Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to School...

Remember that song that Adam Sandler sings in Billy Madison (or one of those movies where he talks funny)? "Back to school....back to school...." That's what I'm singin' today...our first full faculty day. So this will be short, because I'm out the door to a restorative yoga class (gonna start this year off on the right foot, darn it!) but some cool stuff happened today.
First, we got the rug we ordered all the way over from California. It's super pretty, entirely hand made using a wet-felting technique, and clearly our cat loves it. We hemmed and hawed a little bit about it because it's longer and narrower than we wanted, but it's also one-of-a-kind, and you just DEAL with measurement issues when that's the case, no?
Also, I FINALLY ordered some crimp covers to hide some unsightly crimps on a cool necklace that I just put up in the shop!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Crafting with Cardboard

I am in the process of setting up my classroom for the new school year. Yipes, how the summer flies by. I have changed rooms and for the first time in my 10 years of teaching I have an honest-to-goodness built-in wood desk with a CLOSET to hang my COAT in. I'm pretty flippin' excited about it and am enjoying spreading out my stuff (previous years have seen me in a small movable desk tucked into the corner of someone else's room with zero elbow room. My "coat hanger" = the back of my chair.)

So along with the space comes the need for things to organize my desk. While flipping through the business supply catalogue, I couldn't find any hanging magazine racks that were inexpensive / held all of the magazines I wanted it to. I found myself exclaiming "how hard is it for them to make a cheap magazine rack out of cardboard??!" Then the light bulb went off and I decided to make one myself. I must say that I was rather inspired by this fellow over on Etsy who makes his own books using recycled covers and papers. I ordered this one recently and was impressed not only with the product but also with the box it came in...he had skillfully created one out of recycled cardboard. So here's the magazine rack which will NOT house knitpicks and free people magazines, but rather science-y type stuff.
Apologies for the blurry photo. I took this one mighty quick as I didn't really want to be touching the camera too much because the spray adhesive I used was all over my hands and I could NOT get it off. Not even with nail polish remover. So I think this magazine rack will hold for a while...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kick-Butt Craft Room

You might remember my organizational meltdown from such blog entries as OCD - Organized Clutter Disorder. Since then, I've decided to stop WISHING the spaces around me were what I wanted, and instead MAKE them what I want. Huge concept, no? Well, yesterday I mentioned my new-found love for pegboard, and here it is in all it's pegboardy glory. Holy cow. I haven't even gotten all of my tools on there yet or arranged them how I want them, but LOOK AT THAT! Never mind the disorganized yarn stash right next to it. This might just be the summer of stud finders and pegboards...and the more I reread this sentence, the better it gets.

Along with pegboard, I also installed a set of shallow shelves for the wall where the door to the room opens up. They had to be shallow or else the door would run into them. When the idea first hit me, I knew all of my sea glass (which I have carefully been separating by color into those little jars which that yummy unpasteurized yogurt from Trader Joe's used to come in) would go there. It's just very clean and pretty. And you might notice below that my ribbons are happily hanging out together. I had bought little hooks that I planned to hang a bamboo rod from just on a regular wall in the room. Luckily, before I started drilling holes in the wall I thought: if the bamboo is only going to about an inch from the wall, how will that accommodate the diameter of the ribbon spools? It's a minor miracle that I figured this out early-on, as I am usually the queen of messing up and then having to fix. Anyway, my solution was to attach the hooks to dowels and then hang the dowels from the bottom shelf. Yippy-skippy ribbon organization.

And today I painted the chalkboard onto one of the walls. Painting a wall black is pretty fun in that it feels pretty darn rebellious; knowing that I'll be able to write on it with chalk makes it enchanting. I still haven't found corkboard for the other wall...or at least corkboard like I that'll be for another day...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chicken Sitting

Upon returning from our vacation in San Francisco, I've found myself weighing the pros and cons of urban versus suburban living. It was so great to be in a city where you could walk to anything, take public transportation if you needed (and bonus: the buses in San Francisco are all electric which makes me crazy-happy), and in general you are surrounded by people who live smaller than those in the suburbs (a whole week without seeing a Hummer or 40 thousand SUVs made me MIGHTY happy). But when I came home my parents were out the door on their vacation and along with taking care of the cats, parrot and fish I was asked to take care of the....chicken. Chicken?? Yup, there's one on my back porch right now. Score one: suburbs. Apparently some of the roasters at the farm got sick and my Dad has been nursing this guy back to health (I used to have a huge crush on Tristan in All Things Great and Small that aired on PBS, so I love the idea of having a vet in the family). So he's peeping on the porch and I'm trying not to get too attached to this being that might end up on my dinner plate in the future. He's been in a box, but Andrew and I heard a racket on the porch today and realized that he's now big enough to get out of the box. So Chicken and I took a walk around the shade garden today. I was hoping that he'd dig a little in the dirt and find some buggy protein, but he mostly just pecked at my ferns. He also followed me wherever I went and if I started running, he'd chase after me. Did I mention that I'm trying not to get attached to him?

