Friday, October 9, 2009

Kumihimo (braiding)

This is another item I found in my guild tote bag. It was a free home-made kumihimo disk with the fibers to make this braid, 7 strands: 4 black, thin, and 3 gold with metallic, thicker. I really like how the braid turned out. It's about 30 inches long. It took about two hours of mindless work to finish this braid. I don't know yet what to use it for but these braids are very useful. It would probably make a very nice scissors tether. (!) I didn't save the home-made disk. I liked the ones I made more.


Last year (or the year before, time seems to be rushing by) we did a braiding badge with my group of grade-school girls. We braided hair, we made an octopus with eight braided legs, and we did some Japanese braiding on home-made disks. I offered a prize of a "real" disk to the girl who brought back the longest braid to the following meeting.

<--- (Real disc)

If you click here you can see a picture of a whole bunch of braids.

My incentive was very successful. Several of the girls brought back lengths of braid, but one of the girls had spent her allowance on yarn and brought back yards of braid. She was thrilled to get the disk.

While we were practicing in the classroom before they took the disks home for the first time, one of the girls made a comment I thought was priceless:

"This could be a hobby!"

I assured her that yes, there are people who have dedicated all their free time for years to this pursuit. I don't think she believed me. They don't work on foam disks like this though. The traditional tools for braiding are a wooden plate on a stand with a hole in the middle called a marudai. I considered asking my dad to make me one, and I even went as far as buying a wooden plate to make one myself, but the moment passed.

Every time I think I've seen it all I run across another craft that fascinates me. I could be a braider. I could be a weaver. I could be a spinner. I could be a basket-maker. These are the ones I haven't tried. I know I'm not a smocker or a quilter, or a crazy quilter. I've tried all those, and enjoyed them! but they don't captivate me. But like Popeye, "I yam what I yam": an embroiderer and temari maker (for now at least!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Temari; scissors and cutting tools

Here's the second of my Level 1 JTA temari. This pattern is called mitsubane, or tri-wing. It is very interesting to stitch, since one row in the pattern gives you the three points and the central hexagon. I'm pleased with how the colors worked out as well.


You can see, peeking from the back, the completed squares temari. I just added a metallic thread around each square. It can hardly be seen from farther than 3 feet away, but I think it really dresses it up, and adds a perfect finishing touch.

When I was cleaning out my guild tote bag the other day, I found 3 scissors in the bottom of it, and I hardly recognized the pretty one. It made me start to wonder how many scissors I have (dangerous question, I know).

So I started digging in my stitching corner, and this is what I came up with. I was a little shocked. I don't consider myself a scissors collector, but I do like a nice cutting tool.


Two seam rippers, grey handle for cutting paper, orange for cutting fabric, my rotary cutter for cutting out quilts (low tech, because my quilt phase was 20 years ago). Silver scissors with a lucet cord that hangs from my Ott light, this is the workhorse. My pink Gems live in the Quaker turtle's traveling bag, the blue/aqua scissors with the fob and the ribbon live in my Advent Calendar traveling bag. The folding scissors and the red handled scissors (and the plain silver scissors that looks medical) are the ones I found in my guild tote. The gold with the green fob and the stork scissors were in the work-box next to my chair (along with the seam rippers) and the silver pendant cutter on the beaded necklace also hangs from the Ott light, but I don't think I have ever used it.

The red handle, the gold handle, and the stork scissors have hardly ever been used, eve though they are the prettiest ones. It might be because they are put away for "good."

There are more that I couldn't find. There is a black handled one, shaped like the red handled one that DH considers his. I have a pinking shears that needs to be sharpened, and a drawer in the kitchen with scissors for opening packages and plastic bags.

When I was young I always used to bite my thread to cut it (and get yelled at for doing that) but my teeth are not sharp any more. If I try to bite my thread it just gets a little mashed. You will also notice that the small scissors I use the most have long tethers on them; I have a tendency to lose things. I feel guilty having all these scissors that are not being used, I don't know whether to rotate them in and out of projects, or if I should figure out a way to display them. The only thing I would consider getting rid of is one of the two (duplicate) seam rippers. I guess I'm a scissors hoarder.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Last night at guild I was able to meet with Pat Winter, and she gave me the brooch I won in her blog give-away. Isn't it beautiful?


I was worried about getting a good picture; I wouldn't call this picture good, but it is adequate. The brooch is about 2 x 3 cm, and the amount of detail encrusted (well, I don't want to say crammed, because it is too beautiful) on this piece is amazing. There is the white tatting you can see, and at least 4 different fabrics; most of the stitching on the seams is done with Kreinik or fine silk; and there is a tiny heart charm plus a whole bunch of beads. There's a "big" flower stitched in the center and some adorable little red flowers with French knot centers along the side.

Now I have to apologize, because the back is just as nice as the front, but when I took this picture (at the crack of dawn, literally) I obviously wasn't awake to think of getting a picture of it.

I cleaned out my guild tote bag last night; it was getting too heavy to carry. I couldn't believe everything that was in there (enough for a couple of posts LOL). I found these polymer clay buttons that I received from Zuleykha after she received my polymer clay give-away.


The yellow one center bottom is up-side down, sorry! But most of the rest on the right side are cut from canes. You assemble a flower with larger pieces of clay into a snake shape, and then mush them down into a smaller circumference, and your picture gets smaller too. It's almost magical! The design is the same on the front and the back. The two penguin buttons and the strawberry pendant are sculpted, and so cute! I'm so pleased that someone this good at making things from polymer clay got the supplies.

Thank you both so much! Stitchy people are the best.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Well, so much for taking my time reading An Echo in the Bone. I finished it yesterday!

I discovered that the thing on the cover that sort of looks like a chicken foot is actually a caltrop, a weapon used to disable cavalry. It always has a spike aiming up, no matter which way it lands. The four points represent the 4 strands of the story.

I do have to say this was not my favorite book of the series. Because of the 4-stranded story, there was a lot more plot than usual (and the book was only just over 800 pages, not 1,000). I do enjoy the Lord John mysteries, but I just can't get enough of Jamie and Claire, and I felt that was the story-line that was most neglected. There was really no day-to-day life, and I missed it.

DD2 was laughing at me as I was finishing the book. I was about 20 pages from the end, and none of the story lines was wrapped up; I was afraid all four of them were going to be left hanging and was panicking a little bit. I was glad though, that 3 of the four stories got wrapped up. With just one hanging I can manage (I hope) for the next year until the next book comes out.

One of the fascinating (to me) parts of these books are the descriptions of the clothing, both men's and women's. Just today I found a website that talks about 18th century clothing! She talks about gowns, shifts, petticoats, and stays and adds a few pictures to help. She's working on a fascinating project, making these clothes while wearing these clothes (totally by hand).

My temari class went so well that there is another one scheduled for December 5. There were ten lovely ladies in the class; nine of them were well on their way to having a finished temari by the time they left to go home, and eight of them purchased supplies to make more temari in the future. (The shop owner was very pleased!) I don't think I convinced them, though, that making their own mari is an important part of the process.

I did get a little stitching done, but not enough to finish anything.