Monday, November 22, 2010


This post is in response to some emails that I have received from several readers.  I must say, it is so nice to hear from you and I really appreciate your input and comments.  Keep them coming.

One of my readers sent me a photograph of a whimsical wreath she made after reading my "Fall Wreath" post.  She has given me permission to share it with the rest of you.

I love how she used her imagination by putting the fairies and chair on it.  She really thought outside the box!  It goes to show that you can use anything, there are no rules when crafting.  I thank her for sharing.  If anyone else has photos of projects they have made after reading my blog and would like to share them  I would love to see them.  My email is in the "Complete Profile" section.

Also, I would like to thank those of you who expressed sympathy in regards to the passing of my Aunt, which I shared in my post about the local Needlework Exhibits.  I appreciate your thoughtful responses very much.  I still haven't gotten to any of those exhibits...have any of you?  If yes, I would love to here about which one(s) and what your impressions were.

Additionally, the library now has a copy of the  book published by The Connecticut Historical Society that relates to the exhibition in Hartford: 

 Connecticut needlework : women, art, and family, 1740-1840 

This book offers comprehensive research of many 18th and 19th century needle work pieces by Connecticut women.  Beautifully photographed, it shows the stitches employed, the designs and artistry of their work. 

Please click on the title above to connect to our library catalogue record and to place a hold on it if you so desire.

Again, thank you for your thoughts, comments, photos and best wishes -- keep them coming!

F.Y.I.:  over the next few weeks I aim to post frequent articles that address quick gifts to create during the upcoming Holiday season. Keep checking in!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Are you familiar with those tiny pumpkins and squash that seem to be all over the grocery store this time of year?

For some reason they spoke to me this year: "Buy me, I'm tiny and cute"; "Buy me, you're The Crafty Librarian and you need to find a use for me...."  Really, I'm not nuts, I didn't really hear them, no need to worry about my sanity just yet.  But buy them I did.  And they sat on my counter mocking me while I worked on my "Fall Wreath" post.  Periodically I'd look over at them from behind the glue gun and ponder their possibilities. Initially I thought I would add them to my wreath but I decided not to.  Lots of pondering later, and after many days of walking past them and the gooseneck gourds that I bought at the same moment of weakness, I decided to find ways of using them in my Thanksgiving centerpiece.

For all the projects in this post, I began by marking a circle on the top of the pumpkin.  I used a biscuit cutter but you don't really need one - I was just hoping it would slice through the pumpkin, but it didn't.

It did, however, mark a perfectly round cutting line:

I cut through the rind with a sharp knife, then pulled off the top and scooped out the guts...a lot fewer guts and a tidier job than the big pumpkins that's for sure!!  One little spoon accomplished the job in no time!

My first idea was to use the pumpkin as a votive holder.  I tried it with a variety of tea lights and votive candles. 

I like the battery operated tea lights (shown on far right) because they are less of a hazard,  they flicker effectively and, last a loooonnnnng time.

I placed them on purchased fall-themed candle rings to dress them up a little bit. You could also use the real stuff, gather some natural materials from outdoors (if you are not too sick of raking it up at this point...) and spread them around and underneath.

Grouped together is also nice.  You'll notice that I put mine on a mirror - I like that it unifies the group, and I like the effect of them reflected back. (The gooseneck gourds cry out for the addition of googly eyes ... I am tempted...)

Next I tried putting the candle ring inside!  Not bad.

A place card on a stick works well here. I didn't get too fancy with mine here (I might have to explore the art of place cards in a future post) I just added it for the idea of using these pieces as place cards.

Then I tried it with a tall taper candle.  Also not bad.

Lastly, I took all of the candles away and added some Fall'll need some floral foam or material inside the pumpkin to support the flowers.

Try using different types of squashes, gourds or pumpkins - just make sure they have a relatively flat bottom so they don't roll  over on the table.  Group them together in a centerpiece or use them at place setting, with or without place cards.  They were an inexpensive addition to my table and worked up quickly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


My maternal aunt recently passed away after a long fight with Alzheimer's.  She was a special, gentle woman - my mother's only sister.  I was honored to spend about a half hour alone with her just prior to her passing.  During that time, while I stood rubbing her forehead, I spoke to her about the activities she had enjoyed through her life.  Among other topics, I spun images of the many needle crafts she used to do - particularly knitting, needlepoint and quilting.  I spoke about our shared interest in needle crafts - my own developed as a result of her mother's (my grandmother's) tutelage.  If you have read my profile then you know the importance of both of my grandmothers in the development of my interest and love of needlework.  I asked my silent aunt if she could recall how many times her mother flipped her piece over to inspect the quality of her handiwork.  I was pretty sure she heard me and imagined the chuckle that would normally have been shared.  As I reflect back on this moment today, I am struck by how the threads of needle crafting have woven themselves through my family - connecting us and binding us, creating a shared history of pieces, stories, imagery and times spent together.

Needlework has been a pastime of women (and many men too, but primarily women) for many years.  Many times the finished pieces far outlast their maker, leaving behind remembrances of the people who created them.   In fact, a sweater that my aunt knit many years ago was one of the items proudly displayed among the many photos of her and her family at her memorial service.

There are related needlework exhibits currently going on that celebrate and explore historic needlework by Connecticut women and girls.  I have not yet had the opportunity to visit any of them but I plan to.  I think it would be a fitting way to honor my aunt.

Here are the details and links for the exhibits and the museums who are sponsoring them (click on the exhibit for more information or on the name of the museum for specifics):

"Connecticut Needlework: Women, Art and Family: 1740-1840" is on display at the Connecticut Historical Society, One Elizabeth St., Hartford, through March 26, 2011.

"With Needle & Brush: Schoolgirl Embroidery from the Connecticut River Valley" is an exhibit at the Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme St., Old Lyme, through January 30, 2011.

A third exhibit is going on outside of Connecticut, but relatively nearby in historic Deerfield, MA:  "Celebrating the Fiber Arts: The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery" can be seen at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life - Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery.  The blurb indicates it is a permanent exhibit with changing elements, the current exhibit runs through November 28, 2010 except November 25, 2010.

The busy holiday season is quickly descending upon us.  Quiet needle crafting can be a healthy way to settle our stresses, and provide restorative moments in which we might contemplate the people and things we hold dear.  Check through your library's holdings - you will find many materials on the traditional needle arts such as crewel, embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, quilting, and of course, crochet and knitting.