About the Blog

Some people create to enjoy the finished product. I get my greatest satisfaction from the process of creating. This blog is my attempt to share that process with others.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Painting With a Twist

Knowing that I love to paint and never have the opportunity to, a very thoughtful person made plans for us to go to Shreveport's Painting With A Twist.

Here are our paintings of snowy winter trees. Mine is the one on the left with the big fluffy leaves. His is the one on the right with the realistically bare branches.

Previously Completed Project: Seashells

Previously Completed Project: Time Flies

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I finally figured out how to use the "pages" feature on blogger and made this photography page with some of my favorite photos that I've taken.

Recipe: Chex Mix

Description: I created this recipe myself by combining and altering three different versions of the traditional Chex mix recipe I found online to better suit my taste. I hope you enjoy it!

Creating the Recipe:

My Mamaw used to make the most wonderful homemade Chex mix for the holidays. In the past few years, however, it's been too much work for her, so we've been eating the commercial Chex Mix. As anyone who's ever had homemade Chex mix knows, the homemade mix is ALWAYS better than the commercial stuff. I asked my mom to get Mamaw's Chex mix recipe for me, but it turned out that Mamaw always used the recipe on the Chex cereal boxes. I looked at the recipes provided by Chex and knew that I would have to alter them.

Firstly, the microwave directions would have to go. I just can't imagine Chex mix tasting good after having been microwaved. After a few searches online, I found a Chex mix recipe with directions for baking it in the oven. Perfect.

Next, I decided to omit the Wheat Chex. Remembering that I always used to leave a small collection of Wheat Chex in my bowls, I decided that it would be silly of me to include an ingredient that I obviously don't like. Instead, I added an extra cup of Rice Chex, an extra cup of Corn Chex, and an extra cup of bagel chips.

My good friend Margaret M. is also a Chex mix chef, and she mentioned that her self-created recipe didn't taste quite right until she added Tony Chachere's to the seasonings. I therefore omitted 1/2 tsp of the seasoned salt and added 1/2 tsp of Tony Chachere's. Turns out, this was the perfect amount of Tony's - just enough spiciness but not too much.

I also altered the type of nuts used in the Chex mix. I originally bought a can of mixed nuts to use in the mix, like the original recipe said to use. Upon opening the can, however, I discovered that some of the nuts included in the mix had flavors which wouldn't "mesh well" (sadly, using that phrase just gave me a flashback to the movie Clueless) with the rest of the mix (e.g., macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, etc.). So, instead of using the original 1 c. of mixed nuts, I used 1/3 cup each of 3 types of nuts that I thought would go well with the Chex mix: peanuts, cashews, and almonds.

Finally, I increased the amount of butter from 6 tbs to an entire stick (8 tbs) of butter. This alteration was made after finishing my first batch, when I decided that there hadn't been enough liquid to coat all of the pieces.

Servings: lasts just a little longer than a week in a 3 person, Chex-mix-loving household

  • 4 c. Corn Chex cereal
  • 4 c. Rice Chex cereal
  • 2 c. bite-sized bagel chips
  • 1.5 c. bite-sized pretzels
  • 1/3 c. peanuts
  • 1/3 c. cashews
  • 1/3 c. almonds
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder (NOT garlic salt!!)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. In small microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in microwave (about 40 seconds on high). Mix in Worcestershire sauce and all seasonings.
  3. In large bowl, combine cereals, bagel chips, pretzels, and nuts. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture. Stir gently so that all pieces are coated with butter mixture. Spread Chex mix in a large, un-greased baking pan with sides.
  4. Bake at 275 for 40 min., stirring mix every 10 min.
  5. Cool on paper towels. Store in airtight container.

My Rating: 5/5 (Can I really rate my own recipe? I guess I can. It's my blog, after all!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Boxed Eyelet Lace Stole

The Project:

I found this pattern in the Early Fall 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting International magazine. I've knitted things with lacy elements in the designs before, but I've never made anything that was entirely worked in a lace pattern. This stole has a boxed eyelet lace pattern that the magazine aptly describes as "deceptively simple," with razor-point edging.


Original Yarn: Alpaca With a Twist Fino in #2001 royal velvet

New Technique Used: Open Cast-On

This stole uses an open cast-on so that you can go back and add the razor-point edging to the cast-on edge after finishing the edging on the other end of the stole.

