ladysprite: (steampunk)
Since everyone (and by 'everyone' I mean 'a handful of folks') asked, I dug up a couple of pictures of the crafts I entered into the fair....

Hidden, for those who don't want to ogle yarn.... )
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Okay - I promised I'd write here yesterday, or the day before, or something like that, but life is kind of blurry and hectic and stuff like that, and I've been busy hospicing my butt off.  Seriously, like 300 miles and half a dozen house calls in the last 2 days.

But somewhere in there <lj user="umbran"> and I also made it to the Topsfield Fair, because it is a fall tradition and because I need my annual fill of deep-fried Oreos and giant pumpkins, and because this year I decided to try my luck in the crafts contest.

The Topsfield Fair is a big, delightful, traditional county fair, with 4H exhibits and flower and garden contests and sheep-shearing demos and deep fried everything on a stick, and a fairly prodigious crafts competition.  They have categories for just about anything you can imagine, and I love browsing and seeing all of the beautiful things people create, and every year I promise myself that next year I'll enter something of mine, and then forget.

But this year I'd finally made a showpiece - a rainbow shawl, from yarn I spun myself, that I was happy enough with to actually look up the rules for entry.  And, when I got to the website, I found out that there was a contest for hand-spun yarn, as well.  With a division for blends and synthetics.  And I'd just finished spinning my first custom-designed blended fiber (I wanted to get a certain effect, so I spun up two different kinds of yarn and plied them together).  So, what the hell.  I entered that too.  It was free, after all.

So we went to the fair yesterday, and we walked through the garden displays and hugged my friends at the forge and gawked at the freaky feather-footed chickens, and stopped by the sheep barn to pick up my yarn.

Where I was handed a 'Best In Division' ribbon and told that my prize money was in the mail, and that next year I really ought to consider entering more divisions.

And then we went to the crafts show.

Where my shawl was sitting next to a blue First Place ribbon.  (No; not best in show, but still first place in crocheted clothing).

I am utterly agog.  I was mostly entering for the sheer personal amusement of being able to say that I did.  I had no thoughts of actually winning, and I swear nowhere on the site did it say anything about prize money.   And I still think of myself as a novice spinner; it's only recently that I've even gotten to the point where I'm happy enough with my finished fiber to actually crochet with it.

Yowza.

I am an award-winning fiber artist.

It sounds all fancy and stuff when I put it that way.....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I have a crafter confession to make.

In general, I am an artsy-craftsy person. I like making things, and if something can be made from scratch I try to do so. If I can bake it, crochet it, embroider it, hot-glue it, jury-rig it, or figure out just about any other way to make it by hand, I will. There's just one crafty skill I lack, though.

I purely suck at wrapping presents.

My presents always come out looking like they were wrapped by a four-year-old with neuromotor problems. I tear the paper when I maneuver the present onto it, I can't cut a straight line, I can't make my corners flat and smooth. I always start out with too much paper, and then trim it down too far, and have to kind of smoosh a patch over the resulting naked spot. My tape bunches up. I get bored and frustrated and just kind of cram the paper into something like the right place.

It's not just the paper that's the problem - I've made origami, and snowflakes, and altered books. I can work with paper, and scissors, and all the individual components. It's just the specific mojo of gift-wrapping that is my crafty nemesis. I keep trying, and... I keep making askew lump of paper and good intentions.

So, if you've ever wondered why most of the gifts I give are homemade baked goods? Partly it's because I love baking, and giving homemade things. But to a large extent, it's because I can just stick some Saran wrap and a bow on it and call it a day.....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
So, as I sit here and slowly regenerate vertebrae, I've at least had the time to work on some of my crafts. Right now I'm enthusiastically applying myself to a cross-stitch project that has been sitting neglected for the past several months, but before I started working on that I finished up a project that was a first for me - I crocheted something out of yarn I spun myself.

It wasn't a huge project, mostly because I only had a limited amount of fiber, but it's still a first. A year ago, when I started spinning, I found it hard to believe I'd ever get good enough at it to make yarn that I could actually work with. Last time I wrote here about my spinning I had made progress, but I was still far from actually skilled. And now... I'm still not perfect, but I made workable yarn. And then I made something with it.

