Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pinned it, made it: tea wreath

I love giving presents. I especially love giving homemade ones. The challenge of what to give/make for the person who has everything can be a fun one.  This is especially true when it comes to grandmas.  I mean, they are old enough to have everything they need and more and yet we don't want to overlook them at Christmas.  I found a tea wreath on Pinterest (from Kojo Designs).  I thought the wreath was a good fit because it's consumable, so it doesn't sit on a shelf and take up space. Practical, pretty, crafty...everything I look for in a simple gift. :)

Here is the version from Pinterest...

...and here is my interpretation!

The photo is a little blurry.  It was a quick snap with my iphone before we headed out the door to family Christmas.
I used two file folders wrapped in washi tape as the base of my wreath.  It has 16 clothespins holding in the tea bags (2 bags per clothespin) and I wrapped a bit of Christmas tree tinsel in and around them for colour, texture and sparkle.  The snowman is an oversized gift tag that I found in my Christmas giftwrap bin. :)

What the photo doesn't share is just how great this project smells.  A multisensory gift for sure.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hand-crafted gift in an hour or less!

Check out this beautiful brooch!

I found the pattern for the Ruffled Rose Pin in Redheart Yarn's "In The St-Nick of Time" post of quick gift ideas.  Not only is it quick, but it's fun and doesn't look anything like your typical crocheted craft.

Working with a new kind of fibre is always a challenge.  The Sassy Fabric yarn is actually a slightly gauzy, slightly crepe-y fabric that comes pre-cut with a ruffled edge and evenly punched holes.  It kind of looks like little café curtains.

I did find some challenges with the pattern, but I had already sunk $40 into the materials, so I didn't turn back!  (Crafters are so cheap!  Frugal.  Crafters are frugal.  It sounds much classier that way.)

Perhaps it's because I crochet left-handed, but I had some trouble with the special stitch for this project (the "ruffled single crochet").  The instructions in the Red Heart pattern would not work for me, so I modified the "ruffled single crochet" like this:

(modified) Ruffled Single Crochet:  Insert hook into the desired stitch of yarn A.  The insert hook from back to front through 4 of the holes in yarn B.  (Yarn B will naturally pleat and bunch together as you go.)  Draw Yarn A over the hook and pull through all of the loops of Yarn B.  When all you have left on the hook is your 2 loops of Yarn A, then yarn over again with Yarn A and pull through both loops on the hook.

I wouldn't go so far as to call this an easy pattern.  In fact, the title of this post might be a bit misleading.  This craft can be completed in 45 minutes or less, once you work all the kinks out.  I think it might have taken me 2 hours to complete the first one.  Once I had a method that worked for me, I was sailing through.

I also think there's an error in the posted pattern.  The pattern states that you'll need 1/2 a skein to complete one flower (15 yards).  I think it's actually much less than that.  Maybe 15 feet?  You should be able to get 5 to 6 flower pins out of one skein of fabric.

Holiday Crochet

We're iced in today after a pretty harsh ice storm.  Luckily, we're iced in with power.  We've been warm, cozy and pretty much in hibernation since we woke up.  It's been a great day for lounging, crafting, and organizing photos off my camera.

This basket is one of my recent crochet projects.

I used leftover yarn and followed the same basic pattern I guessed at for a previous set of baskets.  These stretchy and soft-sided baskets are great for stashing craft projects.  The turquoise project inside is a lacy beanie I'm working at making without a pattern.   ("Without a pattern" seems to be a theme, lately!)

If the bad weather continues tomorrow, hopefully I have some more time to post some more photos of the day's accomplishments.  I do love holidays!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Blanket Complete!

A sick day on the couch gave me time to finish up our Christmas afghan.  A Digital Photography 101 course on the weekend gave me time to learn how to use some of the settings on my camera.  Here are the Holly Jolly results:

Now that this bit of selfish crochet is done, I just need to get started on (or get back to) all the stuff I planned as Christmas presents this year!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

WIP day late!

Why finish one project when I could start another? While working through my last workplace training video tonight, I'm also working on a granny stripe scrap-ghan. It's gobbling up all my leftovers of everything in the white, brown and grey families.

