Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book binding class was fun!

The Coptic stitch book binding class was so much fun! I didn't take a single picture (genius) so I can't show you the fun we had. Not to fret, friends. I have already begun typing the steps for book making and, as soon as I take some pictures of each step, I will post a tutorial here.

 ((There are several great YouTube videos on the subject if you get antsy while waiting.))

 My tutorial will be broken down into steps the way the class was last night. It made it very easy for our large group of folks from various crafty-skill levels to understand and follow.

I cannot wait to share this with you guys. These little books make sweet little gifts. I treasure the one I received years ago from my best friend. She covered the mat board with a sweet vintage cloth. I adore it so much, I find it hard to fill up the pages. :-)  I have been known to keep my notebooks pristine and refer to them as "my preeeeeeecious" while making my notes on the back of receipts and phone book covers. With this new skill, I can make some ordinary ol' books for writing and some special ones to feed my book hoarding obsession. :-)

Are you excited yet? You should be! Be back soon with the pics and tutorial!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Changing yarn colors or joining yarn in crochet.

Delicious Patons wool
I have so many unfinished projects stashed around my house that I sometimes forget and use one project's supplies for another. I also have a problem with buying too much yarn. Not that I cannot calculate how much I will need, but I just can't say no to "one more skein" when I buy. I end up making a "stew" project every now and again just to use up the remainders of some great yarns. (As if they would go to waste sitting there in the basket. Hmmph.)

Making a tote with some leftover bits.
This use of bits and pieces means I have to join yarn ends a lot in a purse or tote bag. I know there are purists out there in Craftsville that would stone me for saying this, but... I tie knots when I join yarns. I hear the gasps and feel the cold shoulder of being shunned. Thats ok. There are many different ways of finishing a project. If there weren't, we would never have heard of those three little pigs and their different houses.Fortunately, there is no big bad wolf to come along and eat us if we crochet our bag in a different way.

That said, I want to show you how I join yarns. This is for a bag or purse only. Joining yarns in a wearable project DOES require a bit more smoothness and no knots. Anyone who has ever worn a sweater with a knot on the inside feels like the princess who tried to sleep on that irritating little pea. It drives a person batty.

The steps are simple to follow as long as you know something of crochet already. This join is done in sc or single crochet.
Crochet to the end of a row with the first color. (In this case, it was the last bit of the variegated wool and a knobbly yarn whose manufacturer I cannot remember. I just wound up the last bits to keep them organized.) I have one loop of the first color still on my hook. The joining yarn (two strands of Patons wool) is ready to crochet in.
With one loop of the original color on the hook and holding both yarn tails in my hand, I draw up a loop in the second color and pull it through with a slip stitch. It looks as if I am beginning a chain. I do this to avoid having one post of the first color in my new row.
One I have connected the two yarns via slip stitch, I approach the tails. I begin by tying the two together to stabilize them while I finish crocheting. With the bag project, I can just tuck them inside while I work. If I was changing colors a lot or if I had a lot of tails, I would wind these around a yarn bobbin to keep them from tangling while I crocheted. This is fine for now.
I turned the bag over to continue working in the round, now with my new color on the hook.
Crochet as normal, sc in every stitch to continue pattern.
I love the subtle shift when joining multiple strands this way. The two strands of the first part of the bag mixing with the two new strands makes me feel accomplished. And its just neat.

After crocheting as many rows as the pattern calls for, fasten off as normal. You will need to go back and take care of the loose ends from the join. I use a blue plastic yarn needle for this. No particular reason to use plastic over metal. I simply have more of these stashed about in my crochet basket.

 Thread the tails onto the needle and weave into your project in a way that does not show easily.

I hope this makes joining yarn a bit less intimidating. There are many videos in Internetsvania from the great citizens of Craftsville (totally made up place that exists in my head where everyone crafts and you can borrow a cup of mod podge from your neighbor as if it were sugar) that will show you how to join yarns. Some folks have their own way of doing it. I was never taught how and simply fumbled til I found what works for me. Practice multiple ways until you find your most comfortable and dependable way.

