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Tag Archives: Christmas

  • Home Decor: Buttons & Candles for All Seasons

    August is a transition-time of year. Growing up in the northeast, it was the final month of summer vacation. The days were still hot, but the evening air would sometimes be cool. August ended with my birthday and an introduction to a new school year after the final three-day holiday weekend celebrating Labor Day. It was a cue for me to say, "Okay; now I'm ready!" I was anxious for new challenges, seeing familiar faces and getting ready for seasonal changes. This inspired me to create with Buttons and the LED Candle Set.

    I want a change to my summer decor, but I don't want to jump into fall leaves, berries and gourds. I scoured the few magazines readily available at hair salons and doctors' offices, but then turned to Pinterest for some ideas, too. I was inspired by this Vintage Button Garland and the ambience it created in quite a simple way. Plus, it was a perfect embellishment for a "fake" candle. LED candles won't burn so my garland is safe; easy-peasy, nice and easy!

    I gathered the buttons I had previously sorted and started planning. I decided to thread my buttons onto waxed linen in a color similar to the candles in my set. I love my LED Candle Set (item 47363 from Leisure Arts);  they look and feel like real waxed candles, plus they have a remote control to change colors, add flickering flames or set a timer!

    Gather different sizes, shapes and colors of buttons. Use buttons without shanks for this project. Used waxed linen to assist holding your buttons in place. Gather different sizes, shapes and colors of buttons. Use buttons without shanks for this project. Using waxed linen  assists by holding your buttons in place.

    Using the waxed linen allowed me to easily thread my buttons.  Also, I didn't have to place knots on either side of a strung button to prevent its repositioning. The waxed linen has a natural 'tackiness' which assisted in placing the garland on each candle. But, just in case your button garland gets heavy and wants to slide down your candle just a bit, use a little piece of mounting putty behind several buttons to hold the garland in place.

    Close-up of waxed linen removed from its packaging. You may like to use a mounting putty behind a few buttons on your LED candles to help hold your button garland in place. Close-up of waxed linen removed from its packaging. You may like to use a mounting putty behind a few buttons on your LED candles to help hold your button garland in place.

    Since the LED candles don't get hot,  you can safely walk away from your lit candles. I really do love the LED Candle Set (item 47363 from Leisure Arts).

    Here's the LED Candle Set I used. Leisure Arts' item 47363 has three candles of varying height, plus a remote control to set a timer, and options for candles' colors and flickering flames. Here's the LED Candle Set I used. Leisure Arts' item 47363 has three candles of varying heights, plus a remote control to set a timer, and options for candles' colors and flickering flames.

    This transition-time of year includes the colors of deepening yellows, fading greens, and dulling browns to its flashes of remaining bright colors. I decided to replicate those colors on each garland I made. I didn't measure at first. I wanted at least three rows of buttons to wrap around each LED candle. I wrapped the waxed linen six times around a candle to give me the rough estimate of the length I needed. Later, I did measure a piece of waxed linen and it was 6 feet plus; so to be safe, measure a piece that is 7 feet long.

    Experimenting with button placement on the waxed linen garland, and positioning on a candle. Seasonally themed garlands can be made ahead of time and swapped when the time is right! Experimenting with button placement on the waxed linen garland, and positioning on a candle. Seasonally themed garlands can be made ahead of time and swapped when the time is right!

    After making three button garlands, I discovered two unopened plastic containers that had plaid-patterned buttons and leaf-shaped buttons in them. Time to create a seasonally-themed button garland for my candle!

    A fall-themed garland for the short LED candle. A fall-themed garland for the short LED candle.

    I was not going to undo the previous garlands strung, so I decided to further embellish the candles with ribbons and/or their display area. Here are some developing ideas to inspire you for your home decor planning in the upcoming months. If you need some more inspiration, for more ideas using buttons and ribbons, look at Leisure Arts' item 6023 - Crafting with Buttons & Ribbons.

    Buttons galore with a golden yellow ribbon give your LED Candle SET a sense of transition away from summer. Buttons galore with a golden yellow ribbon give your LED Candle SET a sense of transition away from summer.
    Using waxed linen cording prevented the buttons from sliding together. Each end of the waxed linen was then wrapped around several buttons to hold it snuggly in place. Using waxed linen prevented the buttons from sliding together. Each end of the waxed linen cord was then wrapped around several buttons to hold it snuggly in place.

