Monday, August 31, 2009

Is It Time To Learn...

...To crochet? I love crocheting because I can create some really great gifts for the people who mean the most to me in my life. We have one friend of the family that still raves about the afghan I crocheted him for Christmas last year. Whatever you choose to make, the recipient will be touched that you made something by hand. The first step in making something, though, is knowing how to crochet.

So to help you get started, I've found some great teaching links. These sites offer detailed instructions on how to crochet, for the beginner!
This site offers instructions and patterns!

Happy Crafting All!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why We Craft...

One thing I love to ask people, regardless of their profession, is why? Why did they choose that particular line of work? Why do they keep doing it? It's not to make them question themselves or their decisions, but my own curiosity. I like to know what drives people to do what they do, whether it's something to just pay the bills or something they truly love.

For myself, I craft because I love to create. It is only been in the last couple of years that I have tried to sell my creations, even though I've been doing one type of craft or another for as long as I can remember. Some skills I've learned in an effort to make money - like my jewelry making, photography, and (someday) quilting. Others I do just for myself, that other people are generally not allowed to see - my painting is a perfect example. I am a horrible painter, I know I am, but it is something that I truly love because it relaxes me. So when I paint, it is for me and I typically don't show people what I create.

I am always fascinated to hear why crafters choose their various disciplines. The reasons usually have to do either with a love a particular aspect of the craft or just to make money. Whatever the reason, creating something with your hands nearly always gives a person a sense of accomplishment that is intensely gratifying. And it seems the more difficult the process, the more gratifying it is.

So why do you craft?

Happy Crafting All!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Silver Creek Remembered

I love journaling because it gives me a chance to revisit great days of the not so distant past and allows me to relive some of those wonderful memories. Way back in May, my husband and I took a drive up to Silver Creek which is south of Sun Valley. Naturally, we took our dogs to give them a day of roaming the countryside, exploring to smells and sites.

When I was putting these pages together, I knew I didn't want a lot of embellishment on them. I wanted to remember the day, the sights and the people I was with. Using a lot of pictures is the best way to capture that give a lot of visual reminders. The journaling and title element for the pages were both done in Word which allowed me to preserve the written memories in a more legible script and I was able to design the pieces in a way that complimented the layout. The only real embellishment on the pages are the strips of self-adhesive ribbon on the outside edge. The ribbon adds interest and a different dynamic without competing with the pictures.

It's not hard to create a lovely page to preserve memories without losing those memories to the fancy embellishments. Pages like these prove that less really is sometimes more!

Happy Crafting All!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Make A Quilt With Me, Wk 6

We are in the home stretch. Everything for your beautiful baby quilt is done - except the binding, the very last step.

Attaching the binding can be a very frustrating process for new quilters. I have been quilting for a few years and it is still the only part of the quilting process I truly dread. Rather than drag this out, lets get to the instructions so you can finish up that quilt!

First, you will need to get out those four 2.5" strips of Fabric B that you set aside all those weeks ago. You are going arrange them with right sides facing, to create an 'L' shape. Then you will draw a diagonal line as shown in the picture below.

Join the two pieces by sewing on the line you marked. Then trim the triangle of excess fabric and press the piece open. Repeat this step until you have all four strips connected into one long strip. Where you connect the strips should look like the picture below. Trim the ends at a 45 degree angle.

Once you have all four connected and the ends trimmed, it is time to press your binding. Fold the binding in half as you press to create a strip of material that is double thickness with the right side facing out. (This is where you can see the reasoning for connecting the strips with an angled seam. Once the fabric is folded in half, the seam will not over lap which reduces the bulk that you will be sewing through when you attach the binding.)

I have been contemplating the best possible way to explain the final binding process. I have realized that I probably could not write instructions that would be clear enough to guide you through this very important step. So, when you have finished assembling your quilt binding, please watch the video below with Eleanor Burns showing you how to finish binding your quilt.

The very last step to any quilt is sign it. I use a fabric marker and will write my name, pattern name, date the quilt was made and who it was for on the back of the quilt, generally along the binding. I like to keep the signature subtle and small on the back.

Now that your quilt is completed, it is time to sit back and enjoy the efforts of your hard work. You should be proud of yourself. It can be frustrating, but hopefully you made it through the whole process and have a beautiful baby quilt for your own little one or to give a very special gift.

Congratulations on completing the quilt! I hope you had fun!

Happy Crafting All!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Copper Bauble II

After I made the simple cocktail ring show cased in last's jewelry post, I knew I could do better. So, after a few deep breaths and some searching through my bead stash, I got back to work.

The result was this more refined and proportionate looking ring. By using smaller beads and the same techniques as last week, I was able to create a ring that I would actually wear - which is a first! Most of my experiments so far have not been all that great, so one I would wear is an improvement!

I am starting to really enjoy creating these rings and have been looking through my beads for the same appropriate size in more dazzling color combinations!

Happy Crafting All!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Fair Challenge

At the beginning of August, the community I live in held it's annual county fair. I will admit that I was surprised to see some interesting exhibits that I really did not expect to find. Beyond the carnival rides and food, the animal displays and largest vegetable or flower competitions, there was also a wide variety of home arts and crafts on display.

The quilting, jewelry, photography, knit and crochet displays were amazing. There is so much talent in this area that doesn't always get noticed. The sad thing is there weren't many entries in each of the home arts categories. So I decided to challenge myself.

I made the decision to enter next year's fair competitions in as many categories as I can. (The more I enter the better chance I have of winning! hehe) I am going to start with a crochet piece. I choose the lovely 1949 afghan pattern above as the first thing I will make. If I am satisfied with how it turns out, I may enter it. If not, I will make something else and go from there.

I have about 10 months to make as many items as I can and then decide on which should be entered. I will try to update everyone on my status about once a month, and I may even ask for your help in the making the final decisions.

Happy Crafting All!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Importance of Failed Experiments

Whenever I decide I want to try a new crafting discipline, I do my research. I read a lot of how-to's and instructions, try to find instructional videos, look into the cost of supplies and try to determine whether or not it could be sold at shows or in my online shop. The final step before jumping fully into a new craft is the experimentation.

I personally believe that the failed experiments while I'm learning a new skill are more important than the successful experiments. When I fail, I learn something, whether that it's a particular method just won't work for me or, as is the case with the pictured ring, I will need a lot of practice before I try my own designs for something. The ring is a result of finding beautiful jasper tube beads that I thought would make a lovely ring. Unfortunately, the limited experience I have with wire wrapping resulted in a failed experiment. But I'm not about to give up. I am going to continue working with wire until I can make the ring the way I envisioned it.

Sometimes a failed experiment will even teach me that I would rather appreciate someone else's hard work than try to make something myself.

Ultimately, no experiment is a complete failure if you learn something from it. The end result may not be what you wanted, but if you learned something about the skill or yourself, than it can not and should not be called a failure.

Happy Crafting All!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birthday Wishes - Classically Simple

I love this birthday card. It is so simple but classic with it's textured background, the rolling letters stamped on simple white paper, self-adhesive ribbon and the beautiful metallic butterfly in contrasting pink. This card design could easily be altered to make it a little more masculine or more feminine. As it is right now, it would be perfect for a woman who loves to be active or loves the calming ocean tone the textured paper lends to the project. To make the piece a little more interesting, I used double-sided foam tape to raise the birthday greeting and left the butterfly tag loose, adding dimension to the piece.

Again, simple, classy and handmade in less than a half hour. It's sure to make someone smile!

Happy Crafting All!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Make A Quilt With Me, Wk 5

We are in the home stretch now! Of course, this is also where the quilt making can get a little tricky and very frustrating. These last steps will require a lot of patience. By now you have you quilt top completed and pinned to the batting and backing in a 'quilt sandwich' and you are ready to start quilting through the center.

One of the easiest ways to do the actual quilting is what's called 'stitch in the ditch.' This basically means you will be stitching next to (in the ditch) your block seams. I personally love this method because I have a very inexpensive sewing machine and straight lines are easier to do than trying to do fancy curves and designs.

Unroll your quilt on one side, just to the center seam. I prefer to start stitching in the center of the quilt and work my way out. The rolled part will stay under the throat of the machine as you sew a straight line down the center seam.

The biggest key here is to go slow. You may want to drop your dog (feeder) feet so you can guide the quilt through the throat and past the needle. I found that it helped me to leave my feet up - they aided in moving the material through a little more smoothly with less effort on my part.

For this week, take your time and sew all the straight seams between each of the 36 blocks. On the back, you will notice a grid pattern take shape. Once you have all the vertical seams sewn, rotate the quilt one quarter turn. This will make the vertical stitching you just finished horizontal. Roll half of the quilt and repeat the process. Make sure you also do the seam connecting the border to the squares.

That's it for this week. Again, TAKE YOUR TIME! Keep a slow, steady pace as you move the quilt through the machine and before you know it, it will be done.

Now is when you should be getting really excited! Next week will be the final step and once you've completed it, you'll have a beautiful quilt you can be proud of. Until then....

Happy Crafting All!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Copper Bauble

A simple cocktail ring seemed a good place to start on wire wrapping journey. There is not much concern for swooping curves and bends in the wire and only a couple of beads to adorn it.

The ring above took about 20 minutes to create. It was more challenging than I expected simply because getting the beads to stay where I wanted them on the wire and getting the wire stay on the mandrel can be a daunting task. But I managed it. The finished ring is actually very nice even if the beads I chose where a little too big for a ring. That is what experimenting is for though: Making mistakes and learning from them.

