Monday, December 31, 2012


My SIL makes jewelry as part of her job, so over the holidays, we were able to sit down a bead a little bit. I had acquired a fair bit of lampwork and beads from a bead show one year, and had been unable to create anything due to time or lack of inspiration.

However, my SIL helped me get inspired and I was able to put together some very beautiful pieces. (All of the lampwork beads are from Many of these are a mixture of glass, stone, metal, or horn.

I love making jewelry for myself because it gives me some flexibility in what I want to wear on a daily basis. And, these pieces are one-of-a-kind, as I don't make to sell.

Matching Necklace & Bracelet. 

Made with Lampwork & Malachite with Silver beads

  Green lampwork, stone, and silver Stone & Silver

Bronze & Emerald pendant.

Beads are: jade, carnelian, bronze. The pendant is from Dragon's Treasure.
Bronze, Jade, and Carnelian

Red Lampwork beads

With horn, onyx (or jet), and carnelian beads
Red Lampwork beads with horn & Onyx

Owl Pendant &; Bracelet Set

Lampwork owl & donut beads. Other beads include: opalite, silver, lapis
Owl with lampwork beads, silver, and lapis Lampwork bracelet to match the owl

Lampwork Beads

With faceted blue tiger eye, green pearls, and silver beads. The center silver bead is from  Green Girl Designs.
Lampwork beads with jade, pearl, and silver beads

Red Lampwork

with silver & red dyed horn.
Red lampwork beads with horn, garnet, and silver beads

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gifts for the Holidays

One of the things that I love doing for the holidays is gift giving, but obviously giving so many gifts to people can be...well....expensive, if you were to buy gifts from the store.

But, as a crafter, I love making the gifts that I make, just for a bit of a personal touch, but making gifts for everyone on my gift list can potentially drive me to the brink of madness. So, I do some batch making of gifts -- either chocolates, cookies, or liqueurs. They allow me to give handmade gifts, without having to make every individual gift...individual.

For my tea liqueurs, I usually make an Earl Grey, but this year, I also made a Jasmine Tea Liqueur for a Jasmine-Lychee Martini mix. (I'm still experimenting with this recipe). I've also made a Gunpowder Liqueur, Irish Breakfast, and Green tea.

Here's how I make my Earl Grey tea, which is the easiest by far. (There are plenty of other web resources for making your own liqueurs. I highly suggest doing a search & experimenting!)

  1. Buy some commercial vodka. If you have a Costco or a Sam's Club, you can get a 16L bottle of Kirkland vodka for a decent price.
  2. Add 6,7,8 tea bags to the vodka bottle and let that steep for at least one week.
  3. Make some brown sugar (or regular sugar) syrup, and add to the Earl Grey. You can also just add the sugar straight into the vodka, but you'll have to shake up the bottle very well.
  4. Let sit until you're ready to bottle.
  5. Buy some bottles. I got mine from Speciality Bottles (8.5 oz). Make sure you wash the bottles and the caps thoroughly. (I find a nice hot run through the dishwasher works well.)
  6. Buy some blank labels
  7. Decant your tea into your bottles and cap.
  8. Create nifty labels for your tea.
  9. Gift wrap and give to your friends!

  Tea Liqueurs

Monday, December 24, 2012

Steampunk Utility Belt / Apron

For the holidays, I decided to make my SIL a steampunk apron/utility belt that she could wear to Ren Faire over her costumes. She works at the faire as a shopkeep, so I wanted her to be able to have this be functional and decorative.

I've made this pattern before, and tweaked it a bit to fit her measurements.

She loves blues, so I found a lovely jacquard fabric that had her colors. It's really lovely. For the lining, I chose a cordoroy matching the gold tones.

Steampunk Utility Belt Fabric 1 Steampunk Utility Belt Fabric 2

Unfortunately, I forgot to take in-progress of the photos, but here's what it looked like before I added the snaps. I used the opposite side of the fabric to give it a pop.

