flat-item swap: my contributions

A month ago I launched a craft swap. Because the cost of sending items via post has been steadily climbing, participants were encouraged to create flat items which could be sent at the lowest postal rates.

For the people with whom I swapped, I stitched up brooches.  There is a safety-pin at the back of each brooch which lies flat to conform to the flat item swap criteria.

And in my parcels, I also included paper butterfly ornaments.  When devising these ornaments, I was excited to find tiny butterfly-shaped crystals to hang at the ends; however, because the crystals were made of glass & slightly bulky, they required a small bit of bubble wrap for safe shipment.  oops. I failed to adhere to my own flat-item swap criteria and had to pay slightly higher postal rates!

I've heard rumblings from participants that, although this flat-item swap has been an interesting challenge, what they are really hoping for is another peg doll swap.  I am taking this into consideration and will likely host another peg doll themed swap... sooner? later?  At this point I'm not sure when.  If you are interested in participating in another peg doll themed swap, please check in regularly via my blog or facebook so you don't miss the sign-up deadline. 

Or send me an email with 3 good reasons why I should host another swap and tell me when you would like me to launch it. I'm a sucker for good persuasion.

Another reason to keep your eyes on my blog: it looks like book #2 will be released in October.  This means a blog tour in November with book give-aways and a few other surprises.  I'm usually rotten at keeping quiet about about good surprises, but I've been sitting on some really special ones, brewing since late fall.  All the more reason to stay in touch around here!!



holding hearts

Two weeks ago a friend and her family experienced a sudden, unexpected and devastating loss.  I wanted to reach out to her with words, but felt that anything I said would seem trite & meaningless in the wake of what she was experiencing.  There is always the impulse to want to DO something to help, when truly, there is not much to do beyond being present and giving time and space to grieve.  Friends set up a schedule to bring meals, and so I signed up; but my heart reached to do more.

Then I remembered an essay in a book by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. called My Grandfather's Blessings; in the essay, she discusses the work of an organization in Tacoma, Washington called BRIDGES which offers grief support for children.  As part of their programs, each child and adult who comes in contact with services at BRIDGES could receive a small velvet or velour heart as "something tangible and comforting to hold on to."  Dr. Remen describes the hand-sewn hearts in this way:

Small enough to be put in a little pocket and take to school to hold and rub, these soft little hearts give children permission to hold their own hearts tenderly and to grieve. Children carry them for as long as they need to, finding comfort in the softness when thoughts of their loss might otherwise overwhelm them.

And so I sewed three hearts -- one for my friend and one for each of her children.

If you would like to make a heart for someone you know, the instructions are simple: start by cutting a paper pattern in the shape of a heart, and then, using the pattern, cut out two hearts from a soft velvet or velour fabric.

Sew around the edges by hand or machine, leaving an opening of at least an inch. Use the opening to turn and stuff the heart, and then use small stitches to close.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)
-- e. e. cummings


knitting slippers

Because I was craving something warm for my feet, I made a January resolution to do more knitting. I spent time browsing slipper patterns on Ravelry & found a link to this pattern.  Simple.  Easy.  Love it.


The pattern calls for decorative buttons which sent me trawling through my button collection where I unearthed two small ceramic buttons made by Laura Sheppard.  This is a perfect use for beautiful buttons. (you can find Laura's etsy shop here.)

I knit the blue slippers from stash yarn, but what I really wanted was a pair in red.  Note: kitty photo-bomb.

And here is the photo I had intended to take.  This Malabrigo superwash is as soft as cashmere, and after this pair is done, I think I might knit an oversize pair (from non-superwash) to try felting them...

All this talk of knitting and slippers leads me to confess that what I'm really working towards is trying a pattern from this gorgeous book by Katie Startzman.

The designs in the book are fun & unique, and if you scroll to the end of this blog post, you will find a book-trailer which will make you smile.

Do you knit?  What are you working on right now?


making butterfly brooches

I had been wanting to make some small gifts, and after thinking about it for a few days, I started cutting circles and butterflies from felt... If you would like to make some butterfly brooches, too, please follow along!

Small scraps of felt in at least three colors

Embroidery floss and a needle

Fabric scissors

Safety pins

To start, I cut the larger circles approx. 33 mm (1 1/4 inches) wide and the smaller circles approx. 27 mm (1 1/8 inches) wide.  The butterfly wings are 40 mm (1 1/2 inches) across.  Depending on your preference, you could cut your pieces slightly larger.

The butterflies are attached to the smaller felt circles by the stitches which form their bodies.  To embroider the bodies, I made one long stitch down the center of each butterfly, and then, on either side of the long stitches, I made stitches which were half the length (see photo above).

The heads are large French knots, and the antennae are stitched using a single strand separated from a piece of 6-strand embroidery floss.

After the heads & bodies were embroidered, I used an applique stitch to sew the smaller circles to the larger circles.

The final step is to carefully sew a safety pin to the back of the brooch; or if you are thinking ahead, you could sew the pin to the larger felt circle before you sew together the larger and smaller circles.

And that's it... you're done. 

Happy Spring!


a week in the woods

Anyone who was in touch with me last week knows that my big boy was away with his classmates for a week in the woods.  Our big boy had never been away from the two of us for more than one night, and so his father and I were a bit of an anxious mess.  I'm happy to report that we all survived!

My son and his classmates spent the week exploring beautiful coastal forests...


 And visiting groves of tall redwood trees.

They learned about wildlife (and met several creatures in person).

One of the favorite creatures around here is Ariolimax Columbianus, affectionately known as the banana slug.

He had a wonderful time and took many beautiful photos, but we're glad to have him home again!


join me for another swap?

A year ago, for my third blog-iversary, I hosted a peg doll swap.  It was very popular, and during the past year several people have asked whether I would be hosting another swap.  The answer has been "no," and my reason was as follows: I was told by several participants outside the US that, with postal rates ever climbing, it had cost them outrageous sums to post their parcels (and these were domestic rates, not international!)  I felt terrible and vowed never again to host another swap.

However, after gentle persistence and some brain-storming, my friend Anna came up with the idea of swapping FLAT items! Most countries have a much lower rate for flat items.  Generally the envelope must be less than 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick to qualify, but best to check with your local post office for exact specifications in your country.

All this to say... won't you join me for a FLAT item swap?  At first glance, this might seem boring.  Let's see... we could swap Popsicle sticks. Moth wings. Oak leaves and feathers. But then I opened myself to the challenge of imagining interesting things I could make which were also... flat.

embroidery & photo :: knitty gritty homestead
A piece of embroidery which could be framed or turned into something useful like a pincushion?

mitts & image :: purlbee
 Mitts knit at a very fine gauge...

mitts & image :: purlbee
 Or sewn from fine wool...

headbands & image :: totally stitchin'

headscarf bandana and image :: purlbee

needle book & image :: tiny happy

brooches & image :: purlbee

coffee cup cozies & image :: purlbee

finger puppets & image :: purlbee

banner & image :: martha stewart

ornaments and image :: martha stewart

a garland of stars and image :: path less traveled

lariat necklace and image :: martha stewart

A delicate necklace, bracelet or earrings...

brooches & image :: tiny happy

paper cut :: homemade happy

Right then.  I think you've got the idea! The choice is up to the creativity of the sender -- the main criteria are as follows: the item should be hand made by you, it should be the sort of thing you might like to receive yourself (or which you think the recipient would like), and it should be flat enough to meet postal rate specifications for shipping a flat item.


 -- Sign-ups are open starting today (Monday March 3rd.)  To sign up, please email me margaret (at) flyingteapot (dot) com with your name, mailing address, email address, blog URL (if you have one), plus a few sentences about yourself; you can mention your family, information about where you live, what kind of crafting you like to do, materials you like to use, etc... 

-- This swap is open to anyone anywhere in the world and to participants of all crafting levels.

-- Each participant will be matched in a group of three (i.e. you will create a flat item for each of your two swap mates and will receive a flat item from each of them in return.)

-- Sign-ups will close Sunday March 9th and information about your swap-matches will be emailed to you by Monday March 10th.

-- By signing up for this swap you agree to create, with you own hands, a flat item (the sort of thing you might like to receive yourself) for each of your swap-mates and send them off in a timely fashion.

-- Preferably, parcels should be posted to recipients by Monday March 24th.  If you are delayed in sending your parcels, it will be important to communicate this directly to your swap-mates.

-- Any questions?  Please feel free to send me an email!