Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Book Review: Yarn Harlot

What I'm reading...Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Happy knitting!
I'm sure that there are people out there that may think the only thing more boring than knitting is reading a book about knitting. Well, poo poo on them! I love knitting and was absolutely in stitches as I read Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. It's funny because it's true.

Every knitter will surely relate to the hilariously neurotic stories in this book. It covers everything from secret yarn stashes and the terror of moths to misshapen sweaters and overly ambitious projects that call for a ridiculous amount of yarn.

Yes, knitting can be strangely meditative, but there are times, like when you need one more skein of yarn in a particular, possibly discontinued, color that knitting can push you to the edge of your sanity. This collection of stories will amuse you and assure you that you are not alone in the joy, passion, heartbreak and terror that is knitting.

Happy knitting and happy reading!

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Tutorial: Simple Sketchbook Journal Cover

How to personalize a sketchbook or journal cover with recycled artwork or cardboard.I always keep a sketchbook by my side to jot down ideas, draft patterns and outline my blog posts. I am typically working on dozens of projects every week, so this little journal is one of the ways I keep my thoughts and processes organized.

When one sketchbook gets filled, I move on to the next.

Being an artsy-craftsy person, I really enjoy pretty things, so when I recently purchased my newest sketchbook I decided to personalize the cover and brighten it up a bit.

I used an old watercolor painting from my stash that's pretty, but not quite frame-worthy. You could just as easily use a piece of your child's artwork, a scrap of colorful cardstock, an old book cover, a piece of recycled cardboard or anything that is on a piece of heavyweight paper or lightweight chipboard.



As I said before, I used a watercolor design that I painted on a heavy watercolor paper, but you can be creative with your cover material. Just about anything is better than the original cover.
Open the sketchpad to the back cover.
You should be able to gently separate the wire binding and slide off both the back and front covers.
Remember how the covers are placed so you can slide them back on to the wire binding later.
Measure the original front cover and trim your new cover to the same size.
Looks good so far.
Turn your new cover face down and use the old cover as a template so you can lightly trace the binding holes with a pencil.
Next, it's time to punch the holes in your new cover.
Carefully use a paper punch to make holes in all the spaces you traced then erase any remaining pencil marks.
Position the new front cover and the original back cover and slide them back onto the binding wires. Gently push the binding wires closed.
The new sketchbook cover is definitely an improvement.

I think the heart shaped holes match the hearts in my artwork nicely. It's just a little detail, round holes would have been just as functional, but the heart shapes make me happy.

How to personalize a sketchbook or journal cover with recycled artwork or cardboard.

And now I'm ready to start sketching and writing all my design notes in my pretty new notebook.

How to personalize a sketchbook or journal cover with recycled artwork or cardboard.

How will you re-cover your sketchbook or journal?

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Book Review: 200 Crochet Flowers, Embellishments and Trim

Book Review: 200 Crochet Flowers, Embellishments and Trim by Claire Crompton

They say that April showers bring May flowers, so it seems appropriate to start the month off with some pretty crocheted flowers and a great resource for some simple flower designs is 200 Crochet Flowers, Embellishments & Trim  by Claire Crompton.

This is a nice reference to have on hand if you want to quickly add a pop of color or dimension to your project and take it to the next level.

The book begins with some yarn guides that describe the characteristics of different fibers, colors, textures and weights of yarn and is followed by some basic crochet instructions. And then the real fun begins, an assortment of flowers and leaves with both written instructions and stitch charts which can be useful to those of us who are visual learners.

As implied by the title, this book is not just about the flowers. There are also instructions for some pretty edgings and motifs as well as some all-over stitch designs for fabric. Again there are both written instructions and stitch charts.

If you are still not sure how to incorporate trims and embellishments into your own work, you'll be delighted by the inspirational project photos throughout the pages.

