Saturday, November 27, 2010

An Origami Christmas

I love Origami and I have often used it in the classroom as an exercise to help students learn how to follow directions. The kids love doing it and there's the quick gratification factor that not only makes them happy about doing something fun/new, but also helps to boost their self esteem.

This morning on Twitter I saw a link to 3D holiday origami on the Origami Kids blog, and when I followed the link, I saw another for a cute origami Santa. I immediately shared it on Facebook and emailed a couple people about it. The Santa would be a great activity to do with kids, adorable as a decoration on holiday gifts, or cute just dangling from a Christmas tree.

If you're making a lot of these with kids or to hang on your tree, purchase a roll of solid red gift wrap (no print) and cut the paper into squares yourself. It's not only economical, but you can make the squares the size you want and wrapping paper folds very well for origami.

There were some other nifty Christmas themed origami projects as well  I started thinking about how neat it would be to have an entire tree covered in origami. This wreath, also from Origami Kids, is made from modular pieces:

The site also has a diagram for an origami reindeer, and while the modular Christmas tree and the 3D origami Christmas tree are great, the origami snowflake is amazing! I've added the embed code below for the you tube Santa video, though you'll more than likely want to visit the blog yourself.

I started looking around online and found a whole gallery of origami Santas (four pages!) of varying design from very simple folds to 3D standing versions. I also found an awesome assortment of origami ornaments at the origami resource center. (I just LOVE playing with paper!) On the same site where I found the simple folded tree below (makes a great table centerpiece) there was great eight-pointed origami star.

Fans of modular origami will no doubt appreciate this life-sized origami Christmas tree by Sharon Turvey that took months to assemble. For those who are not quite that ambitious a simpler origami Christmas tree folded from a single piece of paper will have to suffice. This one can be done with children or seniors as part of a group project.

Of course now that I've been looking at all these diagrams I don't want to do any work! I just want to get out some paper and start playing! Look for pretty paper things coming soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

All Wired Up

When I was a kid, (about 6 1/2) we used to make jewelry from telephone wire. One of my favorite things to do was to make bracelets from coiling a piece of wire around itself. It was quick and easy and a lot of fun to do. I still have one or two of them tucked away in a box somewhere. The only problem was that it was not that easy to score telephone wire.

The only way to get some, was to beg it off one of the guys you saw on the street working if you happened to catch them on their way up or down a telephone pole. I can only hope no one ever got into trouble for giving away wire to little kids.

Recently, I discovered Twisteez wire. I was going to have a booth soon at a small neighborhood celebration so I decided to make some bracelets and see how people would receive them. I wrapped a piece of wire around my wrist to get he size, bent it and started coiling. Unfortunately I ran out of wire before the coil was complete. So much for that idea. I tried using multiple pieces but that was a disaster.

Today I got the bright idea to finally visit the Twisteez web site. There are a few lessons for cool projects, including a coiled basket. Theirs is thicker and combines wire; maybe I'll give it another shot with their version and see what I come up with. I saw some beautiful African bracelets online recently from telephone wire, but they were a little out of my league.

I'd made a coiled wire disk a while back trying to figure out how to make a basket like the ones from South Africa, but I couldn't figure out how to build the curve and now I can't even remember how I got the coil started in the first place.

A little while after my failure to launch with the bracelet inspiration struck and I decided to close my initial coil into a teardrop shape and create an earring. This time my effort met with success and I set about coiling more wire and creating more earrings in different colors.
The little celebration where I had my booth got rained on and sales were pretty poor for the day. I did get good response to the earrings though, and I even sold two pair. (There are more available online at my new Etsy store!)
The same day I made the coiled wire earrings I began digging through my container of leftover polymer clay beads. I had a bunch of pretty ones that I had never used so I dug out the head pins and started to play. Polymer clay is such an interesting material to work with and creating unique beads is so easy to do. Making earrings only requires a couple beads, unlike a necklace. When I have time to make more filler beads I'll so some more bracelets and necklaces, hopefully before Christmas.

I have been itching to start crocheting even though it's still a little early and I couldn't resist experimenting with yarn anymore so I played around with combining two variegated yarns in a scarf and hat set. I can't decide how I feel about them, but it always seems that when you make something you think has turned out strange, someone else falls head over heels in love with it.

Next I started on a shawl that I like during the day but not at night. The reason of course it that it looks better in natural light. During the day the purples and greens look like a garden of violets but at night it's a whole other murky, mossy story. At any rate, it's all about the journey. I had hoped to post more photos with this post, but the camera died (after only one year!) and my phone is not cooperating. Until next time...

Friday, April 2, 2010

My first tawashi

I first learned about Tawashi scrubbers while searching for crochet patterns for a helium article. I was on a website (Annie's Attic maybe?) and there was a nice photograph of a book cover (Tawashis in Crochet) with a number of cute designs including a huge multicolored flower. Intrigued I did a search for Tawashi crochet and came up with a number of hits including several for free patterns on ravelry and other sites.

I had never heard of tawashi (a japanese scrub brush) let alone tawashi crochet, but then I found one of the coolest things I've ever seen, the hyperbolic pseudosphere scrubbie. This was something I just had to try so I started messing around with some cotton yarn following the directions on TimaryArt's blog, but it just wasn't happening for me.

I went in search of more information and after looking at images on other sites and reading a few articles I just started experimenting with cirlces. What I found was that my Tawashi worked out best if I started out with two chains as if I were making a hat and then made 7 or 9 SC in the first chain (depending on yarn and hook size).

I had also seen some examples of hyperbolic crochet done from a foundation chain and decided to try that out as well. In the example here I have smoothed it out a bit to show the shape better, but as I was corcheting it curled more and more. After seeing the results I decided to experiment with a longer chain and the result is a curly variegated scarf still in progress. (I may take it along on my trip to Spain next week; need something to do on that long flight!)

In my intitial search I found a nifty Tawashi fish and the most adorable Tawashi Ohina. I haven't tried either of those yet, but hopefully I'll get to them over the summer when things settle down again.

While looking for a page displaying an image/pattern of the Tawashi fish that would not require registration for viewing I came across one of the most amazing things i've ever seen in crochet. When I was working on my hyperbolic tawashi I kept thinking how much it reminded me of some kind of aquatic animal. Well, it appears I am not the only one who thought so! Check out the awesome hyperbolic coral reef:

And just in case you think you have seen it all visit: and check out the dodecahedron crochet star.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crochet Corkscrews

So now that I am officially obsessed with crochet, I have been scouring the web and ordering books to learn more stitches. When I was a kid there was a fad for a brief period where it seemed everyone was wearing these crocheted hair "ribbons" that had corkscrew spirals on either end. My aunt and cousins figured out how to make them and I can remember I had a green one for the longest time that I think may still be stuck in a box somewhere. I hadn't thought about it in years until I saw something inside my latest crochet book.

Recently I saw a neat photo in the Interweave Crochet newsletter for an infinity scarf in progress that was being made from a Kristin Ohmdal pattern. It was done in shades of purple and looked like the beginnings of a really neat rug. I decided to get the book, Wrapped In Crochet, to be able to learn the technique (stitch combination) to create the flat sprial shape for the scarf so I could adapt it to make the rug.

I got the book from Amazon and as I started flipping throuh it one of the first patterns I came across was for a neat scarf made up of corkscrews! The book has a number of awesome designs like the incredible circular wrap with sleeves and the hairpin scarf. (I am now looking for a hairpin to try that one out!)

One of my students at Green Charter was asking about hairpin lace after her third grade class read a book that mentioned it. When she asked me about making lace my response was one of those incredulous "Ha!" sounds that isn't a laugh so much as a substitute for speech when someone says or asks something that leaves you on the verge of stuttering. We have done fingerknitting in our enrichment classes but, making lace is something else entirely. Of course, when she asked about it, my mind conjured an image of tatting not the hairpin. Now that I've seen images of how to work on a hairpin I am anxious to try it out.

After Christmas break that same student came back to class with a crochet book she had purchased from Scholastic. I showed her how to chain and add on rows, but the hook that came with the book was a size H and plastic and it soon broke. After attempting to teach a 30 year old and succesfully working with two fifth graders I have learned that it is best to start a beginner off with a large hook such as a P or a Q. It's easier for them to make consistent chains that they can hook into to build rows. They can also start to create items right away and we all know that instant gratification directly leads to a beginner continuing on with something.

Back to the book; the infinity motif wrap in the book is pretty and lacy with delicate edging, nothing like the photo I initially saw in that newsletter. Of course, now I that I've just stopped typing for a bit and gone back through my emails to find the photo I realize it wasn't the newsletter where I saw the image but a link in the newsletter to the Crochet Me blog: It will be a while yet before I delve into that pattern; I need some practice with the math and of course the right yarn.

I found some great variegated yarn recently in harvest colors that I fell in love with on sight. I tried knitting with it but I wasn't getting what I wanted so I put two strands together and tried crocheting a hat. That wasn't working out either so I tried searching for the yarn company online to see what patterns were offered. The yarn name, La Mer, didn't yield anything and there was almost no otehr information on the label. You practically need a magnifying glass to read the web address of the yarn distributor and while that led to a yarn site and patterns by Deborah Norville, it didn't give me what I was looking for.

The entire search proved fruitless and then I remembered the Corkscrew Scarf in Wrapped in Crochet. It was perfect for the mixed fiber (hand wash from Turkey) yarn. The pattern recommended using a size I hook but all I had on hand were H and J. I decide to go with the H and left the chains a little loose so the work wouldn't be too tight, but I needn;t have worried about that. Stepping down one hook size didn't make that much of a difference because gauge isn't really an issue in this project.

It seemed to take forever to chain the 390 stitches for the foundation, but four balls and three days later I finally finished the first corkscrew "rope" (you have to make three to complete the scarf). Of course it is twice as long as what I really need it to be for a scarf, especially for one that seems to be more decorative than functional. I am quite tempted to simply double this one (fold it in half) and join it without making the other two strands.
As it is I will have to take another trip to the store as I only had six balls of that yarn and I will need another six to be able to finish the entire thing. One could easily go broke with this textile obsession!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Knit Wit

So I got it into my head recently that I needed to start knitting again because I couldn't get the same kinds of results in crochet (my current obsession) and I wanted some different textures. I've been churning out hats and scarves the past two seasons and in January I started working on shawls. I dug out the needles (size 8) and grabbed some variegated green yarn (Sensations Rainbow) and realized I no longer knew how to cast on!

Fortunately I recently acquired a book on all things needlework related and was able to remind myself. There I was off and running with these ridiculously thin needles. I cast on about 15 stitches and after painstakingly working a dozen or so rows in garter stitch (easy, right?) I had had enough.

I went out and got some nice fat size 13 (needles) and started again. In the time it took me to finish this simple scarf I could have crocheted at least four or more! The weaving in of yarn ends was no picnic either.

Of course when it was finally done I had to look for the book again to figure out how to bind off because I had never completed any knitting projects so I never learned how. I no longer have the patience for knitting. I used to find it so relaxing. I am not giving up though, I just will not be producing knitting items that often. (At least for now.)