A Happy New Year!

I don't know what the new year will bring for me and also for all of you. I am crossing my fingers and the cats' paws for 2014 to be a good year for all of us. Healthy, peaceful, creative ... let's be helpful to others, open-minded and don't forget to be good to yourselves.

I'm quite sure there will be headdesks, though. I practically ended the year with them, and I'll tell you why.
Earrings. I like them. A lot. Dangly ones mostly. I like to wear them and I like to make them. That's not completely true. There have been many times when I loved earring #1 and went crazy over #2, and not crazy in a good way, from excitement how wonderful it was. Because sometimes #2 just doesn't want to be wonderful, but does everything to make me hit my head on my desk.

Cabs can only be so small to be used if you crochet or knit with wire. They need to be safe in their bezel which means you can't make it too loose, but you don't want to cover all of them with wire, either.
Sometimes I challenge myself to see what I can do. I grab out the 1.4 mm crochet hook (I broke the 1.3 mm one, shame on me or rather the wire) and go to work. For smaller or narrower cabs I found wire knitting to work better than crochet as the structure is more open, so the wire doesn't take over, also it is easier because your wire "mesh" is more flexible.
I started knitting a bezel for this aventurine. The hard part is to knit high enough, but not too high, and then to hold your small cab in that bezel while closing it up with the last row. More than once a cab decided on a last second jump to freedom. This one was quite cooperative. Being on a wire and pearl path at the moment I added some pearls all around, and I was really happy with it.
Then came #2. It didn't like me from the start. First it refused to sit still in its bezel. Maybe it felt hurt because I was "watching" a documentary about the Hope diamond at the same time. There's not much that a little aventurine can hold against a diamond of that kind. We finally came to terms with each other regarding the bezel, but when it was time for the pearls to appear on the scene, suddenly the wire didn't want to play along anymore. Can you believe it broke three times until I decided we all needed a break until the next day? The (not so) funny thing is that I don't like to add wire in a piece like that which meant the cab spent its night in a bag with the other cabs, but in relative freedom after I took the bezel off again ... which was probably what it had planned all along.

A new day, a new attempt. This time we were all playing nicely, and so here the earrings are now, in my DaWanda shop. Phew! Maybe not a bad way after all to end the old year.


Interview with the artist - Ashton from Craft Crater

It's time for another interview with a friend from deviantART. Please welcome Ashton and let's dive right in as always.

Tell us a little about who you are and where you are from.

My name is Ashton, and I'm from Canada, specifically a little town called Mattawa, Ontario. I'm 21 years old and a recent grad from the University of Guelph, in the field of Microbiology. While my science background isn't too obvious in my crafts (I haven't got any bacteria or virus plushies - yet), the principles definitely influence how I work. My lifelong loves are reading (particularly fantasy) and animals (particularly my pets) though my interests have expanded over the years to include gaming, certain TV shows and of course crafting.

Soot sprite treats necklace

What's your craft and how did you get to do it in the first place?

My main craft is crochet though I dabble in knitting, engraving and origami as well. I first started looking into crochet around the end of my second or third year of University, when I wasn't finding the time or inclination to read for pleasure, and had started watching more movies and series to relax and satisfy my cravings for stories. But I was so used to multi-tasking (and had rewatched the same things so often) that I wasn't finding it fulfilling enough, so I started browsing the internet for things to keep my hands busy. I had brief flirtations with embroidery and origami, but neither lasted very long. Then I stumbled across a picture of an amigurumi Chinese New Year Dragon and fell absolutely in love, wanting my very own. So I decided to learn how to crochet, and I haven't looked back since.

I think this is one of the most asked questions - where does your inspiration come from?

At this point a lot of my inspiration comes from my books, shows and games - I create a lot of fanart though I am slowly transitioning into wanting to create original works as well. Another important source of inspiration for me is to think of how I can make my creation useful, as well as aesthetically pleasing. Moving around much of my life, combined with living in small dorms and apartments during school, has given me a dislike for too many purely ornamental things - they take up space, collect dust, and are a pain to move, often being fragile and easily broken to boot. Obviously the largest break in this ideal are my amigurumi, likely why I've moved away from making them as much lately, though I'll never stop of course.

Crocodile cowl

Tell us a fun thing about yourself.

I tend to pick up accents when I read or watch certain things - I always come out of a Forgotten Realms novel or Lord of the Rings marathon sounding like a dwarf.

Do you do other crafts, if yes, what?

I dabble in knitting and glass engraving, with some occasional origami on the side.

