Giveaway: Felt Bundle and Book

September 30, 2011, 09:38 am  Posted by needlearts

What’s better than a book giveaway? A book giveaway that comes with a bunch of felt! Our friends at National Nonwovens were kind enough to ship us a couple big felt bundles and we matched them up with a couple of the projects in Stash Happy: Felt!

For this first giveaway, we’re giving away all the wool felt you need (and more) to create the Autumn Leaves Coffee Cozy. It seemed only fitting: Not only is it the project on the cover, but it just changed seasons and the leaves in our neck of the woods are starting to look a lot like the ones on that coffee cozy!

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PUSH Paper & Jen Stark’s Papermation

September 29, 2011, 10:34 am  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

I wanted to share a closer look at PUSH Paper: 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Paper Art with you, and invite you to take a special trip through the mind of Jen Stark, whose work, Spectral Zenith, is featured through the die-cut arrow on the front of the book. Simply opening the book is an experience in itself. (And that spine? It’s a gorgeous yellow linen.) Take a look for yourself, and keep reading for a chance to see one of Jen Stark’s hypnotic stop-motion videos featuring her work. You’ll be transfixed!

In PUSH Paper, Jen, one of 30 artists featured in the book, describes her work as “mathematically organic, colorful, and intricate paper sculptures.” She began exploring the creative potential of paper while studying abroad in France; it was an affordable material for the young art student during a time when the euro was high and supplies were expensive. “I went into the art store, looked around for a cheap material. . . and walked out with a stack of colored construction paper. I began experimenting, and it took off from there,” she explains.

In her opening remarks, Jen comments,”I try to make static lines and colors move, and make the viewer’s eyes vibrate.” Even within the pages of PUSH, Jen’s work seems to literally pulse off the page. When I stumbled upon some of Jen’s “papermation” videos recently, I was completely mesmerized, and wanted to take you along on the journey. It’s a chance to travel “through” her work, tunneling and spiraling into her vibrant creations; a rabbit hole of epic–and rainbow!–proportions. I hope you enjoy and would love to hear what you think: about Jen’s video, her work, and your thoughts on PUSH Paper. For more sneak peeks of this book, be sure to check out my last two posts, here and here.

“Believer” by Jen Stark / Music by Dan Deacon from Jen Stark on Vimeo.


We Felt Crafty!

September 28, 2011, 12:09 pm  Posted by needlearts

It’s Felt Month at Lark (in case you hadn’t noticed!), so we decided to forgo our usual group pic for a felt portrait. OK, we didn’t come up with the idea. We were inspired by the felt portraits created by Sue Millions for our upcoming, oh-so-crafty, Heart-Felt Holidays book.

Aren’t they cool?

And as is the case with many “craft-in” events at Lark, we decided it’s always nice to craft over lunch.Note that the black olives only cover 1/2 of the pizza….


And after a little prep work…We got down to business.

…The finished products



Can you guess who’s who?


Stash Happier: bonus projects from Stash Happy Felt!

September 28, 2011, 09:59 am  Posted by Lark

Okay, okay: sometimes we get a little carried away when it comes to selecting designs for a book. And sometimes, we don’t have room for all those awesome and inspiring projects….and we’re passing that goodness on to you! Here are two extra projects from Stash Happy Felt!

First we have the Pretty Purple Gift Tag by designer Cathy Ziegele, a perfect tag for any occasion. A simple project to make from your stash of felt, you’ll be excited at any chance you have to give gifts! Download the PDF instructions for the purple gift tag.

Next, you can “stand out from the crowd” with the Fascinator Headband by designer Laura Howard, and make matching hairclips or a necklace variation! You just need a few materials and the template, and you’re all set.

Stay tuned for more fun with your felt stash!


A Recipe for your Sweet Tooth: Candied Apples

September 26, 2011, 08:34 am  Posted by Lark

Well hello there, sweet tooth. Have you been feeling neglected during this abundant season of fresh veggies and fruits? Have my attempts to eat more greens and protein left you feeling abandoned and adrift? Cast out in the cold, dark, sugar-less world? I’m so sorry. Well, I’m mostly sorry. You and I go way back, sweet tooth. Waaaay back. And I’d never truly leave you—nope, we’re bonded for life. We’re like BFFs, but it’s more like BFST. We’re like Bert and Ernie. Sonny and Cher. Sweet Tooth and Self.

