Monday, 23 October 2017

My First-Ever Pair of Fingerless Gloves

I'm a strong colours kinda gal.  I love pink in all its shades and hues but I especially adore hot pink. When I came across a yarn cake in shades of hot pink, melon, and orange a couple of weeks ago, I just had to have it.  I used that yarn cake to make a hat to go with my favourite purse and then, when the hat was done and I still had yarn left over, I decided a wanted to make a pair of fingerless gloves too.

I've never made fingerless gloves before so I did what I most often do when I want to craft something new: I looked on Pinterest.  I wanted a pattern that was written for worsted weight yarn, was knit in the round but had no fancy patterning or cabling, and had a proper, knitted tube in which to fit my thumb. I found a pattern from Midknight Knitter that exactly met my requirements.

I learned some things while knitting these gloves:

Lesson One - It's been a while since I've knitted in the round and I'd forgotten that my tension tends to be tighter when working on four needles than when knitting flat.  My knitting tends to be on the tight side so I knit my gauge swatch with needles one size up from those indicated in the pattern.  The gauge was right when knitted flat, but when I knit the actual glove in the round it turned out to be an unexpectedly tight fit.  I wouldn't want to use an even larger needle for this project because the knitting would then appear too open for my taste, but next time I make these gloves I'll add an extra couple of stitches when I first cast on.

Lesson Two - I wanted to finish the thumb on the glove in the same knit 1, purl 1 ribbing that makes the top and bottom of the glove instead of in stockinette stitch as called for in the pattern. Picking up the recommended number of stitches for the thumb on the first glove left holes in the finished glove that I had to repair with a needle and some scrap yarn.  When I made the second glove, I picked up 8 stitches instead of 4 and then knit 2 together, purled 2 together twice for the first row on that needle to make the total of 14 stitches over 3 needles called for in the pattern. 

Lesson Three - Now that I've learned the pattern of increases used to shape the thumb gusset I can apply it to any other glove pattern regardless of the yarn weight.  I'll simply work extra rows in the pattern of increases for finer yarn and fewer rows for heavier yarn.

I'll be making more of these gloves.  They were quick to knit and fun to make, and the simple pattern is infinitely adaptable.  I hope you give it a try too.

Friday, 1 September 2017

How To Draw An Undulating Grid

An undulating grid is an optical illusion created by manipulating perspective in drawing.  By using curving lines and making some parts of the grid larger and some smaller, some parts of the grid are made to appear closer and others further away.

Simple undulating grids were among the first optical illusions I learned to draw as a teenager.  I continue to use them in my work as backgrounds, as the basis for mazes, and as components of more intricate work.  I thought you might like to know how to make them too.

Begin by dividing your page into equally sized rectangles.  It doesn't matter what size or shape of rectangle you choose but it's important to remember that the smaller the size of the original rectangles, the smaller the finished grid will be, and that the smaller the finished grid, the more fine line and attention to detail it will require.  

For this example, I'm using 8.5 x 11 inch paper and I've divided it into 16 rectangles. (4 vertical rows, and 4 horizontal rows).

Beginning at the center, draw wavy lines that begin with a narrow curve and widen towards the dividing line of the next rectangle then narrow again towards the dividing line of the following rectangle. Continue this repetition to the bottom of the page, working to about half the width of each rectangle on either side of the center line.  You could get all mathematical and precise about this but freehand works just fine and gives a more organic feeling of movement to the finished grid.

Repeat the same arrangement of wavy lines around every second vertical line to either side of center.

Now, reverse the curved lines to wide, narrow, wide and fill in the remaining vertical spaces.  

(I've drawn mine in red so you can see more clearly what I mean.  If you're drawing it yourself you'll probably want to do all the lines the same colour.)

Now repeat the whole process horizontally.

And that's it:  You've drawn your undulating grid.  It looks pretty cool, doesn't it? You can either leave it just as it in or you can colour it. Either way, have fun with it.

