Saturday, May 17, 2014

Want a Less Messy Alternative to Decorating Easter Eggs?

Yes, I know it's the middle of May, and yes I know that Easter Sunday was several weeks ago. So why am I posting about decorating Easter Eggs? Well, because I am still migrating that plethora of Helium articles and this is the next one to come up for re-posting.

This is yet another one of those times where I wish I'd had the opportunity to post photos as well in order to illustrate the tasks covered for decorating eggs without dye, but if I start re-doing everything as well as re-posting, I'll still be sitting here next year and with only half of the articles salvaged.

Alas, dear reader, you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm really good at giving directions, you know!

How to Decorate Eggs without Dye

Decorating eggs at Easter is a fun and exciting pastime for kids, but it can also be a messy one, particularly when liquid dyes are used. Aside from the potential spills, drips and stains egg dyeing can bring, many parents are becoming increasingly concerned about the chemicals in commercially sold Easter egg dye kits. This unease has led to them to seek out natural dyes as well as other alternate non-toxic means for decorating eggs with children.
Do to the ever expanding DIY craft market, there are a wide variety of materials and methods that can be used in the absence of traditional dye kits for decorating eggs. Depending on the age of the children involved and the degree of messiness assisting adults are willing to endure, dye-free egg d├ęcor can be pre-school simple or artistically intricate.
Perhaps the best material to work with when decorating eggs with small children is stickers. Purchased stickers provide instant gratification while allowing little hands to customize their Easter eggs with everything from smiley faces to animals to their favorite Disney characters. Large craft stores feature entire aisles of stickers in a wide range of sizes and styles to accommodate every imaginable theme.
Alternatively, custom stickers could be made from large blank labels such as those used for addressing packages. Kids can color and draw freehand on the labels with regular markers, colored pencils, or crayons. Those with limited drawing ability can use stencils to create colorful geometric patterns, or simply make their own abstract designs. Temporary tattoos could also be used to decorate eggs for Easter, as could nail decals.
Perhaps the only drawback to decorating Easter eggs with stickers is that the eggs are still mostly white (unless using brown eggs). For kids with even minimal drawing ability, food coloring pens such as Food Doodler and Gourmet Writer, allow for adding straight or curved lines and simple designs with less hassle and mess than egg dyes. The more drawing skill kids have, the more elaborately they will be able to decorate their eggs.
In addition to food coloring pens, there are a number of food paints available that could be used instead of dyes to decorate Easter eggs. These are probably best suited for older children and teens, and can be obtained from retailers that carry cake decorating supplies.
No matter the age of the child involved Easter egg decorating with stickers, edible pens or paint, temporary tattoos, or a combination of all three, parents can rest assured they will be doing so dye-free, and with a lot less mess.

How I Learned to Knit

When I was nineteen years old, I moved to Los Angeles briefly. Another friend had coincidentally moved to Long Beach shortly before, and another to Venice right after. It helped to have people I knew nearby, and I ended up spending quite a lot of time in Long Beach in the nine months or so that I lived on the west coast.

My friend in long beach introduced me to what at the time seemed like a great pastime. As much as I enjoyed knitting and found it to be not only easier than crochet (ha!), but also a very relaxing and therapeutic activity, it soon became clear that I would never finish a sweater because it just took too freaking long.

Fast forward years later and the tables have turned. I finally conquered crochet and now wonder how I ever found knitting to be so relaxing. I actually have an early blog post on my return to knitting a few years ago, where I discovered the trick to completing a project (at least for me) is thicker needles. I still have yet to knit a sweater, but it could happen.