Two designs I like are the Button Carnation and Leaf which I'll be using to spice up a basic bucket hat. Stay tuned because I'll be sharing a recipe for my Summer Mesh Hat in my next post.

Want a peek at what's inside the book?

Happy crocheting!

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Crochet Pattern: Flower Bookmark

Free Crochet Pattern: Make a flower bookmark to celebrate spring and happy reading!
I don't get to read as much as I'd like because I'm usually too busy crafting. However right now I'm finishing up the book "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors and once again, has not let me down with this beautiful story.

Of course a good book deserves a beautiful bookmark. Since spring is in the air, it only seemed appropriate to make a flower.

This pattern can easily be completed in an evening and would make a thoughtful birthday or Mother's Day, or even bridal shower favors.



ch - chain
sl st - slip stitch
sc - single crochet
hdc - half double crochet
dc - double crochet
tr - treble crochet
st - stitch


With frosty green, ch 100. Sl st in 3rd ch from hook to form a small loop.

Rnd 1 (WS): 6 sc in loop. Do not turn.

Rnd 2 (WS): [Ch 3, sc in next sc, (ch 3, sc in same sc) twice] 6 times.

Fasten off.

Join orchid pink in any ch 3 space. The petals are worked in continuous rounds with the wrong side (the inside of the flower) always facing.

Rnd 3: Sc in same ch 3 space, ch 3, sc in same ch 3 space, ch 3, [sc in next ch 3 space, ch 3, sc in same ch 3 space, ch 3] 17 times.

Rnd 4: Sc in first ch 3 space of Rnd 1, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch 3 space, ch 1, sc in next ch 3 space, [sc in next ch 3 space, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch 3 space, ch 1, sc in next ch 3 space] 11 times.

Rnd 5: [Sc in next sc, 2 hdc in ch 1 space, 2 dc in next dc, 3 tr in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, 2 hdc in ch 1 space, sc in next sc] 12 times.

Rnd 6: [Sc in next 5 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in each of next 3 sts, sc in next 5 sts] 12 times, sl st in next st, fasten off.

Cut an 18 inch length of orchid pink yarn and use a plastic yarn needle to weave it through the ch 3 spaces of Rnd 3. Pull the yarn tightly and tie in a knot. Trim the extra length of yarn.

I also like to tie a small knot at the end of the stem so the flower doesn't accidentally slip out of my book.

Free Crochet Pattern: Make a flower bookmark to celebrate spring and happy reading!

Need something to put your book mark into? Here's a preview of "Flight Behavior".

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Book Review: The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide

The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide by Marie Segal is a must have reference for clay crafters of all skill levels.

Over the years, I have dabbled with polymer clay projects. Kindly speaking, my creations have been primitive at best. For some reason, I always thought of clay as a simplistic kid's craft. I am learning that polymer clay is a quite versatile material and can be enjoyed by crafters of all skill levels.

My favorite clay crafting reference is The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide by Marie Segal.

If you are a newbie to polymer clay crafting, the book has very clear explanations about the materials used  as well as the different types of tools needed. It also simply explains some very basic techniques to get you started with making beads or even jewelry pieces.

And then the real fun begins! There are pages and pages filled with stunning photos and step by step tutorials for creating different effects and designs that you would never imagine possible. I was wowed by the directory of effects ranging from textures and printing to caning and mosaic.

At the end of each section are photographic examples of how the 50+ featured polymer clay artists incorporated the effects into their own real world creations.

Every image in this book will get your creative juices flowing and there are enough different techniques described that as a casual crafter you may never get through them all, but won't it be fun to try?

Happy crafting!

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The Blogger's Guide to Social Media

The Blogger's Guide to Social Media: Making a plan for promoting your blog or small business on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and InstagramAs a craft blogger, I spend almost as much time promoting myself on social media as I do crafting and writing. The task can be a little daunting because I would rather have my hands on yarn, fabric, glue and glitter than my computer keyboard. However, I am aware that my presence on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram can be effective in attracting new readers and keeping my loyal fans coming back for more crafty goodness.