I started this on the weekend when Dan and I began our Madmen binge. I can get almost through two stripes in one episode, so that gives a pretty good idea of how many episodes we've already watched!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How I Spent My Extra Hour

It's Fall Back Day! We've gained an hour. Not only does that mean that I won't be driving to work in the dark this week, it also means that I gained an hour today to do something I want to do.

So, with the washing machine chugging away, I sat down on the couch for an hour of uninterrupted crochet.

At the start of the hour, I had 26 rows completed.

After 60 minutes of non-stop crocheting, I was at 30.5 rows.

So...doing the math, it's going to take me about 6 to 7 more hours to finish this blanket.  Wish there were a few more daylight savings days.... :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pumpkin Hat - Visual Step-by-Step

Two years ago I had some fun making a pumpkin hat for my niece, a colleague's new baby and a few other fun people I know.  I'm back at it this fall because I have a 10-month-old nephew who needs a pumpkin hat of his own...and because they're just so fun to make.

I basically follow a really great pattern I found for free online, just adding more chains at the beginning and additional rows of hdc to "grow" the pumpkin to the size I need.  The thing that I love about this pattern is its simplicity.  It's hard to get an idea from the pattern of exactly how this hat comes together, so here is each step in picture form to show you just how brilliant the design really is.  (I kept returning to this hat over the course of the day last Saturday.  Notice the shift in daylight from picture to picture?)

1.  Create a ribbed rectangle by crocheting rows of hdc in the back loop only.  Fasten off.

2.  Whip stitch the rectangle together to create a cylinder.

3.  Add a row of evenly-spaced sc's around one end of the cylinder.

4.  Once one row has been completed, continue to sc2tog around and around until you have just 5-6 sc's remaining.  Then sc for a few rounds to make the stem.

5.  Create a little sprig.  Fasten it on.  Work in/hide the ends.  Flip the brim.  DONE!
I have 3 skeins of orange yarn in my stash.  I'd like to use them up.  I think I can make a dozen hats.
I'm hoping to sell them in my etsy store and use the money towards some things for my classroom.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

All the sweet, nunna the gluten :)

For something a little different, here's my favourite recipe of the summer.  Known to some as "macaroons," to others as "mudpies" and still to others as "just plain yummy," this no-bake dessert was a hit at a family event this week.  There are no substitutions required to make this recipe gluten-free.  Just make sure to use gluten-free oats and you're good to go.

Unbaked Chocolate Cookies

(From the Drayton United Church 100th Anniversary cookbook, painstakingly typed by my mom on an electric typewriter in 1992.)

I used the little Pampered Chef scoop (thanks, Katie!) to shape them.  It makes them nice and uniformly sized (and a little smaller than I can make them with a spoon).
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter (one stick)
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla

3 c. oatmeal  (I buy the Only Oats brand at Bulk Barn.  They're pricey, but gluten free.)
6 tbsp cocoa  (or maybe a little more...)
1 c. coconut
1/4 tsp salt

Combine sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla.  [That's a fun part--the liquid foams up like a science experiment when you add the vanilla in!]

Pour boiling syrup over dry ingredients and mix well.  Drop from teaspoon (or the fancy scoop mentioned above) on waxed paper to set.

The recipe says to "chill before serving," but I have successfully skipped that step every time.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Officially A Milliner

A person who makes or sells women's hats.

...or am I a modiste? Both words are pretty nifty.

Here is Heather, sporting her custom-made made hat. (Seriously custom-made: I crocheted it at her house, trying it on as I went in order to get the perfect fit.). How sweet is she?

This hat was made by guess and by gosh, but it's inspired by Alli Crafts' pattern, available here:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New Blanket...For Sale!

This week, I'll be working at "editing" my yarn stash.  It's gotten much too out of hand and it's taking up way too much room in our teeny storage area.  Of course, I've been putting off getting started, because having to choose which yarn to part with is like having to choose which friends must leave the lifeboat.

Knowing that I won't be able to keep it all, I've decided only to keep the yarn that I have specific plans for.  My first attempt at editing ended up lasting only a few minutes.  I came across two bags of red and white Babycakes and I decided to get to crocheting so that I didn't have to give that yarn up.

Let me just give you an idea of how awesome this particular yarn is.  It's a 50/50 blend of cotton and acrylic which means:
1.  It's durable and functional (machine washable and dryer safe--that's the acrylic bit).
2.  It feels awesome (simultaneously crisp and soft...and breathable--that's the cotton bit).

