Making Word Snowflakes with Coffee Filters

I love making snowflakes just for the joy of doing it.  I love folding up some paper, randomly cutting and then opening it up to see my results.  I don’t think one is ever too old for it, or if so that age must come later than 45, because I’m still enjoying it.

I’ve been enjoying seeing posts around the internet lately about patterns for snowflakes and different fold options for snowflakes.  I saw a post a few days ago about folding 5-fold snowflakes which reminded me about some word snowflakes I’d made in the past.  I actually first saw these several years back when a work-study student in my husband’s office made them with the names of all of the people in the department and hung them up as winter decorations.  I’ve been playing around with making snowflakes with coffee filters for the past few days, so decided to combine both ideas to make these.

First, here is a link to a pdf illustrating folding square paper into a 5 pointed star:

I’ll  show my version using a round coffee filter below, but the link above may be helpful  if starting with square paper.

I used these coffee filters because I had a bunch of them in my cupboard left over from a previous project.  I found that it’s helpful to give them a quick once-over with an iron to flatten them out a bit.  I was able to flatten several at a time and it made them much easier to work with.

First, fold coffee filter in half:

Then fold it in half again:

Now open up that last fold.  Take the right-hand side and fold it up to the middle:

Open it up again.  The creases should look like this:

The next step is easy to do, but harder to show and explain.  Fold the crease that was just made to meet the center crease.  Open it up and it should look like this:

Now fold the right- hand edge up to meet the last crease made:

Next, fold the left-hand side over to meet the new right-hand edge:

Now fold  this in half:

Now, this can be cut in any way you choose.  Here’s a traditionally cut snowflake from one of my coffee filters:

For cutting words into the snowflake, here are my next steps.  First, I took my folded triangle and traced it several times onto a piece of paper:

I then started experimenting with drawing words and letters.  Here is my sketch for “joy”:

My drawing skills aren’t amazing, but that doesn’t really matter for this.  I just try  to be careful to keep my shapes simple enough to cut easily and also to keep everything connected.  At least a little bit of the edge on both sides of the triangle needs to remain intact, just as for any snowflake cutting.

When I was happy with my design, I cut out the triangle from the scrap paper.  I slipped this inside the top layer of my folded snowflake (and a note- I had to trim off a little tiny bit from both sides of my pattern to slip it inside) so that I could see it to trace my design:

I then traced it:

Then cut it out.  A hole punch can help to start cuts in inside areas:

All cut out:

And finished!

These can be flattened a bit with a book or pressed with an iron.  Here’s another one I made with the word “peace”:

I love that at first glance, these just look like any other snowflake, but when looking closer, the word shows up.

I’m off to make some more!


My First Woven Bag

I’ve recently been interested in learning more about weaving, and last month my mom helped  that interest along by giving me a rigid heddle weaving loom as a birthday gift.  I’ve enjoyed making a few little sample things, figuring out how to warp it without looking back at the instructions and generally just getting comfortable and familiar with it.  I decided it was time to make an actual project, but limited myself to what I had here.  Since I also knit and crochet, there does tend to be plenty of yarn around here already :).

I had previously only tried working in plain weave, and wanted to try something new.  I found a youtube video showing how to do  a pattern called Brooks Bouquet and decided I wanted to try it.  It’s here if you’d like to see it:

The yarn I used was from a cone of some hemp-wool blend that I have had around for awhile.  I started out with 6 rows of plain weave and then began the Brooks Bouquet pattern.  I repeated the pattern 10 times then wove 3 inches of plain weave for the bottom of the bag, then ten more repeats of Brooks Bouquet, ending with 6 more plain rows.  Here’s a picture of it in progress on the loom:

After taking it off the loom, I finished both ends with a couple of rows of zig-zag stitching on my sewing machine.

I then made the long strap that became the sides and handle as a 3-inch wide strip of plain weave.  I hemmed it on the sewing machine, as well:

I hand-sewed the edge the strap to the body of the bag.  I left the very top part of the bag un-sewn and left the sewing yarn there to finish stitching up after adding the lining:

I then started working on the lining.  I was given some really nice wool wool fabric that was sort of a gray color.  I over-dyed it deep orange.  Here’s a picture of the before and after:

To create the lining, I measured across the bag:

I added two inches for seam allowances and added several inches to the height:

I then pulled up the bottom corners and measured  a triangle that was 3 inches across (my strap/bottom width) up the side edge.  I sewed across this triangle and trimmed the corners:

I inserted the lining into the bag and hand-tacked the bottom corners.  I then folded the  lining over the top edge and carefully pinned it to make sure I was catching all of it as I sewed.  I machine stitched all around the top 3/4″ down.  I then pulled that fabric back over itself to the inside of the bag and pinned it down well.  I machine stitched this from the front side of the bag very close to the lining through all of the layers- sort of the stitch-in-the-ditch thing often used in quilting.  I didn’t take pictures of that part, so I hope this sort of makes sense :).

