Friday, October 14, 2016

I Can Ikea!

Ikea is well known for its creative, unusual furniture, and also for its determination to make us all expert furniture assemblers. I didn't get any furniture, but instead placed an order for a Raskog Utility Cart. I had seen this particular cart in a lot of blog posts, especially ones which featured crafters' work rooms. This little cart looked like a practical and useful addition to my craft room, and at $29.99 (plus shipping) was a pretty good bargain.

So let the assembly begin! The box it came in was packed securely which kept all of the pieces in good condition during shipping. I quickly found the instructions, which, in true Ikea form, contained no words. There are only pictures with helpful arrows and close ups.

I started by making sure all of the parts were there and laying them out as I needed them. I also got out my trusty tool kit that I keep in the craft room.
Determined as I was to put this cart together by myself, I soon realized that for some of the steps, an extra pair of hands was necessary. So I enlisted Mark, who was happy to help. I do have to say, though, that I did most of the assembly myself. Yay. And it ended up being a very easy project, thanks to the good quality of the pieces and to the well-drawn instructions.
And there it is! The completed cart is sturdy and functional. The wheels roll easily on bare floors. I believe they'd also roll well on carpet, but I haven't tried that yet. The cart is great for storage, or for holding materials for a current project. That way you can keep your work table clear.

I am very happy with this cart and would recommend it if you need extra storage or just a handy organizer. The Raskog cart also comes in beige and reddish brown. I liked putting it together, but I don't know if I'm ready for a major piece of Ikea furniture!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pinterest Project For September

I don't know about you, but I get a lot of suggested pins on my Pinterest feed. They know that I like various crafts, so they send all kinds of crafty ideas my way. I kept seeing pins for coasters made of maps and I thought they were pretty cute. And practical. My son had just moved into a new apartment, which would become his and Steph's first apartment together. I decided to try some of these coasters for a cool housewarming gift for them. They have a lot of significant cities in their lives so I thought these would be perfect.

The instructions I used are no longer available on Pinterest, so I found a similar set of directions that you can use if you want to try these. Click HERE for the how-to's provided on the blog "Recycled Interiors".

I started with some 4X4 inch tiles that I found on Amazon. You can definitely find these at home improvement stores as well.
I made a template slightly smaller than the tile out of thin cardboard.
I didn't have an old atlas or any old maps to cut up, so I found a 2007 atlas on Ebay! Apparently people other than me find these useful. Using my template, I cut out squares of six different cities.

Next, each paper map was glued onto the tile with Mod Podge. I then coated each map with a layer of Mod Podge. Each one eventually got three coats of Mod Podge. I waited 24 hours between each coat because I read somewhere that this would prevent bubbling. I did have an issue with bubbling anyway - not too bad, but I was still slightly annoyed by this because I glued the paper on so carefully, smoothing out all bubbles. With each coat of Mod Podge however, some of the coasters would bubble up again. Luckily most of the bubbling dissipated as the Mod Podge dried.

When the Mod Podge was completely dry, I used a clear acrylic sealer spray to seal them. And this also caused some bubbling! Ack! Again, I waited 24 hours between each additional coat of sealer, ending up with three coats. If that sounds like overkill, I reasoned that I wanted these to be very durable.

I found some thin cork at Joann's and that worked perfectly for the backing. I used the template to cut out squares of cork and glued them on with craft glue. And here's how they looked when completed.
I liked creating these, and am happy with the result. When completely dry, the bubbling that occurred wasn't too bad. Only time will tell how they hold up, but I have a feeling that they'll look great for a long time. Matt and Steph liked them and that makes me glad.

I would recommend this project. Think about how many other kinds of paper you could use to make these - wrapping paper, origami paper, or scrapbook paper. Just think of the possibilities to craft some really unique coasters!

If you decide to make some of these, I'd like to see your finished product!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Secret Project Is Revealed

You may remember my mentioning my secret project in previous posts. I'm going to reveal it today, and the reason for the secret project is my excuse for not posting for most of September.

