Monday, December 22, 2008

Make your own gift bags

My 3 1/2 year old daughter often comes home from day care with lots of paintings--they are great and I love each one--but they are starting to pile up. I had an idea for a way to use them so that we could share them with family and friends. We're making them into gift bags this holiday season!

The bonus is that this is an easy project to do with small children--just make sure they are safe with the scissors and not eating the glue. When I was making these with Hannah, I did the folding and she did the gluing.

Paper to recycle (the larger the paper, the larger the gift bags--so 11x17 inches and up is nice if it is available)
Glue stick
Paper craft rope


Start by creating the top edge of the bag along the long side of the paper. Fold in 1/2 inch and glue closed.

Next turn paper so that the rim is on the left edge and start folding the sides--the first side will be about 4 inches wide, then the face of the bag (about 6 inches wide), then another 4-inch wide side, followed by a 6-inch wide back.

If your paper has a lot of paint on it, it might tear when it is being folded--simply glue a patch to the inside of the bag with a piece of extra paper.

Last fold 1/2 inch overlap flap and cut off the excess paper. Save the excess paper for glueing in the paper rope handles later.

Glue the paper flap around the corner of the first side that you folded. Now you have a rectangular tube.

Bottom of the bag
Create the bottom of the bag, by cutting along the folds of the bag on the bottom about two inches in.

Fold in the flaps, then apply glue to the two long flaps and fold them in and secure the flaps.

Trace around the bottom of the bag on a piece of the extra paper and cut it to size. Apply glue to the underside and place it inside the bag on the bottom.

Make a paper flap to hold down the handles with the excess paper. Cut 2 3 x6 inch strips and fold in the two edges as pictured and glue down the folded edges. Apply glue to the back.

Cut two 6-inch pieces of paper rope and bend to a rounded, handle shape.

Glue to the insides of the bag with the paper flap, pressing firmly around the paper rope so that it stays in place.

Allow to dry, then fill your bag with goodies to give to your friends.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Making things

This is the time of year that I really, really get an urge to make things. The thing is that I have this urge constantly throughout the year--it is just intensified when the snow begins to fall.

This weekend I gave into those urges and had fun with Hannah as well. We played with polymer clay and made ornaments for our very tiny Christmas tree. It is so easy and fun, I thought I'd share the how-to part with you.

Roll out shapes of polymer clay (we used Sculpey) for your ornaments. We used a little rolling pin (one of Hannah's) to make them flat--but they also sell special rolling pins for polymer clay.

I had some metal bails that I stuck into the clay to make pendant--but poking a hole works, too.

I cut out photographs and stuck them on the ornaments and baked them (it worked!) following the directions on the polymer clay package in the oven for 15 minutes at 275 degrees F.
After they had cooled, I painted them with Sculpey Glaze and let them dry. I applied 2 coats to the front and one to the back.

After the ornaments dried, I strung a piece of ribbon through the hole and then added a little wire hook made with my wire working tools and hung the ornaments on our little tree.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

*waves* I'm still here

Betcha thought I fell off the face of the earth. Sorry about that. Two things going on. First is that I just didn't have time to post. Second is that, well, I just don't have witty, pithy, clever, fun things to post about. I mean, sure, interesting things are going on in my life, but I imagine they are just interesting to me--why would you want to read about them? Like the chair that got attacked by the squirrel on the back porch, I did finally replace the seat. Very exciting for me, probably not so exciting for you. And it only took me four months to replace it.

I finished Hannah's Autumn sweater--only to realize that it didn't fit well (see how far down the neckline goes? And it was falling off her shoulders), so I've ripped it out (well, just the collar and button band) and am reworking it (oh, and I had to spin more yarn for it). I have about an inch of beading left to do on the Godiva piece, but no, I haven't finished it yet. And my Dad's sweater? Yep, I'm still working on it.

