CraftSanity Has Moved (kinda)

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Jeff has been working this weekend to move CraftSanity to a new blog tool. There's still plenty of organizing to do, but please point your browser and bookmarks to craftsanity.com or www.craftsanity.com/index.php. The old version of the page will remain (but will not be updated) at craftsanity.com/index.html.

For those using RSS, please switch your RSS reader to craftsanity.com/?feed=rss2 to read daily CraftSanity updates and musings. It's going to take us a bit to get everything set up the way we'd like, but please head over and check out the new digs.
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Time to Spiff Up CraftSanity
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Happy Saturday, everyone! Things might be a little wonkie with the website this weekend because Jeff is going to be converting this site to a new blog tool. I'm going to continue posting, but you may notice some funkiness (more than usual) as we make the switch. Thanks in advance for your patience. In light of the site construction, I'm planning to get my next podcast ready for a Monday release because I don't want to post a show in the midst of a website overhaul.

In case you're wondering about the cuckoo clock in the photo, we just put it on the wall today. The tick-tock of the wooden leaf pendulum and the mechanical cuckoo of the little bird was part of the soundtrack of every visit to Grammy B's house. She had it hanging on the wall of her home for my whole childhood it seems. She died more than a year ago and her house has yet to sell. My uncle took the clock down recently and offered it to me.

We brought the German clock home from metro Detroit last weekend. It's not something I would have bought for my home, but I love it because that beautifully annoying "cuckoo" takes me back to the days of sleepover parties at Grammy's house with my sisters and holiday celebrations eaten around at the big wooden table in her dining room. We got so used to that clock that it became background noise as we went about our visits.

It was surreal to watch Jeff put the clock on our wall. Seeing it takes me back so quickly. Memories of Grammy laughing and telling us to eat more during family meals swirl around the ornate wooden clock. Plenty of great times were had in its midst when it hung on Grammy's wall and I'm honored to have it keeping time for the memories that will be made in our home.
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Quilting on Deadline
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Tonight I am making a quilt top. It's a super basic design made with a combination of stash fabric and some new fat quarters. I usually give away most of my projects, but this one I'm going to keep for my family to use in our living room.

I started out with a more complicated design, but quickly realized I would never finish it in time for my appointment next week with a professional machine quilter. I've never taken a quilt to be professionally quilted before. I usually use my machine to do very basic quilting or tie the quilt with yarn. I figured I'd see what it's like to work with a pro after a local machine quilter contacted me. So, I'm going to go through the process and write about it for an upcoming art & craft column.

I admit that it is totally insane for me to be quilting right now. There's so much other work to do, but I figure when I'm old and gray I'll remember the fun of making this quilt and not the housework and podcast work that I skipped to make it happen. I'm having fun and think I just might actually pull it off ahead of schedule. If all goes well, I hope to finish the quilt top tomorrow.

In other craft news... I sent out the fabric postcard swap partner information early this morning. If you think you signed up, but didn't get a message from me, send me an e-mail and we'll get it figured out. The Pen Pal match-ups are next on list, so stay tuned.
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War Is Personal
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Many Americans go about their business without thinking about the people fighting and dying in Iraq. Meanwhile, Anne Landre is doing what she can to remind us all of the human cost of war. She is still working on the Mother's Day Project, a collaborative embroidery project she told us about on CraftSanity episode 59. I participated in this project and doubt I'll ever forget it. Please take a moment to read Anne's update.

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Rinse, rinse, repeat.
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The wool sock yarn from yesterday's dying experiment looks nothing like what I thought it would. But it turned out lovely, so I'm really going to enjoy knitting socks with it.
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Oh, that's why you're supposed to wear gloves
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Today I hung out with the talented woman who makes this gorgeous hand-dyed yarn. You'll get to read all about her in one of my upcoming craft columns, but I couldn't wait to show you this picture of one of the skeins she made and tell you how incredibly fun it is to dye yarn.

I brought some natural cotton along to attempt this beautiful craft. I also dyed a skein of wool sock yarn, but I have to wait until tomorrow to rinse it all out and get my first look at the results. I'll take pictures so check back to see the results. The only mistake I made was the part when I grabbed the skein I was working on with an ungloved hand. I had to go to a meeting afterward with a fuchsia palm. It looked pretty ridiculous, but will be totally worth it if this yarn rocks.
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Running with Reeses
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This guy's next. Abby says his name is "Tooby." Not "Toby." "Tooby." I made my mom a little kit so she can stitch this design, too. We gave it to her yesterday when we visited my family in suburban Detroit, and today Abby asked her on the phone: "Did you stitch my monster yet?"

I really am having the best time stitching my 3-year-old's monster designs because this project appeals to me on several levels. It not only preserves this chapter of Abby's life as a budding creative type, but it also gives me a chance to elevate her work from crayon and paper to something a little more permanent. And I think that makes her feel good about the art she's making. (Yes, we call crayon drawings art in our house.)

On the fitness front, I ran 5.25 miles today. It was tricky to squeeze it into the schedule, but boy did it feel good. When I became a semi-serious, born-again athlete last year, I realized very quickly that I feel a lot better when I run or swim or do some other form of cardio activity.

