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This is my first attempt at a thick and thin singles yarn. It varies from 12 to 28 WPI or sport to heavy lace. It doesn’t look to me like that much variation but I used the gadget on it and that’s what I came up with. The colors would be perfect for a patchwork shell I’m planning but I think I’ll wash it up before I decide if it’s next to the skin worthy. 140 yards spun from a 1.5 oz batt I received in a trade. The colors are bluish gray with a hint of green. I named it Presumpscot after one of the local rivers.

gray blue green thick and thin singles wool yarn spun from hand carded batt

And here is some laceweight I called Vintage Garnet. I gave it away so I don’t know what it will become but it went to a good home. You can see all the details on the spinning in my stash entry on Ravelry.

Vintage Garnet laceweight handspun two ply by random-charm

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Most of the time when I work with polymer clay, I’m making something with or for or at the direction of my kids. Occasionally they let me make something I want to make. As we were using up some older clay I got the idea to swirl leftover bits of colors together to make some beads and buttons.

This squarish bead in black, jungle green and bright leaf green is one of my favorites. I drilled a hole through it after baking and strung it with a few glass and silver plated beads with the round part of a toggle clasp at the top. It would make a nice stitch marker for large knitting needles or perhaps a zipper pull for a sleek jacket. It could even work as a pendant I suppose.

square green polymer clay bead pendant or knitting stitch marker or zipper pull

Sometimes I make things I really like but I know I’m unlikely to use. This is one of those items. If this makes your heart sing, let me know and I’ll send it to you.

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Actually this is the baby gribble but the details are much easier to see. They are round and fuzzy with long pointy ears and a long snout with which to suck up ants and other bugs. Adult gribbles are solid green and have little stubby legs. I wish I could remember the other details of the habits of the gribble, it was a comical story told to me by the girl with large gestures and lots of giggling.

Here is my interpretation in polymer clay (with direction from the girl of course). Maybe I should attempt it in Fun Fur instead.

polymer clay gribble creature

The artist with an adult gribble—blue ant half way up the snout. Watch out!


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Broccoli shine

I’m waiting for yarn to dry. This yarn, 6ozs. of hand spun superwash merino/tencel spun to about 13wpi a while ago, dyed yesterday and hung to dry. It’s still a bit damp but I twisted it up to take a picture anyway. It’s just the color of broccoli but shiny. Mostly dark green with some patches of lighter stem color. I can’t wait to knit up a swatch.

hand dyed and hand spun superwash merino/tencel blend yarn

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Last night I broke into the new Jacquard acid dyes despite not having found any citric acid powder which is used to fix the dyes. Instead I used white vinegar which some instructions warned is much smellier but since I have a cold it made absolutely no difference to me and no one else in the house complained. I didn’t purchase the citric acid by mail order with the dyes since it is supposed to be available in grocery stores, just not the one closest to our house. I was dreadfully unscientific about the process, despite my best intentions to take care with measurements and such. But this was already a pretty mixed up yarn.

hand dyed hand spun blue yarn on the swift

So all that to say, the yarn is now a pleasantly variegated stormy autumn blue after a soak in vinegar water and a dye bath in a low oven. Dried overnight, wound into a ball this afternoon, cast on with a provisional cast-on (that screaming white stripe of crochet cotton at the bottom), and about an inch into becoming a hat that I have no pattern for! Yes, are we surprised? I am making it up as I go along. How quickly my tendencies with other crafts have invaded my new knitting skills. I did knit, wash and block a test swatch however. Does that count for anything?

knitted swatch of hand dyed, hand spun fingering yarn

cake or ball of hand dyed hand spun blue merino corriedale fingering yarn provisional cast-on with contrasting white yarn

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I dyed a cotton velour dress to replace the girl’s favorite pajamas that have just gotten too small. The old pajamas were scrunch dyed in shades of lavender with the same dragonfly in purple.

lavender scrunch dyed pajamas with purple dragonfly

I added the sage green to the shades of lavender and then stamped the dragonfly in a bottle green color. She had this same pettably soft velour dress from Dharma Trading in a yellow-orange colorway that wore incredibly well. I hope this dress will last her a good long while, maybe as a tunic with leggings when she gets taller. I wish they made this dress in my size.

lavender/purple/green tie dye cotton velour dress with dragonfly stamp

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Most of the time when I get out the polymer clay, I use it to make things for the kids or to help them make things, usually animals or creatures of some kind. A few months ago I made this little pink Cape Cod style house. I think the girl must have asked for a house and wanted it to be ALL pink. I thought that would be strange without any other color for definition so I used thick pieces for the simple windows and doors and used the knife to give a little texture without overwhelming the small size. It might be an inch tall or so. After I made it I really liked it.

