Monday, December 31, 2012

A Lovely Holiday....

It's been a busy week preparing for my family, who came down to Sarasota for the holidays....Everything went really, really well and the kids were thrilled with their little mini trees....
I'm gonna miss knitting and crocheting these little mini ornaments....I'll have to think of something mini to make for Valentines Day. There's a craft bazaar here at Sun 'n' Fun once a month. I don't have enough inventory of anything non-Christmas, so I'm going to start getting really working on some things that are quick and fast for February, IF we stay another month.

But Kerry has plans for this crafty grandma...She thought of a "Busy Book" or a "Quiet Book" --for my little grandson...and I love this idea. When my girls were little, I made an ABC busy book. I don't think it was a pattern, I think I checked the book out of the library. It was a wonderful fabric book made from vinyl, fabric, snaps, and lots of cool things to play with that lasted a long, long time. To this day, my youngest daughter says she remembers playing with the pages for hours, even after she started school. 

Some of the few pages we collaboratively remember are:
"B"--banana--the peel was velcroed to pull up and down,
"I"--igloo...a felt igloo with pieces that snapped into place like a puzzle...
"J"--jack in the box, an elastic loop opened and "Jack" was inside,
"K"--kite--kite string, tie loops on the kite string
"N"--nest...something to do with the eggs in the nest
"S"--sneaker--practice tying the laces.
"U"--ukelele--pluck the elastic strings--that was a nightmare to try and get the elastic tight enough so it would pluck and not pull out when you tugged on it,
"X"--X ray--a skeleton you had to assemble and snap together

Wish I could remember more to recreate a modern book...But we found a "Winter" quiet book on Etsy and I'm going to make it for my little grandson.....

But AFTER I rest and relax from a very hectic week of having all our families! See you later!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Pressure is ON!

Well, got my little tree ornaments for the families almost done. Here are some more minis finished....sox, hat, and mittens...

I'm making these cardinal tags, (photo from the internet) cut from Christmas scrapbooking paper, decorated with rhinestones and glitter. They are a little too large for the miniature trees, but I might use them as gift tags or just to decorate the RV. I was going to buy some tags from a seller on Etsy, but the person making them didn't have any more for sale, (the ones pictured are the seller's) so I thought, heck, I'll make my own. I went looking for a cardinal tracing pattern by googling it. Success! 

Crocheted these little snowmen made of half double crochet.. Make a chain of 4, join with a slip stitch. Round 1, is 10 hdc in the ring joining with a slip stitch to the top of the first chain, round 2 is 1 hdc in the first stitch, then 2 hdc in the next stitch, 1 hdc in the next stitch, 2 hdc in the next stitch, repeat around, and you are done in two rounds! Used fabric paint for the eyes and nose, or use orange scrap pieces of felt for the nose to make them look a little better. And if you REALLY wanted to make them look even more polished, you could sew little black beads for the eyes and mouth. Too fussy and too little time for me to do that. But they sure look cute on a mini tree!

Made a little hanging Santa ornament that is too big for the miniature trees, but would be cute hanging on a doorknob of a cabinet. This pattern was called "Ho, Ho, Ho" by Mary Triplett and I got it off Ravelry, a great site for patterns, free and otherwise.

Time's a wastin'! Got to get back in gear....One of my daughters is coming Dec. 22, Eldy's kids are arriving the 23, and my new little grandson, now 6 months old, is arriving with his mommy Dec. 26th. He is already standing up in his crib at 6 months old! Yikes!
That boy is going to be a BUSY boy! Can't wait to see him and smooch him unmercifully. He's going to hide his face when he sees his grammy coming, I bet! :-)

Until next time.......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To Do or Not to Do? That is the Question!

Geez....Make Christmas stuff or try new things? I'm having trouble making up my mind! What to do? So, I'm vacillating back and forth between continuing to make little Christmas sweater ornaments, starting a new pine needle basket and  making bibs for my little grandson! 

I just haven't felt like getting out my sewing machine which is buried in the bay, along with all the sewing supplies. The basket and the mini sweaters won for now. This basket is going to have walnut shells for decoration, the bottom starts with a walnut shell. Just love the look of the slices! I'm using upholstery thread which is not so heavy looking. I like it so far!
It's going to be another round basket, but I'm already thinking about an oval one for me that will fit better in the RV. Somebody I talked to the other day said their cardinal rule for storage in an RV was NOTHING ROUND...everything stacking and rectangular. No wonder I'm having so much trouble getting stuff to fit in my cupboards! I ought to toss all those little round containers and switch to rectangular or square.

I went to a lapidary class the other day, and now my short attention span and interests have been drawn to polishing rocks and perhaps making some jewelry items. The instructor is going to teach wire wrapping with square sterling silver wire in two weeks. He had some beautiful pieces and facets on the wires which I have never seen in wrapped stones and jewelry. He says the square wire enables you to make the facets, showing off the stones better. Here are a few of his pieces....
I think what I'm going to do is polish a bunch of rocks, take them with me, and that way I'll have some stones to wrap without having to worry about a rock polisher.....

Too many projects in too little time....Ahhhh...But I'm retired, I've got all the time in the world to craft...If it doesn't get done by Christmas, there's always next year!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My First Pine Needle Basket--TADA!

I learned a lot of course...First, the lady that taught me how to do this, gave me this thick, cotton thread--Coats Red Cotton. I didn't like it, it twisted and knotted upon itself constantly. I don't like how it dominates the basket, but it was part of the lesson/materials in a little kit she gave me, so I used it. It overpowers the shells, I think. 

I'm going to make another one right away, same design, but with a more delicate thread. I found some great nylon thread at Hobby Lobby, in really pretty colors. You can use upholstery thread as well, and I bought some of that in a few different colors.  Artificial sinew is something else you can use and find at Hobby Lobby in the leathermaking section, but it looks a little thicker, and right now, I'm looking for a more blended, thinner look. I think it will be the difference between night and day on the next basket.  There are some cool stitches that can be used in sewing the needles together, so I might try that, too! 

I had trouble with joining threads and not having the knots show, but if you follow the directions in Judy Mallow's book, Pine Needle Basketry-From Forest Floor to Finished Product, which I didn't do at first, then your knots will blend in better. The further I got along, the better I got at joining threads.

The other problem I had was keeping the coils straight up as I started the shells row. The finished basket has the shell sides bending in a bit. It's tricky adding the shells, stitching and coiling at the same time. Next time I will try to be more aware of how the sides are shaping up. All in all, I think it turned out nicely. 

The finished basket was coated with two coats of Modge Podge Matte finish--thinned with a little water-- that helped seal the ends. I'm not real crazy about Modge Podge on this basket, but that's what the instructor uses. You can see the some little spots of Modge Podge that look like dried glue that. I don't know if that's the way I brushed it on and didn't blend it in enough, or it was too thick to blend in and dried that way. I might use brushed on varnish on the next one. Judy Mallow, the author of the basket book, uses shellac flakes...That sounds like it might be a finicky process and more expensive. I'll have to do some research on that... In the meantime, now I need to find some two inch cedar log branches. They make cool bottom starter pieces sawed into chunks! Doesn't have to be cedar, but I liked the look of these. 

Basket making appears to be a new interest and hobby for me...It's enjoyable, it makes me sit for long periods of time, and it's not that complicated....Anything that gets me sitting for awhile and slowing down is a good thing! :-) But first, off to the woods I go!