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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tips for Making Your First Sewing Kit: A Video Tutorial



September is National Sewing Month!  Hooray!

I don't sew as much as I used to, mostly because I like to keep all of my tools out until I finish a project.  There's a lot of ironing, cutting, pinning, sewing, ironing, cutting some more, pinning again...you get the idea.  With a small apartment, a busy schedule, and a very curious daughter, I just don't think this is my season for big quilt projects.  That doesn't stop me from lusting after books like 50 States Quilt Blocks, though.  GO LOOK AT THOSE BLOCKS RIGHT NOW! READ THAT DESCRIPTION!!!  OH MAN! I'm sorry for the caps but OH MAN! So awesome.

Ahem.

But anyway!  Whether you're one of those super involved quilters with a whole room of the house devoted to your craft, someone who can replace a button or re-hem some pants, or one of those somewhere-in-between sewers, you're going to need a sewing kit.


Enter Martha with her Tip-See Tuesday videos!  Have you subscribed to the Leisure Arts YouTube channel?  You should do that!  There are tutorials and friendly people giving bits of advice just like this one:





  

Please note: Martha is not drunk, or even a little tipsy, in these videos.  I just wanted to mention that in case you have objections to that sort of thing.  But she has lots of tips!  And I thought her recommendations for putting together a sewing kit were spot on.  I especially loved the idea of using a travel soap dish to hold together some of your smaller items.


I've had a sewing kit for forever, and I've been using this box since sometime before college. 


A lot of my sewing supplies have gotten a little scattered over time, and I usually wind up tearing up the house looking for a simple tool here or there.  After I thought about the essentials listed in this video, I realized I really need to get my stuff together.  This was a great reminder!

If I could add anything to my kit not mentioned in the video I would have to include a magnet.  They're essential.  You should definitely always keep your pins in a container or a pin cushion, but something's going to fall out sooner or later.  And when it does, you do not want to find something sharp and pointy with your bare hands--or worse, with your bare feet a few hours later.  Drag a magnet over your workspace after you've done a quick sewing project and you'll pull up any pins or needles that might have rolled away from you.


People are commenting on the video with their own sewing kit essentials and it's great!  Feel free to chime in with your own ideas about what a sewing kit does or doesn't need.  I'll just be over here thinking about quilts.


Happy sewing!  (This month and always.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekly Dishcloth: The Dishcloth was Hung by the Chimney with Care

Christmas will be here before you know it! No, really: it's barely three and a half months away.  I thought I should make a dishcloth.  So I tried out the Stocking pattern from Dishcloths for Special Days.

I have nearly a full cone of red cotton yarn and I do love Christmas stockings.  And I like these types of dishcloths where you make a picture with your purl stitches.  The pattern calls for #8 needles, and I figured I should jump down to a #6 because I have a loose gauge.  But my #6 needles were all occupied, so I used #5s.  That's why this is a bit skinny.  I bet this will loosen up with some use.  Cotton can shrink a bit when it's dried, but it's also less likely to snap back after it stretches in hot water.  I bet it will all even out.  Either way, you can tell that this is a stocking on this dishcloth and you'll probably still be able to tell even after this has been through a few washings.


When I was growing up, my mom had a few Christmas dish towels and coffee cups.  Most of our seasonal things were purely decorative--wreaths, wallhangings, and whathaveyou--but the everyday items were really fun for me to use.  If you're going to dry off some dishes, you may as well use that dish towel with Santa on it and then enjoy that picture of his jolly face when you draped it over something.  Having even mundane, year-round types of items that celebrated the season made me happy.


I'm the same way with dishcloths.  I like the idea of using my Christmas-y dishcloths during December.  Although, I have to say that I also love using my Christmas-y dishcloths when we're nowhere near December.  I crocheted a Christmas-y dishcloth last season that I sometimes pull out from the back of the drawer because I just want to see some Christmas cheer when I clean up a mess.  I'm hoping this brings a little bit of Christmas cheer to my gift stash, and to whomever eventually receives this as a gift.

I had actually planned on knitting the Pumpkin dishcloth for this week, but I wasn't sure if I had enough orange yarn.  But now I'm glad I've knitted another little Christmas project.  It's never too early to get in the spirit, right?  Right?  Let's pretend like that's the case.


Because I still have a lot of red cotton yarn and there's a candy cane pattern in here that's just waiting for me to try it out. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

7 Reasons Your Knit/Crochet Projects Aren’t Getting Done


Hey Crafters! I've seen so many jokes on Pinterest about how crafters can end up with several WIPs. This week I have three knitting projects! 




Why do crafters always seem to have more then one thing to work on? Here are seven good reasons to have several WIPs.

