Archive for the ‘Crafty Review’ Category

* Print, Paper, & Ink

Posted on February 24th, 2018 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.

I was wondering the other day whatever happened to the people who used to run the dear, departed Assemble Shop.  Turns out they wrote a book!  It’s really pretty and has several cute projects.  My favorite is the Spirographed Tote.


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* cute tunic dress

Posted on December 13th, 2016 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.

I’m living temporarily in Austin, and one of the nice things about being in a new city is having access to a whole new library system.  I have checked out a bunch of craft books that Seattle doesn’t have, including almost all the Meet Me at Mike’s books.  They are very pretty.  I particularly liked the Too Cute Tunic Dress from Sew La Tea Do:


Still haven’t managed to make any new projects.  I have a couple ideas in the works, though.


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* Emerald City Gardens

Posted on February 21st, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.

We stopped by Emerald City Gardens this weekend on the way to Ballard.  Such a cute shop, and they are always so helpful and knowledgeable.  They have an excellent assortment of seeds, including Irish Eyes, Baker Creek, Renee’s Garden, and they were putting out more while we were there.  Good potato selection too.  My favorite thing is the bin of last year’s seeds.  50 cents each!  Can’t beat that.  I got a fistful of packets, plus I found out that I’ve been overwatering my lithops :P

And there’s a shop cat!


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* Northwest Flower and Garden show 2012

Posted on February 12th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review, Home and Garden, Inspiration.

Mark and I spent the whole day yesterday at the Northwest Flower and Garden show.  It was a lot of fun, and I managed to find a few things to bring home: Rose Finn Apple and La Ratte fingerling potatoes from Irish Eyes, a free packet of carrot seeds from the zoo booth, some samples of chicken feed from Portage Bay Grange, and an armful of 50% books that I’ve been meaning to get anyway, including Put ’em Up, Sugar Snaps and Strawberries, and Your Farm in the City.  I was a little disappointed there weren’t more vegetable seed companies there, though. I had hoped to find a few novel varieties not usually locally available.  There was one booth of Italian seeds that was interesting, plus Irish Eyes, but beyond that, nada.

We did get lots of ideas at the show.  I’m going to try bolding the ideas I want to remember the most for reference.  Mark was the official family photographer.

We had two favorites of the demonstration gardens, both including lots of edibles.  The first was titled Pictures at a Northwest Exhibition (creators), and featured an accordion player in a gazebo made from repurposed items and vegetables planted in slices of industrial pipe.

They also had a Kippenhouse duck coop with a living roof and potatoes planted in burlap bags.

The other one we liked was by Cascadian Edible Landscapes.  Besides all the nice vegetables, they had a chicken coop (with chickens, unlike the plastic ducks in the other one) made out of a VW bus by Recoop.

The big winner garden was also pretty spectacular, using giant tree roots in the landscape.

We spent the afternoon going to seminars.  The first was by Jessi Bloom: “What the Cluck?! Great Plant Choices for Gardening with Chickens.”  She brought a few chickens for show and tell, and her talk covered some of the topics in her new book, which I am currently on the reserve waiting list for at the library (thank you Seattle Public Library iPhone app).  She had some good suggestions, and made us realize that letting our chickens out to range during the day is not very useful if they have nothing in their little landscape.  Even though we only have two chickens, and they have a really spacious area, they have eaten every single green thing in sight.  This year we’re going to try to plant some shrubs by the coop to liven things up, and today I set up their tractor over one of my cover-cropped beds.  I was going to turn this bed under this weekend to plant with sweet peas, but instead maybe they will do it for me and get some tasty greens at the same time.

Next up was a kind of bizarre talk about Potager gardens, which included some nice pictures but not much information content.

After that, we went to see Ciscoe Morris’s seminar on Indestructible Plants.  He’s such a character.  Every slide came with a funny story and encyclopedic information.  I really need to see if the podcast of his radio show ever started up again.

