Sunday, March 30, 2008

British Summertime Starts! (Swap spoiler alert!)

What a difference a week makes! The clocks went forward this morning to mark the official start to British Summertime (snigger). What are the chances of us actually getting a summertime this year? Should I make a bet? We've had such bad weather for such a long time now, maybe we are due a really hot summer this year. Please?
So this was the view from my studio window this morning. Lovely and sunny! What a contrast from last Sundays photo with all the snow. M and I took the Hound of the Baskervilles up to Rabbit Field for a run around in the sunshine. I hung my washing on the line outside and it dried! There is nothing like laundry dried in the fresh air and sunshine.
So have you all had a good week my lovelies? This was the first week for absolutely ages that I didn't have to work a Saturday so I went into town for a spot of wandering round the market and the charity shops. I bought a few clothing bargains and also found these at a charity shop. 10 balls for 50p each! It's a lovely lilac-y silvery colour. I need to find something special to make with this! I'm hoping I have enough for a little lacy cardigan or shrug. Something nice and summery. Just in case, you know, we actually get a summer this year! (I'm so sick of grey!)
So what have I been doing this week? I've been crafting for the UK instant swap.
My partner PurpleHeather has been quite easy to craft for - in fact, the hardest thing has been stopping! One of the things on her list was the ubiquitous panta, she like purple and pink, so I made this panta in a mohair acrylic blend, so it will feel nice and cozy, but should wash easily. I think she may have to wash this when she receives it as she has a mild cat allergy and Pippin has snuck on my lap once or twice when I've been knitting it!
She also wanted a sketch book, so I covered this boring black sketch book in purple silk, and decorated it with ribbons, lace and jewels. I applied some gold to the edges of the paper for that hand bound look.
PH asked for some resin jewellery, so I made this sweet little heart pendant with sequins and micro beads in, and strung it onto a beaded necklace.
I made some blank cards recycling old greeting cards - you can never have enough blank cards, especially when you're a Craftster! I really like the black and white one in the top left hand corner.
And I also made some blank tags from the scraps from my greeting card frenzy. Sometimes the backs of greeting cards are as pretty as the front. I have this great tag punch which makes it easy to whip up some handy little tags.
She requested an i-pod cozy so I made this last night whilst watching the Order of the Phoenix! PurpleHeather has become a recent convert to the World of the Mighty Boosh, so how could I not make this Monkeyhead Zooniverse cozy! He has little beady eyes!
I wanted to make the back all mystically glittery, like a journey through time and space...but felt is a bitch to glitter! The glue pen kept scuffing up the felt fibres. I only wanted a very thin layer. I think the edge of the glitter pen was a little sharp *sigh* Must investigate softer edged glitter pens one day.
And I cut these stencils too. I sketched out roughly the shapes I wanted, then used a fine craft knife to cut them. I have this fantastic stencil paper from school which is sort of coated with an almost oily coating. Smells dreadful, but it's great for making reusable stencils and is easy to cut!
And what did I make with them? Well, this t-shirt! PH wanted one that said 'Jill of all Trades...'

I added to the back 'Mistress of Many...'

What do you think? Too much? I just had to add the back. I like little surprises. Motifs inside mugs, stuff on t-shirt sleeves or on the back; you get the idea. I wrote the lettering using an applique relief pen. It sort of pipes out like an outliner and dries with a raised edge. It has a long fine nozzle, so you can create some intricate work.

I made fairly durable stencils with special stencil paper, so I can use them again! I have a couple of other things to post, but they'll have to wait another day. Time to go and chill out on the sofa with M, a bottle of wine and a Terry Gillian film :-)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Equinox?

So as you can see in the photo, spring is definitely here! We woke up to snow again this morning! Obviously the usual Bank Holiday pursuits were out of the question, so we settled for the cinema this morning. M and I like the 'early bird' pictures - half price films before 12 o'clock. The best thing we could find though was the Spiderwyck Chronicles which I found entertaining, but M nearly fell asleep in. I have a soft spot for fantasy stuff though, I love otherworldly stuff - reality is just too real sometimes - I like to escape from reality *lol*
Anyway, it's time to catch up on some of my crafty projects that I've been working on. This sweet little bracelet is made from memory wire and seed beads, with tiny coloured bells for a fairy tinkle. It perfectly matches the ring I made last week and was a distracted moment Saturday night, M had fallen asleep on the sofa after the afternoons football excitements, so I pretty much spent the evening crafting happily in my nest (which is alot tidier today, as I spent some time decluttering it!).
Remember the silk tiger lilies I bought? This is the start of the head dress - I may or may not embellish it some more, I need to wear it for a few hours to see if it's comfortable or needs anything else. I took the flowers off the 'bunch' and hot glued them to a cheap plastic slide comb, adding glitter and fine ribbons.

