Crafting in the time of Corona

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI actually started a similar post in June but that draft never went anywhere. Silent since April. That is a personal disappointment since I haven’t stopped crafting. (I just literally let out an audible sigh.)

I am hoping the coming weeks and months will finally get this blog going. I am going to try to do regular updates to chronicle my crafting journey. It isn’t always easy given all that’s been happening in the world. While crafting has been a form of escape for me, coping with working from home and all the chaos and uncertainty around us has affected me more than I care to admit.

But I’m here now. And I have to say, I’ve had a bit of creative rebirth of sorts in the last couple of months.

My art journal has come to life. I was stumped between my last journal ended in 2017 and this latest one I managed to start working on in March of this year. I have kept going.. and am still going. I am already planning

next year’s journal while making sure I have enough to keep this one going to the end of the year.
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I have become a mask sewing maven.(Love the sound of that!). Although I haven’t sewn any masks in the last four weeks or so, I consider this an ongoing project. I think it’s time to look at upgraded or improved patterns this time around and finish what I have.

With the pandemic still raging, I think masks are going to be an accessory of necessity for quite a bit of time ahead. I am actually looking to make a few for friends as holiday gifts this year..

Excited about new ideas for the shop! I am heartened that traffic has increased and that I have actually had sales come in. So I’m trying to get ready for the holidays with more listings and hoping they bring in some revenue. People are shopping online more now, given the situation and I am hopeful!

I have been organizing my supply inventory. This is really long overdue. And with this comes some much needed destashing. The worst is when I come across supplies I forgot I had, because then I feel bad that they have lain dormant and untouched when I could’ve thought up of something to create using them. The reality of it is, there is always the problem of finding time to actually make pieces these days. But I am trying to get better organized so I can get this going!

I am grateful that I am able to continue my creative pursuits even during this very challenging time. It has helped me to cope and helps me to stay optimistic and hopeful about the months to come.

Thank you

This is my small way of saying thanks for the big sacrifice you are making for my son and I and the rest of New York.

Sewing for lives

At the start, I started sewing for the hospital workers who needed it. Then I realized there were others who needed these facial mask covers. 125 masks now and counting, I have sent to requesters who fit the bill, even if they are not necessarily in hospitals. This is a very small contribution compared to most, but I want to be one of those drops in the bucket.

I am a novice sewist or seamstress— but I am a crafter. I had loads of scrap fabric and craft supplies. My biggest hurdle beyond my novice skills was that I continued to work from home Mondays to Fridays from 9-6pm. I work as an Executive assistant to a chief something in a Fortune 500 company based in Grand Central. I would’ve produced more at a quicker pace if not for that.

Please note that all fabric used has been prewashed and preshrunk. Most of this I had to do by hand because my laundry room is outside my co-op unit. I have mild asthma, so my minimum standard is that the fabric should be clean enough for me to use. These were made in a pet-free and smoke-free home.

My stitching and finished product might be less than perfect, but each mask cover was made with a lot of love and a mountain of gratitude. I am lucky to live in a city that has such dedicated professionals like yourself. You keep my son and I hopeful and less scared — I don’t know that I would be as brave. I am hoping I will never have to be in your care but if that happens, I have complete trust in you. I am hoping this helps you do your job, whatever it may be — in a safe environment.

We are grateful. I am lucky to be able to continue to work and my son and I have been untouched by this disease. I pray you are able to continue your work safely as well, and that my mask covers are of some use to you.

Be safe.

Not quite crafty these days

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I’ve been working from home for over a month now, and I get why people seem to think I would’ve had more time to do crafts because I’ve been home. I’ve actually really been on a crafting drought the last couple of weeks.

Save for the crocheted necklace I attempted (first ever completed!) a few weeks back, I haven’t picked up my tools except to re-string a rosary style necklace of gorgeous pink agate beads. That is almost done and has been set aside.

I’ve been meaning to make a piece a week — and I think I have to pressure myself into creating more. It’s just that life has been a bit stressful at work — what with the adjustment of doing everything from home.

It also hasn’t helped that I’ve found myself mildly obsessed with sewing masks.

I’ve always been the first to admit I am a novice sewist or seamstress. I’m banking on my crafty inclinations to get me through, and despite several tries, I haven’t quite gotten the fit and the pattern that would work for me. I am still trying.

A few weeks back, I published the photo below in my Instagram account. Taking the cue from some experts on the best material to use, this one used a 200 count bed sheet cover. I normally don’t use those and had set this one aside to convert into pillow cases, but I used it instead for this two layer mask cover. I fashioned ear elastic from another project I had been using. I managed to put in some 22 gauge wire folded and it twice and it seemed to hold.Attempts at making a face mask

The mask proved to be a bit wonky on the sides so I added a flap. Still didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to so I am experimenting on how to make a better fitting mask. I am working on this and another pattern. I’d like to be able to produce enough for me to use when we return to work — as I am sure it will be a requirement to wear them, and it would be a good preventive measure, no matter how minuscule an effort it may be against the virus we are all fighting. (I will write a post on the resources for this shortly.)

I have also been slowly working towards contributing to a nationwide effort to provide face mask covers for our front liners. There’s a website online, sewingforlives.com , that provides for a pattern as requested, connecting seamstresses or anyone who wants to donate with requesting agencies/institutions.

Again, the novice that I am when it comes to sewing, I’m taking a little longer creating the straps to go with the mask itself. I am getting there. It’s just a little tough being productive when I work during the day during the week, and I can really work on this only at night. But I am getting there. Even just 10 or 20 would be a big deal of a contribution for me.

At the start of this whole stay-at-home deal, I worked on my art journal. After creating several sections ready for my entries, I’ve sort of taken a break. I haven’t necessarily set it aside — I’m just taking a pause. I am looking to resume that this week.

Creating has always been a source of relaxation and release for me. Having found my rhythm again, I’m hoping to do more before we find ourselves back or close to picking up from where we left off. I guess the stress has just gotten the better of me, stifling my creativity. Hopefully, the coming weeks will see something different come out from all of this.

Crafting in this age of social distancing

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Today marks two weeks since we started working from home and practicing social distancing. You’d think that staying at home would spur on a creative surge, but the pressure and adjustment to our new normal has not been as smooth and seamless as we thought . It wasn’t easy the first week. I often ended the day both physically and mentally exhausted.

During the second week, though, I had to do something with my hands before I drove myself totally crazy with how busy work had gotten. I just randomly strung glass crystal beads into a spool of cotton crochet thread and then stitched away. No rhyme and reason to it really except that I decided I would string together 100 beads or so and separate it with 3 stitches. It came to 6 feet in all which can be doubled or even worn as three layers around your neck.

At first, I was thinking of clustering the beads by color, and then my hook slipped and the weight of the bead caused the crocheted chain to fall and become undone. Then the thread somehow got entangled and I tried but was unsuccessful getting the thread straightened. So I decided to start over and with my beads in a cup, went for random.

I am an advanced crochet crafter — I didn’t work with any pattern and simply used existing pins on pinterest as guide. I figured out my own way of attaching a double jump ring at the beginning of the project and then worked from there. I was trying to decide whether or not I will attach the lobster clasp the same way at the end — via a Jumpring, and I don’t know what possessed me to just thread and stitch through the clasp. Ta-dah!

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I like to crochet because the repetitive motions of pulling the thread through the hoops and stitching through the loops has a calming effect on me. There’s something about how I can go effortlessly through the project and see its end result that I find gratifying. Even when I’m reading a pattern as I stitch, each stitch is like a sip of wine at the end of the day that brings me back down to a sense of calm.

It seems this new working arrangement will be in effect for longer that we all hope it would, and I think I’ll be picking up my crochet hook again. Perhaps.

I actually sewed three face masks in one evening, hoping to “extend” the life of the masks that I have. But that’s another post. For now, I’m looking for enough beads to crochet my next lariat with.

Stay safe, everyone.

A Weekend with my Art Journal by

I’ve spent the better part of this past

weekend working with the second signature of my art journal, so indulge me. It’s been a difficult week and I needed to sit down and be quiet and just be. I needed to find a quiet place to retire to and just try and unwind.

Work in progress

Several years ago, I picked these images in magazines that somehow called out to me. This signature shows copies of these images which I resized and used as elements in my art journal. I printed a copy of this dancing image from a perfume ad onto card stock and watercolored around it to create a background. Nothing fancy.

Work in progress

This layout covered the connecting rib between the sheet before it and the next, so I covered the spread with pages from a dictionary that had been printed with an old watercolor sheet I had done almost a decade ago. (I have to find the original sheet but am still searching.).

I have two smaller spreads within this layout which you will see on the right side. I cut out these magazine letters

Work in progress

I had done a gesso experiment on ad postcards a while back, tucked them away and just rediscovered them a week or two ago in my attic. I. attached one of these to the spread beneath it with a printed adhesive backed paper you will see below.

Work in progress

This set has been decorated with pieces from what I call my paper garden — pieces of layered doodled flowers I originally did on matte magazine pages. I have found doodling a very good way to relax and had drawn many of these flowers over a period of time. I spread them out over the three layouts within the main one to create a unifying theme. I did it in all except the gesso-ed postcard which I’m thinking might be a frame or matting for a focal graphic.

Work in progress

The graphics on the right are two separate magazine clippings that I just decided to compose as a personal statement. I used another watercolor background copied into a dictionary page that I tore for some dramatic effect on the left side.

The next layout shows how I joined this signature together, and I haven’t gotten to the last three spreads yet beyond how I initially assembled this group of pages.

Below, I used the graphic to hold two spreads together. It actually served as the “spine”.

Work in progress

I painted the left side with gold acrylic and orange watercolor on the right side. The layout looks seamless because the graphic holds the two together.

This held the suceeding spread, where I decided to do a fold out. Below is the folded soread:Work in progressAnd here is the fold out:Work in progress

Again, I used dictionary pages over the watercolor I painted around the graphic. Extending the page was easier with a back to back print of my watercolor backgrounds which I attached to the left page. I love the reveal and having a bigger space to work on, even if I don’t know yet what’s going to be on this spread.

I did the same thing for the connecting layout between the previous and the next with a graphic serving as the spine below.

Work in progress

It’s part of a series of fashion spreads I took these graphics from, then I used watercolor and then silver acrylic paint for the rest of the spread.

Work in progress

I wanted to end with this celebratory layout — so full of life and positive energy. I played around with watercolor to create the spread above. I’m going to doodle a big “Yay!” above her raised leg and haven’t quite figured out whether or not I will further embellish the rest of the layout. I actually quite like the watercolor background as is, so I might not touch it at all. We’ll see.

Art Journal in the making

Two months since the year began and I’ve made great strides as far as the art journal is concerned. So while I write about the journey in my other blog, I’d like to share the actual method by which a non artist like myself creates the various pages.

I have decided to make my journal with card stock like paper, so I have relied mostly on using upcycled manila folders. I wanted my journal to be a good size for layouts and journaling, and I decided a 5.5×7.5 layout fell nicely within my main paper medium. So far, I’ve also used other card stock in larger formats to help me with my fold out layouts which I will show you later.

I’m hoping to make a basic video tutorial on binding together Manila folders by simply using a glue stick and at times, double sided tape for reinforcement.

The way my art journal is structured, I have made separate signatures that I will combine together at a later time, or as I go along. For now, I am heavy at work doing my 2019 recap and beginning my 2020 entries.

As a teaser, here’s a video I made a few weeks back showing the original look of that first portion before I started journaling on it. I’m going to work on an update video soon and you will see that I’ve made changes in the binding and added a lot more content. Pending the video, I will post snapshots of my layouts identifying the elements used or the methods I used to create the pages themselves.

A lot of the pages are simple water color backgrounds, and there are some book pages printed with color and pasted on the Manila folder. I’ve summoned all my creative juices to the fore and have been discovering elements I have all but forgotten about as I went through my art supplies. Excited is an understatement.

2020

And so a new year is upon us and the first two months have ended. That I haven’t been here doesn’t mean I haven’t been crafting. On the contrary, I feel that 2019 was a very productive year for me craft wise. My writing may be in stops and starts, but crafting has been a constant in my life. It is a source of comfort, relaxation and never ending learning.

I have a 20 for 2020 list in my personal blog, listing 20 things I want to accomplish in the year.. So the idea came to me to come up with something slightly different in this crafting space: a 2020 craft wish list.

I’m looking to write up a list of 2020 projects I want to undertake in the coming year. And from there, see how it goes.

Art journaling
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1. Begin and finish an art journal in earnest. I completed my first art journal/altered book in 2015. It took me 3 years to finish it and it was a true labor of love. Since that time that I decided the last post was my last, I have tried to start another art journal at least 6 times. I am, however, currently working on something that might actually get me where I want to go with this project and that will be one of the next posts following this. I am inspired!

2. Rebind my art journal. I chose to an altered book which meant literally painting and doing my entries on an existing book. It has fallen apart at the seams literally, but I have done my best to keep it in one piece. The cover is off the spine and I really need to give the binding serious attention to preserve the book.

3. Do an art journal reveal video. I’m trying to figure out how to do this but I think it’s best done after the rebinding.

Sewing: sew the following pieces:

4. A spring coat

5. A dress

6. A topper

7. A blazer

8. A tote bag

9. A make up bag replicating the one I’m using

10. A denim painted dress or jacket

I have acquired patterns and fabric and the sewing machine has been silent for most of the previous year. It’s time to get it going again!

Jewelry

11.Create the broken shell necklace I bought a set of shells for

12. Create polymer clay beads and figure out how to cast stones in clay

13. Create fabric beads

14. Use my labradorite cabochons to create a statement piece.

15. Embellish a purse with semi precious stones and shells.

Mixed media

16. Work on my rose petal collages

17. Finish one photo transfer project

18. Create mixed media accessories made out of paper

Crochet and needle craft

19. Crochet a cardigan

20. Learn how to knit properly and follow patterns.

It seems like quite a long wish list but I’m optimistic that I will get most of that done. I will do a regular check in here to see where I am periodically and let’s see how this goes.

 

And after the long silence..

I am fearlessly declaring I am back.

I hope.

And I am actually soooo disappointed in myself that I have kept quiet all this time here in this corner.  Since September!  What gives?!

Life has taken me away and has kept me busy.  I have never stopped crafting, though.  And I want to keep crafting AND writing about it.

So let me leave you with that for now.

Crochet Winter Hats

Over the previous weekend, I managed to finish the hat in the previous post (just put in a black rim to keep it snug and let it fit over my ears).  I’m trying to use my existing stash of yarn, and unfortunately, I cannot identify the specifics of the yarn used here, but here is the finished product.

Winter hats

Then beyond that, I managed to finish two others. Talk about being productive.

One thing I’ve noticed is that you have to pay attention to your own head size and actually be patient with stitching and undoing and stitching again.  While I have found some great pattern references, I have had to adjust based on the thickness of the yarn, or the fancy stitch following.  So while with a certain yarn, I may end up stopping the increasing of the stitches per row at say, the fifth row, I might have to do that on the sixth for thinner yarns.  Some yarns are also wont to hug your head, and others will just lay over your head, so there is less need to be relaxed with the actual fit.  What I’m trying to say here is that it’s different for each project.

I tend to start with the required number of rounds from the crown of the head (top), rather than start from the rim and work my way up.  I like my winter hats to be snug, and I don’t like putting in a pom-pom as an accent, so I work from the top down.

I first wrote about my quest for the perfect hat back in 2016, and I referenced this pattern for a slouchy beanie.  Although the original pattern called for more give and fabric to hang from the back of the hat, I wanted something snug, but with enough give just to give the hat a bit of shape when on my head.  I have used the starting pattern for this beanie for many of the hats that followed, including the first two hats in the post.

I like to learn new stitches, and I have always fancied the texture and body of the basket weave stitch.  Since I am now unable to identify the video I referenced, suffice it to say that Youtube is one great tutor.  While the stitch usually requires a treble stitch, I worked on using a double crochet stitch but had to keep in mind that my pattern had to start at a row following a round that was divisible by 3.


Winter hats

After working my way to the 6th round, I started adjusting the pattern to accommodate the woven stitch.  This time around, I wanted to be able to put a rim around over the edge of the hat.  Again, keeping in mind that I was working on a pattern, I had to make sure that the rim fell on a row that would compliment the row above it when the rim was in place.

And finally this last hat, based on a pattern I bought from RubyWebbs over at Etsy.  While my finished product looks different from the photo accompanying the pattern on the site, blame it on the tweaks I did which came out as I had hoped it would.  You can see the cable stitch clearly even with the solid black yarn I used.

Winter hats

First of all, I highly recommend Joni’s patterns on RubyWebbs because they are clear and easy to decipher, no matter what your level of skill is.  I consider myself rather advanced since I can read both word and diagram patterns and have been crocheting since grade school, but you want to work with patterns which don’t presume that you would have the same skill level as the vendor.  I actually bought 3 patterns, but I haven’t had the chance to work with the other two.

I like that I learned a new way to start a beanie off, with front post double crochet and back post double crochet.  This gave the beanie an inner rim per row which I like.  It also started with a looser top, so for those hats that I don’t want to be as snug, this is a perfect way to start the hat.

I followed the initial pattern for the top before getting to the row where the cable stitches begin, but I found that the hat had gotten too loose, so I went and unstitched two rows back and started the cabling ahead of the pattern.

I also found that you can actually make the cables longer by repeating a certain row, or keeping the pattern as is.  Towards the end, I reduced stitches for a snugger fit by first, skipping the half double crochet stitch between the cables but retaining the one inside (on the second to the last row of the cable) and then for the last row with the cable, I omitted that half double crochet to “close” it out.

The pattern provides for a finish but I opted to use my own by just closing out the cable and leaving it “raw”.  Maybe for the next one, I will try to do the cable and the finish as is and see how that ends up.

Winter hats

Back into crafting

One of the things that I have found most rewarding about crafting is that you can lose yourself in it and just let go. Even when I’m reading a pattern or working with instructions, there is a sense of freedom in just going at your own pace and working on your project as you please.

I have a ton of yarn that was purchased for projects that popped up in my head along the way. Some projects came to fruition and ended up in wearable pieces, but there are still some unfinished projects that are hoping for a second chance. My projects are usually spurred by some other event in my day to day, and a cooler weekend spoke to me if the coming of spring and then of winter.

I picked up a ball of yarn that was already unraveled at one end, and I stitched a beanie pattern away from memory. Depending on the yarn and the size of the needle I’m using, I always get stumped when it comes to the row where I stop increasing the number of stitches. So there is that magic moment when I find my fit and I can go about crocheting a stitch design that makes up the entire hat.

This one’s probably my 10th or so now.. and I’m down to the ribbing at the end. I’m thinking I will go with black and end it there.

Work in progress

I’m looking to get some projects finished before it starts getting cold again. That’ll help me get my yarn stash down by a but at least, and I’ve promised not to buy any new spools until I complete a few pieces. I’m setting my sights on maybe even making a coatigan or a shawl at the very least. Maybe I might yet get some freeform crochet done! More to come..