Places to Go/Things to Do

Craft Book Challenge Week 51: Japanese Braiding

When I was a kid, my best friend lived on a sheep farm. Her mother had a spinning wheel in the corner and a full–sized loom where she would weave the yarn she had spun into beautiful fabrics.

I was fascinated with the process. She taught me to card wool and spin a little on a drop spindle. My brother wove my lumpy yarn into a lap weaving and won a state fair ribbon.

Weaving is little more than the process of moving strings in and out of place to generate a growing fabric. Japanese braiding or Kumihimo also is the process of swapping strings to build round and flat cords.

Last week, I found a square Kumihimo plate in the hobby shop while my husband was replacing parts for his new radio–controlled flyer.


Swapping a few strings of silk embroidery ribbon quickly generated a flat cord.


I had no choice but to go to the library and find a book on Kumihimo.


You can buy a round foam Kumihimo disk or make one from stiff card. Once you learn the simple moves, you swap the warp and weft to make round and square cords.


The notches take the place of weighted bobbins in traditional Kumihimo.


I even experimented with multiple strands of 32–gauge gold and copper wire to weave a simple ring.


The cord makes great bracelets and bookmarks. With thicker cording, you could make purse straps.


Experimenting gave me toothed flat cord.




While my woven cord doesn’t compare to the spinning and weaving I’ve never been able to master, I enjoyed how quickly I could produce the cord. I plan to experiment more with color combinations and cording size. If I can’t weave flat, I’ll gladly take round weaving.

One week left of my craft book challenge!




Craft Book Challenge Week 50: Softy Polar Bear Ornament


Every year I give each of my kids an ornament for Christmas. My mother did the same for me, and I enjoy pulling out my collection and reminiscing as I decorate my tree.

Usually, I buy the ornaments and write the date on the box. This year, I actually had time to make their ornament gifts.

My pattern came from Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle.


Making little softies can be fiddly if you cut out your pieces and then sew them. Instead, trace the pattern onto your fabric and sew it. Now cut it out. So much easier. I was able to make two bears using this method in one afternoon.


I found a dinner  napkin and traced a polar bear pattern onto the doubled fabric. I stitched along  my lines (leaving room for turning and ear insertion).


I pulled it right–side out, stuffed it, and painted simple features onto the bear’s face.


A simple crocheted scarf and a loop for hanging finish his ensemble.


I forgot to take a picture, but I wrote 2012 on his little backside.  He’s now part of the ornament family. My kids will be gone in a few short years, but they’ll have boxes of ornaments to take with them. I hope they enjoy their little Christmas memories as much as I have mine.

Have a wonderful week!


P.S. I finished my cookbook project. 190 pages plus an index. It’s awesome. My mom has put in her order for me to scan my grandmothers’ recipes to share.


Craft Book Challenge Week 49: Heirloom Recipe Journal

I was working diligently on my scarf–a–palooza crafting marathon when my husband gently reminded me I had promised his aunt copies of heirloom recipes to give as gifts. Two years ago. She had gently reminded him that Christmas was coming like a freight train.

Scarf–a–palooza—FULL STOP!

As I said, two years ago, my father–in–law let me borrow his late wife's recipe box so I could scan the handwritten recipes. My husband's aunt got the word that the recipes were written by her little sister and her mother, both of whom passed away entirely too soon. I scanned all the recipe cards but lost my steam on the project when my computer ate most of my edits.

So, last Wednesday I got back to work fixing scans of well–loved recipe cards. Some of the yellowed cards were so loved that they were almost unreadable from years of batter and grease splashes.

I tweaked and twisted those scans in Photoshop until I had something readable and printable.

This one must have been really good.

Believe it or not, I was able to make this scan readable.

Since my aunt–in–law wanted to share the recipes in book form, I pulled out Making Journals by Hand, which has quick and practical ideas for creating books and journals.

I printed out the recipes onto card stock and placed them into simple page protector sleeves to protect the pages from the messiness of baking. I bound the pages with a simple raffia ribbon.

I was inspired to make some lemon cake.

The cake recipe journal is more of a family history than a cookbook. What's on the pages is more important than how perfectly the book is bound.  My husband remembers his mother making some of the recipes I included. I'm going to pass this book on to both of my children so they can make some cakes just like Granny did.

I still have many more recipes to pull together, but I figured cake was an important and necessary place to start. No matter how many pages I can pull together before Christmas, my husband's aunt will be so pleased to share her mother and sister with the rest of the younger generation.

If you're looking for a meaningful gift, look no further than your recipe box. You might have some history to share with your family. All you need is a scanner.




Craft Book Challenge Week 48: German Paper Star

If you can make it like Martha, your life with be beautiful.

If you aspire to a Martha Christmas, your holiday will be perfect and beautiful.

Martha made a ribbon German Star ornament in her Handmade Christmas. I followed the teeny, tiny drawings. I read (and reread the instructions).

Strike 1. Must have been the card stock I used. Let's try a thinner paper.

Strike 2. Thinner paper tears, especially painted newsprint. Let's try printer paper.

Strike 3. All three stars died at the exact same point in Martha's directions. Maybe it's not me or my paper.

No, it's not me.

If you really want to make a German paper star, follow a step–by–step video. With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart has a great video tutorial. Look what plain copy paper can become.

Lesson learned: Martha will not make life perfect. Seek your own perfection.



Craft Book Challenge Week 47: No time to embroider? Try paper piecing with the same pattern.

While browsing through my Christmas books, I found a beautiful white dove embroidered on a taupe stocking. I will never spend a billion hours embroidering that dove. See how well I know myself?

So am I out of luck? Will I never get to experience the joy of actually making something from my Leisure Arts Christmas books?

The moment I saw this dove I thought, "Paper piecing. Oh yes, it can be done."

Embroidery pattern from Leisure Arts presents The Spirit of Christmas, Book 4 (1990).
I have a personal cutting machine and some magic software (Make the Cut) that allows me to generate my own patterns for cutting.

Here's how to make a paper piecing pattern from an embroidery pattern.

Step 1 is to get the pattern into a vector–based drawing package. I use Inkscape because it's free and produces the SVG file necessary to talk to my cutter software.

Step 2 is to trace all the pieces you want to cut, adding a little extra on the back end of each piece so the paper layers can hold it all together. You can use your mouse for this step. I use a pen and tablet.

Step 3: Save the Inkscape file and open it in Make the Cut. Now cut! (I did prepaint some of the paper, but it's not necessary.) See all those shapes in different colors? They are the shapes the cutter will cut out. Keep this file open when gluing or you will go crazy trying to figure out where each piece goes.

I used plain white card stock for the doves. After several layers of white glue, they laminate into a sturdy ornament. Everything underneath the head and wings is ugly (much like all the pictures I took of the assembly process).

Until you hide all the overlaps.

Pearlescent Dove (white card stock covered in white pearl acrylic paint)

Glitter dove (white card stock covered in multicolor glitter)

Gold dove (white card stock streaked with metallic gold acrylic paint before cutting)

I'm ready to decorate the tree. First I must put up the tree.

If you don't have a personal cutter, you can trace the pattern and add the overlaps yourself. I'd resize the pattern larger to make cutting with scissors easier. I'd like to try this with felt.

Embroidery, Ha! I have ignored you and still I have a dove.



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