Instructions on how to do the open cast-on from Vogue Knitting:

My Progress So Far:

Other Comments:

This is my second try knitting this particular stole and my third try at knitting lace in general. The first time I started this stole, I left off of the pattern in the middle of a repeat and was never able to figure out where in the pattern I stopped (even though it's only a 5 row repeat). The other lace garment I started knitting just "didn't look anything like the picture" and I ended up having the same problem - I forgot where I left off in the pattern. Come to find out, lace knitting NEVER looks right until it's been finished and blocked. Go figure. I thought I was just bad at knitting lace. Hopefully this particular lace project will turn out well once I finish it....which might take a while, knowing me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Merry and Bright: Chunky Winter Scarf

The Project:

I found this project in my new knitting book obsession: The Knitter's Year by Debbie Bliss. It has 52 knitting projects that take around a week, organized by season. My rule for knitting books is that I won't buy the book unless there are more than 5 patterns in it that I would actually consider knitting (otherwise, I just check the books out of the public library to use the one pattern I need). This one had about 30 patterns that I actually wanted to knit. Think clothespin bags, door-draft stoppers, pencil cases, tote bags, and throw pillows in addition to the requisite scarf, hat, and mitten patterns. Love, love, love this book.

Anyways. The project.

This scarf is an Aran-style pattern of chevrons, seed stitch, and bobbles knitted in a chunky yarn. The pattern has a 16 stitch repeat and is actually very simple. I think that it would be a great pattern for someone who was new to cable knitting and who wanted to learn how to use a cable needle.


Yarn: as a substitute for the yarn used in the pattern (Debbie Bliss Como), I used Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande in a beautiful bright RED.

Needles: size 10 (I sized down a bit, because the yarn I used is less bulky than the original yarn.)

My Progress So Far:

Close-up of the Pattern:

Other Comments:

Since starting this scarf, I've finished about 2/3 of it....and started working on a lace stole. I now have 2/3 of a scarf and 1/10 of a stole. Fail. Good thing I finished knitting my mom's Christmas scarf months ago (and successfully fibbed when she saw me knitting it: "No, this isn't for you! It's for me! You don't like that many colors..."). I gave her the "My So-Called Scarf" featured in a previous post. Very tricky of me. (And yes, I made her open her present early. It's only cold enough for scarves in Louisiana for about 2 months out of the year, so I wanted her to be able to use the scarf for more than a month.) This lovely red scarf, on the other hand, is actually for me.

To Nancy Ketner: I'm so impressed that you check my blog every day for updates. I apologize for not being as consistent in my posting as you are in your blog reading!

I'm Back!

Finals are over - let the holiday crafting begin!
(Don't worry, I stole this picture from another website. My apartment isn't this messy.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No-Sew LSU Fleece Blanket

The Project:

My parents won an LSU fleece blanket as part of an LSU game-day gift package in a silent auction. I've been using it to keep warm when studying, and it occurred to me the other day that this is something I could actually make.

An LSU Law student was recently involved in a serious accident and remains hospitalized in Baton Rouge. His family is currently camping out in the waiting room on his floor. I know what it's like to be the family in the waiting room from experience with my Aunt Earleen's multiple hospitalizations. Waiting rooms are cold and unwelcoming. Therefore, I've decided to make one of these LSU fleece blankets for the student's family in the hopes that it will help keep them warm and keep up their spirits.

I figured out how to make the blanket simply by looking at the one that I already had. The "directions" I've provided below explain the method I used. (I put the word "directions" in obnoxious little quotation marks because these directions make the process seem MUCH more complicated than it actually is.)