How I Learned to Knit

I taught myself to knit from a book over twenty years ago.  It was something that had always appealed to me so I got a book and a set of needles and some yarn and started knitting.  I had always had trouble following crochet patterns but I found knitting to be relatively simple and very relaxing.
My first knitting project was a ribbed peach sweater.  Unfortunately I never completed it.  While I had a lot of enthusiasm for knitting I had no idea as a beginner just how long it actually would take to complete an entire sweater.   Needless to say it wasn’t the right first project choice for me. 
Even though I enjoyed knitting and found it to be therapeutic even, life had other plans and my knitting efforts soon got sidetracked.  Many, many years later I had tons of yarn and I told myself it was time to start using it up or get rid of it.  I was already working with hand dyed textiles so I decided to crochet a few scarves.  After that I moved on to simple hats combining yarns for texture and color.
While crochet was fast and easy enough, it still didn’t give the same texture as knitted textiles so once again I broke out the knitting needles and decided I would work in garter stitch (all knits and no purls).  It should have been easy and simple, but after having spent a year and a half with the almost instant gratification that is crochet, it was extremely hard to finish even a simple knitted scarf.
I chose a great variegated brushed yarn in shades of green which was ideal for knitting and while my work was attractive I found it terribly tedious.  In the time it took me to complete my scarf I could have crocheted at least four or more.  I suppose I am a glutton for punishment, because I have started another, also in garter.
I used to find knitting so relaxing and now it’s driving me nuts.  I have decided to see it as a life lesson in patience because I know that if I stick with it the rewards will be great.  I have a bit of a yarn fetish and I need an excuse for all the fabulous fiber I keep bringing home.
I have learned to use the largest needles possible to make the work go easier, but it still takes a long time to see the rows start to evolve into something functional.  I am currently working on a scarf using US 13 (9mm) needles and I just bought a pair of US 17 (12.5 mm) needles that I am looking forward to trying out.
Learning to knit was easy enough; I bought a book and followed the directions for casting on and knitting and purling.  I just didn’t know it would take twenty years to complete my first knitting project.  Now that I am on a roll though, I hope to keep going and going and going.
Ha! So much for going and going! The farthest I've gone since writing that article in 2010 is to knit a handful of scarves. Maybe I just need to become a lady of leisure so I can have a whole day to quilt, knit, paint, and create all those other not-done-in-one-day things I never get around to starting/finishing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How to Make Your Own Special Occasion Corsage

Continuing with the effort to migrate my multitude of Helium articles, here's one I forgot I ever wrote, and just in time too now that both prom and wedding season are in full force. My aunt used to make these regularly for and people for their weddings and sorority gatherings and so forth.

