Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I am aghast at how long it has been since my last entry - time got away from me - oops!!  Problem is the seasons changed and with that change, the shifting of the day to day chores.  Spring and Summer have come along and with them came OUTSIDE WORK:  gardens had to be uncovered, deck furniture had to be brought up (and, in some cases fixed or painted); new plants put in - old plants divided and moved - new gardens dug to put them in...; weeds pulled - more weeds pulled - where do they keep coming from?!?  Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.  I love gardening and being outside...but it is time consuming.  More to the point, the gardening leaves me with filthy fingernails and aching hands, neither of which leaves me desirous of picking up knitting needles or any needlework that typically shows every microscopic bit of oil or dirt that might cling to your hands.  But now, the outside dirty work has settled down and the weather is too hot to be out there much, so I am ready to redeem myself from my negligence both in the crafting world and the writing world.

First, a crafty fix for my dirty hands - a simple recipe for  GARDENER'S HAND SCRUB:

  • Crush a small (about 5"x1") pumice stone in a heavy-duty zip style bag, using a hammer to smash it into a fine powder.  It should yield approximately 1/4 cup of pumice powder.  (I used pumice stone that was already crushed.  It can be found in paint stores and comes in a cardboard box. It is used in furniture refinishing for gentle sanding.) 
  • Combine that with 1 cup grated bar soap ( I used Dove because it has moisturizer) and 1/2 cup borax (available in detergent section of grocery stores). 
  • Mix well. 
  • Pour into a container with a tight fitting lid. 
  • To use, pour a small amount of hand scrub into hand, and mix with warm water to form a lather; rinse hands with warm water.
Since this scrub is for my own use, I am going to keep it in a recycled vitamin flip-top container so I can easily access it when my hands are filthy. I will have to improve the looks of the container at a later date so I don't confuse it with my real vitamins!!

I might consider adding an essential oil (available at craft stores) for some soothing aroma therapy while I'm at it, maybe lavender, bergamot or eucalyptus... 

This summer-themed "recipe" was a gift-giving idea that I originally came across last winter when I was researching ideas for quick gifts to make for the holidays in  Christmas with Southern Living- 2010.  You never know where you might find ideas and I was glad I made note of it when I did since I certainly would not have thought to look for it there now!!  (Note:  I don't have a link to this title because our holiday books are currently inaccessible in storage due to the renovations at our facility, you can however call to place a hold on a copy from another library).

Okay, I am cleaned up and ready to rock! 

Summer has arrived in full force. It is an active season involving outside chores, activities, and vacations, and many of us can not dedicate our time to (nor do we want to) big craft projects.  During the summer I like "to-go/packable" projects: something that is small; can be quickly packed up (requires few supplies) to work on anywhere; can be easily picked up from where I left off, and conversely, simple enough to be able to stop at any time due to frequent interruptions/diversions (in other words, a no-thinker).

Some craft genres lend themselves more easily than others to "pack-ability".  Obviously if you are on a driving or flying vacation you won't be doing any machine sewing on the way! Some craft genres that lend themselves to "to-go projects" are: knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, applique, hand-sewing, crewelwork, needlepoint, and macrame.

  • Knitting and crochet projects, particularly the simpler patterns, require very few materials (your needles, scissors, yarn and, maybe a pattern) and can be packed up in almost any small tote.

This is one of my current packable projects that I work on intermittently.  It is one half of a very simple cap-sleeved tee shirt that I am in no great hurry to finish.  Very few supplies and I don't really need to refer to the pattern much at this point of the project.

I like to use my circular needles, knitting back and forth on them as I would with straight needles, because it seems to make the piece easier to pick up and put down.  The whole thing just kind of rolls up.  Also, when I am seated right next to other people, such as at the DMV or on a train, there is less likelihood of me sticking the person next to me with my needle.

I keep it in the paper tote and just grab it and go when I know that I am going to be knitting with friends or travelling in the car for any great distance.

  • Small Cross-Stitch projects are highly portable as well and can be packed into small bags.

Here is one of the kits I bought to work on sometime this summer.  As you can see, not too much in the way of supplies: pattern, floss (which I have not yet sorted), fabric, scissors, needle, and the color picture of the finished piece for reference.

There are a variety of kits available or you can work on a design of your own.  Many cross-stitch motif books are available with all types of designs to mix and match.

  • Needlepoint also requires few supplies and is a great "to-go" project.  The needlepoint project in the picture below came in a kit which included a chart for reference, however, since the design is painted on the canvas you usually don't even need a chart or picture of the finished piece, just your canvas, yarn, needle and scissors.

  • Applique and hand sewing require only some fabric, thread or floss, needle (of course), and scissors. 

  • Felt applique just requires some design elements, thread, needle and scissors and has the added benefit of no hemming...simple, simple!

Needlework projects pack up nicely in one of my all-time favorite product: ziploc bags.  These bags keep your needlework clean and come in a number of sizes so you can match it to the size of your project (although the giant ones are not easy to find so I snatch up a couple of boxes when I see them.)

One thing to remember is that small doesn't  necessarily mean that the ultimate finished piece needs to be small.  Think of working on sections of what will later become larger pieces, such as appliqued quilt blocks or knitted or crocheted squares that will be assembled at a later date into quilts, afghans, pillows, and the like.  The individual segments are quite portable and the variety of each keeps the project entertaining.

Also, consider working small sections of a larger piece when you are going to be away from your supplies.  Just pack the colors of yarn or floss that you will need to work the smaller portion while traveling and therefore take few supplies. Working design sections bit by bit creates a small sense of accomplishment that might hold your interest until the whole piece is done.  Some designs are easier to do this with than other.  These two cross-stitch pieces are good examples of designs that can easily be broken down into small areas to be worked when time occurs:

Some projects that you might consider include (but are not limited in any way) to the following:

  • The usual small things such as hats, mittens, scarves, socks - don't just think winter materials here and turn away!  Summer weight materials such as cotton, tencel, bamboo, linen can each be used to make some of these projects in a summer-perfect pattern. 

My talented friend, Kathy, has made several Sun Hats that are quick, easy to work up, and beautiful as well.  Here is a picture of one of them:

It looks really beautiful on her and the colors of the yarn remind me of the sea.  The brim is held stiff by a length of thin wire that is attached at the end.  The pattern comes from a book called Knitting in the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter  (click here to go to our catalogue record)

The Starfish embellishment was not part of the original pattern.  The pattern for that came from a different book called 150 Knit and Crochet Motifs by Heather Lodinsky.  Unfortunately it was her own personal book and none of the libraries in our consortium currently own this title. 

Fortunately, however, our library has a different book that includes a knitted starfish pattern in it if you really want to knit one.  It is different but just as nice.  In fact it has a bunch of really cute designs in it (some of which you can see in the cover art).  The book is titled 75 Birds, Butterflies & Little Beasts to Knit and Crochet by Lesley Stanfield. (click here to go to our catalogue record)

Continuing the list of small project ideas...
  • Jewelry, such as Bracelets and Necklaces - don't just think beaded here, I think beads would be a tad roly-poly on a car or plane trip!  Think macrame, knit, crochet, fabric, ribbon.  Friendship bracelets are a simple example.
  • Bookmarks
  • Headbands
  • Dish cloths
  • Kitchen scrubbers
  • Sachet bags
  • Needle cases
  • Placemats
  • Napkins
  • Coasters
  • Small pieces that you might frame
  • Pillows
  • Toys
  • Embellishments (like the Starfish pictured above) or Embroidered details to add as a finishing touch for other projects -  such as handbags, barrettes, clothing, (or any of the projects above really)

This is a great time to get ahead with your holiday gift making and all of these smaller projects work well as gifts.  Hmmm,  I don't know about you but I think that I am properly motivated to get myself back into crafting action.  I certainly do not want to go pull more weeds!!! 

Some additional books that might be of interest are:

Doodle Stitching: the motif collection: 400+ easy embroidery designs
by Aimee Ray

Pretty Little Felts
by Julie Collings

Embroidery Companion
by Alicia Paulson

Knitting Block by Block
by Nicky Epstein

Knitting 24/7 - 30 Projects
by Verokik Avery

Crocheted Gifts
by Kim Werker

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