26 February 2007

I'm a RAINN-Maker!

Well, y'all, I just wanted to let everyone know that after two weeks and a bunch of edits, I am officially a RAINN-Maker.

What exactly does that entail? It means that RAINN recognizes me and my little Etsy shop as official fund-raising sources. They even have a link to my little store from their website (well, they should by week's end). I can now officially and legally say that 100% of the RAINN-y Day line and 10% of everything else is donated to RAINN.

I'm so excited! It's publicity! It's officiality! It's a great cause! You can check out RAINN's link to me at their Shopping for RAINN site. And, of course, you can check out my store at http://kreations.etsy.com.

So help support the National Sexual Assault Hotline, both the phone and (beta) online versions AND support my crafting habit by picking up a few lovely items from my store. You'll look good and feel good, too!

24 February 2007

"V-Day 2007" Line?

Tonight was the closing night of the Auraria Campus's V-Day 2007 production of the Vagina Monologues. It was me and my Dear Husband's 3d year working the technical aspect. It's become a sort of family affair. A bit of background: My junior year, I had just joined TrIota, the Women's Studies honor society, and I was wanting to become more involved in making women's issues more visible. I figured V-Day was a good place to start. After some asking around, I found out that I needed to talk to Zoe, the 2005 production organizer. It was simple, really. I asked if they needed help. She said yes, they needed a lighting and tech person. I knew nothing about that, but my Dear Husband... that's passion. He was just starting to get back into theatre, and jumped at the opportunity. Even though he knew nothing at all about the Vagina Monologues.

Fast forward to tonight. He now knows most of the monologues by heart, we've been honored as Vagina Warriors, and we have an extended family of sisters in the V-Day cast. This year's production was done on a shoestring budget. Scott lit it with four lights attached to dimmers (the other 6 lights were dead), a projector, my trusty MacBook Pro, and a PA system (for some reason, we couldn't use the installed sound system). We had no crew. It was just Scott. He had a month notice. That's it. And you know what, it still went off wonderfully. Another successful year calling attention to women's issues, causes, and gratuitous shouting of the word "cunt".

Anywhoo, as I was crocheting in the makeshift soundpit, I thought it'd be cool to launch a V-Day inspired line of something. Jewelry, most likely, but not necessarily crocheted with wire. I even contemplated silk scarves, since those turned out so nicely. Maybe different images of the letter "V", the vagina, and perhaps the word "vagina" and it's different nicknames (a la' the intro from the monologues). But who wears silk scarves? Then I thought fabric cuffs or garter belts, but I don't know if I feel that confident with elastic yet.

At this point, it's just an idea. I was thinking that I could donate them for auction during the actual V-Day events, and then run them in my Etsy store. So they'd have the regular 10% donated to RAINN (a great cause that definitely falls within the spirit of V-Day) and another 10% to whatever the local spotlight organization for the year is. If there are multiple (usually are), then give the purchaser the choice of which organization gets it.

Hopefully, I'll get this idea off the ground sometime this year. Stay tuned for more info!

23 February 2007

New Additions to the RAINN-y Day Jewelry Line

Today, as I was killing time before my OB visit, I decided to use the last of my wire on earrings. I'd never made earrings before, but they seemed pretty straight forward. I made them the same way I did the bracelets. Well, sort of. Just one chain of seven beads on a french hook. But I think they turned out pretty nice.

The earrings hang about 1.5" total, and feature six seed beads and one focal bead. As with the rest of the line, they benefit RAINN. Need to know more about RAINN? Check out their site! http://www.RAINN.org.

I also created another anklet, a three-strander comprised entirely of seed beads that's about 10" long with toggle clasps. And a kid's bracelet, a two-strander comprised entirely of seed beads that's about 5" long with a lobster clasp.

So there you go! The new additions should be up on Etsy in the next few weeks.

22 February 2007

The BBB (Blanket/Burpie/Bib) Nursery Layette

When I found I was pregnant, I immediately went into nesting mode. Never mind the fact that I was already in the second trimester and had law school finals to study for. I was determined to make things for my baby. I am, after all, a crafter before a law student.

I decided to go for blankets and burp cloths. After all, I knew that moms can never have too many of these, regardless of how we feel during the baby shower onslaught of receiving blankets. Janome suggested a pattern fashioned from a yard of cloth, but I didn't really like the size. The blanket seemed too big for strollers and car seats, and, although I like the longer, curved burp cloths, I find them less versatile than their smaller, cloth-diaper-sized counterparts. I also wanted bibs to match.

