Looking Back at Halloween 2012

This past Halloween is in the books now.  The remains of our jack-o-lanterns have successfully been “chucked” and are on their way to become compost.  Thought it would be a good time to blow the TWO YEARS worth of dust off of the old blog and share something cute that I did with the kids this year.

Fun colors and big eyes looking at you. The kids had to unwrap the Mummy in order to read the invitation.

We made our own invitations to our Halloween Party.  I printed out the invite info onto card stock, and both of the little girls helped glue the extra-large googly eyes on to the front.  My 5 and a half year old helped me tea-stain the cotton fabric strips which we wrapped the entire invite and secured in the back with a sticker that read “Open here”.  

Once delivered, the kids had to unwrap the Mummy in order to read the invitation.  Everyone had fun with the invitations and got them in the mood for the party.  I will definitely do this again another Halloween.

Published in: on November 13, 2012 at 12:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Big into Tatting…Tatting Big

I have two words for you, Berroco Latitude!

A few weeks ago I was eyeing a doily pattern that had a round of crochet halfway up the tatting.  It looked like something that I wanted to try, but I didn’t have the size 10 crochet hook that it called for.  So I found myself at the yarn shop here in town looking for one.  They always have the yummiest yarns there!  Up by the front window I spotted this yarn.  It’s called Latitude by Berroco.  It’s a cotton blend worsted weight yarn, but what makes it unique is that it has a dark fiber twisted the other way around it, locking the fibers in place.  Before I could catch myself I was saying out loud, “Ooooo!  I’ll bet I can tat with this!!

I have been trying out yarns in my stash (and I have a big stash) to see if any of them were suitable for tatting with.  Now, when I say tatting I mean shuttle tatting, I have not yet tried tatting with a needle.  I have a large yarn bobbin which is comfortable enough to use as a shuttle and it holds a good amount of yarn.  So far the best results I had gotten was from Sugar ‘n’ Cream, but it kept fuzzing up and would untwist, both of which made messy picots and I was not satisfied.

Last weekend I went back to the shop during their sit and knit session and bought two balls and sat down with the ladies there and tried out tatting with this yarn.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I just started playing around.  I used the simple 8-8 pattern from a bookmark that I had recently made.  I was hoping that if the rings were large enough that I could just repeat the pattern to make a scarf.  So I sat and chatted and tatted, using my makeshift tatting shuttle.  These are the photos of what I created.

Okay, so there was a lot more CHATTING than tatting.  LOL.  I suppose that this could end up making a skinny scarf but I’m interested in something a bit wider.  I’ve decided to do something with butterflies, I bought two colors, this pink and a teal green.  I’m trying to come up with simple butterfly pattern to repeat over and over to form the scarf.

Hopefully I’ll have something more to show on this soon.

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 12:16 am  Comments (4)  

Paper Bird Tutorial

As promised, here is my Paper Bird Tutorial.

First things first, disclaimer time… the artwork I created with this weaving style is entirely my own, however, the concept of the woven bird is quite old.  In researching the web I found only a few step-by-step instructions for this style of woven birds.  My hope is to provide a tutorial that may be of more help for you.  Once you get the knack for these, they are really not too difficult.

Making a Woven Bird

This is the template that I used for this demo bird.  It is a 1″ wide strip, the wing is 1½” before the lengthwise cuts are made to form the weaving strips.

The first fold

Fold the first strip down on a 45° angle, crease, and weave under the second strip, over the third, and then under the fourth.

Completed right-hand wing

Fold the second strip down and crease same as the first, weave under and then over the remaining two strips.

Left-hand wing folded upside down

The left hand wing is folded same as the right, only upside down.

Line up back of bird

Flip left hand wing over, and line up the folded edges of the wings.  Hint:  If you tape your work to a movable mat, you can rotate it to make the weaving easier.

Back of bird woven

Fold the back of the bird, following the pattern already established by weaving the wings.  The back will look like a woven diamond with four strips facing up, and four strips facing down.

Underside of bird, ready to weave body

Flip work over so that under side of bird is up, tape to work area with drafting tape.  The belly of the bird is woven in a diamond pattern as well.  Weave the outer strips counter-clockwise, starting with A.

Bend the strips over, do not crease!!

Strips A and then B are bent down and secured temporarily with tape.  Do not crease these strips, you will need them to form the 3-D body.

Weaving the body

Strip C is bent up and then strip D is bent up and woven under A.  The remaining four strips are bent over and woven in following the pattern already established.

Almost finished

This photo shows the bottom of the bird woven, it will be messy until the last steps.  The remaining strips that point upward will become the head of the bird.  The strips pointing downward will become the tail.  Each pair are pulled through the small openings at the top and bottom.  Weave the odd-numbered strips through first, then follow with the even-numbered strips.  Note:  For the nicest looking bird, I like to weave strips #1 and #5  in a slightly different way.

