Thursday, January 29, 2009

d.i.y.o.d.s (do it your own darn self) wrist warmer tutorial!

these have been the hot seller in the shop this season. there's no debating the whys of that, they're practical, eco-friendly, and super-cute. the other bonus? they're easy-peasy to make! here's what you need:

-a thrifted sweater (at least 80% wool)

-pillowcase or drawstring bag

-sewing machine or needle and thread

-a quarter
-measuring tape

-buttons or other embellishments

let's go!

start by laying out your wool sweater. i find that for your first pair (one sweater yields quite a few) it's easiest to use the sleeves. i started at the top because i liked the stripes, but you can start at the cuff and cut upwards.

measure from outer fold on sleeve about 5" in. measure down about 13". after you cut, you'll end up with a 10" x 13" rectangle. you can go longer for longer wristwarmers or shorter for a cute "wristlet" look. go wider for bigger hands or less than 5" for smaller hands. either way, account for the fact that after felting, these babies will shrink (about 1/2" at least).now it's time to felt your rectangles. the easiest way to do this is to put them in a pillowcase or drawstring bag and wash them with other clothing on your hottest wash then dry them in the dryer. in steps the issue of energy-efficient appliances. i happen to have a machine that only hot washes on the "sanitize" setting. it takes 2 1/2 hours. uh, yeah. enter the large pot. fill the pot with enough water to cover your bag or pillowcase and a squirt of dish soap (i like dr.bronner's or another natural dish soap with lavender, it deters moths) and set it to boil.
agitation is they key to felting, so be prepared to use some elbow grease! this is why the machine is soooo much easier. it may be worth it to beg a small space in your neighbor or mother's next wash load just to save you the toil. me, i'm an old-fashioned gal, so away i go. as your pillowcase bubbles away AGITATE! poke and stir and prod for around 20 minutes. it is the agitation that felts the fibers together.
remove the pillowcase, run it under cool water and open it up. you should see that the rectangles now look very "feltish", where you can't really see the weave of the fibers anymore. this is good. now, pop 'em in the dryer for an extra felting, or if you think they can't take anymore tightening without becoming too small, hang them to dry.
now that the rectangles are dry, it's time to sew. make sure to use a good strong thread and set your machine to go through heavy fabric. you can also easily sew these by hand. take your first rectangle, fold it in half the long way and RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. use a marking pen and measure 1 1/2" down on the selvage edge. take your quarter and line up the center top of it with your marked line. mark around the curve and cut it out (a half-moon shape). do the same for the other rectangle. THESE ARE YOUR THUMB HOLES. FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT WANTING THUMB HOLES, SKIP THAT STEP!start at the top and sew about 1/2" seam down to the top of your thumb hole. back stitch. clip thread ends. skip over your thumb hole and start at the base of the quarter curve and sew 1/2" seam all the way to the bottom of your wristwarmer. do the other one, too.

tah dah! the best thing about felted wool is that you can cut your thumb holes and trim around rough edges without worrying about fraying and unravelling. it's all tightly bound together now. go ahead and add embellishment. i like to add little "leaf" accents cut from felt or felted wool scraps and held on with a button. it's a great way to use up your little crafty bits and repurpose some buttons. you can also hand-applique or needle felt designs on them. both of which look really cool. i'm leaving these plain because they're for a rather "manly" 7-year-old boy.

so there you have it! you're done, you're hip, you're ready to step out in eco-chic style. send us pics of you finished products and we'll feature 'em on the blog.

and the winner is...

randomly generated, the winner is... LISA! please contact us with your info and we'll send 'em on asap!

as for the rest of y'all, i'll be posting a tutorial on how to make these later today (hopefully). we have a rash of stomach flu going through the house right now... if it does'nt get up today, it will tomorrow. bear with me, this simple and eco-friendly tutorial is worth the wait!

** i'm trying, guys! this would be the day my brand new camera pulls a nutty... it'll be here soon!**
here's an idea- browse the shop while you wait!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

surprise... a giveaway!

in the spirit of winter craftiness, i have decided that a giveaway is most definitely in order. does'nt make sense? why do you care? you could win these! they're hip, they're cozy, they're eco-chic, and they could be free! for you! or you! yes, even you...
de from a recycled and felted wool sweater and embellished with leaf and button detail, you'll be green in style. extra long length makes them a perfect solution if those 3/4 sleeves have got you down. wear them in the office for chiily typing hands. wear them as you knit for chilly knitting hands. wear them for driving, to the post office, to the ball, whatever. you'll wear them all the time. promise. leave us a comment and we'll choose a winner on thursday at 12 noon. meanwhile, use those chilly typing hands and git yerself over to and support some kick-butt handmade goodness.
and if you don't win? check out the other pairs we've still got kickin' around in the shop...(under the "hats & mittens" category).

come back on thursday to see if you've won and i'll post a quick tutorial on making these babies.

another crafty post...

since we talked yesterday about the urge to create that comes with the cold weather (or round these parts, damn cold) and drives the crafty into hibernation mode, we thought today would be a good day to post a tutorial that can actually help keep all that crafty stuff in tow. if you are anything like me, by 10 pm my sectional is covered with bits of thread, more felt fuzz than i care to mention, and stray pins a-plenty. not a great idea when you've got 4 kids that like to snuggle up on said couch first thing in the morning, without being impaled by pins.

here's a cute tutorial for a pincushion we found on again, take license. how cute made from a felted sweater? a flower on top (someday we'll delve into the whys of my "flower-on-top" fetish, i'm not ready to go there yet)? here's a tip- stuff the pincushion with real wool to keep pins from rusting. here's another tip- don't listen to me. do what you like and get crafting!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

keeping warm...

