Monday, December 29, 2008

BPAL Felted Travel Case

BPAL Felted Perfume Bottle CaseA little over a year ago, I developed a love of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, an indie perfumery. If you've never tried their perfume oil, it's incredible; you can find reviews of the fragrances (and other information) at BPAL Madness, a fan forum. (Yes, a fan forum, with over 16,000 members. Yes, I said 16,000.) Go right now and pick out six general catalog scents you like. Then go and order a pack of 1 mL imp's ears!

Hooked yet? Good. You will soon have a deep-seated need to take BPAL with you everywhere. For most people, a couple of bottles or a handful of imps do the job, but that's never enough for me. In fact, I've developed a bit of a reputation for it. I'm not an addict, though; I can stop anytime. Really. If I wanted to, of course.

Anyway, I had a bit of Malabrigo Merino Worsted sitting around, left over from my lovely shawl. And I needed a way to carry my bottles, so I whipped this up while watching the Battlestar Galactica miniseries. Felted it, too, before it was finished. Total time was maybe two hours.

It will hold three bottles, or two bottles and a few imps. You can easily adapt the pattern to any size. (If you can really call something so simple a pattern, that is.)

About a quarter of a skein Malabrigo Merino Worsted
Large button
Scrap thread to baste the button in place
Size I crochet hook
Tapestry needle
Split stitch marker
Two safety pins

Before you start, lay three 5mL perfume bottles in a row on a piece of plastic wrap. Securely wrap them in the plastic, then set them aside. You'll use these to gauge the size of your case as you work and to check the progress of your felting.

The entire piece is worked in a spiral until you reach the flap, which is worked back and forth.

Crocheting the Pouch
Chain 10 stitches for your foundation chain.

Round 1: SC into the second chain from your hook. This is your first stitch. Sc1 in each stitch until the last chain. Sc3 in the last chain. Do not turn the piece; instead, continue in the round, and sc1 in the other side of each stitch, until you are back at the first chain. Sc2 in that stitch, for a total of three single crochet stitches in each end chain. (20 stitches)

Check this against your bottles; it should be about the same length as the three bottles, and just a little less than one bottle wide. Round 2 will make a case a bit bigger than your bottles, to allow for light felting.

Round 2: Ch1, then sc1 in each stitch until you reach the end of the oval. Sc3 in that stitch, then sc1 in each st until you reach the other end. Sc2 in the same stitch you made the first sc in. (24 stitches)

You are now finished with the base and will start up the sides. Place a split marker (or safety pin) at the start of the round and move it up as you work, even though you'll be working in a spiral. It makes it easier when you get to the flap.

Round 3: Sc1 in each sc. Repeat until it's about 2.5" high.

Check the height against your bottles. You want it a little less than .5" higher than your bottles when they're in the case.

Flap row 1: Begin the flap at the start of a round. Ch1 then sc1 in the first sc. Sc1 in each of the next 10 st, then ch1 and turn.

Repeat row 1 until the flap is the desired length. (Mine was about 2.5" long, which gave me plenty of overlap and placed the button in the center of the front panel.) Fasten off your last stitch, and leave enough of a tail to weave in the ends.

The Button Loop
Place your perfumes back in the case, and fold over the flap. Determine where you want the button and baste it in place; you'll sew it on permanently once the case is felted. (If you use a button with a shank, you can attach it with a safety pin.) Look at the button and figure out where you want the button loop. Mark attachment points for the loop with safety pins. (Remember that you'll be felting your piece, so make the loop a little longer than it needs to be.) Once you've got the flap marked, you can remove the bottles.

Place the hook through the edge stitch closest to the first safety pin and pull your yarn through, leaving enough of an end to weave it in. Chain a cord for the button loop. Attach the last stitch to the flap at the second safety pin, just as you attached the yarn at the beginning. Fasten off your yarn.

Before you cut the yarn, test it with the bottles again. Does the flap close and button securely? Good. Weave in your ends, keeping in mind that the felting will help hold them in place. Cut off the excess and proceed to felting. (I recommend removing the button now and sewing it back on when you're through.)

Felting the Pouch
There are excellent instructions for felting all over the internet, including Knitty, and I bet a lot of you know far more about it than I do. I used a big mixing bowl and dish gloves to felt mine, since the washing machine seemed wasteful for such a small item.

