Friday, January 31, 2014

Handmade Valentines, 2014

 Every year I make a new batch of handmade Valentines.  I started in 2011 by making little Valentines for my college friends.  In 2012 I made Valentines goodie bags for the kids in the after school program I was working with.  Last year was the first year I made Valentines to sell.  They ended up being very popular at the Urban Orchid, a local floral shop where I sell my books and cards.  Because none of them say "Valentines Day" anywhere, the cards also work well for anniversaries and other occasions where people give flowers.

This year I made many more Ohio cards, and some new ones with heart punched borders and a ribbon with a gem in the middle.  I also did some over-the-top layered cards with the heart punched borders.

Instead of doing a Valentines craft show this year I decided to focus more on Etsy.  I have a great selection of cards available, as well as minibook jewelry, and a few small handmade books.  Make sure to order by February 7th to guarantee delivery by Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Workshops at Scrapbooks Galore and More
This past weekend I had the privilege of teaching two bookbinding workshops at Scrapbooks Galore and More in Midland, MI.  The first two hour class was about Japanese Stab Binding. I had seven eager students, and one indifferent feline assistant.  (That is the store mascot Scrapper, enjoying the sunbeam in the middle of our workspace.)
I started by showing the class how to sew a book using the most basic form of Japanese stab binding.  For the second and third books, we adjusted the number and location of the holes punched.  I let the students figure out some of the sewing on their own, and helped walk them through the difficult parts.  Everyone had a great time learning about bookbinding, despite the sore fingers!  (I need to remember pliers next time.  Pulling the needle through gets a little tough...)

The second two hour class of the day was a Case Bound Book class.  This book structure is a little trickier than the Japanese stab binding, so each student only made one book instead of three.  This time I had nine students, several of which had taken the earlier class as well.  The students learned how to fold signatures, sew together a text block, and glue the text block into a decorative case.  Overall it was a great day of teaching, and I am looking forward to teaching again in March at Small Studio in the Cleveland area.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Echo Lodge Sweater

One of my big knitting projects this fall/winter was to knit a sweater.  I had bought a lovely, chunky, baby alpaca yarn over a year ago with the intention of making a sweater... and I didn't get around to it before the weather got warm.  In October I found a great pattern book of sweaters called Tundra: Elements.  The author describes the book as a choose-your-own adventure book, but for knitting sweaters!  There is a basic raglan sweater pattern, and then each pattern has a special element that can be mixed and matched to make a custom sweater (collar options, stripes, v-neck, etc.)
The sweater I chose is called Echo Lodge.  I made it with blue and blue/green stripes on the body, gray sleeves, and a blue/green button placket.  From start to finish it took me three months to finish.  Based on the rate I normally complete projects, this was excellent!  Especially considering I knit this in between my yarn club projects, making Christmas gifts, and having four holiday craft shows.
I'm very pleased with how the sweater came out.  It is really soft, and nice and warm for winter.  However, it is super fuzzy... and I end up shedding on things while I'm wearing it!  I'm hoping that will go away once I wash (or soak) the sweater once.  I kinda skipped that step in the instructions because I wanted to wear it right away.  *Side note: while I was knitting, this sweater was the cat's absolute favorite!  So I included a picture of Frankie enjoying the sweater too.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Project for 2014- Art Books
Last year I gave myself a year long project with my 365 book challenge.  I really enjoyed the experience of having a craft related goal for the year.  The challenge provided me with motivation, consistency, and accountability throughout the year.  As my 365 book challenge came to a close last year, I started thinking about what project I could do in 2014.  The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to spend more time creating art books this year.
My first thought was 52 art books in 52 weeks... And then I realized that would be insane!  So then I considered cutting it down to 2 a month, 24 art books total.  One art book every other week seemed possible... until I remembered I would also need time to make blank journals for craft shows.  Finally, I decided on 14 Art Books in 2014.  Last year I finished 3 art books over the course of the year, so I think 14 art books is a goal that will push me to continue creating, without being completely unattainable.
Many of you readers might be wondering "What is an art book?"  To put it simply: Artists' books or art books are works of art realized in the form of a book. (Quoted from the Wikipedia page about Artist Books.)  These are the rules I am following for my 14 in 2014 project:

1. To be considered an art book, it must have content instead of being blank.  This could be words, pictures, collage, pattern, dyed paper, image transfer, and any range of other media.  No blank white pages allowed.
2. All 14 art books must be completed in 2014.  No half finished pieces allowed.
3. All books must be photographed and blogged about.  The final blog posts may be completed up to 2 weeks after the end of 2014.
4.  Photos will be shown in a folder on my Flickr page.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Modern Fleece Blanket

Usually I make handmade Christmas gifts for at least some of my family members and close friends.  Now that the holidays are over I can finally blog about a few things without ruining any surprises!  This year my list of people I needed to get gifts for was much shorter than usual, so I ended up only making 3 gifts.  I knit a headband for my sister-in-law (blogged here), knit a scarf for my roommate, and made a fleece blanket and pillows for my boyfriend.
When I asked my boyfriend what he wanted for Christmas (and his birthday, which is also in the end of December), he requested something handmade to put in his new apartment.  It took me a while to figure out what to make because my boyfriend likes very streamlined and modern things, and many of the things I make are not quite that style.  In the end, I decided to make a big, snuggly blanket and a couple pillows to put on his couch.  Instead of doing a tie-together blanket around the edges, I came up with a modern patchwork design that would fit better with his style.
I started by going to the fabric store and picking out fleece in a range of colors.  My boyfriend's favorite color is blue and his apartment is primarily black and white, so I picked out a dark blue background, and bright blue, aqua, white, and gray for the patchwork pieces.  I also grabbed two 16 x 16 inch pillow forms.  Once I had all my materials, the first step was laying out the 3 yards of background fabric and cutting off enough for the fronts and backs of the pillows.  Next, I measured and cut the smaller lengths of fabric into 7 inch wide strips.  I bought between 3/4 and 1 full yard of all the other fabric colors.
Once I had about a dozen fabric strips cut, I started laying them out on the dark background.  My goal was to create an irregular pattern by alternating colors and adjusting the length of each block.  Honestly, cutting and arranging the fabric was probably the most time consuming part of the whole project!  After everything was arranged to my liking, I pinned down the pieces so they wouldn't move and got busy at the sewing machine.  (It was tough wrangling so much fabric!)  For each row of patchwork blocks, I sewed the long edge all the way across and then came back and sewed the short edges individually.  Then I trimmed the extra edges off the background, and it was done!  He thinks the blanket is awesome and was very impressed.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Books 362-365: Challenge Completed!
Last week I completed books 362-365 of my 365 book challenge, which means the challenge is officially complete!  My last four books of the year were a large red coptic journal, two books made from recycled tea boxes, and a green envelope book.
I think it is very fitting that I started the year by making an envelope book, and I ended the year by making an envelope book.  Looking back on the challenge, it is amazing to think that I accomplished so much during the year.  The challenge helped me build inventory for shows, gave me a reason to publish blog posts every week, and got me started with a facebook page for my business.
I want to thank everyone that has followed along on my journey this year and encouraged me to keep going.  I will still be making books in 2014, just not with such a strict quantitative deadline.  However, with the snowfall and frigid temperatures we have been getting in Cleveland lately, I am looking forward to curling up on my couch, taking a break from books, and working on some knitting for a while.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pamphlet Books 346-361
Books 346-361 of my 365 book challenge are pamphlet stitch books featuring the state of Ohio.  These little books measure 5.5 x 4 in. and are great for carrying around and taking quick notes.
The covers are made from colored card stock with the state of Ohio cut out of contrasting paper.  The inside paper is 10 sheets of white copier paper.  I made two of each color combination.  Each book is hand stitched using waxed linen thread.  Pamphlet books will be listed on Etsy soon!  This weekend I will have my final blog post about my 365 Books in 2013.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Minibooks 329-345
This week I wrapped up my 365 book challenge.  I spent the last few days of 2013 frantically finishing books!  Instead of dumping a bunch of blog posts all at once, I decided to take my time, get some good photos of the final books, and get everything posted before January 5th (the day I introduced my challenge in 2013.)
To help round out my 365 books, I made another 17 minibooks.  Five sets of necklaces and earrings, and an additional pair of earrings.  Now that my winter craft shows are done, I plan to list more items on Etsy.  I tried to pick a wide range of colors so there would be a better selection available on Etsy.  Stay tuned for the last few blog posts about my book challenge, and keep an eye on Etsy for new listings!