Showing posts with label crafter thoughts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crafter thoughts. Show all posts

Hello Stanwood Yarn Ball Winder, Goodbye Frankenskeins

My name is Ellen, and I am a yarn-a-holic. My problem isn't necessarily related to buying too much yarn. I am typically a project-based yarn shopper and my skeins do not remain in my stash unworked for very long.

The real issue is that when I finish a project, I simply can not throw away the leftover bits and pieces no matter how large or small they are. I mean, the color is so pretty and someday I might need it for something.

So, I roll the leftovers into a ball and drop them into a bin where they commingle with the other fiber castoffs, eventually morphing into a giant Frankenskein!

Even the cat avoids tangling with this monstrosity of stash yarn.

Hmm... I wonder why I never use my leftovers. Even the cat avoids tangling with this monstrosity.

Then one day in a casual conversation, my neighbor accused me of having every knit and crochet tool known to man. Like that's a bad thing! I immediately went on Amazon to prove my dear friend wrong. Hooks, needles, row counters, stitch markers... Yep, I pretty much have it all.

But wait! What magical fiber related tool do I not yet have? A yarn ball winder. A situation quickly remedied with my purchase of a Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-A.

As soon as it arrived I clamped that bad boy to the table and started deconstructing my giant Frankenskein. Within a couple hours I had a pile of colorful cakes piled across my table.

The winder pleasantly hummed as I wound it all. Cotton, wool, acrylic. I'm not a yarn snob after all.

And now that my yarn is neatly wound and organized by fiber type two questions remain? What stashbusting pattern is next to be designed and what knitting/crochet tool is still missing from my studio?

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Why Do You Create Handmade?

Crafters, artists and designers from around the world share why they create handmade.

We live in a world where convenience is often king. Most of us can easily obtain everything we need or want from a local big box store. That may be one reason that a lot of people just don't understand why anyone would invest the time (and often money for quality materials) to create something completely by hand.

So why do you create handmade?

I recently posed this question to my crafty followers on Facebook and Instagram. The varied responses I received were better than anything I could think of alone, although you will notice many common threads woven through the answers.

First, some humor

"It's a practical life skill for surviving the zombie apocalypse." alittlebirdhouse on Instagram

"I create handmade because I can!" kwiltypleasures on Instagram

Well Being

"I do it for various reasons. It's therapeutic, it helps me slow down in a hectic world. It reminds me I have a talent, and that I am very, very lucky to have that. And, I realized that I can make other people smile through my creations. The warm happy feeling when I see that is what makes me create." on Instagram → The Little Welsh Studio on Etsy

"I craft because it gives me an outlet for creativity. It soothes my brain. Knitting/crocheting is a place that I strive for perfection in and to expand my knowledge. Some people learn to play complex pieces of music on the piano. I am learning all about the art, structure, design, and even history of fiber arts. It also gives me opportunities to give a piece of myself to people I love." withsnowinmind on Instagram

"It's a way to relax for me. Others do yoga, I knit and spin. I also love the smile on the faces of the people who appreciate handmade items. It's such a joy to see them wear my handmade hats and shawls and socks. I do feel extremely good and proud when I finally finish a project. It feels like 'look what beautiful things you can create with your hands, out of two sticks and wool'. And of course it's a way of expressing my creativity." kanitterina on Instagram → The Science of Knitting Podcast

It's Who I Am

"Because I HAVE to for one thing. It's part of my makeup. I love the process of creation, seeing where an idea goes. And I love seeing the end result. It exercises my mind--which is important for someone who's suffered brain damage. I couldn't imagine a life that doesn't involve making things." Lin Collette on Facebook

Being Connected

"I love creating it's relaxing and keeps the mind thinking. My grandmother taught me the basic crochet stitches and embroidery at night after dinner she was always working on something. I feel close to her when I crochet even though she has been gone so many years. I don't think there's a person in the world that doesn't feel great when they get good reviews on their work. Makes me smile and we all need more smiles. Just shake your head at that person that obviously doesn't know quality work and keep doing what you do. We crafters know are work is high quality besides it's in our blood!" forpawsandhome on Instagram → forpawsandhome on Etsy