1. You love your craft!
Just think for a moment about how much you love knitting or crocheting (or both!). It isn’t just a skill that you use. It’s a hobby! First you want to make a cowl. Maybe some mittens. You know you have a friend that has a birthday in the hear feature. They’ll need a gift! Wouldn't you love to see this yarn worked into that pattern?

 
2. Yarn? Yarn.
This is also a yarn issue. You love yarn! Yarn is soft, warm, it works up beautifully, and it comes in so many wonderful varieties. Your yarn-craving creativity takes over your will to only have on project going. There is just too much yarn to love!



3. Why Did I Start This? 
Do you ever get the feeling, in the middle of a project, that your reasons for starting it might not be as valid as you hoped? I do! At first we are all gung-ho, and then the reality of how much work it’s going to take sinks in and we become less excited.

I got this reason from listening to a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. She tells the story of how a poet gets ideas for poems. It’s like a wind that comes rushing through you and then it's gone. Or, it is slightly less exciting


4. Distractions
This is an obvious one. Life gets in the way. Since crafting is a hobby, and not a necessity—even though it could be argued that it’s necessary for therapy reasons, it’s often the first thing to be abandoned on our to-do list.

5. Guilt

This might not apply to everyone. You might feel guilty admitting that you’ve neglected to pick up your projects for so long. I know it’s silly! But maybe true? 
I love this paragraph from Hyperbole and a Half. This blog always has a humorous way of explaining things! This paragraph is from a post called “This is Why I Will Never be an Adult”. 

"The longer I procrastinate on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I feel about it.  The guilt I feel causes me to avoid the issue further, which only leads to more guilt and more procrastination.  It gets to the point where I don't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me." -Hyperbole and a Half


6. You Forget 
This also might seem kind of silly. Forget? Well, you are a creative person. Lots goes on in your craft room. Who knows when a long lost WIP just happens to show up?


7.  Productivity 
No games here. Look at all the things you plan to do! You must be a talented crafter. And you are! There is honestly nothing wrong with this. How can you limit yourself to one project? Keep having doing what you love. Don’t beat yourself up over all the projects not getting done. At the end of the day, crafting is for fun, and you are making the most of it. 

Thanks for Reading! 

Stay crafty!

-Marie

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Blue Crocheted Basket

I've crocheted a basket!


Finally!  I've tried a few basket patterns before, but I've never finished one.  The Oval pattern from Baskets seemed like a pretty perfect pattern to try, though.  We need plenty of containers around the house to hold little odds and ends and I do always love a good cotton yarn project.  And this is a great cotton yarn project.


This is crocheted with two strands of yarn held together, which will annihilate your joints.  Holy moley.  But if you're really super strong, or if you just take lots of breaks, this is a great project.  After a few wrestling sessions, I made this in the medium size.  It calls for three skeins, and I had two skeins of Robin's Egg Blue by Sugar n' Cream.  I decided to make the bottom of the basket with some Sugar n' Cream Denim.  Once upon a time last summer, I bought three or four skeins of Sugar n' Cream yarn.  My reasons are completely forgotten, and only the stash remains.  I think I have a skein and a half left.  Gracious.  But the dark blue made a nice contrast for the bottom and the top border.


There are three top borders to choose from with this pattern as well!  I went with the long single crochet option because I love the look of long single crochet stitches.  They're made by crocheting into the stitch in the row below.  It's a simple technique that makes a lovely stitch.


This basket is going to hold my daughter's hair accessories in our bathroom.  I'm not sure how all those little pony tail holders and barrettes get everywhere, but they do.  Oh my goodness, how they do.  After I give myself a break from working with cotton yarn held double, I'm probably going to make another one for myself to hold some of my crocheting and knitting notions.  I think I'd like to toss all of my stitch markers and measuring tapes into one large container instead of into some of the smaller containers cluttering up the bookcase in my craft corner.  Maybe I'll try the Round Basket pattern next!

It's even holding craft supplies in this picture!
For now, though, I've got some hair accessories to pick up and a bathroom to tidy.  I'm pretty excited about this little container and I think it's going to look great.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Weekly Dishcloth: Simply the Best

I crocheted Dishcloth #20 from The Big Book of Dishcloths this week and I love it. 


When I first started flipping through this book, I wondered if there was a pattern that was just a simple square made of double crochet stitches.  And this was it!  Yup, that's all this is.  The perfect beginner dishcloth, or the perfect dishcloth for someone who's just in the mood for something simple.  Either way, this is perfect for variegated yarn. 


I was really in the mood to use some of this yarn.  It's Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn and it's in the Camelot colorway.  I love its reds and pinks and not-quite-oranges.  And there's gray!  You wouldn't think gray would work too well with those colors, but it does and I loved it from the moment a destashing friend tossed it my way.  The navy blue yarn I used for the border made a nice contrast.  There are three border options in The Big Book of Dishcloths, and I usually like to pick the one that uses single crochet stitches.  I do love a good single crochet stitch border.


