Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marie's Everywhere: Etsy, Blythe, Stampington, My Etsy!

I cannot wait to get my hands on this gorgeous special publication by Stampington and Co., which comes out April 1. Imagine: An entire magazine devoted to art devoted to Marie Antoinette! I am sure it will be full of gorgeous excess.
Just last week I learned one of my Marie art dolls (I think I can call them art dolls even though they are headless) is featured on the Etsy Cottage Style Blog. What is that, you ask? To borrow from the blog's description: We are a group of women, artists and sellers of the beautiful , whimsical Cottage Style. We are not an Etsy Street Team, but a loving, supportive community of like minded talented women. If you love the Shabby, Romantic, Whimsical, Cottage style, and sell on Etsy come pay us a visit and apply for membership at"Etsy Cottage Style." If you love to shop, like most of us do, you will find lots of cottage style boutiques. The blue Marie featured is still available in my Etsy shop.
And, squee! I also got an email that I have a piece of Marie artwork in the upcoming Somerset Studio Gallery Summer 2009. One of my all-time art goals has been to get published in that outstanding anthology. I can't believe it, and of course I can't wait to get my hands on that either.
I'm picturing some of my all-time favorite Maries here. The pink one with the cake for a head was a gift to Mary Ann in a 1:1 Marie Swap. The first turquoise one above was a gift for Cindi in another swap, this one in The Faerie Zine group on Flickr. And the second turquoise one above, the taller one, was a special gift for Lisa Kettell, and was recently featured in her new book, Altered Art Circus.
The Marie diorama above I made at a special gathering of ZNE art group members in Michigan last June. It is called "The Last Beautiful Dress" and may be headed to Etsy. And then there's always a Blythe, looking quite regal also, while channeling Marie.
Here's a link to all my Marie-related photos on Flickr. It's one of my most favorite photo sets.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Whipped my WIP; Another Peachy Project Done. Now I'm Feeling Blue.

So the peach afghan I blogged about below did indeed get done this weekend. In fact, I was able to finish the entire trim in about one hour Friday night. Do you ever experience that combination of let-down and relief when finishing a major project? I do. And now what to do with it? Well, I just folded it up to tuck away. I decided it didn't need to be blocked after all, although it could do with some softening.
The afghan is about 36" square and is a riff on a dragonfly pattern afghan from Crochet! magazine, July 2006. Speaking of crochet magazines, I weeded out my enormous collection and have over 30 knitting and crochet magazines for sale on Ebay right now. You can search by seller for hpsgsmith or just click here. They'll be ending Monday night and need to go to some other Happy Hooker or crazed knitter! Is that you?
Without even coming up for air, I started a new work in progress (WIP): yet another baby afghan. This is rather funny because there are no babies in the family or on the horizon (thankfully!) but I love the cute patterns and colors, and the size is right at my tolerance level. That's how the peach afghan went from 20 large squares to nine and finally got completed after three years.
The new project pictured above is from Crochet Today magazine and is a ripple stitch with lavender, blue and lime-y green. It really is such an easy stitch, and I hardly ever do a ripple. This is going quickly already. The edges have crocheted flowers scattered about, so even though it is boy-ish colors, it would be a girly blanket. Or, the flowers could be omitted; we shall see.
The cornflower or periwinkle blue color reminded me of the sweater I made myself with a similar color in Cotton Classic. It was my first blue ribbon in crochet at the local county fair. I was beaming! I also made a bobble or popcorn stitch clutch/makeup bag with zipper, which you can see above. I've never used it! But, I actually did wear the sweater- once, I think.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hooked on Crochet, Yet Again