  • 1 and 2/3 yards LSU fleece fabric in color #1 (bought at Hobby Lobby)
  • 1 and 2/3 yards LSU fleece fabric in color #2 (bought at Hobby Lobby)
  • Pattern cutting board (one of those cardboard things)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pins
  • 2 yards grosgrain ribbon in purple or gold (to tie around the completed blanket)

The Process:

  1. Cut off any fabric that doesn't have the actual design on it. (The LSU fabric I bought had a trademark disclaimer printed along one side of the fabric and another odd edge that was ugly and needed to be removed.)
  2. Place one piece of fabric, wrong-side up and right-side down, on the pattern board. Place the second piece of fabric, wrong-side down and right-side up, on top of the first piece of fabric.
  3. Pick one of the straightest edges, hold the two fabric edges together, and pin both pieces of fabric together at the edge. Leave a couple of inches between the pins and the edge. Repeat on the other 3 sides.
  4. Using the pattern board as a guide, cut along all 4 edges to make the edges of the two pieces of fabric even with one another.
  5. Line up one corner of the blanket with the corner of the pattern board and the edge of the fabric along the bottom line of the pattern board. Pin fabric in place on board.
  6. Measure 7 inches from the corner along each edge of the blanket. Mark with a pin on each side. Measure 6 inches vertically (into the body of the blanket) from the pin on the bottom edge, and cut a straight 6-inch line. (I refer to the "edge" side of this cut as the "beginning" of the cut and the place where the cut ends as the "end" of the cut.)
  7. Measure 6 inches horizontally from the side edge of the blanket (into the body of the blanket), and cut a straight 6-inch line. You should end up with 2 straight cuts at a right angle, with about a 1-inch gap between the ends of the cuts.
  8. Snip the corner of the fabric so that there is no longer a point. The snipped corner should measure about 1 inch. This will be the width of the first piece of fringe.
  9. Cut a diagonal line from one end of the snipped corner to the end of the closest 6-inch cut. Cut a second diagonal line from the other end of the snipped corner to the end of the closest 6-inch cut. You'll end up with 2 little triangles cut out of the corner and one really long, diagonal piece of fringe. Cut that long piece of fringe to a 6-inch length.
  10. Along the bottom edge of the blanket, cut parallel 6-inch long pieces of fringe that are about 1 inch in width. Stop cutting fringe when 7 inches away from the next corner.
  11. Tie a knot in each piece of fringe, close to the body of the blanket.
  12. Repeat "corner" process and "fringe-making" process until all 4 edges of the blanket are fringed.
  13. Fold blanket. Tie ribbon around blanket and end in a pretty bow.
  14. Use leftover fabric and pins to create a voodoo doll of Margaret (so you can torture me for writing overly-detailed, 13-step directions to explain such an easy craft).


How the knots in the fringe look:

Making the corner at the end of a fringe row. This is how the corner looks once one of the little triangles has been cut out:

The Finished Project:

(Picture coming soon. This close to finals, craft photography isn't high on my list of priorities.)

(Also, when I do finally post the picture of the blanket, it will be sans ribbon. I tried decorating the ribbon with some fabric puff paint. It looked great at first, but then I got too enthusiastic with the puff paint. The ribbon ended up looking tacky, and I don't have time to go get a new ribbon before bringing the blanket to the hospital on Thursday (11/18). Oh well.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recipe: Pesto-Chicken Pasta Casserole

Description: combine lots of yummy pre-prepared ingredients in a bowl, bake as a casserole, and prepare for recipe requests!

Servings: 6

  • 8 oz. pasta (Recipe called for penne; I used bow-tie. I boil pasta ahead of time and freeze in 8 oz. portions for re-heating and use)
  • 3 c. cooked chicken (I bought a hot rotisserie chicken from Walmart, removed the skin, and tore the meat into small pieces/strips/chunks)
  • 2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Italian cheese blend (I used an Italian 3-cheese blend from Whole Foods)
  • 1.5 c. fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 of a (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a (15 oz.) jar prepared Alfredo sauce (I used a light Alfredo I found at Walmart)
  • 1/4 c. 2% milk
  • 1/2 of a (8.1 oz.) jar prepared pesto
  • 1/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs (or plain breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning mixed in)
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 tsp. olive oil (I used Monjuni's seasoned olive oil)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, combine in a large bowl: chicken, cheese blend, spinach, tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, milk, and pesto.
  4. Drain pasta and add to chicken mixture; toss to coat.
  5. Transfer to a greased 8-inch square baking dish.
  6. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
  7. Cover and bake at 350 for 40-45 min or until bubbly.
My Rating: 5/5 - you can't beat pesto, cheese, alfredo, and pasta; the spinach and tomatoes trick you into thinking it's healthy. I'm very sad that I only have 1 serving of this casserole left.

