Thursday, 31 August 2017

#savingseptember - What's it all about?

Morning my lovelies! It is the first of September and the first of anything is a time for new beginnings. For me, this first is personal. So you might be asking why I have gone so public then? Good question. The answer is that I need everyone to keep me honest. Perhaps I had better explain.....

Y'all wouldn't be smiling if you knew how much I had spent this week!
My spending is getting out of hand. I told myself that in August it would slow up and then I find that I have bought 163 books IN ONE WEEK! I am told by people I trust that some people don't own that many in total. I have well over 16,000.

Using what I have is also important.
I have also bought craft supplies (for my work) and then just about anything else that I could get my mouse to click on (photographic props) and I am not enjoying it anymore.

Time to pay attention to what really matters.
I am easily addicted (that amount of books is not normal) and I want to find the strength to control this. Besides our house is not big enough.

Not every thing costs money #spendtime
My only saving grace is that nothing is bought on credit. Not. One. Thing. Believe me, debt is not the issue here. The fact that I can buy things does not mean that I should. In fact, part of the reason that I am sharing this is to illustrate that our go-to reaction of 'oh she must be in debt up to her eyeballs' isn't always true. I don't actually owe a penny to anyone in any form. 

Everything is 'needed' for work eh?
You might be wondering why I am stopping a pleasurable experience like shopping if I don't have a debt problem? As I said, debt is not the only issue. The problem is space. I have things on top of things. Under this thing is another thing. It is making me miserable because I cannot focus on one thing anymore. I have too much stuff and not enough room. When the fun stops, stop. I am stopping. 

Find something else to do...
So, September starts with a month long saving with a few rules. C'mon, you know me! There have to be rules!

Rule #1 - no spending of anything unnecessary. Yes it does sound obvious but I am reeeaaalll good at justifying.

Rule #2 - I must post an Instagram photo @craftyvamp every day of something that I already have and have stopped appreciating because I am waiting for the next parcel to arrive.

Rule #3 - report on Instagram each day on how I am going in less that 15 words (I don't want to bore you all to sobs).

Rule #4 - surprise myself by using what I already have and boy do I already have!

Rule #5 - this one is a no-brainer really...get rid of something. A lot of somethings. I am going to clean out the craft room first. I will sell some craft books (yes really) and I will be selling some fabric (uh-huh). The attic will be next and our local charities will be getting some early Christmas pressies.

And that's it!  Rule #1 may sound an easy get out clause but really, at the end of the day, I will only be cheating myself.

Trying to focus on something other than the money #simplethings

And what IS allowed is to save things to my personal wish list - that way, I can go through them at the end of the time and surprise myself at how much I actually throw away without buying. That will stop the impulse buying.

At least nothing is on credit!
Thank you for being on board with this. You will be seeing the three hashtags that I have chosen a lot this month #savingseptember, #spendtime and #simplethings

#needyouwithme could be another one.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Upcycled Photo Stands

I have been looking at my die cutter this time and wondering how we could achieve something great with cardboard (because I have cardboard) to display photos on shelves.

I really like those little wooden 'thingies' (sorry about the technical language!) where you slot the photo in the top and then they sit on a shelf. but there are a lot of them around and what if you want to recycle something and make the a bit different....

And, me, being me, there had to be a challenge and I wanted to make this an upcycled make too. Plus, not everyone wants to work with wood. I find it difficult actually. Don't laugh but cardboard is easier!

I have a lot of scraps of quite stiff chipboard from other things and these bits and pieces are too small to use in a larger make but too bit to throw away. You know that feeling I am sure.

So, that set me to thinking about what could be created.

Laminated photo stands! A little bit of paint and paper. And leather. And glitter fabric and....well you can see what I came up with.

And they are easy. You need a die cutter and some dies that will take the strain of some stiff materials and a dab of glue. 
I am using a Sizzix Big Shot and some cute dies which are flat on the bottom and will sit on a shelf.
If you haven't got a die cutter, don't worry. It is slower but you can find other things and cut around them. So long as the base is flat or you can make it flat, you are good to go!

This one started with a circle and then I made a flat base by cutting about a third off.
You need some chipboard or other thick cardboard (not corrugated box though. If your card is thinner, simply add more than six layers until it sits up securely.
You need a PVA glue or similar - anything which will handle paper is fine and perhaps something more specific for the leather one. I have used hot glue.
Also some paint and a brush. I have opted for DecoArt Americana Extreme Sheen metallic paint in 24 K gold.
For the fronts, choose leather scraps (available in mixed bags online) and pretty paper. I have some glitter fabric which also worked beautifully.

These little stands can actually be reversible so for example, leather goes on one side and paper on the other and then you can turn them around. It really is a versatile make - you can see what you can achieve with one simple idea and three variations. we go! Begin by choosing the die and then cutting 6 pieces from the cardboard....