My weekly milage is a fragment of where it should be, but I'm hoping to ramp things up with a long run this weekend and keep the dream of completing my second consecutive 25K alive. Then, maybe I'll attempt my second consecutive GR Marathon, only this time a little faster.... or maybe a little slower. The insane part of me wants to throw knitting into the mix and go after the Guiness
record for knitting while running a marathon and try to raise some serious money for charity while making a loon of myself. With the right yarn and maybe some Addi Turbos, I think that could be really fun.

So, I was good today and ran like I'm supposed to, only to load up on chocolate after dinner. Alas, the post title: Running with Reeses. I'm sorry about the calories, but I'm not sorry at all about the taste. Chocolate is fabulous.

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Turn, Turn, Turn
(Wood turning that is.)
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I want to learn to do this.

Gregory Troehler, 54, of Holland, Mich., makes wood turning look very easy. This week I featured him in my weekly art & craft
column and I invite you to check it out. He turns beautiful wine stoppers on his lathe as a hobby. But like many of us, he dreams of turning his side project into a career. It appears he's on his way. Now all he needs is an etsy shop. : )

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Gregory also makes lovely turned ornaments, custom picture frames, lovely end tables and really cool pieces like this knife holder.

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Here's a look at the exotic wood stash Gregory keeps in the two-car garage he converted into a wood shop.

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Want to know more? Click here.

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"Knot" Happening
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So what's the secret behind executing a perfect French knot? Do you have to be French? Do you need super powers? Does your name have to be Jenny Hart?

It's been a while since I danced the French Knot and I got a tad frustrated about it tonight. Everything was going great. I finished stitching Abby's
first monster design - all but the two knots I needed to complete the eyes, that is. I thought it would be smooth sailing to project completion. How hard could two little French knots be, right?

The overconfident crafter in me took over and I tried to make a knot from memory. Big mistake. After several failed attempts I finally wised up and grabbed the nearest stitch reference book which happened to be "Embroidery Stitches," a nifty little book that covers more than "400 Contemporary and Traditional Stitch Patterns."

But, sadly, the written description and pictures of completed French knots did nothing to conjure memories of the knots I've stitched in my crafting past. Crap.


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So I ran upstairs to consult more experts. I grabbed copies of "Sublime Stitching" by Jenny Hart, and "Colorful Stitchery" and "Kids Embroidery" by Kristin Nicholas. Jenny's book was on top of the pile and I'm happy to report that the diagram on page 36 cleared the fog in my head.

Two wraps around the needle with the pink floss and done. Awesome. I moved on to the second knot. Biffed and had to start over. But I nailed it on the second try. (Thanks Jenny!)

For the record both of Kristin's books have great illustrations of French knots, too. I also like
Melinda Barta's book, "Hip to Stitch." You can't go wrong with any of these titles.

So, for those of you who find yourselves struggling a bit when it comes to remembering how to stitch a French knot. Here's a diagram I found on
Wikipedia. This is a handy option if you're stitching near a computer, but you might want to invest in an embroidery book if you plan to take your projects to the beach this summer. (Yes, I'm planning to do a lot of beach stitching this summer and really looking forward to it.)

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Crafty annoucements: I shipped my "sassy apron" to my swap partner today along with a recipe and a couple little cooking utensils. I hope she likes it.

Giveaway Report: The randomly selected winners of the Kristin Nicholas book giveaway from CraftSanity episode 70. Karen in Ontario won a copy of "Knitting for Baby" and Liz in Bronxville, NY won a copy of "Kristin Knits." Congrats ladies! I'll be shipping those to you ASAP.

Pen Pal Exchange and Fabric Postcard Swap: The sign-up is now closed, so I will be assigning pen pals and swap partners in the coming days. Stay tuned for more details.
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Monster Art Part II
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Sounds like some of you are curious about the embroidery project I'm working on, so here are a few more details that might be helpful if you want to try this at home. I used a light box to transfer Abby's crayon drawing to the fabric, but if you're working during daylight all you need is a window. Tape the image you want to transfer to fabric to your window, then tape a piece of light-colored fabric (I used unbleached cotton muslin.) right side up over image and trace the design with a special fabric pen.

I used a Dritz fine point "Mark-B-Gone Marking Pen." (It retails for $4.59 at my local Jo-Ann Fabrics, but I got it for less using one of those 40 percent off coupons.) The blue ink is water soluble, so you can remove the marks with a damp cloth after you're done stitching. There are other options for transferring designs to fabric, but so far this seems to work best for me. (Most craft stores carry a variety of marking pens, so check out your options.)

I'm almost done stitching the
first monster I transferred from Abby's doodle notebook. So, I'll be moving on to the next one soon. This project is portable and very relaxing. Try it. I bet you'll like it too.

Cheers,

Jennifer

P.S. I got to chat with
Anna Maria today and I'm very pleased to report that we had a great conversation. So be sure to tune in to the podcast Sunday, March 16 to hear the show and see if you won some fabric from her newest collection.
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Monster Art
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It seems like it happened overnight. Abby's frequent crayon and pen scribbles started to include circles. Soon the circles sprouted stick figure arms and legs and hair. But the faces are pretty recent additions to her art. And those cute little faces are my favorite part. The nose always seems to end up between the eyes, although a bit smaller, and the mouth is always a line that she goes back and embellishes with a circle at each end for "cheeks." (I think she learned to make cheeks at preschool. She frequently says: "Oh, I forgot the cheeks," which makes me laugh.) And now that she's been to the pediatric dentist a couple times, she likes to draw teeth, too.

