Sunday, July 28, 2013

Knitting on holiday

Here is some knitting preparing to take a holiday:

Sadly, I have to take a little break from Hugs - this week for sure, hopefully not next.

You know how sometimes people who write blogs will say Wow, I'm burnt out from writing here every day and I promise I'll come back as soon as I've recharged?  I wish I could be one of those people, because not writing here every weekday is really, really hard for me.  Actually, I'm taking my break to finish overhauling the house, because the bits and pieces I've been getting away with over the past year are all done and now it's just the big huge scary stuff.  And when I say scary, I mean there may not even be time to knit.

Do I know how to live on the edge, or what?

Anyhoo: have a fabulous week or two (I have to be back here within two weeks or I might melt or transform into a moth with fangs or something) and feel free to send any good organizational wishes you might have to spare, because I am pretty sure I will need them.  Or ice cream.

See ya!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Knit by colour, the reveal


and after:

Notice a difference?

I've been wanting to yarnbomb something at the cottage for months now.  When the wishing well arrived to cover the actual well (which turned out to be kind of an ugly pipe in spite of its ability to do magical things with cool clear water), and we were torn between paint vs. stain and colour vs. natural, I pointed out this perfect solution to the problem.

Colour, with no maintenance!

And as long as you don't get too close, it looks all right.

My strategy of forcing the Bernat Softee Chunky Ombres into vertical stripes worked out fine for the first ball, but the second turned out to have entirely different colour lengths and in the end there was no way to make my wishing well bucket cover look good.  I can't even begin to imagine how one would knit a 'real' project with this yarn that runs bigger than one 80 gram ball.

For now though, this'll do... the stitches ended up a mess, and the vertical stripes are running into each other willy-nilly, but it's bright, and weather-resistant acrylic, and finished, so it's pretty much doing its job.

And now I'm going to go do mine, which is: enjoy the weekend.  Hope you get to too, and I'll see you Monday!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to make laminated paper wall tiles

When it comes to getting inexpensive, quirky art onto the wall in a humid room like the kitchen or bath, there is no easier way I know than lightweight, laminated paper:

This project is perfect for using up the pages from old calendars you loved, or any other kind of paper (newspaper, even!), but I've focused on a couple of sheets of deluxe wrapping paper by Cavallini, bought from a fancy stationery store.

You will need

Printed paper

Either a steady hand and scissors, or a cutting mat and a rotary cutter

A ruler bigger than the longest side of your paper

Clear adhesive film (I used Opmark Adhesive Film in roll form from Staples, but I spotted Avery sheets at Amazon as well)

Painter's Tape (I like Painter's Mate Green)

How to proceed

Your goal here is to laminate the front and back of the paper - the front, so as to easily wipe the paper clean, and the back, so as to make the finished product easier to put on and take off the wall.

There are two ways to achieve this kind of coverage.  If you are planning to use a large span of paper, you can unroll the adhesive film over it,

and cut afterward.

Alternatively - if you don't want to laminate everything, for example - you can cut put favourite bits of the paper first, then slip the clippings of your choice under the adhesive film.

Either way, you will want to smooth out any air pockets with your ruler before trimming away the edges of the film.

Note: if you are able to acquire Opmark Adhesive Film, you will have no trouble at all lifting and repositioning it over your paper.  That can be handy if you went with the Cut Second option, because if the film's edge lands in the middle of an image you wanted to use, you can simply remove it after cutting away another part and start over in the new area.  I can't speak for the Avery option, but I can tell you that Staples in Canada has sold Opmark for years alongside poster board.  For some reason, you just won't find it on the Staples website.

Once you've covered both the front and the back of the paper and cut it all to shape, you are ready to hang your tiles wherever you please, thanks to the miracle of Painter's Tape folded into a sticky-side-out loop and stuck on the back.

(in case you don't keep this stuff in your house at all times, let me tell you, you cannot top it for labeling water bottles etc. - I've had bottles I've washed for years and their Painter's Mate labels have stayed intact, until I effortlessly unpeeled them.)

