Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leather Lace Finger Knitting

Did I say I’d put this post up Tuesday?  I obviously meant Thursday. 
Anyway, on Monday I shared a tutorial  on how to finger knit.  Today I am showing how I upgraded the technique using leather lace to make some cool and funky accessories. 

I made a necklace and bracelet that I love:

Another necklace that is so so:

And a belt that did not turn out as awesome as I envisioned in my head.  I think I’ll work on that design a bit more and see if I can make it work out.

Want to make your own awesome leather jewelry?  Here’s what I used:

Leather Lace:  You can find leather lace at your local fabric store (I got these at both Joann’s and Hancocks.  Mine is ¼ inch thick.)  The length varies based on what you are making.  For the bracelet I used 3 yards, for the necklace I used 4 yards. If you want to take a stab at making a belt you will need at leat 10 yards.

Leather Cording:  In the second picture shows leather cording, it is much skinnier and better for adding beads to.  I used 8 yards for the long necklace.

Bedazzlement:  Grab some funky charms, beads, or whatever to add on.  Also helpful, some jewelry clasps and rings.

Refer back to the finger knitting tutorial if you need a reminder on how to do that.  Working with leather lace is much different from working with yarn.  Yarn is stretchy so you can easily pull it away from your fingers, but the lace is stiff and tight, so you need to make sure that you keep it loose around your fingers.

In the above picture you can see how I pulled the lace away from my fingers to make it easier to pull off.  Also, the leather lace can snap if you pull it too tight, so another good reason to keep it loose.

For the bracelet and necklace made with the leather lace, I just knit them up as normal and added the charms afterwards using jewelry rings.  Super easy!

For the black necklace using the leather cording I added the beads as I knit.  To do this, before you start you need to string all the beads you will use onto the cording.

Start the finger knitting as normal.  After the first pass, pull up four beads and arrange them so one is under each finger, like this:

Then just knit as normal, making sure that the bead stays next to the finger.

Does that make sense?  Do this for each finger.  Work one row with no beads, then pull up four more beads and repeat.  Keep doing this until you have the length you want.  Here is an up close shot of the finished necklace:

It is funky and chunky and I love it!

To finish off each piece I added some jewelry clasps.

These were fun to make and are fun to wear!  Hope you try it out!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Finger Knitting Tutorial

Looking for a quick, super simple, and mindless craft?  You have found it in finger knitting!  You use your fingers and yarn to create a long chain that looks like this:

When I was a kid and my mom needed to keep us quiet during boring things, she would pull out a stash of yarn and let us go to town.  I would knit a chain longer than me using a whole skein, and then wrap it all around me like a scarf or necklace.

Now, you may be thinking, cute story, but what would I do with a long chain of yarn?  Honestly, not much.  But, how 'bout instead of yarn you used leather strips?  Bedazzle that up and you’ve got yourself an awesome bracelet, or necklace, or belt!

Pretty stylin’ right?

This tutorial will teach you how to finger knit, then tomorrow check back to see how I turned it from kid craft to runway chic!

This tutorial has a lot of pictures, but that’s to help you get it down!  This really is an easy craft and even young kids can do it.  So grab a ball of yarn to practice and let’s get started!

First let’s set things up.  You'll be working straight off the ball of yarn, so no need to measure out a length.  Tie the end of the yarn around the thumb of your non-dominant hand.  (I’m right handed so I used my left hand.  Use whatever hand is comfortable for you, the process is the same.) 

With the yarn secured to your thumb, weave the yarn behind your index finger, in front of your middle finger, behind you ring finger, and in front of your pinkie, just like this:

Then, just weave the yarn back.  Draw it around your pinkie finger, in front of your ring finger, behind your middle finger, and in front of your index finger.  It should look like this:

Now take that string behind your hand, like this (with handy arrows pointing the way):

And then bring the string back up to your thumb:

Alright, that’s the set up!  Now to start knitting.

Starting with the index finger, place the long strand above the strand on the index finger.  (The long strand is the one across your palm.)  Pull the bottom strand (the strand on the finger) away from the finger creating a hole.  Put your index finger through that hole and slip the yarn behind the finger. 

Sound confusing?  Here’s some pictures to help.  The first one shows the hole, with the long strand on top and the finger strand on the bottom:

The finger goes through that hole and the yarn you are pulling goes behind the finger.

Making more sense now?  Repeat this move for each finger:

And that’s it!  If it doesn’t make sense, just try it a few times following closely to the pictures and you’ll get it. 

To keep going all you do is wrap the yarn around your hand again from back to front:

And repeat the process.  Do this over and over as long as you like (it can actually get to be a soothing process from the repetitiveness of it) and pretty soon you will have a funky looking chain of yarn on your hand.

Finishing this off is simple.  When you have a length that you like, just cut the yarn leaving at least 5 inches. 

Just slip that yarn end through each finger loop, pulling it off the finger as you go.

When you take it off it will look like this:

But to turn it into that skinny chain, just pull on both ends and voila!

And that’s it!  Easy right?  And now you have a cool and funky yarn chain!

