Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Even the Most Experienced Knitter Can Make Mistakes

By Diane of Lady Dye Fiber Arts & Design

I have been knitting for several years now and I can still remember the first time I made a hat. I made it too small that it actually looked like a “mini-royal crown” sitting on top of my big head. Back in the day I felt that doing a knitting gauge prior to starting a project was just plain silly. I always thought I could tell how many stitches I would need for a hat, socks, scarf, and just about anything. But it never dawned on me then that nothing ever seems to fit when I didn’t do the gauge?

As the years have gone on and I have become the gauge-awareness knitter, I feel a joy inside me that my beautiful knitted items can actually fit me and those individuals I make knitted items for. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times that I choice not to do a gauge and it turned out fine and there have been times when I didn’t and I have paid the consequence but overall doing a gauge in knitting is very important.

Why would I say this, well, in my last blog post, I was working on a beautiful cropped cabled hoodie from a pattern in Vogue Knitting magazine for my best friend. Vogue Knitting has absolutely amazing knitting patterns and the designers they have are truly talented. I had worked on the sweater on and off for a year (as goes most of my knitting projects) and I felt it was time to finish it up before the yarn disintegrated.
The first thing I did before beginning the project was to complete the gauge and after that, I knitted away.

I am very pleased to say that I have finished the cabled hoodie however, I had more frustration not from it being too small or too big but realizing another important fact about knitting: not all knitting patterns are accurate.

I know some of you may be thinking, “Diane of course this is true and you should know this so why are you mentioning it?” Well, it’s the reality that no matter how long you have knitted and have used a pattern and have received excellent results of your end product, it’s always important to read a knitting pattern before you try and take on a gorgeous yet daunting task to work on a project that may challenge your knitting skills especially from Vogue Knitting.

When I saw the pattern in Vogue Knitting, I rushed to WEBS in Northampton and picked out the yarn and never thought twice to look up on Ravelry to see if other individuals had worked on this pattern nor did I check Vogue Knitting magazine to see if there was an errata. Had I done that, I would have realized that more people had challenges and required some tweaking and not only those who were knitting the same pattern but the designer who created the pattern also made changes since it had been published in Vogue Knitting.

I do consider myself to be an experienced knitter but I realized that even the most experienced knitter can make mistakes. I encourage anyone who is attempting to work on a pattern that is breathe taking at glance, to check the sources out to see if there are any pattern changes prior to knitting. In doing so, you may find that you will not want to take on the challenge to knit the pattern or you can buckle yourself in tight and knit away.

In the end, I am happy that I did tackle my way through the pattern and I completed something absolutely beautiful. I hope to upload some of the final cropped cabled hoodie in the upcoming weeks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Mosaic - Beach Getaway

1. Beach Walk 8 x 10 Photo Print by Lucie Wicker Photography
2. Mussel Place Setting by Bancroft Studios
3. Sand Dollar by Bumble Belly Designs
4. Boats Jamaica Pond Boston 8 x 10 Matted Print by Kerry Hawkins Photography
5. 6Vintage Inspired Spun Cotton Beach Bathing Beauty by Vintage by Crystal
6. Cool Waters Sterling Silver & Sea Glass Bracelet by Sea Glass Things

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer's End...

by Marla Kunselman of Sea Glass Things

I never look forward to this time of year... the end of August. There is a chill in the morning air... the nights are a bit cooler and days are getting shorter.

The malls soon become bustling with back-to-school shoppers and you find yourself purchasing closed toed shoes instead of another pair of trusty flip flops. There is mad dash to capture last beach days and nightly walks to the local ice cream stand slowly come to an end.

The end of Summer... it seems to sneak up on me. I guess I am just never prepared for its departure.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wedding Bells

By Allison of Fraske Designs

Tis the season for weddings! My very good friends Erin and Alex are tying the knot this weekend! Here are some selections from an engagement photo shoot we did in November. They are getting married in Cambridge at City Hall, and the reception will also be in Cambridge, so we took pictures at both locations.

The day started off a little drizzly which gave us the perfect opportunity to take some authentic couple shots under a red umbrella!

Then we took some shots in front of the City Hall entrance where the magic is happening!

Our last stop was the reception site just a few blocks down the road. It was a pretty fall day which was perfect for taking pictures outdoors.