When finishing the top, I also sewed in a crocheted loop to serve as a button hole.  I finished hand-stitching up the last bit of the sides, sewed on a hand-made button and here is the finished bag:

I think that the finishing part took at least as long- maybe even longer- than the weaving part :).

Weaving at the Hospital

A couple of weeks ago, the newest issue of Piecework magazine came in the mail (March/April 2010).

I always enjoy reading about various textile arts of the past and in this issue, I was especially taken by the article about weaving on mini 4-inch looms, originally called Weave-Its.  The article said that these had also been produced under the name Weavette, but that they were no longer made and could now be found on Ebay, in antique shops, or at garage sales.

For some reason, I really thought I’d like to find one of these to play with.  I began doing some internet searching and discovered that a very similar loom is currently available from Hazel Rose looms.  I ordered the 4″ square multi-loom, found on this page:

It was shipped very quickly and arrived at my house last Thursday.  I played with it a bit on Thursday night.  I’ve never really done much in the way of weaving, and I messed up the warping of my first square.  I then successfully made one square and proceeded to mess up my third.  By that point, I had finally figured out how everything is supposed to look when it’s right and when it’s wrong and have been successful with all of my later squares.  I found it to not be difficult once I finally had the warping part figured out.

On Friday morning, I started to take pictures of my first four successful squares.

I was going to write a blog post about it and planned to write that while it was sort of fun, I didn’t really anticipate making any huge projects this way.  I’d found some pdfs of vintage project books at that had initially looked fun, but that I now knew I’d never really create enough squares to make any of them.

Then, the phone rang.  My husband called to tell me he’d fallen at work and that one of his co-workers was going to take him into the urgent care clinic to get checked out.  Then he called a bit later to say that urgent care wouldn’t see him and wanted him to go to the hospital. It turned out that his hip was broken and I needed to head to the hospital as he would need surgery.  As I threw a few things into a bag to take to the hospital, I threw my mini loom and a ball of yarn in, too.

The next few days were long, tiring and are sort of a blur now.  My husband had very successful surgery and I spent a lot of time sitting in the hospital.  I was very, very thankful to have that mini-loom with me. I found that it was the perfect thing to work with to keep my hands busy. It required no counting or following patterns as knitting or crocheting would have.  There are no stitches to get pulled out in my bag and it could be put down at any second as I helped adjust a pillow, talked to a physical therapist, or whatever.  I could work quickly and make a whole square or just weave a slow row or two when I was tired and distracted.

Now my husband is home from the hospital to continue the work of healing.  I’m finding that my loom is still the perfect outlet for me, as I sit near him on the couch or bed, being close to help if needed, but not distracting to him.  Weaving little squares is possible when tired in a way that other hand-work just isn’t working for me right now.  I anticipate my little loom being a continuing companion as we head to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy visits in the coming weeks.

I’m not really sure what I’m making yet, but I’m accumulating quite a stack of little woven squares that I can put together at a less tired time.  A few of them are here:
It may sound sort of strange to be thankful for a little wooden frame with a bunch of nails in it, but I can truly say that’s how I feel.

Crocheted Heart Pattern

Valentine’s Day is next month, and I’ve been scanning the internet for patterns for crocheted hearts.  I’ve found lots of them, but never quite what I was looking for.  Some were too big or too frilly or had instructions that made no sense to me or were otherwise not quite what I was looking for.  I found a new one a couple of days ago that looked promising, but the pattern had errors in it, and being sort of new to this crochet thing, I sometimes know enough to tell when something’s wrong, but not always enough to know how to fix it.  I worked at trying to fix the pattern, and ended up creating my own, combining a few ideas I’d seen and making something new.  It’s possible that this combination has been made before, but I haven’t seen it, so I’m offering it here. I’m writing it up two ways:  first, just the quick instructions, and second, with pictures that show the steps in case I’m not clear.  Hopefully that will be helpful to newer crocheters (okay, me!), who often wish there was a picture to explain the steps that aren’t intuitively understood.

Thread and needles:  I used #10 crochet cotton with a Boye#8 (1.5mm) steel hook and #5 crochet cotton with a Boye #5(1.90 mm) steel hook.  I’m sure lots of other combinations would be fine, too.

