Thursday, December 30, 2010

DIY - Diz

I think I have a spinning addiction. I have so much material for this blog right now that I want to post up regarding everything that I've learned, etc... But it's so much and honestly I only have a few moments right now.

So I thought I'd post up a quick DIY on how to make a diz. A diz is used in fiber preparation to pull  fiber top from a comb or hackle into roving. It's a simple handy tool that makes things just a tiny bit easier.

Here is a quick video I found from joyofhandspinning  on youtube on how to use a diz:

So I started off trying to make one from polymer clay. I sort of gave up on that diz because I found it to be too soft. That's when I had the brilliant idea of using jewelry pendants. You know the ones you can get from any craft store for only a dollar or two? Yep!

All you need is a pendant or two and a power drill.

Pick out the drill bits that match the size you want your diz hole to be (lol, diz hole) and drill into the center of the pendant (Be sure to use the proper safety precautions when using power tools).

It's just that simple! Really :)

The cool thing about using pendants is that they are usually already very decorative and pretty and you can take it a step further and make your diz into functional jewelry. Possibilities!

Here are the ones I made : All three pendants are from Walmart.

Another quick side note- I was looking for something to make a plying template like this one but I didn't want to pay a whole lot for it. What did I find? It's actually kind of funny, I wonder if anyone else has ever thought of it, or maybe I am just a pioneer. I like to think that the latter is true. Please don't burst my bubble, it's fragile :P

Uh, so anyways, what did I find?

A sink drain! It's pretty, it's got plenty enough holes to keep my single ply yarns separated and equally tensioned. I'd say this is just about perfect! I haven't tried it yet, but I just *know* it works like a dream.

I feel so accomplished. Especially with my new craft area being completed. I feel so much more crafty just being in it. Wouldn't you?

Of course this is just part of the area, but the other part is still being cleaned and reorganized, so no pictures of that just yet :P

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Flash Your Stash - Tools of the Trade

I really loved participating in Tami's Flash Your Stash Meme. It's a lot of fun and you also get to see all the eye candy in everyone else's stash! So when I decided to post up some pictures of all my fiber arts crafting tools... I wanted to do something similar to hers.

Basically, I show you mine, and you show me yours :) I've gone ahead and numbered my stash and included links I've found for the same or similar products at the best prices I could find. You know, just in case you gotta have what I've shown you ;) Click the pictures to view the full size.

1. Boye Electric Ball Winder
2. Yarn Tainer - Yarn holder
3. Mimi Creative Couture Knitting Needle Rollups - with various needles, but mostly bamboo purchased as a set from ebay, some steel and plastic Charmin needles, and a few Boye aluminums from walmart.
4. Crochet Made Easy CD and Knitting Made Easy - These are the CDs that I used to teach myself crochet and knitting. They are very clear and easy to understand. I've included the links that have both the book and the CD. You can buy only one or the other, but I found that both together were a big help. I reccomend these to anyone who wants to learn how to knit or crochet. I tell all those who want me to teach them to buy these before coming over. It makes the process easier for everyone.
5. Boye Needlemaster - I actually paid almost double the price on the link for these at Michael's. I don't knit a lot, but I do love this kit!
6. Thergonomic Craft Gloves
7.  A couple of boye circular needles.
8. Ashford Hand Carders - these things are great!!! Soooo much better than dog brushes, lol.
9. Denise Interchangeable Crochet Hooks Tunisian Kit
10. There are three spindles in the cup - 2 of them are from Butterfly Girl Designs and the other one is from Autumn Hollow Farms
11. An assortment of bamboo knitting needles (in all three cups), some boye aluminum crochet hooks, Crochet Lite Crochet Hooks, a couple tatting hooks, and a beautiful nostepinde from Katherine Kowalski
12. Embellish Knit Machine
13. Boye Crochet Master
14. Styrofoam Head
15. Cherry Valkyrie Turkish Spindle - This spindle is so beautiful and spins like a dream!

 Stitch markers from BetterBeadItDesigns and Intraclast
 Close up of my Fox stitch markers

In the bin : A clover row counter, a dog brush I'm currently using as a flick carder till my next paycheck, a french knitting bee and pompom maker, some more stitch markers, scissors, blocking pins, buttons, and row counters, cable needles and stitch holders.

And last - This spindle arrived after I'd finished taking all the photos and writing this entry.  It's another one from Autumn Hollow Farms . It's a 1.28 oz top whorl made from cocobolo wood with a crushed malachite inlay. It spins beautifully!