(above slippers posted on by lizapdesign)
there is such a wealth of inspiration and ideas on the web. one could spend hours surfing through the various crafty sites and blogs... okay, i do spend hours doing just that. i have been known to rush out for obscure crafting supplies in a gotta-do-that frenzy (anyone else think an all-night craft shop is a big money-maker someone is missing the boat on?).

in honor of the gazillions of wonderful ideas out there, and in order to maybe provide some inspiration, we will be posting some of our favorite tutorials out there. if you have pics of your finished product, or ideas on how to improve/change/add to a project, let us know! we'll put your pics on the blog...

to start, it's been super-cold 'round these parts. the kind of weather where you just want to stay in, hunker down, and craft something. something cozy. here's a project that combines cute and cozy!

a pair of ballet-style slippers with endless possibilities! i'm thinking skip the fabric lining and go with fleece? a wool felt flower at the toe? ummmm, 'scuse me... i've gotta go make sure i have some fleece around....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

i've been DYEING to do this...

okay, i'm out. kim was outted as an impersonator yesterday, it's only fair i have a turn. i'm a closet hippie. i've put my inner flower child on the backburner since my college days, forsaking patchouli (which smells just like dirt on me) and tye dye for tom's natural deodorant and whatever clothes have the least cat hair, spit up, coffee or toddler what-have-you on them. i've become downright presentable. alright, i do have a blue streak in my hair and a nose ring, but it's a little blue streak and a teensy weensy nose stud. but i digress. the point? my inner hippi finally busted free this week. i've been toying with the idea of doing a cohesive line of something for a long time. i tend to do a whole lotta random things unless it's for a wholesale order, so this gave my little ole life some purpose and direction (this past week, anyway). each item is totally unique and made totally from repurposed materials. i hand-dyed the slips myself with veggie dye (so pricey, i don't know that i'll do that again if there's any chance of people liking these and wanting me to go into production mode) and embellished them with thrifted silk scarves, buttons, lace, doilies, etc. i screen-printed some, too. they're all unique and i'm dying to get some feedback on them... whaddya think?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

it's all relative

kim has talent. i mean, not just the crafty stuff. she's a closet impersonator. and now that she's been outted, i may as well tell you she does a mean elvis. and marilyn monroe. and joe cocker. which brings us to this...
why? cuz it's funny.
well, we think so.

talent comes in all shapes and sizes, my friends.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

featured crafter for january

mary e. robbins of moth designs in portalnd,maine was one of the first artisans to jump on board with us. we feel so inspired by mary's great use of bold color and design. her totes are functional, fabulously designed, and better yet? they're all made from repurposed fabrics! we loooove the recycled goodies, folks. what's more, they each are modeled after one of the special women that has so inspired mary's creative journey. each is called after a woman in her extended family in morocco. the design is based upon a practical market tote or bag each woman would use for her daily tasks. today i'm thinking her totes would make a great carry-all for that knitting project and a few books for cozying up with... or perhaps to the market to buy some ingredients for a yummy stew? so many possibilities! did i mention her shirts? we have them for the kiddos and adults! their bright colors and bold, graphic screen-printing is fun and whimsical while inspiring a bit of conversation through the arabic text printed on the front. the wearer of the shirt can learn to translate the text on the shirt and share the language with anyone who might ask... and they will ask for sure! such a great and fun way to create appreciation for another culture and be oh-so-hip.

Monday, January 19, 2009

a bit of rambling...

so, today is martin luther king day. yeah, school is closed, your favorite shops are keeping wonky hours or are closed, too. it's all a tad inconvenient... except that if you stop for a minute, i mean really stop for a minute and think on what it took for dr. king to be what he was in the day that he lived, well, it's pretty amazing. i'm not gonna go on and bore you with the historical nonsense, but let's just give a shout out to martin luther king today. give him props as you go about your daily routine without worrying someone's going to slam a door on you, as you express yourself freely on a blog, or as you walk into any damn store or down any damn sidewalk you please. these little things we all take for granted have not always been so simple, people. one day in the not too distant past, a single mother and a stay-home mother would never have had the opportunity to open a business. we feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity, but it is soooo important to sit back every once in a while and realize that our opportunity in america has never really been given to us. it is made of the dreams, sweat, blood and tears of the many brave who dared stand up for what they believed. we salute you, dr.king.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

a little somethin' for the ladies...

we are trying to carry a little something for everyone, but since our real passion is our kiddos, you can be expecting lotsa handmade goodness for the 6-12 year range. does anyone else think the "cool stuff" market cuts off at about size 6 or so? stay tuned for some announcements, but also be sure to check out the awesome kids clothes we are currently offerring from pinecone and chickadee, moth designs, and milo in maine. so much more to come, too!

since i (liza) have been focused mainly on clothes for the wee ones as a business for the past few years, i'm having a hard time crawling out of that niche. there's so much fun fabric to play with right now! i'm loving doing vintage-inspired and simple designs. my apron dresses have been a big hit, especially in the amy butler patterns. the lovely london stopped in yesterday to pick up her custom dress in the "daisy chain" patterns.

and the ever-charming catalina tamed her lovely blonde locks with a wonderful felt barette by "mimisayshi". these clips are so cute, people. you gotta get some... they're in the children's section on the site, but i'd sport one. would'nt you?