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1  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Discussion and Questions / What kind of dye is used on DMC floss? on: December 17, 2009 10:09:40 AM
Does anyone know what kind of dye is used on DMC floss?

This is a totally weird question, I know.  I embroider a lot, and I have a lot of waste threads.  I would like to compost them (cotton is compostable), but since I use my compost in my veggie garden, I'm a bit worried about the dyes on the waste threads.  If they use heavy metals, I don't want to add them to my garden, not even in the slightest trace amounts.  I've e-mailed DMC to ask this question of them, but I haven't heard back from them yet.
2  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Eternal WIP Sampler on: September 25, 2009 07:54:49 AM

I am working on an embroidery sampler.  It's going to be an eternal work in progress.  I was inspired by SharonB's sampler on pintangle.  I plan for my sampler to be 5.5 inches wide and however long it ends up.

So far, I've only worked this little redwork section, but I'm really liking it.  In this section, I am working only angular stitches, with no knots or round shapes at all.  With the exception of back stitch and straight stitch (which I'm using to define sections and emphasize the band shape, and also to rest my brain), I have tried to avoid repeating stitches, although I made one accidental repetition.  Here's a list of all the stitches I've used so far, by row:

1: back stitch
2: running stitch
3: back stitch
4: detached straight stitches, arranged like flower stems.
5: back stitch
6: half-cross stitch
7: chevron
8: half-cross, reversed
9: back stitch
10: fly stitch
11: cross stitch
12: detached straight stitches, stacked
13: back stitch
14: Bosnian stitch
15: sheaf stitch
16: back stitch
17: back stitch
18: straight stitch triangles (look at the left end of this row, I worked in the year, 2009)
19: Bosnian stitch, reversed
20: back stitch
21: St. George's cross stitch
22: back stitch
23: herringbone
24: buttonhole stitch
25: ermine stitch
26: zipper stitch
27: cross stitch
28: holbein stitch
29: back stitch
30: detached straight stitches
31 (in progress): back stitch
3  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Stitching is puckering on lightweight fabric on: November 12, 2008 01:48:03 PM
I'm trying to make what should be an easy skirt -- an a-line mid-calf skirt with an elastic waist, back darts (trust me, I need them) and an underskirt.  But I can't get my stitching smooth.

The fabric I'm using is a sheer, lightweight, flowy 100% polyester.  Because it's sheer, I'm planning a solid underskirt in a similar fabric that's a bit heavier and not sheer.

I tested my thread (dual duty) and tension on some scraps of each fabric, and the puckering on both was terrible.  I've dialed my tension down to almost zero, and the puckering is still terrible.  It's definitely puckering on the top. 

What should I do?  Could changing my stitch length help?  I am using a brand new needle.

I almost feel like I need a walking foot (which I do not have), but it doesn't seem like the two layers of fabric are slipping. 
4  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Tiny Farm (new pics added July 16!) on: May 19, 2008 02:02:31 PM
I've started a tiny farm in my back yard.  I've named it Tiny Farm.

Here's what my backyard looked like before I started.  The lawn is 12x20 feet (about 4x6 meters):

With my husband's help, I built two 3x6 foot (about 1x2 meter) garden beds out of 2x12 lumber.  Then I marked out a grid of 1x1 foot squares on each bed, using nylon cord looped around nails.  Here's a picture of one of the beds.  The other one looks just like it:

I'm using the square foot garden (SFG) method, which you can read more about here.  The grid is key to the SFG method:  you plant each grid intensively, and you only plant what you'll eat.  You time it so that not every thing ripens all at once.  For example, I will be planting 8 radishes a week for the next couple of weeks.  I'm the only radish-eater in my house, and 8 radishes a week is more than enough for me!

I've already planted some beets, radishes, carrots and kohlrabi.  I'll be planting my tomatoes and peppers this weekend.  Here's my planting plan for Spring 2008 (the beds are really about 10 feet apart, one on each side of the yard, against the fence.  They are pictured closer together for viewing convenience):

Click on the plan to see a larger version.