Gauge isn’t really important here.


ch= chain

sl st= slip stitch

dc= double crochet

tr= treble crochet

sp= space

To begin, ch5 and join with a sl st to make a ring (or make an adjustable ring).

Row 1:  Ch3( counts as 1st dc), 2dc into ring, ch2. (3dc, ch2) into ring 3 more times.  Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch3. (12 dc, 4 ch2 spaces)

Row 2:  Sl st in next 2 stitches and into ch2 sp. Ch3(counts as 1st dc), 2dc, ch2, 3dc in ch2 sp, ch2.  *Skip next 3 dc and 3dc, ch2, 3dc in next ch2 sp, ch2.* Repeat from * to* 2 more times.  Join with a sl st to beginning ch3.  (24 dc, 8 ch2 spaces)

Row 3:  Sl st in next 2 stitches and into ch2 sp.  *Ch1. Tr into next ch2 sp (center of the square).  Ch1.  (tr, ch1) 6 more times in same ch2 space.  Join with a sl st in next ch2 space.*  Half of  curved part of heart is now completed.  Repeat from *to* to make 2nd heart curve.  Fasten, weave in ends and block if you want to.

And now, with pictures ( I know a few of them are blurry, but hopefully they are clear enough to get the idea across):

At the end of row 1:

Beginning of Row 2- how it should look when stitches are slipped over to next chain 2 space:

End of row 2:

Beginning of Row 3, showing stitches slipped to next chain 2 space:

Next step in Row 3- One chain made, first treble crochet made in next chain 2 space:

Row 3, showing first 7 treble crochets:

Row 3, showing slip stitch into next chain 2 space:

Row 3, beginning the second half of the heart curve:

Finished, showing the final slip stitch in next chain 2 space:

All ends woven in, blocked and pretty!

These are a little smaller than 2 inches square in #10 cotton and just over 2 inches in #5 cotton. These are very quick and I plan on making a bunch more of them to use in some Valentine projects.  Hopefully, my explanations are clear enough that other people can use them, too!

Playing With Fabric Collagraphs

I posted previously about making collagraphs using file folders ( see here).  I’ve continued to experiment with my stash of file folders and lately I’ve been playing with overlapping the images to create fabric backgrounds.

Here’s some of my playing from this morning.

This picture shows the image as it is, with one layer:

Here is the image with several overlapping layers:

My goal today was to create a fabric that could be cut into a star shape to use as part of a Christmas card I’m designing.  I used a piece of file folder to mask different areas to help me determine where I wanted to cut:

I made three different pieces of layered fabrics and these are the stars I’ve cut out so far:

My plan now is to applique one or more of these to a background waiting to be found in my box of hand-dyed fabric pieces.  It may eventually be formatted, scanned and printed into this year’s Christmas card.  It also may not, as something else from my box of scraps sometimes emerges.  In that case, these will be used for something else when their time is right.  It’s still early in December, so there is still time :D.

These images were made using Stockmar beeswax crayons on various pieces of fabric.  I did heat set them with an iron with a piece of paper over and under them to absorb any stray wax, but I don’t really know about their washfastness as that doesn’t matter much for my current purposes.  I do need to experiment with that one of these days.

One thing that I found very helpful that I hadn’t thought of before was to put my fabric in an embroidery hoop.  In the past, I’d just taped it down, but fabric gives and moves more than paper which sometimes caused some fuzzy images.  The embroidery hoop keeps the fabric nice and tight.

Crochet Ornaments

Now that I’ve sort of figured out how to crochet, I’ve been enjoying working on little projects.  This time of year, for me that means ornaments.  They are fun and perfect for the short attention span I’ve had lately.  Here’s a picture of several of them, with more detailed descriptions below:

This group was made using patterns from the Leisure Arts Big Book of Thread Ornaments to Crochet:

These are from Edie Eckman’s book, Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs.  This book isn’t about making ornaments, but I love how they’ve turned out as ornaments when made with crochet thread.  I like all of these better than the ones from the ornament book:

This one is a  favorite of mine  and I’ve made a few of them:

It’s from the e-book, Crafty Tree Trimmings, which is available until the end of December here:

Part of the proceeds go to Project Linus and the other ornament patterns are great, too.  This is the only crochet pattern, so check it out even if crochet isn’t your thing.

Making an Elphaba Costume

My 15-year-old daughter saw the musical, Wicked, last spring and decided a couple of months ago that she wanted to dress up as the character Elphaba this year for Halloween.  Although she’s mostly too old for trick-or-treating at this point, she did have a couple of parties to attend and so needed a costume.

It is true that not that many people even know who Elphaba is, and even fewer probably know the details of what an outfit of  hers might look like.  This is a long-running theme with my children.  Over the years, they have frequently chosen to dress up as obscure characters from books, super heroes of their own making, etc.  I enjoy doing my best to help them bring their visions to life as much as is possible, and being costumes, it really doesn’t matter if the sewing is perfect.

This year, Anna and I started designing her costume by looking carefully at the pictures in the program that she brought home from Wicked.  The main points:  a blue jumper with diagonal pin-tucks on the front panel and an asymmetrical  hemline, a blue school uniform type jacket with brown trim, and a blue crocheted hat.  We were able to find two Simplicity patterns (hooray for $1 pattern sales!) to use as a starting place.

This one  had the right general shape for the jumper with a few modifications:

This one was nearly perfect for the shape of the jacket:

We found some fabrics in the inexpensive wall bins at the back of JoAnn’s that were the right color and more importantly,  price,  for  costume fabric.

For the center panel of the dress, I took a piece of the fabric and drew diagonal lines about 2.5 inches apart.  I folded these lines and sewed them with  a  1/2 inch seam.  This became the back side of the fabric.  After pressing, I top-stitched the front side of the fabric.  I then added a straight piece of fabric at the top and for the lower skirt and cut out the front panel piece from this piece of fabric.

Here is a picture, which for some reason is very washed-out, but it sort of shows this panel:

I sewed the rest of the jumper pretty much as the pattern was written.

When it was finished, I cut the bottom of the skirt on the diagonal and hemmed it:

The jacket was sewn almost exactly as pictured on the pattern envelope with a few things added at the end.  I did slightly round the front edges to match  Elphaba’s  jacket picture.  The last step was to add pockets and brown trim, which weren’t part of the pattern.  The trim I used was brown cotton ribbing that for some reason I already had.  I cut it 1-1/4 inches wide and wrapped it around the edges of the finished jacket, sewing it with a zig-zag stitch which finished both the front and back side all at once.  Here is a picture of it as finished:

It does have only two brass buttons, and the one in the picture had three, but I could only come up with two and no one is going to be comparing it that closely to the pictures anyway ;).

I also crocheted a very simple hat.  I’m sort of  a new crocheter, so I used a pattern from the book, 24 Hour Crochet Projects by Rita Weiss.  I think more experienced crochet people could probably do it without a pattern, but I’m not there yet.  It’s here:

And the final result:  my daughter as Elphaba, all green-skinned for her party.  Our pictures didn’t turn out well, but you can sort of get the idea.  The glasses are from the dollar store.  We never found any boots that looked like the pictures, so she went with shoes  from her Converse collection, pretty much her fall-back shoes for all occasions:

And a picture her friend took at the party:

Making File-Folder Collagraphs

A few weeks ago when I was visiting my husband’s office, I saw a pile of file folders outside one of the other offices with a “free-take me” sign on them.  I’d recently gotten interested in making collagraphs and had seen a technique somewhere that used file folders to make them.

I made a couple of simple collagraph plates  right away using using drawings that were traced onto a file folder and then glued down to another file folder, with the intention of making some more complex ones later.  Here are the first ones:

Life sort of got in the way of making any more for awhile, but for the last couple of days, I’ve had some ideas going through my brain that involved circles- actually that’s been a theme to a lot of the stitched shibori I’ve done this summer, too.  Today, I decided to draw something with circles and make a collagraph plate from it.

I started by gluing two file folders together with a glue-stick, as my free folders are pretty thin.  I then drew on my circle images and scanned it so I’d have a copy to work from as I cut it apart and glued it back together.  Here’s my original and my scanned copy:

I glued the scanned copy to another file folder and then began cutting out and gluing the pieces to that base.  I used a regular glue stick for all of the gluing. Here’s a picture part way through the process:

It actually took me a couple of hours to cut this apart and glue it back together, but it was exactly what I needed.  I love to cut things out- for me there’s some sort of meditative thing about cutting and gluing.

I made a couple of quick images from my new collagraph plate tonight.  These are both on fabric, using Caran D’ache neocolor 1 water resistant pastels.  When I heat-set these with an iron, they seem to be quite permanent on fabric.

On natural fabric:

On some of my hand-dyed fabric:

I’m hoping to have time to make more of these soon, and also to experiment with using them on some of my other hand-dyed fabrics.

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.

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