A “Little” Afghan

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Finished Projects by Tammy on Monday 27 January 2014 at 10:01 am

As usual, I always have a number of craft projects going on, all in various stages. This weekend I realized that this small afghan I have been working on was super close to being finished, so I set all other projects aside and concentrated on it. The finished size is 34 inches by 41 inches, and it is made using Wool-Ease Thick and Quick and a size K crochet hook. It is all double crochet (6 rows for each color) with a single crochet boarder trim. The colorways I used are Grey Marble and Navy.

Originally, this started out as a stash busting project, but of course, I did not have as much of this yarn as I thought I had and ended up having to buy a few extra skeins to finish it. Each of the 6 row stripes requires almost one skein.

This was going to be a blanket mainly for Jasper, who is our oldest dog and sometimes has trouble getting up on the couch. We have various large dog beds on the floor too, along with another afghan I made for them awhile back, so I thought I should give him another blanket to use down there on those days when getting up on the couch is not possible.

But, Little had different plans. As soon as I set it on top of one of the dog beds, (and all the dogs had taken a look at it), he claimed it for his own and sat like an angel puppy on it almost the entire evening. This was after he had come close to destroying a second water pitcher and chewed up one of the baseboards. But, for a few hours, he was an angel.

Buttons, Quilts, Mermaids, and More

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 26 January 2014 at 9:44 am

Art Bead Scene
Check out guest blogger Kylie Parry’s illuminating post on using Pinterest Inspiration Boards as a creative business tool!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
What’s up next for the Inspired by Reading Book Club? Andrew shares the reading list for the next round of books!

A Bead A Day
Looking for Valentine’s Day project inspiration…Lisa’s sharing heartfelt projects created by her fellow Cousin Corp ambassadors.

Document Craft Project Steps so You Can Replicate Them Even Years Later
Some crafters and artists keep notebook journals of their ideas and projects. Eileen has fine-tuned a digital system which works really well for her.

Resin Crafts Blog
A wonderful series has begun on Resin Crafts blog. I am sharing over 80 different artists submissions featuring a pocket watch. You will be so inspired!

June’s been making a few folk art dolls…

Charlene Sevier
Charlene mixes elements from different worlds and cultures. Can it work and can you do it too?

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi has started a new collage quilt, featuring one of her favorite birds…the chickadee!

Beading Arts
How about using an antique or vintage button as the centerpiece for a small bead embroidered pendant?

Snap out of it, Jean! There’s beading to be done!
Jean makes a Winter Tree of Life Pendant, inspired by a friend on Facebook who is creating Trees of Life as he swelters in the heat of summer in Australia!

Document Craft Project Steps so You Can Replicate Them Even Years Later
Some crafters and artists keep notebook journals of their ideas and projects. Eileen has fine-tuned a digital system which works really well for her. With digital cameras, it’s easy to take step-by-step photos as you go.

Mixed Media Anniversary Quilt
Cherie starts a quilt with embroidery, applique, and mixed media items.

Space to Create! An End (for Now) to the Messy Madness!

Blogged under Crafty Products,Jewelry Designing by Tammy on Thursday 23 January 2014 at 4:55 am

Recently, I confessed to the fact that my jewelry work area did not have a square to spare as far as work surface. While the room this space is in still needs to tweaking, I can now see the surface and actually make something!

Weee! See how you can now see the top of the desk? Actually, this desk is a sewing cabinet, but it works great for all kinds of crafting, including jewelry making. Now the boxes to the left, they are what I mean by tweaking. The clear shoe box size ones in the back, well, they are full of a lot of stuff that I still need to go through. However, the other boxes on the left have been sorted out with supplies I’ve received from various vendors that I plan to use for future jewelry projects.

On the left side hanging on the wall is a product I purchased during an outlet sale through Thirty-One, which I’m an independent consultant for. It is called the Hang-Up Home Organizer, and my original idea was to use this in my home office, but by the time I got it, I had already gotten that place whipped into shape. Instead, I have zip lock bags with various items like findings, chain, charms, etc. and I put those in the large pockets, which have labels you can use. Now these are not all the findings, chain, charms, etc. that I have, but they were the odds and ends spread all over creation at one time. Now they are at least organized again and handy for me to use. I have other items in the small clear pockets, and of course, you can see a bead board in there too.

