Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thing-a-Day, Day 28-- Red Ornament

Here is my final TAD project, an ornament I finished this evening.

I'm going to miss TAD!
Soon I will be less busy and I'll be writing some tutorials, as promised. So I hope you will drop in from time to time.

Thing-a-Day Wrap-up

Due to the flu and taxes, I got a few days behind on Thing-a-Day, and just now am catching up. Here are my things from the TAD blog:

Day 25, a simple scarf:
Sorry to not have posted for a few days, but my kids have been sick, and I’ve been sick, and we did our taxes. I did manage to finish this scarf on the 25th.
It’s about 7 feet long, and it’s folded up a bit because I had just worn it out in a snowstorm today and the ends are both wet. This was a mindless TV project, great for someone with the flu.
Day 26--Which is more fun, kitties or taxes?

Kitties, of course!
We spent the day getting everything ready to take to our tax lady, and during the mayhem and unhappiness of that, a package arrived for Seymour the cat. It’s a hand-knitted mouse made with homespun from my friend Mullerslanefarm, on Craftster. She grows her own catnip, and Seymour loves her mice better than anything. Here is his initial reaction to his new toy.
I had a chance to start another easy project yesterday. This is a Knifty Knitter loom with one strand of novelty yarn, and a strand of Caron simply soft. I’m not so sure I like it, but I don’t want to frog it. I think it will go into a tote bag and be carried out to the van for those times when I have to wait for someone and need something to do.

I'll be back soon with my day 28 project.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things 23 and 24 --- Ply, ply again

Most of my family is down with the flu right now, myself included, so I'm going to just copy my TAD blog posts about this yarn experiment tonight.

Thing-a-Day 23:
A couple of days ago, I started experimenting with plying yarn from old acrylic sweaters. Here’s the pic of my first blue-green yarn attempt. I did it all wrong, and someone over on the TAD blog explained to me what I did wrong. Thanks, Pat! I read your comment before I made too much more wildly unbalanced yarn.
In the first yarn, I did not put twist into the two frogged sweater yarns before plying them. This yarn is not useable. I wound it onto a pencil for now, till I decide its fate.

Here, I have two more balls of the sweater yarn, and I twisted them each individually on the spindle. I have been doing a little research, and I found out that if you don’t have a tensioned lazy kate, you can keep your yarn balls under upside-down, heavy terracotta flowerpots and have the yarn come up through the hole. This is a great idea, but I had two problems with it. Number one, there are no such flowerpots in the house, and my kids are sick, so I can not leave the house. Number two, I get interrupted a lot, so I have to leave my work often. I could not just pick up two flowerpots with yarn balls underneath each one, While holding a spindle, and put them up out of the reach of kids or pets withouth making a tangled mess. Since we have our own business, and I am in charge of dealing with emergencies, I might need to leave my work at any time.
What I ended up doing is taking two semi-disposable containers from the cupboard and making my own weighted yarn-holders from them. To make a hole in the lids, I gently folded the lid in half so I could fit it into a hole punch’s jaws. There are two holes; I just used the smoother one to feed my yarn through. To wieght them, I grabbed some glass marbles and dumped them into the containers until I was satisfied that the containers were heavy enough not to move around, leaving enough room for a smallish ball of yarn. I imagine that you could use anything heavy that would not snag or dirty your yarn for this purpose. Now I’m plying again, and if I have to stop, I scoop up my containers, stack them, and put them out of harm’s way.
I am twisting the plyed yarn in the opposite direction of the two single plys this time…

…and the yarn is not twisting up on itself much, so I’ll take that as a good sign.

