Saturday, February 26, 2011

A day in the flower park

Ryan and I were able to spend a beautiful Friday strolling through the Mito plum blossom flower park. It was glorious. Here is a small glimpse of what we enjoyed:

"The Earth laughs in flowers."

Have a joyous weekend!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Knit this, crochet that

There's something about cold weather that makes me itch to knit. I have a lot of odds and ends of yarn, half a skein of this and half a skein of that. So I decided to use it up! I'm making a scarf knitted the long way on circular needles, you only need a little amount of yarn. It's a great project to do when you have 10 or 20 minutes without any plans.

And...I finally did it, I taught myself to crochet! You can learn just about anything online. The world wide web is pretty amazing in that regard. I can only single and double crochet, but it's a start.

I clearly had some trouble in the beginning as you can see. It's way harder to control the tension when you crochet than it is when you knit. I'm still working on that. But after a while I started to get the hang of it and switched back and forth between single and double crochet.

It's coming along but I still have a long way to go! I was amazed at how quick crocheting is. I mean, it takes days if not weeks to knit a scarf, but you could crochet a scarf in a few hours! Crazy.

My goal is to be able to crochet Scandinavian heart ornaments for next Christmas.

This requires having way more crochet skills than I currently have so it will take a lot of practice before I can accomplish that, but it's exciting to learn something new!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A cute jumper for a cute niece

This is my 2nd project (1st one here) from the One Yard Wonders craft book I got for Christmas. It's a playful jumper/dress for my niece! Unfortunately, I can't take any pictures of her in it because I won't see her until I'm home from Japan (in less than 2 months, woah!).

This was a very straightforward project and the directions were fairly simple. It didn't take very long either, it could easily be finished in a day. The measurements for the elastic were a little big so I took off about 2 inches to get the jumper to the size I needed.

I've really been enjoying the One Yard Wonders book, it has lots of quick and simple projects. Not to mention it helps me think of ways to decrease my ever-growing stash of fabric. If you're into craft books, be sure to check out Rachel's month-long series over at her blog, Nest Full of Eggs, she's reviewing a different 2010 craft book everyday!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Funny Valentine

After making the tutorial about repurposing old newspapers into your own homemade paper I go this idea to do a little decoupage on them.

The cut out letters reminded me of a ransom note so I put "Be mine, or else" on the first one. Then just "love" on the next one. I think it would be cute to do conversation heart words on them like "You're sweet" and then write your own message on the back for a very personal (and dirt cheap) Valentine!

Happy Valentine's Day, again! :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Paper Hearts from Newspapers Tutorial

I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own paper for a while so I finally just did it. I used some flyers that came in the mail and recycled them into heart-shaped pieces of paper.

It's quick, cheap, easy and pretty darn fun!

First, round up your materials. You'll need: a tray, hot water in a bowl, newspaper or any type of paper you have laying around, tulle (or anything mesh-like would work in a pinch), and some paper towels.

Tear up your paper into thin, small pieces and dump them into the hot water bowl.

Push the pieces down into the water.

Mix it around and knead the paper together with your hands. Kids would especially love this step! After about 1 minute it should look like this:

Continue to mix and knead the paper together until the pieces start to disintegrate and are sticking together. It takes just a few minutes more. It should look like this:

Prepare your tray. Cut a rectangular piece of your tulle and lay it down on the tray, leave about 6 inches hanging off of the tray...You'll need this to fold over your wet paper. Also add a piece of paper towel underneath your tulle, I forgot to add it for this pic, oops!

Make sure your paper is ready to form into shapes. Test a piece by squeeze a small amount of the paper to get rid of any excess water, if it holds it shape it's ready! If not, continue to stir and mix your paper.

Lift out enough of the paper and squeeze it out. Leave some water in so you can shape it.

Set your glob of paper on the tulle/tray and shape. You could even use a cookie cutter if you wanted to make more elaborate shapes!

Fold tulle over and gently press to remove all excess water.

Check to see if enough water has been removed, gently peel pack the tulle and if it easily comes off it's ready! If not, continue to press out more water.

Set on a paper towel to dry.

Let dry completely, about 12-24 hours, before writing on them.

I added a grommet and made a Valentine's gift tag.

Use your homemade paper hearts for a Valentine's gift tag, card, ornament or just a decoration!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Echino fabric and a new bag!

One of the best things about Japan is its vast selection of amazing fabrics!

I've especially been loving the Echino fabric. It's funky meets cutesy. It's a bit pricey though so I usually wait until I rack up points on my craft card to get a discount. :) I bought this plum-colored, bird design Echino fabric a couple months ago and finally made something with it!

I got the One Yard Wonders craft book for Christmas this year and used the "folklore bag" pattern for this project.

I've sewn a couple bags this past year while I've been in Japan and this is by far my favorite pattern so far. It's roomy, has a pocket and a magnetic closure which I absolutely love.

The magnetic closure was way easier to install than I was anticipating. And it's so convenient! It took me 2 days to sew the bag but could easily be finished in an afternoon, I just didn't have a huge amount of time when I started.

When I went to the craft store to pick up the magnetic closure I saw these fabrics 1/2 off!! I had my eye on that tree fabric for a while so I bought 1 meter of each it was such a good deal!

I'm going to make a little dress/jumper thing-a-ma-bob out of that flowery fabric for my niece, another pattern from the One Yard Wonders book.

What have you been making lately?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Staying warm

Everyone seems to be talking about "snowpocalypse" so I thought it only fitting to post about ways to stay warm this winter season.

Tip numero uno: wear a hat. You've probably heard the old saying that you loose 90% of your body heat through your head, too bad that's not true. Although I don't know the exact percentage of body heat lost, I do know it's important to wear a hat to keep your little ears from getting frostbite.

Ryan and I went to Nasu (a small mountain town in Japan) last weekend where the snow was piled high and the temperatures below freezing. Luckily, we had hats. Well, mine isn't technically a hat but it did it's job. So much so that I wanted to try making one.

I bought some fleece and got to sewing! I used my green knit one to make a pattern then cut, sewed, and added the rolled fleece flowers for a little decor.

What I love about these head wraps is you can wear them when you have a ponytail in. I usually am wearing a ponytail so these are perfect for me. But you can definitely wear them with your hair down too, it's a win-win.

I also love the button closure, I think it adds a little cuteness to the whole thing. What's also great is they are wide enough that it feels like you're wearing a hat, not just one of those ear bands that always slide off and don't keep you very warm.

The rolled flowers were super duper easy to make. I'm sure there are tons of tutorials floating around on how to make them if you google "rolled fabric flower". I just used 1/2" wide strips of fleece, twisted and rolled it into a flower shape while using hot glue to secure it as I went.

I made a couple extra so I used one bigger one to make this headband, ta-da!

Stay warm, stay safe and drink lots of coffee!