Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rearranging

I recently decided to do some rearranging in my craft room.  I'm fortunate to have ample space for crafting/storing supplies, but over time, the focus of my interests has changed, and the layout of my room didn't reflect those changes.

For instance, one large table went almost unused, because it was still a dedicated "clay table" (for using polymer clay).  For the time being, I'm no longer "claying" often enough to merit a whole large table that is only for clay.  Instead, I've sometimes found myself wishing for more room when cutting fabric and sewing.  Why not combine the two large tables into one (almost) continuous surface?

As for the rest... Well, why don't I just show you in a series of very repetitive photos?
(Quick, take a good swig of your favorite form of caffeine;  I'm setting up a room.)

Here's the room from the doorway.  My favorite thing about this space is the large bank of windows, which give it a bright, airy feeling.  The fact that the windows face east is a bonus, because the room stays cooler in summer than it would on the west side of the house.

Craft-Room Rearrangement

(Side note: While I think I'm happy with the reconfiguration of the furniture, I still want/need to hang things on the walls and rearrange some of the things already hanging.  I'm notoriously slow at deciding where things should go on walls, though, so that may take a while...)

Craft-Room Rearrangement

This is the heart of the room-- the two large tables pushed together to make one large surface for cutting, sewing, yarn crafts, paper crafts-- basically anything that's not too messy (though I may do wet/sticky projects like painting and clay on the other side of the table, sometimes.)

The small black filing cabinet (which houses scrapbooking/paper-crafting supplies) used to be hidden away in the closet.  Now, it's stationed to the right of my sewing machine, where it serves two purposes.  The side acts as a magnet board for temporarily storing paper notes about on-going sewing projects.  More importantly, however, the top gives me a place to quickly press fabric as I piece at the sewing machine.  I used to have to get up and walk to the small ironing board every time, which quickly adds up during something like string piecing.  I think this will save lots of time and energy!

To make the filing cabinet top nicer for pressing, I made a simple pressing board from a scrap piece of plywood Donald cut to size.  A couple layers of an old cotton towel and a piece of heavy cotton fabric (freebie fabric) stapled into place completed the project.

Craft-Room Rearrangement

The cubby storage against the wall is something I've had for a while.  Donald found them and got one for each of our hobby rooms.  (He paints miniatures.)  I think they were originally intended for storing shoes, but I'm using mine to store smaller amounts of non-acrylic yarn.  (Acrylic yarn-- which I use for large projects, like afghans and cushion covers-- takes up a lot more space, so I keep it in plastic crates stacked on their sides in the closet.  Arranged by color, of course. ;o))

Those are speakers on top.  They're attached to the old boom box stereo my parents gave me when I was in high school.  It's still going strong, all these years later!  (I sometimes like listening to talk radio when I craft, if there's anything good on.)

The "tower shelf" beside the cubbies is something that was formerly on the clay table, but now it's a hold-all for various and assorted craft supplies.  Pencils, paintbrushes, crayons, paint, glitter, magnets, etc.

I'm not completely sure I'll keep the area to the right of the cubby storage arranged as it is now.  I like having room to the right of my sewing machine for things like pins, paper/notes, scissors/snips, etc.-- but I'm not sure this is the most efficient/effective use of the space.  It can be tweaked.  (Maybe some storage/shelves hanging on the wall right there? That would leave the table top free...)

Craft-Room Rearrangement

After deciding to rearrange the furniture, I looked for an arrangement that would allow room for a quilt design wall.  A design wall is basically any vertical surface covered with (usually) either batting or flannel.  Cotton fabric tends to stick to these materials, so you can easily rearrange and view quilt blocks, fabric swatches, etc. from a distance.  A design wall can be as simple as a piece of fabric/batting hung on a wall, but many people cover foam boards/insulation board, which means you can also push pins into the board (if a piece won't stick on its own).

Donald helped me make mine from foam insulation board that we covered with grey flannel (which I had to seam to get to the right size).  We used a spray adhesive to attach the flannel to the front.  All I'll say about that is that (with the spray we used, at least) you should avoid spraying directly on the fabric.  A bit of spray went rogue and left a small but permanent "dark spot" on our fabric.  (Which annoyed me greatly, to be honest.  But I'll just keep a strategically placed piece of cotton up there to hide it.)  To further secure the fabric, we duct taped it to the back.

To hang the design wall, Donald found the studs in the wall where we wanted it, measured to locate where the bottom edge would be, and hammered a nail in each stud along that edge.  This gives the foam board something to rest on, supporting its weight.  We then put pieces of strong, double-sided mounting tape (the type with a foam center) here and there around the back of the design wall, got it into position (resting on the row of nails), and pressed it against the wall.  ...I really don't think it's going anywhere.

Craft-Room Rearrangement

On the left side of this photo, you can see the stereo and a hand-me-down shelving unit I use to store more yarn.  Both are standing on a shelving unit where I keep beading supplies and crochet thread.

Craft-Room Rearrangement

Here's another view of the new design wall (which seems to work very well so far!), as well as the doors to the long closet that runs along one wall of the room.  Plenty of storage in there, too, of course.  I chose to site the design wall perpendicular to the "closet wall" to make use of space that would otherwise be wasted.  Furniture can't be placed too close to that corner, because it interferes with the closet door, but the design wall fits just fine, and since the closet is usually closed, it doesn't block the design wall.

(The canine companion in some of these photos is Luna the American Eskimo Dog.)

Craft-Room Rearrangement

Craft-Room Rearrangement

Looking further along the "closet wall", you can see the door into the room.  This little nook could easily be wasted space, but I've done my best to make it useful.  There's a bulletin board on one side of the nook (behind the door, when it's opened).

Craft-Room Rearrangement

On the adjacent wall is a storage cabinet, the surface of which fits a small shelf and some boxes-- the home of the rest of my thread crochet stash.

Craft-Room Rearrangement

On the remaining wall (the wall with the door into the room), I placed the large metal shelving unit, which houses mainly fabric, but also yarn, sewing thread, knitting needles, my old sewing machine, craft paints, and various odds and ends.

Craft-Room Rearrangement


Craft-Room Rearrangement

Next along that wall, there's a smaller table.  This is where I'll keep the small ironing board and my polymer clay supplies/tools.  When I want to do clay, I'll probably move the ironing board to the other tables and work here.  It's not a huge space, but I'm sure it will suffice.

The little clay-dedicated toaster oven can also be moved, of course.  Actually, I may find another spot for that, anyway.  The ironing board is a bit cramped, as things stand, and I'm sure I can find another place to tuck the oven away until it's needed.

Craft-Room Rearrangement

In the last corner of the room stands the desk and hutch-- one of only a couple of pieces of furniture in the room that didn't move an inch.  This is where I keep books and all sorts of bits and pieces-- everything from crochet hooks and knitting needles to hot glue sticks and ribbon.  I don't use it as a desk, so the spot where a chair would normally go can also be used as storage-- at the moment, for a hat box and a throw pillow.

Craft-Room Rearrangement

I think that just about covers it (short of giving sneak peeks into the messy closet and crowded drawers)!  I'm enjoying putting on the finishing touches, and I'm looking forward to sitting down at the sewing machine to see how the new layout feels.

Craft-Room Rearrangement


It's a cozy, comfortable room and feels all the more homey after the clean-up that came with the rearranging.

Craft-Room Rearrangement


I'm so excited to have a design wall, too!  Now that I have my very own Quilt Design Wall, I really need to start sewing more and living up to it.  ;o)

Craft-Room Rearrangement

To close, here are a few more photos of Luna, who wondered why I was taking dull photos inside the house. (She knows that when I get the camera, it usually means I'm going outside, which is a super fun time for the dogs, who LOVE being outside with The People.)

Luna

~~SIGH~~

Luna

Sooooo boooooooooooring....

Luna

. . . going into an ennui-induced trance . . .

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bits and Bobs of Crochet Lace

I've woven in the last loose end of the Stardust Melodies CAL afghan, but I've yet to wash and photograph it.  I may wait until the weather cools down a bit (maybe a few weeks?) to try to get photos.

The latest project off the hook is bits and bobs of crochet lace I made to embellish a small magnetic chalkboard that hangs in my craft room.

Crochet Lace

The thread is leftovers of size 10 crochet cotton.  (I think it's probably America's Best Country Cotton, which was discontinued years ago.)

The pattern for the strip of lace is in Kristin Omdahl's book The Finer Edge: Crocheted Trims, Motifs & Borders.  The loose motifs are from The Harmony Guides: Crochet Stitch Motifs.  (One of them is just the first two rounds, I think, of a larger motif.)

Crochet Lace

I soaked them in a light starch solution (which is how I like to finish most thread crochet projects I make), blocked them loosely, and attached them to the board (only the bottom of which is magnetic chalkboard, by the way).  I considered gluing them in place, but in the end opted for small bits of double-stick tape, which seems to be working just fine (and is less messy than glue).

Crochet Lace Decorations

This didn't take long to do, and it was fun to play around with little remnants of thread and a pattern book.

Crochet Lace Decorations

I particularly liked making the strip of lace.  This was a bit of a trial run, as I've been thinking of making enough crochet lace to edge the front of my china cabinet's shelves.  Since this worked out so well, I'll probably go forward with that plan, eventually.

I think lace that's worked side to side (rather than lengthwise) is the way to go, if at all possible.  This was a side-to-side pattern, and I appreciated that there was so little chaining/foundation to deal with.  Also, you can easily measure how much more you need as you go and crochet just the right amount of yardage per shelf (or whatever else you'll apply the lace to, when it's done).

Crochet Lace


Friday, August 25, 2017

Mostly Thread Crochet

As the title suggests, most of the projects covered in this blog post are thread crochet, but I do have one non-thread WIP to share.  I decided not to put off joining and edging the Stardust Melodies afghan, so here's a little sneak-peek at my progress so far:

Stardust Melodies CAL Progress

I like the bobbles, but the bobble rounds do take a while to crochet!  I'm thinking I might do just three bobble rounds, but it depends on how that looks, how much yarn I have left, and how tired I am of "bordering", at that point.  ;o)  I'm not sure why, but borders usually take me a while and seem more tiring than "regular" crocheting.  I guess part of it is the repetitious nature of borders.  The object being edged is often a little unwieldy, too.