We had to leave that one early to get to Annette Cottrell‘s Winter Vegetable Garden talk.  I did a lot of research on winter gardening this past year, so I was reasonably familiar with a lot of what she said.  I did get on the library reserve list for her book, though.  She had some great advice on capturing heat that we will probably try to implement somehow.

The other set of displays we really enjoyed were container gardens.  There were two I particularly liked, both of which featured moss-covered walls.  The first one was by Ravenna Gardens and had a lab theme, so of course I loved it.  Plants in test tubes and beakers!  I am now contractually obligated to try this.

Their moss wall had stag ferns (I think) growing on it.

The other one was called Portholes and Time by Cultivar LLC and Midnight Blossom.  The portholes mounted in the shed were pretty great, but I also liked the pretty boxes on the moss wall.  There were lots of cute sheds and coops.  We’re now on the hunt for a shed for the coop area to house our garden implements, or maybe we’ll build one.  This coop from the ReStore was pretty great.

Whew, it was definitely a busy day!  I’m not sure I’ll go every year, but it is definitely worth visiting occasionally.


* (back) cover girl

Posted on January 17th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.

I ran across the book 100 Pretty Little Projects at the bookstore the other day and was pleased to see that my old potholder pattern made the cover!  The back cover, but, hey, I’ll take what I can get.


* last minute crochet cowl

Posted on December 23rd, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review, Crochet.

I got a free review copy of Crochet Stitches: Visual Encyclopedia by Robyn Chachula, which was very timely because I’d lately been looking to buy a crochet stitch pattern book.  It’s a nice book, with a good variety of stitches, motifs, and edgings.  Each pattern includes a photo of it worked up.  The  photos are ok, though some of the color combinations are pretty terrible.  The instructions are presented as written directions and stitch diagrams.  I always find having both to consult is very helpful.  There’s a section that describes each of the stitch types, which is the only part of the book I would have liked more detail and illustrations.  I can never remember exactly how stitching around posts works, for example, and I wasn’t able to get it right from the book alone.  Because of this, the book makes a good companion for a more introductory stitch guide (or the internet).

I modified the balloon stitch pattern in the book to make a quick/easy/cute cowl for my sister.  The pattern calls for 5 stitch bobbles, which were too big in the bulky yarn I used, so I reduced them to 3.

Yarn is the new Martha Stewart roving wool yarn.  It might just be my favorite yarn I’ve ever worked with.  Bulky so it works up fast, but good stitch definition and easy to crochet with.  Very soft, especially for wool, and the colors are pretty too.  The cowl took three balls.  Instead of being sewed up at the ends, it fastens with two big buttons that slip through the stitches easily, which makes it adjustable.

It worked up crazy quick, just 2 days, and would have been even quicker if I hadn’t needed to go pick up more yarn.



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* canning class

Posted on October 23rd, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.

Mark got me a canning class from Seattle Can Can with a half price deal on Living Social.  There were three classes available, and I chose Canning 005: Wicked Quick Pickles & Homemade Hot Sauce.  It was supposed to be a 90 minute class covering Cucumber & Zucchini Pickles; Spicy or Not Pickled Beans, Asparagus and other garden veggies; and Salsa & Hot Sauce.  Instead it was a 45 minute class that just covered pickled asparagus and hot sauce.  Coverage of the other pickles was essentially, “You can do the same thing for whatever veggies you have,” and salsa wasn’t mentioned at all.  The description also promised 2 e-books to accompany the class, plus a booklet by the instructor.  The e-books were just the USDA guides, and the pamphlet was a xeroxed hodgepodge of random stuff, including frequent instructions to look things up on the internet.  Call me crazy, but the whole idea of taking a class is to learn from an expert instead of the internet.

