Crafty Stories

I like to tell stories through the creative arts. I may be slightly obsessed with books, movies, TV shows, yarn and fiber. Wanna hang out?

Monday, April 30, 2012


Hi there!

Sorry I've been so MIA lately! I haven't had much in the way of time or material to post, unfortunately! Things have been very busy here but there isn't much in the way of photographing. :)

I'm currently dyeing and carding up a storm for the Downton Abbey themed KAL/SAL going on in the Storied Yarns Ravelry group. It's too late to sign up for it now, but you can still watch the fun and cheer on the participants! Just visit this thread.

Here's a little preview of what I've been doing for the SAL/KAL so far:

I'm also working diligently on custom orders. They're really piling up this week, which makes me feel grateful, excited and somewhat panicky all at once, HA! If you have a custom order request with me, just know that I will work as hard as I can to get it filled for you. I'm pushing myself to finish the SAL/KAL right now and then when that's done I will hit that customs list with a vengeance! :)

Along the lines of custom orders, I've been feeling a little extra stress lately about custom mini skeins. To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship going with those tiny little skeins! On the one hand, they're adorable and fun. They bring me a lot of new business and my customers' orders inspire me to come up with really neat colorway themes. On the other hand, it's very tedious to wind and dye all those tiny little skeins, and the extra time and effort slows down my progress on regular shop updates as well.

In order to address this problem, I've got exciting new plans for mini skeins! From now on I will only dye up two theme sets of mini skeins each month. I will announce the themes in advance and put up pre-order listings. I will have a limited number of mini sets for each theme, and once they're gone then that's it until the following month. I won't be taking custom order requests for minis any more, but I am taking suggestions from customers which I will use to determine future mini skein set themes. There will be a surprise bonus each month for anyone who pre-orders their minis instead of waiting for me to list the extras in the shop, too! I think this will be a fun way to manage my own stress and bring exciting new mini sets to the Storied Yarns Shop for all your scrappy project needs. Read all about it in this thread in my Ravelry group!

Ok, well, I think that's it for now! I hope to be back later this week with a shop update and some more photos from the Downton-Along!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Will You Be Staying for Tea?

Hello there! Recently I've acquired a few new obsessions in my life: drinking at least one cup of tea per day and watching Downton Abbey on PBS Masterpiece. I think the latter definitely influenced the former, for what it's worth.

In honor of my new obsessions, I'm hosting another Storied Yarns SAL/KAL!

Yep, it's the Downton Abbey Spin-Along and Knit-Along!!!

This time around you can - as always - opt for yarn, batts, mini skein sets or roving. Along with that you'll receive some extra special goodies, and the prize this time around is going to be a special Downton-inspired tea (or coffee) mug from Winemaker's Sister!

If you want to play along, purchase your listing by April 24 or they'll be gone forever!

As an added bonus, this weekend only (April 13-15) you can receive FREE Worldwide Shipping in my Storied Yarns shop when you use coupon code ChaiTea at checkout!

So, will you be staying for tea? I'll ring for Carson ...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: Divergent By Veronica Roth

About a month or two ago I was browsing Etsy for literary-inspired creations, and I stumbled upon The Green Forrest. Among the books I recognized as the inspirations behind several pieces of jewelry in the shop, I also found some that were unfamiliar to me. Namely, I found an entire section devoted to The Divergent Trilogy.

So, naturally, I had to research the books for myself. I found the first novel in the series, Divergent, through my library's e-book system. I had to wait several weeks on the waiting list to get it, but the wait was well worth it.

I'm going to avoid spoiling the book here, but I'll just give you the basics so you will be enticed to read it for yourselves (I hope).

A few disclaimers before we begin:
- Nobody paid me to read this book. I was not given a copy of the book by anyone else, including the publisher. I chose to read it on my own and the opinions I will express in this review are also my own.
- I am a HUGE fan of dystopian literature, particularly of the Young Adult genre. You should know this in advance because I am predisposed to like books like Divergent. If you are not similarly predisposed then you might find my review a bit biased or over-enthusiastic.

Anyway, let's move on to the actual book, shall we?

