mardi 21 décembre 2010

Un bel accident

Whenever I knit or crochet, I often do it without patterns. I enjoy performing experiments outside work, even on my crafting projects. There is always the thrill of accidentally coming up with the unexpected. Working with a ball of yarn is quite forgiving.

It was sort of an experiment/accident that turned out to be quite wonderful and unique. Initially, I was just thinking of making my usual mesh scar in silver gray. I know, the base color is not that exciting and I was tempted to unravel by half-finished worked and call it quits. 

What made me change my mind and experiment a little bit was the fact that I already spent a few days crocheting. I felt bad about wasting all that time and not even trying to find a way to work things out. I finally  finished the scarf then thought about ways that I could make it more interesting. Below is what I came up with after my little experiment.

Crochet Waffle Weave Infinity Scarf  (Silver Mist)

What looks like different colored ribbons are actually crocheted chains of light purple, deep purple, charcoal gray yarn woven onto the scarf. I am glad that this «experiment» worked since this scarf took about a week to complete. This original design is called the Waffle Weave Infinity Mobius Scarf and comes in an almost infinite variety of colors. Unfortunately, there is only one me and my time outside work is not infinite.

After about a month or so, I made another scarf in a different color combination: Barley mesh woven with cranberry red, taupe, and chocolate brown chains of yarn. It is currently on display in my ETSY shop and waiting to adorn someone's neck. I think the color combo would suit both men and women.

Crochet Waffle Weave Infinity Scarf (Earth)

Until next time, thanks for reading. =(^.^)=

dimanche 19 décembre 2010

From rags to handmade riches


al·che·my [ álkəmee ]

Definition (Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2009)
1. predecessor of chemistry: an early, unscientific form of chemistry that sought to change base metals into gold and discover a life-prolonging elixir, a universal cure for disease, and a universal solvent alkahest
2. transforming or enchanting power: a power supposedly like alchemy, especially of enchantment or transformation
[14th century. Via Old French alquemie and medieval Latin alchimia< Arabic al-kīmiyā "the chemistry" < Greek khēmeia]


This series focuses on artists/crafters and their handmade creations from recycled materials. «Reuse, reduce, recycle» is one of my mantras, especially in this day and age when we truly need to mind our impact on the earth. One man's trash is another man's treasure, that is, in raw material. 

I recall the time when I fashioned a shoulder bag out of a striped twill miniskirt. It became a hit among my friends because they have not seen anything like it. Seattle's very own Wooly Bison has a line  of handcrafted bags and accessories made from recycled wool jackets, trousers, even skirts. I personally coveted one gorgeous satchel made out of recycled military wool. Whoever buys it will be one lucky customer.

Recycled Military Wool Satchel

Recycled Eyeglass Case


When I was very young, I went through a phase of making my own dolls out of flour sacks and whatever bits of cloth I could find around the house. Fast forward to present day--I may be all grown up but I still have a soft spot for plushies. Marjji uses mostly recycled wool and tweed for her wonderful plushies for grown-ups. What once  was a herringbone garment is now a plush creature.

Pocket Mouse - Wheat

Dover Cat

What can you do with old sweaters besides giving them to charity? Wooly Baby uses them to create wonderful wool slippers for children. The upcycled sweater material is felted for luxurious warmth then finished with recycled leather for the heels, toes, and non-skid toes.   

Lambswool Slippers, 


Lambswool Slippers,

Rhythm in my Hands

Knot Original certainly took to heart the idea of recycling in crafting such an innovative piece. The «Urban Cowgirl Cowl» was created using handspun yarn from old denim jeans. Recycled materials are also frequently incorporated  in her other pieces. Truly unexpected, uncommon, and unconventional. 

The Urban Cowl Girl . recycled denim cowl

Thermal Warming . recycled unisex scarf

That's it for now. I am off to search for other Artistic Alchemists out there. Until next time, thanks for reading. =(^.^)=

dimanche 12 décembre 2010

Natural Muse

Although I have always been creative, even as a child, there are times when I find myself with the so-called "crafter's block." Days and weeks would go by and not a single idea pops into my head until one day, a spark of creativity comes and I feel as though one of the Muses has smiled at me.

As a biologist and crafter, I have long since realized that the natural world has always been a source of inspiration behind things created by man. Whenever I see a Sikorsky helicopter in the sky, a dragonfly always comes to mind. Airplanes are made to soar like birds whereas submarines resemble whales in the ocean. 

Nature never fails to make an appearance in the world of arts and crafts. She often provides the remedy for my lack of inspiration. I was inspired to gather a few artists and crafters who are clearly inspired by the Natural Muse.

The first time I saw the wonderful photographs by Forest Floor Prints' Jeff Friesen, I was immediately enthralled. The images of leaves arranged to resemble sailboats (or insects) captivates one's imagination. They almost have a certain fairy-like charm to them. 

Gypsy Moth


When it comes to photographing our feathered friends, Mingta photography takes pictures not only for posterity. The images are engaging in their color and composition. Looking at these photographs is like looking at nature through an open window.

