August 30, 2009

DIY Toys

I posted some toy stuff on my other blog an thought the DIY toys were craftacular (yes, I said craftacular…).  If you’ve never heard of them they’re toys that come blank, which allowed you to customize them in whichever way you want.  Two of the more famous DIY vinyl’s are Kidrobot’s Munny and Dunny.0805_munny2They usually come with an accessory, like an ax, banana, car, and just something that’s seemingly all around random, which makes it all the more fun to do something with.  They also come different sizes ranging from 4", around $7-$10 for blanks, and all the way up to 18’’, around $200 for blanks.  Of course when you buy custom ones by artists, and depending on the artist, you can buy some with prices going up to several thousand dollars.

At first you have these two figurines that are exactly the same, give them to two different artists and you get two things that look absolutely nothing alike.  It’s in essence just another canvas, although an oddly shaped one, and its fun to browse the Munny and Dunny galleries to see the things people come up with.  You can do anything you like with them, use markers, paints, chop something of, sew clothes, turn them on their side, cut them, whatever.  It’s pretty much what you see in your imagination goes, which is what makes these things so awesome.

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If vinyl toys aren’t really your thing there's always the plush DIY’s like Shawnimals Plushform (around $20).  They’re pretty much a blank plush, um, thing :p.  Just like with its vinyl counterpart you can pretty much do anything you like with them.

There’s even a plush that looks remarkably like Ravelry’s very own Bob, too cute!  One of the more interesting ones I saw were the ones where people pretty much cut them open and patch them up to look like a big mouth or a gaping hole in their tummy, but maybe I’m just sick like that :D.

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I think I might get the Plushform eventually since its closer to my comfort zone, not to mention being a little more to my budget with the perfect size.  I still want a vinyl DIY though, maybe someday, and when I’m more confident about my art skills.

August 29, 2009

I is a Genius!!! … okay not really…

So I have 3 plants on my desk, one is a miniature Phalaenopsis Orchid and two are Palmeria’s.  Don’t mind the bad photo :c the the sun was setting so the room was dimming.

I’ve had one of my Plumeria’s for about a year now and I’ve recently gotten the second one.  After getting the second one I transferred both into larger pots so they’re both a little wrinkly from the move but the little one is more wrinkly then the older.  It's been a while since I repotted and I’ve been worrying that the water was somehow being soaked back up the pot and giving my plants too much water.

I was a little worried that the little plantie was getting her roots soaked and was thinking of buying little feet for her pot so the bottom wasn’t just sitting in the saucer (plate?  what’s that thing called?).  But since I was out of plant spending cash I needed something else for her little feet.  At first I was trying to snap some extra CD’s I had laying around the room (bad CD’s) but the little buggers wouldn't break.

 

Then I saw a little stack of Coca-Cola bottle caps I had been saving for some obscure craft project.  I thought maybe I could make some type of jewelry or something with some resin, but I saw them and thought “Hey!  I do believe those would make splendid little planter feet.” okay so I didn’t really think that, but you get the picture.

And behold!!!  It works :3 brings up the planter about a centimeter, which is just enough to allow my pots full drainage.  If you have the same problem with your houseplants that I do be sure to place the bottle caps on the outer perimeter of the pots, just enough to stabilize the pot (no shakey-shakey) and not block any drainage hole.

I think they might eventually rust a bit at the edges, but I’m thinking I don’t mind all that much.  I’ll either buy/find something else to replace them or I’m hoping that they’ll be aesthetically pleasing when they rust a bit.

If you’re curious about the Plumeria’s, they’re not technically a houseplant.  They need to be super happy in order to flower, which means good drainage, humidity, and a hot climate.  If you’ve seen Hawaiian Lei’s you’ve seen Plumeria flowers (my big ones white and my little one’s dark pink), and the tree’s get big enough to offer sun shade, sometimes getting up to 30/40 feet in ideal setting.  We have the heat in abundance here, unfortunately its arid heat so very little humidity and our soil drainage isn’t that great.  They might be able to cope outside but  I kind of like them sitting on my desk for now and I don’t really mind the fact that they won’t flower (it’s super rare for them to flower indoors).

So that’s my brief and no-so moment of genius…

August 25, 2009

Vanishing Weavers of the Philippines

I was watching a documentary on KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) World about the ramie makers in Korea, they showed how they harvested the fiber right from the plant and all the way to garment making.  Towered the end of the short docu they showed how Korea was using the ramie in different and more modern styles to keep the fiber industry thriving.  While I was watching this my mind kept wandering to the traditional clothes of my heritage.

