Monday, July 11, 2011

That Was Quick!

by Kimberlee

Wow, the month of June just flew by, didn't it?  I apologize for taking so much time off from Magpie, and I hope I didn't lose too many of my dear readers for it!  I've had many things unrelated to arts & crafts going on, so I needed a little break.

But it doesn't mean I wasn't thinking of you all!  I have some exciting things in the works, from the Renaissance Faire coming up to a very possible launch of an Etsy store!  I can't say much about the Etsy thing yet, but I'm working on a few products that I haven't seen anywhere else.  Needless to say, I am very excited, and also plan on making it part of a future give away.

Before I get into some of the things going on, I'd like to thank my friend Amy for lending me the fantastic book, The Crafter's Devotional. I hadn't been aware of this book, but it has been very inspirational and has gotten some of my creative juices re-flowing after June's crafter's block.  I haven't yet begun to follow the plan, but have as of yet just been absorbing the book.  So thank you, my wonderful friend, for you and your husband's visit, your beautiful gifts and most of all your belief and faith in me and my talents. Oh, and for teaching me how to knit on those circular needles!

I have good and bad news about our Green Thumb Projects.  The good is that the community garden seems to be going very well, unfortunately the weather for getting a lot done in there has been bad, flailing wildly from average atmosphere on Venus to pounding rain, with little usable days in-between, but we've fortunately lost little of our crop, and do plan on also doing a Autumn harvest. 

Sadly, the Plant Condo (aka the palette project) has failed.  It was doing very well, so much so that I had harvested lettuce from it.  In retrospect now, I am happy I had the wherewithal to take photos of the first salads made from the patio crop... they were the only ones.  All it took was a couple of days of searingly hot weather to kill half the plants in the palette.  I don't know if it was how the water drained through the set-up, or if the wood was just bed, or what.  I re-planted those left living, and they seem to be doing fine, excepting the strawberries that may or may not make it.  All the other patio plants are doing amazing well, however:


And a few other odds & ends - I haven't made a piece of clothing in a dog's age!  I think I lost a lot of my confidence after a number of failures, but I currently have a piece on Betty that just needs to be sewn, and I am really excited about it:

Simplicity 2472
All she needs is to be sewn, and I am thinking about adding elastic to the waist (what do you think?  I'd appreciate opinions), so wish me luck!  I've promised myself that if I mess up this one, I'm just going to try the pattern again.  I'm simply a little rusty on the machine, I think, and many here I hope can sympathize with losing your mojo.

I also finally settled on an outfit for this year's Ren Faire. I had made my own garb for last year's faire, but this year I decided I wanted to order a basic outfit that I could customize to my heart's desire, and I finally settled on this beautiful set. Please check back to see how I add to this already lovely dress!

Well, that's it for now.  Thank you so much for catching up with me!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Magic in All Things

Nature can inspire us all, but with what is often the question.  She isn't always beautiful, and can be alternately terrifying and cruel, but She is always awesome, in the traditional meaning of the word.  Nature is like love, and what you take is equal to what you make (to borrow a phrase).  Nature is also always magical, with light and dark, whimsy and power.

A while back, I won these fantastic earrings from Helen Sarah Vaughan who keeps the blog Trees and Whatnot.

made of laser-cut leather

I love them!  In addition to being made from leather which might often get tossed due to its size, they are incredibly organic and flattering - I am a fan of long, drop earrings.  Sarah has many items on her site that repeat this organic vibe, and her leather items are truly lovely and one of a kind. How pretty are these orange ones?   I'm also grateful for her link to Handmade, a website for a shop in Brighton that specializes in local artists (I believe her items are there).  While I am a continent and an ocean away from being able to visit, I've been enchanted by the crafts on the site.  So, needless to say, I am incredibly grateful to have won this giveaway, and I wish Sarah the best of luck in her endeavors.  She is a very gifted artist!

Speaking of the magic of nature, while I was online looking for garden and container designs, I came across an entire subculture of gardening/craft/playing that involves creating Fairy Houses.  Talk about enchanting! (Warning: if you look up fairy homes yourself, there are a LOT of "flashing" sites!  It's a little eye-murdering) Check out some of these fairy houses:

The Magic Onions


Canadian Country Woman
More instructions can be found here.

