Crafting the Stress Away

Blogged under Fiber Fun,Free Craft Projects,Projects in Progress,Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Friday 17 July 2009 at 2:40 pm

Now that school is back in session, at least for people like me who teach during the second summer semester, life has been crazy-busy. It seems like I’m either working on grading papers or preparing for my classes that start in the fall, which is just a little over a month away, yikes! Then on top of that, I work on jewelry articles for my About.com site, so there has been little time to craft just purely for the fun it.

I have been treading, keeping my head above water, until the other day when I received a really nasty email from a student. I’m teaching web-only classes for the summer, which has its perks since I don’t have to physically show up for a class. However, one issue with web classes is that sometimes students become a little more aggressive (or maybe courageous is a nicer way to say this) with their emails. They say things they would never dream of saying to my face. I had such an email the other day, and it really put me into a horrible mood. I sent a brief, curt reply, but the whole thing just nagged at me the rest of the day, especially after the student decided to write me yet again with an almost equally bad reply. Like I said, this is not uncommon. In fact, normally this is the same student who will later write and ask me how he/she can bring up his/her grade and is there any extra credit available! Yes, believe it!

Anyway, I was really having a tough time getting out of this icky mood, and then I realized I needed to step away from the keyboard and the grade book and the other school work I was doing and have some fun. So, I picked up some gorgeous tangerine mist Vanna’s Choice yarn I had just received in the mail and started working on another amigurumi project, a totally cute little tiger. (The free pattern is from the Lion Brand site).

Amazingly enough, about 15 minutes into my crocheting I felt so much better! And, at least for a little while, I was not thinking about how or if I would even reply to the last nasty email I’d gotten from this student. When I did return to my work, I was much more relaxed. This is a lesson I need to remember. Even if I have a ton of work to do, the work will always be there waiting for me, but my mental health needs a craft break once in awhile!

Easy Granny Square Baby Blanket

Blogged under Charity Crafting,Free Craft Projects by Tammy on Thursday 16 July 2009 at 8:51 am

To give myself a break from baby hats for awhile but still have something baby-like to donate, I decided to make a super easy granny square baby blanket. Even baby blankets can take a while to crochet, but you have got to love the good old granny square pattern to make life easier. Here are the supplies I used:

I hook

1 skein of TLC Baby Amoire

1 skein of yellow Bernat Baby Yarn

1 skein of green Bernat Baby Yarn

  • I started my granny with 4 chain stitches before securing them into a loop using a slip stitch.
  • Then I made 7 rows using TLC yarn for the center square.
  • After that, I alternated with 3 rows of green, TLC, then yellow until I had two sections each of green and yellow, ending with a yellow section.
  • Finally, I used TLC to make a single crochet row to trim all around the blanket.

The final blanket measures about 36×33 inches, and it is super soft!

Crossing Into Crafting Professions…Some Thoughts

Blogged under Crafting a Career by Tammy on Tuesday 14 July 2009 at 9:26 am

Recently, I have come across a number of sources discussing crafting as a profession. Over at the YarnCraft weblog, there’s a podcast discussing how to sell your yarn crafts. Then I saw that Jennifer Perkins has a post on a similar topic as well as some information concerning a Crafty Business Seminar she will be running. Finally, I discovered that CraftyPod has a podcast about Crafting for Money vs. Passion.

As I listened and read these, I could really relate. While I still enjoy making jewelry, the approach I have since doing it as part of my living has changed from when I did it strictly as a hobby. In fact, even writing about jewelry making versus primarily selling finished jewelry is different. When I make jewelry now, everything is a potential project. I feel compelled to take notes and snap pictures as I work rather than just “play.”

Compare this to crochet and sewing, two other crafts I’m pretty active with, and it’s a totally different experience. When I crochet, I tend to do it in front of the TV in the evenings as a way to relax and not feel the urge to snack so much. It’s my time to “chill,” so the idea of selling a finished piece or writing up instructions never even come to mind. When I’m stitching something up in my sewing nook, I rarely take notes; I just do it, enjoy the experience.

Now this is not to say that I don’t enjoy the experience of making jewelry, but my mind-set is totally different. Jewelry making is a job, a fun job but a job, and crochet and sewing are true hobbies that I do just for fun.

Anyway, listen/read the links I provided at the beginning of the post, and then come back here and give me your take on all of this. I am not saying one is a good thing versus a bad thing, but they are different experiences that I think are worth discussing and pondering.

Hurtin’ 4 Cheap Craft Books? Hit the Hurt Sale at Interweave

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 13 July 2009 at 8:32 am

This is one of the books coming my way after virtually digging through the hurt and overstocked bargain bins at the Interweave Hurt and Overstock Books sale. Hurt refers to the fact that your books may be a little bruised or bent since they’ve been around for awhile, but some may be in perfectly good shape. You won’t know until you get them in your hot little hands, but considering many craft books are going for 50 to 75% off the list price, who cares about a little ding here or there? For example, the book pictured above 200 Crochet Blocks lists for $24.95, but it’s marked down to $12.48. Since I make blocks for Heartmade Blessings, I picked this up for some block ideas. I think my granny squares and double crochet blocks are getting a little stale.

Some other excellent crochet books deals include Double Stitch on sale for $5.49. This book has been on my Amazon wish list for awhile, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a little too trendy for me, but hey, for five bucks, even if I see one pattern I like, I’m good with that. Other crochet titles include Crochet Me, Blueprint Crochet, and 101 Stitches to Crochet, good crochet stuff folks! There are also knitting books, mixed media, jewelry books (tons actually), and lots more covering all kinds of crafting. Be aware that the price does not include shipping, so expect an additional $10 for that. Yes, I know, but every place these days is killing you with the cost of shipping. Even with that, you’ll still get books for way below the cost you’d pay in a regular books store or at many of the web stores too.

Craft Bloggers Unite 07/11/09

Blogged under My Crafty News by Tammy on Sunday 12 July 2009 at 9:29 am

This weekend we celebrated 4 years with our doggie babies, Jasper (left) and Rocky (right).

One tradition we have for celebrating their anniversary from breaking out of the big house (aka the local Humane Society shelter) is to make them some extra special dog snacks.

They are a mix of ground turkey and rice, and so delicious!


I hope you also had a wonderful weekend full of celebrating. Here are some crafty links to help you celebrate the joy of crafting.

Mixed Media Artist
Do not fear…making altered books will not cause lightning to strike you!

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery

Dada Mosaic, or is it surreal? You be the judge.

About Family Crafts

As a parent, one of the biggest crafting dilemmas you may face is what to do with all the wonderful masterpieces your child creates. How do you display each piece so it gets the attention it deserves?

Cross Stitch at About.com
What do you do with odds and ends of embroidery floss? Read these ideas and share your own.

The Artful Crafter
If you’re a polymer clay beginner or just want a quick professional looking project, use molds!

The Crochet Dude

See a sneak peek video of Drew’s new pattern line that launches August 1st!

The Impatient Crafter
Madge shares the 411 on how she made a gorgeous crystal, rubber and exposed wire collar inspired by African jewelry.

Vickie Howell-Craft.Rock.Love
Vickie’s 10 Craft Tips for Busy Parents! Save time while you craft.

Cathie Filian
When you need a crafty break – whip up this quick and easy snack of homemade hummus and baked bagel chips.

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
This week at Craftside there is the latest episode of Look, Learn & Create featuring the fabulous cloth doll artist, Patti Medaris Culea, a fun vegan recipe for Frushi (fruit sushi), a how-to on making a tennis ball training tool, and an Illustrator tutorial to make a digital word ATC and as always a bunch of questions that if you answer you are entered to win a free book!

Aileen’s Musings
Aileen gives you a sneek peek at some felt banners she’s making for a swap, and tells you how to make easy rolled felt flowers to use as embellishments.

Yikes, Another Yarn Sales….

Blogged under Crafty Products by Tammy on Friday 10 July 2009 at 1:02 pm

Crafts Etc. has another 25% off sale going on until 07/14/09. That’s where I picked up some of this TLC Baby Amore yarn, which I just happen to be almost totally out of now. I’m down to one tiny little ball of it that may help me finish off the baby blanket I’m working on (fingers crossed).

It is interesting how my stash has evolve over the past year or so. Who would have thought baby yarn would be an important stash yarn for me? I’m slowing moving out the old Red Heart Super Saver yarn as well, once a staple fiber for my crochet. Now, I don’t have anything against it, but as I’ve been exposed to more worsted weights, I have to say my tastes have become probably a little more of the champagne type. My new acrylic favorite is Vanna’s Choice, which I especially like for amigurumi. Normally, it sells for $2.99 at Michael’s, but Crafts Etc. has it for $2.24, so I’m picking up some of that as well as the baby yarn.

Crafts Etc. seems to have sales every few months, so sign up for the newsletter over there if you want the 411 on the next sale.

Crochet Some Veggies

Blogged under Free Craft Projects by Tammy on Wednesday 8 July 2009 at 11:09 am

What exactly you would do with these crochet vegetables and basket I’m not sure, but they look pretty cool. I guess I could imagine these would be excellent toys for kids playing store or maybe some neat kitchy knick knacks for the kitchen. These free patterns are from Lily Sugar n’ Cream yarn. Here are the links for the veggies and the basket too. If you have some ideas for them, I’m open to suggestions. I like them, just not sure what I’d do with them!