Engraved glass

Which one of your pieces is your absolute favorite? Which one was the hardest to make and why?

Choose between my babies?! What madness is this?! Just kidding, of course I have my favorites, like any creator. So far I think my amigurumi Charizard is my favorite piece because he was the largest thing I had done to date, had a lot of parts to sew, and it was my first time with working with wire of any kind, yet with all that he came out looking like he flew right out of the anime and onto my shelf. I even won a competition with him, and I don't win competitions!

Amigurumi Charizard

Is there someone whom you admire and who inspires you?

There's a long list, and it grows every day - Catrin Maier is there for one. (Cat: Oh my, I swear I did not pay Ash to say that!!! ;-))

If you had free choice of just one supply you can use for your craft, what would you be dreaming of, no matter how expensive?

Furls luxury crochet hooks, mmm .... pardon me while I get a tissue to wipe the drool off my keyboard.

Do you sell online, if yes, where we can find you?

Yes, I have an online shop at Storenvy, Craft Crater. I also take commissions on my deviantART page, for other people who are members there.

Broomstick lace scarf

Is there anything you feel you need or want to tell the world outside now?

Respect each other, love all life, and don't run with your spears.

Thank you for sharing with us! Now, guys, go and explore Ashton's pages to see more!


Quote of the week

A last bit of Christmas mood before we walk on into a new and hopefully better year.
I doubt I have to say much about this movie.

A little bell on the Christmas tree is ringing.
Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.
George Bailey (smiling at her): That's right. That's right! *winking towards heaven* Attaboy, Clarence.

It's a Wonderful Life, USA, 1946


Have you had yourself ...

... a merry little Christmas? Yes, I know I am late. I'm giving up on explanations or excuses why my blog is neglected. Sure I am hoping it will be better next year, but who knows?
Anyway, I hope you had a great time and most of all I hope you got a bit of peace and rest, on the outside and the inside.

What I want to show you today, doesn't have to do with Christmas, though. It's just another one of those posts that are sadly overdue.
There is this friend of mine, you know. She's crazy, she's lovable, she's funny, and she made something for me that made me freak out when I had to pick it up at customs.
Sharon is a bead loomer, too. Actually that's how we first met. Not in person (yet?). I'm not even sure if the planet would be able to survive us meeting in person. The way it is she's in California and I'm still in good ole Germany.

I don't want to keep up the suspense any longer. Meet Denis, my Cat's Wire logo loomed from Delicas in a beautiful and very personal tapestry. Can you imagine my gasp at the office customs when I pulled it out of its envelope? Can you imagine me telling the clerk more than once that this was my logo? From beads? Made by my friend? For me? My shop logo?

Thank you again, Sharon! You really made my day with this!

To remind you, this is the original logo that my dear friend Denis (hence the kitty's name ;-)) designed for me.

Sharon does not have a shop at the moment (if/when she does, you'll be sure to find an interview with her here), but if you want her to make a tapestry or anything else for you, you can contact her via e-mail sjkrauss@gmail.com
You won't be disappointed!


Interview with the artist - Jenny from Bug Eater

Lace weight cowl or nachaq (From the description: "A nachaq is basically the hood of a parka (atkuk). These days it is also a word used for hat since not everyone wears parkas anymore." Bet you didn't know that. I didn't.)
Mix and match crocheted newborn baby hats
Fingerless armwarmers made to order in different colors


Quote ... erm, goof of the week

Today's post is a bit different.
The other evening my sister and I watched one of our favorite X-Files episodes "Bad Blood". I have always been a fan of the "Monster of the week" episodes and if they are funny, I love them even more. I can't say how often I have seen this one already.
Sis was about to doze off when she suddenly said "Hey wait, did you see that??" See what? When? How? Where was I? She went back a few minutes to the scene in which Mulder breaks a chair to get a stake for what he thinks is a vampire (I won't spoil it all for you). And there it clearly was. A hand reaching into the picture to place a stake on the broken chair that Mulder was still stomping around on.

What do you think? A real goof? On purpose to make it even funnier? And why have I never noticed that before??
I need answers, and I need them now!! ;-)

The X-Files - Bad Blood, USA, 1998


Zibbet finds of the week - Books

I can't point it out often enough, and my friends are probably getting tired of me already.
I love books and I'm a dinosaur. I hate audiobooks and I don't see myself owning an e-reader. Yes, I do know, you don't have to hold a heavy book, it's great to take along on vacations and you can have 384635435465 books on your reader. As long as I have space for my books, however, all of that doesn't convince me - for myself, that is. It's a strictly personal decision.

