October 31, 2009

Crafting with... hair?

Crafting with hair? What am I talking about?

Here's a hint.... the hair stays on the head....

This is my 'canvas'... I'm talking about dreadlocks!

When I visited South America, a Peruvian Man in Buenos Aires dreaded my hair and showed me how to do it. The method is one that uses no wax, no chemicals, in fact nothing but a pair of hands, something to keep parcels of hair together & a crochet hook (size 2 i.e. 1.75mm works well, here I'm using a 1.25mm one).

I began last night, quite late, with two from the bottom section of his head. You work from the bottom upwards, which is handy if you decide to spread out the process over several days! You can just pull it back into a ponytail, and then you barely notice them.

Today I continued working on them. The dreads look quite funny at first - fluffy like a possum's tail! It's hard to explain exactly how to get it to that stage. Some people back comb the hair, I learned a slightly different technique which I hope to document soon. You basically split the hair parcel at two at the top and pull them away from each other. This forms a knot at the base. You then continue the same process, grabbing different bits of hair each time.

The crochet hook is then used to bring in all those fluffy bits and form a nice compact dreadlock. That's why I'm going ahead and calling it a craft!

You grab some of the fluff with one hand, then stick the crochet hook through the dread and pull some of it through. You then grab the bit you pulled through and bring it back to the other side again, and repeat the process. By only pulling through some of the fluff, and always different bits, you avoid just weaving one big strand through which could just come out again! We're basically just knotting the hair up so much that it can't come out again easily.

You maintain the dreads by a combination of rolling/twisting and occassional tidying up with the crochet hook. And washing, of course! People always brought that up when I had them... you can definitely wash them. I used a special shampoo which leaves no residues in the hair, but the Peruvian man said he just used any old soap or shampoo.

He only has seven dreads for now, but I thought it would be fun to share this work in progress with you straight away! On Halloween, no less!

Edit: I've uploaded some videos I took in Buenos Aires detailing some of the steps mentioned.

Step 1: How to start the dreads (base)

Step 2: How to continue the dreads (bulk)

Step 3: How to finish the dreads (crochet)

Related post: The dreadlocks are finished

October 11, 2009

Cathy Cullis: September

My lucky streak continues, with September arriving in my mailbox...

Cathy Cullis recently hosted an autumn giveaway, and September was the prize. The fabric was dyed with violas! If you're interested, she has a whole post dedicated to dyeing with blackberries and onion skins. Fascinating stuff.

If you haven't seen Cathy's work before, I recommend you head on over to take a look. I love the small stitches & details.... the floating faces & string hiding everywhere enchant me!

This piece, 'a memoir', was one of the first pieces of her work I saw. I've since discovered that she also makes dolls:

And writes poetry which sometimes finds its way into her textile art:

To see more of Cathy's enchanting work, also check out her flickr, etsy, and big cartel.

Next week begins Cathy's week of painting... I'm looking forward to it!

October 9, 2009

Shiny Happy Art

A lovely package came in the mail recently from Anna Bartlett...

I joined Shiny Happy Art's mailing list and won Septembers' giveaway: a lovely linen tea-towel.

I love the package's small details, like the illustrated envelope (cute!) and the extra gifts (a bookmark, set of art tags, and bookplates).

I also follow Anna Bartlett's blog "Shiny Happy Thoughts" which is a great mix of everything from emergency cookies to developing new products and her artwork including murals and step-by-step paintings.

October's giveaway is a purse-sized pink notebook. Go ahead and join Shiny Happy Art's mailing list to be in the running!

October 5, 2009

Modified buttercup bag

I've had Rae's Free Buttercup Bag sewing pattern in my crafty bookmarks folder since it came out in February. A friend's birthday was the perfect excuse to give the pattern a go. I had a 18"x20" piece of Peter Alexander's Bird Seed fabric in my stash. A little too small to do anything with - or so I thought!

I was determined to complete the bag with materials I had on hand, which didn't include a magnetic clasp. I modified the pattern a little bit to add a zip, as I have recently acquired an enormous quantity of them & I'm trying to use them in as many projects as possible. It also meant I could line the bag with yellow polkadot material while a classy "white" look when the zip is shut.

It was satisfying to put the sum of knowledge I've been acquiring through recent projects to use.

To install the zipper, I used techniques I learned in cindylou's How to make a lined zipper pouch tutorial. I made the handle using bunny bum's technique she uses in her market tote tutorial. I inserted the handle between the outside & the lining using the method I learned from cindylou's tutorial for a simple reversible totebag.

I skipped the decorative buttons, as I decided that this fabric didn't need it. I also added a little zipper pull because the zip is a fair bit down & the top of the bag curves.

It worked pretty well, although the zipper was still a bit crooked. Next time I'll sew down the seamline a bit, between the handle & the zipper to anchor the lining to the outside fabric to stop them separating when the zip is pulled open/shut.

It's a small bag, but perfect for a small wallet, phone & keys if you're going out. And a great use for pretty fat quarters!

I plan to make one for myself sometime, and will try and document my modifications so I can make a mini tutorial. In case you're interested, Sarah has already put together an alternate way to sew recessed zippers.

Curious Little Oyster pout balm

Annaliese, from the Curious Little Oyster, is giving away five of her Nilla Nilla pout balms. She doesn't appear to have drawn the winners yet, so if you're quick, you might be in for a chance! Become a fan of her facebook page and leave a message to be in the running.

I was lucky enough to win some Arancia pout balm in her last giveaway, and it is great - tasty, and very cute.

These lip balms would make a great gift. If you miss out on the giveaway, check out the range at her online shop. She has a bunch of things in stock from Melbourne craftsters, and says:
I handpick each item that sells in my lil shoppe. The criteria is that they are all eco in some way: organically made; sustainable; recycled or upcycled. But being green is not enough! Our goodies are GORGEOUS, fun and sometimes a little bit quirky!
She's also founded an Indie collective:
The Indie Collective is a meeting place for artisans, crafters, cooks and more for the purpose of creating greater buying power for what they need to make!

Being an Indie means that we often pay more for materials and ingredients... paradoxically, we are often the ones needing a better deal, so here is your place to make it happen!
Talking about giveaways, Geta's quilt arrived in the mail, and is prettying up my place! It has a gorgeous shine to it that the photos just don't capture...

Happy October, everyone, this year is zooming by!

Related post: Geta's Shadow Trapunto Quilt

October 1, 2009

English paper piecing with the Brown Owls

Last Sunday I attended Canberra's September Brown Owls get together. The theme was open, so I brought along the English paper piecing kit from a previous meet-up. Even though I missed that get together, I saw what the others got up to and wanted to give it a go myself.

You can make the templates yourself, or buy them. If you're in Australia, Lizard of Oz specialises in English Paper piecing and appliqué.

If you're interested in giving it a go, or simply want an explanation about what it's about, Sunshine has a pretty comprehensive post on it. She also has an alternative design you can use.

The method I was kindly taught by a fellow Brown Owl was mildly different: when basting the fabric to the cardboard shape, we pinned down two opposing edges of the hexagon, then creased all the other sides of the fabric over the edge. When it came to the threading, we stuck a needle through a corner of the hexagon near one of the pins, then put it through the middle of the side, and up again through the next corner and do on and so forth until we got all the way around.

In the photo above, I'd already cut the basting stitches and removed the cardboard template from the central hexagon, to be able to reuse it. I used some leftover scraps from a reversible tote I recently made.
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