Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oilcloth apron

Here's a last-minute oilcloth apron, a child-size version of Martha's gardener's apron. My favorite oilcloth was the boat blueprint pattern, but I bought the wild and bright orange floral. It will make a lovely apron.

Merry Christmas! I will post again in the new year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gingerbread ideas

I'm pretty sure this is poor Thomas Becket being led off by the king's knights, not a very Christmas-y scene. These small terracotta medallions remind me of creative and historical gingerbread. The kind that comes out of wooden molds. I need to find a great gingerbread recipe that will work with molds and not taste like a Marie Claire Idees cardboard craft. On a tour of Hampton Court, I learned that Queen Elizabeth had an entire kitchen dedicated to gingerbread.

Next Christmas I intend to focus on gingerbread. Imagine gingerbread mittens and a gingerbread sweater with red beads and the tiniest bit of silky white icord. I could take one of those St. Nicholaus molds and make ceramic medallions that look like little cookies with a nibble out of the corner and have everyone wear them around their necks on December 6 on red silk cord. I'm going to have to go google medieval gingerbread now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday playlist

We've been pulling out all the holiday cds and making iTunes playlists for the holidays. It's funny the songs that make it on the list. This year two versions of Run Rabbit Run head the list - one from the 1940s and a Bluegrass version. I like it when a song makes it into a playlist because it reminds us of something, not necessarily because the song has anything to do with Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Crochet ideas

Here's an idea I'm simmering for my leftover bits of yarn - crochet pillows. On the left is a page from Practical Modern Crochet by Vibeke Lind. The magazine page on the right is pitching throw pillows from Tara Handknits. I like her colors, and I like the wobbly spin of Vibeke's design.

I'm still meditating on the Marie Claire Idees cardboard crafts section. These branches would be wonderful around the diningroom light.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rainy cookie baking weather

The almond paste cookies need to "set" for a while before baking. It just makes them more lovely. I gave the bath bombs another go. I made peace with the awful bias tape edging on the little dog coat. I accepted the slightly crispy texture on the iron-on dishtowel project. In the dim light of a rainy December afternoon, everything looks better.

My home lacks a fireplace, but this page of Marie Claire Idees makes me think I should have one in every room! I have a large jar in which I like to coil a string of fire fly lights - it would be lovely in a "carton" fireplace.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Marie Claire Idees Decembre

So many great ideas in the new Marie Claire Idees! I love these painted cardboard birds flying across the door. I am going to throw this picture and a book of Early American embroidery designs that includes some wonderful birds into the runcible bin with a cardboard box and see what happens.

Last night I was sewing some last minute fur leg warmers and "otter pelt" neck warmers for my nineteenth century Ft. Ross dwellers. The fake fur department is lovely. What about a wonderful muff, like this red one? You have to have the right coat or sweater for a muff, a backdrop really.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Crosspatch progress

I'm a just a few rows short of finishing the back of the Crosspatch vest. The small dog coat, Aunt Elaine, did not go well today. Bias tape trim is my enemy. The fancy retro dishtowels, did not go well today. Inkjet iron-on papers are my enemy. There is a bad craft vibe all across the diningroom and kitchen. I'm going into the livingroom to knit with Johnny Cash.

Friday, December 14, 2007


You cannot step into a Carol Field cookbook and come out with just one cookie. Yesterday's almond eyes were followed by tozetti - the original energy bar. There are pages and pages of holiday and end of semester to-do lists around here. I need a craft triage strategy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Glue pen

Well I wish I had had this glue pen the first time I tried putting glitter on postcards! It's called Quickie Glue Pinpoint roller and it draws the thinnest lines - perfect for my fancy schmancy glitter. Eleni, I haven't found any white glitter yet, but I'm saving one of the cards for a snow scene.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Feast of St. Lucy

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Lucy - so I've hauled out the Carol Field cookbooks today. Since I haven't been soaking wheat berries for 3 days, Cuccia is out. I guess we'll go with an eye-shaped cookie. I'm looking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fabric store bonanza

What luck today - netting for hostess aprons, teddy bear fur for a hat, and printed leather! The fake fur department has given me so many ideas for fur coats and fur scarves. This may be the after-effects of too much screwball comedy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Watching Cary Grant

Father Goose, Topper, My Favorite Wife - I'm drunk on pink ladies, and I can't go on like this. Crosspatch is almost half complete, but I'm switching genres.