The Basic Plot
Divergent is a dystopian novel, meaning that the setting takes place in a fictional future where war has torn apart the world and the leaders of the society have taken measures (sometimes drastic ones) to stop that from happening again. In their pursuit of a Utopia they end up creating a system that fails in some way when things go horribly wrong.
In this future version of the United States (Chicago, to be exact), the people who live in the city all belong to one of five factions. The idea is that if human nature's propensity for evil is what creates wars, then the only way to eliminate war is to put a huge emphasis on the more positive characteristics in the human personality. Each faction chooses one main emphasis: Amity for kindness, Erudite for intelligence, Candor for honesty, Abnegation for selflessness and Dauntless for courage. The people inside those factions have to behave a certain way and strive to always emphasize that one important trait in their lives and in their behavior.
At the age of 16, children born into a faction must take a test to determine their aptitude for a particular faction, which may or may not be their own. Then they choose the faction they want to join as an adult; choosing a faction other than the one they are born into means leaving their family behind forever, so it is rarely done (but it does happen).
The main character in the novel takes her aptitude test and finds out that she doesn't have an aptitude for one faction only; rather, she's Divergent, meaning she shows strengths in a variety of areas. This, she soon discovers, is a dangerous label to own, so she must hide her Divergence as she chooses a faction for herself.

My Reaction
I really loved this book. I enjoyed watching Beatrice, the protagonist, as she struggled to choose a faction and be true to herself. I admired her courage as she pursued initiation into her faction and also as she took the steps to dismantle the corrupt government toward the end. There's a nice bit of romance in the novel while still retaining a strong female protagonist, and the plot twisted often enough to keep me guessing and to keep me biting my nails. If you enjoyed novels like The Hunger Games, Uglies or Incarceron then I highly recommend the Divergent Trilogy as well.
The second novel in the trilogy, Insurgent, comes out in May. I can't wait to read it!

Do you have any other dystopian literature to recommend? I'd love to know about it! Leave me a comment and tell me all about it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

This post will henceforth be also known as:

My Public Apology to Josh Hutcherson

Last night I finally saw The Hunger Games in my local theater. I'd been waiting a week mostly to avoid obnoxious crowds, but of course I was waiting long before that for this movie to arrive.

SPOILER ALERT: My apologies to those of you (living under a rock, I presume?) who haven't read these books or watched this movie yet. I plan to discuss the movie in full in this post so you may want to stop reading here if you plan to watch it in the future (which you should, SERIOUSLY).

I have to admit, before this movie came out, I was pretty upset about the casting. I had no trouble picturing Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and I was excited to see Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. But Josh Hutcherson as Peeta? I just couldn't get behind it.

I'd seen this actor in other movies, namely Cirque du Freak, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Kids Are Alright. I thought he did a fine job in those roles, but I really didn't think he could do Peeta justice.

I am here today to tell you that I was so very, very wrong. 

I loved this movie; I loved almost everything about it. As an avid fan of movies that were inspired by books, I know that sometimes the movies are a great representation of the book and sometimes they're an epic fail. I had high expectations for The Hunger Games along with all of its other fans, and this movie did NOT disappoint.

Was it 100% true to the book, in the sense that it quoted every page? No. I'm okay with that, though, because I feel a movie needs to be a little bit different than the book for a lot of reasons. There were behind-the-scenes moments in the movie, like Haymitch bargaining with the sponsors and President Snow's conversations with the Game Maker, that you wouldn't read in the book because it was told from Katniss's perspective. I enjoyed these additions and thought they really rounded out the story.

Most of the actors portrayed their characters really well. Just before the start of the Games Lenny Kravitz had me tearing up as Cinna; the look on Liam Hemsworth's (Gale) face as he carried Willow Shields (Prim) away from the Reaping was priceless. I could totally picture Woody Harrelson as drunk-and-bitter adult Haymitch with the younger, craftier, former Victor version of himself just under the surface. Wes Bentley has long been a favorite actor of mine, and his portrayal of Game Maker Seneca Crane was wonderful, right down to the kick-ass beard.

The one actor who totally stole this show for me, though, was Josh Hutcherson. His portrayal of Peeta was spot-on; he brought out aspects of Peeta that I didn't even consider in the book version. The way he chatted up Caesar Flickerman in the interviews to bring himself favor from the sponsors was boyishly adorable. When Katniss kissed him in the cave my heart sank at the look of shocked glee on his face, and I felt the exact same emotion during their victor's interview with Flickerman and their ride home on the train. When he said "I don't want to forget," I realized that I didn't want to forget, either - not this amazing movie and not his performance in it. 

In this movie, Josh Hutcherson reminded me why I am, now and forever, firmly planted among the ranks of Team Peeta.

My "Peeta" colorway on BFL top
 And a few years from now, when I hear him say, "You love me - real or not real?" I know that my heart will melt in all the right ways.

I'm sorry I ever doubted that Josh Hutcherson could bring this character to life. I promise I'm not going to go all Cougar-like on him, though he is adorable; I just really appreciated the way he played this role. I apologize for doubting, and will henceforth trust in the awesomeness that is this movie and this role. ;)

Thank you, Mr. Hutcherson, and the rest of the cast of The Hunger Games. Thank you for bringing these characters to life for me, for letting me spend a little more time with one of my favorite stories.