Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday Afternoon...

I'm just beginning to see...Spring is on it's way... ***

Black-headed Towee
We're in a brief break in our stormy weather starting yesterday afternoon, so I spent a few minutes on the back deck enjoying teh scenery.
Meyer Lemon

This Meyer lemon is almost ready to be picked. These are small, tart and I may be making preserved (salted) lemons with this.
The sun over the hill and the clouds were beautiful.

And Jake, like always, hung on the deck playing with his ball...
Jake & Ball

***Yes this is the Moody Blues song...

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Winter Garden Chores.

(crossposted at BlogHer)

It's was a sunny, dry Saturday morning here in Northern California when I wrote this...

Before the next set of winter rainstorms return, I have a list of gardening chores I'd like to complete. Because for me Saturdays mean gardening chores. Or is it gardening duties? Because "chores" has a negative connotation. Today I'm looking at a patch of mint that has escaped confinement. I fight a constant battle to take back ground from this plant. I planted it for outside-the-door easy summer tea, but why did I let it escape it's pot?

When you write a gardening blog, the list grows to include "blog the work." So while I'm out waging war in my garden, why don't you settle in a nice cuppa tea (mint anyone?) and see what other gardeners are doing.

Is your garden still deeply covered with snow? Join Margaret Roach in practicing the 3 things to do before winter's over.

And while your garden is still resting, this is prime seed ordering time. Laura Timmerman of Lasting Impressions on the Farm, is chaining herself to her computer to get her orders in. Along with placing orders, she's working on a master list of the seed varieties she plants and those she loves. She shared just part of that list in this post.

After you order seeds, you have to start them, of course. Molly Day's sugar snap peas and swiss chard are coming up and she shared a photo. Must agree with her that the first peep of green emerging from the ground is one of the best things about gardening.

The seeds are ordered and started. The next step, as Country Gardener reminds us, is when The Travails of MUD SEASON Are Upon Us.

And Pam reminds us of the good thing about spring showers:
the brief storm scrubbed and washed clean the sky. Sunny blue skies, a cool spring-like breeze, fresh green leaves in the garden, and an additional half-inch in the rain gauge have put a skip in my step today.

Victory Garden of Tomorrow.. Have you seen this?
VGoT is an art project posing as a propaganda campaign for new, American homefront values. The message style draws from American mid-century homefront propaganda, and the messages essentially draws from 21st century needs as found in the current environmental sustainability movement.
If you still need some indoor gardening inspiration, these posters are beautiful and would be fine decoration in an office or a mid-century designed home.

Where does your garden lay in the spectrum of winter's Saturday's chores?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, February 23, 2009

DNA Beading Tutorial

(crossposted at BlogHer)

The repetitive motion of crafting is one of it's appeals to me. Pick up a simple task, get into the rhythm of working, lose myself for a while. It is meditation as my breathing slows to match the pace of hands. I feel my breathing slowing, and the world fades away into the color and texture of my work.

There are many crafty activities that can produce this meditative effect: hand quilting with it's steady rocker motion; simple knitting with it's needle in, yarn over, pull through, slip off; embroidery. Yet there are times when these projects do not lend themselves to the simple repetitive motion of a good medidative craft. When a project requires more attention.

At those times I turn my attention to beading a simple DNA chain. This is one of the first techniques you might learn in stringing beads; it's always repetitive, never requires much thought, yet always produces pretty results.

Let me show you how to do DNA beading.

Begin with some simple beads, some beading thread and a beading needle. The chain has two elements: the spine and the chain. Spine beads slightly larger than the chain beads and often one color. In this example, I'm using a black "E" bead for the spine. The chain beads will be picked from my "bead soup" container. I'll alternate multi-colored and clear seed beads when constructing my chain. My favorite beading thread is silamide, a thin, strong nylon beading thread. These supplies can be found at most "big box" crafting stores and definitely at your local bead shop.

To begin, cut a length of beading thread about 24" long and thread your needle (this is usually the hardest part of the whole process). Because I never know exactly how I'll use the chain when it's completed, I tie an "odd" bead near the bottom to save thread that later will be tied to a closure.

Step one: Thread 3 of your spine beads onto the thread.

Step Four

Step two: Choose a number of your chain beads and thread them onto your thread. The chain beads need to be slightly longer than the spine beads. In this example, 6 seed beads were used with the 3 spine beads.

Step three: Bring your needle down to the first spine bead (the one furthest away from the chain beads) and slide the needle up through all 3 beads.