"I create handmade because it helps me to express myself as a woman and share artistic images and cultural pride with others. Many hand crafts come from or are influenced by cultural traditions around the world today and from the past as well. It's a type of self-sufficiency and response to the sped up consumer culture that helps to share and foster a sense of community among people. I love and appreciate the art, the craft, and the soul of handmade. We need to keep on with this movement and support each other and keep growing!" joliefemmebydiana on Instagram → joliefemmebydiana on Etsy

Quality Control

"I create handmade so I know nothing icky or bad goes into the products I use/eat." skinfulessentials on Instagram → skinfulessentials on Etsy


"I started making my own jewellery because I have always loved one of a kind pieces. You will not find these in a big box store anywhere. That's what I love about handmade. The creative ideas and process that translates into these beautiful pieces of art whether they are made out of yarn, stones, porcelain, paint, whatever the medium. They look like they are made with thoughtfulness, creativity and love, and they are! Walmart can't even compete." AudacityWear on Facebook → AudacityWear on Etsy

"People have always crafted--made things with their hands. I think it satisfies something deeply human in us. For me, beading is a time to get lost in colors, shapes, textures, and composition--also to experience a little of the history and culture different beads represent. For my customers, my pieces are more personal than something they could buy at a department store. Each piece is one of a kind. I think they value the difference." catchingwavesonetsy on Instagram → CatchingWaves on Etsy

Lifestyle and Values

"For some, convenience and speed is something they place a high value on. They would rather spend their time in other ways that they find fulfilling. For others, they place value on the time spent creating - whether it's the joy of learning or the sense of achievement with bringing an idea to life. Neither perspective is wrong. It's just figuring out what is important to you - and embracing that path." dellcovespices on Instagram → Dell Cove Spices Shop

"... I must admit though I do get similar comments, even from students who say things such as 'its a bit uneven and wobbly' when they make a pot. My response is always.... 'well, if you wanted perfection you would by it at Ikea. This is handmade and unique and captures the makers mark' and they always get it! Personally I create because it is part of my overall lifestyle - growing food, recycling and making... I can't imagine living any other way." dawnwhitehand on Instagram → deedeedeesigns on Etsy

"I create handmade items because it's fun, because I can earn a little extra money, because handmade gifts and more personal and loving, because it's less corporate consumer culture, and sometimes because I can turn worn out things into useful things or make reusable alternatives to disposable products." beeasinbumbledesigns on Instagram → BeeAsInBumbleDesigns on Etsy

Showing Love

"I create because it's soothing - I'm much less anxious when I'm knitting or crocheting - and because I want the recipients to feel warm, cozy, and loved." agnesmarielovesyou on Instagram

"I design and create because I love to, and I am grateful that I can. Creativity can be the basis for valued friendships. Whether it is from my garden, kitchen or sewing table it is lovely to share. Those who value handmade make the effort worthwhile." arabella_blossoms on Instagram → arabellablossoms on Etsy

Making the World a Better Place

"I create as therapy for myself, a way to make the world more colorful and beautiful. I also hope that in making my creations it brings pleasure to those who receive it, as either a gift or purchase. I create because without it I lose my color." shawnidarling on Instagram → threefatesfiber on Etsy

"What a great question!... I think I create because I enjoy it for sure, and also because it gives me the impression that I somehow contribute to the world, in a tiny way for sure, but in a concrete one. I find it empowering, and I like the feeling that I can combine productivity and enjoyment, so my free time is occupied with something that produces results and bring me joy and pride." HanjiNaty on Facebook → HanjiNaty on Etsy

Sense of Accomplishment

"Because I love to crochet and knit and the sense of accomplishment of creating something beautiful that I can be very proud to say I made it." RonHelen King on Facebook

Thank you to everyone who shared their answers on both Facebook and Instagram. You creativity, beauty and kindness is inspiring.

Happy Crafting!

