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  • Wood Decor: Plates, Birds & Paint

    Aren't we ready for spring? Let's make a new wood decor project for our homes using paint and birds as we clean out our nests from the winter blues!  Since March is National Craft Month, I am also trying something new with my wood piece: decoupage with a crackling effect!

    When I think of spring, I think of birds building their nests as one reminder that longer days and warmer sunshine are closer than we think. I put my hands on the book I was ready to use, Birds and Butterflies Decorator Collection (Leisure Arts #7066).

    Beautiful vintage prints are included in this book with nature as its subject matter (Leisure Arts #7066 - Birds and Butterflies Decorator Collection). Beautiful vintage prints are included in this book with nature as its subject matter (Leisure Arts #7066 - Birds and Butterflies Decorator Collection).

    In addition to using spring as my theme for my new project, I also wanted to incorporate the use of wood. Haven't you noticed how popular the use of wood has become again? Just search for ideas or walk through craft stores to find wood pallet projects, wood signs, wood initials, and wood tree crafts.

    I already had a 14" unfinished wooden plate that I could use, but I also wanted something a bit more non-traditional. I found the slight difference I was looking for with this natural-looking piece of wood from Amazon; it was advertised as a tree bark footed server. It was an authentic slice of tree repurposed as a kitchen item. Well, it seemed to be the perfect solution for me; I purchased it for this project!

    This cross-section is a beautiful slice of a tree found on Amazon for my project. It is described as a footed tree bark server. This cross-section is a beautiful slice of a tree found on Amazon for my project. It is described as a footed tree bark server.

    With my Birds and Butterflies leaflet in hand, I made a list of effect(s) I wanted my projects to have along with the required supplies. There's a great chart within the book that outlines what you'll need for each of the photographed projects shown in the leaflet.

    For both my wood plate and bark server, the first step was to sand each using both medium-grit and fine-grit sandpaper.

    A 14" wooden plate sanded twice and wiped clean with a dry tack cloth. A 14" wooden plate sanded twice and wiped clean with a dry tack cloth.

    For wooden surfaces, a primer was needed to be applied before anything else, followed by another round of sanding. After wiping away the dust once again, I applied a base coat.

    I masked the outer edge with plastic so that the tree bark would not get Primer on it when applied. Then, a first coat of base coat acrylic paint was applied. I masked the outer edge with plastic so when Primer was applied, it would not get on the tree bark. Then, a first coat of base coat acrylic paint was applied.

    After the turquoise paint was applied near the center of the bark server, I painted the surface with a spring green color. I didn't know if the darker turquoise area would be noticeable underneath the green, or, through how many layers the crackling effect would appear. Here's a close-up of the crackling effect.

    Green acrylic paint was applied over the dark turquoise as my base coat(s). You can see the green between the cracks. Green acrylic paint was applied over the dark turquoise as my base coat(s). You can see the green between the cracks.
    To create the cracked effect, crackle medium was applied over the base coat(s). Paint was applied over the crackle medium rendering the cracks. Finally a glazing mixture was applied over the crackle medium. To create the cracked effect, crackle medium was applied over the base coat(s). Paint was applied over the crackle medium rendering the cracks. Finally a glazing mixture was applied over the crackle medium.

    The wooden plate had its rim painted yellow with its center an antique white. Then a darker green was used in preparation for the future inset bird nest image to be decoupaged in the plate's center.

    The 14" wooden plate had the same procedures done to it as described for the server. Except, to add an additional masked look to the paint on the plate's rim, I used a dry brush to apply a very light layer of paint over the cracked paint. The 14" wooden plate had the same procedures done to it as described for the bark server with one exception.. I added an additional masked look to the paint on the plate's rim, by using a dry brush to apply a very light layer of paint over the cracked paint.

    Okay, so far so good but how to make this plate's crackling effect and use of the print images different from the bark server project? Below you'll see the completed steps that I had so far; I needed to pause with this project to consider my next step.

    One image for the wooden plate. What else can I do to give it even more dimension that just the crackling effect? One image for the wooden plate. What else can I do to give it even more dimension than just the crackling effect?

    Moving right along with the bark server, I needed to decide on the print images to use and their placement. I cut out many images from the book and started positioning them on the bark server without gluing until I decided on a final composition. I think the below placement looked like a winner!

    Deciding what print images to use on which wood pieces. I'm glad I've cut several from the leaflet; now I can reposition to my heart's content! Deciding what print images to use and their placement on the bark server. I'm glad I've cut several from the leaflet; now I can reposition to my heart's content!

    As I reread the crackling steps in the Birds and Butterflies leaflet, I noticed a sentence outlining how to create a "stained" topcoat effect. Maybe I would try that along with gluing reeds and sprigs of shrubbery around the plate's rim; that would create the effect of peering in on the nest and its inhabitants while in its natural environment!

