Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back To Spring

It seemed like the perfect day today to make this little nest of peeps with the balmy 60 degree breeze streaming through the windows for the first time in months and months. You may recognize that it is a takeoff on the project in Family Fun magazine Easter edition. Cam had a great time picking up the little seed bead eyes with a pair of tweezers and gluing them into place. It turned out to be a fun craft time together and a little hand-eye-coordination exercise for him as well (ok, for me too).

I must say that I did a bit of scrambling to figure out how I would get the nest to stick together since the directions called for liquid starch and I had none. I watered down some flexible fabric glue and it seemed to do the trick. Cam's favorite part was dipping and dragging the yarn through the sticky glue while I wrapped and wrapped it around a cling wrap covered bowl to resemble the nest.

The little birdies reminded me of the Spring Peeps crochet pattern I designed a couple of years ago.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

The All-American Fiber Burger Discovered

Perfect for vegans and carnivores alike, this classic burger has all of the character and none of the calories! My very first crochet design, born out of the frustration with plastic toy food and lack of any such crochet pattern available nearly three years ago, has been discovered. It was my very first item sold on Etsy and has been modified over and over again since to achieve the perfect look (ah, perfection again) and now also includes a pickle upgrade for an extra $5 . Only ten more available here. I only wish I was just a bit faster at making them than I was then. It still takes me 6 hours to complete just one.

Ellen Warren's feature in the Chicago Tribune came out yesterday and it was a hit! Ten burgers sold out in less than 24 hours. You can see the feature article here in her column "Just One Thing" Ellen was great and her article was terrific. Check it out!

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Wooly Stripes And The Tetanus Shot

Just a few weeks back I couldn't resist snagging this vibrant wool sweater from the thrift store. I wasn't sure exactly what I would do with it but knew it had potential. So, I packed it up and brought it home along with the matching sequin bracelet sitting next to it in the picture that gave a nice contrast to the wool. It sat on my cutting table awaiting its fate for nearly a month.

And then, on the day the town nearly shut down with it's frigid -18 wind chill, it was decided. Baby Chase was going to get a new hat.

I carefully cut the threads that joined the turtleneck to the bodice, separating the two pieces. This left me with the unbound loops from the last row of the knitting which I wove a piece of yarn through and cinched closed to form the top of the hat.

I took a huge gob of wonderful red wool roving that I had ordered earlier from www.yarnpunk.etsy.com and began felting a perfect pom-pom for the top. I experimented a bit with it. I haven't done tons of felting but I knew how to needle felt a ball. Then when it was a nice shape but not perfectly round (because I do so very much like perfection) and not small enough, I turned to wet felting the rest. I'm sure this next part is not conventional but it worked. I held it under warm water and squeezed it and shaped it like play-dough. I thought I'd heard about using soap too so I put a bit of laundry detergent on it and it seemed to smooth the stray fibers if nothing else. Once I had achieved the perfect, compressed sphere (don't panic now) I threw it in the dryer on medium and watched it bounce around and around. I don't know if this really made it much smaller but I was very impatient to finish the hat for the following morning and didn't think a soggy ball would fare well in the cold weather. Could you imagine that big ice chunk on the top of Chase's head?

Well, the felted ball was terrific, even if I did stab myself in the thumb and ended up with a Tetanus shot the next day. Hey, that reminds me to remind you to keep up-to-date on these shots. I have been stabbing myself for years with needles and pins but never really thought about renewing my long overdue Tetanus shot until I started using that charcoal-colored felting needle. It just looked a little scarier than the nice, shiny stainless steel needles I use to sew with. So, don't skip it.

Here is the finished project after attaching the ball with needle and thread and some hot glue (shh, don't tell!)

Cute as a button and there's still so much more I can do with the rest of the sweater! Here are some tips if you have an old turtleneck you'd like to recycle:

1. If you cannot find the thread that attaches the neck to the bodice, very carefully cut it off using a sharp pair of scissors. Be very careful not to stretch it or tug on it which will deform it and possibly make it unravel.

2. My cinching the loops worked great but there is an alternative if you're handy with the sewing machine. Simply flatten the tube (neck piece) measure the open, cut edge and mark it into four even segments. Sew from the edge of one side toward the middle stopping at the first marking. Repeat on the other side. Now fold and flatten the opening in the other direction with your stitched sides running down the middle front and middle back and remaining markings now at the edge of the tube. Sew across the opening. You should have sewn an "X" at one end of the tube which will now become the top of the hat.

3. You can put a store purchased puff, pom-pom or felted ball at the top of the hat to add character or nothing at all!

I know that you're probably thinking "Why are we talking about a winter hat when it's spring?" Well, my friend, spring may be approaching on the calendar but take a look outside. The Easter Bunny may just be making footprints in the snow this year...