Friday, January 11, 2019

Crystal Bracelet

Crystal Bracelet

Finished bracelet.

Several months ago I took out my kumihimo square
and finally tried using it to make a strip of metal braid.  The square shaped tool makes a flat braid like a watch band.   Using size 20 wire I made a very simple braid.  This is dangerous without eye protection!  While working braid the tension really needs to be as even as possible or the braid while change widths.  Besides the ends trying to hit my glasses it went rather well.  I ended up with a firm strip of metal that wrapped almost twice around my wrist.  Then it sat where I could see it for months but I had no idea what to do with it.

Unbraiding the wire ends. 

Finally I decided to clip the ends off of the braid to make a bangle type bracelet.  However I still didn't know how to close the bracelet which was a problem. Unfortunately I couldn't clip through all of the overlapping wires so I unbraided the ends of the bracelet to clip each wire separately.  The wavy wires were so pretty that I only cut them to even them up on both ends.  Next the ends were straightened and crystals added.  The crystals were secured by a simple circular bend on each end.  For this I used blue and clear crystals which had AB treatments so they really sparkled!

Bracelet with crystals added.

At first I was just going to bend the bracelet ends going opposite directions. Sort of like a snake circling an arm.  Then a truly creative idea came to me!  Taking the first wires I interlaced them going in opposite directions and continued with all the wires.  Then putting the bracelet on I sort of squeezed the braid and the wires were forced to interlace even deeper.  This caused the ends of the wire to pop out and the braid to fit my wrist. 

Finished bracelet.

Personally I love this bracelet!  There are some down sides to it unfortunately.  The wire ends really pop up and so it is easy to snag them.  The bracelet seems to also be compressing the actual braid tighter and causes the bracelet to need re-tightening.  Still if I was not wearing something delicate and with had short sleeves on I would definitely wear this bracelet.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


 Pink Hippeastrum

 May we had the welcome sight of many beautiful Amaryllis flowers. They have been growing now for around 8 years.  Collecting Amaryllis bulbs started the way I suspect most have, with a discounted bulb. There was a pink bulb at the hardware store on discount because it had only one sad flower left.  So it came to it's new home and was ignored.  A snail tried to eat it so I transplanted the bulb into a new pot, put it inner and forgot about it.  When I looked again it had a baby!  The original bulb died but I still have it's baby which is huge and thriving.  The next year I brought home two new bulbs one red and the other white.  When the new bulbs had babies I just left them in the pot connected to their mothers.  In other words I ignored the new bulbs also.  This went on over the years with a flower blooming occasionally.  I had begun to believe these were greenhouse plants and would never be as pretty outside in the yard.

In 2016 the bulbs went crazy blooming!  I had finally stopped ignoring them and they responded.  All three colors bloomed!  But that was when it got strange.  The pink was tall and beautiful,  The red was deep red and miniature.  Then I had two different white flowers! I had purchased a solid white bulb and instead one bloomed white with a tiny red outline.  The other looked like a peppermint candy, it had patches of swirling red against the white.  The white bulb was just white when I bought it!  I had no idea what had happened.  Recently I started looking on and found Amaryllis Man.  He explains that the plants are easy to hybridize.  So the peppermint striped and red outlined amaryllis were a combination of the bulbs I had bought!  That has really caught my imagination and the desire to get a larger variety of bulbs.  It seems that they are also easy to grow from seed which will make for interesting experiments!

Later when the flowers had finished I put the bulbs in several larger pots and separated the babies.  The babies really struggled and the snails got fatter! Most of the babies were lost!  That is why I went back to leaving the babies with their moms.  Of course I lost the pictures I took and forgot to tag the plants by color!

 White amaryllis with a red edging.

In 2017 the amaryllis put on a beautiful show in April/May!  The plants had crowded their pots growing like crazy.  The secret to growing amaryllis is don't ignore them! 

The babies from 2016 were large but didn't bloom this year.  The oldest pink amaryllis was alone in a large pot with it's two babies and still they needed to be repotted this year.  I left the mother bulb in the large pot and transplanted the babies in separate pots.  One of the babies had separated from it's mother and formed a nice bulb.  The other baby was still connected to it's mom and looked like a large scallion bloom!  So in a little over two and a half years the plant went from a tiny baby to a blooming bulb with babies of it's own!  The sister bulb is still growing and getting more leaves but no signs of flowers.

