Monday, March 30, 2009

Victory Gardens

(crossposted at BlogHer)

Victory Gardens. If you read the news, it sounds like everyone is doing them. Michele Obama announced last week that part of the White House Lawn will be planted as an organic garden. This week, the beds were begun. First lady of California, Maria Shriver said this week that the California's Capitol Park will also have a organic vegetable garden this summer. Last fall, the lawns in front of San Francisco's city hall were planted as an organic garden called Victory Garden, 2008.

News reporters around the country scurry to add that everyday individuals, in response to our current economy, are planting Victory Gardens, too. Are you?

The term "Victory Garden" was started during World War II, when, as explained at Wessel's Living History Farm,
As part of the war effort, the government rationed foods like sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods. Labor and transportation shortages made it hard to harvest and move fruits and vegetables to market. So, the government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant "Victory Gardens." They wanted individuals to provide their own fruits and vegetables.

Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives, all in the name of patriotism.

Today's "victory gardens" have less to do patriotism and more to do with the current trends of DIY and the economic challenges facing many. Planting a garden speaks about:

-reducing shipping to feet instead of miles.
-concerns for food safety as you know exactly what was used on or near your food.
-teaching the next generation how to eating healthier.
-reducing one's reliance on items provided only at the mega-supermarket.

The National Gardening Association in their new survey, The Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America, report that 7,000,000 more households plan to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs in 2009 over 2008. This is almost a 20% increase in home food production in just one year, and follows a the 10% increase in reported gardens for last year.

WH Garden

Getting back to the White House garden. Curious about what is being planted this year? This diagram provided by the White House and printed in the New York Times shows a variety of greens, peas, broccoli, carrots and herbs. There are several small beds of berries, a patch of rhubarb and some mint. An item that one

This move to get a White House garden was begun in 1992 by Alice Waters, perhaps the mother of all "eating local", and organized as the movement Eat The View.

Others adding to the idea:

Joe Lamp'l from ComPost Confidential is challenging himself to grow A $25 Victory Garden. As he will be using no supplies he's used/owned in the past (including his ready-to-spread compost), this is a huge challenge.

The Transition Culture decided to offer A friendly Permaculture Critique of the Obamas' Vegetable Garden. Among their suggestions: put the garden closer to the house and add more fruit.

The Dream Life's Lorilyn had a less-than-remarkable experience when starting a garden last year, and she wasn't sure about continuing the experiment. Then

This week, when the fog rolled out and the spring like beauty began to roll in (our favorite tulip magnolia of the neighborhood is blooming) I started to see the dream come into focus

again. I began to consider cleaning up the beds, maybe even trying my hand at container potatoes. I still felt cautious, but all things seem so much more possible when winter retreats.

I agree. With a week of sunny dry weather this past week, I began planting my own vegetable garden. However, since this has been a regular occurrence for over 25 years, I am loathe to take up the term "victory". What about you? Are you planning on starting your own victory garden this year?

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crafting for Pets

Did you know that over two-thirds of American households claim a pet among the family members?  These animals look to us for food, shelter and comfort.  So while we're crafting fun things for the other family members, let's not forget the pets.

Cats can be entertained with simple felted cat toys -stuff them with catnip.  Many dogs love stuffed toys made with different textural fabrics.  My dogs can rip these toys open and unstuff them in a flash!  It's so much more thrifty to sew them quickly up myself.  These pet toys are easy enough that children old enough to yield a needle can make them.

Craftster recently highlighted a number of the brilliant pet crafts their members have made including small animals.  Click on a picture to be taken to the creator's post.

Craftster companion animals are not limited to dogs and cats. Plenty of small animals are receiving crafty love, from rats, to hedgehogs, to sugar gliders, and more. Each species has its own needs and preferences, and clever Craftsters have found ingenious ways to make projects that give their little friends the happy life and well-appointed living space they deserve.

bee hive guinea pig bed bunny tent chinchilla house
ferret monster bed ferret tent ferret monster hammock
rat condo rat hammock flower sugar glider

decided to share Pet Crafts too.  These included Susan Beal's Shrinky Dink Pet Tags, Dianne Gilleland's Duct Tape Pet Food Tray and Cal Patch's fabulous Recycled Dog Sweater.