  • I find it best to draw my grids in pencil first and then go over the lines in pen, erasing the pencil once the pen lines are finished.
  • Don't get all hung up on perfection.  You can see that my lines are wiggly and imperfectly spaced.  It doesn't matter.  The point is to have fun.
  • If there's a line you really don't like, remove it and redraw it.  If you're removing an ink line, you can use white out, but I don't love it because it gets all clumpy and is hard to draw over.  I find that a Sharpie paint pen works best for this.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Make a Simple Cushion Cover

When we sold the house before the place where I live now, my husband and I gave in to a home staging trend that was popular at that time. We succumbed to beige (well actually beige, taupe, cafe au lait, and paper bag brown; you know the group of colours to which I'm referring) in the hope that the neutral colours would appeal to the widest possible range                                                                                of prospective buyers. 

Our strategy worked and I'm grateful for that, but now I'm that I'm settled into my apartment I find that the warm neutrals we used for staging are not my cup of tea at all. I'm a bright colours kinda gal.

Because I'm on a limited income and don't like to waste things, I'm stuck with those staging accessories and linens whether I love them or not.  I've spent a lot of time in the past few years trying different approaches to my decor dilemma and I've finally arrived at a solution that works for me: I use home sewn quilts, throws, and cushion covers to cover up the beige-ness of those staging goods, and I change these new linens to suit the seasons.

I recently changed my living room textiles over to spring colours and thought that, since I was sewing new cushion covers, it might be fun to share instructions for this simple project with you.  

Here's one of the cushions I decided to recover, together with the fabric I used for the cushion cover's front. 

The first step in making a cushion cover is to measure the cushion you'll be covering.  Mine was square so I only needed to measure in one direction but if you were covering a rectangular cushion, you'd need to measure both the cushion's length and its width.
The next step is to calculate the sizes of the fabric pieces you'll need to cut.  

I use a 1/4 inch seam allowance and there is one seam sewn on each side of the fabric, so when cutting the fabric for the front of the cushion cover I added 1/2 inch to both the height and width of the cushion's measurements.  This cushion is 17 inches square so I cut the front piece to 17-1/2 inches by 17-1/2 inches.

The back pieces are a little more complicated.  

Start by dividing the cushion's length measurement by 2.  In the case of my cushion cover, this meant that the base measurement on which the back pieces were based was 17 inches wide by 8-1/2 inches tall.

Add 2 inches to the length of one piece for overlap.

Add 1 inch to the length of both pieces for the hem allowance.                                                                        
Add 1/4 inch to each side  of both pieces for seam allowances.

Add 1/4 inch to the bottom edge of each piece for a seam allowance.

For my cushion cover this yielded one piece that was 17-1/2 inches wide and 11-3/4 inches tall and another that was 17-1/2 inches wide and 9-3/4 inches tall.  I've broken down my calculations in the diagrams below.

Once you've done the math and cut your pieces, the hardest part of the whole project is behind you.  :)

I like to make my patterned fabric stretch over as many projects as possible so I used my print fabric for the front piece of my cushion cover and some plain cotton broadcloth for the back pieces.  

Start by hemming both of the back pieces.  Fold 1/2 inch one of the wide edges over to the wrong side of the fabric and press it. Fold over  another 1/2 inch, press the edge, and pin it in place. Top stitch closely beside the open edge of the hem.
With right sides facing together pin the shorter of the two back pieces to the front piece of the cushion cover.  The hem of the back piece should align with the horizontal center of the the front piece.
With the wrong side out and the hem of the second back piece overlapping the first back piece, pin the second back piece of the cushion cover in place.  There should be 2 inches of fabric overlapping at the middle of the cover.
Stitch around all four sides of the fabric.  I like to finish my seams with zig zag stitch.  
Clip at a 45 degree angle from the fabric's edge just above the corners, close to the stitch line.
Turn the cover right side out and use a narrow object to push the corners out so they're nice and pointy. (There are tools specially designed for this but I just use a large plastic knitting needle.)
And that's it.  You're done!  Press the finished cushion cover, tuck your cushion inside, and display your work proudly.  

