Monday, December 12, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Sky Scarf

Here we are at the tail end of 2011; seems appropriate to start talking about some resolutions right?  This year I'm forgoing the guilty feelings of exercise and eating healthy (not that those aren't worthy things to strive for...I'll do my best...I promise) I'd just rather be crafting (oh yeah!)  So a few months back I stumbled upon this conceptual knitting project called the Sky Scarf Project.  Simply, you knit a row for each day to match the color of the sky you perceive.  By the end of 365 days you should have a 5' scarf and a pretty rad record of the year.  Figuring I need to brush up on my knitting and it's not a huge daily commitment, I'm hoping to start this day ONE 2012!  I'll start today by gathering excited!

To find out more, snag a pattern and join me check out Leafcutter Designs.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Cath Kidston Proves I'm Living Wrong

The other day I received the Cath Kidston "Magazine;" which really is nothing more than a glorified catalog.  This, however, did not stop me from drooling, lusting, and feeling utterly incomplete that I do not have bedding dotted in grey Provence rose, a stanley pin, nor a fair isle knit water bottle.  Somehow through their glossy pages, life seems enchantingly doable if only...

Seriously though, it was a delightful peek into UK Christmas traditions, including a few winter recipes (I will have to try Bubbles and Squeak!)   This reaffirms that a British holiday is still quite high on my bucket list, including a visit to the V&A museum.  The magazine is free to request but do mind that you will WANT it all by the turn of the last are my picks:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Robin Boucle Pillow"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="230" caption="Heart Shaped Buttons"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="2012 Agenda"][/caption]

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful


This year I'm thankful for sand between my toes, ocean breezes, Cuban food, and lots of laughter. It's been a much different Thanksgiving than last year (for which I am most thankful). I've had the most amazing opportunity to travel to Key West and Hollywood Beach, Florida. I am nearly home and almost back to reality but here's to wishing you a thankful day and a reminder to make each and everyday a Thanksgiving!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Tutorial: Tea Staining Linens

It just seems right that after having for sometime now what I call "linen lust" for all things textile related (especially vintage linens *chill runs up my spine*), I would cross over to the dark side of natural dyeing!  My first foray is tea's so easy, completely safe and natural.  I gathered a lot of tips from this site.  I'll go ahead a repeat a lot of her advice and give you a quick and easy recipe I developed for staining a few flour sack towels.

tea staining supplies

Supplies Needed:

  • black tea (20 bags) - an inexpensive, store brand is just fine

  • 4 - 100% cotton flour sack towels

  • large pot

  • tongs

How To:

For every yard of fabric, you are going to use 8 oz. (1 cup) of water (and 2 tea bags), so fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the 20 tea bags and reduce the heat as your tea steeps for 5 minutes.

[caption id="attachment_594" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="20 tea bags steeping"]tea bags steeping[/caption]

Remove the pot from the heat and use the tongs to remove the tea bags, squeezing out the remaining tea.  I put all four towels directly in the pot, stir and then repeat every 5 minutes for 30 minutes to an hour.  Here is where you can use your judgement as towels will be darker the longer they remain in the tea.  I also like stirring frequently to create a more consistent color to the towels - you do not have to do this if you like a more mottled look.

[caption id="attachment_595" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="use the tongs to "stir" towels and finally remove"][/caption]

After 30 minutes to an hour, I remove each towel individually with the tongs and rinse under cold water -- a lot of color will be lost (you can put them back in the tea bath at this point to achieve a darker look).  I then pop all 4 towels in the dryer on high heat setting until dry and then iron them on the highest setting...ironing the towels makes the color permanent, an important final step!

If you are not happy with the results and you can always bleach your linens...the benefits of using a natural dye!  Remember to use 100% cotton as a synthetic fabric will not yield to the tea dye. Also, expect your batches to come out a little different each time; I've even found my results vary by brand of towels AND I suspect some manufacturers put certain finishes on linens to resist stains (and dyeing as you will find occasionally).