How to make your own Corsage

Making your own corsage is not only practical, it’s quick, easy and filled with unlimited possibilities. Whether you’re planning your wedding, attending a dance, party, or club event or even if you just like wearing fresh flowers, a one-of-a-kind corsage, is both a lovely accessory and a potential conversation starter.
Traditional corsages are typically a mini floral arrangement of one or more main flowers accompanied by smaller accent flowers and/or greenery. The arrangement can be made from either fresh or artificial flowers and can also include beaded accents, ribbons, feathers or other embellishments of your choice.
Though corsages are usually made from more than one flower, very pretty corsages can also be made with one very large flower or its equivalent (such as a ribbon or paper rosette). Of course, it’s also possible to use something besides flowers (such as holiday miniatures). A quick trip to the craft or novelty store will give you an idea of the great range of what your inclusion options are.
Some traditional flower choices for corsages are roses, orchids, gardenias, and carnations, but almost any favorite flower can be used. Choose a corsage flower based on color and fragrance, but also try to pick one that has a little staying power. The last thing you want is to have your corsage wilt as soon as you step out of your door.
If you want to go eco-friendly with your choice, you can use paper flowers or those made from ribbon, crochet or knitting. Felt or other fabric flowers can be used as well for making corsages, but if working with a recycled material, stay away from metals or plastics as these might scratch.
Corsages are generally worn on the left and can be placed on the shoulder of a dress or cover up such as a shrug, sweater, or jacket, the bodice of a dress, at the waist, or wrist. Some modern girls even wear their corsages on the ankle. In cases where having a corsage on the body doesn’t work, it can alternatively be attached to an evening bag.
When making your own corsage, consider the occasion, what outfit you will be wearing, the season and whether you might prefer it pinned on or around your wrist. A simple nosegay is easy to put together with little more than flowers and floral tape, while a floral “bracelet” will require elastic or some other means for keeping the corsage securely on the wrist.
The advantage of using an artificial flower is that they can either be sewn or glued to the wristlet band, they can stand up to a little crush action if someone hugs you, and you won’t have to worry you’re your flower of choice might wilt. Also, you aren’t limited to only using seasonal flowers.
The main advantage of using fresh flowers to create your own corsage is fragrance. A flower with a heavy perfume such as rose or gardenia will not only look great, it will make you smell great as well. When combining flowers, be sure to choose ones that are complimentary in fragrance as well in color.
Wrist corsages from the florist are typically made with an elastic corsage wristlet. These can be purchased from a craft store, or made from a piece of elastic from your sewing basket. Alternatives to elastic include ribbon, fabric bands, and slap bracelets.
Basic corsage how to
Supplies needed:
1 large centerpiece Flower
Leaves, pearls, or other corsage embellishments
Floral wire (or, in a pinch, you can use a paper clip)
Floral tape
Long straight pin or extra-large safety pins
Note: Keep your flower in the refrigerator until you have assembled all of your supplies.
To begin, trim the stem to about half an inch below the flower head using scissors or pruners. Cut a piece of floral wire about for inches long and bend the tip of one end into a U shape (if you have them, needle nosed pliers will make this step easier.)
If using a paper clip, bend the wire back until you have a long straight end with a U curve (like a very long J).  Take the wire J and carefully insert the long end into the top of your flower slightly to the side of its center.  (The center of the U part will ultimately rest of the middle of the flower head).
Gently pull/push the wire down until the short tip goes into the flower as well. Wrap the floral tape around the bottom of the flower head so that it is covering the wire, and continue wrapping in a spiral motion until the entire base of the flower is covered.
Hold a leaf behind the flower with the stem against the wire below the flower base. Wrap the floral tape around the leaf to add it to the corsage. Note: Try to choose accent leaves that are large enough to show from behind your flower and that have long enough stems (think maple or grape sized). Add at least one more leaf, bend the bottom end of your wire up against your taped stem, and cover the end with tape.
If adding an embellishment such as a pearl spray, place it between the flower and the leaves. It may help to lay everything flat on the surface of a table to see how things look and make adjustments for placement before taping it all together.
Once the loose wire end is safely tucked away under the floral tape the corsage is ready for wear. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How To Upcycle Old Magazines Into New Jewelry

I love making paper beads. I love it so much I could stay up all night creating them. Whenever I teach jewelry making classes with children I almost always spend a couple days making rolled paper beads, and then of course, I become obsessed with making them myself. It's amazing to see what pretty things one can create from such a simple material.

The craft itself is ancient and still practiced in Africa today. The beads are also very easy to make which means they are a kid friendly craft and provide almost instant gratification. I'm planning to create some kind of wired paper bead installation in the not too distant future when I get a little extra time that's not already dedicated to five million other things. It could happen. Really.

In the ongoing move to migrate Helium craft articles to my blog I'm taking a break from sewing to highlight how to make jewelry by upcycling magazine pages. The article used to contain hyperlinks for more information, but the links have become obsolete so I've removed them.