Speaking of a magical time, and nature, my husband and I are both long-time Gin Blossoms fans (this will make sense, trust me).  So when we heard that they would be playing in the area, we again jumped at the chance to see them.  To our surprise, they were playing at a Catholic school (with the very magical name of Our Lady of the Lake) fundraiser.  The date of the show also happened to hilariously coincide with the end of the world, May 21st!  So, we thought, if it happens, at least we'll go out doing something we love. 
My church only ever had a beer tent & dunk tank party.  Oh, and BINGO.  Lots of BINGO.
Right after we arrived, everyone who was there was hustled into the school basement because of a tornado touchdown in a nearby town.  I found it kind of funny that me of all people would end up in a church school basement on Rapture Day, with tornadoes.   But after an hour or so, and the beer tent moved temporarily inside to placate the masses, the area was declared safe.

The Gin Blossoms put on another great show, and we were lucky enough to get a spot in the very front to enjoy it. Some photos of the band: 

So much fun!

So next post, I swear I'll post some actual craft projects I've been working on!  They involve altering those mens' tees, and I'm pretty excited.  I haven't sewed anything in a while, and I'm kind of rusty, so working with tees is a great way to get back into the groove.  Mostly, lately, I've been working on hand embroidery, and that's not too exciting to do updates on, but here's a sneak peek: 

pattern: Carson Ellis via Sublime Stitching
Sublime Stitching has super-fun embroidery patterns, and I've been loving working on them.

See you guys again soon!

Much love, Kimberlee

Ohh, there must be trouble over here

Wow, even I'm impressed by this!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yo, Collard!

by Kimberlee

OK, I don't have collards growing, I just like saying collards, because it is a beautiful word. Oh, and eating them. I like that a lot!

After my bragging of how awesome all our plants were doing in my last post, we find ourselves at something of a standstill because the weather has decided to do nothing but stay cold or rain.  Trust me, where I'm at, I'm not going to complain too much about weather - we had a few touchdowns in the area and one unfortunate soul killed in his car because of a falling tree, but nothing as bad as all over the Midwest.  I have this primal fear of tornadoes, and didn't have to deal with it for 13 years in NYC. (True story, the day AFTER I moved from NYC, it had its first recorded tornado - in Brooklyn - in recorded history or at least close to that.) But we did get a big reward in the sky after some of the worst weather:

Doesn't it make you want to listen to this beautiful version of Over the Rainbow?

So the patio is now chock full of plants ready to go in the ground (in some cases) and ready to make the patio a beautiful retreat in the other cases.  And of course we continue to buy more seeds and seedlings, I've become pretty adept at reading packets.  I bought these wonderful seeds for Chinese Lanterns that are going into biodegradable pots today.

Chinese Lanterns
Aren't they gorgeous?  And if you've never tried bio pots, they're these awesome little starters that degrade when you plant them in the ground, so it cuts down on waste and mitigate root shock.  I think they will look amazing as cuttings

Striking Arrangement
In the bed news, my lavender from seeds was a big FAIL, sadly, so I broke down and bought them in slightly larger than seedling form and put them in the pallet.  Ahhh, the pallet.  it should be up on its side in its proper vertical position by now, but the weather kept me from planting the middle section until yesterday, so I should have it up in its vertical place in a few days after the roots take hold.  I'm thrilled with how it looks so far, and can't wait to make salad from the lettuce, little bouquets from the flowers and learn how to make soap/candles from the herbs.  Most of the flowers are edible, too, so we'll be eating some very pretty salads this year.

Just waiting for the roots to take hold!  Amongst other things, it has bee balm, lavender, mint, lettuces.

Several plantlets waiting for the big garden

This will eventually become butterfly central

I'm also very excited about the veg that Hubby is going to be devoted to, not only because it will be delicious and fresh and I love knowing where my food comes from, or that it's good for the planet, but because now I'm getting excited at the thought of jarring/canning for the first time since I was a girl.  We're probably not going to be pressure canning (we'll be freezing those things instead), but some pickling and tomato sauce will be in order.  He's also planned an amazing garden layout, which is not only attractive but where plants that are friendly with other plants nestle together, protected by herbs and annuals that naturally drive away pests.  He's also covered our plots with compost from our awesome Compost Site, which is free to individuals and a great resource.

