Friday, July 27, 2018

Scrappy Shawls for Alice's Embrace

The awesome ladies of the Crochet Shawl-Along have inspired me to stash bust out a few scrappy shawls from my bits and bobs of Lion Brand Homespun.  The pattern is the Yarrow Triangle Scarf.  These two will go to a charity called [url=]Alice's Embrace[/url], that provides shawls and lap blankets for Alzheimer's patients.  Bonus: Now I have an entire yarn drawer free!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Celtic Tree of Life Sun Catcher

Recently I had the good fortune to be partnered with Wulf in the Use the Good Beads Swap.  My initial idea was to make him a Tree of Life art quilt, but after some discussion, Wulf revealed he didn't actually have any wall space for hanging one, but suggested that he did need a table mat for his dining room.  So I went off on that adventure.  But there was also a throwaway comment he made, about not wearing jewelry, which is one of my favorite crafts to make, and it stuck in the back of my head.  How could I, a jewelry maker, make him some sort of jewelry for his HOME, rather than for him personally?
This started to ferment in my brain, spiced with a bit of the previous desire to make something with the tree of life, and resulted in the idea to make him a sun catcher for his dining room window.  The tree was created with artists jewelry wire in light gold, bronze, & copper, with silver wire used to fill the dead space between the branches and roots.  Hanging amid the branches is a Swarovski crystal crescent moon.  Above and below the tree are emerald green Czech glass rose beads, and at the bottom is a Asfour crystal pendant.

I thought this would be a quick last-minute addition to the swap package, but it actually took much longer than I planned.  The wire I used was made of two strands of wire twisted together, resulting in thicker wire, that was a bit harder on my fingertips as I twisted it around the metal ring, and twisted it into the truck and branches.  As for technique, I read several tutorials online, then mixed them all together to get the effect I wanted.  I forgot to measure the finished piece, but the tree is either 5" or 6", the green roses are about 1", and the prism pendant is just over 2" long.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Sari Silk Ribbon Bowl

After making a Mandala Tablemat for Wulf in the Use the Good Beads Swap on Craftster, I was feelign guilty about having ben the swap rules.  Technically the yarn to make the mandala didn't coem from MY hoard, so I used one of the yarns that was in my stash to crochet a bowl.  It's made from a ribbon yarn, created from recycled silk saris, keeping textiles out of landfills and at the same time giving fair wages to women & girls in India & Nepal, allowing them to work from home.  Both the yarn and the pattern are available from Darn Good Yarn.  

Monday, July 23, 2018

Wulf's Mandala Tablemat

I recently had the fun of being partnered with the wonderful Wulf, in the Use the Good Beads Swap.  The emphasis was to use your most treasured craft supplies that you've been hoarding for years, always saying 'I need to wait till I have the most perfect, special use for them!'  In talking to Wulf, he mentioned needing a mat for the center of his dining table, so I turned to my stash of silk sari yarn.  Sadly, none of the yarns in my stash were working just right for what I wanted to make, so I actually bent the swap rules, by doing a yarn trade with someone on Ravelry.  So I did use a precious material that had been hoarded, it just hadn't been hoarded by ME.  (Don't worry, I made up for it with a second project, a fiber bowl that will be posted tomorrow.  My inner Hermione is still afraid I'll be expelled from life for breaking an arbitrary rule.) 

I actually wrote my own pattern for this one.  It's crocheted with 1.5 skeins of silk sari yarn from Darn Good Yarn.  It's made by recycling worn out clothing (saris), keeping the textiles from ending up in a landfill, and at the same time giving fair wages to women & girls in India and Nepal, allowing them to work from home.  It might look tiny, as doilies are usually made with delicate lace weight yarn, but this one is actually a heavier worsted weight, so it actually measures 17" across.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Summer Drop Shawlette

It's miserably hot here in TN in July, but I can't take my new shawlette off!  It's so soft against my skin, and blocks the drafts from the AC vents so nicely.  The pattern is called the Summer Drop Shawlette, and it is free.  The yarn is Darn Good Yarn's Silk Retreat, in Morning Glory.  I received 1 skein (275 yards) in their monthly subscription box, and initially tried to make the shawlette pattern that they sent with it, but wasn't happy with how it was coming out.  Later curiousfae offered to trade the same skein she received for one I had from a previous month, so I'd have enough to do something with.  (I love the generosity of Craftster peeps!)  A quick search on Ravelry found me a pattern that would work well with the fingering weight silk, but would also be done with a larger 6 mm hook, saving my hands which were tired from working on a lace weight shawl with a tiny 3.25 mm hook.
It's a very long and skinny, and wears more like a long oddly-shaped scarf.  It's incredibly soft on the skin, and strangely enough, the yarn smells amazing.  Not perfumed or anything, just clean and lovely.  It even made my hands smell nice while working on it!  For size reference, my dining table is 36"x60".
The colors are beautiful, but I'm considering dyeing it, since I don't really wear pastels.  Maybe a nice indigo?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Scissor Fobs & Stitch Markers for Shawl-Along Friends

I've mentioned the Shawl-Along on Craftster a few times now.  It is absolutely one of my favorite threads there, and I love how supportive everyone is of one another.  A few weeks ago sheepBlue mentioned she had run out of a yarn halfway through a shawl, and was having trouble finding anymore of it in her area.  I checked online and found that my Joann's had it in stock, and it happened to be on sale, so I offered to pick it up for her.  Since I was going to be mailing it, I decided to add a few goodies to brighten her day. 

I started with a scissor fob, so no one can try to run off with her snips.  It was obviously inspired by her Craftster username, sheepBlue, with various shades of blue glass beads, and an adorable sheep charm.  

Next I put together a set of stitch markers, featuring some of her favorite things, including a gun and skull for her love of the My Favorite Murder Podcast, another blue sheep, an old tv for her favorite shows, buttons, dinosaur, skeleton key, book & reading glasses for her book club, embroidery thread for her awesome embroidered Teesha Moore style patchwork bags, a little artist, and an eye.

About a week later, I received my new subscription box from Darn Good Yarn.  It was a beautiful fingering weight silk in the color Morning Glory, along with a shawlette pattern.  I was game to try it, but found that I was going to run out of yarn, so Curiousfae, another member of the Shawl-Along offered to swap yarns with me.  She'd send the Morning Glory, and I'd send her a skein from a few months previous that I hadn't used yet.  

Since I had just sent a box of crochet goodies to sheepBlue, I obviously had to send one to Curiousfae too!  So she also got a scissor fob, this time of a little fairy leaning forward to peer at something.

And a set of stitch markers too, including a deck of tarot cards, a camera for her love of photography, a gnome, a caravan for her love of glamping, the Frog Prince, a K for her initial, a fae, paw print for her pup, rose, miniature fairy or gnome house, and a heart.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Repairing my Furin (Japanese Wind Chime or Wind Bell)

A few years ago a friend of ours who is half Japanese and grew up for the first several years of his life there before moving to the US, went back to visit his mother's family.  He brought us back a beautiful iron bell, or furin.  Similar to a set of wind chimes, they are hung mostly in the summer in Japan.  Either indoors near a window or outdoor on a eve of the house.  The ringing of the bell is equated with the sound of summer in Japan.  Here's some info about them from an online travel magazine:   

For some people, the relaxing sound of the furin paired with the sound of the Japanese cicada eases the summer heat.  The furin has a piece of paper hung from the center of the bowl shaped bell. When the wind blows, the paper catches the wind and moves the clapper to produce the sound. Thanks to the paper, the furin is able to emit the gentle sound that everyone likes enjoy during the summer months.  Furthermore, the paper is used to enhance the feeling of a cool summer breeze. The paper allows us to visually see the wind. Even when the paper moves from a light breeze, you suddenly acknowledge the presence of the wind. It is the secret of how to feel cool even on the hot and humid days of the Japanese summer.

The bell has hung on our porch for about 5 years now, but recently the cotton string broke, which in turn let the paper float away into the wind.  I though about repairing it with new paper and cotton string, but my friend Vikki drew my attention to another Japanese tradition, Kintsugi, or repairing broken pottery with gold, in order to highlight the breaks, rather than hide them.  Showing the beauty of the new life the object has received through repairing it.

So I repaired mine with some treasured bits and bobs from my beading stash, including a stunning handblown glass focal bead (the black one in the center of the string), some round quartz crystals, picasso art glass beads, seed beads, bead caps & spacers, and a large crystal pendant I've been holding onto, awaiting the perfect project.  I'm not sure it will ring as often as it did with the paper wind catcher, but I do love the site of it repaired and rehung on my porch, with the beads highlighting its ongoing presence in our lives, and reminding us of friends we don't see often enough.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Silk Cloud Waves Shawl

This project has been in the works for a long time, and I'm thrilled to report it's finally done. 
Backstory: I bought the kit in March of 2016.  I had gotten pregnant in February and was over the moon excited.  When it came time for our first doctor's appointment, we were told it was an ectopic pregnancy, and that I would have to have emergency surgery that day to end it and save my life, and while they were at it they had to take out my right fallopian tube which was scarred, and would result in another ectopic if we tried again.  I was so shocked and devastated.  I wasn't allowed to DO anything afterwards, just rest on the couch.  I finally convinced Jim to let me crochet because I needed to do something or go out of my mind.  I browsed the web, and saw this shawl pattern from DGY, and bought it to give myself something to do.  But they didn't ship the kit for nearly 2 weeks, so by then I was back on my feet.  
At that point I threw myself into getting back to the gym and taking care of myself, and being the healthiest I could be, so that hopefully we could start trying again in a few months.  I couldn't look at the yarn, because it reminded me of the sadness.  But by December, I decided that maybe I should take it up, and use it as a way to work through my feelings and heal, and give a gift to myself in honor of the little life that never came to be.  
Since then I've worked on it in starts and stops.  Sometimes it makes me sad, other times it doesn't get to me at all, and sometimes I just forget about it.  But I've really pushed myself to finish it over the last few weeks.  When I finished the prescribed 100 rows, I had a bit of yarn left, so I repeated the pattern until I ran out, giving me 110 rows.  I like to say I literally gave this project 110%!  It's 75" long, by 24" wide. 
I am thrilled with how it came out, but don't think I'll be taking up a project with such a thin yarn and tiny hook again anytime soon.  It was tough on my hands.  The pattern is called Cloud Waves, and I bought it as part of a kit from Darn Good Yarn.  The yarn is their lace weight silk, in shade Enchanted Forest.    This was my first project that has needed blocking, and it certainly helped me get over my fear of blocking such a delicate piece.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Strawberry Dishcloths

When I saw this adorable pattern, I knew I had to make it!  It's the Granny Strawberry Dishcloth pattern, free from Yarnspirations.  The granny triangles were a breeze, but the leaves and stem were a bit more confusing.  In the end I mostly followed the pattern and just winged the last row by sight.

The yarn is Red Heart Scrubby Smoothie in Cherry & Sugar'n Cream Scents in Aloe Vera.  I hadn't realized it was scented yarn when I bought it; I simply liked that shade of green best.  The smell is so subtle that I didn't notice it when I was working with it, and will be curious to see how it smells while doing dishes.  I actually had so much green left that I ended up doing a few solid green cloths.  The round is the Fire Blossom pattern on Ravelry, and the square one is something I made up for a friend, that I call Amber Ridge.  I ended up sending one of each to friends from the Crochet Shawl-Along in mini care packages.