Note: recipe can be easily doubled to make 2 casseroles. An unbaked casserole may be frozen for up to 3 months, thawed in fridge overnight, and baked covered at 350 for 50-60 min until bubbly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wedding Record

The Project:

When people get married, they like to make a record of it. These records are sometimes cross-stitched by friends like me, who enjoy doing crafts with teeny tiny details. Since this particular piece is a gift for someone, I wasn't sure if I could post it on here without ruining the surprise.

Then it occurred to me: there are a lot of people I know who are getting married. It could be for any of those people. I don't have to say who the gift is for!

I like this design for a "wedding record" because it uses a limited color scheme, has lots and lots of details, and lacks the cheesy sayings so often used in these patterns.


- Pattern
- Floss colors specified in pattern
- Kreinik metallics blending filaments in: gold and pearl
- Fabric????

Here's where I ran into a problem. The pattern calls for a certain color (which is no longer sold) of 32-count fabric from Zweigart, on which the design will be stitched "over-two." The finished design will be about 10" x 8.75." Just the design. Not the design in a frame. The design. That's about the size of a sheet of computer paper - pretty big for a piece of needlework displaying a wedding date and the names of the couple. I wanted to make the design smaller.

The 32-count fabric that I bought created giant stitches when done "over-two" and miniscule stitches when done "over-one." That wasn't going to work. I tried several different fabrics, finally settling on an 18-count cream aida and over-one stitching. I have to come up with a way to make the white designs stand out more on the lighter fabric, but hopefully the finished product will end up being a reasonable size. (It seems like it will fit in an 8x10 frame.)

What I Changed:

It's usually best to follow the pattern in cross stitch designs, so I'm not making any significant variations. However, I am adding some extra detailing to make the design even more elegant.

For example, I want to incorporate some of the stitches I learned in working on my (still unfinished) whitework ornament. I am also making use of my two Kreinik blending filament sets (silver and gold). I have tiny needlework beads in both gold and cream, and I plan on adding those in at strategic places in the design. I've added gold blending filament to one color used in the wedding rings and "pearl" blending filament to give shine to the white flower petals and make them more distinct from the white scrollwork designs.

Random Comments: Hanno??

My first thought when I saw the example design displayed on the front of the pattern: What kind of a name is Hanno? Why not use the generic "John"? Or even something like George? Or Fred? Or Ed? (Ok, you get the idea...)

I mentioned this to my friend, Margaret M., (I'm not talking about myself in the 3rd person, I promise) who suggested that we look up the meaning of the name Hanno. Turns out it's a German version of... "John." Go figure. They DID use John.

My progress so far:

Metallic cross-hatch:

Metallic details on the wedding rings:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Previously Completed Project: Old World Map

I worked on this giant map of the world VERY sporadically over the course of 3 years. I finally finished it over the summer this year. Thought I'd share it with you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recipe: French Crockpot Roast

Description: flavorful and hearty, with only 5 ingredients and absolutely no prep time, this is one of my favorite no-brainer recipes!

  • 3-4 lb. chuck roast, visible fat trimmed
  • 3-4 c. sliced fresh mushrooms (I use pre-sliced mushrooms or an egg slicer to cut whole mushrooms)
  • 1/2 c. red wine (I use cabernet)
  • 1 pkg. McCormick brown gravy mix
  • 1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix
  1. Wash and dry roast; trim large visible fat and place in crockpot.
  2. Mix together gravy and onion mixes; sprinkle over roast. Pour wine over roast. Top with mushrooms.
  3. Cook in crockpot on low for 8 hours.
  4. Can serve with cooked rice
My Rating: 4/5

Shortcut: I use plastic "slow cooker liners" in my crock pot. When the dish is done, you throw away the liner and have minimal cleanup to do after the meal.

Recipe: Taco "Twists"

I've decided to add recipes to my blog. Why? I like to cook, and I like to eat. Because I have so little time for cooking, I especially like to cook recipes that require minimal effort/preparation. Other people probably have the same problem. So, I'm going to share some of my favorite "lazy chef" recipes.

Taco "Twists"

Description: Is it a taco? Is it a crescent roll? Nope, it's BOTH!

