Thursday, March 29, 2007

vintage wallpaper

"It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection." (From the Bhagavad Gita, found in the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert)

I am not a big paper crafter. I just take one look at the scrapbook aisle at Michaels and think it just would require a whole new house to start acquiring all that. I did do a scrapbook from our France trip last year, and made my own wedding invitations, but right now my paper supplies are confined to one or two small plastic containers.

But then one day I found a roll of this super adorable 70s wallpaper at a thrift shop. I bought it just because it was so retro, then I learned paper crafters are dying for vintage wallpaper for their creative endeavors. So I decided to see if I could find some more. I did.

I found this cute mauvy pink floral, a fun world map print (along with a matching plum textury solid) and this swirly blue-green one. Also not pictured is a plaid of brick and sage green. I think they range from the late 60s to the 80s.

So I cut them into nice 8.5 x 11 inch sheets and put them for sale in groups of 12 sheets (two each of six patterns) in my etsy shop. I have quite a bit on each roll, so if any of you readers out there are interested, as I am willing to do custom orders of one or more patterns.

I'm sure all you collagers out there might like these. Or you card-makers. And I read about a Martha Stewart article on making glass coasters with vintage wallpaper at Tag Sale Tales.

With my brain on "vintage wallpaper," I was lucky enough to see some real live vintage paper in a bathroom of the condo where my aunt and uncle were staying in Phoenix this month. This silver metallic daisy pattern was on every wall and the ceiling in this small bathroom. I wanted to rip it off the wall! Of course, I didn't, but I will keep my eye out for more vintage wallpaper. I seem to have good luck at the thrift store and estate sales, so I thought I'd share the love. What do you use vintage wallpaper for?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pink and green

"What we love to do we find time to do." (John Lancaster Spaulding)

First of all, thanks for all of the positive feedback on my last post about PayPerPost. I shouldn't be surprised that all of you are also horrified at this latest development. Anyway, get ready for a bunch of pictures: I love, love, love this little baby blanket I made for Made for China.

I made this blanket out scraps of--what else?--recycled felted sweaters. I used a few different sage-y greens and some off-white, which I zig-zagged together. Then on the off-white pieces, I embroidered some pink and green flowers using these lazy daisy patterns here.

Here are some close-ups of the emboidery. I kind of just free-handed it. Wouldn't want it to look too perfect and not hand-made! I love pink and green together. My plan was to do the nursery in pink and green, but then the linens I picked out from Pottery Barn got discontinued. (That's what happens when it takes two years to get your child.) Now that we're getting a son first, the nursery is just sage green with a gingham/toile pattern.

Hey, speaking of pink and green, I joined the next swap organized by Rebecca and Lucy. They're calling their swaps Sweet Goodness. This one has a pink and green theme. Looks like I'm matched with two people: Rebecca herself and Nancy (though the link says Jenn?)

You can see here that the backing is some popcorn-type off-white chenille, which actually wasn't as soft as I would have liked for a baby blanket. Then I used satin blanket binding in a soft pink. My mom always points out that babies like to rub that on their faces because it's so soft, but I had a hard time zig-zagging it on. Next time I'd handstitch it, I think.

Unfortunately, neither of my swap partners will be getting this lovely blanket, as it's on its way to China along with hundreds of other donations from generous crafters. I had this dream that when we go to get Sophie she will have this very blanket in her crib. A long shot, I know, but technially possible!
In other swap news, I also signed up for a pincushion swap, hosted by Tiff, since I really need a pincushion. Again, I have two partners: Crystal is making for me; and I will make for Tiff.

** Quote compliments of Theresa, btw.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Blogging for profit--NOT!!

Hello readers,

This is a craft and thrifting blog, where I keep track of and share my creative endeavors. Since I started this blog a year ago I also have become quite a fan of reading blogs by others involved in similar crafty pursuits. In addition, I read a number of adoption blogs and enjoy some political blogs occasionally as well. Recently I learned about something that I and many others are very about. It's called PayPerPost.

PayPerPost is not web advertising, like when a website or a blog contains a display element that is clearly an advertisement for a product or service. That is a perfectly acceptable, and is comparable to what newspapers, magazines, television and radio shows--in short, other respectable media--do. And I have nothing against bloggers who want to earn some money with their blogs.

PayPerPost is different. It is a new venture in which bloggers are paid to gush about products WITHOUT DISCLOSING THAT THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO SO. Now, I don't think you had to have taken journalistic ethics in school, as I did, to see that there is a problem with this. Marketing your product is not a bad thing; marketing it by being deceitful is. (Same goes for other guerilla marketing techniques, like paying popular high school girls to wear certain shoes, or planting people in bars to rave about specific drinks.) The key is disclosure, folks. Let's be honest.

I learned about this when a fellow blogger linked to this article in the Baltimore Sun. Here's another article in Business Week. Apparently the whole blogosphere is abuzz about this, as it could seriously compromise whatever credibility this new media has.

Now, as a journalist who has worked for organizations, like the church, that sometimes want to blur the lines between journalism and PR, I have seen the damage that this can do. When you can't trust the media anymore to tell the truth, our whole democratic society is in danger. I don't think that's an overstatment.

Shortly after hearing about this I was reading my daily dose of bloglines, and came across a post gushing about a product. No big deal; I read those all the times. I've shared my favorite products, too. But this time I had to think, "I wonder if this is one of those PayPerPosts"? I jotted off a quick comment to this effect, mostly trying to get a conversation going about how this sucks now that you can't trust who's blogging for profit or not.

This particular blogger was offended by what she perceived to be an assault on her character. I have apologized for the comment, as I did not mean to question her ethics, but rather to comment on the whole PayPerPost phenomenon., which I believe is seriously problematic. I have also seen other crafty bloggers saying, "I don't see what the problem is. I love hearing about recommended products."

I repeat: I do not believe it's problematic to recommend products you like. But thanks to PayPerPost, don't be surprised when something you thought was going to be great turns out to be crap because the blogger who gushed about it was exaggerating because they were paid to. I know the craft blog community assumes a level of trust that maybe doesn't exist in, say, political blogs, but they are not immune.

I know most people tune in here to see my latest felt creations or check out what I found at the Salvation Army last weekend. I'll be back to that in my next post. But I'd like to think some of my readers are interested in more serious subjects, too. Frankly, I was a little taken aback that everyone assumed my comments (admittedly terse) were a personal attack. If you want a blog without strong moral, ethical, and even political opinions, then maybe mine is not for you.

Meanwhile, since many Posties (people who PayPerPost) are not disclosing their true identities, I will: I do not and will not accept payment for any of my opinions. As a journalist who has spent two decades buildling my credibility, I can't afford to take their money. It's just not worth it.

I'm interested in your opinions on this topic...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

And the winners are...

Thanks to everyone who commented on my blog-versary. My husband just picked two winners to the giveaway, and they are:

* Jungle Dream Pagoda, whose blog I have been enjoying for almost a year. She's a wonderful thrifter and hopefully will enjoy a nice recycled sweater bag from thrifted materials.

* Connie Lu, a new blogger with Simply Quilted. She's from Indiana, where I lived for a few years myself. I hope she'll enjoy a recycled sweater purse, too.

Ladies, please send me your snail mail addresses so I can get your packages in the mail. (schlumpfh at claretians dot org).

Ed and I have been busy this weekend and last trying to do some spring cleaning. Today he worked all day on our new bathroom vanity. He's learning lots of new plumbing skills. I've been his assistant, but still managed to crank out three new purses today, which I will add to my etsy shop on Monday. Still knitting my "40 Days for Others" projects, too, but nothing to show yet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In the mail

"Our grand business in life is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand." (Thomas Carlyle)
I have been very remiss in acknowledging some wonderful gifts I've received through the mail lately. This cool collage (with the quote I repeated above) is the work of this talented blogger (She also bought one of my felt posies in my etsy shop--which has gotten a bit bare lately thanks to several recent sales.) Seems like everyone is doing cool collages these days. This was her blogging anniversary giveaway (Don't worry: I haven't forgotten about mine. Winner to be announced tomorrow because my husband is at a hockey game tonight and he's supposed to draw the winning name!)

I must have been having a lucky streak because I also won a little gift from Paper and String. (Not pictured: a little felt heart). She does a giveaway almost every week, I think. What a great idea, although I'm not organized enough for that. I really like the way she packages her stuff and has her "branded" logo all over everything. I'm just finally ordering some cloth labels to put in my purses and other things I'm selling. Baby steps.

Also, I ordered some earrings from earrings from Mary Ann. She was doing a fundraiser for cancer research, so not only was it a good cause, but I got two cool pair of earrings. And generous soul that she is, she included a matching necklace. Thank you, Mary Ann. She is a cancer survivor herself, and of course our family has been touched by cancer lately (hasn't nearly everyone's?). My father-in-law has survived esophageal cancer and my cousin's daughter beat a rare cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma. We're so grateful they're both healthy now.

Another last-minute gift in the mail (no photo yet) is some cute Smurf fabric from VaxGirl (that link shows it. It's so cute and pink!) I commented that I liked it (because my last name allegedly means "Smurf" in German--though my research librarian sister disputes that), and she offered to send it to me. How sweet.

What goes around, comes around. I read that Barb is collecting strawberry fabric for an all-strawberry quilt she's planning, so I sent off a nice piece I scored at the thrift shop recently. She asked me what she could send in return (and I haven't replied to her email yet) but the answer is ties with sports team logos on them. This is a hint about my new project!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blog-versary give-away

"Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me. Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left. Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in everyone who speaks of me, CHrist in the every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me." (From "St. Patrick's Breastplate," a prayer attributed to the fifth-century evangelizer of Ireland)

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. I ate the required corned beef and cabbage at a party at my coworker Kevin's house. We swung by on the way home from an all-day adoption conference, where we heard some great speakers and hung out with other families going through the adoption process. In case you missed it, we had some good adoption news (baby steps) posted here. No referral yet, but maybe in a month or two.

The little beaded shamrock above (made out of what else--felt) is my last one, after making several for my parents, sister, and a few etsy customers (as a special gift for buying a purse during March). I didn't get my own finished in time, so you can see the beading is still in process. I'm using up my felt scraps for another cool project, which I'll post next week.

I'm a bit behind with my blogging, in part because I was in Boston for three days for a business trip. Things are very hectic at work these days. Not good. We're also doing some home improvement around here and finally started cleaning out the soon-to-be nursery, which took most of Friday. So I haven't been doing as much knitting, crafting or thrifting as usual, although there are still some things to post.

Speaking of blogging: Today is my one-year blog-versary! Wow, it's flown by. I started blogging after discovering knitting blogs on the Internet (the first one I ever read was this one) and later as a diversion from the disappointment of our adoption delays. Since then, I've gotten back into sewing, started thrifting, and participated in several swaps. I called the blog "Spiritual Knitter" because all my previous writing has been about spirituality, so I thought I'd try to connect my two interests. In November, I started adding inspirational quotes at the top of my posts. My own spirituality is very ecclectic, and the quotes, I think, have reflected that. In February, I launched my etsy shop, where I've been selling my signature recycled felt purses and accessories.

This purse is one I just finished for my sister-like friend Kristi. It's in the mail! As is the custom on many blogs, I'm going to offer a giveaway for my blog-versary. (The photo just above is a major hint of what!). Just leave a comment and in a few days, I'll have my husband pick the lucky winner. Thanks to everyone who visits, reads, and comments, especially those of you who have been so supportive our not only my crafting but of our adoption journey as well. I've learned so much from fellow crafter/bloggers, especially those who balance parenting, work and their creativity. I would have never thought I would have met so many cool people online. I'm not sure some of us even have that much in common, maybe politically or otherwise, but somehow our love of creativity has brought us together. I'm not that good at replying to comments (I wish it were easier in blogger. Often I don't have your email) but today I want to make sure to say thank you to all of you who have been so supportive. THANKS!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Attn: Arizona thrifters

"Life is not a path of coincidence, happenstance, and luck, but rather an unexplainable, meticulously charted course for one to touch the lives of others and make a difference in the world." (Barbara Dillinham)

First of all, check out what Pam did with the above cool quote. A really beautiful collage. I've done some collage, but would love to try more. Lucy has ben doing some gorgous collages lately. Very inspiring.

It's always nice to do a little thrifting while on vacation, but the area around my parents' condo is mostly big box and chain stores. But while venturing out to meet our friends the Misiewiczs at Stanley's (a very cool Polish deli), I spotted a Salvation Army and a smaller thrift. My husband was very patient to let me spend some time in each.

The Salvation Army didn't have much in the way of linens, and prices were high, in my opinion. I got the yellow linen tablecloth below for $1.25, only because I spotted a hole in it. I'm probably going to cut it up anyway and make something Easter-y.

But the second shop, called "Second Treasures," and a fundraiser for the Sojourners Center for women affected by domestic violence, was the BEST! I spotted the two Pyrex (above) immediately but when I didn't see a price sticker, I was afraid they were too expensive. When I asked the price, the woman said it was by the pound, and told me they'd be $2, for both!

Then I found those cute Christmas platters (and four matching dessert plates, not shown). Again, by the pound: $2 for the platters. And $3 for the plates. I think these were from Restoration Hardware or someplace like that. The back says, "St. Nicholas Square: 'Tis the season."

I also got a cute Ann Taylor skirt for $2 and a sundress for $2. From the linen department, I got this blue chenille bedspread for $2 and a gold and white polka dot sheet for $2.

This was not a large store, but I thought it had a good selection, at least when I was there. Perhaps you Phoenixians (?) already know about it. I can't find any website, but it was right off the 51 on McDowell. Check it out.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cactus Needles Knitting Guild

"A song a day keeps the blues away." (Edward Hays in Chasing Joy: Musings on Life in a Bittersweet World)

Immediately after arriving in Phoenix on Monday night, I went with my mother to the Cactus Needles Knitting Guild, where she was the program presenter on the topic of "Knitting with beads." That's here teaching a bunch of knitters how to use a crochet hook to knit with beads, so you don't have to string them all on your yarn. She also showed a bunch of lovely things she has made with beads. You can see them all at her blog. Her presentation was great (but then she is a retired teacher, so I'm not surprised).

The Guild is like a Stitch 'n' Bitch meeting--about 20 women (and one man!) sitting around knitting while talking and learning about knitting. They had a show-and-tell where members could show what they were knitting or had finished. They did charity knitting as a group. And one woman brought a bunch of old knitting magazines in that she was getting rid of, and I scored a bunch from the 60s. We went out to dinner beforehand and the women were really nice.

I don't belong to the Knitting Guild Association (which is a national organization) but I probably should. Membership is $27 and includes a magazine, online patterns and classes. The local chapter, the Windy City Knitting Guild, looks pretty active from its website.

Do any of you belong to the Guild, Stitch 'n' Bitch groups, or similar craft coffee klatchs?

P.S. A correction from a few posts ago: I did not knit the Jesus and Last Supper. Just posted to the photo to show you the pattern was available.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” (Abraham Lincoln)This is what 39 looks like: my wonderful husband celebrates his birthday today. That's him at the top of Camelback Peak, which we both climbed this morning. Whew! It was a lot harder than I thought. More rock climbing than hiking, but we made it.

We are here in Phoenix, Arizona, visiting my parents, who spend the month of March here every year. It sure was nice to get away from the snowy winter of Chicago. I think we both needed a vacation.

My parents are great hosts: We went to the Cubs/Brewers spring training game yesterday (Cubs won!) then my mom made crab legs for dinner. We ended the night with a game of dominos. Tonight we're going out to a Chinese restaurant for Ed's birthday. Tomorrow we plan to lie by the pool most of the day. At least I do.

I've been doing some knitting and have some craft news to share, but will try to post later in the week. For now, I'm just trying to catch up on my blog reading and on reading all my mom's good knitting books and magazines. I hope to have a finished sock to post soon!