You see, last Saturday, September 17th, was the wedding day of our son, Matt, and our beautiful new daughter-in-law, Stephanie. My secret project was a wedding gift for them.
The design is "Two Shall Be As One" by My Big Toe. I chose a natural linen color for the fabric and used DMC bright white for all of the stitching. I enjoyed stitching this and love the way the border looks like lace. Sorry for the crooked photo, but I was trying to avoid glares and shadows. Good excuse.
A little closer and a little straighter.  

Some will ask why I didn't stitch this in a color, and the reason is that I really wanted that "wedding day" effect, with the white lace look.

And here's a photo of the happy couple.
I guess I was so preoccupied with the wedding that I ignored my blog a little, but I think that's a good reason, right? So now I'm back to stitching, concentrating on my blocks for the Rainbows for Peace and Comfort Facebook group. You can find out more info about this project HERE.

And speaking of stitching, who has seen the 2016 issue of Just Cross Stitch's Christmas Ornament issue? I think this is one of the best issues I've seen in a few years. It's just full of lovely projects. I'd like to stitch some for Christmas, but that will depend on my progress on other stitching projects. Isn't that the way it always is?

So check out this issue and see what you think. Which designs will be your favorites?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Talented And Crafty Friends

From time to time I like to include the craftiness of others in my blog. I hope that you like it. I feel that we would all be missing out on something if these non-bloggers' work isn't shown. I call this segment "Other Peoples' Creations" I haven't featured this in a long time, so today is our lucky day.

One of the reasons we look at crafting blogs is to see what everyone is up to in the creative world. Let's not let this creativity go unnoticed! This post is picture-heavy but I hope you'll have fun seeing all of the gorgeousness.

First off is Peggy's "Angel Of Summer" by Lavender & Lace. Peggy really likes to stitch big projects and is mostly a one-project-at-a-time stitcher. Nothing wrong with that. That kind of discipline is why she always completes complicated and large stitching projects in such a beautiful way.
All framed.
I've included a couple of close-ups so that you can see the detail. Look at that flower garland, so detailed.

My sister, Sheila, and I recently went to a wire wrapping class at a local bead store. It was fun and I did learn a lot, but Sheila is definitely the more talented wire worker of the two of us. At our last stitch day, she gave this as a gift.
Sheila took her wire wrapping skills and ran with it, creating this necklace made with wire-wrapped beads and wrapped loops. Just gorgeous!

Thea is talented at the sewing machine. She showed our group her latest project, a sewing/cross stitch organizer. She used quilted fabric in coordinating colors.
I really like this. It's such a pretty to carry all of your necessities! Thea calls this a prototype, but I don't think there's much to improve on!

In just two short weeks, Stephanie will become my daughter-in-law. She is also a talented knitter, quilter, stitcher, and seamstress. It's wonderful to have these shared interests and I always like seeing what Steph has created. Here's her latest.
Just look! A sweater! As someone who doesn't knit, I appreciate knitters' work all the more. And when you can make something that can actually be worn, it's more amazing to me. It looks so professional and well made. I'm sure that this will be perfect for those Boston winters. Oh, and the orange/yellow/red quilt in the background is another of Steph's projects.

Last and definitely not least, is a gift that I received from my friend, Suzanne, quite a few years ago. I don't know why I've never featured this here, but I'm finally going to show it off.
Yes, Suzanne made this beautiful knitted and felted bag just for me. I just love it. When I'm not using the bag, it is on display in the craft room.

I hope that you like this edition of "Other Peoples' Creations". I just believe that it's so inspiring to see what other crafters make.

Come on back to my CraftyCat blog and see what's going on. Comments are always appreciated, and I love getting new followers!

Friday, August 26, 2016

August Pinterest In Purple

As you probably know, I really like making beaded bracelets. One craft item I've never attempted to us is memory wire. I just never liked the idea of it, but lately I've seen many pretty memory wire bracelets on Pinterest and changed my mind. No clasps, no crimps, and how easy these are to put on your wrist!