My personal goal on social media is not only to promote my blog and my shop, but also to tell my story. In addition to self promotion, I like to share a glimpse at things that you won't find on my blog.

Each social media platform offers a unique venue to share different aspects of my day to day work. In an effort to keep my fans and followers informed and engaged (without being spammy) it was necessary for me to develop a basic plan for what I share on each social media outlet.

Like me on Facebook
I have a personal, "real world" connection with many of my followers on Facebook. They are my friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and collaborators. These are the people who are most interested in my day to day trials and triumphs.

When I am posting on my Facebook page, I pay close attention to the question "What have you been up to?" because this is exactly what my fans want to know about.
I frequently share the following information on my timeline to give my followers a preview of what's happening behind the scenes:
  • pictures of my work in progress for both my blog and my shop
  • information about local workshops I am teaching
  • links to other blogs, web sites or publications where I have been featured
  • critter pics (I live in Arizona and we have some pretty awesome creepy crawlies residing in our back yard.)
I occasionally share links to articles on my blog or news about my shop.

Despite the fact that I rarely share links to my blog on my own Facebook page, I do share them on other Facebook pages. For example, if I use a specific yarn in one of my tutorials, I share a link on the yarn maker's Facebook page mentioning that I enjoyed their product and show them what I made. Businesses big and small appreciate positive publicity for their products. I don't want to be spammy, but this kind of self promotion can be beneficial to both their brand and mine.


Follow me on Twitter
Twitter is a very effective platform for attracting new readers and customers through the thoughtful use of #hashtags and @mentions. I often use #knit #knitting #crochet and #DIY in my tweets.

My tweets are more quirky than my Facebook posts so I can grab your attention in 140 characters or less. Sometimes my tweets are even a bit vague so people are more likely to click on my links.
I frequently tweet:
  • links to my blog posts (both new and old) with @mentions to any relevant brands I used in my project
  • pictures and links to items in my shop
  • pictures of my cat #CatsofTwitter #KittyLoafMonday
  • my favorite items from the Crafty Saturday Show and Sell link-up on my blog and re-tweets of other people's favorite #CraftySaturday items
  • re-tweets of items I like from the #HandmadeHour and #HandmadeHourUSA live chat hosted by @HandmadeHour  @HMNation
  • re-tweets of items I like from #SPSTeam because @SPSTeamEtsy is the best Etsy team around
  • re-tweets of things that inspire me or make me laugh


Add me to your Google+ Circle
I like Google+ because it offers a variety of ways for you to connect with others. It is similar to Facebook in how you can post pictures, links, video, etc.

The "Collections" feature on Google+ is much more reminiscent of Pinterest because you can add posts (your own or others) to collections. People can follow you and/or your collections.

On my Google+ page, I frequently post links to my blog and items in my shop.

I also have a few collections (giveaways, craft tutorials, printables, yummy food, indie shops and blogging tips). This is where you'll find my favorite posts by other bloggers and small business owners on Google+.
Google+ also hosts a variety of interest-based communities. In addition to moderating two Google+ communities (SPSTeam on Etsy and Create Happy Crafts) I belong to a few other craft and business related communities where I can connect with my peers, get advice and share my latest projects.


Follow me on Pinterest
My Pinterest boards fall into three main categories:
  • craft ideas/tutorials
  • handmade/vintage items
  • business/blogging tips
Of course I pin all of my own blog posts and shop items, as well as those from other blogs and shops that I love.
I also use Pinterest when I am in the early stages of project planning when I am researching topics or getting a little inspiration. If you notice I'm pinning a lot of clay projects, you can bet I'll probably be sharing some clay-related tutorials on my blog, soon.


Follow me on Instagram
I am just getting started with Instagram. Right now my plan is to share pictures of my works in progress so my followers can get a peek through my virtual windows to see what I am doing right now.

