Thursday, December 27, 2007

What I gave for Christmas

Now that most of the Christmas presents have been opened, I can show you all but one thing I made (my side of the family is getting together New Year's Day for our Christmas celebration, so there's one gift I can't share just yet).

For my mom, I made a ripple afghan just like the ones I made for Emily and Abby, only bigger:

Then I made ripple scarves (just five rows of a ripple afghan pattern ... quick and easy!) for my mil (blue and pastels), sil (orange and green) and niece (black and pink):

For my other sil, who lives in Florida so has no need for a scarf, I made some nesting bowls:

I had so much fun making and giving these gifts! Now I'm thinking about some stuff for next Christmas, starting with new Christmas stockings for all 4 of us. I need to start on them now because I know what a bad procrastinator I am ... if I don't start now, I'll find myself this time next year saying I wish I'd made those stockings LOL! So I thought I'd try to make them now and then I can put them away with the Christmas decorations and not have to think about it anymore ... we'll see how that goes ....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My girls' painted ornaments for 2007

I'm lousy when it comes to painting pretty pictures ... I can slather paint all over a page and make a cool background, but to make an actual picture, no way LOL! But my mil is an amazing artist ... she paints designs on ornaments and they sell like hotcakes. And, lucky for us, she started a tradition ... as soon as my girls were old enough to hold a paintbrush (and do more than just stick it in their mouth, of course LOL!), she had them paint an ornament every year at Christmas. And this year was no different ... yesterday, they painted these masterpieces:

The brown bear angel was done by my 9 1/2 yo dd Emily, and the pink bear angel was done by my 5 3/4 yo dd Abby. Aren't they fabulous?! And they are done completely by them with no help from grandma at all ... really! The girls tell her what they want to paint, and then she paints one with them ... she does a step on her ornament, then the girls copy her on their own. It's neat to see the improvement from year to year. Maybe after the holidays I'll take pics of their past years' ornaments as I take them off the tree and post them ... they really are amazing!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A sneak peek under the Christmas tree

I've been spending my free time working on various Christmas gifts, mostly crochet, but also a sewing project or two. While I can't post any pics of the completed gifts yet (definitely don't want to spoil the surprise LOL!), here are pics of some of the things I've been playing with:

I'll post pics of the completed projects as soon as I can. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Crocheting at the speed of light (well, almost!)

Wow! Can't believe I got this second ripple done even faster than the last one! This one took me only 13 days ... no wonder my fingers and wrists are tired LOL! But it was worth it. Abby loves it! I finished it last night after the girls were in bed and while dh and I watched a movie ... she woke up this morning with it tucked in around her. Fun!

I think I got this done so fast because I was enjoying watching the stripe pattern emerge. Can you see how the pink sections alternate between skinny and fat stripes? That's because when I worked up a sample to see whether I wanted to do 1 light pink row on each side of the dark pink or 2, I liked how the sample looked with both. That's what I love about the ripple ... it's an easy pattern that you can do so much with just by varying the colors and/or the number of rows done between color changes.

Now I want to make a bigger one for myself. The yarn is on sale again this week (Hobby Lobby, 99 cents ... love it!), so I took some time to play around with color combos so I could figure out how much I need and get it at that price. I'm thinking of using these colors. I was able to get what I need of the dark blue, green and purple, but they didn't have any of the light blue ... even got dh to stop at another Hobby Lobby on the way home from work Wednesday, but they didn't have any either. Shucks! Not sure what I'm going to do now ... might have to wait until it goes on sale again and hope they have it then. I think it goes on sale every 2 or 3 months, so we shall see. Or maybe I will try a different color combination ... I'll have to think about that for a bit. In the meantime, I'll just have to work on something else ... don't you just hate that?! LOL! But I'm sure I can find something in my studio to work on ....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Finished a crochet project in record time!

Yay! A finished project!! It took me only 4 weeks to go from this to this:

Love it! And as you can see here, my 9yo dd loves it, too!

