Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve 2013

Yesterday a friend kidnapped me for a wonderful day of fancy foods, happy crafts, photo opportunities and sharing happy, sad, and passionate stories. We got to go inspiration shopping at Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby had some amazing door knobs that would be great stoppers for gourd canteens or atop walking staffs. And it is nice to know that both stores are near my boyfriend's new job site.

I worked on my crocheted hexagons. I had other projects but quickly realized I cannot talk and do those complicated crafts at the same time. For me things like beading and calligraphy are solitary pursuits.

I also got to try a ginger drink and saved the bottle as a momento. I'm saving glass bottles for a future project with my new glass cutter.

As the last day of 2013, I'm glad I somehow cheated fate and survived another year. I'm thankful for all my real and imaginary friends. I'm glad I stayed out of the hospital for another year. I got to watch my 3 grand kids grow up a little more. I got to be in my first local art show. What I need next year is a lot more performing and art opportunities and some cash in my coffer. And I need to get a car because it's pretty hard to thrive miles from nowhere without transportation.

If you are a part of my life, thank you for being in it. Happy New Year!

My first time at the Cheesecake Factory.

Greenman Gourd

Admiring my friend's art collection.

Spectacular wall sconce at the Cheesecake Factory.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Working on the Hexagons

While driving around shopping today, I used every opportunity to work on my crocheted hexagons. I just love watching all the colors play together. It is good therapy for me. I can't wait to see what happens when I add new colors to the mix. Yes, I am a color nerd. I haven't decided what to do with all my hexagons yet. I don't really need another afghan. I'm thinking of making a messenger bag. Or maybe a lap quilt. Hmmm, what to do, what to do. Sometimes crochet is its own reward.

I also went to Michaels and they didn't have the block printing ink that I need. So I went to Hobby
Lobby and found it there. It was more than I wanted to spend so I only got one tube of black.

Remember when I was looking for cute glass jars with lids for my inspiration project? I ended up getting glass jars without lids a while back. Well, Hobby Lobby has some nice glass containers with lids. But even better, the .99 store down the row had some lovely lidded glass jars for .99 each, about 1/3 what Hobby Lobby was charging. But I won't have any money until the first (if then) so the jar quest will have to wait.

Someone picked up a glass cutter for me last week, so if I can find a lazy susan I can do the glass bottle projects I've been  hankering to do. Too many crafts, too little time.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pink Resin Flower Hippy Chic Boho Necklace

I just finished a cheery little asymmetrical necklace with a pink resin flower by Blue Moon Beads, rainbow hemp, dark green lamp-work beads, a vintage turquoise colored button and a rectangular charm. The clasp is a vintage spherical wooden button and hemp loop. The flower really catches the light.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Crocheting Hexagons

Today I realized why I'm always starting new projects. It's the quest to learn and master new skills. Yes, I have plenty of unfinished projects to spend all my time on, but then I don't learn anything new. So part of each day should be tackling a new art, a new technique, a new way of seeing an old thing, and so on. That is how we grow.

Today I started a new hexagon crochet project. As I'm working through it it is seeming more and more familiar. I think I've made something very similar in the past. I'm taking a little break because my eyes are getting fuzzy and my wrist could use a rest. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

Then I want to go through all the craft books I got at the Apple Valley Library one more time and decide which ones to return. I have too many books out right now and it is making me nervous. The librarian rolled her eyes at me. So yeah, gotta take some back.

Maybe I can do some beadwork today too.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve and Still Busy Crafting Stuff For the Holidays

After several snafus I finally got most of my holiday cards sent. I had a few more but when I carried them to the mailbox, the mail had already been picked up, so those will go out on Thursday. Too late for Christmas or Yule but it can't be helped. They are still in time for the holiday season and hopefully will be appreciated by the recipients. I don't want to spoil the surprise so I'll wait a few weeks before showing off the cards in my blog.

I'll be happy to get back to my knitting and crocheting now. You know I didn't put up a single Christmas decoration this year. We had a overnight guest on the weekend, and it's just too crowded to have 3 people in here and do any decorating. I'm lucky I could cook meals. Now it seems too late to bother.
My boyfriend is exhausted from his new job, so he probably won't do anything Christmassy tomorrow either and I'll just sit around pouting. I can neither seem to ignore Christmas nor get into it. And with my 56 birthday looming on Jan. 3, it is hard to keep a happy mindset.

Me around Christmas in 2010 in a scarf I knitted.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Winter Solstice

Today I got to do some two color knitting. I was at the laundromat and ran into a regular that always brings her crochet. She never remembers me but when I got out my knitting she came over to say hello. I worked on adding an ankh to my poncho; an appropriate project for the shortest day of the year.

Then I stopped at Cafe 247 for a cheeseburger. After I ate, I did some sketching. They have cute doodads on the wall, so I sketched some of those.

