Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I finished the "Halloween" hearts I was working on. I'm just not into some of the Halloween creepiness, and I thought hearts would be more fun. And, well, they don't look very Halloween-like, so now they are autumn/fall/harvest hearts.

They were fun to make and I like how they turned out even it they aren't quite right for Halloween.  

I added purple mica powder to the black heart and beads before curing.  I love the shine that it added.

On the orange heart and beads I added copper mica powder before curing and then afterwards I use acrylic paint to antique them.

I have one more heart, but not quite enough beads for a necklace.  I'm thinking of keeping that one when I finish it, and actually wearing it.  Part of that shameless self promotional thing - wear your own jewelry. 

Once I get all the fall colored stuff off my polymer clay work table, I plan to start on some winter/snow themed ideas I have rolling around in my head. . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lendrum Spinning Wheel, Learning to Spin

Well, last week I took a drop spindle class.  And Saturday I started a spinning wheel class that lasts for three Saturdays. Now, I had every intention of renting a wheel, but I found this used Lendrum last week and just had to bring her home.
From what I can tell she is probably 20+ years old, and is in pretty good shape.  The age guess comes from some searching about Lendrums on Ravelry (I'm desertwind on Ravelry).

Learning and practicing with the drop spindle helped.  But, without having help from my spinning teacher, this would be incredibly frustrating.  It's like walking and chewing gum at the same time.  Youtube videos and things are great, but having someone to teach really helps with the steep learning curve.

I did have a bit of a catastrophe last night while spinning.  There is a plastic piece that connects the "footman" (the long skinny wood piece attached to the wheel) to the pedal.  It snapped in two! 

First, hubby and I fussed over what we have in the garage that could be used to fix it. Then I surfed Ravelry for some ideas.  Finally, hubby cut a piece of nylon rope and attached it where the plastic connector was. He is going to cut me a couple more back-up pieces and depending how it works, I may or may not order a replacement connector.

My spinning teacher, Cheryl, gave us quite a bit of fiber in the drop spindle class.  She gave us a large amount of this soft, yummy puff that came from a local sheep named Homer.  Apparently Homer is a mixed breed sheep with perhaps some merino in his heritage. I'm planning on making either a hat or fingerless mittens with the yarn I making.

Using a variety of wools she supplied us, this is what I spun for the drop spindle class.

It was interesting how different each of the wool fibers are.  There is some grey stuff in here that I hated.  It was like spinning barbed wire. Not something you would want next to your skin.  There is also a bit of yummy white merino in the skein as well.

She also gave us some small bits of superwash merino,  silk, alpaca, and some other things to spin.  I haven't gotten to any of it yet, but the alpaca is soooooooo soft! Yuuuuu-mmmyyyy!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Orange and the Polymer Clay Smooshers

The Polymer Clay Smooshers guild on ArtFire disappeared briefly.  But, now the Smooshers are back! Actually, they have been back for a few weeks now. I was pretty upset when the guild up and disappeared, and I'm so happy to be part of it once more.

Each week we have a "blog roll" and this weeks topic is "orange".  To me orange say three things - citrus, Halloween and autumn.  Considering the time of year, citrus just didn't seem to fit the theme.

I found many lovely fall and Halloween season items from my fellow Smooshers. Here is a small sampling of what I found.

This first item is one stylish looking cat! This lovely pendant, Orange Halloween Cat was created by Sassy Clay Creations.

Orange Halloween Cat by Sassy Clay Creations

Love the rich orange and flowing colors in this next piece.  And with a touch of black, the colors are so yummy! This Asian Inspired Oval Pendant was created by Dream Weavers Designs
Asian Inspired Oval Pendant by Dream Weavers Designs

My favorite part of fall are the colorful leaves.  The fiery colors of autumn are captured perfectly in this Autumn Leaf Brooch created by Valerie's Stuff.

Autumn Leaf Brooch by Valerie's Stuff
Write in style with this lovely autumn inspired pen. This Fall Leaves Pen  was created by Artmakers World.
Fall Leaves Pen  by Artmakers World

For more about the Polymer Clay Smooshers, check out our blog.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween (sort of) Hearts

I've been trying to get some Halloween things finished and I'm sure cutting it close!  I should have had them done a good month ago.  I'm not really big into Halloween, but I had an idea I wanted to try out.

First I made some Halloween colored (more or less) beads:

I made 3 leafy/floral hearts:

Before curing I dusted them with mica powder to make them more interesting and to make the details stand out.

