Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Wrapup

Gift wrapping and gift giving...

The frosty salted pillar candles were a gift for my Mom:

The amigurumi reindeer was for my Aunt:

The mice were for all of the cats in my life, here's Kiki:

And oh! gifts for me...

and I made this chilly
on the day after Christmas. 
I want to keep him, so we'll see...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Frosty Salted Pillar Candles

Merry Christmas!  It's been two days of good food, family, gifts and fun.  I really enjoyed making many of the presents I gave this year and these snowy candles from Martha Stewart Living were a hit.

Another great Martha craft that was so easy and had everyone asking how it was done.  With just some glue and epsom salt you can make candles wintry in seconds. 

I found silver trays and fabric flowers at Jamali Garden Supplies in the flower district, a great resource for decor, candles, wire, floral tape, glass, stones, shells and beyond.  And I wanted to give the whole wintry scene in one piece, so I poured in more salty snow, nestled in some greenery and the glittery matchboxes I made and set the arrangement into extra large boxes from The Container Store.

Wrapping was a little challenging, but I made a few labels to say "This End Up!" and they were ready to go into the car for Christmas Eve delivery.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reindeer and Squirrel

Completed: Tuesday, 12/22/09. 
Reindeer Pattern: from Crochetville by Carrie Au.  Yarn: Lion Brand Yarn in Chocolate, Honey and Black.  
Squirrel Pattern: from Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli.  Yarn: Lion Wool in Pearl Gray, Vanna's Choice in Dusty Rose.  
Acorn Pattern: from PlanetJune by June Gilbank.  Yarn: Lion Wool in Pearl Gray, Vanna's Choice in Dusty Rose

This is the forest of amigurumi gifts I've finished over the last few days.  I needed a holiday pattern, so this reindeer was perfect and I fell in love with it when I saw the great pattern on Crochetville by Carrie Au.  Even the sort of complicated antler section was explained very well, including a few instructional photos.
I don't love the sewing everything together part, but it must be done.  I bought some pretty pins at Michael's to help out.
I couldn't find a pattern for a squirrel online, so I bought the adorable book Amigurumi Too! by Ana Paula Rimoli.  I'm making it for my boyfriend's daughter, so I wanted to make sort of a girly, pink squirrel.
I didn't have any felt to make the nose and mouth like the book wisely recommends and I'm having a little trouble getting the faces just right.  Will have to work on that, but basically I was happy with how everything turned out.

I also wanted the squirrel to have a tasty acorn, so I found this cute pattern from PlanetJune.  I was sticking with the pink theme, so it looks a bit like a strawberry, but I think the squirrel will be happy to have it for the winter.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 Little Mice

Completed: Monday, 12/21/09. Pattern: from Lion Brand Yarn. Yarn: Lion Wool Yarn in Pearl Gray
My 2nd amigurumi project was these cat toy mice from Lion Brand.  I know a lot of people on my Christmas gift list with cats and these seemed quick and easy.
I got better as I went along, so the last one took just under an hour, start to finish.
In addition to the fiberfill stuffing, these little guys are also full of catnip.  And I needed some jingle bells so I snipped them off this cat collar.
OK, one more shot: meow.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Decorative Decal Pillar Candles

I finished my first Christmas gift project last night: Martha Stewart Living's Decorative Decal Pillar Candles.  The website has the beautiful clip art that you can print onto a decal sheet, which you spray with clear varnish (in a well-ventilated area!).  Then apply the paper to the candles and matchboxes: very simple!  I also covered a couple matchboxes with glitter.

Finding the matchbooks was actually the hardest part, nothing in drug stores, restaurant supply stores, etc...Recently, The New York Times wrote about the resurgence in matchbox popularity as "a new old freebie" even though smoking isn't allowed in restaurants here anymore.  So, I finally walked into a famous restaurant not to be named, lest they be overrun with matchbox requests, and they were very accommodating and generously gave me 6!
I'm planning on giving these as Christmas gifts, but tested one out to make sure it didn't burn through the paper and it worked out fine.  Then I added a glass coaster and ribbon and voila: fini!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I heart Lion Brand

I'm in love with Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  They have a cozy, bright shop full of very affordable yarns (with a different type discounted each month), supplies, books, classes and a very helpful staff!  I took the Beyond the Basics Crochet class with Stacy and she was so warm and helpful.  I stopped in last night and her Beginner's class was in progress with about 10 newbies.  When I found out that the Soft Pink Fun Fur yarn I needed wasn't in the store, they brought me to the computer (where you can also print out free patterns), and ordered it online for me, waived the shipping charge and said it would be delivered to my home in just a few days.  They also have a lineup of special events that I'd really like to get to when I have some time off...
34 West 15th Street between 5th & 6th Avenue

Monday, December 7, 2009

Inside MSLO

I braved the rain and the first snow of the month to go to the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Holiday Craft Sale.  Martha has been an inspiration to me for years so it was exciting just to walk the halls of the office and peer through the doors.  When the elevators opened on the 9th floor there was a long line that curved around a few corners, but moved quickly and opened onto a large, light-filled room of crafts of all kinds.

I love the possibilities of creativity, seeing how someone else views the world and what they can potentially bring to it. 

I saw a necklace made with the tiniest crochet hook I've ever seen, which made a round no larger than a thumbnail.  I picked up a pretty stuffed animal and admired how soft it was, knowing that it was made of cashmere, but not realizing at first that every figure on the table had been made from cashmere sweaters. 

There was a table where you could make your own gift tags with the Martha paper punches.  I had already bought the scalloped tag punch at Michael's, but I was here for the snowflake shape. 

They were out of the edge punch that could make a whole line of flakes along the side of a page, but I got the alpine snowflake punch and was quite happy with the two garlands I've made so far.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Michael's Haul and Martha's Craft Sale

[source: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia]
Right before Thanksgiving I picked up the December issue of Martha Stewart Living and got inspired: time to get creative again.  After many attempts were refuted by work and guilty pre-turkey-day trips to the gym, this week I finally trekked up to Manhattan's first Michael's craft store!  

For 2 hours it was like being back in my little hometown again (and 15 years old, with so much more free time). 
And Martha has a whole line of beautiful craft supplies sold there: glitter, paper punches, scrapbooking supplies, ribbon...very exciting.

And even more so, Martha Stewart Living is having a holiday craft sale today, December 5th!  I've been struggling with the crocheted snowflakes on their website.  I asked a salesperson at the otherwise lovely Purl Soho shop if he knew what crochet cotton was and all I got was a "no, I don't" and that was it.  Humpf.  I soldiered on and bought a ball of lovely, soft, snow white Rowan 100% cotton and it was all going so well in Pattern 1 until it came to "8 ch???s".  
I tried to wing it despite the typo, but ended up at the end of one tip, not knowing how to get back into the center.  Hm, Martha what did I do wrong? 
Well, I'm still really looking forward to the event, maybe I'll get even more ideas.  Such a short month: Christmas is less than 3 weeks away!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Craft corner in progress

Some people have craft rooms, a friend of mine has a craft closet that she can hardly close.  I'm developing a craft corner and it's growing a bit too small.  My  boyfriend been pretty generous with the space at his place so I'm trying to keep it neat.  These are just a few bags from the beginnings of my holiday shopping.  When one has less money to spend on presents, embellish!  But there must be a neater and cuter way to store all this stuff. 

This is my relatively tiny craft box: 3 different sewing kits (needed different colors of thread, and the scissors in there always break right away, thus the extras), the label from the yarn I've been knitting a scarf with, 2 different kinds of stitch markers, hmmm...

But, over here a a very abbreviated reading list.  Nothing like the 2 book shelves full at my place.

So, for now I'm trying to keep things organized, at least in this little corner of the world.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Amigurumi Turkey

Completed: Thanksgiving Day 2009. Pattern: from Lion Brand Yarn. Yarns: Vanna’s Choice Acrylic in Chocolate, Mustard, Cranberry and Honey, plus the black yarn I unraveled from a failed shawl.

I was totally amused by my very first amigurumi project. I swear I just giggled as I was crocheting it. And what better yarn to use around Thanksgiving than colors with food names?
Why take on a project when it seems like you have no time? It’s never stopped me before. Of course it caught up with me a little bit when I realized that I didn’t have black yarn for the pilgrim hat, so I sat in bed Thanksgiving morning unraveling a shawl that was completed, fringe and all, but which I’d never really liked and knew I’d never wear. The unraveling wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, I figured I’d just pull on one end and go, but instead I ended up with a lot of random pieces and a big pile of yarn.

On the train to my parents' house, I sewed the beak, wattle, drumsticks, wings and tail onto the head and body. And I got enough black yarn scraps to make the hat, complete with the gold "buckle". I think I’ll be making another amugurmi soon. Christmas is coming…

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Full moon, new month

December 1st already, the last month of a super busy 2009.  I'm getting back into my crafts after a long hiatus, so I'm making lists full of holiday preparations: snowflakes to crochet, socks to knit, candles to pour, penguins to felt, cookies to bake, and all of the craft stores, yarn shops and flea markets to visit around New York City.  And thinking about this article on "The Zen of Crafting". 
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