I pretty much finished the 2 Harry Potter swap packages and they are now boxed up and ready to go. I even got around to measuring the gauge of the needles made and I burnt the sizes onto the needles with a hot stencil cutter. Not the best job but I find it hard to write with a hot tool where the point is so far away from the handle you're holding! Hey, I'm a perfectionist and the slightest imperfection annoys me.

Here's a goblet I made for one of the packages. It's slightly modelled on Helga Hufflepuffs cup - well okay, it's in Hufflepuff colours and the recipient will be able to drink Fire Whiskey from it as it can be hand washed. It's a lead crystal glass so it has nice facets cut into the glass which catch the light in real life.

And the Phoenix wall hanging? Yep, I finally finished that too. I decided not to back it with fabric, I like the translucentiness of the silk.

No HP package is complete without a wand of course; this one's made with the
Instructables tutorial, which is so easy and produces a nicely shaped wand with a decent weight to it.

I even made a couple of Hogwarts school hats to go with the packages, along with a couple of spell pendants.

These hats have a ribbed edge instead of the moss stitch edging that I've done before. I quite like each hat to be a little different.

I have a pile of packages to post tomorrow, and I have a clear crafty area for the next couple of swaps, the Easy Peasy Swap and the UK Instant Swap, both of which need a little crafty stalking on my part *lol*

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Flight of the Turtles

Happy Ostara everybody - the Spring Equinox (the earliest since 1913) has arrived bringing some quite severe weather with it. As I type this, I'm looking out of my window at a blanket of snow on the ground and flurries in the air. By most areas standards, it's not a thick fall, but considering that we are smack bang in the centre of our little island and the weather in our little Shire is never very extreme, it's a big deal! I love the way that snow manages to transform even the most mundane view into something pretty. Since it's a Bank Holiday weekend, the first of the year, M and I decided to 'do something'. As you may remember, I've been wanting to visit the National Sealife Centre in Birmingham for ages. They have giant sea turtles there and a seahorse breeding programme. Stupidly, we didn't think to pre-book and therefore spent an unexpected hour queueing outside in near arctic conditions. I was so cold I was near to tears. We formed a 'blitz' like camaraderie with our neighbours in the queue, most of whom had young children. We let one guy, who actually had travelled from the same town as us, out of the queue to get his young daughters hat from his car and let him back in when he returned, and when we finally got to the cash desk, he unexpectedly gave us a voucher giving us £5 off the entrance fee. It was worth the wait though. I was a little disappointed that the otters were all bundled up together in a little ball fast asleep, but I couldn't blame them!
This is a leopard shark
A seahorse

A poisonous lion fish

M lost in the mirrored maze of Atlantis

And the highlight (for me anyway), the underground world of the sea turtles.

Check out this video I took with my camera - I could have stayed there for hours!

Friday, March 21, 2008

An audience with Princess Farhana

Last night was the 'Audience with Princess Farhana' at our local tiny burlesque theatre. We got there bright and early at 7pm for the demonstration of stage make-up by Farhana who freely admits that she learnt everything she knew from drag queens *lol* She talked us through the application of dramatic eye make-up, false eye-lashes and pouty mouth tricks including what she said was known in the trade as 'porn frost'. She made up a willing volunteer as she was talking and said that although her volunteer would look like a hooker or a drag queen close-up, on the stage, under stage lights, she would look amazing! I have to say, the difference was stunning. She's an amazing personality, has that bubbly New York sort of humour and was so funny. She had prepared a handout for everyone too, so I now have a sheet of stage make-up tips to remind me that false eyelashes should be cut and glued, then you can wander off, have a cocktail, choose your outfit, and then come back and stick them on :-)

Then she gave a talk about the history of belly dancing and burlesque, and a bit about her past and how she came to be a belly dancer. Can you believe she didn't take up belly dancing until she was 32! She's in the UK at the moment promoting her new DVD 'Underbelly', part of which was filmed in Northampton last year. She's had a pretty wild past, she ran away to New York at 17 to be part of the Seventies punk scene and has been a musician, a writer, a music promoter and manager, and a showgirl.