The fiber itself was gorgeous - it was a gift from friends, and I had been putting off spinning it until I had at least enough skill to do it justice. It was a variegated wool/silk/sparkle blend, and I wanted to know that I could keep the colors as bright and clear as they were in the unspun fiber. And... I think I managed it.

Pictures, hidden for those who are less than interested in fiber arts... )

Next step is to make something out of the yarn I spun and dyed myself (okay, with [livejournal.com profile] bess's help)....

Progress

Oct. 13th, 2013 08:59 pm
ladysprite: (steampunk)
So one of the relative upsides of having a sudden surplus of downtime is that I've had plenty of opportunities to catch up on reading and, most of all, crafting. I treated myself to some new yarn, and I've got a cross-stitch project on the frame, but I've also taken a decent chunk of time to play with my spinning wheel.

Spinning is the newest hobby I've picked up, and the first thing I've done in a long time that has a measurable learning curve. Cross-stitch is dirt simple; it's making a ton of tiny x's on a piece of cloth. Once you can do it at all, you've mastered it. And crochet isn't much harder; other than learning to pay attention to gauge, I don't think I've actually noted any change over time in how I do it. Maybe in what sort of patterns I'm willing to tackle, but not anything else.

Spinning, though, takes time and practice and patience to learn. Which means that it annoys the ever-loving hell out of me. The only reason I keep up with it is that it is more fun than it is annoying, at least most of the time. Well, that and I'm incredibly stubborn.

Even with that, though, I get frustrated sometimes. It's hard when I try to work with a new fiber and I can't make it hold together, or I try to practice chain plying and wind up with a twisted lump, or when the yarn I've spent days working on turns out lumpy and weird and not really anything you can actually make something out of.

So, given that, it's a good thing it's also a hobby where I can see measurable progress over time. I have a hank of fiber that I use for practicing, when I'm trying to work on learning before I go back to playing with stuff I'd actually like to crochet with someday, and it's exciting and reassuring to see how much better I've gotten over time...

Photographic evidence, hidden for the sake of the uninterested... )

Art

May. 20th, 2013 09:27 pm
ladysprite: (DiscoTurtle)
I don't think I will ever stop feeling vaguely vain, self-conscious, and embarrassed about hanging my own crafts projects on the walls of my house - it feels way too much like bragging and begging for praise.

However, that's not quite enough to actually stop me from doing so. I just picked up my most recent piece of stitchery from the framers, and all of my plans for giving it away just kind of melted when I saw how truly rich and vibrant and *perfect* it looks. (Yes, framing stitchery costs a ridiculous amount, but I've realized it's worth saving up to do it.)

So tonight's project is an epic rearrangement of the art in our living room as I make space for the new piece and find somewhere else to move the cross-stitched mermaid that had previously been hanging in the location of honor....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
....finishing a project that has been in progress for over two years, now.

Pictures, hidden for those who don't care.... )
ladysprite: (Default)
I am still utterly in love with my spinning wheel.

I always worry when I pick up a new hobby - I'm never certain that I'm going to be any good at it, or that I'll give up before I put in enough effort, or that I'll get tired of it too quickly or won't be able to find time for it in between my other hobbies, or, or, or... until about half the time I wind up talking myself out of truly committing to trying whatever new thing has caught my eye.

Luckily, spinning has managed to avoid that pitfall. Since I got my wheel early this fall, I've been playing with it and practicing with it, and realizing that it's a lot easier and more fun to use than I had been afraid it would be. I don't know how much of this is due to the fact that I had plenty of practice with drop-spindle and how much is due just to the fact that I tend to like rhythmic, low-brain handcrafts, but either way, it's turning into one of my new favorite handcrafts.

It took a few practice skeins before I started getting something that resembled useable yarn, but another selling point of spinning is that I get visibly better with every hour of practice. And, while there's definitely a learning curve, it's not nearly as steep as I feared it would be. This afternoon I sat down to figure out Navajo plying (because a friend gave me a gorgeous hank of hand-painted variegated fiber for my birthday), guessing that I'd want to spin a few spindles of practice fiber and spend a week or two cursing and grousing before I figured it out.... only to have something consistent and, if not beautiful at least functional, by the end of the first spindleful.

I can do this. And it's fun, and it makes useful stuff. I think I've found something good....

