Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Must Hate My Hands/The Making of a Full Size Blanket

I must like to torture my hands. I was at my Dad's house, and his cleaning lady was telling me how much she liked the blanket my Mother made my Dad. I was a bit confused, as though my parents are on great terms, they were divorced 32 years ago. She showed me the blanket, and I said, "Mary, I made that blanket for him about ten years ago", and thus, her Christmas (2014) present was conceived. 

Which is why I must hate my hands. I have to back up here a bit. When I thought of making her a blanket, I knew that I had made a tremendous amount of 2x2 granny squares several years ago, and they were just waiting to be used in a project. They were the odds and ends of all my miscellaneous skeins of yarn. A great stash buster project. All I had to do was put them together. Easy-peasy, right?

Yes, easy, but incredibly time consuming. I think I started this in the beginning of November, right after I finished making things for the craft fair I just posted about. I have a full time job, and some nights, I really just wanted to do nothing rather than work on this project. I should have ignored that urge. I ended up finishing the project on 1/3, but Mary didn't care. She loved the blanket.

So did my Dad! When I brought it over to his house to give to her, he thought it was for him. I had to remind him that the very blanket laying on the back of his couch was from me! He explained to me how he shuffles around the cold house each morning wrapped in a blanket, over his shoulders like a cape. How this blanket, since it was so tightly constructed would keep him much warmer than what he was currently using.

Sigh. Guess who is getting another blanket project. Actually TWO. I had posted some pictures of my progress to facebook, and my Aunt was hoping I was going to send Mary's blanket to her. BOTH of them are getting 2x2 crochet projects this year, if I finish them. When my Dad said he wore the blanket over his shoulders all I could see is him in a Superman cape, so I'm going to make him one. I still don't quite know how I'm going to construct it. My aunt's is much easier, in theory. She's getting a full size blanket. 

The only catch this time...I don't have ANY of the 2x2's made at the start of the project. Momma to the rescue! She volunteers at the Senior Center, and brings me the odds and ends that people have donated. She'd bring me full skeins, but I told her to leave them for the actual seniors, I'll just take the things that aren't going to be picked. They have an event a few times a year where they bring out all the donated yarn, and people can take what they want. Pretty sweet. Even "cheap" yarn add's up on projects, so I'm very thankful for her getting the donated yarn for me to use.

Back to the construction of the blanket. I first made the 2x2 squares into 4x1 strips.

I then made the strips into 4x4 squares.

I then made those larger squares into long strips.

And finally, I made the strips into the final blanket. Reminds me of a Mondrian painting.

This thing took forever! Just the very outside black trim took 8 hours by itself. Putting everything else together took countless hours.

Black Cat was there for everything. Bitching at me the entire time.

I actually just caught her in a yawn, but she really doesn't like it when I crochet.

Optical illusion. She looks like a kitten here. She's full grown, at 13 years old.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Blanket for the Little Prince

My best buddy went and had a baby. Well, more accurately his new wife had a baby. The little Prince needed a very special gift. I DO tend to hand make gifts for babies, but the blankets aren't usually as personalized as this one.

Baby Daddy is a HUGE Magic the Gathering fan, so of course I had to make a MtG blanket for the Prince. I scoured the internet for MtG fabric. Lets face it, it's a lot easier to sew a receiving blanket than it is to make a one of a kind crochet creation. Alas, I was unable to find fabric. Ok. Pinterest to the rescue!

I found a pin that showed each of the Mana symbols on hats. WTF are you talking about, you say? There are 5 different types of basic Mana cards in Magic. Plains/White, Swamp/Black, Forrest/Green, Islands/Blue, Mountains/Red. You can read more about the symbols here

I would give credit if I had actually thought to record the website instead of just taking a cell phone pic of my computer screen. :(

Five isn't a great number to work with, so I added in a tap and un-tap to make it a total of 12 blocks (two sets).

In progress.