And because I have to believe that you and I aren’t the only ones who share this special connection, I’m confident that there are others out there who feel equally enamored with their sweet tooths. (Wait, maybe that should be Sweet Teeth? Hmm.)

So, dear sweet tooth, I offer you this: it’s a recipe for Candied Apples from Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home by Nina Wanat.

This free downloadable PDF is just a taste of the 40 gorgeous, delicious recipes featured in the book. I’m also thinking of it as an autumnal homage to my Comrades in Candy, my Circle of Chocolate Lovers, my Confection Fellowship.

Happy Fall, everyone—and happy eating, sweet tooth.

[book photography by Diane Cu and Todd Porter, the White on Rice Couple]


Felting and Dyeing Wool Sweaters with Cynthia Shaffer

September 23, 2011, 14:15 pm  Posted by needlearts

Old wool sweaters, wool roving, second-hand store wool suit treasures, and wool yarn can all be used to make some really fun and soft felt. Although some of the steps and process are different for felting these wool items, the principles are all the same. When wool fibers get wet and are then aggravated, the scales on these fibers react to this friction and form a cloth. 


Felting Old Wool Sweaters
You can find old wool sweaters just about everywhere.  Check your bottom drawer or your local second-second hand store; there are usually tons to be found in the children’s, men’s, and the women’s section. Don’t worry if there are moth holes in them, but do make sure they are 100% wool! Here’s what you do:

  1. Gather a few wool sweaters and toss them into the washing machine. Wash the sweaters with hot water and a cold rinse cycle. Add about ½ cup of laundry detergent and start the washer.
  2. Check the sweaters every 10 minutes. I set an alarm and then run to the washer when the alarm goes off. There is a point when the sweater is perfectly felted, compact and fluffy, but not stiff and super thick. This process of making felt cloth from garment is actually called fulling. Keep in mind that not all sweaters are created equal and some will felt or full really fast, and others may take a couple or cycles in the washer.
  3. Rinse the sweater in cool water to get rid of any soap and then roll it in a towel to soak up extra water, then hang them up to dry.
  4. Once dry, the felt can be cut up and used in a variety of project.



Dyeing (and Sometimes Felting) Wool Suits

Did you happen to find a suit with a great pattern at the thrift store? Is it 100% wool? Great! Turn a boring black and white garment into fabric with lots of personality with some dye. You’ll add colorful character, and depending on how the wool fibers have been treated before they were woven into the cloth you may get some felting as well. The amount of shrinking/felting will differ for each fabric. Here’s what you do:

  1. Grab an old wool suit and cut away the lining, pockets and the waistband. Cut the fabric into chunks.
  2. Heat up a big pot of water on the stove and just before the water boils, add some liquid Rit dye and stir. Wet the wool suiting fabric and place it into the pot and stir. Continue stirring, occasionally checking the fabric color.
  3. When you have that perfect color, rinse the wool suiting in cool water and hang out on a clothesline to dry.
  4. Press the wool lightly with a pressing cloth and an Iron, or leave it wrinkled and fluffy.


Now what? Well, if you just made some felt you have a couple options. We’d love you to check out our new book, Stash Happy: Felt, of course! And click on over to Cynthia’s blog for a project idea or two!




From Felt to…Fabulous!

September 22, 2011, 16:10 pm  Posted by Lark

Throughout the month of September, we’re celebrating all things felt. We’re also celebrating the release of From Felt to Fabric: New Techniques in Nuno Felting, by Catherine O’Leary. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Catherine is a renowned felt and fiber artist who’s known for her passion, innovative techniques, and skill with felt  – and felt garments in particular. (See more of her creations on her website and in 500 Felt Objects.) Of the craft, Catherine says this:

“Feltmaking is a creative evolution. It feeds my soul and creates a wonderful balance in my life.”

We’ll be featuring tips and techniques from Catherine’s book throughout the month, starting with a neat technique for bringing recycled and upcycled fabrics into your feltmaking. Take a peek at this repurposed fabric PDF for more information about one of the techniques Catherine used in the inspiring pieces below!


Reflections on The Creative Connection Event

September 22, 2011, 11:47 am  Posted by Lark

Beth and I just returned from the extraordinary Creative Connection Event in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you’re not familiar with this inspiring annual gathering, just check out my earlier post to find out more. Toss together 450+ creative, collaborative, curious women together for three full days of classes, panels, and parties, and you are bound to be affected by the palpable energy it creates. So seldom do so many people of such varying backgrounds find themselves together in the same place with the same mission: to share, inspire, and propel.