It's likely that a few, but not all, of my instagrams will end up on my Facebook and Twitter pages as well.
If you'd like to make your own social media plan, I highly recommend the book 500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential Advice, Hints and Strategy for Business: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and More!. It has a lot of useful information for anyone who is interested in developing their brand on social media.

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Tutorial: Mini Valentine Fold-Out Book

Make your Valentine an extra special mini book to tell them "forever and always my heart belongs to you"This month I am very excited to be participating in Emma Owl's 14 Days of Love. I LOVE love!

For me, Valentine's day is often a bit too commercial. Sure, I enjoy getting a box of chocolates from time to time. (Who doesn't like chocolate.) But when it comes to Valentine gift giving, sometime handmade is the most heartfelt.

I like to make my own cards, and on Valentine's Day I think it is totally worth taking the time to craft an extra fancy card.

This year, my card is inspired by a project I found in The Weekend Crafter: Making Books And Journals. It looks rather complicated, but isn't your special someone worth a little extra time and effort. (Husbands, I promise that your wife would be thrilled to receive this little gem if it is handmade by you!!)


  • 1 - 2 x 12 inch piece of light colored cardstock
  • 2 - 2 1/4 inch thin cardboard squares
  • 2 - 3 1/4 inch pieces of colored, patterned paper
  • Fiskars Paper Trimmer
  • ruler
  • bone folder
  • Tombow Xtreme Permanent Adhesive
  • 18 inches of ribbon
  • stamps, ink, pens, paint (for embellishments)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 inch white cardstock square for cover decoration (optional)


We'll start by making the covers of the book. You'll need the cardboard squares and colored paper.
Apply a couple swipes of the Tombow Xtreme Adhesive to the back of your cardboard square.
Center the cardboard, sticky side down onto the back of the colored paper.
Fold in the corners of the paper.
Use the bone folder to score the paper, using the cardboard as a guide.

Tip: It helps to put a scrap piece of cardboard under your work so you don't scratch your table when scoring.
Apply adhesive to one edge of the paper and fold it in, sticking it to the cardboard.
Repeat with the remaining three sides. Don't you just love those neatly mitered corners?

Create the other cover in the same manner.
Now onto the pages of your book/card. You'll be using the 2 x 12 inch cardstock for this part.

Use the bone folder to score every two inches along the length of the paper (the pink lines in the photo below), creating six squares. Turn your paper over and make four diagonal scores in the center four squares (as shown by the blue lines below).

Valley fold the pink lines and mountain fold the diagonal blue lines. Your measurements and folds need to be very precise for this to work.

Now you are going to decorate the pages of your book. I used my Close to My Heart: Seasons of the Heart stamps.

If you don't have stamps available, you can just as easily draw a little heart embellishment in the corners as shown.
Now for the words, use your best fancy handwriting to write "forever and always" on the front, middle and back pages of my book.
After the ink is dry (you don't want any smudges) fold up your book and open the popout at the center so you can write "my heart belongs to you".
Once your ink is dry, turn your book over and apply adhesive to the wrong side of the front and back pages so you can attach the ribbon and covers.
First, position the ribbon. You may want to fold your book shut to make sure the ribbon is not too tight.
Next position the front and back covers so they are aligned with the fold in the pages. If the covers extend past the fold, the book will not open completely.
Finally, you can decorate and attach the 1 1/2 inch square of white cardstock to the front cover if you choose.

Tie the ribbon in a pretty bow to close the book.
Here's how your fancy shmancy card works. The first page says "forever", the center page says "and", the last page says "always", fold down the flap "my heart belongs to you".

You can fill the front and back inside covers with the appropriate "to and from" message.

Whose heart wouldn't totally melt when they opened this special Valentine?

Make your Valentine an extra special mini book to tell them "forever and always my heart belongs to you"

For more LOVE-ly projects visit

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