i'm moving my blog to a new address! it's a good decision, it feels right. birds in chandeliers will stay here awhile, but any new content will be happening at *anastasia.handmade. i managed to move all of the posts and comments to the new addy, so never fear! it was a little hiccup, but i figured it out. i've actually been working on all of the imagery for this move; updating header images, profile images, and my etsy shop title. i'll launch it all after the 18th. thank you everyone for following me on this journey!



i'm thinking of changing something. i've begun to feel that i should move away from the title "birds in chandeliers", to a more definite title "*anastasia.handmade". it describes what i do better, and that it is myself which does these things. the "birds in chandeliers" is somewhat vague.

i was warned of this, of course; several years ago when i first started selling what i made. i was told to choose a name which represents me and my creations. own them, as it were. but, i wanted something fun, non-descriptive, non-confining. 

the snafu to changing things is that the title is the address. what about bookmarks, past business cards, links, comments left to others? blah, a headache. 

this has all been brought on because etsy is giving you the option of changing your store name, and if you choose to do so, they will change all the links within etsy and hearts to the new address.  

i want to change my etsy store name, but then i started thinking i should change my blog name as well. so, what do you, my readers (thank you for that, by the way), think of this move? any advice for staging a technical switch gracefully?


not too shabby

i ventured over to the georgia national fair yesterday. the exhibition of art pieces was really nice! it was fun hunting down all 23 of my pieces, taking photos as i came across them. the tally is: 4 first place, 6 second place, 3 third place, and 2 honorable mentions. not too bad at all for my first competition!

next year i want to go after one of the giant rosette ribbons, so i have to start planning. as well, i would like to enter some things in the fine art competition. here's to a successful 2012!


just what was needed

yay! the bathroom is now finished (or as finished as any room ever is). i've installed the bidet and toilet, along with a toilet paper stand. the toilet paper stand is a reclaimed fireplace tool holder, painted chrome, and now holding a roll of tp.

the only adjustments i needed to make was paint the bidet and toilet a warmer white. now they match well with the sink and bathtub. i keep thinking the space feels a little big, but if the roof were in place, it would be quite snug, so i won't drive myself kooky thinking about it.

the day was coming to an end, the skies loosing the light of the sun, so the photos are not as crisp as i like. i will take new ones tomorrow.

an army of miniature servants would be nice

i've been having a few late night dollhouse redecorating moments lately. the halloween decorating was just the beginning. now i've finally gotten around to ordering a toilet and bidet for the bathroom (won't that be a relief!), added a wardrobe to the master bedroom, and have an idea to create a fortuny dress for the lady of the house.

sometimes pieces of furniture you've had for awhile finally "click", and make a room feel finished and at the same time help to create a more sensible layout. i've placed a grandfather clock in the living room, adding height and warmth to a bare corner. a wardrobe i bought maybe two years ago, but is quite large and really can't go too many places without dwarfing the space, finally found a place which suites it in the master bedroom.

or, perhaps, the piece was in the wrong area this whole time and just needed to be moved into another room. in the upstairs hallway, i moved a master bedroom night stand to just under the window, creating nesting tables with the one that was there already.

i went with a nonconventional dining area; using a bench and three cork stools as seating, around a baroque marble table. i love mixing things up, and anyways, this provides easily movable seating for when the dollhouse people have company.

one thing which happens when a dollhouse is left dormant for some time, is dust. which takes just as long to remove as a full size house because you have to be incredibly careful handling pieces, there are multiple nooks and crannies, and things need to be put back where they were without knocking over other things. i find masking tape works well to remove most dust from the floor without leaving remnants of paper towels behind and a simple swipe of a tissue works fine for the furniture. as long as i don't take it into my head to start rearranging things, this housekeeping generally doesn't take the entire day.


more cowbell!

more halloween! i've created several decorations for the foyer and kitchen, going with purple, orange, and lime green colors. nods to witches, hovering bats, jack-o-lanterns, spiderwebs, spanish moss, eyeballs, candles, sweets, a vampire ducky, a black cat, candy corn, a candy apple dipped in caramel and chocolate, and a ghost. at this moment i may be finished, but you never know!


squishy but not squid

alpaca is really an incredibly lovely fiber. i find it so soft and a joy to spin. of the 16 colors available i've sampled 6; white, light fawn, dark fawn, dark rose grey, light grey, and dark grey. thus far the browns feel softer and loftier than the white and greys (but not really by all that much, at that).