How To Make Jewelry From Old Magazines

Magazine pages are glossy and colorful and ideal for making jewelry.  The pages can be recycled to create beads, brooches, pins and earrings using a variety of very simple techniques and few additional materials.
Rolled paper beads have been made since ancient Egypt and they are so simple you can create dozens of them within a matter of hours.  Kids enjoy making them as well and when you learn how to choose the right pages you can create an array of beautiful beads even the pickiest person would be proud to own and wear.
To make beads from magazine pages simply cut across either the width or length of the page in such a way that you end up with long triangular strips of paper that are about an inch across the width at the bottom and taper down into a point at the top.
You may want to use a ruler in the beginning or even create a triangle template from leftover cardboard to make forming uniform triangles easier.  You will need two triangles for every pair of earrings you plan to make and a dozen or more for a necklace depending on your desired finished length.
Lay the triangle on your work surface with the most colorful side down and carefully roll up the widest edge around a toothpick just enough so that the paper touches itself and add a dab of glue as you continue rolling and adding small dabs of glue.  
Carefully remove the beads from the toothpicks by sliding them off and sit them aside to dry.  If you are making magazine page beads with very young children they can roll the magazine triangles around plastic drinking straws.  After the beads are dry they can be cut apart for stringing.
Magazine pages can be used pretty much in the same way that other papers can for crafting and the same techniques such as origami, iris folding and tea folding used in paper crafts can be used to create jewelry.
To make a simple brooch with a recycled magazine page you will need a small square or rectangle of card stock at least two by two inches, a magazine page, tape, a craft knife (or scissors) and a shape template.  Use the shape template to cut a shape from the center of the cardstock.  (It will look like you have created a new stencil.)
Iris folding involves laying folded strips of paper over an opening to create rows of overlapping folds that fan out slightly at one end.  It’s a little like looking at a camera aperture when it’s closed. 
To Create an iris fold miniature for use in making a brooch, start by cutting a colorful magazine page into one half inch wide strips.  Fold a strip in half length-wise and lay it over the shape cut out on the back of your cardstock template.  You want to lay it down at a slight angle (maybe 25 degrees?) taking care that the edge of the paper does not show in the opening if you turn it over. 
Secure the strip in place with a tiny piece of tape and flip it over just to be sure you have the angle correct.  It is important that the folded edge be the side that shows in the opening and that the open edges are hidden beneath each previous strip when flipped over.  (See the photo at the link above).
Keep adding folded strips of magazine page until the opening is covered.  You may find that as you go along your angles will change slightly as you add new strips and that you may start your angle slightly lower than the position of the previous strip.  When the opening is almost completely covered you will notice a small hole.  Simply take a flat scrap from your magazine page and cover this hole from the back.
Cover the completed iris back with a corresponding size of cardstock, cardboard, foam core or a scrap of matt board and glue on a pin back to complete the brooch.
There are few different ways to use paper to create bracelets, but one quick, easy and fun way to create a bracelet from a recycled magazine page only requires the ability to accordion fold.  If you’ve ever made a folded paper fan, you have the ability to fold an origami bracelet.
You will need a colorful page from a magazine trimmed on the longest side so that is perfectly square.  (i.e. if the page is 10 ½” by 8”, trim the 10.5 side to 8”).  Fold the square in half across the middle on the diagonal making sure to smooth the fold down completely to get a good crease.
Now you will have a triangle shape.  Take the top point of the triangle and fold it down to the middle of the previous fold making sure to have both layers of paper.  You should have a long almost rectangular shape with slanted ends.  Fold the edge of that shape over to meet the previous fold and repeat this step once more.
Now unfold the paper completely.  Starting at the middle of the square, fold the paper down along the first fold line from the center crease.  Now accordion fold back and forth until you get to the last crease.  At this point the tip of the “triangle” should be pointed inward.  Rotate the paper and do the same thing to the other side of the square only this time you will have to invert the fold from a peak fold to a valley fold. 
What you will see when you’re done is a series of alternating triangles as a result of the folding.  Take the entire folded piece and turn it over.  Carefully slide the tip of one end inside the space just past the tip of the other end where the folds begin.  Secure in place with tape and your recycled magazine page bracelet is complete.  (This project was learned from the book “Friendship Origami” by Jill Smolinski)
For Jewelry projects with kids decoupage can be use to reinvent existing wood or plastic beads or to turn a cardboard tube into a bracelet. It is quick and easy and cheap and only requires magazine pages, glue (such as mod podge), and a small (cheap) paint brush.  If you are covering beads you may want to insert toothpicks into foam to allow the beads to dry.  Just check them periodically to make sure they are not sticking to the foam.
To make a decoupage bracelet from tp or paper towel tubes, cut a tube into rings and then make a cut in one ring from top to bottom so it can go on and off the arm.  Alternatively, you may want to cut a tube open in a straight line from one edge to the other and then cut it into slices to make a bracelet.
Cover the tube with bits of cut or torn paper (glued on) just as you would decoupage any other surface.  Allow it to cure and coat entire surface with another layer of glue or varnish.  Your bracelet can be further embellished by adding trims such as nylon cord along the edge or dimensional paint or whatever you choose.
There are so many great options for making jewelry from old magazines.  All it takes is a little time, a few supplies and your own imagination.
The article was originally published in 2010.  I'm surprised I didn't reference The Paper Jewelry Book, by Jessica Wrobel. Maybe it's because I ordered it Pre-Katrina and the majority of my books were in storage at the time. At any rate, it's definitely worth checking out.

