Monday, November 28, 2011

Tutorial - Spiral Beaded Christmas Tree Ornament

The first ornament I’ve made for Miss Abigail’s hope chest this year is a spiral beaded Christmas tree. The design concept is extremely simple, but I’ve used glass beads to make it more sophisticated. Here’s a tutorial in case you want to make one yourself.

Materials needed: round-tip needle-nosed pliers, 30 inches 24-gauge wire, approximately 130 green foil-lined “E” beads (6/0 seed beads), 6 red foil-lined “E” beads (6/0 seed beads), 8 crystal foil-lined “E” beads (6/0 seed beads), 17 crystal 6mm glass beads, 9 red 6mm glass beads, 6 red polka-dot 10mm glass beads.

Begin by rolling a tiny loop at one end of the wire.

String a red “E” bead first, followed by a red 6mm bead and a 10mm polka dot bead. This forms the top of the tree.

String the rest of the beads onto the wire, loosely following the pattern in the photo. The pattern could be variable. You can do whatever you want, provided you have enough beads to play around with. Just put a length of green beads between the colored accent beads, so that there is enough green to give the impression of a tree. Use the larger beads toward the end, where the curve of the spiral is larger. Also, glass beads can get a little heavy, depending on the size, so don’t include too many of these larger, heavier beads. You don't want the weight to pull the spiral out of shape. Leave a good tail on the wire, for the time being, bending it a bit, to keep the beads from falling off.

Bend the initial three beads so that they stand up, then begin coiling the wire into a spiral shape.

Continue coiling the beads, until you reach the end. Try to keep the beads close together, but you may need just a little slack in the wire to adjust for the curve.

Hold the outer rows of beads loosely in one hand and pull up on the top beads to stretch out the ornament. Then simply adjust the spiral to form a nice tree shape. Use the pliers to form another tiny loop at the end of the wire, trimming the excess wire. This loop keeps the beads in place and makes a nice finish for the end of the wire.

Finished. The tiny loop at the top makes it easy to use a regular ornament hook. Or, string gold thread or thin ribbon through the loop and tie the ends together for a hanger.

Shared on Raising Homemaker's Wednesday Link-up .

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chirstmas Workshop

Our Christmas workshop is now officially open! When I ask Miss Abigail what she likes most about Christmas, she always mentions making crafts together. I like this activity too. I think we would have to call it a tradition now, but it certainly didn't start out to be anything as formal as a tradition. It seems like I spend quite a lot of time making things at Christmas and Abigail was always saying, "That looks fun." So I began including easy decorations or simple handmade ornaments that she could work on also. Every year she makes a handmade sign that sits on the table to indicate that the workshop is open. When we clean up for the day, the sign goes in the box of supplies until next the time. Now that Abigail is older and more accomplished in her skills, she can add fun holiday things to her hope chest. When she brings them out at some future time, I hope she will remember our fun workshop days.

We've been working on ornaments the last couple of days. Miss Abigail is making a beautiful sequin ornament and I completed a very easy spiral beaded Christmas tree ornament. I made a tutorial because I know you'll want to make one too. Watch for the post on Monday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Kitchen Set

I finished the Thanksgiving kitchen set for Miss Abigail’s hope chest - just in time! I always seem to run a little behind on my projects, but this one is ready. Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. I love to cook the dinner and Abigail loves to decorate and set the table, so we make quite a team. I even like to wash the dishes, which I do mostly by myself - at my own request. I just like to take my time and admire my pretty dishes and dry them off with pretty towels. I’m not sure that Abigail will ever love to do the Thanksgiving dishes, but at least she will have the pretty towels.

I started this set with the yarn that Abigail liked so well. These hotpads are truly one of a kind. I wanted something different from my usual favorite, so I loosely followed a hexagonal pattern. The term loose would be an understatement. I got a little creative in the middle of things and then somehow had to make it all work together. I wrestled and wrangled and, in the end, these hotpads turned out pretty well, but I’ll never be able to replicate what I did. They are nice and thick, which is the most important factor.

I tried a circular pattern for the dishcloths in this set. These were quick to make, and I’m happy to have another quick pattern. I started out with the #1 pattern found in a Leisure Arts leaflet called "Dishcloths in the Round,"  but naturally adjusted here and there. I really can't seem to help it. The V-stitch works well for dishcloths, I think. This stitch makes a fabric that is close, but not too dense.

I used two designs from Aunt Martha’s #3995 “Monthly Madness” for the embroidered dishtowels. I loved the designs, but thought they were a bit small, so I enlarged them on a regular copy machine and then traced them with a transfer pen.

I found a nice color match in these handtowels and added a simple crocheted leaf to the bottom of each towel. The pattern for this scallop-edged leaf comes directly and without deviation from a lovely book, “Crochet Bouquet,” by Suzann Thompson. I used #3 sized cotton thread.

The pattern for the apron is the “Sassy Little Apron” by Cabbage Rose Quilts. Cute.

The last item in this set is another fabric embellished dishtowel. I had extra fabric from the apron and quickly sewed up a towel using the “Retro-Fun” tutorial from Sew4Home. This is a great tutorial. I think I’ve found another dishtowel favorite. I added a simple monogram with chain stitch and lazy daisies.

Finally, I made a cover to keep the items together inside the hope chest and then made a tag from the apron fabric to identify this set.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Peek Inside - "Home" Quilted Wall Hanging

This quilted wall hanging was made by Miss Pat, another of our special lady friends in the Stanley Homemaker's Club. Pat has been a quilter extrordinaire, but has now almost given it up in a new passion of dollmaking. So, I'm extra glad that Miss Abigail has this in her hope chest. It will be so pretty hanging somewhere in her home someday. It is lovely, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Current Project - Thanksgiving Kitchen Set

Miss Abigail fell in love with the colors in this yarn, so naturally I wanted to make something from it. Since Thanksgiving is in the air, I decided to make a holiday kitchen set for her hope chest. I have the designs transferred to the dishtowels and will make a set of potholders from the yarn - of course I will make potholders ;o} and a dishcloth or two. We found an appropriate print to sew an apron and I will look for a couple of handtowels to complete the set. I'll post again when I get it all done!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Favorite Craft Store

A trip back home to Idaho ALWAYS includes a trip to Porter's craft store. I just love going there. I look at all the demonstrations and samples. I wander and spend time dreaming of all the fun craft projects I could make. I love how Porter's feels so old-fashioned to me. Maybe that is because it is located in a very old building and I grew up with this store. It used to be a wonderful bookstore with toys in the basement. As a small child, I stalked the aisles of toys and made my Christmas wish-list. I was the "story lady" here for the children's hour when I was in high school, and I worked as a clerk for a short time before I was married. Sometime after I left home, Porter's discontinued the books completely and changed over to selling crafts. This store is not at all like the big chain craft stores. They carry all the same stuff, but there is still that old-fashioned feel, with creaking wooden floors and little side nooks and spaces. It is just the most wonderful place. I can find things here that I just can't find elsewhere and I love it. I took pictures on this trip, so that you could see my very favorite craft store, and see what I bought this time.

Porter's carries all the usual craft supplies, but they have things organized into sections based on projects, with everything you need to complete the project located nearby. I like being able to think about projects, and not just see random supplies.

Just look at this section devoted to hair bows, of all things! The little girls in Rexburg, Idaho must be the cutest and most bedecked of any on earth. There are also some pretty sophisticated hair accessories for big girls, as well.

Porter's has THE best selection of scrapbook supplies. The possibilities are just endless.  I have to be sooooo careful here.

My favorite part of the store is the fabric and fiber section. Many Mormon women are expert quilters and the selection of quilt patterns and fabric in this one fabulous place is marvelous. Plus, they have all the colors of Cebelia crochet cotton and beautiful hemstitched kits for baby blankets and burp cloths.

I always head for the display of Dunroven House tea towels. There are so many colors and patterns to choose from and cute project samples to view.

This is my pile of goods from this trip. It seems kind of small pile, considering how much I love this store. In the end I restrained myself. ;o) The brown and aqua tea towels are for a particular kitchen set for the hope chest, the red ones are for a Christmas project. I'm experimenting right now with old fashioned chicken scratch and gingham embroidery and these towels are the best. I found two sets of printed pillow cases to embroider and fun transfers for other embroidery projects. I couldn't pass up all the patterns in the apron nook and chose the classic "Church Ladies Apron." The two little Santa bear ornaments are for my sweet grandsons for their first Christmas and I loved that rusty doorknob hanger. The feathered owl is for a really great Christmas project I have imagined. You'll have to wait to see.

I just love places that inspire creativity and I especially love places that seem to speak to my own style. Porter's is that place for me. Visit them online here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A New Grandson

I've been in Idaho for the last couple of weeks, to attend the birth of our second grandson. Blaine Rockne Mower was born on October 29th at 10:47 in the evening. He weighed 6 lbs. 12 oz. and was 20 inches long. He has plenty of cute dark hair, but there is also some blonde hair mixed in, which comes from his sweet blonde mother. Everyone is doing very well and it has been my joy to spend some time with this new little family. Enjoy the pictures.

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