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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Storm Jewelry

Mr. Beadgirl gave me the Boho box of beads from Blueberry Cove Beads, and I took the recent blizzard as an opportunity to play.  First up was a bohemian necklace:
I used the burgundy waxed cord and strung all the painted wooden beads, tying two knots (one wasn't big enough) between each bead.  I then used the brass, wooden, and ceramic beads and charms to make a bunch of dangles, attached with a jump ring on one side or another of the knots.  In the process I also added some of my own charms, and some brass spacers and seed beads for accent.

Next up was a pair of chandelier earrings, using the lovely silvertone findings in the box and a strand of deep red lustre faceted glass beads I had been saving for a suitable project:

While I was rooting around my stash looking for brass spacers, I found the fancy vermeil Bali beads I bought ages ago, intending to eventually make a choker.  I never did get enough beads to make a full necklace, so I strung them on beading wire and attached some gold-plated chain to each end:
I don't know how well the inexpensive chain will hold up compared to the beads, but it would be easy to swap out if I need to.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boysis a sequel of sorts to Gaiman's American Gods; it is set in the same world and follows the adventures of the sons of Mr. Nancy, a secondary character from the previous novel, and both are essentially Hero's Journeys, but there the similarities end.  While American Gods was grand in tone, dealing with matters of colonization, mortality, faith, and sacrifice, Anansi Boys is much lighter in nature, even farcical at times -- as befitting a novel centering on the offspring of a trickster god.

Fat Charlie Nancy has a perfectly ordinary life with an ordinary job and an ordinary fiance, but the death of his father and his reacquaintance with his long-lost brother, Spider, turns his world upside down.  To regain control of his life, Charlie must come to terms with both his heritage and his powers.  This is an old story, and so in terms of its plot it is completely predictable.  The originality of the story lies in the voices of the characters (it becomes gradually apparent that Charlie and Spider, so different at first, have more in common than either would have expected) and in the interweaving of British and Caribbean cultures (in a neat touch, the race of the Black characters is taken for granted, and it is the white people who are identified as such).  And, of course, it would not be a Gaiman novel if it were not stuffed with mythological and folkloric references.  While this book wasn't as satisfying or thought-provoking as American Gods, it was fun and enjoyable.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Immaculate Heart

This was in the Quilting Arts Holiday 2015 magazine, but I don't actually consider it very Christmasy, it's more of an all-purpose ornament:
The original pattern, "Milagro Heart," is by Jane LaFazio.  Milagros are usually metal charms used as votive offerings, and the heart with the flame on top is meant to be either the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  I added a strip of metal roses to make mine an Immaculate Heart; I also tweaked the pattern pieces a bit.  And, it turns out, I was supposed to enlarge said pattern pieces by 200%, so my heart is smaller than it's supposed to be.  I like mine quite a bit, but it pales in comparison to LaFazio's hearts.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Crafting for Me

Once the gifts were out of the way, I could work on some projects for myself.

A garland of funky snowmen, from the 2008/2009 issue of Quilting Arts Gifts:

My felt beads weren't actually beads (i.e., no holes for stringing onto novelty yarn, so instead I strung them onto thin black cord using a needle, tied knots to hold them in place, and tied two lengths of recycled sari yarn to each segment.

Tiny gingerbread houses, pattern by Gingermelon:
There was a fourth house, but I sent it off to an aunt.

The start of an embroidered Christmas tree, designed by Gingerbread Snowflakes:

"A Partridge in a Pear Tree" by Heritage Samplers (I think? The pattern logo/trademark/label is confusing, and googling "heritage samplers" doesn't result in anything helpful):

A needlepoint trio of the Magi:
I've had these guys for years, but I keep getting caught up in big Christmas projects, so I've decided the only way I will get them done is if I stitch them in the off-season.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Round-Up: Christmas Romance Edition

His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell:This was an odd one; Maxwell took all the standard tropes -- dangerous rake, virginal spinster, nefarious aristrocrat, spoiled lady, misunderstandings galore -- and twists each of them in an unusual way.  The result was a story that was both unexpected and predictable, charming and weird.

