Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 17: Castle Flowers

I'm struggling to keep up on my crafting goals while still playing hostess and tour-guide to Alan's family.  So today on an absolutely stunning walk on our castle hill, (possibly one of my all time favourite places) I stole Alan's fancy camera and tried to capture the rainbow of flowers around me. 

Though I am not a photographer, professionals would certainly say that photography is a craft. I'm sure they would also look at the photos below and say that I'm doing it wrong.  That's OK, I'm a firm believer in learning by doing, and that no craft has to be perfect. 

I'm a weed lover.  All of my favourite flowers are weeds, and will probably be banned from Alan's  immaculately planned garden.  I have no patience for gardening, so for now the guy who tends it gets to make the rules, and he says "No weeds."  Boo.   

So all of my pictures are of gorgeous weeds.  I dare you to look through them and not fall in love yourself.

Red Poppies...

Orange Poker...

Yellow... Clover?...

Something else yellow and tall...

Green climbing fern...

Green succulent...

Blue Iris (OK, not a weed, but growing like one)...

Deep purple centers...
Dark purple shamrocks...

Something bright pink...

Pink Hollyhock...

Neon pink succulents...

The most beautiful white weed EVER...

And a dandelion the size of an apple.

Week 16: Kindle Case

 Week 16 was a week of family visits and traveling! We met Alan's parents, sister, and brother-in-law in Istanbul, and then headed over to see Kapadokya as well. Woohoo!

 So this craft comes not from my couch, but from two planes, four bus rides, and two hotels. Also, it comes from being scrunched in a carry on bag, so I apologize for the wrinkles.  Also, it's challenging to hold a craft and a camera on my lap while on an airplane, so sorry about the lack of mid-craft pictures. 

 I also brought this little buddy along with me on the trip... and it was shouting at me about how badly it needed a case.  
I drop it plenty even when I'm not traveling, but now that I'm on the move, it's in serious danger. 
So Kindle, my trusty friend... a case for you it is! 

I chose some of my favorite unused yarn, and planned out a cover that might end up looking like a retro hard-cover-book. (The kind where the spine is a different colour than the rest of the cover).

Insert wrinkly picture. 
I started at the bottom of this picture.  I chained a length of yarn that (without stretching) reached from the top to the bottom of my Kindle.  Then I added about 5 extra chains. (26 total.) 
Turn and single stitch across. Do 16 rows like this. 
I attached the teal, and continued on in the same way, for 15 more rows. 
I reattached the beige, and added 16 more rows.

At this point I had a tall rectangle.  I tested it out by folding it around the Kindle to make sure that I had a little overlap on all sides.
When I was sure it was right, I added on the flap.  I did this with 5 decreasing rows (Ss2tog at the beginning and at the end of each row).
Sorry about the bad picture, but if you look really closely (maybe magic-eye it), you can see the edges slanting in.

Button holes.  Terrible explanation below...
Then I needed a button hole row.  Luckily crochet button holes are WAY easier than sewing machine button holes.  Decide where you want the button holes, and how big you want them (mine are really big), then chain rather than single stitching in the place of the hole.  I started with 3 single stitches, then chained 3, and skipped 3 from the row below, and single stitched back into the 7th stitch of the row below. I did 2 more single stitches, chained 3 again, skipped 3, and single stitched to the end of the row (3 more stitches).
Wow.  That sounds so confusing.  But I promise button holes are super easy.  
 Maybe this diagram will help:

XXX - - - XXX - - - XXX
X=single stitch
- = chain

After the button hole row, I added three more decreasing rows, and fastened off.

To attach the sides, I lined the edges up carefully and then whip stitched them together with matching yarn and a yarn needle.  Truthfully, I didn't love how this looked, so I tried again using a crochet hook, and single stitching the sides together.  I think it made a cleaner edge.

Whip stitched together:

Single stitched together:

Once the sides were attached, I Slip Stitched around the opening to clean up the rough edges.

