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Craft Away the Winter Blues with Free CraftSanity Workshops at Kent District Library Branches!

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Hello! I’m taking a quick break from end-of-the-semester grading to invite Grand Rapids-area crafters to a series of free workshops I’m hosting with nice folks at several Kent District Library branches. I’ve been traveling across the state to teach workshops at my hometown library for for years and I’m very happy to get the opportunity to teach at libraries here in West Michigan.

As part of my partnership with KDL, I will be teaching paper crafting with recycled books, printmaking and English paper piecing. Scroll down to see the full schedule of adult and teen classes and I hope to see some of you there. (Don’t forget to bring along show and tell. I LOVE to see what you’re making!)

The workshops are free but space is limited, so please register online or call 616-784-2007 ext. 0.

Craft Away the Winter Blues for Adults

Recycled Book Crafts
Where: Sand Lake Branch, 88 Eighth St., Sand Lake,
When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4

Holiday Printmaking
Where: Comstock Park Branch, 3943 W. River Dr. NE, Comstock Park
When: 1 p.m. Dec. 11

Holiday Paper Crafting
Where: KDL Alpine Branch, 5255 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park
When: 10:30 a.m. Dec. 14

Printmaking 101
Where: Rockford Branch, 140 E. Bridge St., Rockford
When: 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13

English Paper Piecing
Where: Alto Branch, 6071 Linfield Ave., Alto
When: 10:30 a.m., Jan. 25

Valentine Crafts
Where: Gaines Branch,
421 68th St. SE, Grand Rapids,
When: 10:30 a.m., Feb. 1

DIY Party Planning On A Budget
Where:  Lowell Branch, 200 N. Monroe St., Lowell
When: 11 a.m., Feb. 8

English Paper Piecing
Where: Byron Branch, 8191 Byron Center Ave. SW, Byron Center
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 11

Teen sessions:
Handmade holiday ornaments and gift tags made out of recycled books
Where: KDL Cascade Branch
When: 3 p.m. Dec. 7

Printmaking 101
Where: 3350 Michael Ave. SW, Wyoming, MI
When: 4:30 pm. Jan. 14 at the Wyoming branch

Okay, I better get back to work… Happy crafting everyone!

P.S. Issue 10 of CraftSanity Magazine is forthcoming. My apologies for the delay.

Great Little Gifts to Knit

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In a perfect world I would be posting an updated Q&A with Jean Moss today to coincide with her blog tour, but I’ve been swamped with non-craft related work and have barely had time to brush my hair let alone type up interview questions. It’s disappointing that I haven’t been able to devote more time to my blog lately, but I’m hoping that directing  you to my previous podcast interview with Jean will alleviate some of our collective disappointment about this and give you a chance to hear her story if you haven’t already.

Clearly Jean has been very busy lately, too. Her new book, “Great Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns,”(144 pages, $21.95)  is out and and there are several projects inside that are making me wish once again for the ability to freeze time so I can just sit by the fire and knit a few of Jean’s fun patterns.

The book includes an interesting range of patterns for babies, kids, men, women and the home, making it a great gift for the knitters in your life who like to stitch handmade gifts.

While several projects in the book caught my eye, the Zebra Mittens on p. 69, the Hugs Socks on p. 75, Galway Beanie on p. 82 and the Welcome Toran Door Hanging on p. 113 are at the top of my Jean Moss inspired knitting wish list. Now if I could just find time for that knitting break… :  )

Check out the rest of Jean’s blog tour here: 

Sept 2: Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson
Sept. 4:  WEBS    Kathy Elkins
Sept. 6:  Getting Stitched on the Farm Kristin Nicholas
Sept. 9:  Stolen Stitches Carol Feller
Sept. 10 Knittedbliss Julie Crawford
Sept. 11 Black Bunny Fibers Carol Sulcoski
Sept. 12: Rhythm of the Needles Joanne Conklin
Sept. 13: Tiny Owl Knits Stephanie Dosen
Sept. 16  Just Call Me Ruby Susan Crawford
Sept. 16  Just Call Me Ruby Susan Crawford
Sept. 17: Zeneedle Margene Smith
Sept. 18: RedshirtKnitting Erika Barcott
Sept 19:  A Friend to Knit With Leslie Friend
Sept 20: Craft Sanity Jennifer Ackerman Haywood
Sept. 23:  Connieleneknits Connie Lene
Sept. 24: Knitsofacto Annie Cholewa
Sept. 25: Ulla Bella Anita Tormoen
Sept. 26 : A Really Good Yarn Julie Schilthuis
Sept 27: Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sept. 28: Linda Marveng  Linda Marveng
Sept 30: Yarnings Jen

