Friday, January 30, 2009

Urban Farming Craftiness

My newest adventure includes becoming an urban farmer. Here in Texas where four months of the year we average temps in the 90's, gardening can become a challenge. It is environmentally unfriendly to have huge expanses of lawn and plant non-native species which require high amounts of precious resources. I have a master plan of changing our expansive lawn and non-native plants to something more beneficial to us and the planet. After all, we borrow our planet from our children. Now that my darling husband is quite occupied with his wood-turning business, he isn't exactly paying attention to my master plan of turning our front and back yard into an urban farm with a native species garden for our wildlife friends to enjoy;)

I have doubled our vegetable garden space from last year, planted two apple trees, two blackberry vines and one raspberry vine. I plan to add elevated beds for native species habitat in the front and back. With the elevated beds I can control the soil content more. We have a very clay soil, which some clay is great for your gardening, we have too much of a good thing.

Here I am planting an Ein Shemer apple pollinator to the Dorsett Golden Apple tree I planted last week.

I have used a borrowed wheelbarrow from my dad to mix the native clay soil from the hole dug by my darling hubby and mixed it with compost from my own compost bin, super compost from the Natural Gardener, worm castings (yes you can buy this from the Natural Gardener) and Humate (organic material produced from bacteria and fungi eating decaying matter, yum-yum).

I asked my super smart, super patient father-in-law advice about planting these trees. He is a farmer in Pleasant Grove, Utah and has been growing apple trees for decades. Naturally he is the family expert on planting apple trees. Did I mention he as a degree in Agronomy? Notice the nice, pretty 8 foot Ein Shemer apple tree in this pic. Apparently, the tree is too big for the root ball when transplanting. I need to prune about half of it off so the roots will have a chance to develop and feed the tree appropriately. Since I know I won't harvest fruit for 4-ish years, it didn't hurt that much to prune this drastically. Still, ooohhh:( I know I have a challenge to keep this tree alive the first year, watering too much or too little will kill the tree.) The summers here are brutal, must be diligent.

Here is the 'Lucky Mutant". Root-Baby-Root!!!

I will keep you posted*

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Etsy Find of the week**

Tangerine Studio's profile:

i create

i love to
i always have
i always will!

i hope my art
brings you

~ maggie ~

visit my art blog at

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Pen Chef has published his basic pen recipe*

David Lindquist is the creator behind Craftiness. Here he illustrates his basic pen recipe for those that have wondered, 'HE Made THAT?!'

First, find a piece of wood that looks like it might be interesting inside. This particular wood is Siberian Pea shrub, also known as Caragana. Caragan is an old friend – its always has an unusual color pattern inside.

Mark your piece with a marker slightly longer than the length of your pen tube. You will do this twice since you have two pen tubes for this particular type of pen, a Euro center-twist ball point pen.

Cut your marked pieces with a chop saw. Or band saw, if you have one. I’m hoping to get one from Tina Claus for Christmas.

Drill a hole down the center of your wood piece with a drill press, using a vise to secure your piece. You now have two wood blanks with holes drilled and ready for the glue.

Rough up the surface of the tubes, then glue the outside of your tubes thickly with Gorilla Glue, which expands as it dries filling in the space nicely. Insert the tubes, still wet with glue, into your drilled blanks.

Now you have 2 nice blanks ready for the lathe. Square the ends of the blanks, so they are exactly perpendicular to the tubed blank. Mount the blanks onto your mandrel along with bushings for your particular pen kit. Bushings are spacers that have dual function. They space your items nicely on the mandrel and also serve as guide for reducing your blank to. Chisel down your pen blank to the same diameter as the bushings. Each type of pen kit usually requires bushings with different diameters. The middle of the wood can be any size but the ends need to be precise in order for the pen kit to fit your blanks.

Turn the blanks on the lathe, and shape them with turning tools: gouges, skews, etc. Turn and shape them until they have the final desired profile.
Sand your blanks while turning with different levels of sandpaper. I usually start with 150 grit, then 220, 320, 400, 600, 8-1000, and 1200-1500. Polish with the finish of your choice. David uses several different finishes for his pieces, depending on the type of material or wood used. This time he used a friction finish.

Now lay out your pen parts, and use a pressing device to assemble the pen barrels.

You end up with 2 parts, top and bottom, which are then pressed together to complete the pen. The pen can be pulled apart, in order to change the refill, in this case, a standard Cross style refill.

Or as we say in TX: damn, boy, hellfire, that’s a purty pen.!

If you are interested in being interviewed or having a tutorial published on this blog, please contact Tina at

Happy Creating!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

St. Distaff's Day Knit Party*

Ravelry's KnitRN hosted a fun knit party at her house, thanks Emily!! It was a cultural affair. St. Distaffs day is a French cultural observance. Apparently marking the end of the holiday season when spinners were allowed to go back to work. We had a white elephant gift exchange, potluck with delicious faire ( I was very hungry as I missed breakfast and hoped nobody noticed the heft of my plate), knitting social and Kings Cake which I never heard of.
In attendance were Ravelers Redrockerknits, ceci9293, Sally unraveled, RobinCat, MaryMary.

My dd started on an IPod cozy with novelty yarn and I worked on David's Brick Pullover. 13 gifts were opened and a few stolen including the gift I brought which was one of David's Nosteppines with instructions. He will be tickled when I tell him. A little antedote. This group of ladies know each other from an open knitting group at Gauge Knits that meet on Sundays. David happily sells his wares on consignment at Gauge knits. When I arrived, not knowing anyone except the host, whom I work with, Emily introduced me by name. The usual cursory nods and smiles from a group of very pleasant women ensued. Then Emily said, 'Tina's husband is the one that makes the needle cases at Gauge!'. I felt like a celebrity, or the spouse of one, when a collective 'ahhh ohhh' radiated from the room. David's fans actually span around the world but to see the recognition for his talent in person is indescribable. Thank you ladies**

Friday, January 2, 2009

Our Etsy World Is Small But Awesome**

Raisinlike is Sharona, an Etsy creator in Herzelia, Israel. Her profile states 'My name is Sharona and I have been playing with puppets ever since I can remember. For years I did my best to hide my passion, till someone told me "they do have schools for this, you know. You can make it into a profession!" Well, by then I was way too deep into my high-tech career to leave it for a risky artist life, but I found a way to incorporate my love for puppets, art, and handmade goodies, into my business life as well. I think my artistic nature makes me an excellent technical employee, and my vast customer support experience allows me to provide top notch customer service for my customers.' You can follow her twitter updates here.

Dave and Sharona collaborated on an International Etsy project in which Dave's pen craftiness met with Sharona's art craftiness, and created two peace art pieces which we blogged about this year.

I thought this would be a good time to remember that even though we are from different countries, Etsy brings us closer together. Unless your TV is on the blink, you probably know that the crises happening in Israel are devastating. On the coat tails of the holidays, I would like you to remember our crafty colleagues who are enduring adversity and instability.