I, however, need to plan out my garden spot.  I have most of the seeds/plants I need, but the set-up itself still exists mostly as an image in my brain that resembles an picture from House Beautiful or Home & Garden.  Because I'm sure it will turn out exactly like that, right?  Right? OK, pretty garden zen moments:

Better Homes & Gardens
Rye Castle
Lemony Zest

Martha Stewart
Better Homes & Garden

Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

Coming up next: a review of a lovely piece of jewelry, a different kind of fantasy garden, and how I spent the Rapture with the Gin Blossoms!
Hey mom, which of these do I get to eat?  All of them, right?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Patio Plant Party

by Kimberlee

Spring is finally here! Or it was, briefly, then went away and seems to be back again today.  I hope it takes this time....

Fortunately for my cousin who is visiting this weekend, we were able to move the plants out of the guest bedroom and onto the balcony to hardy them up before they have to go into the community garden.  Husband and I were really surprised about how full the garden plots are, almost all of them are taken.  It's really heartening to know that so many people from the complex are involved, and I'm excited at the thought of getting to know some of my neighbors.

The bones of the vertical garden!

 I mentioned this vertical garden in a blog post not too long ago, I fell HARD for it!  Now, see, I'm the kind of person who looks for this kind of thing on the side of the road, in construction areas and whatnot.  My husband, being much more responsible than me (this will come up again later), decided that we'd try to get one from a store - but Pallet Stores being in short supply, we went to a local home chain store to see what we could dig up.  In the back of their garden center was a pile of pallets, and after asking several employees, we were told that we could just take one. 

Now I'm the kind of person who, receiving that assurance, would just walk out of the store with the pallet.  But since my husband is more responsible than me, he wanted to take it through the aisle.  This was one of those days that had been predicted to be nasty all day long, but had inexplicably cleared and warmed up, so the garden center was hopping but the one and only checkout was being held by a young girl who had not worked in the garden section before, and didn't even know what a pallet was, much less believed us when we said it was free.  After a talk with a manager, we took our pallet home!  What I won't do for free things!  On the upside, though, getting it new and clean from a store meant I didn't have to pull one up out of the mucky muck of a construction site and get my car and myself all gross.

Shade-loving plants

We put all the other plants out on the patio to weather them, and how they have been weathered.  By all means, everything should have been put into the garden by now, but it has just been too cold.  I hope this week will present an opportunity.

The herbs are so far doing spectacularly well.  I know herbs are pretty hardy, but I've been abysmal at making things grow, so it's been awesome to get plants from seeds - who would have thought it!

The fairies watching over the younglings
The beautiful tomatoes in the foreground

I also found two of these coffee bags for 50 cents a piece - I love how they look but have no idea what to do with them!  If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them!

Scrabble is always implanting herself in the middle

Sunday, May 1, 2011

For the Love of Tees

by Kimberlee

I'm sort of obsessed with t-shirts.  I realize this makes me well, ordinary, but what's not to love?  Now that Spring is finally rolling around (more or less), I've been bookmarking, circling, sketching and planning several projects & products centered on tees.

I'm sure you are all familiar with the Generation T series.  I've had both of these books even before I had a sewing machine!  Unfortunately, I haven't made many projects from them, not because I don't LOVE them (because I do), but because I can't cut up any of my beloved tees.  I went out and bought a bunch of tees from Goodwill after I first got my machine (the older one which has since gone to that great Tailor Shop in the Sky), but being inexperienced managed to mess up everything!  Such is life.  But I'll get back to this.

So, as I said, lately I've been running across a lot of tee projects and tees themselves that I lurve so much.  One thing I have been putting many of my loved but not really worn (due to size or stains or whatever) tees aside for is a Tee Shirt Quilt.

I have several bookmarked pages for tee quilts:
How to Make a Tee Shirt Quilt
From Goose Tracks
Craft Stylish

And, of course, there are also quilt projects in both Generation T books.

I have to think this is a pretty good way to get started quilting, too, in addition to it being on my list of Re-sew-lutions.  I'd absolutely LOVE to hear from anyone who has made a tee quilt.

via Whole Living

I know you've seen these around.  I adore them, and can see making them even prettier by adding beads or washers.  This would be a great way to use up the scraps from the quilt project if you don't have any tees lying around and, unlike me, don't hoard them.

