Crochet and Collage? I Think So!

I’ve always loved making cards and filling them up with LOTS of words, but this was the first time I mixed crocheting and card-making and I really like it!

This card was for a bridal shower I recently attended. The bride’s registry included these luxurious-feeling white towels with olive-sagey stripes and her kitchen registry included lots of red things. I went to find a gift bag large enough to hold the towels and realized that a large gift bag was going to cost over $5! While passing the Target storage section I found a red canvas bin that cost a little over $5. Why not package the towels in something useful?

I wanted the red and green to coordinate somehow and happened to find the perfect scrapbook paper with a dark red and sage green design in my huge bin of horded scrap papers. I also found a handmade scrap of white paper with green embroidery thread embedded in it that I’d forgotten I’d made years ago, which reminds me that I should really get my paper-making stuff out again. I think Jho would really like to do that one day.

My own, personal heart pattern is a fat, squatty heart and I didn’t really want to use that one for this project. I found this pattern and used it instead. I’ll be writing out my own heart pattern and posting it soon, by the way. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while now.

I left two long ends to the heart, wrapped them around the card, and tied a bow in the back. Now the heart can be removed and reused by the recipient! I debated using an envelope, but thought the card really pulled the gift basket together and added interest the way a pretty tag does. Plus, the crochet I did was with worsted weight yarn so it was a  bit thick to put into an envelope. I really need to buy some cotton crochet thread and some tiny hooks and try making some more delicate things. I just get frustrated with fidgety, nimble handiwork. I like the results, though.

I made this collage card a year ago and now I wish it had had a pretty orange crocheted heart, too.

For this card, I used some found cloth doilies that I cut and glued on. Back then I’d never considered crocheting my own!

I think I might have to experiment with framing crocheted collages in 3D frames! Or maybe take pictures of my amigurumi with collaged backgrounds like I tried to do here.

So many things to try and so little time!

I guess that’s preferable than having no ideas and too much time, right? Right.

Florida Fun Friday: Rain?

What does one do in Florida when it’s stormy outside? Crochet! That’s probably what I’ll spend most of my time doing this weekend. I am loading up on inventory for my first craft show. Today, feeling bummed out by bad weather, lack of sleep (teething baby), and just general frustration about stupid things, I went to the craft store and did some yarn-shopping therapy (cheers me up every time!) Now I have exactly the perfect colors to make some adorable turtles and a couple more hot air balloons (my new FAVORITE thing!) I would take pictures and post them, but today’s not the day for good pictures. No rain on the product!

Other than crocheting, this rainy weekend will probably entail an IKEA trip for new lighting in our kitchen and maybe the hanging of billions of pictures for our picture frame wall project (long overdue!)

Since my weekend will be pretty blah and uneventful, I’ll share a project I did with my three-year-old two nights ago. I’ve been looking for inspiration in strange places lately, trying to be extra attentive to the world around me. While cutting some baby bok choy for dinner I noticed that the cut part looked like flowers! People try really hard to cut vegetables into flower shapes and here were perfect rose garnishes ready to go with one chop!

Jho and I always have fun playing with my stamps, so I thought we could use the baby bok choy ends for some print-making. We started rummaging through the pantry to find some other foods that might make good stamps. Leftover red onions made great concentric circles. We threw in a couple banana slices and leaves, too. 

I unrolled a section of white newsprint (purchased very inexpensively at IKEA) and poured out some tempera paint and went to town.

The results weren’t beautiful, but it was fun and messy and different. Next time, we’ll  paint with our feet.  Happy weekend!

Meet Sandra!

Meet Sandra…(Sandy for short). She’s one of the latest additions to the Happy Handmade family. She looks a lot like the guinea pigs I used to have…good ole Rocky and Bullwinkle…may they rest in peace…

There have been many new creatures made lately in preparation for my very first craft festival. Mark your calendars!! Sunday, May 6 from 2-6pm at the Home Builder’s Association Building in Maitland. 

I have to admit, I’ve been driving everyone around me a little crazy lately trying to decide what to make for this event. I got so many awesome suggestions on my Facebook page and I’ve actually made, or plan to make, just about everything that was suggested, but it’s impossible to make everything I want to make. There are so many possibilities and so many ideas, I just can’t make them all happen fast enough!

