Thursday, December 29, 2011

Muddy Waters Cowl

P1010043 by megan_n_smith_99
P1010043, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I have not been blogging much but expect to resume my more-usual schedule after the holidays. Well, and I am still looking for a job.

This started as a scarf for my friend Janusz but I did not think I would have enough yarn so I decided to make it shorter and add a button. I am not sure cowl is the right word - maybe cravat?

The button is one I've been hoarding, it's some sort of agate. I like the irregular shape. The piece is sort of "bumpy" - I could have blocked it but chose not to because I was going for the whole organic look, which went with the greens and browns.

I'm almost done with my holiday knitting / crafting / arting. my family is celebrating on New Year's Eve so I got an extension as it were.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Knitting 1

Reading Mitts by megan_n_smith_99
Reading Mitts, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I often make a lot of my holiday gifts and this year in particular for economic reasons. I still have a couple of gifts I am working on but so far I've made: 4 pairs of fingerless gloves, 2 scarves, 6 felt ornaments, a pile of crocheted stars a doll sweater, a number of paintings, and 6 pairs of earrings.

The gloves shown here are Susie's Reading Mitts. The pattern is available on Ravelry. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, colorway 872 Purpuras.

Since they are reading mitts I had to have a book for a prop! I am sure Dumbledore himself would approve of purple reading mitts.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last Minute Idea - Peek-A-Boo House Ornament Tutorial

I came up with this idea a couple days ago. These are easy to make and I must say addictive - I am sure I will be making more!

You will need:
wool felt
novelty fabric with a small scale motif
flower bead and seed beads
embroidery floss in a contrasting color from your felt
needle, pins, and tape

Cut out the little house pattern which is available here. Cut out on the outer line and then carefully cut the window out using small sharp scissors. you may need to adjust the size of the window to fit your motif.

Position the cut out house over your novelty fabric and move it around until you get just the bit you want peeking through the window. then cut out a small square of your novelty fabric that is a bit bigger than your window all the way around.

Lay your felt on top of the cut out motif and position as you want it. Pin it and stitch all the way around the window using 2 strands of embroidery floss.

Sew a flower bead at near the top of your house.

Layer the 2 felt houses together and stitch all the way around the outside of the house to fasten the front and backs together. Work your ends in. Add an embroidery thread loop to the top and it's ready to hang!

Winner of December give-away!

Last week I posted this chance to win one of my original drawings. Elli was the winner! Elli, I need your current address. For the rest of you, tune in around the beginning of January for another chance to win a piece of original art.

For the curious, winners are randomly selected by the random number generator at

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last Minute Idea: Nest Necklace

I came up with this idea and I thought I'd provide you with some instructions. These make cute necklaces, or you could make smaller nests for earrings, or perhaps larger nests for holiday ornaments.

You will need:
A few yards of sock weight yarn
Crochet hook, size E
Sewing or beading thread to match your sock yarn
Assorted beads and charms including bird, feather, leaf, and /or flower beads
A beading or needle small enough to fit through your beads
A split ring
A pretty ribbon

How to crochet the nest:

chain 5 stitches and join in a ring. Place stitch marker if desired to mark the start of your rows. On such a small item I sometimes forego the stitch marker and just keep track of where I am,
Round 1: 2 single crochet in each stitch in the ring.
Round 2: 2 single crochet in 1st stitch, 1 single crochet next stitch, repeat till end of round.
Round 3: 2 single crochet in 1st stitch, 1 single crochet in next 2 stitches, repeat till end of round
Round 4: single crochet the whole round.
You may continue for a few more repeats of round 4 if desired to make a deeper nest.

(For larger nests start with thicker yarn / bigger crochet hook and / or add more increase rounds like rows 2 or 3. In these rounds, space several increases evenly throughout the round. Crocheted nests, like nests in nature, can be formed organically, adding increases to widen the nest wherever they seem appropriate.)

Finish and work ends in.

