I craft! Spinning, sewing, knitting, quilting...it's all here, along with so much more. I just love making things and writing about them. I hope you'll join me.



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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ravelry's New Bundle Feature for Favorites

To me, Ravelry is possibly one of the best sites ever created for crafty-minded people. It is amazing. A group of 4 people that continually develop new and USEFUL features for us fiber people. Useful is the key word. After spending the last 6 years on Facebook with countless use-LESS changes and intrusive practices, it is a relief to go to a site that is safe, fun, and geared toward its audience. Not only can you buy and sell patterns and yarns, you can explore groups, make connections, and see what others are doing.

My bundles

They have a new feature, which I just love. It is their bundle feature. I have nearly 1000 likes that I will admittedly probably never complete. But I save them, because I don't want to search for them again. It used to be that to quickly search through my saved favorites I would have to tag each and every one, which takes a lot of time and effort. The tags didn't always bring back results because I would save it as a scarf, or scarves, and then have to look through both classifications. It was also not good for the things I forgot to tag or working on my phone.

So here come the bundles! With just a quick edit on the favorites, you can classify your favorites into bundles. I've labeled mine "Scarves, Shawls, and Neckwear," "Tops," and "Hats and Headwear" as an example. Now, once I get through all 25 pages of my favorites (yes, some are being deleted), I can easily just click on a bundle and see what is in it! Yay! Also convenient is that I can save my favorites to multiple bundles. If I have a pattern for a hat and glove combination, I can save it to both gloves and hats. Double Yay!

Thank you, Ravelry, for being useful. I adore you. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dragons Unicorns Fairies and Mystical Beasts

Back in March I decided to leave work because all of my children came home to homeschool. It has been quite a busy adventure! We will continue with it through next year as well. I started a blog based on our home education plans and projects called Little Lyons Homeschool. If you're into home education, why not stop by and take a look?

In other news...

I have also given up my quilting business, Freckle Dots. I still run an Etsy store in which I will post any sewing and/or quilting projects I have completed and that are up for sale. However, I am no longer doing custom tshirt quilts. It just became too much of a hassle, too big of quilts, and not enough time to invest in them.

Spinning also became a new passion in my life to add to the eclectic tendencies I already have. And I'm not talking about spinning as in a bicycle. Spinning as in making yarn from wool, cotton, and many other fibers. I bought a little bunny by the name of Easter. She is an English angora, pretty as can be, and mean as a snake. She's a rescue bunny, and I had no idea what I was getting into when I got her. I was told she was a good wool bunny, which she is, but her first year of handling was obviously traumatic and she's not the friendliest thing. But I still love her.

She also takes horrible pictures! Here she is between the barriers
I set up for her so she could play out on the porch. She loves to find
little hideaway places. Shh..you can't see her. 
I intend to use her fur to spin wonderful angora yarns. Of course, everything is harvested humanely and I have no intentions of maiming or otherwise mistreating her. Her fur will grow very long in just a few months and it is more of a necessity to prevent her from dying from wool block than it is an animal use things. Yet, admittedly, beneficial to me as well!

In view of my new passion and positive feedback I've received on my yarns, I also started a business called Mystical Beast. Mystical Beast is a little different because I not only sell the yarn, but every yarn also has a story (Get it? Yarn? Story?). I am inspired by the colors that I spin, the way things seem to come together as it is stretched into a fiber, and becomes an entirely new creature when plyed and set. I have always loved writing. I may not be the greatest author in the world, but I think I can pen a fair prose when prompted.

So far I have up only a couple of yarns. Each has a story that comes with it. The stories are just snippets of impressions, scenery, or the creatures they represent. All will have a mystical theme of some sort, involving fairies, dragons, unicorns, or the places in which they live.

So you can find me here, of course. I will not be changing the blog name because it is now a domain name. I think everyone pretty much understands that things on this blog are subject to change with or without notice, but one things remains the same - my passion for crafting.

You can find me on Facebook, Ravelry, Google+, and Big Cartel. I hope you will check me out on these sites, follow or like or whatever.

I also would like it if you could check out some of the folks that helped me get to opening a new store. Art of the Spin on Facebook and Etsy is my batt supplier for the two yarns above. Style Point Design designed all of the logos, headers, and avatars for my shops. I always want to give credit where credit is due! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shabby Chic Recipe Box

A couple of weeks back I posted about wanting to redecorate my home in the Shabby Chic style. I'm still playing around with a few things and doing a little here and there. With my job it's difficult to really throw myself into it like I want. But I have this week off because school is out and I'm getting a few things done here and there.

Yesterday I decided to rearrange my kitchen a bit. I have an old Keurig that I don't use much and a new Hamilton Beach coffee maker that I love and use daily. The new coffee pot was sitting by the microwave and taking up valuable counter space, while the Keurig was sitting unused in a section of the counter by the stove.