Now the next cool thing, I can’t take credit for. If you look to the right on the first photo at the top of this post, you will see a few little caddies there. They are called the Littles Carry-All Caddy, and again, I got a few during the outlet sale. I first thought I would just toss my hand tools in there, but then some brilliant person on Facebook showed how you can fit up to 6 Crystal Light containers in one of these. This way I can keep my tools separate and organized. The other caddy has a box of tissue (for my ever running nose) as well as a pad of paper and post-its and pen for me to take notes as I make jewelry, necessary for later writing it up as a project.

Finally, I guess I should have taken a photo of the inside of this. It is also a Thirty-One product, which I got from the new spring catalog. It’s called the Flip-Top Organizing Bin, and I’m using it for seed bead supplies. I can fit a ceramic bead tray as well as one of those felted top boards in there and other beading supplies, and this way, it makes it a little bit portable. And, of course, my growing amigurumi menagerie can use it to hang out on too.

I am looking forward to getting some jewelry made this weekend. I have a resin kit that I’ve been really wanting to dig into, but resin takes space, and now I have it! Hopefully, it will stay like this for a little while.

Crochet Love Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Wednesday 22 January 2014 at 3:23 pm

Crochet Love: 27 Sweet & Simple Zakka-Inspired Projects is written by Jenny Doh and published by Lark. It is a 128 page paperback book with an October 2013 publication date and retails in the US for $17.95 or in Canada for $19.95. The word “zakka” as mentioned in the subtitle is a Japanese term for “crafts for the home,” and that is the focus of this how-to style crochet book.

The first 19 pages cover the basics of crochet from materials to stitches, and I am pretty impressed with the techniques part of this section. There are a generous number of photographs that really “show” as well as the text along with it that “tells” you how to crochet. This section assumes you are a novice. It even explains briefly how to read a patterns. I also give a big “yeah” for one photograph of single crochet stitches that are shown with numbers next to each stitch. It is so important to be able to count your stitches (to be able to “read” your fabric) as you crochet, and I know many beginners get confused with this. That is why their first pieces often start becoming triangular shapes because they will accidentally skip the last stitch and thus drop a stitch each row.

Along with the projects being super duper cute, they all look really easy and fun, perfect for beginners or anyone who wants some immediate gratification. I am not sure if I would be inclined to make every single one, but there is a little in here for every taste. The “Soap Saver and Washcloth” project uses hemp yarn, and these would make a nice small gift for someone. Or you could make a paperweight using a rock and the instructions for the “Pretty Paperweights” project. A few other projects that stood out to me as something I might be inclined to make are the “Heart Purse,” the “Upcycled Plastic Tote,” and the “Binder Duvet.” Beginners will be able to make some small and fast projects like the “Birthday Cake Bunting and Cupcake Picks” and the “Lemonade Coasters and Glass Cozies.”

I’m actually thinking of giving my review copy to my sister who is just learning how to crochet. So if you have wanted to learn, this might be something to consider. In fact, Amazon has this available for just a little over $12, which is a great price! Plus, there is a “look inside” option there as well.

Fast Jewelry, Studio Peeks, Pendants, and More

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 19 January 2014 at 11:24 am

A Bead A Day
Need something new to wear, but only have 20 minutes? You can do it! Choose a pendant, add chain and a few beads. Lisa shares her latest quick project.

Art Bead Scene
Take a peek Inside the Studio of Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati – and be in with a chance of winning a set of her new Facet Effects beads!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton

Andrew reveals where his porcelain pendants will be at during this year’s Tucson Gem Show!

Mirrored Wall Cabinet Jewelry Holder
This jewelry organizer is not only very decorative hanging on the wall, but also allows you to keep your most-worn pieces organized right at eye level. Put them on and check yourself out in the mirrored front. What could be more convenient?

Snap out if it, Jean! There’s beading to be done!
Jean reviews an excellent book on jewelry design from the great Cathy Jakicic: Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider–it is wonderful!

Mixed Media Artist
Mobius strip scarves, part two! Cyndi shows you how to work with thicker chunky yarn this week.

