Posts Tagged ‘crafts’

It seems that my list of bookmarks on my computer just keeps getting longer and longer, and I just keep adding to it. The bookmarked things ranges for herb websites to blogs of all sorts, recipes and crafty things I would like to try. (ya, I have heard of pinterest, and I should probably use it more, but it seems I get lost in time when ever I log in there)

Every time I bookmark something it ends up at the bottom, and the bottom seems to be pages and pages down there, so I started working on organizing the bookmarks and as I did that I came across things I had forgotten about (what a concept!)… so I decided to try to either do something, like a craft, each week or try a recipe or read a certain blog I bookmarked but never got back to.

I have a lot going on right now, so I picked a few simple things that wouldn’t take up too much time. I started with a bookmark. I figured it would be perfect for my niece that had a birthday this week. This was a super frugal gift, because I used some of those left-over scraps of paper that I save. I found the original on The Girl Creative.Book marks 1I tweaked the pattern for me and simplified it. The original bookmarks are cute, but my niece is 11, and I wanted something a bit more tailored for her.Book marks 3I picked out some designer card stock/scrap-booking papers that I thought that she would like (blues and greens) and made a few. Another niece likes hot pink and animal prints, so I made a few for her at the same time.Book marks 5This was a quick and easy project for me to do and it felt good actually getting around to one of those things I had bookmarked off the internet.

Do you have a long list of bookmarked things? How do you organize them?

Do you ever have things you want to try? Do you ever get around to them?

Sincerely, Emily

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Grams yarn hangersI am taking a chance and posting this before Christmas, hoping that my nieces are not reading! This is all about Gram’s hangers. Now, I know my Gram wasn’t the only person out there making these, but she was the only person out there making them for me when I was younger… hence, Gram’s hangars.

When I got a bit older (I’m guessing 10 or 12 years old), she taught me how to make them. I searched all of our closets looking for one of Grams hanger. Do you think I found one? NO!  I just wanted to look at it and work out how I was going to make them. Do you think I remembered how to do them?  Yes, and no! I worked it out rather quickly, but I knew mine are a bit different. In fact, when I took the hangars I finished to MN this past fall to wrap them up and stash them away for my nieces, my mom came in to see what I was doing and then started pulling hanger after hanger out of her closest. All Gram’s hangars! She has all of them! I couldn’t help but laugh.

Started at the base of the hookWhat I love about using these hangars is that my clothes don’t slip off the hangar (and I made them by recycling old wire hangars and gave them a new purpose in life)

You start with two metal dry cleaner hangers that are of equal shape and size.  Tape them together in a few spots so you are fighting to keep the hangars together as you are working your yarn around them. You need two balls of yarn. They can be the same color or different colors, that is completely up to you, but the yarn does need to be in balls (not skeins). I could not remember how much yarn it took to make a hanger, so I bought two skeins of blue (for one niece) and two skeins of pink( for the other niece) and started wrapping them into balls. Make your yarn balls a manageable size so you can handle it easily enough and not be fighting with it to get it through the triangle form of the hanger at each pass. I made two hangers for each niece and have TONS of yarn left over. I could probably make them two more hangers each year for several years and still not run out (and hope they still like the colors I have!)

Make a loop

Make a loop

I started at the bottom of the neck where the hanger branches out and the worked my way around the hanger ending up back at the neck and then worked my way up to the top of the hook and back down to the neck. I know working my yarn over the hook and back gave it a bit of extra bulk, but I didn’t want to end at the top of the hook and have loos ends and knots up there where it gets most of its wear as it is put on your clothes rod and taken off over and over.

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

Tie both balls of yarn onto the bottom of the neck of the hangers leaving about a 6″ tail to work with later.  You want to keep one ball of yarn on one side of you and the other ball of yarn on the other side of you. I hold the hangar between my legs so that my hands are free to work with the yarn balls. I will mention that the chair that I sit on in our living room is an old swan neck rocker. It has open arm rests which isn’t the best situation because there isn’t much room on either side of my body to rest the yarn balls without them falling through the arms rest, off the chair, and unrolling out on the floor.

Pull tight

Pull tight

To make a “stitch” make a loop with your yarn and then pass your ball of yarn over the hangar and through the loop. Now pull it tight. The tighter you pull the more loops you will need to make to cover your hangar. The loosen your “stitches” the lass yarn. I made mine rather tight. From time to time you can also push your “stitches” so they are tighter together also. There are no rules here, do what ever you are comfortable with.

You can do one “stitch” with each color yarn or more. I did one hangar with single “stitches” and the other with two “stitches” with each ball of yarn before working the other side.

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

I finished by knotting my ends together and leaving about a 6″ tail on each end. I added pom poms that I made out of the same yarn and used the tail ends to attach them to the hangers.

Crossing my fingers that my nieces will love them.

Have you ever made yarn hangers?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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I really enjoy giving handmade gifts (like the fabric napkins that I posted about last December.) Those gifts are usually made by me. One of my nieces has a birthday at the end of November. In fact it was just a few days ago so I had to wait until it was passed before I posted about her gift this year.

Since she was very very young I have always made her pillowcases. A pillow case for each season plus summer, winter, fall, spring themed ones as well. I can still look into my magic ball and see more pillowcases in her future, but wanted to come up with something different for this birthday.

As I was snooping around a thrift store a few weeks ago, I saw a small jewelry box. It was pretty plain (sorry, I completely forgot the “before” photo) but it had potential. I knew I could give it a facelift, but it also appealed the the frugal and thrifty side of me as well.

My original plan was to paint the entire jewelry box white and then “white-wash” it with a metallic silver to give it some pizazz and sparkle. I started with the white. I found a can of white spray paint in our garage and decided to use it to make quick work of covering the whole box. It needed two coats and even then the spray paint wasn’t covering the wood very well.

not covering the wood very well at all

I decided to get out my acrylic paints and go for better coverage with those. That worked a lot better, but the spray paint left a glossy finish and the acrylic paints left a mat finish, so I knew then I would need to apply a clear glossy top coat in the end.

Once the paint was on it was time for the silver metallic “white-wash.” I started wiping the silver on and instantly was not happy with the look at all! It was not looking all shiny and sparkly like it was in my vision. As I wipe it off for the full “white-wash” effect, it even looked worse. Again, sorry, no photo because at this point I knew I wanted to get as much of the paint off as I could and needed to work quickly.

So I just took one huge step backwards and needed to paint those surfaces white again and come up with another plan. By the way, this was Tuesday and I intended to mail the box on Wednesday. Nope, that didn’t happen! Not with another coat of white paint, plus dry time, plus what ever design I was going to paint, plus dry time, clear coat, dry time – you get the picture. I knew if I wrapped it up in one of my fabric gift bags before it was completely dry that the bag would be stuck to the box when my niece went to open it – not good.

The jewelry box did have a cut design into the wood so I felt I was a bit limited and so I decided to follow that pattern with dots. Dots are super super easy to do, if you know the trick. Use the end of your paint brush – the end without the bristles. Dip it in your paint and then touch it the surface you want the dot on. The size of the end of your brush will determine the size of your dot. Be sure to do a few test dots before you do this on your actual project and depending on the medium you are using you may get 1-2 dots before you need to reload the end of your brush, or you may only get 1 dot. The silver metallic paint I was using was pretty thin, and I wanted a substantial dots with a sparkly impact, so I needed to dip the end of my brush in the paint for each dot.

I did get the front and top of the box done and was going to move onto the sides, but time was not on my side.

I hope that my niece will like her new jewelry box.

Have you ever given something old a much needed facelift?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.




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Yes, i spin yarn. No, my wheel is not an antique and neither are the robust group of friends i’ve made here in Oregon who are part of the even more robust fiber community. My wheel i picked up used at a great price and my friends i picked up from fiber stores and a local farmer’s market, and all of them already priceless to me. Isn’t “Clementine” spiffy? She’s a Clemes & Clemes Modern Wheel. (Please forgive the repulsive state of my kitchen. It’s a tiny apartment and it’s never clean.)

I am often asked “why would you spin yarn when you could just buy it in the store?” or “why would you want to knit a hat when you could just buy one in the store?” I believe those people are missing the point. I do still buy cotton yarn and lust after other folks’ gorgeous handspun occasionally. I don’t think everyone in the world needs to make everything from scratch, but in case you too are wondering why i’m crazy enough to spend hours holding balls of fluff in my hands and treadling my foot up and down, this is why i do it:

Some of my very first handspun, totally uneven, but super soft!

Spinning is an ancient art that is so simple yet so complex. By carefully holding the fiber of animals or plants in one hand, rotating it using a spindle or spinning wheel, and gently tugging it forward and back, you can create yarn: something beautiful and strong that can be used to make functional and long lasting garments. What’s better than that? I am also a sailer, or was in my younger days, and spinning is a bit like sailing in that you’re grasping just a few simple elements and harnessing them to do what you want. Wind and water make you go, fluff and twist make beautiful yarn.

Ultimately, I will be raising many of the animals who will contribute the fiber that i spin. I’m thinking of raising Icelandic sheep for their fiber and their meat, pygora goats for their cashmere-like fiber and friendship, and a few fluffy rabbits from which the softest of fiber comes. To raise an animal, sheer it, wash and prepare its fiber, spin it into yarn and create a sweater to be worn for the rest of your life: now THAT’S the reason that i spin. Spinning is relaxing, rewarding, and reconnects me to a time before the hussle and bussle of this century – and i get to wear or clothe my loved ones with the fruits of my labors!

What do you think of my very first knit hat? I’m an absolute beginner knitter, and it’s kind of atrocious. At least the yarn i spun for it is warm, if a bit uneven! I think the hubs likes it, even if it is “The hat of many mistakes.”  Read more about my spinning and knitting attempts and see how much nicer they’re both starting to look at An Austin Homestead. -Miranda

Are you a spinner? I know there are more of us out there than some may think… Why do YOU spin?

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Is this really true?  Pinch me? Am I really writing here with all these other wonderful contributors? What an honor.

My husband and I have been living north of San Antonio on the edge of the Hill Country for almost four years. When I arrived here I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. When we left Palm Springs, CA I had a business beading and selling jewelry. I did a market every Thursday night in downtown Palm Springs and on weekends would travel around doing other shows usually in the LA and San Diego areas, but I would go as far as Tucson and San Francisco at times. Initially, I thought I would continue along the path of beading. Beading definitely took a back seat once the garden was in and my perspective on things was changing fast.

Mooakite Necklace

I laugh as I think of all the changes I have gone through to get to where I am now. I was a high school exchange student in Tasmania. I went to college and have a degree in Art and Interior Design. I worked in that field for a while. I then started taking flying lessons. At the same time I started working part-time at the flight school as a receptionist and secretary. That soon turned into a full-time job and I continued on with flight lessons working my way up to holding my commercial license and also flight instructing. I met my husband at that airport. He was flying and maintaining vintage airplanes at the air museum next door. My husband and I then moved to Kenya for a year. He flew tourists around Mt Kenya in an open cockpit bi-plane (think Out of Africa, complete with leather headset playing the music from the movie, leather jacket and white silk scarf) and I helped run the business from the ground and occasionally flew for fun. When we returned to the states we headed out to Palm Springs, CA for ten years, and now we find ourselves in Texas.

Within the first year in Texas, we put in a large vegetable garden with raised beds and my mom showed me how to make no-knead bread. That was one of the turning points for so many things for me.

Cheddar Cheese

I realize that nothing happens overnight, although there are times I wish it did. There are also set backs along this path and I realize that I can change some of those things, but others are in the hands of Mother Nature. As I look back on the past few years I see that I really have accomplished a lot. We have 1300 gallons of rain water collection set up and after this year of drought I realize I really need to increase that by A LOT if I want to continue to grow more of the food we eat. I have increased the amount of vegetable growing space and increased other flower and herb gardens with plans to do more. I have learned many new things from making soap and pasta to making hard cheese and I look forward to learning more things like making lotions.  Recently I have taken a few classes to be able to read knitting and crochet patterns and have take some sewing classes to brush up on reading those patterns too. Right now I am in the middle of a personal challenge to knit scarves for the 2012 Special Olympics Scarf Project.  I love herbs. I love growing them, cooking with them and learning about them.


I can remember when I was a little girl and making gifts. I am sure there was a macaroni necklace in there somewhere, but I have progressed a bit from that. Even though I am not beading full-time anymore, I still find time for some beading and other creative and crafting things like sewing, making cards, crafting, knitting; some of which I will share during REAL Holidays at NDiN as I make my holiday gifts this year. I always seem to have a long list of things to do or try. I look forward to sharing some of those things with you as I learn along the way. The holidays will be here before we know it.

I am very excited to be here at Not Dabbling in Normal. I will be posting here every other Saturday, and if you have the time, stop by my blog Sincerely, Emily to see what else I am up to.

Sincerely, Emily

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Recently one of our autumn projects was to make these nifty painted leaves. I found this awesome tutorial via Pinterest, created by Little Wonder Days. We had all of the items available in and around our house and it was completely doable for a 7 year old with minimal guidance, and easy enough for preschool age. Of course we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. But as we were looking at our pile of shaving cream leaves, a bulb went off in my head.

shaving cream painting

Candy canes and Christmas tree ornaments!!

These are some of the cutest and easiest decorations I’ve made. It seriously took us less than an hour to cut out and “paint” these little guys.


candy canesWe used red and pearl acrylic paints and pink cardstock for the canes. The ornaments were made with off-white cardstock, two different blues and pearl acrylic paints. Use whatever colors and designs you can dream up!

Start with shaving cream. Smooth out a pile of shaving cream, drizzle some of the paint on top, then swirl it around with a toothpick (reminded me of those brownies I used to make…).

Lay your cut-out flat on top of the paint, and press lightly. Allow to rest for a few seconds, then remove. Do about 4-5 at a time so the paint has some time to adhere to your paper. Then, take an old spatula (that you’ll no longer use for cooking) or a palette knife and gently squeegee the extra paint off.

When you drag the paint across with the squeegee, you’ll affect the pattern, so be mindful of the direction you choose to pull your paint.

Allow to dry and choose what to decorate! I even doodled some hardware with silver metallic Sharpies on the ball ornaments.

The Kid and I will probably be making hundreds of these and some tree over the next two months as Christmas gift tags.



Jennifer can be found at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about food, homeschooling, and life away from her farmette.

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Over the past few years my daughter and I have developed a seasonal tradition of working on a craft a day. I’ve found that this is a wonderful way to keep her involved in the daily activities of the holidays; especially when so many of us tend to get overwhelmed with the shopping, gatherings, weather, cooking, and baking.


sugar plums

Since we’ve begun homeschooling this year I’ve tried to incorporate our crafts into her lesson plan. We’ve made Sugar Plums while discussing the Nutcracker Suite and “The Night Before Christmas”, learned songs while making Christmas trees, discussed science while making Cranberry Coffee Cake, and so on.



Do you have a seasonal tradition to keep your children involved in the daily workings of the holidays?

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life blarging about her experiences living in rural Tennessee.

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Handmade Gift Giving

Gifts do not need to cost a lot.

They don’t need to be mass produced from some foreign land.

Most often the very best gifts are those made with love and full of sweet memories!

This has more meaning than any fancy piece of artwork I could purchase.

It was made for people I love…

Featuring people I love!

Besides…it was much more fun to make than braving the crowds in town shopping for the perfect gift!

So how about you?

Are you holidays going to handmade?


If you would like to know how I made the framed are go here for a tutorial

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Felted wool sweater laptop bag collage

When I take my laptop anywhere I carry it in a grocery bag…

Yes call me a fashion icon!

I figured it was about time I stepped up the cool quotient and made myself something a bit more stylish to carry my computer in.

(Note this would make a ROCKIN’ diaper bag too!)

Felted wool sweater laptop bag1

$3.00 alpaca thrift store sweater meet my laptop…computer this is Mr. Sweater!  I am hoping you all will be very happy together.

First I determined if I had a sweater big enough to hold the computer…this dark turquoise blue sweater that I had previously felted would fit nicely.

Next I picked out a fabric for the lining…

Felted wool sweater laptop bag2

Being as I was in no mood for something soft and feminine I went with bold and fun…I think the sweater approves!

Felted wool sweater laptop bag3

I laid the laptop on the sweater and used a piece of paper to determine the distance apart and the arc of the handles…

Felted wool sweater laptop bag4

pinned and then cut…

Felted wool sweater laptop bag31

After I cut out around the neck I used the piece I cut as a template for the next cut at the shoulder.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag32

Cut out both sides at the shoulders

(The underarm side seams will be the center front and center back of your bag)

Felted wool sweater laptop bag9
Lay the bag out on the fabric you will use for the lining.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag10
But around leaving about 1/2 inch for seam allowance…leave 1″ at the top of the shoulder strap. Cut two.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag34

Next lay out your lining piece on some fusible interfacing and cut it out…cut two.

With your iron fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the lining pieces.

Stitch your sides together.  Turn lining so seam is in front facing you…put aside.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag14
Cut two rectangular pieces for the interior pockets.  Mine I made 8″ tall.

Fold each one in half short end to short end right sides together.  Sew around the edges leaving a small opening for turning.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag16
Turn right side out by pulling fabric through the opening.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag33
My secret to really sharp corners is my handy dandy orange chopstick!  I have no clue how to eat with them but they are certainly handy for sewing…

Press the pockets.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag19

Pin pocket to the lining. They go over the from seam that is facing you…center the seam on the pocket

Stitch around the sides and bottom leaving the top of the pocket open.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag20
I stitched through the pocket making little sleeves for pens.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag21

With right sides together stitch across the bottom.

Turn right side out.  Slip the lining into the sweater turning under the top edge and pin.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag22
Stitch along the top edges…

Felted wool sweater laptop bag23

Felted wool sweater laptop bag24
Here it is all stitched up…

Felted wool sweater laptop bag25

Next cut open the sleeves. Cut a rectangle 6″ wide by the length of the sleeve.  This is going to be your ruffle.

Sew a long gathering stitch up the middle of the rectangle. Gather it until it is the length that will fit on the front.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag26

Pin it to the outside of your bag.

Sew on the center line to your bag attaching the ruffle.

Felted wool sweater laptop bag27

Use either a ribbon or another piece of fabric to cover the center stitching.

I used a piece or the lining fabric that I made into a tiny ruffle.

Hand stitch in place and…

You’re done!

Felted wool sweater laptop bag29

Slip your laptop in and you are good to go!

Felted wool sweater laptop bag 01

Much prettier than a grocery bag!

And for those of you that really know me know that I hate to sew ruffles and I don’t wear them either…ruffles are just not my thing.

So why a ruffle on your laptop bag?

Felted wool sweater laptop bag ruffle

Well with 3 college age sons living at home right now, each with their own laptop.  None of which have a laptop carrier.

I figured a bit of ruffle would discourage my bag from getting up and walking away with one of them!

Felted wool sweater laptop bag 003 6a00e553deebaf88340120a8e833bf970b-550wi

Now I have two bags that my sons won’t steal…

A girl has got to stay one step ahead of those boys!

Note…the tutorial for the felted wool sweater rose bag is here.

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!

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Sunday photo posts are a collaborative effort of all the writers here at Not Dabbling. Each Sunday we choose a theme and those of us with photos post them. Generally you’ll notice a watermark on the photos so you know who’s pictures they are.

I love Valentine’s day. I don’t know what it is about all the cheesy hearts and all the pink and red items. Perhaps it comes from having a great time as a little girl making Valentines to give out at school. I have fond memories of making up my shoe box to collect my Valentines and making Valentines to hand out. Mr Chiots and I don’t celebrate this holiday, as with most we feel it’s quite commercialized and the buying of candy/flowers/cards/jewelry is unnecessary.

That being said, I still enjoy the idea of Valentines day, especially as a reason to connect with friends in far away places. This year I decided to make some Valentine’s to share with friends that I don’t get to see often enough. I got out my scissors and glue and had a great time making a few Valentines.

I even found a cute little popcorn clip art to use on the envelopes and vintage TV postage stamps. Each Valentine was carefully sealed with a heart stamp and sent off to brighten the day of a few of my friends. They’ll know that I’m thinking of them.

Last summer I harvested this beautiful heart-shaped tomato from my garden. I thought it would be a perfect a garden fresh Valentine with you. This beautiful heart-shaped Zapotec Pleated Tomato came from my garden last summer. Needless to say “I Heart Tomatoes”.

Hey Kim here…with 5 men in my life I am pretty much on my own for V-Day.  Which is actually fine with me.  I’m going  to sew hearts together into garlands, cook a yummy meal and Photoshop my camel!

Nothing says love like bowl of hearts ready for stringing!

Joyeuse saint Valentin!
Love Hurts…well or at least is a little uncomfortable!
Happy Valentines Day!

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