This strip gets a special weave

Strip #1 is woven under BOTH strips on this side of the bird.  Strip #2 is then woven over the top of #1 and through the end strip only.  Same goes for strips #5 & #6.

forming the tail and head

The remaining strips are woven under the last strip only.

A nice tight belly

Pull each strip individually to tighten up the body of the bird.  This takes some fiddling to straighten up the weaving and to tighten up the end loops so that it will secure.  This photo shows what the underside of the bird will look like.

It's all held together with one knot

With the bird right side up, tie and flatten an overhand knot for the head.  The placement of the head is totally up to you, if you want your bird to have a long neck or a short one.  Cut the extra paper at an angle to form the beak (or get fancy and cut an open beak as I have done here).

Ta-Da!! The finished bird!

I curled this one’s tail around a pencil for the spirals shown.  You could crimp it with a paper crimper.  Or you could just leave it straight, again this is up to you.  Note, the knot for the head is what is holding this together, there really is not need for glue.  I did find, however, that putting a little dab of a glue stick in between the papers of the beak will make it look more… beak-like.

I created this smaller demo bird out of 1″ wide strips of two-sided 12″ x 12″ card stock.  The front of the paper is maroon, and the back is a vintage cream.  I chose the two-sided stock for demonstration purposes, but the finished product is very attractive.  The paper for the demo was purchased at Artful Scrapbook in Washington Twp, Michigan.  The birds that I did for the magazine article were larger, about the size of my hand.  They were created with larger art paper purchased at Greens in Rochester, Michigan.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed my little tutorial.  I have found that I make my birds slightly different from the ones that I have found instructions for online.  I like the result that I get with this method.  Please use your creativity and have fun making them!!!

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 12:26 am  Comments (12)  
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RE: Paper Birds

For those of you wanting a more detailed tutorial for making the birds featured in Somerset Studio Gallery… I am working on some photos to show the trickier parts.  Please check back after the weekend.  Thanks!!

Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 11:14 pm  Comments (4)  
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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to all!

I hope that everyone is having a fabulous holiday season!

Angie’s Bookmark…

I made this lovely tatted cross bookmark for my friend Angie for Christmas.  Her favorite color is purple, so I made with two different purples, one solid and one variegated.  The pattern is “Maria” from Tatted Bookmarks -Cross Shaped by Lene Bjorn.  I changed up the tassel a bit, and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  Angie loved it!

Yummies…

This year for Christmas I whipped up some homemade Turtles and Rum Balls.  These are recipes that my Mother handed down to us kids.  She used to make tons and tons of homemade candies every Christmas.  I was very pleased with my results this year.  They were such a big hit that I decided to share them with everyone (well, share the recipes that is)…

Turtles:

  • Pecan halves
  • Caramel (about 1 lb of good quality caramel)*
  • Milk Chocolate buttons (small bag)*

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and grease with real butter.  Arrange pecan halves on the parchment in groups of three, spacing about an inch apart.  Cut the caramel into bite sized pieces and flatten into wafer shapes.  Lay one wafer on top of each group of pecan halves, making sure that the center is covered and part of each pecan are showing.

Place the cookie sheets in a 200 degree (F) oven for a few minutes just until the caramel starts to melt and shape around the nuts.  Remove from oven and cool in the refrigerator while you melt the chocolate.  Place the chocolate buttons in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 second intervals until just almost melted, stirring well in between.  Stir to make sure the remaining chocolate is melted and smooth.

Spoon the chocolate on top of each piece, covering the caramel.  Be sure to leave the tips of the pecans uncovered as this is what makes the candy look like a turtle.  Chill again until set.  Peel away from parchment and wrap individually in store-bought candy bags.

*Note about ingredients.  Please, please, please go to your neighborhood candy supply store (or the cake/candy isle of Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc) for the caramel and the chocolate.  A few years ago before the candy supply store opened up in town I attempted to make these using ingredients I found at the grocery store.  It took forever for me to shape the individually wrapped caramel candies and they just did not melt over the nuts right.  And as for the chocolate chips I used, well, they are made for baking cookies and not for covering candies.  The resulting turtles were hard to chew and the chocolate stuck to the bags.  This years batch made with real candy-making supplies turned out wonderful and was much easier to do.

While you are making Turtles, you might as well make Rum Balls at the same time.  Afterall, there are bound to be broken pieces in your bag of pecan halves, you should make something yummy with those too.  Beware of Husbands and children as you do this though as I spent a while carefully sorting my pecan halves, in one bowl were all the best looking halves and the other had the broken pieces… guess which bowl everyone kept snacking from!  This reduced the amount of Turtles I was actually able to make.

