Learning to Crochet

A few weeks ago, as I was googling and looking for something else, I came across the blog,  Resurrection Fern.  It’s a beautiful blog, and I found myself especially interested in the crochet-covered rocks which are frequently featured there.  I think this is the post that first got my attention: Resurrection Fern Stones .

After viewing this, I decided that I needed to make some of those rocks.  This meant trying again to learn to crochet, something I’ve attempted unsuccessfully several times.  I’ve managed to learn enough to put a simple edging on something I knit, but I’ve never made any further progress.  I set to work with a couple of books I have and a few free instructions from the internet and crocheted and unraveled several projects.  As I started actually getting the hang of it a little bit, I heard that Margaret Oomen of the Resurrection Fern blog had patterns for three of her rocks in the September/October  2009 Issue of Crochet Today magazine.  I was able to find it at my local Hastings.  Here’s a photo for anyone looking for it:

(And an aside- as much as I’ve always liked lacy crochet things, this cover sums up what I DON’T like about crochet.  Apologies to anyone who likes it, but I just don’t get things like crocheted fake clocks.   Of course, my son thinks my crocheted rocks are a little crazy, so I obviously can’t really judge:). )

I started in on the three patterns in the magazine and made them in this order:

I then bought the smaller size crochet hook that the patterns actually called for and made this one again- I think my crocheting had improved here, too:

For my next project, I made a small doily from a book I already had, MaryJane’s Stitching Room by MaryJane Butters.

I have always loved lace doilies and often buy them at garage sales, and I’m happy that I can make my own now.

And that’s the sum total of all of my finished crochet projects to date.  I’m sure I’ll be doing quite a bit more, but I won’t be making any crocheted clocks :).


Summer Dye Work

A few samples of recent work:

This is step one and two of creating this piece.  I soaked a piece of cotton in soda ash, line dried and then painted it with a few random colors of dye.  I then drew on stitching lines with washable markers and stitched it up.  This shows the dyed fabric with the stitching before I pulled it tight:

In this picture, I’ve pulled all of the stitching up tight. For some reason,  I really liked how it looked at this point, all textured and colorful:

The final result, after over-dyeing the whole thing with black dye.  It’s a bit more vibrant than this photo shows and the sections that appear white are actually more blue:

I really like the way this turned out and was discussing it with my probably-majoring-in-art college  student son.  I told him I liked it, but I didn’t know what it meant.  He thought for a minute and then told me it was obviously about the battle for water rights of native peoples around the world. The souls of those people are the colorful parts shining through juxtaposed against the dark background of the struggle.  This is, of course, not at all true  (although I do have concerns about water rights battles).  He’s just been immersed at his college in art in which the artist statement seems to be required to “understand” the work.  My son, my husband and I all tend toward the “let the art speak for itself” school.  My son encountered a lot of art last year that wasn’t in this tradition, where the statement seemed more important than the art, so it’s something we joke around about.  He did think that the water rights approach might be the way to go to get a grant to continue my work, though.  Um, yeah ;).

Here’s another related piece.  In this one, I stitched circles on white fabric, pulled the stitching up tight, and then dyed it in a weak solution of black.  After removing the stitching, I soaked it in soda ash, line-dried and then painted on a few colors of dye.  It’s also a little more vibrant than this photo shows:

This is an experiment with a result I love.  I dyed the base fabric orange.  I then used my sewing machine to baste irregular pleats into the fabric.  I pressed this flat, soaked in soda ash and then line dried it.  I then painted on sky blue dye thickened with alginate so it wouldn’t spread too much to create the brown striped areas, using my color wheel skills (I sort of thought everyone knew about the color wheel, but my kids and I have discovered this summer that it isn’t the universal sort of knowledge we assumed.  It’s way more important than times tables!  ;) )  Anyway, here it is:

On this second, similar piece, I took it one step further.  I placed an old lace curtain on top and sprayed on blue dye through that.  The sprayer developed a leak, so the bottom got saturated in a way I wasn’t planning (not that I usually have much of a plan…).  It’s interesting, anyway.  My son says it’s steam punk and he’d hang it in his dorm room, so it was successful on some level.  The photo is sort of blurry.

And this is a small round tablecloth that I got at a garage sale on which I poured random bits of leftover dye.  It will soon be happily on a table in my living room:

Lots of these will eventually be cut up, perhaps have printing added and who knows what else.  I tend to take advantage of warm summer temperatures for dye work and then play further with paints, scissors, etc., in the winter.

