Sunday, December 29, 2013

Work In Progress

The new year is quickly approaching and the stores are stocking products to help us get organized. Michaels is having a craft storage and organization sale, with up to 50% off, in January. This is good news for me because I need three more Jet Max storage cubes for my studio. During the Christmas crafting I had several projects going at one time and now my studio is in disarray. As I was cleaning up the aftermath of "hurricane Suzanne" I found a pastel painting that I was working on.

All major artists learned by copying from the masters-Van Gogh copied the great Delacroix. While Van Gogh is by far my favorite artist, it's important to learn from other artists. Picasso is a little too avante garde for me but I do really like some of his paintings. Picasso appeared to be one of the easier artists to copy because of the angular lines in his work. While it appeared at first glance to be easy, it was actually challenging because I am used to drawing with flowing, curved lines not short angular lines. Any way here is the work in progress. The picture is not close to being finished- it still needs more shading and the definition of facial features.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

French Manor Thank You Card

I hope that everyone had a happy holiday and a Merry Christmas. I would like to wish everyone a happy New Year.

Finally, the last of the packages has been shipped off to Brittany. Thank you to both the US Postal Service and UPS for getting all of the packages to Connecticut in time for Christmas. This was truly amazing given volume of packages that they handle and the fact that I was still shipping through both carriers the week before Christmas.

Now that Christmas is over it's time to make Thank You cards for all of the nice gifts that we received. I was inspired by a picture that I had seen recently. The picture featured a stone house with a window that had flowers in a window box. The picture was rustic, charming and definitely French (from Provence). When I saw the window image on the Cricut French Manor cartridge I immediately thought of this picture. This is not the usual Cricut cut and embellish card. This is a very labor intensive card because it employs a lot of different techniques.  The entire card is covered with ivory tulle, the wall behind the window is embossed, distressed and painted, the window is covered with modeling paste then distressed and painted with walnut ink and finally the rose leaves are quilled. This card takes about two hours to make.

French Manor Card

Close-up of window. Vellum backing for window.

Craft Tips: After using all of the foam dots on a sheet, save the left over sheet. The foam around the dots can be cut into squares or small pieces and used like the dots to adhere embellishments.  Ceramic tiles have many uses in a craft room. They are inexpensive and can be purchased in a variety of sizes at Home Depot or Loewes. Look for smooth glazed tiles. The tiles can be used to rest glue guns, or to mix acrylic or water color paints. Nothing sticks to the surface of the tile and they can be cleaned easily with soap and water.

Directions for French Manor Thank You Card:

Recollections Trader Jane Paper Pad- Tan mosaic patterned paper
DCWV Black Currant Stack- Pink and burgundy dotted paper
Goose Bumpz Lattice/Trellis embossing folder
White, ivory, aqua and black card stock
Caramel colored sheer ribbon
Pink dotted ribbon
Ranger Walnut Distress Ink
Distressing Tool
Pearl Modeling Paste
Recollections Small Crystal Heart
Recollections Small Antique Brads- two
Ivory Tulle ribbon-available in the wedding section at Michaels
Prima Small Roses- blue, purple, ivory, orange and pink
Quilling Tool
Dark green, light green and olive green 1/4 inch quilling strips
Foam Dots
Stickles-Platinum Stickles glitter glue
Sizzix or Cuttlebug embossing machine

1.  Using the Cricut French Manor cartridge cut the window out of ivory card stock at 4 1/2 inches. Cut the window wood work out of aqua card stock. Assemble the window. Cut a scrap of vellum to fit behind the window panes.

2.  Apply the pearl modeling paste to the window frame using a palette knife. Try to make the modeling paste look like stucco. Let it dry.

3.  Make four small quilled leaves using the quilling tool and a 6 inch strip of 1/4 wide dark green quilling paper. Remove the roll from the quilling tool and let it relax and unroll slightly, pinch the roll into a marquise shape and put a dot of glue of the loose end of the strip to secure it. Repeat the process making 5 olive leaves and 2 light green leaves.

4.  Once the window is dry to the touch, use a distressing tool with a sanding tip to distress the window frame and the blue wood work. Be careful not to take off too much modeling paste or card stock.

5.  Cut the tan mosaic paper approximately 5 1/8 inches high by 3 1/2 inches wide. Emboss the mosaic paper using the trellis embossing folder. Lightly distress the paper.

6.  Cut the pink dotted paper approximately 6 inches high by 4 inches wide. Glue the tan paper on top of the pink paper leaving about 1/4 inch borders. Cut the black card stock 1/4 inch larger on all sides than the pink paper. Apply foam dots to the back of the pink paper and attach to the black card stock.

7.  Spray a small amount of walnut distress ink onto a ceramic tile. Use a small flat paint brush to paint the distress ink over the embossed mosaic paper. Lightly apply the ink, you can always add more. Next, apply the distress ink to the window frame and the wood work. You want to have a weathered look. Add a small antiqued brad to the sides of the window frame. Apply foam dots to the back of the window (do not apply dots to the vellum or it will show through). Center the window on the mosaic paper and press in place.

8.  Glue the quilled leaves around the left edge and bottom of the window. Glue the roses over the leaves.

9.  Fold an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of white card stock in half to make a half-fold card. Cut a piece of ivory tulle ribbon 1/2 inch longer than the card. Cover the front of the card with the tulle and tuck the ends under the front edges of the card and glue in place. Cut the caramel colored ribbon 1/2 inch longer than the card, center the ribbon on the card lengthwise and glue in place. Tie a small bow and glue over the ribbon. Cut the pink dotted ribbon 1/2 inch longer than the length of the card and glue along the right edge of the card, tucking under the ends of the ribbon.

10.  Attach a small pink crystal heart to the window transom and apply Stickles around the edges of the transom window.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Father Christmas Card

Snow, snow and more snow on the way! I took advantage of the snowy weather and worked on my Christmas projects.While it's too labor intensive to make all of my Christmas cards, I do make a few cards to send to our friends. I really like the images on A Quilted Christmas, especially the Santa's. Cricut recommends cutting the Santa at 5 inches because of the intricate cuts on his robe. Since the image is so large and took up most of the front of the card I decided that it should be the focus of the card with a simple background.

Father Christmas Card

While I was waiting for the accents on the card to dry, I packaged my cookies to send to Brittany and her friends in Connecticut.  The honey roasted cashews that I sent earlier this week were at hit and they are eagerly awaiting the shortbread cookies and the chocolate covered Oreo cookies made to look like frogs.

Decorated Cookie Box
I put a lot of effort into my cookies and want the packaging for them to be decorative. I chose a snowman theme just to be different. The labels are Avery glossy round labels and printed with a design from The snowflakes are punched blue card stock using a Martha Stewart snowflake paper punch.

Directions for Father Christmas Card:

Cricut A Quilted Christmas Cartridge
Dark red, medium red, black, tan and white card stock
Red ribbon
Viva Modellier Creme modeling paste-Mother of Pearl
Palette knife
Martha Stewart black flocking powder
Black glitter glue
Red and green beaded trim
DCWV Holiday Stack-music background card stock
Zots 3D dots
Foam dots

1.  Using the Cricut cartridge cut Santa 1 at 5 inches out of tan card stock. Press Santa 1 and shift to cut the robe out of dark red card stock. Next press Santa q and Layer 1 to cut the robe out of medium red card stock. Press Santa 1, Layer 1 and shift to cut the beard, cuffs and robe trim out of white card stock. Press Santa 1 and Layer 2 to cut the eyes and mittens out of black card stock. Then press Santa 1, Layer 2 and shift to cut Santa's sack out of black card stock. Assemble Santa.

