Gingham Revisited

So, if you remember, I finished a purple gingham blanket in October (see https://akatereynolds.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/weekend-workroom-finishing/). Things are beginning to look a little familiar around here, because I began a green gingham blanket in January. I’m about 15 rows from finishing the body. I didn’t use stash yarn for this one, and since they are all the same base yarn, it works up pretty quickly because the yarn is all the same size and feel.

I’ve been working on a bunch of projects again, which is nice for a lot of reasons. It’s great to feel creative again. You should be seeing some of them pop up in the next few weeks, as I have time. I’m not going to try to stick to a particular schedule for the time being because the last few months have been really busy and I’m sure the next few will be as well, but I’ll try to be semi-regular in posting items.

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Weekend Workroom: Simple wall art

For a long while, we’ve still been trying to figure out how to fill those empty walls we tend to find throughout our home. We’re getting there, but it has been a slow process because we haven’t wanted to put things up just because we have them. We wanted to put things up that were meaningful or actually might qualify as grown-up art.

And, yes, I know grown-ups rarely refer to themselves as “grown-ups.”

I came across this project, however, and figured that if it worked it could be a really awesome way to make our own “art” pieces for both our bedroom and for the living room (which, aside from the Christmas season when stockings are hung on the wall, can be pretty barren). If it didn’t work, I realized I wouldn’t be out a ton of money and I would have at least spent an afternoon trying something new.

A quote Christopher has really come to love lately (that I’m trying to work into my own heart and mentality, as well) is from G. K. Chesterton: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

So, I set out to try this project. I bought most of my supplies at Michael’s, but I shift my supplier (that sounds so much more official than it actually is) based on what is on sale. Michael’s happened to have the better deals on large (I think they were 18×20-inch canvas packs), as well as a coupon for the Helvetica packs that I used for the lettering. I think I bought the paint there, too.

The project was initially supposed to be a secret but, as most people who know and Christopher and I well, we don’t do particularly well with secrets. We maybe keep them for two days. Then it’s all over. The main reason this project didn’t stay a secret was because I wanted something that would be meaningful for Chris and I wanted his input. We finally (after much debate) settled on short bits of one of the verses from “Be Thou My Vision,” which is one of Christopher’s favorite hymns (if not his favorite).

And, since the process takes a while, we’re still trying to figure out what to put on the other set, which is why they haven’t been put together yet…

Regardless, I liked how the panels turned out, particularly because I took the time to draw the necessary grids and to space letters for each panel, knowing that I am not capable of making anything straight on my own. We decided to keep this set (for our bedroom) really simple, only doing one color per panel. Some colors needed more coats of paint than others (particularly the deep red), but I just kept at it – I did laundry and cleaned the house bit by bit between coats. The paint did bleed in a bit (like the one from A Beautiful Mess), but from any distance it’s not too bad. It adds a bit of texture and gives the Helvetica a bit of a distressed look, which is kind of cool (in my opinion).

Anyway, it was a fun, simple way to do wall art. I’m looking forward to completing some more in the coming year and continuing to make our home both beautiful and meaningful.

Stash-busting V: Gift-wrapping, Round 2

So, seriously, like EPIC FAIL.

I realized after arriving at my parents’ house for the holidays that I forgot to upload pictures I had already taken to Blogger, thus disabling my ability to update  this particular series of posts, which is what I had planned…

I’m very, very sorry for that, but it was good in other ways… like had-a-lot-of-time-to-be-quiet-and-think ways. It was really good to have more than a full week off, to not feel the need to always be somewhere. Times like that really force you to be honest with your own heart.

But more on that some other time.

I wrapped a lot of gifts before we left, continuing to whittle down my stash of gift-wrap supplies. The result? I barely made a dent in what I have left. Sure, I got rid of a few rolls of paper that were nearing their ends and a few rolls of ribbon, but I still have plenty to wrap next year’s gifts and possibly more.

Just another lesson for me that I need to use what I have because I have been given so much, even when you’re just counting my wrapping paper stash.

Regardless, I still feel like I wrapped some pretty gifts. For gift cards, I taped the same tags I used for everything else onto small white (thank-you card) envelopes, which ended up looking clean but still kind of neat. Here are some images from the second round:

I think the last gift was my favorite in terms of wrapping… The paper was thick enough to not tear easily, but still made good creases and wasn’t too glossy to keep tape on. In my view, this is essentially a perfect wrapping paper. I still have plenty left to wrap some things next year, and that makes me look forward to next Christmas!

Stash-busting IV: Gift-wrapping, Round 1

As a continuance of my stash-busting mentality for this Christmas, I decided I needed to bust my gift-wrap stash. Every year, I go out and methodically select wrapping paper and ribbon so that all of my efforts are coordinated and beautiful. I love wrapping gifts, and I love making them pretty.

That being said, I have a lot of half-finished rolls of wrapping paper and spools of ribbon that I’ve picked up on clearance just sitting in my wrapping paper storage bag (yes, I’m that person). I decided that, this year, I needed to finish off what I already had before I could be justified in purchasing anything new. Should all go as planned, I should be cleaned out and ready to start looking for new paper for next year right as everything goes on post-Christmas clearance (which is the best time to buy anything that you needed before Christmas!).

I’m taking gift-wrapping in chunks this year so that papers are similar in the same families. My first set of gifts to wrap was for my brother-in-law, his wife, and their two boys. I chose two similar papers, both with snowflakes, and wrapped as many as I could in one paper before moving on to the next. For tags, I chose monogram letters this year, printed on card stock that I had left over from last year (stash-busting all over the place). I used this font (Apex Lake), which is available for free at dafont.com.

Thus, I give you a glimpse at my first round of wrapped gifts:

Stash-busting III – Lovely Cowl

So, I want to preface this stash-busting post by letting you know that I totally failed in following this pattern so that the product was as it should be. I realized more than halfway through that I missed something in the instructions that affected the pattern, but I kept going and I still like the results.

Here’s the pattern, from Patons. I think you have to create an account to actually log in and see it. But they have a great pattern library online, so it might be worthwhile to sign up just because of that.

I also didn’t use Patons yarn, since I didn’t have any in my stash. What did I use, you might ask? Baby yarn. Because it’s super-soft and it was pretty.

Yarn: Baby Bee, Sweet Delight Baby (60% Acrylic, 40 % Polyamide)
Color: Iris Dreams

Really simple cowl. Essentially, I alternated rows of dtr and sc stitches. You’re supposed to alternate one row dtr and three rows sc, but I missed the repeat. At the end, when everything gets joined together, I improvised rather than following the pattern and chained 5 for the dtr rows and single-chained into the sc rows because I didn’t want just a line of single chain.

Regardless, here’s the result:

It’s a Christmas present, so I’m not naming who I made it for. You’ll just have to deal. And I’m debating making a second one, since I have more yarn… though I’ll try to do it correctly this time.

Stash-busting II – The BFS

One of the first holiday projects I began was this front door stocking that I found at the Caron web site. I used the size of hook that was recommended and a bunch of leftover red yarn balls (if you look really closely, you can tell that they weren’t all the same color, but in the dim light of our living room at any time of day, you can’t tell at all). The pattern says that the gauge doesn’t matter, but let me tell you something:

The gauge does matter.

That’s why I’ve labeled this the “Big Freaking Stocking.” Honestly, that’s what I call it at home. I look at it and think, “Man, that is a big freaking stocking.”

It’s supposed to be about 11″ wide overall, but mine is at least 13″ (which equates to about 5 extra circular inches). It wasn’t a terribly intensive project, because it made up pretty quickly and it’s worked in continuous rounds so there’s not a bunch of time wasted in the turning, but it is certainly big.

It’s pretty great, in spite of its size. I decided to not do the buttons that are part of the pattern, but just leave the lacy cuff as-is instead. It’s one of those classic decorations, and I can always look back and laugh at how I didn’t think it would be so big in the end.

Here it is:

Stash-busting I

It has certainly been a while since I last posted, well, anything. Our no-media November was a great stretch to refresh our hearts in what matters, to read, to work on projects, and to simply get things done.

December, thus far, has been an odd mixture of both, mostly because this season is busy! And, for me, December often means that I’m trying to finish up as many half-finished projects has humanly possible before Christmas arrives.

This year, I decided I needed to bust my stash.

Hopefully, this will need little explanation. Most of us have a stash. It’s that section of storage that is made up of leftover and inherited craft supplies that you keep, but for which you have never found a use.

Well, I decided mine was overgrown and needed to be trimmed down, so I took a strategic aim at Christmas gifts in particular (but, you know, projects in general) trying to find items that could be made with stuff I already had.

My yarn collection is receiving the brunt of the fall cleanup, while I’m thinking my fabric stash will receive the brunt of the spring/summer cleanup.

See, this was my yarn collection before I began sifting through it:

I scoured a bunch of sites for free crochet patterns to see what my options were, and I was pretty amazed at what I found: Everything from stuffed animals to home decor to practical things like dishrags and mop covers, and scarves, hats and clothing. I printed off my favorites, set all my yarn out on a clean couch (I know, right? It’s been a while since that last happened) and started matching project printouts to yarn I already had.

Great sites with free project patterns:
caron.com
favecrafts.com
michaels.com
redheart.com

Over the next few weeks, I hope to bring you glimpses of what I’ve done with my stash (though some projects are, naturally, still unfinished). The first major project I undertook was the gingham blanket I finished earlier this fall, which was done completely with stash yarn. But there’s a lot more to come…