I raided my nephew's bib stash to measure and evaluate his bibs. The best were about the size of a letter-sized sheet of paper and had snaps instead of velcro or ties. Most were reversible, so you could (attempt) to hide the mess he made on the other side. I favored the rounded rectangle over the oblong-eggy shape, so I sketched out a bib based on all the features I liked.

Next came blankets. Receiving blankets range from 24" - 36", and some are square, some are rectangle. 24" seemed a bit small, and 34" seemed a little big. I liked the idea of having a mostly-rectangle so I could drape it over my stroller better. I settled on 27 x 30".

That left the burp cloth. I figured, if I did it right, I could cut the blanket and bib, and have the perfect sized scrap for a burpie. Sure enough, I had worked it out. 3/4 yd off a 45" bolt yields a blanket, a bib, and a burpie. I was thrilled.

Finally, I decided I liked top-stitching and reversibility, so all the pieces had to be double-layered and top-stitched. Easier said than done; this is a lot of turn-and-stitching, but well worth it. In the end, I had amassed an impressive stash of flannel in complimentary colors and fun colors of threads. I set to work, and the fruits of my labors are showcased below.

Each layette features: a double-thickness burp cloth that measures 14.5 " x 11.5" - a great size for an over-the-shoulder burpie or (for cloth diapering moms like me) a diaper doubler (just fold in lengthwise quarters and stuff); a double-thickness receiving blanket that measures 27" x 30" - a great size for car seat, stroller, last-minute changing pad, or swaddling. If you have an extra-spitty baby, you can even fold it in half and throw it over your shoulder for an extra-large burp cloth; and a reversible bib measures 8" x 11" - the perfect size for your little one to grow into! My niece wore one this size from newborn 'til 18 months, so you'll get a good amount of use from it. It has snap closures; no scratchy velcro to irritate baby's sensitive skin.

Lessons learned:
1) I love, no *LOVE*, cotton flannel.
2) I hate hand-stitching.
3) Flannel comes in more adorable patterns than I have time to sew them all into adorable layettes.
4) A rotary cutter makes blanket-making MUCH easier.
5) Snaps are a pain to sew.

All in all, a fun project. I still have some cute fabrics laying around, waiting to be transformed into blankets. Cows, lions, and elephants. I'm sure they'll be more BBB's up here in the near future!

Circus Animals - BBB Layette

Circus animals showing off their best antics! The reverse is pink, accented with turquoise thread. The appliques all come from the main pattern fabric.

Duckies - BBB Layette

Perhaps my favorite pattern because of its simplicity. Duckies. Just duckies. The reverse is light yellow, accented with turquoise thread. There are no appliques on this pattern.

Cows on the Farm - BBB Layette

Cows and friends on the F-A-R-M. The reverse is green, accented with pink thread. The appliques all come from the main pattern fabric.

Best Friend Bears - BBB Layette

Little bears proclaiming eternal friendship. The reverse is lavendar, accented with purple thread. The appliques all come from the main pattern fabric.

Froggies and Flowers - BBB Layette

Another one of my favorite patterns. Cute green frogs with big pink flowers. The reverse is light green, accented with pink thread. The appliques all come from the main pattern fabric.

Sleepy Monkeys - BBB Layette

Sleepy Monkeys cuddled with their favorite treat: Bananas! The reverse is green, accented with green thread. The appliques all come from the main pattern fabric.

Turtles on Cloud 9 - BBB Layette

One of my favorite fabric patterns!

Cute little turtles sitting on clouds. The reverse is pink, accented with turquoise thread. The appliques all come from the main pattern fabric.

The "RAINN-y Day Jewelry" Line

While I'm on the subject of projects I've always wanted to do, let me talk about bead'n'wire crochet. I few of my books have wire projects listed, and I'll even go so far as to confess I have a book dedicated completely to crochet with wire. It seemed like a great craft to try. Unfortunately, in application, I found it a wee bit... difficult. I hadn't picked up a steel hook in years, so the small scale was maddening. My fingers (albeit puffy from the water retention all preggos go through) were just to darn big to get a good grip on itty bitty seed beeds, and my 24 gauge base-metal wire just looked hideous. My first project was a bead-encrusted bracelet, and I got 4" through it. I had to toss it. The metal just looked cheap, the beads gawdy, and my fingers were red and black from all the pinching and having cheap wire slide across my hands.

I vowed to try again, but this time following my own rules. I settled on silver-plate wire in a narrow 32 gauge and seed beads for lightness. I wanted something lacy, and no book had lacy. I realized that some people might actually want some focal beads, and figured I could accomodate that if I did it on a single chain instead of on a matrix of single crochet. Hook in hand, I set to work. What emerged was my new "RAINN-y Day Jewelry" line.

