Geek Crafts

Guest blogger: Devon from Miss Make blog.

Hello! I’m Devon, an avid maker, baker and nature lover currently navigating through my 20’s in Los Angeles. I originally started my blog Miss Make when I started working at the Urban Craft Center just to show friends and family all the cool stuff I was learning how to do. I now teach sewing and quilting there, and I’m admittedly a little obsessed with using my blog to spread the love and knowledge of making stuff to any and all remotely receptive audiences.

Hidden message glow in the dark embroidery

It is a plain and simple truth that if something glows in the dark, it’s inherently cooler.

Whether it’s an action figure, stars on a bedroom ceiling or the little hands on your watch face, there’s something extra captivating about that magic green glow from within. [Mini science lesson: It’s actually not magic, it’s compounds known as phosphors that ‘trap’ electrons from light beams and slowly release them in the minutes and hours after exposure.]

The last time I was visiting the Urban Craft Center, my crafty happy place, I saw that they had added some glow in the dark embroidery floss to their shelves.

I obviously bought some immediately. I mean, it glows in the dark.

Because it looks so much like regular white floss – you only see that telling greenish aura if you’re really looking – I thought it would be fun to mix it in with white and create a secret message that you can only see in the dark.

This little embroidery project is quick, super easy and has lots of squeal appeal [that “ooh!” when people see the hidden message]. I’m by no means an embroidery expert. My skills basically end at being able to thread a needle and tie a knot. But when this was done, in about an hour no less, I wanted to show everyone I knew. [“No seriously, go hold this and stand in the closet, trust me!”] It would be the cutest thing to leave under the bedside lamp of a loved one so that they see it when they turn out the light.

I made a pattern that you can download here for free. You can find glow in the dark floss online, just do a search. I used DMC Mouline E940. The rest of the supplies you can easily find at your local craft / fabric store.

Directions:

  • Trace pattern onto desired fabric with transfer paper, chalk pencil or disappearing pen.
  • *Tip: If you want to transfer the pattern to dark fabric, tape the fabric to a bright sunny window with the pattern behind it and you’ll be able to see and trace. Or, see my blog post about making a light box with a few standard household items and trace it that way!*
  • Put the fabric in a 6” embroidery hoop. Using the glow in the dark floss, embroider all the lines that are red on the pattern. One long stitch per line is enough.
  • Switch to regular white floss. Embroider all remaining lines.

Charge your project under a lamp for a few minutes, find a dark space and marvel.

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With a strong streak of nerd and an affinity for crochet Tracey started up Mostly nerdy crochet. She’s happy to be hooking and often finds it an interesting challenge to use what’s on hand for her next project.

It took getting married, being unemployed, and being 1,500 miles from home for me to pick up my hooks and start crocheting. I learned the basics when I was ten, but apparently I had to be lonely and lost before I’d pick it back up.

Of course the first project I started was the dreaded granny square blanket (well, granny hexagon). Two years later I’m still not actually finished with it, but I’ve accomplished a few other things instead.

Mostly nerdy crochet was the product of my own impatience. For some reason I’m great at amigurumi and only ever followed a pattern once. By the second time I was convinced I could improve the pattern (which I did) and after that I just never bothered to follow anything! I wrote my own patterns for a while (some of which can be found at Ravelry) but I hate trying to follow them again to test the designs.

When I decide to turn a character into an amigurumi I start to collect dozens of pictures of them from every angle. Once I’ve managed to compile enough to create a 3D image in my head I start crocheting. It’s really basic; you add stitches to make it wider and decrease to make it thinner and that’s about it. Each character can be broken down into a series of shapes (most often cylinders and ovals) and then attached together. However, the crochet is only half the battle! I’ve found that if you want something to look right it’s all in the details. Faces are especially important and require a lot of attention, which isn’t too hard as long as you’re willing to play around with embroidery and felt.

As for the yarn that I use I’ll take anything. You hear about people being super green and buying recycled yarn or locally spun yarn or yarn made out of dead leaves for all I know. I’m not quite that diligent. I think I’ve bought maybe four skeins of yarn at retail stores in the two years that I’ve been regularly crocheting. I buy yarn at garage sales and thrift stores and I think that definitely qualifies as reusing. It’s about as green as an unemployed thrift store volunteer can get.

Crochet means a lot more to me than just playing with yarn. I started to rely on crochet as a means of comfort after our last move. I have some anxiety issues and use crochet to keep my hands busy and my mind calm. The biggest reason I stopped following patterns was because it required too much concentration! I like to use crochet as a relaxing distraction, so typically I put on a movie and start hooking. Recently I’ve been trying to exercise my patience by using a visual diagram for a non amigurumi project instead of a written version. Something about looking at pretty pictures makes it easier to watch a movie, crochet, and keep track of my stitches.

Someday in the future I really want to own my own sheep, sheer them, and spin my own yarn. Actually, my sister will keep the sheep for me. She wants to have a small family farm and will use them to make cheese and keep the grass down. I’ll use them for the wool. I’ll learn to dye it myself and sell it somewhere neat… or maybe just next to my sister’s cheese. I can dream, can’t I?

Special thanks to whipup.net and all the readers for being constantly supportive of crafters everywhere.

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Hello Whipup.net’ers! Kathreen has graciously invited me to be a guest blogger on her fabulous site and I’m very thankful for the opportunity! Thank you Kathreen! xox

The Girl

My name is Lee and I’m a twenty-six year old textile/fibre/crochet artist born, bred and based in Canberra, Australia {find out more about me and my work on my blog}. I was about seven or eight years old when I first asked my Mum to show me how to “do that thing with the hook”. The fascination lasted about two weeks and produced a basic knee rug that was comprised of more holes than actual crochet. The world of crochet was quickly forgotten as I moved on to tennis lessons instead. Which, come to think of it, also lasted about two weeks….

