Hey, remember a couple of posts back, when we looked at taking non-credit college courses online? [Creativity and Connections] I took a Coursera class taught by some instructors at the University of Florida, called Healing With the Arts.
The class took us through a module a week, covering visual arts, music, dance, creative writing, drama, and we breezed through many interesting forms of expression. Although my life was hectic during the time, I’m now on the final week of the class, and I found myself needing to submit a final project, so here I am.
At one guided imagery session, the instructor encouraged us to become acquainted with our own “Spirit Animal.” [Being a Harry Potter fan, I usually substitute “Patronus” whenever the phrase Spirit Animal is used.] During the actual session, one of my cats, Ponyboy, burst into the room and insisted on cuddling with me at the exact point in the guided imagery when I was supposed to come to a clearing in the forest and meet my Spirit Animal. So, he became, in actuality as well as in imagination, my Spirit Animal.
This video goes through the process I used to create a bracelet that has a drawing I made of Ponyboy, laser engraved on it. As shown in the video, you could make a drawing, reduce it or enlarge it, or you could use a photograph, or you could laser engrave a .pdf you found on the Internet. A client could change up the decoration on the bracelet, using colored yarn, different beads, or any number of variations. If the laser printer was used in a hospital setting, it would need to have some ventilation.
Altogether a very interesting class! I will keep going back to the journal I created for the class, and try to keep it going to stimulate creative projects that have other good, healing results!
We’ve each been sucked in to pursuits other than Crafting in the 21st Century recently: Skip has been moving wood into a new woodshed and pondering a new series of lectures he wants to do involving some of the many antique tools languishing about the place. Check out the trailer:
I’ve been consumed by my OTHER hobby, family history.
My mom passed away a few years ago, and although I’ve looked through the several boxes of her family history files here and there, it was just a few weeks ago that I felt that I should really get into it and do something with all the data that she collected during her lifetime.
In the boxes, I found letters to and from people who gave her pedigree information, notes from Historical Society meetings, receipts from Vital Records bureaux, from back to the days when first-class postage was 2 cents. She would go to a county courthouse or a library, and copy passages from books in long-hand, because there wasn’t a photocopy machine back then. [And her handwriting wasn’t the easiest to decipher, but who, besides me, can decipher it?]
She compiled a book about one of the ancestors, born in 1740, and now I have her notes and correspondence from that. Sometimes I’ve looked up things on websites, and been ecstatic at the new data I found about one of the ancestors, only to go to her files and discover that she already had that piece of information, for which she actually paid money to a record researcher, but somehow the information never got recorded on a chart or got lost.
She wrote out reams of family group sheets and pedigree charts. At the bottom of each one is a list of her sources. I can now look up some of the books she found, in Google, and many have been digitized and are available online for free. Awesome; if I can’t read her writing, I can sometimes look up the source and the page number, and voilá, it comes up online, like magic. I just copy and paste the URL of the source document on my online pedigree chart, and it is there for another cousin to search up and collaborate with.
Probably the site I love to work in most, is Familysearch.org. I love the Sourcelinker, the Search Records functions, the Wiki. And the site is free. How in the world can so much information be available to the public for free? I know, because I served as a volunteer support person for the site for 3 years. And, in that role, I became aware of the fact that the site carries a global tree, seeing as how we are all part of one big huge family, and anyone can supplant your data with their data, and you can’t cry foul about the outcome. So I’ve been transferring lots of the information I have into some of the other sites that have individual trees, which can’t be changed by anyone but the owner. Those sites are excellent, too. Family history has become such a popular hobby, and more records are being added all the time to help with the ongoing research.
It’s been great to find that some of my female progenitors also sewed, quilted, and crafted during their time in mortality.
This female progenitor grew up in New Brunswick, the daughter of a Canadian and a Scottish immigrant. She crossed the border to work at a textile mill in Maine, where she met her future husband.
These sisters came to the US with their family in 1912. They came equipped with phenomenal knitting skills!
I have the remnants of a crazy quilt made by this great-grandmother, in beautiful mauves and beiges and indigo fabrics.
Family history: another “craft” using 21st Century Technology to document and delve into the past! Amazing, isn’t it, how clear and beautiful are these photographs that have survived many decades!
Google “Mermaid Blanket” and, would you believe, you’ll get way over nine million results!
Mermaid blankets were one of the “it” gifts for Christmas this past year, for a girl toddler, teen or tween relative. Some were knitted, crocheted, and sewn from fabric. I didn’t jump onto the trend wagon, but I saw on Social Media that many big and little girls were posing with their fishtail blankies for the camera.