The gray area is the space I'm leaving open for the squash.  I'll plant fast growing stuff (like radishes!) around it until it needs the space.  The tomatoes and squash will be grown in cages.  To keep them from flopping over, the beans will have a tiny fence around them (made with those small white fence segments you buy for cheap at a home store), as will the New Zealand spinach.

What do you think?  This is my first in-ground veggie garden.  I've grown veggies in containers before (a lot of veggies in a lot of containers), and I have a flower bed out front.  But I've never before had an in-ground garden!  I'm super excited.
5  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Bird Shrine on: March 27, 2008 06:40:27 AM
I made this shrine for Babbetto for the Snowflake Shuffle swap.  She said she likes the distressed look, earthy colors, nooks, drawers, vintage and this tip-in page I made.

The shrine is made out of foam core board, using directions from Crafting Personal Shrines, by Carol Owen, a book Rackycoo turned me on to.  It's a great resource, although her measurements are sometimes a bit imprecise (Owen's, not Rackycoo's.  I'm sure Racky always measures perfectly!)

Here's the shrine in all its glory.  The door is hinged and opens -- the "doorknob" is a Mexican peso that Alteredmommy sent me in a swap.  I bought  the skeleton key that's in the nook at the top in an antique store in Gettysburg, PA.  I left the two nooks at the bottom mostly empty so that Babbetto could add her own things:

When I first put the shrine together, it was top heavy -- it fell over every time I walked past the table it was sitting on.  I took it apart and added some heavy bolts to the bottom piece where  the two nooks are.  They are hidden with a false back.  This gives the bottom more weight and helps the shrine stay upright.

I covered the roof in paper bingo cards that Original Youth sent me.  I like the way all the numbers line up.

Most of the shrine is covered in a Farsi newspaper.  I particularly liked the way this part of the stoop turned out, with the pretty Farsi words showing through:

My photos of the interior didn't turn out all that well.  I was a week late mailing for this swap, and I took all these photos at 11pm at night!   Roll Eyes  You can see more Farsi on the inside of the door.  The color behind the bird is a rich orange, and the color in the nook below is a dark red called "cranberry vine."

The big challenge of the inside was designing an assemblage that would look good both with the door closed and with the door open.  I fiddled around a lot with the assemblage until I was satisfied.

The final bird assemblage is mounted on a vintage bingo card.  The music behind the bird is German.  The tatting you see in front of the bird was done by Sewknitter (I got it from her in shop the swap 11).  The scrolls are just bits of paper rolled up and glued so that they will hold their shape, and then tied together.  The little teddy bear is hiding in the corner and isn't visible when the door is closed.  I left more space on the right side and down near the tile for Babbetto to add her own things.

This shrine was so much fun to make.  I didn't want to give it up -- except that I knew how much Babbetto would love it!  Smiley
6  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / Scrap Management System on: March 07, 2008 11:15:03 AM
Over in the thread about my postage stamp WIP, I mentioned my "scrap management system,"  which is my method for dealing with, processing and most importantly *using* scraps.  Several people asked me to post a description of it, so here goes.

My system is based on the Scrap User's System that Bonnie at Quiltville uses -- you can read about her system here.  Her system (and her stash) is much more massive than mine, so I scaled it down to meet my needs.  The two most important lessons I took from her are: a) you pay just as much per inch for your scraps as you do for large pieces of fabric, so they are worth saving, and b) your goal should be to use your scraps, not just keep them.

To actually use your scraps, you need to have them handy in sizes that you'll actually use.  If you have to dig them out, iron them, cut them, sort them and then start using them, you'll likely to give up before you even start.  Bonnie's method makes the curring & sorting automatic and easy. 

Here's how I sort and cut my quilt fabric.  Anytime a piece of fabric comes into my hands, I evaluate it according to the following questions and rules.  I do this when I have new fabric (especially if I'm already cutting it up for a project) and when someone gives me scraps (which happens often, because people know I love scraps!!). 