tiny light pink polymer clay Cape Cod style house

Today I decided I wanted to try making a few more. A light yellow ranch and a light green Cape joined the pink house—the colors of buttermints in a candy tin at my Aunt Ruth’s house around the holidays. I’m sure we had them at home too but for some reason I associate those candies with her house. I also made a gingerbread colored house modeled after the house across the street for our sweet neighbor, E. The kids were excited to give it to her this evening.

light yellow polymer clay ranch house light green polymer clay house with chimney detail gingerbread or terra cotta polymer clay Cape Cod style house miniature

And a picture of the whole neighborhood.

miniature polymer clay houses

I like to think this bears a certain resemblance to our own neighborhood. Not in colors particularly but in the simplicity and neatness of the little houses on our street. And perhaps a bit of the storybook quality of knowing all your neighbors, young and old, and having the children in and out of each others houses. I think with a little cultivation our little street will continue to grow in friendship through the years. I hope yours will too.

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Who wants tie dye?

blank white baby onesie purple tie dye dress embellished with rubber stamp butterflies

Since I have some requests for tie-dye, I’m open to doing a batch if there is enough interest. So if you want something get the word out! Leave your comment here or convo me through my Etsy shop: randomcharm. Purchase details, colorways, available blanks/sizes, etc. at randomcharm on Etsy.

ETA: for my personal notes:
Mel: VLSD6 and LEL6 √
Nik: CH032 times 2 in seaglass frogs √
Mar: PINK 6mo onesie, 12mo ruffled onesie, 12mo dress √
Kel: 18mo froggie onesie √

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dye, dry,
spin, ply,
knit, block,
click, clock!

handspun and knit swatch dyed with kool-aid, blocking

Just a bit of superwash merino/tencel fiber that I dyed with black cherry Kool-Aid and then spun, knit up into a swatch and blocked last night. Pretty but not really what I want. That’s what swatches are for!

And a pumpkin-shaped grape for your amusement.
pumpkin shaped grape

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Nasturtiums planted by the boy, too red to be real.
red nasturtiums

Our own peapod clinging valiantly to a brave corn stalk.
young pea pod

Running for joy across the steps of the old meetinghouse.

One picket out of place.
one picket out of place


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kids opening croquet set

The boy and the girl went up to the county for a sleepover at my parents’ house. While at their grandparents’ house they picked berries, roamed the field road in the ATV, made ice cream with grandmom, helped grandpop mow the lawn and developed a taste for playing croquet! DH and I were at home cleaning, rearranging, painting and having a little fun too.

img_5204 bee balm or monarda

Back home they played outside in the sprinkler while my friend Jan and I did tie dye which is still batching, pictures of that later. But here are some playsilks quickly scrunch dyed in Kool-Aid. The orange and the pinky-red are new and the blue and green are several years old. Both kids play with these a lot so I figured a few new colors would be welcome.

playsilks dyed with Kool-Aid

This morning the girl and I went down to Artist and Craftsman Supply to pick up some PINK procion dye since we discovered yesterday that we are all out of PINK. They are homebased here in Portland ME but have a number of stores in cities across the country, maybe one near you! I did look specifically at the acid dyes thinking I’d bring some home to dye fiber/yarn but I couldn’t decide on a color. Maybe next time after I do a little more research.I also picked up some extra Sculpey in colors we are running out of and a bargain pick of pretty nice paint brushes for the kids in fun colors with gel handles. I haven’t been there in at least a year and now I remember why. I go in there and I just want to buy some of everything!

colorful paint brushes

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handspun BFL wool dyed with red Kool-Aid to a watermelon color

Isn’t this yummy? It’s handspun BFL (blue-faced Leicester) that I spun on the wheel and then plied and dyed. With Kool-Aid. Yup. I know, I should get some real acid dyes but for now, this is easier. I don’t have to have special dye pots set aside, etc. I just do this in a glass measuring bowl in the microwave and it works. You can dye any animal fiber such as wool or silk with food dyes and a bit of acid such as vinegar or citric acid. The bonus with Kool-Aid is that it already has the citric acid in it. (Here are some good instructions for dyeing with Kool-Aid.)

I think this yarn is destined to be a little girl bag similar to the one I made for my friend Jan. The girl likes watermelon very much. Would it be too silly if I shaped it like a watermelon? Not with a rind and seeds and all, just a half moon shape. Then I could practice increases.