Oct 1: Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel

Adventures in Soap Making: A Review of the new book ‘Soap Crafting’ by Anne-Marie Faiola

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My first attempt at soap making was ridiculous. It was my 31st birthday and I was sporting safety googles and rubber gloves. One judging from my getup may have assumed that I knew what I was doing, but that was certainly not the case.

At the time, I was beyond nervous about using lye to make soap, so nervous, in fact, that I bought the wrong kind – a diluted, liquid variety – and hurried home to mix up a batch of soap that would never amount to anything more than smelly glop.

It was a real disappointment – that first batch of soap. But I tried again and discovered that soap making is actually really fun when you use the proper ingredients. My second batch was much better than my first, and I’ve made several basic batches since in the six years that have passed since my initial cannonball into the exciting world of soap making. I still consider myself a rookie soaper and up until recently I’ve been sticking to very basic recipes.

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And then Alee from Storey Publishing sent me a copy of Soap Crafting,” by Anne-Marie Faiola, a.k.a. The Soap Queen, and the book has changed the way I approach soap making and made me wish I had read it before making my first batch. Anne-Marie explains the art and science of soap making in her book that includes instructions to make 31 cold-process soaps ranging from basic beginner soaps to beautiful 12-color Linear Swirl bars that look almost too pretty to use. 

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Whether you’re a full-time soap maker or hobbyist, this book provides a great foundation for all of us to up our soap making game. With sections dedicated to choosing oils, colorants and additives, this book serves as an easy resource to pick up quickly and find the information you need to plan your next batch.

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I was so impressed by this book that I interviewed Anne-Marie for the upcoming fall issue of CraftSanity Magazine and recorded a podcast with her, too. (Coming soon, folks!) In additional to writing a wonderful book for soap makers, Anne-Marie is a mom and the powerhouse businesswoman who built the Bramble Berry soap supply business from the ground up.

She sent me some fun Bramble Berry supplies to try a couple recipes from the book and I’m happy to say I finally advanced from making the same old plain batches of soap in shoeboxes lined with freezer paper. (One of the great things about Anne-Marie’s book is that it includes directions to use shoeboxes, milk cartons and plastic tubs, PVC pipe and cupcake molds, so investing in fancy molds is not required to try the recipes.) While I do enjoy making and using even the most basic handmade soaps, Anne Marie has expanded my soap world.

soapmixerSince virtually meeting Anne-Marie, I’ve made a batch of soap using the natural colorant spirulina, a high-protein dietary supplement that produces a pretty green color, and three-color Avocado Moisturizing Bars. I made the avocado bars first and botched the batch when I got distracted and let my soap pot get a little too hot. The ingredients separated in the pot. I thought I was going to drown in a sea of embarrassment because I was using supplies Anne-Marie sent me to try a recipe from her book and then I went ahead and made a foolish mistake. Thankfully, Anne-Marie had my back when things went south. On p. 234 of “Soap Crafting” she outlines a “SOS (Save Our Soap)!” modified hot-process technique that can be used to save a batch. And let me tell you, folks, it works.

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Anne Marie’s Avocado Moisturizing Bars

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These are my rookie Avocado Moisturizing Bars after I accidentally exceeded the recommended cooking temperature for the oil. And because I can’t seem to let anything go to waste, I dropped the undyed soap pieces into the mold. At the time I didn’t think through the fact that these would not pick up the color. I was just trying to use it all up.

While my avocado bars (below)are not as pretty as the bars in the book (left) due to operator error, I saved the batch and felt empowered when I was able to solve my own problem using “Soap Crafting” as a reference. And that’s the mark of a great book – one that equips readers to troubleshoot and be self-sufficient in a pinch. LOVE that!