Painter's Tape won't harm most surfaces - test first - and is infinitely repositionable. Between that and the lamination, your artwork can become a bathroom-friendly wallpaper border,

an accent for a kitchen cabinet door,

or a backup focal point below a wall of clipboards,

when they are not showcasing a young cottage guest's efforts.

That clipboard business is one of my favourite ideas for the cottage - rainy days are downright dire for children trapped in a tiny place with a lake just out of reach, so art supplies are essential.  But where to store the clipboards so necessary to stand in for table space or a lap desk?  Hanging from nails on an empty kitchen wall, that's where. 

But to get back to the tiles: omigosh, so fun.  And best of all, there's no commitment if you aren't sure about what you've posted. You can leave pictures up for a party, or all the way to the end of a season, or as long as the Painter's Tape holds, which varies based on how many times you move the pictures around.

You can also opt for laminating the front only, and sticking the back to a magnet, which is how I have my own custom collection of Wallace and Gromit 'frig magnets (paper source: an old calendar.)

Thank you so much for joining me to look at paper art for your walls, and I hope I will see you again tomorrow for something yarny!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Knit by colour

Yesterday was a day full of bewildering craft failures, and this new knitting project looks like no exception:

Since I don't enjoy knitting with yarn that knits up variegated, I have no idea why I bought a ball of yarn that looks like it's totally going to knit up variegated.

(it's Bernat Softee Chunky, 100% acrylic, and there is no way it's not going to knit up variegated.)

Fortunately, what I am knitting with it needs to be more or less 2x2 ribbing rather than a stitch-perfect award winner, so I got the bright idea to knit it up in vertical stripes whether it likes it or not.

To achieve this masterful effect, I finished my cast-on not when I'd achieved the necessary number of stitches, but when I was over that number and had worked the very last stitch of the colour sequence before it started all over again with the first cast-on stitch.  And then every time my next stitch isn't going to match the colour below it, I either knit (or purl) two together, or do a yarn over so it comes out right.  I'm tolerating about a half stitch off-pattern, and that's it.

After I took these pictures, Pete came within range of the vertically-striped knitting and I asked him whether he thought it was going to work or not.  I mean, it's not going to come out the way I dreamed it would, but I did just spend $12 and about an hour to come to that conclusion, so I was hoping for a fresh perspective that makes this mess viable even if it's not what I was looking for originally.

He hesitated for a really, really long time and then said "I don't know.  It looks kind of bold."  Then, while I was setting up the pictures later, he spotted the one of the variegated swatch and said "I like that! It looks like Lego."

So: no further ahead really. 

In good news, you can pass your own judgement on its success or otherwise when it's done and serving its purpose (even if it does that only for long enough to have its picture taken), which should probably happen Friday.  I'd hate to make you wonder longer than that what on earth I am doing with this crazy yarn.

But I don't mind making you wonder a little, heh.  Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tour de Fleece wrapup

Well, here it is - my total output from this year's Tour de France spin festings:

It doesn't look like a lot, and it isn't nearly as much as I dreamed of - I didn't even get to ply the singles! - but it is a lot more compact than it was in its original form, so it's still a huge storage-space victory:

I guess in its real original form it was on the outside of a sheep and a goat, so even those two big puffs of fiber are compact in relative terms.

Every year I've done the Tour I have made huge leaps forward in my spinning skills.  This year I hoped to learn how to spin consistently enough to make socks from my own handspun, and I guess when I've plied these singles and done all the setup that goes with that, I'll know.  What I definitely did learn was how to spin very slim strands, compared to last year's bulky offerings.

Another thing I learned was that sometimes I'm my own worst own enemy when it comes to setting goals.  As in, sometimes it's not just okay to let go of a goal, it's a smart idea.

There were a lot of nights on this particular Tour when the day was so busy, the only spinning I could get done was what happened after 10 or 11 at night.  I should have just gone to bed and started the next day rested.