So given the way I eat up these precious little drawings, I admit it was a bit self-serving when I bought Abby and her little sister, Amelia, each a blank sketch pad and a new box of crayons for Valentine's day. It was kind of a gift to myself in many ways because I so enjoy watching to see what happens when they put crayon to paper. I love observing the colors they select, the shapes they draw and listening to the stories behind the art. There's always a story and that's the fun part. (I always ask any child showing me their artwork to tell me about it. They get a kick out of sharing and I'm always entertained by the response.)


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So, on V-day, Abby got to work filling the pages of her little sketchbook with these drawings she calls "happy monsters." (We like happy monsters a whole lot thanks to "Monster's Inc." ) At the end of the day it was so fun to flip through the pages to see what she and Amelia had created. Amelia is still in the scribble phase but puts together interesting color combinations. And Abby has amassed a small collection of happy monsters in her notebook. I decided the monsters are too cute to stay in the notebook, so I decided to embroider them all on fabric and make her a little quilt. I know, it sounds like a big time-consuming job, but I don't mind. I love basic embroidery and I really love using Abby's designs. I mean, how can you not smile when you see monsters with "cheeks?" I'm having fun and Abby seems amused by our collaboration. Hopefully, I finish the quilt by the time she graduates from high school. : )

When I got home from work today, Abby showed me the story she "wrote" while I was away. The whole page was filled with wavy black lines of completely illegible pretend writing. I recognized it as the kind I used to fill notebooks with when I was a little girl who couldn't wait to learn to read and write.

"I have to read you the story I wrote," she said.
"Very nice, what is called?" I asked, looking over her paper.
"Old Mc-, I mean, Hello Kitty Had a Farm."

I found this very amusing and asked her to say it again so Jeff could hear.

"That's funny, Abby," he said, as we all settled into the dining room table to eat the dinner I picked up on the way home.

Abby sang us a couple verses of "Old McDonald." (There seemed to be an abundance of cows in this particular version.) We clapped for her and then went on with the meal. I could tell she was very pleased with herself. It was one of those pleasant moments when no one is crying or having a tantrum, the sort of moment you could live in forever if it was allowed.

I suspect I'll be stitching Abby's monsters for a good long time, but I love it, so that's okay.

Cheers!

Jennifer

P.S. You people really love
Anna Maria! Holy smokes, I'm buried in e-mail and looking forward to the interview. : )

P.S.S. I got my swap
apron finished last night and plan to ship it out tomorrow after I snap a couple more pictures. Whew.
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CraftSanity Episode 71
Meet Kathy Goldner founder of Knitting Out Loud
Download the show (you may need to right-click the link)
Listen to show in browser

Subscribe to CraftSanity on iTunes

RSS feed for podcast


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Are you a multi-tasking knitter who loves to read? Great. So is Kathy Goldner.

Kathy is the founder of Knitting Out Loud, a new company that produces audio knitting books so you can listen to stories about your favorite craft while you click those point sticks.

Tune into this week's episode of CraftSanity to find out how Kathy started this crafty business nearly a year ago and how she finds the talented voices to read these knitting gems.

Also, Kathy was kind enough to let me play clips from five of her audio books during the show, so settle in with a project and let the audio book sampling begin.

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Win An Audio Book! Have a favorite knitting book that you'd like to listen to while knitting? Recommend a title for Kathy to make into an audio book and get in the random drawing for an audio copy of "A History of Hand Knitting" by Richard Rutt. To enter, simply copy your post into an e-mail to Jennifer@craftsanity.com. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail so I know where to send your prize if you win. The deadline is Saturday, March 8. Good luck everyone!

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Support the show! Buy a CraftSanity T-shirt or button.

Taking Names: Who do you want to hear from next? Send your comments, guest and show topic suggestions to jennifer@craftsanity.com.
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Got a question for Anna Maria Horner?
Submit it to enter the drawing for FREE fabric!
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Okay, folks, I hear you. I got your e-mail requests and an upcoming episode of the CraftSanity podcast is all about giving you what you want: a chat with designer Anna Maria Horner and a chance to win a stack of fabric from her new DRAWING ROOM line.

This is no joke. Anna has seriously agreed to be a guest on CraftSanity and give four lucky listeners a chance to make something fabulous out of her latest fabric designs.

Here's the deal. You have until 10 a.m. (Eastern Time) Friday, Feb. 29 to submit your question. You can go ahead and post it below. However, to OFFICIALLY enter the drawing, please copy your question into an e-mail to me with "Anna Maria Question" in the subject line. Please include your mailing address so we can easily get the fabric to you if you're one of the four super lucky winners.

Don't miss this chance to pad your fabric stash and help me make this the best CraftSanity interview to date. Anna and I are going to record our chat Friday afternoon, so submit those questions ASAP! I will be randomly drawing four questions from the pool of submissions during the taping, so write provoking questions to keep us all entertained.

You're invited to tune in to episode 73 of the CraftSanity podcast Sunday, March 16 to learn more about Anna and listen for your name when the winners are announced.

This contest is so delicious I wish I could enter! Good luck, everyone!
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One "Sassy Apron" Nears Completion
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Here's a sneak peek at the apron I'm making for the "Sassy Apron Swap." The deadline is fast approaching and the good news is it's finished except for the ties. I can't decide what I want to do for the ties, but plan to force a decision tomorrow evening so I can send this sassy thing to my partner.

If I don't package it up soon, I fear that I might not be able to let it go. Let's just say I've grown quite attached to this little number. I just made this apron yesterday and I'm already clutching onto it like it's a family heirloom or something. So it's a bit of a problem that I've fallen in love with this apron and think it just might be my new favorite.

I know, I'm pretty fickle when it comes to aprons. The one I'm working on is usually the favorite. This is a bit of an emotional struggle especially now that I know I can't keep it. (I'm kidding, I think I'm going to be fine at the post office. They'll let me stay with the package until it gets loaded onto the truck, right?)
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Anyway, I'm hoping that my swap partner digs this apron, too, and that I don't screw it up when I sew on the ties.

P.S. If all goes well, I'll have CraftSanity episode 71 ready for you tomorrow.

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Meet the Seamstress Behind K Bella Bambino
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Today my art & craft column is features Karin Harmon, the one-woman show behind K Bella Bambino Designs. I invite you to read her story and check out her instructions for a super simple no sew t-shirt embellishment. Enjoy!
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West Michigan Book Art

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Grand Rapids, Mich. - It was a pleasure to get a group of West Michigan creative types together Saturday at the YMCA for a fun bookmaking workshop with local book artist, Judy Jankowski.

Judy was the subject of my art & craft
column recently and volunteered to teach a free workshop for the community. When I took her up on the deal, I knew I was going to be overwhelmed with interest and boy was I. The workshop filled up in two days. We had space for 25, and sadly had to turn way about 25 more people.

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Judy prepared kits with her husband and brought along an assortment of lovely donated paper for workshop participants to use to embellish their books. It was fun to watch those in attendance move through the steps of book construction with increasing confidence and see the delighted looks on their faces when they had a completed book in hand.

Here are some more shots of the books made by this talented group. (Excellent work, everyone!) If I didn't have a podcast to work on today, I would totally make a book.

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Speaking of making books. I'm in the market for an nice awl for bookmaking. Any suggestions on where I can buy one? The one I have from the hardware store is too big for piercing small holes. I'm also looking for a good source for a big roll of waxed linen. So, experienced bookmakers, I'd love it if you would post share your favorite supply suggestions. Thanks!
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Airmail from Australia
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It's been a little hectic around here lately. So hectic, in fact, that I forgot about mail delivery today. Usually this is one of the highlights of my day, but today I didn't even ask my husband if he got the mail as I always do. So, I was mighty surprised when I came in the door and spotted an airmail package on the counter from Beth in Australia.

The customs tag on the package detailed the contents as: "apron."

My
sassy apron swap pal is from Australia. Awesome!

I couldn't tear into the parcel fast enough and was delighted by the lovely hand appliqued apron that I found inside.

Beth wrote a lovely letter that tells the story behind the apron that was inspired by the drought the folks in Melbourne experienced last spring. You can read more about that on Beth's
blog. The reverse side is blue with two clouds embroidered on it, which is particularly symbolic given the flooding that has occurred recently in the Murray-Darling river system that was plagued by drought.

I'm very impressed by the construction of this apron. Beth used the reversible apron pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's "Simple Sewing" book, but there's nothing simple about her design. There are pockets hidden behind the tan print fabric and the appliques are really something to see. The photo above doesn't do them justice.

The best part of receiving this apron is that my daughters absolutely love it. "Mom, there's an animal on there!" my 2-year-old said, quite delighted by that blue-eyed sheep. Yep. We're digging this apron. Thank you so much, Beth! Very nice work!

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Still Time to Enter "For The Love of Letters" Giveaway
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It's been a couple days since I checked the P.O. Box and was very happy to get some more fabulous mail today. A talented woman named Billie Jean from Sparta, Mich. sent me a letter AND a fabric postcard. How great is that! Wow. And I got another wonderful letter from cousin David. He really wants me to find letters when I open that P.O. box. He even has is mom (my aunt) writing me, too. (Love it! Thank you!)

I got the mail this afternoon, but resisted the urge to tear into it until after the kids went to bed. I sat on the couch by the fireplace, cozy under a wool blanket I wove several years ago and slowly read each letter, savoring the stories each contained. When I feel better I will write more about the experience of receiving this wonderful mail. For now, I'll simply share that reading these letters warmed my heart. Seriously, there's nothing like reading words on a page written specifically for me. If I wasn't feeling so green around the gills right now, I would stay up all night and try to write everyone back in a single sitting. I'm feeling that inspired. But sadly, it's going to take me a little more time to respond. Tonight is one of those rare nights when I will make sleep my ultimate priority and get my resistance back up. I need to be well to keep up my hectic schedule. (See mom, I'm finally learning to respect the importance of sleep.)

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But before turn in I want to show you this awesome card I received a few days ago from Heidi in Jamaica Plain, Mass. It was made by machine stitching layers of fabric onto a note card. I have tried this in the past, but not this successfully. Very nice, Heidi. Thank you.

Okay, if you're feeling inspired to get in on the contest, here's the info again:

WIN THE BOOK! Be sure to enter this week's contest to win one of two copies of Samara O'Shea's book. All you have to do is write a letter about what letter writing means to you and send it to my P.O. box (address below) postmarked no later than Feb. 29. (Check out episode 69 if you missed it.) I will call upon Samara's letter writing expertise to select the winners. Are you a letter writer? Did you ever receive, or send a letter that changed your life? Send me your story for a chance to win a book and have your letter scanned and published online. Please write: "For the Love of Letters" on the envelope so I know your writing to enter the contest. Please include your e-mail address so we can reach you quickly if we need to.


Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
CraftSanity Podcast producer
P.O. Box 888192
Grand Rapids, MI 49588-8192

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Fabric Scraps Are Delightful
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The girls stayed in their PJs all day today because it was just that sort of day. Abby was feeling a bit green around the gills (again), which made me feel a little green around the gills, too. And even though she missed out on making "friendship mix" (I'll tell you want that is in a bit.) today in preschool and didn't get to go the Y, she was a pretty upbeat about being under the weather. When she realized that I was really keeping her home from school today (after a sleepless night of illness), she settled in with her new square sketch book and a bowl of crayons and got to work. She's into drawing little creatures with circle cheeks and flowers that look like dandelions that have turned to seed.

She definitely wasn't her usual boisterous self, but she did jump off the couch at the chance to play with my bin of fabric scraps with her sister. In and effort to get a quick crafty fix before heading to work, Abby and Amelia "helped" me design and stitch the tops of about a dozen or so quilted coasters. It's funny because of all the things I make, I somehow seem to be able to slip into that creative zen zone the fastest when I piece scrap fabric. I work quickly, placing strips of fabric together and then deciding "yes, it works," or "no, it doesn't" and then I move on. I especially enjoy watching what happens when I ask the girls to "design" a coaster. I love watching what colors they pick and have been pleasantly surprised by their selections on several occasions. This also a fun way for Amelia to practice recognizing colors. And there's something really great about hearing a small child say the word "turquoise" in a way that seems surprising even to them.

I didn't get far on this project today, but it felt good to work briefly with the fabric scraps. They're the most liberating pieces of fabric to work with. Since they're just little bits and bobs and leftovers, I'm never worried about wasting them on a poor design choice. I seem to reserve that craft stress for situations when I'm working with fabrics measuring a half yard or larger. : ) While I enjoy sewing the pieces of fabric together, I think the ironing may have been the most relaxing part of today's craft session. I don't know what it is about ironing, but I find it rather calming. I love pressing the seams of a patchwork piece open flat and then flipping it over to get that first look at how it shaped up. So fun.

Okay, before I sign off, I have to tell you about friendship mix. It goes like this: All the kids in the class bring a cup of their favorite cereal to school to contribute to a big mix. All the cereal is mixed together and redistributed for each child to eat and enjoy. I think this would make for an interesting way to make Craft Club trail mix with the folks I hang out with on Tuesday nights. Hmm...

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The Latest Apron cont.
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Okay. So this is side A of my new "Emmeline Apron." This is the side I donned at work. This is the side that is my favorite. This is the side that I will sport this weekend when I serve punch to all the crafty ladies who come to the bookmaking workshop I'm organizing at the Y. (I wasn't kidding when I said I wear aprons primarily outside the kitchen.)

Some of you Amy Butler fans may recognize this fabulous print. It's her "Belle" print for Rowan fabrics. The pink print in the post below is "Charm" for FreeSpirit. I LOVE her fabric. It's a bit challenging to find here in West Michigan, but that's probably a blessing in disguise because I swear that stuff is like crack. I can't get enough. (Well, I think it's like crack. Thankfully, I've never spiraled into illicit drug use and can't say what that's like for sure.)

Anyway, I'm posting Side A, a day after Side B and holding my breath that I'm not overwhelming you with my admittedly ridiculous, never-ending praise for this apron pattern. But I love aprons, and really LOVE this one, so pardon me while I ride this gleeful apron-loving wave. Okay. I think I've said my peace on this issue. (If you still want to hear more about this apron listen to the aftershow at the very end of this week's podcast.)

Okay, get ready, I'm about to blog about something non-apron related. Yeah, I think I might still be capable of that. Wish me luck. I'm kinda nervous. Here goes...

And the winner is...
Abby, the 3-year-old V.P. of Fun here at CraftSanity randomly selected a winner of Betz White's "Warm Fuzzies" book. And the winner is...... (imagine a drum roll...) MELISSA in Harmony, PA! Congrats, Melissa. I think you're going to have a blast with this book. It will pop up in your mailbox soon, so get those wool sweaters ready to felt and transform into something fabulous.

Sunshine and happiness: I thought the day was going to go south this morning when the girls decided to hold an impromptu spitting contest involving sippy cups of milk and my brand new area rug. My back was turned for like 30 seconds. Where they got this idea baffles me, but my word. So, I was momentarily peeved about that, but felt a whole lot better when actual sunshine hit my face later in the day.

When the sun came out this afternoon it made the clouds over Grand Rapids look absolutely beautiful. (I'm a big cloud watcher. Love those big fluffy clouds.) I've really missed the sun and think it's a big, HUGE deal when it shines down on all of us shivering under an ample blanket of lake effect snow.

