A few months ago I was searching for a model to use to post things on Etsy. This was just after Walter Cronkite passed away and I was listening to his autobiography (the abridged version performed by Cronkite himself). While listening to that amazing voice tell his own story, I wandered over to my favorite junk shop and found Wally the Model. $25 plus another 25% off. How could I resist?
I think Wally the Model used to hang on the wall of a department store, modeling t-shirts or white-and-navy striped cotton sweaters. Now he gets to model scarves and jewelry for us on Etsy. Here you’ll find him modeling a sample from my new stripy series. I just cannot resist buying those orphan skeins of yarn – you know, the ones where there’s only one skein left of some fabulous color? There are only so many one-skein hats you can make before you have to move on.
I’ve started winding out random numbers of warp threads in different colors, and composing on the loom as I put the threads on. This one is a combination of silk, raw silk, wool, cashmere, and pink baby lama. Overall it reminds me of Brach`s Neapolitan Coconut Sundaes candies – good enough to eat!
“I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.” – Walter Cronkite
We do actually make things, not just blog about making things. A few weeks ago, I tried weaving a scarf out of a new “eco-friendly” fiber – banana silk combined with tencel. The banana fiber is think-and-thin, so it gives an interesting appearance to the finished work. The look and feel of the finished work is beautiful, except for the fringe. The fiber itself unraveled at the ends, so I’ll need to change up how I do that in the future.
If you have any suggestions on working with Banana silk, or some of those other new fibers, please let us know!
“You have to have a certain persona to be a star, you know, and I don’t have that. I’m a banana.” – Harvey Korman
Yes, we are a bit obsessed with storage. Living in a small space and being a crafter aren’t always a good match. Whenever possible, we both look for furniture with built-in storage. A coffee table/blanket chest can serve as craft storage. Or those great new ottomans at CostPlus that have storage AND a tray built-in. There’s your craft work table in 2 square feet.
One of our best finds was a Duo-Bed daybed that a friend was selling. It looks like a funky 60s couch, but the seat cushion pulls out into a single bed. You can just see the plastic blanket box underneath, which houses the knitting yarn stash. The best part of the Duo-Bed is the backrest, which flips up to reveal a small bookcase. Just the right height for DVD storage – or storing cones of weaving yarn. Nothing gets dusty and you can see all your supplies at once.
“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” – A. A. Milne
The other star of our space-limited crafting show is a Schacht folding floor loom. Schacht Spindle, http://www.schachtspindle.com/ , located in Boulder, Colorado, has been making quality looms for 40 years. One of their most popular is the Baby Wolf folding loom. Folded up, it is 34” wide and 18” deep. You can buy the wheels/stroller and roll it into a corner or closet when you aren’t using it. You can even fold it up mid-project and put it away.
I found this one on craigslist for 1/5 of retail – what a steal! I took weaving classes at Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins, http://www.shuttlesspindlesandskeins.com/ , a brilliant local weaving shop. Judy Steinkoenig is one of the best teachers and weavers around, and she’s available 5-6 days a week at Shuttles for questions and advice. In fact, no one at that shop could be considered a “grumpy yarn lady” and they’re always willing to help. They’re even happy to help you if you purchased your yarn at a different shop – and very few places will do that!
“We sleep, but the loom of life never stops, and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up in the morning.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Before you get the wrong idea, neither of us has a fabulous home studio for crafting. We both work at least one outside job, in some cases more, and we have very small living spaces. Crafting is something we do to make each day as creative as possible, but we have to be realistic in our approach. We can gaze longingly at those coffee table books about setting up a home studio, but neither of us has the money or space to store the book much less have the studio!
You can still make crafting work, regardless of your employment or living arrangements, you just have to be logical in your organization. Case in point (pun intended), this great wheeled suitcase purchased years ago. As a travel accessory, it is fairly useless when compared to more modern luggage. But as craft storage, it works brilliantly. This simple wheeled suitcase holds 13 plastic bead cases, top loaded. 13! Plus the pliers, crimpers, clips, and other tools needed for beading.
When you want to craft, you take out all the supplies and put them on the table. Or sit on the floor, open up each bead case, and surround yourself with all the creative options at once. When you’re done for the day, pack it all up into one suitcase and tuck it away in a corner or closet. That’s it, our entire jewelry-making business in roughly 3 cubic feet. So worry less about where you craft, and spend time on the crafting itself. Check out your local thrift shops for sturdy, compact storage options for your own jewelry-studio-in-a-case.
“I have a small house so I borrow everything except art, that’s what I love.” – Salma Hayek
My sister and I have been digging through the post-Holiday sales to find supplies for our crafting. Now’s the time to grab those holiday ornaments and ribbons at 75% off, as long as you promise to re-purpose them into something sellable. Don’t buy it if you aren’t going to use it, or you’ll have bags and boxes of useless supplies that you end up giving to charity during your Spring cleaning. This is when shopping with a crafting buddy comes in handy; they can help you brainstorm how to re-purpose things or reel you back in when your cart gets too full.
Check your local fabric stores for their amazing fabric and pattern sales; many national patterns are on sale for $2 each instead of the regular $17. Stock up now on ones you’ll really use, or multiple sizes of great styles if you craft clothing for sale. Many of the Halloween patterns are on sale now, giving you the jump on those cos-play patterns for the summer months. Winter-theme fabrics are great deals now too, which you can use for Fall/Winter 2010 craft fair items.
We’ve also been assessing our craft supplies and trying to get organized. Somehow it makes it easier to be creative if you know where all the pieces are! Holiday storage bins are on sale too, and as long as you don’t mind the red and green colors, you can get some attractive and useful supply storage and start the new crafting year off right.
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” ~Benjamin Franklin
One of the best things about having a sister is that you have a built-in playmate. Someone who can share your love of creating, and egg you on to get things done. Here we’ll be sharing what we’re working on, what we’ve learned, and other things that strike our fancy. We work with fibers, metals, and whatever reclaimed materials we can find. Follow along to see what happens.
“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of. You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.” ~Amy Li