Category Archives: Crafty projects

Washcloths and Dishcloths and a Great Little Gift Idea

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The first project I ever did was a dishcloth I made when I was 5.  My mom taught me to crochet.  It was a wonky piece, with uneven stitches, a few holes and was definitely NOT square.  She loved it and was so proud!  She used it for years.  Nowadays, I’m better at making those functional crocheted squares.  I have made all sorts of patterns, and the only types of dishcloths I use are hand crocheted or knit ones.  They last a long time, can be made in so many great colors and can be bleached and washed and dried ad infinitum (color fades…obviously…but the things hold up!).  They are a great first project for a newbie and a great gift item.  Think housewarming, wedding shower, and gifts for teachers, piano instructors, neighbors, friends, etc for Christmas!

Here’s how I made a couple of different dishcloths using common stitches.


 

Basketweave Dishcloth:

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Using a size G hook*, Ch 25.

Row 1: dc in 4th ch from hook,  dc across,  ch 2, turn.

Row 2: *bpdc in next 3 st, fpdc in next 3 stitches*, repeat from * to * 2 times, bpdc in next 3 stitches, dc in turning ch, ch 2, turn.

Row 3: Repeat row 2

Row 4: *fpdc in next 3 st, bpdc in next 3 stitches*, repeat from * to * 2 times, fpdc in next 3 stitches, dc in turning ch, ch 2, turn.

Row 5:  Repeat Row 4.

Continue repeating rows 2 – 5 until piece is square.  Dc around the whole thing.  Finish off and weave in ends.

*A note about hook size.  Some of you might have a way smaller square than me if using a G hook.  I am a very loose crocheter and often go down one or two hook sizes when using a published pattern.  If you are a tighter crocheter, try a size H or even I.


Diagonal Stitch Dishcloth

With size G hook (see note about about hook size), ch 25

Row 1: sc in 2nd chain from hook and in each ch across, ch 2, turn

Row 2: Skip one stitch, dc in next 3 stitches, work elongated sc: insert hook into skipped stitch, yo and draw up a big loop, yo and pull through both loops on hook, skip next stitch, dc in next 3 stitches, elongated sc, and repeat pattern across, dc in last ch, ch 1, turn.

Row 3: sc in each stitch across, ch 2, turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until piece is square.  DC around the whole thing. Weave in end.

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For a great little gift idea, try tying up a cute washcloth with a handmade bar of soap or a specialty bottle of dish soap.  Could be cute housewarming gifts, teacher gifts, or anytime gifts!  For handmade soap, I really like Windrift Hill out of Montana.  Or locally try the Soap Opera in Madison for a large variety of soaps!

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There are so many different washcloth patterns out there.  Another favorite pattern I use is here.  Or I also like these blossom stitch cloths.

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Bulky and Soft Crocheted Infinity Scarf

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I have discovered some amazing yarn.  Okay, I know there are TONS of amazing yarns out there, but this one is one of my new favorites.  It is bulky and works up quickly and the colors are, well, AMAZING.  Ha.  I try not to use that word lightly, but I love this yarn!  The yarn is Malabrigo Rasta.   Do a Google search and you will come up with SO many gorgeous projects using this yarn.  However, most of them are knit.  I decided to try a simple crochet scarf and was very pleased with how it turned out.  I put these scarves together quickly (under two hours each).    I’ve included my methods below.  Enjoy!  Make a bunch for Christmas gifts!!!

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With a size N hook, ch 9 LOOSELY (I can’t stress this enough…stay loose with this project.  The overall feel of the scarf will be even softer and will give you a bit more length).  Turn.

Row 1:  (sc, dc, dc) in 3rd ch from hook.  Skip next 2 ch.  (sc, dc, dc) in next ch.  Skip next 2 ch.  sc in last ch.   ch 1, turn.

Row 2:  (sc, dc, dc) in first sc (first stitch).  Skip 2 st.  (sc, dc, dc) in next sc (you’ll see that you are working in the “valleys” between little hills…if that makes sense!).  Skip 2 st.  sc in last st.  ch 1, turn.