Using your beading thread sew beads into the nest and hanging off the bottom of the nest as fringe. For the blue nest I sewed 3 small turquoise into the nest to look like eggs. I also hung fringe off the bottom of the nest and sewed a split ring to the top of the nest to function as a hanging loop.

For the green nest i sewed a ceramic owl bead into the nest, hung fringes off the bottom, and sewed a small split ring to the top of the nest to function as a hanging loop. I threaded a hand dyed silk ribbon through the split ring to make a simple necklace.

Finish by knotting your beading thread and working the ends in.
Happy Beading!
Megan Noel

Last Minute Idea: Felt Unicorn Ornament

I originally posted this a few years ago but here it is again.. You still have time to make a whole herd of unicorns before the holidays!

This pattern requires: wool felt, 2 black beads, 4 tiny buttons, novelty yarns, stuffing, flower bead or ribbon flower, and polymer clay.

cut out 2 bodies and 8 legs and 2 ears from felt. whipstitch together, stuff, and sew shut, inserting the horn as you sew shut the head, as shown in diagram. after you have sewed all the peices together sew the legs on with the buttons (ask me if you need more details but i think a lot of my readers probably know how to make button joined legs.) lastly embellish the unicorn by tacking on his mane, tail, and the flower. sew one the 2 black bead eyes and the ears and enjoy! i have also modified this pattern in the past to make horses and donkeys. you could further embellish with beads or sequins, add wings, etc. they can be enjoyed as is or you can add a loop to hang them up as ornaments.

finished product. click on thumbnails to see larger:

making and inserting the horn from polymer and the pattern

full size pattern.

feel free to make, pass on, share, etc. just credit me and please don't make to sell them w/o permission!
edit: an alternate way to make the horn out of wool felt is here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Knitting

Holiday Knitting by megan_n_smith_99
Holiday Knitting, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

Well, I am getting ready for the holidays, and that means knitting, beading, sewing, and painting. Whew! Well, just a bit of each. Ok, a bit more than a bit of knitting. But my family is exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve I think and some of my friends I probably will not see till after the 25th, which gives me a bit more time!

Here we have a sneak peak.. Some malabrigo, I think Rios and DK, and some koigu, and Berroco Geode, and a peak of Manos silk/wool blend.

Last Minute Idea - Soft Trees

112906trees by megan_n_smith_99
112906trees, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

This pattern was posted a few years ago by Stefanie Barnes of Littlebirds. I managed to track it down though again though I had to do some hunting. These are easy to make so whip up a few! I made mine from lovely quilting fabrics and used fiberfill as "snow"!

the Pattern.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last Minute Idea : Crocheted Star Ornaments

Tutorial here:

The smaller stars omit round 3. The star on right consists of rounds 1 and 2 + a round of single crochet w/ sparkly mohair (Trendsetter by Dune.)

Add a hanging loop and you've got a cute ornament. You can also use them to decorate packages.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Last Minute Idea: Crocheted Acorn Ornaments

more acorns! by megan_n_smith_99
more acorns!, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I made these acorns using the tutorial at Resurrection Fern. You can make a whole bunch of these in just a short time and They would make quite fetching holiday ornaments!

The Embellished Home, Part 2 of 2

If you read this post you'll see I started to re-share an article the the 7th issue of the zine I used to publish, Mysterium. It's amazing how much I had forgotten about. Here are some decorating tips I'll share again.

Home Sweet Home: Embellish it! Part 2 of 2
By Megan Noel, 2004, 2011

* Someday I am going to break down and take an upholstery class. In the meantime at least some things are easy to redo: Some chairs have seats that just pop out for recovering (use a staple gun) and so do some footstools. If you can sew even a reasonably straight line you can make new tablecloths, place mats, and curtains. If you can't sew a straight line make the edges wavy on purpose or cover with fringe or trim

* Decorate with maps. If they are old or valuable, make sure to use color copies. You can line drawers or cupboards with them, hang them on the wall, etc. I've always wanted to make my own globe. I reckon the best way to do this would be to buy an inexpensive school globe, gesso it, and then paint my own stuff over top. Do not do this with an old globe without checking to see if it is valuable. Do use old valuable globe to enhance your decor, but don't alter them!