Looking for additional inspiration?  If you're a knitter, check out Pet Projects: The Animal Knits Bible.  Nichole at Lapdog Creations reviewed this and thought:
is where knitting pattern book meets coffee table delight... and I adore it! This is one of those books that both knitters and non-knitting animal lovers will appreciate and find themselves flipping through again and again. Diana Miller's photography is exquisite, the models are beautiful and expressive, and the patterns uniquely fun.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Head Injuries and Natasha Richardson

As I write this, news reporters are lining up to report that a simple fall on a beginner's ski slope has resulted in the death of actress Natasha Richardson. She seemed fine at the time of the accident, was released by the medics on scene and started complaining of a headache a couple hours later.

Her condition deteriorated to the point that her family reportedly removed her from life support (which means she was ON LIFE SUPPORT).

While this is a tragedy for her family and a loss for the theaterical family as well, I hope that this sets another example of why head injuries must be taken more seriously by individuals and medical teams alike.

I speak from experience here, though not the tragic type of experience that Richardson's family has been living through.

Back in about 1980 I was living in a an apartment complex where most of us could not park our vehicles indoors. We parked in the lots outside our buildings and dealt with the weather, whatever may come. It was a common way of living- I never parked a car under cover until 1992.

One late winter day I was on my way to work. I do not know exactly what happened but I ended up slipping on the ice/snow mixture by my car and making a 1 point landing on my face. My glasses broke, the frame embedding in the skin right next to my eye.

I went to the ER, where they stitched me up and did xrays. I was worked on by the chief of the ER who talked with me throughout the stay, assessing my mental state. I was fine.

Family called me the rest of the day to make sure I did not exhibit signs of a concussion. I didn't. The next day I returned to work.

It was there that I started showing signs that something was not right. By the afternoon, I was saying to people that I could not think clearly enough to complete a sentence. I would get to the verb and forget what the subject had been. And, yes, I could analyze the problem that specifically.

My co-workers dismissed it as my body reacting to the stress of the accident. They told me to go home and take it easy that weekend. It was Friday afternoon.

The next thing I remember was Wednesday about lunch time. No memory of how I got through the Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday has ever returned to me. From talking and observations, I know that I grocery shopped, went to work and night school, apparently went to a bar Saturday night. I appeared normal -if a bit quiet- to those around me.

The lasting experience from that, however, was that the forgetfulness and confusion while talking never completely went away. If I speak with you, I may still pause mid-sentence; I'm trying to recall the complete thought I had. While trying to get the words from my brain to my mouth they often disappear. Thanksfullly this is not the case when the words are heading for my fingertips. I am a lot more talkative online, I think, because of this.

And my point: whenever someone you know has a simple head injury AND APPEARS FINE do not dismiss it. Get them checked out as soon as possible. Now there are CTs available that were likely not a common option in 1980. Pay attention to complaints by the victim for several days afterward an accident.

Head injuries are NEVER "simple injuries". Remember that, please.

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

Friday, March 13, 2009

Communicating Across the Abyss

Men and women are different. This we already know. With books like "Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars" authors have spent a lot of time examining the differences and trying to make us understand.

Deborah Tannen managed to accomplish this task with a conversation having only 2 lines:

Wife: Would you like to stop to coffee??

Husband: No thanks.

Before you click through and read her interpretation of the conversation, think for a minute. What is going on here, what are the expectations (or lack thereof), and how might these lines have been expressed better?

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Will Be New on Your Crafty Book Shelf?

Bookshelves are filling up with some of the newer offerings in crafty books. There are blog reviews, blog book tours happening. You don't want to miss this:

Weekend Sewing
Heather Ross's new book: Weekend Sewing has just been published. This book offers simple projects that the beginning sewer gain confidence and grow in techniques.
The clothing projects in Weekend Sewing are basic pieces. They are intended to walk you through your first sleeve, your first collar, your first zipper, your first buttonhole, your first bust dart. Once you've got the hang of things, you can change things around any way you like.
A fun 6 week blogbook tour is spreading the word and more. Each stop along the tour features something diffent.
LOG TOUR SCHEDULE (forgive the third person, I didn't write this! -h)

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE (forgive the third person, I didn't write this! -h)2/26/09 The Purl Bee (Technically not part of the tour, but still, a beautiful article! Do check it out!)

