Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Little Creature Promotion

Just in time for HALLOWEEN!

Buy one Little Creature Pattern and get one free right now on Ravelry.

Just select two of the above patterns and when you check out you'll get them for the price of one!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Octopus Hat

Attach your little creature to a hat... or better yet let me do it for you.  Send me an email (check out my profile) and I can help you make a custom order through Etsy.  Order now to get yours for the holidays.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Little One-Eyed Creature

Here is latest edition to my Little Creatures series. Stop by Ravelry and purchase this pattern for only 2 bucks. It is quick and easy to make... and it will make an excellent addition to your growing army of Little Creatures. The pattern will also be available in my Etsy shop soon... along with some already made little creatures.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Little Octopus-Head Creature

This little guy is the newest addition to my Little Creature's pattern series.  He is called Little Octopus Head Creature and he is quick and easy to make.  Follow the link to purchase the pattern for only 2 dollars in my Ravelry Store.  I hope you enjoy it!  My little creatures patterns as well as finished toys will soon be available in my Etsy store... Be on the look out.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Little Octopus Creature

My first little creature crotchet pattern is now for sale on Ravelry. Stop by and check it out. It is called Little Octopus Creature and it only costs 2 bucks. You know you want it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ribbed Basketry Tutorial: Part 3

BOW is just around the corner and I'm doing the final preparations for teaching my class. I have been busy dying fiber and organizing my gear to go. I will be leaving Friday morning and teaching my first class Saturday morning. Before I leave I thought that I'd post the last part of the ribbed basketry tutorial. I hope you enjoy it and if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment of contact me.
I will be posting my photos and some information regarding natural dyes soon. I have dyed jute using turmeric, tea, kool-aid, onion skin, red cabbage, crepe paper, and RIT dye. I will have a break down of all my techniques soon.

Feel free to check out parts one and two of this tutorial as well.


Ribbed Basketry Tutorial: Part 3
Making the Basket

Getting Started

Once you have your grapevine wreath separated into usable rounds select two of similar size to make your rim and handle. If you need to clean off extra vines and smooth them up a bit you will need to do this before you begin weaving. I like to leave some of the curly bits and smaller branches attached to add a rustic look. I try to keep it as natural as possible... but some people like a more uniform look.

Making the Basket's Ears

Who knew baskets had ears? And that you weave the ears by making god's eyes? Start by placing one hoop inside the other to form right angles. One hoop will form the rim of the basket and the other will form the handle. You will begin by weaving a god's eye where these two parts meet.

How to make a god's eye- Begin by wrapping the yarn in an x pattern over the intersection. This is just to hold them together as you begin the god's eye. Now begin the wrapping pattern. Hold the intersection with one hand while looping the weaver around the first stick one time. Push the loop you made right up against the weavers that you've already wrapped. Turn the cross 90 degrees to the right and wrap a loop around the next stick, taking care to push the weaver towards the center of the cross. Turn the cross 90 degrees to the right and repeat the loop on the next stick. Keep turning and looping until you are satisfied with the eye.

Adding the Ribs

Once you have a good sized god's eye formed you are going to begin adding the ribs to the basket. First you will need to decide the length that you want the ribs to be. To do this simply take the round reed and hold one end on the inside of one of the god's eyes and measure how long it needs to be to form either a flat or twin bottomed design. If you wish your basket to have a twin bottom the piece of reed will need to be a little longer than the center rib. If you wish to make a flat bottomed basket then it will be just a touch shorter than the center rib. Like most things there is a formula for this... but I tend to eyeball it rather than making it an exact science. Once you cut your ribs for one side of the basket you can simply make a matching one for the other. You will add the same number of ribs on each side of the center rib. Then you will tuck them into the god's eye as securely as possible. You might want to experiment at this point with how well the basket sits. Place it on a flat surface and see if it leans this way or that. It is easier to adjust the rib length before you start weaving.

Now you can begin to weave

Now you can cut a weaver 2 to 3 yards long and begin to weave. To do this you will simply run the weaver in and out of the ribs and when you reach the opposite side of the basket simply wrap the weaver around the rim and go the other direction. When your first weaver ends you will begin weaving again. This time starting at the opposite ear. You will go back and forth between the ears until you get to the middle of the basket. When ever you start a new weaver just begin where the last one left off and continue the pattern. You can change materials whenever you like to add texture and variety. Once you meet in the middle all that is left to do is snip off any ends and sit back and enjoy your new creation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ribbed Basketry Tutorial: Part 2

Here is part two of my Ribbed Basket Tutorial. You can find part one here. I will have the final installment out soon.

I will also have a pdf download (both with an without photos) that will cover the same material that will be available as soon as I figure out how to make it happen.

I have also been experimenting with dyes and I will have a post soon about that. I hope you enjoy it.


