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.