Anyway, back to our vacation in San Francisco. Did I mention that besides having electric buses and a soon-to-be-enacted ban on plastic bags, San Francisco is also a crafty city? I happened upon a flyer for the Craft Gym while I was putzing around the city and managed to sign up for a class in bound-resist dying. First of all, how amazing is it that I actually managed to sign up and go to a class on my vacation? I am the queen of "oh yeah, let's TOTALLY go to a yoga class in that cool place during vacation" only to return home yoga-less. I consider it a testament to the coolness of our friends and of Andrew for not even batting an eye when I suggested that I'd take 3 hours on the next-to-last day of our vacation to dye fabric. So sign up I did, and then blissed out while messing around with fabric, thread, and lots of clothespins for a few hours. Here's my fabric - I just played around with different techniques:

As is the case with felting, dying fabric turned out to be a magical and surprising experience. This helped me to let go and just experiment a bit without worrying about making it look like "something". It took a few moments for me to dive into the dying experience, but once I did, I just messed around with color and had some happy accidents. My favorite part is this checkerboard pattern which I created by making an accordion pleat, trying and failing to sew the according together, using clothespins to secure it instead, and ending up with this. See? Happy accidents:)Of course, I didn't make it out of San Francisco without visiting the LYS in the neighborhood we were staying in, and one afternoon I went there with Sophie. I was worried that she'd lose interest in the shopping experience and I'd only have a short window of time to browse around, but we got involved in trying to find the softest ball of yarn in the shop, and she took the challenge seriously (bless her heart). After much deliberation, she settled on a wonderful fuzzy, pink yarn so I bought it for her and told her I'd make her something out of it. It was a toss-up between pillow and hat, and I'm going to do the pillow thing because it enabled me to use my knitting machine.

Can I just say how flippin' cool my knitting machine is? When I first considered getting one I thought: Will I still be a real knitter? Should I just get one and not tell anyone I have it? But the more I use it, the happier I am to have one. Truthfully, I have no interest in learning how to knit a sweater or anything complicated on the machine. For just basic, flat pieces of knitted fabric, it just rocks. Here's the world's softest yarn all ready to be made into a pillow - all done in one afternoon:
And that, my friends, is why I love my knitting machine.

Know what else I love? Pegboard. Oh, YEAH. I just installed some in my getting-cooler-by-the-minute craft room and now I want it all over my house. For real...picture hanging would be a snap, you could install a shelf wherever in an instant. Pegboard, should be in every household.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

O.C.D. - Organized Clutter Disorder

Yep, I have it....OCD. Not just in the traditional sense (um, hello? WHO touches door handles in bathrooms anyway?) but also in the sense that I have a tendency to organize my craft room around small clusters of slightly organized entropy. I was recently given a small side-table shelf-like thing that I thought I'd stick up in the craft room to organize my paints. However, upon bringing the thing into the room, I realized that I had nowhere to put it. The knitting section of the room was precariously close to commingling with the sewing part of the room. My beads were out and about all over the place, and the mountains of fabric that I recently bought (for a flippin' STEAL at the 4H fair) had no place to go. A moment of panic ensued. I don't know about anyone else out there, but it's REALLY hard for me to get into a crafting mood if my stuff isn't organized. And it's REALLY hard for me to keep my stuff organized when I flit from one medium to another. It's a vicious cycle, really, and I had to break it. After digging through a closet in the craft room in an effort to conjure more storage space out of it, I found a bag that contained items of clothing that I had been searching for for YEARS. Oh, also the giant, fossilized computer that we moved with us and have never thought of since. Panic gave way to despair. Enter: Our hero, Andrew. Together we measured out two walls for shelves and went off to Lowes. Since we're basically two idiots when it comes to home improvement, the first set of shelves took some time (yeah, never give the slightly OCD person the laser level) but man, are they secure. For the first time ever I used a stud finder and we actually installed the things properly. The room is still a mess as the other set of shelves have to go up (they are small so we had to buy wood and they needed a coat of paint), I bought some chalkboard paint and I'm going to make one wall a chalkboard and the other a corkboard, and I've got a few hooks so I can hang a piece of bamboo somewhere to organize all of my ribbon spools. Yee-haw! Here's a peek at the beautiful and insanely leveled shelves.Ah, don't you feel the sense of calm they instill? Sweet, sweet organization.