* Hang beads off random items of furniture. This is easy to do. Just drill tiny holes or attach tiny eye hooks. Then you can hang beads off shelves, chairs, tables, you name it. You can never have too many beads.

* I had this idea for a bubble wrap shower curtain. You can buy it in rolls. Simply piece together with clear packing tape and hang. (It is even better if you can get a tall enough piece so that no piecing is involved.) When stressed out, pop the bubbles. When the bubbles are used up, make a new one.

* Do paint scenes on the back of your bookshelves (or collage them) and paint or collage the insides of closest or cupboard doors. We all need a little more excitement in life. Use acrylic paint for this.

* Decorate with your collections, whatever they are. I have decorated with jewelry and evening purses, scarves, and even a beaded velvet jacket hanging on my wall. One of my cousins has her vintage rolling pin collection hanging on her kitchen wall.

* On those days when you have an urge to nest but no extra funds you can still go outside and collect leaves, flowers, twigs, shells, and whatever it is that you can find in your neck of the woods, and make a table arrangement. Be creative and use things in unusual ways!

* If you can find, beg, borrow or steal and old decrepit dresser you can do interesting things with the drawers. Remove the hardware, paint and embellish, add partitions and hang on the wall for curious. Or you can add little shelves going across and them and use to store small items like thread, containers of beads, and mounted rubber stamps. You can even add a glass top, fill with art of curious, and add legs to make an unusual coffee table or end table.

* Things can go together without matching. Pick a color scheme and collect tableware, linens, etc. in those colors. You don't have to spend a lot. You can buy from open stock or thrift stores. I like the little bowls and things you can get in Japanese stores. Next time you entertain mix and match! Or even make each place setting a different color. This would brighten up any winter day.

* As may be clear by now, I am crazy about crows. I like to get those little crow figures in flower shops -- the ones with the real feathers -- and perch them on nails on my wall. They look good over doors and windows. You can scatter tiny fake nests around too. I have some on my window sill. Also, blow out eggs or dye or paint them to look like natural birds' eggs. Some eggs are amazingly pretty and would be fun to copy. I always like to have some leaves, feathers, shells, beach glass, and maple whorls scattered around too, in little bowls on sills and ledges. They are handy for instant art fodder and look homey too.

The End! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Embellished Home part 1

i was just rereading some things in the 7th issue of my zine, Mysterium. It's amazing how much I had forgotten about. Here are some decorating tips I'll share again. I will break this up over 2 days.

Home Sweet Home: Embellish it!
By Megan Noel, 2004, 2011

*You can never have too many pillows. Load up your bed, sofa, and chairs with art pillows. Make floor pillows too. If you make shams for pillow forms you can switch them out. [Ed. note: Also if you have kids or pets think about making shams of washable materials. If you have allergies it's best to wash pillow shams in hot water to kill dust mites.]

*Embellish with beads! Hammer tiny nails into your walls, door frames, or window frames and hang beads from them, strands of different lengths. You can put little hooks at the top of the strands to attach them with and switch them around at will. Do this at the top of your shower curtain too. [Ed note: you can put split rings at the top of your strands of beads and slip them over a nail or push pin.]

* Embellish with bottles. I saw some really neat ones recently. The artist had collected variously sized and colored bottles, created simple collages on them (also try in them) and wrapped the necks with ribbons, wire, and beads. You can either keep things in the bottles or leave them empty. This would be especially pretty on a windowsill. [Ed. note: you can fill clear bottles with water and food coloring if desired.]

* Go a little crazy with fringe, if you like. You can purchase beaded or fiber fringe by the yard and add to curtains, lamps, chairs, sofas, pillows, etc., OR you can make your own fringe.

* Remember anything can be artsy so do dress up your mirrors, light switch covers, and picture frames. You can paint them, collage them, glue beads or trinkets to them, etc.

* I have always wanted to paint door jams-- little swirling designs or dots as in Aboriginal paintings. Now that I am finally buying a condo I will be able to do this. Also write or paint blessings around your door jam, either visible to the casual observer or not. [Ed note: I have lived in the condo for a number of years now and alas never painted the door jams but I did paint a mural in the bathroom! You can see it here.]

*Art in unexpected places is also good. The bottoms of drawers, cupboards, closets. Don't be afraid to play. If you don't own your own place you can do art on canvas or similar material that is cut to fit and then take it with you when you move.

* Get weird old furniture from thrift stores, garage sales, or the attic. Clean, sand, prime, and GO! Paint, glue, draw, and more. You may want to seal when you are done with polyurethane or non-yellowing shellac, depending on what you will do with your creations. ALWAYS read the directions on your products. Use outdoors or with good ventilation, wear gloves and keep kids and pets away. Wear dust masks for sanding and painting. If you plan to do a lot of work with other toxic materials consider getting a respirator. A dust mask only keeps out particulates, not fumes.

* One cool technique to use on furniture is to paint it with a base color, allow to dry, then apply wax to the edges of things (drawers, a table edge, etc.) either using furniture wax and a small brush or by rubbing a candle over the edge. Paint on another color and allow to dry. Now sand off the wax from step 2. The result will be another color peaking through at the edges, as though the furniture had lead an interesting and multi-layered life. Try using various color combinations, both obvious and not. [Ed. if you are not afraid of color use opposites on the color wheel. Chartreuse and scarlet, Teal and orange.]

*Take a little field trip to the hardware store. They have tons of cool toys: new knobs, new legs for existing furniture (or build your own new piece), and fancy moldings and trim you can add to things, and more. Just go explore and get ideas.

* Remember you can paint stuff other than wood. You can use appliance paint in your kitchen and laundry room, metal tubs, etc. There is a new paint made for plastic by Krylon. [Ok it's not new anymore. I have not experimented much with this. I expect results would be best for indoor use.)

* Start a decorating scrapbook. Collect ideas from magazines, catalogs, the internet, paint swatches, etc. Even if you don't have space or money or time now you can save ideas for the future. [Ed. Note: if you've never played with Pinterest do so! It's a great way to visually organize information found anywhere on the web.]

more next time!

Friday, December 9, 2011

nature spirit 2

nature spirit 2 by megan_n_smith_99
nature spirit 2, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I have been under the weather for a few days, hence no blogging. i am feeling a little better today, but still tired. i am trying to slowly get caught up on some things even if that means taking lots of (ok almost constant?) breaks.

so due to that this month's give away is not a new piece of art, but it from 2010. I just looked at it again and I really like it and I hope you do too. Click on the image to see larger. Leave a comment if you want a chance to win. A winner will be randomly selected on Saturday December 17th! Cheers.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This is one of my favorite poems. It just popped into my head tonight:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Seed Stitch Scarf

Seed Stitch Scarf by megan_n_smith_99
Seed Stitch Scarf, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I made this scarf this weekend. I have not decided what I will do with it yet... maybe it will be a present for someone.

The yarn:Becoming Art Adventurous Yarn Club 2010 "Potion". worsted merino,
200 yards.
needles: size 7
Stitch: Seed stitch
Finished Size: 40 x 5"

The yarn is mostly a sort of rust / olive with flecks of a lot of other colors, mostly warm colors.

I knit most of it this weekend visiting friends. My friend Karen and I had a nice afternoon of knitting and playing with the kids on Friday then I spent the night and yesterday we went out to pancakes and they had a gluten free menu! i got pancakes!

then we went out to a u-cut tree farm near the foothills. ingrid (age 4) and I had a lovely little nature walk. we admired the different trees. we looked to see how you could tell new growth from old growth. i explained how fir needles are specialized leaves. we examined the little nubbins that will turn into pine cones. we counted tree rings on some of the stumps to see how old the trees were. she found some snail shells and we took home the empty ones. she took home a pine cone. we found many different types of mushrooms, some teensy, and some self / bracket fungus which i love. we even saw some deer poop. Do deer eat Christmas trees?