There is very little info out there about plying recycled yarn, and I am an absolute beginner at spinning, so your input and ideas are warmly welcomed.
Thing-a-Day 24:
Kinda boring today. I have the flu, but there’s no way I’m missing a day of TAD if I can help it.
I did manage to ply the practice skein (purple and blue) today. It is commercial variegated acrylic yarn spun up with the leftover blue from the first skein. Pretty soon I’ll be ready to do this with wool.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thing-a-Day 22 --- hat on a knitting loom

Hi all. I'm not feeling very well today, and I did start spinning some yarns to try plying together, but it's more a day for sit-down crafts. I might finish my new yarn tonight before I go to bed, but not in time to put it in the TAD blog. Or I might set it aside altogether until I have time to make this cardboard charka and spin faster than by hand:

Meanwhile, I curled up in a chair and made the above hat. I don't remember the brand, but it is a soft fluffy polyamide yarn and I used two strands. It was very fast to make on the green Knifty Knitter loom.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thing-a-Day 21-- Frugal Eco-yarn Experiment

(Edited to add: Someone over at the TAD blog kindly let me know that I need to twist my individual strands of yarn first, then ply them together by spinning in the opposite direction. So my next experiment may yield a usable yarn. )

Two of my children are down with the flu, so I'm going to copy my post from the TAD blog verbatim tonight. I may add more details later, or in subsequent postings.

As you may know from an earlier post of mine this week, I just tried spinning yarn for the first time. I do believe I’ve created a monster, and I might need to convince my hubby that a spinning wheel will be a good investment.

Today, I decided to try an experiment with some yarn from old sweaters. The sweaters had been unloved nineties confections from the back of my closet, and they all frogged apart really well last year, when I was on a recycled yarn kick. What I did not like about these yarns is that they had no twist in them. So I just wound them up on my ball-winder and promptly forgot about them until now.

The multi-brown one is cotton, and I thought I might make it a workable yarn if I plyed it with some plain brown worsted. So I tried that. I think on the next try I’d better reverse the direction of the twist, but I like the concept.

Next, I took the yarn from two of my old acrylic sweaters and combined it. Neither sweater yarn had any twist at all, so it seems like it is plying well (but let it be known that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing yet). This is really a fun TV-watching project on the drop spindle. It would be a whole lot easier with a wheel, but I’m getting the hang of plying the slow way. I like the color of my “new” yarn, and I’m hoping that plying will remove the kinks left in the old yarn from being frogged. I will set the twist in this yarn by wetting it and hanging it to dry once I’m done.

If this works out as hoped, I think that no ugly old sweater will be safe from me. :)

When you think about how many acrylic sweaters must wind up in landills, never to degrade, this lowly synthetic fiber becomes worth another look.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thing-a-day 20 -- Pendant in a hurry

I ended up being quite busy earlier today, and my hubby has a rare evening off from work, so I deciced to make a pendant as quickly as possible, but different from the other pendants I've made during TAD. These beads are from my bead bowl.

I think I should have added one more white bead to each side of the yellow bead, but other than that, I'm pretty happy with it. This seems to be the week for candy colors. I'm glad my bead bowl has so many.

Thing-a-Day 19 --- My first Yarn

I wasn't able to post this last night due to internet issues and my little one not feeling well, but I started learning how to spin today, and this is my first yarn. I feel a new addiction coming on...

This was yesterday's TAD.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thing-a-Day 17 and 18

My two year old has been sick for the last couple of days, so I'm a bit behind in posting here. I did manage to keep posting daily on the TAD blog. In order to catch up, here's a two-fer.

Yesterday I posted these ornaments as a work in progress (next photo down). Here they are as a completed set of six. Each ornament has 16 picots in it. They were really fun to make, even though repetitive after a while.
28-ga wire sticking up everywhere. I use the galvanized stuff from the hardware store, not the copper-based kind from the craft store. The ornaments hold their shape better, and the galvanized is more break-resistant. You have to pull those picots pretty tight. It is maddening to have craft wire break on the last picot.

And here is day 18, a few pendants, one still in progress, and and Ojo de Dios that I started.

I'm not sure whether I'll work on the Ojo more today, or do something else altogether. At any rate, I'll get day 19 in the blog before bedtime. I hope. :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thing-a-Day 16 -- a tiny pendant

I made this teeny pendant today. It did not turn out to be a good day for crafting, but I'm happy I got something done.