This post has been linked to the May Day edition of The Hearth and Soul Link Party.  There are lots of wonderful ideas there.  Stop in and take a look.  :)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

My First Post: A Story And A Project

Welcome to my new blog.  I've started it to go along with my new Etsy shop, which is also called Atelier Beth Anne. Since the name is quite a departure from my Aunt B themes, I thought I'd tell you how it came about and, in the process, give you some idea of what the shop and this blog will be about.

I've always loved making stuff.  I can't remember or imagine a time in my life without some drawing or painting or craft project in progress. The creative process is, for me, meditative.  I focus so intently on my project that I can exclude everything else from my thoughts.  For most of my adult life making things was both recreation and stress relief: what I did when I wasn't earning a wage.  

After cancer took my husband from me and I often felt I was drowning in grief, the calmness and focus of the creative process became my life raft: I could climb onto it when the real world as just too hard to cope with.  Then, as time passed and my heart began to heal, I started to discover and understand the person I would be in this new phase of life. Eventually a day came when I looked around me and realized that making things had now become my full time occupation.

The other side of this story is that I've always chosen to live frugally, mindful of my resources and taking care not to waste things.  Over time, that intention to use things up meshed with my love of making things and the materials around me became the inspiration for my projects.  Some of my best, and most creative work incorporated - or was even entirely made up of - found materials.

Living frugally has now become an absolute necessity for me. When I looked at the resources available to me, I saw that if I was going to make making things my full time job (and for my own well being I really needed to do that), then I was going to have to use what was available to me within my now-very-limited means.  

So that's what happened:  I took an inventory of my materials to see what I had that I could work with, and I began making things.  As I worked, my home changed just as my life had.  Gradually my apartment - which had previously been a pretty ordinary kind of place - turned into one big studio with a bed, kitchen, and bathroom in the midst of all my projects. That's the way it is now. Almost every square foot of my home is used in some way for my work.

"Atelier" is the French word for studio or workshop.  Since it so perfectly describes my home and what I do now, it seemed just the right name for my new shop.  I'll be selling the things I make here in my home studio and, on this blog, sharing tutorials for projects I've made using re-purposed materials I have on hand.  

Both the shop and the blog are very much works in progress at this time. They're the beginning of a new journey and I'm hoping you'll enjoy travelling along with me.

Which brings me to our first project:  Cards and postcards made from coloring book page scratch paper.  

Do you remember making scratch paper in elementary school, using wax-crayon-covered paper painted over with India ink?  Then scratching through the ink with a straightened-out paper clip to reveal the colours beneath?  Do you have finished colouring pages that you don't want to throw away but don't know what to do with? Well, those are the things that inspired this project.

My friend Sally gave me a purse-sized colouring book for Christmas last year and these are two of the pages from that book. I'd coloured them with a really thick layer of wax crayon and then, looking at them, remembered those elementary school scratch paper experiments. 

I cut both sheets in half and then glued two of those halves to some cardboard from a cereal box.  I glued the other two onto a sheet of card stock on which I'd printed a flawed card proof.

I'd read a post on line somewhere (I can't remember where, sorry) that suggested using black acrylic craft paint for scratch paper, instead of India ink. Since I had the paint but not the ink, that's what I used to paint over the crayoned pages, covering them completely.  

I let the paint dry, then scratched through it with a variety of tools before settling on a large darning needle as the one that worked best for me.

Here's what the first completed scratch paper piece looked like:

I didn't love it so I decided to paint it over and try again.

This was my second attempt.  I wasn't thrilled with it either but, as you can see, the repeated scratching away of paint had taken away a lot of the crayon too.  I didn't think the sheet would stand up to a third attempt.

Here are my two finished card fronts

and the second postcard front.

I trimmed the finished pieces and then glued the card fronts onto coloured card stock.  I glued the matted pieces onto the front of two blank cards. 

Since the postcards wouldn't be protected by an envelope as the cards were, I painted a layer of Mod Podge over the front of each one. To finish the postcards, I simply drew a vertical line down the center of the back of the card delineating one part for a note and the other for an address.

So that's it: Cards and postcards from colouring book scratch paper. 

Have fun with this!