I really enjoyed crocheting this pattern so plan to use it again for my 5yo dd's afghan. I'm going to use the same yarn in these colors, and do the stripes a bit differently ... the dark pink and the black are very dark, so I'm going to mix up the sizes of the stripes this time ... very excited! And my 5yo is, too!

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Christmas song collage

My church's upcoming art gallery is "Favorite Christmas Songs" ... each artist will depict a Christmas song in whatever art medium they choose, and the viewers can try to guess what song each piece of art represents. I finished my piece today ... a multi-media collage on canvas board. Can you guess what song it is?Edited: Yay, Molly! Her second guess "Do You Hear What I Hear" is correct. I used many of the elements found in the song ... the night wind, the lamb and the star, the shepherd boy and the song above the trees, the king in his castle and the child shivering in the cold. How'd I do? Can you see the song in the collage now?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Finished an old crochet project

I started this giant granny square afghan back in April, using JoAnn's Sensations Rainbow Boucle yarn. It's worked with 2 strands, one each of orange and green. The green is a variegated yarn ranging from lime green to a deep sage, which resulted in a nice variation in the rounds.

Now, it didn't take me all this time to work on it ... no, really! What happened is that I had only bought one skein of each (they're big skeins with 853 yards each) ... I figured that'd be enough, wouldn't you? When I got to the end of the orange (for some reason, either the orange was shorted a bit, or the green had more), the afghan was not as big as I wanted (would've been a great baby blanket, though). So I went back to JoAnn's to get another orange and kept going ... then when I got further and finished the green skein, it still wasn't big enough. But could I find another skein of the green? Nope! I checked the JoAnn's down the street, several other JoAnn's in surrounding towns (only when I was in the area ... I'm not that nuts ... well, maybe just a little ...), but no more of the green to be found. So for months it's been sitting in a tote bag, unfinished. (Yes, I know I could've bought it online, but I did not want to pay shipping that would cost more than the skein itself ... though I was thinking it would come to that soon.)

But, finally, a skein was found! My good friend and crochet-buddy, Dana, had also been keeping an eye out for the elusive skein whenever she visited a JoAnn's and she found one for me a couple weeks ago at a JoAnn's near her mom's house. So, it's finally finished ... yay! I call it my Tigerlily afghan, because the colors make me think of them. Sorry I can't get a really good picture of it ... there's no good place to lay it out where I can get a decent angle on it. It's roughly 55" square. But you can see that my youngest is happy with it LOL! I'm going to have to finish the ripple afghan soon (yes, I was able to get a replacement hook) so that my girls each have one to curl up in ... don't want no fightin'!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's time to get moving

My latest journal page:This page has a paint scraped background, Pitt pens for border and journaling, Sharpie paint pen for white title and doodling, and collaged elements that include a catalog image, a tea bag packet and a torn napkin. It fits with Blissfully_Art_Journaling's prompt #10, time. Well, it's time for me to get moving ....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oh, no! My poor crochet hook!!

I've been working on my newest project ... and loving it to pieces, literally! Last night I was going to town on it while the kids were at Awana, and my darn crochet hook snapped in half, yikes! I still had about 20 minutes before the kids were done, so I limped along with my little 2 inch hook and got through almost a whole row's worth. Not easy LOL! So a trip to Hobby Lobby is in my near future. This crochet hook was part of a set of 5 hooks, so I'm hoping they also sell them individually ... I do NOT want to have to buy a whole set if I can help it (but, just in case, I've got this week's coupon printed out and ready to go). In the meantime, here's how far I've gotten:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Uh oh, a new crochet project ...

Yup, started another project ... I know I shouldn't, but I just couldn't resist! I bought some yummy yarn in a variety of colors when it was on sale at Hobby Lobby a few months back, but had yet to pick a project for them. After seeing all kinds of ripple afghans all over the net, I just had to start one ... Hanna's yummy pics were the last straw LOL! I've got 11 different colorways of this yarn (hey, it was an awesome deal!) and, after much deliberation, I settled on an orange and blue combo. Here's a pic of the four yarns I'm going to use, as well as my gauge sample:Now that I've set my gauge, I can pull it out and get started. This yarn is so soft, I love it! Can't wait to see the colors ripple along ....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tonight's art journal pages

Tonight, while waiting to pick up my girls from Awana, I journaled. The first page is about a visit to the Shedd Aquarium back in August (I actually did the background a couple days after we visited, but never got around to jotting down the details). This is also my answer to Blissfully_Art_Journaling's theme #1, favorite animal.The next page is just some random thoughts.
And the final page is the side opposite the blackberry page ... just some journaling about how this journal is almost finished and about the backgrounds I've been working on for my next journal. I've got over 30 backgrounds prepped and ready to go! Yay, me!In addition to these, I've done about a dozen more pages, including a handful using the crayon/colored pencil technique like I did on this page. Maybe tomorrow I'll post a pic of these more recent backgrounds. I've got eight more pages to do and all the cardstock I bought will be ready for journaling ... just need to decide whether to go have it bound first, or wait until the pages are totally finished.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Where flowers bloom, so does hope

Blissfully_Art_Journaling's theme #16 ("What Flower are You?") was the prompt for this page ... I had done the collage awhile ago, and when I read the theme, knew this was the page for it. The quote is by Lady Bird Johnson and it ended up guiding the journaling, which turned into a prayer to be a flower that brings hope to my family.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Writing on crayon/colored pencil backgrounds

A quick update on my previous post: I made up a sample of the crayon and colored pencil background on a scrap piece of cardstock so that I could see what pens would write on it. I don't have a wide variety of pens at my disposal (well, not yet, anyways), but I tried what I have and use most of the time, which are Pitt pens and Sharpies.

Pitt pens:
superfine tip -- left barely any ink, and instead scratched into the layers down to the crayon (Of course, this would be kind of cool for making interesting marks in the background, though it'd probably be better to just use a scratching tool so as not to ruin the pen.)

fine tip -- sort of scratched the surface a bit and left ink in some areas of the letters, but not enough to read the writing

medium tip -- didn't scratch the surface, but also didn't leave enough ink to make it very readable

brush tip -- didn't scratch at all and left a very nice, clear mark

Sharpie pens:
ultra fine tip -- slightly scratched the surface and left just enough ink to read, but not easily

fine tip -- no scratching and left a decent mark, but it's not a smooth, clear line

As you can see, the broader the tip, the better. Only drawback is that they will smear if not left to dry for a bit. I first checked after about 10 minutes and they smeared, so I did another sample and waited about 30-40 minutes and they were fine. The difference between the Pitt brush and the fine Sharpie is that the Pitt pen leaves a nice dark mark, but the Sharpie looks a bit like the pen is starting to run out of ink. However, it is still readable, so it can depend on what look you're going for. Here's a close-up so hopefully you can see what I mean (sorry for the bit of glare):Let me know if you try this and find any other pens that work on this type of background. Have fun!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Crayon/Colored Pencil background

As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, Nance had an interesting background technique in her archives (specifically this one) that I wanted to try, but wasn't sure about whether it could be written over. So I left her a comment asking her and she said she hasn't done it in awhile, but thinks she remembers being able to at least use a Pitt brush pen on it ... she's going to try it and get back to me, but in the meantime, I just had to try it anyway LOL! I'll worry about writing on it later ....

After gluing down the images, I got in touch with my kindergarten self and raided the girls' crayon box (shhh!). The first picture shows the background all colored with a yellow-green crayon (notice the border left around the woman ... we'll get to that later). Then I took a peacock blue Prismacolor pencil and colored over the crayon ... you can see the difference it makes in the second picture. Ooh, pretty!! Then I went back over it with another Prismacolor pencil (chartreuse this time), which didn't change it too much, but gave it a little something ... not sure how to describe it ... highlights? It was a very subtle change. Now I'm wondering what would happen if I chose a totally different color for the third layer ... well, there's always next time.

Now we get back to that border around the woman ... I colored it with a pink crayon, then went over it with a pink colored pencil to smooth it out. You can see the final product in the third picture ... what do you think? I love the pencil strokes ... you could get really creative and color it this way and that for different effects. My 9yo really likes this one, says it looks like hair LOL!

I definitely will try this technique again ... it's a very relaxing technique, just coloring with pretty crayons and pencils and not much stressful thinking involved. And if it can't be written on, that's okay ... there's always magazine words and letters that can be glued. Let me know if you try it ... I wanna see!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I dream of doing art all day every day

Finished this page this morning. The theme at Blissfully_Art_Journaling this week (#30) is "stripes of life", and we're supposed to tear random strips of magazine pages and do something with them. Well, I didn't do it randomly ... instead, I found this neat pic of a tree with someone hugging it from behind and I cut it into strips horizontally, spread them out on the page, and journaled on the alternating lines. I really like how it turned out!
The girls on the right were already on this page and I thought they'd like sitting near the tree. After gluing down the strips, I was staring at the images, when the thought came "dream a little dream with me". That got me thinking about my dream of being a full-time artist, so that's where the journaling went. We shall see if this dream comes true!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yummy new background papers

Since I'm getting close to finishing my first art journal, I figured it's not too early to start thinking about journal #2. At first I assumed I'd just start another composition notebook, but the flimsy paper is a little bit limiting. So I thought I'd try making my own. Yesterday, I stopped at Kinko's to find some highly recommended Wausau 140# exact index cardstock (in fact, it's the ONLY paper that Kelly Kilmer uses for her journals!) Others have said they were able to get it at their local Kinko's, but the employees here had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. Didn't even recognize the Wausau name ... which doesn't really make sense to me since lots of varieties of Wausau paper are available through their website, so I would think they'd have at least heard of it (but what do I know, I'm just a customer, right?)

Anyways, since I was there, I browsed through their paper sample book and chose to get 10 sheets of another nice cardstock (roughly 90# I think) to play with. I bought the 11x17 size because I was originally planning to fold them and bind them into a journal, but on the way home I started thinking again (dangerous, I know!) I usually work in 2-page spreads, but I want to challenge myself to work with single pages and not worry about whether the facing pages "go together". So I decided to cut them in half and journal on the single pages (I plan to have them bound after they are done). So after dinner, I cut them up and got ready to play with my 40 new pages!

I got my paints out and started doing the paint scraping technique ... just doing page after page until it was time to get the kids to bed (they had fun helping me pick out color combos to try for the next one, and the next one ....) All told, I did 11 pages this way. Then this morning, I took several more page and played with my watercolor crayons, and I also did the backside of several of the paint scraped ones. Fun, fun, fun!!

Next I plan to paint a few backgrounds with a paintbrush (I love the texture of paint strokes). My goal is to have each piece of paper have each side done with a different technique ... I'd like to have a couple more background techniques to use for even more variety, but not sure what else to do. I'm thinking about a technique Nance describes in her archives (using crayons and colored pencils), but I can't tell if this can be written on. I think I'll go to her blog after this post is finished and ask. If you have any other ideas for backgrounds for my journal, please leave a comment (and if there's a tutorial out there, too, a link would be awesome!)

Oh, and another thought I had ... since I will be working with loose sheets of paper, I will also start another composition notebook for when I'm out and about ... I love having a journal with me for those unexpected moments of free time. Yes, it is OKAY to have more than one journal going at a time LOL! Maybe I'll name them Thing 1 and Thing 2 ....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Get more visits to your blog?

Have you heard about this new thing called BlogRush? You register (for free) and get a whatchamacallit (aka a widget) to put in your sidebar and supposedly you'll get more traffic to your blog. Sounded interesting, so I signed up ... we shall see if it really works LOL! If you want to check it out, just click here and watch the video on their main page. Have fun!

Friday, September 14, 2007

This hand

I finally did something with the backgrounds I did using the paint scraping technique last month! I used one for this week's theme (#29) at Blissfully_Art_Journaling which is "this hand". And I thought I'd try to work with Inspire Me Thursday's "limited palette"challenge from last week, so I stayed with the purples and yellows of the background instead of trying to introduce new colors.This background was actually my least favorite of the 6 I did ... I picked it because I figured if what I imagined didn't work right, I wouldn't ruin one of the better ones. But now that I've done something with it, I love it! Just goes to show that you can't judge it until it's really done. Now I really can't wait to play with the other 5 backgrounds!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Orange crush

The color orange has become one of my favorites (a close second to my all-time favorite green!) and so I started collaging orange images on a layout, adding a little at a time as I came across them. Then this morning, I sat down and dug through my orange paper drawer and finished it up. Definitely a happy layout!

I want a red apron!

Okay, you must have guessed I'd be doing an apron page sooner or later, right?! All this apron love just had to end up in my journal:The background is watercolor crayon smeared with a wet wipe, the doodling is a silver gel pen and the images are from magazines (with a few used for packing tape transfers), except the lower right corner, which is the front of a gorgeous notecard that someone sent me ages ago. The journaling is done with Pitt pens, with the 2 quotes coming from EllynAnne Geisel's The Apron Book. I absolutely adore this book! I've read through it twice and have even made 2 aprons using one of the patterns in the book (no, I haven't posted pics yet ... one of them is going to be a Christmas gift and I don't want to spoil the surprise ... but don't worry, I will post pics as soon as I can).

After making this page, I noticed that it fits Blissfully_Art_Journaling's theme #12 "Red" ... I want a red apron so bad LOL! I really do need to get back to Target and get that red dishtowel before it's gone ....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mmmm ... chocolate ...

A gluebook-style page in my art journal that really says it all ...Background is acrylic paint left over from when I was making this project, then some chocolate wrappers and magazine pics glued down ... the words are packing tape transfers.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Living in the Land of Lincoln

As I mentioned in a previous post, the theme for July/August at the Tie One On blog is "local pride". I live in Illinois, the "Land of Lincoln", which always makes me think of log cabins and copper pennies with Abraham's well-known profile on them, so they were my inspiration for this apron.

Here's the front and back of the skirt I used to make the apron:

And here is the finished apron, with a close-up of one of the pockets (the fabric used along the bottom edge and for the ties is a woodgrain fabric I had in my stash, and the pennies on the pockets were done with a QuickFuse fabric sheet):

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Yes, another one ...

These dishtowel aprons are just too easy!! Yes, yes, I made another one this morning. A little bit more involved than the last one because this time I used two towels ... but still, very easy. These I got as a pack of 5 on sale for $3.88, so now I have an apron with 3 matching towels ... love it! When I bought them a few weeks ago, I sort of had an inkling of an idea how I was going to use them, but it wasn't until a new friend on the Sewing Aprons Yahoo group (yes, of course, there's a group for this!!) posted a link to this cutie yesterday that the ideas started to come together.

So this morning, I read through the pattern a couple of times, then did it the opposite way. Why? Because the pattern on these towels is directional. If you hold the towel up to yourself, the print is upside down at the top and right side up at the bottom. I wanted the bib of the apron to have the print going right side up, so I had to be creative. I just used the basic concept of the pattern but cut the bib towel instead of the skirt towel ... and then I used the leftover half of the bib towel to make a pocket. I really like how it turned out! I still want to try making the pattern the right way someday, so will look for a towel that doesn't have a directional problem (still thinking about that red "salt and pepper" one I saw at Target ... better get over there before they're gone LOL!)

Hmmm ... I'm amassing a bit of a collection here ... I'm going to have to start thinking about where I can hang these so they're accessible ....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Need a quick birthday present?

What do you do when a friend invites you to a last-minute celebration that evening for her daughter's 10th birthday? Well, if you're me, you make the birthday girl an apron! This young lady loves all things prairie and so I knew she would love this apron that turns into a bonnet. No problem, right? Free pattern, enough fabric in the stash ... let's get to work. Oops, wait ... the pattern pieces need to be enlarged ... I can't do that here. And I don't have any bias tape that matches the fabric. So, now what? A trip to the nearest toy store? No way! There's a Kinko's down the street and a Hobby Lobby right around the corner ... two trips and I've got what I need ... now I can get busy.

Once I had everything I needed, this apron went together relatively quickly. Only one word of caution ... make sure you get all the layers into the bias tape (trust me!) Here is the finished apron:Happy birthday, Maggie! Hope you like it!
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