It's really little. the next one I make will incorporate larger beads, I think.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thing-a-Day 15-- A beaded Ojo de Dios

I love to do French beaded flowers, but the petals can get quite tedious to make. So I often will work on them on road trips. I use a tool called a beadspinner to rapidly string beads onto wire, and then I wind the loosely strung wire around a bit of cardboard. These are what I take in the car, so I never need to mess with loose beads in a vehicle.

However, I ended up making more than I needed for our most recent road trip, and now I want to use them up. I have a bunch of these:
The beadspinner works very well, and it is FAST! Here's a link to the kind I have:
I have the plastic one--well, three of them, actually--and they are FABULOUS! If you have any application that requires the stringing of massive amounts of beads, you will love this thing! I needed more than one because I sometimes switch colors on my French beading projects, and I like to have several bowls ready for dipping my beading wire into. They are quite reasonably priced.

Without further ado, here's today's project. The winding of an Ojo de Dios is a lot like making a beaded flower petal, only they are normally made of yarn. This one used up a lot of beads! It is as big as my hand, and I hung it up in my kitchen.
I might make a couple more to keep it company on the wall. This was fun, and surprisingly fast to make. I spent just under and hour on it. That includes my estimated stringing time, thanks to the beadspinner.

Thing-a-Day 14--I don't know what they are...

Yesterday morning, my craft room belched forth another baggie of irresistable craft supplies. I bought the rainbow acrylic pieces in San Deigo, CA sometime in the late eighties or early nineties. The acrylic rivoli stones were from a long-ago "bosses bead bag" from Fire Mountain Gems, also purchased in the early nineties. They'd been languishing in my craft room for a very long time.

I added some really, really bright acrylic yarn, and a pom-pom tool:

And these guys were born!

But what are they? Owlets? Aliens from outer space? Owlets from outer space?

They seem fond of the odd parlor games to be found in our house, so they have a wack sense of humor.

They were really fun to make, but now I'm thinking about buying another crafting tool, the Clover Brand pom pom maker. The one I was using produces a sloppy, uneven pom pom. I may try this again sometime this year. It's be fun to have a few of these guys peeking out from the branches of next year's Christmas tree.

This is a link to the Clover pom pom maker, to show what they look like:

It looks like this item will make a fuller, more consistent pom pom. Maybe I'll talk myself into getting one for Easter crafting. Yeah, that's it! I have an excuse to buy one now! I'll do a comparison post later on... :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thing-a-Day 13-- A Skullyflower!

I have had some really cool quilting scraps that I got in a swap a few weeks back sitting on my desk, waiting to be turned into tiny crafts. I thought I might be able to make a flower brooch out of four square fabric scraps, and this is my first attempt. I was following around a toddler while sewing this, so it's not as even as I'd like, but it was a quick and satisfying craft project, and after I make a few more, there will be a tutorial.

Watch for the tuts from my Thing-a-Day projects in March; I'll have a bit more time then.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thing-a-Day, Feb 12th

Today ended up being a busy day, with little time for crafting. I did get these pendants done early this morning. The top one is made with Fireline as the stringing material, and it came out better than yesterday's attempt. The bottom one is Fireline surrounded by an outer row worked in 28 ga. wire. The inner pendant was getting floppy, so it needed a wire armature to keep it's shape. I'm not entirely happy with it, but I will revisit the idea in a smaller pendant.

I just bought some thinner, 6lb test Fireline, and I'm going to try some denser beadwork now that I have thread that will (I hope) fit though the skinny needles I like for beading. More on that later this weekend or early next week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fireline vs. wire -- Thing-a-Day 11

First try--Fireline:

Second try: 28 Ga. wire:

Comparison shot:

I have some 8lb test Fireline that has been sitting around here for a while, waiting for me to try it. I thought this French pendant tutorial would be a good thing to learn on, but I wanted to use only materials available in my bowl, so mine ended up being quite a bit different.