I also appreciate the fact that the book was written by a soap maker and owner of a soap supply business because readers can easily order all the supplies they need to make any of the recipes in the book from Bramble Berry and avoid the time-consuming hunt for oils, colorants and other ingredients. This is genius marking on Anne-Marie’s part and simultaneously beneficial to her customers who benefit from knowing that she and her staff have tested out all the supplies they sell. They can’t prevent operator error (ahem), but they can set us up with what we need to have the best chance of success. : )

And while you don’t need a Soap Queen soap mold to make soap, I was thrilled to try Anne-Marie’s wooden molds with silicone liners. They make the process seem all the more official and it feels pretty darn good to graduate from the shoebox phase of soap making.

While I’m using “Soap Crafting” as a reference for making soap to use at home and gift to others, this book is a great resource for those who have aspirations to pursue it as a business. (For best results, start with the basic recipes and work your way through to the marbled and swirled varieties.) From the first batch to the next 100, this book, featuring more than 30 recipes and supporting tutorials, is one to keep on the shelf. It explains all the things that rookies need to know while still inspiring more confident veteran soap makers.

High five, Anne-Marie! You nailed it. : )

UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER! Congrats to Mariah who won the random drawing for a copy of “Soap Crafting.” Enter to Win Anne-Marie’s Book! The folks at Storey Publishing are giving me a copy of “Soap Crafting” to give away to a lucky CraftSanity reader. Leave a comment below by Monday Sept. 9, 2013 to get into the drawing. A winner will be randomly selected and announced Sept. 10. Good luck, everyone!

Visit the Oil and Butter blog to read another reviewer’s take on Anne-Marie’s book and see some more book photos.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go slice my latest batch of soap into bars. : )

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Where to Buy: CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9

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In case you haven’t heard, CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9 is out and available at several independent newsstands and craft shops. Please see the list below to check for a store near  you. (It’s not a bad idea to call ahead to reserve your copy.) If you don’t live in a place where you can buy the magazine in person, you’re invited to order online or download this issue instantly from the left side bar of this site.

Country Needleworks, 584 Chicago Dr. Jenison, MI, (616) 457 9410.

A Grand Skein, 2431 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, 551-1322

* Inspirations of Art Studio, 6504 28th Street SE, Suite C, Grand Rapids, (616) 432 3069

Minty Keen, (a vintage and handmade shop) 125 Ottawa NW Suite 170, in Grand Rapids, (616) 551-1613

Schuler Books & Music
- 3165 Alpine Avenue Northwest, Walker – (616) 647-0999
- 2660 28th Street Southeast, Kentwood -(616) 942-2561
- 1982 Grand River Ave., Okemos, MI 48864
- 2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing, MI 48912

Threadbender Yarn Shop, 2767 44th Street SW, Wyoming, MI, (616) 531-6641

On the Lakeshore:

Reader’s World194 S. River Ave., Holland, MI, (616) 396-8548

California:

* Colors 91711, 248 Harvard Avenue, Claremont CA 91711, 909-624-6161.

Stock CraftSanity: If you’re interested in stocking CraftSanity Magazine in your shop, contact me and I’ll hook you up.

Thanks to the shops and readers who continue to support the magazine. It’s my pleasure to get to do this creative work. Thank you so much!

CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9 Preorder Preview Sale

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At long last, the CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9 Preorder Sale is on! Preorder your copy by Monday (6/24/13) and save a dollar off the cover price! I’m expecting the magazines back from the printer by Tuesday. The PDF edition will be available as an instant download from this site next week  for $6.

You can also sign up for a CraftSanity Magazine subscription and have the next 4 issues automatically mailed to your home.

Inside Issue 9 you will find an exciting variety of projects sure to inspire a creative summer of activity. Here are the highlights: 

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PRINTMAKING

This issue contains a collection of stories about printmaking, a Q&A with Grand Rapids printmaker Alynn Guerra and tutorials on carving your own blocks and making your own press. Read the articles then join my print swap! (I’ll be posting more details on that soon!)