Remember how you wrapped your bottles in plastic wrap? It made them easier to work with before, but now it's essential. You need to check your progress as you felt. If you stick unprotected bottles in a wet pouch, you'll damage the labels. My Boomslang, Rose Red, and Peacock Queen bear mute testimony to this sad fact...

Once your case is felted down to size, get the water out of it (spin cycle or rolling it up in a towel and squeezing it) and put the bottles back in. Wrap the flap back into position, and leave it to dry. The button can be sewn back on once it's mostly dry.

And you're finished! The Precious will be much safer in its soft little home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crafting Like Crazy

So, it's only fifteen days until Christmas, and I still have lots of holiday gifts to make. I've already missed the deadline for my dance instructor's Ogee Lace Skirt, so that one won't happen until the new year, when classes start back. But I have to send out an ATC for a swap soon, as well as twelve Christmas ATCs which I offered to do instead of Christmas cards for a swap at Fans for Christ. I have to knit hats for my two nephews by December 26. (Did I mention I've never knit a hat?)

On top of that, I just remembered that I had decided to knit a shawl and maybe crochet a purse for my bosses' daughter...and that would be for Friday night. Eek. I am using Rowan Handknit Cotton in two shades of pink, which was in my stash, and the Simple yet Effective Shawl pattern from Cosmopluto Knits. (I made myself a shawl using the pattern, and it was very easy.)

Don't expect to be doing anything else anytime soon. Let's hope I make my deadlines!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Dearth of Creative Activity

Since June, I've had very few opportunities for creativity. I spent most of June packing up our stuff, in preparation for our move in July. Unfortunately, I had to do it almost by myself, since my husband was spending eight to twelve hours a day working on assignments for his THREE summer classes.

July, we moved. And then moved more stuff. And unpacked stuff, and rearranged stuff, and brought more stuff over from storage. We also bought a Billy bookcase from Ikea. That lead to yet another trip to Ikea, since we had so many books that we needed two extra shelves! (And we could really use another bookcase just as large; there are still tons of books in boxes!)

I also had lots of furniture to assemble, since we had purchased a Noresund bed when it was on sale, in anticipation of our move. There was also the Majiker sideboard I had bought a year and a half ago, when it was put on clearance.

I did get a spinning wheel, which is so incredibly wonderful. Seriously, you wouldn't believe how much I squeed when we picked it up. It was a bit sad... So it took me two evenings to assemble it, and I got to use it exactly once. I've been way too busy, and I had to miss my spinning guild meeting, so I missed the opportunity to get help.

I was so very sure I would have lots of time to do creative stuff this month, but it hasn't been the case. The apartment is still in a state of semi-chaos, and my craft space is the worst. I can't slack off, either, since I have friends coming to stay with us in a couple of weeks.

So I've had to satisfy myself with knitting. I love knitting; don't get me wrong. And I'm happy with the progress I've made with my Malabrigo simple shawl. I even started a sock, but the tiny double pointed needles and skinny yarn are driving me nuts, so it's on hold.

I can't even remember the last time I put some real time in with my art journal. I pray it will all come together soon!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Painted Paper by Artist Alisa Golden

So over the weekend I stumbled across Painted Paper by Alisa Golden. I had a 40% off coupon that expired that day, and I was despairing of a worthy use. Well, soon as I saw this, I knew my coupon would not go to waste!

Alisa Golden is an actual book artist! Yes, a real book artist, not just a crafty person making books! Now, I'm all for getting as many people as possible hooked on bookmaking, starting with kids if I get my way. That way, we get them hooked early... And to be honest, most of my books are more craft than art. Non-artists have contributed some brilliant ideas, so I really value their participation in the book and paper arts community, too.

But I need the art approach to books! There are way, WAY too few books like that, and most of them are very binding and form-oriented. I love finding new ways to bind (oh, do I love it), but I need more help with the content side of things.

And that's what I found here! It's art, no doubt about it. Alisa Golden uses paint and inks to create beautiful works of art on paper that she then turns into books, either as cover material or, more often, as a base for letterpress pages. (I can see great ways to incorporate this into my art journal, too...)

Did I mention the letterpress? Yes, she's a letterpress artist! So for each technique--and throughout the book--she shows finished books she has created through her imprint. With each technique, she shows one of her books which makes prominent use of it. Then, she has excellent instructions, and shows you what she created with the page you just saw her make. (Well, saw through photos, of course, but you know what I mean!) Talk about inspirational!

