Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Update

Extended family:
Gift 1 is done. Can't be revealed yet.
Gift 2 is done.
Gift 3 is in progress.

Immediate Family:
Gift 4 is done, needs blocking.
Gift 5 is done, needs blocking.
Gift 6 is designed but not started.
Gift 7 is mostly assembled, but not quite done.

So all in all, I'm not doing too bad. Gift #3 is going to take a while, just because it's knit and my fingers still haven't gotten the hang of it yet.

Tuesday I'm going to sit down and have a sewing afternoon and try and get 6 and 7 done.
I may also add another crochet gift in there, a small one.

Including this week, I have two weeks of classes left, and one week of exams. So I'm gonna have a lot more free time after that...

I'm in the process of doing some backups on the computer, and cleaned out a bunch of bookmarks, and found some I forgot about! I may share them later....back to gift #3...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gifts for Crafters from the crafty clueless

It's time again for Gifts for Crafters!!!

Got a crafty person in your life? Need an idea for a gift because you really don't know anything about what they do? Look no further!

First things first - your major Do and Don't of giving a crafter a gift....

Consider this your #2 rule of giving to a crafter:
Even if your crafter is imaginative and craftily recycles other things like plastic bags or stuff, UNLESS THEY ASK FOR IT, it is NOT a good idea to give them a box full of junk with the caveat "oh, they're crafty, they can do SOMETHING with it!"
ONLY IF they ask for it.
Don't do that. I know you mean well, but chances are your average household crafter is not going to be pleased with a box of random flanges and whatnot that came out of repair kits or whatever. So like I said, the ONLY time that is acceptable is if they ask for something like that.
There is your DON'T.

Your Do?
The #1 rule of giving to a crafter: KNOW YOUR CRAFTER.

Do they knit? Crochet? Scrapbook? Sew? All of the above? Start with an idea of what they do and things get easier from there.
Also, if they've provided you with a list of things they want, go with that. :)

On to the Goods

Now let's talk about some GOOD things you can get them, no matter what craft....

1. Something crafted by YOU. Yes, we LIKE getting crafted things. Especially if you're someone we love.
If you don't want to do that, however, then keep reading.

For Knitters:

I see lots of good things being said about interchangable needle sets.
Two options: Knitpicks or Denise
These sets allow you (at the least) to change needle sizes without having to unloop your circular needle from your project. Why is that important? Pulling out needles lead to dropped stitches and having to redo work and leads to much cursing on the part of the knitter. I haven't tried these myself, as I'm still getting the hang of straight needles, but everyone I've heard mention them says something good.

Any complete set of needles (circular or straight) is definitely a good idea. Even if they started out with one already, things happen, needles wander away.

For Crocheters:
There are a BUNCH of crochet pattern books out now that have awesome designs. Gone is the day of the ugly granny afghan in orange and avocado green.

Doris Chan's Amazing Crochet Lace

Lily Chin's Couture Crochet Workshop

And of course, The Crochet Liberation Front's First Ever Book!

Also, a complete set of hooks from D to P are a nice touch. Bamboo is a good hook material, when you can find it

For both Knitters and Crocheters:

Yarn. Ask subtle questions or PAY ATTENTION to hints from your crafter as to color and weight (yes, there's more than one). Perhaps they would like a nice bamboo sock yarn, or maybe an alpaca blend worsted. Maybe they've said the words "Noro" or "Malabrigo" and you think they're speaking a foreign language. Write it down, and get to a local yarn store where the nice salespeople will help you find what they're talking about. Don't freak out at the prices. Sometimes pretty yarn is expensive, but isn't your crafter worth it?

If you decide that's just too much effort, go with a gift certificate. Not only can your yarny crafter pick out something they'll like, they can have all the fun of petting soft yarn while they're choosing. Yes, it really is fun.

I will be honest, I do not scrapbook. I have no clue what a lot of it entails, but I will say that if you go to the craft store and buy a big stack of paper with cool patterns, and some decorative punches, it'll probably be a very good stocking stuffer. I advise asking your scrapbooker if there's anything specific on their list.

Sewing Crafters:

When your crafter sits down at their sewing machine, is there a lot of cursing involved? Maybe a bunch of "ohmygod you piece of crap machine! I hate you! just WORK!!!!" Then maybe (just maybe) they might need a new machine. Ask if you're not sure. Some people just curse at their machines to keep them obedient. But if you hear loud snapping noises with crying afterwards, it might be worth it to get your crafter a better tool.