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KNITTING

*Ingrid Dudek shares the story behind her lovely handknit and felted slippers. (I made the pair above using her pattern and they are my new favorite slippers. They’re felted to fit my feet just right and a delight to slip into on cool mornings.)

* In a rare interview, designer Lynne Barr, shares her story and the Stacked Necklace pattern from her new knitting book, “The Shape of Knitting.” This is a great book for knitters who want to push beyond the basics to see what’s possible and have some great knitting adventures.

QUILTING

*Extreme quilter, Deborah Haltiwanger, tells us how she hand stitched a king-sized quilt out of quarter inch hexagons and then I show you how to make a pendent using 15 tiny hexagons

Craft Blogger Melissa Haworth shows us how to make a collaborative mystery quilt and invites readers to collaborate with her.

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I keep the random quilting theme going with a tutorial to make a freestyle flower quilt like the one I made for my daughter Amelia.

CROCHET

Read a Q&A with designer Ryan Hollist and then sample his Switchback Scarf pattern excerpted from “Crochet One-Skein Wonders” edited by Judith Durant  & Edie Eckman.

Crochet a striped teapot cozy by designer Alessandra Hayden. (These are kind of addictive. I’ve already made two. : )

SEWING

The fun cover craft story is about sewing monster party favors for guests to adopt and take home from the next kid party you host. This is fun and so much better than buying plastic party favors that end up in the trash.

FOOD

In this issue we’re featuring a Q&A with Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of “Put ‘em Up! A Preserving Guide & Cookbook” and give you a chance to sample two recipes from the book: apple and pear sauce and another to make potato and cheese pierogi. (You serve the pierogis with the homemade sauce and it tastes awesome.)

I also included three family favorite recipes for chewy chocolate granola bars, holy guacamole and bruschetta. You gotta try these, folks!

HEALTH

This issue includes a story about Laura Zander, co-owner of Jimmy Beans Wool and author of “Knit Red” and “Sew Red” compilation books that include knitting and sewing projects from top designers and great information to raise awareness about heart disease in women and funds for The Heart Truth Campaign. This feature includes a Mini Red Dress knitting pattern designed by Loretta Dachman for “Knit Red.”

IMG_6705 Other projects include:

- a fun handwritten font designed by Rebecca Green to embroider 

- my tutorial on how to make a portable watercolor paint set

- a story about gardening with cinder blocks

As you can see, I packed a lot into this issue and I really hope you enjoy it. I’m off to address envelopes for my lovely subscribers and continue work on issue 10 due out this fall. Let me know if you have story, project or recipe suggestions for upcoming issues as I’m always looking for new inspiration.

Thank you for your continued support. I wish you all the best handmade summer ever!

***A special thanks to the Fulton Street Artisans Market for sponsoring this issues of the magazine. I really appreciate your support!

Remembering Kathreen

kathreen-ricketson-353-300x0I don’t usually listen to my old podcasts, but today I listened to episode 19 an interview I recorded in 2006 with Kathreen Ricketson, the whipup.net creator, author and mother of two. Back then our kids were little and we talked about motherhood and crafting and the adventures she had before she become a mom. I still can’t believe she’s gone.

As many of you have heard by now, the craft world lost a major force last week when Kathreen, 41,  and her husband, Robert Shugg, 48, died while visiting a beach located south of Coral Bay. They were traveling around Australia and Kathreen was writing a book about their grand adventure. News reports are linking Kathreen’s death to possible contact with a deadly jellyfish. Robert is still missing. It’s  surreal to hear that their adventure ended this way. 

Kathreen and Robert are survived by their 13-year-old daughter, Otilija and 10-year-old son, Orlando. And the craft community is doing what it can to support the children during this time of unbelievable sadness. The details of how you can help can be found here.

Read more »

Hello Again.

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I’m popping in to let you all know that I’m working on CraftSanity Issue 9 and will be headed to the printer soon. My sincere apologies for the delay. I LOVE working on the magazine and I’ve been twitching for months due to all the interruptions.