Yes Dear - Original Male Cardinal

Chick A Dee-Dee-Dee 1 - Tweet

As a child, I grew up collecting and playing with bugs. My sister and I would "adopt" a large black beetle for a day, give it a name, play with it then set it free. Though I no longer play with beetles (instead I play the Beatles...), I am still fascinated by insects. Conservation Biologist Kevin Clarke of Bugs Under Glass never outgrew his love for these creatures. He creates museum quality displays from certified farm-raised insects and does not use dangerous chemicals for preservation. Not so long ago, I purchased a gorgeous cicada display from him, just like this one. Butterfly lovers rejoice--he carries a wonderful selection of these delicate beauties.

Real Cicada Insect Display

Framed Butterfly Display - Blue-Banded Morpho Butterfly

Vaiva Nat's love for flowers shows through her beautiful felted creations. Her wonderful color combinations make each bloom a statement piece sure to be noticed and admired. Her pieces are meant to be wearable works of art.

Blue Night Dahlia Felt Brooch

Rusty Olive Meadow Felt Bangle / Wrist Cuff

Allison Fomich of Tiger Lilly Shop  captures nature's ephemera by pressing leaves and flowers onto metal to create botanical jewelry. Her pieces remind me of those beautiful fossilized ferns--but no need to wait thousands of years for her creations. 

Pressed Hydrangea Petals, Brass Botanical Necklace

Pressed Fern Ring

Kanokwalee's beautiful handmade crochet accessories are imaginative and enchanting. Nature is obviously the muse behind her unique creations. Her Enchanted Forest Lariat reminds me of the fern leaves I collected and pressed as a child.

Petite Enchanted Forest Lariat

Petite Jungle Jane Scarf

Last but not least, let's look at how nature inspires from a molecular level and it is a subject very near and dear to my heart, as a researcher. Raven Hanna, PhD. of Made With Molecules has the best collection and rendition of scientific jewelry I have seen so far. The quality of the silver is wonderful, not to mention the craftsmanship. A friend recently gave me a pair of exquisite earrings like the one below--silver renditions of two of DNA's nucleotide bases. Dr. Hanna's pieces are sure to make any science-lover or scientist sparkle.

base pair earrings

creativity necklace - three molecules that rock

The next time you get stuck in a creative rut, turn to Nature for inspiration. You simply can't go wrong.

Until next time, thanks for reading. =(^.^)=

samedi 11 décembre 2010

My handmade life: Truly worth the effort

Ed Carpenter's "Vessel" scuplture at FHCRC campus
(photographed by yours truly)
I just wanted to post some good news for those of you who love crafting and find joy in creating for a good cause. The Holiday Craft fair I participated in was a success not only in terms of the positive feedback received but also for the money raised for charity. We were able to raise a record amount for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Patient/Family Assistance Fund--perhaps the highest amount in 10 years! This provides assistance to families who have members undergoing cancer treatment in Seattle and have critical financial needs.

mercredi 8 décembre 2010

One tired but happy crafter

After months of preparation, late nights, weekends spent crafting away, and not to mention sore fingers, it finally happened: I made my very first appearance at my workplace Holiday Craft Fair on Friday, December 3rd. Seeing the craft fair "pros" with their wares almost ready was a little nerve wracking for a newbie like me. I quickly got over that at the sight of strange but smiling faces around, not to mention one of my friends from the lab arriving just in time to help me set up. 

Before I knew it, 6 hours had gone by. I had a great time talking to folks and showing my work. Some of my crochet items were sold out before noon and I even had one repeat customer. Three people wanted to even buy the neckwarmer I wore, off my neck. Everyone seemed intrigued by the knitted neckwarmers that I had made. One person even asked whether I was the person who donated the knitted scarf as one of the raffle prizes. 

I knitted this acrylic scarf embellished with crochet border and buttons just for the raffle donation. I hope that whoever won it will like it or at least give it to someone who will. Angie Wynn of Remember Wynn created the wonderful customized ultrasuede labels for my crochet and knit items.

My crochet neckwarmers (original design by yours truly), newly christened as the "Marley", became instant curiosities in a good way. Resembling a "necklush", each one is crocheted continuously using one ball of chunky lambswool/acrylic blend yarn. Two snaps hold the neckwarmer securely around one's neck. They can come plain or embellished with colorful buttons, like this one I made for myself in charcoal yarn. The red buttons add a punch of color and I love how they randomly show up depending on how the piece is twisted. 

Marley neckwarmer in Charcoal (20% Lambswool, 80% Acrylic)

This can be made in different colors. Here are the ones I sold at the craft fair. I will be making more for my ETSY shop, either as ready-to-wear or made-to-order based on color choice.

Marley neckwarmer in Taupe (20% Lambswool, 80% Acrylic)
Marley neckwarmer in Claret (20% Lambswool, 80% Acrylic)
Also, I introduced original-design knit neckwarmers that stirred a lot of curiosity. I love wearing long scarves but sometimes, the long ends can be a hassle when one keeps them on indoors. Neckwarmers are short, allow freedom of movement, and in this case, always look great. 

