Monday, October 3, 2016

FREE Healing Hats for Kids and Adults with Cancer

If you or a loved one is currently receiving chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, Crystal Butterfly Creations will send you Healing Hats for you or your loved ones receiving treatment for cancer. Click the link to find out how to get one sent to you.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Felting Magic

If you are one of those people who loves reading about synchronistic and serendipitous events, you’ll enjoy learning about what contributed to my knowledge about something that – to me – was an entirely new kind of craft. While researching low-income housing options, I came across a process called Felting, specifically as it related to Yurts (types of homes often made of felt). 

As I expanded my knowledge of felting, including wet felting (through Martha Stewart’s coverage of the Cooper Hewitt Fashioning Felt Exhibit), I discovered that one of my amazingly creative online friends had just discovered felting, too, and she showcased some of her felted projects on her Facebook page. 

As one who loves learning new crafts, my curiosity about felting became even more aroused when I saw Kim’s felted animal photos, so, knowing what prompted my own curiosity, I asked Kim why she began to craft with felt. 

Kim responded, “I was inspired by other felting artists. I've painted realistic animals using oil paint, and I wondered if it was something that I could do. I began with a kit, and I searched the Internet for info on making more realistic animals. I picked it up quickly. The little white dog was the second item that I've made. The hound was the third. I plan on buying a variety of colors and books with good animal photos. I don't want to use needle felting examples. I want to add as many details as possible.”  

Like Kim, I will probably create my own little creatures and begin with a felting kit, too, so I can learn the process of felting. Wool Roving materials and needles come in kits, so they’re a great way to practice. But as of June, 2016, don’t expect to find them in Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, or Walmart. Apparently, though the process of felting is old, felting in the 2010s is fairly rare. You have to go online to buy roving wool, felting needles, and pads. After shopping at the stores just mentioned, all of which sell felting kits online, I finally found a brick-and-mortar store that sold the kits so I didn’t have to wait for my materials to be shipped to me – Michaels.

Materials needed for felting are roving wool, felting needles (specialty needles that are barbed so that by moving them up and down they can pull different layers of wool fibers together, making the roving wool more firm), a felting pad (to protect surfaces), and a pattern – or your imagination!

Learning how to felt is easy, but you have to be careful not to stab yourself, so this craft may not be suitable for young children. YouTube videos are a great way to learn how to felt. The following videos helped me.

Felting for Beginners - Very Easy Tutorial for First-Time Felters 

Needle Felting Basics for Beginners 

Another creative felting artist I found online is Kay Petal, who felts celebrities. Her work is so astounding, I’m sharing her website, Felt Alive, with you. One video featured on her page is Making Whoopi! A Needle Felted Doll that is so eerily close to the real Whoopi, you’ll be astounded by what felting can create. Her other dolls are equally amazing.

The Conan O’Brien Show featured 10 seconds of another video that appears on her page, Conan O’Brien/Donald Trump off-road adventure! Scroll down her page and you can watch the whole thing. It’s funny, but a little long.

I’ve already come up with an idea for my own felting projects and if they turn out as well as I hope they will, I’ll introduce my creations to you. Give me a couple of months, though. I’m in the process of packing and moving while still caring for grandkids, so I might not get to it until late summer.

Thank you, Kim Dalessandro, for allowing me to post your first few items on this blog. When you get your online store up and running, I’ll add a link to your items here on this blog!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Favorite YouTube Crochet Instructors

As a visual learner, I find reading instructions sometimes impossible to follow. Either my mind wanders, I lose my place, or the instructions are so poorly written, no matter how hard I try, I cannot complete the pattern.

As you can imagine, uncomplicated crochet instructions (or instructions for other types of crafts) on YouTube are godsends for wandering minds to follow, because we can stop videos with each step. 

But why should I keep these YouTube subscriptions to myself when I can share my favorites with those of you who might experience distractions the same way I do? 

So here they are, my favorite YouTube crochet instructors, in no particular order:

Her shamrock and clover look similar to the ones I created in an earlier post here on All Craft Connection but I have admit – her instructions are a little easier to follow. Had she created her pattern before I created mine, I wouldn't have had to come up with my own pattern ;)

As always, thank you for visiting!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Baby Kicks

Have you ever had a problem following instructions? Instructions are so important that for many years I gave up trying to crochet booties for babies, because all of the instructions I read were so poorly written they didn't make sense. I was so frustrated by my numerous failed attempts, I wrote a blog about it –

Do You Find Following Craft Instructions Difficult?

But despite those failures, I didn't give up and I'm glad I didn't give up, because after reading numerous incorrect instructions, I've been able to figure out how to adjust those poorly written instructions just enough for the instructions to make sense to me and to help me make the following booties, mostly thanks to YouTube.

So for all of you who have given up trying to crochet because the instructions didn't make sense, keep trying. YouTube is a great resource for learning how to crochet projects you want to learn. Watching somebody create something you'd like to create helps, because you can stop the video, work the technique, and catch up. AND you can SEE what you're going.

Here are some baby booties I've made and embellished. A couple of them are gifts.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Do You Find Following Craft Instructions Difficult?

For many people (me in particular), one of the hardest parts about crocheting, knitting, making jewelry, and crafting in general, is following directions. Whether we are the types of people who become easily distracted or the people who gave us the directions left out an important step, the route from Point A to Point B is filled with twists, turns, and stumbling blocks.

Even instructions listed as Easy are often not, so when I see instructions listed as Difficult, I bypass them immediately. 

For months I labored over simple instructions for a pair of adorable baby sandals I hoped to sell in my daughter’s consignment boutique. Two and a half years later, they sit unfinished in my “unfinished” drawer. Throughout those many months, I had been telling myself that I was just too distracted to pay attention to those instructions (which is actually partially true, considering a thought unrelated to what I’m doing will enter my head, and I find my mind drifting), but I think the problem is a little more complicated than just not being able to pay attention to instructions.

To illustrate, one year, my boss set me up with a design program he wanted me to learn so that I could teach it. Following the book step-by-step, I kept getting stuck. The instructions made no sense and instead of thinking the problem was because of the way the instructions were written, I assumed I was the problem, since the program book had obviously been approved by the publisher. Over and over again, I meticulously followed each step and discovered, after many trials and errors, that the problem was not with me or my ability to understand what I was reading, but with the instructions. Step 4 needed to come before Step 2, and it made all the difference. 

Leaving a step out or placing instructions in the wrong order results in an end-product that looks, tastes, smells, or acts nothing like what it was intended to look, taste, smell, or act like. If you ever watched The Dick Van Dyke Show, you might remember the episode with Laura, Millie, and the peanut butter avocado dip recipe which, when Millie made it, tasted nothing like Laura’s recipe. Was perhaps an ingredient left out? Whether intentional or accidental, watching the fumbles of others trying to duplicate a product using incorrect directions is hilarious. In real life, those kinds of mistakes aren’t quite so entertaining.

In grammar school, when I was around 11 years old, I learned the value and importance of instructions and directions. One of my teachers gave us a very important test about following instructions. I have referred to this lesson in previous blogs, because it impacted me so profoundly. She handed out a voluminous test with 100 questions. We were to finish it in about 50 minutes. Our instructions were as follows, “Read through the test first, and then, after you read all 100 questions, start from the beginning and answer all the questions. When you are finished taking the test, place your pencils on the desk.”

Like so many other students, I looked at the thickness of the test and said to myself, “If I take time to read through this first, I’ll never finish in time,” so I, along with most of the students in the class, began taking the test. Some of the questions were simple; some were difficult. Some were silly, as in, “When you get to this point, bark like a dog.” I was too shy to bark out loud, but I could hear others around me barking.

When the time was nearly up, we heard our teacher say, “Put down your pencils.” I panicked. I had so much more to do. With perspiration dripping down my brow, I heard my teacher say, “Look at number 78 (or some other number – I can’t remember what the number was). That number read something like, “You have followed instructions correctly. Put your pencil on the desk. You have passed the test.”

As a result of that very important lesson, I have paid attention to instructions and I have found over the years, that not all of them are written in an easy-to-understand manner. I can rip out a crocheted item over and over and over again, but no matter how many times I start over, no matter how many times I reign in my brain, I can NOT complete the task. Though thee instructions look simple and though I follow them step-by-step, at some point I have to give up, because I finally realize that I can't force them to make sense.

And I refuse to blame myself anymore. I’ve been crocheting for probably 50 years. I no longer think that I am the problem and I’m learning after all these years how to figure out ways to compensate for missing steps. The sandals you see above are an example of instructions that made no sense. So I had to imagine how I wanted to accomplish the end result and made up my own instructions to complete the sandals.

Watching YouTube videos has been very helpful in learning new stitches and new ways to craft. Following steps is easier when you can pause the video while you complete each step. But even video instructions sometimes lack essential steps, so I would recommend watching them first to see if you can follow the steps before you attempt to actually create the item you want to craft. That process has saved me a lot of time! And with so many YouTubers offering advice and instructions, we can all find well-crafted videos we can understand.

So – word of caution if you write instructions: please make sure that every step along the way appears on the written page or in the video. Don’t assume your reader or viewer knows what the next step is supposed to be.  

And if you follow instructions, and you know how to contact the person, let him or her know if you get stuck somewhere along the way. S/he really is trying to convey instructions in a way that will help you recreate the item. If you don’t understand the instructions, tell him or her exactly where you had a problem, so s/he can fix it for the next reader. 

Photo explanation: I was playing with the sandals by stretching them. I probably should have stretched them both to match, but I took the photo before I packed them into a box to give to my daughter as a gift for her baby due in June. We’re not sure what the sex is yet, and because people automatically assume the baby is a boy if he – or she – is wearing blue, I figured I could add a pretty little bow if the baby turns out to be a girl.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Old Idea Resurrected – Send a Message In a Bottle!

Have you ever wanted to send a message to somebody and make an impression?

How about sending your message in a bottle?

For more information, click HERE!