Rum Balls:

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/8 cup rum (I prefer spiced rum)
  • 1 lb powdered sugar (plus some extra just in case)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of margarine

Soak pecans in the rum overnight in the fridge in a covered container.

Using a stand mixer and the dough hook, to the sugar add salt, margarine and the pecans.  Mix until it forms a thick fondant.  Add more rum if the mixture is too dry, add more powdered sugar if it is too moist.  Knead by hand if needed to get the right consistency, it should be like a clay… When you roll a ball and set it down on the work area it should hold its ball shape and not sink into a bon-bon shape.  Roll into small balls and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet, chill thoroughly.

Melt chocolate (use remaining chocolate from making the Turtles) and drop the chilled Rum Balls into the chocolate a few at a time, rolling with a fork to coat evenly.  Place on the parchment, while still wet top with chopped pecans or quins if desired.  Return to refrigerator to set. Place Rum Balls into paper candy cups and store in a covered container.

Note:  Freshly made Rum Balls have a strong alcohol content.  The candies improve with age, so try to make a week ahead of time to let the flavors mellow.  Even still, I do not recommend these candies for children.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 12:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Holiday Crafting

The Holiday season is fast approaching.  This is my busy season.  Not that I’m not busy the rest of the time, goodness knows I don’t have time to think recently.  But the holidays always bring new opportunities for me to be crafty.

My first opportunity of the season came in the form of a Christmas ornament decorating contest at work.  Everyone who entered was given a silver-colored glass ball ornament to decorate however we see fit.  I have some cool ideas rattling around in my brain for this one.  I can’t wait to get started, though it will have to wait until after Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I would love to make some homemade cookies with Danica this year, but I’m sure that I won’t have the time.  I’m making dinner this year for around 15 people… now that’s a crafty adventure right there.  Maybe I’ll think of something cute to make with Danica before Thursday.

This year I plan on doing some Christmas tatting.  I have a dear friend that I want to make something special for.  At first I was thinking that I would tat her a cross bookmark, because I know she would really appreciate that.  But now I have found some large yarn bobbins at Hobby Lobby and they look like they would make great shuttles for yarn.  So I’m considering tatting her a scarf make with yarn.

I also want to make some tatted snowflakes and angels.  My Sister loves snowflakes, it would really be nice if I can make her a special, one of a kind, snowflake for Christmas.

Oh!  What a great idea… what if I make a scarf from tatted snowflakes connected together?  Tomorrow I’m heading down to the yarn shop to scope out white yarn that would be suitable for tatting.  I can’t wait!!

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where Have I Been?

It has been so long since I have last written anything, where have I been?

The world of being a new Mom has caught up with me and so I have been away for a while.  Where my hobbies used to be doing artwork, knitting, crocheting, or tatting, it is now turned to potty training,  baby talk, and the endless stack of baby bottles that need to be washed.  But it is all a labor of love.  Overtime hours at work have made me appreciate my time with the girls all the more.

Recently I have discovered Facebook and have had a ball reconnecting with some old friends that I haven’t seen in a long long time.  My niece is studying abroad in Greece, and she posts about it on her blog.  I have been enjoying reading about what she is up to.  I have also reconnected with some friends on Ravelry and have learned that I’ve been declared “MIA”… and so I guess I better step up and get back in the game.

It’s TATTING Time! I always enjoy tatting for the holidays.  I have a pattern rattling around in my head.  For all this time I have been working and reworking it in my imagination, trying to get it right.  I get out actual shuttles and test my pattern out and tweaked it a bit when I have time.  The process is fun, but a bit frustrating.  I want to get the pattern just right.  So I am at the point right now where I am ready to write it out and give it a try.

The FUTURE.  In a few weeks is Thanksgiving, and I’m cooking a bird.  My niece Stephie is coming down from Michigan Tech and I am looking forward to seeing her.  My article is due out the beginning of December.  It is very exciting as it is fast approaching!  And then of course, Christmas is going to be a very important time this year as it’s Kayla’s first, and Danica’s just this year figuring out how holidays work.  I sure hope that I do get time to do some tatting or knitting, or something!

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gotta Love the “Ughs”

I just love the term “ugh”.

Sometimes a project goes horribly wrong.  Sometimes it goes just a little wrong.  Sometimes any amount of wrong is enough to qualify a project as an “ugh”.

Recently I was playing around with a little tatted motif that was in my head.  I’ve decided to start working in black thread because I love the way it looks when finished.  So my little test motif was coming along nicely,and I was hoping that after blocking it would actually be usable.  I had just one more bead to add, when I snagged the thread.Thread Barf!

