Yarn Crafts 101

Yarn Skeins
From pastels to neutrals to the most vibrant colors under the sun, yarn has it all. Natural or manmade fibers and blends are available as thin as thread, and as thick as cord. Whatever your preferences or skill level, there are many amazing opportunities for creating with yarn.

Needlepoint:
Needlepoint Pillow
Needlepoint kits include a preprinted canvas, all the colorful yarns required, and detailed instructions. You will need good lighting, and depending upon the complexity, a certain degree of concentration to ensure the various stitch types are placed correctly upon the canvas. The finished needlepoint can be incorporated into home furnishings, such as pillows, ornaments and wall art.

Needlepoint Deer
While working on your project, the canvas backing will become softer and more pliable. If you plan to have it framed, be sure to have the finished needlepoint blocked to straighten the stitches and restore the design to the intended shape. A good framing shop will be happy to help.

Knitting
Knitting Fabric
There are so many cozy yarn choices, suitable for knitting the plushest scarves or sweaters, and even the blankets for our most precious family members, babies! A skein of yarn and two knitting needles are all you will need, to get started. There are many instructional videos online.

Knitting Snail
Knitting isn’t just limited to wearable items. This adorable snail will be a constant companion for your little ones, and joyfully, for busy mothers, he’s washable too!

Macramé:
Macrame Bracelets
Macramé seemed to be a lost art for a while, but it’s making a comeback. Thick yarns, called cords or ropes, are knotted into interesting patterns. Wearing multiple macramé bracelets, in bold colors and patterns, has become a popular trend.

Macrame Dream Catcher
These dream catchers are perfect examples of this artful craft. Macramé can be used to create wall art, plant hangers, jewelry, and handbags.

Hand Hooked:
Hand Hooked Rug
Hand hooked rugs are made by pulling thick wool yarn or wool strips through a backing fabric such as burlap or linen. The stitches create the surface texture, while a liner fabric covers the back. Each hand hooked creation is a treasured one of a kind. Sizes vary, but a room size rug is a real labor of love.

Hand Hooked Pillow
Due to the bulkiness of the wool and backing fabrics, hand hooked items tend to be larger scale items, such as pillows, rugs, and tote bags. The level of detail is quite impressive. Stitches are made using special hooks, and can be made in a linear fashion or in more random fashion, whichever you prefer.

Latch Hooked:
Latch Hooks
Latch hook kits consist of an open weave canvas, and short lengths of yarn in multiple colors. A tool, called a latch hook, is used to pull individual pieces of yarn through to the front, creating a plush surface similar to cut-pile carpeting. Both of these latch hook kits are available at Michael’s Arts & Crafts.

Embroidery:
Embroidery Jewelry
Clothing and accessories are often embroidered with intricate patterns in bold, colorful designs. Fine, lustrous yarns, called floss, are stitched through fabric by hand or by machine. Today, embroidery can be found on sneakers, tote bags and monogrammed towels and linens.

Embroidery Hand Beaded1
A combination of embroidery and hand-applied beading adorns designer evening gowns, clutch evening bags, and accessories. Many sewing machines include some basic embroidery designs. For optimal selection, there software programs for embroidery machines that will dazzle your fashion sense.

Cross Stitch:
Cross Stitch
If learning multiple stitch types seems too daunting, cross-stitch may be the needlecraft of your dreams. There’s only one stitch to learn, in the shape of an “X,” and it is applied to cotton fabric.

Cross Stitch
Another advantage of cross stitch is that it can be applied as an accent, and does not need to cover then entire surface, nor does it require blocking like needlepoint.

Crocheting:
Crochet Squares
With a crochet needle and a few skeins of yarn, you’ll be completing projects in no time. It’s easy to learn and the repetitive stitches make it an ideal craft to do while watching television. Granny squares are made one at a time and set aside until you have enough for an afghan, making this a very portable past time. Matching yarn is used to sew the squares together in rows and fringe is typically added to the ends.

Crochet Violet
Crocheted garments, accessories, toys and home décor are just a few of the possibilities for this creative and flexible craft. There are a multitude of patterns, and in time you may come up with a few stitches of your own. Once learned, you never forget how to crochet.

Fabric Weaving:
Weaving Fabric
Fabric and rugs have been woven for centuries upon freestanding looms. The vertical yarns, called the warp, are loaded onto the loom, and the horizontal yarns, called the weft, are added one at a time through the use of foot pedals and a shuttle, which is the boat shaped item shown in the lower right corner.

Weaving Fabric
The pattern is determined by the way the yarns are attached to the loom, which is a time consuming process. The beauty of the finished work is well worth all the effort. Commercial textile mills utilize large mechanized looms to produce large quantities of woven goods, but many textile designers continue to create beautiful hand woven textiles as their ancestors did.