But wait: there's more! The last part of the book features binding techniques--very awesome techniques at that. She also features several book forms from some of the more prominent binding books and manuals, and tells you which form it is! Is that not awesome?

I'm in the middle of a move, so I can't really play right now. But I cannot wait to get my new workspace set up: I'll have more room than I've ever had, and since my balcony is on the fourth floor, I can dry papers on my deck without it being an eyesore.

I'm not even packing this book. It's going to the new apartment with my "too precious to pack" craft stuff, in the car with me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A New Wheel of Time Scarf: Min Farshaw

So I've started a new Wheel of Time-inspired scarf. (The first one was my Pevara Sedai scarf.) I didn't actually mean to cast this one on; I received a gorgeous blue yarn ball from leahsimone through the Yarn Ball - Surprises! swap at Swap-Bot.

I didn't have time to wind the yarn into a center pull ball when I received it, so after unwinding just a bit of it, I shut it firmly in a drawer and pretended it didn't exist until I had time to enjoy unwinding it! So when we went to Columbus (Georgia) for my nephew's first birthday party, I took advantage of the long car ride to unwind it, and rewind it on my nostepinde (a beautiful one I bought from EwenMe a few months ago).

And then there were stitches cast on my needles…don't know how they got there.

It's a beautiful medium blue, very soft, but only twenty-seven stitches wide on size 8 US needles. The center part is based off the Street Urchin pattern from the 2008 SnB calendar, and the first four and last four stitches are just like on my Pevara scarf. So far, I'm very happy with it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

A New Road or a Secret Gate

So, there's something very different in my art journal. Thursday night, I wasn't feeling well, so I surfed for something easy to do in my journal. I came across some paint-scraped backgrounds at A House on a Hill, along with a link to the tutorial for it at Something Two Crow About. I did three spreads with backgrounds, then put waxed paper between the pages and left it to dry.

While in Chattanooga the next day, we visited Art Creations on Frazier Avenue. And I bought ACRYLIC GEL MEDIUM! (Golden Gloss Gel Medium, to be exact.) So when I got home, I hopped on the internet and found some ways to use it. First I adhered some layers of crumpled tissue paper along the bottom. While it was setting up, I found some reversed laser outputs of my favorite Tolkien quote, which I had typeset in a fit of geekery one day. (I do that a lot; typeset quotes, I mean.)

I transferred it right there at the top left, using the directions posted by Paul Fujita, then realized it looked like a hillside and sky. So I added clouds, and then some details with my Pitt pens.

A little pigment ink the next day, and it was done! Only then did I realize that I had done a spread on exploring new roads the same day I had explored Chattanooga...

Supplies: Plaid Folk Art paint in Bayberry, Baby Blue, and Silver; VersaMagic Dew Drop pigment ink pads in Niagara Mist and Sage; Golden Acrylic Gel Medium; Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen in Black, XS width. Moleskine sketchbook.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Loving my art journal

Mail Call: Love This Journal, Day 10 (by Maid Mirawyn)I took an art journal class with Jessica of and Gallery Different, and I loved it! But I still have lots left to do; I want to fill this thing up, and start a new one!

I'm particularly happy with this page; the assignment was to create a composition using envelopes. Since I'm swapping so much on, that's what I journaled!

See more progress on: fill my art journal

Monday, March 17, 2008

Baby Fluffy Tribble

Port Wine-Swiss Alm TribbleRemember what they say about never feeding tribbles? Well, I fed Myrtle, my first tribble. I ended up with Mac...

Lion Brand Fun Fur, Red (a little less than one half skein)
Yarn Bee Wild Child, Pecan (a little less than one half skein)

K hook
Yarn needle

Polyester stuffing

Top half
Round 1: Using the magic adjustable ring, ch 1, then sc 8. Join.

Round 2: Ch 1 for the turning ch, then sc 2 in ea sc. (16 st)

Round 3: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 2 in next sc, sc 1 in next sc* repeat 7 more times, then join. (24 st)

Round 4: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 1 in 5 next sc, sc 2 in next sc* repeat 3 more times, then join. (28 st)

Round 5: Ch 1 for turning ch, sc 1 in ea sc, join. (28 st)

Round 6: repeat

Round 7: repeat

Leave a very long tail on this, at least four times the circumference of the piece; you'll use it to sew the tribble together.

