Wearing Socks and Continuing to Improve Them

My first round of socks have all been sewn up and I’m starting to wear them.  I’ve noticed a few things:

First, they are super cute.

Second, they are so soft and stretchy.

Third, it will take some time to get used to the texture on the bottom of my foot.  Because I’m using sock yarn, and not a lace weight yarn, each loop is noticeably bigger and you can feel that on your foot when you walk.  It’s not uncomfortable in any way, but you will notice the difference from a commercial sock as you wear them.

As I wear them I am slowly creating a list of changes and things to learn as I make each future sock.  A few of the future changes will be:

  • Change hung hem to a ribbed hung hem
  • Round out the toes and heels better
  • Try lace weight

Last night, I started playing around with the first one and started setting up the ribber attachment.  I got a lot of extras with my machine so I’ll be slowly trying and playing with each thing until I get my ideal sock.  Getting the ribber set up was a chore, but once everything was aligned and screwed down it was pretty simple.  It was, however, very slow and tedious to remove and replace needles all for 30 rows of a cuff.  I know I’ll get fast at it, but it seems like a very big pain in the butt for such a small section of each sock.  But I got it working and the ribbing does seem like something I will want on my future socks.

 

A Birthday Gift to Myself

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Every year I usually buy myself some crazy expensive gift for my birthday.  Some years I go a little crazier than others and this year I think I kept it pretty tame.

I have been looking at sock machines for years on eBay.  But the price point for something like a 70-year-old machine with no support (especially if you have no idea how to use one) is pretty high.

A few weeks ago I came across a post the Erlbacher Gearhart has started reproducing their old machines.  So I jumped on it and got their new speedster model with a bunch of goodies to go with.  I was emailing back and forth with them for a while before purchasing making sure I would have everything I needed to hit the ground running when it arrived.

Two days before my birthday, a small wood box arrived with everything screwed down inside.   I was surprised that it actually came with tools (like, real tools, not cheap things you’ll throw away), a spool of scrap yarn, a picture of the box (which I assume is there to help you put it all back in if you decide to put it away), a starting bonnet and a bunch of other stuff.

I had already done some yarn shopping before it arrived and watched a bunch of YouTube videos so I pretty much instantly started pumping out socks as soon as I put it all together.

There are still some manual and tedious things to do in sock making even with a fancy machine like this.  Hanging yarn on the little hooks isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but now that I’ve done it a few times I am getting pretty quick at it.  And I find sewing up toes with the dreaded Kitchener stitch actually pretty relaxing.

But ask yourself how long would it take you to knit a sock? Hours? Several evenings? As a beginner it’s probably taking me about 45 minutes with this machine and that is taking my sweet time and learning as I go. There are videos of people easily making a sock in 8 minutes. Isn’t that crazy!?

And watching it work is pretty mesmerizing even if you’re making a boring grey sock…

And here’s a sock I just cranked out that I’ll be wearing tomorrow.

Painted TV Trays

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I bought these TV trays on amazon about 3 years ago.  They were in expensive and looked pretty nice.  But let’s be honest, all these trays are cheap press boards and some printed sticker laminate.

After years of putting hot dinner plates and drinks on them, they started to show their age with some blister spots and peeling paper.  They bothered me enough that I took on yet another project.

I started by peeling off the side stickers which were a thicker stock and suprisingly easy to do.  Then I got out my heat gun and scraped the glue off.  The top sticker was very thin and wasn’t going to come off like the sides.  So, I got out my sander and gave it hell until the whole thing was smooth wood again.

Now I have 4 perfect canvas’ to start working on (after I wipe all the sawdust off).

I got out my gesso and gave them all 2 coats to bring them up to a bright white.   I decided to paint the theme of Rick & Morty and picked out 4 images to work from.

I think they came out pretty well:

Rick Sanchez painted tv tray

Morty painted tv tray

Snuffles painted tv tray

Mr. Meeseeks painted TV tray

The only thing left to do was to give them that glossy protective coating.

Shrinky Dink Pins

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I saw a youtube video a while back that was about making jewelry pins with shrinky dinks.  I checked out my local stores, that had some, but not the ink jet printable films.  While I do plan on drawing my own pins, I wanted a quick project to see if this was something I could get into and want to do more of. The printable film would make this pretty quick and easy.

I jumped on amazon and order some Grafix Printable White Inkjet Shrink Film and got to printing.  These will shrink to about half the size, so make sure to size your items appropriately.  My prints were all about 3 – 4″.

I picked out some cute things from an image search and got out my Copic markers (though you can use any permanent ink) and started coloring and doing some simple shading.