It was perfect walking weather Sunday. We brought our copy of Stairway Walks in San Francisco by Adah Bakalinsky to Telegraph Hill - hidden staircases, footpaths, private gardens, upstairs porches, the murals in Coit Tower where we saw these girls, and outside we filled all the viewscopes with quarters.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Nosegay aprons

Found it, appropriately enough, in a box with the very first xeroxed and stapled issue of Bitch! This is the Everywoman's May 1954 'how to' project - 1/2 yard of tulle, 1-1/2 yards of ribbon and plastic flowers. I was thinking of doing a tonal stencil thing. Eleni, you could do an art deco martini glass thing and add sequins. I've had my heart set on plastic poinsettias, but a winter constellation accented with rhinestones on dark blue would be lovely, pink tulle with white poinsettias and gold bead centers or silver tulle and pink poinsettias with pink velvet ties would be sweet. And I keep seeing a deep golden yellow with white pompoms or white glittery snow flakes and a vintage Santa and his sleigh pin - over jeans.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bath bombs

I tried the bath bomb recipe in an old Martha Stewart Holiday Crafts magazine. They smell quite nice but they don't fizz for that long. They didn't come out of the molds either. Eleni, I'm going to try the advice in this version of the recipe and let them dry out in a towel and line the molds with tin foil or saran wrap. We used 4 drops of grapefruit and 2 drops of sweet grass in the first batch, maybe I'll switch to roses and lavender for the next one. Maybe I should use my 1 pint ice cream mold instead of these tiny 1/4 cup molds. I once added 2 c. of baking soda to a pitcher of lemon juice (thinking it was bakers' sugar) and that was some explosion - that's what I'm looking for - angel food cake pan sized bath fizzies!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Feast of St. Nicholaus

This morning we found our boots filled with chocolates and prizes! This gloomy, rainy weather is such a perfect setting for our tree. I'm going to search through the Family Herbal for some good potion ideas. Watched Father Goose last night, almost a third of the way done with Crosspatch, but I must take a break and add some inches to Damask.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First Wednesday Homesick Drill

They sounded the emergency sirens at noon today. Coincidentally I was adding glitter to some old St. Louis postcards for Christmas. I decorated the trees in front of St. Johns Hospital and the pillars of the Jefferson Memorial. These will make nice gift cards. I may take some photos from my album and photoshop them to look like old postcards and decorate those as well. Glitter is so gratifying!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Lacy Crochet

Aach! The glare on the photo - it gets so dark here so early! This is a page from Lacy Crochet originally put together by the Japanese magazine Shufu-to-Seikatsu Sha, and now translated into English and published by Chronicle Books. I found it on the used shelf at Moe's.

Above, if you can see through the glare, is a lovely crochet hook folder and scissors case. Crochet + Linen or Felt = Classy. I'm thinking about using linen yarn with linen and thin tweedy yarn with wool felt or leftover silk laceweight with folded rice paper (library card and book list holder). The scissors case would look so cool out of leather or suede.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday knitting

The crosspatch vest is 25% finished thanks to The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (wonderful restaurant scene), The Awful Truth (ok), Kiss Them for Me (ok) - and my favorite so far - Holiday. At one point Katherine Hepburn just plunked down on the couch and pulled out her knitting with me. I don't know how much more screwball comedy I can stand.

Visited Lhasa Kharnak today on Telegraph - a beautiful place to gather ingredients for holiday potions, makes you feel like brewing things and stirring them with your staff.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

On the right track

So many treasures at the flea today. We found a lot of postcards on which we will try the Christmas glitter treatment.

I was thinking of giving a stack of vintage books tied with ribbon with a handmade library card on top, maybe even wrap them in clear cellophane covers like library books. and then I'd write a card that says something like, 'I found these for you at the library, but they never have to be returned.'

I am also still haunted by the ladies' magazine with directions for a red tulle apron with plastic poinsettia's glued to it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Unearthing Irish knit coats

There is a chest of drawers here full of scarves and sweaters and softball gloves and leftover computer hardware. Around this time of year we dig through it when we are cold. This year, a lucky small Lear will wear the mini-Elizabeth Zimmerman Irish knit coat. Somewhere I have two prehistoric fish carved from ancient dinosaur bone (sculpey). These will become toggles.

At the hat shop I saw beautiful vintage postcards with cityscapes decorated with glitter that said Happy Holidays. I love this idea. Any old postcard scene can be turned into Christmas with a little well-placed glitter and glue!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday shrug

The cat's paw shrug continues as I sit with the Thursday readers - and Edmund continues to betray Lucy.

Look Kay and Cristina! I tripped over the kitchen toweling at the fabric store today. I also found some iron-on sheets - I'm going to give this custom iron-on recipe tea towel thing a try. I've been sketching out recipes like Richard Scarry illustrations.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Snow moon or holiday crafting moon

Almost a sixth of the way with the Crosspatch vest.

I saw a beautiful idea at Body Time today: bars of soap enclosed in felted balls. It's like a felt washcloth ball with soap inside. Here's a tutorial, but these are bars; spheres are cooler (egg shapes for Easter).