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10 Things to Love About Slow Fashion

10 Things to love about slow fashion: What I learned from mending a sweater

The Slow Fashion movement is gaining popularity around the world. Quite simply, the idea is about choosing more sustainable clothing alternatives such as eco and fair trade fashion, second hand buying, swapping and repairing existing wardrobe items.

As a crafty girl that puts a lot of time and effort into design and making, I can definitely appreciate the fact that quality is better than quantity. So, when my husband's favorite sweater was in need of some TLC, I decided to take the time to repair it instead of just chucking it in the trash.

My husband keeps this sweater in his office and it has likely been worn every work day for the last five years. Unfortuantely it had developed two problems. First, the zipper pull broke off in the laundry. Second, one of the pockets was detached and beginning to unravel.

The good news about the zipper was that my husband never actually uses it. Also, there was already a redundant set of buttons in place, just in case. This meant I was able to simply remove the zipper and restitch the facing. Easy peasy.
The pocket presented a slightly larger problem, but one that I was able to solve thanks to my knitting experience. Since the pocket was unravelling I needed to re-knit the stitches. Fortunately the yarn was not damaged. After that I used a piece of scrap yarn from my stash to graft the pocket back into place.
So, what did I learn from this slow fashion experience?

1. Slow fashion is empowering!

In just a couple hours, I was able to at least double the life expectancy of this garment. That may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I feel like I accomplished something pretty amazing.

2. Slow fashion discourages a throw away culture.

It is so easy to just throw away a cheap item knowing that you can pick up a replacement at the local big box for a few dollars. Is that the type of lifestyle we really want to embrace and model to our children?

3. Slow fashion is a way to practice creative skills.

This little project gave me a chance to flex my creative muscles. I had to figure out how to make a sturdy repair that looked nice and was functional. I was able to incorporate my engineering, knitting and sewing skills. Just look at those neat little handmade stitches!

10 Things to love about slow fashion: What I learned from mending a sweater

4. Slow fashion saves time.

This may seem counter intuitive because fixing this sweater took a couple hours. If I had thrown it away and purchased a replacement we would have driven to the mall to browse a number of different stores or spent time online searching for the perfect replacement sweater. And of course there is the time spent working to earn the money to pay for a new sweater.

5. Slow fashion saves money.

I used a seam ripper, needle, thread, knitting needles and yarn to fix this sweater. I already had all of the tools and materials in my sewing room, but even if you consider the full price for each of theses items, it would add up to less than the cost of a new sweater.

6. Slow fashion is a way to express yourself.

My repair was fairly basic, but I have seen other mends that involve patching or embroidery and they can be a beautiful way to incorporate new color and texture into an old garment.

7. Slow fashion creates less waste.

It's well known that the fashion industry creates a lot of waste in the production process. My repair minimized the need for the waste from producing a new sweater and kept the existing one out of the landfill.

8. Slow fashion shows you care.

I took the time to fix this sweater, in part because I know my husband really likes it. I hope that every time he wears it he feels the love that I put into every stitch.

9. Slow fashion makes you appreciate the importance of a job well done.

Of course I am proud of my own repair work and glad I took the time to do it right. While I was working, I also noticed the well-thought design elements from the original construction. Who ever chose to add a sturdy facing to the sweater opening was a genius. It was more expensive to manufacture the garment with this feature, but if the facing had not been there, removing or replacing the zipper would not have been an easy task.

10. Slow fashion generates quality time.

As I sat at the table making repairs, my husband sat with me and we were able to savor a cup of coffee, chat about current events and just enjoy each other's company. Definitely time well spent!

10 Things to love about slow fashion: What I learned from mending a sweater
How do you incorporate the concept of slow living into your daily routine?

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The Chilly Dog's Guide to Holiday Gift Giving

I love supporting small businesses that are passionate about their products. I particularly love handmade items. So, this holiday season I'd like to share a list of some of my very favorite online shops.

No one paid to get on this list. These are indie shops I trust because I have personally purchased items for myself from the shops, I have purchased gifts for others from the shops or I have received a gift from the shop that a friend/ family member has purchased for me.