To say Baby Daddy loved the blanket is an understatement. He still thanks me for HIS blanket. I have to correct him each time. Ha. Maybe I'll make him a hat for Christmas this year?

Yeah, the kid was 4 months old before I actually finished/gave the blanket to him. ;/
I finished it, didn't I? And don't we all look happy about it? ;)

Have you made a special baby present? How was it received? Did you finish it before the kiddo was walking?

My First Craft Fair!

I participated in my first craft fair last year, on 11/1/14. I'm not sure how well it comes across in writing, but I'm quite an introvert, so doing this show was very scary for me. I had several reasons to participate though, so I did.

Reason #1-It's good to do things out of your comfort zone sometimes. It helps you grow as a person. This craft fair was a good first choice for me, as it was at my church. A lot of people can be overwhelming for me, so I go to the smaller Saturday service, which means the majority of the people attending the fair didn't know me. They were still nice, which I expected.

Reason #2-I REALLY wanted to use up some of the fabric I already had in my stash. Oh did I! I had SO MUCH FLEECE it was borderline ridiculous. I had all this fleece from when I was making cloaks for the renfaire. I haven't done that in years. I chose to make a crap ton of fringe scarves with the fabric. They were a fantastic seller!! Not quite disclosing where I am located, but it's a safe bet it's not Pittsburgh. So why was the Steelers scarf the first one to sell? Ha. Why did I have that fabric at all? No accounting for the taste of football teams of the people I used to work with (Changed jobs this summer). I had purchased the fabric to make two scarves for two co-workers. I ended up selling them at the fair. See why it's good I'm at a new job. ;)

Reason #3-Who couldn't use some extra spending cash around Christmas? I was so anxious before this fair. I kept going back and forth with self doubt and delusions of grandeur. The fair cost me nothing for the table, as I'm a member of the church. I used fabric and other materials from my stash, so there wasn't any cost there. I made $132 in sales on that day! All my sales were the fleece scarves and the wine bottle bags I made. The very nice lady who organized the event told me that several years ago she had had good luck with the wine bottle bags, and I should probably stay away from crochet as those items tended not to sell.

Dry run on my Dining Room table, trying to make sure I had enough to fill up my table at the fair.

Though the event was free, I kept changing the amount (in my head) I was going to donate back to the church. The more I sold, the more they got. I ended up giving back $32 to the church. 

I did have some crochet items on the table, but I didn't expect them to sell. Really. I didn't. I needed something to fill out the table, and I already had the items made. It would have just been a bonus if they sold. I tend to do a theme for handmade Christmas, and last year it was Scarves. Each of these scarves was made for a specific person, and had they sold, I would have had time to re-make them before Christmas.

My attempt at a display. Big plans for this years display!


I live very close to church, and worked very close to home, so instead of bringing these Christmas gifts back home after the fair, I just brought them into work on that day. This actually resulted in an additional $50 in sales. I sold the front desk guard two scarves on the spot, and she ordered an Eagles scarf and hat. Woohoo!

One lady at church wasn't sure if someone would like a certain teams scarf as a gift, so she ended up just buying one for herself and called me to order a second one, which was delivered to church the next week. It was already made, so yay!

I also was very frugal with my display items, which is good, because I didn't end up using all of them. This year I do have items to go on the easel type wire display. All of these items were purchased at the thrift store.



I was left with 6 unsold wine bottle bags. I've made 36 more to sell this year. I had maybe 10 fleece scarves left after the fair. Including the ones to the above, I was able to sell 6 more after the fair. The remaining 4 went back into the mix to sell this year. I made a ton more, whittling away my fleece stash to nearly nothing! SCORE!!! A few additional items are also in the mix to sell this year. You can read about them here.

All in all, I think the event was successful on all three fronts. What do you think? Have you been a vendor at a craft fair? What was your experience like?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Once Upon a Time, I Wanted to be an Artist

I alluded to a degree in Interior Design. It was just a two year degree, but I did get it in 1996. In this degree program I had to take LOTS of art classes. Some of which I liked, others I hated.