    Maybe I'll try the "stained"topcoat effect as described in the leaflet 7066 - Birds and Butterflies Decorator Collection. Then I'll start experimenting with placing reeds and springs of shrubbery to the plate's rim for an additional dimensional effect. Maybe I'll try the "stained" topcoat effect as described in the leaflet 7066 - Birds and Butterflies Decorator Collection. Then I'll start experimenting with placing reeds and sprigs of shrubbery to the plate's rim for an additional dimensional effect.

    Here are my final two wood projects... I am pleased with the results. There are multiple steps to be coordinated with the effects and/or paint techniques you plan on trying. So be careful that you've outlined the steps you need to take and supplies you need to have on hand!

    Here's the finished wooden server that won't be used for food any longer. It is now a display piece, and I will happily display it in honor of spring! Here's the finished wooden bark server. It won't be used for food in my household; it is now a display piece! I will happily display the bark server in honor of spring!
    The final plate decorated to give the viewer the effect of peering through the reeds only to discover a warbler's nest. What a great present this would make for any bird lover! The final wooden plate decorated to give the viewer the effect of peering through the reeds only to discover a warbler's nest. What a great present this would make for any bird lover!

    There are multiple steps with each of these projects, but they are not difficult. You must make sure you follow the manufacturers' directions on each of the supplies that you purchase for the effect you desire to create on your project(s).

    Enjoy your new discoveries both in nature and in art; happy National Craft Month!

    Martha

     

  • Crafters - Make a Yarn Basket from Your Stash!

    I have always used yarn in some sort of craft even before I "learned" the basics of knitting and crocheting as an adult. Two memories encouraged me to crash-the-stash of yarn and get weaving! When I was a Brownie Girl Scout, my troop learned how to craft a God's Eye or Ojo de Dios; a cultural symbol showing a woven motif created by using several colors of yarn wrapped around twigs. That is the first time I recall being amazed how several objects by themselves look and function one way, but used together in a different manner created an entirely new object! It was a magical transformation of sticks and yarn into a beautifully patterned piece of art. When I was an older Girl Scout, I made a woven basket. It took two weeks of soaking and weaving, soaking and weaving, until the basket was completed. It's funny how images from a current book can take you back in time, inviting you to revisit a past passion. Whether you discover the uses of yarn for the first time, or rediscover the transformation of your supplies into new objects, it's time to create a yarn basket project!

    The small project that caught my eye was the woven basket on the outside front cover of Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts. Not only was it cute (small, compact, and uncomplicated), I could fit this project in to my schedule of other items on my to-do list. Plus, I had [minimal] weaving experience -- come on, decades' old hands-on knowledge still counts, right? Right - I immediately jumped on to making this project!

    This cute woven basket on the front cover (Leisure Arts' sku 6758 - Yarn Crafts), looks perfect for some discontinued yarn I gathered from our yarn stash! This cute woven basket on the front cover of Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts, looks perfect for some discontinued yarn I gathered from my yarn stash!

    Reviewing the directions in the leaflet, I decided to add some coloring to the cardboard base of my basket. After reviewing my various coloring book choices, I chose a page from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    I have chosen the page I want to color for the cardboard base of my basket. The page is from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. I have chosen the page I want to color for the cardboard base of my basket. The page is from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    This added step of coloring a page to add to the basket's cardboard base was not the hardest step, but it did take the most time!

    After reviewing the steps on how to weave the Yarn Basket, I decided that my piece of cardboard used for the basket's base would be covered by a coloring book page. After reviewing the steps on how to weave the Yarn Basket, I decided that my piece of cardboard used for the basket's base would be covered by a coloring book page.

    Of course I wanted both the inside and the outside of the basket's base to have a colorful design, so I colored the whole page. I used markers for this part of project, then sprayed acrylic sealer on the page after it was colored.

    Oh, yes; adding my colored sections from a coloring book page will be the perfect addition to the cardboard base (two circles, one for the inside and the other for the outside of the basket). Oh, yes; adding my colored sections from a coloring book page will be the perfect addition to the cardboard base (two circles, one for the inside and the other for the outside of the basket).

    Once my colored pages were cut into circles the same size as my cardboard base, I glued them to each side of the cardboard using a spray adhesive. Next, I used a sharp needle to puncture holes through the paper (that would be the inside of the basket) into the cardboard. Remember my earlier picture showed the cardboard already had the punctured holes; this was done before I made a final decision to add some coloring to my project. After the colored circle was glued to the cardboard, it was easy to puncture a new "layer" of holes going through just the coloring book page into the prepunched cardboard.