Bottom Half
Round 1: Using the magic adjustable ring, ch 1, then sc 8. Join.

Round 2: Ch 1 for the turning ch, then sc 2 in ea sc. (16 st)

Round 3: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 2 in next sc, sc 1 in next sc* repeat 7 more times, then join. (24 st)

Round 4: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 1 in 5 next sc, sc 2 in next sc* repeat 3 more times, then join. (28 st)

Round 5: Ch 1 for turning ch, sc 1 in ea sc. (28 st)

Leave a short tail; weave it through a couple of stitches, then forget about it.

Once again, this probably isn't the best way to sew a tribble, but it works.

First, decide which side you want to be on the outside. Every time I've made one, the wrong side has been fluffier. If that's the case for you, use a yarn needle to pull the tails from the adjustable ring to the less-fluffy side. From now on, the fluffy side is the right side.

Place the fluffy sides together. Thread your yarn needle with the long tails from the top half. Line up the stitches, and whipstitch the two pieces together using one or two stitches per pair of single crochet stitches. (The diameters of the two halves may be a little different, but you have the same number of stitches, so it will work out fine.) If the tails from the bottom half of the tribble are on the inside, pull them to the outside so they'll be hidden once it's turned and stuffed. Leave enough of a gap to turn your tribble right side out.

Once you've turned the tribble, stuff it. You don't want it packed firm, but you will probably need more stuffing that you think. (Unless you've made lots of stuffed toys.) Once you like your results, stitch the opening shut.

Knot the ends, then thread the needle with only one strand of the yarn. Squeeze the tribble flat, then push the needle into the seam near the knot and pull it out through the top or bottom of the tribble. Still squeezing the tribble, trim the end close to the body of the tribble; this is a little tricky, since it's so fluffy! Once you let it go, the end will disappear into the body. Repeat with the other strand of yarn.

The seam will probably be very visible, but you can fix that. The long fluffy pieces will be stuck in the seam. Use your needle or fingers to pull the fibers loose, and the stitching will disappear. Take care, though, that you don't snag the body of the yarn (the thick part you crocheted with.)

*About yarns: You can use any eyelash or fuzzy yarn you want! My first tribble used two strands of Wild Child, and the result was a blended, tonal look. (One strand was a solid, the other was two tone.) Mac used two different yarns: Lion Brand Fun Fur and Wild Child. The Fun Fur is longer, so it really took over; the brown yarn recedes, producing an undercoat. I just finished a tribble that uses two strands of Fun Fur, and it was a nightmare! The longer, unruly eyelashes tend to tangle horribly! But it's still cute as can be. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Recycling in Paper Arts

Star ATC and a Surprise (by Maid Mirawyn)I have to admit that I've never approached ATCs and the like with a deliberate intention to use recycled materials. But in truth, most of the stuff I use for them is reclaimed materials. I'm a graphic designer for a printing company, so most of my cool papers are the trimmings from jobs we've printed; I've also claimed leftover parent size sheets (read: really, really big sheets) that would otherwise go in the trash. I've taken to dismantling paper swatch books, too, which would normally go in the trash once the new version comes out.

And I end up using lots of little bits of my leftover fancy papers from bookmaking, too. And all those images I can't bear to throw away...and all those supplies I never got around to using. In the end, ATCs (and inchies) have turned into an environmentally-responsible art form.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cold day mitts are in progress!

I’m on row twenty-four of the Thanksgiving Day Mitts by TwinKnit. I like them, and I learned to cable-without a cable needle, no less-while working on them.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Swap-Bot around the World

Just today I discover the BuddyMap for Swap-Bot. It's fun, because you can see where people are swapping! I added myself, as MaidMirawyn. And by amazing coincidence, that's also my username at Swap-Bot.

Anyway, if you swap with Swap-Bot, go add yourself. I know there are WAY more people using the site than are on the map!

Friday, January 4, 2008


I joined a new group on Ravelry recently: As You Wish. And if you're as geeky as I am, you've already guessed that it's a fan group for that eighties classic The Princess Bride.

There's a discussion going on right now about the ROUS. In fact, we're trying to figure out how to turn the Year of the Pig purse pattern into an ROUS knitting bag.

I am so very tempted. :) Good thing I have so many projects already in the works!

*I made the banner. It was a quickie job, but I'm fairly pleased with it. :)