In late 2008 I remember stumbling upon the world of amigurumi (small crocheted animals/toys). I made a few little pieces before yet again my severe lack of an attention span kicked in and I found myself on the search for something new and exciting to try.

Gone With The Wind {with the artist}

The Technique

My search came to an abrupt halt in 2008 when my jaw hit the floor and my eyes were glued to the incredible crochet portraits by Todd Paschall of Crochet by numbers. I remember the first time I clapped eyes on his smiling portrait of President Barack Obama and I was in awe.

Image courtesy of Todd Paschall of http://crochetbynumbers.com

A squillion questions sprang to mind, the biggest one being, How in the world do you DO that?! When I discovered that Todd was sharing his technique and also offered to convert any picture into an easy to follow pattern, I knew I had to give it a try.

I began by getting the basic stitches down pat. The crochet-by-numbers technique only requires you to know how to ‘chain’ and ‘single crochet’, so I began by practicing with little square swatches. Within a matter of days I was ready to have a go at the training patterns featured on Todd’s site. At first these were the ‘scary ones’ I was a little anxious about trying as they involved the dreaded practice of colour changing! I soon discovered that it was nothing to fear and was actually quite fun!

Todd’s technique does not require you to ‘carry yarn’ or weave in any loose ends, instead every colour change is accompanied by a cut and tie-off. Although many folks have shivered at the prospect of cutting and tying-off at every single colour change, I’ve found it can actually be quite relaxing! Although I do often warn those who are thinking of giving it a go, to be prepared to be patient, have a fully stocked chocolate stash beside them and one hell of a comfy chair!

As my confidence grew and I knew I was hooked (sorry, pun was begging to be used), I moved on to much larger pieces, with much more detail (aka. more colours and more colour changes!). Pretty quickly I discovered that crocheting portraits had become incredibly fun, exciting and important to me. Ideas about future pieces, possible colour palettes and the never ending string of possibilities had actually started to keep me awake at night. Visits to local yarn stores quickly became a compulsory stopping point every time I left the house. It soon became glaringly obvious that a hook and a ball of yarn offered so much more than a way to while away spare hours.

The Result

As my work will illustrate, I’m a bit of a pop culture fanatic. I have a wide interest in film, music and literature as well as the era’s that go along with them. Musically speaking I am drawn to the 1950s and 60s in particular. The Monkees, The Beatles and The King to name a few…

Monkees

JohnLennon

Elvis and Ann Margret

I also have a love for the glory days of Hollywood and the actors that created true magic with their presence on the silver screen.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman

It is also a poorly kept secret that I am a bit of a Harry Potter fanatic. I use the term ‘fanatic’ there, when really the word ‘MASSIVE’ should go in front of it. I don’t know what it is about the books and movies that continues to take hold of my hook, but I keep being drawn back to the wonderful characters and world of Hogwarts, time and time again.

Daniel Radcliffe

This piece featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a young Harry Potter and as the young man he has become has certainly earned a spot in my top three favourite pieces to date. Not only does it have the most clarity of any piece I have done, it is the first time I was aiming for the ‘sepia effect’ and it was the first time I nailed it! It is also the largest piece I have tackled to date at a staggering 32,000 stitches.

I also get immense joy out of creating pieces that conjure up personal memories for loved ones. In particular, is a piece I put together for my Dad’s 50th birthday. It features a picture of him as a finger-snapping two year old boy in the backyard of his childhood home in Sydney. As a life-long radio fanatic, I decided to surround him with radio paraphernalia, including a retro-styled radio, microphone and the logo of his favourite radio station throughout his adolescent years.

It remains my favourite piece to date. Not only because it’s so monumentally personal, but because of the reaction it received from my Dad upon seeing it for the first time. I stood in the living room and holding it up and outstretched before calling him into the room. He stopped dead in his tracks, gasped, muttered a few choice expletives against the palm of his hand that had shot up to hide his open mouth and smiled. We then both proceeded to get a little misty eyed (balled our eyes out actually…). His reaction meant that the sixty plus hours spent on it was forgotten instantly and I knew then that I had found a truly remarkable way to express love and pay tribute to the many people, musicians, actors, films and loved ones that I have and continue to admire.

Hogwarts Bunch Blanket

Recently the world of crochet portraiture has begun to open some really exciting doors for me too! Earlier this year, my Hogwarts Bunch Blanket was featured in ‘Let’s Knit UK’ magazine and for the past three weeks, ten of my pieces have been adorning the walls of a local café/bar in my first ever exhibition!

If you have ever wanted to give crochet a go, by all means pick up a hook and get cracking! You never know where it might take you!!

For more information, pictures, ramblings, how-to vlog’s and free patterns, please feel free to drop by and say hello!

Lee xox

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Having a small blogging break – away from the computer. So will just leave you with some quirky knit projects to have fun with.

Knitted fish hat
Incognito neckwarmer
Thrifty critter
Space invaders hat
Pigtail hat

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Still on my wee break – so will leave you with some fun and quirky Australian themed knit and crochet patterns.

Fornicating Kangaroo knit chart (Ravelry download)
Anzac remembrance crochet poppy
Lest we forget crochet chart
Crochet kangaroo with joey
Crochet Koala
Knitted vintage koala pattern
Koala softie pattern

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