Beading Arts
It’s official…Cyndi’s gotten hooked on making bead embroidered pendants!

Teal and Brown Afghan
Cherie makes a new afghan to keep the family warm.

Confessions of a Messy Jewelry Designer

Blogged under Jewelry Designing by Tammy on Wednesday 15 January 2014 at 5:57 pm

Since my leaving About.com as the “guide” to the jewelry making web site over there, you may have noticed that I have not had an abundance of jewelry related writing over here on my personal blog. Admittedly, at first I just needed a break from all things jewelry. After writing at least 2 jewelry articles a week for 15 years, yes, a break was nice. However, I have lots of design ideas rolling around in my head and also sketched out in one of of my many design books. It will be nice at some point to actually write up “how to” jewelry directions without the restrictions of a template, required word count, required number of links, and so on that I had to do when writing for About.com.

In fact, I could say this is why I have not posted any projects here recently. Yes, I could say that, right? But that would be such a lie because this is the real reason I have not made any jewelry recently:

And this is just one example of the “mess” that is my jewelry making work area. Of course, I could find a place in my house that is not this freakin’ messy and spread out over there, but the guilt would be too much for me to handle. So instead, I have kept the door closed to where this is located, and each weekend I tell myself that I’m going to get in there and get to it. I’m going to organize, clean up, clean out, and get cracking!

Tell me I’m not alone when it comes to having not even one inch of space available on your jewelry bench. Eee gads!

So kind readers, please stay with me. Enjoy some yarn goodness and other crafts I may post here until I have the energy and courage to take control of the jewelry design studio from Hell!

Cold Weather Craft Links

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 12 January 2014 at 1:19 pm

Art Bead Scene
Check out Brandi’s gorgeous colour palette for this month’s challenge piece!

A Bead A Day
Ringing in the new year with new jewelry? Lisa’s sharing a new icy project.

It’s a mail art call!!! Come on over and join in!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Participants of the Inspired by Reading Book Club share their creations inspired by “Bridge of Birds” by Barry Hughart and “The Journey to the East” by Hermann Hesse.

Carmi’s Art/Life World
Carmi utilizes a “saved” crazy quilt block and turns it into wearable art in this special blog post.

Resin Crafts Blog
Wondering what is better to mold with? We have a post showing you how great Jewelry Clay and Jewelry resin can be!

Snap out of it, Jean! There’s beading to be done!
Making tiny jewelry takes just as much thought and planning as designing full sized regular pieces. See Jean’s blog for the details!

Beading Arts
The new Bezel Effects paints make a great centerpiece for bead embroidery!

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi has come up with a fun variation on the ever-popular infinity scarf!

Fishers of Men
Cherie uses the “Fishers of Men” passage to help create mixed media prints.

Eileen – The Artful Crafter
Knit and crochet combine in Red Heart Sashay Yarn. Did you know you can create “crocheted” scarves, shawls and the like without picking up a crochet hook?

Naw, I Don’t Need No Swift N Ball Winder

Blogged under Crafty Products,crochet and knitting by Tammy on Saturday 11 January 2014 at 5:19 pm

I keep telling myself that I do not need to spend the money on a swift and ball winder. Then every once in a awhile I have an unruly skein like I did today. I don’t even know how long it took me to finally wind this ball after I got it tangled at one point and had a pile of yarn barf to deal with. At least, I caught up on some podcasts.

The colorway is called “Metamorphosis,” and it’s the “Show Stopper” base, 80% superwash merino/10% nylon/10% cashmere from Leading Men Fibers. It is destined for fingerless gloves.

Why I Amigurumi

Blogged under amigurumi,Charity Crafting by Tammy on Friday 10 January 2014 at 3:27 pm

Crocheting amigurumi (aka stuffed toys) is one of my favorite techniques. I usually have at least one amigurumi project in progress all the time. I like the challenge of trying a new pattern, but at the same time, I feel pretty sure I will be successful when I attempt a new one because, at this point in my crocheting career, I have made dozens of these. And, for the most part, the technique is pretty much the same as far as counting stitches and increasing and decreasing. I’m not saying they are perfect in any way, but generally, the outcome is okay. For example, here is one of my most recent “new to me” patterns that I finished, Phil, the Groundhog, designed by Stacey from Freshstitches.com.

