Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just a quick update

Check out my happy little buttoneers from last week's class!

Crafty kids + brains the size of planets + yarn and buttons = about a dozen of the world's most interestingly non-standard ways to sew buttons onto plastic canvas.  I wish I had taken pictures of some of their finished projects - it was a total hoot to see what they came up with.  And of course, good little craft teacher that I am, I told them all that as long as they were happy with the results, it looked great to me.  And it did ... as long as you didn't plan on actually using the buttons for anything!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Best use of embroidery ever
(not exactly kid-safe, although it's not smutty, either ... just not something you want to have to explain to your kindergartener, so be warned before you click through)

Friday, December 10, 2010

What do you think - would anyone buy this on a card?

Told you I was having too much fun with those little Japanese dolls ...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

So that's what I saved them for.

I was cleaning out the basement last week and found some little paper weeble-wobble dolls we bought when we lived in Japan.  

My first thought upon finding them?  Grab the camera, I bet I can sell pics of those!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fun with Fibers, week 5: Sewing

This week we're entering the exciting world of sewing through a rather practical door - buttons!  I'm sure I'm not the only mother who seems to spend half of her free time finding buttons in the wash, finding buttons in the backpack, figuring out which buttons go where, cursing the lack of matching buttons in my button box, and finally sewing the darn things back onto my kid's clothes.  Tell me I'm not alone, people!

After today's tutorial the kids should be able to sew a button back on by themselves.  Well, okay, maybe with a little hand-holding (and needle-threading), but it's still an improvement over complete cluelessness.  And it gets them ready to sew more exciting things next week!

You can read more about the history of sewing on Wikipedia:
More about the history of buttons here:

If you happen to have a lot of buttons laying around (thanks, mom, for the 5-pound tin of yard sale buttons last summer!), there are lots of cool crafts for kids to make with them.  Some involve sewing, lots involve glue, and all of them are fun.  You can find an overview of them here:

A couple of my favorites:

Well, that's about it for this week.  I'd better go shovel out my driveway if I'm going to make it to school in time!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

A-one and a-two ...

It's that time of year
When the handprints of felt
Start to pile up
'Round the tree ...

And this craft of mine
Takes almost no time
Leaving me
Free to say:
Merry Christmas!
May your ornaments go well!

PS - LazyHusband says if I keep making handprint ornaments much longer, they'll be so big we'll have to use them as throw pillows instead of on the tree.  He may be onto something there ...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

First year - done!

I've done this for four years in a row on my personal blog, but this is the first time I've managed to pull it off on my craft blog.  Go, me!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Well, that was a line that I not just crossed, but jumped over with two feet

Two-page spread of cat photos for my Japan scrapbook - done.

I have become One of Those People.  Only most of my pages look a little different.  Today, for instance, I had to text a friend from the scrapbooking section at Joann's to complain about the lack of appropriate supplies to go along with the shots of drunken farewell parties that will be taking up half of my scrapbook pages.  Come on, must everything be babies and weddings and school memories?  Where's the paper that shows a squid on a stick and a giant beer?  The stickers that say "Irasshaimase!" in bold all caps with three exclamation points?  Rub-on transfers with love hotel slogans? Anything with Charisma man???

Gee, maybe I've found a new underserved market ... Gaijin Scrapbooking Supplies!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fun with Fibers, week 4: Finger crochet

Today we're learning how to finger crochet, which is an easier variation of finger knitting or spool knitting.  It's exactly the same as making a regular crocheted chain, only we're using our fingers instead of a crochet hook.  The finished chain is similar to what you'd get using a lucet, a medieval device used to make cord and rope:

Wikipedia has a good history of crochet, which you can find here:

All crochet starts with a slipknot of some sort - you can see the technique for making one here:

The technique I'm teaching the kids in class gives you the same result as the techniques you can find online, I just think it's a little easier for the young kids to learn my method.  But if you want the "official" way, you can find a good tutorial here:

There are plenty of other crochet and braiding techniques that don't require tools, but I haven't tried them all (yet!).  Here are some that might be fun if your child has exhausted the potential of finger crochet:

And finally, if your child is ready to try spool knitting, you have lots of choices of "spools" or "nancies" to use.

The bottom one is the one my daughter uses.  The little arm on the side helps tension the yarn, and the part with the prongs on the top spins so you don't have to keep turning the whole thing around.

Finally, spool knitting is pretty much the same thing as the knitting looms you see at craft stores that can be used to make everything from socks to hats to scarves to blankets.  They generally come with directions, and they make great gifts if you've got a child who has a long attention span and an interest in crafts.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Only the knitters will appreciate this one

And don't try to tell me you haven't had the exact same conversation with your significant other.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Even my crusty FIL approved

The new GSees planning calendar met with approval from all and sundry at my in-laws' house this weekend, so it will be up in the shop early this week.  Mark your calendars (once you buy them from me, of course!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Obligatory holiday knitting - complete!