Here they are on my work table:

The heart on the left is orange highlighted with copper colored mica powder.  The one in the middle is black highlighted with copper mica powder.  The copper gives it more of a faux metal look than Halloween.  The last one is black highlighted with purple mica powder.

So far, I am liking how they are turning out.  But, I did not make enough beads! I might be able to finish one necklace, but it might be a little short.

I better quit web surfing and get to work making more beads!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Autumn/Halloween Knitting

Love the colors in this scarf!  It came out looking a little bit Halloweenish, but I love the combo of orange and purple. The colors are much better in person.  I futzed with Photoshop and the colors in the photos are still not right.

I haven't completely finished the scarf yet. I haven't decided how I want to do fringes and deal with the dangley bits.

I started a wrap in the same colors and I want to finish it and see how much yarn I have left.  I might knit some leaves and other random stuff if I have enough yarn. However, the wrap is using up a lot of yarn.  It's a great stashbuster.

The pattern (more of a guide than a strict pattern) is from Jane Thornley and is the "Organic Wrap" in the booklet "Feather and Fan Club".

I'm loving the cooler weather!  And getting back to knitting. I have a mess of stash I hope to use up during the next few months.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Autumn Leaves

I finished this necklace a few days ago.  The leaves are from this blog post: Autumn I should have made more, I used almost all of them.

I plan to make more leaves.  I'm thinking earrings, more necklaces and some leafy bracelets.  It seemed like a lot of leaves when I made them, but I guess it wasn't.

But, I've just started some Halloween items that I need to finish first.  In a week I've made maybe 6 beads.  And no, they haven't been cured. At the rate I'm moving they might be ready by next Halloween.  Maybe.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It Must Be Getting Cooler Because...

I've been working on some knitting.  Yesterday, I started a Jane Thornley freerange scarf.  It is based on a scarf "recipe" for it that is free on her website.

Most of the yarns I'm using are wool, plus a few novelty yarns.  The blue in the picture below is actually very purple.  The combination of purple and orange is giving it a bit of a Halloween look.  I wasn't really trying for that, I just like the combination of purple and orange.

I also photographed some things that I had finished earlier this year.  One of the items is this shawl which is mostly acrylic.  I like how it turned out, but I'm seeing that natural fibers sure do drape better than acrylic.

Also, wool breathes better than acrylic and retains it's insulating properties if it gets wet.  I would like to move away from acrylic and work more with wool. But sometimes price gets in the way. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Spinning With a Drop Spindle

Here is my latest attempt at spinning yarn.  It turned out much better than my previous two attempts, but far from perfect.  It has a lot of thick and thin but the yarn is not as bulky as my first two attemps.  There are also some spots that are a bit twisty from being over-spun.

I used the roving I had dyed with Kool-aid and I really like how the colors turned out.  It reminded me of the honey spiced peaches I canned last week.

With my first two yarns, I made some bulky hats.  Once the weather turns cold, they should be nice and toasty warm.

I'm going to pick up more fiber and I especially want some of the brown.  I have some more hat projects in mind to try.

Monday, September 12, 2011


It is nearly autumn.  Hopefully, this will be the last week of 90+ degree weather and next week I can get some serious work done in the garden.

This last week, I spent most of the week dealing with canning peaches.  Ugh, the peaches beat me up and nearly won!  But, more about that in another blog post.

I have four small apple trees in my garden.  And the best of them are the honeycrisps! Big, beautiful, crispy, juicy, sweet.  Perfect apples.  I thin them a lot and then bag them with plastic baggies in the spring.  The baggies keep the nasty coddling moth out of the apples.  Hubby and I decided we need to plant a larger honeycrisp tree in the spring.

This week, I plan to focus on my ArtFire shop a little more.  No more major canning.  Maybe a project here or there but no more marathon sessions this year.

 I have some autumn colored polymer clay leaves I've been working on.  And I have clay mixed to make a few more.  I'm thinking some sort of necklace, but I haven't really got it completely thought out yet.

I want to get these finished up and move on to some Halloween ideas that I have.  Things I should have been working on a month ago. At the rate I'm moving they should be done for next year.  Maybe. . .

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Attempting to Spin With a Drop Spindle

This last week, I went out and bought a drop spindle and some roving.  The one I bought was $22, much less of an investment than a spinning wheel. (Also way smaller and no complicated moving parts)  Here is my first sorry attempt at spinning.  Looks more like dreadlocks than yarn.