Vanity pictures of my first yarn hidden back here.... )
ladysprite: (momongo)
I'm a crafter. I like making things. And I like making things for people - which is a goodness, because otherwise my house would be even more overflowing with crocheted bits and bobs, scraps of needlework, altered books, scrapwork, and goodness knows what else than it already is. Also, making things for other people gives me the opportunity to try out new patterns and ideas that I wouldn't bother putting the effort into for myself, or that I'm just not personally interested in (I have no need for baby dresses, however adorable and fun to make they may be).

So when one of my oldest and dearest friends from college announced that he was getting married, I knew it was an opportunity to make something glorious. He's one of the most colorful, creative, and genuinely weird-in-the-best-possible-way people I know, and I wanted to find something that reflected just how unique he is, while still being... well, generally nice, and pretty, and something that would suit his bride-to-be as well. And I went on a hunt, and I found the perfect pattern.

It was for an afghan - a granny square afghan. Simple, right? Except this one was made up of about 1100 tiny squares, in over a dozen different colors. It should have been egregious, but the pictures of the end result were glorious. So I asked myself how hard it could be, and started in. That was in November. The wedding was in December.

I just finished the project about a week ago. And... well, I have to share.

Hidden, because my vanity should not shatter your friends-page.... )
ladysprite: (tangy)
So about a year ago I found an adorable pattern for a crocheted shrug, that I decided to make for myself. And since I was in the mood to splurge, I decided to make it with the utterly gorgeous, sparkly, handpainted, $45/skein yarn that I fell in love with at the local boutique yarn store, instead of the recommended crochet cotton.

The project was set aside for the winter, since I didn't finish it in time to wear last summer, but I pulled it out a couple of weeks ago and have been working on it pretty steadily. In fact, I'm almost done with it.

This is how I know that I am going to wind up JUST short. Like, two motifs short, out of 54 joined together to make the darn thing.

Of course, I didn't keep the label for the yarn, which makes it a little hard to even contemplate buying more. Luckily, the yarn store I bought it at has a list of the brands they carry, and between that, Ravelry, and Google, I am pretty sure of exactly what fiber I'm working with - unfortunately, as far as I can tell, it's a colorway that doesn't quite exist anymore. At least, it's not listed on the brand's website.

So. I need to hie me down to Windsor Button and hope and pray that they still have this stuff in stock, a year later. Otherwise it looks like I will have a very expensive, time-consuming waste of fiber and energy on my hands. Unless some miraculous human being can get me a skein of Blue Heron Rayon Metallic yarn, in Blue Violet/gold, for which I will pay dearly in both cash and gratitude....

Of course, that will leave me with about 400 extra yards of the stuff. Two damn motifs. Maybe I can just leave the left sleeve open in the back as a fashion statement.
ladysprite: (Default)
In the past, I've always noticed my response to the change of seasons in my cooking - summer is about salads and fresh fruits and vegetables, fall is about casseroles and stews, and winter is baking. But this year, more than that, I've noticed that as the weather changes, I throw myself into my crafting and hobbies more than anything else. And, paying attention to this, I realize it's a pattern that has existed for years. In the warmer weather I'm outside, walking and gardening and going places, but as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, I want to play with yarn and embroidery floss and words and paper.

And somehow, no matter how much I love the hobbies I already have, I always wind up picking up something new. Sometimes they stick and become new loves, like handspinning; sometimes, like beading, they just wind up not capturing my heart. This year, I think I've found a winner.

I had no idea that making soap was so easy and so much fun! Admittedly, I'm only dabbling with the baby-basic beginner end of the spectrum, with melt-and-pour projects, but it's still a blast, and I can imagine myself starting to fool around with more hands-on, from-scratch techniques as I experiment with it more.

I picked up a starter kit and a book from the library on a whim a couple of days ago, to keep myself entertained while home sick, and I think I'm already hooked. It feeds my addiction to girly bath stuff, as well as my love of cooking - the mixing and stirring and fussing with different ingredients and experimenting with recipes. And unlike crocheting and cross-stitch, where one project can take weeks to years, it's a source of nearly instant gratification.

