Monday, October 31, 2011

Meet Lightning Man!

It's the one, the only...

the always energetic...

and dangerously electric...

Lightning Man!!!

He's strong. He's kind. He's smart. Heck, he is everything you could want in a Super Hero!

Plus, he's got attitude to spare. Just what every Super Hero needs, am I right?

Happy Halloween from Lightning Man (and me) to you!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Q & A with NUNO Creator, Elizabeth Abernathy

Hydra Lamp from Star Gazing, Fall 2011 Nuno

Disclosure: I'm partnering with the eco-publication NUNO Magazine to spread the word about it. As part of that, I will be benefitting financially from any sales of the electronic magazine that I play some part in. 

The fall 2011 issue of the eco e-magazine NUNO "Star Gazing" is out and available for download!  

I was thinking it would be really cool to do a brief interview with one of NUNO's creators to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the magazine. I've never conducted an interview before but it seems to me that'd be a fun thing to try.  So I asked them if they'd be interested. They said yes, and I said yay! Here are the results of that Q & A with Nuno co-founder/creator, Elizabeth Abernathy.



I'm interested in the history of NUNO. How did you get started creating it, and what meaning does the name have for you?


I was inspired by other e-magazines (many of which have sprouted up only in the past two years). There was not, at that time, an e-magazine devoted to craft how-tos. My blog focused on ecocrafts, so that was a natural choice. 

Nuno is the Japanese word for cloth. It is also a variation on the words "No New" (referring to the fact that we use almost 100% repurposed materials in our projects).

Star Pillow from Star Gazing, Fall 2011 Nuno


The three of you - your sister, your husband and yourself - work together to bring NUNO to life. How do you do it? 


Rachel and I toss around ideas for a theme. When we've chosen our focus for a given issue, we come up with appropriate projects. I do the layout, and Rachel looks it over for errors and understandability. Royce (my husband) helps by taking some of the photographs.


Your love of nature is very apparent throughout NUNO and all its issues. Can you tell me where that stems from?


I am very inspired by nature. I was a biology minor in college and a lot of my free-time is spent doing things outdoors like hiking and camping. Rachel and I traveled a lot with our family as children to places that our professional landscape photographer father wanted to take pictures of, so I guess love of nature is in our blood.

Field of Stars Envelope Bag,  from Star Gazing, Fall 2011 Nuno


I know it's hard to pick favourites but... are there a few Star Gazing projects that you're particularly proud of?


The felt cloche really stretched my pattern drafting skills. I like to challenge myself a bit in the design phase without making the actual project too difficult for the end user. I also really admire the knitted Hydra light project Rachel made. She covered a string of fairy lights with knitting and it's lovely!


What material/recyclable do you return to again and again, you know, to make stuff with?


I love felt. I started out being enamored with sweater felt, but the size of the pieces can be limiting. My latest thing is thick felted wool blankets. Whenever I see one in a thrift store, I snatch it up. For the Star Gazing issue I made three projects out of blanket felt (the cloche, the envelope bag, and the star pillow).

Felt Cloche, from Star Gazing, Fall 2011 Nuno


I'd like to warmly thank Elizabeth Abernathy for taking the time to answer my questions about NUNO and "Star Gazing". If you're at all curious about the e-magazine, click HERE to have a gander. That'll send you over to the NUNO website where you'll be able to preview several of the projects included in the fall issue. Enjoy the beauty!

All photos in this post used with permission.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Super Hero's Uniform

We have a Super Hero living at our house. He has a terrible cough at the moment and has kept us awake for the past two nights but that doesn't mean his uniform can be less than perfect. 

A Super Hero's uniform must be just so, as you know. It's mostly done and has been mostly approved, thank heavens.

The fact that the Super Hero's tailor had only the Super Hero's imaginings to go by to create the uniform, posed some challenges. These were overcome eventually, and finishing touches are underway.