This is my drop spindle with some brown fiber I making into dreadlocks yarn.

It's not the most frustrating craft I've attempted, but it's right up there.  Soldering is #1 on my frustration scale, and #2 is throwing on a potters wheel.  Right now this is at #3 on my frustration scale. 

Ive been watching various Youtube videos on spinning with a drop spindle, particularly this one:

But I think, I can only get so much from watching a video.  I think I need a live human to help me with this.

I've found a local class I'm planning to take to learn how to use the drop spindle.  There is also a beginning spinning wheel class.  The only thing is, I need a wheel for the class.  I would like to find something to rent - I sure have no clue what to buy!  I'll have to see how that goes.

And some more Kool-aid dyeing.  This was white roving that I dyed with yellow food coloring, and lemonade, orange, black cherry and grape Kool-aid. Hopefully it will end up as yummy yarn and not rope or dreadlocks!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Miss Fugly Yarn, Meet Mr. Kool-Aid

Last year around this time, I bought a bag of wool yarn at Goodwill for $2.50.  It was quarantined to the green house where I figured the temperature extremes would kill any wool moths.  Of course I forgot about it and found it when we cleaned the greenhouse out in spring. 

At it has been sitting in a corner with a pile of my junk since then.  There are 4 different colors of yarn and 3 of them are/were ugly with a capital "UGH".  Here are two of them - a much too bright obnoxious red and a nasty, nasty green.

Bet you are wondering why are their Kool-Aid packets in this picture.  In the world of ugly wool yarn, Kool-Aid makes everything better! 

Kool-Aid will dye protein fibers such as wool, alpaca, etc.  These animal based fibers need an acid type dye and Kool-aid has ascorbic and citric acids.  Note, this won't work with cotton or acrylic.

First I  washed and rinsed the yarn.  I washed it mainly because it was a thrift store buy.  If it had been new yarn, I would have just soaked it in tepid water.

I added water and a package of black cherry Kool-Aid to my pan here.  I also added a glug of vinegar just to make sure.  Then I added the fugly green yarn and turned on the heat!

It didn't take very long, before the water was clear and the yarn absorbed all the dye! Err, Kool-aid.

I didn't let the water boil and I did not stir the yarn.  I also waited till the yarn was cool enough to handle and before rinsed it in warm water.  I was pleased that I didn't end up with a felted mess.

Here are the green yarn and red yarn after being overdyed with the Kool-aid. The green was over-dyed with black cherry and the red was over-dyed with grape.
Here is all the yarn I bought at Goodwill.

The yarn in the front right of the picture, was the only one of the three I liked and didn't dye.  I washed it, and what a pain!  It bled really bad.  I added vinegar a couple of times.  Then with the last rinse, I added a huge glug of vinegar.  And it finally stopped bleading color.  But now it smells like pickles. . .

The yarn on the left started out as an ugly beige.  I added two packages of lemonade, two of black cherry and one of grape.  Took it out, decided it needed more.  I over-dyed it with two more packages of black cherry.

Oh yeah, this was way too much fun! And so easy!  I bought some food coloring today to try out as well.  I have some Lion brand fisherman's wool and some Knitpicks blank yarn I want to dye.

I have been wanting to try this for a long time.  There was an article in Knitty  about Kool-aid dyeing a few years ago.  Ever since I saw that article, I've been wanting to try it.  There are also several  YouTube videos on dyeing yarn with Kool-aid and food coloring. (Oh boy, YouTube is a dangerous place, can you say "spinning wheel").

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bracelet Fail

Yesterday I was sitting at the Master Food Preservers' Booth at the fair, when the bracelet I was wearing broke.  It was strung with elastic beading cord (don't remember the brand).  I made a couple of bracelets to wear and test to see how the elastic cord holds up.  And well, this is a big fail!  

I'm glad I was test wearing before just jumping into selling elastic bracelets.  Selling something like this and having it fall apart would plainly suck!  I'm not sure what I did wrong.  I tied a square knot and added a touch of glue.

I have one that I was ready to finish off, but now I'm going to have to figure something else to do with it.

I'm bummed about it.  I really like the continuous look with no clasp.  And they are comfy and fun to wear. 

Not sure if I didn't tie it correctly or didn't glue properly, but, well, dang.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Polymer Clay Smooshers and Watermelon

Summer is slowly winding down. One of my favorite things about summer is the fruit!  I'm hoping someday that my backyard will yield an abundance of fruit.

