Crafting for 4th of July

Crafting for 4th of July

Crafting for 4th of July

For the past few days, I’ve been putting together a roundup of 4th of July crafts and DIY project ideas over at FreeCrafts.info — and I want to mention that to you before I get sidetracked sharing insights about other related and unrelated topics that are competing for space in my brain. If you celebrate 4th of July, and you like to work on craft projects, I hope you’ll check out the page. I’ve shared pictures, tutorials, instructions, patterns and links for bunches of different ideas, from red white and blue spin art to various DIY jewelry-making, crochet and beading projects.

The objects pictured above look sort of like balls of red, white and blue yarn, don’t you think? They’re actually rag balls: that is, cut-up strips of fabric that have been wound into balls. You can knit or crochet with them in much the same manner you would with yarn, but they’re made of fabric. I’ve used these to make one of the craft projects included on the list —this easy crochet necklace.

Because the fabric looks and behaves differently than yarn does, it’s really interesting to craft with it. One of the most intriguing things about the process, to me, is that you can introduce interesting prints and patterns into your knitting or crochet. I love experimenting with novelty yarns and variegated yarns: tweedy looks, space-dyed colors, boucles, etc — but the ability to add actual printed patterns to the mix is priceless.

The picture above only gives you a glimpse into the possibilities, as the fabrics I’ve used here are interesting but not that intricate. They’re batik fabrics with subtle patterning, which I think is perfect for the sorts of fabric crochet projects I like to make.

However, I invite you to use your imagination for a moment, and dream of how it might look if you were to make rag balls out of — for example — a printed fabric with red ground and small white stars, or perhaps a bandana print, or a blue and white gingham checked fabric.

I’d be interested to try incorporating fabrics like these into my own fabric crochet work. When crafting for holidays like 4th of July, I imagine that using such fabrics could add a whole new dimension to each finished project. For example, it could allow you to introduce relevant patterns, like stars, into each finished piece, without the obligation to actually crochet or knit any stars.

I find these ideas so intriguing that it’s all I can do not to drop everything else I have in progress and go off on this fun tangent — and someday in the future I hope I’ll be able to explore these ideas further. Right now, being pregnant, I have to prioritize working on baby projects. I have bunches of those in the works too, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll be sharing the patterns and instructions for those with y’all shortly.

I apologize that I haven’t been sending out newsletters regularly; I’ve totally dropped the ball on that, and I feel really bad about it. I have so many things to share that by now it’s a little overwhelming to even think about all the stuff that’s going to be included in the next newsletter I do send out. I predict it is going to be absolutely packed with patterns and projects and ideas. I’m hopeful that I’ll even be sharing some of my best ideas and projects ever.

If you’re one of my newsletter subscribers, I really look forward to sharing these projects with you — but please bear with me while I pull them together in some sort of understandable format! Thanks for your patience with me, and please know that I really appreciate your subscription — and your interest in my work.

And if you aren’t already a newsletter subscriber, I invite you to subscribe now, because I don’t want you to miss out on any of the fun. Especially if you enjoy crocheting or knitting baby projects!

May 25, 2015: Today in Review

Today is May, 25, 2015. I’m beginning my notes for this post at 9:55 am local time here in the Med, and it’s already uncomfortably hot and humid here in our sailboat. This sort of intense heat zaps my energy and sucks it right out of me, so I’m hoping that today’s post won’t end up reading something like “Today I slept all day. The end!”

Speaking of sleeping: My kitties all got up at some stupid early hour this morning, and they were running around like wildcats. I was awakened by one of them taking a broad leap and landing on my head. I have scratch marks on my face to show for that. :(

Now the kitties are all sleeping like little black and white angels. Happiness = 4 adorable sleeping cats.

6:24 PM

I ended up being more productive than expected today. No sleeping for me — not even a little nap.

Today I Crocheted…

…a swatch of “zig-zag lozenge stitch”, from Sarah Hazell’s Crochet Stitch Dictionary.

Today I crocheted this swatch of a stitch called zig-zag lozenge, from the book Crochet Stitch Dictionary.

Today I crocheted this swatch of a stitch called zig-zag lozenge, from the book Crochet Stitch Dictionary.

This is an intriguing stitch that I’m interested in trying again, next time in stripes of three different colors.

Today I Published…

The short version of these reviews: I love both these books, and highly recommend them. I invite you to check out the reviews if you’re curious about the details of why.

Thanks for dropping by! I really appreciate your interest.

XOXOXOXOXO

Amy

May 24, 2015: Today in Review

Today is May 24, 2015 — time to dust off my blog and get back to posting after another long, unintended absence. I’ve been busy doing a bunch of freelance writing, which means I’ve been updating zillions of other peoples’ blogs — just not this one. I also hadn’t been crafting much until Monday, when I finally started a new crochet project. I have been meaning to get busy with making baby projects for months now, but squeezing in the time to do it has been a problem.

My Current Work-In-Progress Is…

…the “Messy Nessie Baby Bib” from Beastly Crochet. This is a surprising turn of events, as I don’t work from other designers’ patterns all that often — plus the pattern isn’t really my style.

This decision came about because I happen to have both the pattern and appropriate yarn on hand, which is a minor miracle. At the moment I have to work from stash, and this was the most workable combination of baby bib pattern and yarn I was able to put together with what I have aboard our boat at the moment.

I’d rather be making Robyn Chachula’s “burp cloth bib” from Baby Blueprint Crochet. However, my copy of that pattern book is in storage in California, and I am in the Mediterranean, so that’s not an option.

Oh well, I think it’s fun to wander out of my comfort zone every once in awhile. As far as baby bibs go, the kid will likely be spilling food all over it. So really, on a scale of things to worry about, the design of one bib is not a biggie.

RE “the kid” — here’s some big news for you. I have a little one on the way! And so this project is earmarked just for him / her (not sure which, as we are waiting to be surprised about whether our little darling is a son or a daughter.)

Today I Worked on…

Today I Ate…

  • 2 Fresh organic grapefruits — 1 sprinkled with coconut, which I love, but we ran out of it and so I didn’t get to put any on the second one I had a little later. Booo! :(
  • Organic / free range egg and veggie wraps with fresh, homemade, made-from-scratch bread that is something of a cross between a tortilla and a pita.
  • A gigantic fresh organic salad that was herbed beyond all reasonable levels of flavorful. I asked Mike to stuff my usual bowl full of cucumbers, tomatoes and salad veggies with loads of additional fresh basil, turmeric, garlic and other herbs in an attempt to increase my mineral and nutrient consumption. He complied and I dutifully ate it all, although my taste buds were in shock.
  • Fresh organic pasta with tomato sauce that Mike made by hand, from scratch, using spelt flour. Do the words “unbelievably, amazingly yummy” mean anything to you? The man is spoiling me.

Today’s Workout…

Wasn’t actually a workout. Does a leisurely moonlit stroll by the beach count? No? OK, just checking, but I didn’t think so.

I’m still trying to keep active, but the workouts I was doing before are out of the question at the moment. Before my pregnancy, I was doing a lot of lifting-my-own-body-weight type exercises. The more baby weight I gain, the less I feel like doing those. I’m keeping up with my walking (more or less — my speed has slowed a lot) and doing gentle stretching, but tonight, for me, a walk was enough.

Father’s Day Crafts (Crochet Ideas and More)

Who’s making gifts for Dad this year? If your plan is to make a Father’s Day gift for your Dad, this is a great time to get started on the project. This year, Father’s Day occurs on Sunday, June 21, 2015 — so you have time to get a hand-crafted project done, although not too much time.

(Of course, if you can’t squeeze in any crafting time between now and Father’s Day, you could always aim for a handmade birthday gift or Christmas gift instead.)

You probably already have about a zillion ideas for things your dad might like you to make for him. You know more about his tastes, interests, talents and preferences than any random blogger on the Internet who puts together gift-list ideas would. But still, it can be interesting to check out other peoples’ gift lists and then put your own spin on them to come up with the perfect gift. So whether or not you’re actually in need of gift ideas, you may find it interesting to look through some lists to get an idea of what other people find gift-worthy.