Woven Art:
Woven Art
Woven artwork is made using a round or rectangular hand or tabletop loom. The size of the piece is limited to the frame size and wall hangings are the most common type of woven art.

Woven Art
The yarns can be tightly woven together to form a solid surface, as shown in the previous photo. Alternatively, fancy yarns can be randomly added in a loose open-weave to produce a light and airy landscape, similar to a painting.

With the coming of spring in the northern hemisphere, silky yarns are great choices for cardigans on those breezy evenings, and crocheted swimsuit cover-ups for days at the beach. For our friends in the southern hemisphere, fall is the perfect time to curl up under a handmade afghan and dream about your next crafting project. Let your imagination soar.

Thanks for reading!  Happy Crafting!

Luck of the Irish

St Patrick's Day BannerLeprechauns and a pot of gold are certainly hallmarks of St. Patrick’s Day. Below are a few crafting ideas to help you get ready for this upcoming celebration of all things Irish.

Shamrocks
Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle, is famous for its shamrocks. If you are lucky enough, you may even find a four-leaf clover. Notice the almost woven effect created by the natural layering of these leaves. Irish knot work patterns, such as the one illustrated below, are inspired by the natural world.

Carved Marble Knots
Eternity knots can be found on everything in Ireland. The pattern shown here has been carved into marble. It could also be carved or burnt into wood, stenciled onto a wall, or drawn and/or painted onto t-shirts, handbags, or even a comforter. Jewelry makers include knot designs for their beauty as well as the symbolism of eternal love.

Cookies & Irish Coffee
A great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is with a few shamrock cookies and a creamy mug of Irish coffee. In case you didn’t know, this coffee gets its high-octane kick from a shot of Irish whiskey.

Irish Soda Bread
Store bought Irish soda bread is usually made ahead of time and may be too dry. It’s best enjoyed straight out of the oven.

Jewelry Charms
The four-leaf clover is a very popular good luck talisman. A leather cord is a very inexpensive way to make a necklace. The cord can be cut to the desired length, and special cord tips are attached to the ends along with a spring ring or lobster claw clasp. Any charms with a large enough bail can be slid onto the cord and easily changed for a new look. Prefer ready-made jewelry? Ready to wear cords can be purchased with the charms of your choice.

St. Paddy's Day Parade
Of course you’ll need to wear something green to really get into the spirit of the holiday. A little green fabric is all you need – a hat, scarf, socks – anything will do.

Irish Icons
These icons are often found on everything from mugs and T-shirts to bumper stickers. Iron-ons are inexpensive and easy to apply. Craft stores also have stickers, as well as temporary tattoos, which have all the cool designs without any of the commitment.

Irish Embroidery
Embroidery is a great way to dress up any garment with lively, eye-catching graphics and funny sayings.

Shamrocks Crochet
If crocheting were your specialty, these three leaf clovers would make a very unique scarf or hat. They could also be used as decorative accents on a pillow or afghan.

Beer & Shamrocks
There are plenty of colorful holiday-themed sheets in the papercrafting aisle, or you might want to design your own. If there’s a subliminal message in this design, I suppose it would be: “I love shamrocks and beer!” Who doesn’t? (lol)

Art Clay
Working with art clay can be a fun activity for the whole family. Figures like these pictured above could be used as jewelry pendants, or attached to hair accessories or refrigerator magnets, just to name a few.

Irish Angel Stained Glass
Stained glass is a beautiful way to incorporate holiday themes and of course the color green and requisite shamrock for luck.

Ceramic Irish Bear
Belleek, is a well-known brand of Irish pottery, recognized by its neutral cream color, which often includes hand painted shamrocks. You can achieve the same look, at a fraction of the price, by visiting a ceramics studio to paint your own using a similar color scheme.

Lucky Horseshoe
An up-turned horseshoe has always been considered good luck. The addition of a four-leaf clover may be all that’s needed to amplify good fortune to the next level. well, it’s certainly worth a try.

On St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish! So wear something green, enjoy a pint, and keep an eye out for a rainbow – there might just be a pot of gold under it waiting to be discovered!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Crafting!

Crafts of Love – Valentine’s Day Gifts

Frogs in Love
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation for the people you love.

Valentine's Cake
Celebrate with a Lady Finger Torte, Layer Cake, Cherry Cheesecake, Cupcakes, or Cake pops. Anything homemade is always appreciated. And if baking is not your specialty, buy one at the bakery, put it on your own serving dish and it will be our little secret! (lol)

Homemade Candy
Candy making is an easy process for everyone, even beginners. Start by melting chocolate wafers, called candy melts, which come in a variety of colors and flavors. Pour the chocolate into molds and refrigerate according to directions. You might also consider chocolate covering strawberries, nuts, graham crackers, or marshmallows. Present the finished pieces in a heart-shaped box or container.

