Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

22
Feb

Fair Projects for 2015

Posted under Charity, Crochet, Knitting, Life, Models, Paper Crafting, Sewing and Quilting, Woodworking No Comments

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It’s getting to be the time of year when you’ve got to start thinking about what projects you’re going to be making for your county and state fairs. Ideally you’d start too as working right up to the deadline is never fun, though it seems to happen more often than I’d like!

So far, most of my projects are rather bland looking, but I promise there are colorful projects coming too!


natural colored projects

Here we have a lace baby sweater which will ultimately be part of a three-piece set, a knit lace doily, and a crochet lace bag all in progress.

I’ve also been working on filling the first of three bobbin lace pillows I’m making for myself. I really enjoy the bobbin lace beginners kit I got for Christmas, but the failings of a beginner ‘pillow’ are more than apparent. I done some research on the best and longest lasting bobbin lace pillows and how they’re made. Then, I presented this information to my physical therapist and we worked out a stand set up to prevent any undue stress on my body. Now I’m building that stand and pillow set up! This is the first pillow in progress.

bobbin lace pillow stuffing

 

Kaia seemed rather displeased with my pillow stuffing as a few bits of straw landed on her in her bed!

dog with straw

The pillows are filled with natural straw cut into 4″ or shorter pieces. Cutting the straw is a painful and dull process, and stuffing the pillows is painful and slow going as a result, but when they’re done, I’m going to have fantastic traditional bobbin lace pillows, a standard 24″ cookie pillow and a more rectangular pillow with a roller in the back for making yardage. The pillow above is the roller that will go into the rectangular pillow. The exterior is a natural canvas material sewn into a tube with drawstrings on either end. Inside, there is a dowel running the length and I have two discs cut from 1/4″ plywood. One disc is already in place at the bottom of the pillow and the other will go in just before cinching up the other drawstring. The dowel sticks out a few inches on either side which is how it will connect to the support pillow.

The last big WIP keeping me busy lately is a paper craft project. Some friends asked me to make a 4′ tall LEGO minifig as a decoration for a Boy Scout party in March. After that party, the gigantic LEGO man will be a county and state fair entry for me before finally being sold to the highest bidder to fund some new LEGO sets for me! The main framework of the minifig is cardboard sheeting from Costco. Some of guy pal’s friends from work taught me how to use anti-fatigue mat foam to create the complex curves and gave me some foam to use for the project. Atop the cardboard and foam frame is paper maché. This will create a surface I can sand to a perfect finish. With the glossy paint a LEGO minifig has, any imperfections in the body will show. That’s why I’m doing the paper maché coating. There will likely be some spackle to help fill any gaps prior to sanding as well. Here’s the first two pieces being coated in paper maché, the head (which is upside down in this photo) and one of the arms. They’re the most curvy pieces and thus require the most paper maché to get perfectly smooth.

LEGO head and arm WIP

 

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07
Jan

Knit Your Stash 2015

Posted under Knitting, Life No Comments

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This year I’m trying to use more yarn from stash rather than purchasing yarn as needed or worse, just because it’s on sale and I’m walking past. I generally have pretty good self-control driven by my shoestring budget, but I do have a tendency to think I still have the stamina of a healthy person and can complete all the projects my head can think of. Thus I tend to purchase yarn for specific projects that don’t get completed.

There is also this trap you can fall into when shopping for yarn. Let’s say you really want a pair of hand-knit socks for yourself. You buy yarn. Time passes and you never got to knit them because you’ve been too busy with everything else in life, chores, knitting gifts, dog walking, writhing in pain, whatever. Then you’re at the store and you see some stunning sock yarn and you really want a pair of hand-knit socks for yourself. So you buy the yarn somehow of the belief that purchasing said yarn will magically give you the time and energy to knit yourself that pair of socks.

Alas, you cannot purchase more hours in the day. But clearly I really want some socks and/or shawls in these colors!