In ordered to right the scallion baby up, I had to plant it awkwardly.  The baby had seven large and long leaves and they started dying.  So was it dying because I hurt it or was it going dormant?  Amaryllis can drive you crazy!  So as the weeks went by the baby shed more leaves.  When it only had three leaves left it suddenly did the unexpected, it had babies!  In the matter of three days the leaves of three babies appeared!  That was very confusing.  Then it got even stranger, the bulb suddenly started throwing up leaves like crazy!  Little tips of leaves started popping out of the scallion shaped bulb every day!  Then when I looked again the fifth leaf was actually a bud and now I'm waiting for a Winter bloom.


Pink Hippeastrum plants.  They were very tall this year.

Red Hippeastrum this was a miniature, less then half the height of the other amaryllis.

The new babies brought the amaryllis count to 13 babies this year!  So I did what anyone else would have done.  Went shopping for more bulbs!  Three weeks earlier I had bought daffodil bulbs and they already are getting roots!  So of course I had to buy another amaryllis bulb this one is named Minerva and it came from the hardware store.  Minerva is a deep red with a white star like center and was in a kit. 

The kit contained a large bulb with a flowering shoot and leaves just starting to show.  There was also a pot and a disc of dirt.  First you place the disc in the pot and then add 3.5 cups of warm water.  Once the water is absorbed the bulb is placed in the pot and the dirt snugged around it.   Don't leave any pockets of air around the bulb.  Then treat the bulbs like any other amaryllis. 

But I didn't stop there, another four amaryllis bulbs found their way into the shopping basket.  The four bulbs are "garden variety" with  a lovely white flower.  Two of the white bulbs are starting to grow and one has a flower shoot!  The white bulbs will look great with the beautiful purple irises and daffodils in the flower bed.

Many amaryllis growers recommend to remove the brown papery outer skin of the bulb.  I don't usually do this but if I hadn't this bulb would have rotted.  It looked fine until the brown skin was removed.  So be careful when you buy any bulbs.

So what have I learned?

1. Don't ignore plants most like to be cared for.

2. Be careful when watering.  Try not to get water on the leaves.  Amaryllis can develop a red fungus.  Water on leaves can sit between leaves and rot the leaves. 

3. Amaryllis grow great in pots but look out for snails.

4. Keep the out of strong winds, their long leaves can be easily damaged.

5. Leave mothers and babies together.  The mothers won't grow as quickly but the babies will thrive and grow into flowering bulbs faster.

6. Feed them with fertilizer.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Cute Book

Book to organize ATCs

Recently I started swapping on Craftster again.  It has been around three years since my last swap, so I needed to get organized!  Last time that I swapped ATCs I was constantly trying to remember who and what I was swapping.  So instead of using plain white envelopes, which I kept losing, this time I created a book.  The book is very simple to make and I used odds and ends for it.

First I selected six pieces of paper in four different colors and folded them in half creating a page that was 5.5 inches by 8.5.  Next I folded the page again so it was 5.5 by 6.0.  The page now had a 2.5 inch pocket to store ATCs and lists.  To finish the pocket I taped the edges with double sided tape.  So that gave me 24 pages in four colors with pockets.

ATCs book spine. 
Inside of cover.

This book has two interesting features that most don't.  Usually each page, called a signature, are sewn together to create a book.  But for this book each signature is sewn separately.   When finished each of the 24 signatures are slipped onto a long ribbon.  The separate signatures give the book the ability to be adjusted.  So you can put bulky items in the pockets.  The second unique feature of this book is that the signatures can be added or removed.  This makes for a evolving book. 

How to sew the signatures.

To make a sewing template use a piece of card stock the   length of the books spine and 1 inch deep.  For this project the template was 6 inches by 1 inch. Next fold the template in half so it is 6 inches by 1/2 inch.

When I make a sewing template I start by marking at 1/2 inch from each edge and then 1 inch in from the edge.  Next comes the ribbon marks.  I lay the ribbon next to the 1 inch mark and place a new mark beside the edge of the ribbon.  This mark is important because it needs to be loose enough so that the ribbon moves smoothly but tight enough that the spine isn't wonky.  Then I do the same marking on the other side of the template.  Now if you want to use a third ribbon, you can add those marks also.  After marking the template you will poke holes at each mark using an awl or needle.  Be very careful when punching the template, use something thick under template so you don't hurt yourself.  

To punch the signatures line up the template with the signature spine.  When punching the signature make only tiny holes to start. 

Choosing a thread and needle is easy.  Use a non stretchy thread and a needle that has a big enough eye for your thread.  Using a sharp needle helps open the small holes just be careful and use something thick under the signature when sewing.  Use the template to make holes in each signature.

Now it is time to sew!
The sewing is really easy.  The trickiest bit is to pierce in the fold of the signature.  If you made the holes small you can adjust the hole size with your needle.  Here are some helpful pictures.