When I agreed to take on a job advising the student newspaper and teaching the accompanying journalism courses at the local community college last summer, I knew it would be a lot of work for very little pay. And I did it anyway. Why? I’m attracted to challenging situations and wanted to try to make a difference for the next generation of journalists. I think I helped a few.

What I didn’t know was that the job would simultaneously inspire and frustrate me, break my heart, consume most of my time and derail all my independent projects and business plans. Thankfully, I didn’t let it disrupt my family life.

I have a lot to offer in a college setting, but I have no desire to be a career adjunct – overworked and underpaid with no benefits or a standing invitation to graduation. (I didn’t have a ticket and was almost turned away when I went to watch my students graduate this year.) I wrote a proposal outlining the conditions under which I can continue to advise and time will tell what happens next. So my future as an educator is most uncertain. And I’m okay with that. If things are meant to be, they will work out. And I have a feeling there will always be challenging situations for me to dive into and try to make a difference. Those are endless, right?

I never plan to take time off blogging or podcasting or loom making or publishing. I just keep working. All the time. I finish one project and immediately begin the next. And most of the time my projects overlap leaving little time for public blog commentary. These days I document my joy most often on Instagram because it’s fast and easy and feeds my compulsion to take photos daily.

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And now for a loom update… I have been overwhelmed with loom requests. Production slowed when my frame maker and I were both recruited for teaching jobs. I picked up more frames from him this week and will be restocking my shop as soon as I finish work on Issue 9. I’m very sorry that I have not been able to respond to every loom request.

This slowdown has inspired me to dust off a non-profit idea I’ve had for many years. I can no longer pound in every peg myself and I would love to spin CraftSanity Looms off into a self-sustaining community enterprise that employees developmentally disabled adults. I was inspired by a group of people I met while reporting a story for my newspaper column and I think the time has come to finally figure out how to write a grant, secure space and assemble a team. I don’t know the first thing any of this which makes it all the more exciting. Please contact me if you have any advice to share. I have a lot to learn. I will have time to discuss this further in about three weeks. :  )

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My only regret about this latest blog hiatus is that I haven’t properly documented many great moments that I’ve shared with my family during the last several months.

*Abby’s first Girls on the Run 5K
*The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon
*Our family gardening project
*A collaborative quilt project that I’m working on with my sisters

But it’s all there on Instagram if you’re interested. Now I have to get back to work on CraftSanity Issue 9. There’s still room to advertise if any of you are interested. Ad rates can be found here.

Have a great day, folks!

A Love Story

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Love. This print marks the beginning of what is shaping up to be a fantastic creative adventure. It all started when my 7-year-old daughter, Amelia, got hooked on printmaking at a free workshop in 2012. When I saw her happily making prints on an old book press, I knew it was time to finally surrender to the urge I’ve felt for many years to try to make my own.

On Christmas Eve Amelia received a little blue press as a present from my father. It was made of scrap wood and pieces of the old cupbards from my parents’ kitchen and Amelia loved it and told my father on the spot. I think I loved it just as much.

On Christmas Day, Amelia drew this “Love” design on a piece of paper and asked me to carve her drawing into a block. I was happy, too – ecstatic, actually.

We started making prints as soon as the carving was done and I think we both knew immediately that this is just the beginning of something wonderful. Amelia has made many practice prints with her little blue press, and now we’re going to send a little bit of love out into the world and see what happens next.

Today, Amelia, her big sister, Abby, and I will be demonstrating some basic printmaking techniques on WZZM Channel 13′s “Take Five” morning show.

*** Magazine Update: There will be printmaking in the forthcoming spring issue of CraftSanity Magazine!

Stars Over The Thornapple Quilt Show

The Stars Over The Thornapple Quilt Show is going on this weekend at the Barry County Expo Center near Hastings, Michigan. The show opened Saturday and will be open Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

The show is bigger than it was two years ago and features a fun variety of quilts and vendor booths. Thornapple River Rippers Quilt Guild members (from left) Rebecca Lydy, Kathy Dunn, Caroline Moffit and Vickie Ward, joined forces to piece the lovely raffle quilt behind them. You can read a column I wrote about another one of their guild members here.