3 Sock Yarns

The furthest back yarn is the oldest and the cheapest. I bought it at a little yarn shop way up in the mountains of Colorado during the 2013 Yarn Along the Rockies yarn crawl which I did with my mom. Of 23 yarn shops in 2 days, this was one of the two balls of yarn I purchased. Both were sock yarn incidentally. The middle yarn was purchased on vacation in 2014 in Southern California while visiting with another Chronic Bitch I met on Ravelry. She took me to a cute little yarn shop in the Claremont Village, Colors 91711, and I just loved these colors. None of my local stores carry the brand and I was as intrigued by the blend of fibers as the color. The closest to the front was purchased fall 2014 during a anniversary sale at Table Rock Llamas in Black Forest, Colorado. I knew I had the middle one when I purchased the third, but I’d completely forgotten about the first ball from 2013 until I took it down tonight!

Clearly I really need to take some time to knit myself something with at least one of these gorgeous balls of yarn this year! They’re all in my top 10, and probably top 5, favorite sock yarns from my stash. I keep my sock yarn up high along the ceiling on a long shelf above a sliding glass door. Until I took it all down today to photograph it, I honestly had no idea just how much yarn was crammed up there! I shouldn’t NEED to buy much sock yarn this year!

Here’s the entire sock yarn stash on my bed. This doesn’t include 100% wool or 100% alpaca fingering weight yarns as those are stored elsewhere. This is just yarn that is intended for socks but may well become a shawl instead.

Sock Yarn Stash

And this is after I used up a few balls of yarn from the shelf of fingering weight sock yarn to make Christmas gifts! I used up two balls of orange on dad’s crazy cat. That orange was purchased for only $1 a ball back in 2010. The blue on the upper right was $3 a ball and is much nicer stuff than the orange. It’s destined for shawls. I may be broke, but at least I know how to shop right!

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09
Oct

Fair Isle Socks

Posted under Knitting, Life, Product Reviews, Techniques 1 Comment

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I bought a kit to make these socks from Knit Picks a while back. The pattern is called Apirka. It’s horrible! It gives a rectangular gauge and fair isle should have a square gauge. As such, the majority of the reviews on Ravelry tell the tale of failed socks that came out more like a mens’ 13 than a women’s medium. Lesson learned: always check ravelry reviews before buying a Knit Picks kit. Ravelry doesn’t screen the pattern notes like I strongly suspect Knit Picks does the user reviews!

I knit up a gauge swatch the very day my kit arrived because I was so excited to have a wonderful colorwork project. Stranded colorwork is my favorite type of knitting and I love Knit Picks’ Palette yarn. It’s one of my two favorites for fine colorwork projects. The runner up is Brown Sheep’s Naturespun yarns.

When I realized that they’d be impossible to knit following that pattern, I put them in a long time out. I was so upset that I’d spent good money on this kit!

Eventually, the county and fair season started to roll around. I’d originally planned these socks to be show pieces for the fair and I’d get them back just in time for the weather to start to turn cool in September when I could wear them all the time. I didn’t want to waste more money on another pattern and more yarn. I really love the snowflake motif and earthy colors in this pattern. So I measured and remeasured my gauge swatch and feet. I ended up completely writing a new pattern with new charts to knit a pair of socks. The colorwork happens to look the same, but I have entirely unique heels and toes on my socks to keep them from being too long and pointy. I also changed the calf shaping in addition to adjusting the charts for the different stitch counts. I also modified it to be a toe-up sock rather than a top-down one so it’d be easy to try on as I went along and to be sure I wouldn’t run out of yarn.

It was the most challenging pattern writing I think I’ve ever done. I’d knit a bit, try them on, and write out the next chunk of pattern. I worked them two-at-a-time using two sets of double-pointed needles. Two-at-a-time with magic loop and stranded knitting just makes too many tangles. Plus, double-pointed needles rock. it did look like I was playing pick up sticks most of the time though.

In the end, my new custom pattern worked out beautifully. These are currently my favorite socks. Because I knit them to my gauge swatch and my foot instead of a pattern, they fit me like a glove.

