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, 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:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pseudo-Craft: I'm Rubber and You're Glue

The Problem: I Blew Out My Flip Flop (But No Pop-Tops Were Involved)

Monday was a rough day for me. It was one of those days where so many little things go wrong that the overall effect is overwhelming grumpiness and irrational self-pity. One of these small misfortunes involved my favorite pair of flip-flops.

I love J. Crew flip flops and buy several pairs every summer. I'd go into a lengthy explanation about why J. Crew flip flops are superior in make, color, and fit to other brands, but I don't want to bore you. J. Crew is based somewhere in the US that actually has more than 2 seasons, so they stop selling flip flops in August (apparently there are places in the country where you can't comfortably wear flip flops 8 months out of the year). That's what makes this particular flip flip blow-out so unfortunate: I can't buy another pair until next spring (cue sad-sounding "wamp, wamp, wah" sound effect).

While walking down the stairs from the third floor after my last class of the day on Monday, I realized that my right flip-flop was no longer working properly. I could feel that the bottom of the shoe was no longer being lifted at the same time as I lifted my foot. I looked down at the offending shoe and discovered that the bottom of the shoe (the flop?) had become disconnected with the part of the shoe that goes between your toes (the flip?).

I then had to walk down 3 flights of stairs, through the law school lobby, through the outside seating area, across the street, and through the parking lot to my car with only one shoe on and the other foot bare.

I KNOW that I have other pairs of flip flops. Even other pairs of J. Crew flip flops. But I like THIS pair the best. The metallic brown color matches most of my casual clothing and is no longer available in my size (7). I need to rescue this shoe. It might not be a "craft" per se, but repairing my flip flop will make the pages of this blog nevertheless.

The Search For A Solution

The flip-flop in question is made of rubber. My internet search for "repairing rubber flip flops" produced several solutions:
  1. A large piece of duct tape on the bottom of the shoe
  2. The "Slipper Saver"
  3. Get over it and buy a new pair of shoes (Wikipedia suggested that most people in "developed countries" don't bother to repair flip-flops...thanks, Wiki.)
  4. "Shoe Goo"
  5. Instructions on "how to glue rubber"
  6. The old craft standby, E-6000
So far, I'm leaning towards "Shoe Goo," since it seems to be designed to glue shoes back together and is more readily available than a kit that I'd need to order from Hawaii (just think of what the shipping costs would be!).

Places where "Shoe Goo" can be found:
  1. Ace Hardware
  2. Cabela's
  3. CVS
  4. Kmart
Looks like I'll be doing some shopping. And if all else fails, there's always duct tape.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Delightful Dragon Scissor Fob: Completed Project


I like that the name of this project was the "Delightful" Dragon. Not just any dragon. A "delightful" one. And you know what? It is pretty delightful!

I got the pattern for this scissor fob from Patterns Online, an online cross-stitch pattern vendor that has a great selection of patterns designed by my favorite cross stitch designer, Teresa Wentzler.

I finished this project about 3 weeks ago, but I wanted to share it anyways. I think this little dragon is just so cute! The whole project is only about 3"x3" and stitched on 28-count evenweave fabric, so the stitches on the dragon are so tiny that you can barely tell they're cross stitches. The higher the number of the fabric count, the smaller the stitches will be (and the lower the number of the fabric count, the larger the stitches will be). The dragon and initials were stitched "over one," while the borders of the diamonds were stitched "over two."

My favorite thing about this project was being able to work with blending filaments and metallic threads. I bought the Kreinik Metallics "Gold Collection," which came with several different types of gold threads, blending filaments, cords and braids. I bought the same thing in the "Silver Collection" to get the blending filament in the shade I needed for the dragon's scales.

The beads were pretty fun to work with, too. I used tiny black beads for the dragon's eyes, green beads on each corner of the diamond, and gold beads on the initial side of the design.

I hand-sewed the two halves of the diamonds together and then used some gold cord to stitch around the sides. I don't really know the name of the type of stitch I did, but the effect of it was to cover the seams of the fob with parallel stitches in the gold cord.

I made the braid to attach the fob to the scissors by braiding two shades of green embroidery floss with some gold braided cord and wrapped the flosses and cords around the place where I attached the braid.

