Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tonight we had a family dinner to celebrate my brother-in-law, my twin and my birthdays. We had a good time at the restaurant, and I came away with some pretty cool stuff from my mother and aunt!

Mom gave me a Simplicity Bias Tape Maker, which will come in pretty handy for some quilting projects I have planned - I'll be starting with potholders, to keep it simple, and I've also got plans to make a roll-up crochet hook holder for my friend, CraftySasha.

My aunt and uncle gave me a collapsible "yarn drum", some crochet hooks, knitting needles, and some knitting labels for finished projects.

So, with that, I present my first craft item review!

The yarn drum is designed as a handy travel case, with slits on the top for easy access to stored yarn inside - merely feed the end of the yarn through the holes, and it keeps everything neat and tidy inside.

Pros: The bag has a good amount of storage space on the inside, and I was able to get at least 15-20 yarn balls of various sizes inside. It's tall enough to fit knitting needles without creating bulges or poking out of the top. There is a net storage pouch on the side, which could hold anything from patterns to scissors or anything else you can fit, but it is flush - holding paper is most likely the intended use.

A shoulder strap is included, and clips to rings on the top, side, and/or bottom of the drum - they give three different loops to clip to, so you can connect them however you like. Another plus is an accessory pouch, shown in the picture as laying in the "lid" - it has a clip as well, so it can be attached to the side if there is no room for it inside the drum itself. The pouch has plenty of room for tools, such as scissors, labels, crochet hooks, etc.  

Cons: The open slits in the top of the drum would not make this an ideal long-term storage bag. Depending on where your supplies will be stored, they may need to be put in a sealed container if there are any problems with insects or mice.

Final thoughts - the yarn drum is definitely handy to have if you plan to take your knitting or crocheting projects with you on a road trip, or even just to have around the house. It's set up nicely for easy access to your supplies, and doesn't take up an excessive amount of space.And when you're not using it, it collapses back down for easy storage, making it a very useful item to have on hand.

Oh - and it's purple. Purple is awesome.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another example of my continuing experiments with Kanzashi. All but the white flowers are made with standard cotton, the leaves are cotton, and the white flower is made from a polyester blend, I believe.

The cord is one of my old kumihimo experiments that I never got around to finishing - the colors went well with my friend's kimono, so I began a conversion using wooden beads that I picked up from Wal-Mart.

In previous projects, I was never really happy with how the leaves turned out - from the top, it looked like a leaf, but from the bottom, it showed the seams and underside of the fabric. I'm a fan of hiding signs that something was made and leaving visible the finished product, so I sort of improvised. Using a simple fold that I've used to created pointed flower petals, I was able to work out that they made an effective leaf if done properly, and it looks a heck of a lot better than the previous ones.

So, this little floral arrangement still needs a little tweaking and fine-tuning at some point, but my friend loved it, which is what counts in the long run!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This is one of my earlier forays into combining Kanzashi - a form of Japanese cloth flower making, I guess you could say - with ribbon flower-making.

The purple flower and leaves are made from cotton quilting fabric - a fat quarter will go a long way depending on the size of the project - while the white flower is a polyester material I rescued from the clearance table at Hancock Fabrics. I suggest at least looking at what they have if you happen to be there, since you can get some nice deals on fabric.

I have found during my attempts to create some pieces for my niece that there is definitely a difference between the fabrics. Some might take a look at the two options and shrug, saying, "Well, cloth is cloth - it should work the same, right?"

It doesn't. As I worked with them more and more, I found that the cotton cloth may not be the most suitable for some of the flowers, especially when making a Kanzashi flower. While the cloth is sturdy and less expensive than some of the heavier fabrics such as the polyester material I used on the white flower or the red cherry blossoms I made as part of another piece for a friend's kimono, some of the required folds might not hold their shapes as well as a heavier fabric. Some of the pointed leaves/petals do form nicely with cotton, but they can be difficult to work into the right shape when you are stringing all of the petals together.

As for some of the "ribbon flowers" that I have experimented with, cotton cloth definitely does allow for more flexibility and malleability, so it might be ideal so long as you remember to take steps to make sure the edges are kept from fraying. Heavier duty fabrics do hold shape well, but they can definitely be a little more difficult to wrangle into shape, and some materials may require a hot iron or lighter of some kind to seal the edges, or else the fabric will fray and try to come apart due to how it's woven. A liquid fray check sealant such as Dritz or Keepsake Fray Check can be used, but be careful of the smell - there are some pretty strong fumes, and if you're working with a lot of material, you may need a fan or other source of ventilation.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome to the blog!

As the title stated, welcome to the blog! I was inspired to do so after a friend pointed out the benefits of having something to distract me from the frustration of unfinished or forgotten about projects - I think we all need a little encouragement sometimes. What better way than to show that progress is in fact being made?!