    Following the directions outlined in the Yarn Basket project found in Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts, I inserted toothpicks into each hole and used hot glue to hold them in place. Some toothpicks would not stand straight up so I amended the directions by placing a pony bead around each toothpick. Then I added a different glue that would remain flexible after drying; I used E6000.

    Following the Yarn Basket's directions, 37 toothpicks have been glued into holes into the cardboard. I chose to add pony beads thinking these might add extra stability. (My cardboard example has been covered with a coloring book page). Following the Yarn Basket's directions, 37 toothpicks have been glued into holes into the cardboard. I chose to add pony beads thinking these might add extra stability. (My cardboard example has been covered with a coloring book page).
    Here's a side view of the toothpicks glued into the base cardboard. Most stood straight in place. Here's a side view of the toothpicks glued into the base cardboard. Most stood straight in place.

    I gathered three different bulky or super bulky weight yarn skeins. All three colors used were from partial skeins of discontinued colors. I began weaving - it was so easy and the pattern developed so quickly I wished I had more 'reeds' as my toothpick frame was quickly becoming a recognizable basket. I decided to quit for the night and had no worries regarding "where to start" in the morning.

    The first stage of weaving. A third color has just been added to the basket's body or frame. The first stage of weaving. A third color has just been added to the basket's body or frame.

    I changed colors as often as I liked; I didn't have a master plan. TIP: It was very easy to unweave rows when I decided to change colors at a different location. That's a great bonus - especially if you run short on a yarn color since you might be using up your stash of partial skeins! HINT: As you are weaving, gently push the yarn down each toothpick sliding it as close as possible to the woven row below it. This was a technique taught during my Girl Scout basket weaving experience and I started doing this automatically when weaving my current project! Following this technique gives the yarn basket a compact and tightly woven look.

    After the weaving is completed, a finger crocheted chain was added to the top of the basket. I placed the back ridge of each chain around the tip of each toothpick. Use some glue to hold in place as necessary. Here's a close-up showing both the top and base of the basket. The top shows the crocheted chain in place and the cardboard base with some toothpicks and pony beads still visible.

    A sideview close-up of the basket almost finished. I decided to add E6000 glue (over the hot glue); E6000 remains flexible. A sideview close-up of the basket almost finished. I decided to add E6000 glue (over the hot glue); E6000 remains flexible.

    I made another finger crocheted chain and glued it to the base's ridge. I wanted to conceal the pony beads as much as possible; these were used as structural support rather than as embellishments. A piece of single strand yarn was used to wrap around the basket near its top. As shown in 6758 - Yarn Crafts, I filled my basket with a variety of whole nuts.

    Woven yarn basket is finished and sitting on my countertop! Woven yarn basket is finished and sitting on my countertop!

    What a perfect container for a small space -  but this one little extra container will add definition to any side table, countertop or shelf. I hope to have this basket for years to come. Oh, by the way; I still have that Girl Scout basket I made all those years (decades) ago in summer camp! Fiber art lives on to tell us stories and create memories. Make some art today - enjoy!

    Martha

  • Mother's Day Coloring Book Paper Cookie Box

    Mother's Day is fast approaching and many of us want to remember, honor, and give thanks to our mothers, other family members, friends and neighbors. You may want to express a special 'thank you' for their shared love, care, or mentoring.  A small gift from the heart is like sharing a piece of you; it is the perfect remembrance. The love of coloring can be shared by both artists and non-crafters alike by making this box out of coloring book paper as part of your Mother's Day gifts to give.  So please share your love of coloring and say thank you to those special people in your life. Here's to passing on some extra motherly love!

    To make this simplified version of a paper box, only a few supplies are necessary. I got my inspiration from posts on Pinterest. I liked the visuals found in Design Mom's post, Paper Plate Berry Basket. To construct your box, you will need:

    1. Coloring book paper (8.5" wide), one page per box
    2. Pencil
    3. 8" Plate (to use as your circle template)
    4. Scissors
    5. Cellophane tape

    To decorate the box and make it look like a gift, you will need:

    1. Coloring instruments (colored pencils, gel pens, markers, etc.)
    2. Tissue paper
    3. Ribbon or bow
    4. Gift tag (or make one out of leftover paper scraps)

    Remove your coloring book page from its book. Color page if desired using your favorite media; see some of our newest coloring supplies! When finished coloring, turn the page face down. Using the plate as your guide, trace a circle shape onto the paper; then, cut out the shape.

    Using an 8-inch plate as my template, I traced circle shapes onto the back side of various coloring book pages. Using an 8-inch plate as my template, I traced circle shapes onto the back side of various coloring book pages.

    Working with the circle cut-out, gently fold the edges from side to side and unfold, and, from top to bottom and unfold, to create crease marks as your guides.