There were also a lot of days when my right hand was sore from drawing out the fiber, no matter how much I pre-drafted it.  I should have taken more breaks, or switched for a bit to another fiber with less lanolin in it.  Something like silk or bamboo that doesn't have the same stick factor.

But no: I wanted to get through all three remaining giant lumps of Stoddart roving, and so I pushed myself.  It's not such bad news - I only have one more lump left, and it's already divided into three, so it's kind of no-brainer spinning as long as I do rest my hand and don't work too late. 

The other thing I learned is that it takes a lot longer to spin fine singles than bulky ones.  That should be obvious, since you're putting out more mileage, but it just didn't occur to me until I started feeling restless about why had I not gotten farther through the current bag o' fiber by now?

To illustrate that point, here is what the last bag looked like over the final few days of the Tour.

Day One:

Day Two:

Day Three, when I really pushed myself:

I stayed up past midnight so I could finish it and get it off the wheel, I was that desperate for closure.

At the moment I have bid a fond but grateful farewell to my wheel for a while, even if 'a while' turns out to be nothing more than a few days because of that last lump hanging over my head.  I have socks to knit, and another thing for the cottage that if I've chosen my yarn right should have some wow factor, and I still really want to cast on the hats I was thinking of last month as well as the new one I thought of this week.

And also: more sewing!  Which I hope to get to today.

I do love summer - it's always such a supercrafty time of the year, without the pressure of Christmas.  What about you?  Do you make more in summer, or are you just too busy (or too hot?)

Monday, July 22, 2013

How to dress up your spice rack

I love a good vintage spice rack, but spice bottles: meh.  That's why this little project was so perfect for me.

That, and the fact that it couldn't be easier.

You will need

Labels for your spice bottle tops

Plain spice bottles (mine came from a bulk food store)

Washi tape (this is an Etsy link)

Spices (or whatever else you want to store)

How to proceed

I bought these Martha Stewart labels from an office supply store, and they are great for this project because they go on the top of the lid, leaving the rest of the bottle free for Washi tape festings (and that's the Etsy link again in case you missed it... but don't click on either link if you have only minute levels of self control.  really.)

After you've washed the bottles and their various bits, you can write on the labels and stick them on the tops.

It doesn't matter whether you fill the bottles first or decorate them and then fill; let your patience level dictate that part.  Whichever you choose, you get to stick Washi tape onto the bottles (which is kind of the point of this whole craft project.)

Sometimes the bottles aren't perfectly round, which makes for puckered tape.  I found that ripping the tape to size and sticking it flat onto the front of the bottle was a good solution.

A few wrinkles at the back won't show on the spice rack.

You can experiment with so many different tape combinations and placements.

In the end, I couldn't decide which I liked best,

and then I remembered I didn't have to choose.

 Yay!  Walls of 1973 stylishness plus Washi tape: so much love.

(Of course you realize you can put Washi tape on any old thing for purely decorative purposes.  Except on knitting, because that would just be sticky.)

Thanks for checking out my spice bottle project - have a great day!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Old chair plus new cushions equals knitting

Yesterday's mail yielded a batch of fabric which was purchased by me in one of those moments when I pretend to be a person who sews instead of a person who aspires to sew.  You know, someday when there's time.  The fact that occasionally there is time is doing nothing to help restrain me from giving in to these bouts of optimistic shopping.

See?  I sewed something this summer.  In June actually - new cushions for my Grampa's old chair, in a nice cheery print. 

Come to think of it, the whole 'time' thing is probably why knitting is a good choice for me: the tools are so portable, and there's usually time in the day somewhere.  And more often than not, a place to sit to do it as well... like this chair, now that it's got cushions.

I had a hard time finding cushions to cover, once I got looking.  The diameter wasn't so hard to come by - 16" square - but the newfangled puffy pillows in all the stores today were just way too lofty for this compact piece of furniture.  In the end I just recovered two very old pillows long since crushed flat and, frankly, pretty disreputable in their pre-slipcovered form.