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="The finished towel!  Makes a unique gift."][/caption]

I finish my towels by silk screening a pretty vintage image on them; adding a pretty crochet trim is a nice touch too!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Own DIY Cross Stitch iPhone Case: Finished!

diy cross stitch iphone case

All Finished!  I blogged a couple weeks ago about my new iPhone case from Connect Design; here is the finished design.  It came out great; if anyone is interested in the pattern or thread colors, please let me know...I'll scan my scribble scratch.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Yarn Line From Martha Stewart

I am super excited over Lion Brand Yarn's partnership with Martha Stewart Crafts, creating a new (and beautiful) line of yarn!  It is now available at JoAnn's and should become available where ever Martha Stewart Crafts are purchased.  Take a look at these lovelies:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Glitter Eyelash Bulky: 78% Polyester, 22% Metallic"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Alpaca Blend Bulky: 40% Acrylic, 40% Wool, 20% Alpaca"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Extra Soft Wool Blend Worsted: 65% Acrylic, 35% Wool"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Lofty Wool Blend Super Bulky: 75% Wool, 25% Acrylic"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Mambo Super Bulky: 75% Acrylic, 9% Nylon, 7% Wool, 3% Angora"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Merino Worsted: 100% Merino"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Roving Wool Bulky: 100% Wool"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Cotton Hemp Worsted: 65% Cotton, 35% Hemp (not available yet)"][/caption]

Now to decide what to use first and what to make...decisions, decisions, decisions!  You can read more at Martha Moments or at Lion Brand Yarn.  Also, these yarns are now searchable on Ravelry.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Own DIY Cross Stitch iPhone Case!

Have you seen the DIY Cross Stitch iPhone case from the South Korean company Connect Design?  It's been blogged just about everywhere from Craft to geeky blogs, but as I actually considered purchasing this item, I noticed EVERY blog used the same art from Connect Design.  I even tweeted asking if anyone had ACTUALLY purchased this case...crickets.  This is a really good example of bad blogging...a new and innovative items with absolutely no actual product research done!   So, itching for a new iPhone case and cross stitch project, I shelled out the $18 ($22 with international shipping) and hoped for the best.

[caption id="attachment_547" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="work in progress"][/caption]


Within 2 weeks my case did arrive with a supply of thread and a few design ideas.  However, with the idea being DIY, I chose to do my own thing and designed a chevron pattern (because let's face it...chevrons are hot right now!).  I'm still in the process of completing the case but its going well and the flexible design seems protective of the phone (yeah, I unintentionally tested that several times).  My only complaints are a blank grid not being included to develop your own design and the grid goes one block past where you can stitch on the back...its not too unsightly, but I wanted to create a design completely covering the grid.  Some things that surprised me were how easy it was to stitch through the thick plastic grid and how the layer of thread adds another level of security to your phone.

If you are considering this case, go for it!  I'm really pleased and it was well worth the money to create a one of a kind case!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Revisting the Katrina Fleur de Lis Knitted Washcloth Project

It's hard to believe it was 6 years ago today that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi.  I rode out the storm 50 miles north of New Orleans and as I thought "hey, this isn't SO bad," the tree in front of the house split in two!  It was 10 days later that we got power back and we realized the full extent of the storm.  I am glad to see things have changed in that time and even for smaller storms like Irene, people take things more seriously.

With the anniversary today and one major hurricane under our belts this year, I thought I would share the Katrina knitted washcloth that was designed and created by Noelle Dempsey.  Noelle explains:
This cloth design was originally written for the Cloths for Katrina drive which took place in 2005 and organized sending handmade washcloths and bars of soap to comfort evacuees of hurricane Katrina. Samples of this cloth are now housed in the Louisiana State Museum and tour schools to teach students about crafting for charity.

