The Adventure Continues.....

 

 

Monday
Jul062015

My Craft Space and Vlogging!


 Current Projects (right):  Ernie Sweater for a college friend, Scrubbies for a client in Hawaii, and roses for a store in Cashiers, NC

I realized it has been a while since I have posted, and then in checking the site I confirmed that it has been almost a year!  Egad!  I am easing back into blog posts with a quick tour of my crafting space as I work on some more lengthier projects and posts. Remember, if there is a specific technique you would like to know more about, contact me, post a reply here, etc!

 

For two years now I have been living in a new apartment that has long, slender bedrooms, and I have turned one into a craft room.  Everything just fits with some careful organization (which can look slopppy at times, but I know where everything is....... for the most part).  Here is a tour in pictures.

 

First, an overall look of the room.  you can see that I have maximized wall space, every inch of where the wall hits the floor has a cabinet, table, desk, etc.  

 

 

I have lovely Ikea cubbies to organize my yarn stash and library of pattern books.  It also has a few drawers where I keep fabric.  There is no good spot for my iron and ironing board, so it generally hangs out over here. overhead, I store odds and ends, but especially packing and shipping supplies for my Etsy store 

I have moved yarn for current projects behind my sewing machine, so it is a bit crowded over there

Just down from the stash is my sewing corner, with maching and thread. This is a great sewing table from Wal Mart, though you can probably find it other places as well.  It collapses down to half it's size, you can store the sewing maching inside of it if you need to camouflage it and use it as a table, I though that could be a space saver, but honestly I use it so much it's not worth closing it up.

 

 

In this picture: self-healing mat, ruler, and rotary cutter for fabric, swift and ball winder for yarn, and multiple lights set up for pictures

 The other side of the room:  great table, I believe I got it at JoAnns online, for cutting fabric.  This started as a fabric table, but it is multipurpose for me:  I use it for winding yarn, cutting fabric, laying out new projects, and photographing finished items for Etsy and other marketing material. 

 

 

 Adjacent to the cutting table is my work desk, where I am currently writing this blog post, and where most of the technological side of the crafting happens.  Etsy posts, photography cleanup, blogging, and soon vlogging (see below).  Also, when Etsy orders come in, a lot of time is spent printing receipts, communicating with customers, etc.

 

I posted recently about the bow ties I now make, and a friend said, "Let me know when you make a YouTube video explainaing that!"  That lit a spark within me that perhaps I should jump into the fray that is tutorial video blogging.  I have started a YouTube channel,  just got a tripod for my phone, and have posted exactly one video, essentially a vlogging version of the tour you just read through.  Again, if you have things you would like me to post about, either in video or print, please send me a message, respont to this post, or post on my Facebook page!  

 

Thanks all, and may your adventures in crafting bring you joy, happiness, and satisfaction.

Wednesday
Jul232014

Getting my Masters..... in Knitting! 

Current projects:  Using up more yarn and fabric stash, my first adjustable bow tie is on Etsy (yay!), and I am wading through my cotton stash making fasionable dish and washcloths.  Look for them on Etsy soon. 

 

Many fellow knitters in diverse knitting groups I attend have been casually remarking, "You would be an excellent candidate for the Masters program."  What's this, you say?  That was my reaction as well.  You can get a Masters in knitting?  Well, while this is not what many might think of as a traditional degree, sitting in classes, taking exams, etc., it constitutes of many of the same ideas as a university degree: research, projects, written papers, and in the end demonstrating a mastery of a certain set of skills.

The program is offered through The Knitting Guild Association, or TKGA.  The Master Hand Knitting Program consists of three levels, of which I am just starting level one.  The course fee gets you the requisite instructions fro your level, including outlines of swatches you have to knit, questions you have to answer about said swatches, a report you must write (in level one it is on blocking and care of knits), and a project (level one: mittens).  You must do extensiveThe main research books I am using- a little light reading. research as you go, and a list of references must be included in your final submission (see, my English students, I was cramming all that information on a Works Cited page down your throats for a reason, you will use it again!).  The final notebook with swatches in plastic sheets, properly blocked and labeled, as well as answers to all questions, are sent in to the TKGA Council, who will send it back with notes, critiques, and things to improve upon.  I have talked to someone who said she got eight pages of notes on her first try, the second was down to 4.  When a level of competency has been approved, you are allowed to move on to the next level.  


my first two swatches- I have not blocked them yet!I am just starting on this journey, and needless to say I am nervous, even though I consider myself a fairly accomplished knitter.  I am trying very hard not to over-think things.  I have finished two swatches, and justwrote the majority of my blocking report tonight.  I would like to blog my progress as it goes: while I will not document everything, as that would be giving away information you should be enrolled in the program to get access to, Some of the challenges and interesting tidbits will probably make their way here.

