Monday, February 27, 2012

Felted Bowls - for Organizing

You may recall from my last post , I have been on a bit of a tear lately.  My mood is a bit suspect and so when I look around at the usual mess of life it sometimes makes me want to scream.  Time to weed out all the bits and pieces that are unnecessary.  Sometimes I think I want to get rid of all my itsy, bitsy crafty odds and ends and start with a clean slate.  I would probably just start to make and collect again but the idea is tempting.

One thing I have made over the past few years that helps me sort out some of this "mess" and corral all the odds and ends are felted bowls.  I like them because they are a project but also because they are nice and soft and you can put in special jewelry or lay them on top of a more precious surface and not worry.  I began making the bowls based on a pattern from Leigh Radford's book One Skein.  Love that book and these bowls knit up easily. Although, I must admit at first, before I gave them a hot wash, I was worried that they would be too flimsy but they do wash up quite firmly, especially the smaller bowls.  I started making up my own sizes, once I got onto how it all worked.

Although I can store all sorts of things in these bowls I think my favourite is my collection of felted balls both store bought, homemade and knitted.  You have probably seen the bowl pop up in shots and I always find it a source of inspiration.  

Well one crafted project is complete and stored away.
My felted bowl runneth over with felted goodness.  Now... where are my scissors...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wrap it up Thursday - Knitted Basket of Goodies

I have been in a foul mood lately.  I don't know if it is hormones, weather or what but everyone better just look out.  When I feel like this I need to find something meditative to do until I feel better.  That usually is knitting.  So, for the last two nights I tried to squeeze it in before bed.  Just a quick project.

I have made a couple of these knitted baskets from Joelle Hoverson's (purl bee) more last-minute knitted gifts.  The smaller of the three baskets whips up in a jiffy.  Really.  Then, after, you feel much better.

A couple of weeks ago I made some felted macarons and I was having a hard time trying to wrap them up.  Nothing looked right.  Our good friends have a little girl that I have knit a few things for and her birthday is coming up.  She loves to pretend and I thought that she could pretend she has a little bakery with a few knitted items including the macarons.  So now she will have a basket of goodies including a cute little cupcake that comes out of its wrapping - you can find it here.  (beeknits)  I have made a few of the larger cupcakes (the one out of the basket) for my etsy shop.  I call it the inside out knitted cupcake because when you turn it inside out it becomes a head of lettuce.

So I will pack this up for our little friend.  I can just hear her sweet little voice now - pretending to give her daddy a little goody - there now I am starting to feel a little bit better - a little bit -
hmmm ... I may need to knit a blanket...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inspiration Stone

Last year, my girlfriend and I took a course on time management and making time to realize your dreams.  Part of the process that day was to make a collage, from magazine clippings, that illustrated all the aspects of your life that were important to you or that you wanted to focus on.  This is my collage, that sits on my desk, and that provides a much needed focus on the days that I feel uninspired.

Last week, I had a very uninspiring(or so I thought) trip to a discount electronics outlet.  Helana was at volleyball games but she needed supplies for what seemed to me to be a very complicated science project.  I had a list, sort of, of components I needed to pick up from rows and rows, and boxes and boxes, of bits and pieces.  Just as I was checking out, I spied these glass stones.  They turned out to be recycled parts of magnifying glasses and they were selling them for a few dollars each!  Hmmm....

I thought it would be neat to continue that idea of encouragement in a paper weight sort of way.  A portable little stone to act as decoration ... and inspiration.

1 - I used a compass to make a circle to fit the bottom of the flat side of the stone.
2 - I went through old magazines and cut out inspiring images and words.
3 - I arranged the larger background first then added my words.
4 - I put on modgepodge onto the bottom of my stone and the top of my collage.
5 - I added the collage face up and pressed it into the bottom, pushing out air pockets.
6 - after a few hours it dries and the collage is revealed in a beautiful magnification.

After a couple of inspiration collages I decided to make a simple one with a monogram.  From left going clockwise - I started with my supplies (scissors, magazine clippings, paper scraps, compass, modgepodge and the magnifying glass pieces). I cut out a background from thicker paper so I needed to cut a slit in it so that it would fit the curve from the bottom of this particular glass piece (I found the other glass pieces were more flat on one side and did not need a slit cut for a curve).  I used a paper doily cut in pie shapes to fit the base of my collage.  After gluing all the elements you must wait for your collage to dry.  It looks very milky and, at first, I was afraid they might not work out.  But they did.

bottom of stones                                                 dried stones revealed

Matching felt was cut for the bottom of the stones.

