Makery - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Sunday 20 July 2014 at 12:42 pm


Makery: Over 30 Projects for the Home, to Wear and to Give by Kate Smith is published by Octopus Books. It retails in the US for $19.99, in the UK for L14.99, and Canada for $21.99. The Makery is not just a book; it is also a place, a shop located in Bath that offers workshops, parties, and supplies all around the idea of making items for the home, to wear, and to give (as the subtitle of the book points out). The book offers a collection of projects that come from the folks who run this shop, and it is a combination of various crafts: sewing, knitting, crochet, decoupage, and more.

Many of the projects require some minor sewing skills. You would need a sewing machine, but most of them are pretty easy and require lots of straight stitching. For example, there is a drawstring bag, sun glass case, passport case. Basically, they include a lot of different ideas for using squares and rectangles to create different home decor and gift items. Pattern pullouts are provided in the back of the book.

There is a little yarn crafting in here, a few knitting projects like a coffee cup cozy and wrist warmers and one crocheted project. I took a good look at the crochet slippers. They look like they would be fairly easy and something you could make for yourself or give as gifts. However, I was not sure if the stitch references were in US or UK terms. In the US, our single crochet is called double crochet, and these say that you will do double crochet and even show how to do double crochet in the techniques section of the book, but when I look at the drawn illustrations in the project and finished pair, it sure looks like single crochet to me.

Other than sewing and yarn, there is an assortment of other crafting methods used. For example, there is a Shrinky Dink jewelry project (very cute); a project showing how to make decorative paper tags; and an adorable how-to on turning a small toy truck into a pin cushion.

Each project includes written instructions, a few drawn illustrations, a photo of the supplies used, and a photo of the finished piece. There is a techniques section in the back (7 pages) that covers things like knitting stitches, embroidery, and basic sewing methods. Measurements are provided in both metric and imperial (what we still use in the US).

I think this book would appeal to experienced crafters who are looking for easy projects to do as either quick gifts or to do with someone not as experienced, such as a tween or teenager. Those with limited sewing skills who want projects they could handle would like most of the simple sewing projects in here. There is a mix of cute, clever, and been-done as far as the projects. The pin cushion I mentioned already is an example of what I would call clever. The passport case and eye glass case have been-done, but for newbies, they are accessible projects. This has the crafter who likes to dabble in a little bit of everything in mind, so it might also be good for someone who wants to try a new craft.

Cupcakes, Cuffs, and Components

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 20 July 2014 at 9:05 am

Crafty Cupcake “Recipe” Calls for Styrofoam and Glue
Not only are they cute, these cupcakes are fun to make. They’re guaranteed to be sugar-free, gluten-free, calorie-free and cute as the dickens.

Carmi’s Art/Life World
It is wonderful to see how a bit of fabric ribbon and a button can be featured into a new beaded cuff.

Resin Crafts Blog
There are inexpensive bamboo tiles that can easily be turned into wearable jewels with some simple resin application techniques.

Beading Arts
With a few funky components and a little bit of wire, you can quickly have a new necklace!

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi is head-over-heels in love with a new book on reclaiming and upcycling textiles!

New Floors & Reorganizing Craft Supplies

Blogged under My Crafty News, Projects in Progress, Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Friday 18 July 2014 at 12:04 pm



My craft-room slash home-office is also the main room my cats like to hang out in, probably because I’m usually in there writing, grading papers, and making stuff. We have been planning to put in new flooring (as our 15 year old carpet was beyond…well…beyond!), and we finally got some major work completed this past weekend (forgive the spots on my dirty camera lens). It meant taking tons of furniture, books, craft supplies, and more out, and then my contractor (aka husband) painted the walls (a putty color) and installed engineered hardwood flooring.

What a long weekend, especially for him. To say he had zero energy left after all of this is putting it mildly! So, of course, we did not get everything done in one weekend. We did, however, get the cats settled in there while we wait until this weekend to finish the details like the trim. They have all given it the kitty paws up!




After the trim is finished and a few spots of missed paint added, we can put the furniture back in there. This gives me a chance to do some rearranging and reorganizing. I plan to move all my jewelry supplies that were on one desk into a different room (which I will then have to reorganize as well). Since adopting the cat crew a few years ago, it has become just about impossible for me to bead in this room because they all like to help me.