To start sew from the outside of the signature to the inside leaving a long thread.

Pierce the paper about 1/4 inch from the first hole bringing the needle back to the outside.  Then tie a knot with the two threads.

After finishing the knot, sew the needle back through the first hole.  The needle will be inside the signature again.  Leave the string end for decoration. 

Sew from the inside through the 1 inch hole (second pierced hole) to the outside.  This brings the sewing to the ribbon space.  Lay the ribbon beside the needle thread and make sure the ribbon fits between the second and third holes.

If everything fits sew to the inside using the third hole.

Now you have created a loop on the outside of the signature. This is where the ribbon will be threaded to hold the book together. Sew from the inside to the outside the signature using the fourth hole and then back inside through the fifth hole.  The second ribbon loop is made.

Sew through hole number six from inside to the outside of the page.  Make a hole about 1/4 inch from the end of the page.  Sew the needle through this new hole to the inside and back through hole number six again.  Tie a knot to end the sewing for the signature.  Cut the thread length to match the first knotted thread.

Now to put the book together.  The ribbons are pulled through two outside loops that were created when sewing the signatures.  If you are having difficulty running the ribbons try cutting the ribbon at an angle or even gluing the ribbon end.  Once dried the glued ribbon end is a lot stiffer and easier to thread under the loops.

When you have the pages threaded on the ribbon the next step is to create the front and back covers.

The covers are simple.  Take two 8.5 x 11 pieces of card stock.  Fold each in half creating a cover that is 5.5 x 11.  Using the sewing template for the signatures make holes inside the fold of the covers.  Then sew the covers exactly like the signatures and slip them onto the ribbons on each side.  At this point I would just glue the cover to itself making a thicker cover.  But for this project I left the covers unglued and made some pockets with some scrapbooking paper.  

The rest of the book is decoration.  The butterflies were cut from cardstock that was printed with clip art.  Then I glued the butterflies onto the cover and curled their wings to give it some dimension.  Then I sewed a homemade button to the cover.  I made a loop for button and then glued it inside the back cover.  Hopefully this will help me organize myself and inspired someone to make their own book.

This has been the first post in a while.  Please let me know if anything I've written isn't  clear.  I hope you try this book it really is easy.

Friday, May 5, 2017

400 Yo-yos and Counting (personal and long)

Recently Lee and I spoke about the problem with my ever growing mount craft supply.  Not only is it a hazard but like a volcano has oozed depositing supplies like lava in the hallway and bedroom.  Well, it isn't really that bad but it is in desperate need of organizing.  While cataloging DMC floss I became worried that I had become a hoarder.  After learning more about hoarding I am glad to say that I freely share my stuff and do not collect supplies just to possess them.  The truth is that I need to stop buying craft supplies at least until I have put away the current supplies.

Curbing my buying was harder then I thought it would be.  I spent 60 days without buying anything but physical necessities and even stopped buying food treats.  During the two months I tried to put things into a new perspective of what I needed as compared to what I wanted.  We saved a little money during this experiment but at the end of it I went to the quilt store and spent money.  The quilt store is going out of business and so I bought fabric for my yo-yo quilt project and then on impulse I bought a jellyroll.  The discount at the quilt store was great and I have a book on jellyroll quilts that I bought at a 90% off sale several years ago.  So I am now trying to learn all I can about quilting.  So not only did I spend money on crafts, worse I spent money on a new craft.  So I brought home a jellyroll and three yards of purple fabric to add to mount craft. 

I have become tired of not finding supplies I know are somewhere in the craft area, and I refuse to buy stuff I already have!  So for the last couple of months I have been moving stuff out of the craft room to sort and then finding a permanent place for all of it.  The supplies would have been all sorted except that I decided to catalog all of it!  

 Memory fading comes to us all and I thought that a file that logged what supplies I have might help keep me from acquiring duplicates.  This really sounded like a good idea at the time.  But best intentions don't always work.

So I started a notepad list and started logging my embroidery supplies and fibers.  When I took up needle painting I bought lots of DMC floss, and had a handwritten list that I updated as I purchased more floss.  When I type in the list it took a bit of time because I collected over 320 different colors and many duplicates of favorite colors.   Then I type in the many different Brazilian threads I have collected.  I finally got to cataloging the even weave fabrics.  I measured each piece and the gauge and put them in the list.  Measuring the fabric was useful, Now I can look at a pattern and the list and see if I have the fabrics I need for any project.  Then I lost the file!

So while I tried to remember the name of the file and search for it on my computer I started to catalog my books.  I have had an account with  for years.  So I went to librarything and started cataloging books on their service.  I already had around 150 already entered so I figured another 200 books and I would be finished.  Whether to add the pamphlets and magazines to librarything was still to be decided.  At this point looking at the the 7 book shelves that made up my crafting library I estimated 350 books and around 200 magazines.  In fact I have told friends that I had a large collection of around 350 crafting books.  Most people would look at me and think I was exaggerating.  So I thought that now I would prove to myself and others that I really loved books!  So over the next few days I hunted down books that were all over the house some in stacks because they didn't have shelf room designated for them yet.  As the number of books entered at Librarything kept going up I started to see a problem.  My calculation of the number of books was seriously under estimated.    When I finished adding all but a few stragglers the book count was over 600 books!  Not counting magazines and crochet pattern books!  To say I was astonished was putting it mildly.  I immediately put myself on a book diet and found shelf room for most of the books.   This process is still in progress and I've done well not buying books.  Except I did buy "Festive Elizabethan Creations" by Shirley Holdaway.  Perhaps I will do another chair next year but with patterns from the book.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chair-ity Finished or Never Buy a $8.00 Chair

Finished chair with embroidered seat and pillow
The chair embroidery is adapted from the cover design.

Happily the chair is finished and turned into the library's Char-ity event!  It has been an interesting journey and I have learned so much.  Why never buy a $8.00 chair?  As might be expected the lower cost of the chair turned into more work.  We did sit on the chair and it was really strong so I thought "this is it!"  But now I've come to realize that there are other concerns like stripped screws holding the seat to the chair, damaged upholstery, and removing the chair's finish.  So next chair I will be pickier!

One of the happiest experiences from the project was rereading the book, "Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery" by Dorothy Clarke and designs by Stephanie Powell.  When I first gave my opinion of the book I had not realized how fascinating and inspiring the book truly is.  When I first started to read the "Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery" I didn't understand why so many of the stitches were just variations of the chain stitch.  Now I realize that the chain stitches fill an area very fast.  Also some of the needle weaving stitches save thread and don't weaken the fabric with hundreds of pokes with the needle.

It all started with the dissolution of the monasteries.  There was no longer as much church embroidery and many embroiderers lost their employment.  So embroiders started to work  more on  clothing and household goods.  Faster and more durable stitches helped this new wave of embroidery.  You can't make a living spending most of your life embroidering one dress!  There are also some interesting effects when using buttonhole stitches to needle weave.  If you needle weave enough buttonhole stitches in an area it causes the embroidery to become dimensional.  Stuffing material can be added before closing your work making a firm bump on the fabric.

Closeup of embroidered seat.

For strength the chair seat embroidery is made of tapestry wool and stitched on a heavy cotton fabric.  I kept the dimensional aspect of the embroidery low because it will be sat on .       

Needle painted rose.

The rose was stitched first using a simple needle painting technique which makes the rose flat on the fabric and requires lots of stitches causing many stitch holes in the fabric.  There was also an issue with wrinkles caused by the needle painting technique.  So I decided to try the needle weaving technique on the next part which was the pansies.

Finished pansies using buttonhole needle weaving technique.  
You can see how the pansies jump off the chair background.

Close-up of pansies the bottom gold petals really pop out of the background because 
this was a chair seat I didn't actually stuff the needle weaving before closing the stitches.

The way that the needle weaving was done was to first outline each section, i.e. petal, with a chain stitch in the color wool to be used in the needle weaving.  Then starting at the top you work a detached buttonhole stitch in each chain stitch until you reach the other side of your shape.  Then you work down one chain stitch and work detached buttonhole stitch back across the shape and into the first row.  You work back and forth using more or fewer stitches so that you match the shape.  More detached buttonhole stitches will cause the dimensional effect and can be padded if desired.  When you get to the bottom of the shape you close the embroidery by working in the bottom chain stitches.  Fewer detached buttonhole stitches may be needed to make the embroidery flatter.

Morning glory with more buttonhole stitches making the embroidery more dimensional
For the morning glory I adapted the design to include detached buttonhole stitch and more complex shading.  I really love this but it looks less like an Elizabethan embroidery.  Still I really love it and chose a morning glory so it could vine through the other designs.  For the vine I used a variegated green wool thread.

Close-up of morning glory embroidery. 

Daffodil embroidery.

The daffodil was the final embroidery.  I had more fun with this flower.  The petals and cup are in detached buttonhole stitch with simple shading.  The stem is made in several colors of green in a chain stitch.  Then to give it some dimension I had the vine stitched behind the stem, making the daffodil pop to the front.  I added a snail and a bug and was finished!  The embroidery was so quick and easy it took less then a week!  

The hardest part of the project was to sand and paint the chair.  I had every intention of painting leaves on the chair but it just didn't look right.  I also found that the paint I used on the chair wouldn't let me paint acrylics over it.  The leaves just washed right off.  So I learned a lot from this project and I hope it brings money for the library.  The pillow is actually a Jacobean design but I don't think anyone will notice!

Since making the chair I have decided to make some chairs for myself.  We only have  office chairs in the house and some wooden chairs would be nice.  I have been thinking of painting each chair a different color and embroidering the seats in different styles!

I hope that this inspires you to try your hand at Elizabethan embroidery and maybe even entering a Chair-ty event in your area.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Linen Bag for the 2017 County Fair

I couldn't make anything today because I cut my hand cleaning a can, to make into a pincushion.  So instead I will show the linen bag I made for the 2017 Fair.  

 Linen bag with Brazilian embroidery.

The bag started off as something to make out of some scraps of linen that were left over.  The bag's finished size is 5.5 x 7 inches and is made of unbleached linen.  I also made a satin bag to be a lining.  Putting the linen fabric in a hoop I couched a blue cording with a darker blue thread in the shape of a heart.  Then I embroidered pink Brazilian roses surrounded by simple leaves and white fantasy flower on long stems.  

 Close-up of Brazilian embroidery.

After hand sewing the linen and satin bags I used small hidden stitches to secure the satin bag inside the linen bag.

 Close-up of hand made button. 

The bag was cute but a little dull so I decided to make a closure for the bag using a button.  Taking a small scrap of linen I embroidered matching Brazilian roses using two strands of floss and a small needle.  Then cutting a circle around the embroidery I ran small stitches along the edge of the circle.  Next I pulled the thread to make the circle into a yo-yo.  Before tightening the circle too much I placed a plastic ring inside.  Making sure the design was centered on the ring I secured the yo-yo with a couple of back stitches.  

Using felt I sewed a circle on the button back.  Then I needle wove a loop on the back of the button and sewed it to the bag.  A simple braid using blue and white floss completed the closure.

I have only a tiny amount of the unbleached linen left and I will use it to make a simple doll.  The bag and doll will make a great gift!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Time to Start Blogging Again?

The last couple of years I have been terrible at blogging projects that I've worked on.  So as a start to a new year I will try to do better.  Just because I haven't posted doesn't mean that I haven't been crafting.  Several projects just never got mentioned or photographed.  One such project I started years ago and now is in the final stages of construction, a pincushion doll!  These dolls were very popular at the beginning of the 20th century.  Back when lace and ribbon work were everywhere.

Pincushion doll.

This pincushion doll was started over five years ago and has been sitting with other projects taking up space.  So about a month ago I started working on her again finally finishing her cylinder shaped body.  The body idea was inspired from several doll pincushion sources in ribbon work books.  I adapted the body making it long and narrower then the books suggested.  The body was sewn by hand out of muslin and then stuffed with fiberfill.  If I ever make another pincushion doll I will use something to flatten the bottom like a piece of cardboard, and add some weight on the bottom to help with the balance.   The doll is 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide.  Using hot glue I took a chenille stem and glued the dolls arms onto it's ends.  Then glued the stem to the dolls recess in the upper torso.  The top of the body was then hot glued into the dolls upper torso too.

Close-up of doll.

Next I sewed a small pink satin rectangle to fit around the dolls chest and two larger rectangles for the dress skirt and under skirt.  The underskirt is made of white damask and the outer layer is the same lovely pink satin as the bodice.  To cover her shoulders and arms I simply wrapped a piece of pink ribbon leaving it to flow from the wrists.   On her right shoulder I made a tiny folded rose using a piece of knitting ribbon.  

Now comes the real fun/work of decorating the skirts with ribbon work and ribbon embroidery.   This is where I stopped in order to finish some Christmas stuff.  

Now that we are into 2017 it is time  to get working on Fair entries.  So far I have made a simple hardanger mat and linen bag for the coming Fair.  The linen bag came out very cute and I have planned a matching doll to fit inside it.  

In the last week I have been watching the "Clone Wars" animation to try and make a small doll that appears in the show.  The doll appears in Season 1 episode 20 "Innocents of Ryloth" around 12 minutes in, and Season 2 episode 3 "Children of the Force" nearly 8 minutes in.  It is a very simple doll but the proportions are a bit tricky.  Here is the prototype made out of felt.  I learned a lot making this doll.  The points of the head were difficult at this size, it is tiny).  So I need to improve the pattern before I try again.  The stripes are embroidered which I didn't like.  Next time I will try adding stripes of fabric instead.

Star Wars doll.