Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton

I just finished reading Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton. Not usually one for romance novels, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I love fantasy and knitting and
Barbara has combined both in a magical way. The story involves Chloe Hobbs, half-sorceress and inhabitant of Sugar Maple, Vermont. She is bound by birth to the town, a haven for magical escapees of the former Salem witch trials. She is also bound by a protection charm which has protected the town from crime and humans for hundreds of years. Chloe has not come into her powers at the beginning of the story because she has not yet fallen in love, although opportunity with various magical beings from Sugar Maple have made themselves available. She is destined to fall in love with the all-human police detective Luke MacKenzie who comes to town to investigate an unusual murder. Sparks begin to literally fly between the two. Chloe must deal with Isodora, local evil Faery, who wants to pull Sugar Maple into another dimension while learning to control her blossoming powers as she finds herself falling deeper and deeper in love.

I hope Barbara will continue to combine these two genres and also that we haven't read the last of Chloe Hobbs. Her knit shop, where the yarn never tangles and you always get gauge is a place I would like to visit again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

One-Stitch Quilting First Attempt

I received Donna Dewberry's book, One-Stitch Quilting, as a gift and have almost completed my first wall-hanging. It was fairly easy once I figured out the directions. I have assembled the pieces, now I need to do the stitching. This quilting technique is very different from traditional quilting. There is a lot of planning, but everything goes together before the first stitch is made. Just like her One-Stroke Painting, the technique was developed by Donna and Cindy Casciato to do eliminate steps to make the process easier and more fun. I'd love to continue with this and become certified in this technique as well. I've tried traditional quilting and became frustrated with the intricate work involved. The One-Stitch method uses adhesive grids and less work involved in sewing so many pieces together. Now, I can't wait to start on my next project.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 4 Part 6 Knotless Netting

In Part 6, I will show you how to continue netting around the gap and will talk about what to put in the gap to add interest to the gourd. I'll present the finished gourd at a later time.

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 4 Part 5 Knotless Netting

Part 5: How to continue your knotless netting around for several rows. I also show you how to create gaps in the netting.

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 4 Knotless Netting Part 4

In this clip, we start the netting around the sea grass rim. In this step, I insert the end of the waxed linen behind the sea grass and out between the loop made by the waxed linen on the outside. Pull the end through the middle and leave a small loop for the next row.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Craft Write Video Podcast Episdoe 4 Knotless Netting Part 3

In the third part of the video, I finish wrapping the rim in preparation of beginning the netting. Sorry to break this down into so many parts, but I can only upload so much at one time.

Craft Write Video Podcast 4 Part 2 Knotless Netting

In this section, I begin attaching the sea grass to the top of the gourd.

Craft Write Video Podcast 4 Knotless Netting

I started a gourd today which I am embellishing with knotless netting. This is not a difficult technique. It is a series of loops, one into another. In this first part, I'm setting up the gourd for the technique. The gourd was previously dyed using various leather dyes. The inside has already been cleaned. I'm using a household ice pick for my awl. You may wish to use a smaller one if you want smaller holes. I'm also using a piece of stick on tape measure. I didn't take the paper off the back as I wanted to use just the one piece to move around the gourd and space out the holes evenly. I'm also using waxed linen for the netting and pre-drilled seashells and beads. The waxed linen can be purchased from Royalwood, Ltd.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cereal Box Crafts

I love the EnviroKidz Organic Cereals. They're good quality cereals, organic, and have less fat than a lot of other "healthy" cereals. They also donate 1% of their proceeds to endangered species, habitat conservation and environmental education for kids. Inside each box is information on endangered animals along with crafts, puzzles and ways to help wildlife. This box of Penguin Puffs, delicious by the way, has a box cut-out inside that can be made into a cube and colored. You can find more information on this company at www.envirokidz.com.

Delores Fletcher is finished!

I just finished the last chapter on my latest children's book, Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. It's such a good feeling to be finished with this part of the writing. This is not to say I'm completely ready to submit. Now comes the equally hard part of revisions. I have wonderful notes from Alan Gratz's critique of my first ten pages from last year's SCBWI conference and from my wonderful critique group. It's a nice feeling to know that even though the writing was done by me, I have the support of others to lean on for help. It's sort of like having the writers' equivalent of the Verizon team outside while I'm sitting at the computer. I now have two completed novels that I will be working on to revise and get out by the spring. I'm going to begin this weekend, but right now, all I have to say right now is Aahhh!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

House and Philosophy Book Signing

Henry Jacoby will be at Border's Books on Saturday, February 7 at 3:00 pm in Cary, NC for a short talk and book signing. He will also be at Barnes & Noble in Greenville, NC on Friday, February 20 at 7:00 pm.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Writing Craft Instructions