Repeat row 2 until you reach desired length.  I made the above scarves with one full skein.  Finish off, leaving a long length for sewing.  Whipstitch the ends together to form the infinity ring.  You could also just leave as a regular scarf!

 

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Easy Project: Burlap Valentine Banner

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I see a lot of cute burlap ideas when scanning Pinterest, and I’ve recently seen lots of photos of burlap banners with cute hearts on them for Valentine’s Day.  Type in “burlap heart banner” and you’ll get a multitude of hits with ideas.  So this is nothing new.  BUT, since I had all of the items I needed, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

First off, I gathered supplies.  Since I have tons of fabric scraps from all my daughter’s dress projects, I had plenty of red and pink fabrics.

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Then I needed burlap.  Now, the nice thing about being the family craft guru is….people collect stuff for you that they think you might want for your crafts. So this Christmas, I was given a bag of random burlap bags. I had no idea what I might do with said burlap bags, but I took it.  And bam-o….now I’ve got a project for that burlap!  Wahoo!

The next steps were simple.  I made templates for a heart and a pennant out of scrap cardstock and traced out my designs on the fabrics.

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Then I just sewed them together.  Since it’s a shabby chic style, there’s really no need to measure things perfectly or even sew perfectly.  That is my kind of project!

I added a simple 1 inch-ish "hem" to the top through which to string the yarn.

I added a simple 1 inch-ish “hem” to the top through which to string the yarn.

I enlisted the help of my kids to finish the last few parts of the banner (they like to help me sew sometimes).  Then, with further help from my kiddos, we strung the pieces onto pink yarn and hung it up over my transom window.  Valentine’s Day decor!  Done!  I love how it turned out!

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My Arts and Crafts Room

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I am blessed to have a room in our house that is devoted solely to crafting.  It started out as an office for my husband as well, but if he works from home, he usually sits on the couch with his laptop or sets up multiple monitors in the living room or on the kitchen table.  So I quickly invaded his “space” in the office.  For a time after I had O, I was limited to the first floor due to hip problems, so this room served as a bedroom then too.  But now…oh NOW it is the most wonderful space ever.  I have two big tables for working and so so so many shelves.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let’s talk about storage.  The amount of paper and supplies I have accumulated is staggering.  My favorite crafting endeavors involve yarn, paper, and fabric, all of which add up.  I have a lot of wonderful scrapbooking supplies that need a home, yarn scraps, extra fabric, a computer and printer, a sewing machine and photos, photos, PHOTOS!

First things first, I decided I wanted open shelves for the yarn and fabric, as well as for pretty baskets.  I love when you walk into a yarn shop and they have all those open spaces with fibers of all kinds and colors galore.   I wanted to store my yarn that way.   My husband is a self-proclaimed Ikea master, having assembled multiple shelves, cabinets, beds, dressers, and more from the Swedish company.  For storage solutions, I feel there is no equal, especially for the price.  We decided first on a 5 x 5 cube unit for my main storage.  Mine was the Expedit line, which is no longer available, but now they have the Kallax line which is similar (here is a 4 x 4 cube version).  My yarns look great in it, and the bins fit my 12″ x 12″ scrapbooking paper.  The Thirty-One Your Way cube fits in it great, by the way.  IMG_4982

This was alone in the room with some wall cabinets for awhile, but last year, my husband said, “I think we should move the kids’ art stuff into that room as well, and make it a family arts and crafts room.”  He thought maybe I wouldn’t like that idea seeing as how that was MY space, but it meant we’d free up dining room space, and I also felt like purging and organizing, so off we went to Ikea again!  The plan was to house all of the kids markers, crayons, paper, coloring books, workbooks, globe, stickers, etc in this room as well.  We also wanted a big space so all of us could work on projects at the same time. The challenge would be to fit it all in and still be able to hide it!

