Thursday, November 28, 2013

the OXO of crochet hooks

or the ugly duckling.

Having finished the first cotton twine basket I was ready to try another.  My thumb was protesting though.  I have a callus where the crochet hook is grasped.  One of my go to solutions is to use the  moldable self-setting rubber Sugru which cures in 24 hours.  I only have one No. 5 hook so that wasn't the solution. Continuing to work with the hook wasn't the way to go either.

I snipped the edges off a square rod of very dense foam to round it off a bit.  Then I heated a metal skewer and made a hole through the centre of the length of the foam. As it is quite a tight fit the foam doesn't move up and down the hook so I don't need to continuously adjust its position. I didn't want to slice the foam open along it's length as it would then have needed something like tape, yarn or wire to hold it closed. This would have added bumps and lumps to the grip.

The hook is really comfortable to use making the crocheting very enjoyable, even and swift.

I did find the answer online of how to finish off a row of circular crochet. Dedri gives three well explained techniques here and i am really happy with the new look. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

and now for something completely different .. a crocheted basket

Having come across a pattern for a crocheted basket last week I got itchy fingers to finally try one myself.  I unravelled a ball of cotton string that was still looped into the knitting Nancy. That idea really wasn't going anywhere so here was a ball of cotton string ready to (re)use.

The label on this string says it is cooking twine, useful for home, school and office.  It is more a cord than common old garden string.  It is three strand and very tightly twisted.  It has a serious rope structure. I think you could hold a horse with this stuff.  Love to be able to buy some more but it was a purchase some years back, so that is not likely.

Two rows in the base had to be undone as the basket base had too many stitches and was developing a wave formation.  I modified the pattern making the increases every third stitch instead of every second then tried again.

How long is a length of string?  In this case I know as the label said it was 82 metres.  I estimated how far this length of string would take me and ended up with a basket 13 cm in diameter and 7 cm high and a meter of string left over.
Taking those measurements had me looking critically at the basket. The outcome of this was that two rows were pulled out.  I switched over from the 6.00 mm hook for a 5.00 mm one and restitched two rows.  This has  made the rim tighter.  It also gives the basket a more upright shape and stiffer structure.

I will need to learn how to finish off each row in a more tidy fashion.  Wonder if there is a YouTube for that. The next basket will be in a loose twist cotton twine that is more like stranded cotton. With a different sized yarn and hook I wonder if the waves will still be there. Might look for the pattern in my craft room for this one.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

project: creating a Christmas decoration - helping the glue

My choice of glue for attaching the letters was Claudine Hellmuth Studio multi-medium matte.  The 'matte' is important in case any glue oozes out the side of the embellishments or letters. It shows up less and doesn't catch the light like gloss glue does. It is thick so is great for attaching ribbons like the crushed velvet on the 't' and bobble edging on 'r'.

It is a strong glue and to help make sure the layers are in contact as it dries I used a selection of weights.
I started with  book weights then a large glass jar and it got to clamps both large and small as at this stage I was flying along.

 The clamps were really useful as there was a bit of bow in the letters and the base panels due to the water based gel glue I used to paste the printed paper to the chipboard letters and base panels. I am really pleased with the relative flatness of the base panels with their front and back faces covered in printed paper.  The 'unhurried' time under the dictionaries helped this!  Wonder what an extra 12 hours would have done?

Progress decorating panels m e r r y c h r i s t m a s O
red - not started            mauve - started                green - finished

Monday, November 25, 2013

project: creating a Christmas decoration - giving it some lift

The letter 's' of Christmas is wrapped in baker's twine.  This lifts it off the base panel.
Rather than using foam tape to support the rest of the letter I used small pads of chipboard to lift the letter evenly.

I had a laugh while sorting out where the punched border should sit.  The first layout had it aligned under the baker's twine giving it the look of a $ sign. Yes, Christmas is a lot about the flow of $$'s, not what I wanted showing here though.