Now they look downright smart.  Recognize this print yet?  (I bet Trish does.)

It's too bad given how crazy I get over sewing materials, especially ohhhhh, the fabric!, that the actual construction of things isn't second nature to me.  Every bag I make consumes hours of brain-cudgeling as I try to work out the math and the order of seams.  Cushions, on the other hand, are so easy that even I can do them. 

For the 16" cushions, I cut a 17.5" square piece, and two more pieces that were 17.5" by 12", both of which I then finished with a narrow double fold along one long edge.  With wrong sides facing, and the shorter pieces lying on top of the bigger one and overlapped along their newly finished edge, I ran a .5" seam around the outside of the square, and then flipped the result inside out to iron flat and run another 1" seam around the outside of the square. 

Technically I don't need to do these French seams any more now that I have a zigzag function on my sewing machine, but I do love them.  And there is nothing zippier than a fold-over closure like this for cramming an old pillow into a new cover.

Hello, friendly blue and red robots.

I wonder whether my Grampa would have minded having robot cushions on his chair?

Best not to think about that - let's all go have a marvelous weekend instead.  My plan: to sit in Grampa's (or some other already-prepped) chair, and knit.  See you Monday!

p.s., remember when I was having an awful time making myself fix that curtain panel that was an inch longer than its partner?

it looks so much better now.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to make a paper pennant banner

This banner was so fun to make for the bedrooms at my summer cottage, and so much faster than a fabric version.

You will need

Patterned scrapbook paper - I used a card weight
(if it's double sided, you can run the banner through a room and not just on a wall)

Either a steady hand and scissors, or a cutting mat and a rotary cutter

A ruler bigger than the longest side of your paper

A hole punch

Clear protectors for the holes you punch


How to proceed

First, cut away the edges of your paper to leave triangles.

The large triangles I cut are 9" wide along the top...

... and I was able to cut more 6" wide ones from the scraps left behind.

You can get three pennants from just one square sheet!  That's sooooo many banners.

Next up: use your hole punch to snap circles into the two corners of the top side of your triangle.  Don't get too close to the edges, and stay pretty consistent across all the pennants.

Now, protect the holes by applying reinforcement stickers.  

I used clear for mine, but I saw brightly coloured stickers at the office supply store that would make a fun contrast for a solid or complementary paper.

How many pennants you will need depends on how wide an area you're planning to cover.  For my 96" wall, I used 7 9-inch pennants and left a little space between each one.  Certainly, you don't want more banner coverage than wall, even if you do plan a big drape, because you will lose a little real estate in the corners.

Cut your twine to cover the width of the area plus perhaps another quarter or third for drape and to tie loops at the end for hanging it up.  (alternatively you could wait to cut the twine until after you have the pennant set up, and just cut at the point of excess.  this is the option I chose.)

I like to make a one-off patterned pennant the centre, and line up other patterns in sequence on either side.  Whatever you choose it helps to get the pennants stacked up in order before you start stringing.

String them so that the twine goes front to back into the right-hand hole, and back to front on the left.

The strung banner is very portable (or store-able) if you fold it accordian style.

And now the fun part starts: hammer a nail into each of the upper corners of the wall where you want to display your banner, tie loops in either end of the twine, and hang it up.

It's so easy to adjust the space between individual pennants once they're up - on rough twine, they won't slip at all.

We think this funny, off-centre lamp makes the pennants look like teeth and its shades like goofy monster's eyes.  

Amazingly: it's still possible to sleep underneath it.

It's also possible to sleep if you have a ceiling fan on top speed, blowing the pennants up and down off the wall.

Probably the fan masks the sound of the moving paper.

Hardly took any time at all to brighten up these brown wood panel walls - a lot less than painting, that's for sure!

And they make every vacation day seem more like a party.  Who doesn't want that?

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by to see my paper project!