So, ok. Now it's your turn!! I wanna see!! Make sure that when you link your blog to this one through Mr. Linky you use the direct link to the blog post, and not your blog home. It would be difficult for others to find your stash once you add other posts to your blog. I can't wait to see what you've got. Add some links if you can, so we will know where we can get items like yours.

One last thing, the Mr. Linky asks you to leave a comment after linking. You don't have to if you don't want to. It's not a requirement that I set, just something that's on there automatically.

My Non Craftual Fetish

(you will find the Japanese section in the link relevant to this blog  post)

Ok, so most of us know what green tea is. Nestea sells it, Arizona has a green tea, and there are others brands out there as well. Personally, I don't like those teas. Never have. But many people do and that's ok with me, but IMO they are nothing like true green tea.

 I first came across Matcha in Japan on my honeymoon in 2008. There was this amazing samurai garden right in the middle of Tokyo. And in the middle of the garden? There was a beautiful tea house, surrounded by water:

A traditional teahouse! We had to wait in line for awhile to get in, but they performed the tea ceremony for us and it was absolutely amazing! Very, very worth the wait! I was enchanted from the moment we got there. My first taste of the tea was a bit of a shock. It has a sort of grassy flavor. I wasn't sure I liked it... But then, suddenly... I did like it, a lot! I wanted more when we were done! Of course, many people were waiting for their turn, so we couldn't have more, but it was lovely just the same and one of my favorite memories of all time. They even served it with a delicious little cake. I never did learn what the cake was called, though.

I wanted to get a picture of the woman presenting the tea and cake, but that would have been rude. When they bow, you are supposed to be bowing back, not snapping pictures, but I wanted to. And then I forgot to get a close up of the tea and cake in my excitement. I did sort of end up getting a shot of the ceremony taken while they presented to someone else. But to me it wasn't a very good shot.

You can kind of see her bowing but you can't see her actually presenting the tray or anything. I couldn't get the angle and we were supposed to be leaving. I tried though.

Before we left Japan, I tried to buy the same tea in a shop elsewhere, but my Japanese is not very good and I didn't know what the tea I wanted was called. I did get green tea, but I ended up with Sencha instead of Matcha. I wasn't disappointed though. Sencha was an amazing experience that my husband and I got to enjoy once we came home. It's not the same as matcha, but it still has the pleasant grassy flavor. What's more? It smells soo good.

But my honeymoon was over 2 years ago. What made me want to write about green tea today? Well, I'll tell you! My husband and I have been spending time over at his sister's house because his parents were in town. Yesterday we ended up going to the mall of Georgia with them where we discovered a tea store. And what kind of tea did they have there? Why, they had green tea of course! And I bought myself a lovely green tea set!!

 The lid and then inside the box..
The set includes a can of nice matcha, a whisk (Chasen), and a pretty matcha bowl (chawan). Almost everything a gal needs to make the perfect cup of green tea at home! (with the exception of a spoon called a Chashaku and a tea sifter or matcha furui) But I have a perfectly good sifter here at home and I've ordered myself a pretty bamboo Chashaku from Beryll King Tea

This isn't the traditional style of a chashaku, but I don't care, I like it better. But for the curious, here is a picture of a traditional one:

I ordered the spoon before I realized I already had something I could have used. But I'm ok with it. The new spoon wasn't expensive and it sure is perty.

This is a close up of my Chasen.. It's nothing fancy,  having been made in China rather than Japan the quality is not as good as it could be but that's ok. In China, they tend to make their whisks with a file, whereas in Japan they tend to use superior bamboo that they use a sharp knife to carve.  The Japanese whisks are known to last longer than the ones made in China. Some day I will get one, but I'm good with what I have for now.

Here is a closeup of my new matcha. I just love the vibrant green color, and the smell is magical. You know I had to make some right away!

Now in making green tea, the temperature of the water should really be between 165 and 170 degrees F. There are a few ways to make sure the water is the right temperature, but IMO the easiest is to get one of these kettles. You can find them here. I adore this tea kettle! Not only does it allow you to set the exact temperature that you want, but it will also keep your water at that temperature for as long as there's water in it. It also has a sensor so that if the pot is empty, it automatically turns off, which is really nice.

The matcha I made was soo good and reminded me of our honeymoon so much that I made my husband a cup as well so he could enjoy the tasty memories. We were both pretty impressed that I was able to make it taste that good, after all, making green tea is an art form, and I'm nowhere near mastering it.

