Inventive Fiber Crafts

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A fabulous friend of mine (who no doubt knows me very well) picked this seriously awesome book up for me at the thrift store.  Just by the cover, I could tell I was in for something great, but hoo-doggies!  It surpassed even my high expectations.

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Now, your pal Betty is a dyed in the wool pattern follower.  I’m not the kind of gal who can just knit or sew up whatever her little heart desires.  Even my crewel designs are carefully planned out so that when I finally dig in, I have a pattern to follow.  But when I see these beautiful, organic, free form fiber creations, I want to dive headfirst into a big ole pile of yarn and see what I can come up with!  I especially like this “Angel of Death” piece.  Who would have thunk it – a simple chain stitch creating such beauty!

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Can you imagine just sitting down with all your scrap yarn, knitting whatever methods and stitches struck your fancy, and creating something as gorgeous as “Convergence” above? I would pay money for that in an art gallery in a hot minute.

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How about this mind blowing pillow, again created with only the simple chain stitch?

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Of all the amazing images, this necklace is the thing that most captured my inspiration.  I am desperate to try to make something like it.  I adore it.

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I want to hang out with a glass of wine under this knitted placenta forever.

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Doesn’t this space look like it could be pulled from a current design magazine rather than a 35 year old book?  Also, yarn room divider.  Yes.

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Judging by the bio at the front of the book, Elyse Sommer has written several things I’m going to have to dig up.  A New Look At Crochet, A New Look At Felt, Wearable Crafts, Make It With Burlap…are you kidding me?  Elyse Sommer is clearly my craft guru.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

I know it’s been pretty quiet around the old blog lately, but things have been nuts at Casa Crafter!   Sadly the vintage store I had been renting space in is closing, so I decided with Little Betty heading off to preschool this year that it was time for me to go back to school too.  I am now once again a Special Education teacher!  So, I have been up to my eyeballs with trainings, getting my classroom ready, and adjusting to my radically different lifestyle, which is why I haven’t been blogging.  But that doesn’t mean my crafty mojo has petered out!  I’ve actually been quite busy.

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I’ve been working on what is maybe the most adorable sweater ever for Little Betty.

I’ve also been planning out her Halloween costume.  She wants to be Rosy Bumps N Bruises from Lalaloopsy:

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Now just because Little Betty wants to be a mass market character does not mean that your old pal Betty is going to forget about her vow to always make Little Betty’s Halloween costume, of course.  (Although I will probably buy a wig – don’t judge.)  Anyhoo – I think I’ve found a pattern that will serve as a basis quite nicely!

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All I’ll need to add is a crinoline, apron and nurse’s hat to view one and I should have a pretty adorable costume for my little lady!  I’m actually pretty excited about it!

I’ve been plotting away on Christmas presents to make, too.  I will tell you that I want to venture into new territory and I’m not at all sure I can pull it off, but I promise to keep you updated, good or bad.

A cautionary knitting tale, and a sad Christmas story.

Ok knitters – who out there has fallen victim to the dreaded “Second Sock Syndrome?”  For those not in the know, this occurs after knitting one sock (or mitten) and then finding that you can’t bring yourself to knit the other one.  Well next time you find  yourself guilt-stricken and motivation-less over that sock or mitten you can’t seem to start, read this post.  It may just get you over the hump.

Two years ago I decided to knit the gorgeous Deep In The Forest mittens for my mom.  And about a month later I had this one.  Isn’t it nice?  Well let me tell you about this pattern.  While lovely, it is a bit of a chore because there is no pattern to the chart.  You have to look at the chart for every stitch!  So I was totally dreading going through all that again, even though I made the mistake of showing the finished mitten to my mom, who was SO excited about them.

This year I decided my poor mother should finally have her mittens.  So I dusted off my old project and began.  And this is what I ended up with :

Go ahead.  Snicker.  Laugh at my pain.  Never mind the fact that no matter WHAT I did I couldn’t get the braid to work on the second mitten.  That early irritation was totally forgotten when I realized I was going to have one tiny, pre-teen mitten and one huge oven mitt.  I used the same yarn, the same needles – how could this happen?  Why???  No problem – I thought.  I am now a full believer in the power of felting after the smashing success of my Snowbird mittens.  Felting will save me!  I will simply shrink the oven mitt to a pre-teen size and mom can have two tiny mittens.  After 5 rounds through the washing machine it became clear that this crazy mitten was not going to felt. ( I have read that it is difficult or impossible to felt light colored yarn)

In the end, I gave my mom her circus freak mittens and she swears she loves them and that you can hardly tell when they’re on.  But I will never be able to look her in the eye while she’s wearing them.

So, dear friends, next time you suffer from Second Sock (or mitten) Syndrome, remember my sad Christmas tale of gauge or tension or something gone wrong and do not wait 2 years to knit the other!  A lot can change in 2 years apparently.

A new sweater for Little Betty

As soon as I saw Tanis Gray’s Scherenschnitte Cardigan in the 2011 Holiday Issue of Intervewave Knits I just knew Little Betty needed one.  I loved it so much I decided to use the exact yarn and colorway the pattern called for, which I never do.  My girl is totally insane for the color purple – almost everything has to be purple – so this was perfect for her.

It took almost no time at all to knit!  She was wearing it 3 weeks after I started it, which is totally unheard of for your pal Betty, AKA The World’s Slowest Knitter.  When I found these vintage bakelite buttons I couldn’t believe my luck.  They were meant to be on this sweater.

We both love it!

In other news, my child is getting so grown up!  It breaks and fills my heart all at the same time.  Someone stop this time machine.  It’s going too fast.

A finished knit! Snowbird mittens.

I have been wanting to make the Snowbird Mittens out of Vogue Knitting’s Mittens and Gloves FOREVER.  And finally, I decided this was the year I should have my mittens!

I used Brooklyn Tweed LOFT in a deep red and a soft grey.  They turned out too big so I bravely threw them in the washing machine in my first attempt at felting.  2 cycles later they were perfect!  You can see on one of them I somehow got off from the chart on one of the trees without noticing until they were finished, but I think it’s little mistakes like this that give handmade items soul, don’t you?  My great grandmother made a quilt with a sailboat in each square and on one of those sailboats the sail is upside down.  I’m sure it drove her nuts, but everyone in the family adores that quilt because of that small mistake.

Anyway, I adore these mittens y’all!  Now we just need to break 70 degrees here in Austin so I can wear them!