It really is a very simple pattern that she has made available thru her blog or Ravelry, all she asks is if you sell it commercially that the profits go to a charitable cause.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Sketchbook Project

This year was the first Sketchbook Project Tour; a collection of submitted sketchbooks traveling the United States.  A really unique idea that shares what is thought of an intimate practice of sketching and journaling with the masses.  After the tour each book is kept and filed in the Brooklyn Art Library.

The Sketchbook Project is now gearing up for their 2012 tour and you have until October 31st to sign up.  The entry fee is a modest $25 which includes the sketchbook and helps with the logistics of such a massive undertaking (this year they are taking the sketchbooks beyond the US!). If you would like to have your sketchbook professionally digitized, it's a mere $20 to share your book with a wider audience online.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quilt Block Trails

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="Example of North Carolina Quilt Trail"][/caption]

I am super excited to announce that my community is beginning its very own Quilt Block Trail.  Not heard of it before?  Neither had I, but they exist in 30 states (now add Louisiana, please!) and 2 Canadian provinces.  Begun by Donna Sue Groves, an Ohio resident, to honor her mom's memory, these large Quilt blocks are applied to barns, buildings and residential homes.  Simply, the blocks, representing or interpreting a historical quilting block, are painted on board and applied (usually bolted) to the structure.  Suddenly a very private art of Quilt Making becomes a public art to be appreciate and admired and together these blocks link a community.  I hope to add my own quilt block in the coming weeks but here are a couple that have been installed in my town of Ponchatoula, LA.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="272" caption="Quilt Block at the Clay Station - Ponchatoula, LA"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="272" caption="Quilt Block from Waterman Law Office - Ponchatoula, LA"][/caption]

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wing Nut Bracelet Tutorial

Last week we covered these fabulous necklaces made from hardware finds; now lets go back to the hardware store to complete the look!  Honesty WTF has an excellent tutorial on this emerging trend of woven wing nut bracelets:
You’ll need:
- 3 strands of twine cut into one yard pieces
- 18 small brass hex nuts
- a bit of dexterity!

Gather the 3 strands of twine and tie a knot at the top, leaving about 2 inches of slack. Start braiding. At about an inch of the way down, you’ll begin braiding in the nuts. Before you braid the far left strand over the middle strand, thread on a nut, push it against the base of the braid, and crossover. Depending on the thickness of the twine, you can wrap tape around the bottom tips to prevent the twine from fraying. (Click images to enlarge)

Keep your thumb at the base of the braid, holding the nut in its place. Before you braid the far right strand over the middle, thread on another nut, push it against the base of the braid and crossover. Again, hold your thumb tightly against the base of the braid, keeping the nuts in place. Thread another nut onto the far left piece and crossover.

Repeat the steps, by threading the rest of the nuts to the outer pieces of twine before they are crossed over. Thread, cross, thread, cross. Finish the bracelet with another inch of braided twine and a knot.

The bracelet should wrap around your wrist at least two or three times. Trim it to your liking.

Good luck!!

Wow!  What a transformation from something so ordinary to something high-end!  Off to make my own!!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Creative Girl Book Group: Final Thoughts

This has been an incredible journey.  Katharine Sise's Book Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career
was a fun read AND an inspiration.  She began the book by dealing with the creative and the spiritual components of the artist's life.  Then she got into the guts of the thing with the hard work and effort and energy and STAMINA needed to really have a go at creating a successful business.  And then she comes full circle with having us creative peeps remember the roots, the passion, the "why" of the thing.

Sise tackles the myth of art and madness being UNAVOIDABLY INTERTWINED.   She has us creatives come up with a "business plan of sorts" for our well being.  We are challenged to connect with our bends toward perfectionism and procrastination.  She cheerleads the idea of community and building in time to step away and get out of your head.

As you have been reading in my last few posts, I have been feeling the need to take a few steps back and breathe. It took a couple of weeks but I am feeling like ME again.  I needed to do it for myself and for my family.

-Robin Norgren

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's not you, its me...