This time, my husband bought items from the Galant line, and they work great in the space.  The sliding doors hide so much stuff and the cubes fit as well.

Sliding doors  are open to show the shelves.  See the black cubes in there?  Hidden kid art stuff!  Also, that rolling cart to the left.  You got it.  It's from Ikea.  It's working great for current kid projects...move it out to the big kitchen table, move it back...whatever you want!

Sliding doors are open to show the shelves. See the black cubes in there? Hidden kid art stuff! Also, that rolling cart to the left. You got it. It’s from Ikea. It’s working great for current kid projects…move it out to the big kitchen table, move it back…whatever you want!

Upper white cabinets are from Ikea as well. The lower shelves are from the Galant line.  The shelf on the left is Ikea, but a discontinued line.  The multi-colored 12 x 12 plastic tubs?  Costco!  My other favorite place!

Upper white cabinets are from Ikea as well. The lower shelves are from the Galant line. The shelf on the left is Ikea, but a discontinued line. The multi-colored 12 x 12 plastic tubs? Costco! My other favorite place!

A big, HUGE table in the middle of the room with a peninsula for my sewing machine, and the room is complete!  I did pretty much NONE of the planning in this room.  It was completely my husband’s vision and DIY skills.  But now it is such a nice place for me and the kids to work on projects.  And it’s all tucked nicely away out of site when we’re done.

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I’ve since added a few small updates that I think add a lot to this creative space.  I find having markers and colored pencils out is both pretty and easy to use.  So I got this neat organizer at Michael’s.  I added my cutting board to the top of the table since I do a lot of rotary cutting and measuring of both paper and fabric.  Lastly, I added some paper pinwheels and banners to the space to brighten it up!

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Summer Projects: Lapbooks

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I’m not a homeschooler, but  I LOVE following homeschool blogs because I get so many great ideas and links for things to do with my kids.  I’m always looking for indoor activities in case of rainy days, illness, and that LONG winter we always have.  So when I came across the lapbook idea, I was hooked.  The crafty part of me loves the cutting and pasting, the lifelong learner in me loves teaching my kids in a new way, and the mom part of me just likes having my kids sit still for awhile and do some handwork!

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G and O love lapbooks and always have ideas for new ones for us to do.  I’ve actually been surprised how much they embrace these projects.  They will sit down and complete one from start to finish, which sometimes can take an hour or more.  They are very focused.  Then, they often incorporate them into other activities.  They play school with them.  They use the notes in them to help them identify things in the real world.  For example, we recently did a butterfly lapbook and it had identification cards that you cut out and put in a pocket.  O has used these cards more than once to show me the butterflies he is noticing outside now that it’s finally butterfly season.

Back page of butterfly lapbooks.

Back page of butterfly lapbooks.

Inside of butterfly lapbooks

Inside of butterfly lapbooks.

So how do you do a lapbook?  Simple!  You just check your house for extra file folders (or buy them at an office supply store), fold them up so they open in the middle, and paste stuff in them.  I love this website for lots of great printables to put in your lapbooks. This is also a good resource.   Any Google or Pinterest search will also reveal TONS of printables or links to other people’s lapbook photos.  If I see a great lapbook printable or idea, I print it out and store it in a folder for future use.  I came across this list of lapbooks to go with classic picture books.  Right now  I have printed lapbook papers for a Henry and Mudge lapbook and Peter Rabbit.  O said he wants to do a frog lapbook so I just downloaded that one today.    The possibilities are endless.

Lapbooks about plants.

Lapbooks about plants.

 

Lapbooks about plants.

Lapbooks about plants.

Crochet-edge Fleece Blankets

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My new favorite project lately has been fleece blankets with a crochet edge.  Most everyone is familiar with the fleece tie blankets.  They are often two layers of fleece, stacked together, sliced along the edges, then tied together.  This is a popular method for making blankets, especially for donation to a program like Project Linus.   Fleece tie blankets are snuggly and easy and can make great gifts and donations, but I decided I wanted to try to up the ante a bit.  I love giving homemade gifts to people, but making an entirely crocheted afghan can take me YEARS!  (Not lying.  This one took me 10 years (I put it down a few times and started up again later but STILL): IMG_9941

 

SO.  I came across a couple different blog posts and Pinterest pins that showed fleece blankets with a crochet edge.  I decided that this would be my thing.  Easy.  Turns out great.

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First thing you will need is a skip stitch rotary cutting blade.  I bought mine here.  Second, fleece.  You can make one-layer or two-layer blankets.

One Layer

One Layer

Two Layer

Two Layer

Cut the fleece to your desired size.  See a handy chart and jumping off point here.  For the most part, I eyeball it or just use the amount of fleece I have (minus the edges, of course).  I made a massive one to cover my daughter’s double bed; and I’ve made baby ones and everything in between.  I prefer the two-layer because it is heavier and warmer and feels more like a blanket I’m used to.  But this is coming from a person that lives in a place with very cold winters!

Next, line up the fleece, one layer on top of the other, and lay them on a cutting mat.  Use the rotary blade to score holes all along the edge.  I used a ruler to hold things down and cut along the ruler, about 1/2 inch or so from the edge.  Doesn’t have to be perfect.  There is a lot of room for error in these blankets!

Last, find a yarn you like and crochet the two layers together!  I typically start with a sc-ch-sc-ch pattern, using the holes all the way around the blanket.  For my second round, I fancy it up depending on the recipient and pattern on the fleece.  If it’s a girl, I do a scallop (maybe sc-hdc-dc-hdc-sc in one sc, sl st  in next sc, repeat).  A boy or gender-neutral baby blanket: hdc all the way around.  Really, you can be creative.  I often putz with the yarn I’m using a couple of  times after the first round until I figure out something I like.

A hint:  always use a washable yarn.  When you give a blanket to somebody, especially a kid, you ALWAYS want it to be completely machine washable!

Here are some more examples:

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This whole process can also be done with flannel.  Comfy and cozy too!  Perfect for a baby.

This whole process can also be done with flannel. Comfy and cozy too! Perfect for a baby.

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Hair clip Happiness

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I love hair clips.  For my daughter, not me.  As soon as she had enough hair to clip to the side, I was putting those cute things on her!  I started out buying all sorts of clips from the store and from my favorite Etsy hairclip shop, My Little Pixies.  After awhile I realized that I could make my own using You Tube tutorials and just plain old inventiveness.  So here’s a roundup of some clips I’ve made.

First, I decide what type of clip I want (NEED?!).  There are great ideas all over Pinterest and the web.  I’ve made butterflies using this pattern.

Crochet the butterfly, then hot glue onto a ribbon-covered double-prong clip.

Crochet the butterfly, then hot glue onto a ribbon-covered double-prong clip.

I’ve made lots of clips from yo-yos.  See a great tutorial here.

Hot glue a button in the middle to complete.

Hot glue a button in the middle to complete.

I’ve made various clips from ribbons just putzing around and using various pictures I’ve seen on pinterest.

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But one of my favorite clips to make is a crocheted flower.  I crochet a flower in whatever color I like, add a button or jewel in the middle and voila….it’s great.  They look like this:IMG_8865 or this:IMG_2541

These are simple as long as you have a very basic understanding of crochet.  You need a double-prong clip (I get them here), ribbon, hot glue, an embellishment for the middle of the flower and thread.  You can use crochet thread OR I like to use DMC floss for cross-stitching.  Use all the strands and just pretend it’s crochet thread when you are crocheting.  I usually end up using a size E hook for crocheting with DMC.  DMC is great because there are a gadzillion colors and you can buy a small amount at a time.

Here are some quick instructions for making the flowers:

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And here is a set of the finished product!  This is a set ready for giving as a gift to a new baby girl.

"You're having a girl?!  Great here....let me get you addicted to cute little hairclips!"