Row 1
AllAboutTheButtons - tape measures, knit wear, pins and more with buttons
RAINBOWFIBRES - stitch markers, roving, felting supplies, felted figurines
andersenpottery - yarn bowls, mugs, vases, shaving mugs, bowls
northandsouthshabby - vintage holiday figurines, vintage decor and coastal decor
KittyMineCrafts - yarn, roving and batts

Row 2
CatchingWaves - ethnic and boho necklaces, bracelets, earrings and felted art
HanjiNaty - earrings, hair accessories, pins boxes and coasters made of Korean Hanji paper
AudacityWear - semi precious stone boho earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants
enchantedplanet - pressed flower necklaces, bracelets and earrings
bkinspired - creative wood pyrography bookmarks, boxes, cards, flower presses and home decor

Row 3
Ceraminic - ceramic dishes, coasters, ornaments, earrings and buttons
joliefemmebydiana - scarves, bags, glasses cases, pillows and aprons
CarolaBartz - mixed media art, photo cards and prints, journals and notebooks and hand knit items
BohemianChicbead - beaded gemstone yoga, mala and boho jewelry
Dell Cove Spices - cocktail rimming sugar and salt, gourmet popcorn and flavoring, bbq rubs and tea

Row 4
AsspocketProductions - custom return address, ex libris, wedding and holiday rubber stamps
FourHappyFaces - frameable, printable downloads for home and gift-giving
Bungalow42 - bracelets, necklaces, earrings and anklets
Homeforglasslovers - fused glass jewelry, dishes and home decor
ThousandHillsSoap - handmade goat milk soap

Row 5
CartoCreative - cartography and typography art prints
forpawsandhome - cat toys
rhodyart - quirky holiday and greeting cards, mixed media art, magnets
DeeDeeDeesigns - ceramic tableware and buttons and jewelry
zuketeas - organic tea blends

Happy handmade holidays!

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Crafter Thoughts: T-Shirt Refashioning

How to move the print from an old T-Shirt to a new one.When we went to Scandinavia this summer, I picked up a cute burn out t-shirt from Finland. After we got home, I think I wore it twice and then something bad happened. I'd like to say it was my husband's fault, but I am completely to blame.

I did not follow the washing instructions. As a fiber enthusiast, I should have known better. After a trip through the dryer, the burnout shirt was basically see through except for the printed area. Then it hung it my closet, unwearable for months.

Luckily, I have a couple blog friends (Lisa from Cucicucicoo and Agy from Green Issues by Agy) who frequently post about mending and altering textiles. So I thought I would do a little t-shirt refashioning of my own.

I hang my head in shame as I show you my burned out burn out. :( Luckily, I found a plain blue shirt ready to be spruced up with a new look.
I started by cutting out the printed area on the old shirt leaving a couple inches around the printed area.
Next I applied a lightweight, fusible interfacing to the back side of the image. This is a good thing to do any time you are going to cut up a t shirt. It stabilizes the area and keeps it from fraying.
Then, I cut out the image.

I had a bit of Pellon Wonder Web in my sewing stash and decided to use it to fuse the image to my new shirt.

I cut the Wonder Web slightly smaller than the image because the web tends to spread out a little as it melts.
Next, I positioned my image on the new shirt with the Wonder Web between the image and the front of the new shirt.

Pro Tip - When you are placing an image onto a shirt, a good rule of thumb is that the top of the image should be 3-4 finger widths from the bottom of a rounded neck line.
With the help of a press cloth and my iron, the image was fused to the new shirt in seconds.

Theoretically, I could have stopped there. The Wonder Web should hold the image and shirt together.
But I wanted to add my own little personal touch, so I grabbed a needle and some embroidery floss and did a blanket stitch around the outer edge of the image and a simple backstitch on one of the inner borders.
I am so happy I was able to save my vacation souvenir and refashion it into a wearable shirt.

How to move the logo or image from a worn tee shirt onto a new shirt or bag.

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Crafter Thoughts: Reflect, Reform, Refresh

If you are a fan of The Chilly Dog, you probably know that I take two breaks from the blog every year, once in the summer and again in the winter. Blogging takes up a lot of my life and sometimes I just need to reflect, reform and refresh to ensure that my blog and business continue to thrive. Does that mean I spend my time off just sitting around catching up on daytime TV? Absolutely not! My July break was packed with work and fun.


When I started my blog and shop in November of 2011, I did it because I am passionate about crafting and all things handmade. Crafting has brought me so much joy over the years. Making something with your own two hands enriches your life and just makes you feel good. I want to share my crafty knowledge so others can experience that joy.

I did not start my business because I was looking for a way to spend more time staring at a screen. Yes, I have to be here to write, but lately I have also spent a ridiculous amount of time promoting my blog and shop on social media with limited results.

The reality is, I could spend my entire day promoting my work on social media and still not reach every potential reader and customer.

If I want to create quality content for my blog and quality patterns and products for my shop I need to spend more time in my studio and less time in front of this darn computer.


Over the last four and a half years I have written and self-published 30 knitting patterns. Some are for sale in my shop and some are free here on the blog. My July blog break gave me the opportunity to reform those patterns into a book. Yeah, I'm writing a book!

Right now it's at 118 pages and my husband and I are in the process of editing. Fingers crossed, The Chilly Dog's Big Book of Knit Patterns will be available on my shop's virtual shelves this fall as an e-book.


All work and no play makes Ellen a dull girl. Luckily, I got to spend over a week traveling through Scandinavia with my favorite person. Hubby and I did a tour of the capitals of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. The weather was fantastic, the food was delicious and the people were friendly.

Of course I brought some knitting with me, but overall it was a nice escape and a relaxing adventure.


Wait. WAIT! There is no "Reboot" in the title of this post.

When I decided that needed to re-balance my routine with less screen time the Tech Gods frowned down on me. One morning in early August, just as I was reaching the final pages of my book, my computer (that is less than three months old) refuse to turn on. No matter how many times I pounded on the power button... the screen... remained... dark.

Luckily, the repair is completely covered by the computer manufacturer's warranty, but (with terror in my heart) I shipped my computer halfway across the country to be fixed. Yes, I have a hard copy of the book, but I had spent hours making edits that I had not yet backed-up.

As I wait for the return of my computer I am in limbo. Blogging is not easy on a borrowed laptop and I don't want to invest time to redo book edits that are hopefully intact when my computer returns. So for now, everything is kind of on hold in my world, but hopefully I'll be up and running at full speed soon.

Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement!

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Crafter Thoughts: Simple Yarn Winding

A low tech method for winding hanks of yarn into balls without a yarn winding machine.

I love yarn! Yes, I purchase a fair amount of mass produced, mainstream brands from major craft retailers, but I also appreciate a nice skein from my local yarn shop or even from indie yarn dyers online.

Since I don't own a fancy yarn winder, I am always grateful when someone offers to wind a skein for me. However, there are times that's not an option leaving me with the task of transforming a beautiful hank into something besides a tangled mass.

Luckily, I stumbled across a very low-tech method to ball up a skein of yarn without creating a knotted frenzy of fiber. I discovered this little secret when my daughter went to college and her vacant bedroom became my craft studio. She left a panel of large hooks behind her bedroom door.

 Here's what I do:

A low tech method for winding hanks of yarn into balls without a yarn winding machine.

1 - Remove the yarn label, untwist the yarn and drape it across three large hooks.
2 - Remove any of the small strands that secured the hank of yarn and locate the ends of the yarn.
3 - Start rolling a loose ball of yarn.
4 - Continue loosely rolling your yarn. Gravity is on your side and draping the hank over the three hooks helps keep it from tangling as you work.
5 - Finish loosely rolling your yarn. Even when you get to the last few strands of the hank there are no tangles.

This method of yarn winding isn't exactly rocket science, but it's effective. As an added bonus, I don't have to endure the funny looks from my hubby when I ask him to hold an untwisted hank of yarn over his hands so I can roll my yarn into a ball. Win! Win!

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Crafter Thoughts: Bead Crochet

Bead crochet is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight) but the geometric patterns are highly addictive!I love when I can blend techniques from different crafting disciplines, so my curiosity was piqued when I read a discussion on Ravelry about bead crochet. Because of the complexity, I don't know if bead crochet will ever appear here on the blog in tutorial form, but it is too incredible not to share.

Before I go on, I think it's only fair that I issue a few warnings:
  1. This craft is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight). It takes a lot of patience.
  2. Once you get the hang of it, this craft is highly addictive.
Don't say I didn't warn you!

Today, I'm just going to give you a general overview of the craft and show a couple projects I have made so far. If you are looking for some free patterns, ideas or more details about the technique, don't miss my Pinterest board about beading.

Most of the free designs I have run across so far are in German or Russian. However, since they are also charted out graphically and color coded, it's not impossible to figure out what to do. After choosing a design, you begin by stringing the beads.

Since this is my first project, I chose a pretty basic design. You can find it here on the Bead Dust blog. Yes, it's in German.

This is about 1800 seed beads on a string. Each bead is just over 2 mm in diameter, the entire strand is about 10 feet long and it took 2-3 hours of my undivided attention to get the beads on the string.

Bead crochet is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight) but the geometric patterns are highly addictive!

Did I mention that if you mess up the pattern, there's no easy way to fix it or add beads once you begin the crocheting part?

I used a heavy duty, polyester upholstery thread to string the beads and a US size 7 (1.5 mm) crochet hook. This is very tiny, delicate work. The design is crocheted in the round and there are six stitches per round.

Bead crochet is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight) but the geometric patterns are highly addictive!

The crocheting was a little slow at first, but once I figured out the technique and could see the pattern revealing itself, things sped up. It only took five or six hours to crochet an 18-inch long rope.

Once the rope was done, I ran into another challenge, finding clasps to use for the ends of my necklace. Tucson is not a mecca for specialty craft supply shops and none of the big box craft stores carried what I needed, so I headed over to and browsed their selection of Kumihimo findings. It was my first time shopping there, but they have a nice selection, the prices are reasonable and the shipping was fairly fast.

While I waited for my clasps to arrive, I tried a smaller design that wouldn't need clasps, a bracelet. I couldn't find any specific directions for joining the ends of my rope so it took a little trial and error, but I'm pleased that my join is virtually invisible.

Craft Inspirations: Bead crochet rope bracelet

Once my clasps arrived, I was able to finish off my necklace

Craft Inspirations: Bead crochet rope necklace

and create a second one.

Craft Inspirations: Bead crochet rope necklace

If I were to offer a single piece of advice to anyone getting started with bead crochet it would be to make sure you are using high quality beads that are all the same size. Even the slightest variation in bead size makes the crocheting part unnecessarily difficult.

Now, go browse Pinterest for some bead crochet patterns, if you dare. Once you get started, you'll be hooked!

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Crafter Thoughts: Extreme Adult Coloring

Extreme adult coloring ideas: meditate by creating a geometric painting with watercolor pencils

My husband didn't believe me that there is such a thing as adult color books and that it's one of the biggest current trends in hobbies until he Googled it.

It's no surprise to me that these books have become insanely popular. There's something about adding thoughtfully placed color to the page that is extremely meditating. Think about it. Why do you give your own kids coloring books? To keep them focused and quiet. It works the same for grown-ups.

I've kind of adapted the concept of adult coloring books into my own little art form. I like to start by sketching a geometric design on a piece of vellum.

Next, I position the vellum on the back of a sheet of watercolor paper and stick it on with a couple small bits of masking tape. Then, the papers go over a lightbox (or a brightly lit window) so I can see the design through the watercolor paper.

The meditative part is using watercolor pencils to fill in all the shapes from the geometric design with smaller, softer details.

Extreme adult coloring ideas: meditate by creating a geometric painting with watercolor pencils

I bet you didn't see those butterflies and dragonflies when you looked at my initial sketch, but there they are!