Step four: While the needle is still inside the 3 spine beads, slide another spine bead over the tip and onto the spine.

Step five: pull the thread through, snugging the chain beads up to the spine beads.


Repeat from step two, bringing your needle down 3 spine beads, and adding a new spine bead.
Snug the new chain up against the old chain.

Snug Chains Together

That's it. Fast, simple, little thought. Purely meditative.

You will want to make sure that as you progress the chains nest nicely next to the previous chain. As the work progresses, the chain will spiral around the spine beads. This is why this known as DNA beading.
Other examples
Depending on the beads you choose, you piece can be simple and monochromatic, or more colorful. As you choose to mix different sized beads in the chain, the look also becomes a bit more complex while the action of making it remains simple.

Other Beading Tutorials Online:

Made By Hand.By ME's Desiree Savarese shares how to make a Multi-Strand Seed Bead Necklace.

As a resource for her jewelry making class at IWCC, L. Kvigne post a tutorial for your basic Clasp Bracelet 101 and a Simple Dangle Earring.

Shiny Little Thingspointed we readers to a gorgeous Blossom Vine Knotted Necklace with instructions shared at

Photo credits: from Debra Roby's Flickr Stream.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crafty Blog RoundUp

(crossposted at BlogHer)

Last week was one of those weeks: there was fascinating stuff happening in the crafty blogs (both good and sad), plus some interesting additions to the BlogHer crafty blogroll. I just had to give today's post over to highlighting these.

Current News: Goodbye CRAFT and Hello Coraline

Wednesday the sad news came: CRAFT will be publishing it's last issue(#10).
Two and a half years ago, inspired by the DIY creativity of a growing number of indie crafters, we launched CRAFT Magazine along with its companion website, Since then, we've become an integral part of the new craft community. We've been fully committed to encouraging more people to discover the joy of crafting.

All along, we have noticed that has been growing steadily. At the same time, we've come to realize that there were more and more challenges in publishing CRAFT as a print magazine, especially with the costs of print and distribution rising, and diminishing interest among advertisers in print. So we've decided that Volume 10, our Celebrate Like Crazy issue, will be our last print issue and that the future of CRAFT is online. will remain, thank goodness. This website is an inspiring and vibrant source for crafty information. The same day they announced the plan to discontinue the print version, also announced a new feature: AskCraft
We want you to write in with your crafty conundrums, your material mysteries, your technique troubles! I'll scour all resources available to me to bring you an answer. Some weeks will be video responses, some weeks text, but always with plenty of advice and links to take you further!
Have you seem Coraline yet? Tikabelle at Largely Unrepeatable went last week and agreed with the reviews that this is fabulous movie. She adds:
Coraline also gives good knit. There's a lovely starry sweater that's just adorable, but there's also a pair of gloves that Coraline - and I - desperately want. And there is as yet no pattern. Well, there was no pattern until yesterday, when I made one.

Today is Valentine's Day
If you're anything like me, you are less than fond of Valentine's Day, seeing it now as a purely commercial excuse to spread guilt and overspending across society. Dabbled just closed entries in their Second Annual Dabbled Black Heart Anti-Valentines Day Contest. Some of the early entries: Vintagepix's Black Heart Pincushion; kleiosbelly's Anti-Valentine Card: Piss Off!; this hysterical Bitter Valentine's Bracelet that's reminiscent of candy hearts. Eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winners.

Plum Pudding's Megan showed her felted Valentine garden:
This is my Valentine Garden. I had originally planned to grow some
wheat grass in a longish planter then plant my "flowers" in a row in
the homegrown green. But, things happen, or don't happen, in this case,
and now I have a tin can garden full of M&Ms. I like it, though.
Very cheery.
New to the Blogroll:

Recently Pretty Ditty posted a wonderful Peek-a-boo lamp shade makeover/tutorial.

Scrappin' Green in 2009 is revamped from Remember When Creations. Now Jan is writing about green memory making. For example, she shared recycling scrapbooking paper, using yogurt cups, and recycling ribbons.

Patchwork Underground is a collection of information, fun websites and other inspirations by Erin, clothing designer and writer.
For me, crafting-the act of making something with one's own hands - is always political. it's not a replacement for other means towards social change but it is important init's own right. As a wee Feminist Studies student, I developed and taught a discussion section on Feminisms and Fiber Arts.... Since then, I've done a lot more hands-on learning about the reality of being a craftsperson in today's global marketplace but many of my conclusions are the same. Craft is powerful. Craft is Art...and Science, and Religion. Craft is real in the way few "things" today are.
I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

CPSIA Stay Brings Time to Find Compromise

(crossposted at BlogHer)

On January 30th, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to place a one year stay on the testing and certification requirements for certain products manufactured for use with children 12 and younger.
The stay of enforcement provides some temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers who had been subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA. These businesses will not need to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the Commission. However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.