Guy has a friend over and they are working on some big archery project so I'm just trying to stay out of their way. It's hard to do that in such a small house.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rainy Sewing Day

Rainy days and sewing seem to go so well together. First I had to get some dishes out of the way. I don't recommend sewing in your kitchen/dining room, but if that's all you have, then it is what it is. It was a joy to iron strips of fabric and then set my cold hands on the warm material. Then I pieced 6 different prints together. One had frogs, several had polka dots, one had diamonds, and one had a shape like a lozenge popular in Googie architecture. All I have to make now is the waistband, but I'm waiting for some measurements. Fun.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hiking in Lucerne Valley, CA

Maybe I've never mentioned in this blog that I'm a photographer. Taking your own photos is practically a necessity when you are an artist. Sometimes the photo itself is the art, but other times the photos are for brochures or to document works in progress or to use for webpages or flyers.  And if you make collages, copyright is a huge issue.  Using your own photos solves that problem. I use photos like this on my Zazzle products. On Zazzle you can turn your art into postage stamps, buttons, postcards, tote bags and many other items.

But sometimes photography is it's own reward. So today I went on a photo hike. Here are some of the photos I took.

Abandoned House

Alien Landscape. Playing around with Picasa editing software.

A rock stack I assembled. Now if only I could make one in my yard.

I love how the 'x' in the sky and the beam of light enhance this photo of twin Joshua trees.

Using the Polaroid feature on Picasa to enhance my cloud photo.

A rock stack I found.

Tiny desert plant.

Monday, December 16, 2013


I just started part 2 of my knitted poncho. It has two rectangular sections. I charted out an ankh design to put on this panel. I wonder if I want to go with pink for the whole thing, or add another color, maybe green.

I also started a new knitted project for my grandson. It will probably be a gift if it comes out, so I won't show photos until later.

I've also been working on drawing again, so I can make some print worthy designs. I should have gotten into printing in the warmer months, but you know how inspiration doesn't necessarily strike at convenient times. After our cold snap, I was happy to get a fairly warm day today. I was able to sit in the yard and knit for a few hours without freezing my tail off. I have no idea what happened to my printing inks or my gesso when we moved, so I either have to find them or buy more. Sigh. Moving always befuddles me. It takes forever to get organized again.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Faery House Condo and Printmaking

Today I have been researching printmaking processes including linoleum block prints, wood block prints, monoprints, printing with fish, and carved eraser stamps. Then I read a big book on photo manipulation for mixed media art. My mind is exploding with creative ideas. I'm going to print my holiday cards.

I also did some hands on work though. My boyfriend had to help me figure out how to make the base for my faery condo. He had to trim the base with a chainsaw. He helped me epoxy the main stem to the base. It will make more sense if you look at the photos. I'm letting it dry overnight, then I'll start building the fairy houses. After admiring faery houses on Pinterest since the day it started, I finally decided to just make one already.

Top view.
I epoxied a dowel embedded in the base and in the stem. Now I'm letting it dry overnight.
Picking out parts for my faery condo.
Faery condo self portrait.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Project Recap

I never know whether I should let my creativity have free rein and jump from horse to horse down the racetrack or if I should buckle down and finish things. I just want to create all the time. So today I started noodling around with a new knitting project. And one of the needles is wood and kind of splintery so I need to find some sandpaper and fix it if I can.

This morning I started working on a faery condo made out of wood scraps and bark. I didn't get far when I had to drop it and catch a ride to the library and to the town.

The three print making books I requested had come to the library. I haven't had time to look at them yet to see if they are any good. I ordered them off of the library's online catalog and had them shipped over. I suck up inspiration like a sponge. I just can't get enough.

And now one of my friends wants a tutorial on mittens and fingerless gloves. I wonder if I'm up to that task. I am having issues with my camera, so I didn't want to commit to something like that just now.

I also started crocheting an adult version of a target hat. The center is yellow, then comes red, then blue, then black and last of all white. The first one was for my friend's baby. She just had a son a few days ago. She said no one had given her any hats, so I know she'll have a use for it.

I finished Maggie's Christmas stocking in time for her first Christmas.
Other side of Maggie's stocking.

Baby cocoon for my daughter's photo studio. I wish I had a real baby to put in it, but you get the idea.

Baby cocoons can be custom ordered.
Target hat for my friend's newborn.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Get Stuff Done

It's crunch time for Christmas gifts. I make most of my gifts. I have a lot of things partly done. So today I have a long to-do list with a goal to get the main box into the mail tomorrow. So I have knitting and crocheting to do in order to meet that goal.

I also missed my grandson's birthday, so I need to get something together for that. And my granddaughter's birthday is early next year. I'm going to have to ask what day it is. Maybe I should go back to updating my perpetual calendar that is in an recipe box under my desk. It's a bit of a tickler file.