That was the reason why I chose handmade books for my post today. As you might know, I'm a librarian, and in my first year I actually learned how to make a book. It was huge and fat and had empty pages, and I never used it for anything which is a shame. Right now I wouldn't even know where to find it, but it didn't look all that bad for a first (and last).
And of course my friend Liesan was an inspiration for this as well. You can find her on Tumblr if you want to have a look at her bookbinding journey.

Enough talk, let's look at some beautiful images of beautiful books instead.

Handmade leather journal by mychimelle

Coptic stitch blank book in faux leather or fun pattern paper by Bliss

Handmade journal with hand dyed cover and pages by Rachel's Jazzy Creations

Light brown vegan faux leather journal by Bound By Hand

Handmade linen journal with vintage cotton lace by Arts Books

Handmade mini art journal by ExiArtsConceptWorlds

Brown suede mini book pendant by Glass Map Books


Quote of the week

I don't know what your school library looked like, but I remember ours. It was divided into two parts. The one was for the lower classes at high school, adventure, fairy tales, classics, just for the fun read.
My Latin and biology teacher was in charge of it, and to get some help, she had a system of her own. Whenever someone forgot to do their homework or was caught talking in class or passing along notes, they got a so-called "Schlamperstrich", the opposite of a gold star you could say. She was always very fair and never tried to catch kids just to make them work, though. If you had seven of them, you had to work at the library for an hour.
I spent much time there, putting back books, wrapping books in laminating sheets, helping with the card catalog ... I know what you think now, but sorry, I was a volunteer and absolutely loved it! It had two little rooms and it felt cozy, especially when it was raining, and often my friend was there to help out as well which made it even more fun.
I think I only ever went to the part for the higher classes once to look something up. It was by far not as nice. It makes me wonder if it still looks like that today.

Although I can't remember if I saw others use the library very often I'm pretty sure that none of the two were ever used to hold meetings about how to slay vampires and demons .... which brings us to today's quote.

Xander: Hello!
Two students are entering the school library.
Xander: Excuse me, but have you ever heard of knocking?
Jonathan: We're supposed to get some books. On Stalin.
Xander: Does this look like a Barnes & Noble?
Giles: This is the school library, Xander.
Xander (surprised): Since when?
Giles (towards the students): Yes. Third row, historical biographies.

A wonderful series for librarian quotes! ;-)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, USA, 1997 - 2003


Zibbet finds of the week - Winter

Winter is not here yet, but the meteorologists are already threatening us with their images of an icy cold December.

Grab a hot beverage of your choice and let's see what Zibbet has to say about winter, shall we? To save you my blabber this time, I'll let the images speak for themselves ;-) Happy winter!

Snowman pillow by Upstate Inspiration

 Snowflake champagne flutes by The Wedding Gallery Brad Goodell

Vintage inspired mitten gift tags by Indelible Impressions

Needle punch snowman doll by The Talking Crow

 Vintage fabric trees by that yountville girl

Soft felt flip brim cloche by Felt Fancy

 Knitted winter socks by SlicKnits


Why HeatherCats don't have whiskers

Last week I told you about the HeatherCats in a post. So far three of them have come out of the shadows and moved into my shop.
They all have a few things in common. They are fun, they are unique, they are made from beads ... and they have no whiskers.
Now you might ask why I'm pointing that out. There are other whiskerless cats out there. In fact the Bosse brass cat on my desk is one of them.

It has to do with one of the comments I got on Biskit's Bum. Several people told me they had a problem recognizing Biskit right away. Some of the comments were hilarious. I have to be honest, I had never thought it could be a problem as it's a position not unusual for my own cats although I don't have a picture from the same angle to prove it.

Anyway, one of them (not my cats ;-)) said it took her a second and she thought it might be easier to see if the whiskers from Heather's original painting were on the bracelet as well.

This reminded me of the first time I showed the pattern for Grouchycat to some beading friends.

I told them that I tried to include the whiskers, but that I just didn't like them. In this size they are too overwhelming if you work them into the pattern or do them in beads 3D style. The same goes for wire if you have to work it through the beads at several points to make it stay put as I wouldn't want wire ends to stick out.
I experimented this way and that way, but the end of it was that I decided that leaving them off completely was still the best solution.

That's the story why HeatherCats have no whiskers.

