Friday, August 28, 2015

Finished Object: Heartfelt Hat
Ravelry Page
This Heartfelt Hat was made with Maureen O'Doogan's pattern. She is an amazing designer and her color combinations are simply glorious. I did make a few changes including using wool yo-yo's instead of hearts.

I also completely messed up the color work part. I've been reading up on color work and charts and wanted to try a project. Nowhere had I read that the last square of the chart is not to be worked because it's actually the first stitch of the next row. The first two rounds, I also thought I was supposed to repeat the entire chart over and over again. I kept thinking my gauge was off.

Why didn't I swatch? For one thing, the swatch would have been about as big as the color work part of the hat. Additionally, I have not learned to swatch in the round, yet. Then, there are times when I consider it more beneficial to jump in and try a small project learning as I go versus doing a swatch. By doing the project first, now I'm ready to play around with swatching in the round because I can compare them and figure out which things will be the same and which will be different. I also have a whole new set of questions about how color work goes together and I've also learned some things.

But, I also have Mastering Color Knitting now. That should help clear up some questions.

One of the things I learned is that color work comes out really, really tight. This definitely came out child size. My assumption was that it would actually be very loose. Another thing I learned is that knitting with two colors is deceivingly easy at least as far as manipulating two yarns back and forth. Now, if I can just conquer charts, I'll be set.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pretty Purple Pansies

 I just love pansies. Especially the purple and yellow ones, and the maroon and pink ones. But, all of them are pretty.
 Pansies are planted all over the city and always brighten everything up.
Just look at that gorgeous bougainvillea in the background, too!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Finger Knit Coaster

Some time earlier this year, I taught some little girls to finger knit and we all made lovely finger knit necklaces. I brought my necklace home, but a fuzzy purple necklace didn't really go with my wardrobe. Still, I hung on to it. Then, the other day, I decided it would make a lovely coaster. I used some extra stretchy sock yarn (I am almost done with my second sock.) to crochet over the finger knit chunky yarn and made this lovely little coaster. It is just right for my mug of tea.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Clay Crochet Hooks

 I had seen adorable crochet hooks made with bake clay online and picked up a couple of these on sale in the US. My favorite clay-covered crochet hooks were red with white dots so red and white were the logical choices for colors.
 I used a bamboo handle crochet hook to judge how far up the crochet hook the clay should go. My work area is lined with wax paper to avoid mess and color transfer and I had a packet of wet wipes nearby to clean my hands between color changes. Here you can see two piles of clay dots. The smaller ones were the best, but oh-so-hard to get just right.
 I lined a 9x13 baking tray with aluminum foil because you probably shouldn't have the clay in direct contact with things you plan to use for food later. The directions on the package were a bit sparse and I judged the "per inch" part to refer to the length. Since I sort of scorched my hooks, I'm thinking it was actually referring to thickness.
But, even with a few scorch marks, my hooks came out lovely and are so much easier to work with now that they have built-up handles. Two packages of clay made eight crochet hook handles in case you want to try it. Also, I rolled the clay into handle size first and then inserted the hook rather than wrapping the clay around the hook. I also kept the flattened piece on each hook free of clay just like it was on the bamboo hook. The tutorials I found online all seemed to cover this up, but I think it is important to leave it as is for comfort's sake.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Plastic Canvas Circle

 I've had this large plastic canvas circle for a while and I thought it might make a nice hot pad to set things on. I used a single round of color on the outer edge. The next five rounds were the teal, then four rounds of pink, three rounds of violet, two rounds of green, one round of orange, two rounds of rose, three rounds of grape, four rounds of lavender and then the center is yellow.

The different number of rounds for each color helps guide the eyes toward the center. So, far, it makes a great hot mat. That is, when the cat isn't sitting on it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Doodled Page

I hate sitting still. Usually, I keep some form of needlework in my bag, but I also carry this small doodle book and a pen. Sometimes I add to a doodle I started before or I may start a new one. Other times, I sketch something or make a pattern sketch.

It's an easy way to pass the time and you never quite know what you are going to end up with. The flower sprouting from a leaf is my favorite part of this particular doodle. A surprise.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: Crafting a Colorful Home

 When I saw that Kristin Nicholas had written another book, I couldn't wait until it came out. I have loved her colorful style for a number of years now and Crafting a Colorful Home is no disappointment.