The socks did get done in time for the county fair and went on to the state fair after that. They won first place for knitted accessory item and reserve champion for the knitting department at the county fair and second place for knitted accessory at the state fair. I’m not too upset they didn’t win champion for knitting at county…another one of my projects took that top honor! More on that tomorrow.

08
Oct

The Purple Wheat Shawl

Posted under Holidays and Celebrations, Knitting, Life No Comments

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I’m a bit behind on posting my projects, but hey, why not catch up? I got so carried away getting every single medal during the Ravellenic games that I ran out of time to post photos here too.

One of the project categories was shawls. I’d had my eye on a worsted weight shawl for a while. I’ve always got extra worsted wool around and it’s quick. Exactly what I needed for getting medal after medal. I pulled out a ball of some lavender yarn I’d dyed a year or two prior and set to work. Here’s the result! I love how it looks like purple wheat planted in neat little rows.

I modeled it of course, but it just didn’t work for my coloring. It’s headed off to the gift box to hopefully find a new home where it’ll be loved and worn like it deserves!

01
Mar

New Month, New Projects

Posted under Life, Sewing and Quilting, Spinning No Comments

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It’s officially the first of the month, though I’ve got to say as I’ve not slept yet it’s feeling a lot like February still. I am taking advantage of the time I need to stay up to make sure the laundry gets done so I’ve got work shirts tomorrow. The Craft Yarn Council just changed up my class offerings in a big way, so I’ll be doing a demonstration tomorrow looking for class signups and working on some of the new samples. Tomorrow looks like it’ll be pom pom rug making day.

I started spinning a wonderful single of natural colored BFL wool which will become a 2-ply light fingering weigh yarn for my mom to knit into a scarf for my grandmother. I’d spun some yarn before, but as a DK weight yarn, I’m afraid it’ll be too thick and warm for her to wear in Southern California. Thanks to my new electric spinner, I’m almost done with the first ply, about 45 grams of wool if I recall correctly. Not too bad for a quick evening spin!

IMG_4609

 

When I needed to get up to change the laundry, the yarn kept coming undone when I wrapped it around my flyer like normal. It’s not the most wonderful way to hold the yarn when you have to get up, but sometimes it works. Then I thought about the package of new clamps I’d just ordered sitting right beside my wheel. Perfect. They’re just easy enough to open without sacrificing clamping power for me to be in love with them. Then as an added bonus? I find out the reinforced nylon handles weigh just enough to keep the very high twist yarn from untwisting under the weight of the clamp on the platform. I clipped the yarn into the clamp and then just set the clamp down. You can’t get an easier and more foolproof way of setting your spinning aside! I’ll definitely be keeping one of these guys in my spinning supply box from now on. I’ll post a full review of the new clamps too once I get to try them on my woodworking, but I figured you guys would love to see my new spinning solution!

Then, since I just tossed my work clothes into the dryer, I figured I’d get some fabric I bought last week into the wash so I can cut it up and get sewing. My physical therapist has a small pillow which we use every week under my shoulder because I can’t lay flat on my back on a hard surface without something under my right shoulder. The pillow in question here is an airline pillow that was stolen ages ago and is starting to really show it’s age in the fragile from the start blue cover. It’s just falling to shreds. So I’m going to make a pair of washable covers for his extra positioning pillow!

Here’s the fabric I picked out for him.

IMG_4603

 

The black with glow-in-the-dark skeleton fabric will be for the body of the pillow. Then, for the border along the open edge, I found this wonderful black and white grid which to me looks a lot like graph paper. I think it’s the perfect combination. We’ve got the anatomical organic shapes from the human body and it’s infinite complexity mixed with the rather stark, mathematical grid of the relatively nonsensical numerical grades and measurements for everything to keep insurance companies happy. Sure, it’s a little deep for a pillowcase, but I’m thrilled with it so far. It can only get better from here. Plus, it looks like I should have enough fabric leftover to make a cover for my equivalent little pillow at home and maybe a couple ice pack covers for me too! Sometimes little treats like a goofy ice pack cover can make all the difference on a high pain day.