 

For instance, fun trivia I have uncovered in my blocking research:

 

  • Novelty yarns (changing thicknesses, lots of glittery elements) should probably not be blocked.
  • Most synthetic (man-made) yarns, what you see is what you get- they will not change much with blocking.
  • It is best to wash your hand knits in dishwashing detergent rather than regular detergent, it has a lower pH
  • In a pinch, especially when travelling, wash your hand knits using your shampoo!
  • Wool felts in hot water only if agitated-  so don't swish it around a lot.

 

 

And those are just a few things, what fun!  

So what will be the end result of all this?  Well, I will know a heck of a lot more than I do now, and while I will may not have the same piece of parchment I have from Temple for my Masters in Religious Studies (that is crammed on a bookshelf somewhere anyway)- you earn the prestigious Master's Pin from the TKGA; I like to say I will earn huge "street cred" in the knitting world.  

 

May your adventures also help you make the craft world your oyster.

Wednesday
Jul162014

Ice Princess Cape

Current Projects:

Using up my yarn and fabric stash, I am working on some button cowls.  Pictures in the next post.

 

I have been MIA while trying to recover fron an ear and sinus infection: even though I still feel the ground rolling under my feet, I wanted to post about the project I just finished for my niece.  When I asked my sister what I could make for my niece's birthday (she just turned 5), she replied something along the lines of, "She's really into Frozen right now, could you make her a cape like Elsa's when she goes to the ice castle?"  The challenge was set.

http://mwp4.me/cartoons/elsa-frozen-2859/

I knew I wanted to make her something lacey, yet durable;  possibly with a snowflake pattern; and not too heavy as it is currently the middle of the summer.  Lastly, something with relatively easy care, at least machine washable, is a must for kids' clothing.  I searched patterns online, thinking about a button closure cape, something tied, perhaps, and eventually decided to somewhat make it up as I went.

 

most pictures are thumbnails, click pic for larger versionAbout the same time, I came across a poncho pattern that was being tried out at the yarn store I work at part time.  The poncho was for an adult, but I really liked the look of the lacey waves the pattern created.  I decided to use a lighter weight yarn and smaller needles to reduce the size to a hopefully acceptable 5-year old proportion, and picked out some nice pima cotton, dk weight, in a great shade of light blue for an ice princess.  I chose needles 2-3 sizes bigger than what the ball band recommended (in this case size 8), as the original pattern did the same with worsted weight yarn.


front tiered cast off

My modifications to turn a poncho into a cape were as follows:  This was knit in the round, so I kept the pattern the same through one repeat of the lacey yarn overs and knit 2 togethers, then cast off only one repeat of the 18 stitch pattern repeat: this would be the center of the front.  I then knit back and forth for a couple more repeats of the row pattern, and cast off a stitch patern repeat on each side.  I did this again, creating the tiered/staggered look of the front.  This meant I had half of the original stitch pattern repeats still on the needles, and I contunued until what was now the back was 24" long, which I had estimated would be about to my niece's knees.  4 rows of purl and a bind off completed the main knitting.  The original poncho pattern called for a crochet top, which I did, but also included a decorative picot edging to the top to make it look more like a snowflake/ice cape.  

The next step was to block the cape so the lace pattern would be nice and evenly spread.  This is a really important step in knitted work, especially if you are working in lace-type patterns, or fair isle where you  change colors. Stitches can bunch or tension can change as you knit, this helps your yarn set in the right place.  I will try to have a post about blocking in the near future.  Essentially, I let the cape soak in lukewarm water, drained it, lightly pressed it in a towel (DO NOT RING OUT YOUR WORK, you can crush your stitches) and laid it out to pin in place.  I have awesome interlocking blocking pads from KnitPicks, but there are many ways you can do this-  a stretched out towel, etc.  I love the pads because I can arrange them in any size I need, and I know it won't move around on me, as a towl or quilt could.  An important step is to shape the piece to the measurements you want, and pin it with many pins somewhat close together, to keep the edges from drying with a bowed look between stitches.  This cape was supposed to have a scalloped edge at the bottom, and blocking helps bring that out.  If you check out the pictures above as I worked ont he piece, and below when it is blocked and finished, you can see the difference.

