Archive for the ‘Holidays and Celebrations’ Category

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!

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

Do you love tutorials like this? Keep free tutorials coming by supporting the artist! Donate via the sidebar on the right of this page! Every donation of any amount received via blog posts will result in another free tutorial, pattern, or chart published to the blog!

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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10
Jan

Holiday Gifts 2012: part 1

Posted under CNC Mill, Holidays and Celebrations, Life, Scroll Saw, Woodworking No Comments

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Now that the holidays are finally wound down I can share with you the fun things I made for some of my family and friends this year. Since the most recent accident, I’ve not been healthy enough to make all the projects I wanted to make, but I’ve been trying to do what I can and get goodies out to people who will appreciate them at the most socially acceptable month of the year to do so. This post is all about the gift I made for my brother S.

I asked S what he wanted for the holidays, and he made it very easy for me and spelled out exactly what he wanted custom-order style! He asked for a Houston Texan’s wooden plaque with the logo and the phrase, “Bulls on parade,” carved into it with guy pal’s CNC mill and painted up like the Titanic signs from the party last year. Gift requests like that, versus “just something nice” make it so easy, even if it does potentially kill the surprise, but we’ll get to surprise killing later.

I took the request to guy pal who jumped on it. I was doing very poorly at the time, and he handled pretty much everything! I made a mock up in a word document of how the sign should look and a few minor changes to the final program, but he really did it all. He even got a board to use! I did go over to help, really observe, the milling part of the operation. We messed up the text on the first board by not clamping all corners of the board. The natural curve to the wood meant that the letters in one corner went too deep. Frustrated, we loaded up another board, and I took the ‘ruined’ one out to the garage. I cut around the main logo design and figured I could call it a trivet for an extra gift out of the waste! I painted only the interior of the cuts so that the acrylic paint couldn’t melt when a hot pan gets placed on the trivet. It seems just the right size for a bowl of queso dip at a Superbowl party, right?

Texans Trivet

The next cut came out perfectly on the main plaque S wanted, and I took it home to paint up that very night. Unfortunately, so many tiny detailed cuts took forever and a day to paint. I spent over 6 hours watching Scrubs reruns on Netflix and painting like mad all night long. It came out great though. Step-dad even pounded a picture hanger saw tooth piece onto the back so I could get it wrapped up the next morning.

Texans plaque

All in all, I’m very pleased with the set and wrapped them up together with the trivet in a smaller box atop the big box holding the plaque. With a big bow on top, it was a pretty package, not these exact packages mind you, but something similar with a wonderful bow.

bows on packages1

Yes, these ones do have bar codes on them, but that’s a story for another time.

On Christmas morning, the beautiful box was plopped into brother S’s lap and as he was slipping the bow off, I asked that he open the larger one first. Given how specific his request was, seeing the trivet would certainly give away the surprise of the plaque! He set the smaller box to the side and tore into the big box. He was thrilled with the plaque and I was thrilled with his response to it. Mom, who obviously hadn’t been paying attention, asks, “So, did you like the trivet too? Isn’t it cute?” I was horrified. Brother S made the simple dog face.

If you haven’t read Hyperbole and a Half, you NEED to. It’s fantastic.

But there it is, I made a perfect holiday gift to specs and my mom goes and ruins the surprise by assuming he’s open the smaller gift on top first. At least it was a nice little set to give S, even if mom had to go muck it up! See if I show her what I’m working on crafting next holiday!

IMG_3233

16
May

Chronic Bitches

Posted under Free Patterns, Hexipuffs, Holidays and Celebrations, Knitting, Life No Comments

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My best friends in the whole world are the women (and a few men) of the Chronic Bitches on Ravelry. This is a very candid and loving group for fiber artisans with chronic health conditions who are also of an LSG frame of mind. It’s a very active group and also very tight knit. (See what I did there?) I’ve had the privileged of meeting several of the CBs in person now. They’re all just as wonderful as you’d expect. Tonight I met up with Firefairy in Denver and Eloewien who’d flown in on a business trip from Virginia. We had a BLAST together. I felt like I was with sisters I’d had my entire life. There’s an absurdly tight bond that forms when people suffer through similar health conditions, horrific ‘treatment’ and discrimination from said conditions, AND all share a love of knitting. In short, there was much hugging and the sharing of a chocolate cake slice at IKEA.

I actually cried a little driving back down 25 toward my temporary home. I love these women so much and I really wish I could see them regularly.

After my last trip to Denver, when I met another LSGer for the first time, I designed a hexipuff chart just for her. I haven’t knit it yet, but she has and it’s adorable.

Long before, I made a puff for Eloewien too that just has her first name poorly embroidered on a puff of yarn she sent me. It looks so bad I’ve kept almost ripping it out. I think I will, but only after I knit up the puff I designed tonight just for her. She loves dragons and nearly all the yarn she had in her knitting bag was of these colors:

I hope you all like the dragon chart and feel the love shared between knitters as you make my gift to all of you my readers, FREE PUFF CHARTS!

31
Mar

Spring is starting to bloom!

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

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All of these mini skeins and hexipuffs are from Maple Wool Farm’s own Soda Pop Dyed series of yarns! Enjoy a bit of spring blossoming on your doorstep by ordering Maple Wool Farm mini skeins!

Little mini skein buds nourished with last fall’s hexipuffs!