Things I noticed:   If it’s a large area, it’s probably better to print the color.  Markers tend to streak and they definitely look like they’ve been colored with a marker.  This isn’t normal paper and it will look different than any paper you usually draw on.  I was pretty sure things were going to turn out even if they looked a bit streaky.

I cut them out and placed on paper.  They specifically say within the instruction to not put the film directly on metal, but you can put down some paper over metal – which seems to work best.  I tried just putting cardboard down on the rack and that did not work well. Things did not bake evenly and I had to flip them over and bake them much longer that I should’ve.    This batch I had learned that lesson and these worked out great.

Once they bake for a few minutes and stop shrinking.  Remove from the oven and quickly smash them flat with a spatula so that they are completely flat.  I recommend doing small batches if you are doing many pieces since you don’t have much time before they cool off and become very solid.  Luckily, I picked very solid shapes and didn’t need to fuss with them much.

I do recommend you check the edges when they cool off.  Several of mine had a frayed look to them that could easily be cleaned up with a nail file.

Next, I used a dimensional glaze on top of each to give it that plastic shiny domed look.  It’ll also protect your design from getting messed up from use.

There are several options in different brands that you can use, this Royal Coat was the one I found at a local store.   A more popular one seems to be Mod Podge Dimensional Magic.  They’re all basically clear glue, so just pick one and give it a try.

I learned several things from putting the glossy coating on:

  • Keep your bottle pointed downwards through the whole process and don’t tip it upwards, this will just trap air bubbles.
  • Squirt some out before starting on something you can throw away. There may be bubbles trapped in the tip of the applicator.
  • Outline the outside of your design, getting all the way to the edge, then fill in the middle.
  • It’s tempting to really put a lot on and try to get a nice glossy dome shape on top, but at some point, the tension of the liquid will be too great and it’ll suddenly leak off the sides and all over your surface.
  • If you mess up, just take it to the sink, gently rise off the glaze and dry completely before trying again (if it’s not dry it will all just run off again).

After the glossy coating is dry (I let mine sit for a day to be sure), get out some jewelry pin backs (or your favorite jewelry findings) and glue them down.   I used my favorite all around glue, E6000.  It’s an amazing industrial glue and wasn’t going to come off these pins without a fight.  E6000 needs to sit for a whole day.

And here’s one of my pins on my work duffle.

Silver and Purple

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I had been looking for new bed side tables for my bedroom for quite some time.  Nothing I was seeing had quite the configuration of drawers and cabinets I wanted.   Then amazon’s daily deals had these up for $35 for 2 tables, which was hard to pass up.  Sure they are probably super cheap quality, but I can work with that.   What I didn’t notice from my phone was that the drawer was just a canvas box, not a drawer, which sucks.   For $35, I can’t complain too much.

My room is deep purple and black.   I’ve always liked the combination deep purple (or navy), silver and black so it was time to start adding silver.  A trip to the Home Depot and I started painting these cheap particle boards metallic silver.

One of my art rooms is out of commission, which is a whole story in itself, so I took over the dining room table.   No one needs to eat, right?

I forgot how long painting takes, especially if you want it to look nice.   Sanding, priming, sanding, priming, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, and a glossy taco top coat or two (I <3 your channel Simply Nailogical) …. it was going to take some time to finish.

The “drawers” were plain canvas, which also didn’t go with my room.  I gave fabric paints a try.

In the store, this looked quite dark in the bottle.  Once applied it was very light in comparison even after several coats.  So I was a little disappointed there, but at least it’s purple.

In the end, the bedside tables turned out pretty decent.   Once I put them next to my bed I realized they were much too short.   So… yeah, that was a waste of time.  But at least I learned a few things along the way, specifically that I should measure better before I buy things.

Anyone need some short bedside tables??

Freebie: Basketball Applique

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For one of my upcoming quilts, I made a bunch of applique for the panels.   As I test them out I’ll be posting some of them here as freebies for you to use.

The first one is a simple basketball that is 7″x7″ and is in PES format.  Finding the right orange with some lighter yellow spots really made this look fantastic.

Click to Download ZIP File

Need a different format?  Leave your request in the comments.

 

I am the craftmaster.

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A few months ago I had ordered the Alvin CraftMaster II Deluxe Art & Drawing Glass Top Table through a local Art Store.  While I am a heavy Amazon user, I do prefer to give local shops my business, especially if they are willing to match or negotiate a little bit on price.  In this case they were willing to match the price if I was willing to wait a bit until they placed their next inventory request which was not a problem.

I used to have a drafting table in my room growing up and I was pretty fond of it.  My previous table was just a really basic tilting wooden table that I think was picked up at a garage sale.  What interested me in the Craftmaster was all the little shelves, organizing cubbies, and the fact that it was steel and glass (and wouldn’t easily be gouged).

I dragged the box up a few flight of stairs to my room and opened it up.  After a long sigh, I pulled out all the pieces and got to work.  I’ve put together many pieces of furniture in my time and I can say this was the easiest.  Everything was labled with letters that corresponded to the instruction manual and pieces were even label front/back and left/right sides.

Even the screws were well labeled.  They also gave you extra of each type.

Putting it together went almost flawlessly.  I did have to find a screw driver for two of those screws they give you (two types were phillips, the rest used the allen wrench they give you) and I would add a few notes to the manual, but overall it was a really solid set of instructions.

Since I had to wait for it to arrive, I had already moved into several other projects, so this desk will have to sit for a bit before I get to have fun with it.   Putting it together now was really more of a way to get it out of the way.  But having this desk sit there and stare at me everyday gives me more reasons to wrap up my current projects.

Christmas is upon us

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Christmas is quickly approaching and I’ve somehow managed to get roped into another project.  This time, I have to admit, I did it to myself.  They said they wanted to turn old children’s sports jerseys into a blanket and I couldn’t let them do it because I was sure they’d screw it up or just not finish it.  So I offered even though I’ve never done it either, but I’ve quilted enough blankets and seen enough videos to get going on it pretty confidently.

 

I started by chopping up all the shirts into halves and then began fusing each half to the stabilizer.  At the moment, I am currently cutting down each half to the largest size I can get out of it so I can figure out how much I have to work with.   Which also means I haven’t actually designed the twin sized blanket yet…  *sigh*

But, since this is my first jersey/shirt blanket, I thought I’d share a few things while I’m cutting away.

  • The fusing is quite tedious and takes a long time.  This may not be a surprise to you but I usually don’t fuse the whole top of a blanket.  It will take you a night or two alone – make sure to put on a movie or two to keep you from getting too bored.
  • This project will likely take more than a bolt of stabilizer to complete.  I had 8 children’s jerseys (16 halves) and I am almost through the whole bolt and I’m not even sure if I have enough jersey for the top of the blanket.
  • You really can’t plan out the blanket until you have all your pieces fused, cut and squared.  Unless of course you are only using the images on the shirt and can measure just those areas.  I will likely have to fill in areas with random materials so I’m using as much jersey as possible.

Cutting all these shirts down will take a while, so I’ll have updates coming.

 

So slow

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The plates I’ve been working on is moving very slowly.  It had been a while since I’ve done a ceramic project.   Not that long, but long enough I forgot how long it takes especially when you have limited time each night to work on them.  Granted, the first layer was putzy because I had to figure out where colors go and matching them up on each plate.  I started the second layer of underglaze and it’s moving much faster.  I’m starting to realize these may not be finished by thanksgiving dinner, which is causing slight panic because that means I either need to go buy plates or serve everyone on disposable plates.   Oy!

Next week I have some time off to get the house in order and finish up any projects before the big day.  But with multiple layers,  multiple firings to get these done and dry timing time between layers it will either squeak in at the last minute or totally be a disaster.

I really should’ve picked a quicker design instead of 32 little swatches on each plate.  What was I thinking?

New House Plates

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I recently realized Thanksgiving is coming up and I have a bunch of people coming to dinner.   They won’t be coming for Thanksgiving, though.  Instead, they will be coming for Meatballgiving.  Because turkeys are stupid.

The plates we currently use were a first attempt at making plates last year.   Some are too thick and some are a bit wobbly.   I like them, but they definitely are not guest worthy.  Plus, I don’t think I have enough of them.

With Meatballgiving quickly approaching I decided to just buy blank plates and decorate them myself.   I had previously made some mini mock-ups (see below) and I decided to mostly stick with that.   I originally did a mostly toned down rainbow of colors, but I think I’ll stick with solid bright colors.  I’ll be keeping the jumbled up rainbow but adding more sections around the rim.

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First things first, I created a template with my Cricut.  I quickly added some lines and a center dot in illustrator and imported the lines and had the machine cut them out on a 12×12″ sheet of paper.

If your end up being interested in doing a similar plate set, here’s the template you can grab:

plate-template

Next, I centered each plate on a banding wheel and found marked the center point.  Taking my template, I aligned the center dot with the marked spot on the plate.

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I didn’t want to use any adhesives which may distort the glazes and do crazy things during firing.   So I grabbed a weight to hold down the paper while I make my marks.   I then grabbed a mechanical pencil and extended the lead out further than usual so that the lead would slip through the cuts on the paper and hit the plate below.

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And voila!  I have a dozen plates ready to be underglazed in a bright rainbow of colors.

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The template really saved a lot of time.  You might think this is a lazy method, but considering these are just the salad plates and not the dinner plates, nor the mugs or bowls that still have to be done… I’ll happily accept being lazy.