Ribbed Basketry Tutorial: Part 2

Going Native... Gathering in the Wild:

You can also opt to gather some or all of your materials in the wild, vines for example. Grapevine is everywhere around here and with a little asking around I'm sure you can find someone willing to let you collect some if you don't have it in your own backyard. Honeysuckle is also easy to find, and since it grows so fast you can usually find a bit that needs pruning. Honeysuckle is smaller than grapevine and makes good weavers. Other woody vines include Virginia creeper, bittersweet, coralberry, and wisteria. But I have never gathered these in the wild and don't have a lot of experience with identification and where to find them. It is usually best to gather woody vines in the winter before the sap begins to run. The vines aren't very pliable at this time, however, so you might want to gather them in early spring or in the fall. In the summer time they will be full of grapes so this is probably not the best time. With grapevine the newer vines are best used for weavers while the woodier older parts are good for ribs, rims and handles.

You can weave with freshly cut vines and it might be easier in some ways since they are flexible at this time, but you have to remember that as they dry they shrink, so weave loosely. Another way to do it is to cut off extra leaves and limbs, coil your vines, allow them to dry, and then re-wet or soak them before use.

Other natural materials you might like to gather are cattails, rushes, grasses, fronds, bark, and different types of cactus (not the spiny kind but those similar to the century plant). My advice is to gather these materials, dry them, and then experiment with them. There is such a variety of advice out there on preparation that like most hobbies most of the fun is in the discovery. Just make sure to use common sense and gather materials safely... and make sure that you have permission of the landowner, park management, or proper authorities before beginning. Some materials also might cause skin irritation. Virginia Creeper, for example, causes skin rashes on some people. So when in doubt wear gloves. This will also protect you from thorns and bugs.

Preparing Materials


Dyes are an excellent way to add variety to your materials. There are many commercial dyes out there. The easiest one to get is RIT and it is very inexpensive. It can be purchased at most grocery stores and it does a pretty good job. The only problem with it is that it tends to fade with time. There are many other commercial dyes and stains available. I don't have much experience with them, but with a little research you can find the best dye for your needs.

The other option is natural dyes. There are many online resources and books about ways to naturally dye your reed or jute. I've experimented with a few and will provide a separate entry about how to achieve different colors with things you can find in your kitchen, garden, or somewhere in your local area. Just remember natural dyes fade... So keep that basket out of the sun.


Reed and Grapevine will need to be soaked in order to make them pliable. If you purchase grapevine you will need to soak the wreath in order to break it down in to usable rounds. After that is done, however, you no longer need to keep it wet. If you are using the smaller vines for weaving they will need to be soaked as well. If you are using reed or honeysuckle for weavers you will need to soak them long enough so that they can be wrapped around your finger easily. You don't want to soak materials to the point of being waterlogged... just soak them long enough to make them pliable. After that remove them from the water and keep them in a damp towel or keep a spray bottle nearby and occasionally mist them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cattail Basket

This little basket was woven completely out of cattail I gathered and dried myself. It was a bit of an experiment and it is crude as a result... but I'm happy with it all the same. I used the basic design of the Cherokee Double Wall basket...but I had planned something totally different when I got started so I ended up winging it.

It looks like I've got a dandy new place to stash my spare change.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mike Row continues his voyage.

Mike Row has traveled a total of 3206 miles so far. He was last logged in Washington State and he is on his way to Burning Man.

Here he is for his last photo in Texas with a large spiny lizard.

Mike Row at Bradley Point

From Log Entry: "Bradley Point a small state park and rest area along Highway 30 in Oregon on the way towards the Oregon Coast. Behind MikeRow is a beautiful vista of the Columbia River and one of my favorite spots on the drive to the beach."

Mike Row in Cannon Beach, OR

From Log Entry: "Mike traveled with me (StephGail) and Kuno the geopup to Cannon Beach, OR where behind Mike is Haystack Rock which some of you might remember from the movie The Goonies. It was a beautiful day for the beach."

Mutant Vehicle Geo-cache

From Log Entry: "Dragons Breath bike a Burning Man (2003) Mutant Vehicle is the perfect spot for a Geocache."

I can't wait to see where Mike turns up next...


Friday, August 19, 2011

Ribbed Basketry Tuturial: Part 1

Ribbed Basket

Over the next few posts I'm going to offer a ribbed basket tutorial. I also have this tutorial available in a pdf format and I will post that once I figure all that out so that you will be able to print your own copy either with or without color photos.

This particular tutorial will have 3 parts. The first part is this one and it will cover a little history, what you need to make this basket, and some information on suppliers. Part 2 will cover gathering materials in the wild and dying your own material. And finally Part 3 will cover basic construction of the basket. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to add some videos and more information on dying and gathering. I hope you enjoy it... and PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

This is the tutorial I'm using to teach my basketry class and I would love to hear any feedback so that I can make the classes I'm teaching in September as good as I possibly can.