I do not need another hobby, especially when I'm looking at starting cake decorating classes in January (anybody free on Tuesdays and want to come with me?), and waiting for notification on when the next run of local tango classes is. But this is just... so much easy fun! And with the holidays coming up, my mom is going to want a wish list. I'm really doing her a favor by picking this up as a craft.... right?
ladysprite: (momongo)
Many many years ago, back at the Sterling Forest Renaissance Faire, there was a booth that sold hair jewelry. They would put in standard hair wraps - wrap a bit of your hair with colorful cord - but then they'd somehow fix a little lobster claw onto the bottom, and sell beautiful charms and dangles and stranded beads and suchlike to clip into it. It meant having a little bit of my hair cut short, and over a couple of months the wrapping cord would get dingy from washing, but I loved it.

Unfortunately, I haven't found anyone who would do this for the past ten years or more, and my collection of hair jewelry has been sitting in my jewelry box, taunting me as it gathers dust.

Today, at the Topsfield Fair (a huge, fantabulously fun county fair full of parading Mounties and deep-fried Oreos and thousand-pound pumpkins and other delights) I saw a stall offering hair wraps, and decided to ask if they knew how to work in lobster claws. They didn't have any, it turned out, but they suggested wrapping in a charm with a loop at the bottom, and then putting a lobster claw on the jewelry bits at home. And they asked me if I wanted a wrap, or just a braid.

A braid? How so, I asked the woman running the stall. And she pulled her own hair forward to show me - braid a little bit of pretty metallic thread into the hair, and at the bottom just thread on some beads, attach the charm at the end, and then use the end of the thread as a decorative wrap that secures the charm on. And, looking at it (and at her prices) I realized.....

I could do this myself.

In fact, I have absolutely no idea why I didn't think of this before, given that I already have pony beads to braid into my hair at home. I just never extrapolated to lacing the lobster claw on myself. And I can do it with scrap thread and jewelry bits I already own, instead of paying someone else upwards of $20.

So now I have a tiny braid behind my left ear, threaded with silvery-teal metallic cord and tipped with pearly white beads and a little silver lobster claw. It's not perfect, but I figure over time I'll learn how to tighten the tip of the braid and hide it better under or inside the beads. I can hide it easily enough at work, and best of all, I can finally start wearing my beloved hair jewels again... and now that I know how to do it myself, I won't have to wait years between episodes of having it done!
ladysprite: (momongo)
All righty, then.

I just came back from the SCA event that also hosted the Kings & Queens Arts And Sciences Championship. And now that it's over, I can talk about the project that I entered.

Okay, technically I entered three projects, but that's only because when I went to register two weeks ago I found out that it was a triathlon - so I had to come up with two emergency last-minute entries, in order to get the one I really cared about onto the schedule.

I've been a student of medieval and renaissance dance for many years now, and was finally moved to create a dance in a period style. Admittedly, I was moved by a discussion with my husband, while driving to an SCA event on Halloween and listening to what I felt was appropriate mood music. The conversation went something like....

Him: Honey? 'Thriller' isn't period....
Me: I meant appropriate for Halloween, not Crown Tournament.
Him: Ah.
Me: Though... when you think about it, it really is just a mimed branle.

For those not heinous dance nerds, a mimed branle is a style of dance common in France in the 16th century. Men and women form a line, or a circle, and dance back and forth, pretending to be something else. Like peas. Or hermits, or horses, or Turkish soldiers.

Or.... zombies.

And once the idea got into my head, it just wouldn't leave again. So I had to work it out, and, because the universe likes to encourage and support my bad behavior, by the time I had figured out choreography and documentation, I had half a dozen dancers and a handful of musicians volunteering to help.

It was performed this afternoon, and received rather well, or so it seems. So, for anyone interested, the details are here -

Hidden, because it's long and questionably entertaining..... )
ladysprite: (momongo)
I don't tend to talk a lot here about the things I make, because for the most part the things I make are pretty humdrum. I crochet blankets, or baby sweaters, or scarves, I do counted cross stitch, stuff like that. There are enough other talented fiber artists reading this that I figure I'm not making anything that a half-dozen other people (or more) reading this couldn't do, and that most likely the other folks reading honestly aren't that interested in my fiddly creations.

But I've recently started playing around with a new craft, and I'm happy enough with the piece I just finished that I want to show it off.