2.  Apply the modeling paste to Santa's cuffs, hat and robe front. Dab the modeling paste on the white card stock to resemble fur. Set aside to dry. When the modeling paste is completely dry, apply clear craft glue to Santa's sack and cover with black flocking powder. Set aside to dry. Then apply a thin layer of black glitter glue over the flocking and set aside to dry.

3.  Highlight Santa's face and beard with colored pencils. I used grey to highlight his beard and rose to highlight his cheeks.

4.  Cut a piece of music background card stock 6 inches high by 4 1/2 inches wide. Apply foam dots to the back of the Santa image and center Santa on the card stock.

5.  Fold a piece of white card stock to make a vertical fold card. Cut a piece of red ribbon 1/2 inch longer than the card. Center the ribbon on the card and fold 1/4 inch under the card on each end and glue in place. Tie a small bow and glue over the ribbon.

6.  Center the card stock with the Santa image on the card, apply 3D Zots to the back of the image and press in place.

7.  Cut a piece of red and green beaded trim the length of the card and glue to the right edge of the card.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Craft Tote Bag

I am always looking for unique Christmas gifts. Brittany loves to knit and she could use a small tote bag to carry her work in progress with her when she travels. This project is a gift in a gift. After the tote is appliqued, I plan to fill it with yarn, a small zip pouch filled with knitting markers, needles, etc.and a sock knitting book.

I had purchased the Dog pattern by WhistlePig Creek Productions some time ago. Brittany loves dogs so this design is the perfect choice for a tote bag. The pattern is still available from WhistlePig Creek Productions (#1125 Pound Hounds).  The hardest part of this project is deciding a color scheme for the dogs.

I used a felted wool tote bag (purchased at Hobby Lobby) but you can use any tote bag. Just make sure the design can be fused to the bag and that the dogs can be appliqued to the bag with a zig zag stitch. Also make sure that you use a fusible web that is recommended for sewing.

Design in progress. Dogs fused to tote bag.

Zig zag stitching around the design.

Finished Dogs.

Back of Tote-appliqued paw prints.

Directions for Craft Tote Bag:

1/4 yd. of 100% cotton fabric in 6 coordinating prints. I used Bali Batik fabrics-aqua dot, green, blue, purple dot, orange dot and yellow dot.

Coordinating thread for topstitching and natural quilting thread for the bobbin.

Heat 'N Bond or Wonder Under fusible fabric web

Whistlepig Creek Productions Pound Hound Pattern- available at

 Felted wool tote bag-available at Hobby Lobby

Tracing paper

Black e beads for dog's eyes

Black thread for stitching dog's faces

1.  Trace the dog's onto tracing paper. Don't cut out pattern pieces. It's easier to trace the dogs if the pieces are not cut out.

2.  Draw the dogs onto the paper side of the Heat 'N Bond. Cut out the Heat 'N Bond images.

3.  Heat an iron according to Heat 'N Bond package directions. Iron the cotton fabric to remove any creases. Let the fabric cool. Place the rough side (web side) of the Heat 'N Bond on the wrong side of the fabric and fuse according to package directions. Cut out the fused images and peel off the paper backing.

4.  Arrange the dogs on the tote bag according to pattern directions. Once you are happy with the placement of the design, fuse the dogs in place.

5.  Set the sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch and sew around the edges of the dogs using a coordinating thread (load a natural quilting thread in the bobbin). Sew around the dog's muzzles with black thread. With a No.2 pencil lightly draw the dog's mouth on and stitch with black thread using a satin stitch.

6.  Sew the eyes on with e-beads using the pattern as a guide.

7.  Trace the paw prints onto tracing paper and then on to the Heat 'N Bond. Fuse the paw prints to the wrong side of the fabric. Fuse the paw prints randomly around the back of the tote bag. Sew around the paw prints with a zig-zag stitch to secure.

8.  After the tote is finished lightly iron it to smooth out any wrinkles that might have occurred during the sewing process.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rock Princess Apron

Brittany loves to cook. She also likes hard rock and metal music. She mentioned that she would like to get an apron to wear when she cooks so I purchased a plain black apron at Walmart and added the Skull design from Cricut's rock Princess cartridge. The best part about this project is that it used fabric pieces left over from the Cat Quilt that I made a couple of years ago.

Apron in progress. Picture was lightened to show detail.

After I fuse the design to the garment I like to let it sit for a couple of hours to allow the Heat n Bond time to cool and adhere to the fabric before sewing around the edges of the design. Here is the project so far. I plan to add a few more elements to the design before it's finished.

Finished Apron

Directions for Rock Princess Apron:

White cotton fabric-approximately an 8 inch square
Black cotton fabric-approximately an 8 inch square
Scrap of dark pink and light pink fabric squares-approximately 6 inch square
Heat n Bond fusible fabric web
Contrasting thread for stitching around the design

1.  Iron all of the fabrics to remove wrinkles and set aside to cool. Cut Heat n Bond slightly smaller than the fabric square and fuse to the wrong side of the fabric, following the directions on the Heat n Bond package.

2.  Place the black fabric on the Cricut mat fabric side down. Roll a brayer over the fabric to make sure that it sticks to the mat. Adhere the edges of the fabric to the mat with a strip of painter's tape. Load the Rock Princess cartridge and mat into the Cricut machine. Press the skull key and cut the skull at 5 inches. Repeat with the white fabric. Press Layer 1 and the Skull keys to cut the top layer of the skull. Place the dark pink and the light pink fabrics on the mat to cut the bow. Press Layer 1, Shift and the Skull keys to cut the bow base out of dark pink. Press Layer 2 and the Skull keys to cut the bottom part of the bow out of light pink fabric.

3.  Position the skull base on the apron and fuse with a hot iron. Next place the white skull layer over the skull base and fuse. Finally fuse the dark pink bow and the lighter pink part of the bow in place.

4.  Applique around the skull design with zig-zag stitch.

5.  Cut a strip of dark pink fabric 2 times the length of the top of the apron and 3 inches wide.  Fold the fabric in half (wrong sides together) and iron. Gather the fabric using a long or gathering stitch on the sewing machine, stitch approximately 1/2 inch from the bottom edge of the strip (the folded edge is the top of the ruffle). Stitch approximately 1/4 inch from the first row of stitching. Pull the threads to gather the strip into a ruffle. Adjust the ruffle and pin in place along the top edge of the apron so that about 1/2 inch of the ruffle is below the top edge of the apron. Stitch 1/4 inch below the top edge edge of the apron, using black thread. After the ruffle has been stitched to the apron, remove the basting stitches. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookies

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.

This year Michelle and I broke with tradition and didn't attend the Black Friday sales. I slept in and ventured out around noon on Black Friday. While I missed the extra 25% off at the registers, I also missed the crowds and the long lines.

The last two weeks I have been busy knitting socks for Christmas gifts. Both Brittany and Diana have strongly hinted that they would like a pair of hand knit Merino wool socks. The first pair is finished and the second and third pairs have one sock left to knit. I used Dream in Color Smooshy (Fierce Scarlet) for the first pair and Valley Yarns Huntington for the other two pairs. Smooshy is easy to work with and produces uniform, well defined stitches. Huntington is a soft, reasonably priced ($4.79/ 218 yd. skein) Merino wool/ Nylon blend. Unlike Smooshy, the Huntington tends to slip off the needles and the yarn has a tendency to split making it hard to pick up dropped stitches. The two socks that were knit in Huntington are so soft. Overall Huntington is a good value and I would consider knitting with it again.