Ever wanted to make your own clutch purse?

I have so much cloth in my stash at home that there are times I feel I could open my own fabric store. In an effort not to become a hoarder I have put myself on restriction to not acquire anything new until I have used up a significant amount of what I already have. Now if only life would stop interrupting so I can get a few things finished!

Like every other crafty person I always have a long project list of fabulous items I want to make, and purses are high on the list. It doesn't help that the Sewing Meetup has been making clutches and bags seemingly almost every other meeting. Unfortunately, between the last post-K move for home renovations and all the upheaval of the following year, most of my stuff is still in storage and I just haven't had any time to pursue any new sewing projects.

In 2009 I did a Helium article on How to Make Your Own Clutch Purse. It went over so well, I did a few more articles on hand bag and purse making, including How to Make a Wristlet Purse. The former can be found below; the latter and the related titles are soon to follow as I migrate my craft articles from the soon to be non-existent Helium site.

One great thing about clutch and wristlet purses is they don't require much fabric so you can make them from just about anything, including upcycled material.

Here's the original article:

Clutch purses are stylish fashion accessories that are simple and quick to make. One can easily craft a basic clutch purse in less than an hour from just a rectangle of fabric, needle and thread and the closure of choice.
When deciding on a style for your clutch you will want to choose a seasonal fabric that will provide you with the desired form and functionality. Velvet isn't the best choice for summer and recycling a woven straw placemat doesn't quite work with your winter fashions.
Once you have chosen the appropriate material for your clutch purse you will want to choose some embellishments to make it stand out. Chinese silk brocade is beautiful in its own right so a border of silk ribbon or simple piping will make a statement without shouting from across the room. A frog closure will further set the clutch apart from its everyday counterparts.

For summer, a nice lightweight linen, canvas or even seersucker fabric could do the trick trimmed in rickrack or accented by a coconut shell button or your own polymer clay bead. In fall consider corduroy or felted wool with optional shoulder straps. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your own imagination.
Once you have made one clutch purse you will want to continue making them so it's a good idea to gather some essential supplies to have everything you will need on hand such as fabric, zippers, buttons, seam tape, ribbon and so forth.
Choosing Fabric
Because your clutch purse is an accessory almost anything goes in the way of fabric. Solids, stripes, prints, brocades, the choice is completely up to you. Remnants, fat quarters, swatches, scrap bags, bandanas, recycled table linens, even old clothing are all sources for cloth to create your clutches. Fabric stores almost always have a bin or two of remnants that are too small to wrap back onto a bolt. Likewise they will often have a table or two of bolts they are trying to clear out as well and you may luck out and find nice fabric as little as one dollar per yard.
Quilting stores carry packets of assorted "fat quarters," one-quarter yard lengths of fabric that are color coordinated for use in patchwork designs. Fabric on the bolt will either have a width of 36 or 44/45 inches. Normally, when you ask the store clerk to cut a quarter of a yard you will end up with a narrow strip of fabric that is 9 inches long by the width of the fabric. Fat quarters give you a larger square to work with that is the same amount of fabric, just with the inches distributed differently. Quilt stores will often have a selection of scrap bags as well that are ideal for smaller sewing projects. These bags contain an assortment of squares and rectangles of fabric in various sizes left over from quilting projects.
Canvas, Denim and upholstery fabric are very sturdy and therefore ideal for making a clutch purse. Even some of the sample swatches of upholstery fabric are large enough to use to make a cute little handbag. Some fabric stores carry these textiles and some cities have businesses that specialize in only upholstery fabric. A little walking of your fingers through the telephone directory will tell you what is available in your area.
Making Your Clutch Purse
You will need a rectangular piece of fabric (the size of a sheet of copy/printer paper will do), straight pins, a needle and thread (or sewing machine), Ribbon, seam tape or similar trim that is one inch in width and an iron.
Place your fabric rectangle right side up on a flat surface with the longest sides parallel to the edge of the table (going across). Fold up the left edge of the rectangle of the way to the right so that the edge rests a couple or so inches from the right edge (approximately 2 inches or so if using a copy paper sized piece of fabric). Pin in place. The leftover bit at the top will become the flap to close your finished clutch purse.
Stitch along either side leaving a quarter of an inch seam allowance. If you are the type to cram a lot into your hand bag you may want to reinforce your clutch with a second seam. You could actually continue the seam all the way to the edge of the top flap to help prevent the edges from fraying. Open the edges and press the seams flat. At this point, your clutch will resemble an envelope with a straight edged flap.
Measure the top edge of the flap and cut a piece of ribbon that is inch longer. This will be used to trim the edge so a hem will not be necessary, though you might stitch a seam across to prevent fraying. Measure from the top edge of the upper flap down its side and cut a length of ribbon trim for each side of the purse clutch's flap. It is not necessary to make this piece any longer than the flap edge.
Fold the ribbon in half down its length and press. Place one half to the front and one half to the back of the flap so that the edge of the flap rests against the inner fold and pin in place and stitch. Repeat on the other side edge. Position the last piece of ribbon the same way at the top edge taking care to center it so that you have equal amounts of ribbon trim overlap. Pin in place and miter fold the edges (diagonally) tucking the corners and stitch. Turn the whole thing inside out and press and your purse clutch is complete. For a simple closure add a small rectangle of Velcro and you're all set.