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slouch bag with tie strap

JenP’s teenage daughter saw a hobo style bag in a store and loved the shape but not the fabric. A search for a similar pattern came up empty. Since I love to make patterns I volunteered to draft a pattern based on a picture. Yeah, I like to go off on tangents like that.

Since I wasn’t making the bag for anyone in particular I just pulled fabric out of my stash. I got this turquoise Israeli fabric in a trade, I’ve always thought it was interesting but I didn’t know what to do with it. I figured it would look pretty good on a big bag. I had pulled the lipstick red out as a lining for another possible fabric and decided to use the combination as it brought to mind some recent pictures I’d seen of a room decorated in these colors and a fantastic quilt by CocoaDreams. It’s a total departure for me!

It didn’t take me too long to draft the pattern. It requires 3/4 to 1 yard of the outer print, 3/4 of the lining, 5 yards of bias tape and about two or three hours. Also a small piece of stabilizer of some sort for the base, I used fusible fleece but craft foam would work as well. Mine is made of quilting cotton so it is really lightweight. It’s huge and could easily work as a diaper bag, beach bag, anything. I took pictures along the way so that I can make a tutorial to go along with the pattern which I digitized after I finished the bag. Details: two inner patch pockets, wide tie straps, oval bottom, bias bound straps and top edge, single snap closure and two decorative ties. I wish I had some big red beads to put on the ends of those . . . And guess what? All machine sewing and totally reversible!

slouch bag reversible slouch bag in turquoise and red

I’m not sure how to post the tutorial as it’s quite a lot of pictures for which I have yet to write the accompanying text. It’s all there in my head. So as soon as I figure that out I’ll post the tute and pdf pattern.

I almost forgot. I pulled an AmyDawn to get the photo! The lovely model is a playground aquaintance, not quite a total stranger but almost. I met her about a week ago when she was at the playground with a friend of hers who is the mother of one of the boy’s classmates. Did you get all that? We happened to be the only ones at the same playground again today and she graciously agreed to model the bag for me, isn’t she cute?

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floral and turquoise cyclette bag

I’ve decided to name this bag the Cyclette Bag since it was inspired by cyclists’ musette bags. The two words contract nicely into “cyclette”, which is the French word for bicycle anyway! This one was made a little differently than the original bag to accommodate the constraints of the remnants I was working with so I did not take step-by-step photographs. It is essentially the same construction but inside out to allow the lining to show at the top of the bag creating a contrasting band.

I have to admit that sewing this second one gave me fits. First, I was working with some very meager remnants of Amy Butler Nigella grandiflora home dec fabric and some slightly less meager remnants of a brilliant turquoise brushed cotton twill. So I had to fudge my pattern a bit to get everything to fit and I made one small miscalculation which caused me to have to hand sew a spot which of course was one of the things I was trying to avoid with this pattern construction! C’est la vie – I am pleased with the results anyway. The interior pocket is lined with a bit of the floral print for a nice surprise contrast. And as I was doing the topstitching to secure the strap, I decided on the fly to stitch a leaf shape into the box. I love this subtle detail and how easy it was to incorporate a little something to tie the print to the solid besides the shared color. I’ve been toying with the idea of adding a single snap to the bag but I can’t decide. I’m trying to keep it simple.

cyclette bag made from Amy Butler nigella grandiflora

cyclette bag made from Amy Butler nigella grandiflora

interior pocket showing print lining

interior pocket showing print lining

topstitched leaf detail on strap of cyclette bag

topstitched leaf detail on strap of cyclette bag

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wool felt encased soapwool felt wrapped soapsThis is that wild idea I had yesterday in the shower. It’s certainly a compilation of inspirations from various sources. I’m sure other people have already done this but I’ve never seen any. I did these little samples and they turned out just how I thought, I love when that happens. The first set are meant to look like rocks with either veins of some precious metal in them or maybe lichens, however you choose to interpret. The second set are just vibrant colors for fun. These are soap chunks that I wrapped and felted wool around. The veins of color are wool and/or silk. Wow, that silk is amazing stuff Annie! The best method so far seems to be to wrap the soap snugly in thin layers of roving and then needle felt it quickly with the Clover tool.
Clover felting toolThen a quick squishy bath to really set the felt. They lather really well. Maybe too well, I don’t know how fast the soap will disappear. I started with chunks of unscented glycerin melt-and-pour because that’s what I have. I think something harder would be better. What would be really nice would be some of TheJen’s baby soap. Maybe I can get her to share the recipe. (hint, hint) Cool, I get to use the “fiber” tag, lol.

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