Sunday, January 28, 2007

A New Craft Inspires an Old One

Okay, a week and a half a go I attended the The Chicagoland Craft Collective Meetup meeting. Every month we meet to socialize and gab about what some of our family members and some friends deem to be insanity. We love crafts. Yes, that would be plural. We can't just stop at one or even two. So every month we must also make another craft. Sometimes these are new to us and sometimes the projects are expansions of what we already do.

This month we were taught how to make a bead from beads. I love beads and love to put beads on things or string a few for a necklace. I even crocheted a beaded bracelet in a class by Jenny King. I've bought beading magazines (I have the first issue of Bead and Button) and beading books. I had been looking forward to this workshop for a month. Our teacher, the talented Miss Melanie, neatly packed kits including needles for us to make the cute little bead. I tried really hard and I retried but I didn't quite finish at the meeting. Finally this past weekend I got to sit down and concentrate on the project. Frustration soon set in because I couldn't remember the next steps and I wanted someone to help me. But, I wanted a bead, NOW! This impatientness turned into improvisation and I ended up with a lovely checkered looking bead.

I would have loved to make a few more but I think I need another class. (This isn't exactly what it is supposed to look like. Sarah Moore has example of the real thing on her blog, Sarah and the Stampstars and check this photo for Susie's who finished hers at the meeting.) Now, I have one bead. What do I do with one bead? Make a quilt of course!

Well, sort of, at least. I sat down, picked out a few coordinating fabrics and Voila! I have a crazy quilt rectangle that I plan on making a little purse out of as soon as I embellish it. I'm still trying to figure out where the bead will go. I'm thinking of making a tassel out of the bead to let it hang loose from the surface. Still too early to tell what the results will be. I'm just so happy that my crafting has gotten such a great start before February has even arrived.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Finally Finished Something - A Warm Crocheted Hat

I've been trying to keep up with my crafting. It is something I love to do and if I don't get to do it I become a little edgy. But life seems to get in the way although that's not how I like to look at it because it is part of my life. It's just that it gets out of balance with everything else I have to do. If I had my choice I wouldn't work or at least not full-time. And its not that I don't like to work or where I work but I have so many projects I would love to do. In fact I have so many that even if I didn't work or have other interests I STILL would not get them all done.

I did get something finished since I last posted. I needed a hat! It is cold here in the suburbs of Chicago. I had bought some Patons Ci Ci yarn (color is Starry Night) that I wanted to try to work with as well. So during the play off games this past Sunday I finally got started and finished it about an hour after the Colts won. (I would have finished sooner but the last game was just too exciting). I used a basic hat pattern that I found in Hip to Crochet by Judith L. Swartz. Although the pattern called for a slightly different yarn I knew it was the shape I wanted. I did have to make it a little larger than the instructions. It does not look like the hat in the book. After the first few rows of increasing I put it on my head and decided I needed another row of increases. Then I continued to do the rows to lengthen it until it was the length I wanted it with a cuff. With this yarn it is hard to see the cuff in the photo and I had to model it to get a good photo. Thanks to my husband who took a picture without cutting me in half.

Some notes on this yarn: A chenille-like yarn with very soft slubs. I used a G hook but it may have worked easier with a larger hook. I kept getting hung up in my stitches and when I would try to unravel the yarn would get stuck in itself. I wouldn't suggest it for a beginner crocheter. It probably would have been easier to work with by knitting but I'm still a new knitter and I wanted the hat a little sooner than later. I used 3 skeins exactly. This is a very soft and very, very warm hat.

Hopefully this weekend I will get more done. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Joining the Needle Punch Bandwagon

Okay, I've finally finished my first needle punch (or punchneedle) attempt. I won't call it a project because I still need to do something with it. I am trying very hard this year to do "finished projects" so I've been thinking of putting this on a tote bag so I can show I finally did it!

The thing is I had been eyeing needle punch for a couple of years now. My first look at this technique or at least the miniature version of it that is so popular now at Back Door Quilts in Greenwood, IN. I say this version because my mother used to do needle punch with rug yarns when I was very young. I still have her needle, the DE LUXE RUG NEEDLE No. 90 from the Columbia Minerva Company. Check out Iva Rose Vintage Reproductions to see examples of the patterns they produced. I am going to continue to research them to see if I can find the instructions on how to use this needle. Feel free to contact me if you have any information on this tool.