Top to bottom: Dream In Color Smooshy, Huntington Brown and Huntington Scarlet

Last week I was browsing through stores looking for items to add to gift baskets. A small box of chocolate truffles (6 per box) was $12.99. That was only the beginning. I could easily spend over $100.00 to fill a small gift basket. Then the inspiration hit me, why not make my own packaged cookies and treats? After several stops I had enough supplies to make my own creations. Michaels sells Wilton decorating supplies (chocolate, flavorings, decorating sugars, gift boxes and bags), Staples sells Avery Labels for the bags and boxes, and BJ's Wholesale Club was the source for the giant industrial sized package of Oreo cookies.

Chocolate Mint Oreo Cookies
The chocolate appears shiny until it hardens.

Packaged Cookies

Cookies in Gift Box. was the source for the Santa graphic and font for the label.

For this project you will need a silicone baking mat and  a cookie sheet and some way to melt the chocolate coating for the cookies. Last year I invested in a Wilton Chocolate Pro melting pot. It melts the chocolate evenly and keeps it at a consistent temperature. The Chocolate Pro sells for about $30 but Michaels will let you use the 50% coupons on this item. 

Directions for Choclate Mint Oreo Cookies:

This is a quick and easy project- it only takes about an hour start to finish. Beware of predators that may lurk around your kitchen ready to pounce on "samples". You may want to make extra cookies so that you will have enough to wrap for gifts.

Wilton Chocolate Pro Melting Pot- you can use a double boiler or microwave to melt chocolate if you prefer.
Wilton Christmas Sprinkles (red, white and green combination)
Wilton Melting Chocolate-milk chocolate wafers (this is about $15/bag but it's real chocolate and not chocolate flavored coating). There is a definite difference in the taste.
Wilton Candy Flavoring Oils-don't use liquid extracts that are used to flavor cakes and cookies. The liquid will cause the chocolate to seize and become grainy and unusable.
Oreo Cookies- 10 sleeve box  This project uses half a box of cookies (5 sleeves).
Silicone baking mat- You can line the baking with parchment paper instead of the silicone mat but the silicone mat gives the underside of the cookie a smooth surface. Any chocolate that seeps from the edges of the cookies as they harden can be scraped from the mat and re-melted.
Wilton small metal spatula
Baking sheet or pan
Wilton Chocolate dipping tools-slotted spatula  You can also use a fork. Be careful not to let the fork scratch your melting pot's non stick interior.
Avery 22804 Glossy White Oval Labels
Wilton Treat Boxes 3 inch x 4.5 inches
Decorative cupcake liners from Walmart
Red Ribbon- 3/8 inch wide

1.  Add a small amount of chocolate to the melting pot. No more than 1/3 to 1/2 full. Stir with a heat resistant silicone spatula until the chocolate is melted.

2.  Add 2 drops of Wilton Creme de menthe candy flavoring to the chocolate and stir.

3.  Dip one Oreo at a time in the chocolate. Make sure the cookie is evenly coated. Lift the cookie out of the chocolate using the slotted spatula. Shake off the excess chocolate and transfer to the baking mat. Decorate the cookies with the sprinkles before the chocolate hardens.

4.  After the chocolate has hardened, carefully lift the cookie from the baking mat with the small metal spatula and transfer to another baking sheet until all the cookies have hardened and ready to wrap.

5.  Load the Avery Oval 1 1/2 inch x 2 1/2 inch white labels in the printer (I used a laser printer). Use your own design or a design from for your label. Preview the label before you print it. If using a laser printer change the paper option from plain to label. The label option will print slower than the plain paper option, allowing the design more time to adhere to the label. This will help to eliminate streaks in the printed design.

6.  Add a label to the top of the treat box. Place the cookies in a cupcake liner and place in the bottom of the box. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly in the treat box. Place the parchment paper over the layer of cookies and place cookies in cupcake liners on top of the parchment paper for a second layer.

7.  Attach a label to the upper left side of the treat box window. Cut a piece of red ribbon long enough to tie around the box and make a bow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy Haunting Pumpkin

This is the last of the decoupaged pumpkin posts. I had a large ivory pumpkin sitting around my studio for a couple of weeks waiting to become a project. Frankenstein is as much a part of Halloween as vampires, mummies and witches, so why not do a Frankenstein themed pumpkin? I chose the image from my "go to" Halloween cartridge (Happy Hauntings) and loaded it into the Cricut machine. This project went together very quickly- about an hour.  This pumpkin is not intended for long term outdoor use. I do intend to display the finished pumpkin on my porch on Halloween night but am using it as an indoor display until then.

Frankenstein Pumpkin

Directions for Frankenstein Pumpkin:

Modge Podge
Foam brush
Modge Podge sealant
Cricut Happy Hauntings cartridge
Black, dark green (a shade darker than the light green), light green, orange and white card stock
Recollections small gold crystal for the eyes and buttons
K&Company Tim Coffey Halloween Paper stack- for the two pumpkins
K&Company Tim Coffey Halloween Bone and Bats Layered Accents-for the bats

1.  Using the Happy Hauntings cartridge cut Frankenstein at 6 inches. Assemble Frankenstein.  Cut the cat at 3 inches. Cut the cat's bow out of a scrap of purple, green or orange card stock. Assemble the cat. Cut Happy Hauntings at 1 1/2 inches out of orange card stock (press Phrase and Frame 9), then cut the word base out of black card stock (press Phrase, Shift and Frame 9). Assemble the phrase.

2.  Apply Modge Podge liberally to the back of Frankenstein and the cat with a foam brush. Place Frankenstein on the pumpkin and the cat to his left. Press the images in place, making sure that the edges of the image are glued to the pumpkin.  Apply Happy Hauntings at the top of the pumpkin, over Frankenstein's head.

3.  Cut two pumpkins from the Tim Coffey pumpkin patterned paper. Apply Modge Podge to the back of the pumpkins and place to the right of Frankenstein's foot.

4.  Coat all of the images on the pumpkin with Modge Podge as set aside to dry. After the images are completely dry, attach the gold crystals to Frankenstein's coat and the cat's eyes.

5.  Using three bats from the Tim Coffey Layered Accents, carefully scrape the foam dots off of the back of the bats. Apply Modge Podge to the back of the bats and glue them to each side of the phrase and below the phrase, slightly to the right of Frankenstein's head.

6.  Apply a coat of Modge Podge to all of the images. Be careful not to dislodge the crystals. Set aside to dry. When the Modge Podge is completely dry, spray the front of the pumpkin with Modge Podge sealant.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Raven Halloween Card

I missed the sun. It's so nice to look out the window of my atelier and see the sun shining. The past four days have been chilly, rainy and uninspiring. During this time I did manage to complete my Raven card. While I love my Cricut and Sizzix machines, I don't always want to do die cut cards. I was looking for something different and came across this stamp. Although I don't use stamps often I just had to have this one.

I had originally stamped the Raven onto white card stock but didn't like the result so I decided to use a transparency instead. I liked the result but the image was dark and hard to see until I backed it with a lighter paper. When stamping an image onto a transparency it is important to use a permanent ink (Staz On works well), push down hard on the stamp so you get a clear image, and lift the stamp from the film in one motion (this will give you a crisp image). Set the image aside to dry and avoid touching the image while the ink is wet (to avoid smearing). Once the image is dry, the film can be trimmed with a paper trimmer.

Directions for Raven Card:

Raven stamp available at Michaels
Black Staz-On ink
Transparency film-available at office supply stores
Recollections Ravenswood Manor paper stack- purple and black print card stock
K&Company Kelly Panacci Halloween Paper stack- green skull print card stock
Grey card stock
Recollections Halloween print ribbon
Jolee's Boutique White Pumpkin Repeats
Washi tape- black and white print
Recollections Halloween self adhesive crystals- orange and fold
Small Bats- I used Sizzix Sizlets Bats and the Sizzix Big Kick machine
Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist Raven mist
Zots medium dots
Foam dots

1.  Fold a piece of grey card stock in half to make a half-fold card. Lightly spray the card with Raven glimmer mist and set aside to dry.