I've done a little bit of blackwork before (for those of you who aren't geeky fans of obscure stitchery, blackwork is a form of embroidery, usually reversible, that was popular in the Elizabethan era), but mostly just samplers, and I never practiced enough to get very good at it. So I have no idea quite why I volunteered to embroider a chemise for the current incumbent royalty in the local SCA. I've never done blackwork on clothing before, I've never taken on a big project like this, and I hadn't practiced on anything less serious. But it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I've done enough general stitchery that I figured it wouldn't be *too* hard....

finished project pictures back here, hidden for the sake of your friends page and in case you're not enthralled by obscure embroidery.... )

Discoveries

Nov. 5th, 2009 04:23 pm
ladysprite: (momongo)
There are some things in this world that most reasonable, right-thinking people never would have imagined existing that do, however, somehow manage to exist. And sometimes learning that these things are real makes you feel sick and miserable and irate, and you wonder how the world can possibly go on turning with things like that in it.

And sometimes learning that these things are real fills you with delight and glee, and generally makes the world a better place, and you wonder how you ever lived without it.

Today's discovery is of the latter sort. Because today I discovered the existence of multicolored tie-dye print duct tape.

Blue and purple and pink.
Tie-dyed.
Duct tape.

My life is richer for this.

That's all.
ladysprite: (Default)
Okay - I've got a lot of clever and creative people reading this, and a lot of crafters, and I've got a conundrum that's been stumping me, so I'm going to throw it out to the masses and see if y'all have any ideas.

I love wearing earrings, but I am occasionally absent-minded and clumsy, the end result of which is the fact that I own a lot of unpaired single earrings. I don't want to throw them away, for a lot of reasons. They're beautiful. They were gifts, and I have wonderful memories of the people who gave them to me, or times when I've worn them. I'm an incredible packrat, and it's just hard to throw anything away, even when I lost the other earring three houses ago and there's really no chance of me ever finding it again.

On the other hand, I can't wear them. While I do have two holes in my right ear, most of what I wear in the second hole are studs, if anything, and most of the singleton earrings are dangles.

So... any creative suggestions of what to do with single, unmatched earrings?

Crafty!

Jan. 22nd, 2009 10:29 pm
ladysprite: (momongo)
So at Arisia this past weekend, I met a very nice lady who was selling beautiful ponytail falls. They were colorful and textural and just plain awesome, and I couldn't help but keep coming back to poke at them and ogle them and generally sigh over them. They also looked like they would be alarmingly easy to make.

I could do that, I thought. In fact, I bet the hardest part would be untangling my ridiculous stash of spare yarn....

And, because the lady with the hairfalls was very nice, she eventually took pity on me and showed me how she made them. And it was, as I had suspected, alarmingly easy.

This, of course, meant that I spent most of this afternoon sorting my yarn stash by color, boggling in embarrassment at the sheer quantity of muppet-ish novelty yarns I own, and cutting them into pieces and stringing them on elastic bands.

And the end result was kind of keen..... )
ladysprite: (Default)
I have found the most marvelous thing in the world. I crocheted myself a pair of extra-warm, comfy socks out of soft, fuzzy wool, and I have become amazingly enamored of them.

Okay, so comfy socks may not seem so incredible to normal people. But my circulation isn't the greatest, and I've had test scores higher than my blood pressure, so my feet and hands are almost always uncomfortably cold. So, last night after spending a serious portion of the evening wandering around Boston Commons in not-quite-insanely cold weather, coming home and putting on these marvelous, warm, cozy, toasty, smooshy-soft socks was like sliding my feet into little pockets of joy. I know, I'm easily impressed. But feeling good is, well, good.

I could have fought off the cold and rung in the New Year outside, watching the fireworks. But deep down inside, I really appreciate comfort more than glitz - I know, you couldn't prove it by the way I dress, but I do. So, hot cocoa and comfy socks won out over freezing toes and sky-sparklies. Not as exciting, but I've tried both, and this was far more enjoyable. And truly awe-inspiring hot cocoa can fill my need for excess and celebration anytime.
ladysprite: (Default)
Yay! I have a new project to work on! I was going nearly out of my mind, having finished all but one or two of the crafting projects I was working on - it's nearly impossible for me to sit still and chat or watch tv without something for my hands to do...

So last night on my way home from work I stopped by the sewing store and picked up some absolutely beautiful yarn - brushed acrylic, variegated pastels - mostly white, with faint blue and turquoise and purple hints, to work on a new afghan for myself. Which is also good just in and of itself, since my bedroom is the one room in my apartment which never completely warms up. And now I have a new project! *happydance!*

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