Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Painting Fun!

What a fun and busy weekend, and I have some great pictures to share!
Remember the painting project from a couple weeks ago? Well, we finished the last room that needed to be painted and got our friends all moved in over the weekend!

How about a little before and after.


What do you think? Isn't the color beautiful?

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Personalized Silhouette in Vinyl for your car

My sister sent us a picture of my nephew that was taken for his Tae Kwon Doe class. She wanted us to cut vinyl for her to put on her van. It's fun to show your love of a sport or team on your vehicle, but it's so much MORE fun to say, "That's my son!"

This is how it turned out (it's slightly harder to see since it already has the application tape covering it).

That's my nephew!

Take a look at our ArtFire shop to see about ordering a Personalized Vinyl Silhouette for your vehicle!

Monday, October 25, 2010

How To Cut Brownies

I know, everyone is saying, "Is she serious? Just take a knife and dive in!! Or better yet, just grab a fork--who needs to take it out of the pan?!" Am I right?

Well, just the same, I occasionally like to share brownies with guests, so I figure it's best to cut them first.

Here's the secret weapon.

(Can you tell that they don't last very long around me?)
I didn't believe it at first, either, especially since I prefer brownies to be pretty gooey, and I often add chocolate chips on top to achieve that. But it really worked! A plastic knife has easily gone through my gooiest brownies without collecting all the scraps.

Give it a try! Any new time-saving/money-saving tips you've come across?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to Crochet a Bead Rope

Even if you've crocheted for a long time, using beads creates a whole new dimension. Here's a little (umm...not really. I'm sort of known for being big on the details...) photo tutorial for how to crochet a bead rope.

If this is the first time you've tried this, feel free to start with larger beads strung on yarn until you get the rhythm of it. It may save your eyesight (says the woman that diligently wore reading glasses while figuring this out).

What you'll need:
Size 10 crochet thread
Small crochet hook, whatever is comfortable for you or recommended by the thread. I used a Size 7 hook that (I think) used to belong to my great-grandmother.
Size 6/0 Seed Beads (larger or smaller depending on your desired finished product)
Tiny needle or Wire needle (This will be very helpful for stringing your beads, but it is not a necessity. I'm too cheap to get the right-sized needle, so I've strung all my beads straight onto the thread. Yep, I'm a freak.)
Some sort of clasp or ribbon for your finished product.

How to:
Begin by threading the beads. It is best to start with a pattern of 6 colors repeating. This will help you as you go to make sure you're working with the right bead in your previous row. It will also create the pretty spiral pattern. My first project included 65 repetitions of my 6-color pattern, and my finished rope is 8" long. My second one was to be a necklace, so I did 150 repetitions of a (different) 6-color pattern, and the finished rope is 19.5" long (not including the clasp). For my picture examples here, I only strung 5 repetitions of 6 colors.
(Warning: Objects in photo appear larger than life)

Ch 6, sl st in first ch to create ring (the Magic Ring won't work here).

Now you'll begin to work in the beads. Insert hook in ch, YO behind the bead (see pictures below)...

...pull through ch and then pull through the loop on the hook (you have essentially done a sl st with a bead). Photo here shows just before pulling through final loop on hook.

Stitch complete: (ugh...these hands are getting embarrassing!)

You will soon see the general direction your rope will be growing (toward you), so at some point, make sure your thread "tail" is not being worked into the center of the Bead Rope. This "tail" will be helpful for attaching whatever clasp you choose to use when it is complete.

Continue with 5 remaining colors. Your first row is done.

Now that your first six beads are on, you will begin to work in what is called the Bead Stitch: the thread that is going through the bead on the previous row. You will always work with the thread inserting the hook on the LEFT side of the bead, shown here:

Then take your working thread (that has the beads on it) and draw it over the bead that is next to the hook; YO behind the next bead of the same color. This is where it is very helpful to use a 6-color pattern so that you know you are using the right bead in the previous row because it coordinates with your next bead on the working thread.

Pull through the bead stitch...

...and the loop on the hook.

One more time, now with the peach:
Insert hook to left of bead, YO behind next bead.

Pull through Bead Stitch...