Here’s a preview of some of the other quilts on display at the show:

Beverly Jones pieced this quilt by hand using 3/4″ hexagons. “It took several years… my “forever” quilt.” It was quilted by Agnes Oberth.

 

Detail of an appliquéd bird quilt by the late Carrie Honeman.

Detail of an appliquéd bird quilt by the late Carrie Honeman.

This memorial quilt was appliquéd by Carrie Honeman, pieced by Laraine Facca and quilted by Bonnie Rhoby. The pattern was designed by Elizabeth Root.

This memorial quilt was appliquéd by Carrie Honeman, pieced by Laraine Facca and quilted by Bonnie Rhoby. The pattern was designed by Elizabeth Root.

Beverly Jones paper pieced this quilt using Civil War reproduction fabrics.

Beverly Jones paper pieced this quilt using Civil War reproduction fabrics.

In addition to checking out the quilts, I chatted with many interesting vendors at the show and spent some quality time talking to Mike Lydy and his daughter, Brandi Melkild, about the handmade quilting accessories that Mike makes in his wood shop. 

I bought a nice big, quilter's ironing board from Hastings Wood Worker Mike Lydy.

I bought a nice big, quilter’s ironing board from Hastings Wood Worker Mike Lydy. After I make some more quilts, I’ll have to put in an order for one of his quilt ladders.

I also stumbled upon a very sweet quilt story that I’m writing up for next Sunday’s column. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, go check out the show if you live close enough to pop over.

Scribble Drawings Forever

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Back in elementary school a wonderful teacher showed my class how to make scribbles into art. I can’t remember if the original demo involved a black marker or crayon, but what I do remember is watching that black line loop-d-loop all over the page and feeling so empowered as a little girl with with a box of crayons.

I was small but I could scribble.

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Three decades later, the scribble drawing remains my all-time favorite thing to draw and color. You can read my column about how my kids have inspired me to keep on scribbling here.

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Now I hope you’re inspired to get out your crayons and make a scribble drawing of your own. Scribble drawings forever!

Practice Miles

I chased my shadow on the wall of the basement for about two hours today. That’s how long it took me to complete a 13.25-mile training run on the treadmill. That’s a long time to be running toward a wall, but that’s the way I train best. My longest treadmill training run milage record is 22 miles completed in 2007 while training for the  full Grand Rapids Marathon. I admit that training run was pretty ridiculous, but this busy mama is not afraid to get creative with race prep. Often, I don’t have time to drive to group training runs and find running on the treadmill a safer option than a long solo run.

IMG_4674Today’s goal was to run farther than the 13.1 distance I’ll need to complete at next month’s Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in Grand Rapids, Mich. My legs are sore, but I’m feeling confident that my body will be ready for the race. I’m building my endurance by completing a minimum of three runs per week: one long, one medium and one shorter run that can be completed in an hour or less.

It’s not an ideal training plan, but that’s about all the running I have time to do and that’s just fine with me. I’m not looking to run my guts out at the race, I just want to enjoy the run and celebrate the fact that woman have come along way in the 40 years since Title IX opened the sports world to women. I’m going to run this race because I can.

What are you training for? Are any of you doing the Fifth Third River Bank Run. I haven’t signed up yet, but I’m thinking about doing the 25K. It’s a great race complete with outstanding crowd support.

Ok, I better get back to work on the magazine. There’s still a lot of fun work to wrap up.

Today’s print, this week’s agenda

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It’s spring break week at the college where I teach, so I’m kicking my magazine work into overdrive between phone calls and emails from students who are still reporting stories during break. (FYI: There’s no such thing as spring break for diehard journalists in training.)

CraftSanity Issue 9 is shaping up to be a fun one! Let me know if you would have a last-minute spring project idea to contribute as I may be able to squeeze in another project. And if you would like to like to advertise, there’s still time for that, too. The rates are posted here.

I plan to cover printmaking in the next issue because it has become my latest obsession. Today I made some prints of a block I finished carving yesterday. The detail shot is posted above. I’m thinking it would be nice to buy or make a heavy duty press at some point, but I haven’t sorted all that out yet. What I do know is that I really enjoy the mystery and magic of printmaking and so I will continue carving and printing and printing some more. The process is slow without a press, but still very enjoyable.