Servings: 12

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 1/3 c. frozen chopped onion (Pictsweet) (or 1 large onion, chopped)
  • 2 c. (8 oz.) finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 c. salsa (I used Pace mild chunky salsa)
  • 1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chiles
  • 1 pkg. Taco Bell Taco seasoning
  • 3 (8 oz.) tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
  • spray butter (opt.)
  • Progresso plain bread crumbs (opt.)
  1. In large skillet, cook meat and onion over med. heat until no longer pink. When meat is almost brown, sprinkle taco seasoning on top and stir in as you finish browning the meat. (At this point, cooked meat can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before finishing the preparation.)
  2. Stir cheese, salsa, and chiles into beef.
  3. Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into 12 rectangles. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Press perforations to seal.
  4. Place a little less than 1/2 c. of the beef mixture into the center of each rectangle. Bring 4 corners of the dough to the center and twist; pinch to seal. Pinch all open seams together to seal.
  5. If desired, immediately prior to baking, spray the top of each twist with butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  6. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min until golden brown.
  7. Baked twists can be frozen for up to 3 months. To use frozen twists, bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 for 20-25 min until heated through.
My rating: 4/5; really tasty and convenient; definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My So-Called Scarf

The Project:

A scarf knitted from a free pattern I found online. Another great pattern for multicolored yarns - the cross-hatch stitch pattern really shows off the color changes.


2 skeins of Punta merisoft hand painted yarn in HP71. LOVE. THIS. YARN.

Other comments:

Nothing much to say about this scarf. It was easy and fun to knit, and it knitted up pretty quickly. I love how it turned out! A great scarf for fall.

The finished project:

"Garterrific" Scarf

The Project

The the designer's online instructions are very sufficient to explain how to make this scarf. The only ambiguity in them really is which method of "make one" to use.

I actually used two different methods: when a triangle side was slanti
ng to the right, I made a right-leaning increase; when a triangle side was slanting to the left, I made a left-leaning increase. So, I'd make a left-leaning increase at the end of a row and right before turning the work, but after turning the work I'd begin the next row with a right-leaning increase (because the side switched from left-leaning to right-leaning when the work was turned).


I used the exact same yarn that she did (Punta Yarns Merisoft in hand painted color 71, purchased at Knits by Nana).

I loved, loved, LOVED knitting with this yarn. It has so many different colors but somehow still manages to not look wild and ridiculous - most of the colors in the yarn are softened or muted rather than vivid and bright. Such a lovely use of color. I commend the designer of this project for finding an interesting way of displaying the yarn's colors without detracting from its beauty by an overly ornate stitch pattern. Bravo! The tassels, the triangular shape of the scarf, and the single band of yarn-overs in the middle of the triangle are exactly the kind of details that make a colorful piece visually interesting without being overwhelming.

What I Changed

When binding off, I left two stitches on the needle and used them to make a simple, 2-stitch i-cord. I didn't make the cord very long, just long enough so that the tassel on one side of the triangle would be farther from the corner of the scarf than the other. The reasons I did this were to make the scarf easier to put on and keep on and to make more tassels visible from the front when wearing it.

The Finished Product:

Patchwork Wrap: Fringe Fixes, Alterations, and the Finished Product

Fringe Fixes

The last time I wrote about the fringe on this wrap, I was faced with a dilemma: more fringe to make than yarn to make it with. The fringe really adds something special to the wrap, so I didn't want to shorten its length. The solution I chose, therefore, was to alternate colors in the fringe border when one of the edge squares was knit in a color I was running low on.

The fringe for each edge square is crocheted in the same color as the half-square that forms the edge. Originally, I tried crocheting the alternating-color fringe by just picking a random color to mix in with the edge color. I decided that this made the fringe look a little clownish and ultimately alternated the edge square color with the color comprising the other half of that square. (I realize that this is a really awkward explanation - it's hard to explain.)

Here's a picture of a square that has alternating-color fringe, so maybe you can figure out what I'm talking about:


After crocheting fringe around both short edges and one long edge of the wrap, I thought that the wrap was complete. Then I tried it on. I looked like I'd fallen asleep on the couch, woken up late, and ran out the door wearing my afghan. The word "babushka" also came to mind.

