Monthly Archives: September 2011

Boredom is the Crafter’s Friend

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I get bored easily. Especially now, living in a 30 foot trailer, without most of my craft stuff available. For the moment, thanks to Arthur (aka Arthritis) I am not crocheting.  I did manage to finish this crocheted cap for a child – a contribution to my current charitable endeavor for Kaps for Kendall. You can find out all about that here: http://www.kapsforkendall.com/

1000 caps by December 15th,2011. I am doing it via the web site Craftsy.com If you want to bypass all the folderol – mail your completed caps directly to Craftsy, who will deliver them to Kaps for Kendall. Send caps to:

Keep a Kid Warm
c/o Sympoz Inc.
1553 Platte #202
Denver, CO 80202

  • The hats can be in all sizes
  • The hats should be fun! Children like to wear bright colors
  • Hats for little boys are especially welcome
  • The hats don’t have to be knit or crochet, sewn hats are great, too!

So that solved the boredom problem for a while! Now, with a little over a month to go before I move back into a real house, with space for all my treasures,  I am doing two things: 1) searching for good craft projects for the future, including holiday ideas and 2) browsing the internet for patterns and ideas to share with my readers! SO here are today’s ideas for boredom busters!

In the mood to do some decorating for Halloween? (PLEASE, let’s wait until after Thanksgiving to do Christmas decorating, okay? Christmas gift planning is great, just skip putting out the santas and snowmen until the Friday after Thanksgiving!)

Andrea Kay Porter from Poppies at Play has posted a downloadable, printable set of Halloween letters for making Halloween Blocks. Too, Too cute! You can find all the details and the complete tute on her site. The tutorial is not as complete as I would like, since it doesn’t give the actual dimensions to cut, but I am going to print out the letters in B/W and using my Elmer’s Spray Adhesive – which will bond temporarily to the wood (see can instructions!) I can then use that as a template to cut the blocks before permanently attaching the design. Voila!

Another Halloween idea I simply adored was one for making a reader’s delight with “Well Mannered Pumpkins.” She calls them well-mannered because she used an old book of Etiquette tips! My book, for this project, is an old book of quotes. Use the above link to get to the tute – you will have to scroll down the blog a bit to this project, her September 13th post. Easy to make, inexpensive as all get out (around $2 each!) and something you can put your own unique spin on so easily! This project really appeals to me, because I am, as most of you know, an avid reader, and “Readerwoman” is my nickname!

Halloween is becoming America’s #2 holiday, behind Christmas, so break out your creativity and get going on some of these fun ideas for decorating your house for those trick or treaters!

Blogwise – I have come across some sites that I subscribed to because they scratched the itch of what to do next!

Crafter Hours has some marvelous ideas – especially this one for making a tank top out of a tee-shirt!

If you share my interest in Steampunk crafting and decorating, you will find this blog right up your alley! Gothic Rainbows has some simply awesome steampunk and goth ideas.  I intend to attempt to make the marvelous goth watch – there is no tute, but the picture is great, so I am going to go to Fire Mountain for some of the needed “parts” and give it a try when we get back to California!

A new favorite blog is The Long Thread. Ellen does wonderful things with needle and thread, and I adore her felt projects. Take some time here to browse the tutorials, and look at the projects. Simply Divine.

Here is a blog with a great giveaway – CASH! Nikki, In Stitches is offering $250 in cash! While you are there entering, take a look at the section of her blog called “Make it Together.”  Great projects and tutes in a variety of mediums – paper, fabric, jewelry, yarn and more. Nikki is a new blogger, and her ideas and projects are clever and inspiring.

Well – that’s it for today. I may set up my own tute for the Halloween Blocks to show you how it goes – it depends on how hot it gets – its 95 out there now – and it is only 10:30 in the morning!

Until we meet again – Happy Crafting!

Trends in Crafting

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Crafters are as subject to trends as are those who follow fashion. I thought I would share a few of the finds I have come across online that seem to be making the news with crafters who want the latest goodies!

