This past week’s Iron Crafter challenge was to make something around the theme “winter.” I contemplated all manner of crafts and finally settled on the handbag I’ve been dying to make. Guy pal bought me some wonderful boots a while back and I wear them any time it’s even remotely cold. They’re 100% sheepskin uppers with natural rubber soles and a pair of wooden beads for an accessory. I feel so beautiful when I wear them in addition to warm from the calves down. Unfortunately, the only handbag I had was a bright orange striped one I got at Old Navy back in middle school. The bag is in great shape for being about 14 years old, but it doesn’t go with my winter clothes at all.

My favorite part of winter themed crafts are the snowflake motifs. I don’t do all the religious themed goodies for Christmas, so for me winter is about family gathering together and the cold of a Colorado winter. I’ve looked at hundreds of snowflake motifs in intarsia, stranded, quilted, cabled, and appliquéd. Oddly, the one I like the most isn’t considered a snowflake at all. The pattern, Brea Bag, is supposed to look like a lotus flower. BS I say! It looks like a broken snowflake to me. Given all my health issues, I have a particular affection for other broken and cast aside things, so a broken snowflake is perfect for me.

I’d been given some alpaca yarn off of freecycle last year that’s been marinating in my closet. I used only one ball of the natural white alpaca to make the body of the bag. After seaming, I had only a few yards of yarn left. It was just the right amount. The pattern calls for holding light worsted yarn double, but since this is more of an aran, I just worked one strand throughout. I also made some minor changes to the side/bottom gusset of the bag because I didn’t like the way the pattern did increases/decreases for the strap over so many rows. Mine is more compact. This project does take a ton of attention while knitting. I was super proud to be able to work on it during the Super Bowl party at Green Valley Weavers on Sunday and then at my friend’s house afterward. When I finally finished all the cables and the long gusset, I blocked the pieces. Unfortunately, blocking was delayed by nearly 8 hours because of a sick dog. My poor little pup decided the best place to launch her explosive diarrhea was under a bookcase. Everything had to be moved, taken apart and cleaned. Between cleaning and shuffling the dog around the room, the friend that was helping me managed to scare her while she was on my bed so she peed all over my quilt too. I already had all the towels in the wash, so it took me forever to get my blanket cleaned. It was 4am before I had a quilt to put on the bed! When the dog was finally all set up in the shower with supplies for the night and given her Imodium, she managed one last blast of the shower so I had to clean the whole shower, her, and her evening supplies again. Given the level of pain I was in from dealing with the dog and her messes, I honestly thought I’d have to quit working on the purse and give up entering it in the competition. I was REALLY pissed off. Somehow, I manged. I’m really proud of myself. Since I’d never blocked before, I was really eager to try it. That eagerness to try blocking is what got be back into working on my project again. Here’s a mid blocking shot. The side of the bag on the left is pinned and blocked. The side on the right is not yet blocked. Check out how much this bag grew! I was worried it would be too small with using only one strand of wool, but it came out exactly the size I want.

I just used the kids’ play mat I have and sewing pins since I don’t have any proper blocking materials yet. My next task after seaming the blocked pieces was to make a liner for the bag. Since it is knit on large needles, it’s a little loose. I wouldn’t want a pen falling out, so I most definitely need a liner. I dug through the bin of old clothes I’ve collected from my family. I love reusing the old fabric in something new. I found a pair of linen pants of my mother’s that were exactly the same color as my yarn. I couldn’t believe how perfect a match it is. I cut out the seams and managed to get just enough large pieces to sew a liner. I’ve never sewn a bag liner before, so this was a pretty big deal for me. I’m thrilled with how it came out. It was also my first time sewing in a zipper. I found a metal zipper in just the right color in my box of zippers, also from freecycle.

I took my bag, bag liner, and thread to knitting group and spent the entire time at Panera Bread seaming away trying to attach the liner to the bag. When I got home, I still had more hand sewing to go. Properly anchoring all the corners of the liner to the corners of the bag and getting the zipper edge to attach well to the alpaca while keeping the stitches invisible is quite an undertaking. At some point during the stitching, I came down with the flu. I still feel horrible. I’m sure I looked like a rather silly person struggling to breathe next to my humidifier cranking out the hand stitching and the knitting for the strap.