The long sides of the wrap were....too long. Fortunately, my parents came in town and I was able to get their opinion on the length of the wrap. They agreed that it was enormous. To make the wrap more wearable, I removed 2 rows of squares from it, shortening it about 8 inches. It's now long enough to wrap around me but short enough so that I won't be fumbling with too much excess fabric.

The Finished Product

Inconsistency, Thy Name is Margaret

Real life has been demanding a little more of my time than usual lately. I'll update the blog later this week, since we don't have class on Thursday or Friday. (Thank. Goodness.)

For my few and faithful readers, here's a quick update on my various projects (posts and pics are coming soon):
  • Patchwork wrap: finished the fringe, ended up removing 2 rows of squares to make the garment more wear-able (and less like an afghan), and finally finished.
  • "Garterrific" scarf: finished! I added a little i-cord to connect one of the tassels and have already worn it to class.
  • My So-Called Scarf: started with the leftover yarn from the "Garterrific" scarf, but had to buy a second hank. Still a work-in-progress.
  • Box Lace Stole: started, but I'm only 3.5 pattern repeats in (and the stole has 100 of them). Learned how to work an open cast-on

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OMG: I *MUST* Make This

I found a knitting pattern for the most beautiful jacket in Vogue Knitting International magazine.

Reasons why making this jacket is absolutely necessary:
  1. It's knit in Classic Elite La Gran mohair, which is fabulous and relatively affordable
  2. It has a kind of snowy owl/Native American feel to it
  3. It combines my two favorite colors: light blue and white
  4. It's colorwork knitting, which is my new "thing" this year
  5. It was designed by a Project Runway winner
  6. I just wanna...
The only problem is: I already have yarn for 2 other projects on my to-do list. Curses. I've been trying to ban myself from buying materials for new projects long before I'll be able to use them. If I buy the yarn for this project now, it will either sit around waiting to be knit OR the yarn I've bought for the 2 shawls I already want to knit will sit around.

Decisions, decisions. Do I dutifully begin knitting with the yarn I have already, or do I splurge on new yarn?

Coming Soon!

  • The finished Patchwork Wrap
  • Set of 3 decorated paper journals
  • Garterrific scarf

Monday, September 27, 2010

Search Your Feelings, Luke: I Should Know Better By Now

After a wonderful dinner with my parents and four of their friends (during which I had the opportunity to talk crafts with Nancy Ketner), I was feeling very enthusiastic about my crafts. Overly enthusiastic. I was determined to finish the crocheted fringe for my patchwork shawl.

I then spent all of Saturday crocheting fringe until I was sick of looking at it. Next, I started knitting the "Garterrific" scarf/shawl. On Sunday, my enthusiasm was undiminished. Once again, I crocheted fringe until burning out on it. The problem came when I picked up the "Garterrific" scarf/shawl. I decided that I didn't like the overall shape, unraveled Saturday's knitting, and then created my own pattern and knitted that. Later in the day, I changed my mind about my made-up pattern, unraveled that, and went back to the original "Garterrific" pattern. I dutifully put on my Tiger Balm before bed last night, but I STILL woke up with stiff hands and a temperamental wrist.

I should know better by now. Too much of a good thing leads to Dr. StrangeGlove.

The only real solution to this problem is for me to exercise some self-control in my crafting, either taking a few days off or switching crafts until my hand feels better.

I can think of one other solution, but it's not exactly "realistic":

In case you're not dorky enough to know who that bionic hand belongs to, here's a hint:

Thanks For The Positive Feedback!

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from readers since starting this blog, and I just wanted to thank everyone for their support. I started this blog to share my projects, creative process, and techniques and to inspire others in their own projects. Many thanks to everyone who has made and continues to make this endeavor a success!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Patchwork Wrap: Crochet Catastrophes, Fringe Fixes

(And Other Annoying Uses of Alliteration and Assonance)

The Mistake:

The patchwork wrap is supposed to have a border of fringe that is crocheted on to the sides of he wrap, changing colors to match the color of each square border. You're supposed to start this edging by doing "single crochets" around all four edges of the wrap. I somehow misread the directions (they even had pictures...) for making "single crochets" and accidentally did a slip stitch crochet border around the entire wrap. Oops...