    Gently fold the circle shape in half from side-to-side - no hard crease is necessary at this step - unfold. Next, gently fold the circle shape in half from top-to-bottom creating an intersection made from the two creases. Gently fold the circle shape in half from side-to-side - no hard crease is necessary at this step - unfold. Next, gently fold the circle shape in half from top-to-bottom creating an intersection made from the two creases.

    If you like, you may lightly mark the center intersection with pencil.

    To assist you, make light pencil marks at center intersection. This will act as your center point mark when folding the edges. To assist you, make light pencil marks at center intersection. This will act as your center point mark when folding the edges.

    Next, fold each side's edge towards the center mark and crease firmly. Unfold for now.

    Close-up of two sides folded towards the center point. Hard creases are now made on each straight edge. Close-up of two sides folded towards the center point. Hard creases are now made on each straight edge.

    Repeat with the opposite side; unfold. These hard creases have created a square shape that will be the bottom of your paper box. You can see folded intersections from these hard creases. Starting with the bottom right-hand creased intersection, lightly mark with pencil a vertical line up to the adjacent horizontal line.

    You can also make pencil marks on each edge's bottom right-hand crease. Cut from the circle's edge only up to intersection of adjacent crease. You can also make pencil marks on each edge's bottom right-hand crease. Cut from the circle's edge only up to intersection of adjacent crease.

    Cut along this vertical crease up to its adjacent horizontal crease. Turn your circle shape one-quarter turn and repeat. Do two more times so that you have four cut lines/creases. Fold each towards the inside of the circle creating four flaps.

    Four creases have been cut. Fold each flap towards the inside center of the circle. Four creases have been cut. Fold each flap towards the inside center of the circle.

    Each flap will be folded and taped onto its adjacent side's interior wall. It's easier to line up the straight edge of each flap against its adjacent crease if you hold the box on its side. See next image.

    Align the straight edge of the flap against the bottom crease and tape on the inside; the box is on its side for this picture. Notice how the two rounded edges meet creating a neat corner. Align the straight edge of the flap against the bottom crease and tape on the inside; the box is on its side for this picture. Notice how the two rounded edges meet creating a neat corner.

    Repeat with all four corners. A nice box will be created even if some creases are not quite straight, or if some rounded edges do not meet perfectly.

    All sides are taped together -- nice box! All sides are taped together -- nice box!

    Insert some tissue paper for pretty stuffing or as a little cushion, before adding your goodies. I used fold-top plastic bags instead of plastic zippered bags to hold my cookies. Don't be shy about presenting favorite store brand cookies in your box(es).  I used Archway's Frosty Lemon and Oatmeal Raisin cookies and they sat perfectly in a neat stack!  Think of other goodies to include in your box(es) such as a small book, special notes or remembrances from the kids, something for personal use like a new scarf or a hobby-related item .

    Fill the boxes with tissue paper, wrapped cookies, notes to Mom, or other special treats and items of interest. Make a gift tag from remaining scrap paper. [Prototype boxes in the background.] Fill the boxes with tissue paper, wrapped cookies, notes to Mom, or other special treats and items of interest. Make a gift tag from remaining scrap paper. [Prototype boxes in the background.]

    This box is dressing up your gift, so now add some ribbon or a bow, and a gift tag or card, and ta-dah; your gift box is ready to be given!

    Close-up of completed box filled with cookies and wrapped with bakers twine. Handmade gift tag made from scrap coloring book page. Close-up of completed box filled with cookies and wrapped with bakers twine. Handmade gift tag made from scrap coloring book page.

    You can present your gift box in many ways: at Mom's place at the table, presented at the playground with the kids, or at a restaurant from the grandchildren.

    Presentation tray -- a special way to give a simple gift with extra thought and handmade flair. Presentation tray -- a special way to give a simple gift with extra thought and handmade flair.

    Whatever the final presentation is, enjoy your planning, preparation and honoring this special day for mothering!

    Martha

  • Wildflower Seed Bombs, Gnomes & Fairies!

    Spring is here with warmer sunshine, nature awakening and the calendar countdown to school graduation parties and Mother's Day celebrations. Let's get dirty and prepare for some pop-up  color with seed bombs. Dig in and connect with the dirt; yes, it's another way to relieve stress! Dirt, seeds, color, gnomes, and fairies add up to relaxing, whimsical fun!

    So cute! Gnomes walking around wildflower seed bombs ready to plant. So cute! Gnomes walking around wildflower seed bombs ready to plant.

    Homemade seed bombs, or pods full of seeds, are perfect for sharing and planting; what a fun concept! I was so excited to read about this and was gung ho to try it out. First thought: I wanted some fairly carefree flowers; easy to plant and easy to grow. If I plant seeds in a pot or planter, I could include some magical, woodsy features including gnomes and fairies.