Decorated Valentine's Cookies
Decorated cookies are eye-catching as well as delicious. Whether you choose homemade cookies or plain store-bought, add icing details, candy, or sprinkles to complete your festive designs.

Roses
Fresh-cut or silk flowers can be arranged in a bouquet, vase, or heart-shaped wreath. You don’t have to go to the expense of buying roses because any type of flowers will be appreciated.

Bleeding Hearts Flowers
Live flowers in a hanging basket or pot are not only beautiful, but long lasting as well. The flowers shown have not been photo shopped. They really are heart shaped, hence the name “bleeding hearts.”

Glass Heart
A glass paperweight, suncatcher, or pendant is a beautiful option.

Heart Charm
You could also paint a wooden heart to be hung on a wall, included on a wreath, or as a charm on a gift package or handbag.

Jewelry
Beaded jewelry is easy to create. If you don’t have those skills, you can buy a readymade chain or cord and string over-size beads without the need for any tools.

Winged Heart
You could also buy a heart-shaped pendant and add it to an existing chain or choose a new one.

Love Song or Poem
If you have a gift with words, write a song or poem on specialty paper to suit the occasion.

Painting
Artwork, such as painting, drawing, and photography, is a personal way to share your talent and show your affection at the same time.

Photo Album
A scrapbook is a thoughtful way to commemorate family memories and special events.

Vision Board
Create a vision board or photo album with inspirational travel brochures, activities and scenic pictures to build excitement for an upcoming vacation.

Candle Making
Candle making is simplified using a kit. There are multiple options including colors, shapes, sizes, and essential oils scents.

Romantic Dinner
You can’t go wrong with dinner for two. This is the perfect venue for candles, printed napkins on a pink or red tablecloth, and creative place settings to set the mood for a romantic evening.

Heart Pillow
Sewing a pillow is a quick colorful project to coordinate with any décor.

Knitting
A knitted scarf, hat, gloves, or sweater will keep that special someone warm and cozy on a cold winter day, and it will be enjoyed for years to come.

Stuffed Animals
Who doesn’t love cuddly stuffed animals, especially teddy bears? If you are skilled with a needle and thread, you could make a bear with faux fur or buy one. There’s nothing like a big bear hug to brighten your day and chase away the blues.

Sunset at the Beach
It is said, “The best things in life are free.” Go to the beach, the mountains, a nearby park, or your own backyard. Any place will do to spend time together watching the sunset, enjoying a picnic or barbecue, or simply going for a walk hand in hand. Expressions of love don’t need to cost a lot, just a little creativity and a heartfelt message.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Crafting!

How to Make a Painted Wooden Snowman

Snowman Closeup Photo

The solstice officially marked the start of winter. The long range forecast here in the northeastern U.S. calls for cold temperatures, but less snow. That could be a problem for those outdoor-enthusiasts, who love cross-country skiing, ice skating or simply building a snow fort in the backyard. It wouldn’t be winter without a snowman or two. Why not build a snowman that will never melt? This is a simple, inexpensive project for the whole family. I made two snowmen to display in my living room windows.

Unfinished Wood
It all starts with unfinished wood snowmen, purchased at AC Moore.  The perimeter holes are for lights in a later step.

Snowmen Painted White
Spray paint all sides, edges and base with white paint.

Painted Details
With an artist’s paintbrush, add the details (buttons, eyes, and a smile) with black paint.  Instead of painting the details, you could hot glue round and square plastic buttons, and draw the smile with a Sharpie marker.

Hats Scarves & Carrots
Accessorize with hats and scarves. If you enjoy crocheting, you can quickly create this fashionable look with whatever color yarn you have on hand. Bright red is a great seasonal color, and reads well from a distance. If needlework is not your thing, craft stores have snowman building kits and accessories. For the nose, I created the look of a carrot by squeezing a foam, packing peanut into the correct shape, and painting it with bright orange acrylic paint.  Use hot glue to attach carrot nose.

Stick Arms
Making the arms is as easy as collecting a few sticks from your yard, and attaching them to the sides. You could glue them in place. I decided to use self-stick Velcro instead, because I wanted the arms to be removable for easy storage.

White Lights
Those pre-drilled holes around the perimeter were made to hold a strand of twenty white lights, also available at AC Moore. Crafter Tip: The lights can only be pushed through from one side of the wood frame. You may need to secure the last light at the bottom with a piece of tape to keep it from pulling out from the weight of the electrical cord.

Lights at night
I turned off the flash on my camera to give you an idea of how these cute little snowmen look when lit at night. When the holidays are over, these snowmen can remain on display throughout the winter to bring a little whimsy to your home’s decor. The lights are very bright, and can be easily seen by passersby.

As an additional aside, I made these snowmen two-sided. Because they are standing on a windowsill, they can be seen from inside and outside. The lights can only be seen from the front, but seeing that smiling face when I walk by the window makes me smile too.

Happy Crafting!