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25
Feb

So you want to sell your knits?

Posted under Knitting, Life No Comments

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One of the things my advanced students ask me about the most is how they can make money with their knitting. So many enjoy knitting countless baby socks or scarves or shawls but then have no idea what to do with them all. There’s only so many scarves I need in my wardrobe and only so many more I can gift to the knit-worthy folks on my list. It’s not too wild of a leap to realize you need to sell some of these handknits to be able to buy more yarn and keep your needles sailing through that soft, smooshy yarn.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to college and parents who would support me in just about any major I wanted to try. I settled on business with an emphasis on marketing before long. Even though I didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do, I knew I’d be able to apply it to anything. I could work in film in a multitude of roles, be a physical therapist running my own clinic, I could continue managing a retail store, or I could start my own business. It seemed the perfect major with the widest variety of potential career options. Even though I didn’t fit in well with the business students who were in short rather closed-minded and not so brilliant compared to the students over in the pre-med classes I also took! Thankfully my science and film classes kept me sane!

Anyhow, I’ve had an eye out for resources to send my student’s direction for that constant question, “How do I turn my hobby into a business?” Some want something part-time, some want to replace a full-time job, some just want an activity to fill their retirement, and a few just want to pay for more yarn and higher quality needles. Whatever your reason, it comes down to the same information you need to get started. Things like where to sell your knit and crochet items, how to get yarn wholesale to increase your profit margin, how to stand out from the competition, and the most frequently asked question, “How do I price my items?”

I’ve found a great ebook offer right now that’ll answer these questions and more to help you go from a hobbyist to a business owner. And for a mere $37 to get all that information, 3 months of email coaching and support, a pricing calculator, a business plan, a color selector to avoid those dreaded multicolored horrors every craft show seems to have, and a great big pile of business building freebies from patterns you can use to all you need to know to set up your website, blog and storefront!

If you’re ready to jump in with both feet, check out this ebook and resources here. At this price you’ll only be giving up buying yourself one or two balls of high end sock yarn. And just think how many more balls of luxurious yarny heaven you’ll be able to buy after you’ve got our knitting business started!

Not quite sure if you’re really ready for the whole deal? Is that $37 too steep for you right now? No worries. I’ve totally got you covered with a free newsletter to help you get started too. The ebook is more complete, but hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere and this might be better for you. Everyone’s got to chose their own path!

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10
Jan

The Knitting Survey – Jan. 2014

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Between a project for Nerd Wars during the last tournament and putting together a list of knitting techniques I’m comfortable teaching at work, I started wondering, “What haven’t I done?” I’m always inthralled by new techniques, yarns, fibers, and colors.  To make sure I wasn’t leaving anything horribly obvious out, I checked around the net for a knitting survey. You’re supposed to bold the things you’ve done, use italics for the things you want to do someday, and leave the rest in normal text. Here’s my list as of today. Keep in mind I also crochet, spin, weave, and felt (wet and dry) with my fiber too! This survey is just for knitting.

Afghan
I-cord
Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire
Shawl
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down

Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Hat
Knitting with silk

Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Sweater
Drop stitch patterns

Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Two end knitting aka Twined Knitting from Scandinavia
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn

Cardigan
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with double pointed needles
Baby items

Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Slippers
Graffiti knitting
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)

Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Participate in an exchange
Scarf
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money- wouldn’t that be nice!
Buttonholes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Mosaic Knitting

Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Holiday related knitting
Knitting from a recipe type pattern
Knitting from a chart
Teaching a male how to knit (done both adults and kids)

Bobbles
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Steeks
Duplicate stitching

Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting two socks on one circular simultaneously
Fulling/felting

Knitting with wool
Knitting with novelty yarn
Knitting with ruffle/mesh type yarn
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch

Knitted flowers
Yoke type sweater

Purses/bags
Knitting with beads – both prestrung and added as you go with a crochet hook
Swatching
Long Tail CO

