Saturday, July 23, 2016

Handprint Sunflowers

I really enjoy having hand print crafts hanging in my front hallway for different seasons. For Halloween we did "Trick or Treat; Smell My Feet" and then I did a Valentine's Day/Spring Love Handprint collection to celebrate the birth of my second child.  It is time for the next craft to make some imprints of my little boys.

When I was working to decorate Rowdy's room, I ordered a stunning dinosaur print that was supposed to be 16x20".  I purchased a white 16x20 frame and waited for the print to arrive... and alas the print actually measured 16x21".  Not only does this mean I need a custom frame for Rowdy's room, but I have an extra WHITE frame that I have no use for.  What can I do with it?  Re-purpose it for handprint art!

I'm taking the cardboard back and I'll turn it into a summery sunflower field... at least this is the plan.  I envision handprint petals and thumb print centers... but we'll see how much I'll be able to do with the boys.

To start, I don't want a boring brown background.  I think it should be blue and white like a clowdy sky.  This is where 2.5 year old Lucky comes in.  One afternoon I set us up with a bunch of blue and white paints and had him help me paint the back.

I did a light coat on the back of the paper so that most of the brown will be covered.  I can't expect a 2 year old to cover the entire background so why not give a rough abstract gradient to start with?  I just put some paint in 3 shades of blue and 1 white and brushed them out.

Next, I set up Lucky with some paint in the blues, white and gray and let him go to down with a sponge brush.

Lucky's painting is BEAUTIFUL!  I had to rotate the canvas so he could reach it all from his high chair but he covered the majority of the background up.  It was hard to wait for this to dry before we started doing the handprints.

Lucky and I practiced the handprint sunflowers on some construction paper (Mother's Day presents for Mimi and Grandmama!) before making the one on our "canvas."  We did at least 6 hand prints in a circle, rotating the work of art to get the petals to fan out.  It is REALLY USEFUL to have another adult on hand so one adult can help with the hand placement while the other keeps the canvas from falling to the ground.

Once the sunflower was dry, we then added the next layer of paint:  Thumbprint "seeds" and some hand print grass along the bottom.  I helped Lucky with the thumbprint placement since it was hard for him to reach across the table.  He really understood what we were trying to do and could do this on his own if I were willing to let go some control of this project.  When we finished the thumbprints he was playing painting his hand and making prints on scrap paper.  Super cute!

Rowdy's handprints were much harder to do.  How do you get a 3 month old to hold his hand open?  Keith held up Rowdy's body while I used both of my hands to paint and then hold them open on the paper.  It didn't matter if I couldn't get a good hand impression since the sunflower is the sum of many fingers going in a circle.  In the end I even did just some finger prints to even out his sunflower where needed.  

I struggled with how to do the stems on this project.  I knew I wanted to do footprint feet on the bottom but the stem should really be drawn first.  In the first try I used a really dark green for the stem but it looked too stark on the dimensional background.  I lightly painted a paler green on top and was much happier with the mix.  I considered curving the stems but I didn't want to take away from the footprint leaves.  

Rowdy's thumbprints were NOT EASY to do.  We couldn't get a good angle and then we tried a toe print and he started freaking out. He made (well, it wasn't his fault, really) some smudges so I did my own pinky prints. I could have had lucky do them but he had already been cleaned up from paint and I didn't want to start all over again!

We tried to do Lucky's footprints a little differently than usually and smudged it a bit, but it is still fantastic.  WE LOVE IT!  Smudges and all it is a fun project from my baby boys.

Finally, all I needed to do was put this print in the frame and admire the adorable picture I created with my boys.  

Some people think that handprint art isn't beneficial to preschoolers because they are following a prescribed path versus doing creative art exploration.  Rowdy is too young to understand any of this, but Lucky has so much fun seeing what we can turn his handprints into and looks at them with pride.  I love these projects because I look back on creating them with my boys, but I am not delusional enough to think that THEY made these for me.  I made them for me, with their help.  I proudly hang Lucky's scribbles on my walls, too. I cannot wait to see what both boys will grow to create!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Microwavable Hot Pad

Three weeks after having a baby I had some pain on my rib cage and was told to apply heat by my doctor. I didn't have any hot packs around, what could I do? I remembered that my grandmother used to use hot packs with dried beans in them that she would heat up in the microwave.  I could do this!  I decided to whip up something to give me some relief.  I knew there was a reason to keep extra prewashed fat quarters of fabric around the house!

The finished hot pack
All I needed to make this hot pad were a prewashed fat quarter of cotton fabric,  a 1 lb bag of dry beans, some thread and a sewing machine.  Let's go!

I used 16 oz of Great Norther Beans that my mom picked up for me.  (Seriously having grandparents around after birth is awesome).  With Rowdy sleeping, I didn't have a lot of time to make a really NICE pocket. I didn't even bother pressing the fabric.