Anyway, the process led me to discover that my little cardboard recipe box I've had for about 10 years was in sorry condition. It had grease all over it and the bottom of it had become soaked with some kind of smelly substance I didn't know it had come in contact with. I had to peel off some of the paper covering and also realized that the box was covered in a plastic film. I peeled that off and removed all of the grease. I also popped off the dirty sunflower decal that was on it. While it looked better, it needed more.

I had partially painted it before it occurred to me to take pictures!

I decided it was my next project. The first thing I did was to attach a piece of felt to the bottom of the box where I had to tear off some of the paper covering to remove the yuck. I used a bit of my Loc-tite I'd used on my knob plates to glue it down.

 I took out some of the pretty blue paint we'd used for the kitchen and mixed it with a bit of baking soda to make a chalk paint. After 2 coats of paint and waiting for it to dry, I dug through my collection of scrap book supplies and did a bit of a search on the Graphics Fairy for something kitchen-y. I used a product called Rub-Onz. I really love this stuff and it is very easy to use. It took a few minutes to print my design in reverse, apply the adhesive film, and rub it onto the top of the box

I applied some stickers designed for scrapbooking and a strip of ric-rac style paper around the top. It took a couple of hours, but mostly just waiting for the paint to dry thoroughly. I love how it turned out! What do you think?

Graphic on the top

Stickers, graphic, and a beautiful jar of peanut butter. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wheel Love

*contains paid affiliate links

Happy Valentine's Day world. Nope, still not a big fan, but I love all of my readers and followers, so gush, gush, kiss, kiss.

Now that that's out of the way...

Last year I made it a resolution to learn how to spin. I spent part of my very short summer vacation trying to learn just how to do that. All I had was a spindle from Craftsy and another I'd obtained from somewhere else I can't quite remember. Anywho...it didn't work out too well. I did spin some fiber, but the spindle was frustrating to me because of the back spin, the constant starting and stopping, the multiple coordination skills involved... Basically, I just decided it wasn't for me! 

So I went on about my way, feeling that I had at least tried something new. But there was an empty place in my heart. A place that could only be filled with wool. Wool spun into yarn. And I wanted to do this special spinning using a traditional wheel. Which, in the world of wheel spinning, is called a Saxony. There are many different styles available; everything from modern electric spinners and pvc wheels, to more traditional castle and Norwegian styles. They all pretty much do the same thing, but it depends on what you're willing to learn and what you find attractive. 

I love the look of an old-style wheel. Rumplestiltskin always fascinated me (straw to gold? yes, please) and Sleeping Beauty is my all-time favorite Disney princess. Yes, I have some femininity in there somewhere. I even have a daughter named Aurora, though my intention was not to name her directly after the princess, it was just a happy coincidence. So I searched long and hard for my perfect match. Bearing in mind I only had around $450 to spend. I finally found her. 

I chose a Kromski Interlude for many reasons. 

A. She was priced just right at sale price of $460. These generally run around $529.00. I picked mine up at the Woolery on sale, so keep your eyes open. You can still pick up the smaller "Prelude" for about $399 unfinished at KnitPicks.com. 

B. She was beautiful. I would have to stain her, since the sale price was only reasonable on the unfinished style, but I could pick any color I wanted and bulk up my wood staining skills. (no, it wasn't fun. yes, I would do it again.) She was also in the traditional Saxony style I wanted without the huge price tag. 

C. The Interlude is a good beginner wheel. Easy to learn, single treadle, single drive, good size bobbins, and a good low to high ratio with expansions available for faster flyers. 

D. It's size means that I can travel with it fairly reasonably. The wheel comes off easily and remounts just as quickly. So I'm looking for that perfect, secluded place where I can meditate and spin. 

So after choosing my wheel, I was so pleasantly pleased with the customer service from the Woolery, their super-fast shipping, and excellent interactions that I have to put a little plug in here for them. They're on my list of go-to places for future shopping, since they carry a lot of accessories and wool.
It took me 2 days to stain it after I got it.

Out of the Box and ready for staining
 I chose a light pecan to go with the floor in my craft room.
Partially stained. 
After staining it, I used a lot of Yosemite Sam cussing, a video on YouTube, and the instruction manual to put it together in about 3 hours. I could do it in probably 20 minutes now, but I had NO IDEA what all the pieces were and where they went, so it was difficult to say the least! If I had to do it all over again, I would do a "dry run" on assembly, so I at least understood where to put everything and what portions should NOT be stained before they are put together. That was one of my downfalls, because I had to sand off some of the stain. The pieces are perfectly fit and even a 2 layer stain causes problems.

finished and put together
I also purchased a video on Craftsy called *Foundations of Spinning. It was fantastic and helped me learn not only how to spin, but about my spinning wheel.

The results of my first roving hank spun
 I'm about half way through it right now and have spun 2 1/4 bobbins from some roving I had on hand. Yes, you can find 100s of free videos online and countless books, but I always find that my Craftsy videos give me the most information and help me learn how to do something right! Plus, there's no searching around for it, it's just right there when I sign in. 

3 bobbins full 
First time the roving went ON the bobbin

The yarn isn't pretty and perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's taken me about an hour a day over the course of a week to get to this point. Not too bad, really. I was getting much better by the end of the third bobbin and spinning more consistently. Now I get to learn to ply!

If you really want to do something, and your heart desires it all of the time, you CAN do it. It takes practice, dedication, and persistence, but that's all in your desire to learn it. Anything you really want to do, and find worth doing, you can learn. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Collecting the Shabbiness

Shabby chic is in full blown collection mode. I have scoured Pinterest, made new boards, collected paint samples, planned so many new things to do with the furniture and additions to make, and I went thrift store shopping. Yes, I know, it was very dangerous. But I made it out with less than $50 spent and a really great collection of new projects.

Probably the one I am most happy with and love is the little bunny doll. I don't think she's very old or even vintage, although she was covered with a good bit of dust. But everything from her flowery dress with lace collar, to raffia ears and bows, to her little wooden body and missing basket made me fall in love with her. And for $1.99, how could I say no? She will become a permanent fixture in the sewing room. 

My new bunny
wire cage
My other finds include what I believe to be a plate cover that will become a hanging lampshade, a little wire and stick birdcage that will be filled with mosses and fabric roses, a clock with a Celtic knot (that will probably stay just the way it is, with new hands), a basket for the bathroom, 3 little buckets I'm hoping to make into light shades for the other bathroom, and a hat rack. 
rose lights! For the bedroom

soon to be lampshade with butterfly, basket, and the buckets for lampshades. 
The Celtic Knot Clock. (Please forgive the messiness of my crafting table!)
I love the hat rack almost as much as the bunny. Almost. I plan to paint it and distress it first. Then it will become a plant hanger for the craft room. I love my greenery. 
Hat rack destined to be a plant hanger

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cupboard Door Knob Backplate

It's my first legit crafting post of 2015! I have decided that THIS is the year that I will finally decorate in the shabby chic manner that I so love. This means lots of little crochet pieces and a blog filled with shabby stuff. So I hope you're prepared!

The first thing I wanted to do is fix the paint chipping off the cupboard doors behind the knobs in the kitchen. I have looked at many different backplates for this solution, but nothing really struck my fancy. The ones that did were too pricey for the amount I needed, too!

So I decided that I would try to crochet some lace doilies and use those as backplates. The biggest challenge was trying to find a small enough doily pattern to use. I only had about 3" of room. I finally decided to just look at the center of some larger doily patterns and chose Curlique from the book Irish Lace Doilies on e-patternscentral.com. I just made the first 4 rounds, which, as indicated in the pattern, would measure 3" perfectly.

It took me a couple of nights, but I made the first 7 to go on the upper cabinets, where the chipping was the worst. First, I removed the knobs and repainted the chipped areas after a light sanding. After that was dry, I starched my doilies using a 1/2 white glue, 1/2 water ratio and letting them dry after blocking.

Once they were dry I applied them to the cupboards using Loc-tite Crafter's Indoor Safe Adhesive. It is non-yellowing, acid free, and low odor. It also says it is water resistant after curing and creates a permanent bond. This was exactly what I wanted.

So what do you think? I think that crochet can be used in so many different ways. All it takes is a little ingenuity. On my way to glorious shabbiness.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A look back and a glance ahead!

2014 was a really good year for me. I didn't mean most of my resolutions, but who does? I did, however, learn to use a spindle and I spun some yarn with it. I decided that I really want to work with a wheel. I don't think the spindle and I get along too well.

I have decided that I will just let the year carry me through and not forget to try new things and do more stuff that makes me happy. The only thing my heart is really pushing for is to continue working on this blog, reading my Bible daily, and being more involved in helping others. And with that I will include helping animals as well.

I started the day out yesterday making some scrap pillows for shelter/rescue cats. I ended up with 12 of them before I had to stop for the day. Basically, I'm just stitching together some squares from fabric I need to use up and stuffing them with strips of t-shirt materials from the quilts I've made. They're not the fanciest, but I think the kitties will like them!

I also finished up a fair isle knit sweater I've been working on since December 6. My daughter really wanted a pair of fingerless mitts because her hands stay cold. I found an amazing pattern on Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fingerless-gloves-musica. I was always a little hesitant about doing color work of any kind, especially fair isle. The look has always appealed to me, but dropping one yarn, picking, up another, working a few stitches, repeating the process sounded boring and intimidating. Now, though, I had to try it. 

I picked up continental knitting while working my two-at-a-time hats . So I used the technique of holding one yarn in one hand and another in the other hand and I did it! I made another set for a friend and then a third set with a different pattern for my daughter's boyfriend. 

So what comes after knitting 3 pairs of fingerless mitts? Why, a sweater, of course! So that's what I did. I had been eyeing a pattern by Natalie Moreva for months. Her foxy sweater was gorgeous, and I wanted one. So I made one. I finished it with about 35 minutes to spare last year. So I think I will revamp my original resolutions and say that I was successful at learning to fair isle knit and add it to my repertoire of knitting skills! 

So what did you learn this year? Were you successful with any resolutions? Let me know in the comments! 




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