    What a fun gift for sharing with my friends who have springtime birthdays, preplanning outdoor decor for graduation parties, or coordinating garden celebrations on Mother's Day. While researching on Pinterest, I found instructions on how to make wildflower seed bombs. They were inexpensive to make, easy to do for a wide age range of crafters with helpers, and do-able to make at home. All of these qualities equaled a perfect solution!

    Since all types of gardening is not easily maintained, I didn't want me or my friends to fuss over another outdoor task to maintain during the summer. A variety packet of wildflower seeds to mix into the paper used to make the seed bombs seemed like a good match. My supplies included:

    1. wildflower seeds
    2. newsprint paper
    3. food coloring (if desired)
    4. metal cupcake tin or silicone ice cube trays
    5. plastic wrap
    6. old kitchen towel
    7. cookie cooling rack
    8. tabletop tray or other object as centerpiece
    9. coloring book pages to make paper cones for gift packaging
    10. planter(s) of choice
    11. imaginative outdoor setting including gnomes, fairies, mini garden decor, and forest critters
    12. maybe some gardening supplies

    TIP: Consider buying several packets of wildflower seeds as some packets may contain a very small amount (< 1/2 tsp) of seed. HINT: Your finished 'bombs' or pods of seeds will be planted randomly so look for seed packets that state your seeds may be planted with 'scattered' spacing.

    Reading several boards on Pinterest, newsprint paper was used to make the paper pulp; read an example here from Dabbles & Babbles. Other examples showing methods used varied slightly; here is another example using colored shredded paper from Apartment Therapy  who based their post on Made Everyday's Hello Spring! DIY Shredded Paper Seed Starters. Below you can read my summary of the steps I took to create my wildflower seed bombs.

    The basic steps are:

    1. shred
    2. soak
    3. blend/chop
    4. combine
    5. shape
    6. dry
    7. package/plant

    First, I shredded between 18-24 letter sized pages of newsprint paper. Newsprint is inexpensive and a good resource as a scribble pad for toddlers; easy come, easy go, so scribble on Little Ones! After shredding, I placed the newsprint paper in a pot, covered the shred with water and let sit overnight.

    Soak shredded newsprint paper in water overnight. Soak shredded newsprint paper in water overnight.

    In the morning, your newsprint will be soft. Leave in pot and remove about 2-3 handfuls of shred at a time, pull apart to make even smaller pieces and place in a blender. Add more water to cover the shred. BE CAREFUL not to stress your blender motor! Use a pulse option or low/medium speed; turn on/off frequently to check on the paper's consistency. After getting a mushy paper pulp consistency, carefully remove the pulp from blender, place mush in a colander to start draining and continue with the remaining shred.

    The paper mush will still be very wet after draining, so slightly push down on it while in the colander to remove more water. Then 'fluff' a little before you add your wildflower seeds.

    After draining and squeezing excess water out of the paper mush, it looks more like wet paper pulp. After draining and squeezing excess water out of the paper mush, it looks more like wet paper pulp.

    Combine your wildflower seed mix of choice. I purchased two different seed packets; here is the first mix as I begin to add the seeds into the pulp.

    Wildflower seed "Mix 1" is added to the khaki-colored paper pulp. Wildflower seed "Mix 1" is added to the khaki-colored paper pulp.

    For some variety, I purchased two different wildflower mixes. For an easy, recognizable distinction between the seed bombs from my two wildflower mixes, I used food coloring to dye my second batch of paper shred. Here is my second batch of paper mush as it is draining.

    For my second round of seed bombs, I added enough food coloring to create fuschia-colored paper mush. For my second round of seed bombs, I added enough food coloring to create fuschia-colored paper mush.

    After removing most of the water from the mush, I will fluff up the paper pulp and add my second variety of wildflower seeds to it.

    The fuschia-colored paper mush is "Mix 2". It is a different wildflower seed mixture than the khaki-colored seed bombs. The fuschia-colored paper mush is "Mix 2". It is a different wildflower seed mixture than the khaki-colored seed bombs.

    While researching the steps for making these wildflower seed bombs, many posts recommended using silicone trays for filling and removing the seed bombs. I do not own silicone molds so I created a different solution. I lined my mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap!

    Line a mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap, place seeded paper mush into each, then flip out onto towel-lined cookie sheet to dry. Line a mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap, place seeded paper mush into each, then flip out onto towel-lined cookie sheet to dry.

    After filling each section, I placed a kitchen towel over the tin, followed by an inverted cookie cooling rack, and finally flipped all over facing right-side up. Then I removed the tin and plastic wrap to reveal my mini seed bombs on the kitchen towel ready to dry. HINT: Food coloring is a dye and will transfer onto the towel while the seed bombs are drying. TIP: Drying can take up to 48 hours so be prepared to wait; start planning your tabletop diorama or gift packaging now!