Inside My Sewing Box

  1. Embroidery scissors with scissor fob (which keeps the scissors from getting lost)
  2. Pattern marking pencil
  3. Free BarBri highlighter (for indicating stitches taken on cross stitch patterns)
  4. Embroider floss bobbins
  5. Two leather "coin" thimbles
  6. Metal thimble
  7. Beading needle threader
  8. Magnetic needle case
  9. Wooden needle case (a gift from mom from Williamsburg, VA)
  10. Tweezers (for removing bad stitches)
  11. Lead for pattern marking pencil
  12. Pink insert for embroidery floss bobbin winder

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dr. StrangeGlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Arthritis Cream

Firstly, I love wordplays and clever alterations of phrases or titles (in case the title of this blog didn't already tell you that). Secondly, (in case you've never seen the movie) the title of this particular post is a play on Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a comedy directed by Stanley Kubrick. Thirdly, I've self-diagnosed myself (aided by the hypochondriac's paradise, WebMD) with carpal tunnel syndrome. Fourthly and finally, yes - I KNOW I should be asleep right now.

As per WebMD's instructions, I've been
wearing a wrist brace to take pressure off of the evil "median nerve" that's causing my right hand so much pain. I wear it at night and sometimes even wear it during the day. (Why not? It helps.)

The most aesthetically pleasing, well-fitting, and comfortable wrist brace I've found is the Wellgate for Women "Women's Slimfit Wrist Support."

But it's not just the wrist that bothers me. All of my crafty projects take a toll on my fingers, elbows and arm muscles as well. Overexertion. To combat these aches and pains, I've experimented with several topical pain relief creams. My two favorites are:
  • Tiger Balm Sports Rub (for heavy-duty pain relief): I've used this cream to soothe sore muscles and achy joints since my days as a lacrosse player in high school. It's the only thing that relieves the pain in my bum left knee, and I put it on my wrists and hands before bed when I've been knitting or stitching all day. It has a combination of both camphor and menthol, so it's too fragrant for use in public (unless you want to smell like an arthritic with a head cold). However, I've found that the combination of Tiger Balm, a wrist brace, and NSAID pain relievers works well over the long term.
  • Aspercreme (for daytime use): not as effective over the long-term as Tiger Balm, but provides great short-term pain relief with no funny smell (!!). The smell is almost nonexistent, and I can put this on my hands while knitting without worrying that my project will smell like it (and use it during the day without getting funny looks from people).

Beginner Whitework Ornament

The Project:

A small whitework sampler designed by Teresa Wentzler that can be made into an ornament. It's mainly a tool for learning how to do specialty stitches, but I already had all of the materials in my embroidery stash and thought I'd give it a try.

Whitework is an embroidery technique in which the stitching is the same color as
the foundation fabric.

The overall (uncompleted) design:

Close-ups of my work in progress from two different angles:

Garterrific Scarf/Shawl: Tassels!

The Project:

I found this super-easy, super-cute pattern on the blog of a fellow knitter/crafter: Presents Knits.


The yarn used in the project by Presents Knits is "Merisoft Hand Painted" by Punta del Este Yarn in colorway #71. I bought 2 hanks of it from Knits by Nana, where they were kind enough to wind the hanks into skeins for me. I love the ladies at Knits by Nana. They're always ready with help, advice, and chat. For example, I was trying to choose colorways for this project and couldn't decide between #71 and #56. One of the ladies asked whether the scarf was for me, and when I said that it was, she recommended #71 as the colorway that would best compliment my skin tone. An important consideration! I don't want to look like I have jaundice every time I wear it.

I bought 2 hanks because I want to make the scarf big enough for me to wear as a shawl.

New Technique Used: TASSELS!

My favorite thing about the pattern (besides the excellent juxtaposition of a vividly colored yarn with a simple stitch pattern) is - you guessed it - the TASSELS!

To give my hands a rest from knitting the Patchwork Wrap, I decided to make the tassels for this shawl last night. I've never made this type of tassel before, so it was an adventure.

The result of my tassel experiment:

Patchwork Wrap: The Embellishments

How a single square looks when it's finished:

When switching over from color number 1 (in this case, the light blue) to color number 2 (in this case, the pink), I cut color 1 after measuring out 30". I then pick up color 2, measure out 30", and tie color 2 on to color 1 at the 30" mark on color 2. Sounds much more complicated than it actually is. You just end up with 30" of each color of yarn hanging loose from one corner of the square. Then you knit the remainder of the square in color 2. The "tails" are then used to crochet the embellishments.

How the "tails" look on a finished square:

The process of crocheting and finishing the embellishments:

Corks N' Canvas

There's a clever little place in Baton Rouge called Corks N' Canvas. You bring snacks, wine, and friends, and Corks N' Canvas provides canvas, paint, brushes, and a painting instructor. The group then paints together.

My friends and I had a private party there last February, and it was one of the most fun things I'd done in ages. Painting is a bit of a no-no in my apartment, mainly because I know that I'd spill paint everywhere and then have to clean it up myself. This event gave me the opportunity to paint and space enough to paint with a big group of friends.

My painting:

I want to do this again. SOON!