The Super Hero will be taking to the skies soon to battle evil at every turn... Keep your eyes raised to the heavens and stay grounded my friend. He'll be coming to your neighbourhood soon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Thursday Saturday

My current work schedule looks something like this:
  • Work Sunday night from about 8 pm onward.
  • Work Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm while the Boy is in school.
  • Work Monday to Friday again once the Boy is off to bed.

All in all, I'm okay with this schedule. But I think I'd like to make one small change. If I could take Sunday night off, I think I'd be darn satisfied. What I'm trying to achieve is a crafting/blogging-free weekend. I think my home and family deserve my full attention on the weekend when we're all together. But I also like the idea of time off just for me, you know? However, with a post scheduled for Monday morning, I'm invariably in front of the computer every Sunday night.

I love my crafts and my computer. I do. But I'm looking for a little more balance: on the one hand, making time for my family and me, and on the other hand, putting time into the work I love. I think the solution lies in my blog's posting schedule. If I shift my posting schedule by a day from Mon-Wed-Fri to Tues-Thurs-Sat then I just might be able to reclaim my Sunday night. For sure, it means tightening up my work habits a little - because I'll be losing those few hours on Sunday night - but I think it's totally do-able!

I'm going to give it a shot. Starting today, I'll be experimenting with a new posting schedule: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays.

Why even have a bloggy posting schedule, you ask? I don't know... Because it works, I guess... My posting schedule isn't set in stone or the law or anything. It's not written down though I'm sure I've mentioned it to you before. No one coerces me to publish a post at a certain time (except for those little voices in my head maybe).  I do it for me. Having a posting schedule keeps me motivated and organized, something I've always wrestled with. It also gives me a framework to work within, and forces me to think ahead. After blogging willy-nilly for 8-1/2 months without a schedule, I realized that 3 posts/week, published consistently, was ideal for me. Once I implemented it, it made all the difference.

But you know what? There are no rules. I am in charge. I am the boss here. I've considered posting one day a week; I've considered two days a week. And you never know. The time may come when I make those kinds of changes. For now I'm pretty satisfied with my 3 posts per week.

Well you have a great day now. I'll be back here on Thursday!

Note: I made the mitts featured above using several thrifted fingering weight yarns, knitted two strands at a time. Again, I followed the Patons Canadiana Vintage Mitten Pattern #303 (same as mentioned here). These rainbowy concoctions are a gift for one of my girls. Sure hope she likes rainbow!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween Juggling Eyeballs

This is a Halloween craft but it's also a love craft. See, when Lo and I first met way back when, we both worked at Science North, a children's science museum in Sudbury, Ontario. Learning to juggle, and teaching others how, was part of the job description. It was our way of breaking the ice with the visitors and getting them involved in the whole museum experience. On top of that, we taught people how to make these balloon and rice juggling balls so they could go home, throw some together, and keep honing their juggling skills.

Science North is where Lo and I first made eyes at each other. And it's pretty much guaranteed that we fell in love whilst learning to juggle (and flirting our pants off) over a shared trio of balloon and rice juggling balls. So today's craft is dedicated to Lo and his blue-green eyes: the sweetest pair of eyes I ever did see.

Balloon and rice juggling balls have been around for eons. HERE is a fine tutorial by the Ontario Science Center's SciZone already done up and ready to go. It shows how to make the basic juggling balls. Today I'm adding my very own Halloween twist on this tried and true craft.

Tutorial    Halloween Juggling Eyeballs

Start by making the basic juggling balls as per the OSC tutorial.

Note that the juggling balls are made of 3 layers of balloons with rice as the filler. The colour of the first layer doesn't matter; it'll be completely covered. However to produce the eye effect, I used black and white balloons as my second and third layers respectively. 

Starting to look like eyeballs, eh? You could leave them just like this, but I chose to add a little flavour to them by painting in some irises and drawing on some tiny red veins.

And there you have them! Sweet and juicy juggling eyeballs. Does it feel like you're being watched?... Spooky...

Here's Lo now testing them out. They work like a charm! See that? He's still got it after all this time.

Make a few as Halloween decorations or have a go at juggling yourself! It's surprisingly relaxing once you figure it out. It only took me 24 days to learn!

Have yourself a fantastic weekend. Eye'll be back here on Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Boy Learns to Knit

Have you noticed how cold it's suddenly gotten? Every year, just as the temperature drops, my hands start to itch. That's how I know it's mitten-making time. This year's no different. Just today for instance, I got started on a little grey pair for the Boy. And I aim to follow those up with some nice warm ones for my two sweet girls too.

What IS different this year is the Boy's sudden interest in the craft. While I was busy with his first mitt, he was busy peeking 'round my shoulder trying to follow the movement of the needle and the turn of the yarn. "Do you want to learn?" I asked real casual-like so as not to scare him off. His eyes widened and he retorted: "Ya. Do you have any red?" Silly question. O' course I have red. Red's his favourite colour and I have a few balls of it set aside precisely with him in mind.

Now, contrary to what you may believe, I am not a patient person. Normally I get annoyed and exasperated quick as a lightning bolt. Today however, I do declare that I exercised patience comparable to that of a saint during our little knitting session. And I must say - let this be a lesson to me - it paid off. That boy learned how to knit! Sure, he was tired after 3 rows or a grand total of 30 painfully laboured stitches and I'll probably have to re-teach him tomorrow, but he actually knitted!

Funny thing is that I had tried teaching him to knit last winter and it was an utter failure. He could not focus long enough to get through one stitch let alone 30. I think he may have been too young. He was only six at the time it's true. Or maybe it's that I was too impatient.

Today the timing was perfect. We were both ready.

He even announced his knitting success proudly to his father as he arrived home for the evening. That sure felt great. It made me feel like a good mom. You know?

Well you have a fabulous day now, take it easy and I'll see you soon.


Edited to add: A reader asked which mitten pattern I use. Here's a link. I got the pattern for free ages ago and have used it since: Patons Canadiana Mitten Pattern #303. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011


little denim pincushions

As a rule, I always have leftovers.

As a rule, I like to eat 'em up the very next day.

With these leftovers (from here), I made something small and pretty... and inedible.

And then I sent the inedible somethings far away over land and sea to some very special people where I just know they will be loved.

What do you like to do with your leftovers?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Juice Cap Ornament & Pendant in the Shop!

Beaded Juice Cap Ornament

Are you thinking about Christmas yet? I am... Can you tell? At the moment, my head is aswirl with visions of tree decorations. In fact, today I added a sweet ornament tutorial to my shop. Let me tell you a little bit about it. The PDF downloadable how-to comprises 9-pages of step-by-step photo instructions to make the above juice cap ornament. You start with a juice bottle cap, some crochet cotton, a handful of seed beads and a few other odds and ends to create a unique double-sided Christmas tree ornament. The piece is finished beautifully back and front. To be a perfect tease I'll keep the back a mystery... This recycled ornament can also double as a pendant. Make the hanger longer, place it around your neck, and you have yourself a one-of-a-kind statement necklace!

I wish you the pleasantest of weekends. Take care and I'll see you again on Monday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

O is for Organization.

Remember last week's recyclables post? That was me starting to organize my mounds of junk, attempting to bring some order to my workspace. I'm hoping to eventually come to a point where I can share my basement craft zone with you. Note the use of the word "eventually"... Let me just say this. I spend my days somewhere between clutter and chaos. The whole order thing is a teensy bit of a struggle. I'm forever making. Cleaning rarely comes into it. But I'm trying to change that. Here are my baby steps...

Buttons. IN JARS. With letters on them. That spell B-U-T-T-O-N-S... The buttons used to be in a bunch of different places. I couldn't see them and never used them because I didn't ever think of them. Now they are in plain sight on my work table, and I have actually used them on a few projects. Exciting stuff!

Yes, so I just threw the buttons in some canning jars we had kicking around, covered the tops with junkmail pictures, and topped them off with some letters I cut out.

Next, I organized what used to be a literal rat's nest of embroidery thread in a painted egg carton. This way it's no longer a mess of knots, I can see all the pretty threads, and all the similar colours are together. It's only about a million times better this way.

Just a few little steps toward the workspace sanity I long for... but the progress is actually satisfying, you know?

Well, you have a lovely day now. I'll be back here on Friday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fab Festive Footwear

boot from a stick4

Funny what sticks out at you sometimes, eh?

Take dead branches for instance. Trimmed just so, you get these nifty little boots...

Which, when painted up...

Drilled, decorated and hung...

Make some fairly fab festive footwear!

Seen anything interesting in your fallen leaves or dead wood lately? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Have yourself a great day now. I'll be back on Wednesday. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kid Craft: Monster Baby Finger-Puppets

Monster Baby Finger Puppet

Um... despite the uncanny resemblance, I am not your mommy...

Oh hi there, happy Friday!

With Halloween on the way, I thought today's super-quick craft was fitting. It was inspired by the teensy monster babies in Microcrafts, the book I reviewed in Wednesday's post. The original monster babies in the photo below are made of embroidered felt.

Monster Babies from Microcrafts designed by Holly Keller

Using Holly Keller's monster baby concept, I cobbled together a little finger-puppet from teeny bits of construction paper and a plastic milk carton seal.

My little one is unusually terrified of any and all odd-looking characters. I thought that maybe these tiny and extremely benign monster finger-puppets might be a good way to re-introduce him to monsters, and ever so gently work away at that fear.

As you can see, this craft is the definition of simple. Make a monster baby the size of the plastic milk carton seal from a few scraps of construction paper. Flip the plastic seal inside out. Glue the little guy onto the seal. You now have a diminutive monster finger-puppet!

Alternatively, if you leave the seal in its original position, you have yourself a monster baby ring.

He's sort of irresistible in an "I'm-desperate-for-love-I'm-a-monster-after-all" kind of way...

And his friends seem to pop up out of nowhere. That's what monsters do I guess. Though, they are extremely polite. Surprisingly!

No... But thank you very much for asking.

Have fun dreaming up all kinds of monster baby finger-puppet play with your kids!

Have a fabulous weekend. And to my fellow Canadians: "Happy Thanksgiving!" I'll see you Monday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review - Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share

Disclosure: After being approached by Quirk Books to do a review of their new publication "Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share", I received a free copy of the book. All opinions stated below are my own.

Tiny books designed by Melissa Jacobson

What is Microcrafts?
  • Microcrafts is a craft book containing the instructions to create 25 tiny projects from available "odds and ends". Published © 2011 by Quirk Books, the book was compiled by Margaret McGuire, Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and friends. The photography is by Steve Blekowitz.
Monster babies designed by Holly Keller

What do I like about the book, you might ask inquisitively?
  • I don't know if it's obvious yet but I like to bounce happily between types of crafting. I get bored easy. That's how I am. This book, with its variety of crafts in an array of materials and techniques appeals to that fickle side of me.
  • In this book, there's something for you and there's something for me. Microcrafts is accessible to all levels of crafters from beginner to experienced.
  • From the outset, the authors state that most of these projects, because of their mini-stature, can be made in very little time with stuff you already have. That, I love!
  • The layout of this book is ideal. You see the full-colour full-page photo of the finished craft, and then immediately next to it are the actual-size templates and easy-to-follow instructions to make the project happen.
  • There are some really pretty crafts in the book by a number of talented contributors. A few of my favourites include the tiny greeting cards by Larissa Holland, the miniature books by Melissa Jacobson, and the monster babies by Holly Keller (all pictured in this post, by the way.)
Greeting card designed by Larissa Holland

If this were my book how would I change it, you might well wonder?
  • With a world of tiny possibilities at their fingertips and knowing that the authors were unconstrained by the type of crafting, I would have liked the book to contain a few really unusual projects, something to make me sit up and exclaim: "Well isn't that clever!"
But overall, my opinion of the book is this: Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share is a beautifully photographed, very well-constructed book, showcasing an assortment of attractive and teeny-tiny projects.

You have a great day now. I'll be back on Friday with a sweet and simple craft inspired by Microcrafts!


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