Here's the tutorial in PDF format. It's in French, but very easy to follow:

After making this piece, I have mixed feelings about Fireline. It is very easy to work with, and mistakes can be ripped back quickly without hurting the thread that I can tell. I wish I had 6lb instead of 8 lb, because I can't thread it on the beading needles I have. It would've been faster and easier to string this with a needle, but it did work without one; it just took me longer. At first, I was delighted, until I got further out in the design, then it got floppy. I like the tactile feel of the beadwork on Fireline, but the loss of shape really bothered me on this pendant.

I was determined to make a pendant this morning, so I tried it again, but this time I used the 28 ga. wire I favor for my star projects. It was a lot more difficult to make, but it holds its shape nicely. I wish there were a way to combine the tactile niceness of the Fireline beadwork with the rigidity of the wire-based beadwork. I do like how the wire one looks and I will make more, just not when I'm tired. Kinking wire was a huge problem on this piece.

I think I will try Fireline again with bicones, which the pattern called for in the first place. :)

An early Valentine from my eight-year old son

This is far too awesome not to share!

I'm not sure what my thing-a-day is going to be today. The day is an open book and I am running on no sleep, so who knows what will pop out of my brain. We had loud banging and crashing thunderstorms and wind last night, and I get super-vigilant in that kind of weather. We had a tree land on out house last summer and put holes in the roof, and now a certain type of roaring wind wakes me up in an instant. So...*yawn*...I'm tired.

Whatever it is, it'll be in the blog before I go to bed tonight. :o)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sweater vests into a hoodie--Thing-a-Day 10

A few weeks ago, I was scouting the thrift stores looking for sweaters to reconstruct, when I saw these two cotton sweater vests that looked like they would work well together. They were on the quarter item table, so I grabbed them. I wasn't sure how I wanted to do the neckline of my project, so I waited on it for a while, then remembered I had some green turtleneck-type jersey fabric that would work well as a neckline and cuffs. I wanted to try making a hoodie, though, and did not have a pattern.

What I ended up doing is using my favorite toddler raglan sleeve top pattern, Kwik Sew 3149, and instead of using the neckline that comes with the pattern, I traced a hood from a hoodie that fits my little guy, and added on a seam allowance. I had a picture of this, but it failed to upload. Anyhow, here's the raglan sleeves being laid out. I use downloadable patterns from I don't mind taping together tiled patterns. I hate dealing with fragile and cat-enticing tissue patterns much more. This pattern has been used and used and used and still is holding up well. If you go the download route to get this pattern, set your printer for fast draft, to save a ton of ink. The pattern here was printed on fast draft, and as you can see, it worked out fine for my purposes.

A hoodie! I overlapped the two center front sections of the hoodie hood, because my example hoodie was assembled in that way. It made it easier to insert as well. I started serging at the center front, and inserted it just like a regular neckband, other than starting at the front. Now that I am no longer intimidated by the thought of making a hooded garment, my kids and I will have hoodies galore! The green sweater I used for the torso section is darker than it appears here---more of a granny smith apple green.

Action shot! The hood fits, but he took it off as soon as we walked into the store. We were buying juice to drink on our walk. As soon as we went back out, the hood went back on and stayed on.
I'm going to look for more cotton sweaters so I can make more of these. I screwed this one up, but made it work anyway. The sleeves were accidentally sewn on backwards. Front sleeve notch, to back shirt notch, et al. I didn't catch it till I was sewing the front shirt section on. Since I used to work in a garment factory with a cutting crew that was frequently hung over, I learned how to jam together pattern pieces that don't quite line up. LOL. Anyhow, it worked out okay in a child's pattern. Little kids are basically cylinder-shaped and the front and back sections are not hugely different in this pattern. In an adult pattern, my boo-boo would be really evident. I'd like to see how this hoodie idea looks when sewn together the right way. Maybe later this week there will be more recons. It was fun.