In my work life I have accomplished a lot--went to press with Felt in mid-July, then Fall 2008 Spin-Off at the beginning of August, then edited a book project August-September while getting as far ahead on the Winter 2008 Spin-Off as I could and getting ready for SOAR. At the beginning of October I helped host SOAR in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, then came back to go to press with the Winter issue two weeks later, and now I'm trying to get caught up with everything and get the Spring 2009 issue underway.

I did take a little time off (a long weekend) and went to visit a friend who just had her third baby and got lots of snugly baby time. We drove through Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada to get there--gorgeous scenery. Hannah was a real trooper and traveled so well that it was a fun trip. She was telling Granddad all about the snow we saw--snow on the mountains, snow in the sky, snow on the roads. She kept asking if it was winter time.

But for me, the biggest news is that I'm so happy as a result of the elections, that I'm actually skipping around--walking on air. I haven't felt this happy about the results of an election since Jimmy Carter was elected, and I was in the third or fourth grade when that happened.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Bye-bye July

Okay--so I totally missed July--in terms of blogging, that is. Sorry about that. It was a good month--just very full. Not a lot of time left to sit down and ponder it all.
Events in July:
Two races.
Two birthdays.
Two beaded pieces.

(I finished Hannah in Helen's Hands and picked up Lady Godiva again after setting it aside for several months to work on HiH.) I tried to get Lady Godiva done for an exhibit, but didn't succeed. I shipped them two pieces that were already completed, though.

One exhibit.
Two magazines (well, technically--the second one doesn't go to press until Wednesday, but the bulk of the work was done in July).
Two days in the mountains.
Many trips to the playground, the zoo, the swingset in the back yard, making mudpies, reading books.
One new school for Hannah.
Two Books--The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan and Austenland by Shannon Hale--both really good.
I worked on yarn--yarn that ended up being too thin or to thick--and finally was just right. Whew!

Here's my favorite chair to sit on the back porch with a little fiber to pat while watching the sun come up.

Something inexplicable happened to it yesterday while I was working at home. In the early morning I took a photo of yarn on the table next to it and it was fine--and this is what it looked that evening. I think an animal attacked it. At first I thought a cat fight happened in it (quite a few neighborhood cats like to roam through our yard)--but there was no extra cat hair around it (no more than usual)--and it wasn't moved from it's normal spot. Maybe a rabid squirrel decided it had had quite enough of canvas? I don't know. I'm off to the fabric store to buy canvas to replace the seat.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gardening, Spinning, Beading, and Estes

A little bit about my garden:

Same bed in the back yard--2006,2007 and 2008. This bed is a challenge because it is in a very shady spot in the back yard. Ground covers work best in it.

2008 Iris--in the bed in the back yard and on the north side of the house.

I'm a flower gardener (ie--I don't grow a vegetable garden)--We moved into this house 3 years ago (literally a day before Hannah was born--not on purpose, mind you--anyway--that's another long story). So the first summer we were here we didn't work on the yard at all, in fact it wasn't until later in the summer that we discovered that we had a huge thistle plantation on the side of the house that we hadn't noticed at all. They went to seed. We're still digging up thistles on that side of the house--though they are under control now.
I'm working on putting in drought tolerant plants (this is Colorado, after all) that bloom at different times of the summer so that there is always something blooming. The great thing about my garden this year is that it is pretty much taking care of itself. I can't tell you how much I adore Iris. And my Iris this year were spectacular. Now the lilies are getting ready to bloom. Last year the first blossom opened on my birthday--we'll see if that happens again!

Hannah's sweater
I'm working on Hannah's sweater with the hope of finishing it this Autumn. I had spun up more yarn, but it is too thin . I tried knitting it up and it would distort the sweater eventually--not right away--but by the time I made enough squares the top half of the sweater would be shorter, way shorter. So I purchased more BFL dyed top from Chameleon Colorworks (though they didn't have the same colorway (!)--originally I had purchased Autumn, but now they stock October--it has less acid green in it and more pink. I think that I'll be able to make it work. I still have some of the original Autumn left so I can transition to the new colorway.

Here are two bumps of October over the portion of the sweater that is knitted with Autumn. Next to it all the bumps I have--the one on top is a silk/Merino blend in the Autumn colorway--which I wasn't planning on using for this project because it is a different fiber content.
Then the bump on the right is the Autumn, the bumps in the center and on the left are October. The ball of yarn in the top left hand corner i
s the too thin yarn that I'll have to use for something else.

Hannah resting

I'm nearly done with Hannah in Helen's Hands. I think it will happen this week. It is headed to a good home. I've enjoyed the time I've spent with it. It is hard for me to put into words what it means--I guess that's why it is visual. This photo that my sister took captures the essence of amazing strength in people who appear fragile, the powerful connection between generations, the cycles of life.

Estes Park Wool Market
Hannah and I went together--she was great.

Hannah with sheep

I love the mountain setting combined with sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats, rabbits, and mountains of fiber! We had a great time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I've been tagged

Clearly--this is intended to get me to post. It has been a while. Sorry! Things have been happening--just at too fast a pace for me to post about them.

Progress is being made on Hannah in Helen's Hands as I'm now calling the piece (what do you think of the title, Mary?) I've actually made more progress since this photo was taken over a week ago and think that I might be able to finish it this holiday weekend while camping in the mountains with six other family members. We'll see!

Spring has sprung full force--my tulips are almost all done, the iris are blooming! It seems so early for Iris--but maybe that is because I'm in shock that it is May at all, and not only that--but the end of May.

I did a bunch of silk spinning in April--to work on the Printed Silk Cardigan from the Spring 2008 issue of Knits by Connie Chang. It is still in progress. And I'm still working on my Dad's cardigan (which I also plan on working on while tootling around in the mountains this weekend).

I attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival May 2-5--very fun, of course. I came home with wool. Wool, wonderful wool! But haven't had a chance to spin much. I'm planning on taking my spinning wheel and fiber with me camping this weekend.

Okay--the meme tag. I've never done one of these before. Diane tagged me. Of course, hers is entirely captivating--what with her past history studying Old German and Old Norse--who knew?

1. What was I doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago was 1998--I had been working at Interweave Press as an Editorial Assistant for nearly 9 months. I lived in a small apartment in Fort Collins, Colorado just 1/2 block north of the Public Library and around the corner from Joe Coca's photo studio. I was recovering from the Fort Collins flood. I drove down to Denver nearly every weekend to spend time with my family and stay with my Grandma Helen. I went with her on her morning walks around City Park. I lived on a modest budget--$10 a week for groceries. It was that spring that I embarked on a bead embroidery project for Beadwork magazine that changed the course of my art work. Soon, I'd receive news that I was going to be an Aunt--also a life altering event.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

1. Shower.
2. Get Hannah ready for Miss Tina's.
3. Take Hannah to Miss Tina's.
4. Arrive at Interweave and figure out how I'm going to attend two meetings that occur at the same time.
5. Work on author payments, comp copy notes, read 35 essays, edit the spinner's connection, figure out Felt photography, select items for handspun gallery.

3. Snacks I enjoy:
Mmmm. Snacks. I love shortbread, but I have to exercise extreme willpower to stay away from sugar in most forms--drat. It's for my own good. Really.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

This one really isn't fair. It is a trick question. First of all, I don't really want to be a billionaire. While it would be nice not to have to worry about money--I think it would come with a lot of additional stress. Stress that I can't even imagine (that's what I'm telling myself anyway). I would put the majority of the money in trust funds that would fund several charities that would truly help people in meaningful ways--alleviate hunger, sickness, right wrongs, provide education, fund artisans and writers who wouldn't otherwise have a chance to share their gifts. I would give each of my family members enough money so that they could pay off their mortgage and travel as they wished. I would make sure my nieces and nephews had enough socked away so that they could all go to college if they wished. I would pay off our mortgage and do a bit of remodeling (put in a hot tub, build Kelly the garage of his dreams). I would become a full time mom and a part time artist. I would travel occasionally. I might start an artist community like the one in Balboa Park in San Diego--but within walking distance of my house. Learn lampworking. Garden. Take my daughter and nieces and nephews swimming.

5. Places I have lived:

Boulder, Colorado.

Cairo, Egypt.

Rastanura, Saudi Arabia.

Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Denver, Colorado.

Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

San Jose, Costa Rica.

Boruca, Costa Rica.

Fort Collins, Colorado.

Loveland, Colorado.

Lakewood, Colorado.

5. People I want to know more about:

Mary and Jenny.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Yarn Harlot in Denver, again!

I was way in the way back (#211 or some such). I could barely see Stephanie over the crowd, but it didn't matter--I had a great time. Hannah and Kelly came, too. I didn't get to participate in the line that formed hours before she arrived this time--we had too much to do and had to take our chances getting seats.

Can't tell it is Stephanie? Here--I've zoomed in.

Stephanie's talk was just perfect--she knows how to take universal truths (they don't have to be about knitting, but that they are makes them resonate with me even more) and frame them in a way that is both funny and poignant. She has great timing and an amazing wit. Her books are really good, too. I'm savoring this one. I've just read the jacket cover and the first page.
Sadly, Kelly didn't get to hear Stephanie talk because Hannah was too squirmy (sorry everyone around us). The Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch was prepared (mostly) for the crowd--but I liked it better last year in the Lodo location because we had a room to ourselves (remember how we stomped when she came in last year--that was great). This year there were lots of people in the store milling around who weren't there to listen to Stephanie. I wanted to shush them, but that would have been rich coming from the woman with the rambunctious toddler and the obnoxiously loud laugh.

Someone in my comments asked about the sweater Hannah was wearing. Here she is in it (this is a photo from last year--I think she likes this sweater so much, she's trying to eat it). Carol Rhoades made her this sweater before Hannah was born. This is what Carol says about the sweater:
I am glad Hannah can still wear the sweater. It was an easy one to knit. I mostly followed the pattern in Elsebeth Lavold’s Designer’s Choice Book Six: The Take Five Collection. It should still available at yarn stores or KFI. I also used Elsebeth’s Silky Wool yarn which is a wonderful yarn.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stepping into a book

Having read the Harry Potter series continuously since each book came out in a constant revolving cycle (such as finish the series, start over)--so many times that I've lost count, I've started to think about the little modifications I'd make to my personal possessions if I could do a little bit of magic. I'm very enamored with the concept of the undetectable extension charm that Hermione puts on her small beaded handbag. With the charm, her small purse is able to hold a cargo of supplies--a tent with its own undetectable extension charm on it, clothing, books, a large painting.
This concept could be applied to my crafting supplies in such a way that I could have everything at my fingertips and never have to sort through bins in the basement again. Or maybe a trunk like the one Mad-eye Moody has with the seven locks that are lined up--each time you insert the key into one of the lock and open the lid a different inside is revealed. I would apply this idea to a room--each room would contain different things--my knitting/spinning supplies, my beading supplies, my art making supplies... the list goes on and on.
And then there is the room of requirement. Wouldn't that be handy. It could be a play room one instant, and then later a reading room, or a large dining room to accommodate my whole family easily, and maybe it could contain the prefect's bathroom with that amazing pool size tub and seven faucets each with a different bubble bath. Hannah would love that. Gosh--with a room of requirement, you'd only need a small house.
And I'd love to learn all the household charms--like how to make the dishes wash themselves, and the laundry fold itself, and get the vegetables chopping and cooking. But I'd still do my knitting and spinning by hand.

Here's a bit of spinning--Tencel and Merino from Bonkers Handmade Originals, spun 2-ply on my Lendrum DT--for baby booties, I think.

I'm starting to feel better after the car accident--more myself. I'll start shopping for a new (old) car soon. The tulips that Hannah and I planted in the fall are starting to come up and in the back yard by the compost we have grape hyacinths that are blooming! Amazing. Of course, we'll get more snow this weekend (this is Colorado, after all)--but still--it is spring!