Also I crocheted a little "T" for Tana, because my mom's Kindle needs a snuggly case too.
For the "T," I Chained 7, turned, and single crocheted across for 2 rows. On the 3rd row, I Slip stitched the first 2 stitches, and single chained the next two, then turned.  I added 4 rows of single chaining only in those middle 2 stitches. Then I slip stitched all the way around to clean up the edges.
This is also confusing, and that diagram was fun, so let's try that again. It's upside down, because that's how you'll crochet it.
 * * 
-  -  -  -  -
* * * *
X= single stitch
- = original chain
*= slip stitch around, added last   

I attached the "T" to the front using a yarn needle.
Also I sewed on some fab buttons.

Lastly, I chained a really long (3 foot?) chain, and then sewed it on as a cursive reminder. 

I think that's my favourite part.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Secret Sneak Peek

I've been tasked with making a few small crafts for a friend's wedding.  I've finished one, but don't want to spill her wedding secrets.  So here are a few too-close-to-tell-what-it-is pictures.


Can you tell what it is?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 15: Embellished Cardigans

 One of the first blogs I became obsessed with was New Dress A Day.  In case you aren't also obsessed, I'll fill you in a bit.  Marissa challenged herself to a year of crafting her own clothing, one item a day.  In the entire year she was only allowed to spend $365, or a dollar a day on these new items of clothing.  Nearly everything she made was an upcycled thrift store find, or something that she already had in her closet.  She has a gift for turning something hideously un-wearable, into something fab. She is my idol.  I want to be her. 

Anyway, her challenge is over, but I'm still inspired.  Unfortunately I am challenged by a few details: 1. I live in Turkey, where there doesn't seem to be any such thing as second hand stores. 2.  Fabric and craft stores are very limited here. 3. My sewing machine lives in America.

So.  Last spring I chopped into a few Banana Republic sweaters that I didn't love anymore,  and turned them into cardigans.  

Sorry in advance for all of the PJ pictures.  It was Sunday morning, and I didn't feel like getting dressed.  Or brushing my hair.  So I just cut my head out of everything.  

I embellished this one with some lacy trip that I found at a yarn shop. 

And I added beads to this one, in the shape of a flower.  

Close up on the flower.
Don't look too closely at anything else, because without a sewing machine, my  edges are pretty rough. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago my best Turkish buddy, Zeynep, was admiring my flowered cardigan, and asked if I would fancy up one of hers.  Heck yes.

So she brought a bag of cardis to work and told me to do whatever I wanted.  An hour later she ran into the office to clarify. "Don't change all of them.  Just one."  A few more hours passed, and she ran back in, "don't do anything too big or too noticeable. Maybe just a tiny heart."   

Seemed like Zeynep was starting to trust my creative eye a little less. 

So I sat on her bag of cardigans for a week.  Trying to figure out how to just add a tiny heart, and still make it super cute.  What's the point of that?  So I gave up, and ignored her request, promising myself I wouldn't be hurt if she wanted me to take it all off.  

Here's what we started with: Plain gray, shorty, cardigan. Super soft though.

I cut a bunch of tiny flowers out of Alan's old shirt.  (I'm getting lots of mileage out of that guy: flower wreath, birds, headbands, whale onsie.) And laid them out to get a feel for the placement. I ended up cutting out 8 each of 5-petal and 4-petal flowers.

I wanted to add some dimension to them instead of having limp flat flowers, so I folded the flowers in half and sewed a knot in the back, and then I folded them in half again and sewed another knot. 

This helped them to stand up just a bit. 

I sewed them on using seed beads left over from all of my necklacing.  

Final product.

Her reaction: "I love it it's perfect!... And what about the others?... Let's see the others!
Me:  You only wanted me to do one. 
Zeynep: But now you can do them all.  I changed my mind... Where did you buy these flowers?
Me: I cut them out of an old shirt. 
Zeynep:  Hmmm... We should open up a store.  In Istanbul.  People would buy these.  Think about it.

I guess she liked it. 

Stay tuned for the rest of the cardigans she gave me.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Home for Some Birds

Last night I made them a lovely home.  I used my trusty Real Simple magazines, and some scissors, and viola! Simple shapes cut into stacks of 8 at a time.  No time at all...

 Long skinny petals on star shaped flowers... 
Fat petals on cloud shaped flowers...
And circles with fringe cut all the way around for poppy like centers...
(See those beads?  They needed a hiding spot while they're waiting to be strung on something. But they're just too pretty for the inside of a drawer.)
 Some left over twine made for lovely stamen.

 Smaller versions of the same flowers made a lovely garland.

 A yarn needle, and some yarn easily strung all of the paper blossoms together.

This little bird likes his new home. 

This little guy does too. 
(My friend Sonya made these coiled REAL Simple coasters.  Wilbur stands easily using a pin stuck into the coaster and into his tummy.)
 These two are admiring my castle sketch, while reading up on "Love that Lasts." 

Spring has arrived in the spare room. 


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week 14: Put Some Birds On It

First of all: Happy Easter everyone!  I hope it's lovely. Secondly: Alan's parents are coming in two weeks, and we're SO excited!  I love having visitors, and because it's a rarity now that we live in Turkey it's even more special.  

I try my best to Martha-it-up in the guest bedroom whenever we have visitors.  Our last visitor was my mother who came in February, and I had decorated the room with this lovely heart bunting.  But seeing as we are well into spring, I decided it was time for something different.  And after squealing over baby chicks and ducklings at all the markets these days, I figured some birds were in order.  

I used more scrap fabric, embroidery floss, and some stuffing.  
If you're like me, and currently living in a foreign country with no craft stores, it might be challenging to find stuffing.  If that's the case, you can use the real scrap left overs that you wouldn't usually bother saving because they are so small, or you could use shredded paper, or cotton balls... or you could do like I did, and cut into a cheap balcony pillow that you never remember to use anyway.  I've stuffed a ton of things with batting from this pillow.  There's still so much left that I just put the cover back on, and you can't even tell.  This method also works well if you're cheap.  I'm not judging AT ALL.  In fact, I highly recommend being frugal and green whenever possible. "Cheap" and "Earth-friendly" are the new "Rich" and "Modern."  In my book at least.

Anyway... Back to the birds.

I cut some shapes out of paper, and then traced the birds onto fabric folded in half.  

Two of each. 

Then I sewed them together!  (My sewing machine is waiting for me in California, so I had to do this all by hand.  Not recommended, but they did come out looking kind-of-purposefully-scrappy.)

With my first bird, I started with the right sides together, and sewed most of the way around, and then flipped it right-side out. I was less than impressed.  My hand sewing was less than stellar, and it didn't even look like I had tried to hide the stitches by sewing inside out.  
Bird 1
So on the second bird I didn't even bother. I just whip stitched all the way and didn't bother to flip it. 

When I had about an inch left to sew, I filled it with the stuffing. 

And closed it up. 

I used the same thread to make some eyes.

And to stitch on some wings.  

Quick tip 1:  To get the eyes and wings even on both sides, look from the front of the bird, and from the top while you have the needle poking through. looking just from the sides will probably result in some lop-sided-ness. 

Quick tip 2:  To hid all the knots, don't bother tying off, and cutting until you've FINISHED the bird. When you finish the seam (I try to start and finish in the neck area) just send the needle back in, and out again in the eye spot.  Go back and forth from one side to the next, making both eyes at once.  Then dive back in, and come out where you want to tack the wing down.  Again, do both wings at the same time, going from one side to the next.  When you finish, tie off, but don't cut.  One more time, send the needle all the way through the bird.  Pull it tight, and cut close.  When you let go, the end of the thread will bury itself in the middle of the bird, never to be seen again. Ta-Da!

Back in through the neck seam, and out through the wing. 

 I like this little flock of birds and ducks. 
 And Wilbur

Now to find them a home!