I had just about figured out how I wanted to arrange the furniture back in the room, removing some and adding an old Popasan chair that my cats love, when we came into a snag. This is the snag:




Doesn’t Chanel and Herbie look ubber comfortable? This is in the living room now. We crammed most of the furniture in there, and set up a desk with my computer so I could still do some work. One of the tables, we - for no reason other than it fit - set next to my desk, and I threw an old dog bed on top of it and a small afghan on top of that. Well, the LOVE IT! This spot is right next to me now as I type, and there is almost always someone there, near me, hanging out, enjoying the comfortable spot where they can sprawl and lounge together while still being near me.

This set up with the table and cushion on it next to me was not part of my plan! Ack! But, even my husband has realized we are going to have to figure out a way to get this set up configured in my room when we move all the furniture back.

I know it is crazy to arrange furniture to accommodate cats, but seriously, how cute are these two? How can I say now them?


Amigurumi Cutie Pie Dragon

Blogged under amigurumi by Tammy on Sunday 13 July 2014 at 1:23 pm



I have to admit that I’ve been working on this guy for awhile. It definitely not an immediate gratification type crochet project, but I think it was finally worth the effort. This pattern is from FreshStitches.com and is called “Choose Your Own Dragon Adventure.” You are provided with options in the pattern so you sort of design your finished dragon. Tails, scales, wings, and so on are items you select and decided which to use. The original pattern is also a little involved because it has you use two colors for the body so that the tummy is a different color than the rest of the body, but as you can see, I didn’t do that. The darker green yarn is leftover from a previous project, so I was not sure if I had enough. Plus, by just using one color, it made the whole project a little faster and easier for me.

Now that I made it through this pattern….finally!….I’m thinking of making a second one. I am not sure if I have enough of the yarn left from this one to make an entire second dragon, but we will see what happens. I may have to dig around in my scraps and pick up a third color like purple or pink to finish off a second one.

Beads, Maps, Summer, and Jewelry

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 13 July 2014 at 12:30 pm

Resin Crafts Blog
Wonder how to contain resin in an open back pendant? The how-to on the Resin Crafts blog should help!

Creative collaboration helps raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.
Andrew participated in the Beads of Courage Design Challenge. Check out pictures from the Bead&Button Show and see images of his finished piece.

How to Make a Page Map Card Unique to You

Page maps, layouts, or sketches - whatever you call them - are a great way to: 1. Learn basic design principles; 2. Come up with a quick design on the spur of the moment; and 3. Observe how other artists interpret the sketch - honestly, no two are ever alike.

Art Bead Scene
Check out Kylie Parry’s beautiful post on summer inspiration!

Beading Arts
Note every project can be a smashing success…come see why!

Mixed Media Artist
Are you interested in wearable art? Cyndi has gathered a number of her tutorials that will move you beyond just jewelry!

Amigurumi Toys’ New Home

Blogged under Charity Crafting, amigurumi by Tammy on Wednesday 9 July 2014 at 5:47 pm



While leaving my Zumba class the other day, a friend and I noticed a large empty box in the lobby of the community center. It had a note on it about a toy drive for an organization called PATCHES PPEC, Pediatric Alternative Treatment, Care, Housing & Evaluation Services, Inc. and Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care. I immediately thought of the crochet toys I’ve been collecting. While there are a few places I can donate them to, I have already send them some other items, and one place in particular is difficult to hook up with to the point I was considering mailing this big box to them. But just as I was leery about simply putting all these toys in the box in the lobby - who knows where they were going or if they would make it there or if they were really what they were looking for - I didn’t like the idea of packing them off and sending them off without handing them to a person. So I came home, googled the organization, and called the local PATCHES office.

As it turns out, they are close to school, and though they said they would not be able to use my stuff toys in the hospital due to germs getting on them from one child to another, they said they would love to be able to give them out when the children are able to go home. They also said an emphatic “yes” to baby afghans, score! I am loading all these up and hope to drop them by in the next few days.

I will miss my little animal toy menagerie, but it is nice to find them all homes!

Stitching, Tea, and Your Mojo

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 6 July 2014 at 8:38 am

Carmi’a Art/Life World
I have now sewn my fourth crazy cuff and even I am stunned at how great this one turned out! So happy I gave up reading patterns and just started sewing!

Resin Crafts Blog
I love to turn packaging into wearable art. This year’s tea box artwork made it even easier to design a necklace.