    For a preview of Christmas and winter, I thought of pom-poms. HMM...I tied a seasonal ribbon on one LED candle and the ideas started developing. For a winter theme, the LED candles could be placed on a stand then pom-poms could be stacked at their base -- this idea is just developing! Again there are no worries as these are flameless - I really do like Leisure Arts' LED Candle Set!

    Planning for a Christmas -themed holiday setting. You could place your LED Candle(s) on small pillars, add a ribbon to the candle base and have room on your tabletop for other seasonal decorations. Planning for a Christmas-themed holiday setting. You could place your LED Candle(s) on small pillars, add a ribbon to the candle base and have room on your tabletop for other seasonal decorations.

    What's great is that the button garlands can easily be swapped out with another. So let the themes Begin! Although the button garlands can be stored easily, I would recommend a cool storage area since it is waxed linen.

    A colorful glow to show the three heights of candles contained in the LED Candle Set. A colorful glow to show the three heights of candles contained in the LED Candle Set.

    Plan for your transitional decor with changes in color and themes. Do you need to get your creative juices flowing? Start small; try simple changes and see how a few special touches can give a new ambience to your existing home decor!

    Enjoy!

    Martha

  • Heart Basket Using a Coloring Book Page

    Love is all around us - but more so this time of year with Valentine's Day fast approaching! You may share your love, appreciation, kindness and friendship with others by giving them a special handmade paper heart basket. An especially personalized feature would be to use one of your favorite coloring book pages to make a heart basket. Here's how to do it...

    You will make your heart basket from two folded pieces of paper. So your initial step is to choose two pieces of paper. My suggestion is to choose one page from a coloring book and the other from solid colored papers such as construction, writing or printer paper. Papers have different weights, so you may have to decide which works best for you. My coloring book page came from the Art of Coloring Patterns. I then used red construction paper purchased from a craft store chain as my solid color.

    6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns

    Make a decision whether or not you want your coloring book page to remain as a black and white patterned page, or colored with some portion of the page colored. I chose to put a little color randomly on the page.

    Add a pop of color here and there to the page, from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns. Add a pop of color here and there to the page, from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns.

    Next, I chose two solid colors: red and black are perfect complementary colors!

    Experiment with solid colors to be used with coloring book page from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns. Experiment with solid colors to be used with a coloring book page; this page from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns.

    After choosing your papers, fold each page in half lengthwise. Each half of the basket measures 2.25" wide, each with three strips for weaving. Each strip measures 0.75" wide x 2.5" high (not the entire height of the folded piece of paper).  Measure along the folded crease and make very light pencil marks to assist you when cutting.

    All pages have been measured and marked; let the cutting begin! (Hint: see how the coloring book page was temporarily turned inside out for measuring, etc.) All pages have been measured and marked; let the cutting begin! (Hint: Temporarily turn the coloring book page inside out for measuring, etc.)

    Now is a good time to erase any pencil markings. Turn your coloring book page right side out with the printed side visible.

    Cut all the halves and each strip for every basket; erase any pencil marks. Turn the coloring book page so the right side is facing out (from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns). Cut all the halves and each strip for every basket; erase any pencil marks. Turn the coloring book page so the right side is facing out (from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns).

    Select the two halves you have chosen, and turn the folded edges away from you. Work with each half at an angle as you begin weaving.

    Choose two halves, face the folded edges away from you and start weaving. Choose two halves, face the folded edges away from you and start weaving.

    I learned how to make Norwegian Baskets like this one as a young girl sitting next to my Grandmother. Since we can't sit next to each other, watching this YouTube video will be most helpful since the written instructions can get cumbersome.

    Each folded strip is woven this way: Looking at the example, start by weaving the inner most strips first; you will always work with two strips simultaneously. Because you are weaving, each strip of one color/side will pass through the inside, or around the outside of those strips of the opposite color.

    For instance, weave the first red strip and the first coloring book strip: the slightly 'opened' red strip is on the outside going around the outside of the first coloring book strip; then the first red strip goes through the inside middle coloring book strip; and finally, the first red strip goes around the outside of the third coloring book strip.

    As you are working, slide the woven strips towards the top of the cut strips making more room for the next strip to be woven.

    Start weaving the second red strip in an alternate pattern from the first red strip. For instance, weave the second red strip through the inside of the first coloring book strip; then, around the middle coloring book strip; and, finally, through the third coloring book strip.

    The weaving alternates with each strip; you will see the pattern develop as you progress. The weaving alternates with each strip; you will see the pattern develop as you progress.