And it's sunny out, so I plan to spend some of it soaking up the rays, feeding the wild birds, and cleaning up the glass that broke in the windstorm.

I think we may be going to town to get a ham today too, while they are on sale. I can take my knitting along. It's almost 40 minutes of knitting time if I knit all the way there and back. Time to get off the computer and get stuff done.

The wind carried this about 400 feet in the last storm. A neighbor tore them out of his house and I was going to use them for either a cold frame or an art project. Too late now.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

And Then There Was Juggling

Last night I was reading a book about 3 Aboriginal artists that had converted their paintings into knitwear designs. While the designs themselves were pretty cool, that isn't the part of the book that spoke to me. They are telling their own personal stories on their sweaters. And I wanted to do the same. Kangaroos are lovely but don't have anything to do with my life.

So I grabbed some knitting graph paper, and designed something close to my own heart; a woman juggling. I've juggled since 1977. It put food on my table when I had no other income. So it means a lot to me. I hope I have time to make the design into a sweater, a vest, a pillow or something. But probably not until 2014. I'm swamped with projects right now. The juggler is juggling five balls, a goal I've worked on many times but never mastered. If I ever get to go to another juggling convention, I'll wear it.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Christmas Stocking For Maggie's First Christmas

My boyfriend helped me set up a temporary sewing area in the dining room so I could make a Christmas stocking for my granddaughter's first Christmas. It looks pretty good so far. It goes with the three I made last Christmas for my daughter, her hubby and my grandson. They already hung them up, and little Maggie is looking for hers.

Little did I know when I made them out of burlap rice sacks that burlap would be all the rage in decorating this year. I still have to add the tassel and the bell.  That can wait until after dinner though. My boyfriend is making homemade chili and needed the kitchen back for awhile.

He put a space heater under the dining room table, so I stayed warm while sewing. This is only my second winter here so I don't know if this is a cold snap or what, but it is way too cold to sit in a container in the yard sewing like I usually do.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


It's always lovely when a great childhood memory comes rushing back. I am knitting a pink poncho right now and I suddenly remembered my mother making the four of us girls fabric ponchos when we were little. They were squares of fabric with a neck opening. Then she would fringe the edges with a straight pin. I remember her doing the edge and I helped her with some of them.

I also remember her making things out of terry cloth, though I can't quite remember what.  Swimming suit cover-ups? Bath robes? I also remember her making me 2 striped caftans that made me look enormous. LOL.
Knitting a poncho.

I inherited these knitting needles.
I took my knitting to the Christmas party yesterday. I started adding another shade of pink to it. There were two other women knitting there as well, and one doing kumihimo.

Gifts waiting for the gift exchange.

I also started crocheting another target hat.
I didn't win anything crafty in the gift exchange game, but there was a kumihimo kit, a soap making kit, and a large drop spindle with yarn circulating in the game.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Fun Christmas Party

Great fun at an SCA Christmas party tonight. I got to talk about knitting, tatting, and crochet. I started an archery target hat for myself. I got a Gothic style candelabra in the gift exchange too. And my pyroglyphed owl gourd went to a woman that enjoys gourd art. In the exchange you picked a gift to open, then another person could steal it from you or pick a fresh gift to unwrap. I went through four  presents until I got to keep one! It was a lot of fun. Everyone was dressed so fancy in their SCA party garb, which was good because it's cold enough to snow outside.

Then when I got home there was a post from my daughter wanting another Christmas stocking so my granddaughter can have one to match the rest of the family stockings that I made last December. And it just so happens I spotted one of the rice bags they are made from in my bedroom, so I'll have to dig it out and see what I can do. I was just about to send my daughter a box, so I hope I can whip up the stocking and put it in the box so she can have it before Christmas.
Great knitted Santa hat.

Lots of pottery showed up in the gift exchange.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Tit for Tat

Not everything comes easily to me. No, not at all.  Once again I'm relearning how to tat. My mom loved to tat. And about once a year I try to master it. So I found two shuttles and spent the better part of the day tying my red thread into knots. Any plan I had of tatting a gift for the Christmas party pretty much flew out the window. Late in the day I suddenly remembered how to wrap the working thread around my hand.

Part of the problem is a lot of the Youtube tutorials are for needle tatting, not shuttle tatting. I lost my tatting needles before I moved. And I can't remember if I ever learned how to use those in the first place.  When I taught crafts at Michael's, my boss taught needle tatting, but I never got around to taking her class. Pity. Anyway I want to carry on my mom's legacy, especially since as far as I know, none of my other family members tat. If they do, it's a secret.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Inspiration Jars

I'm making Inspiration Jars. I talk about it in detail over here http://portaltoesoterica.blogspot.com/2013/12/inspiration-jars.html

Making Inspiration Jars

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Spiral Knitted Hat

Can you believe it is already December?