Next time I'm going to tell you the story of Grouchycat's yellow bird, and why there will probably not be a HeatherCat version of notquitesogrouchycat!


Zibbet finds of the week - Triangles

I have a confession to make. I pretty much sucked at geometry in school. Not as much as at algebra, but still. I had to wiggle my way through. Math escapes me. I think as soon as I had finished school, all knowledge about math flew out through my ear, happy to finally be free.
Nevertheless I'm fascinated by geometric shapes. Seems I don't need to be able and prove why this side is longer than that one or worry about good old Pythagoras.
Today I went on hunt for triangles and I caught a few for you to enjoy.

This unique cowl that reminds me of a shingleback skink - that is a compliment because I think those skinks are really cool - is crocheted from fine mohair and can be found at Reflections By DS.

Brighter and modern looking is this tote from Smoochic Designer Handmade Handbags by Ann Lewis. Fuschia and black, definitely an attention getter!

I'm a nut for miniatures, they make me go squee a lot, no matter if they are knitted, sewn, crocheted, made from leather, glass, clay or, like in this case, wood. Isn't the little corner table adorable?
Calico Jewels Miniatures has more of these treasures, too!

Artisan Glasscrafts says: "Who says plates have to be round or square. How about a triangle." True indeed!

A little boat of silver on a triangular kyanite rock is making it through the waves, what a stunning and unusual design! You can find it at Zilvera.

The last piece I want to show you today is a beautiful tiny keepsake box beaded by from tiny Delicas. Being a beadworker myself I know how much work goes into something like this ... and I adore the little lampwork handle!
Have a look at The Canary Blossom Boutique for more beauties.

This post is dedicated to my math teacher in the 7th to 9th grade. He was lovely and I'm still sorry I was such a disappointment.


Quote of the week

I'm living at a place I like to call The Museum - one of these days I'll have to get myself a sign over the door - which refers not only to some of my vintage furniture, but also to my small collections. Let's face it, I'm not the modern kind of person. Tiled floors with a single sofa in one corner and shelves of brushed metal, not for me.
For that reason the following is hilariously funny to me.

While her daughter Saffron is away to get married in Africa, Eddy decides to get her kitchen re-done, again. She brings in her old friends Bettina and Max to do the job which turns out to be not such a good idea.

Max: "How are we doing?"
Bettina: "There's still too much in here."
Max looks around the empty white kitchen.
Bettina (pointing at the table): "I want ... that out of here."
Max: "We can't get it out."
Bettina (exasperated): "Jesus."
Max: "Steady."
Bettina (whispering): "I have to start with white box."
Max: "It, it IS white box."
Bettina is walking over to the table.
Max: "Erm ... what do we think ... over, over here?"

Bettina (looking at the white emptiness): "Do we need anything more?"
Max: "Well, a little, I think ... for the client."
Bettina (yelling and pointing at the table): "I want that out!"
Max: "We can't get it out."
Bettina: "Why??"
Max: "Cos you've taken out the stairs!"

The next moment Eddy comes flying down ... after all there are no stairs. It doesn't end well. Bettina has to be put back on medication, and Eddy is sitting in an empty kitchen with her friend Patsy and her assistant Bubbles when Saffron comes home ...

A friend of mine used to say that she wanted a loft with just a chair in it. Makes me wonder if she's one of Bettina's relatives ;-)

Absolutely Fabulous - White Box, UK, 2004


Who are the HeatherCats?

The HeatherCats are a secret project I have been talking about for a while, a project by Heather and Cat.

Heather is a friend of mine, a painter from New Zealand. I met her on deviantART and got to know the Essencestudios. I couldn't even tell you in what group it was, but among her talents Heather has a talent for bright, whimsical paintings, many of which are cats, so how could I not be fascinated the moment I saw the first one?
I really, really wanted one of her paintings for myself, and there was also that little seed of an idea in my head ....

To cut a long story short, I have my painting on the wall

and Heather has a bracelet after one of her other paintings, the Lazy Cat.

That's where it all started.
The HeatherCats are an exclusive line of jewelry bead loomed by yours truly after original paintings of Heather and they are ready to walk out of the shadows now.
Believe me, they are worth watching, both on canvas and in beads.

You will find them on Facebook and you will find them in my Zibbet shop as well where the first of them just made his entrance.
Biskit is a truly happy cat. Who wouldn't like to be able and relax like a cat? In summer, in the garden, on your back, just letting things happening around you.
Biskit was painted after one of Heather's own cats.

Stay tuned because more of them are waiting!