    After all of the strips are woven, you will be able to open your basket. If you can't, then an error has been made in the weaving. Try undoing carefully and start over. Now get a sharp pair of scissors.

    When your weaving in complete, turn the heart basket around with the point facing towards you. When your weaving is complete, turn the heart basket around with the point facing towards you.

    Round the square edges by gently holding the two halves together while cutting; this will create the heart shape. From your saved 'extra' pieces of paper, cut a folded strip to use as the basket's handle. Remember, a handle is optional.

    To give a heart-shaped appearance to the basket, round the tops by cutting away square edges. An optional handle is cut from the extra solid paper; secure it with tape or glue. To give a heart-shaped appearance to the basket, round the tops by cutting away the square edges. An optional handle is cut from the extra solid paper; secure it with tape or glue.

    Secure your basket's handle with tape or glue. As a young girl during Christmas, I would make these Norwegian Baskets annually from the opened presents'  wrapping paper. As I got older, these baskets were fun to make for college friends, then I taught Girl Scout troops how to make them and my women's group to make as part of a service project. Now I am sharing both my heritage and love for coloring with you. Relax, enjoy, color and create!

    Happy Valentine's Day --

    Martha

     

     

  • Day of the Dead

    A lot of people think that the Day of the Dead happens on Halloween. But that is not true. It is a couple days later. I believe it is on November 2nd. It is a day of celebration of the dead that started in Mexico. It will still get you in the mood for Halloween. I love the Day of the Dead art work. I was really excited when I saw that Leisure Arts had a new series of coloring books and one of them was a Day of the Dead coloring book.

     

    FullSizeRender (38) I used color pencils, markers, gel pens, and a paint pen.

    This is what I like about this book it has several examples of the coloring pages done to show what different types of coloring utensils. This book shows what gel pens, markers, and color pencils look like. It gives you helpful blending tips. I never thought to use my gel pens to color with. I have even used my new box of crayons and a couple of my paint pens to color. You could use a clip board to hold your coloring pages. I use a piece of Masonite board and a clip to hold my coloring sheets. The books have easy tear out pages and I find it easier to color.  I like pull my coloring books out at the end of the day and it helps me unwind. The stress of the day just melts away.

    I cannot decide which new coloring book to get the Abstract and Geometric Designs or Folk Art.

  • Favorite Sock Pattern

    This is my favorite sock pattern. I have knitted many socks with this pattern and other patterns. This is just a simple tube sock. Much easier than other sock patterns because it doesn’t have a heel flap or gusset to knit and no Kitchener stitch on the toes. I didn’t get this from a Leisure Arts book. But here is a good starter book by Leisure Arts that is very helpful How to Knit Socks: Three Methods Made Easy by Edie Eckman.

    Patons Kroy Sock Yarn Patons Kroy Sock Yarn

    I used Patons Kroy sock yarn for the finished pair of socks it’s a wool and nylon blend yarn. The other photo is another pair of socks is a self-stripping yarn wool yarn by Feederbrook Farms that I discovered at the new yarn shop in Little Rock called Yarn Kandy. Also Leisure Arts has a few sock yarns that you can order from their sight. A Lion Brand yarn called Sock Ease a wool and nylon blend yarn.

    Feederbrook Farms

    Feederbrook Farms

    I used size 5 double point knitting needles. I casted on 48 stitches, joined it in the round did the rib stitch which is knit 2, purl 2. I put a place marker to show where I joined it in the round this way I know where to start when I start my decrease. I continued with the rib stitch for 1 inch to 1½ inches. The knit in the round stockinette stitch til the sock is 14 to 15 inches. When you are ready to decrease knit 6, knit 2 together the next round knit. Decrease one row and knit the next. Do this until you have 8 stitches. Cut a good size tail 6 to 8 inches. With a darning needle weave it through all 8 stitches and bind off. I like to go around the stitches twice this makes it a little stronger. Have fun knitting. I know I do. Socks make a great Christmas gift.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: The Dishcloth was Hung by the Chimney with Care

    Christmas will be here before you know it! No, really: it's barely three and a half months away.  I thought I should make a dishcloth.  So I tried out the Stocking pattern from Dishcloths for Special Days.

    I have nearly a full cone of red cotton yarn and I do love Christmas stockings.  And I like these types of dishcloths where you make a picture with your purl stitches.  The pattern calls for #8 needles, and I figured I should jump down to a #6 because I have a loose gauge.  But my #6 needles were all occupied, so I used #5s.  That's why this is a bit skinny.  I bet this will loosen up with some use.  Cotton can shrink a bit when it's dried, but it's also less likely to snap back after it stretches in hot water.  I bet it will all even out.  Either way, you can tell that this is a stocking on this dishcloth and you'll probably still be able to tell even after this has been through a few washings.