Shibori Stitched-Resist T-shirt

On Sunday, our family was invited to a birthday party for a young friend.  On Saturday, I decided that I would try to make a stitched-resist t-shirt as a gift. There’s nothing quite like the last minute for inspiring me to make something :).  

I took pictures along the way this time.  I started by drawing a simple flower design on a children’s size small t-shirt.  I used Crayola washable markers, which seem to wash out well:


Then I grabbed some thread and began stitching.  I’ve tried a couple of different threads, but keep coming back to this kind, Dual Duty Plus button and carpet thread:


I use this thread doubled and tie a double knot on the end.  Also, before tying the knot I use my fingers to smooth the thread from the eye of the needle down to the end of the thread.  I do this a few times and it seems to help keep the thread from twisting and knotting as I stitch.  

Here are some pictures of my first few stitches:

I use a separate thread for each section of the image.  I often switch around colors of thread which allows me to see better which threads I’m gathering up when I’m finished stitching the design.  As I finish each section, I trim the threads, leaving a tail of a few inches.  

Here’s a picture of the flower with all of the stitching completed:


Next, I began pulling the threads tight, one section at a time.  Because I used a doubled thread, I tie the two loose ends to each other in a few knots when the section is pulled tight.  I’m not sure if this is the “right” way to do this, since I’ve pretty much been figuring it out on my own.  However, it works for me and I don’t particularly believe in right or wrong ways of anything involving creative pursuits anyway :).  

Here’s a picture of the first section pulled up tight:

And here is the entire image pulled up tight:


At this point, I dyed the t-shirt using blue-violet dye from Dharma Trading Co.  After rinsing and washing out the dye, I carefully clipped the knots and removed all of the stitching.  I gave the shirt one more rinse to close up any visible holes left from the stitching.  

Here is the finished shirt:

A Little Dye Printing

I’m mostly posting these pictures  so I’ll remember that I DID actually accomplish a bit of artwork this past week.  I’m trying really hard to do a bit of work every day, even if it’s only a teeny, tiny bit.

The following pictures are the result of my first experiment with deconstructed screen printing, as described in Rayna Gillman’s excellent book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth: Stamp, Screen and Stencil with Everyday Objects. Basically, various resists are placed under a screen and thickened dye paste is pulled across.  The screen is then left to dry and then plain print paste is screened across to transfer the design to fabric.  It’s not very complicated, but it takes some time for the screen to dry, for the printed fabric to cure, then to be washed out.  I did this over 4 days this last week.  I really think I’m going to need to make or buy some more screens, because just having one is limiting- I would have liked to play for quite a bit longer with the screening process and with just one screen, that’s not possible. All of these were screened on to fabric that had been previously dyed with a combination of pink and gold dyes.  I used a blue violet dye for the screen.

And here are a couple of small shibori stitching experiments  from this week.  This one is the same pink/gold fabric from above, stitched and over-dyed with black:

This one is a piece of bargain tangerine linen-rayon blend fabric that I bought, hoping it would be good for over-dyeing.  This was my sample piece, which I dyed with bright pink dye.  It’s a little brighter than this photo shows.  I loved how it turned out, so I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon sewing a summer dress out of the tangerine fabric.  This week (or maybe for longer!), I’ll be working on doing the stitched resist work so that I’ll hopefully end up with a very fun and funky one-of-a-kind summer dress.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to post next week- maybe sooner, depending on how much work and everyday life gets in the way of making art :).

A Little More Shibori Stitching

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve stitched up a few more mini-shibori experiments to use as studies for something larger that I have in mind.  I finally had a chance to dye them yesterday and am sharing the results here- perhaps mostly just to remind myself that I did them.  Once again, I didn’t take any pictures of these “in process.”  I still mean to do that, perhaps with the bigger piece that I have in mind for my next project.  I did find a nice little stitched shibori tutorial online that shows some of the possibilities here:


This one was stitched using  the stitch pattern from “step 1” of  the tutorial above:

The rest of these were stitched using the stitch from  “step 4” of the same tutorial:




“Peace” on a scrap of an old t-shirt


Fabric Ball for a 1st Birthday Gift

This fall, I started watching a neighbor’s baby full time.  When I started, I didn’t realize how much that would change the time and energy that I have for sewing, knitting, crafting and all of that sort of thing.  As the baby has  grown and gotten more mobile, I’ve had less and less time for projects.  There’s been even less time for recording anything that I do  make, so this blog has been sadly neglected. I see that I haven’t posted anything since December, and I’ve decided it’s time to try to post a little more often.  We’ll see how that works out!  

Today, the little man that I care for turned one, and I wanted to make him a gift for his birthday.  I’d saved a link to a blog with instructions for making a fabric ball, found here:


I dug through some fabric scraps and decided to make the medium size:


I made one addition to the very-easy-to-use pattern:  I added three bells.  I made little fabric bags to hold the bells so that the ball’s stuffing can’t get wrapped around them to keep them from jingling over time.  Also, if the ball should come apart, it would make the bells a little bit more swallow-proof. Here’s a picture:


This was a very fast and simple project that I’ll be sure to make again.  My little guy loved this and I’m going to have to make some more of these in different sizes  and textures to keep at my house!

Snow Day Paper Crafting

I love all sorts of star shapes, and a few days ago, I saw a pattern for some large paper stars on another blog.  They are similar to some stars that I’ve seen in a local shop, and I’ve always intended to try to make some to hang in my front window.  Someday, I’m still going to, but today I decided to make a smaller version of them.  

First, I found the original pattern here:


After downloading the pdf, I decided that I’d like to start with making a smaller version.  There are lots of ways to reduce patterns, but in this case, I used a setting on my printer.  By choosing “properties” and then “paper” I was able to choose an option that says “9 in 1” that will prints nine pages in miniature form on one page.    This basically makes a 1/9 size pattern.  There are also other options, such as “1 in 2” and “1 in 4” that reduce page sizes as well.  I’m sure that other printers offer similar options.  I printed this on cardstock, which made a great pattern for tracing onto my paper.  

The paper I used for this project was some that I’d purchased  with a larger project in mind.  Unfortunately, my cat helped make it unusable for my original purpose by running across it with muddy feet, so now I am just working around the muddy spots and using it for smaller projects :).  For gluing this, I used YES! paste, which I really like for a lot of paper carfting.  It stays where it’s put, is workable for a longer time than some other glues, but also holds well as soon as you stick it together.  A tub of this will last for a very, very long time- I’ve had mine for a few years, I think.  I applied it with a smallish paint brush.  Here’s a picture of  it if you haven’t seen it before- it’s a very useful glue to keep around:



And finally, here is my finished product:

Rather than tying it together as the pattern mentioned, I just glued all of it together.  I also cut out a spiral from the paper I used to glue on the center because I like spirals and I thought it needed a little something else in the middle.  For hanging, I poked a hole in one of the star’s rays with a needle and threaded ribbon through.  I love my new ornament!.

Another Star Ornament

I love star shapes and recently was browsing the internet for instructions for making star books.  The last time I did that, it led to an ornament on my blog (found here:  https://hinzpired.wordpress.com/2007/11/06/how-to-make-paper-star-ornaments/.  This time, the results were the same, although the design is new.  I think these are actually easier than the the first star ornaments and also offer the potential for lots of embellishments.

I’m sure that this isn’t really something new- I’m sure I’ve seen this sort of ornament somewhere before.  However, I didn’t find any instructions for them during my internet search, so I’m offering my version (I did find some very similar ornaments that someone is offering for sale using the custom images of your choice, which reinforced my idea that the instructions must be out there somewhere).

For my version, I used a few different choices for paper:  some multi-use 24 lb copy paper, both plain and stamped with paint; a paper grocery bag stamped with paint; and magazine pages glued together with a glue stick (the bottom two ornaments are made with magazine/catalog pages glued together).

Now for the instructions:  Cut your chosen paper into strips.  I chose to make my strips 2-1/2 inches wide.

Then cut the strips into squares- you will need either 5 or 6 squares.  Most of the ornaments above were made with 5 segments, but the bottom ornament made with the Lee Valley catalog cover uses 6- it’s up to you.

Next, fold all squares in half:

Open it up and fold it in half the other way:

Next, open it up again, flip it over and fold it diagonally.  If you are using a paper with images on only one side, those images will be on the outside during the first folds and on the inside during this fold:

Now, open up the paper, and on the right side, fold the little triangles that have been made inside the squares.  This is hard to explain, but easy to do:

Repeat these steps until there are  5 (or 6) pieces folded:

Now, the pieces are glued or taped together.  For most of the ones I’ve made, I used glue stick, but I tried double sided tape and found out that it worked out, too- and it’s a bit less messy.  Either way, apply glue or tape to one section and then stack the next piece on top:

Continue until all pieces are stuck together:

Next, cut two pieces of ribbon, jute, string, etc.  I tend to cut ribbon a bit longer than I think will be needed and then trim it at the end if it turns out to be a bit long.  Fold ornament into a stack and glue or tape ribbon on to one side:

Next, cut two more pieces of paper to be the covers of the book.  You can make it exactly the same size as the folded star or make it a bit bigger.  I chose to make mine the same size, so cut out one piece from my original strip of paper that was 1-1/4 by 2-1/2 inches and then cut it in half one more time.

Use glue or double sided tape to attach  this paper, covering up the corner of the ribbon that has just been attached:

Repeat on second side:

The ornament will now look like this:

Now bring the two ribbons together so that the ornament forms a complete star.  Slip a bead onto the ribbons and tie a knot in the end of the ribbons:

The finished star is now ready to hang.  For storage or to display the ornament in book form, the bead can be pushed to the other end of the ribbon and the star can be folded to become a book.  Push the bead back down to the end to keep it in this position:

I think that these ornaments would be beautiful made with some of the art papers I’ve seen, using nicer beads.  All sorts of recycled papers could be used, too.  I’ve also been experimenting with using stiffened fabric instead of paper, but those results aren’t ready for the blog yet (and you don’t really want to know why, although I’ll tell you that it involved my cats…).

Crayon Rubbings on Fabric

I’ve always enjoyed making paper rubbings of common objects and recently I’ve been thinking about trying some projects on fabric.  I had some ideas of supplies I’d like to use, but none are available in my town and will have to be mail-ordered.  I decided to go ahead and try some experiments today with the supplies that I had.  My daughter was up for experimenting, too, so we headed off on our bikes to a nearby college campus.  We took along some sections of second-hand-store sheeting and a small box of stockmar beeswax crayons.  We had a lot of fun and my daughter only told me a couple of times that people were looking at us funny :).

Here are some of our images:

These are from two door knobs in our house:

These are images from two different light posts:

From a memorial plaque by a tree:

From another plaque:

From a gate:

From a small water utility cover:

From a sculpture title:

From a phone utility cover- I love the geometric shapes on this:

After today’s experiments, I have lots more ideas in mind to try. I’m thinking  of trying to work some of  today’s rubbings  into some sort of art quilt along with more images that we collect other times.

I did heat set these images with an iron- I covered them with a couple of layers of paper while ironing to absorb any excess wax.  I tested a couple of them by then washing them in hot water with synthropal (a strong textile detergent I use for my dye work) and the colors stayed fast.  I may just stick with using the Stockmar beeswax crayons, but now I want the bigger box with more colors…which I will still have to mail order :).

Rust Dye with Stencils

Yesterday, I saw a blog with instructions for making freezer paper stencils for t-shirts.  I’ve done this in the past with fabric paints, but seeing it made me wonder if I could make this work with rust dyeing.  I thought it would be great if the shape of the rust dyed image was not limited to to the shape of my rusty object.

I was (of course!) out of freezer paper, so after a quick bike ride to the grocery store, I cut out a few basic shapes.  For this experiment, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on the images- I just wanted to do something quickly to see if it would work.  After cutting, I ironed the shiny plastic side of the freezer paper onto the fabric:

I then took it outside to my plastic tray and placed it over my rusty saw blade- which is the only semi-solid rusty shape I currently have.  I sprayed it with my water bottle, sprayed it with a bit of water, sprinkled it with salt and then sprayed again with some water:

I covered it loosely with plastic to keep it from drying out too fast as it was way too hot yesterday.  I sprayed it a few times throughout the day and also at night when I closed the chickens into their coop.  Here is the image that I washed out today:

Success!  This image has sort of a country look which isn’t really me, I think because of the hearts and stars and the saw blade shape.  Still, it worked and now I can continue to experiment.  I need to get a flat piece of steel that I can turn into a rust stenciling surface for other sorts of images.  My son wants me to try to make him a skull and crossbones image rusty t-shirt and I think this technique will work for that- since I don’t happen to have a flat rusty skull and crossbones :).

I plan to play more with the freezer paper and maybe some other resists, too.  I’m thinking that soy wax would work.  I was also looking at a plastic mailer that came with a book I ordered.  I think that it might be interesting to try to cut shapes out of it and sew them to the base fabric as resists.  I’m definitely going to be exploring this idea more in the future.

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