Ripple knit neckwarmer in Deep Forest Green (100% Acrylic)
Ripple knit neckwarmer in Antique Rose (100% Acrylic)

Ripple knit neckwarmer in Barley (8% Rayon, 92% Acrylic)

I'll be be making more of these for my shop as well. I guess that'll mean more late nights but more fun creating.

Until next time, thanks for reading. =(^.^)=

lundi 6 décembre 2010

Wonderful things come in small packages

For some, size does matter but for others, it's the quality of the item. Through ETSY, I have discovered creations that may appear small but are big on imagination and artistry.
My love for the color red as well as vintage skeleton keys of all sizes and shapes led me to this lovely wee purse necklace by Sew Lola. The workmanship is impeccable, down to the sewing of the vintage fabric lining inside this tiny purse.

Wee purse necklace in red leather

One of my pastimes in Seattle is visiting the local second hand bookstores. I am still one of those folks who likes the touch, feel, and smell of books, old ones especially. Though not opposed to technology, I don't know if I would be able to truly appreciate e-books. Margaux Kent of ETSY shop The Black Spot Books makes miniature book necklaces out of scrap leather--leather from a vintage baseball glove, a doctor's bag, an old boot. Her craftmanship and attention to detail is awe-inspiring. The small book, handmade and bound in the traditional manner, is both ornamental and functional.

Large Personalised word scrap leather journal necklace

Medium Autumnal book necklace made from mid-century deer skin

As a child, I remember the times when I made tiny terrariums (or terraria) out of jam jars, moss, lichen, and tiny flowering plants my mother referred to as "fairy plants." I also found ships in bottles  quite fascinating and would attempt to make my own. Glyn Walton of London-based ETSY shop Mini Memory Worlds creates  fantastic miniature scenery. The attention to detail, colors, and textures indeed capture snapshots of one's everyday reality (like a black bike at the park) or a combination of the real and surreal (blue sky and clouds reminiscent of a Magritte painting).

Cycling in the park

Passing clouds
For the naturalist who also enjoys wearing unique accessories and jewelry, ETSY's Woodland belle captures nature's beauty in every item. Mai McKemy creates stunning jewelry that is sure to be a conversation piece, even an heirloom. Her butterfly collection necklace is an entomologist's dream and her woodland terrarium ring is a piece of natural beauty wrapped around one's finger.

Butterfly Collection Necklace in Antiqued Copper

Tiny Woodland Terrarium Toadstool Mushroom and Blue Morpho Butterfly Ring

For those of us who enjoy sumptuous desserts and delicious food, we can now indulge without the calories. Stéphanie Kilgast of Petit Plat Food Art shows how fun it is to play with food and sweets--in miniature. Her polymer clay creations are so detailed, they almost look like the real thing--if it weren't for their size!

Fantastic Chocolate - Earrings - Waffle Collection

Breezy Blue Green - Sterling Ring - Fruit Tart Collection

Crazy Cupcake - Pendant - Cupcake Collection - Custom Made

All these realistic-looking desserts miniatures are making me hungry. Perhaps, it's time I find something sweet in actual size.

Until next time, thanks for reading. =(^.^)=

jeudi 25 novembre 2010

Too much fun in the lab

A few years ago, my colleagues and I decided  to enter a holiday ornament making contest for our common room's tree. The goal was to make ornaments and decorations out of lab and office materials. Though not required, we ended up taking it a step further  by coming up with our own little ski resort (which we didn't enter in the contest). As for the results, our lab finished 3rd place, losing to what appears to be a test tube snow "globe" and a ball made entirely of lab tape. 

The ski resort is still perched on one of the lab's shelves and it's been that way for the past 2 years or so. Being the mastermind of it all, I would take it apart, put it away, then set it up every winter. Obviously, I have been too busy with real work that I forgot to put it away though nobody seems to mind. 

Without further ado, here are some photos of this handmade ski resort. 
 It's like no other resort you've seen: It has it's own train engine!
...with snowmen to greet you

...a ski lift to take you up

...we have penguins too comes the fun part!

...let's do it again!

Now, who says crafting and science don't mix?

Until next time, thanks for reading. =(^.^)=

lundi 22 novembre 2010

Snow in Seattle

The metereologists got it right this time. I woke up this morning only to find that it was snowing outside. My apartment is about a mile away from work so my said commute would not be so bad. I either walk, take the Streetcar (or "Tram" as my European friends call it), or ride the bus to work. Anyway, even if my workplace closed down due to inclement weather, I still have to go out and mail a couple of packages.

I worked a full day. I did not have my usual commute home via Streetcar. Instead, I had to walk back to my place.

I took a few pictures outside upon reaching home. I could not resist the sight of a black bicycle under the snow! By the way, I am getting close to putting together a set of Seattle bicycle postcards for each season.

Until next time, thanks for reading. =(^.^)=