Photography. I selected it as my elective. I hated it on the first day, because it cost me $1000 in supplies, just for that class. This is back before the advent of "Digital" photography. It ended up being my favorite class of the entire program. I love taking pictures.

Anyway, this post is about some of the "work" I did back then. Because of my basement flooding, some of this stuff got moldy. I had previously scanned all my drafting work, but I didn't do the "art" work, because I didn't want to get the medium (graphite, charcoal, etc) all in the large format scanner. I should have done it on my last day. Ugh. Hated that job.

I just took these pictures with my cell phone, before I threw the originals away. You can see that the pictures were taken outside.

Sometimes I miss drawing. Once my larger projects (sewing, crochet, etc) are out of the way, maybe I can be artistic like this again. I still have all the supplies. Heck. I might even take a class or two, just for fun.

Above, that's supposed to be Harley-Davidson Motorcycles transforming into Eagle heads. I "think" that was a take on Escher? Didn't he do something like that? Anyway, it was an assignment. I just picked the subject.

Above, OMG, this class was a PITA. The instructor had such a love for the Craftsman style. I did, however, enjoy learning how to do perspective drawings.

Above, this is about the closest you'll get to seeing who I am. It's a self portrait. I asked My Love what he thought, and he said he could definitely see it.

Above, the things we do in our youth. Yes. I was a smoker. Ok, so maybe it's not just youth. I haven't had a cigarette since 2008. I've always been an on and off smoker. I pick it up, and put it down with the drop of a hat. I'm serious. I don't have a physical addiction to it. When I decide I don't want to do it, I just don't do it. I DO sometimes like the smell of fresh smoke. I walked past someone smoking just last week and I miss smoking. My lungs sure don't though. I don't think I'll have another cigarette at any point in the rest of my life.

Above, that's the ink bottle and box. I always had such trouble making art from inside my head. My "Art" is always something I have to look at the subject. My crochet on the other hand, that all comes out of my head.

Above, working on capturing texture or something like that. There was a sheet the teacher hung on the wall. This is my interpretation of it.

What do you think? Do you also miss the "art" you created as a kid?

Rocker Re-do

I liked the curtain fabric so much, I covered the old rocker cushions in it too!

The rocker came from my Grandmother's house. I love a rocker. It's relaxing to sit and rock. The cushions actually came from my mother's rocking chair. They're, well...old and not extremely pretty looking. I had to jazz them up.

This project was quick and easy, and made use of the fabric I had left over from the curtain project. I love using my scraps to make something fantastic.

You can see the rocker and the cushy, but not pretty, cushions in this picture. Black Cat is in the picture as usual. She loves being with me. Such a sweetie.

I just placed the cushion over the fabric, cut to fit, and sewed a pocket.

I think it looks pretty.

What do you think?

Curtains for the Craft Room

This craft room has (and still is) been a work in progress for going on two years now. It IS looking pretty good, but has been very slow going, and has a bit left to go in my opinion. Most of the bigger stuff has been handled, so that's good!

I made curtains! It took me a full year to get both of them up. The first one was easy. There was already a curtain rod. The second curtain rod was purchased in August of 2013, but wasn't put up until my 2014 August Staycation. And boy did it feel good to put that second one up!

The curtains themselves are really just a rectangle of fabric. I don't sew anything all that exciting or complicated. I think their beauty lies in their strong graphic nature.

Here's the naked window. No central air in the house, so window units are a must. Kinda ugly. Gotta cover that up.

Much prettier!

Black Cat photo-bombing. This curtain was made, and went up in 2013. The window below...that one didn't have the curtain rod. The ONLY window in the house without a curtain rod.

And...since the corner of the wood was already broken, I was afraid I would end up breaking more of the corner off.

I didn't. Yay!

I should probably have cleaned off my work surface before taking the picture. Oh well. I was on a roll. There are several projects that got completed that day...on the table in this picture.