The entire book is filled with color from a wide variety of craft styles such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting, and embroidering. Her home exhibits a warm, cozy vibe that is cheerful and vibrant at the same time. It is just the place I'd like to spend a cold winter's day, curled up with a book or some knitting.

Unlike most decorating books and magazines that show pictures that look as if no one has ever lived there and where children and pets would have to be barred, Kristin's home has a welcoming lived-in feeling that invites all to come in and soak in the joy.

There are no projects in this book that I do not want to try. There are some that while I would not make the same project in the same colors, I would definitely use colors I like instead to accomplish the same thing.

Even people less inclined to use every color in the rainbow in their homes and on their walls can find projects of interests here. But, if you love color and yet have beige walls because you aren't quite sure how to use it, then you need this book.

I can't stop flipping through the pages for a feast of color. It is definitely my favorite craft book ever. Be sure to check out her blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homemade Center-pull Yarn Ball Winder

 Supplies needed:
  • Kraft Parmesan Cheese container, wash and remove label and lid
  • sharp scissors that will cut through plastic
  • emery board
  • 1 rubber band
 First, cut the top and bottom off the container. Then, make a hole near the top. Use the emery board on the cut edges to smooth them out. Add the rubber band to the top, just under the hole you made.
 To use, thread the yarn through the hole from the outside to the inside and tie a looped knot to keep it from being pulled through the hole.
 Wrap the yarn in varying directions to form a ball. The rubber band helps to hold it in place. When you have all the yarn wrapped around the cylinder, use a crochet hook to draw the end under a layer of yarn. Then, cut the knot to release the ball of yarn and slide it off the end of the tube.
There you go, a center-pull yarn ball. Incidentally, I've found that balling yarn this way is also easier on my hands.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Asian Coleslaw

This is a somewhat healthier version of coleslaw.

Asian Coleslaw:
1 head of cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 cup of sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp nuts, flaxseeds, walnuts, almond slivers, etc.
2 TBSP honey or sugar
3 TBSP of soy sauce or to taste
3 TBSP of kombucha or apple cider vinegar or to taste
1/8 tsp ground ginger or 1" grated fresh ginger or to taste
1/8 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic, minced or to taste

Combine ingredients using the nut/seed mixture of your choice. Adjust the flavors to suit your taste keeping in mind that they will strengthen as the slaw marinades. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Keep in mind that the flavors may be too strong if left overnight. I like the leftovers the next day, but not longer than that.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Art Inspiration

 There is no scarcity of art inspiration where we live. So many different patterns and color combinations to try. The above makes me think of fish and would make an interesting fabric stamp.
 This one would make an interesting quilt or cross-stitch pattern. Maybe it could be a nice coaster or potholder?
And this one just makes me want to start doodling. It would also make a pretty repeating design in blackwork.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hani Looms

 The Hani people are known for their weavings. At a museum in Jianshe I was able to get pictures of two types of Hani looms. Shops selling woven products usually have a loom set up at the front of the shop and someone working on it to draw in customers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kitchen Cabinet Curtains

Before: The glass panels fell out of this cabinet along about 2007 or 2008 and I added this pink dragonfly seersucker to help keep dust out. At the time, it was the only piece of fabric I had that was large enough to cover both sides. I've been wanting to change them for quite some time.
A few weeks ago, my husband helped me switch to this love blue sunflower print that makes me smile every time I see it. It's so cheerful. And, with all the rain and cold weather we've had this summer, it's been nice to have a spot of sunshine in the kitchen. Maybe I'll use the fabric scraps to make a new dish mat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Embroidered Pillowcases

Have you seen the stamped pillowcases at the craft store? My grandmother taught me to embroider using a pair of pillowcases. You might think of stamped embroidery patterns as too basic, but they can actually turn out quite pretty.

My only complaint is that I wish they were available on a higher thread count fabric since they are sometimes a bit stiff.