Making clutch purses present so many possibilities! They also take up very little space in a drawer or on a closet shelf, which makes it easier to justify making several of them.

Have you made your own clutch purse before? I'd love to hear about it!

Where to Find Free Dress Patterns for Girls

Once upon a time, most women and girls wore clothing that was made at home by either themselves or another family member. As "store-bought" dresses and other items became more easily available, and affordable, more and more people of means started to purchase their clothing "ready to wear".

Over time, it not only became cheaper to buy clothing off the rack, fabrics, patterns and notions became more costly, relegating home sewing to the diehard purists and eager-for-something-unique hobbyists. Store-bought clothing also served as a sign of status in some communities, and children (as well as others) who wore home-sewn garments were often ridiculed.

Even though clothing construction at home saw a decline as more people were able to pay for clothing made by others, there were still plenty of men, (yes, men!) women, and even children all over the world sewing in the hems of pants, replacing buttons on shirts, and even adding patches to torn clothing. The reality of the matter is some people simply didn't have a choice.

As a result of those with limited means not having a choice, old clothing was often recycled, or rather upcycled to make new garments -- as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Even though those "hippie" and "peasant" items were looked down upon at the time, many were later inspiration for high fashion garments. Now upcycling has become "the new black" of sewing.

It drives me nuts when people say that sewing is a lost art. If that were even remotely true we'd all be walking around naked. There would be no fashion designers or clothing stores or even upholstered furniture.

Four years ago I wrote a craft article for helium listing a number of web sites which offered free sewing patterns for creating dresses for girls and teens. If I were writing that article today I would probably stop at listing Pinterest. There are so many great projects pinned on the popular bookmarking site, it's completely changed the way we search the internet.

The article:

Sewing is a great way to save money on clothing and set yourself apart from the crowd.  When it comes to dresses and skirts for little girls and teens it’s even more economical because you don’t need a lot of fabric to complete a garment.  Thanks to the internet there are a plethora of sewing patterns and tutorials accessible at your fingertips that are available absolutely free of charge.
With free internet based patterns to download and print at home, making custom clothing for babies, toddlers, young girls or even teens is quick and affordable, especially if you have a stash of fabric on hand already.  Patterns and tutorials that show you how to repurpose adult clothing and other textiles for kids’ stuff make sewing items yourself the way to go even when you’re on a strict budget.
The Happy Hearts at Home blog has several free patterns for girls’ dresses and skirts in the February 24, 2009 post.  Many of the projects listed are made from recycling T-shirts, scarves, pillowcases and towels.
Modern Sewing Patterns has a number of attractive girls dress and skirt patterns available for download in .pdf format as well as many for pants and outerwear.  There are patterns for men, women and boys clothing as well. has an extensive collection of pattern links for children's clothing.  Many of the items listed are made by recycling and repurposing existing clothing such as this adorable toddler dress from a man's shirt:
The site lists an extensive collection of free sewing patterns.  In the kids’ section you’ll find patterns for regular clothing, including sizes for babies and toddlers, as well as outerwear and a number of links for costumes.
On the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog site you’ll find a number of links to cute, quick and simple skirts and dresses in the Girls’ Clothes Tutorial Round-Up posted during Kids’ Clothes Month.  (There is one for boys’ clothing as well.)
BellaOnline lists several links for free sewing patterns for girls clothing which includes a number of skirts and dresses.  Among the patterns listed are four for sundresses.
Last, but certainly not least, this adorable, super cute, Itty Bitty Baby Dress pattern was found on the web site, Made by Rae.
Sewing is a rewarding pastime that provides you and your loved ones with unique and original garments and helps you save money in the process.  With such a wealth of patterns available online any girl can grow into a miniature fashionista in no time.
For those interested in greening their sewing room and reusing other items besides clothing and textiles, check out my Pinterest board, Upcycle!

Crafting a New Direction

Well, it's finally happened. It started out as a great thing and gradually began to decline over time, and now Helium has just announced to all its writers that the site has reached the end of the line. I'd been thinking of migrating my articles off the site to a new location for some time now, but with over 300 titles, and well, a life, it's a task that's easier said than done.

Last fall, Helium had gone through a major restructuring which included migrating all content to a new web site which meant new urls. That may not seem like a big deal, but for the writers it meant going back to places they'd previously shared links to their content and updating or re-sharing - a very, very, very time consuming and tedious project.

Alas, that was then... Now, in just one short week, Helium will revert to read-only, and thousands will scramble to decide which of the many titles they've contributed over time to scrap, revamp, resell, or even re-post to their own personal blogs. Just thinking about the task ahead makes me want to take a nap.

Over the next several weeks I'll be one of the ones re-sharing (and possibly revamping) articles to my own personal blogs. (In the beginning, I never really liked posting how-to crafting content without photos) Since there's no time like the present, I may as well get started now.

One of my first articles for Helium was for the Yarn and Needle Craft sub-channel. It received so many views and was such a good earner (back then) I decided to do more craft title articles, and crochet articles in particular. I'd originally planned to write about wine and music, two of my biggest passions, but those topics were not quite as popular and didn't pay as well.

The funny thing is, crochet was always something that presented a challenge for me when I was younger. I was first introduced to crocheting via my great aunt, Inez when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I can remember her showing me something and then later me attempting to make something on my own, but beyond the basic chain stitch and the adding on of rows I was pretty hopeless.

My mother's sister also crocheted, and in the 70s crocheted corkscrew hair ribbons were quite popular, but alas I never made any. I (didn't see my aunts that often to be able learn from them, and) I wasn't able to make much sense of crochet patterns until a few years ago.

That's why it's kind of ironic that I would have my first success on Helium with a craft article about crochet. It's really not all that complicated, once you realize that everything is just variations on rows of single, double or triple crochet, everything sort of clicks. Above is a one of my favorite photos of me with a very simple crocheted shawl I made a few years ago. I think a friend of mine owns it now...

I've digressed somewhat, but I can't decide where to begin - that is which article to re-post first. Oddly enough, I can't remember if that first article was of a "how to do..." or a "where to find" sort. It could also have been "Easy Crochet Patterns For Beginners," but the point is now moot as it seems impossible to sort through my list of titles under the new site format. (Sigh)

This is not going to be as easy as I thought. Things may seem random in the coming days and weeks, but know there is a method to my madness - to share as many of my articles (which are mostly archived on the hard drive of my old computer which has to be sitting in front of a fan to operate and barely boots up) as possible before they disappear.

Stay tuned...