Handmade garment makers are cautioned to know whether the zippers, buttons and other fasteners they are using contain lead. Likewise, handmade toy manufacturers need to know whether their products, if using plastic or soft flexible vinyl, contain phthalates.

...The Commission trusts that State Attorneys General will respect the Commission's judgment that it is necessary to stay certain testing and certification requirements and will focus their own enforcement efforts on other provisions of the law, e.g. the sale of recalled products.
This stay, which will remain in effect until February 10, 2010, gives the Commission time to work through proposed rules changes or new legislation which it is hoped will mitigate the demands on crafters and small independent manufacturers of children's clothing and toys.

While this stay is good news for those crafters active in the Buy Handmade movement, it is not necessarily good news for consumers of mass-produced children's products. In the Wall Street Journal article Regulators Delay new Rules for Testing Lead in Toys, the Center for Environmental Health noted that they
found several Valentine's Day stuffed-animal toys sold by Rite Aid Corp. and Longs Drugs, a unit of CVS Caremark Corp., with lead exceeding the new national standards that take effect on Feb. 10. The lead levels found in one of the stuffed-animal toys were more than 15 times the new federal limit, the Center for Environmental Health said. "There should be something to back up a claim that the products are safe, but without testing and certification there's no assurance," said Charles Margulis, a spokesman for the group.

The toys are made by Dan-Dee International Ltd., a China-based manufacturer of toys and novelties with U.S. offices in Jersey City, N.J. Company officials didn't return phone calls seeking comment.
How are crafters reacting to this stay?

Wacky Hermit, who blogs at Organic Baby Farm, is doing a CPSIA By The Numbers analysis of the act. In the first part, she analyzed all the product recalls for 2008 and their effect on the health of US consumers. her conclusion:
Of the 63 recalls that would have been prevented by CPSIA, only 1 resulted in an injury (a child ingested lead paint from a crib and had elevated blood levels of lead). This means that had CPSIA been in place for 2008, one child would have been helped.
In Part Two of her analysis, WH explains why it's impossible to know that all items are safe (in her example, snaps on children's clothing) without testing each and every item..

The Domestic Diva is not jumping for joy yet. Because manufacturers are still not permitted to sell products that exceed the new lead levels, and because she fears wholesale suppliers of her children's clothing will be reluctant to stock goods that might not be salable, she is going ahead
with lead testing and certification on her goods.

Z Recommends Seller Beware.

Scholar and Rogues calls this No Child's Product Left Behind.

What can you do?
Contact your federal legislators and speak out about the CPSIA, perhaps avoid toys and other products for children that are manufactured in China?

On February 5, 2009, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced the Consumer Product Safety Reform with the goal of protecting "families, charities and small businesses from regulations and lawsuits that could kill thousands of jobs." The most important feature of this bill (in my opinion) would be a reform which would allow small manufacturers (including home-crafters) to use the testing/certification that suppliers have done for components of their products.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stitching: Zippers

(crossposted at BlogHer)

I have been working hard at reducing my "needs some repair" pile of clothing. You know that pile: the guy's shirt looses a button, he throws it in the pile. A hem needs repair, it goes in the pile. A zipper has broken, it goes in the pile. Someday, we promise to tackle that pile and get those clothes back in use. Often, I would give up on it and simple donate everything to charity.

One of my goals is to make sure our clothes are cleaned, working and available to wear. So I've sewn on buttons and fixed hems. Several items were just given up on. I'm down to the 3 things that need new zippers. Now I'm scared.

Are you intimidated by sewing in zippers? I am. The last one I put into a hoodie was off on one side by 1/2". Not to mention the rippled stitching running up one side. The zipper has been ripped out (again) and I'm starting the process over. And, like any good consumer of social media, I'm checking out the blogs, the websites and YouTube for help before I stitch again. My first stop is check at delicious to find saved bookmarks on Zippers.

I begin with ModHomeEcTeacher's basic: How-to Insert a Zipper. Good basics, great close up pictures. Still feeling uncertain.

That's why I was thrilled to read You SEW, girl!'s Zipper tutorial on moving the zipper foot out way. Such a simple idea: stop part way down the zipper with the needle in the fabric, and zip the up, moving the bulky foot out of the way of sewing. Brilliant!

But the most helpful tutorial is Green Kitchen's Glue-Set Zipper tutorial! I never imagined that a little glue stick held such promise for a perfectly pretty zipper.
The most difficult part of zipper installation is making it look good.
With the glue-set method you eliminate most of the challenges. The
process becomes quite easy. The idea behind the glue-set zipper
installation is to use adhesive to hold the zipper in place, while
sewing, instead of pins. This allows you to top stitch the zipper
without having to wrangle with the pins. And, since you are top
stitching it into place, you have more control on how it looks on the
outside, thus, more chances at zipper success.

Check out this ThreadBanger episode. About 3 minutes in, Kate McFaul does a great demonstration on sewing in a zipper.

Ok. I think I'm armed with enough ideas that I can deal with these zippers. What challenges to repairing your clothes do you have? (besides finding time).

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Heart-Felt Paper Crafts

(crossposted on BlogHer)

Valentine's day is only a few days away. I'm all for crafting some simple and charming gifts to give to family and friends this year and Valentines always speak of simple paper crafts - like cards - to me. Let's see what projects bloggers are suggesting...

What is Valentine's without roses? At Zakka Life, she's constructed luscious paper roses from newspaper then painted these paper roses a sumptuously romantic red.

Thinking about making something cute for Valentine's day? At Ali Edwards blog, ae, her weekend creative project was a wonderful little 4" Circle minibook.
Part card, part minibook this little circle creation is a great way to celebrate someone you love this Valentine's Day (or any day of course). This project uses my new Love Circle embellishments from Designer Digitals that you simply download and print (or use on digital projects).
I'm looking at my collection of souvenir circular coasters and thinking would make a great base for one of these books.

Want a simple little gift for a friend? Creature Comforts offers instructions for Printable Valentine Teabag Wrappers and Tags.
These would be perfect to give to friends and coworkers. Perhaps
you might package up a few in a sweet little teacup and present it as a

There are 4 ways to assemble the teabag wrappers. The one
shown in the tutorial below is the most time involved (stitching by
hand) but the results are my favorite. Other methods would include
using tape, glue or a sewing machine. Pick the method that will work
best for you and have fun!

Dabbled has declared this Cephalopod Week! Dot offers a charming watercolor squiddy valentine card as a free download.

NewNew offered a tutorial on a simple Four-Hole Binding. I have friends I've shared some special times with this past year; printing out some of the memories and any possible photos, then stitching them into small memory books could be really special ways for me (or you) to say how important a friendship is.
This binding is simple, elegant and adds a unique touch to the everyday card or book. You can use single sheets of paper, so you can use smaller pieces of paper, even scraps. You can use as many pages as you’d like, for a little book, or a few, like I’m doing now, to make a card.

The four-hole book could be made even more special with hand-made paper for the cover sheet, don't you think? Back in 2007, Mainly Zaz offered a wonderful tutorial on making your own paper.

Do you have plans to make something for someone this Valentine's day?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hot Damn! The FB 25 Things MeMe

1. When I was 5, my older brother got a baseball bat, glove and hat for his birthday. He hated baseball and was terrible when they tried to get him to hit. I begged to try. Eventually my grandfather and dad let me hit with the warning I only got 3 strike outs. Hit the first 7 pitches before I got my first strike.

2. My grandfather, handing one of the hit balls back to my father, said -in wonder- can you imagine if she were a boy???

3. That was the first and last time my father played ball with us kids.

4. It was not the first nor last time I got the message in my own home that I was inferior because I was "the girl."

5. For 2 years when I was little, I dunked everything I ate in milk before I ate it. EVERYTHING. Except my veggies. Those I just didn't eat.

6. When I went to kindergarden, where the milk came in cartons, my mother asked how I dunked my food. I honestly told her that I sucked the milk up in my straw, then blew it onto my food.

7. I loved climbing trees. There was this maple tree in a neighbor's yard that I climbed at least once a week. I got higher than any other kid on the block.

8. I'm been thinking about that tree, and eyeing the trees around the me. Can grown ups climb trees? If I have 911 on my speed dial?

9. I was part of the alpha test group for new math in 1960? (before anyone talked about new math). For me it means I can understand set theory but I can't divide.

10. I also can't remember how to multiple most of the 7s, expecially the 6s and 8s.

11. And I have a floating decimal point. Off the top of my head, I might not remember if some number is a thousand, million, or millionth! Ok, I'm usually only off by one or two places.