I made him right after finishing another bunny, like the pink one I made not that long ago. This time, I made the same bunny but used Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes in blue berry held double. (I really needed a break from acrylic yarn!)

A second reason why I like to make amigurumi toys is because….they are just so cute. I have to admit that the cuteness factor is a big draw, which is why I don’t making duplicate toys. Who can resist making a cute bunny or giraffe?

My third reason is the best: I donate finished amigurumi to a local women and children’s shelter, so I can be reasonably sure that a little boy or girl will enjoy playing and snuggling with each toy I make. Last year, I was able to crank out 18 of them.

I am not sure how I managed this exactly because this year I feel behind. I have made 6 so far, and a club member has made 2 to add to them. I have one bird that is almost done, but that just brings me up to 9. I delivered the last batch in early May last year, so if I want to reach the same number, I need to get cranking again! I know I’m putting this pressure on myself. While the shelter did enjoy the toys and I received a nice thank you note, it’s not like they are calling me up demanding more toys. But, again, it is part of the challenge. I should finish the bird either tonight or tomorrow, so that means 9 down and 9 to go!

Getting Organized for 2014, Sort of

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Wednesday 8 January 2014 at 11:21 am

One task on my holiday break to-do list was to get my home office organized. I would show you a “before” photo, but that would be way too embarrassing. Let’s just say “dang, girl, it was a hot mess!” As a Thirty-One consultant, I have been slowing gathering products with this in mind, a Caddy here, a Fold N File there. In fact, I’m still waiting on my outlet order that has a wall hanging unit and another bin that I will also use in my office. But for now, I’m pretty darn pleased with the results. It took me about half a day and half a box of kleenex (oh the dust!), and voila, it looks amazing. And I feel like I am so much more productive.

Here are a few close up photos to show what I did.

The Fold N File on the left I’m using for my school paperwork. This is handy because, if necessary, I can tote the entire thing to my school office, or I can just pull out a few items I need and bring those with me. Plus, yeah, I can finally use the shelves behind it for actual books. I have my school books in the middle and craft books on either side. Some of the craft books I plan to review on my blog, so it’s nice to have them right there ready for when I’m ready to write about them instead of hidden under piles of stuff.

To the right is a Littles Carry-All Caddy with my tissue, pens, calculator, lip gloss, etc. I love these caddies! In fact, I ended up getting three more for my desk. See the photos below:

They hold all those little items that tend to be all over my desk, and I can keep them contained now. Plus, I can move the caddies around if I need to spread out. I pushed the handles down when I don’t need them.

Along with craft books, I have an assortment of jewelry items that need reviewing and/or used in future projects. These were originally crammed in a tacky plastic basket and had dust all over them (yup, I have dust issues in my house!) Now I have them all in this Your Way Junior Cube and Lid. I have the clear side facing me, so again, I won’t forget about them, and the lid helps keep the cats out and the dust down. I think the taupe gingham print looks good with the purple theme I have going on. These cubes are pretty cool and are one of the new products in the Thirty-One spring 2014 catalog.

Then there is the overflow to deal with. Here is a Medium Utility Tote, which was a special during November. It is not available right now, but I’m hoping we will see these again either as a special or in the summer catalog. I have magazines and small project bags in here plus yarn on top. To go along with the purple theme again, this print is called Awesome Blossom.

And…more overflow includes 3 large bags. The center one is in a retired print, but it is the Super Organizing Tote. I am working on finishing up a jewelry book update as well as writing a book about Florida literature, so I have all the paperwork, books, etc. in this bag. The other two bags are full of yarn and works in progress.

Oh, and did you notice my office assistants on top of the desk and the empty boxes to the side of my computer? Of course, I have to save room for my cats.

Now I have the organizing bug and hope to be able to make something happen like this in my craft room. Since doing the jewelry book update, it has been a wreck! While I would much rather spend my time crafting than organizing, I have to admit that getting organized feels so good and is totally worth the time.

What about you? Do you have organizing plans for 2014?

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