Thursday, February 14, 2013

Simple Sewing- knitting pattern holder

I've been wanting to make one of these for a while.

It's been a hard two months. If I haven't been sick then the husband has been sick or the kiddos have been sick. Therefore, I've done nothing creative of note. When this happens, when I'm months between projects, I start to feel a little depressed. Looking at my craft, sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc. supplies fills me with sadness and something like trepidation. It's like smelling and seeing a seven course meal when you're starving but you have no teeth.

Well, my daughter is under the weather this afternoon (this time with a stomach bug) so I decided- while she slept, instead of cleaning or folding laundry or checking my work email- that I would sew.

The cute fabric in the center is from a friend I met while at Squam last June. The plastic is from a comforter bag I saved (just for this purpose).

I used: thick plastic, fleece fusible interfacing, two large sew on snaps, white double fold bias for the top, yellow double fold bias for the sides, needle, thread.

The dimensions to cut were:
Cover, inside, interfacing: 14.75 x 10.5
Plastic: 13.75 x 10.5

I'm very happy with the finished product.

I also learned a good lesson: when frustrated due to lack of creative time/lack of creative productivity, start small; make something useful, simple, and pretty. Now my ever growing list of creative to-do items feels less daunting, no longer a chore, and something on which I am looking forward to spending time and energy.

Happy Valentines Day!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stamp Carving Roundup: Part 2 Designing and Transferring Image

Reminder: If you are looking for a comprehensive resource/ post on this topic which gives you complete information, alternatives, and comparisons then go here:

If you are looking for a "this is what I do/what a reccommend for beginners" then this post is for you.
Part 1 covered assembling your materials
Part 2 will cover designing your image and transferring it to your carving material (this is part 2)
Part 3 will cover carving your design
Part 4 will cover stamping your image

 Designing your image: 
Things to keep in mind

1. Start small and simple- if you get overly ambitious (small lines, super large, very detailed) for your first stamp then you will get angry like Hulk.
2. Remember- you will be carving the white/pink space, not the dark/pencil space. Therefore, the more dark the less you have to carve.
3. You can edit out items when you trace (use tracing paper).
4. I recommend staying away from words until you get used to carving drawings

Step 1: Draw a picture
Step 2: ... there is no step 2

Transferring your image:
Step 1: Lay a sheet of tracing paper over your image

Step 2: Trace ONLY the parts of the image you want to keep; note that in the picture above I kept only the owl and not the words. This is where the gritty pencil really comes in handy
Step 3: Cut a piece of carving material to the approximatae size of your image
Step 4: Put your tracing paper image side down (gritty pencil side down) to the carving material
Step 5: Rub the tracing paper with your finger or other object (I use the bottom side of a carving tool)
Step 6: Carefully remove the tracing paper

The image left on the stamp with be the mirror image of your original image (which is good!)

Next up (in hopefully January): 
Part 3: Carving your design

Monday, December 10, 2012

Man-Cowl Mystery Solved

So, I love Ravelry.

I was PMed from a user today (anna-fo-fanna) about my search for the mysterious man-cowl (original post here). It turns out that I didn't dream up the cowl, a pattern already exists! I knew I wasn't nutters.

Here is the pattern I must have found but then didn't queue and therefore went through the process of recreating from (at the time uncertain if real or imagined) memory. The main picture doesn't exactly look the same but when you open the project pictures it looks exactly the same- which is why I suppose I had such difficulty finding it again. I think the only difference is that mine has a 1x1 rib and the original pattern doesn't (so... really... exactly the same).

I deactivated my reconstructed pattern on ravelry and contacted everyone who'd downloaded it or started the project and referred them to Michael Wynne's pattern. I also encouraged everyone to link their projects to Michael Wynne's pattern.

If you still want my reconstructed version of the pattern please feel free to contact me on ravelry and I'll send you the PDF.

Now... back to work!

Friday, December 7, 2012

True Story: San Diego Stitch Pattern

I recently returned from a trip to San Diego for work. When I was there I felt inspired (I know, I know, I'm a doofus) by the boats and sand and Mexican cultural and architectural influence so I developed a new stitch pattern (at least I've not seen it before but, knowing knitting, it's probably already been developed by Elizabeth Zimmerman's cousin's roommate's ravelry BFF's third bridesmaid).
What it looks like in the nude... color yarn.
The picture above is unblocked. I have hopes that it will even out and open up with blocking. I'd also like to try it with a lighter weight yarn.
A chart that only makes sense to me.
The plan at present is to finish the nude cowl and post the pattern to ravelry. I'll likely also make a few swatches in different yarn weights and yarn types. Regardless, I like it. Maybe one day I'll turn it into a shawl...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Soap Making Links / Resources

A friend of mine (who is beautiful and amazing) asked me recently to send her some information on how to make soap.

