Painted bead box

>> Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This is a recent project and I was thinking of sharing a "how to" for it. But partway through the project I got really vexed with it so I'm not sure I'd recommend it. It's quite fiddly and fairly messy. On the other hand now that it's done I really love it, so maybe it's worth it after all.

I forgot to take a "before" picture, but it's basically a Bombay Company box made of rosewood and lined with a yucky black velveteen fabric. I found it at Goodwill for $4.99. I've never really liked it.

First of all I ripped out the old lining, and lightly sanded the box and then primed it. The outside is painted with latex paint leftover from the house painting I've been doing.

I wanted to line the box with fabric, so I glued it to paper using PVA glue, which you can find at art supply stores. Doing this makes the fabric easier to work with when you want to attach it to something else - a helpful technique for covering books as well. I paint the paper with glue then smooth the fabric over it.

Then I glued the fabric into the box. There are two pieces of wood that support the tray, so I covered those separately and then glued them in place. I used the old lining as a template to get the size just right, otherwise you need to do some careful measuring.

The picture at the top of this post shows the finished box before I added dividers in the tray. Some of them broke (there was wood inside the fabric) when I removed the old lining, but I didn't want all of them anyway. I added extra glue around the edges to secure the dividers in place. They need to be quite secure if you want to use the dividers to hold onto when lifting out the tray.

And this is the finished box. I put the supplies for my recent jewellery making inside so it's nice to have that organized. Redoing this box was a lot of work in the end, but I love it now!


Illustration Friday - red

>> Saturday, January 27, 2007

*click on images to see them larger*

Everything came together this evening - I'd been meaning to do an Illustration Friday for ages, and I had also had an idea about combining reds in a painting. This is probably the first in another series of bird paintings, but this time with colours rather than seasons as the theme.

This one is also a mixed media, starting with sepia pen & ink, then watercolour, then collage with paper and pva glue overtop. It took me ages fiddling with bits of paper and as usual I thought it was terrible until right around the point when I decided it was finished and that I quite liked it after all.

Here's a detail:
For anyone who likes birds and would like to know, this is a Vermilion Flycatcher, native to California (hence the orange blossom tree).

Thank you for visiting!


Corners of my home & weird tag

>> Monday, January 22, 2007

I was tagged a while ago by Jamie and am just getting around to it now. I thought a lot about it (because I tend to analyse everything/think about things too much), and I just wasn't sure what to put on my list. Because some things might seem weird to one person but not at all to another. So I wouldn't want to unwittingly imply that someone else is weird for liking the same kind of thing. And other weird things are just plain embarrassing. See? Thinking too much. I decided it was really just a "get to know you" kind of thing and so that's really what my list is. Things you might not know about me.

So here are the 5 weird things about me I could come up with:
1. I doodle a lot, whenever I'm waiting around or bored. In this case on an envelope while waiting in the bank. The weird part is that what I doodle is almost exclusively girl's faces. I love doing the hair. Time flies by, and I actually waited over an hour in the bank (after they told me it would be 20 minutes) without really noticing. I've been doing this as long as I can remember.
2. All my favourite authors are from the 19th century: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy. I also still read lots of old children's books.
3. Most of my favourite books are about orphans. Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables.
4. And just when you were thinking I was really high brow... I'm hooked on daytime decorating shows. House & Home, Changing Rooms, Colour Confidential, How not to Decorate, Divine Design, etc.
5. I used to think I was weird because I love crafts so much. I didn't know anyone that would spend hours in yarn stores, or get really excited by vintage fabric and button finds at flea markets. Now that I've been crafts blogging I realize I'm not alone. So thank you for visiting!

Another "get to know you" kind of thing is the Corners of My Home group on Flickr. I love sneaky peeks into the homes of my fellow crafters - largely because you're a talented, creative bunch and I'm inspired by the beautiful craft rooms, storage and colour ideas I see. I think we've all coveted Blair's beautiful celadon crafts room, and I've recently discovered Yvestown's gorgeous decor.

As I'm mentioned before our home is quite small, so a lot of areas multi-task. We recently found a great IKEA dining table that is perfect for the small home. Each side folds down which means the table can take up a mere 30cm of depth when tucked against the wall. When opened up it has generous seating room for four. The middle part of the table has three drawers on each side which now hold all our wine and other dining related things (napkins, placemats, corkscrews). But the best part is I keep one side up and use it as a nice large crafts table.