We had a great group of Lark authors in attendance, including Ashley English (Homemade Living Series), Mary Hettmansperger (Fabulous Woven Jewelry; Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet; Mixed Metal Jewelry Workshop), Brenda Schweder (Steel Wire Jewelry), Kaari Meng (The French-Inspired Home; French-Inspired Jewelry), Todd Porter & Diane Cu (photographers/stylists for Sweet Confections), and, of course, event co-founder, Jo Packham (Where Women Create: Book of Inspiration; Where Women Cook: Celebrate!).

Beth and I went to seek out ideas, to support our incredible pool of authors in attendance, and to network with a thriving and growing pool of bloggers and creatives. What we brought back with us was so much more(and I’m not just referring to all the freebies).

Leading sponsors Sterling Publishing (our parent company), BlogHer, and Mary Janes Farm really know how to throw a party!

Would you like to take a peek at our experience through our snapshots over the three days? See some of the speakers, our authors, the classes we took, and the fabulous wares available at the Market. Just go HERE to peruse our collection of photos (all 150 of them!) to partake in a little bit of the fun.

And check out this great video recap of the event by dynamo Becky Higgins.


500 Felt Objects Mini Gallery

September 16, 2011, 16:29 pm  Posted by needlearts

Welcome to Felt Month on the Needlearts blog! Join us all month long for giveaways, tutorials, and all kinds of fantastic felt happenings.

We’re kicking things off for you with a mini gallery of images from our beautiful new book, 500 Felt Objects. This volume is packed with amazing, diverse felt pieces and imagery made by established and emerging artists and designers from around the world. You can discover how felt is being embraced and showcased by the contemporary artistic community. We hope you enjoy this little taste of felt goodness!



Share the news! Two beautiful new beading books in Lark Jewelry & Beading’s acclaimed Beadweaving Master Class series have just released to local retailers, as well as on Amazon and BN.com: Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance and Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs.

To celebrate, we’re enjoying an assortment of chocolates selected from my file cabinet drawer. And, if you happen to miss out on that, we’re also giving away two sets of all six books in the series:

Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork

Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence

Laura McCabe’s Embellished Beadweaving

Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery

Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance

Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs

These inspirational and best-selling titles from leading beading master teachers form an essential library of books for all beaders, as well as great gifts for beady friends! How can you enter for a chance to win one of these two fantastic bundles of books, all of which have been signed by their respective authors? It’s easy: Leave a comment on this blog post by 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday, September 28. Any comment will do, but how about this: Tell us what trend you find most exciting right now in the world of beading.

One winner will be selected at random and announced on Wednesday, October 5. Click here for the official rules.

Want to get a taste of these books? We’ve posted plenty of content related to them on this blog. Sample some!

For Rachel’s book:

Get PDFs of the book’s Billie’s Bounce necklace project and the Rondo Neckpiece project

For Maggie’s book:

Get a PDF of the book’s beautiful Artemisia Earrings project

Get a PDF of true BONUS projects (not in the book but made for it!) of Maggie’s Fiore Earrings and the Liternum Brooch

Read our interview with Maggie Meister

For Laura’s book:

Get PDFs of the book’s A Well-Kept Secret necklace project and Star Flower Earrings project

Read our interview with Laura AND get a PDF of the book’s Herringbone Cluster Earrings project

For Sherry’s book:

Get PDFs of the book’s Arizona Sunset Earrings project and Rock Star Cuff project

See a preview of six other projects from the book

Read our interview with Sherry Serafini

(I know what you’re thinking: We really need to post some projects for Diane and Marcia’s books, which were released shortly before our current blog debuted. You’re absolutely right, and I promise we’ll do it very soon.)

Finally, I’m pleased to announce two upcoming Spring 2012 additions to the Beadweaving Master Class series by brilliant and popular international beaders: Japanese Beadwork with Sonoko Nozue and Sabine Lippert’s Beaded Fantasies. These books are finishing their production right now and will be exciting parts of Lark Jewelry & Beading’s Spring 2012 list.

Please leave a comment on this post to enter our giveaway; connect with Lark Jewelry & Beading on Facebook; and know we’re very grateful that you’re a part of our community!


UPDATE: THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to Juanita Finger of Roswell, New Mexico, and Mandy Duffy of Elkridge, Maryland, randomly selected winners of signed copies of Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork, Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence, Laura McCabe’s Embellished Beadweaving, Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery, Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance, and Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs! Our thanks to everyone who left a comment and participated.