I've been doing crafts since I was a small child. I remember sitting beside my mother watching her and trying to do the various crafts that she did, like sewing or the tiny intricate dough flowers she used to make with white bread, glue and food color. I still have one or two of these. She later taught me and my sister to make baskets which took me into the large realm of professional crafting. We joined the North Carolina Basketmakers' Association and for years attended their annual conventions. We also each taught classes there, in Tennessee, and South Carolina. One thing that I learned from this was the importance of writing down instructions correctly. This is crucial for your students and for yourself. There's nothing more frustrating, and embarrassing than to begin teaching a craft class and realize there's a mistake in your instructions. Oops! You really did mean to look over them before you ran them off, didn't you? Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating your next project, just in case you may wish to offer the directions to someone else or to use them in a class at some point.
1. Write down everything you do. It may not seem important at the time, but the details make the difference.
2. TAKE PICTURES. Now's the time to record the steps with good pictures. If you miss a step, that means more materials to buy to repeat the whole process to capture the step you missed.
3. Write down all of the materials you use. If you're a painter, write down type, color names and code numbers if any, paint brands, types of brushes and their sizes, surface used and the source of the surface.
4. If you can do this, it's helpful: Don't put away your materials until you're finished with the project if you haven't done #1 and #2. Yes, it's good to be neat and tidy, but once those paint bottles are back on the rack with a hundred others and your paint darkens a little from drying, can you match it again?
5. Write down instructions in order. This will make it easier to type it later on your computer.
6. This might need to be #1, but since I'm not following my own advice, here it is: Keep a notebook and Pencil with eraser on hand. Sure, you can use a pen, but you may want to change your mind and your directions half-way through.
7. Have a safe, find-able place to keep your directions.
8. Have someone who crafts read your directions to see if they make sense.
9. Have someone who doesn't craft read your directions to see if they make sense.
10. Have someone who crafts make your project using your directions.
11. Repeat for someone who doesn't usually craft. Maybe, you can get them hooked. Also, if you're designing crafts in order to publish, chances are that someone who might read your book has never tried origami or polymer clay or whatever you've created.
12. Make your project again yourself using your directions.
13. Once you've gone through these steps and your project is coming out spectacularly for everyone, type the final revision on your computer.
14. Make back-up files and CD copies. CD's aren't absolutely necessary, you think, but remember the last time your or a friend's computer decided to die for no reason? Also, if you sell your patterns on a website, here's your original copy.

Crafting has been done for eons now. But it's important for those of us in the business to share our work with others to keep it going. Take time when your next great idea comes along and start recording what you do. Someone else will be glad you did.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cleaning a Gourd 101 from California Gourds

I found this great video on You Tube. It was filmed by California Gourds and explains how to clean a gourd. I learned something from this: I've never used fabric softener in my cleaning water, but will try this from now on.

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 3 Part 2 Making Latkes

Part 2 of the latke making. We were having our friends Carl and Charlotte for dinner and to watch the Liberty Bowl between my alma mater (and Carl's and Charlotte's), East Carolina University and the University of Kentucky. It was a close game, but we lost in the end, possibly from a bad call. Oh, well, it was a good year all-in-all for ECU fans. We don't make the bowl games every year, but our present team is good and I'm proud of them. It was a fun night anyway. Our guests brought bear claws from Mickey's, a local bakery, for dessert. Good food, good fun, good friends.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 3 Part 1 Making Latkes

Today, I'm sharing a cooking episode. You may not consider cooking as a craft, but I believe when you combine ingredients to create an end product, that's crafting - you just get to eat the item you've crafted. I'm including the recipe that I used in the video below:
6 baking potatoes
1 1/2 large yellow onions
about 1/2 cup plain flour
2 eggs
several dashes of black pepper, enough to coat mixture lightly, or to taste
1. Peel potatoes and onions.
2. Cut up potatoes and onions into small enough pieces to fit into the food processor.
3. Feed potatoes and onions into food processor on shred.
4. Pour shredded mixture into colander which is sitting in a larger bowl. Allow to drain for several minutes.
5. Pour out liquid. Pour mixture into larger bowl.
6. Add eggs; mix. Add flour; mix. Add pepper; mix.
7. Scoop out by large spoonfuls into hot oil. Turn with spatula when edges become brown so that latkes are browned evenly.
8. When bottom is evenly browned, flip to other side. Be careful; you're cooking in hot oil, remember.
9. When both sides are browned, remove with spatula onto plate covered in paper towels.
10. Serve with apple sauce or sour cream or both. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Happy New Year to everyone. As Americans, we traditionally do a lot of soul searching at this time of the year. We make New Year's resolutions that are typically too difficult for us to ever maintain and they're mostly lost or forgotten by May or June. But, it's too irresistible not to try each year. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So, here I go:
1. Write more. Finish the goals I set for myself for December and still didn't finish.
2. Weigh less.
3. Exercise more (or at all).
4. Spend more time with friends and family, especially Henry.
5. Read more books, craft & fiction.
6. Finish the upstairs organization of my studio. I can cheerfully say I spent several hours today hanging up antique brooms and baskets from my collection, as well as two of my paintings and removing items best left in the attic until needed.
7. Pursue ideas for setting up craft classes in my community. An ongoing long-term goal of mine is to run a craft school rather than teaching in public school. I need to become more involved in making this happen.
8. Learn One-Stitch Quilting. There's always room to learn new things.

Okay, these are mine. They seem do-able. Now what are yours?

Tucker's Fashion Debut

My sister recently adopted a Chihuahua puppy whom she named Tucker because of his habit of tucking his head under her arm when being held. I knew it wouldn't be long before my mother came up with some knitted sweaters. She sent these pictures, one is apparently knitted and the other made from a sock. I'll see if I can get directions for this.