How many things do I make? Do I make 10 of 4 different things? Do I make 4 of 10 different things? Do I make tiny keychains? Giant animals? Mobiles? Wall hangings? Do I make traditional pink pigs or funky colored pigs or pigs in UF or FSU colors?  Do I make food? If so,should I make all the food have faces or make them more realistic? Do I sell my happy fruit a la carte or in big crocheted fruit bowls? Maybe people would like silly, unexpected foods like smiling chicken legs or frowning filet mignon? AGH! So many decisions to make!

I am a notoriously terrible decision-maker. My usual method of decision making, if left with no one to make a decision for me, is to just not decide and do EVERYTHING…so that’s what I’m trying to do. However, the days are flying by and my list is growing every day rather than shrinking. I keep coming up with new ideas or as some ideas I think will work don’t or as things I’m not sure will work out work out great and I want to make lots more of them.

I’m going to try not to make myself crazy and just use this first festival as a learning experience to see what people seem to like. After the show I’ll post everything I made to Etsy so, even if the festival is a bust, I’ll have built up an inventory of new cute buddies… like Sandra.

Sandra reminds us all, but especially me, to take a break from decision-making and stress to enjoy the blooming wisteria. Happy Spring, everybody!

Friday Fun in Florida: Blackout dates are over, time for a Disney trip!

I know this is nothing new or exciting, but I definitely plan to take the family to Disney this weekend. It has been a while (and by “a while” I mean more than three weeks) and I’m getting the Disney shakes. I’d like to go check out some of the new Fantasyland attractions opening up little by little. I think parts of the new Storybook Circus part of Fantasyland are up and running. Maybe we’ll go to EPCOT and see the Flower and Garden Festival, though the Flower Power group this weekend is Paul Revere and the Raiders. That’s not nearly as good as next weekend’s The Turtles or May’s Peter Noone of the Herman’s Hermits who I have seen in concert and is one of the most entertaining performers I’ve ever seen.

Speaking of the Magic Kingdom, one of my latest custom orders will have his own tavern inside the newly revamped Fantasyland. Gaston! Check him out…ponytail, chest hair, eyebrows and all!

Until Gaston’s Tavern is open for business, stop by Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe where I’ll be having lunch tomorrow and get some delicious German food and beer and then head down to Park Avenue Massage and Boutique to see some of the best handmade items Central Florida has to offer. There are over 30 artists and crafters represented there now and I am continuously surprised and impressed by the things on offer there. Check out the pictures of boutique items on their new website! http://www.parkmassageboutique.com/

Have a happy and Disney-magical weekend!

 

Eggs Part 3: Soft-Boiled

You saw the egg-dying results on Sunday, so today I thought I’d show the process. I have been dying yarn since I realized that many of my most-used yarn colors were no longer being made because the company that used to make them was bought out by another yarn company that discontinued the old colorways. I love the cotton yarn I use and don’t want to switch to a different kind of yarn to have more variety of color options, so I decided to delve into yarn-dying. This is only my second batch of dyed yarn, so I’m just a beginner and offer no expert advice….just my experience so far. First, I bought a couple different products to try and to compare. I’ve now used Rit in powder and liquid form, as well as Tulip brand powder dye. I haven’t noticed much difference in the results between the two, other than that the shade labelled on the Tulip pouches don’t accurately describe the color you’re going to get…especially the yellow. The Tulip yellow looks bright yellow on the pouch, but turns out to be more of an orange-yellow when dyed. I used the Rit yellow and it was more the shade on the box.

I chose 6 colors I knew I needed for upcoming projects. I’d never dyed more than one at a time, and that was a bit much. I had to gather up 6 clean buckets, heat 6 gallons of water to steaming, and find several spoons and a pair of tongs for stirring.

I put my son, Jhonen, and my Mom to work. At the bottom of the picture you’ll notice the pile of white yarn waiting to be transformed. It takes a bit of work to get the yarn prepared for their hot, colorful baths.  First, you have to turn the packaged ball into skeins so the yarn can flow around in the water and dye evenly. To do this, we wrapped the yarn around and around something wide. Here you see my son wrapping the yarn around a barstool (make sure you don’t wrap the yarn so tightly around the stool that you can’t pull it off again! oops!)

Then use both ends to tie a little bow loosely around each end of the skein and you get this:

I have debated a lot about that step. I have noticed that my nice skein doesn’t remain nice through the dying process. It always tangles and unravels. I’m going to hopefully remedy this situation in a couple ways next time. Despite the package instructions, I’m not going to stir the yarn next time. The instructions are meant for fabric which I could see bunching and dying unevenly. I don’t think I’ll have that trouble with the yarn. I will just sort of poke at the yarn occasionally to make sure it’s floating around. I also thought of buying a bundt pan specifically for yarn dying and put the skein around the inside of the bundt pan so that the skein remains a skein instead of a bunched up spaghetti-like pile that takes an hour to unravel…or takes your poor Mom an hour to unravel when I force her to do it for me. 🙂

I’ve been following the package instructions, adding salt, and leaving the yarn in the hot water for a certain amount of time. I don’t know that the yarn needs to sit as long as it says and have found that I’ve accidentally made my yarn too dark as a result of leaving it in for so long.

Here’s the finished result hung out to dry…and dry….and dry…it takes a loooooong time.

I didn’t want to leave the yarn to bleach out in the direct sunlight, but it wouldn’t dry, so I eventually put the yarn in a 200 degree oven for a couple hours and it dried much better. Here they are!

The pink came out darker than I wanted, the gray came out bluer than I wanted, the orange yellow came out lighter than I wanted, but the others are great! 🙂 This will take some practice.

As for the eggs, we all had a great time dying them and the color was so instantly vibrant and lovely that we didn’t tie-dye them as I had originally planned. Instead, we dyed the eggs first and used them as our color-testers. Jho loved dying the Easter eggs and his review was, “this is a great activity for me!”

Mom quickly suggested separating the eggs with the coffee filters. They were brushing up to each other and I ended up with a couple unwanted spots. I also ended up with a pooling problem…one side of the eggs have a dark spot on them from sitting too long without being moved.

All-in-all it was fun AND productive and I love that I can keep these pretty colored eggs until next year and then add to the collection with some multi-colored ones. I now regret the decision to make them all one color because, with a small swatch of yarn, I did THIS and I LOVE it:

With results like that, yarn-dying could get addictive. Mom asked that I crochet her an Easter egg using that yarn. I will have to post a follow-up photo of that when it’s finished.

So, that’s that! I have 6 Easter eggs and their 6  matching skeins of yarn that all need untangling and then will turn into happy bumblebees, broccolis, piggies, corgis, octopi, and elephants.

Hope you’re having a happy and colorful week!

Fun in Florida Friday: Easter Eggs Part 1

Easter is a sneaky holiday.  It sneaks up on me every year. I even predicted that would happen in an earlier post. I thought, this year, I will think ahead and prepare accordingly. Again, I failed. I have no bunnies or chicks or peeps to share. I started making a bunny weeks ago and hated it, so I stopped and never tried again. I think bunnies are discouraging to crochet because there are already so many dang amigurumi bunnies it’s hard to think of how to make one special or different. Plus, I’ve had lots of custom orders keeping me busy. That said, yesterday I had such a fun Easter project idea and really wish I’d thought of it weeks ago!

I’ve always found the whole Easter-egg-dying tradition a little underwhelming. First off, I hate eating hard boiled eggs…nothing is worse than faintly pink or blue, rubbery egg. Gross. Second, once you dye them (a messy, smelly process) then what do you DO with them? Do they sit around and rot? Do you actually hide them? What fun is it to find stinky, dirty, cracked eggs? Do you do what I did last year and make beautiful eggs that took up way too much room in my refrigerator until I figured they’d gone bad and just threw them away? And the alternative, blowing out each egg, makes the eggs extra fragile, plus you nearly bust a gut trying to blow the gunk out! Third, you either eat them or you throw them away. They don’t last. It’s just this weird thing you do every year just…because.

So what’s the solution?

Use crocheted eggs! Then (attempt to) dye them!! As long as the fiberfil doesn’t soak through and never dry….my only real concern about this process…I think the results are going to be beautiful. Plus, this is the perfect time to test out a variety of dye brands and shades to see if I can get the colors I need that have been recently discontinued.    

I will write up a complete report in the next two to three blog posts. I only have those three eggs crocheted so far and, as I said earlier in the week, I am crocheting as fast as I can for this Homespun Chic Marketplace event in May. Still, I really love the idea of dying my own reusable Easter eggs….eggs that can double as non-fragile decorations year after year and that can be used for tossing and juggling! I wish that I had been able to make them by the dozen and sell them, but there will not be time. Instead, I will take part in the tradition in a non-traditional way….my favorite way of doing things.

Besides crochet egg dying, this weekend is jam-packed with events all over Central Florida. First I will take my kids to the free story and music time at the JCC of Maitland from 10:15-noon Friday. Then I’ll be meeting a friend at one of my very favorite places to have lunch, That Deli to celebrate National Soup Month (they don’t fake fresh). Then I’ll come home and crazily clean up the house and make Ben’s favorite dish (Linguine with brussel sprouts, bacon and shallots from Good Life Eats, one of my favorite food blogs) for an early Easter dinner with both our Moms. I highly recommend the recipe.

Then I plan to attend the Sanford Food Truck Bazaar on Saturday night to introduce my Mom to the joy of waiting in super long lines to eat delicious food prepared in a vehicle. Never been to a Food Truck Bazaar? Shame on you! They happen all over town. Find your local Food Truck event here. If only the Food Truck scene had been this amazing when Trio Gelato was open. We would have been a hit! Oh well. I’d probably rather be the one eating than the one serving for the time being.

Other than all that, I will also try and get some Easter crafts together for the kids, take tons of pictures of them, maybe go to the giant Deltona Easter Egg event, and hopefully hit up Bok Tower Gardens, which seems like a lovely place to spend an Easter weekend. It’s so amazingly beautiful there with the carillon bells ringing as swans glide by on the water surrounding the gorgeous tower and blooming flowers.

Whew! Stay tuned to find out if my crocheted Easter egg dying was a hit or a flop and I hope you have a great weekend full of fun, too!

Happy Easter, everybody!

p.s. Even though I said all that stuff about dying eggs, Jho and I did go over to our best friend’s house today and dyed really awesome Easter eggs using all-natural dyes she made by hand from ingredients like red wine, spinach, turmeric, pomegranate, and grape juice. Look how cool! If you want to try, this is the website she used for her recipes and info. Look how pretty!

Here were all the natural dyes she made!

Always fun to make an old tradition seem new again. I was glad to get to try it…without having to do all the dishes. 😉

 

owls, book recommendations, and sketching

Meet my new favorite fella, Professor Higginsworth!

Here he is in front of some of our very favorite books. We both highly recommend them.

 

I am really happy with how he turned out and hope I can duplicate him for my shop. This guy is a source of pride for me as he is completely, 100% my design without asking Ben for any sketching help. My husband draws better than me and knows how to make things look cute. I tend to rely on him for sketching help, but this time I felt compelled to do it all myself.

From now on, I am going to try sketching with my new iPad in an app called Paper. It’s  a cool app that lets you make sketches inside “journals” that actually look like journals. It gets poor reviews on iTunes because it seems you have to pay for every feature it offers, but I just need the basics for these sketches, so I don’t care about buying additional brushes or colors. Do any of you readers have a sketching app you particularly like?

If I use this from now on, then I can easily blog my sketches and keep them all together so I can reference old ones easily. I am thrilled with my new iPad, especially the message my husband had inscribed on the back.

I’ve always used sketches to figure out the basic shapes of my amigurumi creatures, but it wasn’t until the shiba inu ami that I really, really depended on the sketch. I was nervous about getting the pieces proportional to each other, so I asked Ben to sketch the shiba inu full-size. Suddenly I wasn’t  nervous anymore. As I crocheted, I compared the size of my crocheted pieces to the drawing and could increase or decrease each row accordingly. It wasn’t fool-proof, because the drawing was 2D and I was working in 3D, but it was a good guide.

For this owl, I depended on sketches to figure out what sort of eyes to make. There are so many owl variations. I’m happy with this one, though, and can’t wait to make more of them. Maybe make some with striped pants.

I’ve been really busy with custom orders, most of which I can’t blog about yet because they are surprises for people. I’d hate to spoil a surprise. I’m also feverishly preparing for my first true craft show coming up on Sunday, May 6th, from 2pm-6pm at the Home Builder’s Association in Maitland. I am so excited for it, but a little anxious, too. I am going to be in serious crochet mode for the next month. Wish me luck and mark your calendars! If you missed it earlier, Professor Higginsworth and I were featured on the Homespun Chic Marketplace website here.

Have a sketch you want brought to life in amigurumi form? I’d love for you to send it my way…especially if you don’t mind getting it after May 6th. 🙂

Happy sketching!