Entrelac
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Picked up a dropped stitch

Knitting with cashmere
Darning
Used a lifeline

Jewelry
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Gloves
Intarsia
Knitting with linen
Tinked back

Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Picot CO
Picot BO
Judy’s Magic CO
Jeny’s Stretchy Bind Off
Brioche Knitting

Free-form knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/arm-warmers
Pillows
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Rug – alas, I’ve only crocheted and Tunisian crocheted rugs before. I have yarn on hand to start a knitted one though!
Earning the TKGA Knitting Masters (3 levels)- someday I’ll be able to afford the classes!

Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Shrug/bolero/poncho
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Entering your knitting in a fair/contest
Winning a blue ribbon for your knitting

Hair accessories
Knitting in miniature (smaller than size 3/0 needles)

Knitting in public

I actually ended up adding TWENTY more items to the list because, well, frankly the list was lacking. There’s not much left on it that’s not bold, but I will be knocking out rug very soon with a series of rug patterns I’ll be publishing! I made my stepdad a rug for Christmas in Tunisian and have another Tunisian rug on the hook as we speak which will be a part of a 3 piece pattern set. I’ve got some more yarn too as I’m going to release the Tunisian 3 piece mystery set in a knitted version as well so I’ll need to whip up a knitted sample for photographs!

I may also try moebius knitting soon as well. I know how to do it, I’ve just never done it! My Grandma B is due for a fantastic scarf for her generous donation to the house fundraiser. She sent along some beautiful mohair she’d bought to try to make an infinity scarf that wasn’t turning out quite like she wanted. My task is to whip it up into a perfect, light, airy scarf, and ideally an infinity scarf. It seems like it might end up being the perfect chance to try out a moebius cast on with a really long circular needle!

So, what else should be on the list? What would you add?

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09
Jan

My Bitty Hat and a Surprise Mini Knit!

Posted under Holidays and Celebrations, Knitting, Life, Miniatures No Comments

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I’ve always loved miniatures since I was a little girl. I had the most incredible dollhouse, and though it was never finished I didn’t care. I spent hours upon hours making little clay food, weaving bitty rugs, and of course making up fantastic stories about the lives of the bear, bunny, and kitty dolls that lived in my dollhouse and the various other character dolls who lived in unseen homes on the horizon of Dollhouse World. Here’s me with that glorious house just after I got it for Christmas in 1989.

Xmas1989

Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated and a little obsessed with all things miniature, particularly 1:12 scale.

Since I learned to knit and crochet, I knew I wanted to make miniatures. Of course minis are significantly harder and I failed over and over as a beginner to make successful minis. I’ve finally gotten down to the scale I want though and have even dared to dream smaller now! Check out this hat I made last summer:

I made this hat from a Buttercup Miniatures pattern. I did modify the stranded section of the hat to make it look more like my childhood winter cap. I worked on 6/0 (.75mm) knitting needles and used a single strand of 6 strand DMC embroidery floss as my yarn. DMC floss makes great miniature knitting yarn and the color selection is nearly unlimited and highly affordable! Someday, I’d love to order some of Buttercup Miniatures super fine knitting needles. My smallest are only 6/0 needles (.75mm). I’d love to try out their .38mm, .55mm, and.60mm size double-pointed knitting needles and fine ‘yarns’ just to see how much smaller I can really go.

My big goal for 2014 is to publish one new pay-per-download pattern per month so I’ll have income to pay for things like utilities once my home is built and I have a place to live and work again! For January’s new pattern, think small! I’m working on something which would be right at home in a little girl’s dollhouse, tucked into bed with her barbie, or snuck into the corner of a whatnot shelf for us adult collectors. Of course  I know most of you don’t want to work quite as small as I enjoy working, so this pattern is being designed with fingering weight yarn in mind. Of course your finished project would still be flat out adorable in a DK or worsted weight yarn. Made in a thicker yarn, this knit would still be a great accessory item for a 18″ American Girl doll. Keep an eye out! This upcoming pattern is only the first in a series of at least four new miniature knit patterns! Additionally, this pattern will be published in two versions, one worked in the round, and one worked flat!

