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.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Little Night Cap

Just before Christmas, a couple years ago, a friend of mine asked if I could make little scarves and caps for wine/liquor bottles. She was looking for a new way to present gifts of booze. Before I knew it, I'd made her 10 sets from scrap yarn. I tried to do straight stockinette stitch, but the curling was out of control, so I designed a little mock cable pattern that kept things straight. I think they turned out really cute!

Scrap yarn - worsted works best, but I made a few with sportweight and a few with Aran or heavier worsted.

Size 5 straight needles for the scarves
Size 5 DPN's for the hats
yarn needle and or crochet hook for pulling ends in

*the project is actually so small - 10 st across - that I worked the scarves back and forth on DPN's as well just to keep the project more portable.

Scarf 1

*RT - K2tog leaving stitches on needle. K 1st stitch, sl both stitches from needle

CO 10
row 1 - K3, P1, K2, P1, K3
row 2 - K1, P2, K1, P2, K1, P2, K1
row 3 - K3, P1, RT, P1, K3

rep rows 2&3 until piece measures 17"
BO in pattern

Scarf 2

CO 10
work K1,P1 rib until piece measures 17"
BO in rib

If stripes are desired, do them in 2 or 4 row increments and carry the unused color up the side rather than cutting yarn.

Scarf 3

CO 110, K until desired width is achieved.

Basic Hat

CO 30, distribute evenly over 3 needles (10 st on each needle)
Join, being careful not to twist work.
Work in K1, P1 rib for 5 rows.
K (st st) for 5 rows.

Dec row 1: K 1st 2 st tog, K to last 2 st on needle, K last 2 st tog. Repeat for each of 3 needles. (8 st on each needle)
Next row: work even

repeat last 2 rows until 2 st remain on each needle. K 2 st tog on each needle, knitting all three stitches onto one needle.

Work 3 st I-cord for approximately 12 rows.

sl 1st st, K2tog, pass second st under 1st. Cut yarn and pull through loop.
Tie a knot in the I-cord, close to the base. Pull excess yarn through to wrong side of work.

Hat Variation

Work as for basic hat, eliminating decreases. Continue in knit stitch for 5 more rows or until desired height is achieved. BO using a 3 needle bind-off. Attach a tassle to each of the 2 corners formed.

-you could eliminate the I-cord and add a pom pom or tassle
- you could do the ribbing in a contrasting color
- you could turn it inside out and pull the I-cord through - achieving a sort of 'tam' effect
- any of the scarves could be fringed or not

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

I had put this blog to bed, but Pinterest has awakened it like true love's first kiss.

I wanted to pin some projects I've posted on Facebook, but you can't pin directly from Facebook.

I've been busy.

Liv's been busy.

Lea's been busy.

We've got lots of cool stuff to show off.

Watch this space.