Sunday, May 29, 2011

Birthday card

I needed to make a quick birthday card for a little girl.  I learned how to make a "shaped edge" card using  my gypsy from a nice video by Sheila's "Shes a SassyLady"blog a while ago.  This shows how I put the images on the virtual mat.  The left hand dark arrow on the screen points the direction the mat goes into the machine.  Yes, I've goofed & put the wrong end in before.  The mat can go in the machine from either end, but if you have a plan & put it in backwards its an oopsie moment.
This shows how I put the paper on the mat so I don't have to cut it out 4 different times.  This is a great way to use scraps or smaller pieces of paper.  There is one blue piece I didn't even bother to cut off to fit the mat. As long as paper hangs off the end & not the sides of the mat its no big deal.  I learned to plan out my mat from the Cricut messageboards.
This is how it looks after its cut out & the extra paper is peeled away.  The spatula tool is helpful to get them off the sticky cutting mat.  I cut out the lilac base already, you can see partial little girl silhouette on the left edge.
Here is the finished card with the layers glued together using a zig glue pen.  The little girl & cat is from "Meow Lite" cartridge, the candle is from "Wild Card" cartridge, the cupcake is from "Gypsy Wanderings" a preloaded cartridge in the Gypsy, and Happy Birthday is from "Paper Pups" cartridge.  The gypsy definitely makes it easier to fully access the images on the cartridges I own.
This is some scrap hologram type paper from a wrecked gift bag.  It has some sort of plastic coating, so I used a sharpie to colour it.  I noticed that if I keep colouring it in, the colour gets darker with each layer, a sweet lil discovery I think :)  The 4 square scrap shows the colour progression; the top one is not coloured, then one coating, two coatings, and three coatings at the bottom square. 
Here is the inside, again with the sparkle.  I know she liked it

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Finger Knitting

I did lots of pictures.  Boomer enjoyed helping with this part.  Here's what can be done with the oddball plied acrylic yarns.  Tie a slip knot & slip it on your non-dominant pinky finger.
This is an exaggeration of how the loop is before it is looped over each of the remaining fingers.
Four fingers looped:  check!

I went along for quite awhile as you can see by what boomer has grabbed.
Bring the yarn up over the index finger & down across your palm.
It doesn't matter what your preference is to start at the top or the bottom as long as you are consistent.  I start at the top.  One at a time loop the link closest to your palm over the draped strand to the back, without allowing the draped yarn to be dragged off too.  That makes a new loop on your hand.  Index, middle, ring then pinky...  I skipped posting pictures of index & ring progression.
There's pinky waiting to be looped... 
Save your spot, Boomer needs some scratchies.  If you need to stop at any time & slip in  a pen with a pocket clip, this is how you know where to pick up again.  Top of the pen is top of your hand, easy peasy.  I only had a pencil handy for this picture.
See where the tip of the pencil is in the picture below? It kinda looks like a hollow in the tube.  
See how Boomer is such a big help.  This goes along quick because it is such a chunky yarn.  Don't forget to tug the tail down periodically as you go along.  Not Boomer's tail!
Now you have a giant coil of finger-knitting, its very similar to spool knitting.   Tie it off by pulling the end through the loops & tugging tight.  If you leave an un-knit tail about twice as long as the coil you can use it to do the stitching.   
I used a pipe-cleaner twisted into a needle.   Grab 2 loops each pass to connect them...
A little trial & error to make it into a chair mat.  Boomer was done playing with the yarn & moved on to playing with the pipe-cleaner.  If you are too generous leaving more & more spaces to get it stitched up faster it makes the edge rippled & its not as cushy.   This isn't a new project, but its relaxing & easy to do during TV plane or car trips.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Plying Yarn

What's this?
Boomer thinks they're good cat toys.  A friend saves up her oddball acrylic yarns for me.  No landfill for these yarns.  If you have old yarns, give them away, even the smallest amounts, some crafter somewhere is happily scrounging goodwill stores for these oddball treasures.
The smallest balls get grouped together into similar colours.  Blues & greens & greys.  Reds & yellows & oranges & pinks.  I'm not too fussy but I try to keep warm & cool colours separate so they don't visually fight.  
The runt balls get knotted together to be wound into one continuous ball.  Boomer really wants to go take one for  a test run around the house.  When a cat gets ahold of yarn in our home its called kitty knitting.
3-4 balls of acrylic yarn get plied together on the spinning wheel to become a thicker yarn.  Yes I have a spinning wheel & know what to do with it.  No I'm not a crazy old lady.  No I'm not cracked, well, maybe slightly at times, LOL!  Trust me, its relaxing, functional, & perfectly sane.  Y'know the trendy knitting yarns that are really expensive & exclusive in the stores?  Spinners are the ones who know how to make it themselves, without a big pricetag either.
 This is my Ashford spinning wheel.  I know its slightly twisted, poor thing needs some TLC.  If you really want to learn to make your own yarns, support your local Spinning & Weaving Guild.  They are enthusiastic, intelligent welcoming people, there is a wealth of information to tap into.  Support a guild & you get a whole new network of creative people to share with.
 I've looped onto the bobbin leader & twisted it in.  Learning to ply is one of the first things taught to beginning spinners.  It lets you get the feel of how the wheel operates without getting too fuddled up.  Kinda like learning to drive in an automatic car before learning to drive standard.  Learning to spin is like that, its a physical & mental learning.  There are plenty of youtube videos & blogs devoted to spinning & weaving so I'm not going to max this post out with a spinning tutorial.
 See, here's some kitty knitting.  Boomer really does like to help!
 Uh oh, one of those oddball yarns ran out.  No biggie, tie a knot with another colour & keep going.

Here on the bobbin you can sorta see 2 colour transitions.  There's 3 for sure.
 My bobbin is full, time to unload.
See that ball?  Thats what I rolled off the bobbin.  Each ball can make a mat about as big as what Boomer is sitting on.  We have a family friend who is legally blind.  He learned to do bulky spool knitting before his sight got too bad.  My family plies the acrylic yarns thick, and he spool knits them.  It takes about 30-45 minutes to make a plied ball of yarn.  It takes him about 8 hours to spool-knit & stitch them into mats.  Thats indomitable spirit in action!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Doodle book

I have been hunting around to find where I learned how to make these dandy little posterboard books & gosh durned it I cannot find it.  I can't take credit for the idea, but I can share it.  
You will need a sheet of posterboard (dollar store, stationary section of most stores...), ruler, calculator, pencil, needle & dental floss.
Measure & divide the sheet into thirds.  It will not come out evenly, don't stress out.  Add the slight extra to one end, make the other two of the thirds sized the same.  The bigger one is the cover.  Boomer says "See how that works out?" If you mix them up just pile them up together, they will show you which one is the bigger one.  The bigger third is divided in half to become the cover.  The other two need to be divided into thirds.  Posterboard will fold much nicer if you score the lines first.  The picture below shows how they are overlapped to become a book.  It does not matter which way you lap them as long as the thirds pages are offset.  Mark each spine fold sheet into thirds, poke holes in each sheet.  Something about thirds makes this easy to remember, hmmm...
Start in the centre of the inside of the book & poke the needle threaded with dental floss through to the outside.  It doesn't matter if you go top to bottom or bottom to top.  You will poke it back from the outside to the inside.  Then the inside to the last outer hole & back to centre.  If you picture a figure 8 for the thread path it will make more sense.  Tie a knot.  If you double twist the knot will cinch tighter.  Like you tie your shoes, except loop twice, repeat & no bunny ears.

 See how the cover sticks out more than the pages.  Score a line about 1/8" more than the pages & fold them in.
This is how the book looks from the top profile.  If you are like me & didn't measure carefully, its okay to cheat & trim the edges of the book to allow them to fold in.  Dig out your old deckle scissors from the kids craft pile & make the edges funky if you like.
If you need the book to be a little more durable I suggest to poke 4 holes binding for the construction, then picture over & under stitching ending up on the inside when done.  I find the thirds thread construction the pages twist a bit. Now get busy, art it up, doodle, glue in things from magazines, go  have fun playing around.  This is the very same booklet style that I doodled in my earliest blog posts.  I would post a direct link if I knew how to do that.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter Cards

I love Easter, so I made some cards.  I used "everyday pop-ups" cartridge for my cricut & got busy with some pre-made blank cards & envelopes.  This recollections brand paper (Lumiere)  is so pretty, it has a faint shimmer in the light.  I used 4 colours & mixed & matched the butterfly cutouts with the backings.  Strong double stick tape is best for attaching the pop-up mechanisms to the cards & attachments.  Regular glue is fine for putting layers together.  There's lots of awesome youtube videos & sites showing wonderful 3D & pop-up paper creations.

There is little bits of foam adhesive squares in between to puff them apart a bit. This is an elongated U mechanism, for lack of better description.  It was a bit of a trick to figure out, but it is basically folded zig-zags & between these 2 pictures you can get the idea of how it is attached.

 These were fun to put together.  They're pretty basic looking as far as cards go, I figured the star was the inside mechanism so no need to over-do it.
 Here is how they look opened up.  The flower opens with a twist counterclockwise, & needs a bit of help to twist back (clockwise) to close the card again.  They do get better with repeated handling.  They stay propped up nicely on their own.

This is the mechanism that holds the twist of the flower.  It is all predetermined sizes on the cartridge & I admit, I'm not great at noting that stuff.  I think I cut it out at 5" & the 3 flower layers & this twist thing are all sized proportionally.  There are teeny tiny score marks that show where to fold the paper.  Pre-scoring definitely makes nicer creases.  I used pen on this to help it show up better.  A dead ballpoint pen & little ruler make perfect inexpensive scoring tools.  See where my finger points at the X & broken line?  I found that cutting that piece away on each side greatly improved how well it opens & closes.  The black lines show the folds: the diagonal X is folded "mountain fold" with the peaks up, the horizontal line is folded "valley fold" with the peak down.  This thing gets applied to the card opening right to left oriented just like the below picture.  When it is closed compacts in on itself & become 2 triangles with tabs.  See the triangles?  They are where you attach the flowers or whatever you like.  I have visions of happy faces, or even better would be creepy faces, he he he!
 Card fronts, using Easter Seasonal 2010 cartridge, and a martha stewart punch to make the ripples & dotty layers.  never mind my table & chair legs, blood pressure monitor etc in the background :) 
 After I figured out how to modify the twist mechanism I tried one with the biggest size flower, the trick is not to expect to glue it right snug into the centre of the flower.  I found if I glued one side in then I could align the other side in easier.  

Happy Spring to you!