So that's my "corners of my home" pic. Yesterday evening Bradley helped me put up some little framed fabrics on the wall (pictured at the top of this post). It made me very happy having this finishing touch to my new little creative corner. It's also very practical as I've been getting busier with my shop. On the table you can see some packages getting ready to send out and a new project I'll show later in the form of the white painted box. The person who bought the 100th etsy item sold from my shop is getting a special extra treat - a set of bird cards to go with her new pouch!


Pouches and painting

>> Thursday, January 18, 2007

I've finally learned how to make zipper pouches! I found a tutorial online that showed me how. While googling to find the link to show you, I found this even better one! I've been wanted to learn how for ages and kept putting it off. I use pouches all the time, my odds and ends are organized all over the place in pouches. (if you look in the background you can see Bradley's maps - he's just discovered geocaching!)

You may recognize the fabric for this one, it's from the apron I just showed you. I couldn't wait to make something with that fabric. I interfaced it because although it was in quite good condition it wasn't very sturdy. I made two, one for me, and one for my shop.Incidentally I have an etsy tip. If you want to buy something from etsy you make an account for yourself with your email address. It's free and easy, and I did it myself the first time I made an etsy purchase. But if you decide later on you want to open up your own shop (also free and easy) you cannot change your name. That's why my name on etsy isn't needle book, which I would have preferred. Not everyone wants to open up a shop but just in case I thought I'd mention that.

Here's another one of my pouches:
And another - believe me I'll be making lots!And last but not least I had another project this week - painting a little wooden desk for my niece. I painted the main part pale yellow which matched the other furniture in her room. Then added these flowers in white, pale pink and red:
She's just turned five and now she's in school and ready for a desk! Happy birthday Haleigh!

I forgot to add the book info which I was asked for. You can buy these books online, I got mine at Chapters/Indigo.

The Apron Book
Hardcover: 152 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; Bk&Acces edition (Sep 1 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0740761811
ISBN-13: 978-074076181

Simple Sewing With a French Twist
Paperback: 255 pages
Publisher: Potter Craft (Jan 2 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307351823
ISBN-13: 978-0307351821

One skein
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Interweave Press; 1 edition (April 1 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1931499748
ISBN-13: 978-1931499743

In stitches
Spiral-bound: 176 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books; 1 edition (Jul 26 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0811851591
ISBN-13: 978-0811851596


Beautiful books

>> Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I keep meaning to show you some of the great books I've been looking through lately. The first one is a titled The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort, and it's just what it sounds like. This book is full of colour photographs of vintage aprons through the history of handmade aprons. I was particularly captivated by some of the old feedsack aprons. During the Depression women would use every scrap of material they could find and for some reason feedsacks were often made with really pretty prints. My favourite is a pale green apron with lovely clusters of white cottonballs and flowers. This book is full of stories and nostalgia, and even has some patterns so you can sew your own aprons.
The only trouble with books about vintage aprons is that now more people know about them and it's driving the prices up! I found a lovely one this past weekend at a store among the cluster of antique stores on Queen West at Roncesvalles. It was at a new discovery for me, a store called The Painted Table at 1716 Queen St. W. They had several aprons and I couldn't resist the one above. Here's a detail of the print, I don't know why but I just love it so much!
One book you've probably already seen by now is One skein: 30 quick projects to knit and crochet. I have already learned a new crochet stitch and made the bobble bag. I have a list of things I want to try, such as the felted striped tote, felted bowls, fingerless garter mitts and pretty cable footies - I need a replacement for my scruffy slippers.

Another one I'm sure everyone has already is Amy Butler's In Stitches: More than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects. This books is full of her wonderful patterns and I can't wait to make most of the things inside it. And of course the gorgeous fabrics and photos are so inspiring.
And a new one I just found is called Simple Sewing with a French Twist. It was one of those books that I had to pick up and after just a quick flip I had it firmly tucked on my arm as a definite purchase. I love the pictures inside, which not only have inspiring crafts images but beautiful backgrounds too which are giving me home decor ideas. Also, the patterns really appeal to me because they're simple, not too detailed, but explain clearly how the things are made.
And finally who else can't wait for Amy Karol's new book??


More jewellery (and no yarn for a year?)