As you can see, Erin and Alex have a silly side to them, hence Alex pretending to fly away like the statue. Some of the outtakes were my favorites! It shows that they don't take life too seriously which is one of the keys to happiness! Wouldn't you say?

Congratulations to Erin and Alex - two of the best people I know!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where have all the photo albums gone?

by Julie Beck of Julie Beck: Original Paintings

Here's what worries me- Imagine the year is 2040, and we want to be all like "Hey grandkids, look at the beautiful artworks I created back when I wasn't this old and wrinkly!" or "See this is what we used to do before we had teleporters" but OH NO! "Sorry kids, my hard drive crashed back in 2012 and I lost it all."

As an artist, I think it's important to document your work, not only to copyright it, but also as a way of going back and looking at how you've grown artistically. All the members of Boston Handmade make such amazing things, and it would be a shame not to have documentation of these items in physical form.

This is why you should make sure to print out those photos or make a book of them. It's so easy! There are so many ways to do this, but my favorite is Blurb.com Blurb has a great intuitive software you download to layout your book including text and photos.

Just recently I created this book for a portfolio of my paintings, but it also would make a nice gift for my parents, or friends who like my paintings.

Don't lose those memories!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Etsy Pillowcase Challenge Party At Craftland

By Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs

To read more about the pillowcase challenge and how it got started here is the Etsy link.

If you are interested in signing up click onto the meet-up page.

Brighten up someone's day by sewing an awesome pillowcase for a person in need.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Cloisters, New York City

Kerry Hawkins of Khawkinsphotography

I have always wanted to visit The Cloisters in New York City. The Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a collection of art and architecture of Medieval Europe. The art is from the 9th Century to the 15th Century. The property also, includes beautiful gardens. The architecture of this building is quite wonderful. This was such a peaceful place and it did not disappoint.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Public Art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

By Bexx of White Sparrow Bindery

For most people, the mention of MIT conjures up visions of computers, robots, and nerds galore. Although known for producing some of the world's most innovative research in science and technology, MIT is also home to also home to a fascinating collection of public art. The campus is dotted with outdoor sculptures that make walking through campus visually engaging on even the bleakest New England day.

MIT’s collection of public art began to form in 1961, with the commission of MIT’s first outdoor sculpture, Dimitri Hadzi’s bronze Elmo-MIT (shown at right). This piece resides outside of the Hayden Memorial Library, whose ground are also home to several other sculptures in the MIT collections.

One of the campus's best known sculptures (and one of my favorite) is Alexander Calder's La Grande Voile (The Big Sail), which is located in McDermott Court. (Shown at left).

Other notable piece on campus include several bronze sculptures by Jacques Lipchitz, a cast concrete statue by Pablo Picasso, and Sol LeWitt's polychrome terrazzo floor.

If you're interested in taking a self-guided tour, you can view and download an interactive map and guide to the collection here. Free guided tours are also available.

To find out more about art at MIT, visit the List Visual Arts Center's webpage here.

*Photos courtesy of the List Visual Arts Center.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mosaic - Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot

1. Jeanne Zip Wallet by muchacha K
2. Wool Applique Pillow by Stray Notions
3. Singer Circles Print by Thirteenth Story
4. Spun Cotton Vintage Inspired Dalmation Dog by Vintage By Crystal
5. Lake Superior by Bumble Belly Designs
6. Polka Dot Brontosaurus Dinosaur by Tactile Baby

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Handmade Home

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed to You

Last month I posted to this blog with some photos of the wonderful handmade finds I came home with from the Boston Handmade Somerville Marketplace. Since that post I realized that our home is really full of handmade love, largely created by members of Boston Handmade. It makes me smile every time I see and utilize the handmade items we have here, and I wanted to share more of this joy with you through pictures. All the items shown in this post can be found in my son's room. Above are two wooden toys made by Colleen of Tactile Baby. Zachary loves these toys, especially the wheels on the horsey.
These really sweet booties were a newborn gift for Zachary made by Jen of Blue Alvarez. I love them so much, and the ribbon they are tied together with, that I keep them hanging as decoration even now that Zach's feet have grown too big to wear them.
These two delightful pieces of artwork were made by Amy of Bumble Belly Designs. They were the first pieces of art that I purchased for Zachary's room and I just love these playful little boys with their boats. I look forward to the 'someday' when Zach wants to dress up like a pirate.
This last picture shows the small blankie that I knitted for Zachary. He cuddles with it, sleeps with it, and plays peek-a-boo with it, which is what he's doing in this photo. Some of the yarn knitted into blankie was made by Diane of Lady Dye.