    When I was growing up, my mom had a few Christmas dish towels and coffee cups.  Most of our seasonal things were purely decorative--wreaths, wallhangings, and whathaveyou--but the everyday items were really fun for me to use.  If you're going to dry off some dishes, you may as well use that dish towel with Santa on it and then enjoy that picture of his jolly face when you draped it over something.  Having even mundane, year-round types of items that celebrated the season made me happy.

    I'm the same way with dishcloths.  I like the idea of using my Christmas-y dishcloths during December.  Although, I have to say that I also love using my Christmas-y dishcloths when we're nowhere near December.  I crocheted a Christmas-y dishcloth last season that I sometimes pull out from the back of the drawer because I just want to see some Christmas cheer when I clean up a mess.  I'm hoping this brings a little bit of Christmas cheer to my gift stash, and to whomever eventually receives this as a gift.

    I had actually planned on knitting the Pumpkin dishcloth for this week, but I wasn't sure if I had enough orange yarn.  But now I'm glad I've knitted another little Christmas project.  It's never too early to get in the spirit, right?  Right?  Let's pretend like that's the case.

    Because I still have a lot of red cotton yarn and there's a candy cane pattern in here that's just waiting for me to try it out.

  • Crocheting the Basic Christmas Stocking

    Hello!  It is May 12, and I have completed my first Christmas project of the year!  The Basic Stocking pattern from Crochet Christmas Stockings seemed like a great place to start.

     

    All of the projects in Crochet Christmas Stockings are variations on this pattern.  It seemed like a good idea to try this out in its simplest form before moving to something more involved, like the Jingle All the Way pattern.

    There are stripes!  And bells!

    This was a great practice, and now I have a nice stocking.  Unlike the rest of the patterns in the book, the Basic Stocking doesn't have any yarn or hook requirements.  So I used worsted weight yarn with a G hook to get a tightly crocheted fabric.  And whoa Nelly, this is some tightly crocheted fabric.  If I'd gone down to an F hook, I could have lost a digit somewhere in this.  This could practically hold water!

    Or Christmas presents.  I guess that would make more sense.

     

    This was a pretty simple project.  (Errata available here.)  There are some decrease rows to keep up with, and it's always a little odd for me to turn my rows when I'm working in the round.  But that was the trickiest thing about this pattern, and that's not very tricky at all!  You have to finish off to work on the heel, so I thought it would be fun to use some green yarn to add a little more Christmasy color to the stocking.

    This sturdy and simple stocking is now safely sitting in my gift stash.  It might be used for decoration, or as a really fantastic gift wrap.  Regardless of what I use it for, I'm happy that I've tried out this pattern AND that I've gotten a bit of jump on my holiday projects.  Christmas crafting has begun!

  • Crocheting a Christmas Stocking. Why Not?

    Hello, friends.  It is April 9, we are ten days away from Easter, and I am crocheting the Basic Stocking Pattern from Crochet Christmas Stockings.

    I mean, why not?  I know plenty of smart people who begin their Christmas crafting some time in June or July, but I tend to get taken by surprise even when I do plan ahead.  So this year, I'm getting a jump start on my holiday crafting by starting now.  I don't know why I didn't think about this back around Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day is probably a perfect time to start Christmas crafting because January is devoted to recovering from Christmas crafting-related burnout/selfish knitting and crocheting.  I bet that's what I'll do next year.

    But for now, I'm feeling pretty good about starting my crocheting in April.  I don't even know who this stocking is for!  But when Christmas comes, I'll be ready.

    This is the first pattern I've tried out of Crocheted Christmas Stockings, and I thought the Basic Stocking Pattern would be a good place to start.  Most of the patterns specify a yarn weight and hook size, but are based on the Basic Stocking Pattern.  So I just started this with a G hook and worsted weight Red Heart yarn.  I think this will be an excellent container for a hostess gift.  Or it would be a great decoration.  Or .... something.  I like how this simple little stocking looks, so I think it's going to be great regardless of what its use is.

    There are no instructions on where to stop working for the cuff on this version of the pattern, so I just started working with red yarn when this looked 'right' to me. 

    It's fairly mindless single crochet stitches worked in the round, with a few decreases here and there.  I've plenty of time to think about how sweet an initial would look on the cuff if I sewed some buttons into the shape of a letter.  Or about how I'll probably use a different color for the heel and the toe because I may run out of scraps for this.