...and loop on hook. Your newest bead will land on top of the previous row.

Continue until you have used all the beads you have strung (or the rope is long enough, or your eyes fail you, or you are cursing the day you attempted this...but I hope not!).

When you have crocheted on your last bead, your rope will look something like this:
Notice that the top row of beads has the hole going horizontally instead of vertically like the rest of the rows. To fix this, you'll do one final row of slip stitches.

Still insert the hook to the left of the bead...
...and pull through both loops.
Continue around for all 6 beads. Here, as I'm going through the green Bead Stitch, notice that the rose and peach beads are already vertical:

And here is your completed project!

At this point, I crocheted a couple chains and strung on my clasps on both ends so that it was nice and sturdy.

I hope this helps make a little sense of crocheting with beads! It's really fun. If I've confused a point or not explained something clearly, please feel free to ask! I'll do my best to clarify anything. And as always, if you try it out, send me pictures! =)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bead Crochet Rope Necklace

Project #2 is a success.

It is 19.5", and it is pretty heavy! Hopefully it won't give me a headache to wear it. ;-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

My fun weekend

This weekend, I helped a friend go from this: this:

And this: this:

Still finishing trim. What do you think?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bead Crochet Rope

Have you ever had a, "Wow! I made that?!" moment?

I'm not just talking about when you watch your kids, but I suppose that counts, too.

Here was my excited Wow! moment of today.

I can't believe it worked! Now I have to figure out if I want to attach ribbon for tying it on or use a clasp. Any suggestions? I welcome any input.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I was featured!

Sarah over at The Pumpkin Patch has featured my Make Your Razors Last tip. Go check out her blog, and scroll down a little to find out why she shaved her head and how BEAUTIFUL she is! Really, these ladies are gorgeous!

Bead Crochet

I must be crazy.

Want a close-up?

First attempt failed, so it must be time to watch that instruction video again. Oh, why must life get in the way of crafting?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busy Weekend, Busy Week

It's been non-stop crazy for us lately with no end in sight!

That means very little crafting time for me, so there isn't much to update with my projects.

But let me tell you about a little joy that a dear friend introduced us to last week:

All I can say is Oh. My. Yum!!!* ...and why don't they come in a larger tin?

I'm a fan, and Becky is my hero.

What is your favorite snack food? Sweet or salty? Chocolatey or fruity? Chips or crackers?

*Full disclosure: Blue Diamond has not compensated me in any way, shape, or form for this, but I wouldn't turn away a large crate of these showing up at my door.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Speedy Ironing Tip

It doesn't matter if you are a wife, mother, working woman, grandmother, or the occasional man that drops by here (Hi hubby!! Love ya!), time is short, right?

I don't despise ironing as much as some, but I certainly don't love it as much as others (my mom). It just seems to be a huge time waster to me. Don't get me wrong, I'll do it when I need to, and I won't complain, but there are certain clothing items that I find are unworthy of that time. Polos are definitely on that list.

Since hubby has to wear polos on a regular basis for work, I've had to create a short-cut plan for them.

When polos (or even some casual button-up shirts) come out of the laundry basket, I pull them out and hang them in the bathroom. Since I have inevitably left them in the basket too long, I usually need to give them a good spritz with the spray bottle.

Once the wrinkles have hung out, here's my secret weapon:

Yep, I admit it. I have used my hair straightener on more than one occasion to straighten out a wiley-otis collar on many shirts. It works perfectly! I don't have to lug out the ironing board or the iron. I've even been known to put on a skirt only to realize the hem is crinkled. Turn on the straightener and iron it out without even having to take it off.

Any new time-saving tips you've come across recently?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Understanding song lyrics

We were driving home the other night listening to the soundtrack for Mr. Holland's Opus. A classic Beatles song came on, and we were being lulled by the soothing tones of the song.

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I'm a dreamer...

Interruption from the backseat: What is "sit on a gleamer?"

Never a dull moment! I LOVE hearing the way kids interpret life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sunglasses Case - Crochet

We came across an old glasses case today. Neither of us needed it anymore, but since I'm always a little reluctant to throw away something that is still useful, I offered it to a 5-year-old who happens to love treasures like that! Unfortunately, his fancy-schmancy glasses wouldn't fit in it.

I offered to make a little bag for them like the one Daddy has. He was quite thrilled. This was the perfect naptime project for me!

Daddy picked out the color and was pretty sure it would go over well. It's only slightly difficult to photograph such a bright color since I'm not the professional photographer in the family.

I used a Size H hook and some leftover yarn that was hanging around. I did some back loop sc to add some stripes just for fun. I really like it! Let's see if he does, too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Jewel Afghan - Work in Progress - Update!

I've been devoting some serious time to my Jewel Afghan lately. The second skein is almost finished. Sounds like it's time for an update picture.

And it looks like it's time to find a new place to take my pictures of this work-in-progress! I'll post more (in a new location) as I get farther along.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Coffee Cup Collars

With all the craziness of our computer transition, I haven't posted more Coffee Cup Collars.

Here are my most recent additions. Pink!

You can find all of the color options at our ArtFire Store. If you're looking for specific colors or designs for a gift (or for yourself), just ask!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Washcloth/Sponge Crochet Style - Free Pattern

I learned from a friend to cut my dishwashing sponges in half when I take them out of the package. It fits my hand so much better, and you can try to extend their life by only using half at a time. This has worked really well for me, especially since I had a large supply of sponges for some reason.

Recently, I noticed I'd be running out of them soon, and I figured I'd just use the variety of washcloths I've made. That little finicky part of me that loves the small size of the sponge was sort of dreading that. Also, who else out there HATES that smell that suddenly develops overnight on a washcloth? Maybe it has to do with water quality because I notice it at some houses more than others.

Anyway, I figured, why not make some small washcloths for myself?

So I did.

I absolutely love them! The double-thickness makes it easier to hold, and it won't "break down" as quickly as a sponge tends to do.

(Hmmm...NOW I think about the fact that I should have had a frame of reference in that picture... ;-) sorry!)

This is very similar to a Hot Pad/Trivet pattern that is out there, so if you've done that, this will be a snap.

Here's how to make them:
Cotton Worsted Weight yarn
Size G hook
Chain 20 (15 for smaller size--I can't decide yet which one I prefer)
Turn, sc in each stitch across.
When you get to the end of the row, DON'T turn. Continue around to the other side of your beginning chain, sc all the way across. The whole pattern is done in one continuous round, so as you go, the corners will curl in at you. Continue until the sides meet and it becomes the shape (square or rectangle) that you want. Mine were about 6-8 rows.
Pull another 12-15 inches of yarn before cutting. Weave through the loops to bring the sides together. At the end, I added extra chains to make a loop for hanging this at my kitchen sink.

FYI: You might have to reshape them just a bit after washing and drying them.

Let me know if you try this!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Crocheted Hot Pad

My friend Rachel suggested I check out

I'm not sure if I should say Thank You or not--I've wasted so much time looking through her site! I'm only in November of 2009, and the blog started in February of 2007. There are some amazing ideas there!

I've already used one idea of a hot pad she made since she included the link to the original pattern. Mine doesn't look even close to hers, but it will work as a hot pad!

But really, thank you, Rachel!

Here are my results:

I learned pretty quickly that I was doing it wrong, but I didn't want to start over. It was a little difficult to make the petals line up, but other than that, the only downside of doing it wrong is that the two sides look different.

Which side do you like better?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Make your razors last

Strange, I know, but I like any ideas of how to save money and make things last, don't you? (Well, that...and I don't think I'm brave enough to try this yet.)

When you finish using your razor, dry it by rubbing it upwards against a towel. Tap it off a couple times, and run it upwards (this is very important if you want to avoid shaving your towels! ha!) on the towel again. Keeping your razor dry is the key to stop it from going dull. For a little extra surety, run your blow dryer on it for 15-20 seconds as well.

Since I learned this tip last spring (yes, two FULL summers ago), I've only gone through 2 cartridges on my razor! ...and the second one isn't showing any signs of dulling yet.