The silky texture it seemed to have, and the sheer quality of the fabric reminded me of the Barong Tagalog, Kimona, Maria Clara, and Baro’t Saya fabrics of the Philippines.  I grew up with my mother telling me those fabrics are unique to the Philippines, hand woven with abacá  (banana) and piña (pineapple) fiber, sometimes making jusi blends with silk, ramie (who knew?), cotton or synthetics.

bananaI watched that KBS docu and remembered all of this when one of the clothing designers took out some knitting needles (what!!?!) and another one whipped out a hook (omg!!!), and a light bulb blinded my brain.  At the time I didn’t realize ramie was quite a common thing among the fiber community, a.k.a. the crack known as Ravelry.  So I figured I’d search for something on the yarn database and I found some piña/ramie blends, which made me covet.

But I was curious to see whether I could get just straight piña somewhere here in the U.S. or if they had a textile area in Manila or something (which I’m still curious about).  I started doing some Google-fu to see what info I could find and I got a little distracted.  Piña weaving is dying in the Philippines, in fact it’s come to the brink of extinction several times in history.  There are less and less people with the knowledge, and even fewer young who have a desire to learn.

The Philippines, like any other country, is struggling for the life of their traditional artisans and the crafts that define their heritage.Pineapple-fiber-extraction  The young see it as either a deadweight that keeps them from the modern and the shiny, something old and meaningless, or as an art that simply isn’t lucrative enough to put dinner on the table.  Worse then any of those, some see a dying craft, and they just don’t care.

I can understand the other three excuses, I can even empathize, but apathy is inexcusable.  Its not that everyone should get up in arms over traditional weavers, just that you should care.  Its part of the heritage, your heritage is part of your identity, and that heritage is dying a slow death.  It’s not just a piece of cloth, its a tangible connection to your ancestors and your history, and it should be preserved as such.

It scares me to think that the closest thing future children will get to hand woven piña will be in a history museum.  Clothes feel different when you know they’re made by hand, there's pride in that, for both the wearer and the maker.  You’re proud of your traditional clothes because its that outward expression of your peoples history, would you rather that expression be made by a machine, or the very people you share that history with?

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As someone who knits, crochets, and sews I can understand that stubbornness to do it the old way, that desire to do something that someone way back in history did because there's a connection in that process of making something by hand.  It’s not just a tradition for traditions sake, its a definition of what it means to be you, and its a result of who you are and what you love.

I know there’s a resurgence in the popularity of Barong Tagalogs in the Philippines, which is a good thing, for the culture and the weavers.  Honestly finding all this out has made me even more curious about weaving, and especially weaving having to do with my cultural heritage, both Filipino and Mexican.  Are there guilds for artisans in the Philippines?  Is there any kind of cultural heritage foundation to assist and preserve the traditional crafts?  What can I do to help?  Right now I have absolutely no idea.

What I do know though is that I really, really, really want that dress :O and I am currently taking donations, so be a good neighbor.

August 18, 2009

Cross Postage, I Wants, and I’m Gonna Kick In Your Face You Cheap Bastard!!!

Since this is a craft blog I thought I’d cross post a paragraph or two from my other blog since it’s pertains to the craftyness… ness… *ahem*

… godmother crocheted for me when they brought me home from the hospital as a newborn.  In fact the requisite baby blankie every child has, and makes threadbare, is a baby blankie I now use as a throw (as in blanket, not “Here, catch this ball of cotton!”).  It’s just a simple quilt blanket, the perfect size for a baby born on a  little South Pacific Island, but it’s special enough that my mother put it in storage before I got so attached to it to the point where I would have made it threadbare.  She knew what it would have meant for me to have it when I was older, because she knew what it meant to the person who made it, see my godmother hand stitched every single square.  Something, in a society where we tend to take things like blankets for granted, most people don’t really understand what it means to make something like that by hand.

 

Knitters, crocheters, and sewers have a saying that “I knit/crochet/sew every single stitch with love”, as someone who does all three, and as corny as that that saying is, I understand what it means.  So even though I never grew up knowing what she looked like, or knowing the sound of her voice, I still know who my godmother is.  Because I have her hand stitched baby blanket she made, her hand crocheted baby clothes she made, her hand crocheted “baby’s first x-mas ornament” she made…

Going along those maudlin lines, I never really get why people would prefer store bought baby stuff (blankets, clothes, toys), or just stuff/presents in general, instead of handmade items (items not stuff, hah!).  I hate the fact that people will automatically assume the handmade items (hah!) are cheaper and that store bought stuff is better because they’re expensive.  Or they think the sentiment of “It’s a better presents because I made it with love” is somehow an excuse for “I’m actually a cheap bastard so I made this macaroni elephant instead, that and I have a ungodly urge to kick in your face”.