Before long it will be summer and I will be running outside again and wearing aprons over my favorite tank tops. (In case you're wondering, I don't wear aprons when I run. I think that would be pushing it, even for me.)

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The Latest Apron
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Even though I had plenty of other things to do, I couldn't hold off on this apron project.

And I'm very pleased to report that Meg's "Emmeline Apron" pattern seriously rocks! The instructions are fairly easy to follow (even on little sleep with two children dangling from me) and produce a very satisfying finished product. This is by far the best arpon pattern that I've come across to date.

I cut out the fabric pieces Friday and sewed them together Sunday. While Abby managed the pincushion and Amelia napped, I happily floored my machine.

This is the most involved apron I've ever made, but once I got going it went together without incident or swearing. I'm sure the next one I make will go even faster. Yes, there will definitely be more of these lovelies. The apron is reversible which is awesome. The photos of the other side turned out kind of funky, so I'll have to post another photo at a later date.

Overall, it was great to work on this project in an impatient, creative flurry and enjoy the end result. (Thanks, Meg, for designing such a fun pattern!)

And, of course, I had to test drive the new apron yesterday. I wore it to work (on the reverse side which I will show you later) and no one said a word. The silence can be interpreted in many ways, but I'm going to look at the bright side and assume that people are just getting used to me wearing aprons whenever I want. What fun!


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CraftSanity Episode 70
Kristin knits and stitches and paints and....
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kristin
Kristin Nicholas is my kind of creative. Some people pick one art medium and stick to it, but not Kristin. She does it all.

She's a craft book author and illustrator who is into stitchery, knitting, painting, ceramics, interior design and gardening much much more. In addition to using color with wild abandon in her knitting and embroidery projects, Kristin enjoys splashing color throughout her 1751 farmhouse where she lives with her husband, Mark, and daughter, Julia. On this farm located in an abandoned apple orchard, Kristin and her family live an inspired life raising sheep, pigs and chickens.

Tune in this week to hear the story of how Kristin got into the business of art and craft. Get inspired, then check out Krisitn's yarn line and plot out your next colorful project.

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This week's project is from Kristin's "Colorful Stitchery" book. Download the pdf instructions for recycled wool potholders.




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kfbWin a copy of Kristin's books! This week I'm giving away two books: "Kristin Knits" and "Knitting for Baby" (the book she co-authored with Melanie Falick who was featured on episode 30.) Post a comment about this week's show and get in the drawing to win one of these two great books. Tell us how you use color in your work. Do you use it with wild abandon, or are you more monochromatic in your thinking? To enter, simply copy your post into an e-mail to Jennifer@craftsanity.com. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail so I know where to send your prize if you win. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 29. Good luck everyone!


There is still time to get involved in these fun opportunities, too!

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WIN THE BOOK! Be sure to enter this week's contest to win one of two copies of Samara O'Shea's book. All you have to do is write a letter about what letter writing means to you and send it to my P.O. box (address below) postmarked no later than Feb. 29. (Check out episode 69 if you missed it.) I will call upon Samara's letter writing expertise to select the winners. Are you a letter writer? Did you ever receive, or send a letter that changed your life? Send me your story for a chance to win a book and have your letter scanned and published online. Please write: "For the Love of Letters" on the envelope so I know your writing to enter the contest. Please include your e-mail address so we can reach you quickly if we need to.


Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
CraftSanity Podcast producer
P.O. Box 888192
Grand Rapids, MI 49588-8192

Pen Pal Exchange: And because I've been really enjoying receiving letters lately, I thought I'd start CraftSanity Pen Pal Exchange. So, if you're interested in writing to a fellow listener, e-mail your full name, age, interests, and mailing address and I will attempt to match you with a pen pal with similar interests. Please write "Pen Pal Exchange" in the subject line and send me your response by Feb. 29. Samara and I are going to participate in this exchange and we'd love for you to join us.

Fabric Postcard Swap: Okay, here's one more opportunity to get cool mail. I'm also be hosting a fabric postcard swap. If you'd like to participate, e-mail me your name and address by Feb. 29 and I will match you with a swap partner. Partners will be assigned in early March and the deadline to mail your postcard is March 31. The theme is "Spring" so think flowers and sunshine.

Support the show! Buy a CraftSanity T-shirt or button.

Taking Names: Who do you want to hear from next? Send your comments, guest and show topic suggestions to jennifer@craftsanity.com.

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Felted Polka-dot Coasters
felt coasters

Don't these felt coasters look fabulous all piled up together? I had a great time snapping photos of Cara Redeker-Theile's colorful creations when I stopped by her Holland, Mich. home recently to interview her for my weekly art and craft column that runs every Sunday in The Grand Rapids Press. If you'd like to know more, I invite you to read the column I wrote about Cara and download the pdf instructions for making the coasters, too. I hope this inspires you to give that old pile of wool sweaters a second wind. Enjoy!
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Feast your eyes on this vintage beauty.
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I'm a sucker for old sewing machines. I'm not particularly fond of how they sew, but I LOVE how cool they look.This lovely Ambassador sewing machine belongs to Cara Redeker-Theile, the artist I feature in my latest art and craft column. The piece will be in tomorrow's print edition of The Grand Rapids Press (back of the Home/Garden section) and also posted online. Check back here tomorrow for links.