Here is a close up of the Sencha that we bought in Japan. Honestly, it's a bit stale by now. But it still tastes ok to me (albeit not as good as when it was fresh), better than the stuff you get from a lot of places on this side of the world though. But I won't order myself any more until I finish this batch. 

Here's my entire green tea spread. The new Matcha set on the left, Sencha there in the middle, and the tea pot and two cups we bought in Japan on the right. I'm off to make myself yet another cup of matcha. I think this will be my sixth one today. *Homer voice* MMmmmmMMmmmmm Matcha!!

If you haven't tried traditional green tea yet, you should definitely give it a try! You may discover that you've found a new healthy addiction (well, maybe not healthy for your bank account, if you get into the very expensive teas, lol). 

Here's some fun stuff:

~ Here are some videos on how green tea is made.
~ Here's a video I've found that does a pretty darned good job of explaining how to make matcha
~ This site has a tutorial on making green tea. Along with some other interesting things. Click on the links on the side of the page to learn more interesting things about green tea.
~ A Japanese woman doing a traditional tea ceremony (complete with a translation)
~ My favorite online green tea store. Check out their Matcha starter kit. It gives you discounts on each    product when you buy them together. It's where I'll be buying my next batch of tea from, and it's probably my favorite site altogether about green tea. Very educational, which is why it's actually been linked a coupled of times on here.
~ Matcha Hearts Recipe  these look really good, I'm going to try them!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Failure...

The reason why I haven't been updating this is because I've been avoiding it. Why have I been avoiding it? Because the project that I was doing for this blog was a complete failure. I swear I'm not normally such a failure at things, but lately this past year just hasn't been doing well for me. I need a mulligan.

So the project was to be a holder for my spanking new Kindle (love that thing).  I had it all planned out and everything was going so very well. I had wooden dowels,wire cutters and wire to wrap them into a frame. I had yarn to attach the frame to a book that I mauled (mauling books is blasphemous IMO, but it was a necessary evil), and non adhesive shelf liner to give the whole thing some cushion.

 Oh man, this thing was turning out amazing! I was so sure this was going to work and I was going to be a pioneer with my own tutorial on my own blog. I was a freaking genius!!! Just look at the master craftsmanship... Admire my intellectual crafting capacity for a moment :

Alas, it was so not meant to be. While I may be innovative, my skills only go so far. My lack of seamstress skills have been my downfall, I think. I knew I couldn't pull off a properly sewed cover for this one. My solution? (here's where my genius fails me...get ready) Hot glue gun time!!!

Yep, obviously I'm an idiot. And a failure. Note the lovely (and by that I mean poorly done) glue job. The terrible overlapping. The complete destruction of such beautiful fabric. I'd destroyed my project aesthetically...

It's crooked, it's bulky, it's sloppy. And worst of all?!

The kindle no longer fit :(

I think it wouldn't have been so bad if it was just ugly, but for it to be completely non functional? I bow my creative head in shame. So much so that I had to go to walmart and purchase a kindle protector pre-made (Gasp!). 

It's ok though. I may give it another try sometime soon. And this time? I'm going to brave the sewing machine. I'm thinking that wherever my sewing skills are, they can't be nearly as bad as my hot glue gun skills.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Flash your Stash

Tami is hosting an ongoing flash your stash meme.

I wanted to participate so here's my stash:

Since this photo was taken about a month ago, I have only added a couple skeins more, honest :)

 ^ 5 skeins mulberry silk almost a thread.

^ 20 skeins worsted weight silk
^ 5 skeins laceweight silk

And then, as my previous blog entry stated, I've gotten into spinning, so I've got some roving:

^ The Deep Superwash Longwool 2oz
                              ^Ashland Bay Chartreuse Merino 64s 2 OZ                                     
^Superwash/tencel Butterscotch Ripple 8 Oz 
^1lb. 2oz. Tencel

And you should have seen my poor husband's face when I told him I was flashing people on the internet. LOL! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Learning to Spin.

          Recently I've gotten it into my head to learn to spin my own yarn and I wanted to share with you some of the resources I've found useful.

          I started off by buying myself some pretty roving (What is roving?), and 2 drop spindles (learn about different types of drop spindles here). I bought one top whorl, and one bottom whorl  from Butterfly Girl Designs on Etsy. The whorl is the weighted part of the spindle that maintains the momentum of the spindle and the location of the whorl changes the technique of the spinning slightly. Some people find one way easier, while others strongly prefer the other. I don't know which way I prefer just yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do. You can make your own spindle if you want to  or you can search around either locally or on the net for the perfect spindle for you!