Saturday was the Snow moon, and every full moon I try to gauge the stash situation. This month I will be using some leftovers for felted holiday projects and I must do something with that Pringle/Anne Boleyn fiasco! I have a lot of single skeins of aran weight yarns, the kinds that don't felt well. I think I'll use them on a Kaffe pillow. I like doing Kaffe projects in strips and then sewing them together.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A crosspatch comedy

I see that this vest will only succeed if I have enough Cary Grant screwball comedies in the Netflix queue to last until Christmas. I'm going to track my knitting by the lighting of the advent wreath candles.

Crosspatch vest

I've been trying the Crosspatch vest from Kaffe Knits Again a couple different ways. The scarf swatch I did was 3 across, and that's about as many as I can manage. I tried a version skipping the vertical stripes, but I don't like the way they look embroidered on afterwards. So I'm down to trying one flag at a time, from the waist to the shoulder. I don't know if this project is going to make it off the swatch table.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Noro stripe scarf

What a lovely holiday weekend! My Noro scarf is all finished. I gave it a nice conditioning rinse. I finished the Damask vest just in time for Thanksgiving. I'm going to add just a bit to the bottom and redo the neckline.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Damask and an icebox canvas

I keep trying this on and slouching, hoping I can start the ribbing. I have about an inch to go and then 2 inches of ribbing. The new fridge was delivered yesterday. It is so very white. It is begging for a Charleston makeover. I am looking through my books for inspiration.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Crosspatch flags

The Noro scarf has inspired me to start a scarf for Mr. Lear based on Kaffe's Crosspatch pattern in the brown colorway in Glorious Knits. I would like to back this with pieces of brown suede and velvet and canvas. My fallback plan is to make a glasses case, because I cannot imagine knitting 6 feet of this! Another plan is to knit one vertical strip of flags at a time and then sew them together.

I love this pattern in the new Kaffe Knits Again as a blue vest. I just don't think I can carry that many yarns without going nutty - vertical strips may be the answer for me. I could also start throwing in larger patches and get more of a crazy pattern as in his Glorious Knits Crosspatch coat. Knit some squares, lay them out, sew them up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Noro scarf and bird sculpture

For the rest of my life, I am only going to knit Noro stripes. My little clay bird whistle didn't work out - his sides were too thick. So I've carved a whole in the bottom where you can attach him to a tree. I'm going to paint a little white slip on him and his five brothers. I should go out in the yard and find some leaves and acorn caps to make feather marks.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Days of tea and polenta

Lots of polenta and tea but not a lot of REM sleep. A long time ago this week, I was in Aachen for the Christmas market. I have been daydreaming of the type of holiday booth I would have up against the South side of the cathedral - small, fronted by a wooden counter with all my goods stacked on shelves behind me. There's a small converted camping stove to warm the booth and keep the coffee and bacon sandwiches warm. The booth to my left has a victrola playing Christmas ditties from the 1920s and the booth to my right sells cider in small buckets.

On the shelves wait quilted heating pad covers, hobo teapots with wire handles and cork lids, oven mitts with embroidered recipes, sand dune mitten kits, ceramic necklaces that resemble a string of mushrooms, paper mache primeval seed pods filled with candy, penny whistles shaped like Dutch houses, and cheeseboards shaped like violins. My big ticket item is a vintage tin picnic basket filled with Manos yarns and a watercolor blanket design. These go fast, but I also have a line of tobacco tin lunch pails with smaller pillow kits inside.

I wear one of Kaffe Fassett's Romeo and Juliet coats over a red linen apron lined with sheepskin. My pockets are filled with ribbons, tissue paper and little hand pressed holiday cards as well as hot potatoes, a pocketknife, chocolate, duct tape and cash. I sit there on my stationary bike, peddling handmade goods and generating enough energy to power the Christmas lanterns and work off the bacon sandwiches.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lovely Noro Silk Garden

There are so many lovely Noro striped scarves on and I've pulled out all my Noro so I can put together one of my own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


God as my witness, I am going to line that Yahtzee cup with felt. The refrigerator died today.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Apron Sewing

A while back I was so inspired by Mariko's skirt that I bought a half yard of this wonderful Echino "wasps" fabric. I am going to copy my Vera apron, using some golden yellow cotton for the bias tape edging and the apron strings. I've been scrolling through all the great apron ideas at Tie One On and all the Flickr apron groups. There are so many great ideas out there. I love the wrap-around dress aprons.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Technique of Handbuilt Pottery

Mollie Winterburn's The Technique of Handbuilt Pottery contains so many great project ideas from her experience teaching school children. Above is a mural of bird tiles set in plaster. Each part of the birds is textured with things from nature like corn and nuts and twigs.