OR, you could kidnap their machine and take it to a repair shop for an overhaul. Sewing machines have little motors in them, just like a car. And just like a car, eventually it will need a tune up. Sewing machines that get used get dirty and clogged. Sewing machines that just sit get dusty. Things get stuck in gears and belts that they're not supposed to. There are parts that need oiling. Take the machine in for a few days for some adjustments and general maintenance and when it comes back running smooth like a brand new car, your crafter will probably kiss you. Just make sure that they're not under any sort of deadline to get something done BEFORE you take the machine. That might get you kicked out of the house.

If your sewing crafter is a quilter, you might want to consider this yardage calculator. This may even work decently for non-quilters, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm generally pretty good at converting measurements into yardage (hooray geometry), but a lot of people aren't. Some people just hate math period. Make it easy for them and help them eliminate measurement mistakes.

For ALL crafters:

I still stand by my recommendation from last year for Good scissors and cutting tools.
Blades are a very underrated tool. Good scissors make cutting anything easy. Rotary Cutters are dangerous but Oh so helpful.

Gift certificates: To some people they're a cop out, but to others, they're actually helpful. If you honestly have NO idea what your crafter wants, then go with it. Don't risk the mistake of getting them something they can't use. With a Gift card, they can get something for a project they're doing now, they can get stuff for a future project. They can buy a tool they had been considering but didn't quite want to spend the money.

Pamper your crafter!

Crafting can be hard on your hands and body.

My friend Liz makes an awesome sugar scrub. She's got multiple scents to choose from, and it leaves you feeling super soft and moisturized.

What's also a nice gift is a massage. Spending hours hunched over a sewing machine is hard on the back. Help your crafter work all the kinks out when they're done. The good thing about this one is you can do it yourself - no purchase necessary.

Any of these items can be found on the Internet (the sites provided are what I've used or what I've got), or at your local stores.

If you're still looking for MORE ideas, check out my list from last year.

Happy gift hunting!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday madness has begun

So somehow I have decided that I am making gifts this year. Small things, and all in addition to the other presents, but I decided on something for nearly everyone.

Extended family:
Gift 1 is done. Can't be revealed yet.
Gift 2 is 98% done - needs edging. Also cannot be revealed.
Gift 3 is in progress.

Immediate Family:
Gift 4 is in progress.
Gift 5 is designed, but not started.
Gift 6 is also designed but not started.
Gift 7 is mostly assembled, but not quite done.

I know, I'm so vague. But the day I decide not to be is the day where *someone* decides to explore the internet....

I don't know what prompted the crafted gifts this year. One was actually requested, but the others, not really. Hopefully the recipients are appreciative.

(ps, an updated Gifts for Crafters post is any ideas you want me to include? Leave a comment!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Stuff

I've put up a few things in the CraftyKix Etsy today.

I'm doing a little destashing, and I have another pair of mittens ready to go for someone that needs warm paws this winter!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Link Dump

Ok, this post is mostly just for my own future reference, but I'm sure someone else will want to look at pretties...

I went to Target today. I got sidetracked in the accessories section.

I do not like buying mass market crocheted items because there is no guarantee that the people that crocheted them were paid an honest working non-sweatshop wage. I know the time it takes to make a granny square or doily, and even if you used supplies that were free I don't see how you could do that and still sell a scarf for as little as they do.

Knitted items, however can be done on machine, and I don't feel bad about buying mass knitted items because I don't knit well. Yes, I will try, but if it's something I really really like, I will buy it with only a little bit of "well, i know i could make that" twinge because yes I could make it, but I probably WON'T.

Anyway...Target had scarves. And hats. and hooded things. and they were soft and pretty. And I'll probably ask for them for christmas or something.

Blue cabled "neck warmer"

Blue basketweave hat

hooded scarf wrap thing

There was also another scarf they called an infinity scarf, but I can't find it on the website. it was three different shades of blue, each its own knitted strip, then braided into one scarf.

THAT one I can most likely make easily. And I very well might try.