I found a couple of remnants that might go together as a cute mermaid blanket. What do you think?
This size blanket is for a tiny four-year old. The blanket sheath is a polyester teal metallic mermaid fleece, 57 inches wide, remnant of .972 yard. The tail fin is from a remnant that I’ve had in the stash for eons, no idea where it came from. It’s a stiff, satiny, iridescent fabric that looks pink from one direction and purple from another. The saran-wrap looking flap on both sides of the tail is a Bumi Pearlized sheer lilac remnant just less than a yard in length.
No pattern was used in the creation of this project. I just folded the pink/purple fabric, double, in half and sketched a tail fin shape on one side so that the fold was down the center of the fish tail, then cut it out. Thus, the tail was symmetrical on both sides. Then I unfolded it and seamed it together on all sides except for the opening at the top. Then I turned it inside out and pressed it, so that the edges carried that fishy curve.
It would have been perfect if the pearlized fabric was the same size, so I could have just duplicated it and made a casing for the purple satin. But the pearlized remnant was smaller than the finished tail. So I played with the idea of attaching the pearly fabric as a ruched flap on either side of the tail, so it would flutter and swish like a real fish’s tail swerving around in water. Maybe a hair-brained notion, but there it is.
After ruching the sheet of pearl in several places (centers, sides, and diagonally at corners), I cut a slit in the top fold, and since the slit ended up being a few inches longer than the tail side of the blanket, I sewed a basting stitch around the edges of the slit and drew it together, pulling on the basting thread, until it matched the size of the satin tail. Then I sewed the pearl fabric on to the satin tail at the top. Turning the blanket fabric inside out, and matching it up to the opening of the tail, with right sides of blanket and tail together (a fabric sandwich of blanket, wrong side up, on top; pearl right side up, in the center; and satin, right side up, on the bottom) sewed tail to blanket in a 5/8″ seam, making sure the pearl material was lying flat at the seam line inside.
Continuing to play around, I hemmed the top edge with a rounded Short Serpentine stitch:
It’s still a little chilly at night. This can be a toddler blanket or a grown-up foot warmer. Or maybe the kids can use it as a costume for Let’s Pretend, maybe a little kid version of Cosplay.
While technically not a quilt, it is a blanket that is pieced together so it’s pretty close…happy #NationalQuiltingDay and hope to see how others celebrated the day as well!
I got this little circle-making attachment in an after-holiday sale at A-1 Sewing, our local Husqvarna Viking store, and I’ve been trying to get some projects going, so I can make use of it.
First off, I used it to decorate some window coverings for a superadobe building. (If you want to see more about this particular building, go to this PlenitudPR website under the heading “Bio-construction.”)
You may see this photo and think, “But that looks like a pillow, not a curtain!” True! The proprietors (who happen to be very dear to us) mentioned that their superadobe house could sure use some window coverings, that the windows to be covered were like portholes, about 12 inches in diameter and some were more oval-shaped than round.
They were currently using pillows to stuff in the windows. We came up with some options that did not work, then a few that were more useable.
This was the first attempt: it looked like a big circular potholder. I used white blackout fabric for one side, batting in the middle, and fabric on the other side, and edged it with double-fold bias binding, with a little strap for pulling it out. Unfortunately, you can see here that it was not quite big enough to plug the hole.
For the second attempt, I tried out a new design, sketched here:
The diameter was increased to about 26 inches, the center circle was padded and sewn around, and the outer circle was supposed to slide into the cylinder of the wall thickness to be held in place. But again, this design didn’t work well, although they were able to fold it a certain way to keep it from falling out, so it was somewhat useable, see it in the next pics:
The third attempt included the brown dragonfly “pillow” shape shown above. Since they were already using pillows, and that worked…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? I increased the diameter to about 16 inches and added a lot more fleece padding. Since the diameter was larger than was usable for the circle-making gizmo (maximum diameter for that is 10 inches), I did snap it on anyway and sew some circular designs in the centers of the covers, to quilt the fabric and batting layers together in the middle. The attachment comes with templates to make circles, 4-petal flower shapes, or 6-petal flower shapes.
And I should be glad to mention that PlenitudPR is an organization that teaches and promotes sustainable living, so we kept that in mind and used fabric remnants for our window covers, and thus kept those leftover pieces of fabric from potentially clogging the landfill.
Last year about this time, I blogged about the local Quilting and Bluegrass Festival, here. This year it was very similar, but more so!
