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CRAFTY By John Kinmonth

Believe it or not, craft time is cool. Very cool. Just look at a cover of the ultra-chic Vogue Knitting Magazine. Rather than grandma knitting a Christmas sweater by the fire, these are international models donning handmade goods—with, gasp, patterns so you can make your own at home.

Or maybe pick up a copy of ReadyMade magazine out of San Francisco to see how the next generation spends craft time. The irony is that it’s not much different from the crafting of generations past—it just comes in a glossier package.

And why shouldn’t crafting be popular? It’s only natural that notions of building wooden furniture and sewing clothes would gain traction with a high-stress, low-movement society. Advances in technology allow us to work with the click of a mouse, or more recently, the deft touch of a mobile device. Social currency and knowledge rule the day.

The simple pleasures of craft time—the smell of cedar under a sanding block, the faint click of knitting needles and the smooth glide of a paintbrush—are the soothing balm of the computer class. And, from the brilliant, craft-focused Bellevue Arts Museum to the popular Holiday Bazaar at the Bellevue Club, the Eastside is brimming with do-it-yourself artistic ethic.

And in that spirit, the following are tales of three members who will be displaying their creative crafts at the Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, Nov.13.

Little Pearls, Big Hits
Don’t be surprised if Cheri Urquhart’s elegant jewelry is a big hit. After all, most of it was handcrafted while watching her beloved Huskies and Seahawks battle it out on the gridiron—she also likes the Florida Gators, but don’t hold it against her.

As a full-time nurse by trade, Cheri started making jewelry seven years ago as a way to relax and explore her own creativity.

“I’d always been interested and thought I should just sign up for a class and try making some jewelry,” she says. Finding her niche, Cheri uses Swarovski crystals and freshwater pearls to create her jewelry, which she’s found popular with the late-20s through mid-30s crowd.

“All ages buy it, but a lot of younger people like it because it’s a real girly look,” she says.

“Older gals think you only wear certain jewelry when you get dressed up, but the younger girls are so good with fashion, they make it work with a pair of jeans. This year I’ve been making some longer strands, because that seems to be popular.”

Although Cheri’s steady hand rarely misses a beat, she admits there have been times when football interfered with her craft during a close game.

“I’ve had to tear some things apart,” she says.

Cooking the Book
Cindy Pigott spent a year channeling her creativity into one avenue—and the results have been delicious. As a board member of the Bellevue Farmers Market, Cindy was thinking of ways to promote the collection of organic and local farmers and vendors when she stumbled upon the idea of a cookbook.

“I spent the entire season at the market shooting photos,” she says. “It was really fun.”

For the recipes, she drew on local chefs and market regulars to create dishes for nearly any discerning palate.

“Almost all of the recipes are by the farmers or the restaurants,” she says.

Different from a standard cookbook, Cindy’s book also focuses on the experience of attending a farmers market.

“It tells you how to go to the market and what to look for in a peach, onion or whatever, and each section is divided by pick, pack and prep,” she says. And the best part—all proceeds go to the Bellevue Farmers Market.

Fringe Benefits
Andrea Castell’s job is demanding, her hobby is not.

Together with Michelle Zimmermand, Andrea launched Fringe Benefits, specializing in handmade scarves, gloves and hats.

“My career is very high tech,” she says. “(Fringe Benefits) is something that I wanted to do in terms of creativity and relaxation.”

For the past five years, Andrea and Michelle have been weaving local yarn and ribbon into fashionable accessories with great results.

“We always liked to go to craft shows, and we just decided to give it a shot,” she says. “The scarves, hats and gloves have been really popular.”

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