Star Ornament Tutorial

A few years ago I posted a tutorial for making holiday star ornament. Check it out if you'd like to make your own stars!

Holiday Ideas Part 9

If you read this post, you know I used to publish a zine called Mysterium. For your reading pleasure I have been sharing 100 holiday ideas from an issue published in 2002. The world has changed since then, and I have changed as well, but some of these are still good ideas!

91) If you can manage a sleigh ride, or a horse-drawn buggy ride, that would be excellent.

92) Make eggnog, or mulled cider, from scratch.

93) Light a candle on Winter Solstice. Better yet, make candles and or decorate candles you have purchased.

94) Have a gift wrapping contest amongst your immediate family. Have silly prizes for the most beautiful, the most original, the most deceiving, etc.

95) Do something nice that no one else will ever know about. Clean out the microwave or fridge at work, shovel someone's walk, throw out litter you find lying about, etc.

96) Make puppets out of paper lunch sacks or old socks and have a puppet show.

97) Make your own advent calender. Save it to use again next year!

98) Start a holiday chain letter with family members, sharing favorite memories. Just don't threaten anyone with bad luck if they do not forward it!

99) Have a progressive dinner with friends. That way each person only has to prepare one dish. I suppose everyone needs to tidy up a bit.

100) Tell someone that you love them. Or a lot of people.

okay! that's 100!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday Ideas part 8

If you read this post, you know I used to publish a zine called Mysterium. For your reading pleasure I have been sharing 100 holiday ideas from an issue published in 2002. The world has changed since then, and I have changed as well, but some of these are still good ideas!

81) Dig out the family recipe books and make at least 1 thing your grandmother always made at the holidays and you've always wanted to make. Or, if you hate to cook, resolve to buy all your holiday cookies this year, thereby single-handedly rescuing the baked goods industry from the recession.

82) On New Year's day write letters to your political representatives, letting them know what kind of city / county / state / nation / world you would like to live in during the next year.

83) If you must make New Year's resolutions, be kind to yourself.

84) If you do like to bake, make nontraditional cookies, like red and green turtles, Bumbles, dancing mice, etc.

85) Read Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on January 6th.

86) If you make holiday cookies consider making gingerbread men and women who look like family members or friends. And don't forget pets!

87) If possible, sit at the "kid's table" this year. I am sure you will have more fun.

88) If you have children, sprinkle glitter on their windowsills while they are asleep and tell them the frost fairies did it.

89) If you find yourself restless and have cabin fever, set up a tent in your living room and sleep in there. If you don't have a tent, make a fort out of blankets and cushions.

90) Make up stories about your child's favorite toy, or make up stories about toys you had as a child.

Stay tuned next time for the last 10 ideas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Ideas part 7

If you read this post, you know I used to publish a zine called Mysterium. For your reading pleasure I have been sharing 100 holiday ideas from an issue published in 2002. The world has changed since then, and I have changed as well, but some of these are still good ideas!

71) Use your computer to create your own mad libs and choose your own adventure stories. Print out, bind, and give to your playful friends and relatives for holiday gifts.

72) Make a loved on a "to-do" jar and fill it with fun suggestions-- write a story -- take a walk -- give someone a hug -- go to a movie, etc. This would also be good to do with kids over holiday break from school.

73) If traditional holidays stress you out, invent your own. Also you can find some lists of weird holidays on-line. When is Yeti day?

74) Try stringing popcorn this year. I mean, if you are bored or anything, not if you feel you need to be the next Martha Stewart. suggest a large needle and dental floss for string. Also don't salt the popcorn, especially if you have any hangnails...

75) Make your OWN list of 100 holiday ideas because I am having a hard time thinking of 100 ideas and they might start getting silly from here on out.