But I'm not going back to change it. That was WAY too much work for me to go and undo. Plus, the slip stitch border actually cleaned up the uneven garter stitch borders that were made by the increases and decreases required for knitting the squares diagonally. I'm just going to crochet the fringe on to the slip stitches as if they were single crochets.

Another Problem:

The way the fringe is supposed to work is by crocheting 40 chain stitches, slipping a stitch (so that the chain doubles back on itself and becomes half as long, and then crocheting one into the next stitch, from which the next chain will be started. Just one problem: I'm running low on certain colors of yarn. (However, I have a surplus of other colors of yarn) For example, I bought the last skein of Mountain Mohair in the color Blue Gentian that Green Mountain Spinnery had in stock. I can't order another skein of it. So, if I run out of that color before I've made all of the fringe for the squares of that color...I'm just out of luck.

Brainstorm: Possible Solutions?

1. Decrease the length of the fringe by a few stitches, maybe down to 30 or 34.

Pros: speed (I wouldn't have to change colors so often), uniform appearance
Cons: shorter fringe; only a minimal amount of yarn would be saved and I might still run short

2. When doing fringe for a color I'm running low on, I can alternate colors. For example, going one fringe chain in Blue Gentian (the color I'm running low on), then crocheting the next chain in a different color. I'd repeat that process for the length of the square border, alternating between the scarce color and the filler color.
Pros: definitely having enough yarn to finish the project; interesting color variation
Cons: it will take more time to do, and I'd have lots of loose yarn ends to weave into the wrap edges

Advice? Ideas? Opinions? Anyone?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Patchwork wrap: Seaming

Stitching The Patchwork Squares Together

New Technique Used: Seaming

Seaming is a method of "finishing" knitted pieces. It's used when the edges of separately knitted pieces need to be sewn together. Since this wrap is done as a "patchwork," each square is knitted separately and needs to be sewn together at the edges with the other squares.

The Original Technique:

This wrap is knitted in garter stitch (knitting every row), so I used a technique for making invisible vertical seams on garter stitch edges.

My Improvised Technique:

I had to modify the original technique a bit because the patchwork squares were knitted diagonally - thus, the edges have increases and decreases on them and the garter stitch rows are....diagonal rather than vertical. Here's how I did it.

Step 1: Line the squares up with the edges you want to sew together making a vertical line

Step 2: Use the cast on/off tail of one square to connect the two squares at the corners. You do this by making a sort of figure-8 knot. (It's easier to show this in pictures than to explain it.)

Step 3: Begin the seam by looking to the lefthand square edge. The edge has these knobby-looking knots that represent the ends of the diagonal garter stitch rows. If you look at the garter stitch rows, you'll see that the stitches make a top-loop, bottom-loop pattern.

It looks a little like this: _-_-_-

On my squares, the edge knobby-knots are the top-loops (the - ) rather than the bottom loops (the _ ). They make the edges look a little like this: _-_-_=

Step 4: Insert the yarn needle into the BOTTOM-LOOP on the lefthand square edge (the second garter stitch from the edge).

Visually, the loop indicated in red is the loop I'm talking about: _-_-_=

Step 5: Then insert the yarn needle into the TOP-LOOP on the righthand square edge (the first garter stitch; the one on the edge).

Visually, the loop indicated in red is the loop I'm talking about: =_-_-

That will be one of those annoying knobby, double loops. You only need to insert the yarn needle through the top loop out of the two loops making up the end loop (the =).

Complicated enough for you?

Step 6: Pull the yarn taut. Repeat down the entire edge of both squares.

Step 7: Turn the squares over to the reverse side. Repeat the seaming process on the back of the squares (to make the back seam look pretty and to add strength to the seams).

Here's how the seaming looks:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Perpetual Calendar

The Project:

One of my recent minor obsessions is the "perpetual calendar," a calendar that you can change the date on every day and keep around for years. I think this will be useful for me, mainly because I never know what the date is. Plus, they're retro and fun.

The Inspiration:
While playing around on Etsy one day, I stumbled across several mechanical versions (where you change the date by turning a dial) and thought they were pretty neat. My favorite, however, was one created by the Etsy user SingleChair. I WANTED that calendar. But, true to form, I saved it to my "wish list" and let it sit there until someone else bought it. Now the item is no longer listed on Etsy because it is sold out. However, since it was saved to my "favorites" section on the site, I can still access the page. I used my magical MacBook to take some "screen shots" of the page so that I can share it with you (just so you can see the inspiration before seeing how I've changed and personalized my own perpetual calendar).