The entire line is comprised of 2-4 individual chains of beaded crochet. Most of these chains are seed beads, but some have focal beads spaced in there as well. I used both lobster and toggle clasps. I made them in teal, beacuse I wanted to have something I could sell to raise awareness of sexual violence.

And here comes an important tangent: the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, RAINN, is a national non-profit dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault. They do this through lobbying state and federal legislatures, community outreach and education, online and telephone crisis hotlines, fundraising, word of mouth, and a host of other wonderful things. They also have a wonderful resource center. If you need to find a local crisis center, they can help you do that. Need a class on how support people can help cope with the feelings they have surrounding the rape of someone they love? They can point you in the right direction. Sexual assault affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in the United States. To say it's a problem is an understatement. It's an unaddressed national epidemic.

So what does all that have to do with bead'n'wire crochet? The "RAINN-y Day" line has a two-fold purpose. First, teal is advocacy color for sexual assault awareness, just like pink is for breast cancer and red is for AIDS. Wearing a "RAINN-y Day" item will hopefully generate some conversation about your newfound accessory, and you will have an opportunity to tell people how important it is to stop sexual assault. Second, an perhaps more relevant to the commercial-capitalist society that is the United States, I donate 100% of the net proceeds of every "RAINN-y Day" item sold to RAINN. So you can look good and feel great, all from a piece of jewelry.

I've included some samples of my finished projects here, and you can view even more in the "RAINN Gear" category of my Etsy shop. Oh, and I donate 10% of the sale price anything you purchase from my shop that isn't a "RAINN Gear" item to RAINN. So, shop away!

Finally, the requisite takeaway lessons:
1) Bead crimpers really are necessary
2) 32 gauge wire does not like being bent at sharp angles
3) Seed beads look lovely suspended on a chain of silver
4) If you crimp too hard, you'll just break the bead, and have to start the whole finishing process over again
5) If you do it right, these pieces come together smootly and quickly (and isn't that what any crafter really wants?)

Again, another project I have to confess I am very satisfied with artistically and morally.

For more information on RAINN, please visit their website at http://www.RAINN.org.

21 February 2007

Prayer Flags Phase I - The Silk Painting Process

Prayer Flags are a project that I've been wanting to take on for about six months. I figured it was the perfect way to merge my silk painting (the flags), sewing (the hems and casings), and crochet (the cords) passions into one project. Having the idea was great; my challenge was how to implement it.

You see, we're in a one bedroom apartment, which isn't exactly the best place to set up a silk-stretcher. I don't have the cash for studio space, and the raw silk I use is too delicate for pushpin stretching. I didn't want to use embroidery hoops because flags are traditionally square, and I would waste too much silk creating squares in round frames.

My husband came up with the novel idea of using a scroll frame from my cross-stitch kit to stretch my silks. I could then run my resist lines for each panel, paint within the lines, temp-set, and scroll my way to the next panels. It sounded too good to be true.

So on 17 Feb 07, I started sketching my panels. I decided on three collections of flags, all based on contemporary womyn's spirituality: (1) Feminine Animals, (2) Goddess Imagery, (3) Symbology. I figured four flags per collection would be a good start.

Once I had my sketches done, I got my paint spread together, loaded up my scroll frame, and started painting. This was, admittedly, a tedious process. I worked the panels in pairs. Each time I had to scroll, resist, frame, trace, paint, and then give a temporary heat set with my blow dryer. Once I got through all the panels, I could finally do the heat-set and wash.

All in all, I was impressed. I now have a full-length silk scarf that I am somewhat hesitant to cut up and turn into prayer flags. The scarf itself is a work of art; it has an overall femme theme to it that I like.

My takeaway lessons for this part of the project:
1) Don't use a .09 nozzle, because it leaves too heavy a resist line for such a small (6" x 4.5") canvas
2) The instructions lie. You can't color water-based resists and expect it to hold the color. My initial resist lines were black, but when I did the final wash, it rinsed right out to create a classic white line. It still looks good, but I was trying for black.
3) Silk paintings are near impossible to photograph
4) All the photography doesn't really matter because I can only publish 5 images per blog anyway

It was an overall good start to what promises to be a fun project. Next step: go get some silk needles, learn how to use the rolled-hem foot on my lovely Janome, and get some hems on these panels!

Prayer Flag Panels - Symbols

A preview of the Symbols collection of prayer flag panels.

From top to bottom:
Moon Egg
Spiral Love
Infinity Bowl