The penny whistles are simply pinch pots with a hole for whistling and a sharp slit where the air escapes. She mentions the many Native American whistles that were shaped like animals and simply painted.

This gives me more projects to do with all the clay I have twisted and slopped while trying to center on the wheel!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cat's paw shrug

Another Thursday, another group of readers, a few more inches on the cat's paw shrug. It's cold here. I need a scarf, but I do not have enough knitted tiles to make a scarf. I need to whip up something fabulous.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

First Wednesday Homesick Drill

The emergency sirens were tested today at noon reminding me of the St. Louis tornado sirens. This month I would like to ask, "What the heck happened to the Mercantile Library?" I see it has moved out of the city. I see I could not even take the Big Bend bus to the old Mercantile Library anyhoo. I sound like an old person. I'm sure there's much more room out there for all those lovely folios and books about rivers and sandbars and neighborhoods where the highway is now - "just 12 minutes from Clayton via the Innerbelt."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chair weaving

Ten years or so ago, we were picking our way through Urban Ore when we found two lovely chairs for $10, one with an interesting seat that needed some repair. The kind man at the Caning Shop told us we had a Hans Wagner and insisted we buy Danish cord to repair it. A decade later, the entire seat needs replacing. I've just run out of cord, but I am looking forward to buying more and redoing the knock-off as well. My side wraps are a little loose and I'm miserable at loosening the L-hooks, but I bet after six more of these I'd be pretty good. I am going to look at chairs with busted seats in a whole new way now.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pots and Damask

Apologies for the dim picture - it gets so dark so early now! Slowly the stack of olive pit bowls and Damask grow, very slowly.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Basket book

I've been working on baskets today. I keep a lot of #2 and #4 reed on top of the armoire so when out of the blue I need a toothbrush basket, it's there. I use Mara Cary's Useful Baskets, a pair of kitchen scissors and a dishpan of warm water. Coffee or tea is helpful.

I'm planning a wash basket that can be stenciled. A long time ago I saw a college laundry basket stenciled in black with a house name and then a string of room numbers. I love that combination of reed and stencil - not tulips, not Easter bunnies - harsh black numbers.

One day, I'll be able to throw teapots on the wheel and I will weave them reed handles with a set of reed-handled cups. I'm still making olive pit bowls.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mackintosh quilts and window shades

Dorothy Wood's Rennie Mackintosh Inspirations in Embroidery was sitting on the craft shelf at the used bookstore last night. I really just bought it for the cover - it reminded me of you, Cristina! Think of a huge quilt of pink velvet covered with those roses!

My favorite embroidery "inspiration" is the Sophie Wilk quilt based on a Mackintosh painting of houses. The organdie window shade stitched like a stained glass window is a good idea too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Graffiti pig

There are some really lovely examples of template graffiti around our neighborhood. I chose this one because on top of all the Halloween candy, I have eaten all the carmel apples. I would like to use chalk to graffiti my own porch and front walk. I read an article about an artist who decorated her black front door with chalk drawings throughout the year.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dress up

On Halloween the two best houses to visit in our neighborhood were the real haunted house up the street and Mrs. Cushing's house two doors down. Mrs. Cushing set her diningroom table with candles and silver platters of full size candy bars and a guest book that everyone signed.

I think her house is the only home where I've signed a guest book. Mostly you see them in politicians' offices, fancy shops, and funeral homes. My Mom inherited the book before Mrs. Cushing passed away, and now children can look up the names of their parents in its pages. If you're on Plant Avenue tonight, stop by.

Rach, we look like bag ladies but Kate has a cone hat! Somebody get Mom to recall the theme here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Robin and curry

The eggplant could have used a LOT more garlic. Tonight we're trying chicken curry. I want to scan this little bird and make an iron-on for a quilt patch. I want to embroider a little rhyme around him. He would also look good on a tee-shirt.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Persephone Fiannually

My Persephone arrived today! And inside, there's a plug for Yarnstorm's new book - which is nice, because I think it was Yarnstorm through Kay who got me hooked on this publisher and all their books. There's news that there will be a movie version of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day starring Frances McDormand!

But here's the thing: you don't even have to like to read to enjoy Persephone, because the art - the endpapers, the illustrations, the bookmarks, are all so incredible! See the lady above knitting on "The Felixstowe to Ipswich Couch"? See that lady to the left? I bet I could copy her because her nose is not that defined!

The woman in the portrait to the right is wearing a blouse that looks suspiciously like my Nani Iro fabric! A shawl color would drape nicely out of that double-gauze and I could cover my lack of ability to make button holes with a double placket thingy!

There's a picture of Virginia Woolf's bedroom, and a swatch of Duncan Grant's fabric that Laura Ashley re-did a long time ago. It goes on and on. Almost as good as an issue of World of Interiors.