I've made lots of things for Zach in the past year, and I've made many items around our home like curtains, throw pillows, and ceramic bowls. I love knowing that so much of our home was created by my own hands and by the hands of artists and artisans that I know personally, and with Zach's first birthday coming up we've also found some handmade gifts for him that I'll share after the big day - so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Handmade Bonding

by Jen of MaJenta Designs

Planning a wedding can be a very stressful time, with lots of decision-making and organizing. During my own wedding, I try to find things we can do ourselves - not only to cut costs, but it seems more personal when I get to really be a part of the process. I have found the process to be fun and a bonding time for my fiance and me as well as my family members and good friends that I've recruited to help out!

Above is a picture of me printing out all our wedding invitations - we later had to assemble all the pieces and wrap with ribbon.

Here is a picture of my fiance Evan working so diligently on our wedding favors gift tins.

Here are my friends helping to assemble our wedding programs that double as fans! ;)

These butterflies will soon become place cards at the reception - and will rest on the wine glasses!

Hopefully next month, I'll be able to share some more photos of the final products displayed during the big day! :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

North Shore Concours d'Elegance

by Allison of Fraske Designs

I had the chance to attend the North Shore Concours d'Elegance held at Endicott College on August 1. There were over 80 antique cars lined up along their beautiful campus. It was a perfect day and I took a bunch of pictures. Here are some of my favorites!
North Shore Concours d'Elegance

North Shore Concours d'Elegance

North Shore Concours d'Elegance

North Shore Concours d'Elegance

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Discount Fabric Orgy

by Katy of muchacha K handmade

(photo courtesy of the Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics website...)

Let me just cut to the chase here: I LOVE discount fabric. LOVE. I don't even mind that discount fabric stores are often a little bit hit and miss in terms of what you may find from visit to visit. One of my fave fabric watering holes to go to when I visit my cousin down yonder, is Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics in Dorchester. I always know I will find SOMETHING that I must have. In particular, I've found some lovely special occasion fabrics...my aunt loves checking them out for quilting cottons...and once, I found a particularly fab quilting print of Jesus at the Last Supper. Something a little weird and wrong about that, but FANTASTIC nonetheless...I bought it to make placemats, d'oh!

They actually have two locations, the one in Dorchester and the other one in Somerville. And they are open until 8PM Monday through Saturday (as well as open on Sundays)...so you have time to go after work.

So...if you need a hit of discount fabric from time to time like I do, it's totally worth a scour...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Photos

So last week I had my friend Monica Ripley (She is the one that I would add as #7 to my previous post "5 (as in 6) Ceramic Artists you need to know!") take new photos for me, my website and upcoming grad school applications and I have to say that they came out amazing! I'm so happy with all of them! I don't know about you guys but I have become very choosy about what I get photos taken of. I had one piece that we could not photograph because it was too tippy and I just didn't want to waste the time on trying to get it to stand up straight. I also have noticed that getting photos done the first time made me realize that I was making a lot of flat objects. Well that had to change and immediately! I think that's where my flower brick form came out of. All in all it was a good thing, here are a few of my favorite images. ENJOY!

So see all of the new images please be sure to check out my website HERE.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where personal changes and artistry meet

by Katy of muchacha K handmade

This past year and a half has been insane for me. Oh I know it's been insane for a lot of people, thanks to world changes and economic frustrations...but let me give you the short version so you know just what I'm talking about personally:

I completed an internship and all of my remaining coursework for grad school.
I ended a significant relationship.
I began a new relationship and got married (and had a HUGE 300-guest wedding!)
I acquired three very young step-children.
I moved.
I got a dog.
I coordinate a weekly outdoor event.
I am active in many local "committees" to better my community.
I have two jobs.
I was diagnosed as an adult with ADHD.
I endured several rounds of medication trials to see if they would help me to manage some of my ADHD symptoms and some of those trials went very badly.
I was temporarily disabled (mentally and physically) for two months because of an atypical migraine-related disorder.

This is the short list, but you get the idea...and all of these things happening at once has been one wild ride.

One important item to add to the list: I have my sewing business...and it's been sadly neglected. I simply could not keep producing at the rate I was, and keep the rest of my life on a even keel. I had to completely stop for a bit, and now...am rebuilding.

But after so many changes...the question I have been wrestling with is not whether or not I want to sew, but...what do I want to make? Prior to my break I was running a brisk little business of bridal custom orders and handbag sales. It was great, but I feel like I'm ready for something new. Lately, I wake up dreaming about making clothing. I see fabric and I see dresses...and shirts...and skirts...

All of these life changes have apparently brought about an artistic revolution in my imagination...but it's hard to put aside financial concerns. I was making money doing what I WAS doing. But will I make money doing what I want do to now?

Here's what it comes down to, for me: did I begin what I was doing before, with the purpose of making money? No, I did not. I know this is not conventional business planning, but for me, the answer to this question is important because I know from experience that money alone is not a good motivator for me. I need to be in it for the love.

So...I will start with a sewing machine and a dress form and go from there. And after building up some inventory, perhaps some business planning will be in order. But for now...after all of the changes this crazy year has brought, I just want to reconnect with the love. I need it. I need the love.

This is one of the first bags I ever made...in my basement apartment, 3,000 miles from where I live now. Everything in my life has changed since then...everything except the fact that I love to sew.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Mosaic - Fruit

1. Pick Your Own Set Felted Fruit Bowl with 3 Pieces of Fruit by Cozy Cottage Creations
2. Mini Tart Ornaments/Pincushions - Your Choice by Stray Notions
3. Spun Cottage Vintage Style Apple Cat Girl by Vintage By Crystal
4. Green Pear Collage Print by Christine Marie Art

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What is letterpress? Part 2

by Melissa of Pressbound

Following up on the first post about my What is Letterpress? poster, here concludes the explanation from my poster:

Letterpress dates back to the mid-fifteenth century when Johann Guttenberg introduced movable lead type to the Western world (example above is movable wood type which is very similar). Each individual character was cast in lead and set by hand. Over time some technologies improved productivity, such as a linotype machine, which cast entire lines of type in lead (below), and presses continued to evolve through the end of the industrial revolution. Letterpress printing, however, fell out of favor in the nineteenth century with the introduction of offset printing but was still commonly used in commercial printing through the mid-twentieth century.

Today, letterpress printing is used mostly by artists or craftsman to produce invitations, stationery, high-end ephemera like greeting cards or posters, limited edition artist’s books, and small runs of independently published books. Though some printers still prefer to hand set their type and use antique “cuts” (zinc or magnesium engraved images mounted to wood), many prefer using polymer plates (below), a technology that transfers digitally rendered images or type onto a thin plastic plate that is adhered to a base to make it type-high.

Letterpress tends to be more expensive compared to other methods of printing like off-set (how books or magazine are generally printed) or digital printing. The process is far more time consuming because many presses are hand-fed and operated, applying a single ink color per run. Not to mention the time it takes to lock up a layout in the press bed, align the paper to the layout, troubleshooting the press, or the added time of hand setting text. Items are also printed on high quality papers in order to achieve the lush impressions of the type or image that punch into the paper, a characteristic letterpress has become known for (below).

Since the 1990s there has been a resurgence of interest in letterpress printing. Though reasons for this are purely speculative some say it’s a reaction to computer technology and the desire to work with one’s hands. Fortunately there is an amazing community of letterpress printers and enthusiasts around the globe willing to share information, teach classes, or help you find a press of your own. If you are interested in learning more a good start would be to visit the website fiveroses.org and read their “Introduction to Letterpress Printing,” or visit the Briarpress website which is an excellent source for equipment, classes/workshops, jobs, and an active forum.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What is Letterpress? part 1

by Melissa of Pressbound

I was recently assigned a project in my MFA program that required us to design an informational/instructional poster. It's probably no surprise that I chose to do mine on letterpress. The last few craft fairs I've participated in a number of people have asked me what letterpress is. Being so involved in the process I often forget that many people have no idea what letterpress is exactly and even when people are familiar with the look of the final printed pieces they still have no idea how the process works. So I chose to keep the subject matter simple and answer the question: What is Letterpress?

The final poster design is 25 x 38 inches and uses wood type that I hand set, printed on a Kelsey hand press, then scanned in and added to the layout electronically (above). Unfortunately the text is too small to read on screen. I'll be posting the first part of the text below and the rest will follow in a second post to come.

Letterpress is a relief printing process in which type and/or images are cast, carved, or engraved in reverse on a raised surface (commonly lead, zinc, polymer, linoleum, or wood) and mounted to a base set to a very specific height (.918 inches) known as “type-high.” The type or images are locked into the bed of a press, inked with the press’ rollers, and a piece of paper is then pressed against it to form a positive impression.

The impression on the paper can be made in various ways on different styles of presses. A platen style press such as the Chandler & Price (above) applies pressure against a flat surface that the
paper sits in (this is known as the platen) to the locked in layout in the press bed, opening and closing much like a clamshell. A cylinder press, such as the Vandercook Proof Press, (below) rolls the paper over the flat area of the press bed to make the impression. There are many variations of these styles of presses as well as many companies who once produced and manufactured them. Unfortunately none of these companies still produce new presses and haven’t for many years, so working presses today must be well cared for.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Handmade wedding scrapbook...

by Katy of muchacha K handmade

I was very diligent about using local and handmade products in my wedding...it's important to remember that often, going local and handmade can SAVE you money in your wedding planning. Going local and handmade is also a great way to support your local economy and in these times, that's such an important thing to do. A far larger portion of your dollars spent locally will STAY local. Also, when you buy items direct from the artist, you cut out the middle men, which saves you money and puts more money in the pockets of the artist.

All preaching aside, here's my scrapbook! I'm a Boston Handmade outlier in that I'm the only NH member (I was a founding member, before the geographic rules were in place) so my choices are from near my home in NH, but you can make similar local choices near you!

First of all, I need to give credit to my amazing wedding photographer, Tanya Lacourse of Violet Marsh Photography. Tanya is, indeed, a photographer local to where I live. She's got just the right eye for wedding photography because when you think about it, wedding photography is really a combination of portrait, candid/photojournalist shots, and stills. Tanya has a great eye for all of those. And I found her right here at home...she's also a regular contributor to Apartment Therapy Boston.

Now then, let me point out the juicy handmade details, and this pic is all about "what the bride wore". For the wedding, my dress was purchased from a local dress shop right here on my Main St. I wore a floral and "birdy" hairpiece made by my sister. In order to make it stay put in my short spiky hair, I created and attached it to a white tulle headband.

My earrings are scrumptious floral hoops made by Heather Wang of Lowell, MA. Heather also made our wedding rings and my engagement ring.

The necklace was purchased from Nurit of NuArt Jewelry. Nurit is a regular vendor at Concord Arts Market, the market that I run here in NH. The market features artists and artisans from NH and MA, and a few from ME and VT too so it's a vortex of regionally created handmade goodness.

Becky Oh! made me a special bag for the day, because I needed something to carry my "little stuff" in.

(photo by Becky Oh!)

In this pic I'm also holding the really cool wedding goblets made for us by Paul Haigh of Wiley Hill Mudworks in Londonderry, NH. We actually use these everyday now because they're really sturdy and just super cool!

Another thing to point out about this pic: we prioritized having live music over having a DJ...really it was one of our biggest priorities for the day. My husband is a working musician so that was very important to us. We had four local music groups that played, in addition to friends who performed special songs for us. In this pic I'm talking to Juanito Pascual. He's a flamenco guitarist based in Boston. He played the first part of our reception, with a fantastic dancer and percussionist. We also had the Blue Ribbon All-Star Band and the Crunchy Western Boys, two NH bands that made sure everybody was having a good time. The African-style drumming of local percussion troupe Araba-lon was our processional and recessional and set a fun tone for the whole day!

We got mouth watering food from three Main St. businesses: our local food Co-op, my parents shop (not everyone has a father who is a pastry chef, lol) and a European family-fun bistro.

Artist and friend Susan Schwake created this backdrop for the ceremony (and that's our friend Steve Cooney of the Blue Ribbon All Star Band singing to us):

(photo by Becky Oh!)

Her artwork was also the basis for the GREAT invitations that our very own Jessica Burko of Boston Handmade made for us!

And the whole day simply would not have been complete without the talents of the Flashback Hoops girls and the fantastic hoop that they MADE for me:

(photo by Becky Oh!)

And to us, that was the perfect day. Surrounded by friends and family and handmade goodness and local food and music...and hula-hooping to bluegrass...! As you plan events in your life, always remember that you might find just the right ingredients for your perfect day, right in your own backyard, or on your own Main St., or direct from an artist who has put tremendous skill and care into their work.

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