I folded the fat quarter in half and cut it with scissors.  I didn't even take the time to get my rotary cutter out. (I think that writing this post while working on the project is the longest part!)

With the right sides facing, I stitched 1/4" inside the edge leaving a 2" opening to fill with beans.  I went back and reinforced the edge with a zigzag stitch.  (I used a width of 3 for zig zag on my machine)

I turned the pocket right side out and created a little paper funnel to help fill the bag with the dry beans.

With the size of the bean bag and the amount of beans I used, I could have easily used half the amount of fabric, or double the amount of beans.  However, this bigger pocket will allow me to spread the heat over a larger area if I choose.  If this ends up bothering me I can always reduce the size.

this is why it is awesome to have a stash of prewashed fabrics. I wish i had some flannel but this will do.  After the beans were inside, I stitched just around the edge of the whole pocket to close the hole and make it look pretty.

I heated the hot pad in my microwave for 1 min.  This gave me at LEAST 10 min of good heat and even longer of warmth.  The extra fabric is great.  I can tuck it under my bra to keep the hot bad securely at my lower ribs.  Cool!! (Well, hot!)

This hot pad also makes a good cool pack.  Once my pain had resolved itself I started keeping the bean bag in the freezer to help me with postpartum hot flashes.  It would have been great to make this out of flannel or some other snuggly fabric, but working with what I had in my stash this was a perfect solution to my problem.  Plus, I was able to make something while my newborn napped.  Win win win!

finished and started 2/4/16

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Space Dyeing a Crochet Chain with Easter Egg Dye Pellets

Time for some more space dyeing!  I really loved how kettle dyeing crocheted roving turned out so I was excited to play with these braids and other dyeing variations.

Easter egg dye pellets contain food coloring and citric acid, however there isn't that much acid so I also like to add vinegar to my dyebaths.  In this experiment I used 8 cups of water, 3T of white vinegar, 100g of wool and 6 Easter egg dye pellets.

In this space dyeing experiment, I selected 3 yellow pellets and 3 red pellets.  Normally I like to do a mixture of red, yellow and orange but I wanted to see how the colors would mix together today.  If I added a secondary color like orange into the mix to start with then this would be harder to visualize.

I really enjoy using Easter Egg Dye Pellets in my videos.  It is so much fun to see the color dissolve and then go into the fiber.  It is much more cost effective to purchase liquid food coloring but if you wait until just after Easter you can pick up a lot of kits on sale.

Check out the dyeing video to see how this dyeing went down!

Video: Space Dyeing Braided Roving with Easter Egg Dye Pellets

Video Contents
  • [0:00] Introduction
  • [0:49] Crocheting the roving into a "braid"
  • [1:50] Dyebath setup
  • [3:21] Adding the Easter Egg Dye pellets
  • [4:32] 5 minutes later
  • [5:13] 5 minutes later
  • [5:46] 10 minutes later (20 minutes total post dye)
  • [6:24] Removing the roving from the dyebath
  • [7:09] Washing the fiber
  • [7:53] reveal of dry fiber and conclusions

The finished braid looked like a rising sun. I LOVE how vibrant the colors turned out.

Look how fun the color spacing is!  The mixture of orange, yellow, red and white looks very much like a tie dyed shirt.  This will be so much fun to spin!  

I cannot wait to explore this technique further.  What colors would you like to mix when you space dye?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Behind the Design of the Love Bug Hat

Let's take a look behind the scenes of the Valentine's Day Love Bug Crochet Baby Hat!  

Really this post is an excuse to share a bunch of pictures of Rowdy I took along the way.  I didn't want to bog down the pattern post with a bunch of adorable baby pictures.

Back at a few weeks old Rowdy was so sleepy!  He let me try the hat on him while he was asleep and he would STAY asleep!  Now that he is almost 6 months old he is napping in his crib by himself and I need him awake to be a little model.  

After 13 rounds the hat on Rowdy is a tad bit short.  Since he is only 2 weeks old I want to make the hat a little longer.  I want this hat to fit well at 1 month old and I know from Lucky how much heads grow right now!  The hat is fitting with positive ease right now so it doesn't stay on the head super well, but this means that it will fit a larger head very well.

The hat is too long to fit my 2 week old but this Rowdy boy is still in newborn clothes.  I want this hat to fit a bit longer.

I'm not saying that I did this, but it is possible that I took a picture of Rowdy with his crochet Love Bug hat after almost every round.  Why take boring pictures of the hat on its own when I could have it snuggle with a newborn?  

I knew that I wanted to make a little lady bug hat for my February due baby.  I wanted there to be little hearts on it so once I had the heart size figured out I just needed to create the basic hat pattern to fit on my Rowdy boy.  I hope to get some more of my design ideas completed for him but right now I'm still in survival mode staying home with two boys.  

Look at those cheeks!  Rowdy still has cheeks for days but he is also rolling all over the place now.  I hope that you enjoyed these snuggly baby pics!