^ There's my bottom whorl

^ And my top whorl

              I haven't gotten the top whorl in the mail yet, but it's been shipped! I can't wait to try it. It's very pretty and supposedly top whorl spindles are easier to use than bottom whorl. We shall see.

I've been spending quite a bit of time browsing the net looking for tutorials and information on how to spin with a drop spindle. I don't want to mess up all that pretty fiber I bought! So let me present you with the fruits of my labor ( Searching labor, that is. These aren't my videos) :

The following videos, IMO were the most helpful ones on youtube:

Introduction to Spindles: I thought this video was very interesting. Video by Spin2Weave

          Top Whorl: In this video, she teaches you all the basic elements of spinning and does an excellent job of demonstrating and explaining the processes needed to spin successfully. This is definitely my first go to video, even though atm I only have a bottom whorl spindle. Videos by afranquemont

          Bottom Whorl: After a bit of frustration, I found this gentleman's videos. See, tutorials on low whorl, or bottom whorl spindles are not as easy to find. There are a couple of other videos out there, but they were kind of blurry and hard to see what was going on. This man's videos ended up being my favorites. Videos by brewergnome

          Plying a single yarn: I have not gotten this far in my spinning yet, but as I've said, I've been doing all the research so that I can be fairly well informed when I am ready to try. Videos by theartofmegan


Ply two single yarns on a drop:

And using a Turkish spindle: I haven't used a Turkish spindle yet, but  the more I see them in action, the more I fall in love with them. Video by headhugsnh

          Actually, after the research I did on the Turkish spindles, I ended up finding exactly the one I wanted here.  Should be here in a week or two, I can't wait! I bought the one in cherry wood:
          In my search for useful videos, I came across this one beginner spinner tutorial where the woman was using a sort of bracelet like fiber cozy. She didn't have any links to the pattern (it was from interweave press, if anyone knows how to find it), and said she would get the information, but I never saw it anywhere in her information. That's ok. She explained the structure of it, and now I will write my own pattern for it and share with everyone when I am done, but hers was a knitted object, and I think I may crochet mine. We'll see :D Video by kelleypetkun

Some other resources I've found :
Spinning Glossary :  A site listing many of the terms used for spinning both on the wheel and off. Actually, this site is  also a good resource for fiber prep, learning to spin, and dyeing. Check out the tutorials section for more information.
Golding Fiber Tools :  This site has some high quality (albeit high priced) spindles and spinning wheels for sale. The craftsmanship on these items is simply stunning!
Grizzly Mountain Arts : Here is another example of amazing craftsmanship and excellent quality.
I Can Spin : Has a bunch of tutorial videos on many of the spinning techniques. It's a very straightforward and useful site.
And of course Etsy, and ebay are also your friends when it comes to any materials you may need - They have anything from fibers to spindles or even a place to sell your completed handmade items.
 Also, don't forget to check out your local craft stores and yarns shops. Hobby Lobby, Jo Ann Fabrics and Michael's all have supplies that you may find useful.


         I hope you've found this blog useful. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I've made a mistake somewhere. I had originally started this post with an intent to talk about the Kindle Cover project I am in the middle of, but since this is such a long post, I will wait for another day. I still needed to get the pictures and finish that project anyways. So please keep your eyes open for that coming soon :D
And in closing, let me leave you with a bit of advice from some friends : "Just have fun with it. Know that when you first start, you will make mistakes. Accept that, and utilize that opportunity to learn. If you can follow those two important rules, you will be spinning in no time."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Post

The first of anything is generally a scary concept. No less nefarious then, is the first blog post. Trying to figure out what to say and saying it in a way that keeps people interested is not always as easy as it should be.

Generally, I'm a crafter and a reader so that's what this blog will be about. Crafting, and reading. For real, those are good topics :P If it turns out to be too many topics for one blog, I can always separate them later.

My crafting repertoire includes beading, knitting, crocheting, polymer clay crafting, and painting. Now, I'm not a pro at any of these things, but I'm pretty good at many of them, and I happen to be a fast learner. Still, I do intend for this to be a didactic resource, so I'll be showing you what I've learned along the way, or what I'm learning at the moment. It's my intention to include tutorial videos, pictures, etc for visual aid.

I also intend to include links to my favorite websites for crafting supplies/tutorials/resources. If you are interested in being included on this list, please email me at with a link to your site for review.

I think that pretty much covers the basics for my overall intentions. So let's get started!