Friday, April 20, 2012

The Pickup The Planet Pouch ~ Tutorial

In my last post, I introduced you to Pickup The Planet.  This is my son's project.  He's picking up one piece of litter everyday and hoping to inspire others to do the same.  I love supporting his efforts and together, we came up with an easy craft that comes in handy when you're cleaning up the planet.  We call it The Pickup The Planet Pouch.

Sometimes you run into litter that's dangerous to handle like broken glass or sharp metal.  Other times you may encounter trash that's just kind of gross.  These are the perfect occasions for The Pickup The Planet Pouch!

Made from a classic bandanna cut in half, this little pouch is a great size to keep in your pocket or carry with you in a purse.  It's 100% cotton and can be washed and reused over and over again.  Here's my son in action, showing you how to make a pouch of your own. 

The Pickup The Planet Pouch

Click on each collage for a larger view and easier reading.  With a pouch in your pocket, everyday can be earth day.  Thank you for helping Pickup The Planet!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pickup The Planet ~ Environmentalism & Kids

I hope you won't mind a little side step into environmentalism today.  I want to share my son's new project.  He has just started a facebook page called Pickup The Planet.  In his words, "I'm planning to pickup at least one piece of trash a day, everyday. I'm hoping that people will like this idea and join me. Just imagine if everyone in the world did this. The earth would be much cleaner! This is something kids and adults can do to help the planet. I'll share my efforts along the way."

When I was helping him choose a name for his project, we were playing around with a lot of words and phrases.  When we thought of Pickup The Planet, I looked up pickup in the dictionary.  I wasn't sure if it was properly spelled as two separate words or as a hyphenate.  What I learned is that it can be spelled either way or as one word.  We thought the one word spelling was catchy and made a good title.  Also, it's nice to think of pickup, not just as the act of picking up something, but as improving or elevated its state.  When we clean our earth, we make it a better place for us and all of the inhabitants. 

Our family lives in a nice suburb close to our local school.  Many of the kids in our neighborhood walk to school cutting through an alley that passes behind our house.  This is what that alley typically looks like.  It's sad that so many kids don't give a second thought to dropping trash on the ground.  I look at this picture and think that it's time to start setting an example and I'm proud of my son for taking a leadership role in doing just that!

Earth Day is this Friday and many of us go out and clean up our neighborhoods or try to do something special for the environment.  It would be hard to do these larger efforts everyday, but picking up one piece of litter a day is something we can all do, kids and grown-ups.  Won't you join us in becoming more mindful about taking care of our planet?  Come on over to facebook and click the "Like" button to show your support.  It would mean a lot to my son, but more importantly, it would mean a lot to the Planet.  Thanks!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bavarian Baby Blanket

Recently, I've had two new babies enter my world.  One is the daughter of a friend and the other, my new nephew.  As a result, I've had babies on the brain.  When you see a newborn and you look into those big eyes, the feelings of wonder and joy come streaming back.  What a gift!

I thought I'd share a little peek at the baby blanket I'm making for my nephew.  I was looking through my personal library for inspiration, when I came across a book on Bavarian Crochet about which I had completely forgotten.  I purchased it rather spontaneously and then undoubtedly became distracted by numerous things.  I love the look of Bavarian crochet.  It reminds me of quilting and I especially like the way it blends colors together.  That subtle overlapping along with the texture is so appealing to me.  I hope it will appeal to my nephew too, because this is the beginning of his new blanket.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Antique Textile Spools Repurposed

In Part II of my Home Fibers series, I talked about my Mother-in-law's antique spool collection.  I inherited five of these spools and brought them home not knowing how I would display them.  I thought I would just show them off in a grouping on a shelf or maybe use them as candle holders.  Then I got an idea.