    I was enjoying the excitement of feeling like I was productive and an efficient planner, but now I have that extra thrill of terror that comes from trying to figure out if the yarn will outlast my pattern.  Really and truly, this is where I think the project gets exciting. It doesn't take much for me, and that's okay.

    I hope you're enjoying your own projects!

  • Merry Christmas

    Presents for my family: dishcloths and homemade jam.

    Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  I hope it's a wonderful day filled with joy, laughter, and loved ones.

    And that maybe you'll find some good yarn in your stocking!

  • A Magical Holiday Dishcloth Dress

    Remember when I mentioned the Mrs. Claus Kitchen Helper pattern?  I tried it out!

    And it gave it to a friend!

    She cried a little!

    She also cried a little when I gave her the Short but Sweet cowl from Crochet Cowls as a present, but she's kind of an emotional person and it's a pretty sweet cowl.  Seriously, if you want to get hugged hard enough to hurt your bosom and have some back fat gripped a bit too tightly, giving cowls out as Christmas gifts is the way to go.  My friends give good hugs.  Anyway, let's talk about this pattern a bit!

    I didn't have any Christmas-y variegated yarn that this pattern calls for, so I went with red and white instead.   Red and white is always Christmas-y if you want it to be.  But this would work nicely in other color combinations--which is what I'm counting on, because I'd love to try this again.  Look at these zig zags.  So dadgummed cute!

     Plus, this has a lot of variety: SSK, K2TOG, knitting in the front and the back of stitches.  All that on top of knits and purls and color changes!  It's a quick little project that calls for worsted weight cotton yarn and Size 6 needles, and you can finish it in an hour or so.  I think it's a great hostess gift if you're going to a holiday party, or it can just be a fun project that makes your own kitchen look a little more festive.

    But this pattern is only available until December 22, so hurry and buy it now!  And if you need even more dishcloth dress magic in your life, check out Dishcloth Dresses because that's available all the time and is incredibly delightful.

    I know you need this kind of magic in your life, and in your kitchen.

  • Christmas Gift Guide: Hats!

    Okay y'all.  Christmas is about 2 weeks away.

    I am not ready.

    I know you're not surprised.  I also know you may be in the same predicament.  I have plenty of dishcloths for friends and co-workers, and I totally know what I'm doing for cowls, but my gift list for my closest family members is missing some checks.

    Hats will save me.  I know they will.  Depending on how fast you work and how much time you have (I know. I know), you could crank a few of these great knit or crochet patterns in time for that next holiday party.

    First up is the Classic Ribbed Hat from Expand Your Knitting Skills.

     

    It's a classic, all right.  I've made it in different sizes and with different yarns, and I love this simple toboggan-style hat that works for all genders and ages.  I'm going to make at least 3 more this month!

    Another winner from Expand Your Knitting Skills is the Starter Cable Hat.

    It calls for bulky yarn, so it will knit up pretty quickly.  You'll be able to knit it twice as quickly as I made mine if you stick to the instructions.  I like an extra long brim and then I decided I wanted a longer crown.  My hat is so big I could pull it down over my eyes if I wanted!  But if you want to see your recipient's face, stick with the pattern.  But I have to say, even if you repeated the cable part of the hat and made an extra-long brim, this would still be a quick--and beautiful--knit!

    If crocheting is more your style, then I really recommend the V-Stitch Beanie from Crochet Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps.  I love it.

    I accidentally crocheted this in sport weight yarn, but now you know: nothing disastrous will happen if that's what you have on hand or if you're worried about the hat falling off someone's head.

    The Basic Beanie from Knit Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps is probably one of my favorite patterns.

    When the Christmas rush is over, I think I want to make another one from myself in some nice wool yarn.  This version was made with cotton yarn and was my favorite hat to wear during the summer.  Plus, how great is the button business on the side?

    The Simple Rib Knit Slouchy Beanie is about as quick and slouchy as it gets!

    I tried this one out, and it takes about 2.5 hours and a skein of Lion Brand's Thick & Quick.  I've worn it out a few times in the storms we've been having lately, and it's kept me very warm.

    I know this collection is pretty lady-centric, but I think the Starter Cable Hat and, frankly, some of the slouchy beanies could work on some men.  And when in doubt, just go with the Classic Ribbed Hat.  It's a sure bet.

    Happy holiday crafting!

    I know.  I know.

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