Finally, fill in the gaps. This isn't a speedy process. The entire drawing/painting easily took 8-10 hours, but I love the colors and design so much I framed it an hung it in our guest room.

Extreme adult coloring ideas: meditate by creating a geometric painting with watercolor pencils

Here's a second painting I completed using the same geometric template. I like this one because I used almost all 24 colors in my set of Loew-Cornell watercolor pencils.

Extreme adult coloring ideas: meditate by creating a geometric painting with watercolor pencils

Relax and treat your self to some colorful meditations!

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Crafter Thoughts: Polymer Clay Beads

Curious about this crafty tool? It's a clay extruder.My name is Ellen and I am a craft addict. I knit, crochet, sew... and love to experiment with new materials, tools and techniques.

My latest addiction? Clay.

I don't have a lot of experience with clay, but it's something I have always wanted to learn more about. So, on a recent trip to Joann's I stocked up on some basic tools by Sculpey:

Here's a sample of beads that I have been creating. I love all the interesting designs and texture, not to mention the fun colors.

My new craft addiction is making beads with polymer clay.

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some project ideas and tutorials so you can learn how to squish, roll, mold and sculpt, too. You won't believe the intricate designs you can make (and how much stress you can relieve) by smooshing up pretty wads of clay.

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Crafter Thoughts: The Design Process

When you read a blog post about one of my projects, you may not realize what happens behind the scenes before every tutorial and pattern is published. It's a process that can take hours or even days to complete.

Before I begin photographing the steps or writing the directions I have to design the finished product and it usually takes a few tries to get it right. My Japanese knot bag is a perfect example.

A friend gave me the idea for the bag style, but it was up to me to create the pattern. I got out my big roll of white paper, drawing and measuring tools, and a few circle templates (yes, sometimes I use my plates and bowls to draw circles).

Behind the scenes: The process of designing a sewing pattern

As I was sketching, I realized that even if my pattern turned out perfectly, I wouldn't be able to share it electronically at it's original size, so I had to figure out how to create a printable pattern that readers could easily enlarge.
Then, I got out the sewing machine to see if my design was actually feasible. I ended up making six, less than perfect prototypes. I like to think of them as learning experiences.
After each bag was finished, I  analyzed what features I liked, and which ones needed to be modified. Here are just a few of my pattern drafts.
After finalizing my Japanese knot bag pattern, I was able to get out the pretty fabric and photograph all of the steps in the sewing process, as well as the finished bag.

Behind the scenes: The process of designing a Japanese knot bag sewing pattern

Do you prefer to design your own sewing patterns, purchase paper patterns at a store or find printable patterns on the internet?

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Crafter Thoughts: Turtle Mitts

Since I began blogging, the majority of my time is spent developing my own projects, patterns and tutorials. It's a process that can take days or even months, depending on the complexity. So, it's quite a treat when I can just sit down and follow someone else's pattern.

That's why I was so excited when I recently won a pattern/yarn giveaway from Heidi over at Hands Occupied. Not only did I get a copy of her new  knit Turtle Mitts Pattern, she also sent me two skeins of Louet Gems Fingering Weight Yarn, one white and one crabapple.

The color work on these mitts is deceptively simple. The body is made up of a stitch called the Blister Check or Coin Stitch. I love the way the back of the hands have a bumpy texture (like a turtle shell) and the palms are striped. I was able to knit up a set of mitts in just a couple days.
The knit Turtle Mitts pattern by Hands Occupied uses the Coin Stitch or Blister Check Stitch The knit Turtle Mitts pattern by Hands Occupied uses the Coin Stitch or Blister Check Stitch
Since I still had plenty of yarn left, I decided to design my own hat using the blister stitch. I'm not quite finished yet, but **spoiler alert** for my Tucson friends, you just may see this mitt and hat set as a gift at my annual Holiday Hooplah.

Knit Hat using the Coin Stitch or Blister Check Stitch and contrasting colors of yarn

If you're ready to learn a new knitting stitch, here's Heidi's video demonstrating the coin stitch.

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