Sunday, July 31, 2011


We have 4 or 5 that we found.  Here are the best of the photos I got.


I like Sundays

Last Sunday, Eric and I got to do a bunch of stuff around the house and just hang out together.  It was nice.  We even took time to make some Shrinky Dinks!  Remember those?  They're a little different now, with themes and pre-cut characters.

The set I have is the Monster Lab, so we started making a couple monsters.  It'd been so many, many years!

And then... we shared our one green bean from the plant outside.

It tasted great!

Artist Spotlight: Part Fifty-Three

I have someone new for you to meet, Lisa, the force behind Speranza Jewelry.

Living in Annapolis, MD, this part time jewelry maker, full time employee of a DC news agency still finds time to stock both an Etsy shop and an Artfire shop.

A believer in Pablo Picasso's ideals, she believes that "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."

And when she's immersed in color in form in her little jewelry studio, she's found a refuge from the digital images and rhetoric of Washington politics.

Everyone in DC should be so lucky.

I've been to DC to visit, and I really love it there, but I imagine living there could get to a person after a while. I imagine, surrounded by politicians, wheeling and dealing, and especially working for an agency that reports on all the misery and corruption, that it's not easy to maintain hope.

Lisa does it anyway, even naming her jewelry business after the concept.  Speranza means "hope" in Italian.

To learn more about her, be sure to check out her blog.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I love those meeces to pieces!

Mice! More mice!

You've already seen that pastel one up front, which I've made for my friend's baby shower.  But I did three more in dark blue very soft yarn, for my sister's son (he got his tonight, but he was asleep already), Eric's brother's son, and Eric's best friend's son (he'll get his tomorrow).

They're so soft and squishy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Part Fifty-Two

You've met her here before, but she's definitely worth a second look!  I'm talking about Kimberly of Makin' the Best of It!

She's so freakin' talented!  I'm completely in love with her sea glass jewelry.

But check this out.  When she finds pieces of sea glass that are too big for jewelry... she makes angel Christmas ornaments!

How sweet are those?  And they go with any color scheme on any tree.  Too cute.

And yes, I know it's July and hotter'n hell out there.  So you're still thinking about the flowers blooming, I suppose.  OK, then, She's got that covered too, with this beautiful tea light circle set, hand painted with pretty flowers.

I love that she thinks in practical terms, too.  Her glassware and table top service items are really pretty, like this cruet set and these coasters.

I love sunflowers!  Personally, though, I'm thinking I should get one of her awesome butter dishes.  Our set of china is fairly new and they're not making the butter dish yet, so we're dishless in that category.  And this one is so pretty!

The good thing about stuff like this - butter dishes, cruets, coasters - is that they really don't need to match your china.  They can be specialty pieces for that pop of something interesting, colorful, and unique.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My New Obsession

Yes, another.  And I'll give you a hint.  Catimus loves it.

I'll start at the beginning.  Several years ago, I got this knitting kit.  It came with some yarn, an instructional DVD, and patterns to make some dog toys.  Thing is, had I made knitted dog toys, Meg would've shredded them to smithereens in about 3 seconds flat.  She's no terrier, but my half sheltie/half eskimo destroys even the stuffed animals intended for heavy chewing dogs with the best of 'em.  I did want to learn to knit, though, just because I want to learn to do pretty much everything having to do with art or craft, so I hung onto the kit, though I never made time to really look at it.

Well, I've mentioned, probably, that I'm in community theater.  A couple years ago, I was cast in this workshop where I was to be a pregnant schizophrenic woman, hearing my fetus talking to me.  It was a phenomenal role to play, with so many emotions and so much craziness; it was really all over the place in terms of character and dialogue.  Thing is, the script called for my character to be knitting on stage, pretty much the whole time.


I pulled out the DVD from the kit and bought myself a beginner knitting book too.  And I got a skein of "baby colored" yarn.  It was pastel rainbow.  I taught myself how to cast on and the knit stitch, and practiced at home, at rehearsals, and any chance I got.  Just the knit stitch, just going back and forth in what'd probably turn out to be a pretty skinny scarf.  I didn't want to go farther than that, or fancier, because I wanted it to be mechanical; something I could do while staying in character and not forgetting my lines.

It worked.  And then when the performance was over I put down the knitting.  I'd discovered how mesmerizing it could be, how relaxing, but I had no use in real life for pastel rainbow yarn or anything made from it.  And I never really made time to learn more than the knit stitch, though all this time I intended to pick it back up and go further with it.  Y'know... to purl or something.  And maybe bind off, even.  Never happened.

In December, when the Handmade Artists Forum was having its Secret Santa fun, my Santa, a knitter herself, got me a kit to knit slipper socks.  I sat down one day with the pattern and stuff, intending to start making them... and realized that I had no idea how to read a knitting pattern.  Oops.  I didn't realize it'd be in code.  It's a lot like baking, where you just know that t is teaspoon and T is tablespoon.  So I emailed a friend of mine, also a phenomenal knitter.  I thank her tremendously, but I still wasn't confident enough to try it, and I didn't want to mess up and ruin the yarn I was given.  So it stayed set aside.

Then, in May, I won the May Giveaway Day at Underground Crafter.  The Underground Crafter is really Marie, a knitter, crocheter, soapmaker, and all around cool chick who lives in Manhattan and in addition to selling her own work at her Etsy shop, teaches knitting and crochet around the city.

Jiving our schedules was an interesting endeavor, but on July 9, I finally hopped the bus into NYC, met Marie at a Starbucks just a few blocks from Port Authority, and had my lesson.  I'd told her I needed to brush up on casting on and the knit stitch, then wanted to learn to purl and bind off, as well as learn to read patterns, of course.  And I told her I had nephews and wanted to maybe make some cute clothes for them, but especially toys.  I'm big on the toys.

So in addition to giving me a set of her own Underground Crafter wooden knitting needles, instructions for a few really simple toys, a key to unlock the knitting pattern code, and instructions for basic knitting, she brought some practice yarn, and we got to work.  I did this.

That right there is an actual, honest-to-goodness stockinette stitch!  Knitting and purling, casting on and binding off.  Dude, I rock.  Of course, at the other end, I did something very wrong, not sure what.

Marie was nice enough to blame the small table and distractions of Starbucks.  Really, she may have had something there, since I practiced the whole way home on the bus, and with the exception of one row when I accidentally purled instead of knitted, I did a much better job.

Impatient person that I am, pretty much as soon as I got home, I got started on one of the patterns Marie gave me, which is really from here.  It's called a Martian Mouse, which works fine for me.  And I have a friend who's having a baby shower soon, for a female fetus, so I figured the same yarn would be perfect.  It's pretty much the easiest pattern ever.  It's two squares...

Two strips for ears...

And the knitting is done!  Then the ears get sewn on...

And a tail added.  The original pattern called for a pompom tail, but I didn't want that on a mouse, so I knotted yarn to make a mouse tail.

A face goes on, and it all gets sewn around the edges and stuffed.

A mouse!  It's cute and squishy and soft, and of course I immediately had to start on another one.

How perfect is this dark blue, which by the way is really soft, for three more mice for the two nephews and honorary nephew?!  Right?  Right!

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