2.  Stamp the Raven image on to transparency film using the black Staz-On ink. Put a lot of pressure on the stamp so that you will get a clear image. Lift the stamp from the film quickly so the image doesn't blur. Set aside to dry (about an hour). When the image is completely dry, use a paper trimmer to cut the film approximately 4 1/4 inches wide by 5 1/2 inches high.

3.  Cut a piece of dark purple dotted card stock approximately 1/4 inch larger on all sides than the dimensions of the Raven image. Center the image on the card stock leaving a 1/4 inch border on all sides. Apply a small Zot to each corner of the transparency film and attach the image to the card stock. Be careful glue will show through the transparency. I had experimented with several glues before deciding to use Zots.

4.  Cut a piece of black print card stock approximately 1/4 inch larger on all sides than the purple dotted card stock. Use foam dots to attach the purple card stock to the black card stock.  Cut a piece of the green skull card stock approximately 1/4 inch larger on all sides than the black print card stock. Glue the black print card stock to the green skull card stock.

5.  Cut a piece of Halloween ribbon and glue it to the upper left corner of the image so that Happy Halloween is visible. Attach a small white pumpkin to the lower right edge of the purple card stock. Attach the Raven to the card, using foam dots, approximately one inch from the top of the card. 

6.  Cut a piece of black and white Washi tape the width of the card. Apply the Washi tape approximately 1/4 inch from the top of the card. Repeat and apply the tape at the bottom of the card.  Apply three gold and orange crystals evenly spaced on the tape borders.

7.  Apply two small bats to the upper right edge of the card. Place one bat at an angle and glue it to the top corner of the transparency film; apply the second bat slightly above the first. The second bat should be flying off the edge of the card.

I used black card stock, the Sizzlets bat die and the Sizzix machine to cut the bats, but any die cut or purchased small bats will work.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Decoupaged Pumpkin

 Halloween is always a fun holiday. I love answering the door and seeing the neighborhood kids in their costumes and having the chance to talk with neighbors that I only see a couple of times a year. It's also a busy holiday for me-baking and shipping Bat Cookies to Brittany and Michelle, decorating and sprucing up the front of the house. Today was warm and sunny so I spent the afternoon painting the trim around the door and windows. For a brief moment I thought about covering the areas that needed painting with craft store spider web material for a true haunted house look and going off into my studio to work on my decorations. I grabbed the paint and paint brush and headed out doors to paint. C'est la vie!

I'm really glad that I did the painting because it only took about 2 hours and I had the rest of the afternoon to work on my decorations (guilt-free). I really like the idea of craft pumpkins. They can be decorated and then stored away and re-used in the future. Rather than carve a real pumpkin to sit out on my porch, I decided to decorate craft pumpkins instead. I am working on the first of three decorated pumpkins, using Cricut and Modge Podge  I am posting this as I am working on it (the Modge Podge hasn't completely dried). As with all decoupage projects this will take several coats of Modge Podge over several days.

Directions for Decoupaged Craft Pumpkin:

Medium size Craft Pumpkin- available at Michaels
Cricut Happy Hauntings cartridge
Black, brown, orange, yellow and white card stock
K&Company Kelly Panacci Halloween Paper Pad- purple dotted card stock
EK Success circle cutter
Sizzix Sizzlets Bat die
Sizzix Big Kick or similar die cut machine
Modge Podge Clear Gloss
Colored pencils
Googly eyes
Modge Podge spray sealant
foam brush for applying Modge Podge

1.  Using the Cricut Happy Hauntings cartridge cut the Owl at 4 inches out of black card stock. Press the Owl and Shift keys to cut the branch out of brown card stock. Press the Layer 1 key to cut the eyes out of white card stock. Press Layer 1 and Shift to cut the feet and beak out of orange card stock. Finally, press Layer 2 to cut the stomach and upper part of the head out of purple dotted card stock. Assemble the owl. Accent the branch, feet, beak and stomach with colored pencils. Glue two small googly eyes to the Owl's face.

2.  Cut two sets of Bats (out black card stock) using the Sizzix.

3.  Use the circle cutter to cut a yellow circle for the moon.

4.  Glue the Owl to the front of the pumpkin with Modge Podge. Glue the moon slightly above the Owl's head on the upper right side. Glue a small Bat to the left edge of the moon. Randomly glue the rest of the Bats to the upper portion of the pumpkin.

5.  Apply a light coat of Modge Podge to the pumpkin and set aside to dry. Repeat the process until you have applied four coats. After the final coat of Modge Podge is dry spray the pumpkin with Modge Podge sealant.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hunting Dog Birthday Card

My husband's birthday is coming up soon and I wanted to make a card that was a little different from the average birthday card. I really like the Cricut Paper Pups cartridge and use it a lot for my card projects.  Since my husband  likes to watch Duck Dynasty, I thought the hunting dog would make a cute card. I wanted the card to have a rustic feel so I used burlap ribbon for the dog's background. Paper Pups can be purchased for a limited time through

Directions for Hunting Dog Birthday Card:

Cricut Paper Pups cartridge
White, tan, brown, cream and aqua cardstock
My Minds Eye Indie Chic Nutmeg Paper Stack-aqua glitter dotted card stock
Burlap ribbon or a piece of tan burlap approximately 4 inches wide by 4 inches high
Copper colored small brads
DCWV Mariposa Paper Stack
Small golden self adhesive pearls (3)
Fine point black Sharpie pen
Tim Holtz Distress Ink- Tea Dye
Small craft sponge
Zots- large, medium and 3D
Aqua and white dotted ribbon
Gogglie eyes (small)
Martha Stewart Maple Leaf paper punch

1.  Using a greeting card program print the birthday verse on the inside of the card. Use the half fold option and white card stock. Fold the card in half.

2.  Load the Paper Pups cartridge in the Cricut machine and cut the hunting dog at 3 inches out of brown card stock. Press the Solid and Hunting Dog keys and cut the dog out of cream card stock. Assemble the dog. Glue a small eye on the dogs face. Color the nose, trigger gun barrel and back of the gun with the black Sharpie. Attach the small pearls to the dog's collar. Cut Happy Birthday out of aqua card stock at 1 1/2 inches (press the Solid, Shift and Birthday Dog keys).

3.  Cut a piece of 4 inch wide burlap ribbon approximately 4 inches long. Attach the 3D Zots to the back of the dog. Center the dog on the ribbon and press in place. Attach a small copper brad in each corner of the ribbon.

4.  Cut the aqua glitter dotted card stock approximately 4 3/4 inches high by 4 1/2 inches wide. Place the card stock on an angle so that the upper point is approximately 1 1/4 inches from the top of the card. Attach the large Zots to the back of the card stock and press in place. Trim off the corners that extend past the edges of the card. Glue Happy Birthday at the top of the card over the aqua dotted card stock backed image.

5.  Center the burlap ribbon over the aqua dotted card stock. Attach 3D Zots to the back of the ribbon and press in place.

6.  Using the Martha Stewart Maple Leaf paper punch and the tan and orange glittered card stock punch 5 tan leaves and 6 orange glittered leaves. Attach the medium Zots to the back of the leaves. Alternate orange and tan leaves along the bottom of the burlap ribbon, under the dog's feet. Alternate tan and orange leaves along the left side of the ribbon. Place a tan leaf at the top of the aqua dotted card stock, just under Happy Birthday. Glue a tan and orange leaf to the right of Happy Birthday and an orange leaf to the left.

7.  Cut a piece of aqua and white dotted ribbon the length of the card plus 1/4 inch. Attach small Zots to the back of the ribbon. Position the ribbon 1/2 inch from the bottom of the card and press in place. Tie a small bow from the ribbon and attach to the ribbon border.

8.  Using a small craft sponge and the distress ink, lightly pounce the ink over the white card background.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hello Kitty Waits for the Great Pumpkin

I just love Hello Kitty and try to think of ways to incorporate her into my projects. We all know the story of Linus waiting in the the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. I decided to use that theme and replace Linus with Hello Kitty. I could envision dear, sweet Kitty dressed in her Halloween costume waiting in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.

Directions for Hello Kitty Halloween Card:

Grey, dark purple, orange, white and black card stock
Cricut Hello Kitty Greetings cartridge
K&Company Tim Coffey Halloween Bone and Bats Layered Accents; Tim Coffey Halloween Pumpkin Grand Adhesions
Halloween Print Ribbon
K&Company Tim Coffey Halloween Specialty Paper-Black with orange, yellow, purple and green dots

1.  Using the Cricut and the Hello Kitty Greetings cartridge cut Hello Kitty (HK18) at 3 1/2 inches out of black card stock. Press the Hello Kitty Black Cat (HK18) and White Fur/Bow?Nose keys to cut Kitty's face. Press the same keys plus Shift to cut her bow out of orange card stock. Assemble Kitty. Add orange glitter glue to Kitty's bow and paw pads. Let dry.

2.  Cut a piece of black and green, purple and orange card stock approximately 4 inches wide by 5 3/4 inches high.  Place Hello Kitty so that she is centered on the card and approximately 3/4 inches from the bottom of the card. Glue in place. Attach two medium size pumpkins in front of Kitty's feet, leave enough room the sit a small pumpkin between the two medium ones. The smaller pumpkin should sit on top of the the larger pumpkins.

3.  Cut a piece of dark purple card stock approximately 1/4 larger (on all sides) than the black dotted card stock. Glue the black dotted card stock on top of the dark purple card stock. Attach a bat with the moon and larger flying bat to the top corners of the black dotted card stock.

4.  Fold an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of grey card stock in half to make a half-fold card. Cut a piece of black dotted Halloween ribbon the length of the card plus 1/2 inch. Center the ribbon on the card and tuck 1/4 inch of ribbon under the top and bottom of the card. Glue in place. Tie a small bow and glue to the bottom of the card over the ribbon.

Rock Princess Birthday Card

I had debated about buying Cricut's Rock Princess since it was released. I really liked the images but didn't think that I would use them enough to justify the price of the cartridge. Cricut recently put a lot of their cartridges on sale, including Rock Princess, so I couldn't resist adding it to my collection. I also should mention that Cricut has brought back the popular (discontinued) Paper Pups cartridge both as a cartridge and a digital download in the Cricut Craft Room. If you have wanted Paper Pups now is your chance to own it. It's uncertain how long Cricut will make it available.

Michelle's birthday is coming up soon so I wanted to use Rock Princess to make a fun card for her. To accent the card I cut individual skulls from some skull border tape that I found at Michaels. I added Washi tape across the top edge of the card. Washi tape is quickly becoming one of my favorite embellishments. While it looks rather unassuming on the roll, it really enhances a card. I have been using it for borders instead of ribbon. Another line of products that I really like is Memory Box dies. I used the DeLacie Border for this card. The best thing about Memory Box dies is that they can be used with any die cut machine that uses individual dies like Sizzix, Cuttlebug, etc.

Directions for Rock Princess Birthday Card:

Dark pink, light pink, black, grey, light tan, brown, and leopard print card stock
DCWV Tres Chic mat stack- grey striped card stock
Recollections Black and white print Washi tape
Recollections pink mesh trim
Recollections pink crystal self adhesive hearts
Recollections glittered skull tape
Pink self adhesive pearls
Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist- Diamond Dust and Pink Cherry
#4 flat paintbrush
Memory Box DeLacie Border die
Cricut Rock Princess cartridge

1.  Using the Rock Princess cartridge cut Ashley out of black card stock at 3 inches. Press shift and Ashley keys to cut the face, hand and knee out of light tan card stock. Press the Layer 1 and Ashley keys to cut the hair out of brown card stock. Cut the belt out of light pink card stock by pressing Ashley, Layer 1 and Shift. Next cut the scooter out of dark pink card stock (Press Ashley and Layer 2). Press Ashley, Layer 2 and Shift to cut the wheels and skirt out of grey card stock. Repeat to cut the skirt out of leopard print card stock.  Assemble the image, using the grey for the wheel covers and the leopard print skirt.

2.  Embellish Ashley's scooter. Cut one skull from the glitter skull tape and attach to the front of the scooter. Add dark pink heart shaped crystals to the center of the scooter's wheel covers. Add a small light pink heart crystal to the front of the scooter for a headlight. Highlight the wheel spokes with a grey colored pencil.

3.  Embellish Ashley. Use a dark pink colored pencil to draw in her mouth and add blush to her cheeks. Attach a small faux pearl to the front of her belt and two small faux pearls to her wrist for a bracelet. Shake Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist Diamond Dust and remove the spray cap from the bottle. Dip the #4 flat paint brush into the bottle, blot the excess Glimmer Mist on a piece of scrap paper, then lightly brush over the lens of the sunglasses and boot. Rinse the brush and dip into the Cherry Glimmer Mist. Brush the Pink Cherry Glimmer Mist over the scooter. Set aside to dry.

4.  Cut two DeLacie borders out of light pink card stock.using Sizzix or other die cut machine. If you have trouble removing the card stock from the die use the tip of an awl to lift the card stock from the die.

5.  Create a Birthday card using a greeting card program and the half-fold option. Score the card and fold in half.

6.  Glue one DeLacie border approximately 1/4 inch from the bottom of the card. I ran the border through the Xyron machine to create a sticker instead of applying glue to the border.

7.  Cut a background from the Tres Chic grey striped paper approximately 3 1/4 inches high by 4 1/4 inches wide. Round the corners with a corner rounder paper punch. Cut a piece of Recollections pink mesh trim the width of the background. Press into place approximately 1/8 inch above the bottom of the background. Attach foam dots to the back of the Ashley image. Place Ashley so that the tires of the scooter sit between the pink mesh rows (to simulate the lanes of a road). Cut 2 skulls from the Glittered Skull tape and place one skull in the upper right and upper left corners of the background. Attach Zots to the reverse side of the background. Place the background approximately 1/4 inch above the highest point of the border and 3/4 inches from the left edge of the card.  Press the background in place.

8.  Glue the second DeLacie border approximately 1/4 inch above the top of the background.

9.  Cut a piece of black and white print Washi tape the width of the card. Apply the tape approximately 1/4 inch from the top of the card. Embellish with 10 medium self adhesive pearls, evenly space across the length of the Washi tape.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Merci Beaucoup!

Lately I have resolved to be more organized and not wait until the last minute to make cards, decorations and gifts. So far I'm off to a good start- the Halloween decorations are almost finished and cards are being made before I actually need them.  I bought an accordion type file at Staples to store the finished cards. The cards are then filed by category: thank you, birthday, etc.

 I really like the Paper Pups cartridge and wanted to use it for a thank you card.  This card also allowed me to use the Spellbinders die and Prima flowers that I had been wanting to use for some time.

Directions for Merci Beaucoup Card:

Aqua and white dotted ribbon
Prima Flowers Ballerina Blooms Margot
Cricut Paper Pups Cartridge
White and grey card stock
DCWV All Dressed Up mat stack- aqua and green dotted card stock
DCWV Collage Stack-green marbled card stock
Spellbinders Nestabilities Fleur de lis rectangles-large rectangle
Sizzix Big Kick or other die cutting machine

1.  Use a greeting card program to print a thank you card on white card stock. Score the card and fold in half.

2.  Cut Birthday Dog at 1 1/2 inches out of grey card stock; using the Paper Pups cartridge. Press the Solid key and cut the dog out of white card stock. Assemble the dog, layering the grey outline over the solid white dog. Use a fine point black Sharpie or other felt tip pen to draw in the dog's eyes.

3.  Use the Spellbinders die and the Sizzix to cut the large rectangle out of the green marbled card stock from the Collage stack. Cut a mat approximately 1/4 inch larger (on all sides) than the large rectangle.

4.  Attach Zots to the back of the dog. Center the dog on the rectangle and press into place. Attach Zots to the back of the rectangle (in the center and each corner) and center the rectangle on the mat, leaving a 1/4 inch border all the way around.

5.  Glue a gold Ballerina Bloom to the upper left edge of the rectangle.

6.  Cut two pieces of ribbon the width of the card plus 1/4 inch. Place the ribbon approximately 1/4 inch from the top of the card and the left end of the ribbon close to the fold of the card and glue in place. Fold the right end of the ribbon over the edge of the card and glue to secure. Repeat with the other piece of ribbon, placing it 1/4 inch from the bottom of the card.

7.  Tie a small bow with the aqua print ribbon and glue the bow to the center of the top ribbon.

Owl Birthday Card

One of the really nice things about owning the Cricut is having the ability to make personalized cards for any occasion. I like searching through my Cricut library to find the right image for my cards. I found this adorable little Owl on the Kate's ABC's cartridge and decided to build a card around him. When I create cards I very rarely have a clear vision of the finished project, I usually start with an image and go from there. I recently bought some pink Washi tape and wanted to use it in a project. I liked how it looked against the white card stock so I used the tape as the basis for my color scheme. Last night I had some new Memory Box dies lying on my drafting table and had cut the Melinda Corner image out of pink card stock. The corner was beautiful but didn't fit anywhere on this card, so I trimmed off the ends of the corner to use, under the edges of the mat, as accents.

Owl Card Directions:

Darice Washi Masking Tape-pink print
Recollections Faux Pearls
Yellow,light pink,medium pink, brown, green, and white cardstock
Yellow self stick crystals
Petaloo Floral Embelishments
Petaloo Premier Darjeeling Collection
DCWV All Dressed Up mat stack- black and pink dotted card stock
Martha Stewart Rose Leaf Paper Punch
Corner Rounder Paper Punch
Small black card stock oval
Cricut Kate's ABC's cartridge
Memory Box Melinda Corner Die
Tattered Angels GlimmerMist Diamond Dust
Zots and Foam Dots

1.   Print a birthday card on white card stock using a greeting card program. Leave enough room (on the front of the card) under the greeting for the card design. Score the card and fold in half.

2.   Cut a piece of pink Washi tape the length of the card and position it 1/8 inch from the folded edge.

3.   Load the Cricut cartridge into the Cricut machine and cut the Owl base layer at 2 inches out of yellow card stock.  Press the Shift and the Owl keys to cut the branch and eyes out of brown card stock. Press Layer 1 to cut the Owl body out of light pink card stock. Press the Shift, Layer 1 and the Owl keys to cut the leaves out of green card stock. Cut the eyes out of white card stock by pressing Layer 2 and the Owl keys. Press the Layer 2, Shift and Owl keys to cut the feet out of brown card stock.  Assemble the Owl.

4.  Cut a piece of black and pink dotted card stock approximately 5 1/4 inches high by 3 1/2 inches. Use the corner rounder paper punch to round the ends of the mat. Turn the mat over to the white side and place one Zot in the middle of the mat and one Zot in each of the 4 corners. Position the edges of the mat approximately 1 1/4 inches from the folded edge of the card and 2 1/4 inches from the top of  the card. Press into place.

5.   Cut a small oval out of black card stock, slightly larger than the Owl. I used a left over center from a die cut frame.  Put small foam dots on the back of the Owl, center on the oval and press into place.

6.    Cut the Melinda Corner out of medium pink card stock.  Cut the ends off of the corner. Place the ends under the upper left and lower right corners of the black and pink dotted mat and glue in place.

7.   Place a small pink flower from the Floral Embelishement at the bottom center of the mat.  Place a large pink flower from the Darjeeling Collection at the upper right corner of the card. Using the Martha Stewart rose leaf paper punch, punch three leaves out of green card stock. Pinch each leaf together lengthwise to make it curl upward. Glue the leaves under the large flower.

8.   Add small faux pearls around the oval black frame, and on the ends of the Melinda Corner. Add large faux pearls to the corners of the mat and to the Washi tape (at the top, middle and bottom). Add a small yellow crystal to the left of the oval frame and to the right of the Owl.

9.   Lightly spray the card with Glimmer Mist and set aside to dry.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quoth The Raven Nevermore!

This is the last Halloween project for a while. I have ideas for a few more projects but I will save those for later. The inspiration for this project came while browsing the Halloween aisle at Michaels. I found these resin books and just had to find a way to use them  in a project.

Side View
Front View
I scooped up the books and then walked around Michaels gathering items to use in my project (I still had no clear vision of the finished product).  By the time that I arrived at the check out counter I had collected a large Raven, some feathers, a black foam pumpkin, purple flowers and a purple glittered branch and of course-my books. Finally around 2 a.m. the inspiration hit me. I really like Edgar Allen Poe's line "Quoth the Raven Nevermore" and decided to use it as the theme for my project. After all is there anyone who epitomizes Halloween more than Poe?

Front View

This project goes together very quickly. Beware the branches shed glitter! The mat on my work table was covered with purple glitter despite the fact that I had sprayed the branches with sealant. Since this decoration sheds glitter I don't intend to use it near food.

Side View

Directions for Quoth The Raven:

Large Raven-available at Michaels
Branch of purple flowers-the flowers should be medium size with stems so they can be tucked in the branches
Set of resin books-available at Michaels
2 black and dark green feather picks-available in the floral department at Michaels
1 medium black foam pumpkin
1 large purple glitter branch
Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist Raven
Parchment paper
Tim Holtz distress ink
Ranger Walnut Ink-Eucalyptus color
Distressing tool or sand paper
Hot glue gun
Wire cutters

1.  Cut the flower stems from the main branch, using the wire cutters.

2. Spray the bird with the Raven color Glimmer Mist and set aside to dry.

3.  Using the wire cutters, cut the purple branch into 2 pieces. Make the pieces long enough so that they will drape down the sides of the pumpkin. Glue the end of one branch to the left of the pumpkin stem and drape the branch down the left side of the pumpkin and glue in place. Repeat, gluing the second branch to the right side of the pumpkin.

4.  Trim the stems of the flowers if necessary and place the flowers along the top of the pumpkin and along the sides of the pumpkin. The flowers should be glued on top of the branches.

5.  Tuck the feather picks in between the flowers. Position the feathers on the right and left sides of the arrangement and glue in place.

6.  Glue the Raven on top of the pumpkin so that he is nestled in the flowers.

7.  Print Quoth the Raven Nevermore on parchment paper using the font of your choice at 22 pt. Cut out the quote and apply distress ink to the parchment. Lightly spray the quote with Ranger Walnut Ink-Eucalyptus color. Use sand paper or the distress tool rough up the edges of the parchment. Glue the quote just below the flowers.