Last night I finished weaving in the ends on the two gifts I'm making for LazyKid's teachers. It's a relief to be done, even if I can't post pics until after the gifts have been opened. That was all the 'required' knitting I had for this year. It's a nice change from the Great Sock Experiment of 2008 and the Cowl Christmas of 2009. Making your gifts is fun, for the first half-dozen people. After that, gift cards start looking like a really good idea!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Should I get out the needle and thread?

The sight on Pop Pop's gun was a little too close to LazyHusband's eye for the recoil. Oops.Hope that link works, since the whole flickr thing doesn't work too well on my iPod.

Nope, so here's the photo:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trying out the new tech

Trying to blog from my iPod is fraught with difficulties, so it's a good thing I've got NaBloPoMo as a motivator. Dang, is this ever slow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's about time ...

... that I finished these, which I started in June at Squam:


Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When in doubt, switch projects!

So I might be lacking mojo on the teachers' projects, but I'm zipping along on the embroidery I'm doing:
It doesn't look like much now, but it's the start of a tracing of one of LazyKid's early artworks.  This one was titled "Toudan," and features a bird that's recognizably toucan-ish.  Win!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Finding inspiration everywhere

I hate it when I'm on vacation and don't remember until we're halfway through an attraction that I'm supposed to be looking for material for my GSees shop.  Oops.  At least I found a couple things while we were at Hagley Museum ...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Have you seen my mojo?

Finished one teacher's present, and I'm 1/3 of the way done with the second, and I.  can.  not.  work.  on.  it. It's like I sit down to do it and my head explodes or something.  Can't decide if it's a version of Second Sock Syndrome, or if there's something wrong with the project and I just haven't consciously figured it out yet.  Only time will tell, I guess!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

American Girl Doll clothes patterns

So if, by chance, my kid should happen to be getting an American Girl Doll for Christmas, does anyone have any recommendations on some good patterns for making your own clothes for them?  I know there are plenty of commercial patterns out there, but I'm hoping to find an independent designer making clothing patterns for 18" dolls.

Because we all know how much I love making clothing (gag).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


My sister-in-law is preggo, which means I now have an official excuse to knit all sorts of cute little baby things I've been afraid to start for fear of contracting the Baby Rabies.  Baby Surprise Jacket, here I come!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today I ...

A.  Got four pages done in my scrapbook
B.  Make four kitchen towels using the awesome skillz I learned at Squam
C.  Turned a heel on a sock (mostly)
D.  Made little hats for the jars of jam I'm taking home for the holidays
E.  Vacuumed my house
F.  Took a shower


If you guessed "everything except for F," you're right!  You know it's a good crafting day when you're too busy for personal hygiene.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun with Fibers, week 3: Decoration

This week in class we're making Ojo de Dios, a traditional craft of the Huichol people of Mexico.  A version of these decorative objects were made as ritual protection for children - parents would add a new color of yarn for each year of the child's life.

photo source here

Ojo de Dios is a very simple craft.  Yarn is wrapped around two sticks over and over again, making a pattern of concentric rings.  The basic movement used for this is hard to describe, but easy to see in the following illustration:
illustration source here

There are many online tutorials for this craft; some of the ones I like best are, and

Ojo de Dios can be made using any straight supports - craft sticks, chopsticks, pencils, twigs, 2x4s, whatever you've got on hand - and can be anywhere from 1" to several feet across.  Using multi-colored or self-striping yarn eliminates the need for tying lots of knots to join on the new colors of yarn.  And a hot glue gun works well to glue the supports together, as well as to fasten off the yarn once the weaving is done.

We also talked about another traditional Huichol craft, yarn painting.  Here, colored yarns are pressed into warm beeswax to form patterns and pictures that often tell stories related to the tribe's history and legends.

photo source here

Time permitting, we will give that a try during a future class - one when I'm prepared to deal with 5-year-olds with a lot of glue on their hands (and faces, and clothes, and hair ...)!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back to an old friend

I have a blanket project that I've been working on sporadically since, um, February.  It's been more off than on until this weekend, when I finally picked it back up and started making a bit of progress on it.  I need to take a more recent pic and my camera isn't handy, but here's what it looked like a while ago:

first spring flowers 039

It will be a great project to take along when we head back east for Thanksgiving, as it's mindless and requires practically no thought on my part, other than occasional cursing at my stupid boucle yarn.  And maybe if I bring just that (and a pair of socks that's already 3 weeks late) I'll actually get some measurable progress made before the end of the year!  Yay!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wagon? What wagon? (again)

I might have sort of goofed and spent $60 on scrapbooking paper at the craft store today.  Oops.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I swore I would never do it

And yet I spent my whole afternoon ... scrapbooking.