What's your favorite time- or money-saving tip?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kindergarten Science Experiment

What you need:
6 (clear) glasses
red food coloring
yellow food coloring
blue food coloring

How to amaze your little ones:
Fill the first three glasses with water. I used taller glasses for this step. Put red food coloring in the first, yellow in the second, and blue in the third. Watch the kids be delighted when they stir it in and the water changes the color.
Next, pour about 1/4 of each color into smaller glasses.
Add about 1/3 of what is left from the yellow water (oh, this sounds bad now...) from the tall glass into the smaller glass of red. Ooh and aahhh appropriately.
Repeat the step adding blue into the smaller glass of yellow. Ooh and aahhh again.
Repeat adding the red into the smaller glass of blue. Ooh and aahhh again (hopefully your purple turns out more obvious than ours did).

Yes, it's simple enough, but we had SO much fun!

Final step: Laugh really hard (but quietly!) when your son takes a BIG breath and says, "It smells so good!" He is VERY susceptible to the power of suggestion. It looks like fruity drink, so it must BE fruity drink!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A confession...

Hi. My name is Mindy. I'm addicted to crocheting, and I've never made a Granny Square.


It's true.

And I understand if you can't find any credibility in my craft anymore. =)

I've crocheted in rounds, I've done blankets that are large increasing squares, and I've even done one that was a look-a-like to a Granny Square (which I still dislike that pattern), but I've never done the real thing. Am I missing out?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Iris Folding - Paper Craft Tutorial for Fall Leaf

Have you ever heard of Iris Folding? I hadn't until just this summer. The first time I saw it, I was sure there was NO way I would ever try it because it looked so tedious and detailed. When I've asked people about it, they usually think it is a type of origami.

My most recent Iris Folding project was a card for my aunt using a Maple Leaf Pattern.

Here's what you'll need:
One card (or display paper if you'll use it for a scrapbook or for framed art)
3-4 decorative papers, depending on your design
1 pattern/template to follow (or make your own--not as difficult as it first seems)
straight edge paper cutting implement, preferably NOT scissors
Swivel or Exact-o knife, scissors can work here
tape (I would LOVE to have a tape dispenser here, but since I don't have one, it definitely works without it), acid-free is best, especially if it is going in a scrapbook
Sharpie marker-not necessary, but I liked the embellishment

How to make it:
Cut the pattern guide out of your template.

Place it on the BACK side of your card or display paper in the spot you will want the pattern to show through. Trace it with a pencil (that's why you're on the back side).

Use your knife or scissors to cut the shape out of your display paper.

Place your pattern so it shows through the window. Some recommend using removable tape to secure your pattern to the front side of your display paper (or card). I have found that once I start placing my folded paper over it, the pattern stays in place pretty well, but secure it if it makes you feel better.

Take your decorative paper and cut it into strips about 1" to 1.5" wide, length does not matter. This is a perfect way to use up some of your leftover scraps from other cards or scrapbook projects. Once you have several strips cut, fold them in half (if using 1.5" strips) lengthwise or about 1/3 of the way (if using 1" strips).

At this point, I also took my Sharpie marker and outlined the shape on the front of my card (display paper). On my darker cards, I used a silver Sharpie marker, and I thought it brought out the finished product beautifully.
Now, just follow the numbers on your pattern. You'll trim down your strips to the length you'll need, lay them down with the fold toward the middle and white/back side of the decoration facing you; tape it down. You'll see why it's nice to have a tape-dispenser! Someday I'll break down and go find one, but I just don't feel like shopping for office supplies today when there is so much crafting to be done!

Now for the Iris. Traditionally, this is filled with a piece of holographic paper. I really don't often see holographic paper that I like, so I've never used it. Sometimes I'll fill the iris with a contrasting color, but most often I just use part of the shape I've cut out of my display paper so the Iris matches the card.

After you have finished, cover the back side (it's SO UGLY!!!) with a piece of solid cardstock. That will hide the ugliness as well as disguise the bulk of all the overlapping paper.

Here is your finished product:
Pop it in the mail/frame/scrapbook. Slightly tedious, but so gorgeous and classy!

If my instructions aren't detailed enough, you can find a very detailed How-To with a video here. I'd love to see some links if you give it a try!