Some of the girls enjoying a liquid refreshment :-)
Then it was onto the dancing. Here's Tallulah Flame.
Then Fulya...
Princess Farhana (she has the most incredible stomach muscles - I have some film footage that I took with my camera, but it's sideways at the moment. When I find out how to turn it round, I'll post it.)
Fulya again (this is my teacher); I just love this outfit - it really went with the music which was a kind of Twenties Charleston sort of tribal track!
And the finale - Princess Farhana again.
The Playhouse Theatre is a really nice venue for this sort of thing. It's tiny and very intimate. Farhana spent some time at the end signing copies of her new DVD and just chatting and getting photos taken with people.
I made a hairpiece especially for the night. These beautiful purple flowers with fibre and ribbon falls.
They went with my top :-)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patricks Day!

So in the end it was a very intimate Ravelry group meeting, Just myself and Dutchoma, everyone else seemed to be busy, or struck down with the lurgy, or in the case of one, her husband was involved in a serious traffic accident, so we all hope that he makes a full recovery. The 'meeting' turned out to be very entertaining, they were celebrating St. Patricks Day in the Park, so we had an Irish band playing, and then Irish Dancers. This is the best picture I could get on my phone camera from my position on the sofa *lol* We couldn't really hear much, but we chilled out, listened to the music and watched the dancers with a cup of Earl Grey and a chocolate chip cookie. I had a few other photos but my phone camera couldn't cope with the speed they were moving, so they ended up a little blurry!
I finished quite a few projects over the week, despite working a six day week again! I've done this for the for the last couple of weeks. I can't wait for Spring Break! Here are the radish earrings finally assembled and buffed. I think they came out quite well.
And here are the stitch markers with handmade Fimo beads. I usually make my stitch markers this way, then they can be used for knitting and for crochet.
The reason I made them this size was for these needles. Well, there's just one in this photo, but you get the idea. I plan to measure and mark them with the size just below the end bead. One of the beads glued on a little crooked for my tastes, but the glue set really really hard, so at least I don't have to worry about the ends falling off *lol*
This project turned out quite well; a row counter bracelet. There are nine beads on each string and a elasticated ring of small beads that can be slipped over the beads as you count the rows. You can see a definite colour scheme here, can't you!
I've also been playing with soldering irons again. These are spell pendants - Cave Inimicum - a spell to protect the wearer from enemies. It's the spell that Hermione casts around the tent in the Deathly Hallows. The middle of the pendant is mulberry paper, hand stamped with silver ink, then sprinkled with magical glittery dust and stars. The blank one is going to be enamelled for a girl at work. She admired one that I'd made for myself and asked me for one. The two circular glass pendants were me playing around with some glass nuggets on a whim. I kinda like the way they turned out.
I've also been requested for a wizards hat so I've been knitting hard for the last few days. I've tried to make each version of the hat a little differently - this one has a slightly rolled brim and a bit of ribbing on top of that. I didn't have any chunky, so this is DK weight yarn, using 2 strands at the same time to give it a chunky texture - gotta have a hat that will stand up when needed *lol* Black is such a hard colour to photograph unfortunately, so you can't see the brim detail in the picture, even with my super duper light tent, which I am LOVING!!!! These photos were taken in my bedroom in the evening with just the overhead room light and NO FLASH!! And look, you can actually see stitches! In black!

And just for fun, (because you know I have crafting ADD, right?) I made this little beaded ring for myself using memory wire and a sweet little coloured bell. It tinkles slightly when I wear it and makes me think of that old English nursery rhyme:

"Ride a cock horse, to Banbury Cross, to see a fair maiden on a white horse.

With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes.."

I know, I know, my bells are on my fingers, but you get the idea. Interestingly enough, Banbury is very near to me and I've been past the site of Banbury Cross many times; this link will tell you several ideas of where the rhyme originates.

This is something I've been working on for the last couple of days; a phoenix wall hanging - I was going for a slightly ethereal, intangible look, not completely a realistic bird, but one that was part flame. I hope that comes across and that its destined owner likes it. I just added the glitter embellishments tonight and it's still drying on the frame. I haven't quite decided on the method of display yet, I might try and find some fabric to sew it onto, or I may roll hem it and add a beaded or embellished border at the bottom to give it some weight. That was it can be hung near a window for a fluttery flamey effect. I haven't quite decided yet.



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