Similarities: the Festival was held on a day when our college town had a football game. The Festival showcases 100+ gorgeous quilted works of art. One of the bands that played last year came back: Patchwork. The vendors and store owners in the center had cool crafty eye candy to ponder and peruse, and the quilts were truly marvelous to behold!
Skip was busy helping out with an Eagle Scout project, which consisted of building some chairs for a community group home (he loves it when the younger generation wants to do woodworking),
so I sashayed up to the local shopping center to see some quilts.
Several of these pics include an information sheet pinned to the quilt, so you can zoom up and see the details, thereby crediting those who produced these amazing articles.
I learned there are several quilt guilds in the area, holding meetings at various times, day or night. So there ought to be one that fits the schedule of just about any quilter or wannabe-quilter in town.
I bought this cute mini-table runner from one of the vendors. It’s a great little project to place on a side table in the house during football season. Speaking of which, gotta go watch the game…
This is the second autumn table runner post, the first one presented a few posts ago, here. That first one was pretty much general quilting, with a pieced top and a whole underneath side, with batting in between, quilted on the Qnique longarm, or “mid arm,” as some people designate it. The raw edges are bound with Wright’s Quilt Binding.
If you had to categorize this next one, the main descriptive word that comes up is “appliqué.” It is quilted, in that small pieces of fabric were put together on the top. But the underside is not pieced, unless you count that I ripped it in half length-wise and serged the two long halves together. And there is no batting in the center.
Naturally, the fabrics used in these projects are mostly remnants from the 50%-off bin at JoAnn Fabric Store. I had a couple of larger pieces of fabric, say, almost a yard each, for the top and bottom. The top is a plaid fabric with metallic orange-gold threads woven into the check pattern. The backing is a striped very low-pile flannel in yellow, tan, and tobacco-ey colors that wash together. You can see the center seam of the runner above, and I decided to make one side a maple motif, and the other side an oak motif. All the leaf, pumpkin, and blackbird appliqués were cut with the Accuquilt Go! Big machine and templates. I backed each appliqué piece with Steam-a-Seam 2 double-sided fusible web, also cut on the Accuquilt cutter, and then ironed them on to the runner top side.
After the appliqués were applied, I wanted to pull them all together with branches and tree motifs. I looked at lots of methods for yarn and textile couching, which is technically just laying down strands of yarn or string and then sewing over them. Looking through my box of sewing machine feet, AKA my Foot Stash, I found that I had a heretofore unused Yarn Couching Feet Set.
The two plastic feet each had a small hole (one was larger) through which the end of the yarn was to be threaded. You hold the end of the yarn in one hand and move it around, if in “free motion” mode, and then sew over it. (You can also use it with an embroidery hoop and software pattern.) The kit also contained two different types of hooks to mount on the back of your machine, to use as thread guides for the yarn, a device for threading thick yarn into small holes, and some sample yarn and a DVD and basic instruction sheet.
I found this process to be pretty interesting, but this yarn was very slubby and every so often I had to cut and re-thread, because the big slubs wouldn’t go through the hole.
Next, after couching, I needed to sew down the appliqués. Originally I wanted to do a big thread-art project, using different colors of thread to add shading to the pumpkins and also do the tree trunks and branches in embroidery thread. But since I used the thicker yarn, I decided to just basically outline the shapes in one color and not do a whole bunch of shading, and leave it as sort of “primitive” colors and shapes.
After going over all the appliqués with free-motion embroidery, I spray-starched the backing and ironed both top and back, making sure the back piece lined up with the top. Then I sewed all around the edges of the top with Wright’s Bias Tape Maxi Piping in black, with the piping facing inward, toward the center of the cloth. I then sewed the backing on, right side facing the appliquéd side of the top, and sewed the edges, leaving the piping sandwiched between, and leaving about a fist’s length of seam unsewn, for turning. After turning inside out, and hand-sewing the opening closed, I pressed the edges, making sure the piping was peeking out and at the very edge of the seams. Then I top-stitched around the edges, about 1/4 inch from the piping edge, using thread that matched the top (and back for the bobbin thread).
Sometimes people will comment on the nice stitching, so I wanted to come clean and say that it isn’t me who’s responsible for that, it’s my Foot Stash. I use a special see-through foot with a little groove in the bottom, for sewing piping, and another special see-through foot with a metal attachment, called an edge-stitching foot, for top-stitching. And the machine has a triple-stitch function that I use for pretty top-stitching, setting the length on a 5 or so (normally it’s more like a 2.5 for ordinary seams).
It was fun to make, and the cats definitely like it. Sigh. Cat people will understand.
The Family Beach Weekend of 2016 has come and gone; the flurry of activity in planning, purchasing, and preparing has now evaporated into the vivid orange, pink and purple Gulf of Mexico sunsets…but we have great memories of our creative pursuits.
Photography: it’s not hard to get a beautiful shot in this place! Everything is incredibly photogenic.
Sewing/quilting/knitting: We always try to scout out creative hubs when we travel around, and we happened upon a great little shop on Sanibel Island called Three Crafty Ladies. This unassuming little storefront opened into a treasure trove of art yarns (at very affordable prices!), a wide selection of fabric and notions, specialty patterns, artisan beads and jewelry-making supplies, paints, charcoal, pastels, brushes, lots of art supplies, shells, and all arranged in a very organized and gorgeous display. I picked some things for future projects.
This little kit is a cute reminder of sea turtle nesting at the beaches this time of year. A Row by Row Experience is something like a Shop Hop, where you can visit quilting shops in a circuit and get each shop’s kit, then assemble all of the kits into a quilt made up of each row. Or you can just make a wall hanging or table-top quilt from the single kit.
Three Crafty Ladies has many cute little designer kits, featuring beach and Florida wildlife motifs, all fabulous!
This little cotton sateen fabric plate, also from Row by Row Experience, can be incorporated into a quilting project or sewn onto the back of it.
Art: Creativity abounds in these beach towns (Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers). Everywhere we looked, we saw paintings, sculptures, all sorts of arts and crafts. The ceiling fan paddles were painted with tropical fish, and murals and wall art decorated the whole interior at Rosies’ Cafe. Every restroom had a whimsical seaside theme. Displays of shells and wildlife showed up in lobbies and hallways.
Creative Cuisine: Even the humblest of eating places had great, creative food selections!
We had our family dinner at the Doc Ford’s in Sanibel. Both had gourmet offerings, and the one at Captiva even had a book signing event going on, with the prolific author (and restaurant owner) who created the character Doc Ford, Randy Wayne White.
Improv: was a surprising highlight of the weekend — surprising because they pulled together a show on the last night without any planning prior to the trip! All the kids and grown-ups enjoyed this fun and hilarious stand-up show with plenty of audience input.
Family members who came from far and wide have gone back to their homes. Some are already starting the fall school semester or will start next week, while others have the whole month of August left of summer. We had a great, creative family beach weekend!
People sometimes ooh and ahh over the featured sewing projects in the blog, and I have to laugh that they think I have superior talent and ability, or something. Truthfully, if I can do it, just about anyone (who has been sewing for decades and decades) can do it. Sewing never came naturally to me.
My mom was a Home Ec major in college. Even though she went into the medical field and also later taught public school, her college major included cooking, and sewing clothes, drapes, and slipcovers for furniture. Late in life, she made some fantastic Baltimore Album quilts which, in my mind, are very complex items to sew. She was somewhat ambidextrous and she was good at math, but claimed she had no artistic ability.
My brain was apparently wired very differently. She considered me pretty much unteachable.
My junior high school Home Ec teacher, Miz Thomas, was in a continuous state of teeth gritting whenever I (along with my equally good-for-nothing classroom work group) was in contact with her. I did manage to make a red A-line skirt in her class (I think my mom finished it). This launched a long career of me imagining great items of clothing, and falling short when it came to actually making them and being willing to show up in public wearing them.
Fast forward a generous number of decades, to me taking a Craftsy Class online, about Garment Industry Secrets with Janet Pray. The real object of the class was to make a jacket that is rather like a classic Jean Jacket, but with a couple of different details. The pattern features some design elements that are a bit complex for my humble little repertoire: interfaced collar and cuffs, topstitching, curved seams, front button placket, topstitched breast pockets with flaps, and welt pockets in the lower front, and they want you to sew without using pins.
I chose a fabric that was not at all recommended. Why did I do this? If I was going to go through all the motions of conformity, and had traced the pattern and painstakingly cut it out, why would I use a fabric that wouldn’t provided happy results? One, I had this fabric in the stash for at least 10 years. Two, although I have a large fabric stash, it has lots of 1-yard pieces, but not too many 3 1/2 yard pieces of anything. And I didn’t want to buy a nice big expensive pile of yardage to make a mess out of. And three, I thought it might look good with a purple department-store-bought dress I already own and am not ashamed to wear in public.