All the panels now have rounded corners, punched holes and decorated letters.  My last challenge is to choose the right ribbon, thread or cord to tie the panels to each other.  I don't want the ties to outshine the decorations by catching the eye.  Rather than my first two choices of narrow cream grosgrain and webbing I want the ties to 'disappear' so the better colour maybe a dark green which is present in the details of many of the panels.

Progress decorating panels m e r r y c h r i s t m a s O
red - not started            mauve - started                green - finished

Saturday, November 23, 2013

project: creating a christmas decoration - adding some texture

To add texture to the last panel I fussy cut a second bow then used the embossing tool and foam mat.

 The bow was then attached using silicon, both to fix it to the panel and support the 3D shaping I had created.

Progress decorating panels O m e r r y c h r i s t m a s O
red - not started            mauve - started                green - finished

Friday, November 22, 2013

project: creating a Christmas decoration - stop & organise

As I was collecting small pictures for the panels, fussy cut holly leaves and needing to separate the positive and negative parts of the alphabet panels it was time to create a system for keeping the panels and their parts organised.

This is also important as I am working at a craft desk with a small amount of free space. (No we won't discuss tidying it or decluttering it). It has a piece of plate glass on it, that grey green surface you see in my photos.  Its easy to wash the glue and paint off. I can cut with my craft knife on it so there isn't any need for swapping over a non stick silicon mat and a cutting mat.

So with enough sleeves for each of the panels and some for co-ordinating scraps I found a box just big enough to hold them all and not take up too much space on the desk.

Progress decorating panels m e r r y c h r i s t m a s O
red - not started            mauve - started                green - finished

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Project: creating a Christmas decoration - first and last ... panel

I have chosen and cut the paper that will cover the back of each of the panels.   I guess you could say this means I have started all panels!!
Unless the decoration is put along a window sill the back of the panels is unlikely to be seen when it is out on display. At this point in time I will say the printed paper will be the only decoration for this side of the panels.

Do you know this paper?
I did some fussy cutting and removed the colours/pattern I didn't like. Now I have this for the front of panel no.16 and jsut the plain stripe for the back of panel no.1.
Having decided on the cover paper for panels no.1 and no.16 I have them glued and in the dictionary press.  Also completed is my first half hour check and I've replaced the scrap paper.  Remember I mentioned not wanting the scrap paper to stick to the panel paper?  Rather than leave it overnight and needing another oops recovery I always check early as scrap paper can still be moistened and removed at this stage.

Progress decorating panels m e r r y c h r i s t m a s O
red - not started            mauve - started                green - finished

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

project: creating a Christmas decoration - making a start

Or two steps forward one step back.
Taking it from the head to the hand I made a start with the 'm' of merry, panel no.2. Jumped into the  paint pot with the idea of having some personalised shadow lettering on the lower part of base card with an all over layer of paint.
Glued the pieces on, cleaned up any oozing glue, let it dry a little and then applied the custom shade of red paint.

Looking to apply a second coat of paint, well, I kept looking at the panel. Going with my gut feeling I went into quality control mode or was it just oops recovery mode.  Slight mis-alignments looked glaringly obvious at this point and the paint in that area was not quite right.
Quickly peeled the letters off, scraped the layer of glue and threads of chipboard then gave it a sand.

This is now the new look for panel no.2.  I glued the back and front printed paper layers on one after the other. Then I used the hard rubber brayer (roller) to squeeze out any excess glue to get good contact between the chipboard and paper.  Final step was a wipe with a damp cloth to remove oozing gel glue. Important to remove any stray bits of glue as the panel is pressed between sheets of scrap paper.   This paper takes up the moisture from the panel sandwich and you don't want the scrap paper to stick to the panel.

Before I put it under two dictionaries I put the positive chipboard 'm' back in the negative image.  The gold glitter paper was swollen and buckled from the water in the glue so the 'm' helped transmit the book pressure in that area during the drying phase.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

project: creating a Christmas decoration - some embellishments

Although I thought white would be one of the colours to be used in the design I now think it is very unlikely.  One of the embellishments I will probably use is some red and white baker's twine.  Well, it was red and white but is now red and dirty cream.
The safety pins and red linen thread might be useful too.