>> Friday, January 12, 2007

Once I rediscover a craft I can get a little bit obsessed about it! I can't seem to stop making jewellery. So I've been busy turning my new silver findings into more earrings, necklaces and one bracelet. The things I don't keep or give as presents are now in the shop at
In the meantime I have also done a little felting and embroidering and made two eyeglasses cases, one for me and one for the shop.Part of putting all these things into the shop is an early effort to spring clean. Our apartment is very small - I love it because it's cosy and really has everything we need but it means you definitely have to keep your belongings under control. So this new site caught my eye - no yarn for a year! I saw it just before boxing day and so I picked up some yarn at Romni's big sale and I'm going to try to leave it at that. Of course the exceptions make it liveable - it's ok to buy yarn to finish a project, or for a specific gift.

My extra exception is thrifted items - if I see a nice bag of yarn at a flea market for $5 I'm not going to pass it up! Unless of course it's acrylic as sadly those grab bags often are. And generally I think it's inspiring to have some sort of stash on hand because I always look through what I have before I buy anything and it can give you good ideas. But I'd like everything to fit into my one cabinet and not have extra bags of yarn squirreled around the apartment!


Fresh start

>> Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I was wondering what kind of New Year's post to do and decided to just show some of my projects from last year that I didn't show at the time. Lots of these projects come with ideas that anyone can use.

The picture at the top shows some of our new wall colours - we've finally painted the walls and it's made such a difference. I was a little tired of the green on my walls, it was a bit too heavy and yellow and not what I had originally imagined. So I just went a bit more apple green, and a bit lighter and I like it much better now. The colour is Debbie Travis' "poached pear". We then painted the kitchen an even lighter version of the green ("chiffon") and the two pale greens are really fresh and pretty together (the kitchen has a window to the living room). I love how the wall colour looks with this ceramic bird painted mold from my favourite antique/vintage shop at St. Lawrence market.

There's still one wall to go in the kitchen - so you can see the old colour. It was a peachy kind of yellow (which really didn't look great with the new green next to it in the living room) and had quite a few scuffs and marks that wouldn't come off. When we painted it we had to take down a few shelves and had one of those "why do we even need these?" moments. We managed to tuck away a few things into the closet and move some others and ended up getting rid of a large cluttered shelf altogether.One of the quick knitting projects I did over the holidays was this pink hat. It's from the Stitch n' Bitch book - the boy hat with the flame colours, and it knits up so fast! I did it in one evening while we were at a bed & breakfast.
The best part is I used a bunch of old yarns mixed together. I had lots of odds and ends, a bright pink that was a bit too bright, a rusty orange that was a bit drab, a peachy mohair that was a bit too peachy and a pale pink that was a bit bland. But I love them blended together! This is a great way to use up some of the odd balls in your stash. I still have this ball left over:
The following is one of my favourite new projects because the fabric was a Christmas present from Bradley. It came all the way from Cath Kidston in London! I missed going to her shop and regretted it. What a wonderful present, particularly as it was a complete surprise. He also bought me a little sewing kit with a red oilcloth cover with birds on it and a flowery needlebook. The same fabric as this cute book bag.
So this is my new knitting tote. The handles are dark olive green and the lining is a light tan coloured gingham.
Another quick project was this tea cosy:
It's two squares knit in a k2 p2 rib with a few holes (yo, k2tog) along the top of each. Then you sew the sides together leaving a gap where your teapot has its handles and spout. Thread a ribbon through the holes to gather up the top. And voila! you have a custom cosy that's perfect for your teapot and you don't have to take it off to pour.
I didn't make as many presents this year, a hat for one friend, earrings for another and a bag and this GPS cosy for Bradley. (note: this is a good present idea for your boyfriend if you don't want to risk the "breakup" sweater.)
He was thrilled - I also gave him the GPS! The following scarf isn't that exciting - but I love it because it's really large and warm, and made from 100% lambswool. The best part though is that I got all the wool from a boxy sweater from Old Navy. It took a couple of evenings to unravel but it was worth it. To do this you need to find sweaters with yarn worth salvaging, that are sewn together at the seams like a handknit sweater, and not cut and serged at the seams. You can google images of "serged edge" to see what I mean. It's a kind of machine sewing that keeps cut edges from unravelling.

Then all you do is undo the seams carefully with your stitch ripper so that you have separate panels of knitting. Then unravel. If you want you can wash the skeins and that will remove the kinks.
The stitch is broken rib - a great scarf stitch that looks the same on both sides, doesn't curl and isn't as tight as a regular rib so you get more width for your yarn. It's just k2 p2 rib on an odd number of stitches.And finally I made this olive green hat but it's just a bit too small for my head. I think this one is getting unravelled!
That's it for 2006. I wish everyone a wonderful new year!


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