We had a sunny day out here in the high desert. In fact it is 6:30 PM and I still haven't needed to light a fire in the wood burning stove. So I spent a part of the day working on my spiral knitting. I'm making a beret and learning how to make the spiral is tricky. I'm having trouble with the floats in the back. My working thread keeps ending up 10 or 12 stitches away so I have to drag it back to the beginning of each color, which is trickier than I'd expected.  If I get it too tight the hat with be all bunched up. But it's a learning project. When learning new things, you just have to work it out as you go. Maybe it won't be perfect but that's the best way to learn. Trial and error. As the hat gets bigger, I may just have to start a brand new yarn piece at the beginning of each color, which will give me a horrible number of ends to sew in later, but I don't see any way around it.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Project Wonderful

Many of you are familiar with advertising through Project Wonderful. I just redid my ad boxes in the right sidebar. Please click on my mug over there to get your low cost ad. It may even be free if no one else has bid yet. I rarely filled 3 ad boxes, so I downsized it to 2. I hope they are full all the time now. If you have an arts and crafts related business, you might want to grab one of the ad boxes on my blog.

Crocheted Hat and My Zazzle Line

Thanksgiving was wonderful but it's time to get back to work. I'm designing more address labels on Zazzle.

make custom gifts at Zazzle
Here is some of what I have for sale there.

On Thanksgiving I showed my boyfriend's mom the hats I was crocheting hoping she'd pick one for her Christmas present. Well, she got pretty excited about the pink one. She wore that a bit and then I continued working on one with a lavender hat band. As I added more colors she kept saying, "I really like those color combinations.' So finally I asked her if she'd rather have that one. So I worked on it while dinner was cooking and then more after dinner, and managed to finish it for her just in time before we had to leave to drive back home.  I hope it will keep her head nice and warm when she goes to watch her grandson's games.

Striped hat.

Joyce enjoying her new hat.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving. I am out of town for the day. Since I don't have a way to be on the Internet when I'm out of town, I scheduled this to post on Thurs. I hope you are having a grand time today, wherever this American holiday finds you.

I plan to be with my boyfriend's mom enjoying the apple pie and mincemeat cookies I baked on Wed.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Zazzle Address Labels

I just got off the phone with Zazzle because the balance they emailed me does not equal the balance my account page shows. I've had a discrepancy with them for most of the year. At least I'm making some sales there. The nice man on the phone tried to explain to me that the discrepancy is caused by royalties on foreign sales.

Earlier today I did design some new address labels and put them up for sale. http://www.zazzle.com/rose_labels-106061030023476026 If it weren't the day before Thanksgiving I'd try to design more. For one thing, I need to bake an apple pie and make some mincemeat cookies to take to the Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow down in Southern CA. Cooking happens!

And I have to make a library run. In short, today is going to be full. We'll see if I can squeeze some more designing into Zazzle if possible. What got me motivated was looking for return address labels on Vista Print. After scrolling through hundreds of designs, I thought I'd be more satisfied designing some myself. I'm supposed to be an artist after all.

Acrylic Floral Painting by Fayme Harper ©2011

Crocheted Baby Cocoon

Sometimes I get behind on projects. Case in point a baby cocoon I'm supposed to be knitting for my daughter, who is a professional photographer. So today I set to work on finishing it and decided I didn't like the size hook I was using. So I ripped it all out and started over. It's going much better now. I stopped in mid-project though to consult with her on the sizing. I'll set it aside until she tells me if it's going to work. I love the yarn she picked but I've already lost the wrapper so I can't tell you what it is.
I'd like to buy some for myself to make a hat. I love the texture and colors in it.

Almost done.
Can I borrow a baby to see if it fits?

Order a custom baby cocoon for photography.
Crocheting a baby cocoon while wearing a hat I made on a knitting loom.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Knitted Spiral

Hello crafters,
Today I worked on an afghan I started last winter. It got shelved when I got the flu and I'm just now getting back to it. But then I set that aside so I could figure out how to knit a six colored spiral. I was obsessed with trying to figure it out. On my 7th or 8th try I think I finally got the hang of it. At least I'm going to keep going to see how it turns out.

Six color knitted spiral.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Two New Crocheted Hats

Here in the Mojave Desert it is Autumn and in the yards with deciduous trees, you can see golds and other fall leaf colors. Most of the fruit has been harvested except for late season apples. The gourds are drying, and even though the days are warm, the nights are near freezing sometimes.

So I've been working on warm hats. I crocheted 2 hats and I still have ends to sew in but I'm about done.
Long tailed hat with brown brim

Fun using so many colors.

Pink Crochet Ribbing

Making sure it fits.

One tail is left long to make the added braid more secure.

The brim of the next hat.

Two hats with different colorways.