I purchased this yarn with the intention of making a baby blanket, so that's exactly what I did.  I kept it simple, basing it off the instructions for the Granny Stripe pattern from attic 24.  It turned out even better than I was hoping for!

The border is subtly textured with back-loop single crochet and a final round of red yarn just to finish it off.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  The stitches are well-defined and uniform and the yarn gave just enough structure so that the corners are squared off and the edges are crisp.  No lumps or bumps on this one.

Paired with a sock monkey, this would be great inspiration for funky nursery decor or amazing newborn photo props.

Paired with a handsome reindeer sweater or a Santa suit, it would be a great accessory for a little one's Christmas photo shoot.

Tossed over a chair, it could be a great addition to all kinds of nautical- or Americana-themed living rooms, bedrooms, cottages, etc.

And it's for sale!  I've added it to my etsy shop.  Hopefully a few more items will join it later this week.

Pattern Drafting Part 1: NotMartha Buys Fabric

I purchased the "Design And Sew An A-Line Skirt" Craftsy class just before March Break this year, with intentions of making it my March Break project.  Unfortunately I spent most of March Break sick in bed and the class got pushed to the backburner.

The great thing about Craftsy is that you can put off taking the class until you're ready.  (It's all videos and discussion boards than can be accessed asynchronously.)

The not so great thing about Craftsy is that you can put off taking the class until you're ready.  (This is a site for motivated crafters.  I don't always fall into that category!)

However, sewing that skirt is on my to-do list for this week.  I do have some fabric at home, but nothing from the fabric shelf was calling my name, so I headed to Len's Mill today to check out my choices.

Here's what I came home with:
Dancers and robots!  Two fun fabrics for two fun skirts.

This fabric is actually called "Biker Bugz," which makes me think these are motorcycle parts.  I'll still call it my robot fabric.

Close-up of the dancer fabric.  I love the silhouettes of the jazz musicians in the background.

Yes!  If all goes well, I'm going to be heading back to school with a robot skirt and a dancing skirt.  The fabric is in the washing machine right now, getting pre-shrunk so that I can make the perfect fit.

I won't be starting the skirts today, though: I didn't look at the instructions very carefully and after watching the first two video segments, I've realized that I need to get a fashion design ruler and some tracing paper.  (This is serious stuff!)

Guess I'll have to tackle something else from The List!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Revisiting An Old Make

Today I dug out a tote of yarn from the basement.  It contains an afghan that I started two summers ago and have yet to finish.  I managed to add about 8" to it today, and set the goal of finishing it by Christmas.  I've decided that I like having several projects on the go so that I can break up the monotony of row-on-row-on-row stitches.

I digress.

In the box I found a print-out of the pattern I used to make this sweet baby blanket for my niece back in the Spring of 2011.  
I just love the rainbow of colours!  Red, yellow, blue, green, orange and purple makes a gender-neutral afghan.
Yes...a print-out from my pre-iPad days when I carried around my patterns on on pieces of paper.  This is exciting because the pattern is no longer available online and I have had some fellow crafters ask me for it.  Here's one more close-up of the blanket, and then I'll post the gist of the pattern below.

Brick Crochet Afghan/Blanket Pattern:

Foundation Row: Chain 131 with your main colour.  Make one double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook and in each chain thereafter (128 dcs).  Join colour A and turn.

Row 1: With colour A, chain 1.  Make 1 sc in each of the first 4 dc.  *Ch 1, miss 1 dc, 1 sc in each of the next 9 dc*  Repeat from * until you get to the last 5 dc.  ch 1 and miss 1 dc, then finish the row with 1 sc in each of the last 4 dc. Turn.

Rows 2-4: Ch 1.  1 sc in each st to the end of the row (In row 2, this includes the gap made by your ch 1 from row 1).  At the end of row 4, join your main colour again.

An ingenious stitch into the row of black a few centimetres below creates the funky brick pattern in this blanket.
Row 5: (This is the exciting one!)  With your main colour, ch 1, 1 sc in first 4 stitches, then *1 tc in the skipped sc 4 rows below.  No sc in the stitch behind the tc.  1 sc in each of the next 9 stitches.  Repeat from * to the last 4 stitches.   Then 1 tc in the skipped stitch 4 rows below and 4 sc to finish out the row. Turn.