I invite you to check out this list of Father’s Day craft ideas. It’s a list for do-it-yourselfers of all persuasions, with some interesting options for crocheters, plus plenty of other craft ideas.

Here’s another reminder: you probably also want to remember to take care of any Father-in-laws, stepdads, granddads, and other father-figures on your gift list.

Whatever gifts you decide to make for the guys on your gift list, I’m really hoping they’ll love ’em.

You might also enjoy:

Making Progress on New Year’s Resolutions: Recently Unraveled Projects

I didn’t get around to posting my New Year’s Resolutions online this year, but one of the biggies was to do something about all the unfinished projects I have hanging around. I’m glad to announce that I’m making some headway on this. Woohoo!

Resolution #1: Unravel every crochet project I’m not going to finish.

I’m just about finished with this resolution. It was easier than I thought it would be, although there were a few that I agonized over a bit before jumping in and ripping, ripping, ripping.

Like this:

Shallow Single Crochet

This just needed to be unraveled. There was no good reason for hanging onto it. It was ugly. It was full of mistakes. It was turning out completely the wrong size and the wrong scale. There was not a chance in this world I was going to finish it.

Yet, despite the flaws, there were many interesting things about it, and I invested more effort than you’d think into the piece.

Take a close look at it. Can you tell that it’s crochet? It looks a little like knitted stockinette stitch. Sadly, it works up even slower than stockinette. It’s actually shallow single crochet stitch. Despite being crochet, this stitch is most un-crochet-like in multiple ways.

So instead of pink stockinette stitch flying saucer lookalikes, I now have a pile of pink yarn that I suppose I could use for making some cute little Valentine lovelies. Or maybe a baby headband. Who knows?

Resolution #2: Finish every craft project I’ve started that I’m not going to unravel or give up on.

I haven’t made any headway on this part of the list yet, but that’s what I’m going to tackle next.

Resolutions #3 and 4, for now, will remain secret. But maybe — just maybe — I will let the secret out a little later this year.

For now, over and out.

Back From a Long, Unanticipated Blog Hiatus

So, I’m dusting off this blog and trying again with daily blog posts. I stalled out on doing that for a few months, because I’ve been staying at a marina with unreliable Internet access. I haven’t been able to get online until just a few days ago. It has been so frustrating!

In the past, when I used to blog for a corprorate crochet website, I was able to maintain daily blog posts for a couple of years running. However, since I knew I had unreliable Internet access, I used to schedule the posts ahead of time. I’d usually blog about a month ahead. I’m realizing that’s doable in my particular situation, whereas “Today in Review” style blog posts are not necessarily sustainable for my particular situation. At least, not on a daily basis. Bummer! Because I really like doing them. I’m thinking it over and pondering where to go from here.

I do know this: I’m at the mercy of both the local Internet antenna and the network, which are susceptible to going down for a number of reasons. The network seems to go down a few times a day for no apparent reason, and then the antenna often goes down for longer stretches of time — particularly whenever it rains or gets wet. It was the same when we were cruising in southern and central California; in Two Harbors, California, on Catalina Island, the Internet tower would go down every time it rained — typically every weekend during the rainy season. They wouldn’t usually fix it until sometime Monday morning or afternoon, which would cause me much anxiety and stress if I hadn’t already scheduled my weekly newsletter to go out. I learned quickly: work ahead. Work far, far ahead.

I’m not sure I want this blog to consistently include bunches of scheduled posts, just for the sake of maintaining a daily blog. That doesn’t make much sense. So I still have some thinking to do about whether to just pick up with what I was doing, or try a different approach.

I did use the down time to begin working on a crochet book, and the book is now nearly finished. I’ll be posting more about that soon.

Also in the works, for those of you who are crochet fans, I am putting the finishing touches on an interview with Sharon Silverman. I’m hoping that will go live later this week at KnittingandCrochet.net.

I’ve also been caring for a disabled cat, in addition to all the other cats I already help to take care of. Poor little baby. I’ll post more about that soon, too.

Well, hopefully I’ll be posting about those things soon. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll be posting soon if all goes according to plan.