8.  Glue the decorated pumpkin on top of the resin books.

It's That Time of Year!

I can't believe that it's almost time for the kids to head back to school. Brittany is once again rushing around buying books for the new semester and gathering her things to take back to college. Fortunately for us she put a lot of things in storage in Storrs so that she can fly back to the University of Connecticut rather than have us drive her there.

For parents of incoming students at UConn, who are planning to load up the car and drive to the campus, I must warn you that Storrs is a very small rural town that doesn't have a lot of hotels. We had tried to book a month in advance and found that all of the hotels were already booked up. However, if you don't mind driving for 45 minutes there are hotels in West Hartford, Connecticut. I was able to book a room at the West Hartford Inn, a small family run hotel at a moderate price. The West Hartford Inn does offer AAA discounts and the staff is very helpful. The hotel decor is a little dated, especially the carpeting in the hallways and the lobby is small but we were pleasantly surprised when we entered our room. The room was spacious, the linens on the bed were very clean (the bedspread had just been washed), the bathroom was clean and there was a small refrigerator in the room. The mattress was slightly firm which was perfect for me since I had just had back surgery. The hotel staff said that they were in the process of replacing the mattresses with pillow top mattresses. The West Hartford Inn offers a nice continental breakfast every morning in their dining area on the second floor. I went to the breakfast in search of a cup of coffee and found not only two pots of fresh coffee brewing (real coffee not K-cups), bagels, danish pastries, muffins, cereal, bananas, doughnuts, milk, and orange juice. Food must be eaten in the dining area but coffee can be taken back to the room. If you are unable to book a hotel in Storrs you may want to consider the West Hartford Inn.

On mornings when time permits I grab a cup of coffee, put on Mozart's Divertimenti and watch the butterflies as they enjoy the beautiful, fragrant flowers of my Butterfly Bushes. This morning I decided to go out and see if I could get some pictures of these beautiful creatures. The butterflies were used to me working around the bushes pruning and weeding so they were not frightened by me when I tried to take pictures. In fact they allowed me to walk right up to the bush so I could take a close-up. This butterfly seemed to enjoy being photographed so I snapped this picture as he landed directly on the flower in front of me and spread his wings.

Biston Shrug Update

The Biston shrug is almost finished! I am knitting the textured border around the shrug. I am happy with the result so far. The Madeline Tosh Lace yarn gives the sweater a light weight texture that is perfect for this time of year. The shrug fits nicely in my Rio bag so I'm sure that the finished sweater can easily be carried in my tote.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Floral Raven Decoration

I know it's only August but the craft stores are starting to stock Halloween and Christmas items. Some shoppers were complaining that summer isn't even over and already we are seeing Christmas items on the shelves. It does seem like the stores are pushing the seasons rather than let us enjoy the rest of the summer. That being said, the craft supply stores are the only place that it really makes any sense to stock Halloween and Christmas items during July and August. Many of us like to start working on decorations and hand made gifts early and not wait until November when the holidays are quickly approaching and we run out of time and it's nice to be able to buy the supplies that we need.

Last year Michaels featured a Halloween Floral Ball with a Raven on their website. By the time it appeared on the website it was too late to find the flowers or the Raven in the stores. Several Michaels stores in Maryland used the purple flowers and the Ravens to make wreaths to sell in their floral department for Baltimore Ravens fans. I bought the candelabra base and decided to wait until this year to buy the flowers and the Raven.

This is a quick and easy project. I sat the candelabra base on Brittany's copy of Edgar Allen Poe's stories. I chose not to glue the candelabra base to the book because I didn't want to deface the book and I thought it would make the decoration easier to store after the holiday.

Directions for the Halloween Floral Raven Ball:

Black candelabra- available at Michaels
6 inch styrofoam ball- available in the floral department of craft stores
Medium Raven
14 Dark Purple flowers approximately 4 1/2 inches in diameter
Hot glue gun
Wire Cutters

The directions for this project are available at  Halloween Floral Ball Crow.

1.  Cut flowers from the stems with wire cutters. Leave about 1/2 inch of the stem still attached to the flower.

2.  Glue the styrofoam ball to the candelabra.

3.  Insert a flower at the top of the ball and glue in place. Then slightly overlap each flower and glue in place until the ball is covered.

4.  Place the Raven on top of the ball and glue in place.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Biston Shrug

During the summer months some air conditioned buildings are so cold. I usually carry a pashmina or scarf in my hand bag to wear if a waiting room or restaurant is too cold. I was sitting in a waiting room recently that was so cold that I was still shivering even after I put my pashmina on. I was searching Brooklyn Tweed's patterns for a project and came across Biston, an attractive cocoon shrug with a textured band. The shrug is knit in fingering weight yarn in a reverse stockinette stitch.

Biston shrug knit in Madeline Tosh Lace-Stargazer color.

I discovered Madeline Tosh Lace (100% super wash Merino) while searching (WEBS) for a suitable yarn for my shrug. I really like all of the colors and had a hard time choosing just one, but in the end Stargazer (a combination of blues, green, and purple) won out. This is my first experience knitting with Madeline Tosh yarns but it won't be my last. The yarn has a beautiful sheen and is soft and silky. It's a joy to knit with and has great yardage (975 yards/skein).

Brooklyn Tweed's Biston shrug is good project for a beginner who wants to work with fingering weight yarn. The entire shrug is knit in one piece-starting with the left sleeve, the body and the right sleeve. There are simple increases on the left sleeve and decreases on the right sleeve. The sweater is blocked and then the sleeves are sewn together before picking up stitches around the body to make the front band. The pattern is available as a PDF from Brooklyn Tweed.

What's New?

One of the cool things about having a blog is being able to share interesting craft products with others.

Yesterday Brittany and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby. While I really like Michaels, there are items that Michaels doesn't carry or only has a limited selection. Hobby Lobby carries almost everything craft related from fabric to scrap booking supplies. I found these Susan's Garden flower dies by Sizzix along the free project instruction sheet.  I also found pre-drilled glass blocks and mini lights for a night light project.  You can also order supplies on line from Hobby Lobby.

Susan's Garden Sunflower and Tulip dies and instruction sheet.

Today at Michaels, I found Tim Holtz idea-ology tissue wrap. The wrap is a printed coated tissue paper for use in collages and other art projects or it can be used to wrap gifts. I envisioned using this for cards, sketch books, etc.

Tim Holtz idea-ology tissue wrap.

Craft Tip:  This tip comes from my husband. He found that Charmin freshmates wipes easily remove ink, especially Sharpie, from hands or surfaces. Today  a bottle of Dylusions spray ink leaked all over my hands. I used the Charmin wipes to clean my hands. The wipes easily removed the dark purple ink from my hands with no staining. I grabbed another wipe and cleaned the ink from my work surfaces. I now keep a box of Charmin wipes in my studio for clean up tasks.  

Interweave has just released the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. This, like the Jane Austen Knits, is part of Interweave's literary knits. The magazines feature knits inspired by the Jane Austen and Harry Potter novels.  The new Jane Austen magazine is due to come out in October.  Brittany and I love several of the designs in the Harry Potter magazine. The magazine has something for everyone. In addition to the Owl cardigan on the cover (a definite must knit for me), there are socks, the beautiful Mermaid shawl, and my favorite the Tracery vest. This vest would look great with a white shirt and jeans. I love the colors of the vest in the magazine so I did not want to substitute yarns. The vest is knit in Plymouth Happy Feet sock yarn in colors #500 (black) and #27 (variegated rust/blue blend). The black yarn was readily available from WEBS and other on line retailers, but I had to search for about 2 hours before finally finding color #27. It's available from Amazon.

