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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: Bead n' Go Junior

I saw this a while back and thought about picking it up and honestly, I wish I picked it up sooner. I was able to shake a pile of 15/0 delica seed beads sealed in the case and when I opened it, they remained in place with slight movement of a few. Picking up the 15/0 beads from the mat worked better than the mat I had been using at home.

My first test was out of the house busing around town for a day to myself. I'm able to bead comfortably at a bus stop and as it pulls up, get ready to get on by the time the door opens (I kept my change on the mat to have ready before closing the case). I can take my beading comfortably to work on at the park, in a cafe or by the pond in the Kasugai Japanese Garden downtown. Natural light is best, right? 

I have two young, curious boys at home. I can put away my projects in seconds without having to worry about the kids making a mess, getting my threads in a knot or spilling beads on the floor. I can relocated anywhere in the house without a hassle. If I'm working at my desk, I can put the lid on it to quickly switch to a new task. I spend less time cleaning up and more time on what's important.

This case comes in two sizes. The Save n Go and the Save n Go Junior. The Junior (the model I purchased) is similar in size and thickness to a net book laptop; it can fit into my purse. It's surface area is 12x9 inches (9.5 inches including the hinge); it's approximately 1 inch thick. I'm thinking about getting a net book decal to personalize mine (not a bad way to go if you plan on keeping a couple to separate your projects). It only comes in white. The top and the bottom separate completely. 

The larger sized case is much bigger but still portable; for my purposes the junior works just fine. I wouldn't mind one half the size of the junior for even smaller projects. You can pack a few pliers and sissors in the case but I keep that stuff in a separate pencil bag.

The one thing I wish they had done was use Velcro rather than glue for keeping the mat in place so that it could be removed for cleaning in the future or replacement should it need it. 

I paid $20 CAD including taxes for mine at Michaels with a coupon. 
The company site is 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Organized Hyper Stimulated Inspiration

Sometimes I feel like the only thing keeping me together is my skin. The possibilities and ideas are endless. There are so many fun mediums and so many ways you can make something old new again. A random youtube video leading to another, a new craftsy class or scrolling through pins for much longer than you intended can bring a spur of ideas. Sometimes working on a project with only your thoughts to keep you company can bring this on as well (this happens a lot at night when my mind doesn't have to compete with my energetic boys). One really odd time, it happened in the middle of watching a movie where there didn't seem to be an obvious trigger.

Finding focus in these hyper stimulated moments can be challenging. When I get into these modes (like today), focus is no longer my goal; recording those ideas down is. I like using the Magical Pad app to mind-map those ideas. I keep webs to include photo ideas for peyote patterns, color inspirations, knitting pattern ideas and other ideas for mediums I want to experiment with in the future. Not everything sticks or turns out great but when you're having a dry spell it's perfect to remember those incubating inspirations.

What I like about using the app is that I always have that web of ideas with me everywhere my phone or iPad is. Remember those peyote photo ideas? Maybe I can take some of those photos while I'm out walking and enjoying the sunshine. Remember those ideas in other mediums? Maybe the boutique art store downtown has some interesting classes coming up or a book store has a book with the know how to make those ideas a reality.

If you're an avid pin collector on pintrest, maybe adding the ideas you like to your mind map can help separate the "thats cool" from the "lets change this and that and then make it happen." With app you can add to do lists, photos, sketches and more. You can delete sections that really just don't work or move sections to a different part of the web. You can hide sections of your webs or view it all at a glance.

I don't always write directly in my mind-map. Sometimes I just let the ideas pour on to a paper envelope or scrap then organize it in the mind-map later. There are journals, whiteboards and poster boards can be just as effective too. Whether mind-mapping is for you or not, don't fight the flood or try to find focus; ride this wave, see where it takes you and record those ideas!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Beginning

Lately I've been finding inspiration in the unlikeliest of places. I've been thinking about descriptive words for the pieces I've made and the ones I wish to make and stumbled across some styles I like but would have never occurred to be seek out. I've started my journal for ideas, I've started this creative journey. I'm excited to see how my work will change and evolve over time; where my passion will lead me. Check out my newly launched Etsy store and see part of what I've been up to!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Collaborative Projects

This past Sunday with my two best friends, I started a collaborative project... It's a project bag that the birthday girl made the foundation and then the body of the bag each of us is responsible for two colors (6 total) where each color stripe is one row of single crochet. This bag can only be worked on while we are together since each row is completed so quickly but it looks beautiful. The results are worth it. The memory behind making this bag with stick with all of us and each time someone asks about it. We've decided that we're enjoying making this bag so much, that we would like to repeat the process so that each of us has one in colors we enjoy. Some have made collaborative scarfs and others blankets. Whatever you make, love goes in each stitch. The beauty of this pattern is that we all crochet different tensions even with different hooks... One even the opposite direction but it doesn't negatively impact the project. Try it. You will not be disappointed. Here's a peak; my colors are the dark purple and green. Fusia and white is one friend and the blues are another friend.

The pattern is based on "Colorful Carryall" by Kj Hay in "Crochet Today! Quick and Easy Gifts 2009." Modifications so far include finer yarn and 6 rather than 8 colors. Eventually planning on braided handles that start at the base with a scallop and picot trim. Final photo to follow.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Among the unpacking was a book on tatting for both shuttle and needle. It was something I was playing with before I started packing. A very crafty friend asked me about it and at this point I had only tried needle tatting. I purchased a shuttle years ago... shortly after my four year old son was born but never learned. So today I took the time to find videos and sites to learn just that. The tatting page with links and resources is the result. Youtube has been great. On Pintrest I have discovered MANY useful links, images and videos. God, I can easily loose time on that site.

I'm finding shuttle tatting has it's perks. You never need to determine needle size because shuttle will turn out perfect every time (unless technical issues prevail). Hell, if you're trying it out you don't even need a shuttle. A plastic thread holder or piece of cardboard is enough to start learning on.  Shuttle tatting is flexible whereas needle tatting can be tricky in some patterns. Shuttles are beautiful and customizable. Shuttle tatting can be done on an airplane whereas needle tatting isn't allowed. You can use finer beads. There is potential for less joining threads to weave in at the end and less misgauging how much working thread vs tail is needed. Most importantly, for me I feel my tension is better even though I have less experience shuttle tatting than needle tatting. I honestly didn't think I would enjoy it so much, but I do.

If you're starting something new, it's great to see how others have interpreted the same pattern (like on Ravelry). You never know what patterns you would have passed because of color, gauge or original shaping but if you look at what others have done, you might fall head over heels with someone else's modifications. I have also found others leave useful notes to improve upon technique or typo fixes that would have otherwise left me frustrated.

Bottom line, give shuttle tatting a try.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Knitting with Friends
We just moved into our new place and sorting through and reorganizing craft supplies has brought out so many forgotten projects I intended to finish but hadn't or have not even started. Among them was a baby pinwheel blanket I promised to knit for a retirement home gift shop. It's going to be white, yellow and green. All pastels. My goal is to finish it by the 20th. I had to refresh on the disappearing loop method but I'm now going strong on it. After the first few rows, the rest of the pattern repeats. This is a fabulous pattern to knit with others because you don't need to pay attention to details.

I still have a fair amount of stashed yarns left in storage. I found an old chenille blanket I started for one of my boys but never got to finish. Since the required hook is ginormous, it's a quick stash buster project that I'm thinking will be soon on the horizon. I want to finish what I started. Get it all done. Clear out space for new inspirations.

Poppy Fairy
Last month I managed complete 25% of the pattern (beading, outlining and finishing not included). It's looking great and more like a fairy. I discovered I find cross stitch relaxing, especially if it's blocks of color rather than intricate constant color change. There is a pattern in a British magazine that I absolutely adore, that says "Life is just peachy when you're as cool as a cucumber but sometimes it's fun to just go bananas." I think it will suit my style well while looking good in my kitchen.

I subscribe digitally to "Cross Stitch Collection" on my ipad. I love that I have patterns while I'm on the go so I can easily get supplies I need as well as zooming in on hard to see areas of a pattern. If you haven't tried getting magazines digitally, it's great. You can also print out single patterns that you can mark up and modify.

Anyway, Happy Stitches! Picture updates soon to follow.

Edit: added project photo of Pinwheel Blanket.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Poppy Fairy by Joan Elliot

Marriages hit their rough patches especially when there is a lot of change to cope with. My husband and I had a bit of a break just over a year ago. Our reconcile date was 11-11-11, Remembrance Day. In honor of that date that we really committed to change, for Valentine's Day I'm sewing Poppy Fairy by Joan Elliot.

As an aside, if you haven't tried getting magazines on your tablet, I highly recommend it. Easily bookmark and zoom in on patterns. You have access to your thread stash list and more on the go so you don't over buy. International and back issues can be a few dollars cheaper or even significantly less than buying in print. You always have access to them to download, and supplemental freebies are now being added to the end of the magazine. If you have young children or are prone to coffee spills, this is great. You can also print just the patterns you need. Cross Stitch Collection (awesome fairy patterns) and Cross Stitcher are two brilliant magazines from the same publishers with different themes that offer a free back issue to test. I can't remember the last time I went on such a magazine spree.

Fabricland sells Aida to cut. The roll was a smidgen dirty where she cut so she added a bit more fabric to cut around and marked it half off. It worked out to paying $2 for the fabric for this project and I have plenty left for two more. Membership for students is available and membership is significantly worth it. I saved what I paid for it in one trip.

If you're local to Kelowna, Kelowna Yarn and Needle Crafts ( had all the colors I needed (Michaels sold out half the colors I needed and are better organized with better quality notions - no substitutions needed). I was given some really good pointers to keep my project sewing smoothly.

It's been so long since I've cross stitched. I started a project page. I got my threads all organized. I bought all my notions. I've posted a picture of what I've done so far. I'll post more pictures as I go along. Wish me luck!