So although my project wasn’t glitch-free, I was ok with the result, I had a good time doing the class, and as the pattern and the tutorial are still good, I look forward to trying another take on the jacket some time.
True Confessions! Some of the problems I caused in the project that I had to overcome:
Thought the cuffs were 2 collar pieces and sewed them together, and trimmed and clipped the seam allowance before I realized they were cuffs, not collar. Had to pick all out with seam ripper.
Chose a sheer, burn-out fabric that was actually see-through in some places, showing serging on the underside of the seam allowances. It didn’t take long pressure with a hot iron very well, to adhere the interfacing, and the texture was somewhat crinkly, and it got scorched in a number of places. Because of the sheerness, I decided not to make the welt pockets because I thought it would look too busy in the torso area. Using the recommended jacket-weight fabric, all you’d see on the outside would be the small diagonal neatly-trimmed and topstitched slash pocket openings in the torso area.
Ripped out an imperfect seam in the sleeve, and re-sewed it only to notice later that the burn-out roses in the fabric were shredded by the seam-ripping and also burned by the iron. Had to cut out and re-sew a new 3-piece sleeve.
Had to re-sew the front facing twice, because it was crooked and puckered.
Pillows have been around for centuries. Here’s a web site that displays some gorgeous antique pillows, and includes prices, many of which are in the thousands of dollars!
I’ve been making some pillow covers, with much leaner price tags. The secret to saving money is in playing the retail shopping game with sales, coupons, and shopping the remnant rack.
The 2 back pillows have tops that were pieced from little squares of flannel left over from the Cowboy Rag Quilt. So, in effect, they’re remnants of remnants. All the rest of the fabrics are just remnants.
Using remnants helps me to be more adventurous in the projects I decide to do. If I mess it all up, it’s no great loss, but sometimes I end up making some exciting little gems, that really look like they cost a lot more!
I made these two sets of pillows for some favorite folks I know. A Creativebug campaign going around, called #make2share challenge, is asking people to give handmade things to 2 people, then challenge them to do the same. Sort of like “pay-it-forward’ but leaving the choice of currency up to the creative mind!
Click here to read about the #Make2Share Challenge
Is it the wand of Dumbledore, or the wand of Mickey Mouse the sorcerer, or maybe the switch your Aunt Gertrude chased you around the house with? No, no, no it’s a nostepinne!
The first I ever heard of the nostepinne was a few years ago when my wife asked me if I could make a yarn swift and a nostepinne.Oh yeah, I can do that…. Sure… they are made out of wood, right?After some research I found out what these devices accomplish for knitters. In the case of the swift, it is a device to hold a skein of yarn while it is wound into a ball.The nostepinne is used to wrap the yarn into a ball that will feed yarn from its center (a center-pull ball).
Wikipedia says that:
“The nostepinne, also known as a nostepinde or nøstepinde, is a tool used in the fiber arts to wind yarn, often yarn that has been hand spun, into a ball for easily knitting, crocheting, or weaving from. In its simplest form, it is a dowel, generally between 10 and 12 inches long and most frequently made of wood, around which yarn can be wound. Decoratively and ornately carved nostepinnes are common. The top of the nostepinne sometimes incorporates a notch or a groove, which allows one end of the yarn to be held secure while the rest is wound into a ball”
If you go to Spinartiste , you will find some images of very ornate nostepinnes.This site states “The word “Nostepinne” has originated from Scandinavia and in Norway, it is actually called ”Nøstepinne” where the “ø” is pronounced like the “u” in the word “hurt”. In Sweden, it is often called ”Nystepinne.”
The traditions associated with nostepinnes in Norway were many… they were given as Christmas gifts, engagement gifts, or a gift from a boy to a girl to show her he was interested in her.The more accomplished wood carvers would hollow out the handles of the nostepinne with captive balls inside.These could also be used as baby rattles.
I have made my wife a couple of nostepinnes and even a swift. This time I decided to be a little more adventurous and add some carvings and maybe even some laser engraving to keep up with our theme of bringing 21st century techniques to 19th century crafts.
The design I lasered onto the handle of the nostepinne is derived from Norse Symbols And Their Meanings
A modern representation of the Web of Wyrd, the matrix of fate (wyrd) as woven by the Nornir, the fates of Norse legend. The emblem, nine staves arranged in an angular grid, contains all of the shapes of the runes and therefore all of the past, present, and future possibilites they represent. The web of wyrd serves as a reminder that the actions of the past affect the present and that present actions affect the future; all timelines are inextricably interconnected- in a sense, it is a representation of the tree of life.
Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts