Busy with my crochet hooks

I may not have had the chance to post anything here all of June, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.  Sometimes crafting and blogging don’t go at the same pace and I end up doing more of one than the other.

I have been busy collecting crochet hooks, mostly from the dollar store, of all places!  It’s the same ones being sold in the craft stores, and I’ve been lucky that my store has a stock.  I had decided to stick with the G but I’ve lost two so far, and the store is all out.  I will probably have to just swallow the full cost and get it from one of the stores in the city, if not my always reliable Michael’s.  I don’t know why but hearing the metallic hooks jingling in my pencil case cum crochet hook case is just music to my ears.
Work in Progress; Freeform CrochetMy yarn stash has also been growing, mostly in shades of pink.  (And then some..). One of these days, I will show you where I get my yarn here in Manhattan and you’ll see the varied offerings.  I have also gone up to my attic to dig through my yarn box which I had pulled together mostly to knit into scarves.   Work in Progress; Freeform Crochet

I continue to experiment with new stitches and the more complicated ones are proving to be a challenge.  But I am enjoying learning them and trying to get better at doing them.  With everything that I’ve managed to stitch up so far, I haven’t quite decided yet what I am making first — a scarf, a pull over or a hat.  Decisions, decisions!
Work in Progress; Freeform Crochet

I’m thinking there’s still plenty of time before fall when I expect I would get to use all these things eventually.  And then there’s the trip to Manila where threads the threads are a whole lot cheaper than here.  While the variety in yarns is lacking  (the ones we have here are more colorful and artsy), the cotton threads available there are hard to find here at the same price.  I grew up with the cotton threads that became those fancy adornments in houses of old.  Now if only they didn’t weigh so much!

I like the way the hook pulls the thread and weaves each stitch and gets you into a certain rhythm that can be hypnotic sometimes.  It can be very relaxing once you know what it is you want to create.

I’ve started a Pinterest board for Crochet inspirations, and another for Crochet by me.  It helps me to be able to see others who have created these fabulous pieces, be they just bits of freeform crochet or swathes of intricate stitches that make an elegant stole or shrug.  There is inspiration aplenty.  Dreamy!

 

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Freeform crochet, anyone?

#crochetProject: #tinywheels to be stitched together as part of my foray into #freeformCrochet .. Still trying to find the right shade of #Fiuschia #yarn #crochet #crafts #craftproject #pinkandpurple #stitchesI had started drafting this post more than a month ago and it has remained unposted due to difficulties uploading the graphics.  Well, I’m determined to do this today.

I learned how to crochet in fifth grade with the nuns.  Even back then, I already loved crafts and was drawn to the lure of wanting to create.  I have written about how I had once upon a time taught myself how to knit, using the how-to in our encyclopedia — way before the advent of the Internet.

While I can only knit and purl the regular way, I have been fortunate to be able to “read” crochet patterns and actual word instructions.

A former high school friend of mine whose Pinterest board I follow had started pinning crochet patterns and pieces which spurred a new interest.   I found myself  hooked! (Pardon the pun!). I stumbled into other like boards, and I was immediately curious about free form crochet.  It was, literally, an abstract creation of shapes, patterns and textures.  You just went and pulled together a patchwork of color, stitches and different yarns.

I went to YouTube and found various instructional videos and I was learning again!  One of the things I like about crafting is that it is a continuing journey of learning.  There are always new techniques to learn no matter how good you have become at a certain pursuit.  There were new stitches and techniques to begin the whole piece and bits and pieces to improve on tightening a look, or producing a certain shape and form.

I knew what I wanted to create and what colors I needed, so I hied off to grab some yarn.

Trying freed form crochet

Sine I started on this project, I have had a couple of trips to different stores, just eyeballing the various offerings and deciding right there and then when a color appealed to me.  I am still in search of the elusive right shade of fuschia pink, but I am not giving up.

In the meantime, I’ve created and experimented with bits and pieces, until I can get comfortable enough to piece them together.  Still trying..

Knitting away

Bliggraphics

I had taught myself to knit using chopsticks and the illustrations in our encyclopedia back in my early teens.  I am not even sure I am doing it right right but I do manage to knit and purl through a piece as I go along with even stitches now.

All bundled up: Scarf done!  A pop of color with my off white coat.  Just what I need to brighten up another cold winter day in New York. #Knitting #scarf #popcornyarn #handmade #popofcolor #allbundledup #finishedproject #handcrafted #madebyme #gothamchic

To make up for my lack of skills in doing stitches, I’ve taken to working with fancy yarns and a variety of larger needles.

BloggraphicIt takes a little imagination to “see” how a piece will come out after I finish knitting it, but I try to focus on the colors and texture.

Last chance to wear this newly-knitted fancy yarn scarf.. Second piece finished this winter, ready for wear next year! Feeling #productive! #handmade #knitting #fancyyarn #handicrafts #knitted #madebyme #madeforme #winterscarf #bundleup #gothamchick #pina

Mostly, I get lucky.  This winter has been very productive — two scarves done!  I’m also working on “fixing” two other previous pieces, and I’m looking forward to that.

I like knitting because it’s very relaxing for me, and I like receiving compliments from people who notice the unique colors and texture of the pieces I wear when I do.  My fallback piece is a native woven scarf from Baguio care of “Narda’s”, a famous native weaver in the Mountain province, and it’ll come in handy as it starts to get warmer.  Still need to bundle up, though.

Happy Friday!

In the middle of projects

I’ve been trying to finish some pieces for the shop but I think I’ve been distracted by a new found interest in metal smithing — particularly working with hammered wire. It’s been very interesting.  While I had been experimenting with working with my tiny hammer and seeing how the metal wires react given the different gauges, I’ve since progressed to filing open edges which should make it safe to wear.  (You don’t want the sharp edges of the wires scratching your skin.

Hammering wire has a different design effect from just looping the wire or handling it to take this or that shape.  Flat wires can also provide a good base finding for necklaces and maybe bracelets, although I haven’t gotten that far yet.  I’m learning that I have to count the times I hammer a particular area and the direction my hammering moves also affects the shape of the flattened wire.  While I had thought that hammering wire would thin it, it does so in a way but the expansion of the wire in a different direction actually makes it harder and sturdier.

I’m hoping to finish and post a piece or two over the weekend as I am starting to get back into polymer clay.

This time, I’m going beyond simple hand conditioning and actually rolling out the clay in the pasta machine’s thickest setting.  I’m going to “punch out” beads from these.  I’m also trying to create some bead molds.  (One of two – not bad.  The second that didn’t quite work out will become a bead pin cushion when I bake headpins.)

Work in progress: The Thank You Postcard ProjectI’ve also been busy doing postcard backgrounds and flower embellishments for a postcard project in the works.  It’s something that is taking shape very slowly but requires quite a volume of pieces to take off.  I have over a hundred postcard backgrounds and maybe almost a hundred flower embellishments for starters, but this projects involves more than just my favorite pieced paper flowers.

I’m gathering my stash of background papers, bought from the store and made from prints and watercolor and other inks.  I am thinking of different ways and means to create, using up gorgeous paper napkins as backgrounds, and gathering other graphics I had created during my short stint with other art for swaps.  I’ll write more about that later.

Meanwhile, time to get back to the wire and the hammer and hopefully get a post or two up at the shop later.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

Things I have been up to

The previous week(s) have been rather busy but I’ve been trying to get things done on the creative front.  The will is there, but there are days when I am too exhausted or just need to skip the creative time altogether.  I know I must find the time, even just a few minutes each day, but not everything I want to do can be done with the snap of a finger.

But the point is, I’m trying.  It has given me a sense of accomplishment somehow.  It’s a concrete sign of being able to move forward, no matter how slow it may be.

The good news is that I  have been successful in keeping my art journal up to date, and as I’m writing this and trying to make some chicken salad of some leftover KFC, I am also working on some backgrounds that need “gesso”-ing. But more importantly, I’ve managed to scribble something rather regularly even if not literally every day.

My gesso is a little old so I’m thinning it with water. The idea is to cover the back of the layouts below because the black ink of the text and the color shadings had seeped into the back of the next page. I was initially thinking of covering it with chalkboard black paint, but I nixed that for gesso first. I still might do the background in all black — but I’m having second thoughts right now.

My first attempts at using gesso were rather a disappointment, and I realize now that it’s probably because I used too much of the gesso.  I like it when it’s applied a little thinner btu still enough to be opaque.

I’ve also been trying to create accessories again, this time trying my hand at wire-wrapping. I’ve found a lot of inspiration online and am trying to learn from the various tutorials available on YouTube, while trying to create my own way of getting things done. My first attempt after several yards of wasted wire is below. It’s a work in progress literally but I like the way this came about. I need to watch more videos.

The shop is beginning to get populated again little by little.  Slow traffic but I know I have to keep posting to bring the people in.  Even this little corner of mine isn’t exactly bustling with reader traffic but I’m telling myself it’ll come if I finally come around to devoting enough time to it.  Then I quickly remind myself that I have to accept that there is only so much that I can do.  A day at a time…

Craft Experiment: Pressing flowers for use as embellishments

This is probably nothing new to a lot of serious crafters out there but I have experimented with this quite a bit and have found a good formula or method (in terms of timing) to press rose petal leaves.  It appears that this is crucial if you want to maintain a semblance of the petals’ original color, or keep the integrity of the petal when it dries.

Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquetI’ve used rose petals extensively for card making and as embellishment for Artist Trading Cards or ATCs, etc.  When dried and flattened correctly, they adhere easily to paper surfaces with the use of mod podge.  They lend a rustic feel to a background when used in a collage.

Let me warn you, though, that it might mean “cutting” the “vase-life” of your blooms to achieve the desired effect.  You’d have to start the process between after the bud begins to open and before it actually blooms.

I was fortunate enough to have received two elegant bouquets for my 10th anniversary at work, and one of them, the one from the big boss, had two of my favorite blooms: hydrangeas and pink roses.  The roses were of interest to me because they were not solid-colored, but graduated from pink to white towards the center.  (Craft happiness!)

I am also trying to dry the peonies which started to crumble yesterday (Day 4 from their delivery), and it shows promise, but we’ll see.

It’s approximately 6 days since the flowers have been cut and put on a vase.  The petals are still relatively fresh — no signs of wilting (as of yet).  I know from long ago that roses need to be cut at the base an inch from the tip for it to eventually bloom.  I purposely didn’t do that to preserve the rose stem “mid-bit”.

Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquet 1

I wiggled the bud lose and started to make it easier to take each petal off.  I discarded the outer layer which has browned in some portions. Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquet 2

I then arranged the petals with enough space between each petal between pages of an old dictionary.
Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquet 3

I also experimented with some hydrangeas and I”m keeping my fingers crossed that comes out nicely.  I left the book under two reams of paper to weigh it down and help press the flowers flat.  Let’s see how that comes out on Monday.