I don't know about you, but I hate WIPs. Call me OCD, but "works in progress" bug the heck out of me. If I start something, I usually have to finish it, even if it takes awhile. This peach crochet sweater/shrug was never really a WIP. I took a class a couple of summers ago, and made the whole thing during the three-week class, using Cotton Classic yarn, a granny square pattern, assembly instructions from the teacher and the subtle, simple encouragement of just being "in class."
So, why am I talking about WIPs then? Maybe it's the color that reminded me to find this thing to see if I could wear it. You see, the color, although not the yarn, is the same as an afghan I have been working on for nearly three years.
It was a dragonfly and bobble-stitch monotone stripe pattern I saw in Crochet! magazine that inspired me to search high and low for enough skeins to take on a big project. I'm much better suited to baby booties, baby-sized afghans, even a purse or sweater. But a full-size afghan was daunting and a challenge at the same time.
I found some yarn at a Ben Franklin store near the upper peninsula of Michigan while on a work-travel trip. Ben Franklin stores had gone out of business in my area years ago.
When I realized I didn't buy enough yarn (yes, I read the instructions), I was lucky enough to find the same lot number in the Herschner's catalog.
I thought I'd make a peach afghan to go with some new Lands End peach paisley bedding I had ordered. After completing about seven of the required 20 12-inch x 12-inch squares and taking on bobble stitches and front-post double crochet for hours and weeks on end, I was so sick of both peach and of crochet in general that I figured I could redecorate the bedroom again sooner and more painlessly than finish the darned afghan.
Still, the stack of finished squares has haunted me for years- every time I open the armoire holding my yarn stash in hopes of being re-inspired to make something, anything. Every so often I'd pull them out and look at them longingly, and admittedly, I'd admire my work. Some of those stitches were a real challenge for me! Making something uniform without losing count of rows and chains- also a challenge for me, since I hate making a gauge swatch. It always seems like such a waste of time!
So, a couple of weeks ago, while going through this very same exercise: take out squares, arrange, admire, repeat as needed, I realized if I just could finish the one that was half-done I'd have nine squares, not seven. That would be enough for a 36" square throw or baby afghan! Someone else could live with peach! Inspiration struck long enough to finish the square after reminding my clumsy fingers how to do the stitches again. I'd lost a lot of speed, confidence and deftness after three years. But I sailed through, no longer in love with the color or even the feel of the yarn (scratchy! what was I thinking?). Now I was motivated by the finish line and getting rid of the only WIP I had ever left unfinished.
I assembled the nine squares. Somehow, even though the original pattern of 20 called for four different kinds of squares, I had enough of each to make a uniform assembly: five stripe squares, two bobble squares and two bobble/stripe squares. Now that was a happy accident!
The squares, looking more like rectangles to me for my imperfect stitching, were sewn together during late-night DVD marathons of '24' the last two weekends. Nothing like Jack shooting and killing 2.3 people per minute to make one feel warm and cozy while assembling an afghan.
I'm down to just putting on the shell-stitch edging. I even did a search of pattern books for a more elaborate edging to celebrate my achievement. Not sure which I'm going to use, but I'm determined that in one more weekend I'll be washing (with lots of softener) the thing and blocking it. And then I'll be done and WIP-free! Free to start another less-daunting project! Free to sell all the left-over peach yarn in my stash, too! Might just pay for the other half that I used or perhaps a little of my time these last three years.

Spring-y Art Adventures

The darling chick and pussywillow ATC above arrived from eclecticarchivist on Flickr as part of The Faerie Zine Spring Bunny & Chick ATC swap. Patty not only made the darling ATC, she made the accompany greeting card on which it arrived. That, along with the earlier posted ATC from rachelchristydesigns, were my receipts.
I made The Lettuce Queen ATC pictured above, and also The Cabbage Queen, who is all haughty now because I forgot to photograph here. Supplies for my ATCs were almost entirely from Paula Montgomery of Paula's Kit Club, which I highly recommend. Be sure to read Enzo's report card on her site, and check out the bracelet kit offerings from Kaari Meng of French General.
The crown -shaped paper trinket is just that, a crown- a little cheer-up surprise I received in the mail from the queen herself, Ms. Lisa Kettell. Whether I will wear it remains to be seen, but it's more fun to admire her amazing papercraft skills anyway.
And last but not least the charm bracelet is the product of the Arte du Blythe group on Yahoo! Miss Vicky hosted this swap which had such well-known players as Ms. Lisa as well as Maija Lepore, Angela Hoffman, Sandy Camarda and Kim Tedrow. Another "not sure I will wear it" thingy, but always fun to look at.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A breath of spring arrives!

Just when I thought another snow flurry in Indiana in March would leave me stark raving mad, this lovely little breath of spring arrived in the mail from Rachel for The Faerie Zine Bunny/Spring ATC swap.
Rachel makes the loveliest boxes and sells them in her Etsy store. We are also doing a 1:1 box swap- can't wait! Gotta get my cards and boxes done this weekend and will post pics. My other ATC parner is Patty, Eclecticarchivist.
And I really can't complain. Although it is gloomy today, it was sunny and 60+F degrees yesterday. Just a little tease.
Also another bright spot received are the two blog awards (top right) that I received last night from Lisa Kettell, who is one to always share in her bountiful art tidings.