Tag Archives: gift ideas

Holidays are Here – Are you doing Homemade Gifting this Year?

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I am. I almost always do. My kids (30 and 31-1/2) don’t really appreciate it much, so I tried harder this year to meet their interests – or at least my daughter’s. I think I will end up buying things for my son, because homemade is definitely not his gig, unless it is out of the kitchen. Sigh.

My sisters will both get handmade gifts – as will my landlord, neighbor and the friends I share gift-giving with. I am giving gifts of charity donations this year as well, donations to my sister’s charity, Oma Village, and to a green organization that will send a magazine and ideas on living green to my recipients. Please, if you are considering charitable giving this year for your gift list, please remember, giving and doing good deeds are in the spirit of the season for most religions holiday beliefs.

Here are the crafts I have begun for giving. My daughter and I have begun, in the last few years, exchanging small gifts on each Sunday of Advent. We are behind this year, since our move has kind of gotten in the way of making things. But here is the first gift for her; a handmade Santa shelf sitter:

Pinned together ready for hand stitching

 

Blanket stitching completed

 

 

 

This pattern is based on a pattern in an older craft book I own. Called Homemade Gifts Under $10, it was published in 1998 in the Clever Crafter Series from Leisure Arts Inc.

You can see the Santa I am making on the cover

Because I am a buttonoholic my Santa only shares a pattern with the book – I have added buttons for a belt clasp, the snowflakes on the hat are buttons, and the holly leaves and berries on the hat is also a button.

Cute little guy all done!

For my favorite sister, I am making some things from the kitchen – pound cake to go with the luscious Pomegranate Sauce I am making from the pomegranates on the tree in our new back yard. I have also made her a clever little crocheted sunflower towel holder – different from the ones that cut a towel in half and crochet a topper, this one will hold any towel. The back, hanger part, will be plastic canvas. Glad to know I could find a use for all the leftover plastic canvas I have! J It comes from the same book.

^^BOOK PICTURE              ^^MY WORK

Hope your holiday season is filled joy, family and creativity!

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Microcrafts – Book Review

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I love little things. I live in a little house, surrounded by my treasures, and many of them are small things tucked into my bookcases betwixt and between the books, or nestled on tables in whimsical profusion. I even have miniature dachshunds! 🙂 When I had an opportunity to review Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share, I jumped at it! Compiled by Margaret McGuire, Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and Friends, it is a splendid look at the things you can make yourself to give as gifts, or tuck into your own bookcases.

This is one of those books where reading the How to Use This Book section is imperative. It gives you some perspective on how the book was compiled, and how to use the book to get the most out of your creative spirit. 25 projects are given in the book, all with great photos, directions, patterns and even some key tips and tricks. If you have never created in miniature before, you will be both challenged and delighted in the works you can make.

One of the things I enjoyed reading about was the things that are highly adaptable to using with children. Boats, for example, created with shells and leaves, are so reminiscent of my childhood that I can’t wait to share them with Xavier and Xander, my grandsons! The tiny creations called “Candy Charms” are delightful – earrings, necklaces, pins and more can be created with some “blobs of polymer clay…” and items you should have in your craft supplies.

I must admit that my favorite section was the one on Books. I collect miniature books, but none are as small or as clever as the little, tiny treasure books here. I don’t have all my craft supplies unpacked yet, but believe you me, making some of these are at the top of my list. Each item on the list of supplies is delineated carefully and in detail – not just a sheet of scrap paper, but one -1×1-1/8 inch sheet! There are even marvelous instructions on how to miniaturize the project even further to make tiny little earrings to match the necklace project. The actual size of the completed books is a mere 1×1-¼ inch, and the earring books are ¼ of that size! Tiny treasures indeed!

If you are a cat or dog person, there are crafts in this volume for you as well. You can create tiny dogs and cats with felt and fabric scraps – they would be great attached to Christmas presents or made into jewelry. The microtaxidermy made me laugh out loud, and the deer heads are absolutely adorable; the details and instructions make it simple even for those of us not experienced in working with polymer or modeling clay. The whimsical abounds here, and the possibilities are endless. The book has wonderful hints and tips (“Use a toothpick to apply small beads of adhesive to microcrafts without risking a giant glue blob emergency”) and appendix sections include Supplies and Techniques, Ideas for Modifying Microcrafts (adapting the instructions in the book to make the projects into jewelry, mobiles, toys and more.) There is a good column on Resources for various materials, tools and ideas.

Take the time to read the amusing and delightful miniature biographies. They will give you blog, website and contact information, and pictures of the talented designers and crafters who love working with “mini!” And don’t forget to take a look at the photo on the last page! It will make your day – and make you smile. Quirk Books and the compilers have done a terrific job in this book, so if you love creating or collecting tiny things this would be a charming book to add to your bookshelf. ENJOY!