Anyway, as I was saying before I took a trip down memory lane, I really have been wanting to try this for a long time. The quilt stores I visited at the time had the supplies, patterns and plenty of beautiful samples but the closest I could get to a class was a demonstration always done when I couldn't go, of course. Everyone I met who was doing this kept saying how easy it is to do. Finally, this past fall at the Greater Chicago Quilt Exposition, I found the needle I wanted which a new stitching friend had showed me how it worked. The great folks at Country Threads helped me out with the needle and the very necessary hoop.

Now, I go home with my prized possession ready to get to work. It was a complete disaster. My fabric was too tightly woven at least I thought that was my problem. I go on the Internet in search for a tutorial. Nothing really helps me except for... I finally see (I think I was blinded from my excitement) that weavers cloth is what you need to use. I go back to Country Threads online now because they are not in town anymore and I order the fabric. In the meantime, my best friend from Arkansas sends me her yearly Christmas package and inside is the cutest, darned NEEDLE PUNCH, ornament (see photo below). She has finished one before I have even really begun! And look, she even used different levels of thread as wells as cut and brush the scarf and earmuffs.

I feel I can't wait any longer to accomplish my task of learning this craft. I can no longer procrastinate. One problem, it's the holidays. There is no time to sit down and play with my toys. The holidays pass (they were very good BTW) and I get to do my project. Please see my photo and if you made it through my story, thanks for listening.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I've Got the Blogging Bug

I am so impressed lately with all the blogging going on out there in the Internet world. Like I said before I've read blogs and participated on message boards and tried out a few Internet groups but I became busy with real life (my daughter and my job) and really stopped exploring the Internet with the exception of shopping at Amazon or ToysRUs and of course, a few craft sites.

Then one evening I decided to see what was going on at I'm still fairly new to the area I live in and wanted to see if I could find people with similar interests. I got lucky and found a group of people just starting a craft group in the same town I live. Sarah the organizer has a couple of blogs. One is her main blog, Stampstars and the other is for anyone who has ever experienced a crafting accident appropriately named Craft Accident. She published a story I sent her that anyone who has used a rotary cutter can appreciate. That gave me the blogging bug.

I love reading the different blogs out there especially when I feel a connection to the writer. I found that blogs involving arts and crafts tend to be the most socially interesting with a strong sense of community and with the least amount of negativity. I know that is mostly due to being able to moderate comments but I think crafters are some of the most supportive and honest people. Crafters are also very helpful. For example, if you are new to the blog world, Sharon B's blog, inaminuteago, shares her experience of 3 years of blogging. I found this as a great reference to help those new to blogging whether reading or writing. And then, there is the endless number of tutorials on blogs. You can find out everything from how to make a peasant skirt at Whip Up to get out of debt by someone who is working through the process with her Blogging Away Debt site.

Now it's time to go use some of the information I've learned. Hope you enjoyed reading and please let me know of any interesting places you've learned from and find that you just can't live without.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

My Very First Blog

Hi everyone out there and welcome to my very first attempt at writing a blog. I feel so behind in the Internet world. I have known about and read many blogs for several years but I didn't think this was for me. But then I discovered the number of artists, crafters, moms and people of every walk of life out there sharing and caring about their worlds. I hope that I can share with you and you will in return share with me your experiences, frustrations and anything else that we can think of.

In this blog I will try to concentrate on one of my personalities (yes I have a few undiagnosed ones - i.e. the crazy in the title). This persona is mostly interested in being a mom and still trying to do what I love which is just about any craft you can throw my way. I also want to be able to share my interests with my 5 year old daughter. She already shows great interest in being artsy and craftsy but she shares my impatient gene as well as the know-it-all gene and at 5 the genes are much more pronounced and temperamental in her.

So I hope you join me in this journey of discovery as I try to figure out what I'm doing in the blogosphere.

Thanks for listening.