I started making soap for entirely skin-selfish purposes several years ago. I adore how real soap feels and how it actually helps moisturize  (note, I use the word "moisturize" even though it is abhorrent sounding) instead of sucking skin dry like the detergent "soap" you buy from the store (ala Dial, Dove, et. al.) and even most boutiques.

So, I'm not going to re-create the wheel; I'm just going to gather everything that's been useful to me in one place (which will hopefully be useful to you).

Resources I Use Frequently... so as to NOT recreate the wheel
1. Tutorials - I like for tutorials (for soap especially) because they'll answer you if you have questions; however, chances are most questions you'll want to ask have already been asked and answered; therefore you should do a thorough search of the board first.
     A) Start here; this is the best tutorial I've found for basic soap making
     B) Then, go here; this is for after you've made a few batches successfully.
2. Soap calculator: This is ESSENTIAL for soap making and is a godsend. Fiddle around with it to make your own recipes.
3. 99% of what you need can be bought here: Wholesale Supplies Plus but, they don't sell lye...
4. The other 1%: Buy lye here or you can find it at some Ace Hardware stores. I recommend you call Ace ahead of time (before driving there) to ask if they have it.

Other Notes of Note From My Brain
  1. Equipment: 
    1. I recommend a hand stick blender. My friend J started using it in her soap making and it helps (a lot) bringing the soap to "trace." I have this one and use it only for soap making
    2. A digital scale is essential (see #6 below)
  2. Speaking of essential- Essential Oils: So... once you start making soap you're going to realize that essential oils are the coolest and yet the most costly part of soap making. They have a lot to do with how your soap makes you feel and have therapeutic properties. There is this place called Essential Oil University that is pretty amazing. I buy my EO's there. However, I heard a rumor that they stopped selling EOs in less than $10K bulk orders. I don't know if this is true as I haven't purchased anything in over a year... Regardless, the research available there on EOs is really impressive.
  3. Soap Molds: I use old milk and egg beater containers/cartons to make my soap. I used to struggle with lining molds with parchment paper and cursing like a motherless sailor trying to get the soap in and out. Now, I pour the mixture directly into a cleaned out container then, 24 hours later, peel back the paper/ cardboard and toss it (the carton). This has made my soap making 100% stress free and I love it.
  4. Not included in the above tutorials (I think... or maybe touched on, but it bears repeating): after the mixture is poured into the mold I cover it with parchment paper and wrap it in a warm blanket and LEAVE IT ALONE for no less than 24 hours. Do not look, do not touch it. It is important to wrap it in a warm blanket so the soap doesn't cool too rapidly. This has always worked for me.
  5. Don't be too ambitious with your first batch: keep it simple so you don't get put off. Try an olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil soap first (all of which you can buy at your local store). I recommend 20% coconut (for hardness and lather), 40% olive oil, and 40% grapeseed oil. Also, use lavender as your first EO. Everyone loves lavender and it is fairly benign in terms of affecting the texture of your soap (some EOs can drastically effect the soapafication process). Also, don't use beer or milk in your first few batches. You will just become enraged and start smashing things.
  6. Be precise: You have to be as precise as is possible (to the gram) with your water, lye, and oils. If your soap fails it's likely because you were imprecise.
 Ok, so, that's it. Happy soaping!!
(PS sorry for re-using old pictures. This post reminds me I need to make some new soap!)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gift for Him Knitting Pattern: The Surly Man Cowl

Link to Pattern
I was browsing around ravelry late at night (my first mistake) and thought I found a cowl pattern which I loved and which I felt would be perfect for my husband. I didn't favorite it or queue it (second mistake). Rather, I made a mental note (if you are anything like me then your mental notes are written in Latin and in disappearing ink on the back of an old, greasy pizza box) regarding what the cowl looked like (I thought swirly?) and the search term I used (I thought "man cowl"?).

Well three or four days later, when I was ready to start knitting the cowl, I couldn't find the pattern. Therefore, I just knit it based on my murky midnight memory. Link to my project page
Here it is on Mr. Surly Man himself. I was lucky to get the shot. Maybe I'll post a better picture when I can get him to hold still longer... Regardless, back to my story:

After an extensive search on ravelry several days later I still couldn't find it or a similar pattern (this one is the closest and uses yarn-overs and decreases I think whereas I wanted to use only knits and purls). Therefore, I've quickly typed one up.

It doesn't have to be for a Surly Man, it will work for a Surly Woman just as well.

It's simple (really, really simple) and brainless (hence, a good pattern for me). I hope you make it for the surly (wo)man in your life.