    In addition to making a centerpiece for my patio table, I want to share my fun project as a springtime birthday present so I prepared a gift package. As part of my gift package, I included two small flowering plants so there was immediate color to enjoy. In order to demonstrate how the seed bombs should be planted in the dirt, I left a few unwrapped on top of the soil.

    The remaining seed bombs were packaged in a plastic bag and placed in paper cones made from coloring book pages (from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns). I placed these cones, along with gardening gloves, and one of the flowering plants in an empty pot. Another pot included some dirt, seed bombs, gnomes, and fairies, with select fairy garden items demonstrating a magical garden. You can see that the hedgehog woodland creature from my kit is about to visit the Fairy Garden over the bridge and through the arbor! Your imagination will run away with itself by using these kits in your garden or tabletop decor! See below my use of the kits and birch metal planters to make a whimsical garden display or tabletop diorama.

    Diorama complete with wildflower seed bombs, paper cones made from coloring book pages, gnomes, fairies, and birch planters! Diorama complete with wildflower seed bombs, paper cones made from coloring book pages, gnomes, fairies, and birch planters!
    Close-up of birch metal pot spilling over with seed bombs, gnomes, fairies and other woodland creatures ready for your garden or tabletop decor. Close-up of birch metal pot spilling over with seed bombs, gnomes, fairies and other woodland creatures ready for your garden or tabletop decor.

    Welcome spring; bring on your color!

    Martha

     

  • One-Skein Baby Projects

    Please welcome our Guest Blogger, Sharon Silverman.  Sharon is the author of Crochet Refresher, Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets, Tunisian Shawls, and most recently One-Skein Baby Projects.  Her very popular Heirloom Frame Crochet Blanket ePattern gets rave reviews on LeisureArts.com.  She has two brand new ePatterns that you can be among the first to download.  They are a Mosaic Blanket ePattern and a Lacy Crescent Shawl.  Sharon is here today to tell us about her latest Leisure Arts Book: One-Skein Baby Projects.  

    “Good things come in small packages,” the saying goes, and that’s certainly true for babies and for crochet projects.  My goal for One-Skein Baby Projects was to create adorable designs that crocheters could whip up for a special little baby without a large investment of time or money. I’m delighted that Leisure Arts was on board with the concept and gave me the go-ahead.

    Photo 1, book cover One-Skein Baby Projects book cover.

    The first part of my design process was to decide what items to focus on, and to select yarn for each project. I was inspired by Bonbons and Vanna’s Palettes. Both are mini-skein sets from Lion Brand. So cute to have all of those colors in one package! Those seemed ideal for toys.

    Photo 2, Pretzel Rattle Pretzel Rattle

    I used Vanna’s Palettes for the Pretzel Rattle. Why a pretzel? I should probably confess that pretzels have fascinated me ever since I wrote a travel guidebook about my home state, Pennsylvania Snacks: Your Guide to Food Factory Tours. I learned that Lititz, Lancaster County is home to the first commercial pretzel bakery in America, and that the history of the pretzel extends as far back as 610 A.D. That’s the first documented instance of European monks rewarding children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers with a pretiola, Latin for “little reward.”

    A pretzel-shaped rattle has other advantages, too: lots of places for baby to hold on, and holes that are perfect for peek-a-boo.

    Safety is always my top priority when designing baby items. For the rattle, I used an unopened tube of beads completely encased in clear, waterproof packing tape. It’s positioned in the middle of fiberfill stuffing so it’s completely hidden from view, from feel—and from little teeth. Unless an elephant steps on the rattle and then a tiger rips the packing tape and the bead tube to shreds, the beads pose no danger.  (If you are in regular contact with an elephant and a tiger, omit the bead rattle—although a choking hazard may be the least of your worries.)  

    Bouncy Block uses Lion Brand Bonbons for a bright-colored, highly textured cube that’s fun for little hands.

    Photo 3, Bouncy Block Bouncy Block

    I think crocheters will enjoy making this because each side is different. Instead of fiberfill stuffing, I used washable cotton batting because it is denser and keeps the block nice and plump while retaining its shape.

    Every baby needs a “lovey” to cuddle and snuggle with. The Snow Bear Lovey (Bernat Baby Sport and Patons Astra) is a sweet bear-and-blanket combination. I chose a textured stitch pattern on the blanket to keep it interesting for crocheters and for babies. The head, muzzle, nose, ears, and arms are made separately, then assembled and attached to the center of the blanket. The ears are definitely my favorite part of the Snow Bear’s head. Something about them makes me go, “Awww…”

    Photo 4, Snow Bear Lovey

    Once the toys were finished, I worked on baby garments from head to toe—literally!—the Bubble Hat (Red Heart Anne Geddes Baby), Ribbed Vest (Caron Simply Soft), and Booties for Cuties (Red Heart Baby TLC).