3/9/09 Make, Grow, Gather: Interview with tales and pics of young Heather growing up in Vermont.

3/11/09 Heart Handmade A Day in the Life of Heather Ross.

3/12/09 Disdressed Q & A? Exposé? Find out!

3/13/09 Freshly Blended A fresh review of Heather and Weekend Sewing.

3/16/09 Whip-up: Illustrated sewing demo – learn fun tricks!

3/17/09 House on Hill Rd. Erin shows off her lovely finished projects, and asks Heather about her inspiration for each.

3/18/09 Belle Epoque Fit and style. Know what you sew, win a book! – Part 13/19/09 Right here on True Up! Fabric design - Process and inspiration - Part 1

3/20/09 Charm City Craft Mafia blog: Heather burns rubber heading to signings in DC and Baltimore, with the Charm City Craft Mafia in hot pursuit!

3/23/09 Philly Etsy Team blog On the road again…this time to a sewing weekend at Spool in Philly. The Street Team investigates, and throws the book at a lucky winner!3/25/09 Knotions Fit and style. Know what you sew, and win a book! – Part 2

3/26/09 Cathy of California Heather discusses her old school inspirations and aesthetic!

3/30/09 Wardrobe Re-fashion Spring into DIY fashion, win a book!

3/31/09 Thisisloveforever: Fabric design - Process and inspiration with fabric giveaway - Part 2

4/1/09 Craftypod Book review and giveaway…no April Fool’s joke!

4/7/09 Etsy’s The Storque How-Tuesday! Virtual project demo from the Etsy Headquarters.

Alabama Stitch

Several blogger friends recommended Alabama Stitch Book to me, and I'm glad I listened. Sewer/Sewist were attracted to Natalie Chanin's book because it has such a beautiful design. After closely reviewing the book, the conclusion was: Buy This Book.
The book walks you through all kinds of projects based around the idea of the ethos of the original Project Alabama (the author is quite clear that she’s no longer associated with Project Alabama in its current iteration). The idea is revitalizing the craft of working with cotton that used to be tremendously important in Alabama. As I’ve written about before, is something that’s really important to me, and I really salute Ms. Chanin (’cause I’m sure a shout-out from Sewer-Sewist is the one she’s been waiting for) for capturing the sewing and crafting heritage of her region. There’s a bit of everything related to this subject in the book—sourcing and reusing cotton jersey, beading, various appliqué techniques and complete projects that bring together many styles from the book.
I love that projects are based upon reusing materials we have in our own homes and also, all these projects are done with hand stitching. The slowing down of time and the steady meditative motion of hand stitching appeals to me a lot.

Sew Darn Cute by Jenny Ryan

When the stitchin chicken picked up Sew Darn Cute, she almost left it on the table:
I almost passed it up. There are many books out there that have the same old, same old, just done in different fabric. Not so with Jenny Ryan’s new book. Out new this spring, Jenny has imagination and has come up with some really, well…..cute ideas!

Fabricate by Susan Wasinger

FabTalk examined Fabricate, the new book by Susan Wasinger, and explained the premise that Wasinger takes:
simple fabrics and turning them into “visual feasts” by using texture, color, design and patterns to create an item that is striking and unique. Using just a few carefully chosen materials, Wasinger guides her readers through a world of possibilities by playing with textures, layers and the surface design of fabric. There are four main lessons in this information-packed book: Pleats, Crinkles & Tufts; Laminates & Matrix; Cut & Fray; and Surface Embellishment. Each section instructs you on techniques by walking you through several projects using with clear, step-by-step instructions—with detailed photos of the processes as well.

The book is broken into 4 different parts: Pleats and Crinkles, Laminates, Cut and Fray, and Surface Embellishment. I haven't had a chance to examine this book myself, but I'll be on the lookout for it.

I read a blog for a while before I let myself trust a book review. I want to know if the blogger has similar taste and goals to me. After I trust a blogger, however, I use them as a touchstone when examining new offerings. One of my trusted crafty reviewers is Sister Diane -aka Diane Gilleland. And just in time for the spring offerings of new crafty books, she asks: What do you want in a craft book review?
1. How often do you read craft book reviews here?

2. What would you like to see more of in a craft book review?
(For example: a full list of the projects? Photos of the projects? Commentary on the quality of the instructions? Commentary on how the book fits into the current craft scene? A blog interview with the author? Comparisons with other similar books? Anything goes - what matters to you?)

3. What would you like to see less of in a craft book review?

4. Why do you read craft book reviews?
I'm curious too. What do you look for a craft book review? If the book is provided free of charge, does it matter? Should the blogger admit it off the batt? Should their be lots of pictures of inside pages? Do you want to hear the negative impressions or only the glowing points?

And what books are you eagerly awaiting adding to your bookshelf?

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Crafty Blog Tutorials to Make Your Life Easier

(crossposted at BlogHer)

Crafting it up. Below are several useful programs and tutorials to add some excitement to your crafting life, whether you're an experienced knitter, a thrifty crocheter, or looking to make your crafting/blogging life better.

Design Sponge shares a fast and simple pattern for crocheted cotton dish scrubbers.
In going through our supplies, we’ve discovered tons of leftover yarn from previous projects. instead of trying to mix and match it all into one larger thing, we’ve discovered the joys of making little things—projects we can whip up in 30 minutes or so these dish scrubbers are a good example: quick and easy to make, a great use of cotton yarn scraps, and they make great gifts. plus they’re a great alternative to stinky, disposable sponges. use these, toss them in the laundry, and use them again and again and again.

Thinking about redoing your sewing/crafting room? Crafting a Green World's Julie Finn shared a fun tutorial for covering boring cork tiles with t-shirt art.
Today, however, we’re getting our inspiration board on. We are going to cover a ratty corkboard with a rockin’ T-shirt (Funny story: I never lost the baby weight after my second baby, and now my entire pre-baby rockin’ T-shirt collection basically gets to be turned into other stuff. Sigh). With a rockin’ T-shirt corkboard, you get to remember your rockin’ days, and not have to see how teeny-tiny slim your T-shirts used to be.
If you're a quick knitter, there is still time to make up a Shamrock Hat for St. Patty's Day. The PDF pattern can be found at polarknit. (ht:WhipUp)

Now that you're inspired to make something, do you need a little help in photographing your finished items? Craftshock published a great tutorial to help you Make a Light Box.

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

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Crafty Podcasts: Listen to your Art...

(crossposted at BlogHer)
It happens every year at this time: while I run low on crafty inspiration, I also run low on time to read through the thousand of crafty blogs. I want thought and inspiration fed to me; I want it to fit into my schedule.

I want craft podcasts.

I still have my favorites; those podcasts that I check on throughout the year because I love them so:

Diane Gillaland's CraftyPod is one.  Each podcast is a talk on a specific topic -the latest one concerning Indie Crafters and the Craft Industry.

CraftSanity has kept me company during long cardio sessions at the gym.  In that way, she really has saved my sanity!  Interviews with different artists lets me learn so much about these individuals.

Other podcasts worth checking out:

Cast-On (knitting matters)by Brenda Dayne and Rebekkah Kerner. This quality podcast has been live since 2005!

Changelings Knit and Stitch
has gotten back to podcasting.  At the moment they are promoting a Victorian Bushfire Appeal to assist those effected by the Australian Wild Fires.

CraftBorg has fun vlogs now!  11of13 has made a reappearance after insane holiday knitting.

Recently Alison Lee of CraftCast went off to join the circus.  Well, she joined a circus training workout class.

CraftLit.  Always need to choose if you will settle in for some crafting or reading? Heather reads to you so you can get your craft on! Even when she is just talking to you, her voice is charming and inviting.

For the scrapbooker, Noell Hyman offers Paperclipping.  The complete podcasts are available only by membership however.

ScrapHappy is another scrapping podcast.  After travelling for a while, Lain is sharing some of her tips for scrapping on the road.

is currently talking ATCs.. and this month, she's focusing on flight.

HelloCraft tells the story of DIY crafters.

Annie's Quilting Stitch covers all things quilty.  This week, Annie broadcasts from Empty Spools Seminar in Asilomar, CA.

Are you interested in sewing?  Then SewForthNow is a podcast for you. And if you like your sewing a bit more on the DIY side, ThreadBanger will fit the bill.

Is there a crafty podcast that I missed?
I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Joss Whedon on Crafts and Craftiness

(crossposted at BlogHer)

It's the small touches that transmit unique style to something. Perhaps it's a hand knit hat or lacy shawl that defines a wardrobe. Maybe it's mid-century flea-market finds that make a home unique. Sometimes we consciously recognize these items; other times they are simple subconscious cues. As it is in real life, so it also is make believe.

That's one of the things I learned while I enjoyed CrochetMe's Kim Werker interviewing Joss Whedon. Whedon is the creator of Buffy, Firefly , Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and the current Fox program Dollhouse. Turns out he also knows a thing or two about crafts.

In the interview, Werker asked about the crafty elements in Whedon's sets. He responded:
The crafty part was more– for me was more Firefly. Because in Firefly we were really trying to evoke the idea of things you make for yourself, of a life that you create with your own two hands. It was all very pioneer spirit, and so it ended up just looking really '70s in the decor, which was not exactly the original intent, but that said, that was very deliberate.
Personally, I was a bit blown away by the thought that Werker scored this. Then I read the story behind the Whedon interview. Another strong example of the power of the internet and the crafty community:

See, back at the end of July the Wired blog asked Whedon how publicity was going for his new internet short movie, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and he replied, "Fact is, there's been some buzz, but it hasn't reached the places it would normally. Where's our write-up in Crocheting Monthly?"

Knowing how much the crafts community loves them some work by Whedon (work including creating the television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly; the movie Serenity; the trailblazing Dr. Horrible; and more), and always up for what seems to be an impossible challenge, I thought it might be fun to see if we couldn't deliver him that crochet write-up. I had no contacts in Hollywood, so I asked the online crafts community to help try to get his attention.

Ask, and ye shall receive. The crafts world erupted in blog posts providing the equivalent of Jayne-hat-wearing fans standing on street corners in sandwich boards reading, "Joss! Do an interview with Crochet Me!", jumping up and down and waving their arms. Additionally, crafters, being everywhere—possibly hiding in your boss's office this very moment—are of course also well connected. By several routes, someone knew someone who knew someone that could pass our formal request to Whedon's assistant.

At the end of August, I heard from said assistant who told me Whedon definitely wanted to do the interview.
Maybe more surprising was learning that Whedon learned how to knit and crochet when a boy, was learning that he understands the often unbridgeable gulf between knitters and crocheters:
I'm aware of the desperate rivalry between the knitters and the crocheters. And, you know, first of all I have to say: can't there be peace?

It's an age-old war. Like the werewolves and the vampires. I think Underworld was actually originally about crocheters and knitters but they thought it would be too controversial so they changed it to vampires and werewolves.
As a Firefly fan, I am well aware of the impact one item from the show had on the knitting and crocheting community. The iconic Jayne Cobb Hat (worn by mercenary Jayne Cobb, played by Adam Baldwin):

jayne hat
If ever an item from home seemed to conflict with the known character, it was this. Cobb slept with his favorite gun and often held himself apart from the other characters. He often acted in a "each man for himself" way-though his thoughts occasionally betrayed his actions. Whedon explained:
My whole thought was that Jayne was your classic bad-guy mercenary type, and I thought this is the one guy who does not have a tortured past, who has a decent, hard-working family, who just, you know, this was his career choice and the idea of him getting a letter from mom that he struggles to read, and the knitted hat, was— it just felt so right. It felt very, very him and very human and then of course I saw the hat with its flaps and its pom pom, and I just couldn't have been happier.
The hat exploded across the internet appearing in blogs, on ravelry and on flickr.

You can find a variety of the Jayne Cobb Hat patterns online; Allison MacAlister, published The Knitting Ninja version. I think it's a pretty good copy of the original.

Other Sci-Fi Inspired Crafts:

How about Thea's knitted Centurion cap?

Or at Our Big Earth, they are currently holding The Craftizmos ROBOT CHALLENGE. Make your own recycled robot costume to enter.

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