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Washington Post Holiday Crafts Contest: Meet our finalists

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010; 12:35 PM

READERS' CHOICE

Washington Winter Wonderland card

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Crafter: Maria Carey Jackson, 45, of Springdale. She is a State Farm Insurance public affairs specialist.

What it is: A stair-step card featuring local landmarks dusted with two kinds of glitter: ultra-fine and chunky.

How long it took: Four hours.

Inspirations for the craft: Jackson says she enjoys working with paper and finds it very versatile. She looks forward to the winter season and actually loved Snowmageddon.

Other crafts: Jewelry making, decoupage, scrapbooking, stenciling and silk flowers. She also enjoys quilling, the art of twisting paper into a coil shape by wrapping it around a quill, a craft popular in the 18th century.

Best crafting tip: "There are no mistakes; there are happy accidents. If something doesn't work out, don't stress over it. Go with it and move in a different direction, and you will end up with something even better."

Judge's comment: "One discovers something different on each level."

FINALIST

Leaves made of thread

Crafter: Eileen Doughty, 52, of Vienna. She is a textile artist.

What it is: Five three-dimensional leaves made of thread and embellished with glittery fiber.

How long it took: About an hour for each leaf.

Inspirations for the craft: The leaves are based on sycamore, sugar maple, elm and two kinds of oak leaves from Doughty's back yard. She traced their shapes on wash-away stabilizer (a plastic-like film that dissolves when wet) and stitched threads on it with a sewing machine. Then she rinsed it under a faucet so that most of the stabilizer could wash out.

Other crafts: Doughty stitches landscape quilts and designs custom quilts by commission. She also enjoys working with silk paper and making fiber jewelry.

Best crafting tip: "Look at really basic materials. You can't get any more basic than thread and leaves. Try to think outside the box and come up with a new way to use things. It doesn't have to be expensive or exotic to come up with something fun."

Judge's comment: "Stunningly sophisticated simplicity."

FINALIST

Tiny wool sweater garland

Crafter: Rusty O'Connor, 45, of Arlington. She is the office manager at George Mason University Law School.

What it is: Ten miniature sweaters were knitted and joined together into a garland.

How long it took: Each sweater took between 4 and 8 hours to knit.

Knitting specifications: The sweaters are 24 stitches wide and 28 stitches long. The needles are either size zero or size 1. She used sock-weight wool, sometimes called fingerling wool.

Why do you enjoy crafting: "It de-stresses you. It takes all your energy and focuses it. While your hands are busy doing something, you can feel your mind relax. It's also great for problem solving, as it uses a different part of your brain."

Christmas craft: Baking and frosting gingerbread cookies in the shape of gnomes and hedgehogs.

Best crafting tip: "Don't forget to enjoy the process. What happens is a lot of people want to race to the finished thing. Don't miss the fun of the actual process."

Judge's comment: "Ingenious application of this applicant's knitting talents."


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