? Canine? K-9? Funny, right?) He is good at calculating, but not too good at swimming. He often confirms statements made by various people by saying, "Affirmative!" There are four versions of him, and he is as brave and funny and loyal as a metallic canine can be. He is an excellent dog, companion, and person in general.
This is an adipose. They were brought to the earth by their "nanny" and they were sold as weight loss pills. The humans took the pill, then every night one of these adipose creatures would be formed out of the fat in the people and walk away while the person was asleep. They are some of the cutest villains (as if you couldn't tell) and they make the most adorable baby noises ever. The pills they were born from were advertised by, "The fat just walks away." No one thought they meant it literally except the Doctor and Donna Noble.

Well, that is the end of the current dolls that I own, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were more of them in the future. Feel free to watch Doctor Who and message me so we can obsess over it and talk about how awesome it is. That would be all. For now.