About this Basket

The ribbed basket is thought to have been created by ancient Celts in Scotland, but similar baskets can be seen around the world. Settlers from the British Isles to the New World brought this style of basketry with them and with them it traveled west. This style was taught to me as the Appalachian Buttocks basket (it is a funny name I know) but its other regional names include the melon basket, peanut basket, egg basket, or fanny basket just to name a few. As the names buttock or fanny imply, it can be made with a twin bottom design (making it look like a fanny) or you can make it with a flat bottom.

Basic Construction

The basket that we are going to make today uses two hoops (we will use grapevine) that are attached together at right angles. They are lashed together by making a god's eye. Once the god's eye is made, the ribs (you can either use more grapevine or round reed) will be tucked into the god's eye and then you begin to weave using a flexible material like raffia, jute or sea grass.

Gathering Materials

Basic Supplies:

Before you begin you will need to gather some basic supplies.

  1. Two hoops-we will use grapevine... but there are many other choices. You can order hoops from basketry supply shops or gather your own material that is strong and yet flexible enough to form hoops. There are many books and online sources that offer ideas for gathering and selecting the right materials for you.

  2. Ribs- we will be using round reed (size #6). You can also just make your ribs out of grapevine... but it is a bit trickier to get started this way. Reed is more uniform and works better for beginners.

  3. Weavers- We will be using jute, sea grass, raffia and possibly some flat reed... but there are many other options. You can add color or interest to the texture of your basket by using yarns or interesting gathered materials. You can really use your imagination when you pick out your weavers.

  4. Basic Tools: scissors or pruners (to cut reed and vine), knife, buckets (for soaking). You might also want clothes pins or bread ties. Some optional tools would be a tapestry needle and a tape measure but I don't use those much for this style of basket. There are a wide variety of other materials you might want to invest in if you get serious about basketry... but I've found that most of the tools I use are things that I have around the house already. I like to keep it simple.


If you use grapevine for your basket's ribs you can purchase everything that you need for this basket at Hobby Lobby. Micheal's craft store stocks grapevine, hemp, and raffia, but I have been unable to find jute, and I like to use jute as my all purpose weaver for this basket. Hill Country Weavers in Austin also stocks basketry supplies, but I am unfamiliar with their inventory. If you want reed, sea grass or other supplies then Royalwood and Earth Guild are both suppliers that I've used in the past. I'm sure there are other options out there that can be discovered with the simple click of a mouse. Shop around and look for deals... and if you find a supplier in your area let me know.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coupon and Other News

Yesterday I taught a basketry class at the public library and I had a great time. Next week I'm going to start a series about basketry and I will be posting photo and hopefully eventually video tutorials on how to make baskets. For now, however, I just wanted to share a coupon for hobby lobby. You can buy some of your basic basketry supplies there: Grapevine, jute, raffia, and other decorative accents. Just click on the coupon to go to the page where you can print your own. It is good Monday the 15 through the end of the week, but they post new specials every week.

I also wanted to share links to the two online basketry suppliers that I've used in the past... Earth Guild and Royalwood. These two sources have kits and a wide range of other supplies you'll need such as reed and sea grass. If you took my basketry class yesterday this should get you on your way to buying what you'll need to get started in this fun hobby.


Friday, August 12, 2011

My Busy Summer

This is a repeat of what I just posted on my other blog... Worth a Fig... but it has more to do with my craft than the kitchen so I thought I would repost it here.

My writing has been much more sporadic lately. I just seems like I don't have enough hours in the day to keep up with all my projects. I haven't been cooking as much either... it is just too hot for that. We have been trying to keep dinner as simple as possible.

So what have I been up to? Well the typical summer fun... swimming, playing in the river, grilling on the patio, and in the mornings when it's cool enough we try to venture out for a walk or some geocaching... but we have also done a lot of arts and crafts and hanging out inside.

I have also been keeping myself busy with my various crafts. I'm teaching a basketry class tomorrow at the public library and I'll be teaching two more in September for TPWD. I've also been working on designing some new toys and games so that I can get my Etsy shop up and running again. Previously my husband and I just sold greeting card, but we decided to branch out. I'm going to be making small toys and games, and I plan on getting it all up and running again early next week. I'll be posting more about that later along with photos from my basketry class... but until then here are some examples of what I've been working on.

I haven't stayed out of the kitchen entirely. I did manage to whip up this last night with Italian sausage and tomatoes from the farmers market.

For anyone interested in basketry I will have a free tutorial available sometime next week.

What has been keeping you busy this summer? Leave a comment and tell me about it.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mike Row... the adventure continues...

Mike Row has now visited a toilet seat museum and a little cache called Quacker State.