I searched Pinterest for the best tutorial and found this one by Beading Times. Obviously I didn't follow this tutorial to a T. I used it for the basic technique and I like it because it's complete and very thoroughly explained. Another tutorial that I saw explained the process very well, but left out one important piece of information that every memory wire newbie should know. Pay attention here because this is crucial: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT cut memory wire with regular wire cutters because it could destroy your cutters! You will need (as specifically mentioned in the Beading Times video) a pair of memory wire cutters.
Who knew? I'm glad that I found out about this because I had purchased the wire and was all set to go and would have just used the wire cutters in my jewelry tools collection. Luckily enough, I saw mention of these specific cutters and ordered a pair from Amazon. Memory wire is made of steel and is extremely tough to cut and bend.

And this is what I came up with.
I'm not a good wired loop maker, but the loops I made were good enough to hold the beads on securely. Notice how I added charms to each loop to distract the eye from my less-than-perfect loops. And also because they look cute.
So what do you think, fellow crafting fans? For me, the result is good! It was an easy and quick project. I think it took me longer to choose the beads than to make the actual bracelet! Have fun with this - choose different bead combinations and you can choose more or less strands (or layers). Also, using smaller beads would result in an entirely different look.

I am extremely pleased with this project and give it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I'll be making more of these!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Pinterest Fun!

I'm just squeaking in here on the last day of July with my monthly Pinterest-inspired creation. Several weeks ago my stitch group held our annual Birthday Party. On this special stitch day, we all bring a dish for our luncheon and we celebrate our group members' birthdays all on one day. I like to bring a little handmade item for each of the ladies in our group.

This month I tried my hand at making needle minders. There are quite a few different kinds on Pinterest, so I chose: 1) fabric covered button needle minders. This video is by Stitching Mae and can be found HERE. 2) DIY magnets using glass flat marbles and Mod Podge. The tutorial is by Crafts By Courtney. 3) Alcohol ink magnets also done on flat glass marbles by Sarah Jane's Craft Blog.

Some of these were intended to be refrigerator magnets, but they can also be used as needle minders with the addition of an extra magnet. I'm going to start with the ones I like best, which were Stitching Mae's fabric covered button needle minders.
These were extremely easy to make and turned out the cutest and most practical. Because the button forms you use are made of metal, the needle sticks firmly to the minder.
I used a Sew-Ology brand button kit that I bought at Hobby Lobby. Pictured above is the form (the white thing), the pusher (blue thing), and a pack of additional metal buttons. Please follow the easy-to-follow instructions on the video, which I've linked above. I used regular round black magnets for these, but have since learned that these can leave a mark on your fabric. In the comments section of the video, someone suggests using clear nail polish on the parts of the magnets that will touch the fabric. I haven't tried that, so can't vouch for it, but might be worth a try with a test run on some scrap fabric.

Next I tried to make the flat glass marble and scrapbook paper needle minders using the tutorial from Crafts By Courtney. I bought a bag of clear glass flat marbles from the dollar store and used stuff I had in the craft room to make them.
These were fun to make. The glass has a magnifying effect on the material you Mod Podge to the back, so the effect was really pretty. The marbles I bought weren't perfectly round, so I couldn't use any kind of puncher. Rather, I had to trace onto the paper using the marble and do some careful trimming. I started off using the regular round black magnets on these and quickly found that while the needles stuck to them, they didn't stick very well and would fall off easily because of the thickness of the glass. So I substituted some rare earth magnets and solved the needle-sticking issue. But that brought on a whole new issue: those little rare earth magnets are strong! If you have any kind of hand weakness or pain, these are pretty difficult to pry apart to use on fabric. In addition, prying too hard will rip the magnet right off the scrapbook paper.
Rare earth magnets all stuck together. 
One more that I made. I got to use glitter!
I think that these glass ones would be better used as fridge magnets as originally suggested in the tutorial.