My Version

What I kept from the original design:
  • The idea of using vintage paper cards as date indicators
  • Holding the cards in some kind of box
  • Leaving space on each card for writing little notes to myself

What I changed:
  • I used a Rolodex business card holder to keep the cards in instead of a vintage container - this is mainly because 1) I know I will knock this calendar over at some point and putting all the cards back in order will be a real pain, and 2) I couldn't find a vintage container that met my size and aesthetic requirements
  • Instead of using only vintage paper, I made my "date cards" with a combination of vintage paper materials bought at a fun and funky vintage store (Honeymoon Bungalow has a great selection of vintage paper ephemera) and paper ephemera gathered from around my house (to make it more personalized and "mine").
  • I made the month dividers more visible and added the month titles to them.
  • Since the Rolodex holder BARELY fits all of the paper cards in it, there's no room in my design for inserting extra paper ephemera. That's actually pretty disappointing to me, because I loved the idea of adding little things into the box over time. BUT - life is a series of tradeoffs, and I REALLY won't want to pick up 366 pieces of paper off my floor when my clumsiness results in a calendar mishap.
  • Rolodex business card tray
  • Solvent ink pad with black ink (will work on any type of paper surface, including glossy or coated papers)
  • Rubber stamps for each month of the year (bought in a single set)
  • A changeable date stamper that (the kind used in offices - I bought it from an office supply store)
  • Scrapbooking paper cutters - to cut the various papers with straight lines
  • Scissors - to clean up some of the edges
  • 3x5 plain white index cards and scrapbooking adhesive - some of the ephemera I used was made from flimsy paper, so I reinforced them by gluing them to index cards.
  • 4x6 plain white index cards - to make the month dividers
  • Rolodex business card punch
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Plastic baggies and rubber bands to organize cards into months
  • Enough paper materials to make 366 cards
  • Trash can (for the leftovers)
Paper materials I used:
  • Junk mail
  • Business reply mail cards from magazines and product registrations that I'll never do
  • Flyers passed out at school
  • The covers of greeting cards sent to me over the past few years
  • Receipts I don't need
  • Souvenir bags from places I've traveled to and bought souvenirs from (just the flimsy paper bags that I've hung on to over the years for some reason)
  • Vanilla Ice concert ticket
  • LSU v. Vandy football ticket (from 2009)
  • Plane ticket stub from London to Atlanta (from 2005)
  • Pages from manuals belonging to electronics/appliances that I don't have anymore
  • Personalized note cards (the last 4) of mine to which I had no more matching envelopes
  • Personalized recipe cards (only about 6 of them - don't panic, Mom!)
  • Vintage teachers' grading scale charts
  • Vintage "Secretary" notebook (accounting ledger pages)
  • Vintage "school record" book for writing down memories about your child from each grade (Kindergarten through Senior year of high school)
  • Vintage bills, receipts, business reply envelopes, etc.
  • Used pages from a vintage telephone number index
  • Vintage (unused) recipe cards
  • Vintage pack of playing cards
  • A vintage computer "punch card" (My favorite thing I found! See the picture below.)

The Process:
  • I gathered enough paper materials to make 366 (don't forget the leap years!) cards. This was actually pretty fun and gave me a chance to be creative.
  • I then cut the paper materials down to 3x4 inch pieces (so that they would fit in the Rolodex), using the scrapbooking paper cutter to make straight, even cuts.
  • If any of the papers were too flimsy, I used scrapbook adhesive to glue the papers to both sides of a 3x5 index card. Then I cut the index card down to the 3x4 size.

  • I repeated that process until I had 366 cards.
  • To make the month dividers, I took the 4x6 index cards and cut them down to 4x4. I then used the months of the year stamps at the top of each card.
  • I laid each month's card out and divided up the paper "day" cards in the right numbers on each month. (Looks a little like I was trying to play "Memory")

  • Next, I used the Rolodex punch to punch holes at the bottom of each card.
  • I then began using the date stamper to stamp the dates on the various pieces of paper

How the stamping process looked:

Pictures of the finished product: