Yarn Sales…Must Resist!

Blogged under Crafty Products by Tammy on Friday 30 September 2011 at 1:04 pm

While I do not have a yarn stash that would rival many of my fellow yarn lovers on Ravelry.com, for me it is at one of its all time peeks. I have two plastic bins full of yarn plus an additional tote bag of yarn that does not fit into the bins. I have plans for all of it, of course, but there are only so many hours in a day.

Like any craft such as jewelry making, I am a total believer in having a decent size stash. First of all, it allows you to purchase items you know you use regularly (like findings, wire, or baby yarn) when they are on sale instead of buying them only when needed and not being able to time that during a sale. Another reason why a good craft supply stash is important is because when you are ready to craft, well, that is what you want to do. You don’t want to have to run over to a store to buy what you need first.

Right now there are two pretty decent yarn sales going on that I’m holding myself back from because of my mature yarn stash. First, JoAnns.com has a 30% off sale for all yarns in stock. That is pretty darn decent! Anything from 25 to 30 percent usually makes me pay attention. Then the other sale is over at Herrschners. I just got the company’s hardcopy catalog in the mail yesterday. They have some discounted kits and some major yarn sales going on. For example, some colors of good old Red Heart Super Saver 3 oz skeins are $1.49. Some of the Herrschner baby yarn was also priced pretty well, though admittedly I have not tried their brand before.

So while I have to resist jumping on these yarn sales, if you need to beef up your yarn stash, now looks like a good time to do it.

Book Review: Totally Simple Crochet

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Thursday 29 September 2011 at 9:55 am

I recently rejoined Crafter’s Choice, which meant picking a few books for $1 or so plus shipping. Among one of my selections was a book by Tove Fevang, Totally Simple Crochet: Over 30 Easy Projects for the Home and to Wear. Before I decided on this book, I went over to amazon.com and took a look inside of it and determined that the projects were, for the most part, items I may want to make such as scarves, wash clothes, shawls, and afghans.

Now that I have the book in my hands, I have mixed ideas about it. I still really like the projects. The 6 wash cloth patterns, I’m kind of so-so about because they are not overly involved, but hey, the title does say “simple.” Plus for newbies, these would be perfect for learning stitches without taking on huge projects. The scarf patterns are really pretty, both the one on the cover and another inside called the “Flower Scarf.” It is light and lacy looking and the colors are amazing. Because of it being so light-weight, it is something I could actually wear down here in Florida during the few cool months we have. Other than one blanket project that has some, I think, extra large flowers around the border, I think all of the projects are beautiful, and they are items I want to make for myself and also as gifts.

Now for the flip side of this review, I don’t think this book is really geared toward someone who is very new to crochet, even though the projects look fairly simple. Some of the material was actually kind of confusing to me. For example, on one page in general information section, it says “Chain stitch (ch)” at the top of the page. Under it are photographs, but they don’t actually show how to make just a chain stitch. First of all, it jumps right into putting the hook into a slip knot and assumes the reader knows how to make a slip knot. Then the next photo does show chain stitch and provides a caption with an explanation on how to do it, but after that, there are 4 more photos that have next to nothing to do with a chain stitch.

There are a number of odd things like this. Another example is a gorgeous granny square lap afghan that does not include finished measurement, or at least, I could not find them. I looked on the inside cover and noticed that it says this was originally published in Norway, so I’m wondering if something got lost in the translation.

My only other issue is that the yarn used is all pretty high end, lost of 100% alpaca. Of course, pretty yarn is probably one reason why the finished projects are so beautiful, but when I think of “simple,” I think of a relatively inexperienced crocheter who may not be ready to plop down the cash needed for specialty yarn like alpaca.

Ultimately, I still love this book and hope to make something for me (yes, me, for a change!) using one of the patterns. However, I don’t think I would recommend it to a beginner, even though the projects are described at “simple.” There is just too much in here that is not broken down enough for someone at that level. In fact, I am still really on the “learning” side of reading and following patterns, so I’m not 100% sure I will be successful, but I sure want to be! Minus the 6 wash cloths, the designs in this book call to me to pick up my hook and some yummy yarn!

