Monday, October 31, 2011

Turkey Hat!

The first (or at least one of the first) crafts that I can remember making was a Turkey Hat back in Kindergarten.

---- I'm pretty sure they used mine as an example on Google---

The school commemorated, although two months apart, the holidays of Thanksgiving and Grandparents Day on the same day. So, since my actual grandparents were away looking at new homes in Chicago, I brought with me two people who I considered my grandparents. The Stockights were members of my church, and Ms. Darlene had been my Sunday School teacher, and my Nursery caregiver since I was born, so it seemed appropriate to invite them along. I remember thinking of myself as a spy the entire day, because I had snuck in a pair of elderly people who weren't actually my grandparents and I figured no one would figure out. The old "church member" in the grandparent disguise. Needless to say, I had a blast making this craft, and I remember it so vividly. Not because the craft is that great (although who wouldn't wear a turkey hat??), but because of the event that craft stood for when I made it. I think that is the most important thing to to have when you are making something; a purpose. Define a purpose for a craft, such as remembering an event, defining a cause, or celebrating a loved one, and the craft will last much longer than ever before.

If you feel compelled to create your own Turkey Hat, here is the link to the instructions!

Proudest In-process Project

I am not, by any means, an experienced knitter. Before this class began, I had never even so much as picked up a set of knitting needles. To be honest, I didn't have too much of a desire to knit. Since entering this class, I have developed a love for knitting I never thought I would possess. Sometimes I become frustrated with the activity, but I love it. At the moment, I have yet to actually complete anything. I am continuously jumping from project to project, and I can't seem to finish a single one. In my defense, I quit most recent project so that I could focus on my project for CASA. I fully intend on returning to it once I finish my work on items for CASA.

However, my scarf that I am currently working on for the CASA project is a project I am very proud of. While it is rather simple - and definitely still in the beginning stages - I learned a new technique in order to be able to do it. Likewise, I have ripped it out and started it over several times, so I've put a lot of effort into it. I want this to be as close to perfect as it can be, so it's taking me more time. I'm really excited about where it has come thus far! I learned to pearl for this, which I was really intimidated about at first. I didn't even want to try because I thought it would be more difficult than it really was, so I simply... didn't. However, now I am working away at this scarf and pearling like a pro!

The pattern is slip one in the beginning, then knit two, pearl one for the duration of the row, finishing with one knitted stitch. It's relatively simple, but a whole new world for a beginner like me! Here is a pciture of my work thus far.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Proudest Project Proudly Modeled by Domino

I would have to say that out of all the projects that I’ve made since I learned how to knit that my favorite project would be the dog sweater I made for one of my miniature chocolate dachshunds. I had been knitting for a couple of months at the time and I was so excited about having the ability to knit that I wanted to knit all of my Christmas presents for that year. The only trouble was deciding what projects I could make (and more importantly complete) for my family and friends before Christmas morning. I found easy patterns for presents for everyone except my sister, Sabrina. I had no idea what she wanted for Christmas. I spent several days pondering about what to make for her when I got the idea of making something for her beloved dog and call it hers. The weather had gotten really cold and our dachshunds live indoors 99% of the time so they were not used to the cold weather. Whenever me and my sister would take them out to do their “business,” their tiny bodies would shiver the whole time we were outside and we felt really bad for them. We didn’t really know how we could help them except buying warm dog clothes for them, but we could not find any that would fit them. Dachshunds have really long bodies and have keeled, or pointed chest, that made finding store bought clothes that fit difficult. I decided to make Sabrina’s dog, Domino, a little sweater for Christmas and give his sweater to Sabrina as her Christmas present. I found a pattern on that was worked in two pieces so I could modify the pattern to fit his body shape. I worked on it at night so that my sister wouldn’t see what I was making for her dog. My dad helped me measure little Domino because he got too excited and wiggly whenever I tried to put the half-made sweater on him by myself. The top piece of the sweater was really easy to make and I just added enough rows to the pattern until the sweater was long enough. The bottom chest piece was the challenge. I had never modified a pattern before, so what better place to start? I taught myself how to increase and decrease stitches via several YouTube videos and before I knew it I was inventing a new pattern for the bottom part of the sweater! There were so many time that I messed up and had to redo the entire section of sweater because I had either decreased too little or increased too much and vice versa. Throughout all of these trials and errors, Domino thoroughly enjoyed being the center of attention and model of his developing sweater. I was just starting to doubt that I would ever get the sweater to fit when one of my attempts actually fit him perfectly! I was super excited and my excitement got little Domino so happy and hyper that he started running circles around me and barking! Thankfully he didn’t unravel the sweater while he was running around and only got me tangled in the dragging yarn that was pulled from the remaining skein. After untangling myself, I sewed in the loose ends of yarn, wrapped his sweater in wrapping paper and waited for Christmas morning to see how Sabrina would like her present. She opened the wrapping paper to see what I had made and was so pleased by the sweater that she put the sweater on Domino immediately and took lots of pictures. I was proud that I was able to make a sweater that my sister loved and that helped a beloved pet stay warm. I was especially proud that I was actually able to make a sweater that I initially thought was probably too advanced for me to complete beautifully. Who would have known that one little sweater could teach me so many skills and please other people and animals at the same time?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Proudest Craft

When I was in the eighth grade I had to have surgery, which prevented me from being involved in my usual extra-curricular activities. I'm the type of person that always has to be doing something, and I couldn't stand being stuck at home watching TV all the time, so, instead of doing that, my mom drove me out to my granny's house everyday for a week so she could teach me how to crotchet. At first, I created lopsided, lumpy "scarves," most of which were never actually finished. However, about six months after learning how to crotchet, I found out that my aunt was pregnant; being the only one in my immediate family who was even remotely crafty, I was commissioned to make my soon-to-be cousin a blanket.
Needless to say, I was in over my head.
I started out by going through some of granny's pattern books; I'm pretty sure I started about seven blankets before I actually found one that I liked and stuck to it. Because my aunt wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise, I chose to use green yarn and finally got down to business. I remember getting about half-way through the blanket pattern that I had chosen and thinking that I would never get it finished.
I started the blanket when my aunt was approximately four months pregnant and didn't finish it until the week before her due date. A fact that could be because with every mistake, I had to rip it and start again. But. Finally, five months later, I had my first actual completed project: a green baby blanket with a white edging. While I'm sure I'll complete much more complex and challenging products in the future, I feel like this will still be the object I'm the most proud of because it was my first.

FO For the Win!

I’ve been knitting for about two years now, and I can honestly say that each project I finished during that first year was my proudest finished object.  Before I started knitting, I had trouble finishing projects.  I tried to learn to crochet and started blanket after blanket (which all ended up shaped like a triangle).  With knitting, I found something that made since to me, and it was one of my deepest desires to finish an object.  I still remember the feeling I had when I finished my first scarf, which was a lumpy apple green mess with a hastily embroidered “A” on it for my cousin Allyson.  But after all the projects I have completed now, I can honestly say that my proudest finished object would have to be the sweater I completed this summer.
The construction of the sweater wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be.  Since most of it was knitted in the round, there was a lot of brainless knitting that occurred after I had made it around the arm area.  The simple stockinette stitching through the body and the ribbing on the neck and waist make the sweater look so cohesive that I had almost convinced myself that someone could have paid money for it.  The thick white and turquoise stripes contrasted against each other so well that my aversion to using multiple colors was starting to wear away.  I think I was so proud of finishing it because when I started knitting, I had the image that only the most skilled and amazing knitters could make sweaters, and let’s face it, I didn’t think I would ever be one of those people.  But in this project I found not only a beautiful finished object, but confidence in my self and in my own abilities.  This project broke down many of the barriers I had set up for myself in my knitting ability, and by doing so has allowed my to continue trying more difficult projects.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Favorite Crafting Memory…

My mother is the superwoman of crafts, no lie. She made everything when I was little, from clothes (including these awful sunflower dresses she made for me and two of my cousins that we had to get pictures in), to comforters and everything else you would need to decorate a room like throw pillows, curtains, dust ruffle, pillow shams, picture boards, etc. Needless to say, when I was growing up, there was always a project going on. My mom's love for crafting has definitely spilled into my life. I look at all of the wonderful things she has made, and it motivates me to start making things too!
The most memorable craft from my childhood was the comforter she made me when I was about 10 years old. My room at the time was still baby girl pink, and had ballerinas on the wall paper, and I hated it! I was going through my tom-boy stage and I hated pink, so, my mother, being as incredible as she is, decided to redo my bedroom! I wanted to paint my walls bright yellow, and then decorate with several different colors (blue, green, red, purple). The comforter had to come first, so that we could decorate accordingly and it would be the focal point of the room. I remember my mom drawing out several different designs for it, and she let me help her narrow down the ideas until we decided on one.
The comforter we decided on was denim on one side (the underside) and on the top is was thick, diagonal stripes of yellow, red, purple, blue, and green fabric. She topped it all off with cute little ribbons and buttons.
It was so much fun "helping" my mom with this project. She let me hold the button while she stitched, and I helped her tie some of the bows. I just remember feeling so accomplished when it was over, even though I didn't really do much!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dream Craft: Cosplay

I wish I could make awesome costumes.

One of my biggest wishes is to be able to go to comic book conventions and other nerdy galas and wow people with my costume. The best costumes are handmade, tailored to fit an individual, not a jumpsuit you buy online that's "one size fits all." Not only does a handmade costume look better, but it shows dedication to your fandom of choice. It shows that you put time and money into looking like a character, becoming a character, and now you get to be looked upon by jealous eyes and get thousands of pictures taken with you and possibly win some money for having a damn good costume.

Plus you could get together with friends and be badass like these guys.

In this case, handmade > mass-produced, hands down. But since costumes are a luxury and not a necessity, my issue with being picky about whether something is handmade doesn't apply.


I’ve always had a deep seated fascination with swords and armor.  I love to read novels and watch movies set in medieval settings.  From the complex patterns of chainmail to the ability to make daggers small enough to conceal in a lady’s fan, the works of art blacksmiths are able to create using metal are awesome to me.  So if I could learn any craft I would learn the skills necessary to become a blacksmith that is capable of making armor and weaponry.

Today swords and helms aren’t practical, they’re merely relics of the past.  We idealize them.  When I was looking up information on swordsmiths I came across the faq on that asked potential swordsmiths to consider why they wanted to create weapons.   The authors of the site pointed out that no matter how cool we think they are swords are still weapons, they are items that are made to kill people, and even decorative ones are dangerous.   I had to reach a personal conclusion to that question for myself.  I decided that my interest in sword and armor smithing is based upon my interest in the skills of the past.  I want to learn the skills to become a blacksmith, not just the ones that would allow me to make implements of death, but as many of them as I could to help ensure that the skills I envy don’t die out. I think they are an important part of the history of crafting and are worth preserving.

Dream Craft.. Maybe Someday.

One of my grandmothers was married in a pant-suit, another was married on the beach in a sundress. And my mother and father eloped and never had a formal wedding ceremony. Because of this, I unfortunately have no beautiful, vintage, wedding accessories with any familial importance. However, I have always considered the thought of having something such as a beautiful, handmade lace veil to be something that could be passed down through the generations lovingly and forge bonds between mother and daughter.

I was never able to recieve such as item, but I would eventually like to learn the process behind making handmade lace so that I can begin a family tradition. As I understand it, creating homemade lace is a fantastically difficult process. It requires skill, patience, quality materials, and the imagination to create beautiful and unique designs. I would absolutely LOVE to gain the knowledge to make such an amazing product someday. Although it will undoubtedly be a challenge, my knitting skills have progressed more quickly than I ever would have considered possible.. Maybe I can eventually do the same with lace? :)

The drive behind my desire to learn this skill stems from the hope that I will be able to create a product that will last behind my time on this earth. Everyone wants to make a difference in the world that they live in. Hopefully, through my career as a teacher, I will be able to have an impact on students and other people that I interact with in the future. However, I also want to create something that can be passed down from generation to generation. I want to learn a skill that I can teach future members of my family, and I want to learn to creat a product that is visually stimulating, aesthetically pleasing, and well-appreciated. I want to make something that can be a part of my family long after I am gone. And hopefully someday this dream craft will become a reality. :)

Magical Modeler

My dream craft would be making models. I would love to be able to build intricate miniaturized replicas of ships (stellar and seaworthy), buildings, trains... anything! The attention to detail that is required for this craft is incredible... Take for instance, Ian Lawrence's 1:650 replica of the NCC-1701-E, featured in Star Trek Nemesis. (below) The picture is ridiculously large, but I think it helps show the detail that Lawrence put into this work. This isn't a snap together kit like the one I got for Christmas last year... this is a work of art. Each individual window cut, each individual "metal flap" painted by hand (not to mention every other detail that was hand painted onto the ship), each LED light installed to bring to life Gene Roddenberry's vision. The work must have taken forever. Lawrence also crafts models of buildings (like the 1:100th scale rendition of the Phoenix Temple, also below). To be able to complete this craft would require incredible patience and extreme attention to detail... which are both qualities I lack... and that is probably why this is my dream craft and not my current hobby! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Sound of Music

When I realized that I would have to interview someone I knew who crafted, my mind automatically jumped to my boyfriend Jimmy who really enjoys building small elaborate wooden objects. While I was studying abroad in Canada, he designed and built me a magnificent mahogany piano music box which is one of the best presents I have ever received. And upon interviewing him I also learned that he is an artist as well as a craftsman.

Question: what is the first craft you learned?

Answer: Sketching/Watercolor. I used to take magazines and try to copy the pictures from them. Apparently when I was little I was good at sketching things.

Question: Any other crafts that you do now?

Answer: Funny you should ask, I do wood working primarily, carpentry if you call it that. I build model planes with my dad, I have helped furniture with my dad, and repair work on cuckoo clocks. I also have built music boxes and model ships.

Question: What got you interested in wood working?

Answer: With my dad, we have built planes since I was in first grade. But with boats, I started in the beginning in high school. Frankly, as a little kid, I did not have the patience to put little pieces of wood together. When I was little I would sketch a lot more than do wood working.

Question: Has your dad been your biggest influence in wood working?

Answer: My dad has been doing it ever since I can remember, but I think he started wood working in high school. But he didn’t start working on boats until I was older.

Question: What other crafts/hobbies do your family members do?

Answer: My brother keeps salt water aquariums; my mom paints with oils; my dad and I do wood working; my Uncle Steve is a professional artist. For my family it is a hobby to have hobbies.

Question: By definition what is the difference between a hobby and a craft? What is a craft to begin with?

Answer: The only way to define it is a hobby in which you devote a huge amount of effort, time, and material into doing something where one tries to have a definite outcome. For example music is a craft because one has to invest a ton of time and effort in the form of practicing and lessons. When it comes to a hobby is for fun where I am merely doing it for fun, but I am not trying to get anything out of it.

Question: If you could do any other craft what would it be and why?

Answer: Pottery I could definitely attempt, maybe sculpture…something with clay. I like creating things and working with my hands. It is basically what I d with wood working but with a different medium and technique.

Question: What is your favorite thing that you have built to date?

Answer: My favorite thing would be my music/jewelry/secret compartment/ piano box. I like because first of all it is the most difficult thing I have ever built with the inlay, and I came up with it without any instructions. It was mine; it came from my mind and writing things down on a piece of paper. Plus I enjoyed the challenge. The music box was difficult, but the hardest part was the fact that I had to improve.

Question: Do you prefer handmade gifts vs. store-bought?

Answer: I would definitely say that I prefer handmade gifts, and I love giving them. But I understand store-bought gifts because the ultimate thought counts. Every gift should have an element of the handmade whether it is a silly card or object.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

oohhhhhh grandma

So I decided to interview my Mammaw for the Blog. I was expecting short answers from her, however i'm pretty sure she answered all of my answers in her first response ha. Telepathy? I think so. But anyways, here is the first question I asked, and her response! Enjoy!

Me: What was the first craft that you remember making?
Mamaw: I remember starting with a donkey lamp made out of wood. You pulled the tail down to turn on. I finished that and the tail broke the first time I tried it out in class so needless to say I started over with and new project. It was wood cut in the shape of a teapot that held keys or hotpads.I love working on the projects so it wasn't hard for --except that darn tail. As you know I'm still proud of my wall teapots. I gave that to my mom and she used it until I got married and then gave it to me. It is still used in my kitchen today and this year is our 50th anniversary. Needless to say I made an A in my class from a teacher who was kind and wanted all of us to be the best we could be. Since it took me the whole 6 weeks to complete 2 projects I was so happy and proud of both--if only the tail hadn't broken on the lamp!!!
Me: What were some other crafts that you have made since then?

Mamaw: I did cross stitching for canning jars and made some purses. Covered a few pieces of furniture but I realized I do not enjoy crafty projects at all.

Me: If you had the ability to do any craft, what would it be?
Mamaw :I enjoy beauty so if I had the talent to do anything I would be a interior designer. That is a special craft that few people have without spending lots of money; only using what you have and making a home beautiful.

Needless to say, my grandma has crafty items all around her house and doesn't even realize it. Adorned with quilts, decorative plates, and paintings, her house is a craft playground. She is much more crafty than she makes herself out to be. That's my modest grandma :) She is absolutely obsessed with blue and white plates.

In fact, I'm surprised she didn't mention anything (as a side note) about the fact that my papaw repairs and makes clocks as a side business. Their house is FULL OF THEM. Needless to say, everyone goes deaf around noon and midnight haha.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"WWJD?" Bracelets

As a child, crafts weren’t really a major part of my life. My mother has never been

a crafty person – unless you count her yearly trips to War Eagle to purchase crafts others made. However, when I was younger, I absolutely adored making bracelets are church. Before we had our Sunday school lesson, my Sunday School teacher would

always allow us to do some sort of craft. I always chose to make bracelets out of the beads our teacher had there for us. Usually I made bracelets that said “WWJD,” but sometimes I would branch out and make them say “I heart Jesus,” or even my own name. I had so much fun picking out what I wanted my bracelet to say, how many letters I needed to use, etc.

My mom purchased a bracelet-making kit for me when I was six or seven, and I do still have that kit

somewhere in the depths of my closet at home. I haven’t used the kit in a very long time, nor have I even really looked through it since I was much younger. However, now that I’ve thought about this memory, I really want to go back and look at the box.

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of my bracelets, nor do I have any of them to this day. We moved houses when I was younger and I suppose my bracelets were lost in the chaos. Here is an example of the sort of bracelets I made, as well as a picture of me from around the age I started making the bracelets, just for fun. (: