Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A fitting conclusion

Here we are on New Year's Eve with the 52nd entry in this crazy self-challenge. And this one was a doozy! I started working on it around Thanksgiving. There are a lot of beads covering this tiny 2 1/2 inch ball.

The swags were made first and they have two layers - a flat ladder of beads and, on each row, a swag of beads. Then the five tassels are made separately, each with the three strands of beads. These took FOREVER! The longest in each group has a main strand of 80 beads, then 72, then 64. I'm not a fan of counting out that many beads. Attaching them inside the swags was even more frustrating. In fact, as I finished the ornament, one came unattached but it was easy to fix.

Next, there were four dangle pieces that attach each pair of swags. These were fun to do so it was good it was at the end - kept me going this morning! Finally the hanging loop and top decoration was done. I love the
technique of covering a larger fire polish bead with strands of seed beads. I'll probably use that idea again.

I'm pretty relieved to not have to make an ornament next week. But, there were at least two that I didn't get to at the end: a green glass tree ornament with a bead cover that I got from the same website as this week's ornament (I'll try to add a link) and a chain maille one from Blue Buddha. I will get to them - but probably not next week! I have really enjoyed the blogging aspect and am thinking about keeping it going. The Karen's Post Weekly Ornament Blog? We'll see. Happy 2015!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I finally got to use that word! Is it weird that I remember learning its meaning when I missed it on the PSAT? Anyway, next to last ornament done! This is a bit of chain maille that I designed.

Chain maille is tricky because you have to get the ring size right to make it stable without being too stiff. The diameter of the wire and ring are both important. Then there is just the placement of those rings - there is some choice in how you connect everything while not making it bend into a tortured object. I have not designed much of it because the idea of trying things until they work is pretty annoying to me. And, yes, this was annoying. I finally had to hide my tools from myself so I'd stop moving rings around. I do still have the Christmas Eve bread to bake after all.

I thought I'd also share a little ornament tragedy from last week. When I was removing my towels from the washer I found this:

The wool roving angel I made a few years ago apparently flew into the washer and felted herself. Here's what she used to look like:
I guess I might need to make another one?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The homestretch!

What a week! I had the ancient carpets cleaned which involved furniture in many strange places. Then we had a wind storm which took power out - fortunately only for 6 hours. I now have something like 20 kinds of cookies made. And nut rolls and my lemon variation on them. And there was the annual pierogi making day. I have the same group of special friends over for Christmas Eve - I think this year is the 35th! I used to dread the day I made 200 pierogi until my 4 wonderful best friends offered to come help. We do the work and then sit down with some pierogi for lunch, accompanied by a few bottles of my favorite sparkling wine. I do have a few hours of boiling and packaging for the freezer to do after they leave (probably slowed by the bubbly truth be told) but the day is now one I look forward to instead of dreading. Friends do make life easier and more special, don't they?

This week's ornament  is another idea I got on pinterest - what did we do for ideas before pinterest??? It's a bunch of 1 inch squares of pretty paper, folded and pinned to a styrofoam egg shape to make a pinecone. The one on pinterest had some fake berries and leaves at the top but I wasn't going to the craft store and I think it looks pretty good with just a bow.
I promised a photo of the little ornament display I'm using for these ornaments this year. Here it is!
It's quite crowded but I think that highlights the excess of this crazy project.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


2 little snowflake ornaments this week! And 3 weeks to go. I must admit I'm feeling the need to do some other crafting soon. I think we'll transition to "Finish it in Fifteen" for the new year. Not a project a week though. Enough of that kind of pressure!

The ornament on the right is from pinterest. It is made with plastic snowflake buttons - not shank buttons, ones with holes. I ended up buying 2 packages trying to get six large ones of one kind to make the bottom ring. I ended up not liking  the ones that matched so I alternated 2 styles. I had plenty of matching smaller ones - they were small enough that I need more than six to go around. I used a hot glue gun to glue the top layer on. Since each overlaps 2 lower ones it holds that layer together. I had three tiny buttons I liked so I put them on the top. Cute and easy!

I started this one last week. It is like the blue star  from last week but three layers thick. I found the directions to stitch the layers together relatively incomprehensible! I made something up that seems to work. You might notice some threads hanging out - I need to put some glue on before I cut them.

Today I bought a cute little metal tree-like thing. It will be crowded but I'm going to us it to display the ornaments from this year. Hopefully I'll have a picture next week with an update after the final three ornaments are done.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

This is how it happened!

Remember this project started because of an overabundance of ideas and kits for ornaments? One has to wonder how that overabundance occurred. I think I figured it out this week.

It's the time of year when making ornaments makes sense. The tree - with all those wonderful handmade ornaments - is being put up. What better time to add some new ones? The problem is I have a severe Christmas overachievement problem!

We have several big parties and I make LOTS of cookies for them. We're talking over 20 kinds of cookies. I start in early December and keep them in the freezer until the parties at the
end of the month. And of course the freezer has to be cleaned out and organized first. And there's Thanksgiving too. You get the picture ...

So I'm still woking on the beaded ornament. It is definitely involved but it's been weeks! Only a bit of time every week though.I'm sure you'll see it soon.

In the absence
of that I made a few very simple ones. These two are  VERY easy Pinterest ideas. They are simple metal cookie cutters and Washi tape. I tried adding tape on the inside of the star - it keeps lifting so it might get pulled off. We'll see.

The blue star is a simple pattern with acrylic beads. I also have a little snowflake which is more interesting but didn't get it done (cookies, remember?).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tweet tweet

 It appears to be bird week - although neither of these birds says tweet! The cockatiel is inspired by my son Chris's bird Archimedes. Archi, as we call him, used to say "Hey Baby" every time he saw me - probably because I taught him to say it. Last week, Chris was not available to cover him for the night. I walked up and started to pick up the cover. Loud and clear, "Hey Baby!" I guess he thought he could charm me and I'd let him stay up and engage with me. He does a great telephone ring, including talking caller id with a random caller name. And he randomly yells a LOT!

Anyway, I ordered some cute wooden bird shapes from Willy Kay Studios on Etsy a few years ago and we thought maybe
they could do a cockatiel for us. I painted and glittered the others right away but was a bit worried about pleasing Chris with the Archi lookalike. This seemed to be the time. He thinks I did pretty well!
The other one is from the just crafty enough
blog. I found it on pinterest and thought it was cute (and easy). It uses a doll peg (I had no idea what these were before this!), paint and a bit of felt.

I'm still working on a beaded ornament cover - maybe it will be done next week!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Twinkle twinkle

I got this cute kit from Stampin' Up recently. It says it makes 26 stars but I'm pretty sure these are plenty for the tree. Not only were there a lot of the star "boxes" but there were tons of embellishments too. My only complaint is that the adhesive on the sides doesn't stick very well.  I will need to use some extra sticky in some places.

I especially like this one. It uses six of the stars. I folded them
down the middle and glued them together. I can imagine doing it with all kinds of shapes.

Six ornaments to go. I've started on a few because things always get crazy in December - a lot of cookie baking. And  some festive fun. There are a couple of beaded ones that would need to be done over more than a week even in normal times! I think the coming attractions are two chain maille, two beaded, some painting and one more paper craft There might be one or two bonuses thrown in as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Easy Beading

These were fun! I got the wire frames from my favorite bead store: Fusion Beads They come with the three shapes made out of fairly heavy craft wire and a coil of very fine craft wire. There a few very sketchy directions and pictures of one of each kind finished.

It didn't go too well with that minimal help! I tried the heart and made a mess finishing it, unbending
the pretty curved ends and cutting some off. Fortunately I found some help at Beadaholique where they also sell the frames. They have a video which is very clear and has some great ideas. I also ended up buying some inexpensive Czech size 6 bead mixes to use as well as the filagree beads.

I made the star following their instructions pretty exactly - it's my favorite of the three! The filagree bead allows multiple wires to go through in different directions. Cool! I even more or less salvaged the heart. This was a fun project.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tiny knitting

 After last week's time consuming ornament I thought it was a good time for something simple. This little stocking kit fit the bill. The only thing that took time was undoing it when my knitting was too loose for the needle I chose. Down to a size 0 - a little like knitting on toothpicks!

So, eight ornaments to go! At this time of year, the ornament ideas are everywhere. My favorite bead store (Fusion Beads) has wire beading frames I'm going to use next week I think. Stampin' Up has a cute star kit I had to have. Lots of Pinterest ideas.  Knitting ideas on Ravelry. My favorite online chain mail store (Blue Buddha)  is making its November Mailler's Choice something I'll need to try. And I think I might have a chain maille design of my own if it works.

I get really busy in December with my Christmas craziness -
many dozen cookies, handmade cards, too many decorations (go figure!), etc. I have a few more involved beaded ornaments that might have to wait for later.  But still,  plenty to choose from. And no doubt far too many leftovers for another time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Excessively not simple?

A bit later in the day than usual but I FINALLY finished this one! It took much longer than I thought it would. Since it's 9 at night there is no sunlight. Consequently, the color is not very accurate on these photos. The parts that look black are really dark green as are the beads inside the 4 leaf shapes in the center.

First of all I kept counting wrong and had to take stitching out. Seemed like the symmetry should be easy but I must have been tired and kept messing up flipping the design in my head. Yes - I should have kept looking at the pattern.

But the real issue was that the directions called for 2 of them, back to back. In the past, when I've done
counted cross stitch on perforated paper it has either had the back uncovered (ugly as that is!) or covered with felt or an unworked piece of perforated paper.

There are some places where I switched directions of the crosses I think. The symmetry got me! If I had all the stitches complete - no uncrossed half stitches waiting - I had trouble remembering which the top was. Rotating some ways kept them the same but others flipped them. I totally love it in spite of this. I think I'll even keep the kit and maybe do the second design later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Another simple one

Last weekend I went on a scrapbook retreat. I worked on moving stuff from an old college album to a pretty new photo safe one. It was fun looking back at my William and Mary memories and seeing photos of my Theta sisters.

There were also a few craft projects we could choose to do. How could I refuse? Debby - my Heritage Makers
scrapbook consultant - had made the printed insets. All I had to do was trim them, inset them, and and tie the ribbon on the mini paint can handle. Perfect for another busy week.

Things have settled down a bit so next week I think I did to get back to something a bit more involved!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beading of a different sort

I am having a busy October - lots of fun things including several out of town trips. So it is easy ornament month! This week I went with Ward to Seattle. He was invited to speak at a small conference and I had fun shopping. We both enjoyed some nice food too.

This simple little wreath is made with plastic beads on wire. Took about an hour in the hotel room.

The wire was a bit difficult to maneuver around
the thick plastic beads. I couldn't quite get it to lie as flat as I'd like. But it still is kind of cute.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A bit of beading

I went to the beach with my beading friends this weekend. It was beautiful outside - but we mostly just looked at it through the windows while we beaded. Or tried to block it with the blinds while we had our Outlander binge watch.

Since we were beading I thought I should work on some beadwork This little angel kit (from Bead Merchant in the UK)  has been in the stash for a while. She is made with mostly brick stitch. I've been beading for about 30 years and brick stitch was pretty much the first thing I learned. It should have been really easy (you can probably see where this is heading). It took me pretty much all of the first day to make her - and that didn't include one of the wings. Yikes!

The main problem was getting the head and halo attached and relatively centered. The beads are on an eye pin with a crimp at the end. Then a loop is turned and sewn to the beadwork.  Doesn't sound too hard but I used words that shouldn't be used in describing an angel!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Knitting a snow friend

 I usually knit with nice yarn from my local yarn store. This little guy it made with some funky acrylic bumpy stuff from Michaels. He was knitted all in one piece by starting with a 6 stitches joined into a round, slowly increasing up to 21 stitches and then decreasing back to 9. That makes the bottom. After stuffing it, you do it again increasing up to 18 stitches and down to 4 to make the middle. Then finally the head. Really cool construction.

After he's all knitted, stuffed and the top closed, the
directions said to squish it top to bottoms and pull the thread all the way through to fatten him up a bit. Perhaps my row gauge (the height of the knitted stitches) was off but there was no way I could get the needle all the way through in a straight line. Poor guy ended up with a bit of a spine curvature.

Three quarters done with the year and still going strong. Albeit a bit tired of ornaments!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Easy Peasy

I had every intention of making a cute knitted snowman this week. Turns out he used size 3 double points and mine were clearly abducted by aliens. So, there I was on Monday deciding I needed a quick one.

Not to mention that this one stares at me every time I go
choose the week's project. Each time I think "Why did I get this? It looks ridiculously easy." I assume I saw it online and didn't realize how it was made. I probably shouldn't admit what is involved in this one. Glue 6 big sequins near the outside points, glue 6 small sequins closer to the middle, cut a pipe cleaner into a 3 inch piece and wrap into a circle, glue it and rhinestone. Flip and repeat.  It is ridiculously easy! Not bad looking in spite of that.

Oh yeah - I went and bought more size 3 double points.

Most of you saw a few giraffe encounter photos on Facebook. For my Ravelry friends who aren't Facebook friends (Hi Trudy and Melissa!) here are two:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Giraffe Week!

Anyone who knows me well knows that my favorite animal is the giraffe. Not sure what it is about them. Maybe because they are tall and quiet - so unlike me! Or maybe it's just that they are so beautiful and graceful. I found out recently that the Oregon Zoo has something called a Giraffe Encounter, a small (5 or less) group experience behind the scenes in the giraffe exhibit.

Last week I went on my giraffe encounter. The zoo photographer came along and eventually I'll have photos to share. I'm sure I'll have a totally goofy smile on my face in all of them! I learned some new things about giraffes in general (did you know that giraffes only sleep about 2 hours a day?) and our zoo's giraffes in particular. Then we got to feed them carrots, pellets and leaves and pet their noses. It was terrific.

So, in honor of this experience I made a needlepoint carousel giraffe. It's from a kit that has 5 other animals - none as awesome as the giraffe of course. Kind of cute, right? I might even be inspired to work on the zebra or lion in a few weeks.