To make your very own spring tee, simply find a well forked branch and ‘plant’ it in a pot full of small rocks or decorator marbles. Cover the rocks in hexipuffs and gently slide mini skeins in spring colors onto the tips of the branches of your yarn tree. A little tree like this would be stunning as a centerpiece on your Easter or Spring Celebration table!

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25
Mar

Down to the wire, err, thread?

Posted under Cross Stitch, Embroidery, Holidays and Celebrations 1 Comment

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I’ve been very overwhelmed lately. Sadly, it doesn’t take much when you’re fighting with chronic pain and fatigue. I knew my brother’s birthday was approaching fast, but I didn’t have a clue what to do for him.

Last Thursday, I went to a lecture put on by Open Minded Skeptics and Pikes Peak Urban Gardens on organic gardening in the Pikes Peak region. I used to be quite active with the Bear Creek Community Gardens before I was disabled. I would really like to grow my own food again. Salad goes from blah to the tastiest lunch ever when it’s home grown, fresh, and full of flavor. I plan on having a large, accessible garden south of the gravel driveway where we’re building the cabin. A free refresher lecture seemed like a great way to get me out of this basement. I hate being stuck in the same little box of a space day in and day out. I envy even those who go from home to a cubical and back five days a week!

Anyhow, after the talk was over at 8:30 PM, I found myself at the library with a half hour until closing. I figured I might as well browse a bit. I always check to see if there’s anything I haven’t seen in the knitting section. There wasn’t this time, but I ended up checking through the neighboring embroidery section too since many embroidery charts are similar to knitting charts like I design. One book, Picture Your Pet in Cross Stitch by Claire Crompton jumped out at me. I flipped through it and saw a picture of two cockatiels that look almost exactly like my brother’s pair. I’m not a fan of cross stitch, but I brought it home with me anyhow.

On Saturday, I realized that my brother’s birthday was the very next day sometime in the late afternoon. Worried about what I could possibly do in that time frame on no budget, my mind wandered back to the cockatiels. I checked my meager box of embroidery floss to see what colors I had and what I needed from the store. I went to Hancock Fabrics first and saw a towel with a centerpiece of aida cloth woven in and decided that would be a much better idea than buying aida cloth and trying to get it framed and matted up in time. Since I had a 40% off coupon, it was certainly a cheaper option at only $5 after tax! Hancock Fabrics carries a terrible off-brand embroidery floss though. It doesn’t have the luster of DMC floss so I hopped in the car and drove on to the nearest Hobby Lobby to get real DMC floss.

When I got home, guy pal met me there to help me figure out how to work on my Maple Wool Farm logo in Photoshop. It’s a pain, but I’m making progress. I was finally able to sit down and start working on my brother’s birthday towel around 8PM on the 24th. My mom helped make sure the design was centered right on the canvas. I HATE starting out on a new cross stitch project because I hate trying to get the design centered. I worked until about 4AM with a break to make some boxed macaroni and cheese I found in the back of my cupboard. Finally, I was too tired to keep going. I was starting to make mistakes. I got to bed just after 5AM and was out of bed again by noon after a fitful sleep as usual. By 12:30PM, I’d checked my email and gotten back down to the stitching. Around 1PM, I finished all the cross stitching and by 2:30PM, I’d finished all the back stitching and was heading off to iron the piece. Near the end, I even decided that maybe cross stitching isn’t so bad. It uses a fair bit of shoulder movement, but didn’t irritate my shoulder pain. I’m actually thinking I should cross stitch more just to work my shoulder more. I’ll have to look into software to design my own cross stitch designs though so I can sell my finished work.

I decided to take pictures in my mom’s half bath upstairs because the yellow of the walls really punches up the towel. I also suggested to my brother that he pick up a yellow towel to put behind this one to frame it nicely on his towel rack.

Working with that many shades of grey so close together in value was a pain, but the lifelike result was really worth it!

Then I finally got to move on to wrapping. I consider wrapping to be an important part of a handmade gift. It’s like the packaging selling a product at a shop. I picked  out two bottoms of folding Christmas boxes to make one white box. I lined it with plain white tissue paper. To spice it up a bit, I used a couple scrapbooking stickers inside as the seal to hold the tissues closed, just like something fine from a very upscale shop. With the work I put into this towel, it would have to come from one hell of an upscale shop!

Then, since I don’t have any manly birthday wrapping paper, I used some faintly striped brown kraft paper and some curling ribbons. I added another sticker to the front of the package in place of a card since my brother was ringing the doorbell as I was finishing up the bow!

Not too shabby for a last minute gift, huh?

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14
Feb

Happy Valentines’ Day in Hexipuffs!

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

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I don’t have much of anything planned today beyond cleaning, cooking, and puffing since I’m single. I did however make one BIG special valentine to share with everyone I love!

Happy Valentines Day!

Also, one important thing I learned today that you’ll probably find helpful is that unseamed hexipuffs photograph best on a black matte background like polar fleece fabric. It really helps the puffs pop where as designs like this heart were impossible to see when the puffs were photographed on a white sheet. I’ve also decided I rather like the heart layout, not for my scrap quilt beekeeper’s, but maybe for a baby beekeeper’s quilt of unpuffs knit from a DK or worsted weight soft acrylic with a heart of pinks and reds surrounded by a sea of undulating green with a border in shades of purple!

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