Cara's machine was a $20-thrift store find and fully operational. It doesn't do anything fancy and weighs a ton, but has already lasted longer than most modern machines ever will. Seeing it reminded me of an interesting piece tracing the history of sewing machines that I just read in the March issue of Threads magazine. The article by sewing machine aficionado, Dale Yelich, credits Elias Howe with patenting the first practical lockstitch machine in 1846. The first "portable" electric sewing machines didn't come on the scene until 1920. And you wonder why great grandma had big muscles. She had to be ripped to lift her 2-ton sewing machine onto the dinning room table in order to sew a new dress.

I wish sewing machine manufacturers would bring back some of these old vintage machine designs with a modern twist. It would be so awesome to be able to sew on with vintage-looking turquoise machine tricked out with all the modern-day functions. I love my Janome, but it's plain white and pretty boring to look at. I wonder if the original owner of Cara's Ambassador realized how lovely that machine is? Hmm. I'll probably always find old sewing machines intriguing.

sweet heart

I'll leave you with this heart. I tried out Cassi's "Sweet Hearts" pattern while editing the podcast I hope to post tomorrow or Monday. Now if I can just find some time to sew the apron pieces waiting for me on the dining room table that would be grand.


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Polka-dots, aprons and other delights
dot pillow

Here's a sneak preview of the craft column I wrote for this Sunday's edition of the Grand Rapids Press. These whimsical polka-dot pillows are by a Holland, Michigan fiber artist who's not afraid to bust out with color. Stop back here Sunday to find out who this talented artist is, and click the links to read my column online and download directions to make your own fantastic polka-dot coasters.

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On the apron front, the wait is over. I ordered a copy of Meg's rockin' "Emmeline Apron" pattern as soon as it became available and was so HAPPY when it arrived in yesterday's mail. What a great V-day present!

I cut all the pieces this afternoon and hope to sneak some sewing time into the schedule in the next couple days. The pattern doesn't call for pockets, but I do. I frequently wear aprons out and about and I like to have pockets to stash my money, I.D. business cards and notebook. I don't want to ruin Meg's awesome design, but I doubt I'll be able to resist the urge to add at least one little pocket. Hopefully, my apron will settle in that beautiful place where fashion and function meet. I'll let you know how all this shakes out. Wish me luck.



Lorilee
Did you see the Spring Issue of Interweave Knits yet? I just got my hands on a copy today and was very pleased to see a fantastic scarf pattern by West Michigan designer and knit shop owner. Lorilee Beltman. Lorilee is the owner of City Knitting right here in Grand Rapids, Mich. "Chameleon Scarf" (p. 102) is the first of Lorilee's patterns to be published by Interweave. I sampled this pattern last summer and think it's fantastic. It works up quickly and is really fun to knit with those super fun self-striping yarns.

On my last trip to City Knitting, I asked Lorilee to model her scarf design and pose with a copy of the magaine. (Congrats, Lorilee!) Y ou may remember her from the knitting video we made together depicting the difference between throwing and contential knitting. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.



P.S. I fell asleep at least four five times during the writing of this post.
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Happy Valentine's Day!
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Aren't these little handprints great? They were made by the 3-year-old artists in Abby's preschool class. Today was the big Valentine's Day party. I had the day off work, so I took Amelia along and served as the unofficial party photographer. It was fun to watch the kids get so excited about making crowns with pipe cleaner and heart antennas, decorating sugar cookies with candy sprinkles and throwing bean bags through a cardboard heart.

I wish we could bottle the enthusiasm kids have for making things at this age. They love cutting paper and using giant glue sticks and doodling with crayons. Boy do they love the crayons. But who doesn't love crayons? I still love crayons and secretly wish they made coloring books for big people. Hmm... maybe I should do something about that.

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The girl's got some great mail today from Nana & Papa Ackerman, (My mom fills up the space inside the cards she sends with handwritten notes and lots of stickers) and Great Grandma Haywood sent along some great valentines and temporary tatoos, (Thanks to her, I have a zebra on my right bicep. I look crazy at the gym, but the kids think it's great so I will continue to adorn with temporary tattoos and look crazy at the gym.)

So we had a good time after school. Jeff brought home red roses for me and butterfly balloons for the girls, so we thought we'd be nice and give him time to take a much-needed nap. I'm sure he may have liked a giant flat screen TV or a new mac laptop, but he got a nap instead. Sleep is priceless, right?


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Still Loving the Mail


letters

There were four letters in the P.O. box today. Very cool. It's really quite delightful to read handwritten letters. Thanks to those who wrote. I will reply in the coming days. : )

You may have seen this tutorial by Heather Bailey on a thousand other blogs already, but I'm going to post the link anyway because it looks fun and I think everyone should know about it. Can you tell I'm exhausted? Time to sleep. : )

Oh, but before I go, I have to say that reading this post made me really happy. I've been too busy to craft much this week, but get to live vicariously through Kat. Very cool.
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LOVE this!
sweet_hearts_garland
photo courtesy of Bella Dia

I saw these "Sweet Hearts" by Cassi of Bella Dia over at the fabulous CRAFTzine and LOVE them. As if the photo wasn't inspiring enough, Cassi has posted a photo illustrated tutorial so we can crochet some hearts of our own. If I had the time (Boy, do I wish I had the time!) I would make some and embroider them with those cute and slightly dorky messages commonly found on candy hearts. Anyway, check out Cassi's blog. She's so nice to share the pattern.