    My own children are in their twenties now and hence no longer suitable models for baby gear, so it was thrilling to see the smiling little boy wearing the Bubble Hat and the Ribbed Vest in Leisure Arts’ photos. Way to make my work look good, buddy!

    The hat is sized for 0-3 months, 6 months, and 12 months; the vest is sized for 0-3 months and 3-6 months.

    Baby Bubble Hat Bubble Hat
    Baby Ribbed Vest Ribbed Vest

    Booties for Cuties are designed to keep little tootsies warm. High cuffs cover the ankle and keep the footwear right where it belongs. This project is sized for 3-6 months and 6-9 months.

    Baby Crochet Booties for Cuties Pink Booties for Cuties - Pink
    Crochet Baby Booties for Cuties Blue Booties for Cuties - Blue

    One other garment, the Hibiscus Top in Lion Brand LB Cotton Bamboo, has very recently been published as a stand-alone ePattern by Leisure Arts on its website.

    Crochet Hibiscus Top Hibiscus Top

    Every parent will tell you that you can never have too many bibs or washcloths. The final three projects in the leaflet are two bibs and a set of washcloths.

    The Bright & Easy Bib (Patons Grace) is worked in single crochet so it’s nice and dense. The ties are worked as part of the neckline so there’s no chance they can come loose.

    Crochet Bright & Easy Bib for Baby Bright & Easy Bib

    The Pullover Bib (Bernat Handicrafter Cotton) has a stretchy neckline that makes it easy to get on and off. A variation on single crochet produces a tight weave to keep messes from getting through. This bib is sized for head circumference 14” and for 16”.

    Baby Pullover Bib to Crochet Pullover Bib

    Sunshine Washcloths (Lily Sugar ’n Cream) brighten up baby’s nursery or bath. Thick and thirsty cluster stitches make these quick cloths pretty and practical. Make a few, roll up and tie with ribbon, and pop them in a basket with baby toiletries for a charming shower gift.

    Baby Crochet Sunshine Washcloth Sunshine Washcloth

    It was a pleasure working with Leisure Arts on One-Skein Baby Projects. Along with doing the editing and photography, they added helpful video links to the patterns. What a great way for crocheters to learn something new or to get reacquainted with a technique they haven’t used in a while. In the past I’ve written Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets, Tunisian Shawls, and Crochet Refresher for Leisure Arts; another leaflet, Easy Afghans, will be published this spring. They also offer some standalone ePatterns of my work on their site.

    My hope for One-Skein Baby Projects is that relatively new crocheters will find easy items to suit their skill level, experienced crocheters will enjoy exciting stitch patterns and techniques to hold their interest, and that the finished projects will put a smile on the faces of babies and their parents.

    One-Skein Baby Projects Table of Contents Table of Contents

    To tell you a little bit about me, I’m a lifelong crafter who switched gears from travel writing to crochet design after I rediscovered my love of crochet about ten years ago. I’m a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America and a design member of The National NeedleArts Association. I was a featured guest on HGTV’s fiber arts program, “Uncommon Threads,” and have been interviewed on numerous radio podcasts. Recently I expanded my crochet work to include large-scale museum installations, indoors and out. I love to travel and explore the outdoors, especially with my husband, Alan, and our two grown sons. So far I have visited 48 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 9 European countries. You can find me on Facebook and Pinterest at Sharon Silverman Crochet; on Ravelry at CrochetSharon; and on my website, www.SharonSilverman.com. I would love to hear from you!

    Happy crocheting!

    Photo 14, Sharon Silverman Sharon Silverman
  • Crocheting a Curvy and Colorful Cowl

    I finished my Martha Cowl from Crochet Scarves and Cowls by Karen Ratto-Whooley!

    Martha Cowl

    I love wearing cowls, and I love making them, and I love giving them as gifts.  I'm not sure who I'll give this to, but I think it matches the personalities of plenty of women I know.  This cowl is a winner!

    Martha Cowls

    This took a little less than a skein of Loops & Threads Impeccable Ombres, and I was able to work a few extra rows for added height.  This will such a warm and fluffy present to wear, and I'm really happy with how the textured rows look.  The pattern calls for working some rows in the back loops and I always love how that changes the look of crocheted fabric so drastically.

    Martha Cowls

    I'm looking forward to building up my gift stash during the next few slow months, and I want to have lots of beautiful and warm cowls for the birthdays and holidays in the year ahead.  I feel like I'm off to a great start with this cowl!

