EXTRA! EXTRA! Read All About It!

Several months ago I was contacted by a lovely woman from Ladies Home Journal. She indicated that they were planning an upcoming story about weekend painting projects and asked if they could consider my TP roll fabric printing project for the magazine. Of course I said YES YES YES a thousand times YES!

Some time went by and I didn't hear anything so I assumed that they had found other projects for the story. Just when I had forgotten that the opportunity even existed, I received a nice note saying that I had a spot in the April edition! EEP!

I was stalking the grocery store magazine racks last week just waiting for the magazine to hit the stands. So far, I've only purchased 4 copies but I'm guessing I'll add another couple before the month is over :).

It's just a little article tucked away in a magazine that most people will probably never see but I don't care! It's still really exciting to see my name in print and to hopefully inspire a whole new audience with this tutorial. There are a lot of other really impressive projects in the article and I'm very proud to have a spot next to them.

Don't subscribe to LHJ? You can still see more info on my project and all of the others in the online story, here.

Added bonus, Tina Fey is on the cover and she's one of my favorite ladies!!

Thanks to all of you who keep me inspired and excited about crafting. This little nod has filled me with a rush of creative energy and I can't wait to let it out!!

Beatrice's Knits

It's so easy to go to the yarn shop, pick up a skein of wool and toss it on some needles without ever thinking about the creature that it came from or the process it went through to get from the farm to the shelf. I'll confess, that's what I normally do when I start a new knitting project but thanks to my friend, Connie from Missing Willow Farms, I was lucky enough to have a full "sheep to shawl" experience recently!

Connie has a special ewe named Beatrice that happens to make beautiful wool! Just look at her precious face...

...and all of this amazing fleece!

Some time back, Connie had the wool spun into yarn. Since she isn't a yarn crafter, she sent me some of the skeins to work with. Lucky me!!

Here I am happily winding a skein into a GIANT yarn ball. I'm wearing my Missing Willow Farm t-shirt and the wiener dog "helper" on my lap is my very own Beatrice. Fun, huh?

After winding and winding and winding, I was finally able to get this exceptional fiber on my knitting needles and set to work on a couple of projects for Connie. I wanted to make items that allowed the yarn to shine but would also be practical for her farm life.

I made a cowl from a really lovely pattern called Greenwillow. It's available for purchase on Ravelry. The lattice look is done by twisted stitch cabling. It was a new technique for me and I'll admit, I dropped a curse word or two while I was getting the hang of it but I love the final look.

The pattern calls for a provisional cast-on so you can pick up the stitches later and do the i-cord bind-off on both edges. There is also a sideways braid on the interior border - it felt like it took 100 years to finish that round!  

I had so much fun learning twisted stitch cabling that I decided my second project should include it too! I knit these wool socks using a pattern called Diagonal Rib. It's available as a free download on Knitting Daily.

Knowing the sheep that the wool came from made me feel a special connection with these projects. I thought about Beatrice a lot while I was working on them I'm vowing to think more about where my knitting fibers come from going forward!

In exchange for these knits, Connie made me the most incredible yarn bowl (amongst other things!). This is already seeing a lot of action.

Drop by the Missing Willow Farm blog to see pictures of sheering day, fleeceless Beatrice and other cute farm animals!

Junior Varsity Quilling Tutorial

I learned the basics of quilling years ago but never advanced to varsity level projects and rarely found the inspiration to pull my supplies out of hiding. Fortunately, this ancient craft (also knows as paper filigree) seems to be making a resurgence and now inspiration abounds!

I don't claim to be an expert quilling artist, frankly, I'm not good at all!! But I am excited about this craft and wanted to share my very basic knowledge.

Quilling is a craft that's done by wrapping paper strips around a quill to form a coil. These coils are then arranged to create a design! It only requires a few supplies but a couple of them are specialized and a bit trickier to find.

- Quill
- Paper strips
- Foundation for your art (I use card stock)
- Glue
- Pin or toothpick for glue dotting (optional)

The quill is a small round tool with a forked point at the end. I don't often see these available for purchase in craft stores but you can find them online without any trouble.

To begin a coil, place the end of a paper strip between the two prongs of the quill. Try to get it at the very end to avoid having a bend in the center of your coil.

Next, you twist, twist, twist the paper strip around the quill! Do your best to keep the paper lined up with each twist. This will give you a nice level coil. Avoid the temptation to pull everything really tight. The tension should be snug but somewhat relaxed.

You can form tight coils by gluing without releasing the paper from the quill. This will give you a solid circle. Or you can release the coil and let it spring a bit! They can be tightened or loosened to fit whatever design you're working on.

When you're happy with the spring, use a toothpick or pin to place a teeny dot of glue on the end of the strip to secure it to the coil.

Here is a looser version of a coil. Use longer strips of paper to make bigger coils and shorter strips for smaller ones!

The coils can be pinched into all kinds of different shapes! The simplest is a tear drop but you can do heart shapes, 'S' shapes, even squares if you pinch right!

Once you've twisted the night away and have the coils you need, arrange them into your design and attach them to whatever foundation you've selected. Use your glue sparingly when attaching your coils, otherwise it can look sloppy.

I made a super simple flower to adorn a spring gift tag that I'll be using on a flower bouquet.

Now, are you ready to really be inspired?? Check out some of these amazing pieces of quilled art done by the varsity level of crafters!

Lily by Erin from Little Circles 

Quilled Elements by Michelle from A Can of Crafty Curiosities

Quilled Vintage Cameras by Sweet Spot Card Shop

Pretty incredible, huh?! I'm ready to get back up to my craft room and start practicing to play with the big boys of quilling!

What about you?? Ever tried this craft or seen other inspiring quilled art?

Sleepy Fox Dream Catcher

I've had such a wonderful time swapping with my friend Connie from Missing Willow Farm. She's one of those people that just make you think, "I want to be her!!" I encourage everyone to check out her blog and follow her farm adventures. It's very inspiring.

She is expecting her first grand baby soon and her daughter's nursery is woodland themed. She had a dream catcher on her wish list that inspired this hoopla/dream catcher hybrid!

I thought a sleeping animal was appropriate for a dream catcher so I created a napping fox sleeping in a bed of leaves, based partially on an image from a rubber stamp. It's all made of wool blended felt stitched to linen with 2 strands of DMC floss.

For the hanging leaves, I stitched yellow and green felt together and created braided strands of DMC floss to hang them from.

It was fun to do some felt stitching again! It's been a while. 

A hope that this project brings the new baby (and his parents) many nights of quiet sleep and sweet sweet dreams :). 

PS - Thank you for all the kind words of support on my last post. Guess what? My craft room is a mess again!! Yipppie!!

Scenes from a Vacant Craft Room

I can usually judge how well my creative juices are flowing based on how messy my craft room is. In periods of artistic genius, my work space looks like a glitter hurricane has just rolled through. When I'm not creating, the space looks like something my queen-of-neat mother would be proud of (except for my yarn hoard which is always a cluster!!).

Sadly, my craft room is a picture of organization right now - indicative of the fact that I haven't been in there lately. Between my increasingly hectic day job, a busy social calendar, and other real life stresses, I just haven't mustered the energy to climb up the stairs, sit my booty down and start creating.

I have been working on a few knitting projects lately and I'm starting to find pockets of time to at least think about crafty ideas, even if I'm not executing any of them quite yet. I'm hopeful that this creative hiatus will be over in the very near future.

Sorry I've been scarce lately. I'll be back with a bang soon!! Miss you guys!! xoxo