Plant Based Fibers are really hot right now. These include hemp, soy, silk and bamboo yarns and fibers for all kinds of craft projects. There are actually many pluses to using these fibers and yarns. They are “green” and sustainable in use, are generally softer than machine created acrylic blend yarns and fibers, and some are even very suited to wash and wear type use. (Not usually silk and soy – you’ll have to check the individual properties thereof, when you purchase!) There are spinners who sell their originally spun and dyed fibers on Etsy and Artfire. Of course organic cottons continue to enthrall me, and have for years. Now, though, they are more readily available and in a wonderful variety of earthy colors and textures. Check out Ravelry if you aren’t already a (free) member – they describe and explain  many yarn types on their site.) There ARE some drawbacks to be aware of though. Many plant fibers have zero elasticity. You may find that a cotton/hemp blend might give you more flexibility. Plant-based fibers can be really expensive. For example a 50gr (88 yard) skein of Pakucho brand yarn is around $9 online plus about $4 for shipping (per skein)

Stripes seem to be back in too – in fabric, jewelry and home decor. I have seen some zigzag striping too – which was a bit scary to me! But stripes are tricky when crafting.  One fun thing to do is to make simple plate/light switch covers with scraps of striped fabric or wallpaper. Striped fabric can be great for quilting, or for making slimline skirts for yourself or a favorite girl-child. An example of Quilting with Stripes can be found on Geta’s Quilting Studio Blog. This tutorial is great if you want to try something new in Quilting! I am looking forward to trying another project from 100 Pretty Little Projects to make some striped ornaments for the holidays.

Combined/Mixed Media continues to be popular – as do Recycled Crafts. One of the hot projects is “repurposing” wool sweaters in felting projects – yet another hot craft! Using old jewelry, combined with paint or even crochet makes for some interesting eye candy! I think we will see more and more steampunk, vintage, Victorian, and fantasy themes used creatively. Because of the economy, more and more of us are reusing, and finding new uses for old things such as curtains, sheets, and clothing. I have been saving old jeans for years, and in 2012 will be starting a mega quilting project for my king sized bed, using jeans, and fabric printed with books, adding embellishments and top stitching. I expect the project to take me at least a year, so I will try to share it with you as I go along! Not until we move back to California in 42 days 17 hours and 35 minutes though!

In crochet (and some knitting, I believe) Amigurumi patterns are continuing to be a popular form of crafting. Add this to the natural, organic yarns, and I bet you will see some really creative and adorable work. For those not familiar with some of the terms in this posting, check the bottom of it for some definitions and links.

Last up on my blog today on trends is personalized, handcrafted accessories. MP3 carrying cases made of fabric, covers for laptops and tablet computing devices, diary covers, crocheted or knitted holders for hooks and needles, even original cup huggers for your hot latte, complete with a pocket for sugar packets or your frequent buyer card! Many books and websites have great patterns for these kinds of projects, or you can really dealve into your creativity and design your own!

Definitions!

Amigurumi: the Japanese art of creating crocheted or knitted stuffed animals. The word comes from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll. (Thanks WIki!) SEE PICTURE ABOVE RIGHT.

Steampunk: Refers to a time period when steam power was utilized – often thought of as Britain in Victorian times, although Steampunk is NOT Victorian in nature. It encompasses the elements of science fiction and early modern machinery (think blimps and Jules Verne for example) I think of it as alternative crafting!

This marvelous watch can be YOURS to make! Cutout and Keep has some wonderful steampunk crafts and how-tos.

Hope I gave you some ideas and inspiration for crafting!

Why do you craft?

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Photo from Etsy Blog

Crafters are an odd lot. Okay, speaking for myself – I am an odd lot! I craft primarily because I can’t help myself. Creativity, like writing and reading,  are deep-set needs for me. I craft because it is part of who I am. I craft for gifts, I craft for charity, and sometimes I craft for money. But I subscribe mostly to the theory that I craft because I can, because it is necessary, because it expresses love and hope.

Over time, I have spent hours researching websites and books to learn new crafts, to meet new people, and to discover new techniques and ways to express myself artistically, craftily. Browsing the ‘net, I found these sites that have also pondered the question – why do you craft? (Site names below are clickable links if you want to read what crafters had to say there.)

Capadia Designs

The ProvoCraft Cricut Community

The Simplest

And yet, wherever I go, the answers, both long-winded or short, seem to be about the same.

  • I craft for fun.
  • I craft because it saves me money on gifts
  • I craft because I have the talent to do so
  • I craft because I inherited the love of crafting from a parent or grandparent
  • I craft because it is “my time” to do things I enjoy
  • I craft because it allows me to express myself
  • It is a way to relax and get away from the world
  • It helps me deal with stress and to center myself
  • I can create things that are unique and not “made in China” cookie-cutter type art
  • Crafting = Therapy
  • It helps pass the time and/or it keeps my hands busy so I don’t (eat) (drink) (sleep)

SO, why do you craft?! Respond in a comment below, or simply spend some time thinking about why you involve yourself in crafty pursuits. And while you are commenting, or thinking about the role crafting plays in your life, pick out a new technique or skill to master! Mine is going to be felting…>>>

Blogging Mavens ~ The World of Craft Blogs!

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First, I want to send you all to a marvelous charity blog – which ties in so well with the Craftivism mode I have been in lately! Jog on over to World of Charity Stitching and enter their wonderful contest for fat quarters – even if you don’t quilt, you will find tons of uses for fat quarters; in fact, yesterday’s blog about my own “pretty little project” used a fat quarter (well, actually, about 1/3 of a fat quarter!)  If you are not familiar with the term fat quarter – read on!

One of my favorite Tee-Shirts says

Basically, a fat quarter is fabric that is cut in half between the selvedges so you end up with a piece of fabric that is approximately 18″ by 22″. A normal cut of fabric for 1/4 of a yard (a “quarter”) would be 9 x 44.  For a great chart, see about.com’s quilting pages.  Here is a photo of bundles of fat quarters. They can also be sold in rounds, so don’t be mislead when looking for them in your fabric store!

Fat Quarters pictures from "I'm no Chef" Diet Recipe site

ANYWAY – this is all just to encourage you to head on over to World of Charity Stitching. Whether or not you enter the giveaway, please take time to browse the site, as Craftivism, as demonstrated so well by World of Charity, is dear to my heart.

There are many blogs online about and for crafters. I am enamored of many, and subscribe to several. If you know how many emails trot across  my desktop daily, you will know that I am very picky about what I subscribe to, lest I be swamped by ideas and have a serious email meltdown. Here are five of my favorites, all of whom to which I subscribe. (I hate trying to write grammatically correct sentences.  They never seem to sound right!)

1. The Zen of Making  Haley Pierson-Cox is the maven here at The Zen of Making. She does all kinds of DIY (do it yourself) projects, and does product testing as well. (one of the things I am trying to expand into – product reviews) Her tutorials (which I have recently learned to call “tutes” {ye gads} ) are fantastic, her humor is “zenny” (so, so sorry, I am on a roll here…) and I simply love to wander through her site with mind wide open to crafting possibilities! And if you understood that paragraph, you win! (my everlasting gratitude!) (or would that be ‘tude, dude?)

2. I love the mother-daughter Aussies on Craftbits. They too have a charitable “arm” called Bottles of Hope. They have a lot of advertising on their site, but they take the time to explain why, and their projects and ideas are so much fun that who cares anyway!?  Browse their site and their fantastic free projects; I particularly love the section on Therapy Crafts. Great ideas for kids and classrooms as well. What a dynamic duo!

3. Next up, the wonderfully wacky (why are all crafters so nutty? It is just our creativity spilling out into the world!) Ashley, over at Make It and Love It  A mom of three, she finds time for her blog, and some really clever ideas. Particularly like her flip-flop makeovers, (in the no-sew section) and the gifts section. Since she has three kiddies, of course lots of the ideas are child-oriented, but I figure those of you who don’t have your own (or they are grown and gone, like mine) have other kids in your life to make things for, and this site will give you plenty of fodder for fooling around with crafts and sewing.

4.  Gwenny Penny is another mom-blogger. Her site includes printables, which are unique and fun (some geared to kids, some not.) She has  some really thoughtful ideas on creating unusual crafts for home and gifts. I love the tute on making your own personalized labels, which is high up on my list of things to do before Christmas. As with all the blogs I mention here, or will mention in the future, take some time to really check out her site, especially the “about me” page; somehow knowing the blogger and her background, her interest in specific crafting methods and her ideas really make “friends” out of strangers.

5. Last but definitely not least, is the Wool Food Mama. Yep. Wool. I adore her fabric boxes tutorial (I was tired of saying “tute”) and her specialty, felting, is the next new skill I intend to develop. If you want an hysterical bout of laughter, read the left sidebar on her homepage, which includes such statements as “I’m soaking hungry” and she calls that column, Gusty Bleu’s Backseat Blurt-outs… Yep, she is another blogging mommy. So many of them, with so much talent. Her site is about a lot more than crafting tho’ so if you just want the idea part, head over to the crafting portion of her site. Take time to look at the rest though!