Embroidered pillowcases definitely add a touch of beauty to a bedroom and there is a sense of joy every time you put them on a pillow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Starting New Projects

I generally have at least a dozen projects in a variety of crafts in progress at any given time. Sometimes I work on a single project for an extended period, but, more often, I work on multiple projects each day.

Starting 6 new projects the same day is a bit unusual, but I couldn't decide which knitting project to start first. So, I started a dishcloth, 2 scarves, 2 pairs of socks, and a mug cozy. I did finish several sewing projects before starting new knitting projects. However, I already had several knitting projects, a crochet afghan, and multiple embroidery projects in the works.

Having multiple projects going at the same time seems to be a common affliction among crafters. Perhaps it's because our creative minds have so many ideas floating around inside that we find it difficult to focus on a single one for too long. Or maybe that's just me?

One advantage to having multiple projects going is that I sometimes finish several at once which is intensely satisfying.

Mixing small projects that are quick to complete with projects that are huge or that take forever like a large cross-stitch project or a quilt or afghan helps to balance the satisfaction of completion with projects that I get bored with.

Working on projects in a variety of crafts helps me to continue to make things when I have to limit how long I can work on a single project, too. Cross-stitching over 2 threads is something I can only do for short periods before my eyes get tired. Crochet, needlepoint, or plastic canvas also have to be limited because of hand pain. Knitting, however, is the one thing I can do for a long stretch of time and that actually seems to ease hand pain.

I also do painting and sketching. Painting and working in an art journal have really helped with my color sense. Sketching has helped me see things differently and to look for details that I might normally miss.

Recently, I've also noticed more projects incorporating embroidery on knitting. Occasionally knitting projects may use a crocheted edging. Quilt patterns are sometimes used in knitted, crocheted, cross-stitched or plastic canvas projects. Cross-stitch patterns are sometimes translated into filet crochet patterns or even into intarsia knitting projects.

So, while some crafters may do only one craft, many of them have multiple pursuits. Working in multiple crafts creates more ideas, helps you see projects in different ways, and helps with inspiration by offering variety.

Learning a specific craft is similar to learning a language or learning a musical instrument. Each language you learn makes adding a new one less difficult. Learning one musical instrument makes picking up a new one easier. And, for each needlecraft skill you add to your arsenal, it becomes easier to learn others.

Even if you only do one craft, you might enjoy reading about others. I've tried a large number of crafts and still do quite a few, but the list of crafts I want to try is even longer. So, what about you? How many different crafts do you enjoy and what would you like to learn to do?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Russian Needlepoint Pillow

 I bought this as a DMC kit on clearance a few years ago. I didn't care for the yarn included with it and switched it out for my own yarn. I am so happy with how it turned out and how colorful it is. It really brightens up the couch.

When I finished the stitching, I washed and blocked it so the yarn fibers would be closer together before sewing the back on and putting a pillow inside.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Crochet Correction

 I'm making the Granny Stripe Afghan from Attic 24. I originally started it as a stash buster and quickly realized I actually didn't have enough stash yarn to make it. That's why there are some single stripes in the beginning. Also, I realized later that the red was wool not acrylic like the others. And the more rows I added, the tighter the foundation red wool seemed to become. Unfortunately, I had done way too many stripes to want to rip it out and start over. And, while you aren't supposed to be able to rip the foundation out of crochet, I decided it was worth the risk.
 First, I cut off the foundation chain and the top half of the Granny Stripe.
 Then, working on 6-10 stitches at a time, I cut between the stitches.
 Next, I slip stitched a ball of blue yarn to match the second granny stripe row to the edge. Then, for each stitch, I slipped the crochet hook through the loops at the bottom/top, pulled out the loose red threads, and pulled the blue yarn through the loops to hold them together. After that, I chained three before moving on to the next stitch.
As you can see here, it actually worked fairly well. Since I plan to make multiple border rows, I'll be able to cover over these stitches in the end and hide any twists. If I was making something I didn't plan to add a border to, this would not work nearly as well. Also, since this is going to be a couch afghan for my husband and I plus the cat and the dog to snuggle under, having a less than perfect beginning row doesn't bother me and no one else will mind either. Plus, it did loosen up the bottom row without my having to rip out a bunch of other rows.

My Ravelry page for this project is here.