First of all, in most cases handmade items are in no way cheaper then store bought ones.  Do they have any idea about how much money actually goes into buying those supposedly cheap things?  Good yarn if freakin’ expensive!  So is nice fabric, not to mention the patterns, and the actual thought process that goes into making a handmade quilt, sweater, bag, dress, hat, scarf, hell even doggy doodoo takes some thought to make (and a pooping dog is a perfect complement to those thought).

When someone makes something for someone else they’re usually thinking about that perfect something for that someone (… or something like that…).  My point it that its something individually made just for that person (you ungrateful macaroni elephants!!!).  Plus, tell me if you can find these things in a gift shop: crochet spermies with condom pocket, crochet Sandman Helms (eee do want!), knitted tangible something to worship  (hint: its a monster :D), a Giant Knit Squid Hat, an awesome Nintendo NES Plushie, or um… this thing in all its freaky cuteness!

… Well maybe the Nintendo if and when they get around to it >_>  I’d still prefer the handmade one (so neener neener neener).

Side Notes (Bottom Notes?  So You Actually Read Everything Till The End Notes?

August 15, 2009

No, U!!!

Dear Left Fingerless Glove,

I understand you have a desire to be just like your right handed twin, but its better for you to be an individual. Just because Right Fingerless Glove lasted a month for me to painstakingly knit does not mean you have to give me the same problems. Just because I ended up with five perfectly fine cables on Right by no means makes me some kind of expert on knitting cables. I frogged Right so many times that Right started to fuzz, so many times that it crossed my mind on several occasions to just scrap the entire project! Do you have any idea what would have happened if I had?! DO YOU!!?!

You would have never existed Left! You would have remained a lonely ball of yarn! You would have remained in the bowels of my yarn basket to be forgotten and lost forever. I have frogged you twice thus far, once because you had the audacity to have a messed up cable, and once again because you ignored the fact that without a thumb hole I’d have to chop off my left thumb in order to wear you, and I do NOT want to chop off my left thumb just to wear you. You can get away with a couple frogs but don’t you dare for a Bob-loving second assume I’m going to forget your ungratefulness. I created you and I can un-create you! You don’t want to end up as a large pile of yarn barf, do you? Or be used to create an off colored pile of doggie doggie caca, right? I didn’t think so.

With Love and Understanding,

Your Maker

August 14, 2009

::Foodage:: get you some pancit!!!

So a couple of weeks ago (or something *ahem*) Beadsandyarn mentioned she was looking for a pancit recipe on the Pinoy Ravelers group on Ravelry. She was looking for a thick noodle one and my mom makes it sometimes so I figured I’d get the recipe from her, I was planning on writing down her recipes anyway and I figured why not wheedle her into making pancit canton so I have the recipe and I can take photos to blog :D Off I went to send a pm to Beadsandyarn about getting a recipe from my mom and then I forgot about it for a week (so sorry Beads!!! ;_;), got the recipe the next week, and then procrastinated for almost 2 weeks about blogging it (really really sorry Beads!!! x_x). So here I am finally getting around sending it off into the blogosphere :D

::Warning:: I’m pretty sure my mom is so used to cooking for 10+ people it became a habit. So if you’re going to make this pancit you might wanna wait either for a party or get used to eating LOTS of pancit canton for leftovers. Or you can just alter the recipe to make it smaller (and suit your taste :3)

The Mom’s/Inai’s/Nanang’s/Inang’s Pancit Canton

Ingredients & Equipment (happeh nao Rei? lol) :

  • Large & Medium (or whatever for meat) Pots
  • Large Pan
  • 1 Cabbage (rough chop)
  • 2 Bell Peppers (sliced)
  • 2 Celery’s (sliced)
  • 2 Carrots (sliced, julienned?)
  • Lots of meat (mom used a pork shoulder and some liver)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (crushed, I think she used 1 1/2 but she knows I love garlic)
  • Lemongrass (tied in a knot), if you can't get lemongrass you can use Lemon
  • Peppercorn (or just black pepper)
  • 3 Bags of Pancit Canton (forgot the brand name but they were small bags, kinda)
  • 1 Whole Yellow or Maui Onion (chopped)
  • 5 Shallots (sliced)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Optional~ Lemon, Lime, or Calamansi to spritz onto your pancit portion

Chop/slice up your cabbage, celery, carrot, onion, shallots, bell pepper, crush a bulb of garlic cloves (less if you don’t like garlic) and do a rough slice, or not if you’re like me and like the chunks. Also make a knot out of your lemongrass. We did this part while the water and the meat were on the stovetop heating up, but you can to this before hand if you don’t have extra hands.

Get your big pot and fill it with water, set it on the stove, and let it boil. Place your meat in a pot with a couple of crushed garlic cloves (for flavor), lemongrass, and some crushed peppercorn and set the heat to medium. Let this cook for about 30 minute on low heat (to be honest she was looking at the time, she just kind of knew when it was done, not that that helps much). Mom doesn’t like all that fat and oil that will start to float at the top, so she tends to remove it with a spoon.testing123

When the water in the large pot starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium and start adding the pancit, let it do its thing (stir occasionally so it wont stick) until its halfway cooked (taste for chewy chewy). Once its ready take it off the heat and give it a cold water shock to stop it from cooking further (don’t worry because you’ll finish cooking it a bit later).canton

Once the meat is finished with its little hot bath take it out of the pot and let it cool down. The broth that you’ve ended up with in the meat pot is going to be used later, so set it aside for now, because mom detests the fat that’s floating we strained it through a cloth just to get all the last bits of fat and other chunks of lemongrass/garlic/peppercorn out of the broth.

Once the meat has cooled down cut it up into little bite friendly bits. Get your pan and add some oil to it. Take your meat and brown it in the pan, once its brown set it aside and start adding the onions, shallots, and garlic to the pan (oil if needed). When the onions become a little transparent add the carrots, once the carrots are halfway cooked add the celery and lastly the bell pepper and cabbage. Add some crushed peppercorn (or if you prefer just ground pepper), and around 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (she eyed it so I’m not 100% that it was 2 lol) taste a veggie and if it needs it add some salt (we didn’t need any since we had pork). Scoop out the veggies from the pan and mix them up with your meat.foodage Don’t clean your pan yet because we’re going to use those juices at the bottom, get a little bit of the broth (around 1/4 – 1/2 a cup, again mom eyed this) and add it to the pan juices. Let this simmer till its been reduced almost by half.017 018

Here’s where things started going a little off for me an mom, because of all the food we had the pancit wouldn’t really fit into our little pan, so we had to do the the final step in two batches. If you make the food the way I wrote it 1) I hope your not eating it all by yourself, 2) I hope you have a bigger pan, 3) if not you’ll take the same steps with both batches.

When the pan juice + broth gets reduced take out half of it for the second batch. If you have a large pan do all the noodles together. So, if you were like us, and had a small pan, take half of your semi-cooked canton and add it to the pan (see I told you we’d finish cooking it). Mix the noodles into the sauce so every last bit is coated and taste it to see if it needs anything (more pepper? salt? or soy sauce?) Taste your noodles to see if they’re done (should be a little chewy) and when they are done add half of your veggie and meat mix, stir it all together so every serving will have a little bit of everything, and your done (yay :D congratulations!!!). Except if you were like us and had to do it in two batches (aww :( no congratulations), but once you do the second batch your done (yay :D). Don’t forget to add the other half of the pan juice + broth reduction to the other half of the semi-cooked pancit!

019Remember if you’re going to make it yourself you can always tweak the ingredients so it suits your taste, if you like extra garlic, add more garlic! Onion fiend? Add 10 of them (ok don’t do that…). Like the salty taste? More soy sauce!!! or salt!!! Hate cabbage? Do your cheeks swell or do you break out in rash at the merest idea of eating bell pepper (really? I never heard of bell pepper allergies)? Don’t add them!!! Anyway you get my point, go ahead and tweak away.

Also if you make this you are automatically obligated to posting a picture of either you eating it or making it and Happy Eating :D

August 11, 2009

Started Knitting again :D

Soooo~ It’s been awhile o_o ahem…

KNITTING~ I haven’t knitted in almost two months TT__TT One of the reasons is because my fingerless gloves have been frogged so many times I just got tired of them. Buuuut~ after 2 months I decided I was finally going to finish them :p and I’m halfway done, I already got through with the right hand (minus the thumb gussets) and now I’m starting on the left. These I’m probably going to keep for myself (so selfish :D). They’re made from naturallycaron.com’s Country (Acrylic and Merino Blend) in Deep Taupe.

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Yay :D first time doing cables~ I think they actually came out better then I was anticipating. I’m planning on making another pair of fingerless gloves for a friend in naturallycaron.com’s Spa (Acrylic and Bamboo blend) in Green Sheen :3 it has a nice soft green color.

On a side note~ I’ve been trying to wean myself off of shampoo’s with sulfate and conditioners with silicone since I heard its better for curly hairs. So far its working fine~ But since my hair is prone to dryness I’ve been trying to figure out how to retain nice defined curls without having to shell out money for anything expensive (yet :p I’m going to eventually buy a nice curl friendly conditioner). Sooo I’ve been looking at some of the recipes online, on both the Naturally Curly Crafters group on Ravelry and the NaturallyCurly.com site. I’ve just put on some warm honey and extra virgin olive oil and I’m waiting to see how its going to turn out :3 Also I feel like vomiting because I really hate the smell of honey x_x