Monday, November 28, 2011

Bread Weather

It felt like baking weather today, and operating under the influence of having read through most of Historical Foods last night (a great site - I kind of want to make some of the Medieval recipes for our next D&D night), I decided on the Dyett Bread  - a fennel seed/sage bread recipe from the Tudor period.  It occurred to me as the bread was baking that while I bake a fair amount, it's usually buns or cupcakes or cookies - I'd never actually made a loaf of bread before. He came out quite nicely, I think.

I ended up using regular white flour since I wasn't of a mind to run out to the store (and had soup going while I was baking), but I think I'd like to try this again with some stoneground or whole wheat flour.  With the sage and fennel seed in there, I think this might work well with spelt flour as well.

I'm looking forward to using the leftovers for some Welsh rabbit tomorrow (though it was pointed out that the sagey-ness would make for some beautiful dressing...) 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quilty as Charged!

So, this year for one of the Christmas presents I'm making, I thought it'd be nice to give quilting a try - nothing huge, just a nice throw with a simple pattern.  It's a craft I've never really tried before, and we get a fair number of quilters coming in at work, so it seemed like a good idea to get a little experience with it.

This is just four of the blocks laid out to give a general idea of the overall pattern.  I realised once I drew things out on some graph paper that the best way to assemble the quilt itself was going to be to sew the blocks into strips, then sew the strips together - otherwise things were going to get a bit awkward cramming everything into the machine.

Now the part where this gets tricky is that I forgot we weren't actually going to be seeing them at Christmas. I need to have this finished in time to give it at less than a week.  I am so very glad that I remembered to buy a fresh case of energy drinks last time I was at the store.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Presents Ahoy!

Our friends were getting married, and they'd really just asked for cash as wedding presents.  On the one hand, I like giving cash as presents - always a welcome gift - but the packaging nerd in me cringes. How do you make a cash gift look pretty? Fancy envelope? Hidden at the bottom of a box of marbles? Then I had a flash of brilliance.

One unpainted wooden chest from the craft store:

Plus this awesome tutorial on crackle finishes using regular school glue:
(my test sample)

Plus a little stiffened felt and coins, equals:

I thought about posting a tutorial for this, but honestly, this is it - the hardest part was actually finding the unfinished box to paint. I painted the whole thing dark brown inside and out (you could even spray it if you were so inclined/able), then did the crackle finish over the inset parts in a cream color.  I gave it a couple of hits of clearcoat, and glued some felt on the bottom for more usability, but that would really be optional if you were just doing it for decoration.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Moving Recovery

Some of the most currently needed items still missing from the move:

  • All of my Inspector Morse novels (which wouldn't be so big of a problem if I hadn't recently discovered how many people I need to lend them to)
  • All of my guitar picks 
  • At least one knitting magazine with the pattern for a current project
  • My electronic tuner (yes, yes, there are places on the internet to get a pitch to tune, but it's not always convenient)
  • My computer speakers
  • A pair of brown clogs
  • My husband's dress shoes (though he got another pair that I think he actually found more comfortable)
  • At least two camera batteries, still in the package
Many other things have been noted as missing as well, but I've realised I need to start keeping track of what's missed so that I know what *hasn't* been missed (and thus can get sold off).  On the bright side, I did find my Red Wings jersey (after missing it for about three years) just in time for the weather cooling off.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shoes pre-dropped for your convenience.

Normally, every year things start to go terribly wrong around my birthday. I either spend the week in a general state of crisis getting things straightened out, or just waiting for whatever's going to go pear-shaped.  Things are still going wrong this year, but at least they had the decency to go wrong a bit early, so we're already to the getting things straightened out part and I can enjoy my birthday.

Things are moved, curtains have been made (sheer nylon fabric has claimed the bottom rung on my 'favorite fabrics to work with' list), I got my order from Sweet Libertine, Team Fortress 2 is now free to play on the PC, the Meet the Medic video is finally out, Maker Faire is this weekend (and I have the weekend off so I can go!), I've talked everyone into my favorite Vietnamese restaurant for my birthday dinner, and I'm nearly out from under this huge mess of a commissioned project.

Also, please, someone remind me to never do a commissioned piece without a picture again - I apparently suck at mind-reading.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A dispatch from the walking (crafting) wounded.

So, I suffered another of my mysterious balance failures on Saturday, though a bit more severely than usual. One minute, I'm standing at the counter sticking price tags on things, the next  I'm on the floor and have whacked my arm on the edge of the counter in an unsuccessful attempt to regain my balance.  I've ended up with one hell of a bruise along the inside of my arm on one side (I thought about including a picture, but thought better of it), the elbow is swollen, and trying to hold anything tightly in my left hand is...well, it's just not happening right now.  I'm choosing to blame the sinus issues I've been having since the art fair (being outside for several hours trying to keep paintings from blowing away in the cold wind was not kind to my sinuses).

My reaction to my arm being bruised and swollen? "Let's sew things!"

Specifically, let's sew fabric flowers for kanzashi:

I've cut several 2" squares from some red tiny-flower-print fabric from my stash, and I've got some nice hairpins with pads for gluing things onto at the ready - I'll wait to post a link to the tutorial I'm using until after I see how they turn out.

On a semi-related note, the art fair was not quite as successful as I'd hoped - plenty of people stopped to look at my work, but then apologized that it was just too cold outside to stand around and scurried off to warmer spaces.  As a result, you might want to keep an eye on my Etsy store over the next few days as I get decent pictures of my paintings and start listing a few.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Honestly, sometimes I think the main reason I go to the Asian market is to get the Chinese-language newspapers for craft projects:

I don't even remember how I originally found out about this technique, but there's great instructions over on A Pretty Penny if you want to try it yourself.

This was a good test run, but I think I need to use a more opaque color as my base - the yellowish orange was the only non-metallic nail polish I had handy that was light enough for the newsprint to show up on, and it took three coats over a layer of nail strengthener to get it this opaque.  It's an unfortunate phone book yellow, too.

Other important things to remember for next time - cut the newsprint into little bits first so I don't have to scrub ink off the backs of my fingers, and don't press so hard that bits of paper transfer as well.  The paper bits are transparent after a clear topcoat, but they do add a bit of unwanted texture to my nails.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fresh Batteries

I've been feeling a little drained of creative energy lately, but it turned out I just needed a good day out to recharge my batteries.  Through happy coincidence, I ended up having a Sunday completely free - no class, no work - that happened to coincide with Planet Comicon.  I really wish I'd had the time to finish my Fourth Doctor scarf, since there were a lot more people in costume than I remember from previous years (though I haven't been for a couple of years since I kept forgetting to ask for that weekend off), but I think a good time was had by all.

For a change, this year I wasn't overly excited about any of their media guests, although one of my friends (or rather, her little boy) was pretty pumped about getting Boba Fett's autograph. We were mostly excited about the artist and writers that were there this year - particularly Ben Templesmith. I actually brought along one of my cast resin tentacles as a gift for him (finally got a decent cast without air pockets, it seemed like a good thing to do with it).  He was very nice, signed the books we'd brought, and was kind enough to overlook the terrible, terrible pun I made. My husband also got his copy of Ex Machina signed by Tony Harris, and I'm still kicking myself that I didn't think to tell another friend who's a big Walking Dead fan that Tony Moore was going to be there.

And, of course, there's always the fine selection of TOTALLY LEGIT videos to be had at Comicon:

It's one of those things like eating fried food on a stick at the state fair - it's just not a Comicon without bins of DVDs of sci-fi blooper reels, fan-translated anime, and long-cancelled TV shows with questionable box art. I was severely tempted by the Birdman and Galaxy Trio video (it's so cheesy, the cover pic is actually of a Birdman action figure!), but it's one of those things that I'd only buy so I could say I have it, and there were bins of Transformers that seemed like a far better use of the money.

A great day for inspiration, though.  Besides being inspired to get a lot of current projects finished up and possibly think about costumes for next year, I ended up with a list of new ideas as well.  Also, we stopped by the Asian market on the way home and bought these:

Seriously - plaid chopsticks! How can you not feel inspired by plaid chopsticks?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Of Mittens and Kittens

I'm terrible about knitting things for other people but never making anything for myself.  Somehow, I never feel justified buying yarn for something that isn't going to be a gift or for sale.  So, when I got a gift certificate for Christmas, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get yarn for a little something for myself.

The crazy amount of snow we've been getting lately has just been too much for my usual gloves, so I figured mittens would be a good idea. Handily enough, I'd just made a pair of mittens as a shop sample before the holidays, and I freaking loved the yarn - it's the chunky version of Berroco Vintage.  One skein was more than enough for a pair (and I even made them a little on the large side).  The pattern...well, the less said the better. It ended up being a 'Pirate's Code' kind of situation.

I managed to get them done just in time for (what will hopefully be) the last round of snow.

And here we have them after shoveling (and in better light - this is closer to the color in person):

I'm very pleased with how they held up - I was out in the snow for somewhere between and hour and a half and an hour and a quarter, mittens covered in snow, using one of those snowshovels with the 'grippy' handle that's like a ginger grater (and my hands stayed so warm!).  There's really not much fuzzing or pilling, and what there is looks like a good run through the washer and dryer will clear up.

And in the world of cats, poor Miss Minerva's been frustrated lately. We have an obvious mouse in the basement chewing insulation off of pipes, but it seems to be keeping up out of her reach.  We've given her free run of the basement for the last few days, and she's spent most of her time there, coming up only to lie around the house sighing heavily (seriously - you've never heard a cat sigh so much in your life) and occasionally take out her frustrations on her toys.  I feel bad for her, since despite usually being a bit of a dim bulb, she's really an excellent mouser (very good about just catching them without eating them) and she's being denied her chance to shine.  At this rate, we're just going to have to wait until payday and spring for a mousetrap.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

In with the new, out with the...well...find storage space for the old, at least.

Well, new year, new projects - I've downloaded an open-source page layout program called Scribus that I'm going to give a try, and I'm hoping to have a few of the new patterns I've been working on out soon.  With a little luck, it'll work out and I won't have to worry about trying to scrape up the money for Illustrator.

I'm particularly excited about the project this swatch is for.  I think it's going to shape up nicely.  I've got a couple of other small projects I'm getting typed up as well - a couple of hats, a scarf - and I'm going to go through and update my current patterns as well.

The Christmas knitting went well, but I had a couple of things I had to scale down, and I really ended up crashing afterwards.  I'm honestly giving some thought to starting next year's gifts now...