Free Crochet Wash Cloth Tutorial

Blogged under Design Ideas,Free Craft Projects by Tammy on Wednesday 28 September 2011 at 5:58 pm

I know this is super duper simple if you have any basic crochet skills at all, but I wrote this tutorial (which you can download as a pdf file here: how-to-make-a-double-crochet-stitch-wash-cloth) for the way, way, super extra newbie in mind.

If you know of anyone who has wanted to learn how to crochet but has no idea how to get started, this tutorial has her/him in mind. Along with my own instructions, which I tried to break way down, I also include links to some wonderful YouTube.com videos.

My craft club is now making these to sell at a craft show in November as well as to give to a local shelter, so I have become addicted to making these. I love the instant gratification added to the idea of making something that is both pretty and useful.

Dog Story & Crafting Links

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 25 September 2011 at 1:47 pm

I have been including short cat stories with my weekend crafting links, but today I have a dog story for you, and while it is not a short story, I will try to give you the Reader’s Digest version.

We have two dogs, Jasper (left) and Rocky (right). They get along great, like two peas in a pod from the first day we adopted them and brought them home from the Humane Society. A number of years ago, we had three dogs, all of whom eventually left us due mainly to old age. (Yes, it sucks that our pets can’t live forever!) These three dogs got along for the most part, but we did have territory and dominance issues that we just have not experienced with these guys, and I tend to think some of it is the difference between having two vs. three dogs.

So to say that I was freaking out when I found out that my husband had picked up a dog who was crossing a busy street and was about to get run over was mixed. Of course, I was happy the dog didn’t get killed, but I was very worried that we would not find its owners and end up with a third dog. The dog, a beagle, did have a collar and tags, but the tags were so scratched up that you could not read them, and he had no chip we discovered after hubby brought him to our vet’s office. The little guy was very clean and super well-behaved, so this plus the collar told us he had owners out there who cared and would hopefully call animal control, who eventually we decided to have take the dog.

The next day, I made a few million phone calls because I wanted to be sure that animal control would give the owners enough time to call and so would the Humane Society, which is where he would go to after 5 – 7 days at animal control. Once he went to the Humane Society, though, he was going into basically a black hole because their policy is that they won’t tell you what happens to an animal once it is at the shelter.

I remember a woman I had worked with years ago who knew everyone in the world around here when it comes to dogs and emailed a mutual friend in the hope that I could contact her and get the inside scoop in case the beagle got moved to the HS. As it turns out, my friend suggested I contact a local beagle rescue woman instead; again, my idea was to get the dog a home in case his owners didn’t show up to claim him.

Now this is where it gets really weird. I called the rescue lady, and as I began to tell her my story, “My husband found a beagle yesterday crossing 25th Street….” we both started to realize that she knew the owner of the dog. In fact, she had rescued the dog before and adopted him out to someone. As it turns out, the owner was at the hospital with his wife who was very ill and someone else was “watching” the dog. He had found out about Bailey, the beagle’s name, being missing and had called her in tears.

Yes, that was his dog! I can’t tell you how relieved I was not to have a third dog in our house and to find this guy’s owners. Talk about fate and the stars aligning at the right time!

Okay, that is today’s pet story. Now onto some fabulous crafting links for you to enjoy!

Aileen’s Musings
Aileen shows you how she created her ceramic mermaid tile.

Craft Buds
Do you dream of writing a book on your craft? Read a craft book editors tips for ways to make a book proposal pop, plus a checklist of basic book proposal components.

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
This week at Craftside there is a tutorial on how to paint a black cat, a tip on how to stop a handsaw from binding, fun photos from Maker Faire New York, and a recipe for a yummy trifecta veggie burger.

Eileen – The Artful Crafter
Save this fall’s flower and vegetable seeds to make handmade paper cards that will bloom in the garden next spring!

Lindsay Sews
If you like crafting for a cause, check out Lindsay’s handmade earrings project. There’s also a fabric button earrings giveaway.

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi finally decided to stop hoarding her sunprinted fabric and use it for a project instead!

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery
How to make recycled milk jug skull Halloween decorations.

About Family Crafts
This week’s craft challenge is all about crafting with shoe boxes… Do you have a project to share?

Loom Knitting for Christmas

Blogged under Loom Knitting by Tammy on Thursday 22 September 2011 at 11:18 am

The past few years my extended family and I have drawn names for Christmas. The idea was that we would all save money, especially a few members of my family who (bless their hearts) can be a little overly generous. I still think it is a good idea to save money for everyone, but I have to admit it is not that fun to buy just one gift for one person. Giving is what the holiday is all about!

This year, however, we are trying something a little different. Instead of drawing names, we are putting a $5-15 limit per gift with the option of people going in on gifts together. For example, two people can go in on one gift and spend as much as $30 for that one gift to give to one person. The idea is that everyone will get a little something from everyone else with emphasis on it’s the thought that counts.

On my end, I’m being thrifty and a little ambitious at the same time. I plan on making gifts for everyone, starting with loom knit hats for the guys. Pictured is one I have made already using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in a color called Denim Twist. I am on my third hat and have a total of six that I hope to make. I love how these turned out, and because the yarn is bulky-weight, they are very fast to make. I can get one finished in a day if it is a weekend, and I have time to work on it off and on.

For the gals on my list (most of whom have already gotten hats, scarves, and/or fingerless gloves from me in the past), I am not 100% sure what I plan to make. I am leaning towards market bags, but I am not sure if I will have the time to do them. Granted, I have started really, really early, but when I look at the calendar and also see how much I have going on this semester, it is hard to see if I can do it all. I’m very busy with the school craft club, and I am making a lot of stuff with it in mind since we have a show in mid-November and have two charity groups we hope to give items to. My gift-making may end up having to wait until school is over and I have a week or so before Christmas, eek!

How Yarn Is Made

Blogged under Crafty Videos by Tammy on Wednesday 21 September 2011 at 4:41 pm

This is a very interesting video from Coats and Clark, who make Red Heart Yarn. It is hosted by the Double Stitch Twins, who are so cute and funny, and it shows you inside the factory where they combine fibers into some of the company’s popular yarn.

Good Crafting Around the Web

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Monday 19 September 2011 at 11:30 am

Lola is a lover of “the circle.” This is an old granny square afghan I made a zillion years ago. I roll it up and then form it into a circle, and there is always a cat in it. I don’t exactly know the power of the circle, personally. It must be a cat thing.

Eileen – The Artful Crafter
How to make an easy candle decoration in a jiffy.

Mixed Media Artist
Have you ever thought of visiting the automotive store to pick up collage supplies?

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery
How to make a recycled book page pumpkin Halloween card.

About Family Crafts
Check out all of these wonderful craft products that help raise money for breast cancer awareness!

Carmi’s Art/Life World
Carmi falls in love with an illustrated 550 page children’s novel.

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
Bead Vegan is an occasional post where Cindy the beadmaker posts some of her vegan recipes. This one is inspired by the flavors of India.

Craft Buds
It’s all about sewing for little guys this week on Craft Buds, where we’ve interviewed the authors of the new book Sewing for Boys and gave one of their projects a test drive. Also check out the roundup of sewing apps for iPhone and Android users.

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
This week at Craftside there is a chance to win a copy of the new book Unstuck by Noah Scalin with a fun eyeball photography idea, stylin’ earplug earrings, and how to freeze eggs.

Cross Stitch at Craft Gossip
Connie’s tracked down a favorite designer just in time for Halloween cuteness!

Bead Soup Blog Party – The Reveal!

Blogged under Design Ideas,Jewelry Designing by Tammy on Saturday 17 September 2011 at 10:29 am

The party is over! I’m talking about Lori Andersen’s Bead Soup Blog Party, which I joined last month. My partner,  Shiraz from Secret Song Designs, send me this amazing stash of bead soup.

And I ended up making 4 pieces for the soup party, though I plan to make more pieces with the leftover supplies. First, I made two necklaces. For one, I took the carved rose bead and inserted wire through it and made it into a pendant. Then I used white ribbon to make it into a necklace. It is long enough to be worn with the other necklace I made using the sparkling beads and glass beads she sent me, which I finished off with a hook-style clasp.

