Our friend Ella (the daughter of a Red Sox fan) just celebrated her first birthday. To mark the event we decided to make her this doll.
Mike made the card using the socks as the "L's" in Ella's name. The Sox logo on the doll's chest is an embroidered iron-on patch Mike found on ebay. I used a damp press cloth and an iron to adhere the patch. It worked great.
The Ella doll turned out the be both cute and timely. Shortly after we gave Ella the doll the Sox won the World Series.
Go Ella and go Sox!
Humanity can be divided into two groups of people. Those who use sponges to wash their dishes and those who use dishcloths. My mother-in-law uses a sponge. My mother uses a dishcloth. The sponge vs. dishcloth debate has gone on for generations. There are arguments for and against both, but being my mother's daughter I come down on the side of the dishcloth. I enjoy making my own so I was happy to hear that Susan Lowman has released a new pattern booklet entitled Wiggly Crochet Dishcloths.
The booklet is published by Annie's and available here. It includes photos, instructions and charts for 6 beautiful wiggly crochet dishcloth projects. The patterns are well-written and easy-to-follow. I would expect nothing less from Susan, a talented designer, superb crochet technical editor, my mentor and my friend.
I decided to start with Susan's Four Square pattern. Like all of the dishcloths in the booklet, you begin this dishcloth by making a crochet grid (sort of like filet crochet). Once you finish your grid you fill in some of the squares with crochet stitches that stand up and look, well, wiggly!
The effect is amazing but it's really not hard to do. Once you get the hang of the technique you can design patterns of your own. For my second dishcloth I made a basic chevron pattern.
For these dishcloths I used Omega Sinfonia yarn, a light worsted weight cotton recommended by the pattern. It was easy to work with and the colors are lovely.
If you'd like a chance at winning a signed copy of Wiggly Crochet Dishcloths, just leave a comment on Susan's blog. Even if you don't think you're lucky enough to win the booklet, I recommend you check out Susan's blog anyway. It's filled with interesting posts and has a lot more information about this fun, pretty technique of wiggly crochet.
I challenge you sponge people to try making just one wiggly crochet dishcloth. I think it might convince you come over to our side.
I made this sweater for our friends Lisa and Jesse who are expecting a baby girl in a couple of weeks.
I bought the yarn and buttons at Purl Soho and used their baby girl fair isle cardigan pattern.
While the sweater was blocking Mike got busy and designed a card. He printed out a bunch of different color combos to see which one matched the sweater the best.
We didn't have any wrapping paper but the roll of paper we've been using to cover the floors during construction was the perfect shade of pink.
We used it to wrap the gift.
(Jesse is a Red Sox fan so we made a little pink Boston "B" - for baby - to seal the tissue paper).
We also used the pink paper to fold up an envelope for the card. I sewed one of the extra buttons from the sweater onto the card to tie the whole thing together.
I hope the sweet new baby enjoys wearing her sweater as much as I enjoyed making it.
Baby Ella is here!!!!! Her wonderful parents sent me this photo of the beautiful baby wearing her sweater. Could this baby be any cuter?
I'm writing crochet patterns at the moment and that doesn't lend itself to blogging, so I thought I'd blog about a folded paper project I made for the new apartment. This project is a replica of something I saw in one of my favorite out-of-print books, Paper Pleasures. An artist named David Lewis did the folding sequence. I've searched for Mr. Lewis on the Internet but can't find him. There were no directions about how to fold his piece but with some trial and error I figured it out. Mr. Lewis' work was 4 panels and big enough to hang on a gallery wall. I decided to make my version three panels and small enough to fit in an Ikea frame.
Then use both of the skills you've just learned, folding and crunching, and make the third square of origami paper half crunched and half folded.
Smooth out the crunched up paper areas and you'll have a progression that looks something like this. Pretty cool Mr. Lewis!!!
Mr. Lewis could have stopped there but he didn't. He took an airbrush and gave his paper a gradient color from light to dark. I don't have an airbrush so I used a Rembrandt soft pastel instead.
Starting at the lower right corner of your paper, color like crazy with your soft pastel.
Use a tissue to gradually spread the color to the opposite corner. Work it around a bit until you get a nice gradation from light to dark. Workable fixative will help with this process. I stopped and sprayed my pieces a couple of times while coloring, and then again at the end to keep the color on the paper.
Now get your Erikslund frame from Ikea (I painted mine white a few years ago).
And add your works of art!!!
This is our new chandelier for the office.
I love the way it looks now, but when it started it looked like this:
This old brass chandelier was originally hanging in the bedroom. When we put up new lighting in the bedroom we took this down. Mike figured we'd put it in the trash. Mike was WRONG. He didn't know that I had a plan for this baby involving Dawn dishwashing liquid, apple cider vinegar and four cans of spray paint.
