Friday, December 31, 2010

Scarves for the new year

I've taken some time this week to wrap up a couple of projects.

The first project is a scarf that I began crocheting while on vacation in Michigan this summer. I bought a gorgeous hand-dyed wool and started working right away. On the flight home, however, I realized that I wouldn't have enough yarn to make the scarf as long as I like. I looked through my yarn stash, and found a cotton/poly 2-ply with almost the exact same color scheme! The colors are more muted, but I think the two yarns look great together.

Multicolored scarf

One-third of the scarf is the 2nd yarn. The combination is subtle - it takes a beat or two to see that there's a difference.

Multicolored scarf - 2 yarns

The second project: I've had the rusted fabric sitting around my house for a while, not sure what to do with it. I decided that I'd like to dye it again. I added a third piece of muslin to the pile, and added more rusty objects this time. It occurred to me that I could cut the fabric lengthwise and make a very long scarf out of it. It was hard to be patient with the dyeing process, but I am very pleased with the results.

Rust scarf

Since the rust will keep working on the fabric (the process never completely stops), it will eventually develop holes. I like the idea of embracing that natural decay. I tore the fabrics instead of cutting them, and sewed them by hand, leaving the edges ragged. The scarf will unravel and rot over time.

Rust scarf close-up

(This, too, shall pass.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas joys

Christmas Day

Christmas smiles and joys . . .

Ross with Yoshi

(Yoshi was crocheted by EnemyAirship, whom you can find on Etsy.)

Chris reading Ross' card

Ross with Star Wars t-shirt

Ross opened this present and said, "Oh cool, a venn diagram!" Do I know my kid or what?!

Chris and Ross playing Wii at Christmas

Must play the new Wii games, of course.

The cats liked their presents, too.

Gus playing with Christmas toy

Bubba with Christmas present

December 26th

This afternoon, Ross and I visited the annual Christmas display at Gaiser Conservatory.

Christmas lights and cactus

Ross in the Christmas light jungle

Ross in Gaiser light display

Self-portrait side in Gaiser

Looking forward to the new year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Want to see the zine swap?

Remember back in September when I produced this zine for a swap? Now you can see photos of all of them. And let me tell you, there were some jaw-dropping zines! Alma Stoller has posted photos on her I Heart Zines blog -- check it out!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photos of the season

Part One
I painted some quick gift tags the other night, but made the mistake of leaving the wet paper where our cat Gus could get to it. Of course he walked right into the red paint! Luckily, Chris caught him before he left Christmas footprints all over the place.

Cat feet with red paint (and whiskers)

Cat feet with red paint

Part Two
The sun peeked out just a tiny bit this afternoon. I grabbed my camera to take photos of the berries on my neighbor's mountain ash tree.

Mountain ash branches with snow

Mountain ash berry bunches

Mountain ash berries with snow

Mountain ash berries with red orange blur

Mountain ash berries close-up

Mountain ash berry on snowy fence

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas craftiness: a green nativity scene

My church has some sort of program or class almost every Wednesday night. As the staff was planning our December offerings, it was suggested that we could do a craft night for the whole family. We were also planning a nativity scene display, and thought it would be fun to help people make their own nativity scenes which they could add to the display. Well, guess who got to design the craft project?

I knew I'd like to use as many inexpensive supplies as possible for this project. Since I knew I'd have young kids and parents in this class, I thought it would be easiest to find something three-dimensional to be the main body of each piece. Some sort of box or tube . . . ah ha! Toilet paper rolls. Readily available and free, and easy to upcycle. Perfect.

My sample nativity scene looked like this:

Nativity scene with cardboard tubes

I decided to give the people a simple head scarf and robe. I glued a piece of fabric onto the roll for a robe, leaving about a third of the roll uncovered to become the head. Then I cut more fabric for the head scarf. I folded the fabric to find its center, and then glued it over the area that I wanted to be the face. (Ideally, the center of the fabric should align with where you'll draw the nose.) I only glued it around a third of the tube. The head scarf can be easily trimmed if it's too long in the back.

Mary in nativity scene

You can see on Joseph how I gave the scarf a couple of folds, and then tacked them down with a little glue.

Joseph in nativity scene

I found it easiest to draw the faces last. I used markers; some of the craft-night folks used crayon, or glued on googly eyes.

For baby Jesus, I cut a toilet paper roll in half. Then I wrapped the roll in a piece of fabric that was extra long, so that it would look like "swaddling clothes." I glued it at the top like a head scarf, but also under the chin. Again, I drew the face last. 

Baby Jesus cardboard tube

The manger turned out to be easier than I thought. I cut a roll in half lengthwise, then used double-sided tape to connect the two pieces at the curve.You could paint it if you wanted. Some folks in my craft class glued yellow yarn in the top to create straw.

Manger with cardboard tubes

The animals were a challenge. Luckily, I had some fabrics in my stash that made great sheep and cows and donkeys. (Look for remnants at the fabric store or clothes at the thrift store that you could cut up.) I'd make big animals (horses and cows) with full-sized tubes, and cut them smaller for smaller animals.

I used chenille stems (pipe cleaners) for legs. Each 4-legged animal needs two stems. Cut them both in half, so that you have 4 pieces. Fold each piece in half, then twist the ends together to create one leg. Bend over both ends a bit. One end will be where you tape the leg to the tube, and the other end will be a foot. Feel free to add knees, too! After you tape on the legs, then you can glue the fabric onto the tube. The fabric will cover the taped portion of the legs -- you may need to cut small slits in the fabric to get it to fall where you want it. I didn't put a tail on my sheep, but it's easy to do. Cut a circle of fabric slightly larger than the end of the tube and glue it on for a solid behind on your critters.Then attach a tail to the fabric circle.

It was easiest to glue paper faces onto the bodies. I found some nice animal faces on free internet coloring pages, which I thought would be less stressful for people than to tell them to draw faces on their own. These were cut out and glued on last.

Sheep in nativity scene

So there's the basics. I'm sure you can come up with shepherds and wise men and chickens, and you could even construct a little barn, too. Jane LaFazio has a great version of a toilet paper tube angel on her Flickr account. I didn't use paint because I didn't want to deal with the mess of a large group, but you certainly could. I hope you enjoy making your nativity scene as much as my students did on craft night!

P.S. Sharp scissors (preferably fabric scissors) are a must for this project. Parents, please help your little ones cut fabric safely.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yesterday's icicles

Winter sunshine can be a rare thing in the Inland Northwest. Yesterday, the temperatures rose and the sun peeked out for a little while. I grabbed the camera and stepped outside to admire the icicles on our church building.

They are so beautiful, and so ephemeral. Especially when they are melting fast!

Icicles dripping from roofline

Icicles were falling off the roofline and smashing into the snow and slush as I shot these photos. Had to be careful not to get hit by one!

Shining icicles

I am in love with the way icicles show off the sunshine.

Bright icicles

A wondrous, drippy world.

Water drips in front of tree

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In gratitude: five things

Five things I'm grateful for today:

1. My exercise bike is ready to go whenever I am.
2. Space heaters. My office and my basement would be uninhabitable in winter without them.
3. Deadlines. They make me crazy, but I'd probably never finish anything without them.
4. The generous people who post free images on the internet. Thank you for saving me, time and again.
5. Email. (Yes, really.)