That's it for the non-thread projects, this week.  On to the thread!

The first thread project is one I started nearly a year ago, then set aside because I ran out of thread.  Fortunately, I was able to find another brand of thread in a color that matches so closely I don't think it is immediately obvious where one leaves off and the other begins-- certainly not when it's "in use".

"Captivating"

Pattern:  "Captivating", by Patricia Kristoffersen

Threads:  Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet (size 10) in "Coral" (most of the doily)
...and Artiste Mercerized Egyptian Cotton #10 in "129 Salmon" (in the latter rounds)

"Captivating"

This one got big!  It's nearly 22.5 inches across.

"Captivating"

This was not a favorite to crochet, I'm afraid.  Too much mesh for my tastes.  I think it looks nice, though.

"Captivating"

Next up is my first project with some of that neat thread with the looooong color changes:

"Etienne"

Pattern:  "Etienne", by Grace Fearon

Thread:  Alize Miss Batik in "4536"

"Etienne"

First up, the thread.  Unfortunately, I did find two knots in close succession in this single skein of thread.  (So far.  I haven't used the whole thing, so there could be more...)  It's also quite soft, which may mean it's somewhat less durable than a "harder" thread, I suppose.  However, I loved watching the colors change and look forward to crocheting with it again!

"Etienne"

The pattern itself was fun to make.  The center is relatively simple, but the rest of it is filled with texture and was very interesting to crochet.  It's not a large doily, but sometimes the smaller ones are more useful/"in scale", anyway.

"Etienne"

I can easily imagine making this pattern again, and I'm not usually eager to crochet the same doily multiple times (with a few exceptions).

"Etienne"

Going back to the thread again, this particular colorway is a bit crazy.  It reminds me of the circus or the carnival, which is not my usual palette, but it's fun to venture beyond the color comfort zone every so often.  However, next time, I might try one of the more subdued colorways.

"Etienne"

Other than the afghan border, my current active WIP is one I'm sure I've mentioned before.  It's a Japanese table runner doily worked in three strips.  I've finished the central strip and am now on the first of two identical strips that go on either side of it.

WIP -  JapaneseTable Runner Doily

I'm finding myself impatient to be finished with it, which is unfortunate, since there's still a lot of stitching to do.  I definitely don't see myself making this pattern ever again.

You never really get into the groove with this type of project-- or at least I don't, because I have to consult the (charted, thank goodness!) pattern at the beginning of every (short) row.  There's a repeat, but it's too long for me to memorize.  It's not difficult to do, but it's not the same as a "'round and 'round" doily.

I need to take a breath, remind myself that it's not a race, and take it one row at a time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stardust Melodies CAL Progress

Here they are-- the final six blocks (two each of the last three patterns)!

"Summertime":

"Summertime"

I loved crocheting this one!

"Summertime"

The center is a little different from the average crochet block, but the video is helpful for seeing exactly where the stitches go.  The dc5tog isn't as difficult as it might look, either.

"Summertime"

Very nice layered textures!

"Summertime"

Is it just me, or does this one have an art deco vibe?

"Summertime"

"Dream a Little Dream of Me":

"Dream a Little Dream of Me"

I tried the hdc method for the stars, but mine were coming out looking messy, so I went back and switched to the dc method.  The dc stars don't stand out quite so strikingly as the hdc would have, but they're still a nice texture.

"Dream a Little Dream of Me"

"Dream a Little Dream of Me"

Like all the "solid" blocks, this would be easy to expand to whatever size you need.

"Dream a Little Dream of Me"

Simple, but pretty.

"Dream a Little Dream of Me"

"One for My Baby":

"One for My Baby"

The raised texture on this block reminds me strongly of peacock feathers.  See them?

"One for My Baby"

It's not as difficult as it may look, though there is an unusual stitch or two.

"One for My Baby"

"One for My Baby"


Very nice pattern!

"One for My Baby"

I can't believe that was the last block!  I'll miss getting those pattern updates twice a week...

I've really enjoyed this CAL, and quite a few of these patterns are well worth crocheting again (and again).  I'm glad to have them in my library.

Here's my stack of 48 blocks, divided by color:

Stardust Melodies CAL

The blocks need arranging and joining, next, and I'm still not sure how I want to join them-- or even what color I'll use.  I have it narrowed down to two colors, and I'll probably either single crochet them together as they are or add a round of sc in the joining color, then join with slip stitch on the back side of the blocks.  Hm...

Then there's the border to crochet!  There are two options included with the ebook-- a free one and a paid one.  If I use one, it will be the paid border, because I love the bobbles.  I might use the bobbly border, then add another narrow border-- because I tend to prefer borders with lacy or scalloped edges (and I have that new book of borders I'd love to have an excuse to use).

I may put off the joining for a while.  For the moment, I've gone back to working on the table runner that I started back in April.  There's still a looooong way to go on that one.  There are also a couple of finished doilies still waiting to be blocked, so there's plenty to distract do while I weigh the options for joining and edging.