And liking it.

Thank goodness for friends with an inexhaustible supply of things like paper and brads and sticky tape thingees ... I'd go completely broke if I had to do this on my own.  Especially since I have SIX albums of photos from Japan to redo like this ... -headdesk-

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I said I'd post the pics ...

of the patio I was building ... but I never promised they'd be interesting!

Oh, wait, how about this one?

Now that's more my style!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Well, that doesn't happen every day

So I'm getting my car serviced, and when I sit down in the waiting area and pull out my knitting, the lady next to me starts laughing about how everyone is crocheting today, and she wants to know all about my pattern and my yarn and what I'm making.  I show her the pattern,  she grabs it out of my hands and trots off to make a copy on the repair shop copy machine.

And 10 minutes later she says, "Oh, wait, that's knitting.  I only crochet."

Usually the fact that I'm working with two needles, and making little Vs, and using a pattern that says "knit" in big letters at the top - usually those are enough of a clue.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


My craft of the day involved laying a brick patio to keep our trashcans on.  It's a lovely patio, yet I have no pictures to post because it got dark before I remembered to get the camera out.  Sucks to be me :(

Monday, November 08, 2010

Fun with Fibers, week 2: Spinning

This week we're covering how to take individual fibers and turn them into things like yarn, rope, and thread.  A good overview of some of the history behind spinning can be found here:

I'm demonstrating the use of a drop spindle, which I made using a blank CD, a blob of Play-Dough, and a highlighter.  You can find information on how to make your own (slightly more durable) homemade version of a drop spindle at many sites online, including here:

Our project this week is a twisted cord, which we'll use as a hanger for a fall decoration.  I've included printed directions in my handout, but if anyone has mislaid them, you can find (illustrated) directions at the following locations:

And that's about it, I guess.  Hope everyone is having fun and learning a lot!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

LazyKid is undeterred by a lack of wrapping paper ...

... she just makes her own.
 She decorated it while it was sitting next to me at dinner last night, and she kept asking me for more "things I like."  That's why it's got stars, our two cats, a fairy, a self-portrait, and the Eiffel Tower on it.

Not to mention sparkly purple leaves, a heart-shaped peace sign, and apple trees.

Not sure why she thinks I love millipedes and some sort of green-antlered deer, but I'm willing to go with it.

Especially since they let me open the present a day early.  Score!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Wacky sock alert!

When I was at Squam Arts Workshop this summer I picked up a couple patterns that one of my teachers had in her booth, and I finally got around to starting one of them a few weeks ago - Stained Glass Socks by Elise Duvecot. (Ravelry link)

I finished them last night, and I couldn't be happier with them - well-written pattern with an interesting (easy) technique that makes awesomely cool socks.  Win!

The only problem with them is that I think I've decided to give them to my mother, since they're a touch short on me.  Maybe she'll let me come visit them a couple times a year?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Prep work

Spent all morning prepping materials for Monday's Fun with Fiber class, then spent most of the afternoon playing around with my new drop spindle:
What?  Haven't you ever made a drop spindle out of a blank CD, a blob of Play-Dough, a highlighter, and a marker cap?  Jeez, you guys are no fun at all!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ouch! My hands!

Nothing crafty to report, as I've spent the last two days putting in a new flower bed.
It'll look much more impressive in the spring once I get some annuals in.  Right now it's got some roses, some lavender, some thyme, and some veronica, all of which were transplanted from existing beds around the yard. Oh, and a maple tree that was a volunteer in the trash pile at the back of the yard.  It's already chest-high, even if it does only have two leaves (which fell off the day before I transplanted it).

But it's cold and rainy now, so hopefully I'll have crafty stuff to discuss sometime soon!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Relieving some aggression

I've been trying out some new techniques as I prepare for the class I'm teaching to my daughter's kindergarten class, and with the surplus of leaves in our yard, it seemed like a good time to try leaf pounding.  Here's a Japanese maple leaf on untreated muslin:

I had the best luck with the leaves that were the juiciest - the ones I picked right off the tree worked even better than ones from the same tree that had already fallen.  I got a purply-brown (the Japanese maple), a pretty bright red (from a burning bush plant), and even a spring green (from a sweet gum tree that hadn't turned yet).

I was surprised by just how much pounding was required to get this to work, and by how tricky it was to find leaves that were flat enough to show up well.  Anything with really raised veins prevented the hammer from reaching the non-veined parts easily, which gave a pretty bad transfer.  You can even see in my "good" ones above that I ran out of interest before I was able to completely fill in the outline of the leaf.