The toilet seat museum is located in San Antonio in the garage of a Octogenarian (possibly Nonagenarian) ex-plumber who displays over 1000 decorated toilet seats. Quacker State is a mystery cache full of ducks... and the mystery is it's exact location... so who knows...

Both of these caches are an easy day trip from where I live... so now I have a few interesting places for weekend trips. I can't wait to see where geocaching will take Mike next.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Pattern: Buckeye Necklace and some other stuff I've been working on.

Buckeye Necklace

I made this necklace by simply collecting buckeye pods and removing the seeds. We don't have the Ohio Buckeyes around here... I believe the pods I used came from a Mexican Buckeye tree. These trees actually aren't related... but the seeds look similar when removed from the pod. In folklore buckeye seeds are used a magical amulets and good luck charms.

All I did was drill a small hole through the seeds and string them onto crotchet thread.

I then simply did the chain stitch until the spot where I wanted the first seed to be. (about 40-50 chains)

Then I slipped the seed into place and did a chain stitch around the seed and securing it in place.

I continued crocheting 15-10 stitches in between seeds and then securing them in place until I had used all the seeds I wanted to use.

Then I crochet the other side of the necklace (another 40-50 chains) before fastening off.

This is a very adaptable pattern... if you can call it a pattern. I used 5 seeds on this one... but I also made necklaces with 1 or 3 seeds as well. This is more of an idea really... and I wanted to share it... and the luck of the buckeye as well.

Here is another idea I have been working on. I saw a cool crochet covered rock here... and then finally adapted a pattern for a cell phone charm that you can find here.
My last little necklace I adapted from one of my own patterns... the Octopus Finger Puppet. All I did was use crochet thread and a 1.5mm hook and made it exactly the same way as the puppet.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Mike Row and the Little Red Creature

I just made a new travel bug to send out. His name is Little Red Creature and his mission is to travel from geocache to geocache making people smile. I will probably drop him off soon and send him on his way.... so here are a few photos before he goes.

I also have my first photo of Mike Row on his adventure. As far as I know he is still in Texas right now but soon he will be traveling to the Burning Man Festival. In the above photo Mike appears to be bait in a trap designed to trap geocachers.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Pattern: Octopus Finger Puppet

F hook
worsted weight yarn (I used cotton)
tapestry needle

Ch - Chain
Sl st - slip stitch
SC - Single Crochet
Inc - Single crochet 2 stitches into one
SC 2tog - Single crochet two stitches together

Round 1: SC 6 stitches into a magic ring. Pull tight (6)
Round 2: *SC, Inc* repeat 3 times to complete round (9)
Round 3: *SC, SC, Inc* repeat 3 times to complete round (12)
Round 4 and 5: SC in each stitch around (12)
Round 6: *SC, SC 2 tog* repeat 4 times to complete round (8)
Round 7: *SC into next stitch, ch 8, SC into second stitch from the hook and the remaining 6 stitches* repeat this 8 times to make the legs. Sl st into the first stitch of the first leg and fasten off.
Weave in ends and sew two eyes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Adventures of Mike Row

Today we set up a geocache and released two travel bugs. What is a travel bug you ask? You may even be asking what is a geocache... Well here is the story.

A few months ago I attended a Texas Parks and Wildlife class about geocaching. I was at my second BOW retreat (becoming and outdoors woman) and it was one of the offered class. I had heard of geocaching, but when I walked into the classroom I had no idea what to expect... I had no idea that this would become a new obsession for me and my family.

What I found out was that geocaching is outdoor treasure hunting using a GPS device. It is done on a very large scale. People from all over the world hide containers, small and large, all over the place and then log the coordinates online for other people to find. You probably walk right by geocaches every day and have no idea that they are there.

A travel bug is an item, any item, that you attach a special tag to that allows you to track it's progress (using a tracking number). You place it in a geocache and send it out into world with a mission. The missions vary: some travel bugs simply want to travel as much as possible, some want to be photographed in exotic locations, some hope to increase awareness for a cause. There are countless reasons a person might send out one of these bugs. One of the travel bugs I'm releasing is a finger puppet shaped like a film canister.

Why a film canister? Well that is simple... Many of the micro caches are film canisters. They are hidden in holes in trees or tucked away in a little hiding spot on the side of the road. They are easy to hide and have become kind of an icon for the sport. I named my puppet Mike Row because of his small size and his love of geocaching. In the spirit of the travel gnome, Mike's mission is to travel between caches and to be photographed in as many beautiful and exotic places as possible. Mike can be photographed in a newly discovered spot... or near a cache from the past. I hope to keep Mike moving from hand to hand/cache to cache.

I'll have to see what happens and keep you posted.

The other travel bug I'm releasing is tiny measuring spoon that I will be tracking on my other blog Worth a Fig. Stop by and read it's story if you are interested.

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