The last one I attempted was again using the clear flat marbles. This time, though, I used alcohol ink to make a "pretty" design.
Confession time: this was my first time using alcohol inks. I think they turned out just ok. I need a lot more practice with the inks! These never made it to actual needle minders, but I will glue a magnet on the back and use them for refrigerator magnets.

Speaking of glue, for the glass ones I used E-6000. It's a good, strong glue and it's used by crafters for many things. However, the stink that this stuff gives off is awful. And yes, I did use it in a well-ventilated area - my garage with the doors open. Even after using the glue and removing the stuff I glued, it took a few days for the stench to disappear from the garage. (I also noticed that the needle minders retained some of the smell even when I gave them as gifts!) So I got out the tube of trusty 527 Craft Cement and used it on the fabric needle minders. It worked perfectly and with very little "glue smell".

So the winner here is clearly the fabric-covered button needle minders. So fun and easy to do, and a great way to use small fabric remnants. By the way, I usually cross stitch in hand (no hoop or Q-Snaps), so I don't use needle minders on my fabric. I still use them though. I just put one on the table and deposit my needle on it when not in use.

I don't think I'll be using these glass marbles for needle minders anymore, but I did find some little thinner glass squares that are used for jewelry, and I'll see what I can do with those. That's the fun of crafting. Figuring out what works and what doesn't can actually be fun!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Let's Talk Stitching

I'm happy to say that I've been stitching more lately, having a little more time after completing some other projects. My problem is that I keep coming up with more projects to do! But isn't that what crafters do?

Back to stitching, I finally completed my first square for the Rainbows For Peace And Comfort group.
You can see my original post explaining what this group is all about HERE. In addition, if you're interested in learning more, you can go to this Facebook page. Thank you to Loretta at Stitching the Night Away for the free pattern. I did change it up though. In the chart, the letters are white (the color of the fabric), and the background is in the rainbow colors.

I'm going to stitch at least three more squares. I started with one of the Rainbow Butterflies (from the Etsy shop called ClimbingGoatDesigns), but was stitching it on evenweave. The group asks that the squares be stitched on Aida. Then we were told that evenweave is ok. So in my state of confusion, I decided to buy some Aida and stitch this design on it. Now I know why I don't stitch on Aida. This cloth was particularly stiff to the point of being scratchy. And even though I was using a small petite needle, I had to work to pull it through which left my thumbs pretty achy. I already have thumb joint issues, so this wasn't an easy, quick stitch.

So now that I've finished this square, I'm going to go back to evenweave. I want to stitch more squares and contribute to this worthwhile project! Do you have a favorite or not-so-favorite fabric for cross stitch?

At a recent stitch day with my stitch group, the Sisters In Stitches, I decided to work on a WIP which you have seen in past posts - Kaleidoscope by Sheena Rogers Designs.
I made a lot of progress on this. As you can see, I completed the inner flower motif and am now working on the outside section. And it was a pleasure working on the buttery-soft Jobelan I chose for this project! Also, I noticed that I could stitch a lot faster on this fabric because I wasn't having a tug-of-war with the needle!

My birthday was several months ago, but I never posted about the little gift I bought for myself - a set of DMC Coloris floss! It's their brand new line of variegated floss and is a little different from their traditional variegated colors.
They're a blend of different color combinations and would work beautifully in designs using one floss color. I think that this Ink Circles design, Flower Power, would look good stitched with one of these flosses. What do you think?
I just bought this chart and may be stitching it with Coloris thread.
There are 24 different color blends, everything from Christmasy, one that looks autumnal, a red, white, and blue combo, several springtime looks, deeper color blends, and more. The pack also included some charts that would be appropriate for these variegated threads. Use this link to see more about Coloris threads.

I hope you enjoyed my all-stitching post. I'll keep you updated on my progress in the stitching world. Thanks for stopping by. If you're not already a follower, please consider becoming one. And I love getting comments, so please tell me what you think about my blog!