Row 6: Ch 3 (counts as dc).  1 dc in each stitch across the entire row.

Row 7: This is like Row 1 again, except in order to get the brick look, you're going to make 1 sc in each of the first 9 stitches, then ch 1, skip 1 dc and keep going with the same pattern (1 sc in each of next 9 dc, ch 1, skip 1 dc and repeat, repeat, repeat).

Rows 8-10 are like Rows 2-4, etc., etc., etc.,

Another shot of the brick-like afghan.
For edging, the pattern recommends one round of sc all the way around (with 3 sc in each corner), then two rows of the tweed stitch.  It looks like I was having so much fun with the brick/window pane look that I used that for the border as well. :)

For a brick/window pane blanket border:

Round 1: Using main colour, sc evenly around the entire blanket, with 3 scs in each corner.
Round 2: Using an alternate colour, 2 sc, ch 1, skip one sc all the way around the blanket, working 3 scs into each corner
Round 3: Using main colour, crochet 1 dc into the sc stitch below the skipped stitch and 2 sc into the next 2 scs.  (Repeat, still workng 3 scs into each corner.)
Round 4: Finish with a round of slip stitches in your main colour.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Baby Blanket With Texture

The baby boom continues.  Malachi James Giles was born in May 2013.  His proud parents are good friends of mine from university.  When we visited Ottawa in early June, we made a quick stop to meet this little fellow

and drop off this gift:

The blanket is inspired by the Polka Dots & Frills pattern I have used previously.  I don't know if I just crochet loosely, but I find that I like to reduce the stitches in this pattern, turning triple crochets into doubles, etc. for a tighter weave that still has enough drape.  Using the old version of Bernat Chunky, it works up a nice, plush blanket that doubles as a play mat.  Since the Bernat Chunky is acrylic, it's safe to put it in the washer and dryer as well.
I love the plush texture!  It's so fun to run your fingers over.

This blankie is a one-skein wonder.  Yep, the entire thing is made with one big ball of yarn.  To make the blanket a little more masculine (and to reduce the amount of yarn it used, since I only had one big ball), I ditched the ruffles and added a wide border of tweed stitches with a final round of slip stitches to give a nice finished edge.
Simple blanket border using 1 round sc, 5 rounds of the tweed stitch, and 1 final round of slip stitches.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stratford's Goodwill Community Store - Kitchener Area Thrift & Vintage (Part 2)

When we want a change of pace, we go to Stratford.  Goodwill runs a great thrift store that's easy to access--right on Ontario Street, across from the mall.

Goodwill is the best place to find board games--specifically, all kinds of Trivial Pursuit editions--for my collection.  I've even purchased a few games still in the box with the cellophane on for less than 5 bucks.

On this visit, we were looking for bedside tables.  This store does not have a lot of furniture, but it does have a lot of everything else!  Here's what we found on our most recent visit to Stratford's Goodwill Community Store:

1.  "Tribal" necklace - $4.00
2.  Orange double-strand necklace - $4.00
3.  Three ornamental elephants - $1.00 each
4.  The Birdcage DVD - $4.00 (Dan's pick.  We watched it that night.  Pretty good!)

I love the creamsicle colour of this necklace.  And the old-school clasp works beautifully.  The clasp says "Western Germany" on the back.  Can't say I have many things in my house that were made in Western Germany!

When I picked out these three little elephants, I thought they were all scratched up.  I planned to spraypaint them turquoise.  Once I got them home and washed them with dish soap,  I realized the "scratches" were just sticky stuff from price tags.  It came right off and they look as good as new.  While I decide whether to spraypaint them or not, they can wait happily on our bookshelf.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Latest Haul

Spinrite's annual Big Balls Tent Sale was this weekend.  (That's the factory that makes most of the acrylic yarns available in these parts.)  My haul is pictured below.  (All that for 60 bucks!  Cha-ching!)  Looking forward to making some custom-order blankets this summer.  As you can see, one ball is already being transformed into something soft, cute and practical.  I'll be posting finished project pictures for that one, soon!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bedside Upgrade

Mission accomplished!  We finally found the bedside tables we were looking for.  Things got much easier when we decided that we would go for a his-and-hers set instead of finding two that matched each other and the room and fit into to the teeny tiny spaces beside our bed.