I recently discovered the Jordana Paige knitting bags. These bags have been featured in Vogue Knitting Magazine. The people who own the bags love them and rave about them. I have had mine for 2 weeks and I can understand why everyone loves these bags. My bag is more than just a knitting bag, it's my craft bag. The bag was designed by a knitter for knitters, but it functions well as an art bag. It will hold my large sketch book, pencil case and other sketching supplies. I bought the Rio bag in Lapis blue. The Rio has three sections. The back section holds a book or knitting pattern (purple notebook), yarn, knitting and Lantern Moon tool case. There are snap rings that keep the yarn from getting tangled in the bag. The back wall has a small zip pocket and a detachable zip pouch. The bag has a large zip divider that separates the front from the back. The divider can hold a wallet and any other items that you want to keep secure. The front section of the bag has a key holder, a padded eyeglass holder, a credit card pocket and pockets for knitting tools and pens. There is plenty of room in this section for personal items (cosmetic case, phone, book). It's amazing how much stuff this bag holds. I can carry my knitting, personal items and an I Pad and still have room to spare. The best part is that the bag looks and functions like a handbag (several people have commented on it's style as a handbag not knowing that it was actually a knitting bag). The bag is not bulky (even though it holds a lot) and can be worn like a shoulder bag.

Jordana Paige Rio bag/

Back section with knitting pattern, yarn and sweater in progress.

Back wall with zip pocket and detachable pouch.

Center zip divider and front wall with pockets and key holder.

I found Lantern Moon's silk knitting tool case in my local knitting shop. This beautiful, well made case holds small scissors, markers, cable needles, knitting gauge and my little sheep tape measure. I tied a pink bow around my sheep's neck to dress her up so Brittany wouldn't confuse my sheep for hers (she also has the black sheep).

 Lantern Moon silk knitter's tool case.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Color Purple

 Several years ago I bought a Hydrangea in April from Home Depot. The plants had colored foil covering the pot (for Mother's Day gifts). While my husband was shopping, I put a healthy dark pink plant in the cart. It was too early and much too cold to plant my Hydrangea outside, so I put the plant under a grow light and watered it regularly. Finally the plant was ready to go outside at the end of May. I had several large dark pink blooms and then the plant started to wither and die. My husband laughed at me for wasting so much time on this $10 Hydrangea. I loved this plant and knew it was probably going through shock. I felt sure that I could save it. I pruned the plant almost down to the ground and fed it Miracle Grow every 2 weeks and watered it daily. I consulted the internet Hydrangea sites for help but they all said that these type of plants never live when planted outdoors: they were meant for short term decorative use. Still I refused to give up! After 2 months of devoted care, my Hydrangea had some green leaves appearing on the stems. Before the end of the summer the plant had a few small blooms. The plant is now four years old and quite healthy. Apparently the Hydrangea didn't know that it wasn't supposed to thrive outdoors. I have been able to achieve this beautiful shade of purple by alternating feedings with acid and alkaline Miracle Grow. Every time I look at this Hydrangea, I am reminded that all things are possible with faith.

My latest projects are from French Girl Knits. I found this book at the Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg, VA. I was intrigued by the title and found a beautiful array of tops and sweaters in the book. Anjou, is an airy, lacy mohair top that is knit in Louet Kid 'N Linen. I love the way that this is turning out. The top is knit in one piece on circular needles and then the sleeves and hip band are knitted separately and grafted on.


I am also knitting Nadine, a lacy tunic knit in cotton and bamboo. The construction of Nadine is different from the usual knit  construction. The side panels are knitted first and then the main front piece is knitted side to side (horizontally) with lace shaping inserts on each side of the front panel. The side panels are then grafted to the main front panel. I am enjoying knitting this tunic. The original tunic was knit in Be Sweet cotton and bamboo, which was not available from my local yarn shop. I decided to substitute Valley Yarns Southwick from WEBS ( I have ordered from WEBS many times in the past but this is the first time that I have ever ordered one of their yarns.  I love Valley Yarns Southwick! It's reasonally priced at $5.49 for a 50 gram skein, making the total cost of my project less than $50. The yarn is luxurious- soft to the touch, drapes well and easy to knit with. I can't wait to finish this tunic.

Nadine knit in Valley Yarns Southwick.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Recycled Photo Album

A couple of weeks ago I was purchasing some new clothes and the store was offering a free gift with a qualifying purchase. After ringing up the sale, the store manager told me that I qualified for the free gift (photo albums). I didn't want or need the photo album, but the manager was so happy that I qualified for the gift that I didn't want to make her feel bad by refusing it. I accepted the album and headed home.

The album was fairly nice quality although the cover was ugly-dark olive green with large embossed flowers. I felt bad throwing a perfectly good album in the trash and offered it to several friends. No one wanted the album in it's current state. I had been looking for a make over project for my blog and this seemed like the perfect candidate. There was only one problem, the deeply embossed flowers covered a large portion of the front cover.  I covered the entire album cover with gesso. The gesso soaked into the embossed areas, but didn't cover them up. Next I tried modeling paste. I built up two thick layers of modeling paste but the flowers could still be seen. I painted the front cover with acrylic paint and let it dry. I mixed the blue paint, modeling paste and white paint together to produce a slightly lighter shade of blue. I dabbed the mixture onto the front cover with a foam brush to produce a textured surface. I set this aside to dry.

Here's the work in progress.

Original free photo albums.

Album covered with gesso and modeling paste.

Layer of textured paint added.

Close-up of textured surface.

Finished Album

I am so happy with the finished result and the fact that I turned an ugly photo album destined for the trash into an album that I would be proud to give as a gift. The textured finish on the album can be made in any color simply by mixing modeling paste with acrylic craft paint.

Directions for Butterfly Album:

Photo album or memory book
Golden Modeling Paste
Liquitex Basics Acrylic color-light blue, white
Recollections Adhesive Faux Pearls
Recollections Pearl trim
Recollections Butterflies- Aqua, Purple
Sheer white wire edge ribbon
Parchment color paper
Hot glue gun
Clear craft glue
Foam brush
Duraclear Satin Varnish

1.   Coat the album cover (front and back) with gesso. Let it dry.

2.  Apply a light layer of modeling paste to the cover and let it dry, then repeat.

3.  Using a foam brush paint the album front cover light blue. When it is dry, paint the back cover and album spine.  Apply paint to the edges of the album and let it dry.

4.  Mix light blue paint with modeling paste. Add white to the mixture until desired color. I added white until the paint mixture was one shade lighter than the paint in the tube. Be sure to mix enough paint and modeling paste to cover the entire album.

5.  Dip the end of the foam brush into the paint mixture. Dab the paint mixture onto the front cover. Place the end of the foam brush on the cover, press down and then pull up to create the textured surface. Once the front cover is completely dry, dab the paint mixture onto the spine and back cover. Let it dry.

6.  Apply a thin coat of craft varnish over the album (front cover first, then spine and back cover).  Let the varnish dry before applying to the spine and back cover.

7.  Apply a thin layer of clear craft glue to the adhesive faux pearls and press in place along the front edge of the album cover. Position the pearl trim on the lower part of the front cover and press in place. Leave a space wide enough to glue the butterfly in between the trim.

8.  Glue the aqua butterfly (with hot glue) between the pearl trim. Hot glue the purple butterfly to the right edge of the clear window on the album.

9.  Tie the sheer white ribbon around the front cover of the album and tie a bow. Trim ribbon edges at an angle (to desired length).

10. Print Memories or some other sentiment using Microsoft Word and the font of your choice onto parchment paper. Cut out and insert in window on the front cover of the album.