i've been collecting undyed unspun fiber specimens the last few months so that i have samples on hand to touch and examine when choosing fiber for spinning and weaving projects. i've also come to discover they're an important tool to educating myself on different fibers when you're shopping, or have an unidentified fiber in front of you. i've become very familiar with the samples i have and so it's gotten quite easy to identify fibers based on feel, smell (yes they have distinct smells), length, thickness, and color.

there are two boxes with 25ml jars: one cellulose fibers, and one protein fibers. the protein collection is nearing a somewhat complete state, with a few missing (anyone have any byssus they're willing to part from?). the cellulose fiber box is a little empty, but i'll remedy that when i order another habu sample book this coming december and place the older sample sheet offerings in their labeled jars.

what i've discovered is that vicuna, cashmere, bison down, are the softest, followed by guanaco, camel down, and alpaca. i found mohair and qiviut to be the springiest and least soft. i'm still on the shelf about the qiviut as i'm not 100% sure of the authenticity of the sample i have. i'm in need of new zealand possum (the ones not killed by poison), angora, pygora, and yak samples (the one yak i have is a blend of yak/tussah).

the silks are in a category all their own, they're just amazing; so soft and such sheen! i have cricula coccoons, muga silk, red eri silk, eri silk, tussah silk, bombyx silk, and both tussah and bombyx noils.

in the cellulose box there are 14 shades of color grown cotton from peru, pima cotton, organic cotton, and flax. i'll be adding nettle, ramie, hemp, pineapple, kenaf, kuzu, pine, zenmai (fern cotton), milkweed, and washi paper as i come across them. the milkweed fiber from the pod might be an issue as they don't grow in the south. any cellulose fiber i may have missed? i've left out soy silk, milk protein, corn, and seacell as they require too much processing to manufacture, so i'm a little leery about their environmental impact (actually come to think of it, i'm not really fond of bamboo for pretty much the same reason).

why no wool, you may ask? well...one, there are way too many breeds that collecting samples of them all would be quite a task, and two, i really don't like spinning wool. not at this point in my life. especially when you have soft alpaca to spin; no felting, degreasing, or lanolin to deal with!

p.s. if anyone reading this can help me out with small samples of the fibers i'm missing, i would be incredibly thankful! it's always nice to come across other fiber fanatics like me!


happy dance

a wheel, a wheel, a new spinning wheel! one that plies as well as spins, with both jumbo and fine yarn abilities. we decided to go ahead and get an ashford traveller with a jumbo flyer accessory. i'm so happy! it could be in part because of the fumes though (i just put the third coat of st. john's wax on); not bad fumes, just strong. here's the beauty now! happy dance!


a new spin on plastic food

it feels funny to do baking for a dollhouse; let's just say you can fit a whole lot of cookies and cream puffs on a relatively small life sized cookie tray.

 i decided to bring the halloween festivities into the kitchen. to me this meant cookies, cookies, cookies, cream puff tower, and pennants. frankenstein green, pumpkin orange, and witch's purple were the main colorways throughout.

 i made all of the baked goods with some sculpey i've had for years (bought in bulk when i was making dolls). painted them with acrylic, and decorated with glitter. glitter is fantastic.

a downside to all of this decorating is that the dollhouse is going to feel empty when i take it all down. don't even tell me about christmas. just don't.


never too early

the days are getting shorter, cooler weather has blown in, and there's a crisper feel to the air. all this means one thing, halloween is coming! well, and fall, of course. but let's focus. halloween, the best holiday ever.

i've started early this year, as inspiration struck, to decorate the foyer of the dollhouse. bats made from pipe cleaners and paper, witch's broom and hat, cobwebs of cotton, and a paper jack-o-lantern. i'll add more as i think of it. but for now, it's very festive!


creative interpretation

a summer guild "assignment" we had was to read a book which mentions a particular textile skill, and create something using that skill which was inspired by the book. a read/create challenge you could say.

i've read the brothers grimm since my childhood (having a copy of the complete fairy tales of the brothers grimm), and several mention textiles; usually something to do with breaking an enchantment. one which i remembered well, and which had lots of possibilities, was the six swans.

here's the basic storyline: brothers become enchanted by evil stepmother, sister takes vow of silence for six years and begins sewing 5.5 shirts from asters (a flower), king falls in love with mute maiden living in woods, marries her, begets heirs which disappear soon after birth, maiden is accused of cannibalism by crazy mother in law, after third "disappearance" maiden sent to stake, at last moment saves brothers, vow is ended, proclaims innocence, mother in law dies, everyone lives happily ever after.

well, almost everyone. back to that .5 shirt; like any project which spans a few years, it's not quite finished when the deadline approaches. something about a sleeve. so, the sixth brother gets to keep a swan wing instead of an arm. a bit awkward, but hey, would you rather remain a swan?

i crocheted rather than sewed, but i wanted the finished piece to have more of a feeling of being crafted from nature. actually, i cut and spun the yarn from paper, then crocheted it. the wing was crocheted with a really cool paper yarn from habu i've been hoarding for years.

i figured the method used for creating the actual shirts was open for interpretation as i can't imagine sewing flowers together in the woods would be doable. they kind of skimmed over the details anyway. what did she use for thread? did she use the stems, or the leaves, or the flowers? how were they kept flexible after so many years? how were the shirts constructed? see, the way i see it is that the word sew could have been translated from a different word, like weave, maybe. it makes more sense for her to have woven the flowers into cloth, or knotted the stems into a cloth. that's the thing with translations and getting a story however many generations passed down verbally, there's a lot of interpretation and maybe the grimm brothers didn't know too much about the variety of methods found in the womanly art of the needle. it was written down during the 1800's after all. so there.

i'm thinking this would be an interesting series to pursue. i've got some ideas for the story all fur. well, we'll see where this thought takes me.


kusha cushy

while lusting after the habu projects on ravelry, i decided to go ahead and finally use the cone of silk wrapped stainless steel yarn and some of the slubbed cotton yarn i had purchased several years ago and knit a kusha kusha scarf. because the kit had been discontinued, the pattern is available from purlbee for free.

 i made some modifications to the length, as i did not need to felt it, creating a 51" length. well, that was the goal, 51". but, i ran out of the stainless steel; only remembering afterwards that i had used some of it in a previous shawl. oops. but it's still nice at 42". stretched.

i have my eye on the infinite loop kit vers. 2. hopefully, it goes on sale in december.


tv for my kind of person

i've been catching some television lately and i've found two shows which i love. they are different from each other, but not really by too many degrees; sometimes i give some attention to the 12 year old boy inside me.

the first is an fx show, wilfred. it's mesmerizing. or maybe that's just elijah woods' eyes. awkward and mesmerizing. but really, really funny.

the second show is cartoon networks' adventure time; so cute, colorful and fun.

and strange though it is, they both leave a warm, fuzzy feeling inside when the credits roll. thankfully, they are 22 minute shows, so the humor doesn't wear on you or tax your funny bone too badly. in a way they remind me of my name is earl, wonderfalls, and 3rd rock from the sun. i miss those shows.


mixing it up

i wrote this awhile ago, but hadn't posted it.

i started my trained art life in illustration, using paint and paper. since graduating, i've slowly leaned towards fibers, and have focused on them in the last few years. every now and then i would take out the paints and canvas, work on a piece, and once complete, put the paints away again.

 the other day i had an inclination to do some needle lace, so i grabbed a scrap of linen, and practiced some lace edging. it was a small piece, and i wasn't really sure what to do with it other than find some way of framing it. riffling around under my bed, i came across two canvases i've had forever. ah, inspiration! i took out the paints again, and have completed two canvas's incorporating my fiber work. i like the texture of fiber, the color of paint, the mixture of flat 2-dimensional and the slightly more dimensional fabric.

is this the beginning? who knows, but it is fun.


here's the yarn stash i'm taking to the georgia national fair. it is a nice assortment of colors i think. there are definitely some which i will be keeping (they're so pretty, it would be hard to part from them), and some i will post to etsy when the fair is over. other entries you may have seen before if you read this blog; mini quilts, lap quilt, various cushions, weavings, smocked pin, beaded pin, etc.


yarn finds

it's fantastic when you find habu yarn on sale. i managed to get three balls of a-5 silk, and one of a-64 linen paper, all in a muted yellow green which is so pretty. happy!



after making some adaptations to my flax wheel (mainly replacing the flyer hooks and smoothing the orifice), it spins a little better. i was able to spin up a pink batt i had made the other day; it reminds me mostly of raspberry sorbet.


weekend fun addendum

i spun up two of the batts i carded at the workshop. the batt formerly known as clown vomit was plied with a white alpaca. it was a definite learning experience. i spun it on my ancient flax wheel (which is quite the finicky beast when it comes to spinning anything thicker than fingering, and you can just about forget spinning fat and thin singles) and it may have taken me a few hours. i try not to think of it. the plying was done on a drop spindle (again, the ancient ones' fault, as it absolutely refuses to spin counter-clockwise). not that i don't enjoy plying on a drop spindle, but it is a little awkward to try any fancy art plying. but, in the end, i really like the color play and softness of the yarn.