I decided to use them around my bath.  I must be in bathroom remodel mode because this is the same room for which I just crocheted a new rug.  I guess bathrooms are fun to fix up because they are small.  Anyway, back to the spools.  I put candles in three of them because candlelit baths are always nice.  A large one with wide ends has become a soap holder.  Next, I got the idea to wrap washcloths around a couple of the smaller spools.  That little notion made me very happy.  In my book, its just quirky enough to be cool.  

Now my bath feels very luxurious.  I put some bubble bath in a little Mexican ceramic creamer that a friend gave me.  It has painted peacock feathers and is very sweet.   Next to that is a bowl of dead sea salts because I love how salts soothe my skin.  It's like my own little spa.  It's even more special to me with the addition of the textiles.  There's nothing like relaxing surrounded by the things you love!  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Three Day Weekend Rug

I have a studio full of stuff I've made, but around my house I don't have that much on display.  Just a few things.  I love folk art and art in general, so my decorating involves an eclectic blend of pieces from all over the world.  I enjoy this mix and I like the idea of supporting individuals over big companies.  The one down side to this is the question, "Oh, did you made that?"  I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  When people know you to be creative, they seem to think that you must create most of your surroundings.  It's a compliment really, but I start to feel bad when I have to keep saying "no".  I feel like I'm letting them down or something.

Lately, I've decided that I want to rectify this situation.  I've been feeling inspired, especially after my latest trip back home where I spent time exploring the handmade pieces that my family and friends proudly display.  I want to start making more things for my house.  I want to start answering that question with "yes"!   

This leads me to my new bathroom rug.  I have a pretty big bathroom floor space on which I had a chenille throw.  The chenille rug served its purpose, but it lacked any sort of personality.  What you can't see is that I have these really cool sari silk curtains hanging over the bath.   I wanted something that would play to that style.  I chose a dark eggplant yarn because this color is in the curtains and would get along well with the color of my tile.  I used 26 skeins of bulky weight yarn.  That's roughly 2,700 yards to create this 5 by 7 foot area rug.  I love how swirly it looks from a distance.  

It began with 10 hexagons each measuring 20 inches in diameter.  I called this post Three Day Weekend Rug, but I did make a couple of these hexagons before this weekend.  I think I had four of them made, but the rest of the rug came together over three days.  It's been a long time since I've made anything this big.  The finishing touch was three rows worked around the edge.  I sat in a recliner half covered by this heavy rug.  It was comical to feel so pinned down and every time I needed to shift the piece, it was a major undertaking.

Finally, my rug was finished and I laid it out on the floor.  I had to fight the urge to walk around it.  It felt wrong at first to step on this thing in which I had just invested so much time.  My son had no trouble walking on it.  In fact, he thinks it looks a bit like a hopscotch board and so he's been hopping across it and encouraging me to do the same.   

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Summer Scarf ~ Free Form?

 I sat down one afternoon this week and just kind of whipped up this scarf.  When I wear it, I only wrap it around my neck once and then let the ends come forward.  It's so light and airy, it's kind of like wearing a necklace, more decorative than practical.  I've gotten into wearing scarves lately, and I wanted something to wear even during the warm months.  

The back story on this piece is that I had the flowers already.  A couple months ago, I was going to make this free form design from a book.  The instructions have you create motifs and then guide you in the assembly process.  I realize that using instructions to make a free form accessory is in and of itself a contradiction.  I think I was motivated by seeing some of these fantastic free form works that are made up of hundreds of small shapes.  They are very stunning and I feel drawn to them.  However, after I made all of my motifs and started putting them together, I remembered something about myself.  I don't really enjoy assemblage work.  I find it tedious.  I told myself that I must not be the free form type and on I moved. 

About a week ago I started thinking about all those motifs I had just sitting in a bag.  They were cute; flowers, wheels and little circles.  I started to play with them in my mind.  What would they like to be?  Then it came to me, how about a spring scarf?  The flowers could dangle playfully at different lengths and I could make the scarf so light that it could be worn even during a southwest summer.  I began to look through my stash for an appropriate yarn for the scarf.  I got very lucky.  I don't even remember buying this hand painted linen lace from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.  The colors were perfect and the lace weight linen ideal.  The flowers were also made with lace weight yarn and the linen would feel good next to my skin and breath in the warm summer months.  