Alright, so our summer vacation is rapidly dwindling and we have one more vacation to go before Andrew starts preseason (that sporty boy). Our bestest friends decided to be total poo-heads and move across the country to San Franstupido...WITHOUT US. The downside is we don't have friends that we can call on a moments notice to hang out and do nothing with anymore, the upside is we have a place to stay in San Francisco. Their daughter Sophie needed something for her new room, I thought. So with the help of the stitchettes, here's what I whipped up. I've blogged about this before, so you might remember the tea-stained linen and the linen floss in natural colors. Anyway, here is it all framed up in an easy-peasy picture frame from Michael's. I ditched the glass, and glued the fabric around the back of the frame, then used a staple gun to secure it. Any excuse to use a staple gun, I'll take it;) I'm pretty happy with it and like the summery feel of it. Anyway, it's getting on a plane with me tomorrow...see you in a week!

Monday, August 6, 2007

As Promised...

Here is the sea glass haul. This year, I had a stroke of genius (if I do say so myself) when I thought to grab a box for our beach treasures as we were heading out the door. In the car, I opened it up and saw that it was a candy box WITH the little divisions for candy still in it. Wahoo! OCD BLISS!! This year, I'd be able to organize my loot by color BEFORE bringing it home. Despite the fact that Andrew's sister made fun of me when she first saw it, she had to admit that perusing the collection with it all organized was a pleasing experience. Score one: Kristina.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, you have the coolest piece of sea glass that I've found yet. This is a chunky piece, well worn on all the edges and a really unique shade of blue. There's not much to say about this one, it's just so dang perfect on its own:
And a slightly blurry photo, but is shows the color really well against the other sea glass:And my ever-patient beach buddy looking for treasures with me: As summer is rapidly dwindling away, I'm getting panicky about not having done enough crafting. So here are some recent projects that have unfolded...

I finally opened up my flower press from last fall. I managed to get a good selection of leaves from our cut leaf Japanese maple. I have about half a dozen leaves and the color was preserved really well. I might mount them somehow because they are pretty perfect on their own, but I need to look into mounting them to be air tight.

And some other flowers I pressed. These are more delicate and will need a little coaxing to get them off the paper in one piece, but I'm happy with the color and shape.
And as a parting shot, here's a WIP that I finally finished! This one was a long time (um, like over a year) coming, so I'm glad it's finally done. It's a small book I made in a workshop that was offered at my school. I made another book that I finished, and then this one just needed to be stitched up. The teacher was not interested in hanging around any longer than needed, so when we didn't get to the stitching part, she said "oh, I'll send you instructions over email." Yeah, right. Anyhow, I figured it out with a little help from the internet, and even managed to design a cool button closure too. It's available in the shop if you're interested!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Serenity, Now!

When my job wears me out, I find my little happy place in my mind and take a mini-vacation. I suppose I could whisk my thoughts off to the Caribbean or to that little restaurant in Bologna that served killer limoncello, but truly one of my recent favorite places to be is the Pool Lobster Co. in Maine, biting down into one of these:Behold, the perfect lobster roll. It isn't fancy, it's low on mayo, and high on fresh Maine lobster. It's served on a straight-cut bun that acts merely as a vehicle to get lobster into one's mouth. Damn, it's good. Every year when we go to Maine, I think: this year, I'm going to make sure to get to the Pool Lobster Co. TWICE so I can eat this thing TWICE, but for some mystical reason it never happens. Every year, I get one perfect lobster roll and that, in itself, is perfection.

It goes without saying that our vacation was just right (a lobster roll, after all, was had). We spent some good time with family. Toby likes to spend time doing his "homework" which involves writing letters. Andrew, ever the Philosophy teacher, gave him some words to practice and here's the little thinker at work:
And of course, what would be ME vacation, without HOURS spent wandering the beach in search of sea glass? Quick! Spot the sea glass in the photo below! I could spend hours and hours looking for the stuff, and luckily Andrew can too. I'll share some more sea glass photos (along with a photo of all our loot) later.
And the beach! Quiet and calm, freezing waters that keep it from becoming as overcrowded as the Jersey Shore as well as keeping people-eating sharks least that's what I tell myself - - although I watched a few hours of Shark Week while on vacation and learned that they dive down into very very cold water...but I'm just going to pretend I never heard that.
And a beautiful scene from the short walk we take to the beach. The walk involves some woodsy type nature and this lovely pond with water lilies. Of course, this is all quite appealing to mosquitoes, hence this photo was hastily shot while cursing at the little buzzing blood-suckers.
And that's all for now. I continued to work on my Christmas-in-July project: the Christmas tree skirt kit I bought here (Toby was a good helper and did lots of sequins with me) and maybe will post some photos of it soon.
Although I really truly loved my week spent in Maine, it's also really lovely to be home with my own bed and towels and cats:) Oh, and my craft room.

made. by k.d.