1) Is it larger than 9 inches in both dimensions (length and width)?  If no, I go to #2.  If yes, then I fold it and store it with my fat quarters, and I'm done.  Based on my experience with previous quilts AND with my tendency toward slobiness, I know that a 9x9 piece of fabric is the smallest uncut piece I can reasonably use in a quilt, AND that it's the smallest piece I can store with my FQs neatly.  You might want smaller or larger pieces here -- the point is to decide what the smallest "uncut" piece is you'll store.  Everything else is a scrap.

2) Is it larger than 9 inches in *one* dimension, but smaller than 9 in the other? If no, I go to #3.  If yes, then I cut it into a standard width strip and store it with my strips.  I use these for strip piecing or sashing.  My standard sized strips are 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3.5 inches.  You might choose different sizes depending on your specific needs. 

3) Is it smaller than 9 inches in *both* dimensions? If I make it to step #3, the answer to this question is yes.  In that case, I cut out as many standard size squares from the piece as I can, working my way from the largest possible cut down to the smallest.  My standard sizes are 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3.5 and 4 inches.

4) Anything you have left at this point will be less than 1.5 inches in at least one dimension.  If these are larger than 1x1 inch, I toss them in a bin of "strings" to use in making string blocks.

5) Anything less than 1x1 inch I throw away.  And that's *all* I throw away.  There's very little waste in this system.

Storing standard size pieces.  Ok, so now my scraps are all cut into standard sized pieces, but how do I store them?  I have two plastic bins with drawers that I use for storing fabric.  Each drawer is labeled. 

The first set (which I sadly do not have a picture of) is used to store FQs, strips and strings.  I fold FQ's into 4.5x4.5 squares (this is the size they're folded to when you buy them).  Then I store them neatly in one of the drawers, organized by color.  The strips are just tossed into a second drawer, and the strings are in a third. 

It's the second set of drawers that's interesting.  In this set, I put only one size of square into each drawer (remember, my squares are all 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3.5 and 4 inches) -- except for the 2nd one, which I put a divider in so that it holds both my 2 inch and 2.5 inch squares.

Using the Scraps.  Ok, so now everything is neatly stored.  How do I use it?  Whenever I need or want to make a quilt project (a block or a quilt or whatever), I go to the drawers and immediately pick out what fabrics I need.  I get to go right from the fun part of picking the fabric to the fun part of sewing, with none of the drudgery in between!   

What kinds of quilt blocks can I make with just squares?  Obviously, plain old 9-patch blocks are the easiest to make.  I love a 9-patch, so that's cool with me.  I  can also easily put together some half-square triangles by sewing 1/4 inch from each side of the center line and cutting them apart -- and I have pinwheels or friendship stars.  If I make 1/2-square triangles the same way and combine them with a larger square, I have sawtooth blocks or bear claws.  And obviously I can make strip-pieced or string quilts with ease, because I have whole drawers full of those waiting for me!!

Do you want to start a system like this?  If you love scrap quilts and want to start a similar system for storing your scraps, I recommend the following.  First, pick a pattern you like -- the Quiltville website has tons of free patterns for scrap quilts.  Start processing all your scraps into the sizes of squares and strips you will need for that pattern.  If you want to add some bigger or smaller squares, go ahead, but don't try to do everything at once.

Don't worry about if the pieces match or if you have enough, just process them.  Work on some other projects, and process scraps from those.  Ask your friends for scraps, and process them too!  If you're having trouble finding scraps -- try swapping with other Craftsters or buying them on eBay!  By the time you've accumulated enough fabric for your original pattern, you'll ALSO have your system up and running, and you'll probably have enough squares to have a head start on your next project too!

When it's time to start the quilt you picked as the basis for your system, then pick colors you like and arrange them as needed.  The beauty of this is that you don't have to use all the pieces -- and nothing will be wasted.  Anything you don't use now will live safely in your system until you need it.   Add FQs if you need to and buy fabric if you need to -- just make sure to process those scraps as you go along!  Smiley

These quilts (all from the Quiltville site -- can you tell I love it?) would make particularly good system starters:

Basket Weave Strings
Chunky Churndash
Ocean Waves
Maverick Stars (I might break my rule of chucking pieces smaller than 1x1 for this quilt -- I love it!)