Friday, November 15, 2013

lost and found

Just not found by its owner.  I spotted this balancing on the fence while I was pruning roses in the front yard.
Wonder how long it has been there.  Wonder how long it will be there.
Could do with a wash and dry.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

project: creating a christmas decoration - fixing

... or keeping it together

This Christmas decoration will hopefully be wanted and used for many Christmases.  Carefully stored and brought out to add to the festivities each year.  Although I will be willing to carry out any repairs required I would rather its longevity was built in from the start.

A really quick and easy adhesive to use is double sided sticky tape.  There are lots available to use, many labeled with the words 'acid free', some really tacky,  some cheap 'n' tacky, others more costly.  Acid free, humph, but that is another story.

What the labels on these tapes don't tell us whether they will continue to do their job for say, 10 years, still sticking the layers together, not bleeding (like sticky tape) and not turning to powder.  Yes, there were tapes sold 12 years ago that after about 3 years one found the sticky layer had turned to powder.  This is my first hand experience not hearsay.  It stays in my mind, ringing alarm bells, when I make papercrafts for keeping.

My intention for this project is to use wet glues like gel and PVA and fixing devices like brads, eyelets, wires, pins, ribbons, string, stitching and wire binding. Perhaps some neutral cure silicon too. Using wet glues with paper and chipboard needscare: not using too much glue, allowing plenty of drying time and making good use of weighty objects like a dictionary or two. 

Posts about the discussion, design and creation of this Christmas decoration started on this blog post. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

another bag makeover

Some years ago I found instructions for using the spring form inside a trick or treat bag and using it as the frame for an attractive small storage bag.  Came across a bag in the clearance basket at the supermarket the other day so I finally have a frame to work with.

Now to choose the fabric: a lightweight synthetic fabric or cotton.  The cotton will still need to be light weight too I think.

For the last makeover I had all the resources but not the technique.  This time I had the technique but not the resource of the frame. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

project: creating a christmas decoration - textural supplies

The main heavy chipboard base sections with their printed paper and paint layers will get 3D decorations so here are some items I will need to cut to shape,  trim to size, embellish and attach.  Planning to leave these on the shelves so my work desk doesn't get any more cluttered than it is!  Will need to do a tour of the containers to remind myself what is available.

Panels with large alphabet diecuts
Mini alphabet

seam binding in red and cream

Buttons 'n' beads
pearl strings

Brads 'n' eyelets
many colours, 3 sizes

Embroidery threads
glittery and mat

Posts about the discussion, design and creation of this Christmas decoration started on this blog post.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

project: creating a christmas decoration - supplies

The plan with this project is to creatively use supplies from my stash i.e. my personally curated, open all hours, overstocked craft store.  So with the theme and the structure in place it is time to identify the supplies to be used.

Colour Media
The obvious paints are red, green, gold and cream.  I am now wondering if brown would be a good colour for the exposed edges of the panels and for distressing to tie the panels together.  I won't be using inks like Distress Inks as summer sweaty fingers may reactivate the ink's base and spread it around.  I experienced this when shown a friend's handmade treasured album which was coloured all over with Distress Inks. I walked away with brown finger tips. Permanent inks will be good to use.

Printed paper
KaiserCraft St Nicholas: Mr Claus  small labels and pictures depending on which side you look at
KC St Nicholas Collection: Father Christmas   holly leaves
KC Turtle Dove Collection: Lords  small Christmas theme images, large Father Christmas image, poinsettia
KC December 25th collection: hope teeny tiny Christmas images (see I told you supplies might be long gone)
wood prints: light, dark, stylised
stripes: wide and narrow in dirty (distressed) red and dirty cream
tiny holly leaves:  should still be some in the cupboard so hope to find it soon 
Simple Stories: Handmade holiday flashcards (back)  medium holly leaves (noticing the common thread here!!!)
hessian print:  light and dark (known to some as burlap)
KC Just Believe Collection: Magic   dark red music on cream background - distressed look
ledger 'n' graph paper prints

Posts about the discussion, design and creation of this Christmas decoration started on this blog post.