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20
Dec

TUTORIAL: Easy Beautiful Bows

Posted under Holidays and Celebrations, Life, Tutorials No Comments

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bows on packages1

We all know presentation matters. It’s the difference between having your chicken carbonara in a microwave dinner tray or on fine china with a nice garnish. If you want to impress your friends for dinner, you garnish the plates before you carry them out to the table. Why not add that little, easy extra touch to their gifts too? Everyone on your list will be impressed with your new found wrapping skills, and the pile of goodies under your tree will look so nice that your living room could be on the cover of a magazine!

There are dozens of tutorials around the web on how to tie fancy bows, and several use a tool called the Bowdabra. I’ve used the Bowdabra for hundreds of bows as I used to make them by the dozen every year for a major big box shop to sell. The store required the Bowdabra be used for production. The shop would charge up to $100 for a single bow. I’m not kidding. I made a bow out of $20 retail cost of ribbon in about 15 minutes for a man to put atop the car he bought his wife. The bow was sold to him for $100. That was in 2006 too, so they charge even more now.

But here’s the secret. You don’t need a bowdabra. You don’t need hours upon hours of practice. You don’t need special floral wire…which ends up being a pain in the butt to hide nicely later since it’s never the color of the bow. All you need are some scissors, wire edged ribbon, and something on which to put your bow. I’ve used wrapped packages here, but bows could be tied around newel posts to decorate your home, jar lids , a dog collar, or anything else you need to dress up for the holiday season. So grab your package, a roll of wire edged ribbon, and your some sturdy scissors! Just don’t use your nice sewing scissors or your good wrapping scissors! Cheap but durable is the best as the wire edge on the ribbon may damage your finest scissors. I use a pair of scissors I picked up at the dollar store. Kids’ school size Fiskars will also do the job nicely.

First, unroll some ribbon. Cut away the midsection of your ribbon leaving the two wires exposed for about 4 inches for an average sized gift bow. You will need much longer wire tails if you’re going to make a car-sized bow. Make a small bow first to figure it all out before digging into 50 yards of wide wire edged ribbon for that car bow! On my ribbon the wire edges are covered in silver foil which makes cutting away the center faux velvet area easier to see. You can throw out the cut away portion or use it for other crafts…like making matching gift tags!

Cut away the midsection of the ribbon leaving the wire.

Next, place the edge of your cut away where you want your finished bow to be on the package. Wrap the rest of the ribbon from the long spool end around the package and back to where your cut away section is. You can wrap the ribbon around the package however you want, straight around, the classic criss-cross, or the clothing box diagonal.

Wrap the ribbon around the box so the end meets the rest atop the package.

Now twist the long end around 180 degrees right as it crosses the cut ribbon. It should look like this with the underside of the ribbon showing on the side closest to you and the right side up on the side away from you. And yes, that’s a bar code on the package. Santa uses bar codes to track packages. There’s just no other way to successfully route so many packages in one night!

The first twist

Now wrap the right wire tail around the  bow twist, behind it and back up into position. Repeat with the left tail. Pull your ribbon’s long free end tightly to snug up the join. You may need to also twist the two tails together once like a twist tie if it’s still loose. To finish, pull one tail out to each side of the package. The wire bits should be like a horizon line, the spoon of ribbon coming at you, and the package wrapped up with the basic ribbon around the box portion.

The first cinch

Odds are it looks ugly where the bow will go, but the rest of the box looks nice enough with it’s ribbon. if you want to do the classic criss-cross bow, now is the time to wrap the ribbon around the package going the other direction. Just pull the spool end to the right, wrap around the package, and repeat the twisting steps above to anchor the end again when you get back to the future bow location. For a diagonally wrapped package, your first wrap around the package would look just like this with your ribbon now ready to start the bow in just the right spot.

