Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I've Been Busy!

Made a little owl, possibly for my grandson, or possibly for a craft show....Can't decide if he needs wings or he's fine like he is?

I tried to make one out of pink mohair, a "female" version of him, but mohair is AWFUL to work with! At least, it is for me! So I used Lion Brand "Amaze" instead which has a little mohair in it, for this little blue owl. I like the way the colors change and add a little more "oomph!" to the textured seed stitch. I think I will see what  other colors of "Amaze" are out there for another owl. I think I'm going to make a WHOLE BUNCH OF STUFF for a future craft show somewhere, who knows where. Just a lot of different little gifts for different ages of people. I have a little store I've set up on Etsy, JeanBeanGifts, to try and sell some things, but no luck so far. You have to post new things all the time on Etsy to keep in the public view, and I haven't been doing that.

I don't know what possessed me, but a long time ago, I had made a little table runner out of garter stitch or stockinette stitch mitered squares. I don't know what happened to it, lost once again, probably in the storage unit back in Indiana, buried seven layers deep....so I got a mitered square baby blanket pattern back out of my pattern notebook. It's from the Heathen Housewife blog a few years ago..It's a garter stitch square..I've decided to use up my sock yarn little balls to make the squares. Not the best idea, as it will take a TON of squares to make a table runner but it's fun and relatively quick to make each square, about a half hour for each one.

I cast on 31 stitches using size 1 needles...you knit one row and then on the second knit row, on the right side, you do a double decrease in the center. Each succeeding row you knit one less stitch to the center of the decrease...You join the squares together by picking up stitches along two sides of two previous squares and knitting yet another square. Haven't quite figured out how to join bunches of three's together, but I guess I will figure it out somehow or take it to a knit shop--(great excuse for checking out a local knit shop!)

And, that's not all---working on my third pine needle basket...It's coming along....
Until next time.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another Basket....

I've completed my second pine needle basket and I really like it much better than my first...

I used upholstery thread this time which really works well when stitching the basket. It's a lot less visible looking than the thread I used the last time. You use a LOT of thread on something like this, so some of the cooler, more expensive threads that are recommended, like artificial sinew where you split the thread and use a split stitch or other decorative stitch, I'm not ready to use those yet.  I don't know how to do those stitches. Gotta find out how to do them!

I like this thread from Hobby Lobby for stitching my baskets. It's called Artiste, #3 nylon thread, 197 yards, 90% nylon, 10% polyester. It comes in LOTS of cool colors. It's about 3.00 for a spool, but you can use your Hobby Lobby coupon and get it for 40% off or probably find it cheaper other places? The colors caught my eye in Hobby Lobby, so I bought these.

I used three walnut slices--one for the bottom, and two on the sides. I'd like to be able to find walnuts around on the ground, but there don't seem to be any walnut trees around in southern Florida that I can see! I purchased these walnut slices from Prim Pines, a basket supply company. You can buy 12 of them for 6.00. They also sell agate pieces, fossils set in resin, and wood pieces predrilled, lots of choices for basket bottoms.

I'm still learning how to add the walnut pieces, it's hard to hold them in place and stitch around them without the stitches being too obvious. I might use nylon fishing line to anchor them while using the upholstery thread all the way around them the next time I decide to incorporate them into the basket.

I've been collecting pine needles off the ground in Alabama and Florida, but if someone wanted to make these baskets and the long leaf pines are nowhere to be found, you can order those from Prim Pines as well. A large bundle--9" in circumference--of pine needles is 15.00. That would make a small basket a little bit bigger than 6" across in size, I think.  Even though the needles from Prim Pines are 10"-18" which is MUCH LONGER than the ones I've been finding on the ground, I still like getting mine FREE, even if they are only about 7-8" long. Unless I am able to start selling the baskets I make and I wish I could, I'll keep trying to find the needles for free. It's a little late in the year to get any more, the best time to gather them is in the fall, when they first start falling.

The longer the needles stay on the ground, the more chances they are getting damp and will develop mold spores....Ask me how I know that!  :-) The only advantage of using the longer needles is that you need less of them to make a basket!

I've tried soaking them in boiling water for about 30 minutes to kill the spores. But when not using a batch all up, I've found that mold can still develop on the needles after leaving them alone for a week or so. It's best to do very small batches of needles at a time, as far as soaking them briefly, then keeping the ones you are going to use right away in a damp towel. 

This basket is for one of my daughters. I'm going to have to make another one very similar to it for me, I really like the size and how it turned out! 

Until next time.....

Monday, January 14, 2013

Been Busy Making A Busy Board

I've been busy trying to think of things to put on a busy board for my little grandson. Got a bunch of things at Lowe's and had some stuff lying around the house, and bought one little toy. Everything is screwed down, which I'm not sure is the best solution, but I didn't want to use glues. As with anything homemade, he'll need supervision when he plays with this, but I think everything on it will be ok.

I used a toilet paper holder, a piece of PVC pipe and striped it with red electrical tape, a rubber coated door stop, a small bolt and latch, a handle for him to grab, a toggle switch to turn off and on, a little caster to spin, two pieces of loopy velcro (I did glue these with gorilla glue) for tactile senses, a spring that squishes just a little when you push on it, a rubbery soap dish with little rubber "feet" for another tactile feeling, a zipper, and a bunch of clackety key rings from a baby toy along with a couple of hardware store clips. The rings and clips are on a bolt with washers at the ends and a securely fastened nut.  I was looking for a battery operated little closet light but never found one. I have seen other busy boards with stretchy elastic knotted cord for a baby to pull and stretch, but thought I had enough stuff on this one.