First I took off all of the parts that were easily take-off-able and scrubbed everything down with dishwashing detergent. Then I soaked the loose pieces in a strong apple cider vinegar solution, and applied straight apple cider vinegar to the rest of the chandelier with a cloth. I let it sit for a day or two and then rinsed off the vinegar and gave it one more good cleaning with Dawn.
Next I took it out to the backyard and hit it with several coats of white primer spray paint. I used Krylon because it was the only brand they had at the nearest hardware store. It worked great.
I let the primer dry overnight and then put on the color - a nice bright yellow.
I sprayed the bits and pieces separately. It took a number of coats of paint to achieve a smooth even color.
I threaded the tubular candle sticks on a long strip of cardboard to keep them still while I painted.
After another day or two of drying time, I put the whole thing back together.
Because I wasn't sure I had done the wiring correctly, I spliced the main cord to an old extension cord and plugged it into a wall outlet to make sure it worked. It worked!
Mike did the installation while the Karabouts dolls looked on.
And here's the final effect.
Mike and I recently purchased our first home. It's a two-bedroom garden apartment in a 100+ year-old building.
On the broker's website the apartment looked like this:
But once we got in and started work we found many things like this:
One of the first things we did was paint. We used Benjamin Moore Aura paint on our last apartment and I hated it. It was hard to apply, I had problems with sagging, and it wasn't any easier to clean than other paints I've used in the past.
This time we went with Home Depot Behr Premium Plus. For the hallway, dining area and living room we chose Silky Bamboo.
It was a lot of work but it was worth it. The Silky Bamboo has just the right amount of contrast with the white molding. The place looks bright, fresh and clean. I haven't been this happy with a paint color in years.
Another thing we did before moving in was tear out the existing closets and build in new closets. The old closets stopped two thirds of the way up and had cheesy sliding doors.
Here's the old bedroom closet:
And here's the beautiful new floor-to-ceiling bedroom closet built by Mike and his friend Buddy. This closet has 8-foot bi-fold doors and is big enough to hold all of our hanging clothes, our dresser, blankets, towels, boxes, you name it.
In these photos you can see the bedroom and office paint colors (bedroom - Whitened Sage, office - Summer Moon) and the new doors Mike and Buddy hung to replace the cheesy (there's that word again) hollow core doors.
After finishing the painting, the molding and the closets the place was looking pretty good but it was still missing one important thing.
Today is the anniversary of both the birth and the death of Akira Yoshizawa.
Yoshizawa is credited with raising origami from a craft to an art form. He created more than 50,000 models and wrote 18 books. He also pioneered many techniques like wet folding. Last summer I learned more about Yoshizawa when I did some wet folding at the Origami USA annual conference held in NYC.
This is the wet-folded luna moth I made in one of my classes.
We followed a pattern by Michael LaFosse and we got to use LaFosse's handmade Origamido paper - what a treat!
During the conference I also made a cactus and a mouse.
The "Cactus in a Pot" by David Petty was a very clever design folded out of one sheet of silver paper. We laminated green tissue paper to the "cactus" area before folding.
The mouse is by Masashi Tanaka. If you want to make a mouse of your own, the directions are here.
I thought my origami skills were looking great until I went to the exhibition space where some real masters had works on display.
I was wowed by these amazing insects and spiders by the great Robert J. Lang.
Thank you Akira Yoshizawa for your amazing contribution to this wonderful art form we call origami.
Steve Jobs died last week. The world lost a true visionary and design genius.
However, one product that hasn't received much attention is the product our cats consider Apple's greatest technological advancement - the iPurr cat bed.
These portable, heated cat beds come in three sizes (13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch) for small, medium and large cats. The beds have an adjustable LED back support panel and a sleeping surface made of individual "keys" that depress to cradle your cat in comfort - much like a coil-spring mattress. Every bed has a battery that heats up and keeps your cat warm, and an internal fan that makes a gentle hum to lull your cat to sleep. The beds are made of aluminum which won't irritate kitty's coat and is easy to wipe clean. Sure they're a little more expensive than other cat beds (new models start at $1,199.00 on Apple's website). But if you love your cat, it's worth it. As you can see, our cat "sleeps different."
What do abstract artist Mark Rothko and former letter turner Vanna White have in common? Probably not much but I've managed to unite them in my latest crochet project - a rug based on a painting by Mark Rothko made out of Vanna White's acrylic yarn. Rothko's painting sold for $72.84 million at Sotheby's. Vanna's yarn sells for $3.99 at Michael's Crafts.
Here's the painting:
And here's the rug:
To make this rug I used a technique called wiggly crochet that I learned from Susan Lowman. If you're interested in learning how to make a wiggly crochet rug of your own I suggest you order this excellent booklet written by Susan.
This rug is so pretty I may just hang it on the wall (and someday sell it for either $72.84 million or $3.99).