For anyone reading this thinking, do I have to do this every time I wash something hand knit for me?  The answer is no, this is essential for the first time a knit piece gets wet to "finish" it, but you may want to take some care after you wash a hand knit piece to dry it flat in the shape it should be, to give it a chance at a long life.

The next challenge to tackle was to put snowflakes on the cape so there would be no doubt of what I was trying to make for my niece.  I found some great crochet thread, white with a glitter/sparkle band threaded through it, and hunted for crochet snowflake patterns.  I used a couple I found on about.com, and one ball of crochet thread produced 11 big snowflakes (actually much bigger than I intended, but I like how they look), and I made up my own pattern for smaller snowflakes to accent the front.  I stitched them in place, and the look was complete!

My sister has already sent me photos and videos of my niece enjoying her cape, I have included one picture here.  It came out a little big in the neck, I was guessing and knew that would probably be the case, but it gives her room to dramatically whip off the cape and toss it in the air at the appropriate moments when she is acting out the movie.  I'm ecstatic that she is enjoying it so much.

I just put a listing on Etsy for anyone who would like to order an ice princess cape for their little one-  as you can see, a lot of work went into it, so let me know if you would like me to make one, or try it on your own, it was fun!

May your crafting carry you aloft over the waves of a busy life.

Wednesday
Jul092014

Expanding ideas for Cystic Fibrosis fundraising through craftwork

Current projects:  Elsa-like cape for my niece (it's being blocked, pictures coming soon)

Rose stuff: see below!

 

My rose sales have been going well, every year as I gear up for my Great Strides CF walk (see Why I Raise Money for Cystic Fibrosis Research) I sell many crochet rose pins and hairclips (see backs pictured on right), especially at my church and the school at which I work.  over the past two years, I have sold over 100 each year, raising quite a bit for the CFF, as I donate half of the sales to this worthy organization.  This year I raised over $2,000 and counting, in no small part to my rose sales and talks about CF in my community.

Sarah just turned 5 last Saturday, and I am rededicating my efforts to developing other ways to sell the crochet roses, or other products with roses on them.  "65 Roses" has become the name for Cystic Fibrosis, especially for those young children with the condition who find the technical name hard to pronounce.  As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on rose-print bowties, and very excited with the results.  

Another new product: a variation on a theme, if you will, are roses on headbands.  A coworker requested this, and the result is very cute, I have added them to my Etsy Site.  I am looking forward to other items I can attach them to, or other ways they can by presented, let me know if you have ideas.

 

May your crafting sailboat carry you through the stressful seas of life.

Tuesday
Jul082014

Bow Ties!!!

Hello all, it's been a while since I have posted here (yes, almost a year, I know, I know), life has been beyond hectic.  Teaching all new subjects this past year, moving across campus, as well as by beloved puppy (yes even at 14 he is still my puppy) struggling through health issues and eventually having to be put to sleep in the beginning of June.  

 

I am committing myself to posting more regularly starting this summer, and will need to catch my readers up on many things.  It will take a few blog posts to sum up what I have been working on lately, so I thought I'd start with the most recent item: BOW TIES.

 

This was a suggestion from my mom.  As I furiously crochet roses for CF research (see "Why I Raise Money for Cystic Fibrosis Research" above), she suggested I make something men could buy  and wear (more women wear the roses pins/heir clips).  She mentioned bow ties, as my dad loves to wear them.  I happen to have some great rose fabric I bought years ago in many colors.  I looked up tutorials and patterns for bow ties, and the best one I found was from a blog called Sew Like My Mom.  Click on the blog title to go to the tutorial-  it is great, and the pattern printed out to scale, so I could start right away.  I'm including some pictures of the finished product, as well as the other colors out of which I hope to make more ties.  Now to figure out what I should charge for them-  if you have any suggestions let me know!  I donate half of the sale of rose items to the CFF (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation).

 

I am not including pictures of the step by step process, because I feel Sew Like My Mom has already done an excellent job of this.  Please check out her blog.

 

Oh, this was also my first experience in  trying to tie a bow tie.  I found the directions and GIFs at this wikihow extremely helpful.

As soon as I have this up on my Etsy site, I will let you all know.  I hope to have several in different colors done soon, and may even try more that are not in rose fabric, I have tons of fabric for which I need to find a use.

 

May your adventures in crafting bring you happiness and joy.

 

My first rose bow tie

my first attempt to tie a bow tie!

The other colors of rose fabric with which I hope to attempt this