Art Bead Scene
Has your mojo decided to go on holiday without you? Check out Rebecca’s post on how to get stuck back in to your jewellery making when you’ve lost your mojo!

The Inspired by Reading Book Club reads about botany and booze!
“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart is an intoxicating exploration of the botanical histories of some of our favorite beverages. See how this book inspired a group of artists and jewelry-makers!

Would it be Pretentious to call this my Studio?
I ask because it’s really starting to feel like one. And I remodeled it on less than $15!

Beading Arts
Cyndi managed to finish her June piece for the Bead Journal Project with a little time to spare…but only a little!

Cat Snuggles = Destash!

Blogged under Finished Projects, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Saturday 5 July 2014 at 3:20 pm

I always like to have at least one no-brainer crochet/knitting project going on that I can do while watching TV or sitting in a work meeting. While I have made lots of snuggle blankets for local animal shelters, it has been awhile since I have made any for my own cat crew. So as a way to help with my summer destash goals, I’m making snuggles for my furry girls and boy. This is a great way to use up some of those orphan skeins that are left over from projects.

The first one I made from a yummy and now discontinued yarn, Caron’s Spa yarn. Chanel had to test it out about 5 seconds after I put it in one of her favorite hang out boxes.




My second cat crew snuggle is made from some other discontinued yarn. This is Bernat Baby Softee in Tangerine and Aqua that I held together.



I’m participating in The Knit Girllls’ 2014 Destash, and I just have 996 yards to go to make the 5k challenge!

Knitting Reimagined - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Thursday 3 July 2014 at 1:15 pm


Knitting Reimagined: An Innovative Approach to Structure and Shape with 25 Breathtaking Projects by well-known yarn crafter Nicky Epstein has a copyright date of 2014 and is published by Potter Craft. It’s a 176 page hard copy book that retails for $29.99 in the US and $35 in Canada (though, of course, it is deeply discounted on Amazon.com).

The author explains in the introduction of the book that her focus while creating the knitting designs was to come up with “chic, wearable, but uniquely atypical garments.” She wanted to show how you can use traditional stitches and techniques but play around with structure. If I’m understanding her goals as explained in the introduction, then I think she did this. However, I have to admit that when I first flipped through the book, I was not sure about the “wearable” part of this concept. I would not necessarily call the designs couture, but they are edgy.

I took a closer look at the designs, and my opinion changed a little. There were a few pieces that were not as wild as I had first thought. “Royal Lace Coat with Hood” is a beautiful coat type sweater with an arrow lace design positioned diagonally on the front, back, and sleeves. The hood is detachable. Another project that had a lot of versatility is “On the Block Topper.” It is a type of poncho that you can wear with the pointed parts in front or on the side, and there is a two page spread showing the same design just altered by using different yarn or different stitch patterns.

So, yes, there are a handful of projects that most anyone could wear, but then there are a number that I felt were over the top for the average taste (and figure too). The sweater on the cover is an example of this. Even some of the models, who I could tell were super tiny, didn’t look that great in some of the heavy sweaters in this book that are full of cables and similar details. That said, I think anyone with some knitting chops could probably take any of these projects and use them as a starting point but tone them down to make them more practical. For example, the “Buttons and Bows Manteau” is a sweater dress that has a lot of wavy texture going on from the waist down. However, from the waist up, it’s a nice and classic design, so you could stop before all the wavy part and create a cute cropped sweater.

Each project is given a skill level (beginner friendly; intermediate; advanced) and time rating (quick; weeks; months). There are also extensive graphs provided to show how to assemble each garment. The color photographs are a big bonus in this book because you get to see the entirety of each project with different views like straight on front views but also side views and detail shots

As a knitting beginner, even the beginning level patterns seem daunting to me, but I really feel like this is for more experienced knitters who have pretty much knitted everything twice and want a challenge and method for creating usual pieces that verge on couture.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Free Wire Wrap Tutorial from My Book

Blogged under Free Craft Projects, My Crafty News, writing by Tammy on Thursday 3 July 2014 at 1:03 pm



The second edition of my book The Complete Photo Guide to Jewelry Making is hitting the shelves (virtual and otherwise) this month. To get a look at some of the new additions to this book as well as a free wire wrapping tutorial, head over the the Craftside blog.

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