Friday, November 8, 2013

little makeup case now with full makeover

Last year I started a makeover of a little doll's  makeup case.  As it is was molded in a plastic, perhaps polypropylene, I knew a lot of paints wouldn't stick to it. The same goes for many glues.   How could I cover the handle?  The art project stalled for lack of answers.  Really it was all about how could I cover the yellow which in the end wasn't totally achieved.

Walking amongst my craft supplies this week the answers all tumbled into my brain quickly one after the other and the project was finished in an hour.

From this above
to this pink wonder

Supplies included thread wrapped wire, plain white washi tape, Copic pen, felt and Daiso self-adhesive fabric tape.
The fabric was fun to use and very forgiving with all the snipping, shaping, lifting and re-sticking.

I used the washi tape to hold the end of the handle wire, cover up the yellow layer where possible and  'hold' the Copic colour. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

project: creating a christmas decoration - structure

Remembering the sections are made from panels of cardboard (chipboard) 13 cm x 17 cm, the decoration consists of two sections.

The first section has 6 panels: a start panel (shown by the dash symbol) and the 5 that will carry the letters for the word 'merry'.  The second section of 10 panels will carry the letters for the word Christmas and an end panel or full stop.

To add the start and end panels was a design decision so the structure was 'closed'. The panels looked back into the centre rather than outwards.Below is a sketch of the two sections

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

project: creating a christmas decoration - colour choices

The answer to the question of which colours is actually influenced by the theme I have previously chosen of  'old fashioned Christmas'.

The dominant colours  will be:

cream  dark green    bright red mid green crimson deep purple brown black gold

I did have white in the mix but I think it may be too harsh near the other colours. If snow and snowflakes are added to the design then white will definitely be in.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

project: creating a christmas decoration - design questions

I really like the journal card designs, colour combination and size on KaiserCraft's St Nicholas Collection: paper Mr Claus.  Their size and shape sowed the design seed for a Christmas decoration, an off the page project, I am going to make. I like making off the page projects but don't want to collect them.  This one is going to family and will have the personal touch of incorporating their names.

I plan to share the development process for this project here. If this inspires you to start your own project I will warn you now the resources are going to come from my stash.  The suppliers and products may well have come and gone from the shops.  Sourcing alternatives will tap into your own creativity and may help you mine your stash too. Happy to try to answer any queries you put to me .

So to start the design questions and step out along the path.

Design Questions
Display:   Self supporting i.e. free standing,

Displayed Where:   Mantlepiece, in bookcase, wide window sill or perhaps a side table

Storage:  Folded into compact volume to be stored in a box for future display

Size:   Set by rectangular pieces of heavy chipboard with diecut alphabet,
           each panel 13 cm x 17.5 cm

Theme:   Old fashioned Christmas

So with these questions answered and knowing (roughly) my destination I have set an arrival date of December 1 for completion.

Monday, November 4, 2013

origami wallet too

My post of the origami wallets I made in paper and Tyvek last December got lots of visits.  Recently I had a request for the instructions for the second wallet made from the sheet of wrapping paper.  I wasn't able to find any of my own instructions and have changed computers since writing that post so lost my browser history.

However, I have now had a chance to do some research and found a YouTube video that you can use to make your own.  Get yourself a piece of 13 inch x 15.5 inch paper and follow along with this guy.

break in communication

What started with some broken bones (not mine) has lead to a long break from blogging.  There has been sewing, a little paper arts and lots of gardening: both the weeding, pruning sort and the netting, building garden beds sort. 

So back to this blog.  I offered to make a Christmas decoration for Kylie and once this offer was accepted, based an early sketchy description, I thought I could document the making on this blog.

Starting soon.