Category Archives: Misc. Crafts

Day 9: Coasters

Hi there! It’s less than ten days before Christmas and I have yet to bake a single cookie and I still have a few gifts that need to be bought.  Time is getting tighter, but the most stressful thing is behind me and I am feeling much better about things today.

Today, the boys and I took the morning to make some easy coasters for our holiday table decorations and also to give away as gifts.

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One thing I appreciate about the boys getting bigger is that their abilities have really grown quite a bit.  A few years ago, I attempted another craft with felt and sewing, which didn’t turn out as well because their fine motor skills were not as good.

These are really very easy.

Just find an assortment of cookies cutters and trace them onto felt.

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Then cut them out carefully.

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Soon, you will have a lot of shapes.

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Lastly, sew them onto four inch squares of felt in a different color.  For the base felt, I used a thicker felt.  This makes them a little less flimsy.

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For thread, I used pearl cotton in various colors, which I think adds a nice pop of color on each one.

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Once the boys got the hang of the sewing, they got into embellishing.

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I even taught one of them to make french knots.

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It wasn’t very long before we had a whole set.

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Which, when tied together, makes a nice tidy gift.

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If you don’t need coasters, you could always sew two of the same shapes together, stuff them with a little batting, and make ornaments out of them.  We might do that as well if the boys don’t lose interest too soon.

Here we are, three quarters of the way done through my 12 days of Christmas giveaway!  Time is flying by and seems sometimes to accelerate as we get closer to certain dates.  I still have some fun stuff to show you, so I hope you will stick around for a few more days.  Leave a comment and tell me about your dream Christmas.  As much as I love having Christmas at home with my family, I think it would be really awesome to spend Christmas at Yellowstone National Park or in the Alps somewhere.  I just love being in the mountains and would love to have a mountain Christmas someday!

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Day 5: Soap

Today, I am going to go with the theme that has been started.  I have actually been hankering to make soap for awhile, but have been a little intimidated by the process of making soap from scratch.  This is because it involves a powerful chemical called lye, which, if not handled properly, can be quite dangerous.  Somehow, this year has not seemed the right time to embark on that project, but there is another very easy way to make your own soap bars.

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You can use what is called ‘melt and pour’ soap.  Most craft stores sell blocks of this stuff in different varieties and sizes.  I chose a big five pound block that included shea butter and mango butter.

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From there, it is a simple task to cut it up and melt it in the microwave.  We just followed the directions on the package.

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For scents, we chose to stick with our usual food grade oils that we already had in the pantry and for colors, we used the food coloring you buy at the grocery store.

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The first one was peppermint, which ended up being a two layer thing because it turns out that after you pour the soap, it forms a skin and starts to cool pretty quickly.  However, we weren’t quite done swirling yet, so the surface got kind of rough.  It was a little bit thin anyway and the layered look is pretty cool.

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We used an eight inch pan that we lined with parchment paper.  For each batch, we used between 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of soap base.  Then, after it cooled, we trimmed the rough edges and cut each slab into nine blocks.

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In this one, we used almond extract and some ground apricot seeds that I found in the soap section of the store.  It’s supposed to be a mild exfoliator.  Unfortunately, most of it sank to the bottom, but I think it will still be ok.

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I really wasn’t sure if we would use all five pounds, but it turns out that it was so easy and fun that we just kept going and made a third batch, which we scented with lemon and orange oil.

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In this one, we tried to swirl two colors, but again, the type of soap we got was pretty thin when melted.  Perhaps a different type of base would work better.  All told, we spent less than $20 and got 27 bars of soap out of a five pound block.  Actually, we really got 30 because we remelted the edge trimmings and made these little bars for us to keep.

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The rest are wrapped up for gift giving.

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Speaking of gifts, you have another chance to be entered into the fun gifty box giveaway today.  I loved hearing about your favorite Christmas decorations.  I definitely sensed a sentimental value theme there and it is very true for me as well.  I love to remember every event associated with each ornament on the tree as we unwrap them and hang them.  Today, let’s talk about the gifts you love to give.  What do you enjoy giving?

 

Bright

This past Tuesday, I was blessed by an unusual day. The boys were done with school early and I had some time on my hands, so I did something I had been wanting to do for awhile. I reskeined some balls of yarn that has been sitting in my stash for quite awhile.