This tutorial was just to show the finger knitting basics.  Tune in tomorrow to see how I used this process to make a more stylish, adult version!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Martha Makes: Valentine Goodies

The February issue of Martha Stewart Magazine had a bunch of great recipes.  After weeding out the ones that used never-heard-of-you ingredients and the kitchen equipment made out of spun gold, I settled on two recipes that are super delicious and surprisingly simple!

First up: a yummy breakfast sandwich using frozen puff pastry.  All you do is roll out the puff pastry and cut it into squares, put some bacon on top, bake it in the oven, and top it with a fried egg.  Easy!  You can get the recipe on Martha’s website

I made this for breakfast on Valentine’s Day, so I decided to be cutesy and cut the pastry out as hearts.

The yellow goop is egg wash.

The flaky pastry made it taste like an egg Toaster Strudel, yum!  This was pretty easy to make, but not really for quick mornings since you need to thaw and roll out the pastry, then let it refreeze for 30 minutes.  I rolled it out the night before and stuck it back in the freezer.

Simple and yummy!  Perfect Martha!

Next up, I made a super yummy, super moist, super gooey coconut sheet cake!

You can also get this recipe on Martha's website.  This month there were like 5 chocolate cake recipes that all looked delicious, but this was the easiest to make so it won. 

Evolution of a cake.

This kind of tasted like a coffee-flavored German Chocolate Cake.  There is coffee in both the cake and the coconut topping, so the coffee flavor is pretty strong (although it mellowed out and the cake tasted even better the second day). 

This cake is veeerrrrry rich!  A small piece is all you need.  I will definitely be making this one again!

Topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut, perfect!  Two for two this month Martha!

Hope you try these out!  And have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine Art: Raised Embroidery

I know Valentine’s Day is almost here, but it’s not too late for some pink and red craftiness! 

Usually my decorations for Valentine’s Day consist of putting out old Vday cards as a subtle reminder to my husband that it is time to get me another Vday card and with it, chocolate (the real goal).  This year I wanted to make an actual decoration, but I wanted to keep it simple.  Behold, cute and simple Valentine art:

I made these by gluing a rope to a canvas and stitching around it.  (Inspired by a pin I’ve seen floating around on Pinterest that links to a little more complicated stitch.  You can check that out here.) 

For the heart I decided to be trendy and made it ombre in shades of pink.

Clean, simple, and a nice way to perk up the mantle.

Want to make your own?  It really is easy to make, but it is a little time consuming.  But don’t let that stop you!  I had myself a mini Jane Austen movie marathon while making these; Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Clueless!  

So, let’s get started!  Here’s what you need:

Art Canvas:  For the ‘Be Mine’ I used a 9”x12” canvas and a 10”x10” for the heart.  I got both of these at Michaels.  Just make sure that the back of the canvas is open enough for you to get your design at the size you like.

Rope Cord:  I got my rope cord at JoAnns.  I used 1 ½ yards of rope total for both pieces, but buy extra in case you need it.

Embroidery Floss:  For the ‘Be Mine’ sign I used 4 skeins of floss, for the heart I used four different shades of pink and used less than 1 skein of each color.

Other:  Glue gun; sharp, sturdy embroidery needles; lamp, paper, and pencil.

First step, designing your sign.  Measure the back of the canvas to determine how big your design can be.

Cut out a piece of paper the right size to use as a template, and make your design.  I wanted the ‘Be Mine’ to be somewhat cursive.  Draw out your design and make sure you like how it looks and that it fits.

To trace the design to the front I just taped the paper to the back of the canvas, propped it up against a lamp, and traced the design in pencil.

Now it’s time to start cutting the rope.  Just match up your rope to your design and cut the pieces to the sizes you need.  I recommend cutting all the pieces first, so as you are gluing you don’t have to stop to cut.

Once your pieces are cut, fire up that glue gun and start gluing the rope down.  Go one letter at a time and quickly lay the rope pieces down on the glue.

Repeat the process for the heart and let the glue dry.  Now it’s time for embroidery!

I used all six strands of embroidery floss to make sure that the color was full and there were no white spots showing through.  Keep your stitches close together and close to the rope for a nice tight look. 

Here is a close up of how I worked the cross over on the letter ‘e’.

Just keep stitching away until you’re done.  The ‘Be Mine’ sign took more time to do because of all the curves, but I also got much faster as I went on.  The heart was much quicker to do.  Before starting mark off on the heart where you want the color changes.

And you’re done!  Now you just have to find the perfect spot to put your awesome artwork. 

By the way, did you notice that ugly stain on the heart canvas?

The stain was hidden under the label of the canvas, so I didn’t know until I opened it up!  Grr, I tried to get it off but neither bleach nor Oxy Clean worked.  I debated painting it white, but I found another solution:

Cue the strategically placed candle, and all is well.

I really like how these turned out.  If I look at it too hard, the ‘Be Mine’ sign kind of looks like it says ‘Be Mire’, but I can live with that.  I may have to make some art like this for every holiday!

This could also be done on regular embroidery fabric, which would be easier to stitch through than the canvas.  But I like how the canvas gives it more of an art look, plus it is sturdier for this heavy embroidery.  A light fabric might sag or pull funny from the weight.

I hope this inspires you to try out this technique in your own awesome artiness!

Thanks for reading!