Now when I need to corral all those papers (including volleyball schedules and electronic supplies!) ... I can still try to stay inspired!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wrap it up Thursday - Wrapping up a Bracelet

I am being a little sneaky today.  Wrap it up should really be about packages and wrapping ideas but I am feeling uninspired today - and the weather isn't helping.  But - I still think these WRAP bracelets, made by us,  still sparkle in the low light.  I can't tell you how exciting it was - last month when my husband was away for work- and the girls and I crafted.  It's been awhile but we were so motivated by the great tutorials we found - how could we not help ourselves.  I was in heaven.  Watching movies and making things - with my girls.  It happens less and less these days and so this meant the world to me.  And it is so easy, effective and relatively inexpensive.

For friendship bracelets all you need is a embroidery floss and a clipboard. Cheap.  For the other bracelets - from our local bead shop - soft leather cording (about a foot a yard), waxed thread (a few dollars a handful), sweet unusual buttons (50cents), bottles of beads (about $1.75 to $3.75 depending on the type of bead) and finally from the hardware store - hex nuts at 15 cents each and brass and silver ball chains at around 50 cents a foot.

For a few dollars each you can create these ...

1 - This is where we began.  You can make this bracelet with different coloured threads and really change the look.  This is from makebraceletsblog video tutorial

2 /4 /6- These are from Honestly WTF  and they are simple to make and gorgeous

3 - This is another version (Honestly WTF)- on our to-make list

5 - This occupied everyone's time after camp this summer.  This purl bee tutorial is terrific.

7/8 - Finally another on our to-make list from Honestly WTF using the hex nuts, all on their own.

So there you have it - a good movie, popcorn and a few supplies and you can wrap up a wrist-full of bracelets.  

Thanks for letting me diverge from the plan today- just a little :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Note Wreath

I started with my some of my collection of notes from my family.  I scanned them and printed them out on watercolour paper that I had washed in valentine colours.

I took a styrofoam wreath and wrapped it in yarn.  With pink push pins,  I took heart cut-outs of my letters and pinned them along the wreath in one direction.

It hangs by my desk and reminds me of all the love we share - notes from special occasions.  Now, instead of in a box, this is a gentle reminder of sentiments from my loved ones - throughout the year.

Helana and Ali Valentine DIY Roundup

In case you missed it here are a few valentine projects that I worked on the past month.

I am hoping to post a DIY for a love wreath later today.

Have a great Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Rufus!

Rufus, our Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, turns 6 today.  Rufus and I kind of have a love/hate relationship.  I love him and sometimes I think - he hates me.  I write this with a smile on my face because, of course, dogs can't hate.  Truly, they only are full of love - and in Rufus's case a great deal of love ... especially when you have a treat.  He is completely motivated by treats and walks and that's okay.  He LOVES the girls and as he ages he sometimes slips and gives me a little love.  

Happy Birthday Rufus - I have a couple of treats coming your way...

now show me some love...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Making a Faux Knit Vase

I have kept a scrap piece of paper with the works of Annette Bugansky for many years.  Porcelain and ceramic made to look like knit fabric, in the shape of mugs and vases.  So, when I saw the February Issue of Country Living, I was completely inspired.  I must admit I am a sucker for any image of chunky knits.  I love balls of yarn piled high and cables, knit stitches, needles, textures and colours.  The faux knit decor items shown here are from reshape studio and the homeport.  

It made me think.  Is there something I can do now until I can get my hand on one of these lovely pieces? And so ...  The faux knit ... or should I say faux, faux knit vase was born.

I had a vase that really wasn't my favourite.  A left over from an ancient flower shop delivery.  I also had another (yes another - I know I have quite a few) knit project that I started but still didn't have a home for.  It was a cotton knit wash cloth that I though I might package up with some homemade soap that I still have yet to make.  The amazing thing was the washcloth fit around my vase perfectly ... so why not play around and see if I could make a fake knit vase with a real knit ... does that make any sense?

Starting top left and going clockwise 

(1)  I started off with my cotton washcloth, my ugly vase, some extra yarn for sewing the sides of the cloth, modpodge to apply the cloth (and cover as well), flat white spray paint and some clips to hold the cloth in place when it dries.
(2) and (3) My washcloth needed to be stitched at the short sides to create a tube
(4)  Before I pulled on the knit tube I modpodged the outside of the vase.

Starting top left and going clockwise

(1)  Once I had a layer of modpodge, I slid on my knit cover.  (2)  I then started to add modpodge on top and stretched out my cover as I went along  (3) I used large clips to hold the cover at the top of the vase and when I realized the shape of my tube wasn't a perfect fit for my vase, I used plastic wrap to hold in around the bottom until it dried  (4)  I  added layers and layers of paint, each only a very light coat until I thought there was enough coverage.  You wouldn't want to use wool yarn because the fibres would make a mess sticking out through the paint finish.  Even with the cotton yarn, I still needed to do one coat of modpodge on top of a couple layers of paint, just to make a smoother finish.  It was those paint layers on top of the modpodge that recreated the smoother finish you would find on the real porcelain or ceramic.  I would like to try it with a tighter knit and see if it is even more effective.

When it finally dried and I had added about all the paint I could without ruining it - I was done.  I won't say it is perfect.  It was fun to try and other than half a jar of modpodge and a can of spray paint I'm really not out any expensive supplies.  When I added these beautiful equadorian roses, the project kind of came to life.  I just love that hit of colour with the texture of the vase, sitting on the pale blue.

I'm still keeping a knitted mug and vase on my wish list but for now I am going to enjoy this burst of happiness on this (almost) Valentine's day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wrap it up Thursday - Last Minute Valentine Round-up

 Sweet - Valentine Pouches.  I simply love The Purl Bee.  I was in my glory when I went to their shop in SoHo and I have made many of their projects that they share on line.  I think this is one of the sweetest ones yet and although it is one of the more ambitious projects in this valentine round-up, it is still very doable.  The project is laid out with beautiful simplicity and even if you make just a couple for your sweeties (instead enough for a whole classroom!) it is sure to bring a smile.

A gumball necklace. I made this last year for my girls.    It is the presentation that makes it work. So simple and so charming.  This project is from One Charming Party.

 If all you do is cut up a simple banner like this and hang it up - it's a party.  This is from Rebecca Cooper Photography.

Here is a simple re-wrap - how easy is that.  Very, very clever - and I think so realistic from Living Lucurto.

I also did this last year.  Another rewrap.  This is from Eat, Drink, Chic. Just a simple way to dress up a favourite local coffee shop take out.

This is my favourite this year.  From Sweet Muffin Suite, another simple download.  I have another idea of what to put in, instead of the pencil but we'll just have to wait.  I don't want to spoil the surprise.

I think it is so wonderful that all these artists and crafters share their artwork.  It makes last-minute gift giving  easier ...but still special.

Plug in your printer, fire up your sewing needle and get out the scissors.  This valentine's day can be all wrapped up in no time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Felted Macaron Tutorial

These felted macarons were inspired by a visit to a beautiful pastry shop -

(Here is our instagram )                                   
 -  and a knitting lesson.

The girls took a knitting class - actually kind of had a mini - stitch and bitch - at a local shop about 4 years ago now.  One of the first projects a young knitter can try are these oreo cookies.  Here is one we have left from our craft sessions. (on the right)

Well, I had some pretty pink cookie layers knitted up sitting around the craft table (for 4 years!) without a project in sight.  I thought that maybe if I tried felting them in a hot water cycle in my washing machine I might be able to make them look more like a macaron - and lo and behold - it worked!

If you want, you can follow the original directions for the oreo cookie from here.

In a nutshell - this is what I did.

Felted Macaron Supplies
Bits and pieces of macaron coloured WOOL yarn leftovers.
Knitting needles - I used the heart shaped ones I made here - they are a size US #7
Large sewing needle used for knitting projects

Making the macaron layers

Your pattern is simple - 8 stitches cast-on and 32 rows of garter stiches - or 16 ridges. (1)
Leave about an 8 inch tail after binding off and run that through the ridges on one long side. (2)
Cinch these stitches together so they meet at the top and stitch through to secure. (3)

Now stitch the two short ends together to make a little cap shape. (4)
Turn it inside out and now run the needle and thread through the ridges on the open bottom and cinch (5)
After you pull tight you will create a ball shape (6)

If your layer is going to be the centre of your macaron you might want to stitch it more flat (7)
Your flat layer is ready to be stitched into a macaron between two other layers (8)

Here are the layers ready to be stitched up.  I think they look like all those knitted poufs that are all the rage.  Only dollhouse sized.

Here are the layers of a macaron being stitched together.(Clockwise from top left)  I didn't stitch the outer light brown circles together to make them flat (just the brown centre) - when you wash them those outer layers will be puffier - just like a real macaron.

Here are two little guys ready for their hot wash.

These pictures illustrate how they come out of the wash and the final product.  
On the left you can see the puffiness.  While still damp, I flatten them out with pressure, to be more macaron shaped (right picture)
As you can see, the lilac macaron on the far left never really felted properly. Not enough wool content in the yarn - but I think that is okay.  I love the colour and the texture is kind of neat too.  It's fun just to pick some yummy colours and experiment.

 I thought they looked sweet with another lonesome craft project - this knitted mug - I got the pattern from here.  (pom pom emporium) I mean - some might say - what are you going to do with felted macarons.  Not sure - cute little pin cushions (I actually use the mug to hold some of my knitting needles) ... maybe a gift for a toddler's play kitchen ... 

who knows ...  maybe ...

just because ...

Happy almost Valentine's Day!

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