It's been a crazy day and I'm still swamped with work, so here's the link to the fabric postcard tutorial I did for my newspaper. An official CraftSanity version is forthcoming. (Is it the weekend yet?) If you like fabric postcards, be sure to enter the swap I wrote about earlier this week.

If I still find it funny tomorrow, I'll share the story of what happened to me this evening when I veered from my healthy eating regime (ate fast food) and how the universe responded. (Let's just say I was a little chilly on the drive home.) If you're curious, I'll meet you back here late tomorrow.

Cheers.
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Love in the Dog Bowl
junasleep

This is Juna, our 8-year-old Alaskan Malamute. She took a nap this morning outside in the wicked cold and looked right at home sleeping on a pile of snow. I'm amazed that she can curl up and get comfortable in less than 10-degree weather.

When I refilled her water, I noticed the heart shape in her bowl and couldn't resist snapping a picture. I'm a sucker for quirky stuff like this, so it will come as no surprise to you that I really dig watching the clouds roll by and looking for recognizable shapes.

love bowl

I have more newspaper work to wrap up tonight, so I'll be posting the fabric postcard tutorial tomorrow instead.






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CraftSanity Episode 69
Samara O'Shea On Letter Writing
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photo-bio
Dearest Listeners,

It's bitter cold in Grand Rapids today where the mercury is hovering around 4 degrees. Even, Juna, our Alaskan Malamute who loves to nap outside on a snow pile, is hunkered down inside today. It's too cold to go out, so it's a great day to grab your favorite blanket and settle into to a cozy chair and listen to a podcast.

Today, I offer up a great conversation with Samara O'Shea, the wordsmith who writes custom letters for clients over at letterlover.net and the author of "For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing." Samara's approach is wonderful in that she didn't write a straight how-to guide. She mixed in her own letter-writing adventures and really made the book come to life.

So please tune in to find out how this 28-year-old writer made the jump from magazine writing to become a personal letter writer and published author. (You can read more about Samara in the story I wrote about letter writing for The Grand Rapids Press.)

bookcover
WIN THE BOOK! Be sure to enter this week's contest to win one of two copies of Samara's book. All you have to do is write a letter about what letter writing means to you and send it to my P.O. box (address below) postmarked no later than Feb. 29. I will call upon Samara's letter writing expertise to select the winners. Are you a letter writer? Did you ever receive, or send a letter than changed your life? Send me your story for a chance to win a book and have your letter scanned and published online. Please write: "For the Love of Letters" on the envelope so I know your writing to enter the contest. Please include your e-mail address so we can reach you quickly if we need to.

Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
CraftSanity Podcast producer
P.O. Box 888192
Grand Rapids, MI 49588-8192

Pen Pal Exchange: And because I've been really enjoying receiving letters lately, I thought I'd start CraftSanity Pen Pal Exchange. So, if you're interested in writing to a fellow listener, e-mail your full name, age, interests, and mailing address and I will attempt to match you with a pen pal with similar interests. Please write "Pen Pal Exchange" in the subject line and send me your response by Feb. 29. Samara and I are going to participate in this exchange and we'd love for you to join us.

Fabric Postcard Swap: Okay, here's one more opportunity to get cool mail. I'm also be hosting a fabric postcard swap. (Visit the blog tomorrow for the instructions on how to make these.) If you'd like to participate, e-mail me your name and address by Feb. 29 and I will match you with a swap partner. Partners will be assigned in early March and the deadline to mail your postcard is March 31. The theme is "Spring" so think flowers and sunshine.

Whew. Okay, I think that's it.

Happy writing everyone!

Cheers!
Jennifer

P.S. In case you're wondering, next week's show will be 100 percent crafty. : )

Support the show! Buy a CraftSanity T-shirt or button.

Taking Names: Who do you want to hear from next? Send your comments, guest and show topic suggestions to jennifer@craftsanity.com.
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Pretty Paper
papper

* I'm editing my next podcast, but wanted to take a break to post a few photos. Isn't this stack of scrap paper great? A couple weeks ago I got the opportunity to turn some of this lovely paper into a delightful mini-book with the kind assistance of a Grand Rapids book artist. Tomorrow I'll post links to my newspaper blog where you can read about the artist and sign up for a free workshop if you happen to live in West Michigan.

Here's a look at the three signatures that I made for my book. (My photo skills are seriously lacking, but I really dig taking pictures.)

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It didn't take much paper to make this little book, so I'm thinking about whipping up some more of these before Valentine's Day. Now, I just have to get my hands on some waxed linen thread and I'll be good to go. Well, except for the complicated part of finding time to be able to sit and make books. Jeff and I have been working all weekend and I'm certain the coming week is going to be off-the-charts busy. So maybe some of you will be inspired to make some books. If you do, please let me know about it so I can craft vicariously through you. : )

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*Note: This entry was posted several hours after I wrote it due to technical difficulty. I think it's about time to upgrade the blog tool. I'm thinking about switching to Wordpress or Type Pad. Any thoughts?
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