Happy Crafting All!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cute and Hip-po!

Here is another adorable little creation straight from the pages of 'Tiny Yarn Animals' by Tamie Snow. This little hippo was whipped up in just a few hours and would make a great gift for someone who collects either hippos or amigurumi.

The book, 'Tiny Yarn Animals,' has a total of 20 amigurumi patterns including this little guy, the lamp I showed you last week and other adorable little critters such as a koala, lemur, hedgehog, bear, octopus and fish. The patterns would be great for any experienced crocheter. (Those who are new to crochet may find the lack of instructional pictures a little frustrating.) Nicholas Noyes did a fantastic job photographing the finished projects in ways that give each little critter it's own personality.

Happy Crafting All!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pictures To Die Cuts

If you have ever ventured through the paper craft sections of you favorite craft store, you'll undoubtedly have seen the lovely die cuts available for your projects. But why buy them when you can make them at home. It's easier than you think.

Above is the perfect example of how easy it can be. I used a picture of a blooming rose that I took at a city park, cut around the rose and made my own rose 'die cut' perfect for cardmaking or even scrapbooking. If you don't happen to have a collection of pictures to use, you can always search domain-free images to use in your projects - simply download the free images and cut them out.

Obviously, using something like a Cricut system would be easier, but those can be expensive. Using my own pictures, the only investment I have to make is in printer ink, paper to print the pictures on and a pair of sharp scissors. And with the economy the way it is, saving money anywhere you can is a definite plus!

Happy Crafting All!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Birthday Wishes - The Simple Way

Sorry for the sideways picture, but for some reason the Blogger likes to turn some of my pictures when I upload them.

Anyway, this is another example of a super simple birthday card. All I did was glue a piece of lavender paper to the front of a blank card, added a stamped cut out which I used colored pencils to add some color to and some simple glittery flower stickers. The stamp I used was another of (my favorite) Michael's $1 stamps and the stickers I found at Wal*mart for a $1.

I love to make these cards because the handmade aspect makes them special. However, handmade paper crafts don't have to cost a fortune. Always check $1 bins at your craft stores, a lot of dollar stores will have craft sections (you just have to look for them) and watch for sales and coupons. Once you accumulate a stash of simple stamps, papers and stickers, you'll be able to whip out these cards in no time!

Happy Crafting All!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Make A Quilt With Me, Wk 4

If you have been following along with me, by now you have sewn all your blocks together in the pattern of your choice. Hopefully it all came together fairly easily for you and you are ready for this weeks instructions. Now, because lasts weeks instructions were a little involved, this weeks homework will be fairly easily.

The first step this week is to out four strips of Fabric B which were set aside when we started. You will need to sew one strip to each side of the quilt, adding the only border to the quilt. Press the top to smooth it out. Once you have that done, the top of your quilt is finished! You should be proud of yourself! You are half way to having a completed quilt ready for your own little one or to give as a gift.

Now, get out your backing material (Fabric D), and your batting. It is time to make your quilt sandwich. You are going to need a fairly large area to work. I will generally lay everything out on the floor at this point, however if you have enough space on your dining room table, I would recommend using that surface.

First, you'll need to press your backing material flat. Lay it out on the work surface. Then open up your batting, unroll and unfold it, smoothing it over the backing material. Use your hand to smooth it over the entire backing material; it will sort of adhere to the back material and not slip too much. Next, lay your quilt top over the batting and smooth it down with your hand as you did the batting.
Once you have it all smoothed and flattened, grab your safety pins and start pinning through all three layers. I prefer to use safety pins for this step because, even though they are a little more work to get on and off, I don't have to worry about stabbing myself on a straight pin while I'm working.
As you can see, I put one safety pin in the center of each fence rail block and along the border. You really need to use a lot of pins so that your materials don't shift and move around as you are quilting. Nothing is more frustrating than working so hard to quilt the layers together only to find out it shifted and won't lay flat once it is done.
After you it is pinned, trim the backing and batting to 1.5" - 2" larger than the quilt top, all the way around. Then, starting from one side, start rolling the quilt like cinnamon rolls. Go ahead and roll the entire quilt and set it aside until next week. As I said, this week is pretty simple. It is very important though, that you roll the quilt from this point on. If you fold the quilt in half, you risk shifting the material or allowing the batting to bunch or crinkle. This can cause problems when you are quilting with your machine.
So that's it for this week. Now you have a good idea of what your quilt look and feel like. You can feel the actual weight and texture of finished quilt. Next week we will do the actual quilting through all three layers of your quilt sandwich! Until then...

Happy Crafting All!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Silver Leaf II

Again, I couldn't resist the call of natural inspiration. This time I utilized leaves cut from white shell, lovely green glass beads and silver accents and chain.

