Thursday, February 28, 2008

Candlemas Cross Stitch

I've been so extraordinarily busy lately, I haven't had time to produce much original art, but I am always creating something. It's during these times I fall back on simple projects like cross stitching. I actually have not cross stitched anything in a couple years, but my friend, fellow witch, and all-around crafty girl, Robbi, mentioned it to me a few weeks ago and I got the cross stitch itch again.

I enjoy cross stitching because I can pick it up when I have a few free moments, put it down when I need to, and it travels well. I can work on it on the couch as I unwind in front of the TV, in the car while waiting for my son at school, or outside while he plays and I soak up the sun.

Willow Polson has a few Pagan craft books available that I love. Her Sabbat Entertaining: Celebrating the Wiccan Holidays with Style is kind-of like a Martha Stewart-style guide to the eight sabbats. For each holiday, Ms. Polson offers up recipes, crafts, lore, rites, and customs. I strongly believe in traditions - I think they anchor us while allowing for creativity. Sabbat Entertaining offers many starting points for creating your own traditions.


In this book, Ms. Polson offers a simple, small cross stitch pattern for each sabbat. I've decided to work through them all this year, and assemble them into a cohesive project when I'm finished. Earlier this month, on Candlemas, I began working on her Imbolc Stitchery pattern.


I think this project is sweet and simple. It calls for both DMC and Kreinik flosses and even though I had to order the latter online, I still finished it very fast. I'm looking forward to working on the other sabbat patterns as the wheel of the year turns and assembling them all as a permanent marker of 2008 for myself and my family to keep and enjoy.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Knit Washcloth

Just Another Snarky Navy Wife recently taught me to knit. After a couple of misshapen practice swatches, I dove into my first project: a knit washcloth.


I know it's not perfect, but I'm so proud. Knitting is the perfect remedy for my Idle Hands Syndrome. Like most repetitious crafts, it's meditative and magical. It's like mantra for the hands. I'm hooked! I've already gone to the store and purchased yarn for my next project - a scarf - and informed The Husband that I'll be making a beanie for him and he will wear it.

To compliment my new found obsession, I've started DVRing all the episodes of Knitty Gritty I can. Where I live, it airs in the middle of the night, so I watch each episode every morning over my cup of coffee. Vickie Howell is the cutest and the show is just awesome.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Woven Wheat Heart


Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Brigit's Cross - Kid Version

Why even have a kid's version? Well first, though creating a traditional wheat Brigit's Cross is certainly not very difficult, it is beyond the manual dexterity skills of most younger crafts. Second, wheat isn't dangerous, per se, but I have received my fair share of minor cuts while weaving it (similar to a paper cut). Parents, you know what your kids are capable of. Here are two alternate versions of the Brigit's Cross made with good ol' pipe cleaner.

Brigit's Cross - Kid Version One

This version is basically made exactly like the traditional version. Replace the wheat with pipe cleaners and delete the soaking period. Weave the cross the same way and tie it off with decorative ribbon. I made this one from wheat-colored pipe cleaners and tied if off with gold ribbon. The pipe cleaner affords you the opportunity to shape the ends however you like, so get creative!


Brigit's Cross - Kid Version Two

This second version is the most basic one for our youngest crafters. Simple lay the pipe cleaners on top of each other in the form of an equal-armed cross and tie them off with yarn or string. My three-year-old helped me make this one from sparkly white pipe cleaners and red yarn. Later tonight, we'll hang it together in his room.


Of-course, with both kid's versions, it's important to explain the purpose of the Brigit's Cross to your child. To ensure an empowering and rewarding experience for your little Conjure Crafter, allow them to hang their own Brigit's Cross along with yours over the family altar or in their bedroom.

Don't miss:
Brigit's Cross - Adult Version

Imbolc (or Candlemas) Primer

Brigit's Cross - Traditional Version

How to make a traditional Brigit's Cross...

Supplies:

  • wheat (any type - I used Triticum Natural Green Wheat)
  • rafia, ribbon, twine, cord, or floss
  • clips to hold ends together as you weave (optional)


When you get it home, the wheat will be dry and brittle. In order to get it soft enough to tolerate bending and weaving, you need to soak the stems in water for at least an hour (I typically soak mine for several hours). This is trickier than it sounds. Because the wheat is buoyant, it won't sit in water inside a flower vase or bucket. The easiest and most effective way I've come up with is to fill an old, repurposed cookie sheet (it needs to be one with a lip) with water and place the wheat in it with the heads of the wheat resting on the lip of the sheet.

TIP: Set your sheet of wheat and water near your kitchen sink. It is extremely difficult to move a cookie sheet full of water very far without spilling it.

When the wheat is pliable, you'll be able to fold it in half without breaking it. At this point, pull off any leaves attached to the stalks of your wheat. Set an old kitchen towel on your work surface and place your wheat on it so excess moisture can drain off without making a mess.

Select one piece of wheat and lay it vertically on the table in front of you, with the head of wheat pointing away from you.

Take a second piece of wheat and bend it in half (you don't need to be precise) and hook it around your first piece of wheat. Hook it near the center point, so it extends horizontally, out to the right at a 90 degree angle.

Next, rotate the whole thing counterclockwise, 90 degrees. Take a third piece of wheat, bend it in half, and hook it over and around the second piece, parallel to the bottom half of the first.

At this point, the center of your Brigit's Cross should look like this:


Continue in this fashion and each time, turn the entire piece counterclockwise, 90 degrees. After each turn, hook a new piece of wheat over and around the center, ensuring it extends horizontally to the right. As you progress, the center will grow larger and you will start to see the weave pattern emerge.

video

Once you have reached a size you are happy with (I like to have 7 heads of wheat on each arm of the Brigit's Cross), begin to tighten up the weave in the center by gently pulling and pressing the wheat into place. As you do, tie the arms off with rafia, twine, or whatever you prefer. You may need to tie each arm both at the center and the end, just before the heads of wheat. You also may need to trim off some ends of wheat that may be sticking out in random spots. Your finished product should look something like this:


Hang your Brigit's Cross in your home on Imbolc night with a prayer for protection for all that live there. As I mentioned in yesterday's Imbolc primer, I craft a new Brigit's Cross every year at Imbolc and as part of my personal observance, burn the previous year's cross in our family hearth. Have fun with this craft and create your own traditions around it.

A kid-friendly version of this Conjure Craft, using pipe cleaners instead of wheat, will be posted shortly.