So here's the before shot.  Things were looking a little like a university student apartment--functional, but uninspired.

And here's the after shot.

Wooden furniture!  Real, grown-up wooden furniture.

Looking at photos from the house before we bought it, I would say this room has come a long way:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy Accident Baskets

Sometimes best the best kind of crafting comes from happy accidents.  My friend Sian gave me a bag of yarn, a pattern and a request to "Make me a slouchy hat, please."

I tried.

I tried a different pattern.

I tried again.

But everything I created ended up looking more like a firm felt frisbee than a slack and slouchy beret.

So I decided to do a little research on the yarn and found that Bernat has changed their Softee Chunky yarn which is what the pattern called for.  Sian had purchased the new Softee Chunky.  The pattern was written using the old Softee Chunky.

Now it's a REALLY chunky yarn.  (And really soft, too.)

So, as the weather got a bit warmer and a hat seemed like a bit less of a necessary accessory, I decided to take a chance and make Sian a crocheted basket instead.

Three baskets actually.  I kept on crocheting until the yarn ran out.  The chunky yarn provides a surprising amount of structure.  Full disclosure: I loved these so much that I almost kept them for myself!  But I had a inkling that Sian would love them.  (She does!)

I think I would call these S, L and XL-sized.  If I had more yarn, there would be a medium one, too. But I will definitely be making more, and writing a pattern, too!

Close-up of the handles.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Salvation Army Thrift Finds - Kitchener Area Thrift & Vintage (Part 1)

It's no secret that I love thrift stores.  Frankly, what's not to love?  They're environmentally friendly, easy on the wallet, and they hold all kinds of one-of-a-kind treasures.  When I met my now-husband and found out his favourite store was Value Village, that gave him a significant amount of points in my books.  When I introduced him to several other thrift and vintage stores in the area, I'm sure I gained points in his books, too.

More people should be using thrift stores!  It means less goes to the landfill.  It means meaningful employment for many local people.  Sometimes it means money for charity, too.

For these reasons (and probably more?) I bring you my first mini-feature on area thrift stores.

The Kitchener Thrift Store benefits the Salvation Army .  Located near Highland and Westmount in Kitchener, it's the closest thrift store to our house, so it gets most of our donations!  This store always has a lot of furniture.  I've been lucky a few times buying DVDs (including full seasons of TV shows) there, too.  They organize their housewares and knick-knacks by colour, so I always have fun wandering those aisles looking for things by colour palette.

My last trip was a brief one.  I needed an excuse to go out for a walk, so I set the Thrift Store as my destination.  My finds this time were simple, but great finds nonetheless:

1.  A white pitcher/vase for $1.99  (sells for $14.99 at IKEA)
2.  A large piece of cotton muslin for $3.99 (great for a practice run of the skirt I want to sew)
$5.98 and no tax.  (I love that thrift stores have no tax!)


Eco Giftwrapping (a.k.a What To Do When You Have No Wrapping Paper!)

I recently wrapped up some scarves as gifts.  It was one of those last-minute, just-because things and as I rushed to wrap them before heading off to family Easter dinner, I realized my only traditional options were to wrap them in Christmas paper or stick them in oversized wedding-themed gift bags saved from our shower.

So, I went to the craft shelf and found...

...some vintage napkins, scrapbooking flowers, and straight pins.  (The napkins I used were beautifully pressed, but you'll get the idea with this leftover wrinkly one I used for the demo, won't you? ;)

To wrap the scarf:

1.  Fold the scarf into a square-ish bundle.

2.  Place the bundle in the centre of the unfolded napkin.

3.  Fold the napkin around the scarf, envelope-style.  (That is.... top down...

...bottom up...

...sides in.

4.  Secure it with a straight pin inserted through two paper flowers and pressed down gently into the fabric.

That's it!

By the way...
The whole bag of vintage napkins I bought cost me 50 cents.  Look at the beautifully tatted borders.  (Tatting is a kind of micro-crochet.  I don't have the patience for it, but can appreciate the time it makes to add those lacy borders!)  Some of them were clearly done by hand.  I love thrift stores!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...