Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Boxcar Willie Socks

Knitted toe up, Boxcar Willie stitch pattern, short-row toe and heel, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in "Amy's Vintage Office" colorway. I added a beaded cast-off, just because I could.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Coat Tree

First I must tell you that taking a picture of a coat tree is roughly like taking a picture of a giant Sequoia - If you get far enough back to capture the whole thing, it ends up looking like a stick in the distance. Too tall and skinny, so click on the images for a closer view.

Another thing I have learned about coat trees is that they are an endangered species. Forbidden from hanging hooks in the walls of my new office, I set about looking to buy a coat tree. The only ones I could find anywhere were some cheesy-looking specimens I could order through the internet.

My luck changed when I found a dusty-dirty beat-up vintage one in an "antique" shop. Since it's post was flat, instead of fancily turned, it was perfect for embellishment. Wood-burning and painting embellishment, that is. The new office is all modern modular furniture in a "neutral palette" of "bamboo" and "espresso", so you can see why I needed to add COLOR (in capital letters!). I took the coat tree home, disassembled it, and sanded off as much of the old finish as possible using my new (the old one died) Mouse palm sander. My old standby pattern of vines and snakes was particularly suited to the tall skinny post. Still, it needed something more. A bird perching on the top. (I considered a fish as they are much easier to carve, but it would look too much like a weather vane.) After a few aborted attempts, I carved a chunky little folk-art bird out of balsa wood. I was concerned about burning on the balsa wood, but it worked fine so long as I worked quickly. The most arduous part of the project was polishing up the tarnished brass hooks. OK, they are still, um, aged looking - I call it added character. The whole project took only 2 Home Depot runs (one to replace the palm sander and a fresh can of varnish, and one to find replacement brass screws and brass polish), a week of evenings, and a small hole in the couch (whittling is not my strong suit). It should liven up my office considerably (not a hint of bamboo or espresso on it).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Artful Weekend

This last weekend was almost completely devoted to creative pursuits. Since I leveraged Veteran's Day by taking Monday off from work, I had 4 full days to fill. OK, a certain amount of laundry and grocery shopping was required, but beyond that I was able to spend 4 happy days basket-making, knitting, whittling and woodburning.

Sunday was a workshop on making lids for pine-needle baskets, so I spent Friday night and much of Saturday making a basket for which I could make a lid. Audrey Frank taught the workshop, and I learned a lot, including making an inside lip for a snug fit and another way to start a basket that leaves a small hole in the center for inserting a tiny pine cone as a handle.

Saturday was the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers November guild meeting. I took my in-process basket to work on. Lots of folks were working on holiday-related gifts or decorative stuff. I was good about not buying more of Mim's glorious hand-painted BFL roving, and fate rewarded me by making me the raffle winner - lovely balls of white wool that I can hand-paint.

On my way home from the guild meeting I stopped at the "Wild Women" art exhibit and sale that was going on at the Wilbur May Museum in Rancho San Raphael Park. Gretchen Ericson was exhibiting her beautiful, refined pine-needle baskets, which fired me up to with all kinds of ideas for future baskets.

Although I spent much of Monday afternoon at the DMV, I was pleased to also do a little craft supply shopping. A trip to Michael's netted me a crochet hook tiny enough to fit through seed beads, and a selection of beads to try some beaded knitting. I also purchased a selection of balsa wood and a wood-carving Xacto set.

The rest of Monday and Tuesday was devoted to a project I will detail as soon as it is complete. Here's a sneak preview.

Here's a quail on the back porch, too.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A plug for your local community college

I have just signed up for a class in basic home repair skills, including light repairs on plumbing, electrical, drywall, and carpentry. It meets for 6 two-hour evening sessions in February and March. It is offered through my local community college.

If you haven't checked out what your local community college has to offer, you are missing out. They typically offer a range of "continuing education" courses from one-day to full-semester, including everything from cooking to auto repair to personal finance. Ours even has courses in channeling spiritual energy, stand-up comedy, and installing solar panels. All at extremely reasonable prices. Over the years I have taken weekend and evening courses on High Desert Gardening, Backyard Ponds and Water Gardens, and Digital Photography.

Other sources of interesting and affordable classes and workshops include the public library system, school district, and museums. The local school district teaches an assortment of adult education classes. I took a Broken-Tile Mosaic class from them that was both excellent and a lot of fun. From the Nevada Museum of Art I have taken Japanese Print Making and Pine Needle Basketry. Next Sunday I am signed up for a follow-up workshop on making lids for pine-needle baskets. And, although I have not taken classes from the public library here, I have in the past taken a class on Cooking with Chilies from the Tucson Public Library.

Here's the description of a popular Truckee Meadows Community College course that I may just have to sign up for some spring:

"Wine Country Safari
Explore Napa and Sonoma like you never have before. Each morning take birding and natural history tours of the region's woodlands, lakes and forests where you'll see an enormous variety of birds and wildlife. Then refresh yourself during afternoon wine tastings."