I enjoy variegated yarn, but sometimes I don't want to use it on patterns that use distracting techniques.  If this dishcloth had a lot of front post crochet stitches, the stitches and the yarn would distract from each other and this might look messy.  I like the simple stitches of Dishcloth #20 with this wildly colorful yarn. 


My next crocheted dishcloth is going to be fancy, I promise.  There are some really interesting patterns that use up to three different kinds of yarn and I'm excited about trying them out.  But I just had to try out this variegated yarn before I did anything else.  And I'm glad I did, because this one's a beauty.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Afghan Mania and the African Flower Motif

You know what I should be making?  If you guessed "another dadgum blanket," you're so right!  So what if I have a couple of other blankets that I haven't finished!  I've wanted to make the Squared Afghan pattern from Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs for a while now and last week I snapped a little and got started.  I'd made a square from this once before, and I think getting the hang of it before beginning an actual project helped a lot.  Once I had my colors picked out, I was all set!


I'm using an I hook and worsted weight yarn in red, teal, and yellow.  I knew that skein of teal yarn from the blanket I talked about a couple of weeks ago would come in handy!  I also had quite a bit of red and yellow yarn, too.

Obviously, I have already run out and I'm barely halfway through.  Whoops!  Afghans are big.  I don't know why I forget, but I always do.  This takes a lot of yarn!  I bought my third skein of Caron One Pound--okay, my third skein of yellow--for this year and I might be buying more because this is my border color.  And it turns out I grabbed a skein of Hot Red yarn instead of Cherry Red yarn when I was stocking up on more red yarn.  And you can tell.


But I'll be using Hot Red for all of the rest of my squares, so I think it will look fine.  This is not a state fair blanket, and I'm trusting that the friend I'm making it for will love the almost garishness of the bright colors.  I love red and blue and yellow together, and I love that the blue is more of a teal.  In case you were wondering, the model in the book looks like this:


And that's lovely.  But I take everything pretty literally, and I haven't seen a lot of blue or green flowers.  And this is coming from someone who has grown a ridiculous amount of zinnias.  I wanted my 'flowers' to have more vibrant colors, and now that I think about it, I may have had zinnias on the brain.  Those, or Gerber daisies.  But something bright and beautiful for sure.  And this is really fitting the bill.  I've made all ten of the Square 1 squares.

And now I've made one whole whopping Square 2.


I love them!  This makes a big square (about 10 inches) and this afghan is supposed to measure 44" X 55".  The squares are working up fairly quickly, and I have the pattern mostly memorized.  I really like the African flower motif, and I think I'm going to love how a blanket full of them looks.


And I'm halfway to finding out for sure!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pocket Guides and Plans


I am not a sewer.  We've talked about this before.  It's just not for me, or at least not for me at the moment.  However, I do keep a good amount of fabric on hand and every now and then I entertain notions of doing certain sewing things.  Sometimes I even want to embroidery.  Enter the Embroidery Pocket Guide.


Because every now and then I want to embroidery a little bit.


Especially when I wear this dress. Inspiring stuff.
Nothing like a whole sampler, but just a little bit of pretty stitching on something.  A little vine on a tote bag, maybe.  Or a cheerful little flower on a pair of my daughter's shorts.  I have a few needles and a little bit of embroidery floss, and this little guide would be a great reference for a quick freehand project.  This is dadgummed great!


Now, I linked to the e-copy in that first paragraph.  Now here's a link to purchase the hard copy.  And here's a link to the product page on Amazon where you can read some very glowing reviews.  And it's Prime eligible, if you're into free shipping! The hard copy is a fold-out guide of embroidery stitches.  Think of a map.  But a laminated map! There's a chart that even tells you which thread to use with which fabric AND the needles you'll need.  The stitches are separated by category--backstitches, blanket stitches, chain stitches, etc.--and this measures about 4.5" by 8.5".  It really is nearly pocket-sized! It folds up nice and flat, and you could slip it into a pattern book or project bag.  I want to use the section on satin stitches for every little crocheted animal I make!

Goodness knows I should have done some practice eyes before working on this little hat.

I should mention that I was talking to my mom last week about embroidery.  She mentioned that she was going to embroider a dishtowel or two and I mentioned this guide.  You should have seen the look on her face.  I was really glad I didn't have the pamphlet on me at the time or it would be gone right now.  The woman knows when tools are useful and when they're not.  The way her eyes lit up at the mention of the pocket guide really drove it home to me how handy this is.  So I'm going to put it to good use!


Before she does.



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