And yes, I do prefer to support a local crafter in person or via Etsy, but I happened to be there, so it's really a "matter of being in a place and musing" post than a whole "policy and practice" post. Take it as you will.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cooking is Crafting With Food

Lately I've been on a big baking cooking/baking kick. Can't really explain it, other than the colder weather is making me feel nesty.

Sunday's endeavor was Pumpkin Bread. I use this recipe from Runner's world, and it is delicious. I made it for our Thanksgiving dinner last year, and my sister hijacked what was left of the loaf and kept it for herself. The recipe does make two loaves, so I wasn't that sad. :)

Last week was Banana Bread and Ginger cookies.
The banana bread was okay. It came out a little chewier than I liked, but was still tasty. Maybe less banana next time.

Cookie Recipe from Paula Deen. I think it could have used a little less molasses and a little more ginger, but I like my ginger cookies spicy.

There wasn't a picture of the cookies, they got eaten too fast. :)
And I could have sworn that I took a picture of the banana bread, but can't find it anywhere. :\

The week before THAT was pretzel rolls.
Confession: I am in love with the Sheetz pretzel melt. It's meat & cheese (or my fave egg & cheese) on a pretzel roll, and heated to make it all melty. But seeing as Albemarle County will not let us have a Sheetz in Charlottesville, I either have to go to Greene County or over to Waynesboro to get one. That doesn't happen often. I like them, but unless I'm headed that way anyway, I can do without.

So I found a recipe for pretzel rolls and made my own.

It wasn't very labor intensive, but it was time intensive what with the mixing, the letting rise, the cutting, the 2nd rise, the boiling and then the baking. I also only got 6 out of it, instead of 8, but I suspect my yeast was old and didn't rise as well as it should.

Either way, you can't argue with results:

What's next? I don't know. I would like to try to make regular bread, there is a soda bread recipe I want to try and soon the holidays will be coming up and I will have the Giant Cookie Day of Doom (I have a lot of people to whom I want to give cookies). It's also about the time of year where we make hard candy, and we make our own homemade ice cream every few weeks. There's always something cooking over here...

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Hi kids, how's it going?

Things are going ok here. It's gotten cold at night, which has made me itchy to make warm things.

I went to the fabric store AND the craft store yesterday and ended up with some fleece and a lot of yarn envy.

Did you know that Deborah Norville of Inside Edition has her face on a bunch of yarn? indeed she does, I saw it yesterday. Didn't look like bad stuff either. Anyway, I can't test it yet, because I've declared that I have to clean out a bunch more of my stash (either via selling or making) before I can accumulate any more.

I've started two crochet things, which are both probably going to be gifts, so I can't show you yet (sorry).

I'm actually thinking about knitting a sweater. Yes, me who got confounded by the Calorimetry and doesn't really knit things that aren't square. But I have some really pretty Simply Soft shadows, and I don't think that the color changes will go right if I try to do it with crochet.
Still plotting.

Anyway, it's not like I haven't been creating. I've been baking. A Lot. It's kind of odd really. But Cooking is just crafting with food, right? Right now I've got pumpkin bread in the oven. Last week I made banana bread, and before that ginger cookies.

And I also tried to finish decorating the apartment. We've been here over a year, but I'm still tweaking. Maybe it's a re-decorating. Whatever. Back two apartments before this one, I had a bunch of CDs on my wall above my bed.

Back to the past:

It was actually really pretty, and I missed it. So I decided that the den/craft/guest room was the perfect place and got to work.

CDs part 2, electric boogaloo:

Please excuse the mess on the desk & shelves (I tried to crop it out)- we're still trying to actually use it as a desk and not a clutter gathering spot....and failing. And ha, I just noticed that one of the cds fell off. I guess I'll be fixing that in a minute, huh?

I would also like to leave you with this link. I found it through the Craftgrrl community on livejournal, and I love it. The blogger, Jess, works in a fabric store, and is starting a blog with a bunch of information that nobody ever tells someone that's starting to sew. There's stuff in here I didn't know, and I grew up watching my mom sew, and I read A LOT. I've got it added to my Google reader, and I encourage you to do the same if you're interested in sewing. Please check out Perspicacity: Jess White Sewing. You won't regret it. :)

And now I get to go pull pumpkin bread out of the oven!! Yummy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Stuff!

I have a new item in my shop!

Fleece Mittens!

There is one pair there for now. I need to buy more snaps to finish the other two pairs before I can post them. But more will be coming!