Currently, I'm waiting (impatiently I might add) for my itty-bitty watermelons to become nice size watermelons and ripen.  Before the onset of cold weather would be good!  In previous years I haven't had much luck with that.  They end up getting blasted by frost.  I may just have to hit up the local fruit stand this week.

In the mean time, here are some juicy colored polymer clay items from a few of my fellow Polymer Clay Smooshers.  

The colors in this Candy Swirl Pendant by 2 Good Claymates remind me of a sweet juicy watermelon!
Candy Swirl Pendant by 2 Good Claymates
The wonderful color combination in this Copper Mica Shift and Klimt Cane Necklace by Creative Art Center,  reminds me of a nice juicy slice of watermelon!

Copper Mica Shift and Klimt Cane Necklace by Creative Art

Such wonderful colors in this Bright Polymer Clay Cuff Bracelet by Valerie's Stuff   I can just imagine a hot summer day eating a nice cold and juicy watermelon.

Bright Polymer Clay Cuff Bracelet by Valerie's Stuff

Oh, and speaking of Polymer Clay Smooshers, you might want check out the blog. The "3rd annual Masquerade Clay Ball" is coming up. It is a polymer clay challenge that is open to everyone.  Go check it out if you think you might be interested.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Necklaces and Earrings; Autumn Challenge for Smooshers

It's kind of been one of those weeks. Been doing a lot of running around and not getting anything done!  

However, today I didn't have to go anywhere and I locked myself in my room and got a few things accomplished.  I finished two necklaces and three pairs of earrings.  I also have a bracelet and key chain almost done.  But I had to stop so I could deal with those pesky dishes in the sink and cook dinner.

One of the completed necklaces is for the Smooshers' autumn challenge. 

The beads are wrapped with copper wire and connected with jump rings. I haven't done any wire work in a while, so my hands and fingers are a little sore. 

Everything I completed today involved working with wire:

The necklace on the left is a non-polymer clay necklace.  The beads are unakite and jasper with Swarovski crystals for accent.  All wire wrapped with copper.  The three pair of earrings on the right are polymer clay and copper wire.

I really would like to do more wire work, especially with silver.  But at $42.00 or so an ounce,  I just can't afford to work with it very much.  But, maybe I'll do some more copper work. I like it a lot for fall.  But, then again I like copper a lot for anything!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Finished Mokume Gane Cabochons and Beads

Here are three finished mokume gane cabochons.  I did some pretty aggressive sanding on them with some 320 grit sand paper.  I have never sanded quite so aggressive as I did with this batch, and it really helped in getting a nice smooth surface.

I then worked my way down to 1000 grit.  I originally buffed a couple of them with my Dremel for a shiny finish.  And I didn't like it - I prefer the satin finish.  So, I resanded with 1000 grit and buffed with a soft cloth.

And here are some finished beads as well.  I'm working on some coordinating beads in solid colors with mica powder highlights.  My plan is to make an autumn themed necklace for the current Polymer Clay Smooshers challenge.

I probably won't get anything done tomorrow - I'm judging at the county fair! It's part of the Master Food Preservers Program I am involved in through the WSU extension.  I will be judging home dried foods.

I'm also working the Master Food Preservers booth three days next week.  So I may not get this necklace finished until later in the week, or maybe next week sometime.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sand, Smooshers and Things Sparkly

As the last days of summer are winding down, my thoughts take me back to the  sunshine, ocean breezes, and warm sandy beaches from my younger days in Southern California.  Many wonderful items from fellow members of the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild on ArtFire remind me of summer days spent at the beach.

This Golden Sunburst from Dana's Jewelery feels so much like the shimmering California sun!
Golden Sunburst from Dana's Jewelery  

And what beach day would be complete with out a search for seashells and starfish? I never really found any starfish, but I love this Lucky Starfish by Gem's PC Creations!

Lucky Starfish by Gem's PC Creations
 Sutton pin with Crystals by Fesser Arts is reminisant of footprints in the sand.
Sutton pin with Crystals by Fesser Arts

And a fiery sunset completes the day.   I've seen a few California sunsets in the colors of this Gold, Red and Black Swirled Pendant by Dream Weaver's Designs

Gold red and black swirled pendant by Dream Weaver's Designs

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ArtFire Collection - Guild "Shops With Less Than (10) Sales

Here is a fun and colorful collection I created showcasing work from my fellow guild-mates and myself.