IMG_3216

 

From this point forward, all the bows are made exactly the same. Your next step is going to be to make the big loops of the bow. There’s no knot tying here, just some folds and twists. You want to try to make your folded pieces about the same length as each other. Bring the ribbon that’s coming toward you back away from you making the loop the desired size for your bow. As you cross the center point of the bow, twist the ribbon 180 degrees so it’s upside down at the cross. Our goal is to always keep the pretty outside of the ribbon on the outside of the loops and the wrong side of the ribbon to the inside of the loops. Your first loop should look something like this.

step1bow

 

Continue making as many loops as you want in this manner. You’ll alternate which side of the package the loops are on, your side, or the side away from you. When you have enough loops, end your last loop without the twist you’ve been putting into each cross of the bow’s midline. I’ve tried to fan out my loops a bit as I made them, but there is still just one per side alternating as the stack gets taller. Don’t worry if it’s still not a pretty bow. The magic happens later.

IMG_3194

 

We’re almost done! While one finger holds the folded loops in place atop the package, use your other hand to fish out the wires from below. You’ll have one wire on each side of your loops. Twist these two wires together as tightly as possible atop the stack of ribbon twists in the center of the bow.

IMG_3196

Now, fold the tail of ribbon still leading to the spool over the bow once more back the way it came and toward you again in one twist free loop that’s smaller than the rest of your loops. I aim for one about half the size of the rest of the loops. This one doesn’t have any twists because we want the edges of it to look perfect and because of how it rests against the wire twist ties.  As soon as you’ve got this loop in, twist those ties tightly once more. If you have extra tie length remaining, you can fold them around the backside of the bow.

IMG_3201

 

Finally, cut the tail of the ribbon that’s leading to the spool of leftover ribbon. Be sure to cut this at an angle so it looks as fancy as the bow you’re making!

IMG_3202

 

This still is a fairly ugly bow, but now’s when we work our magic and turn a lump of ribbon into something special. Snake a finger into the smallest loop on top of the bow. Puff it out and make sure it looks good filling in the center of your bow and effectively hiding the twist tie wires.

IMG_3209

 

Now, work your way around the larger loops sticking your fingers inside the loops and fluffing them open. The wire edge of the ribbon makes the ribbon stay fluffed up into the 3D shape you want rather than laying flat against the package. Be sure to tug the loops left and right from the forward and backward stacks they were made in. This will fill out the sides of the bow nicely. You’ll also want to curl the cut tail over your finger so that it looks like another loop.

IMG_3213

 

Now you should have one fantastic bow atop your package! If something doesn’t look quite right, go back and pick, pull, and tug at the ribbon until the loops hold the shape you want. Wired-ribbon ‘sculpts’ quite nicely!

 

bow step later

 

With how quickly these bows go, you’ll have all the packages you agreed to help Santa wrap done in no time!

IMG_3220

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13
Jul

Tour de Fleece

Posted under Holidays and Celebrations, Life, Maple Wool Farm Products, Spinning, Yarn No Comments

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I’ve been participating in the Tour de Fleece this year and having a blast. This is the first time I’ve ever been really happy with my spinning. I’m making real live usable yarns! Here’s my favorite shot so far. It’s a blend of various colors of wool into a single top. This is the single which I later chain plied (Navajo plied) into a 120 yard single. It’s a light fingering weight when plied like that. My camera is on it’s last legs, so it’s a challenge to get nicely focused close-ups of my handspun yarns.

 

 

 

I’ve spun various wools, flax/linen, and baby llama so far. The baby llama was by far my favorite. It drafted like a dream into a super fine thread that when Navajo (chain) plied made a perfect light fingering weight. Lovely! My big goal is to be able to reliably spin a 2 or 3 ply sock weight yarn. If I can manage that, I’ll reward myself with 8 oz of Knit Picks Stroll top to dye and spin. I’ll need more stuff to spin anyhow. It turns out spinning regularly in the right chair with the right posture is helping with my hip pain. More spinning it is! Talk about the most fun physical therapy exercise ever!

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