31 May 2008

Mary's imagination

And speaking of independent artists... I recently discovered the website of a family friend. Mary and I were both bridesmaids in my younger brother's wedding this past August. She has been friends with my brother and sister-in-law since their high school days. Her work is wonderful and whimsical and I can't wait to see more. Check it out!

This one's for my homies

Speaking of the Bellingham Farmers Market, I must give a shout out to the amazing women of Spincycle Yarns. I have been drooling over their yarns since I first glimpsed them last spring. I bought this beautiful skein for my mother's birthday; it's called "fallen leaves". All the yarns are hand-dyed, hand-spun, all-natural, mostly-local fibers. This enterprising duo bring pep and spunk to an age-old art. This ain't your grandma's yarn store. Not that her store isn't cool too. I mean, you can't go wrong with wool. I'm just saying, they bring a young, hipster sensibility to the craft. Check out their website ( for more woolly wonders to behold. Support independent artists!

25 May 2008

It begins again

The sun is shinning, turning my freckled skin a bright pink. Lilacs and rhododendrons are blooming. The Bellingham Saturday Farmers Market is well underway. And of course, what better way to celebrate the warmer days of spring than with strawberries and rhubarb. The produce stands at the market are still quite spare, but there can be seen the vivid stalks of fresh rhubarb. I'm cheating with the strawberries since they're not in season here, but rather in California. Close enough. To be honest, I had never cooked with rhubarb before, but Dorothy had brought home bags of the stuff from the food bank (that's life on the stamps for you) and I had my own stash from the market. The result: one strawberry-rhubarb pie with crumble top and six jars of strawberry-rhubarb compote. My life will never be the same. The pie was gone in a day and I've been alternating between covering toast and ice cream with this delightful sauce. And this is only the beginning!

16 March 2008

Happy Birthday, Dottie!

Dorothy celebrated 24 years on planet earth at the end of last month. We had two celebration-one with our Monday night dinner group and one on the actually birth day (February 28). And of course this called for two whole cakes. The first was a chocolate-guinness cake with mascarpone frosting and the second (at the special request of the birthday girl) was a pineapple upside-down cake. Both were taken from Smitten Kitchen recipes, but with some twists. The Chocolate-Guinness Cake recipe was baked in two round cake pans instead of a bundt. And in exchange for the chocolate ganache topping, I followed the Tiramisu filling/frosting recipe (adding an extra tablespoon of amaretto for good measure). I followed Deb's tiramisu cake assembly instructions, but left the espresso extract out of the final frosting and smooshed some slivered almonds into the side of the cake. The Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was perfect, but I decided to try 2 tsp of cardamom (anymore would be overwhelming, I think). They were a smash success! I just wish my nighttime photography was more flattering. Cheers to Dort!

Strangely Felt

I've been needle felting for a while now. My most recent project was a purple octopus for my twin brother. Octopus are so hot right now. They're the darling of the indie craft scene. I even found him a pair of octopus boxers GAP to send along. But I've been an octopus fan since I took an Invertebrate Zoology class in college and saw this video:

They are masters of camouflage- chameleons eat your hearts out! Really, I could spend hours on YouTube looking up octopus videos!

After the octopus, I decided it was time to set aside the needles and finally try wet felting loose wool. The project: a short scarf or neck warmer. The end result was satisfactory, but the process was a bit hairy (pun intended). On the suggestion of the yarn store lady, I used a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with an edge) to try and contain the soapy water during the felting stage. However, I did not have a big enough space even to contain my little scarf. Imagine lots of water on the floor and the front of my pants. And I couldn't create an even thickness. Once the wool was felted to a certain point, I couldn't work more wool into the thin spots... Any suggestions? I think there was too much water. I did have great success using a sushi mat for the fulling process and it was easier when I could move the project into the sink (less water on my crotch).

In the end, I did use the needles to do a bit of troubleshooting. Perhaps it's a bit more difficult than the knit-and-felt, but think the color and texture possibilities are far more interesting with wet felting.

Animal Bags

What have I been doing with myself this past month, you ask? Well, I've been crafting my little tail off. Before I got out of the purse sewing business (read: laid off), I made myself a vinyl appliqué keepsake: Fox in the Woods Messenger Bag. All sewn by yours truly! I also made a Bunny Purse for Dorothy's Birthday. The animal patch brought to you by Thistledown productions. I am happy to a least have gotten some good skills out of my time at Persnickity. And a cute bag!

16 February 2008

Valentine's Day at 824 Mason St

What's the point of living in community if you can't give and receive handmade cards on Valentine's Day?! My craft project last week was to make paper-bag mailboxes for each roommate. On Wednesday we all made little cards to drop inside. I cut up old grocery bags with handles, folded, and sewed them with yarn for a nice pocket to hang on the wall. I think we're going to keep them up for everyday notes.
Note: Dorothy's cherry blossoms are made with a twig wrapped in yarn with pink tissue paper flowers.

15 January 2008

Christmas Felting

This was the season of felting for me. For the Lier sibling gift exchanged, I made my brother a killer pair of knit-n-felt slippers. The pattern came from a great book called Knit One, Felt Too. Clever title, good projects. Like the bad blogger that I am, I forgot to take a picture of the final product. But you can see below what they looked like pre-felting.

My twin was very incredulous about the size of these puppies, but after three runs through the washing machine, they fit like a glove... or a really good pair of slippers.

I also got back into the needle felting groove. I think it is the perfect travel project. And they let me take the sharp needles on the plane! My two projects: a blue llama and an orange octopus. This time I took some before and after shots.