I can't decide whether this would be a good project for the class or not.  On the plus side, who doesn't have fun with hammers?  On the minus side, do I want to be responsible for eight 5-yr-olds armed with hammers?  Probably not.  Maybe I'll write it up as a bonus project to try at home ... yeah, that's the ticket!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Choosing captions is hard

Quick, what's a one-word adjective that describes this lion's mood or temperament?  I've worn out and can't find one that LazyHusband and I can agree is perfect.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Trying to clear out some of my drawers (and use up half-finished crafts)

Ridiculously easy craft: take one $1 headband from the fabric store, and whip-stitch on a hand crocheted cotton flower.

Five minutes later, you've got a stylish winter accessory:

 Meanwhile, LazyKid was busy with a little art of her own.  
She's all proud of how she used so many geometric shapes in her sketch.  I'm proud that she remembered "geometric" from her art class last week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Looking to spruce up your walls?

I've got just the thing. Well, lots of things, actually:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun with Fibers, week 1: Dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid

My go-to guide for dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid is the 2002 article in the online magazine Knitty, which can be found here:  It's got explicit directions, as well as samples of what colors you get from different flavors of the drink mix.  I've tried the directions, and they work well at home and only require standard kitchen equipment.

Additional information for the lecture this week came from

More information and activities for modern dyes:

Craft project for natural dyes:

Yarn: Sensations Kashmira, which is readily available at JoAnn Fabrics.  Any yarn with a high content of wool or other animal fiber could be substituted, but keep in mind that anything that is mostly cotton or acrylic won't hold the dye.   Dyed yarn should be colorfast and safe to hand-wash, but it will fade in the light and will probably felt if washed in a machine.

Dye: One packet of Kool-Aid per 20-yard hank of yarn.  The article says you can dye up to an ounce of wool with one packet, but for the most saturated colors, use more Kool-Aid and less yarn.

Dye pots: We're using plastic leftover containers I bought at the grocery store.  In the past I've used Pyrex custard cups, Corelle bowls, and glass casserole dishes.  You want something that's wide and shallow to make it easy to reach the yarn and have it spread out enough to get good contact with the dye.  It also needs to be microwaveable and something that you don't mind getting a little stained (which usually doesn't happen, but I'd hate for you to be disappointed when it did).

Stirring: We're using chopsticks, but you could also use plastic spoons or other disposable items.

Educators:  when you're dyeing hanks of yarn with a class full of kids, you have to do things a wee bit differently.  Here's what I did:
- Selected inexpensive yarn - one skein of Sensations Kashmira from JoAnn Fabrics was enough for 10 hanks that are about 20 yards each.
- Wound the hanks, then tied each one with acrylic yarn at three places to keep it from tangling when being manhandled.
- Prepared the hanks by dunking them in slightly soapy water and squeezing them gently to get them thoroughly wet.  I did this a few at a time in a basin of water, then wrung each hank out and rinsed it in running water.
- Prepared the "dye pots," which were inexpensive plastic storage containers (shallow, large footprint containers work best), by placing a damp hank of yarn in each and adding a shot of clear water to keep it wet until class time.  Each child has one dye pot.
- Gathered the rest of my materials, including: a plastic tarp to protect the work area, several disposable chopsticks to use for stirring, a few plastic drinking cups we could use to transfer water, one package of Kool-Aid for each child, a roll of paper towels, a large container of water (there isn't a water supply in the classroom), and a bath towel I didn't mind staining.  The children already had smocks at school to cover their clothes.
- Each child got a dye pot with damp yarn inside, and a packet of drink mix.  They took the yarn out of the pot, emptied the drink mix into the pot, then added about 1/2 cup water and stirred the mix until it dissolved.  Then they added the yarn, squished it down into the dye, and added enough water to cover the yarn completely.
- I took the sealed pots to the room with a microwave, and microwaved them until the water in each pot was mostly white or clear - about 5 minutes or so, checking every two minutes.
- I showed the kids the pots before I rinsed them so they could see that the dye had been absorbed, then I took the pots to the bathroom and rinsed each hank separately under warm water, squeezing them firmly to get all the water out.  I rolled all of the hanks up in a bath towel and jumped on it a few times to get some more of the water out, then put each hank in a plastic bag with the child's name on it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

inspired by textures

We spent yesterday at the San Diego Zoo, and I ended up filling up my camera's SD card with shot after shot of the textures you see on all the animals.  I've got zebra zigzags, rhino rumples, giraffe globs, and llama lashes.  I've got hibiscus flowers ad nauseum.  And I have approximately 400 shots of a mother flamingo feeding her chick, thanks to the other birds who would not move their butts out of the frame so I could get a clean shot.

Be on the lookout for new Gsees photos soon, as I am chock full of good material (once I get it edited and color corrected).