What do you think?

Small Metal Chest of Drawers Makeover

I've constantly got a list in my head (and a lot of the time on paper) of what is needed for the house, so I can keep an eye out for just the right piece to fit my needs, frugally.

I was in need of a "leg" for my work surface in my craft room. I'm always trying to re-use the things I already have. I already had the work surface. I have a degree in Interior Design, and the work surface is actually my old portable drafting table. I knew I wanted to save space by using the radiator cover as the other leg. I took a measurement to the top of the radiator cover, and it told me how high I needed to have the other "leg".

I found this absolutely hideous little 4 drawer metal chest at my local thrift store, on an extra 25% off Monday. It's the only day I shop there. Too expensive for a store that has 100% of their stock donated. ::gets off soap box::. I first wrote about this little bugger, here.

Why yes, that is faux wood grain. Ick. I can't find a picture of the price I paid for it, but I'm almost certain it was $4.99 (minus 25%). With the exception of the wrinkle on the top, it is in pretty good shape, and just the right height.

I did try to bang the wrinkle out, with a hammer. Didn't work, but that's totally OK. Drawer (pretty much) shuts, and for $5, I'm not really arguing. I did buy some new drawer pulls for it. I think I got the cheapest ones at Lowes, in the color I wanted. While I was there, I got a little 4 oz (maybe 8?) tester of black paint. There color scheme of this room is Black, White, and Tiffany Blue.

To start this project, I removed the drawers, and placed the shell of the chest onto the top of a Rubbermaid tote (to protect my floor). I was on my "Staycation" when I completed this project. I found (thankfully) an un-used FOB card. I work in the medial field. It was only partly funny that even on vacation, I can't get away from something reminding me of work.


I painted the front, the drawers, and the back, black. Paint covered quite well, so I think I only did one coat. I used the sponge brushes, kind of like a dabber. It worked, and was cheap! Now looking at these pictures (a year and a half later) I'm not sure if I did one or two coats on the back. I hate painting so much that maybe I just left it like that, since the only thing that will really be seeing my knees when I'm sitting at the table!

Yeah. I hate painting that much. Sigh. Ok. Moving on. The outside! I had purchased some vinyl table cloths to protect my furniture from Fat Cat from peeing on it. Poor thing passed away, so I had a few of them left over (un-used). I happened to have picked just the right color for this room. Yay! They were on sale to begin with, and now I have a second life for them. I'm going to guess I paid maybe $1.57 for them at Target. I used one for this project AND the shelving project (you can see that here, after I write it up). That's one table cloth between the two projects, not one for each project.

I used the factory finished edge on the drawer side. I hot glued the table cloth to the metal. And...the above picture answers whether or not I painted a second coat on the back. I didn't. I don't even know why I thought I might have done a second coat. Painting. Meh. The back side is  not pretty at all. There was no point in making it pretty. I just folded the fabric over the back, and the bottom and hot glued it in place. As much as I hate painting, that's how much I love my glue gun!

Ahh, things are coming together so nicely in this room! And, it makes me SO happy that I'm doing this relatively cheaply, when possible, using things I already have. In the above picture you can see in the corner, the bookcase hasn't been painted yet.

This corner is looking pretty awesome! I kept it this way for a while. On top of the drawer units, those are little shelves. They're supposed to hang on the wall, but I never got that far with them. They are currently on the dresser, and a three shelf black bookcase (holding my fleece) is in it's place. I'm hoping once I get my fabric stash under control, I can put the bookcase somewhere else.

Side note, that laundry sorter came from the free section of Craigslist. I took the "bags" off and washed them. They also hold fabric. Mostly my scraps. The one closest to the plastic drawers has my rolls/bolts of fabric in them right now.

So, there we go. If I had to put a $ figure on this project, I'd say $1 for the paint. $2 for the pulls, $4 for the dresser itself, and $0.75 for the fabric. $7.75 total. I'm SO HAPPY with this little project.

What do you think?