Thing-a-Day for Feb 9th

I was playing around with the beads in my bowl yesterday, and designed these earrings. I was going for a lacy effect. I think I will try them in several different colors. There may be a tutorial for these later on.

After I finished my daily thing, I was still in a crafty mood, so I made the rest of this stuff:
Heart pendants, another pair of star earrings, and a snowflaky-pendant thingie.
I have my Feb. 10th thing done, and will be posting it after I have a chance to get my pics uploaded. :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thing-a-day for Feb. 8th

Here are the star earrings I made this morning over coffee. They are a little gift for a friend. They were really fun to make and went together quickly. I was tempted to make a pair in every color, but that'd be crafty overkill. *laughs*
I'm not sure what tomorrow's craft will be yet. I had a good meal out with my family, and I'm tired and content. I'll roll with whatever idea comes along.

Thing-a-Day project 7--a turtle family!

I made these little critters yesterday, for Thing-a-Day. They are constructed like the hearts, with an eyepin holding the center bead, and 28 ga wire for the outer beads and turtle toes. After I make a few more, I'll put up a tutorial for them. These turtles are pendants, but they could be made as earrings as well.

I'm doing some little star earrings today, and hopefully will get them done and posted to Thing-a-Day and here before bedtime tonight.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A little help with photos, and my day 6 project

If, like me, you don't have a very good camera, or the money to spend on a light box, you can make your photos of small craft projects show up more clearly without breaking the bank. First, get a touch-light from the hardware store, or at Walmart. The touchlights are good to have on hand for stormy weather anyhow. This one uses 4 AA batteries. Hang it up on a wall where you can find it in the dark, when you are not using it for picture-taking.
Next, get a plastic shoebox, like this one. With any luck, you may already have one in your home and not have to spend any money on it at all. Place your shoebox bottom on top of your touchlight upside down, like this:
Now, add a piece of white or off-white fabric or a piece of paper to act as a light-diffuser. After laying your light diffuser on top of the box, arrange your craft(s) and take your pictures. The light from below should eliminate the need for flash, keeping your photo from being ruined. Give it a try---it helps.
Now, here is my craft for today, these beaded hearts. I'm still working out the design, but they are fun to do. Once I can explain how I do this coherently, there will be a tutorial, if you like.

A close-up of the red one:

I might get more beading done this evening. These are the first projects out of the new bowl of beads.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thing-a-Day for Feb 5th

I didn't have time to craft anything yet today, so my thing was these photos. I had so much fun making beady things with the last bowl of beads that I went through my craftroom to find more unsorted mixed beads. I found an embarrassment of riches...

I used to live in a very, very small town, and all my craft supplies came by mail. While I lived there I got hooked on ordering Bosses Bead Bags from Fire Mountain Gems. I couldn't always use everything, so I accumulated bag after bag of "leftovers".

This is a good time for me to start using them up. I can't really lay out big projects at the table because I have a very busy and curious two year old. So I work at the counter, while I'm cooking dinner or watching something in the oven. A bowl of beads at the back of the counter that I can work from when I have a spare moment is just the thing for me to get my creative jones each day.

While I was digging around in my beads and unfinished projects, I ran across this partially completed earring from the "Bad Day" series I made last year. It sums up the state of my beady largesse nicely:

I might get something made tonight. I really am eager to do something with these beads. I won't be able to finish up in four days this time, though. I think that there are at least two kilos of beads here... :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I used up the beads...well, mostly

I stopped when I realized that most of what was left was cracked or jagged or wonky in some way. Here is what's left:
And what I started with on Sunday:

I made quite a few crosses today, to use up the #1 bugle beads I had so many of:

And dragonflies:

A few more starbursty things:

And here's the group of everything:
This was a really fun midwinter project, and I'm going to do it again soon. I love to make little doodads, and I have more bags of mixed-up beads I've been putting off sorting. The next few days are supposed to be warm, so I will be out with the kids a lot, but on the next rainy day or when the cold weather returns, I'll grab another baggie of beads and see what happens...