I love the this necklace and have worn it several times (acting as my own advertising!). Each time I've worn it, I've received several compliments. This is another that will soon be listed at in plenty of time to make it a perfect Christmas gift!

Happy Crafting All!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Counting Sheep

I love creating little stuffed toys. The pattern for this adorable little guy came from 'Tiny Yarn Animals' by Tamie Snow. I've finished a couple of the patterns in the book and am very pleased with the results. I would highly recommend the book to experienced crocheters. The pictures of the finished animals are fun and inspiring.

This little lamb took me about four hours to complete, start to finish, and is made of inexpensive worsted weight yarn. Cute and durable - a great combination!

Happy Crafting All!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Alternate Resin Hearts

Last week I showed you a simple and patriotic resin heart pendant from my Fourth of July inventory. This week I wanted to show you how easily the same basic pendant can be altered for a completely different look.

While last weeks pendant was highlighted with star confetti and dyed resin, this week's examples illustrate how something as simple as glitter can offer two distinctive looks. The pendant on the left was another big seller on the Fourth of July because of it's patriotic theme. The pendant on the right, however, is a solid glitter for year-round wear.

Using glitter offers you an easy and inexpensive way to create sparkling accents for day or evening wear. Catching the light beautifully, the glitter makes these fun for all ages while keeping the price of the piece cheap to make - and in return, cheap to sell!

Happy Crafting All!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Super Simple Birthday Card

I have three August birthdays in my immediate family - much more once I start counting in-laws and cousins. So over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to share some of the super simple birthday cards I've made to help celebrate these special days.

This card took me about 15 minutes to create. I used a neat birthday paper, a $1 cupcake stamp from Michaels, colored pencils and glue. Granted, the picture is not the greatest, but you get the idea of how quick and easy this card was to put together. Now it is ready for when I need it.

If you were able to find a similar birthday paper in a 12"x12" scrapbook sheet, you could easily make multiples of this card to always have on hand.

Happy Crafting All!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Make A Quilt With Me, Wk 3

By now you should have all your quilt blocks ready to go. Last week you had your fabric washed and pressed; cut into strips and those strips were sewn together and then cut into your ready-to-use fence rail quilt blocks.

This week is when the fun really starts. Gather your blocks and lay them out on a work surface to design the look of your quilt. It is crucial to know how you want your quilt to look finished before you sew any further. If you make a mistake, you can fix it by taking the blocks apart and resewing them, however that can be hard on the material and it is time consuming. That is way knowing what you want the finished piece to look like before you start is so very important.

There are two popular ways to use fence rail blocks, the first is a very traditional look achieved by alternating between vertical and horizontal lines in the blocks giving the quilt a stair-step look, as showing below:
The second is the one I prefer because of the cute pinwheel-esque design that is achieved with with teal and purple fabrics, as shown below:
To me it gives the quilt a little more personality and focus. However, the design is your choice - I just wanted to illustrate a couple of the options available. Play with your blocks until you find the look you want. Now we get to start sewing your blocks together.

There are two ways to do this:

1. You can sew strips of blocks together, six block long, and then sew your six strips together to form your quilt top.

2. Sew sections of blocks together and sew those sections together to form your quilt block.

I prefer the latter, especially when using the fence rail block to make the pinwheels. By sewing four blocks together to form a pinwheel, I know that I am correctly placing the blocks for the pattern. Also, I find that sewing long strips of blocks together can make it somewhat cumbersome and difficult to line up seams at the block corners so I have always tried to construct smaller sections that will be sewn into the whole. (Hopefully that makes sense.)

Once you have finished sewing your blocks together, sit back and relax, you are done until next week. Are you feeling good about the progress you've made? You should! Your quilt top is nearly completed. Next week you'll finish the top and prep the piece for the actual quilting. Trust me, it won't be as difficult as it sounds!

Happy Crafting All!

I love this layout simply because

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Silver Leaf

I just couldn't resist the lovely glass leaf beads when I saw them. The shade of green is perfect for spring or fall, and amber bicone accent beads are such a lovely touch, giving the piece a very natural and elegant look. The silver plated accent, toggle closure and chain make the necklace deceptively simple looking, even as the chain snakes around the ivy leaves.

I made only two of this asymmetrical design with a front closure. Watch for it to be added to the inventory at soon!

Happy Crafting All!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Crochet For The Baby, Updated

There it is, the completed baby afghan that I first posted about last week. I love the way the colors play off each other and give the blanket a little more personality. It is just four granny squares, slipped stitched together with two rounds of accent border and finished with a round of single crochet. The only thing left for me to do is snip the stray tails and weave them in.

It took me about a week to complete this blanket. I'm not entirely sure who will be receiving this blanket yet, but I know it will be going to a loving home sooner or later!

Happy Crafting All!