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Then, I made kool-aid, but without sugar. And we did not drink it.

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Instead, I put the yarn in it and dyed it. I have only ever done two kinds of dyeing, indigo (which you can read about here) and kool aid. I like kool aid because it doesn’t require any chemicals and is not toxic, unless you have one of those food dye allergies, but in this case it isn’t ingested, so it might be ok. Plus, there is a nice fruity aroma.

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The dyeing process is pretty simple. You can do it in the microwave or a pot.

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I did both because I had a lot of skeins and different colors I wanted to do. For the microwave, I used glass bowls that would not stain.

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You know when the dyeing is all done because the water turns clear because the yarn has absorbed all the color. It’s like a magic trick that never gets old.

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The downside to kool aid is its limited palette of bright colors, but it is a fun way to dabble in the world of dyeing without investing too much.

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I was going for a rainbow of colors, but did not have any green, so I will have to do that another day. At the moment, I have no immediate plans for the yarn. Perhaps the boys will want to do something with it. If you want to try your hand at kool aid dyeing, I used this guide to help me. It certainly brightened up my day.

Summer Happenings

Summer has officially arrived here. School is done for now (well, except for a couple of things that we year round). To celebrate, we took the boys to Hershey Park for a day of stand-in-line-for-an-hour followed by a minute-of-excitement. The husband and I seemed to be the only ones who minded this imbalance.

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I actually got a little bit of knitting done while we were at the park. The boys went to play at the water playground by themselves, much to the anxiety of my mother’s heart. They are really growing up fast!

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Back at home, I have been making good progress on my ruby red test knit. I am quite loving this breathless dk yarn by Shalimar and am really looking forward to being finished with this project. We’ve had some days over 90 degrees recently and that’s just too hot to have a pile of wool in my lap!

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In other summery news, I have decided to take the plunge and open an etsy shop! For now, I am selling stitch markers. In my first few days, thanks to my loyal Ravelry friends in the ThreeBagsFull group, I sold almost the entire stock I had prepared, which was really surprising and exciting and scary to me.

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The shop is called 1514Homemade, a name that the older son came up with years ago. I can’t remember how it came about, but we were discussing some baked yumminess that I had made and how we could sell them. That lead to a discussion on what we would name the shop and he suggested 1514Homemade, which incorporates our house number. I considered naming it after myself or the blog, but really, every one here in this house has a hand in the things that get made. The boys have helped me a lot with the stitch markers by threading beads and helping with organization. The husband is an invaluable resource on all things related to materials science and production processes. Any venture that happens is truly a group effort here.

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Right now, the shop has a few items left, but if you look at the sold items and see something that you want, you can always submit a custom order request. For now, I am thinking of updating the shop once a month or so. Eventually, I may try selling other things besides stitch markers as well. Quilts or pillows, maybe? Or the odd knitted item. We’ll just have to see where this leads me. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

So, how is your summer going? What new things are you trying?

More DIY Stitch Markers

Ever since I started making my own stitch markers, I can’t seem to stop making them. This week, I got tired of the boring silver colored rings and went looking for other colors. All I found were gold and copper ones, which were nice, but I was craving color with a capital C. I found some great colored wire and decided to get some to play with it and see if I could make my own jump rings.

After a little bit of trial and error, mostly with tools, I ended up raiding the husband’s tool set and found just the thing I needed. To do this, you will need wire cutters like you see below, (basically ones that let you cut wire right at the tip) and 20 gauge wire in whatever color you want. Make sure you get something that won’t tarnish, though. Begin by getting a pencil and wrapping your wire around the barrel of the pencil in a coil-like fashion, like so.

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Then, take your wire cutters and position them so that the end of the coil is right next to the blade (this is to make sure you get a nice ring), and then cut one ring from your coil.

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Keep going until your coil is all cut up into little rings. You may have to stretch the coil a bit to be able to cut just one ring at a time. I found that I could slip on a bead and close the loop by hand since the wire was more malleable than the jump rings I bought. For gluing and more detailed instructions on how to finish, go to my previous post about making stitch markers.

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Aren’t they fun? I am already making plans to go back to the store to get more colors. Pretty soon I am going to be swimming in stitch markers! I wonder, would anyone be willing to buy some? If there is enough interest, I may look into opening an etsy store, if it isn’t too much trouble. So fun!