76) Leave a plate of cookies out for Santa, and a carrot for the raindeer, and some yak jerky for Bumble.

77) Bumble is so cute. Check eBay and/or CVS for plush Bumble and Bumble accessories. [Ed. note: not sure if CVS still sells but you should be able to find some on eBay.)

78) Try making a holiday wreath out of the weirdest things you can think of. Also try making an edible wreath out of the weirdest things you can think of.

79) Make snowmen out of marshmallows and watch them melt in your cocoa. Then drink it. Provide sound effects.

80) Especially if you live in Florida, make a huge batch of popcorn balls and have a faux snowball fight.

tune in next time for more ideas! 20 left to go!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

give away!

Just to let you know, I will be giving away another little painting in the next few days. Check back for your chance to win!
Happy Creating!

Holiday Ideas part 6

If you read this post, you know I used to publish a zine called Mysterium. For your reading pleasure I have been sharing 100 holiday ideas from an issue published in 2002. The world has changed since then, and I have changed as well, but some of these are still good ideas!

61) Don't give anyone pickle forks this year. Well, MAYBE if they specifically ask for them, but even then give it a second thought.
[Ed. note: I am not making pickle forks up. Check your grandmother's silver box and you will see what I mean.)

62) I have a really cool thing I made for myself and everyone wants one but so far I have not made any more. It's one of those microwave heating pad thingees. I call it my microwavable monster. I drew rough monster shape, cut out out of blue Berber fleece, stuffed it with brown rice (uncooked!!) and stitched it shut. Then I added button eyes. Make sure to use plastic buttons, not glass or metal which get too hot in the microwave. Great for cramps, Grr. [Ed note: I have since made a number of these and they are always well received. don't forget to add felt fangs.]

63) Not for the faint of heart, but a made-up game would be super cool as a gift. Either alter an existing game board with paint, etc., or start from scratch. Concentration would be an easy game to make using color copies of your art or family photos. Games can involve cards, boards, playing pieces, etc.

64) If you and your partner or roommate have been putting off something forever, perhaps cleaning out the oven (which has burnt-on dinosaur roast stuck to the bottom,) or the fridge (yuck!) surprise them by taking care of it.. Um, wear gloves, masks, those little tyvek suits... I wish they made self-cleaning fridges.

65) Make your own magnetic poetry using a printer, laminator, and sticky magnets from your local office supply store. Or you can hand print the words in vivid colors and laminate them magnetize! Be sure to include good words like "Bumble" and "Mysterium."

66) If you are a little short this year try taking your loose change to the bank. One of my friends just did this and it was over 100 dollars -- yikes!

67) can you say gift certificates? No mess, no fuss, no lines at the Post Office. Some suggestions: (an independent bookstore!) Daniel Smith, and your favorite Etsy shops.

68) Zines! Zines make good gifts and also, no lines. A gift that keeps on giving. [Ed. note: there are not as many zines out there as there once were but there still are some. Magazine subscriptions are good gifts too.

69) Another idea Martha probably stole from someplace, make your own snow globes. Take a small jar, such as a baby food jar, glue some cool stuff inside the lid, fill with water, glitter, and a drop of glycerine and screw the top on. seal it with silicon caulk. Shake and have fun! Don't use any materials that will immediately rust or fall apart under the influence of water.

70) Trace around cool cookie cutters on felt, cut out, and whip stitch shut for fast ornaments. Glue or sew on beads and sequins if desired.

more tomorrow! 70 down, 30 more to go.

Here, in Autumn

Here, in Autumn by megan_n_smith_99
Here, in Autumn, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

Well, I really did not feel well yesterday and did not get much done. I was in a lot of pain and lying down was the least painful position. I watched some X-files and listened to part of an audio book.

today has been better. I met my mother and we had lunch together. We traded some handiwork.. I had knitted someone for her to gift and she had something woven for me to gift. Trading is a handy thing.

This new painting is:
Here, in Autumn
8 x 10 inches
watercolor and ink on paper
available on Etsy.