12. I used to be able to "hear" harmonies as quickly as most people hear melodies.

13. I've lost that skill because of lack of practice, but I'm working on getting it back.

14. I was in southern Ohio at a yearbook camp (I know.. ??) when the Cuyahoga river caught fire.

15 I would do the family ironing on Saturday's. With 4 males, plus my mother working 60+ hours a week, I'd iron between 25 and 30 shirts a week.

16 Listening to college football games while ironing is how I learned about football.

17. I do not know how I learned about baseball, but I remember being a big fan of Luis Tiant during his rookie year. His delivery? Mesmerizing!

18. I LOVED reading Little Women when I was a young girl. I would imagine myself the 5th March girl.

19. Sometimes I still do.

20. I cannot curl my tongue.

21. I cannot whistle through my teeth. Or through 2 fingers.

22. I was 55 before I could touch my toes without really bending my knees.

23. I can't swim. I'm not sure I can even float.

24. I used to be able to program VCRs without reading the directions. I was a VCR savant.

25. The only Shakespearian soliloquy I remember is the one turned into a song in HAIR. Don't ask me which play (though I think it's King Lear)...

I am not going to tag anyone here to do this meme.. but if the spirit moves you please leave a note in comments to let me know and share...

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Vision Board

Vision Board, 2009

I have completed the major construction of my 2009 Vision board. The background was divided into 4 main sections which supported major themes in my life:

Living Healthy
Acting Fearlessly and Taking Risks
Building Stronger Relationships and Building a Family from Friends
Smile, And Work Toward a New Future

I drove up to Davis, CA, to see buds Leslie and Maria a couple weekends ago. We spent a Saturday working on our visions boards (inspired by my post in early January). I ran out of time before completing mine, and brought it home. Where it sat until today.

Finally I trimmed and glued the final saying down and hung this board in my bedroom where I can see it each morning as I wake up and each evening as I go to sleep.

Some of the elements:
Vision Board, Check Emotional Baggage

"Do They Check Emotional Baggage?" /Embrace/ Smile/Shake Up/ The Future According To...

An undefined photo of a fire escape going nowhere...
A large photo (in the bottom right corner) of friends hanging out and eating to symbolize my building family;
"The ARt of Uncontrolled Flight... IS FOR JOY"...

-a snippet of a Langston Hughes poem:
Sometimes when I'm lonely,
Don't know why;
Keep thinking I won't be lonely
Bye and bye...

Vision Board  The Future According To

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Knitting Patterns Online

(crossposted at BlogHer)

Inspiration is one of the easiest things to find online. We bloggers share not only pictures of our projects, but their inspiration and sometimes the patterns (if they are original).

Over at Instructable, you can make a fun, felted chain-link necklace.
This is an easy project, fine for a beginning knitter who has knitted
in the round with double pointed needles. The only tricky part is
making sure you add the "links" as you go, sliding them and moving them
over your needles as you go.

For the past several years, the knit blogs have been filled with talk of the Clapotis, a scarf designed by Kate Gilbert.
It’s knit on the bias so the variegated yarn makes diagonal stripes and stitches are carefully dropped to make a pattern in the opposite direction. This creates a scarf which tends to be a little more of a parallelogram than a rectangle, but I promise, it’s nice that way.

Crazy Aunt Purl offers her Easy Roll-Brim Knit Hat Recipe. What's so great about this pattern?
The best part? Once you get The Formula, you can make hats all the time
with ANY yarn and NO PATTERN. This is my dream come true. Now if the
naked-rich-man-who-does-dishes dream would come true, I could die happy
Cookie A. designed the wonderfully Monkey Socks because:
the true driving force behind these socks was ADDICTION. There was no other way to get them off my back than to knit them.
These socks have a lacy pattern that looks to work well with variagated, solid, or hand-painted socks, but I think not self-striping yarn.

Black Sheep Bags offered a pattern for a knit and felted Booga Bag. Made with a self-striping yarn this looks like a great little bag for carrying a portable project.

Six Degrees Arts designed Easy Peasy Yoga-Pilates Socks!

The winter 2009 issue of The Anti-Craft features the wonderful Melusine shawl. This pattern, knit in Knit Picks Bare merino Wool/Silk Sock yarn, undyed, gives not only the pattern for knitting the lacy gorgeousness, but also for hand-painting the yarn pattern after the shawl is knit. The color possibilities that dyeing after construction offers are truly intriguing.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.