Monday, December 9, 2019

Wood slice Christmas ornaments: complete!

Here are the finished wood sliced ornaments.

I decided to keep it simple, and just used hemp cord through 7/16" screw eyes.

I think they look just dandy in the tree. :-)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Wood slice Christmas decorations

Since moving back to the family farm, I haven't been able to do a lot of crafting.  I have, however, been finding all sorts of potential crafting materials!

Years ago, I had to drop what had been an annual Christmas tradition: hand making ornaments, for our tree and for gift giving.

This year, I've finally started this up again, collaborating with one of my daughters.

I've been pruning a lot of trees over the past two summers, plus cleaning up storm damage and taking out dead and dying trees.  Some of this, I've been setting aside specifically to use as crafting material in the future.

The wood slices I am using for these ornaments are from crab apple tree branches I pruned last year.  I cut some fairly thick discs and, little by little, sanded some of them smooth.  Since this is an experiment, for the most part, I started with only 4 slices.

I penciled in some sketches, in some places using the colours and shapes that were already in the wood in planning the designs.

I broke out my wood burning tools for the first time in ages.

Since I was out of practice, I started with the simplest design - the snowflake - and worked my way through.  I used the same wedge shaped tip for all of this, though I really should have changed tips for things like shading.  I wasn't too worried about the detail, though, because after the designs were burned in, I passed them on to my daughter to paint.  She questioned me on what I had in mind, which was mostly just using white to highlight details, but mostly, I just left it to her.

This is the result!

I love her use of the gold!

Once the paint was dry, I screwed in tiny eyelets.  At this point, we could just add wire hangers that we already have and call them done, or I might string on hanging cords and add other small decorative elements.

If it works out, I've got a whole bunch of apple wood slices just waiting to be sanded, to make more. :-)

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Waffle Weave

As usual, real life has made blogging here rather sparse!

I have, however, actually managed to get some crafting done, in between moving my office/craft room to another room.

One of the things I recently finished, having put it aside to complete other projects, is something I intended to use as a chair seat cover.

Our cat has other ideas.

In moving back to the family farm, we are using some of the furniture that was already here, including the mish-mash of dining chairs.  All of which have big granny squares my mother made, covering the seats and some of the backs, as well.  Unfortunately, my mother did not have access to good yarn.  She also used whatever scraps were at hand.  So... they're a little hard on the eyes.

I was entertaining the thought of replacing them with different covers, all using the same yarn - blanket yarn was used in my tester - and done in a dense waffle weave stitch.

No, not waffle stitch.  Waffle weave stitch.  I found the stitch featured in a crochet magazine some time ago, and have since seen it with a different name.  I've completely forgotten what that name was.  I was, however, able to find a tutorial for a waffle weave baby blanket, so here it is.

The end result is a very thick, insulating fabric.  I ended up using the stitch to make a scarf, headband and hat set for a friend.  They are incredibly warm; perfect for the blistering cold temperatures we've had this winter!

As a note about working up a hat; the stitch can be done in the round, but the work must be turned after joining each round.  Which makes working from the bottom up, much more practical.  I normally work my hats top down.

It also helps to use a larger hook than you normally would for the yarn weight.  I couldn't really do that for the blanket yarn I used for the test chair seat cover.  I used a 10mm hook, because the next size up I have from that is 25mm, which I use mostly as a nostepinne when reballing yarn into centre pull cakes.  If I'm going to do this stitch with this yarn again, I would need to pick up some larger hooks.

I don't think I'll be doing that.  At least not to make chair seat covers.  For the cost of yarn and amount of work involved, it would make more sense to just buy a set of chair pads.  Especially since I would want to get some extra thick ones, to make it less painful for my husband to sit at the table.

I will definitely use this stitch for other things, though.  The super thick fabric it makes would be perfect for things like hot pads, using cotton yarn.  The insulating qualities makes it perfect for warm winter hats.

As for my test chair seat cover...

Looks like it's going to be a cat blanket!

Monday, October 29, 2018

New Toy

The weather has been getting cooler, and I've accomplished the goals I set for myself, in cleaning and clearing out the yard.  We even had a couple of nice, warm days that allowed me to do some of what I was leaving for next year - at this point, any more clearing and cleaning outside is just gravy!  Over the summer, we have been able to clean up, clear out and prune the maple grove, the trees behind the "spare" house in the yard, the north perimeter and east fence line of the spruce grove, and I've even managed to get some progress on the south fence line along the spruce grove.  All of which involved clearing out shocking amounts of junk.  On top of that, I've been working on building up a smallish garden next to the house that had been mostly a flower garden, but my other also used for things like onions, mint and chives.  It has a couple of ornamental apple trees in it, rhubarb, a lilac, a couple of white rose bushes, some honeysuckle, and even some asparagus, in there.  Unfortunately, much of it was overtaken by invasive flowers and vines, so I've covered it over with cardboard, then built up layers of leaves, straw, and more leaves.  If all goes to plan, I will put a small retaining wall at one end, and build it up to be level, too.  Being so close to the house, it will make a good location for a kitchen garden.

In the middle of all this, I've actually managed to do some crafting!  I was able to do a hat and two scarves for a dear friend, in crochet.  I'm currently working on a Tunisian stitch cat blanket.

I was even able to do a local market!  It was a last minute thing I signed up for, and the first market held in this neighbouring town.  We got our first snowfall that day, yet it was a fantastic success.  My best market, ever!  I even had some costumers telling me about other popular local markets in our region that they recommended I sell at.  They tell me no one else has an inventory like mine.

It was not something I was expecting to get into after the move, but I will give it a go, when the markets start up again next year.

Which means, I need to build up  new inventory!

So I expect to be doing a lot more crochet over the winter, as well as trying out some new crafts.

Allow me to show you my new toy.

The girls and I went into the city today, and I was finally able to swing by a Lee Valley store.  There was a small, battery operated engraving pen I had seen in their online catalog that I wanted to get.  At only $20, I figured it would be an inexpensive way to try out a new craft.

After talking to the saleswoman, however, I ended up getting this, instead.  It was only $10 more.  I was thinking I didn't want something with a cord, but the battery operated one slows down as the batteries die.  I can see that becoming annoying fast!

This one has adjustable speeds.  It is small enough to handle easily, and the tips are interchangeable.  It only comes with one, but I looked at complete kit of engraving tips, too.  A bit beyond my budget, right now.  I will see how things go with this, first.  If it works out, getting more tips will be worth the investment.

For now, what I am looking to do is engrave into wood.  Some of the trees I've been cleaning up and pruning included apple and lilac. Lilac, I've discovered, is a surprisingly hard wood, and it has purple in it!  I also have maple, elm and poplar to choose from.

Right now, I have some apple that was pruned last summer, before we moved out here.  I've cut a few disks to do some experimenting on.  Depending on the size of the wood, I plan to make everything from earrings and pendants, to coasters and trivets.  Along with the engraving, I also want to do some wood burning.

The engraver is something I also want to try on some of the beach rocks I've collected.

But not until after I've had some practise on wood, first!!

Friday, August 10, 2018

It's been a long time!

Obviously, I haven't been posting much lately!

Here is part of the reason why. :-D

This is my crafting space.  Full of cat!

I've been doing a bit of experimenting with painting rocks in a space at the front of the table that's about 8 inches between the Styrofoam and the edge of the table.  Keeping them free of cat hair is a bit of a challenge!

The cats both love this spot, but Freya has truly claimed it as her own!  As I write this, she is in it, lounging against the book, which she had been using as a pillow just moments ago.

Since the move, I have been doing very little crafting at all.  Even my crochet, for which I had a corner set up for in the living room, has gone by the wayside.  Partly due to the summer heat.  Partly because I've been working outside in the yard as much as I can.

Okay, yes, this is partly an excuse to show a cute kitten (two of the outside cats that we inherited with this place have had litters for a total of 6 kittens altogether!).  However, this is one of the areas I've recently worked on.  It had been completely overgrown, with several dead trees that I've taken down so far.  There are a couple of trunks on a maple in the background that are also dead and will be coming down, though I may wait until the current heat wave passes.  This is one end of a grove of trees I've been working my way through this.  Once it's done, I'll start on the OTHER grove of trees, though I expect to only work the perimeter of it, before winter sets in.

So lots of manual labour (and kittens!), and very little crafting. 

If all goes well, I'll be back at it in the winter!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Blocking Comparison

I worked up two beaded bracelets yesterday, using No. 10 crochet thread.  One of the issues I've noted with projects like this is the tendency for the finished item to twist, so I make it a practise to block them, even though they are so small.

I happened to also be experimenting with blocking baskets using a stiffener I've never tried before.  Epsom salts, dissolved in water.  It was recommended by someone who used it to stiffen snowflake Christmas ornaments.  Basically, Epsom salts are dissolved into hot water until the water is saturated (no more will dissolve into it), then the items are soaked in the water and pinned out, like the usual wet blocking.

Having mixed up enough to soak several larger items in it, I was left with a bowl full of dissolved Epsom salts, and I didn't want to waste it.  So when I made the bracelets and was ready to block them, I wet one with water, as usual, while the other got a quick dip in the Epsom salt saturated water.

This is what they looked like, after drying overnight.

Visually, there is no difference.  The top one (a slightly wider bracelet) is the one blocked with Epsom salts, the bottom one with plain water.

The water one is much softer.  After unpinning them, the water one also retracted slightly in length.  It also was more likely to twist around itself, though nowhere near as much as it did before blocking.

Here, you can see that the Epsom salt soaked one is slightly stiffer and keeps its shape more when the bracelet is folded in half.  I was somewhat concerned that it would be somewhat scratchy, as well, but it isn't at all.

The Epsom salt bracelet was MUCH easier to put on one handed.  That slight stiffness made putting the toggle through the loop so much easier.  In the plain water blocked one, the loop tended to get easily pushed away while trying to get the toggle through.  It was also harder to put it on without twisting the bracelet.

Overall, I think I prefer the Epsom salt soaked bracelet.  The only thing I would change in the future is to not stretch it out as much when pinning it down.  I'm used to it bouncing back again slightly, like the plain water blocked one did.  With the Epsom salt one, the length it's pinned to it the length you get!  So it's a bit longer than I intended it to be.  Still, I would definitely recommend using it for blocking jewelry items, or anything that would normally be starched to hold its shape.

Until next time;

Get Crafting! :-)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

By Request

My daughter asked me to make a carafe cozie for her, so she can use it for hot drinks and not burn her hand.

So this is what I came up with. 

The yarn is Aunt Lydia's "Denim" Quick Crochet. 75% cotton, 25% acrylic.  I used a 4.25mm hook.  The cozie is a sort of sampler of stitches working with a base of 40 stitches around.  I wanted to get some texture in there, to make it less likely to slip in the hand.

I've got it blocking on the carafe itself. It should be dry by morning.  I think my daughter will like it. ☺