 

Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share

Quirk Books, (quirkbooks.com) Philadelphia

978-59474-521-8 Hardback

 

 

NOTE: Reviewer received no compensation for her review, although a copy of the book was provided for review purposes.

Decorating with Crafts

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Finally settled, more or less, in our new home. I have my finished craftwork displayed where possible, and have a bit more organizing to do in order to set up my work table. There is something uniquely joyous about having my own handiwork around me – not because I think my work is so fabulous, but because they are of my own creation – a bit of me on the wall, so to speak!

Remember the wooden plaque I found hiking in Arizona? It is hanging on the wall now, and is absolutely perfect where I have it. IMHO. It is below a treasured find, a b/w photo of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt, at Yosemite, during the time of the formation of the National Parks system.

Here is a closeup >>>

Such fun, having it on the wall, where I can see it every day!

In my previous life in Rio Vista CA, I collected driftwood, as we lived on the Sacramento River. Two of these I have made into Candle holders. I found the globes in a dumpster, and was tickled to death to be able to recycle them this way!

Not the best pictures, I admit, but you get the idea!

                                                                                        ^More driftwood I have saved for later projects!

  One of my favorite projects. A found glass bottle, a piece of driftwood, and some collected sea glass, sea shells, a turkey feather, a dragonfly (one of my totems,) some lavender from my sister’s garden and a small snake pin (my other totem.) These reside now on the shelf under the window above my kitchen sink, and it makes me smile every time I see it! (closeup below)

<decoupaged on the wood, and then the word “mother” in different languages written around the petals of the flowers.  We use it by the door to hang the dogs’ leashes on – it is a fun memento of a job I loved.

>>Next up is  some of my painted houses. I was on a real kick for a while of painting on rocks. I quickly discovered that this was NOT my forte. Yet these little houses possess a piece of me, and have a charm and l that I simply adore. I didn’t make them to sell, or even give as gifts, but to experiment with a new craft, and create something that was original and “me.”

My home has lots of character and whimsy around – and that is the way I like it. You probably won’t find pictures of my living room in a decorating magazine, but neither will you see many designer magazines that show homes that are created by mixing family treasures, homemade crafts and a simplistic comfortable style meant to embrace doggie footprints, the smells of homemade baking, and piles of yarn and crafts in the making. Does your home make you smile and feel as if it expresses you and your family? If it doesn’t – you need to get busy crafting!

Some of my favorite handmade scarves live on this rack by the door, when they are not being worn.

Crocheted, dyed silk and fabric all have a place in my life…

I LOVE SCARVES!

Great Links and a Pattern!

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We leave Arizona to return home to California in 2-1/2 days. I should not be blogging. Yet here I am! It is called work avoidance. I indulge in it regularly, how about you?! I decided to take a break in the saying goodbye to new friends here, and getting ready to greet my old friends in California to share some links and project ideas with you. I haven’t jumped on the Halloween bandwagon because I simply don’t have time – maybe next year.! But these links will give you some fun ideas for gifts and for the upcoming holidays.

First up – click on this cute picture to go to the site where you can create your own Owl Calendar – FREE!

Owl Lover 2012 Calendar

Totally Kewl, Right?

Next – a quick picture of the last ruffle scarf I completed this week – an easy project, a variation on a pattern I found online.

Two shades of dusky blue…

Here is MY pattern

downloadable PDF

My first project (after unpacking and all the Crap that comes with doing that!) is to use this to make decoupage art.

and here is the map I want to use

http://www.donmeth.com What a strange mind! 🙂

I am waiting to hear back from Dan Meth on whether or not he will allow me to use this map… if not, I will go to the fabulously creative Karen over at The Graphics Fairy. EVERY day she posts printable graphics for decoration and creativity. Totally love her site, I have 127 graphics/pictures downloaded that I want to use!

A few other great links for blogs, designs and creative ideas that I have found in the last month or so:

Bugs and Fishes by Lupin has some fun felt projects – I am really into using felt right now! Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat and all that jazz!

Stitched in Color has some great tutes – mostly quilting things – and I love her writing too – her blogs are always interesting and thoughtful.

Bits and Bobs is a family effort – I am going to try the Bobble Crochet Pillowcase Edging!

Do it Yourself Divas have a tute (for making your own decoupage glue!) I will be putting to good use when I get to decoupaging on my wonderful boards-find (as above…)

and the last one for the day:

I love this advent “calendar” on The Feminist Housewife   – this was published almost a year ago (this particular post) but she has much to offer and a fun outlook on her busy yet creative life.

That’s it for now – hope you enjoyed my notes – until sometime in November, I remain yours truly, the craft maven of The Crafter’s Cafe!

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!

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!