Steampunk Utility Belt 5

Steampunk Utility Belt 6

And the final product
Steampunk Utility Belt 4

Steampunk Utility Belt 2

Saturday, December 22, 2012

FO: Gretta's Sweater

I finally finished the last sweater of 2012. It's a handspun, handknit sweater using the Simple Summer Tweed Top Down V-Neck with a few modifications courtesy of Wendy Bernard's book, Custom Knits 2.

First, it started off with a provisional cast-on, because I wasn't sure if I wanted a hood or not, which was contingent on the yardage I needed for the sweater. I also have wider shoulders and bigger biceps so I changed how many decreases for the sleeves. I also did an icord edging around the sleeves, hood, and bottom of the sweater.

This sweater makes me unbelievably happy. It started it's life as a raw fleece, processed, woolen spun (by me), and then knit by me, for me, to my custom specifications. It took about 3 weeks total to finish, and I *love* it.

It fits like a glove, super squishy, and warm. I ended up finishing the sweater with 3-5 yards of yarn left over, which is enough for any repairs that might need to happen. The sweater has already been steam blocked, and is awaiting its maiden "wearing".

From these locks (Gretta - a merino/corriedale cross from Janet Heppler's Nebo Rock Ranch)

Gretta Before / After

To this roving (courtesy of Morro Fleeceworks)


Spun woolen to this:

Gretta Sampling 2

And to the final product -- a hooded raglan (icord edgings)

Gretta's Sweater 3 Gretta's Sweater 2

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finished Sweater

Recently, I finally finished my Adam's Rib Hoodie vest out of Cacase Eco Cloud, and I have to say, I love love love the finished product.

The yarn is so squishy and makes the finished sweater so comfortable, warm, and squishy.

I've worn this multiple times already (having finished it JUST before Thanksgiving). I'd wear it everyday, except that people might notice LOL.

I need to make another, maybe out of a lighter yarn for more of a drape...or I might make another out of Cascade Eco Cloud. Or maybe some woolen spun handspun.

Adam's Rib Hoodie Vest 3
Adam's Rib Hoodie Vest 1

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spin U: Third Trimester - Weeks 9-10

Week 9

This week, we continued working on novelty yarn spinning, including core spinning. This part was a lot of fun. We leared how to do turkish knots & beehives. We spun up some silk at a very tight WPI and angle so that we could do these techniques.

Sandy provided some nylon core yarn for which to wrap our spun yarn around.

Turkish Knots &; Beehives

Beehives & Turkish Knots

Week 10

As much as I hate knitting with boucle, it turns out that I'm pretty darn good at spinning it. For our homework, we had spun some long wool yarn, which then got turned into boucle for this session.



Frosted Yarn

Frosted yarn is essentially a form of novelty yarn where you "frost" yarn with roving, mohair, or other fiber. I don't particularly care for this type of novelty yarn either, but it's good to have the technique down.


Cotton spinning.

Then, it was onto learning how to spin for cotton. Sandy helped us set up our wheels and demonstrated how to spin with cotton. Then gave us homework to spin cotton.

I hates it I do...

I discovered that I dislike spinning cotton. I *could* do it, but do I want to? No. Sandy had us spinning both worsted & woolen. I prefered woolen over worsted, but that's like saying, I'd rather burn my hand versus burning the bottom of my foot. (Honestly, I'd just prefer to avoid both if at all possible). My DH listened to my swear like a drunken sailor the entire time I was spinning.....

I used a cotton top (worsted) & cotton punis (woolen) for spinning. This photo shows the woolen spinning with the cotton punis.
Cotton Punis Woolen Spinning Cotton Puni
And the resulting yarns?

Worsted Spinning
This form of spinning cotton makes for a VERY HEAVY yarn -- as in rope heavy. The yarn itself doesn't feel like rope, but it is heavy.

Cotton - Worsted

Woolen Spinning
Spinning cotton woolen leaves you a much lighter yarn weight for the amount of fiber (which makes sense).
Woolen Cotton

Here they are side by side. You can see how much "denser" the worsted spun yarn (bottom) is compared to the woolen (top)
Worsted / Woolen Cotton