I mean really snagged it!  When joining to the beaded picot I only grabbed part of the thread with my hook.  The result was this nasty little thread barf.  Sigh! This one was really bad, there was no way to smooth it back out again.  I decided it really wasn’t worth it to try to save the piece.  There’s no sense in blocking it now.  I cut the thread and tossed it into my Ziggy lunchbox.

In a few weeks I will dig it out again and take another look at it.  I’ll probably knot on another thread and continue.  Since it’s ruined anyway, there’s no need to worry about how it looks.  I’m sure I’ll re-work the pattern.  I think I want to add a few more picots and one more row of chains…

If I hadn’t messed up this piece, then I most likely wouldn’t have the guts to add to it.  I know it was just a test piece, but isn’t that the point?  You make a mistake, and grow from it… Good advice for tatting and life.

Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where do your shuttles live?

I realize that I don’t have a large number of readers.  But to those who do, I ask, Where do your shuttles live?  Do you keep them in a tin?  Or is a box or a bag more your style?  Maybe you just shove them in a drawer.

I know there are people out there who collect vintage shuttles, kept nicely in display cases.  I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about your workhorses, the shuttles that you use on a regular basis.  Where do you keep them?

For years I kept my shuttles and other tatting supplies in a square tin, circa 1970’s.  The size was perfect for keeping all my supplies, plus a large ball of crochet cotton.  Even the Victorian street scene design seemed to be ideal for this craft.  And when tatting fell by the wayside for me (it’s sad but true), this tin kept everything nice and clean for me until I rediscovered how much I loved it.

But once I rediscovered tatting, I also discovered for the first time, websites that sold thread.  The years of being satisfied with plain white crochet cotton bought at Frank’s were over.  Soon I owned red and blue, gold, and (gasp!) black thread.  And to my joy… they came in different sizes!  So needless to say, I now have way too much thread and supplies to fit in this little square tin.Girls 041

More recently I’ve been keeping my shuttles and other tatting supplies in a little tin Ziggy lunchbox.  Not only is it very portable, it’s down right cute! I get almost as many comments on the lunchbox as I do on my tatting.  I’ve been wondering, though, if I should start using something a little larger and more sophisticated.  I know, I know, WHAT could be more sophisticated than a Ziggy lunchbox???

Girls 048

Well, now I have this roll-up travel case that was a pressie from the folks at Similac, and it would make a cool tatting case.  It has a large compartment for a few balls of thread, and large pockets. See, it pays to have a baby.

Now I just have to find a place for my thread to live. LOL!

Just a fraction of my tatting thread stash

Just a fraction of my tatting thread stash

Girls 041
Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 12:06 am  Comments (1)  
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Why Can’t Fab Follow Directions?

I am currently working on a pair of little knit leg warmers for the baby. It’s such a cute little pattern.  It’s such a simple little pattern.  It makes me ask myself, What is wrong with me?

This is the thought process I went through:  The pattern calls for fingerling weight yarn… but I REALLY like Bernat Softee Baby, and it’s DK weight, close enough.  The pattern calls for size 1 dpn’s…  Smallest needles I have is a set of size 3 circs, close enough.

…Don’t know why this isn’t working…

I do this all the time.  I just can’t follow directions.  To me a pattern, like a recipe, is merely just a suggestion.

So now I have to re-figure my gauge and adjust the pattern to fit it.  My gauge is 6 stitches= 1 inch, so I figure that I’ll have to cast on 44 stitches instead of 64…Using some mad math skills to ensure that the 2 x 2 ribbing pattern repeats fully.  And rather than knitting in the round I’ll just have to knit it flat and sew it together when I’m done.

…Don’t know why this isn’t working…

So, after casting on and knitting the ribbing for an inch and a half, I hold it up to the baby’s leg and find that it’s way too small for her chubby little thigh.  It’s not that her thigh is bigger than average, just that her Mom knit the gauge swatch much looser than average.  And now I have to improvise.  Instead of knitting it from the top down, I will knit it from the bottom up.  I will do increases instead of decreases.  I will need to adjust the number of increases due to my wonky gauge.  By the time I’m finished, the only part that will be actually from the pattern is the length.  Happens all the time.  Someone went through all that trouble to write a lovely pattern, why can’t I just follow it?

So the point is this: If you are going to decide to stray from a pattern then you had better be prepared to change it all together.  Maybe even turn it into something else entirely.  I’ve seen it often, comments on knitter’s projects that read something like “Started out being a hat, but it ended up being a cat bed”.  Take advantage of times like this to teach yourself some design skills.  Maybe next time I make leg warmers I will be able to design them 100% myself.  Maybe soon my own designs will be available.  And maybe someone will look at my pattern and say, “I don’t have any DK weight yarn, but I have this really cool super bulky…”

Published in: on July 5, 2009 at 10:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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