A Gift of Love (short stories and novellas):
Double Exposure by Judith McNaught: I am unfamiliar with McNaught's work, but she is an "old school" romance writer, and it shows.  The story was okay but the tie to Christmas was tenuous and too much time was spent on the set-up and not enough on the actual relationship between the hero and heroine.

Just Curious by Jude Deveraux: I am not a fan of Deveraux's work, and this confirmed it.  She's another "old school" writer, and it shows in the gender stereotypes under a veneer of feminism, and materialism under a veneer of the importance of family.  Again, the tie to Christmas was perfunctory.

Gabriel's Angel by Kimberly Cates: This story, on the other hand, was delightful and Christmasy, although the prose was quite melodramatic and purply.

Yuletide Treasure by Andrea Kane: This story was remarkably similar to the Yates one, although I didn't enjoy it quite as much.  The hero was just too much of a jerk, and the fact that his jerkiness came from manly anguish from a tragic past did nothing to mitigate it.  I'd make a horrible romance heroine.

Five Golden Rings by Judith O'Brien: I'm not normally a fan of time-travel romances, but this one was short and sweet and well-done.  Like the first two, Christmas gave the story a time period but didn't have much to do with the plot itself.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Crafting for Others

Beadboy3 wasn't the only one to get a handmade gift.  Beadboy1 got Wizard of Oz-themed bag to tote he beloved muppets around:

He loves to sing "We're off to see the Wizard" whenever we go for a walk
I had a hard time finding a plain canvas bag big enough for his menagerie, so I ended up sacrificing one of my own grocery bags for him.  I still had some Wizard of Oz fabric, so I cut out the portraits, a favorite phrase, and the letters of his name.  I used fusible web to iron them on, and then top-stitched all around them for security.  I also added a long strap so he could sling it over his shoulder.

I also made him a Cookie Monster t-shirt:
The template all the pinterest pins led to disappeared, so I had to freehand the mouth, and I did a pretty good job if I say so myself.  I used craft felt for the mouth and eyes, again fused to the shirt and then top-stitched.

Beadboy2 also got a t-shirt, of a Minecraft Creeper (green is his favorite color):

And because he is a budding Star Wars nerd, I made him a light-plate for his room:
This was another idea from pinterest, and only required the light-plate we already had and a sharpie.  Instead of "Luke," however, I wrote "Anakin" -- Beadboy2's favorite character from the prequels.  It makes more sense, anyway, paired with "Vader."  The D is too small, but cleaning up another error I made resulted in a big purple smear, which required a great deal of scrubbing with a Magic Eraser, so the D stayed.

Finally, I picked up a big container of perler beads (let's here it for Michael's weekly 50% off coupons), and made some doohickeys:
Ezra Bridger, the Lightsaber, and the Minecraft diamond sword are for Beadboy2, Fozzie is for Beadboy1, and the snowflakes are for me.  Perler beads surprisingly fun and addictive, and the pixelated nature of the designs appeals to my geeky heart, so I'll be making more pointless things out of them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Quiet Book for a Not So Quiet Boy

I made a concerted effort to make gifts for the kids this year, and first up was a quiet book for Beadboy3, based on a late 70s pattern my mom found in her stash.  It turned out to be a tremendous amount of work, sucking up most of my crafting time for December.  On the bright side, I made the whole thing from my stash (except for a shoelace, which I still have to buy), and Beadboy3 loves it.

The construction of the pages is quite clever -- a large rectangle (I used my husband's old shirts) is folded in half to make two pages; once those were embellished,  I sewed the rectangle right sides together to make the leaf, turned it out, top-stitched the opening, and inserted grommets.  Binder rings attached to the inside spine of the cover go through the grommets, making for sturdy but easily-turned leaves.

It's been gloomy for weeks, so the colors in the pictures are all off.

I replaced the football from the leaflet for this shoe, because we are a baseball family!

I replaced the "braid Rapunzel's hair" page with this

Another page I replaced; the original held crayons and paper

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