The class was super super basic.  Apparently the idea is to make it seem so easy that people will not be intimidated, but I had hoped for a little more than that.  Maybe show the most basic cold pack pickles first, and then show an additional recipe that’s more complicated.  I thought the instructor played fast and loose with some of the safety guidelines, too.  At one point, she claimed that nothing that could grow in acidic food could be dangerous because the human body is not acidic, QED.  She also said you don’t have to wash and sterilize jars if they’re new.  There were enough parts that I was iffy about that I felt no confidence in her other advice.  Like, she said you don’t have to warm up the lids any more and that the companies just never bothered to update their instructions.  Also, that you can process cucumber and zucchini pickles below boiling temperature and that will make them crisper.  It was nice to see the demonstration so I feel like I’m not doing anything horribly wrong, though.

I would have asked for my money back if I’d paid full price ($20).  And lest you think I’m being too hard on it, apparently a couple reviewers on Yelp agree, though Fresh Picked Seattle had a better experience.

The class comes with 10% off all canning supplies from Goods for the Planet, the store where the class is held.  I got a pizza screen they recommended using as a canning rack.  It seemed to work great when I made some pickles last week, and it is very low profile.  So +1 for that idea, at least!


* watercolor wreath

Posted on October 6th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Art, Crafty Review.

I just noticed this post languishing in my drafts folder from a few months ago.

Another project from Aesthetic Outburst: a watercolor flower wreath.  I was initially not very happy with it because it looked so childish. Doodling on top of it with a black pen improved it enormously, though.  I used it for a Mother’s Day card.


I also got Water Paper Paint from the library for more watercolor fun.  It’s a very well done book, with projects that seem do-able, but are also interesting and not too simple-looking.  I had a hard time giving it back to the library, so I’ll probably buy it at some point.


* Quilt Show

Posted on August 27th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Art, Crafty Review.

My art quilter friend from work invited me to the Pacific West Quilt Show this weekend.  It was pretty neat.

I thought my photos would be good enough to read the names on the placards so I could give credit, but, alas, they are too out of focus.  The quilters would probably prefer their works of art not be associated with my mediocre cell phone photos anyway.

There was a lot of insanely good workmanship.  Some of my favorites were relatively simple geometrics with great colors.



This one is a crayon rubbing of a grating, with quilting over it.


There were several interesting uses of printing/transferring photos onto fabric and then embellishing.



This one is made of modern feedsacks.  I thought it was funny.



* adventures in canning

Posted on August 21st, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review, Home and Garden.

I’ve been kind of wanting to try canning, but have never gotten around to it.  This is in part because my imagined garden largess has never quite materialized as I expected, but also because it seemed a little intimidating.  My friend Rose gave me the perfect opportunity to just go for it by giving me some supplies and fruit, and telling me to just follow the directions on the pectin package.  Can’t get easier than that, right?


I started with 2 jars of strawberry-raspberry jam, and then was emboldened to try pickles.  Since my poor cucumber seedlings were decimated by slugs this year, the cukes are from the farmers’ market.  The stand guy said the variety is Jackson Supreme.  The garlic and dill seed are from my garden, though.  There’s also a Walla Walla onion in the bread and butter pickles.  I accidentally made too little of the dill pickle brine and too much of the bread and butter pickles brine, so there’s one jar of “hybrid” pickles.

Now I am hooked.  Next on the agenda is zucchini pickles.  Doesn’t hurt that it gives me a chance to use my collection of pretty labels.


My new favorite blog is Food in Jars.  Any others I should be following?

In addition to the pectin package instructions, I also consulted Canning & Preserving with Ashley English, which I bought as a pair with her chicken book, and Put ’em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, which I got from the library.  Both of them had really good introductions to the methods, including lots of nice pictures and drawings.  And basic was what I needed: I got a can lifter on sale after nearly scalding myself using normal tongs with the jam, and I wasn’t entirely sure which end was handles, nor how to use them to pour out the water from the bath.  Put ’em Up has more varied recipes, I’d say, so I will probably end up buying it.



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craftlog is under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license. That means that you are all welcome to take and repost my photos, replicate my projects, remix my ideas, whatever you want as long as you give attribution (a link is fine) and it's noncommercial. Thanks!