There’s a lot of work to get through this week, but it’s all really fun and for that reality I’m truly grateful.

CraftSanity Printmaking Workshops at the Fraser Public Library

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Hello! While I’ve been away from the blog I’ve become completely addicted to printmaking. LOVE IT!

After many  years of wishing I had time to get into it, my youngest daughter, Amelia, inspired me to jump in and now we’re both hooked. We printed daily during Christmas break and like to bust out the ink and rollers as often as we can. That’s why I’m really excited to start sharing what we’ve learned from our experiments.

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In fact, I’m popping in to let you folks know that I’m headed back home to Fraser, Mich. to teach FREE printmaking workshops for kids and adults on March 23. The workshop for kids age 5 and up will be at 1:30 p.m. followed by the adult class at 3 p.m. Attendees will be taught the basics of printmaking and get a chance to design and make a print to take home. (Please note, that this is a kid-friendly event and no dangerous carving tools will be used.)

You can call the library to sign up: (586) 293-2055.  I hope to see some of you there! And if you’re a printmaker yourself, feel free to bring some prints to show the group and we’ll do a little “show & tell.”

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DIY Valentine’s Day Bling

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Hello! I have a quick project inspired by my little sister, Julie, to share with you. We had a rare opportunity to craft together recently and she showed me and my girls how to make these fun and super-sized pendants, pins and rings using glass stones, nail polish and jewelry findings. (Julie made all the pieces above.) Fun times like these make me wish we didn’t have 2.5 hours of drive time between us.

Read on to make your own bling. These make great gifts for kids to make for their moms, teachers and friends.

Supplies:

  • Glass stones measuring 1 1/2” in diameter
  • Clear nail polish and several other colors of your choice. (Polishes with a “krackle” effect work especially well for this project.)
  • E6000 adhesive glue
  • Adjustable ring, pendant and or pin backs

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Step 1:
Cover the flat side of the stone with a base coat of clear nail polish. (All your painting will be on the flat side of the stone.) Let dry.

Step 2: If you want to create a random effect, apply a coat of “krackle” polish to the flat side of the  stone and watch it appear to crack as it dries. Then apply a coat of regular polish in a contrasting color to create an interesting two tone effect. Or, for a more more festive V-Day theme, paint a heart motif in the middle of the flat side of the stone. Let dry. Then apply a background color.

Step 3: Apply one more coat of clear nail polish to seal your design.

Step 4: Glue the painted side of your stone to the ring base, pendant or pin back and set aside to dry overnight.

Step 5: Sport your handmade bling around town and then get together with friends to make more.

Thanks for sharing this fun craft idea, Julie!

Dear readers, what Valentine’s Day crafts are you making this year? Please share ideas in the comments below.

Resurfacing

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It’s been far too long since my last update, but I’ve had some important work to do for my family and the college students I advise. It would take me a long time to recap the events of the last couple months, so I’m just going to skip ahead and tell you that I’m working on a new issue of CraftSanity Magazine. It will include projects, recipes and stories I love. There is still room in the issue, so let me know if you have a inspiring story or project to share. I’m still doing interviews. : )

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Speaking of interviews, I miss producing the podcast and it sounds like some of you miss hearing new episodes. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this topic. I’d like to get it going again, but want to make sure there’s still an audience for it. If that ship has sailed, I’ll get to work building a new ship.

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We’ve been enjoying some beautiful winter days here in West Michigan. I don’t enjoy driving on snowy roads, but I love photographing the West Michigan landscapes dusted with white.

I’ve missed this space and it’s good to be back. I have many projects to show you because I never stopped crafting during my unplanned blogging break. Making stuff is like breathing for me. I have to do it. Included in this post are photos of some of the random embroidery and twilling projects that I’ve been sneaking in when I can. I’d stitch all day long if I could.

If you want learn more about what I’ve been up to, you can check out my Instagram photos. I post photos there almost daily because it’s quick and easy to fit into my life.

Okay, I have a difficult column to write, miles to run and stuff to organize so I better get to it. Enjoy the day and leave me a comment below about what you’ve been up to. We have some serious catching up to do.