Then on to craft project #823

25 05 2008

Okay, I’m not really keeping track of how many craft projects I’ve done in my lifetime. This is my latest one for the garden—a “bell” tower wind chime, of sorts. You can get all of the supplies from your local craft store.

Step 1: Using cheap craft paint, I painted each miniature pot a different color. I recommend sealing the pots after painting with a spray on or brush on outdoor sealant to keep the paint from peeling or fading too soon. I haven’t sealed these yet.

Step 2: I measured out how long I wanted my tower/chime and cut a piece of rusty wire to fit. I threaded the wire through a rusty implement that had broken off an old wind chime (it’s a garden tool), thus forming the foundation or bottom of my bell tower.

Step 3: I threaded cheap multi-colored beads (from my brief jewelry-making phase) onto thick, flexible craft wire, followed by the first pot. I arranged them by color, grouping dark to light and warm to cool. I added more beads, then the next pot, and so on. I used the less colorful beads in the area inside each pot because those beads wouldn’t be visible. The prettiest beads were saved for the display area peeking out below each pot. Remember, if you’re using the thicker wire, you’ll need beads with larger openings for threading.

Step 4: When all the pots (I used eight in total) were threaded onto the wire, I finished off the top with a large loop. You can hang this on virtually anything: a trellis, from a tree branch, dangle from a shepherd’s hook, etc.

I also made simple “garden jewelry” (sans the little pots) with the same rusty craft wire, multi-colored beads, and another garden tool at the bottom. Both projects were cheap, easy, and fast to make—a great project for a garden club or summer project for kids.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Crafty room divider screen

18 01 2008

While working on organizing my massive (and ever-growing) photo archives, I came across this photo I shot of a divider screen that I crafted for Michael’s sister, Nancy several years ago as a craft room-warming present…thought I’d share the project. She has a huge den/family room in her Pataskala, Ohio home and wanted to have a moveable divider between her sewing/craft/weaving room and the “man den” used by her husband and three sons. She already had the bi-fold closet doors; I just purchased all the items to turn it into a storage screen. This is the first one I’ve done and her son Tim was my righthand man during the process. We built a padded French memo/photo board on the first panel, a cork bulletin board on the 2nd panel, a fabric covered pocket panel (with gardening pots hanging at the top for additional storage), chalkboard-painted center panels, a magnetic bulletin board and chalkboard eraser storage cup on the next panel, and the last two panels had shoe storage organizers hanging on them (the background of the last panel was a freehand painting I did to continue the pattern of the corkboards on panel 2). Tim and I painted, tacked, hot glued, and hinged the entire thing together. The project was a lot of fun to create.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Just how many hats does one gal need?

16 09 2007

24 hats and counting, apparently—then add a few questionable scarves to the equation. Many years ago, in my formative teenage years, my mother taught me how to do a chain stitch, as well as single and double crochet stitches. That was the extent of my crochet education. (My younger sister, Kelley, never advanced beyond the chain stitch, but I must admit that she can make a really, really long chain stitch!) Sidebar: My Grandma Hester taught me how to use the same stitches to cover aluminum bottle caps. When we got a pile completed, she hooked them together and made dandy little trivets—now available for just 25 cents each at a yard sale near you.

So every few years, tempted by the yarn aisle at a craft store (honestly, what aisle does not tempt me?), I would buy a skein (or two or three) and attempt to make something wearable. I recall almost finishing a project (or two or three), but mostly I remember lots of half-finished unidentifiable yarn projects in a plastic bag in my closet. Fast forward to Christmas about four years ago—we were visiting my family in San Antonio, and on the drive up to see my younger sister in Dallas, I decided that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and bought some yarn and needles. I have to do something when I’m in a car for six hours—if I’m not driving, that is. Picking up crocheting again seemed logical. I could arrive in Dallas and still be social, creative, and productive—with something tangible to show at my destination.

I decided I would attempt to make yet another (likely-never-to-be-finished) scarf. With my crochet skills a little rusty, the yarn began to curl and I couldn’t keep it straight. My mom (a.k.a. my crochet guru) said, “well, if it’s curling—make a hat!” Hmmmm…how does one make a hat? I started a chain stitch, then a single crochet, and let it weave into a circle until it began to resemble a yarmulke—since I’m not Jewish, I continued crocheting past that stage. I asked her, “How do you make it go down to form the sides of a hat—do you go tighter or looser?” Since she replied, “Yes” (a non-answer), I asked her if she had ever actually crocheted anything. That’s when I learned that although she knew chain, single, and double stitches, she had never made anything! All these years I had just assumed that the afghans, ponchos, pom-pon hats, placemats, and tissue holder covers on the couches, backs, heads, tables and toilets of friends and relatives across the country were all lovingly crafted by my mother (all of which are now available for just 25 cents each at a yard sale near you).

I just began to wing it, and I stopped at the precise moment it resembled a hat (see photo, second row, 2nd hat from left—this is my first hat). I did this without any instructions, unless you count my mother’s advice. Mom wasn’t much help past the yarmulke stage, and reading crochet pattern instructions would make my brain hurt.

Never seen a crochet pattern? Here’s just a sampling of the (it’s Greek to me) language of crochet: to shape crown: Ch 1. Rnd 1: Work 7 sc in first loop to form ring. Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each st. 14 sts now in rnd. Rnd 3: Work [1 sc in next st, 2 sc in foll st] to end of rnd. 21 sts now in rnd. Rnd 4: Work [1 sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in foll st] to end of rnd. 24 sts now in rnd, etc.

Now, I’m smart enough to know what the abbreviations mean, but if I have to keep reading something in order to make it (sort of like having to read an entire software manual—who really enjoys that?), it kind of zaps the joy out of creating for me.

So, I confess that I am crochet-pattern-challenged, and must do it by sight, trial, and error. If my goal is a hat, I crochet until it resembles a hat and then I stop—ditto with scarves. Something must be working with my rather crude system because here I am—24 hats and 7 scarves later. I can make a hat in about an hour and a half (pretty quick results to satisfy a creative streak). It started out with simple hats made from one kind of yarn and has evolved (as you can see in the photo) into fuzzy trim and appliqued flowers. I cannot make a simple hat—it has to be embellished now. You’ll notice several of the hats are plain—this was practice until I had the shape down pat. Then I got brazen and started adding fuzzy borders, balls, bric-a-brac, and brims.

I crochet on road trips and instead of telling someone how many miles it is from here to there, I tell them, “That’s about a 3-hat trip for me!” Making hats (too many) is something to do during winter when I can’t putter around in the garden. Some I make as gifts, but most I hoard for myself.

And for an amusing take by another blogger on what not to crochet, go to the site below. Also look at “Top Posts” on the right and see some other funny crocheted items; the “Thongs” posting is funny, particularly the responses from readers.

http://whatnottocrochet.wordpress.com/2006/05/28/tissue-box-covers/

http://whatnottocrochet.wordpress.com/2006/12/10/thongs/

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