Please leave a comment if this was helpful to you (or if you are the Big Bad Wolf and need to tell me I am doing it "wrong") because I appreciate all feedback (even wolfie criticisms that are huffed and puffed).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It twill or it won't.

     Is it spring or something? Not yet, but there IS a spring in my step today. I went to the fabric store on this beautiful sunny day and had an opportunity to hand out several cards, found out about a new classroom space that might materialize in the coming weeks, AND found some great deals on remnants.
     Hancock Fabrics in Johnson City has some of the most cheerful and helpful workers. I picked up some twill tape and a permanent fabric marker so I can create the tags for my purses, dolls and aprons. It was on sale!! I saw the idea a couple of weeks ago online (probably Pinterest since I spend hours pouring over the pins there) and wanted to try it out. I really dislike the idea of ordering professional tags since I like keeping my costs/prices down. So I am hoping to make my own. I hope with a permanent quilting pen and a thorough heat setting, the ink will stick well.

     I wish my printer would allow me to print directly on the tape as Spunkyarn did. But I have an inexpensive printer which rarely prints on paper! See Spunkyarn's tumblr entry here.

Click here for a link to some Twill Tape Cuteness like the photo to the left!

I will have to add some pictures to this post after I have some success (or failure) to show off. Have a great evening all! I know I twill. (heehee)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Reading Folk Art Halloween by Bethany Lowe

I received my new book shipment from Crafter's Choice book club a couple of weeks ago and I have had great fun going through every page. I have seen inspiring photos and read great tips and instructions. I am quite happy with my choice to splurge and buy several books. Crafter's Choice has a clearance section and I was torn between a large number of crafty bits. I chose two regularly price books and two on sale. With shipping, clearance prices, and the B1G1 sale, I only spent $30!

The book that has my attention currently is Bethany Lowe's Folk Art Halloween out by Lark Books.

I have enjoyed reading about Bethany as much as I enjoyed reading about her artwork. It is wonderful to read about mothers who are crafty and whose family supports them. She thanks her family for their support and her children for being "willing to put up with a mom who baked Sculpy hands instead of cookies." I am that kind of mom. Our school projects often feature buttons, beads and ribbon from my studio.

The designs in this book give more than a wink to nostalgia. The 26 pages at the end of the book are filled with images and patterns for enlarging and copying. Multiple vintage Halloween folk art images are handed to you so that you can recreate the wonderful creations Lowe has dreamed up.

Our family loves Halloween so much that I am sure no one would object to leaving up the decorations year round. Everyone in the house has looked through this book since it arrived and we each have found our favorites. Personally, the paper clay and fabric witch doll, who graces the cover, has captured my heart. I have plans to create a few of them for Halloween gifts. I also adore the Papier Mache masks. They are based on late 1800 to early 1900 masquerade masks. I am in love with the kitty cat mask and look forward to getting my hands into paper clay again. My daughter loves everything dress-up so she has already requested a pink kitty cat mask.

This book has inspiration and instruction to make some really great folk art decor. The "Getting Started" portion of the book is informative and gives tips on a variety of crafting techniques that ate used in the tutorials. The materials and tools lists are in depth and well explained for each project. The photography is well done and engaging as well. This book is as fun to leaf through as it is read for direction. I hope you have the chance to enjoy it sometime, too.

PS - You should take a minute to Google papier mache masks images. Amazing work and wonderfully inspiring images. Oh! I can't wait to get to work.

(NOTE: I have yet to attempt any of the enlargements. Some readers have said that the enlargements were difficult. Attempting to reach 400% enlargement and so on. I always take my important projects to a local copy place for enlargements and sometimes have to patch together patterns. I don't foresee difficulty with these patterns, but I wanted to give you the warning.)

(Also: No one from Crafter's Choice, Lark Books, or Bethany Lowe Designs asked for, paid for, or demanded this review. I chose to share my thoughts on this book because I liked it and I thought you guys would, as well.)