The six pieces will be laminated together to create a shape that will stand up. You can add a couple more if it isn't stable enough.

Also cut two (one for the front and one for the back) from your leather or paper.

That leather doesn't look right....
That's better! Leather needs stitching!
Now glue the card pieces together with your PVA glue. Before you do though, this is the important part- glue the six pieces of cardboard together in two groups of three and allow them to dry with something heavy on them.
Trim the edges and make them as neat as possible and then paint the edges with a few coats of gold paint...

As you can see, no need to be ├╝ber neat! You won't see these bits and it is much better to have good coverage on the edges.
Now, they will be joined to make one whole but only glue half way up this time. 
The reason for this is to provide a slot in which to put the photo.

I have put in a piece of paper so that you can see the rough idea of where the photo might go.
TIP: you can actually gently sand this chipboard to improve the edges. Do it outside though, it makes a  mess.

You can clearly see the slot for the photo once the stand is dry and the paper is removed.
They sit on a flat surface really well.
Finally, glue the leather  motif onto the front or the paper or whatever you think is nice.

The stitched leather looks much better than unstitched.
I have had some lovely Threaders Glitter fabric come across my desk just recently and I used that for one frame with great results.

The photo absolutely does not do it justice!
I love this stuff - it is everything that you want glitter fabric to be and in the UK you can get it here.

Okay and that is all there is too it! These make great gifts and stocking fillers for the upcoming you-know-what season (closer today than it was yesterday) and they sell well on craft fairs.

Off to print some photos now!

See you next time

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

DIY Wash Mitts

Just like most crafters, I try to make everything and every new craft is an opportunity for more explorations and, above all, more money to go out loading up with all the deliciousness that the new craft offers.

The latest craze to have a seed planted in my more than fertile imagination is soap making. Chemistry orientated and quite beautifully varied, I am intrigued about making something that looks yum but will not tempt me to eat it. A strange way to enter another craft dimension but there you go.

So I have ordered a book or two and while I wait and then plan the equipment needed, I thought about my love of crocheting and what I could do with it. Like all crafters, I love a new idea.

In Germany, face washers are usual in a small bag form that you put your hand into. This is typically efficient and a great way to get clean. It is also good for not having to chase a face washer all over the place (maybe that is just me).

Everyone should try a German style wash mitt at least once!

Now I will ask you to bear with me here. I am not a crochet pattern writer  but rest assured, this is super easy and I am sure that you will know what to do. If not, please email or leave a comment and I will do my absolute best to help.

Okay, there are two very basic stitches used here, double crochet (UK) or single crochet (US) and half treble (UK) or half double (US). 

The idea that I had was to make a face washer that was a gentle sort and for that one I have used Drops Muskat cotton yarn. But then I thought about exfoliating too and decided that we could also make an exfoliating mitt with the same pattern but using a different yarn. So heading to the garden section, I have chosen a sisal for one and hemp for another which gives two versions of scratchy. I would think twice about using these two on your face but it certainly does the job elsewhere and you emerge from your ablutions tingling and ready to face the world.

So, to begin, for the cotton, use a #4 (UK) 6.00 mm J/10 (US) hook and chain between 30 and 40. It has to fit over your hand without stretching or falling off. 
Here is what it looks like on mine....

Goldilocks crochet, not to loose and not too tight.

Join the chain to a circle with a slip stitch and then crochet about 6 rows of double crochet UK (single crochet US). In the photo above, I have already done this. 

A few rows like this makes a nice edge to the mitt.

Now swap to a half treble (half double) stitch and keep crocheting in a spiral round until you have a mitt about qqqcm (qqq) long. 

It all goes a lot quicker once you swap stitches.

The end is open so turn it inside out carefully and close the bottom with slip stitches. Fasten the yarn end off and weave the end in
And there we go! A wash mitt.

I have added a leather tab with a brass Chicago screw to keep it fresh and modern

I love the addition of the leather tab. I found a job lot of leather scraps on eBay and cut strips from that.

The sisal and hemp ones are made to the same (so called!) pattern. 

I found a variegated  hemp on Amazon which looks nice when made up. The leather tab sets it off perfectly.

Hemp is just a little less abrasive than sisal but I still wouldn't use it on your face. Feet are a tinglingly different story.

I know that my Chicago screws are technically inside out (the flat surface is the 'best' one) but I like this better.
To be ultra thrifty, you can make a smaller version (and that is what I have done with the sisal version) and add a drawstring and bead toggle at the top and fill it with soap odds and ends. This one is especially good after gardening and the sisal really scrubs the dirt out of your hands.
Tough love mitt!

We need a softening lotion to finish don't we? this space. Oh and don't forget to make some soap with me. That is coming soon too.

Soap coming soon.....

Love and hugs