The other two pieces I made are a pair of earrings and a bracelet. I combined wire with some of the beads in my soup to make the earrings and dangled some of the butterfly beads from each one. For the bracelet, I used the toggle clasp I was sent and a mix of the glass, seed beads, Czech crystals, and more butterfly beads.

For a complete list of bead soup participants, head over to the Bead Soup Blog. Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and check out some amazing jewelry designs!

Make a Tube for Your Cat Using a Knit Loom

Blogged under Free Craft Projects,Loom Knitting by Tammy on Thursday 15 September 2011 at 8:21 am

One of the four round looms in the Knifty Knitter includes a fairly large one, 11.5 inches (29cm). While I think it would be a good size for a bag, I think it’s a little large for a hat, and it also occurred to me that it would be a good size to make a long tube for my cats to play in. Pictured above is Lola checking it out after I put a mouse toy in it. While my experiment didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped, my cats are enjoying hanging out with the tube, so I decided to go ahead and post photos showing how I constructed the cat tube.

First I doubled the yarn by holding two strands together: Red Heart Super Save yarn in Soft Navy and Cherry Red. I just used the straightforward loom wrap, which I believe ends up creating stockinette stitch (alternating knit and purl stitches). I made this about 4 feet or so long.

Then I folded the entire tube in half and inserted a sheet of interfacing between the two layers of stockinette.

Then I pulled the second loop of yarn over each peg so that I just had one loop over each peg on the loom.

Finally, I pulled off each loop on each peg and used a crochet hook to slip stitch the tube closed.

This is the tube standing up, and as you can see, it does have some body to it. However, here it is on its side.

It kind of collapses a little. Originally, I was thinking of opening it back and sticking something more stiff inside of it, but the more I have seen my cats play with it, the more I think it is just not wide enough, even if the sides were stiffer.

I was putting toys in there, and it has some interest for the cats as far as playing with when I do that. However. I have noticed that they tend to almost use it more like a pillow. They lean on it for sit on top of it. So now I’m thinking of stuffing the whole thing with fiber fill and stitching the ends closed. I’m not sure yet.

Crafty Link Sunday

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 11 September 2011 at 3:27 pm

Herbie is our easy going brown Tabbie boy kitty who all the girls adore. Here he is hanging with his favorite playtime gal, Coco. These two spend hours playing with each other, and even though Herbie is a lot bigger than Coco, he is very gentle with her, often being the cat on the bottom while she tears into him!

The top of an old file cabinet in my office is one of the premier spots to snuggle and relax. This paper box lid is just about ready to get tossed and a new one put in it’s place, but it is so well broken in I have had the heart to do the switch yet.

Okay, that is this week’s little kitty story, and here are this week’s craft links:

About Family Crafts
This week’s craft challenge is all about making apples. Do you have an apple craft to share?

Aileen’s Musings
Still in the spirit of getting ready for Christmas gift making, Aileen offers you a faux hand blown glass ornament tutorial that can easily be adapted for other holidays, as well.

Carmi’s Art/Life World
Carmi shares new Humphrey the Elephant 3D cards.

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
Feeling like your craft business isn’t taking off like you hoped? You might just be a scrub pine. What’s a scrub pine? Come find out on Cindy’s blog!

Connie Gee’s Designs
Connie’s making plans for 2012 – find out what projects she is planning to stitch in the coming year. It’s always nice to plan ahead.

Craftside- A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
This week at Craftside there is a chance to win a copy of the new book by Misty Mawn – Unfurling along with doodling tips, a Plaid Craft TV episode that features me and Steve making a Mod Podge bird house wind chime with a recycled sweater flower, some paint mixing tips and a recipe for watermelon granita.

Eileen – The Artful Crafter
Look at Eileen’s crafty solution to an accident waiting to happen.

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi pulls out an older collage to revisit a technique that mixes digital and physical aspects.

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery
How to wind a spool of thread for serging with a Deluxe SideWinder.

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