Poke around, and you'll find tons of scrap quilt patterns that will work for booting up your scrap management system.  Smiley

7  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / Chunky Book Page Swap Gallery! on: February 01, 2008 07:36:08 AM
The first page has been mailed, so I'm starting the gallery.  I can't wait to see what you all make!

The swap thread is here:  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=222843.0
8  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Washing Cotton Fleece on: January 31, 2008 07:39:22 AM
I'm thinking of using Lamb's Pride Cotton Fleece to make a baby blanket, but I'd like the blanket to be machine washable.  Have any of you had any luck in machine washing cotton fleece?  It's a yarn I've never used before.
9  Craft Swaps / ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED / Chunky Book Page Swap (Next send date June 11) on: January 25, 2008 08:36:37 AM
Swap name: Chunky Book Page Swap
Craftster member who is organizing this swap:  Katxena
Sign-up date range: January 25 to January 30
Date to send item by: First send will be February 13

Limited to a certain number of people? (optional): 20

Restricted to people who all live in the same country? NO
If so, which country?n/a

All ages allowed? Or 18+? all ages

Swap Organizer himself/herself meets these conditions:
- Has fully read the Swap Info Guide: YES
- Has successfully completed two swaps as a participant: YES
- Is not organizing more than three swaps right now: YES
- Will recruit a co-organizer or give all details to a Swap Moderator if this swap has more than 25 participants: YES

Swap Organizer will check each participant to make sure they meet these conditions:
- Has been a member for at least one month: YES
- Has posted at least 15 times: YES
- Has completed one swap successfully before signing up for multiple swaps at a time: YES
- Is not currently signed up for more than five swaps: YES
- Does not have any negative feedback: YES

Details of swap:

We will be making 4x4 inch (10x10 cm) chunky pages with the theme "Creative Life" -- think art, creativity, craftiness, inspiration, fun.  Each page should be decorated on the front and the back.  Your major effort should be made on the front, and your artist information will go on the back (at a minimum: your Craftster UserID, the name of this swap, date -- but you can include other information too, as you like).  Please decorate your backs too, but it's not necessary to make them as detailed or elaborate as the front.

What makes a page chunky?  Two things:  the paper and the embellishments.  You should use a sturdy base for your page -- mat board is ideal.  Lightweight cardboard (think cereal boxes) also works well, as does heavy watercolor paper (140 lb/300 gsm) or multiple layers of cardstock glued *securely* together.  In addition, you can use all kinds of embellishments: buttons, fibers, glass, chunky chunks!  Keep embellishments to a maximum height of 1/4 inch (about 0.6 cm) off the page. 

Binding the pages will be up to each recipient.  There are three typical ways to bind these.  I'm calling them "margin", "left" and "corner."  Here are descriptions and examples of all three ways:

Margin:  leave 1/2 an inch (1.25cm) on the left edge of the page free of embellishments and major design elements (it's nice to at least color it the same as the rest of the page, or decorate it lightly).  The recipient can then bind the pages by attaching them at the left edge, by punching holes in the left edge and attaching them with binder rings or cords, or by getting them spiral bound, or in some other creative way.  For an example, see:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/naniani/2186203155/in/pool-chunky_book_arts

Left or None:  leave 1/2 an inch (1.25 cm) on the left edge of the page free of embellishments, but design and decorate it all over to your heart's content.  I don't have an example of a bound book like this, but see these pages by OriginalYouth for an example of what the pages look like:

Corners:  leave all 4 corners free of embellishment.  The recipient can then attach the pages by the corners and make a wall-hanging out of them.  For an example of this, see:  http://www.atcards.com/gallery/files/1/3/6/4/birds_chunky_book.jpg

top left corner:  leave the upper left corner free of embellishment, but all other corners and edges are fair game.  The recipient will be punching a hole in the upper left corner and using rings to bind them.  I don't have any example of this method to share.

In your questionnaire, you will be asked to specify which type of binding you want, and everyone should follow their partner's preferences when making pages.

Participants:  This swap will be limited to 20 participants. 

Partners:  There will be several mailings, with send dates every two weeks.  Send dates will be on the "off" weeks of the Tip-In with a Twist swap.  The first send date will be February 13. Partners will be assigned every two weeks, on send dates.  The goal will be to continue the swap until everyone has swapped with everyone else -- if we have 20 participants, this swap could continue for some months.

Opting and dropping out:   You will be able to opt-out of a mailing if you need or want to.  By opting out, you will remain a participant in the swap, but you will not be assigned a partner for that round.  You will also be able to drop out of the swap early for any reason (no questions asked) -- but only *after* all your assigned partners have received their pages.

Posting: You must post in the swap thread if you join.  It will be our main means of participation, and it will help your partners get to know you.

Mailing:  DCNs and other proof of mailing will not be required.  However, if any of your partners do not receive your page, you must remake one and send it again.  All participants will be required to ship internationally.

Communication:  Don't ever hesitate to ask me questions.  It's not possible to communicate with me too much!  Make sure to PM me and your partner when you send and when you receive.  If you are going to send late, make sure to let me and your partner know.

If you want to participate, information to send to Katxena

IMPORTANT:  Please just send the questionnaire in your PM.  Do not include any additional comments or information!!!  Just the answers, please  Smiley  This will make it easier for me to forward your info to your partners.  If you have any questions or comments, please send them to me separately! 

Name of swap: Chunky Book Page Swap
Craftster username:
Email address:
Your real name:
Mailing address including the country (formated for mailing!!!):
Would you be willing to ship to an address outside your own country? YES, as this is required.
What kind of binding do you plan for your pages? Answer with -- "margin" "none"  "corners" or "left corner":


Also remember to read the Swap Info Guide to find out how to ship your item and other details about participating in a swap.

Participant List
 (binding preference is in parens)

2   just_lisa (top left corner)
8   bushbaby   (margin)

15   little green dragonfly   (margin)
17   goatgoddess   (corners)
23      Tristitia (none)

22      Minouette (left)
1   phizzychick   (none)
3   OriginalYouth   (none)
4   babbetto   (none)
5   carrieme   (none)
6   GingerQuilts    (none)
7   banga   (none)
14   Rackycoo   (top left corner)
16   Amarylisroze   (top left corner)
18   avesthel   (none)
9   Katxena   (none)
10   Heini   (margin)
11   alteredmommy   (corners)
12   Queen of Fools   (margin)
13   crafty_dame   (top left corner)
19   Purple Heather   (corners)
20   GougeAway   (none)
21   Colorfuldayz   (top left corner)

I will strikethrough participants as I leave feedback.

The discussion thread
The Gallery
10  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) / Software for editing ATC photos on: January 21, 2008 12:22:56 PM
I'm not talking about digital ATCs or about editing photos to be used in ATCs -- I'm talking about software for editing pictures OF ATCs.

My editing needs for pictures of ATCs are very simple.  I need to be able to crop photos, straighten them, and sometimes merge them so that multiple ATCs appear in the same photo (next to eachother, not in layers -- for example, I might want all 3 cards I made for a swap to appear in one photo all lined up.).

I used to be able to do this.  At home, I used to use HP image pro (software that came with my HP computer).  At work I sometimes use Microsoft photo editor (if I have time during lunch).  But now I have a new computer, and I can't find any simple software that does what I need -- and I'm not always able to steal time at work to do it.

I've tried Picasa -- it doesn't let you merge photos (although it's great for organizing them!).

I've tried Gimp -- it's way too complicated for what I need.  It can probably do what I'm trying to do, but I can't figure it out.

I've tried photoshop -- like Gimp, it's just too complicated.

Can you suggest a simple, easy-to-use software that will do what I'm trying to do?  I'm willing to pay for it, although of course free is good!  I want software that I can install on my computer, I don't want an online editor. 
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