I guess this is my style of free form.  Now I want to turn the rest of my motifs into summer scarves.  If you're out and about this summer and you see a woman with flowers dangling from her neck, it might be me!     

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Home Fibers ~ Part III

While in southern Virginia, I paid a visit to some dear family friends.  In this case, my reputation preceded me.  Sitting out on the dining room table, as if waiting for me, were three tatted family heirlooms.

I really wasn't expecting to see tatting when I set out to discover fiber arts in the homes of my loved ones.  I have only been tatting for a couple years now, so maybe it just wasn't on my radar.  These are all precious, however the ornament on the far right strikes me as unique.  At first glance, I thought I was looking at a classic wreath or ring design, but then I realized that it has been worked onto a ring that was first wrapped in crochet.  The inside loops of the tatting are a little more complicated as well.  They are actually loops within loops.  All in all, it's a pretty intricate little ornament.

Believe it or not, I have fiber finds from three more homes to share.  Just as a teaser, one of my best friends recently moved back from living in Japan for three years.  She brought back some gorgeous silks as well as a few other surprises, but first, a visit to see my sister and my mom.  Get ready for knitting and needlepoint!  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ April

I've been saving this design for April in honor of that old saying, April showers bring May flowers.
The Falling Raindrop Ornament looks so pretty hanging from the tree.  It has that icicle effect and just imagine if they were made in sparkling silver or gold.  These crochet up quickly and as an added bonus, there are no loose ends to sew.  I think you're going to like this one! 

Falling Raindrop

Yarn of choice and appropriately sized hook, scissors

If you need a stitch guide or help with the abbreviations, Crochet 'N' More is a great resource for all of the basics. 

Ch 19
Row 1:  5 sc in second ch from hook
Row 2:  (working in the round and skipping over the beg ch) 2 sc in each st around = 10 sc
Row 3:  sc around = 10 sc

Completing Raindrop:  *sc dec, sc* 5 times (decrease rounds), sl st into back loop of beg ch #13, 3 sc in back loop of each beg ch until you reach the first.  Insert hook in back loop of 1st ch, pull up a loop, cut working yarn leaving 4 or 5 inches, yarn over with both the working yarn and the beginning tail end, pull through both loops on hook.  Tie an overhand knot to create loop for hanging.

That's all there is to it.  Give your raindrop a little tug to extend the spirals.  Also, and this is just a personal taste kind of thing, I like to keep the hanging loop on this ornament pretty small.  I make it just big enough to fit over the end of a branch.  That way the raindrop looks like it's falling right from the tree branch.  

I hope you've enjoyed making the Falling Raindrop ornament!

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ April Preview

I know a few of you may be wondering about April's ornament.  I haven't forgotten.  This month the free crochet pattern will be for this falling raindrop ornament.  This is my prototype pictured here.  I want to make a couple more and tweak the design a little before I write it up.  I just wanted to let you know it's coming!

A Spinning Frame

Yesterday I was sharing some of my mother-in-law's collection of antique spools or bobbins.  On my most recent visit, I had the fun task of selecting five to bring home with me.  Among the more traditional looking bobbins were a few funny looking ones.  I wasn't really sure if they were bobbins or perhaps another part of textile machinery, but I brought one home just the same.

I thought it might take a little research to figure out the function of this odd shaped part, but I stumbled onto the answer very quickly.  In fact, this is a bobbin, known as a spinning frame. It was also called a beehive because of the shape of the base.  The graduated ridges at the bottom gave the yarn something to grip when they started a new run.  The smooth top prevented any snagging.

Though I checked my information with a number of sites, I particularly like Becki's Bobbins. She has some wonderful pictures of old textile mills and good descriptions of the different bobbins.  About the spinning frame she goes on to say, "Cotton or wool rovings were transferred from a larger spool via the spinning process onto the frame bobbin. Different frame sizes were used for different weights and thickness of fibers."  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Flax Top

I just added some Flax Top to my inventory at Wind Rose.  I've been wanting to try spinning flax myself, so I thought I'd get enough for the shop too.  This flax is very soft and fine.  The staple length is approx 12 inches which means it would work well for doll hair.  There are some very nice YouTube videos on spinning flax.  Here's a couple of my favorites.  Flax Spinning and Spinning Flax Into Linen Thread.

Home Fibers ~ Part II

I arrived home from my Virginia vacation and kind of spazzed on my blogging.  I'm the sort of person who makes daily goals and likes to get a lot done, so when I returned after a week off, I went crazy doing things with the kids and around the house.  My vacation involved much sitting and visiting and I just couldn't sit still any longer.  Whenever I thought about blogging, I was deterred by the prospect of idle desk time. 

I'm starting to settle back down now and I miss my routine of daily blogging.  Plus, I have a lot about which to blog.  I took so many pictures of home fibers while I was away.  I had a great time asking people about the fiber art that they have on display or in use in their homes, and my family and friends seemed to enjoy sharing their treasures.

Before I talk about my collage today, I just have to say a little something about this fiber mission.  I assigned myself the task of searching out home fibers just to add a little fiber flavor to my holiday.  I knew it would be interesting to me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions of my family and friends.  They seemed to enjoy showing me things as much as I enjoyed seeing them.  It gave us something more to talk about than just the everyday catching up.  It also made me feel more connected to the ones I love because talking about the fiber arts in their homes, led to talking about the hands that made them.  This often meant beloved mothers and grandmothers.  Hand crafted items hold so much sentimental value.  The style or condition they're in hardly matters when they are filled with tender, warm memories.

My collage today comes from my father-in-law's house.  My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years and in this time I have come to love his parent's home.  In fact, it seems fitting to display some of their fiber arts in a collage as my mother-in-law, Kathleen, had a gift for creating decorative displays.  She liked to collect items and then strengthen their story by grouping them.  For instance, the pineapple is historically a symbol of welcome.  Kathleen assembled a grand collection of pineapples including plaques, stained glass, needle point and more.  They are the first thing you see when entering the house and they assure you of the warmest of welcomes!

Also in the entryway is an antique cabinet on which stand a collection of wooden spools.  No doubt retired from years of good service in a textile mill, these spools now enjoy a place of rest and a new purpose.  They are fabulous in appearance, not the tidy little spools we use on our spinning wheels, but massive, metal enforced pieces of machinery.  When I look at them, I remember family dinners, sitting at the long dining room table.  The spools in their various heights winding down the center and illuminated by the candles that Kathleen placed in their cores. 

After this lovely greeting in the foyer, we make our way down the hall passing by the living room.  Draped over a chair is the blue shawl that a friend knitted for Kathleen after she was diagnosed with cancer.   I can't help but touch it as I pass by, grateful that Gary has kept it present.  Now it feels like a symbol of how much we all loved Kathleen and do still.

The hallway opens up to the family room.  This is a wonderful, open space with large windows looking out onto the water.   On the opposite wall hangs an impressive macramé made by Gary's mother.  Though this wall hanging was made in Kansas years ago, it seems right at home and takes on more of a nautical feel.  The natural color and play of knots prepare you for a day filled with salty air and sea shells.  At the end of this day, you can curl up on the couch under a knitted afghan that lays waiting just for you.

What I love about my father-in-law's home is that everything feels so natural.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but sometimes you feel as though furnishings are brought in to match their environment.  On the contrary, there is something special about a structure that feels as though it was built just to accommodate the contents within.  I think it's the difference between house and home.