A GREAT site for inexpensive tees is Threadless.  A wonderful friend of mine introduced me to Threadless by sending me a gift of tees, and I have been smitten since.
One of many cool tees

What I love about this site is that you can also submit your artwork to be on a tee, and even make money from it!  I've never been able to work up the nerve to submit one of my paintings, but maybe someday.

I've recently begun to think about making some clothes out of tees, a la Generation T, but with my own patterns.  One of the things that keeps me from sewing as much as I want to is the cost of fabric, and that it is difficult for me to find fabric I like for clothing.  I have this combination of traits - I'm incredibly picky AND tend to become easily overwhelmed - that can make life difficult at the fabric store.  I lean toward simple, solid or classic patterns and like cotton or jersey.  Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a fabric store knows how difficult it can be to find clothing fabric like that, at least at a decent price.  Hence the attraction with working with t-shirts - they're affordable (a package of 5 men's for 10 bucks), easy to dye, silkscreen or paint, easy to sew, and they self-hem.  I like the loss/risk factor, especially with experimentation.

So like I said, I've been thinking about this, and the idea has been growing on me so much that I've sketched out some clothes that I think will be great made out of tees.  Keep in mind that I'm self-taught, so go easy on me.  I've never shared any of the stuff out of my workbooks...

formerly top secret
I think my winter petticoat might be awesome remade with tees, in much the way that Britt from Sneezerville did it.  What a perfect summer skirt!  And on the subject of ruffles, this would similarly be great to make:
Weekend Designer
So what do you guys think?  Do you have any favorite tee projects?  Alternately, do you also have trouble finding fabric that you love to make clothing out of?  What are some of your sketch projects?

Scrabble has also been working on some designs she'd like to show you

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

by Kimberlee

A  Spring day in Minnesota?

Not at all, right now, in fact.  This Spring has been ghastly!  For months, the weather has been mostly colorless...  OK, rewind.

Last Autumn, I discovered a community garden on the outskirts of our apartment complex.  I visited it several times, hoping someone would be there at some point, but whomever was responsible for it came and went, and I wasn't quite sure if the garden belonged to my complex, or whomever.  But it was a gorgeous little plot of land in the back of an open and unused field here on the edge of town, and I wanted a part of it!

last year's garden

We found out that the patch was, in fact, run by our landlord, so all we had to do was sign up.  My husband got completely on board, and offered to take care of all of the veggies, which is great, as I've been out of the growing stuff market for a while.  I grew up on a small farm in The Country, but lived in New York City, the Hartford since I was 20 years old, and think I've developed something of a Black Thumb over that time.  In that, I managed to kill an aloe plant.  OK, several aloe plants.  And a fern. Several Spider Plants, etc etc.  ANYWAYS, I haven't had my hands in the ground in a while, and wanted to focus on the things that I knew I had a better chance of not killing, like the herbs and flowers.  In any case, my husband studies things meticulously before he does them, and I tend to be much more of a Learn as I Go, so I knew our veggies would be in much better hands.

He set up a pretty nice seedling area in our guest bedroom using a shelf unit and heating/UV lights:

And as you can see, it's doing really well:

We've started on the tomatoes and peppers, as well as my lavender and thyme. 

Minnesota had a really looooonnnggg Winter, like the rest of the country only much, much worse.  So when it finally broke 50 for a few days in a row a couple of weeks ago, I decided to get started on planting the patio.

I had a fairly nice patio going on last year:

And I was even more excited this year, as I was going to do herbs and whatnot.  Of course, after seeding my hanging planters and putting my annual container back out, Winter came back, and it has snowed several times since then!  So I pulled the containers back off the patio and put them into the guest bedroom with their friends.  I've been researching some ways to container garden for the patio, and stumbled upon this AWESOME and low cost space-saver:

How to Turn A Pallet into A Garden

How cool is this?  My patio is tiny, so this would be perfect.

So what this means is that once it gets warm, we're going to have to GO.  We're not late yet, but I'd like to have some time to prepare the dirt!  I hope it warms up soon, for the sake of the veggies & herbs, but also for my sanity!  I hope you all join me as I learn about growing veggies, herbs & flowers.  I also plan on blogging some nice recipes with our crop, herb drying & usage (I want to make soap, sachets, etc) and pretty floral arrangements (maybe make some candles, too).

If you want to know the whole truth, I'm really just trying to impress the cat.