When Nik got brushed off via text message by her Friday night date; she immortalized the absurdity of the said text in cross-stitch.  Because, frankly...isn't everything better in cross-stitch?
Either way she says, it’s getting mounted in a frame and hung on my apartment wall to remind me every day of the sitcom that is my life

follow more of Nik's life and great projects at Style Schematic

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Revolutionary Art: Egypt

I had been meaning to post this a couple weeks ago when I first saw these amazing images from NBC chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel of revolutionary art in the Tahrir Square, Cairo.  So often we make art to say something about ourselves that we forget how powerful art can be in telling people something about themselves.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="287" caption="Everyone back to your nest.... the revolution is over"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="287" caption="on the sides "Detention, Poverty، Coercion, Torture, Fear, Frustration" In the middle "Injustice, Loss of identity""][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="287" caption="Political awareness is the key to the future"][/caption]

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Creative Girl Book Group: Chapter 17

We are finally at the end of the book.  Chapter 17 is the last 'OFFICIAL' chapter that focuses on HOW TO in building your business.  The last chapter is more of a recap.  I will make sure and share more on that next week.  Chapter 17's subtitle is "You Are Your Own Publicist."  I love this section of the book.  Katharine Sise, the author of Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career, goes into the differences between marketing, advertising and publicity.  I have to admit I thought marketing and advertising were synonyms.

On personal branding, Jane Lauder, General Manager of Origins (One of my FAV companies!) says:

"Creating a brand is like creating a story and there's value in telling your story over and over again.  Sometimes you're too close to your product and what you may think is repetitive hasn't even scratched the surface of becoming clear to your customer.  It's vital to get feedback so that you're sure your message is shining through. "

This one piece of information has prompted me to begin meeting every Wednesday with two other local business women and FOCUS ON branding.  This fits nicely into Wednesday's post transition since the completion of the book is next week.  I am super excited to get started.

Anyone else out there picked up this book and begun the process? I would love to hear!

-Robin Norgren

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Seeking New Voices

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="342" caption="image credit"][/caption]

Do you enjoy blogging about crafting, design trends and inspiration?  We are now seeking new voices for both guest posts or weekly contributors!  Contact us now using the submission form below.

[contact-form] [contact-field label="Name" type="name" required="true" /] [contact-field label="Email" type="email" required="true" /] [contact-field label="Website or Blog" type="url" /] [contact-field label="Comment" type="textarea" required="true" /] [/contact-form]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hardware Store Jewelry Tutorial

Jezebel featured this great tutorial project of re purposing hardware store finds into jewelry from their DIY series.  Though its not a new concept of picking thru a hardware store for inspiration (which can sometimes be more dangerous than being lost in a craft store because...Oh the possibilities!) and these designs are loosely based on Lanvin's 2009 Fall collection (I actually like Jezebel's reinterpretation much better), its a fun project challenging us to look at materials in a new way.  Here's how to make your own from Jezebel:

For this project, all you'll need will be parts from a hardware store in the desired dimensions and quantities, plus ribbon — I used a mixture of velvet and organza ribbons, to vary the texture and transparency — and a set of scissors. Straight pins and a needle and thread are optional; you can either sew or knot your ribbons together. Obviously, the key ingredient here is the hardware store stuff: I used mostly pipe couplings from the plumbing section of my local hardware emporium, but you could go heavier on the nuts, washers, incorporate some chains, or choose to work only in one color metal depending on the look that you want. Go for what inspires you.

This project is dead simple. First, lay out all the hardware store bits in some approximation of how you want your necklace to look.

String 'em up.

Knot or sew your ribbons together at the desired length. (For a Lanvin-inspired touch, you could make little bows out of your ribbon, and stitch them over your knots.)
Bam! Necklace. I'm into how the ends of the copper couplings that are bent tuck inside the pipe couplings that are straight. That gives the necklace a kind of neat articulated look.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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