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Friday, November 14, 2014

Button Cuff

The idea came from Craftstylish's Woven Button Coaster project.  I don't have much use for coasters, but I saw that the pattern could be adapted easily to make an awesome bracelet, using shirt buttons from Mr. Beadgirl's worn-out dress shirts.

The first step was to weave together a row of buttons long enough to go around my wrist:
I made two more (odd is better than even) and wove them together:

But the result was plainer than I expected, and the bracelet cried for some embellishment:
Sewing on the extra buttons had the added value of stabilizing the bracelet, because the buttons tended to shift three-dimensionally (by which I mean they tended to overlap each other rather than staying on the same plane).

For the clasp I sewed a shank button on one end, and made a seed-bead loop on the other:

I love it.  It's super comfortable to wear, too:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Last of the Fall Crafting (I Think)

I started this cat last fall, and finished it up a few days ago:

It's by the same company that did the Easter Bunny, Buttermilk Basin, and this is the October pattern (duh) of "My Wool-Crazy Year." I changed the eyes a bit, using buttons for the pumpkin and a more traditional shape for the cat eyes; I also omitted the moon because I thought there was enough going on.  Now I just need to find a big piece of wool to back it.

An owl:
I stayed up late Friday night to make this guy, and regretted it when Beadboy3 chose that night to be awake between 12:40 and 3:00.  I did not get a whole lot done Saturday.O

(Speaking of, that's his contribution to the post.)  The pattern is from the 2010 issue of Crafts 'n Things

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


This velvet pumpkin came from I forget which year of Better Homes and Gardens' Holiday Crafts:
I actually made it about a month and a half ago, but was waiting for Mr. Beadgirl to cut a segment of tree branch for the stem.  I don't have the heart to ask for a more viney-looking stem, but I didn't glue it in, in case I can find a better one next year.

This pumpkin pincushion came from pinterest:
There are no written instructions for the pumpkin, just pictures, so I have a bit of advice -- after sewing and stuffing the form, when taking the first stitch through the center and pulling tight to create the indentation, make a knot to keep the thread from slackening.  It was also helpful to make a knot after every couple of stitches creating the ridges.  This stem is DMC memory wire, folded multiple times and twisted, and tacked into place.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Finishes

On Saturday I got a rare two hours free of children, chores, work, and events, so I hid up in my sewing room for a delightful afternoon.  In addition to taking in a couple of skirts and starting a fabric pumpkin pincushion, I finished three little ornaments:
The stocking is by Pat Mazu, from the same September/October 2010 issue of Needlepoint Now as the "Fall Tree".

The design on the upper right is"By the Full Moon" by Tracy Horner of Ink Circles, from the September/October 2010 issue of Just Cross Stitch.  I used similar threads and fabric from my stash, rather than the materials called for.

The lower ornament is "Acorn House" by Jeanette Douglas, from the September/October 2011 issue of Just Cross Stitch; again, I used materials from my stash.

The stocking I made into an actual stocking, complete with a little lining that I slip-stitched in place.  For the two square ornaments, I sewed each one to a piece of cotton, wrong sides facing, all the way around.  To turn them right side out I cut a little x in the backing fabric, stitched that hole shut, and covered it with a button:
It's not the nicest of finishes, but it's fast, and that's what's important nowadays.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Tree

An Ada Haydon design:
The stitching directions are from Needlepoint Now's September/October 2010 issue.  The tree was meant to be stitched on a specially painted canvas by Haydon, but it was too rich for my blood (and in fact I don't think the canvas is available anymore).  So instead I used 18 count black canvas and threads I already owned (although I kind of wish I used purples instead of pinks, now).  Mostly I kept to the stitches Haydon used, too.

The only problem area was the band with the bats -- the background stitching would leave a lot of the canvas exposed, and black bats on a black background would not have worked.  Having painted canvas before, I thought I could paint this little band orange.  But paint thin enough to not gunk up the holes barely stained the black threads. After three coats, this was the best I could get:

I stitched the bats anyway, but the background looked not great:

So I added the background stitching (not what I had originally intended) in strong orange threads, and that helped quite a bit:
To finish it, I just trimmed the canvas, folded it back, and whip-stitched it to black felt.  And with plenty of time until Halloween!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Round-Up

The Next Best Thingby Jennifer Weiner: Weiner's novel is based loosely on her experiences producing a short-lived sitcom for tv; as such, it gives one an insider's look at show business (to which I say, "blech").  It is a fun and light novel, better written and more interesting than a lot of other "chick lit," as is generally true for Weiner's work.  However, she includes at the end of the book the short story "Swim" which focuses on a different aspect of the heroine, and I think I'd have preferred a novel more about that than Hollywood.

The Ocean at the End of the Laneby Neil Gaiman: short and engaging enough that I read the whole thing late one night when I should have been sleeping.  It is an inventive and scary story with some thematic similarities toCoraline.

The Magiciansby Lev Grossman: Superficially, this book is a cross between Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, but it would be a mistake to leave it at that.  The point of those two series is the stories they tell, the skirmishes and battles between good and evil.  The Magicians, by contrast, is more interested in how the introduction to a magical world affects a person -- the longing for a life as interesting as a fantasy novel, the benign contempt for ordinary people, the sense of entitlement the privileged develop.  It also touches on the danger of magic -- or any power or talent -- without a sense of purpose.  Even the most talented magicians must find meaning to their lives, and a way to cope with both dramatic events and ordinary days.

The Briar Kingby Greg Keyes: A straight-up fantasy novel (the first of four) about another world, like I haven't read in a long time.  Keyes's novel tells the story of kings, princesses, foresters, innkeeper's daughters, monks, and dashing swordsmen as they become aware of a grave danger to their world. My only quibble: in the prologue it becomes apparent that the humans, who were brought to this world by an evil race bent on enslaving everybody, are the "lost" colony of Roanoke.  This plot point, however, appears to serve no function at all in the greater story, and ends up being a little distracting as one can't help but try to match different cultures to their European counterparts (which makes no sense anyway; Roanoke was settle by the English only).

Friends, Lovers, Chocolateby Alexander McCall Smith: The second in the Isabel Dalhousie series, but the first I've read.  It's a quiet book with an unusual but low-key mystery, leaving lots of time for Isabel's musings on ethics, faith, love, and Scotland.  I enjoyed it, but feel no need to read any others in the series.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Macondo in Stitches

As I read One Hundred Years of Solitude, I couldn't shake the imagery from my head -- the yellow flowers falling from the sky, the butterflies tormenting a doomed lover, the ash crosses marking the 17 Aurelianos.  I wanted some way to record and play with the motifs and icons from the text.

I've started with a grid of 100 squares, inchies really, that I can play with:
Beadboy3 wants to stitch, too
I used white broadcloth from one of Mr. Beadgirl's old shirts, and machine-stitched a ten by ten grid with black thread, rather carelessly on purpose to keep the lines and angles from being too perfect.  I like how the black lines on white fabric evoke the black type on white pages of the text itself.

The first square is one of Colonel Aureliano Buendia's gold fish, which he makes when he is not leading rebellions and slaughtering his enemies.
I made mine with sequins and different gold threads, with a black bead for his eye.

I don't intend to fill every square, and this will be an on-going project that I work on as inspiration strikes.