Blogging Today, The Niche Blogs, Like Crafts, Rock!

Blogged under Social Networking by Tammy on Tuesday 7 July 2009 at 5:27 pm

In my various wanderings around Twitter, I found a fellow Tweep linking to this article: “The Blogosphere 2.0” I wish I knew who posted the link, but considering I’ve got over 800 followers and I’m following over 500 myself, being able to back track this sort of thing isn’t so easy. So I apologize if I’m not crediting anyone for pointing me to the article.

The post is written by Laura McKenna, and as someone who has been out and about on the Blogosphere for a good many years, the title made me curious. How has blogging changed over the years? That’s what she talks about. Among things like A-Listers don’t matter that much any more and blog rolls aren’t that important (which I’m not sure I agree on), she also points out that niche is where it’s happening now:

It’s all about niche blogs. If you have a particular expertise and unique perspective, then [sic] you can quickly gain a following. Everyone else is out of luck.

What can I say, but, “Amen sista, and hell yes! People are just now figuring this out?” I have known this for soooo long, and to prove it, you can check out an article I wrote back in 2005 for a very cool blog called problogger.com: Niche Blogging Benefits. I no longer blog as much as I did back then, but I’m still pretty much in the thick of the blogosphere when it comes to my own crafting niche at least.

So for once in my life, I was ahead of the curve on something, and what’s the point of all this? Think about it. If you are a blogger now and you can’t seem to find your voice or direction, more than likely it is because you are trying to be all things to all people. That is really hard, if not impossible to do. If you have been thinking about stepping into the blogosphere pool but haven’t known what the heck you’d talk about, think “niche.” What do you know a lot about? What kind of activities do you do regularly? If you are a crafter, this is a great place to start.

Again to quote from McKenna, Use your blogs to target particular audiences and have a clear mission, and you’ll get a following. Blogging should be the means to another goal — a rough draft for future articles/books, a way to network with professionals, a place to document your life for your children, a way to have fun.

I pulled out the niche nuts for you, but for those interested in how the blogosphere continues to morph, her entire post is worth a read and a thought or two or three.

Yarn and the Brontes!

Blogged under Social Networking by Tammy on Monday 6 July 2009 at 7:22 am


Yes, it seems like an odd combination, but you just never know what you will find over at Ravelry. I was checking out some of the latest groups over there, and low and behold, there is now a group for The Bronte Family. I adore all three Bronte sisters and have read a good deal of their work. A few years ago, I had joined a Yahoo Bronte group, and we read anything by and about the Brontes. It really made me stretch my literary muscles, and I ended up learning about works that I hadn’t heard much about like Agnes Grey, one of my favorite novels. I’ve even used this text a few times in my English classes because it’s not overly long or involved for students, and the ending is wonderful. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s got an ending that would be perfect for any romantic Hollywood movie. I even managed to squeeze little Agnes into my dissertation. Obviously, it may be a stretch to combine yarn crafting and Bronte adoration, but I’m excited none the less.

Craft Bloggers Unite 06/05/09

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 5 July 2009 at 5:51 pm

About Family Crafts
If you are looking for a creative way to celebrate every day during the month of July, check out this special events calendar!

Aileen’s Musings
Ever wonder how to get that cute copyright symbol or better yet, how to put one on your artwork or photographs? Aileen offers a easy tutorial using PSP.

Cathie Filian
It is summer and that means beach & pool time! Visit Cathie Filian’s blog to learn how to stitch up a terry beach throw.

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
At Craftside there is a bling-tastic video on hand lettering with Lisa Engelbrecht, from the new book The Crafter’s Devotional a how to make a leather book cover and flag cuffs made from a book cover, an “actual size” silver heart using PMC, and a fun snack recipe.

Cross Stitch at About.com
Why no knots in Counted Cross Stitch? Find out why and how to secure your floss in alternate ways.

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi reports on her experiences with using the new CopprClay. This stuff rocks!

Naughty Secretary Club
Thinking about starting up your own craft business? Jen has a few suggestions of things you might consider first. Plus learn how you can take a Crafty Business Seminar with Jen from anywhere in the world!

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery
Old plastic bead necklaces go under the knife (and in the toaster oven) to make Melted Plastic bead Star Earrings perfect for the patriotic holidays

The Artful Crafter
Eileen suggests you go shopping for craft supplies in your jewelry box and closet. Make an old accessory into something new and fresh.

The Impatient Crafter
Madge shares the clip from her recent appearance on Lifetime TV’s The Balancing Act for Beadalon.

Vickie Howell-Craft.Rock.Love
Learn how to finger knit with Vickie’s step-by-step how-to, featured on the CRAFT website!

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