I'm sure a commercial version of this would not have anything sticking up like a switch or the door stop, but if the parents put this flat on a coffee table, and he's not a climber, (yet!) I think it will be fine....
If anybody thinks of anything dangerous that I haven't thought of please let me know!

My second project of the week has been baby bibs.....This is the first one in a series that I am making...It's for crabby babies who can't wait to be fed, ha ha! If I can keep going at them, I'll make several of them-- maybe a lion, a frog, an alligator, a monkey, an elephant, a cow, a rhino, or one for each day of the week! The pattern is from the Little Quilt Company, "Baby Bibs 2". You can make your own bibs from the pattern, but I just used purchased bibs in all kinds of colors from Babies 'R' Us.
That made me think of a memory I have from childhood. I remember my mother buying me underwear that had each day of the week embroidered in fancy lettering. Have no idea how that segued from bibs into days of the week underwear but then again, yes, I do!  :-) I remember liking them and thinking that was kind of cool, to have special underpants with the days of the week in script  on them. Wonder how old I was? Probably just a little girl......

Until next time......

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wire Wrapping Stones

I took a class here at Sun 'n' Fun on how to wrap stones...the guy that taught us, taught a very specific method called the "Three Wire Wrap"....He didn't give us any instruction sheet, so I had to rely on my phone to take photos as we went through the steps and my 62 year old brain to remember, which is going to be a stretch! I'll try to explain the process we did, so I can possibly recreate this for another stone wrapping another day. It's a VERY abbreviated set of instructions. I may be leaving out steps and for that, I'm sorry, but bet you can Youtube this procedure and find LOTS of tutorials online. I wrote this blog so I can sort of recall how I did this, my first wire wrap project.

First, he had us use really skinny "painter's tape",  the tape that looks like masking tape and is blue, (about an 1/8 of an inch in width) and taped around the edges of the stone/rock for a template to later use for measuring the wire. He called it hem tape. He said you could find it at Michaels. I couldn't! Maybe Joann's has it? We then marked the top of the stone and a left side and a right side on the tape with a sharpie on the tape while it encircled the stone. Then we took the tape off the stone and laid it out on the table.

We measured three lengths of sterling silver square wire, the length of the tape. The instructor likes square wire because it makes beautiful facets when you twist it. The gauge of the wire was 20. He likes to use the best stuff as far as using sterling silver. We had a fourth piece of wire about the same length cut of sterling half round wire to be used for the wrapping part later. It's laying off to the side on the right. That was also 20 gauge. The instructor had us clean the wire first, with a special silver cleaning cloth. He said the wire you get from the factory or the supply house is usually dirty, so always clean your wire pieces first.

Next, we used a little tool, some sort of jeweler's vise, to hold ONE of the square wires and twist it. You can decide how much twist you want in the wire. It looks like the end of a little Dremel tool where you change the drill bits in and out, if you have ever used one of those. You can hold the wire in one hand, clamp the other end in the jeweler's vise and twist away, OR have someone hold one end and you twist the wire.

We laid the three pieces of wire out on the table, flat, side by side, with the twisted wire on an outside edge. We taped the three wires at both ends to keep them from sliding around. Not sure if it matters which edge you place the twisted wire, but it will matter later when you shape the three wires around your stone. You'll want the twisted wire to the front of the stone when you are ready for that step. We placed the flat strands of square wire to the top of our template and visually eyed where to do our first wrap, at the location of one of the black marks on the template.

Taking the half round wrapping wire, we formed a little sharp shepard's hook with one end of the half round, wire. We then hooked the hook around the three strands of wire at the first marked junction. You wrap 3-5 times, three being the minimum, five being the max. You wrap swinging the tail end of the wire around, not with your fingers close to the wrap. This way you don't bend the wire as much. When you've wrapped the wire 3-5 times, you clip it with your wire cutters, as close to the center of the last wrap as you can. You want your start and end points of your wrap to be on the same side, so you don't have pokey ends on both sides of the wrap. We flattened the wrap with pliers. I'm so new at this, I don't even know what flat headed pliers are called in the jewelry making craft business!

Here my memory gets a little fuzzy....No surprise there! After the three wire wraps, we then shaped the three wires around our stone and then removed the stone. The two ends of the twisted wires were bent out of the way at an angle that corresponded to the top of where the stone was. We were getting ready to make the "bail", where your chain of choice is going to pass through. Two strands in the center were bent in sharp loops away from us, and one of the end pieces of the third wire was used to wrap about the loops to hold them together. Then it was cut close to the "neck" wrap.

Next, we inserted our stones into the formed loop. We made sure the front side of the stone was facing next to the twisted wire. We separated two strands of wire all along the sides, pulling the twisted wire to the front of the stone and the outside wire to the back. The center wire of the three strands rides along the sides of the stone. I used my fingers to gently pull the wire towards the front of the stone and the wire to the back of the stone as it was hard to get pliers in there to separate the wires without scratching the wire or stone.

Then we took the pliers and gave a little twist close to the wrap, there was a certain direction you were supposed to twist, which gave it a "lock" to tighten up the wire. Now I don't remember which way to twist! I think it was counterclockwise on the front. I think you twist towards the wrap. Or is it away from the wrap? Shoot! I don't remember!

The last step was to curl into tight little loops the ends of the remaining wires...
Here's my final stone all done! The back---the little "kinks" are where the pliers twisted the wire to help it grip the stone....
One of the other gals in the class was making a different kind of wrap called the basket wrap. There's only one wrap at the bottom. I thought there might be a way to make a Christmas angel from the basket wrap instead of putting a stone inside. Hm-m-m-m....Next year, Christmas angel ornaments!

The front.....TADA!  It was fun and I hope to do more.....
Until next time......