When my kids we young, (and I only had two!) there were no blogs, in fact, there were barely computers, and the internet was in its infancy. But you know, I was amazed that I even had time to dress in the morning, and although I did a lot of crafts, I had to create my own ideas, or spend a lot of time at the library. Not complaining, they were lovely years, but I am stating this as a tribute to these talented moms who take the time to share their ideas and their lives with the rest of us.

ENJOY!

A Pretty Little Project

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Remember this picture?

 

 

 

 

 

Based on the book 100 Pretty Little Projects, published by Lark Books, and the project called “no-sew kitsch,” I used what I had on hand to create this:

First step, I sewed some cute buttons on what would be the center of the project. Then, I started out with a wad of fiberfill, laced with homemade potpourri :

Wrapped it tightly with yarn:

Got the placement right on the little Chinese tea cup and hot glued it in( this picture is before gluing):

Wrapped a funky little pink ribbon with a black dotted line in the middle around the edges of the pincushion, adorned it with a few more buttons, and added a few pins:

I think this might be a great project for kids too, if you used a low-heat glue gun and supervised! I need to get replacement blades for my exacto knife, so I can trim away the excess glue from the buttons on the pink ribbon, Next time, I think I will sew the buttons on the ribbon before gluing the ribbon to the project – it will be much neater looking!

I hope to prowl around some thrift stores this month, and see what I can find in the way of funky teacups or vessels to make more of these – Christmas is coming!

A Belated Day THREE book review…

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Yesterday was a hectic day for me, and I didn’t get the Day THREE book review posted! Sorry! Here it is – hope you enjoy it.

I got this book from the library, but believe you me, it is going to the top of the buy-as-soon-as I-am-in-funds list! I know it is popular in certain circles to belittle or defame Martha Stewart. But true crafters appreciate her creativity, and despite the enormity of publications, products and media that she and her staff produces, she is well worth watching, reading and learning from.

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts (Basic techniques for sewing, applique, embroidery, quilting, dying, and printing, plus 150 inspired projects from A to Z) comes with a CD, which features print-at-home patterns and templates.  The projects are clever, and the explanation and pictures with each one are detailed and thorough. The templates are necessary, so I don’t suggest the book for those without a CD player on their computer – and a printer.

Some of the projects I intend to do include Washcloth Puppets (page 132) made with a terrycloth washcloth and washable felt. So clever, and so easy!

AND, the Mason-jar Sewing Kits (page 280) which will make wonderful gifts.

(NOTE: Please remember that these are copyrighted pictures/photos, the property of the authors, photographers and/or publisher, and as such are displayed for review purposes only. Please do NOT copy or distribute!)

Whether you are an accomplished seamstress/tailor, or a novice, you will really get a lot of knowledge from this book. It isn’t called an encyclopedia for nothin’! Right after Martha’s introduction, there are four separate sections in the “Getting Started” segment. These include – fabric glossary, thread glossary, setting up a sewing area and good things for sewing.

Last, but definitely not least, the end of the book brings the reader to:

  • tools and materials
  • tips and extra techniques
  • CD patterns and templates
  • sources
  • buyer’s guide
  • projects by technique

As always, should you do some projects from the book, please send me pictures to post on the blog!

It’s a GOOD THING! 🙂

Book Reviews – a Trio of Treasures – DAY TWO!

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 I recently won a copy of New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry: Unexpected Combinations, Unique Designs by Margot Potter. I read it cover to cover, and tried out one thing – couldn’t do much because my jewelry making stuff is socked away in storage in California! 🙂

I absolutely love the way Ms. Potter works so organically with wire and beads; each project shows her attentiveness to detail, her dedication to her art and her interest in creating designs that are true to the nature from which her inspiration comes.

The projects are very well photographed and explained; and her sections on tools, selecting beads and techniques are really detailed. I don’t think this is a great choice for a total beginning jewelry maker, but it is a fine addition to a crafter’s library. Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the project I worked on; I am practicing wire-wrapping techniques and working with different weights of wire, as well as making my own jump rings and earring wires. It is great fun to see improvements starting to happen just with the tools I have on hand! Next on my “to-buy” list is a new wire jig and some softer copper wire.

The book uses Beadalon wire almost exclusively, which Ms. Potter states she has used for over 12 years and likes tremendously. Beadalon is also the “sponsor” of the book, which is published by North Light Books out of Cincinnati. Ms. Potter has other books in the same series.

IF you do buy this book (or check it out from the library!) and do any of the projects therein, PLEASE send me pictures – I will give you blog space! 🙂 Happy Crafting!