September 29, 2014: Today in Review

Today I Worked on…

  • …a bunch of crafts blog posts that are scheduled to post during the holiday season
  • …trying to understand online advertising better; reading what a bunch of successful bloggers and website owners have to say about it, and their recommendations for various ad networks

Today’s Workout…

…was kind of hurried, but at least I got out there. I did:

  • A warm-up consisting of various stretches, head rolls, etc.
  • 50 situps
  • 10 ab crunches
  • Various machines at the free gym — these are machines where the workout comes from lifting your own body weight. 15 biceps, 15 triceps, 25 delts / triceps, 40 legs.
  • There was more, but that was most of the workout.

September 28, 2014: Thanksgiving Craft Projects / Today in Review

Today I Published…

Today I Worked on…

  • …a few holiday blog posts that are scheduled for later this year.
  • …this page of free napkin ring instructions at FreeCrafts.info. I had already published the page a couple of days ago, but I just added several new pictures and links to the page. If you don’t already own a set of pretty napkin rings to go with your holiday table settings, now would be a great time to get started making some. You have time (but not too much time) to get ’em finished before the holidays arrive.
  • …a ghostwritten article for someone else’s website. I don’t particularly recommend ghostwriting; for creative people, it is not usually a smart business decision, because creative work has long-term value, and ghostwriting typically leaves money on the table. However, there are times when the need for quick cash arises, so I sometimes resort to it in emergencies. My opinion is that it’s not a good idea to make a habit of it.

Today the boat was rocking like crazy all day, making it très difficile to get anything done. :( And it’s still rocking…

September 26, 2014: Napkins and Napkin Rings / Today in Review

Today I Made…

…a cloth tea napkin. It isn’t finished yet; I still have to add an edging. Then I have to complete the set. Thus there will be more napkin-making in my future soon. Maybe. Hopefully. I’ve been known to make one napkin at a time, and then not finish a complete set, and so I have a bunch of oddball napkins hanging around. This time I’m hoping to get an entire set done, but we’ll see how that goes.

Today I Published…

Today I Worked on…

…updating my crochet pages at this website; I added a few things to a couple of pages:

If it seems like I got a lot done today, that’s because I stayed up all night working. I am exhausted now.

Today I Ate…

  • Organic homemade energy bars made from dates and seeds
  • Organic vegetable soup
  • Organic grapefruit
  • Organic mango

(So far.) Wondering what’s for dinner tonight.

A cat broke the pressure cooker lid this morning by knocking the whole thing on the floor. This might not seem like a big deal to you landlubbers out there, but it’s the only pot we have aboard at the moment. Losing its pressure-cooking capabilities = total bummer. :(

Today’s Workout…

…hasn’t happened yet. I’m hopeful that it will, but it’s a little up in the air at this point.

September 23, 2014: Today in Review

Today I Worked on…

…photographing and blogging about this little Christmas wreath ornament. My sweet kitty, Inky, helped. He is so helpful! Please disregard any shredding or chewing that may be visible on the finished project sample…

Christmas Wreath Ornament or Cat Toy

  • This page of fingerless glove patterns at KnittingandCrochet.net; it’s not finished yet, but it’s off to a good start.
  • This page featuring a pair of wrist warmers by a fellow freelance pattern designer, Erica. I crocheted the wrist warmers a few years ago, then donated them to the folks at the Pine Ridge Reservation.
  • A whole bunch of holiday blog posts that are scheduled to be published over the next few months at appropriate times. Since I’m not in America at the moment, I tend to lose track of when American holidays are, and it helps me to schedule holiday-related blog posts ahead of time. Working on Thanksgiving posts reminds me that I sure will miss having Thanksgiving turkey with my family. I suppose the travel adventures I am having sort of make up for that. Sort of.

Today’s Workout…

Didn’t happen. Oops! Tomorrow will be better…

Today I Realized…

Re-reading the post above reminds me that I haven’t updated my kittens page in a long time — and I never wrote down the story of how we adopted Inky, or the story of how we re-homed Izzy and Cindy (and then later got Cindy back.) Or the story of how Ginger turned out to be a boy. Whoops! Or the story of how Rocketboy decided that he wants to be our cat, never mind that we already have too many cats.

These are stories that will have to be told another time…for now, over and out.