    Crochet Cowl as Gift

  • Jack-O-Lantern Dishcloth

    I love Halloween. It is my favorite holiday. I love all the decorations. I like to drive around and look at everyone else’s decorated yards. I leave my decorations up until the day after Day of the Dead. I was looking for something quick and easy project to do. Something that I can work on in and out of the car this week while waiting in the carpool line at school or while waiting on after school activities. I went through all of my Leisure Art Books and found this cute Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin dishcloth in a book called A Dishcloth a Month.

    I was just finishing tucking in all my ends when my friend asked me if it was a new coaster for our table at the new knit shop. I said I had not planned on it but why not. It is slightly big for a coaster but it is really cute idea for decorating a table. So I am in the process of making a few more for our knit/crochet table. I am even going to crochet some without the Jack-O-Lantern face. You just follow the pattern and as if you had changed your color from orange to black. My favorite part I will only have four ends to run in or tuck in. Whichever way you want say it. You can even use brown for the stem instead of the green. Since it is fall I can keep the ones without faces through Thanksgiving. It’s a win! Win! I hope that you have had as much fun with this Jack-O-Lantern pattern as I have. I used 100% cotton. I am going to check and see if Sugar n Cream has a variegated fall colored yarn for some of my solid pumpkins. I think that would be really cute.

     

  • Pumpkin Hat

    100 Hats to Knit & Crochet

    I love Halloween. It is my favorite holiday. I have a friend with a new baby. So, I thought I would crochet him a cute little Pumpkin Hat. I used Crème de la Crème 100% cotton. I used three different colors orange, brown, and green. This pattern will fit an infant/toddler. I didn't get this pattern from a Leisure Arts book. 100 Hats to Knit and Crochet has hats that you could modify to work for your needs.

    Pumpkin Crochet Hat

    With a size G hook. Chain 60 stitches. Join in the round with a slip stitch. Be careful not to twist!

    Row 1: With main color (orange) chain 1, single crochets all the way around, and slip stitch into the chain 1. Row 2: Chain 3, double crochets all the way around. Continue Row 2 until the hat is about 3.25(3 ¼) to 3.50(3 ½) inches tall.

    Decrease is chain 3, 7 double crochet, and crochet 2 together, then 8 double stitches and crochet 2 together. You are going to continue decreasing by 1 stitch until you finish the chain 3 and 3 double crochet and crochet 2 together, 4 double crochet and crochet 2 together.

    Color change/Stem: To join the brown yarn slip stitch where you slipped the last stitch, chain 2, double crochet around. I didn’t crochet 2 together on the first round, because I did 2 regular double crochets into the next two stitches. The 3rd and 5th stitch a double into the middle of the lower stitch, and the 4th double crochet I went into the lower stitch. Continue this all the way around. The next round start your decreases chain 3, 2 double crochet and crochet 2 together, 3 double crochet and crochet 2 together. Continue decreasing by 1 stitch until you get to six stitches left and do double crochets until you get the stem length that you want then crochet 2 together 3 times.

    Green curly cue: Chain 35 stitches or however many you want to do. Do 6 double crochets into the 2nd stitch and 4 more stitches into ever chain stitch. Bind off when you get to the end. With a darning needle or crochet hook attach where ever you want it.

  • Crochet Fingerless Mittens

    Hats & Handwarmers for the Family

    I crocheted these Fingerless Mittens for a friend’s birthday. The colors reminded me of a new box of crayons and she loves lots of colors. I didn’t get this from pattern from a Leisure Arts book. But here is a Leisure Arts book that has a great pattern. It is Hat & Handwarmers for the Family. That you could modify to make it look like the one in the photo. Just crochet to cover the palm of the hand and if you don’t want to crochet the thumb then don’t that is your call.

    Fingerless Mittens - Crochet

    This is how I made my Fingerless Mittens:

    With a size H crochet hook I chained 28 stitches. (If H is too small or big you can go up or down a crochet hook size) I joined it in the round with a slip stitch. I made sure not to twist it. Use a place marker so you know where you joined in the round.

    Row 1: single crochet.

    Row 2: single crochet into the back stitch and repeat for 16 rounds.

    Increase rounds: crochet two single stitches into the stitch before your place marker and into the stitch on the other side of the place marker. Your next round is a single crochet into the black stitch. Continue these two rows four more times until you have 38 stitches.

    Thumb and palm: crochet until 4 stitches before the place marker and chain 3 count four stitches past and crochet. Use a place marker in the second chain so you can keep up were you joined it in the round. You should have skipped a total of 9 stitches. (The last stitch before the chain I did a single crochet through the whole stitch and also a whole stitch when joining the thumb hole. This makes it stronger.) Then single crochet into the back stitch for 8 rounds.

    Fingerless mittens are a great gift idea for birthdays, Christmas, or just because you want to do something for someone special.

  • 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.

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