The strap is knitted from a softer alpaca from the same box of yarn on freecycle. I really love this yarn. It’s alpaca from the source; all the tags are in Spanish and from a farm in Peru! Since the pattern didn’t have a felted handle but rather a leather one, I knit a swatch, felted it, then figured out the number of stitches for my strap. It was so hard to knit the strap when I just wanted to sit with kleenex attached to my face instead. I felted it the lazy style, in the washer, because I felt so bad I couldn’t stand over the sink to felt it even, much less use my arms for any kind of scrubbing.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to stitch the handle onto the D rings. I’m finished. I tried this project once before, earlier in the fall when my pain was so out of control that I couldn’t keep track of the numbers of stitches or cables. I’m so psyched that now, on the new pain meds, I can actually keep track of my stitches and do complex projects! I can’t wait until I’m healthy enough to go out. This flu virus sucks. I’m really hoping to pull it together enough to go on a first date this Friday night to a small film festival here in town. I met him on okcupid and am itching to meet him. Plus, this film festival promises to be wonderful. Just think how beautiful I’ll be downtown walking up to the theater in my sexy wool boots, my charcoal grey peacoat, stylish cashmere lined black leather gloves (that are seriously worn out unfortunately), and this stunning bag. I’ll be so hot the snow will melt under my feet and men will break their necks snapping around to catch a glimpse of me!

Here’s some finished shots of my new bag:

In real life, the strap matches the boots perfectly. It’s still a little damp from felting though so that makes it appear darker. I’ll get a better photo when it’s dry, but I was under a deadline for Iron Crafter! This snowflake winter handbag is so wonderful, it just had to make it in under the wire for the winter competition. I’m really coveting the winter badges, but i have to admit, the best thing is having my winter handbag done and ready to go out with! I feel so nice just holding it. With all the alpaca, it should even help keep my water bottle from freezing and my medication at a more appropriate temperature if I go outside for any length of time or have to drive around in a cold car. This bag is just so perfect in so many ways.

 

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I finally got my package done for the Doctor Horrible Sing Along Blog swap I did for the Odd Ducks Swap on Ravelry. Given how much work I ended up having to put into this package, the absence of inspiration for the first month, and all the paperwork and time that ended up being involved for the deposition and then the hearing that didn’t happen, I’m really pleased it came out this well and only took an extra 5 days to finish! It’ll get mailed out first thing tomorrow morning via FedEx 2 Day. That means I only have to wait and squirm in anticipation of my spoilee opening it until Thursday! I don’t think there is anything more exciting than getting to spoil someone. Yes, it can be very hard to send away all your awesome creations, but somewhere someone will squeal with delight.

One of my earliest ideas was to send some soup from the Caring Hands Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen. I also have a history of wood burning spoons, so this seemed like a good, easy handmade to include. My partner doesn’t like really spicy stuff as I found in my stalking, so I got a different flavor soup from what I’d normally buy for myself. I’ve tried the same brand of spicy tortilla soup, but still had to add some heat. I picked up a set of wooden utensils when I was in Arizona at the IKEA, so the total cost of this craft came to 3 bucks for soup and 49 cents for utensils. I used her favorite quotes for the spoons and came up with a design for Caring Hands.

I love the slogan I came up with for them based on Dr. Horrible’s attitude toward their efforts. After all, the solution really is to just put the power into different hands, and not necessarily their caring ones. The date is the year the movie came out.

I did a big sewing project too. I’d seen several people make Wonderflonium knitting bags, but I wanted to be a little more unique than that. No one wants to see everyone make the same projects for the swap, right? So I made a binder to hold patterns and included page protectors to keep the patterns safe from Moist. I’d hate to have him drip on my patterns and smear the ink. I made 4 pockets too. There is one sized just for the Dr. Horrible needle gauge I made, a big pocket with 3 separate compartments each large enough to hold a set of DPNs, and a little pocket for odd bits of yarn or stitch markers. I know for a fact my spoilee made some awesome stitch markers for her spoilee and was talking about crafting them in double to have for herself. Here’s the front inside:

And here’s the back inside with the last pocket for holding circular needles. My spoilee is a sock knitter and I wanted to make sure she had space for all her sock knitting supplies, or at least enough to last a short trip, vacation, or wild stitch-and-bitch session. Even this binder came in under budget. While the actual binder was expensive, all the fabric I used was in the remnants bin at the Hancock Fabrics by my house on a day when all remnants were on sale an additional 75% off! I have plenty to make another binder even. All the remnants were at least a half yard! But, I don’t have the program or card writer for my embroidery machine though and ended up using Sharpie on some white satin I had in my stash for the labels. I also contemplated needle felting black wool on, but that just wouldn’t fit with the sparklie briefcase nature of the project.

I love this binder so much I have to make one for myself. I don’t know what theme I want for mine, but I want this binder. I also want a nice needle gauge. If only I could figure out a theme, I’d have the best set of stitch markers, a row counter, a binder, a few bags, and a needle gauge. I want the finished set, I just can’t pick a damn theme! I may go something earthy, something hippie, or something punk. I have no clue.

Here’s the whole haul I’m sending off. Believe it or not, I came in under the $30 budget. I wanted to do more, but a few little birdies on my end kept saying that I can’t do that much because it makes the smaller swap packages and packages from folks who don’t craft/shop quite as well as me look lame. I certainly don’t want to make anyone look lame, but I want to have the most awesome packages anyhow. I think this will have to suffice.

I like to wrap with clues. My family almost always uses clues on our Christmas presents, and we even do celebrity gifts! Every person gets one gift a year (and usually a big one like Santa’s present) and it’s addressed as from the celebrity. It’s my favorite holiday tradition. I mean who wouldn’t want to get a gift from Hannibal Lector? Then when I checked my wrapping box, I had tissue paper left over from the video game swap I did. There were several bright colors and METALLICS! I love the whole package being wrapped up in the steam punk-ish Doctor Horrible color scheme. Could it be more perfect? Not unless I’d had a shipping box big enough to package it all in a blue, round laundry basket like Penny’s! For the record, I bought one at the dollar store, but the binder didn’t fit inside and I didn’t have a big enough box. The basket is now holding fiber under my spinning stool so the wool doesn’t get icky on the floor.

The clues I used are:

  • for the ice cream flavored candy and chapstick, “what a crazy random happenstance”
  • for the black and white thread she had on her wish list, “for that classic battle of good and evil”
  • for the chair, “we all need somewhere to sit while we dream about the keys to a shiny new Australia”
  • for the Otterpops style soda pops, “the freeze ray needs work…may I recommend your freezer?”
  • for the needle gauge, “It’s ok, he won’t feel a thing”
  • for the soup, “From the Caring Hands Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen”
  • for the odd duck, “Steampunkin’ up the Odd Ducks”
  • for the pop rocks mad scientist set, “Materials from the E.L.E. for your next horrible experiment”
  • for the Wonderflonium binder I included a message in the front pocket about why I’d made the pockets the size I did and that this binder, like wonderflonium will include what you need to finish your next horrible project and to keep knitting those awesome socks because you have to remember, “Even in the darkness, every color can be found.”
  • for the page protectors, “to keep your patterns safe from Moist”

Fingers crossed she loves this package at least half as much as I loved putting it together for her. I hope she feels very loved and very spoiled. I hate sewing with satin. Doing so is a sign I really, really like someone.

Doll Found in Glove

January 3, 2010

I took my dogs out for a nice walk through the neighborhood and when we got back into the complex, I saw something sticking out of the melting ice mess near a frequented parking space. The last snow we had was more than a week ago. For something to be buried in the ice, it had to have been missing for quite a while. I kicked at it with my shoe a couple times to loosen it and eventually pulled a grey glove covered in gravely slush and still frozen into a brick-like shape from the sludge. I carried the dripping mass home to throw out, but on the way I swear the glove was trying to tell me that it was still good and was begging for a second life.

I deposited the dripping mass into the bathroom sink and started scrubbing with some antibacterial dish soap to see just what kind of condition this glove was in. The suds were black the glove was so dirty. The warm water quickly defrosted it though and I tossed the clean smelling damp thing into the dryer with a pair of blue jeans. It came out stunning. Clearly, this wasn’t a glove ment for the garbage.

Random lost glove

I knew immediately that it would be a doll. I’m not sure if it was the brand name “The North Face” or if it was the finger pads that determined the glove’s fate as a doll. I took it into my crafting lair and set to work. First I removed the palm grip and the wrist elastic with a seam ripper being careful not to damage the grey fleece fabric. I cut the index and middle finger up into the glove about two inches and then straight across to make what would become the legs and body of the glove. Next I cut off the ring finger and pinky finger cutting down the ring finger to make it the same length as the pinky. I pinned the best pieces of palm fabric togther centering the logo as best I could and free-handed a circle with  my scissors to make the doll’s head. The whole thing was stitched together and now I have a sweet little n-face doll.

 

North Face glove doll

One of my dear friends, Kat, came over and after having an adventure shopping, we decided to have a craft evening. She really wanted a pair of shark gloves like I made, but she didn’t know how to sew. I tried to convince her we needed easier projects to start with, but she insisted on shark gloves. I stitched the really curved seams, but she really got it and did much more than I expected her to be able to. I can’t wait till we get to have another craft night.

I decided that I needed a project to do too rather than just help with shark gloves. I’d been contemplating zombie dolls for a while and used a silly little pattern from an ancient book my mom passed on to me, “The Woman’s Day Book of Soft Toys & Dolls” by Joan Russell. You can find a copy of this indespensible book here on Amazon. This doll is the doll’s doll, Amy’s Small Doll, on page 253. I used baby blue fleece for the doll to get a good zombie color and made up a zombie face that has a thread embroidered frown and fleece applique eyes. The jumper is from the book and I just whipped out a little applique skull from a scrap of pink fleece and some black thread. The pink shirt is based on the pajama shirt pattern in the book but altered so there’s no snaps. I put the shirt on the doll before I stuffed her so it’s semipermanent. I used a glittery punk fabric from Walmart. It’s like skulls and crossbones, only there are hearts atop the crossbones instead and the whole fabric has a dusting of silver glitter. A stretch knit would have been much better, but I couldn’t pass up the pattern. The hair is the first time I’ve ever done yarn doll hair. It’s black RedHeart with scraps of pink lavender ribbon.

I just love her innocent and childish but still zombie face. When I get the chance I’d like to continue making more zombie dolls–whole families and even dolls to look like people I know. Those would be great Halloween gifts, zombie versions of that person! I may make some more, but with simplified hair just for that purpose. I may also work in some variations as Kat and I have decided we need more craft nights to decompress from school and let out our inner creativity/kid. We’ve been discussing making some ugly dolls, and I think zombies count.

Finglerless shark gloves

September 24, 2009

Somehow I ended up at a page on etsy.com that had fingerless shark gloves. Go to etsy and check these ones out for a killer comparison. I really like the idea of gloves as different animals, and sharks are brilliant for it, but I wasn’t impressed with the execution. I just don’t see the shark in them. It’s a little too creative of an interpretation for me. I also think that there shouldn’t be any felt used on gloves because gloves need to be washed regularly.

I decided that night that I should sew some shark gloves because I wanted a pair, and I wanted something very different from what was being offered. I made a pattern by tracing my hands and adding to it to get the right thickness. They came out just a little too big, but not bad for my first try. I’ve also decided I need a nice pair of fabric pinking shears. It’s a good Christmas idea if you need to shop for me. It’ll help make more realistic shark teeth in addition to other things.

The coolest part of the gloves may be the fins, but having the color be lighter on the bottom just like a real shark is pretty cool too. I’ve considered adding gills, but I have yet to come up with a way to stitch them on so they look good.

The reason these shark gloves are so cool is because they remind me of my grandpa. He used to use this shark puppet that I have as a tickle monster. It’s very similar looking and has smaller teeth and a pink mouth. It’s made of a very short fur fabric. I love it, but it’s just too beat up and special for every day use. These washable fleece sharkies are perfect for every day wear and you can evey drive, shop, or attend class in them since you don’t lose any hand function like you do in a shark hand puppet. It was even a nasty cold day out to give me a god excuse to wear them out and about to class and physical therapy! It’s going to be a good winter if I get to wear these all over. I’m contemplating making some panda gloves for myself and I’m gusesing some of my friends will want other critters like monkeys as gifts.

The crocheted skeleton

September 23, 2009


Crochet skeleton, +15 Calgary

Originally uploaded by artisanat

Tragic news. Someone else has already crocheted a life-size skeleton and completed it with some vital organs. I found the picture on flickr.com. This particular skeleton resides in a museum in Germany I believe but may be a traveling exhibit.

The fortunate bit is that the quality sucks compared to what I’m working on. Clearly this skeleton would not be able to hold his head up at all. His ribs are also curly! Who ever heard of such curly and pathetic ribs? You can bet mine will be much more detailed and of significantly higher quality. I mentioned to my friend Mathew that I’d be quite honored if my work were to be displayed in a museum, but he rightly pointed out that I’ll be so attached to my new skeleton that I’d have a hard time parting with him for that long. Mine will also not have guts. If I make guts at a later date, they will be removable. His colon will also not look like parsely. His skull will have structural integrity and teeth far beyond the popcorn style stitches of this little fellow. In all, though it has been done before, the parts I’ve completed thus far whomp all over the quality of this ‘museum quality’ piece.

On a totally different tangent, one of my best friend’s sons, Ben, wanted to be a blue water star dragon-dinosaur with wings for Halloween. I’m a big softie who really just wants an excuse to sew another costume and if I can make a four-year-old’s Halloween spectacular in the proccess, all the better. I sketched this out and am now hard at work.

I took Ben shopping for a day and we got two blue long sleeved tshirts and some blue, yellow and green fleece. We went home and I cut up the huge blue shirt and restitched it up into matching pants. We looked all over and this was the only way to have a shirt and pants in the same perfect shade of blue. I also got the yellow tummy stitched on and while cutting off the loose threads, he got upset that I was cutting off the dragon-dinosaur’s ‘hair.’ I explained that they don’t have hair, they have scales and that the lines across the fround deliniated scales. He was very excited to later show my parents his dragon-dinosaur scales. After my biology test and physical therapy tomorrow, I’ll be back at work on wings, spikes, and a tail. He’ll have to come over again so I can get the measurements right for the head piece and star medallion. Seeing as he’s so excited about it, I’m sure he won’t mind. It’s kind of wild to have a little kid sit and watch that excitedly at the edge of my sewing table. I never would have managed to sit that still and watch a needle go up and down.