after borrowing my good friend's schacht matchless spinning wheel, i spun up the purple batt, plied it, and was skeining in about an hour. wee! it's quite lovely, and i really like the flashes of purple silk and amethyst corriedale locks. another lesson learnt; it is true that you shouldn't mix differing lengths of fiber when creating a batt, as the longer fibers all but disappear while spinning (much like a corespun, with the longer fibers acting the part of the core).

a snowball?

well, i managed to squeeze all of the alpaca on the drop spindle, and it doesn't look so much like a drop spindle as a softball with an antennae (or a jack in the box head). i wound it off, skeined it, and fulled it, and now have a lovely bundle of white alpaca laceweight.

i've been playing with the idea of dyeing it a soft aubergine with cochineal, but figured perhaps the white plainness may work in my favor. maybe. just guessing really. not going on any data to back this hypothesis up. we'll know in a month though, won't we?

the muslin sacks are all sewn up, corded, and tagged. it's a good thing i thought of labeling, as they're mostly indistinct from one another. i feel almost like a bank robber with sacks of money; hey, it's what they look like to me.

after picking up some color grown cotton roving yesterday, i'm down to two empty sacks. hmm. luckily i have enough cord and material for several more, and they're quick and easy to sew up.


mochi madness

getting ready for the fair, one of the categories which i am happy about is spindle spinning; which is a favorite pastime of mine. i have a mohair/silk and alpaca chunky yarn i've spun which i've entered; so for a little variety i decided to put my kuchulu to work and have been spinning a laceweight 2ply in white alpaca that i had helped shear.

one of the requirements is that the skein needs to be one to two ounces. which is fine, doesn't seem like a lot. but, when you're using a wee little drop spindle it sure seems like a ginormous amount to spin. each .20 ounce ball looks like little mochi, so cute!

i've borrowed my mothers delight spindle to ply, and i hope i can get it all on there. i have yet to master the joining of two separate 2ply strands (other than a knot). ah, well, something to aim for.


going to the fair

i may not be posting as much as usual until the 25th, as i'm busily compiling and creating entries for the georgia national fair. i'm very thrilled, i've never entered my work in any competitions before, so lets keep our fingers crossed!


mine, all mine! bwahaha!

one thing that happens when you go to a fiber event is that you come home with a lot more fiber than you had. i purchased some yak/tussah, muga silk, red eri silk, and cotswold locks. my teacher was more than generous with fiber, and i was more than greedy accepting it, so i also acquired silk noil, bombyx silk roving, wool, more wool locks, dyed tussah, a couple of silk hankies, and some wool "junk".

today i was thinking i needed some way to organize all this treasure, so i went about making muslin sacks out of some heavy duty muslin i had leftover from a patternmaking workshop. i was able to make nine of them before i ran out of cloth. i also need to get some cotton twine to use as drawstrings. labeled metal and paper tags will go on the cords so that i know what each is when they become a pile of similar muslin puffs. now i'll have no excuse for not spinning, as i am more than amply supplied with fiber. dyeing all this fiber should keep me occupied for some time as well.

weekend fun

this past weekend i was in athens enjoying some time learning more about spinning at plying the arts 2011. it was rather nice to be amongst other fiber enthusiasts. the two workshops i took part in were a taste of silk and blending for fun.

i rather thought i knew a lot about silk, but it's so much more interesting when you learn more. overspinning isn't possible, bombyx comes in a brick form which is fluffier and spins more smoothly (sounds like an oxymoron huh?), and i still enjoy silk hankies. the little samples above are what i spun using my drop spindle.

the blending exercises using the drum carder were very fun! things learned; a new to me technique for feeding the drums (placing fiber parallel to drums), creating variegated batts, and obtaining three different batts just by blending the same batt once, twice, and three times.

this yellow green batt was the demo for seeing the effects of multiple blending. i spun up a segment taken from each time the batt was blended. the blockier colored skein went through once, and the heathered lime green skein was twice through. i rather like the more distinct colors on the first one. i haven't spun up any of the three times blended batt yet, above.

i mixed brown, white, purple, and blue into my second batt, blending it twice.

getting out of my comfort zone, i created a mishmash better known as clown vomit for my third attempt. i blended it three times, and the hot pink really didn't want to blend. i may ply it with a soft grey.