Tag Archives: crafts

Fiber Arts Party debrief

Word Lily knitsWord Lily spinsSo, I had this party. I had the idea for a fiber arts party for my birthday this year, but I wanted all these people to come. And with a February birthday, I didn’t think asking people to drive and drive was a good idea. They’d end up not able to come — or stuck — and I’d end up disappointed. Instead of throwing away my plans, we just decided to move it to a time of year that usually has better, more drivable weather.

The party finally happened last weekend.

Not everyone I wanted to attend was able to make it, but we still had a really good time (as far as I can tell; I said afterward that I wasn’t able to step back and get a good perspective on everyone’s experience or the party as a whole because I was running around the entire time). Since I never took a step back from the action, though — and because the decorations didn’t really finish going up until after the party started — I don’t have good photos of all the things we did. Living in the moment, friends!

The set up /slash/ overview

I invited friends and family from near and far. All the moms were allowed to bring their children (After all, I’d have A with me!). I figured there were a few activities the older kids could do, and we’d bring toys to hopefully keep the littler ones occupied.

We had several stations with different activities. The pompom-making station was in use nearly all day. (The party went from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

I demonstrated wet felting, and quite a few people took a turn or two at the towels positioned in front of containers of hot and cold water.

A few of the girls were brave enough to attempt spinning on a drop spindle after my demonstration. My wheel got at least a small workout, but only from me.

One person learned to knit, a few others tried their hands at crochet for the first time.

We ate lunch and later had cake.

My fabulous husband made a set of giant knitting needles out of larger-than-a-broomstick dowels, and there was some rope on hand to knit with them. He also made the cake — chocolate with a peanut butter cookie layer in the middle, graced by peanut butter cream cheese frosting. It was yummy and pretty.

The decorations

Way back in January, when I started thinking of this party, I started pinning decoration ideas. Partly I was browsing for ideas, but a few of them came to me and then I found a pin to represent that.

We made a chandelier, except upon installation it changed to more of a waterfall.

chandelier, from below

The yarn … bubbles? hang from the 12-foot ceiling.

This was super messy to make. And practically required two people. You might want to wear and apron. And remove your rings. Also, we made up about 15 balloons, and we used a full two bottles of glue. So be prepared. It took awhile to get a system worked out for how to get the yarn through the paste and then out without it getting all knotted. And the instructions didn’t mention any starting points for how much yarn to use per balloon. I ended up with a range from 12 to 25 yards, I think. (And: yarn weight matters. Fingering weight yarn takes more yardage to give a similar visual coverage that can be achieved with fewer yards of a heavier yarn. It sounds like common sense, but it wasn’t included in the directions.) The first few balloons we made, we had cut too short of a yarn length.

We worked in a variety of shades of white, including creams and off-whites and winter whites and even a taupe or two. I thought the more subdued color palette would work, since the space where we hung it has bright walls.

I made pompoms, anchored them to chopsticks and stuck them in vases.

Pompom flowers of various sizes.

Pompom flowers of various sizes.

DSC_0048There are tons of pompom tutorials out there, but all the ones that used the poms as flowers seemed to require hot gluing the pom to the stem. I wanted to use our gigantic supply of plastic chopsticks, and I didn’t want to use glue, since I figured this was a more temporary installation than the chandelier/waterfall.

Instead, I left the strings I’d used to tie the pompoms long. I inserted the tip of a chopstick (thought about using bamboo skewers, too, which might have worked better on the smaller pompoms) into the center of a pom and used the long ends to firmly criss-cross down the stem a ways and ended with a knot. I just left the yarn ends, as a nod to leaves.

Also, I used little balls of yarn I had around in the bottoms of the vases to help situate the stems and give them a bit more height (the vases were taller than my stems, oops). And hey, more color!

I hung garlands of shawls on two walls.

Sarah knits plus garland of shawls

My sister learned to knit! Also, this is the best photo I have of the garlands of shawls. We were apparently having too much fun to remember to take photos.

I saw this photo of shawls on a clothesline, blowing in the breeze, in an online magazine. They were using it to showcase/introduce a knitting pattern. I thought it would be fun to replicate it with shawls I’ve made as decorations for the party. We ended up with two lines, on opposite walls, filled with shawls of all shapes, sizes and colors. (I like knitting shawls.)

We hung a photo poster in a frame, kind of.

This one did double duty: We had the photo up at A’s birthday party (since it’s a photo of him, after all), and then we hung it for this party, on a wall large enough to accomodate the giant frame, too. It didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. 🙂 (For reference: The photo is 16×20.)



I had a blast, despite the running around like crazy. (I knit and entire half a round on the sock project I brought with me.) We made a knitter and introduced a few people to crochet. Some current knitters hopefully gained some confidence in their abilities.

If you’re counting for #PinItDoIt, that’s four pins completed (in addition to the two from A’s party and the cookie one from my sign-up post, so, seven total).

There was talk of doing this again, maybe even regularly. Sounds like a good idea to me!


Faith and Fiction Round Table Discussion: Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle

I quite liked Certain Women, my first foray into the adult fiction by Madeleine L’Engle. The book sets up the mid-century family sired by actor Dave Wheaton as a counterpoint and entree into a closer look at the biblical David. And yet the book is really more about the fictional family. Told from the perspective of daughter Emma, quite a bit of the story centers around the stage, since acting is something Emma and her father share. (The family also includes producers, directors, musicians….)

This was the first time I’d seen the phrase (exhortation, really) in print: Serve the gift. In Certain Women, it’s almost a thread running through the entire story.

‘David truly believed that although he himself was the Lord’s anointed, so was Saul, and the Lord’s anointed must not be dishonored.’

‘The Lord’s anointed,’ Emma mused, pressing closer to Nik as a gust of west wind made her stagger slightly. ‘Do you believe that?’

‘The anointing of kings?’ Nik raised his dark brows. The wind from the river was ruffling his hair. ‘Maybe, when being a king was a talent and a vocation, not something political.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘What about your father? Isn’t he in a way also the Lord’s anointed? Where did his incredible gift of acting come from? Granted, he serves it well, he hasn’t wasted or perverted his talent as some artists do, but what about the talent in the first place?’

‘Is it maybe genetic?’ Emma asked.

Nik shook his head violently. ‘I don’t want all our gifts relegated to genes and chromosomes. Although I’m sure that would have satisfied my father.’

‘And your mother?’

‘She believed in gifts. And that I have one as a writer.’

‘You do.’

‘So all I can do is serve the gift. I’d give anything if I could serve mine as well as your father serves his.’

‘He tries,’ Emma said slowly. ‘When he’s working on a role it has nothing do do with his private life.’

Certain Women, page 163

The phrase, the idea, stuck out to me because it was hammered on at Hutchmoot last year, and it’s not really left me since.

As I understand it, it means that the artist has been given this giant gift, but with it comes a big responsibility. Not everyone has this gift, and so to be worthy of it, to do right by that gifting, the artist must throw himself into his work, must prove himself worthy of the gift almost.

Which … is something I’m not sure I believe. We’ve all been gifted, with talents, skills, abilities. Why would those in artistic arenas be held to a higher standard? In my head I’m connecting this to the artist-as-genius mentality.

Now, L’Engle draws a line between serving the gift and dying to yourself, which can be seen in the quote above. But still, I’m not convinced this is right.

Maybe, despite all that, I can buy into the serve-the-gift concept, though. Perhaps the phrase draws on the idea that creativity is part of being an Image-bearer, being one made in the image of God. Enh, I’m still not sure.

What do you think about serving the gift? What does it mean to you, do you agree with the idea?

For more posts on Certain Women, please visit:
My Friend Amy Book Addiction, Book Hooked Blog, Books and Movies, Crazy for Books, Ignorant Historian, Linus’s Blanket, My Random Thoughts, One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books, Roving Reads, Semicolon, The 3R’s Blog, Tina’s Book Reviews, Victorious Cafe

Christmas ornaments

Before I fell full-bore into gift knitting (now thankfully done!), I was getting into the Christmas spirit by making ornaments.

Christmas trees

Click any photo to view it larger.

These are the first ones we made. Paul shaped and slipped the trees, and I strung my handspun yarn as a garland. I especially like the bit of sparkle and variation in the yarn, as well as the highlight the edges of the trees themselves bring. I love it when we find ways to collaborate in craft!

We may iterate on this idea more in the future.


Again, click any photo to view it larger.

I pounded out quite a few of these; they’re kind of the unifying element on our personal tree this year. They come together really quick, too; I was getting four or so done in an hour. They’re a variety of lengths.

Here’s how I made them:

With a hook size suitable to the yarn (I used a G or H hook with worsted weight yarn), Ch — loosely! — a number approximating the desired length of your icicle. I had good luck with 18 or so. Any shorter than 14 I found less than ideal.

Working in the fourth ch from hook, 3 dc. Work 3 dc in each ch to end. Break yarn, weave in ends.

Icicle B prototype

This is an idea not fully come to fruition, I think. I like where it’s headed, but I’m not sure when I’ll have more time to devote to it.

I crocheted the stainless steel and threaded a bit of undyed combed top through it.

Have you made any ornaments this year?

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett (Tyndale, February 15, 2010), 400 pages

Four women from Ohio embark on a mission trip to South Africa. The trip is nothing like any of them planned or envisioned, of course.

These women went into their mission trip unprepared. They had no idea what to expect, for starters, but they each also come weighted down with secrets and fears, doubts and hurts.

Since I’ve been on a trip to Africa (not South Africa, though), I knew I had to read this book. At a few points, especially early on but also later, the bottom fell out of me, as I was sure I knew what was going to happen next and I was disappointed. But, happily, I was wrong about that most of the time!

The women work with a group of South African women with HIV/AIDS who are making beaded jewelry to support themselves and their children. The book is based on a real-life nonprofit organization that works in this arena, Beaded Hope.

The women in the book who take this trip are transformed, of course, but they also make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

Beaded bracelet

My husband brought me this bracelet, which is crafted of beads made from recycled paper made by women with HIV/AIDS in Kenya.

I’m sure this bracelet of mine isn’t the same as those produced by Beaded Hope — that organization is just in South Africa, it seems — but the concept is strikingly similar.

OK, back to the book. Beaded Hope was an emotionally stirring read for me. After I got past my initial feelings of dread (The cover? The concept? I’m not sure.) I enjoyed this story. I didn’t love this book, but at the same time, it was a book I couldn’t not read.

About the author
Cathy Liggett wrote Beaded Hope after traveling to South Africa on a mission trip like the one described in the book.

Other reviews
Genre Reviews

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I received this book from the publisher. I’m an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.