Friday, December 18, 2009

Felted Slippers for the holidays

I'm hoping to knit and felt 2 or 3 pairs of these by Christmas. (Well I really need one of them done before then). They are quick to knit- I'm just not sure I'm that fast of a knitter!

We'll see...

(I saw this on yarn harlot and the pattern is available here )

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Scrapbook Style Stocking

I'm so happy to be doing my first ever guest post. Go check out how to make my scrapbook style Christmas stocking on Ready, Set, Craft!

And if you missed my posts from earlier this week here is my 2 part tutorial on how to decorate a holiday wreath:

Decorating a wreath part 2: The decorating

After yesterday's post I hope you all know how to make a bow. It takes a bit of practice but once you've tried it a few times you'll get it!

Today I have a few different wreaths to share with you. They range from rustic to a bit more flashy. I buy a plain live wreath from the store to decorate but you could do the same with an artificial one.

For years I've gone with natural looking wreaths made with decorations found outside. The materials are easy to gather from your yard or on a nature walk. Try collecting twigs, winter berries, pine cones, different kinds of evergreen branches and cuttings from holly-type bushes in your yard. It's an easy fun way to make a special wreath using very little money. This year I wanted something a little different and I found a bunch of items on sale in the craft store.

Before you start, gather some tools and prepare a work space. You'll need wire cutters, a hot glue gun and about three mini hot glue sticks (per wreath). I like to hang my wreath up to work on it. It turns out better if you're looking at the wreath the way it will hang. I usually hang the wreath on a nail and work outside (that way I don't worry about the needles going everywhere). If it's too cold, windy or snowing I hang the wreath on a nail inside and put paper down to catch the needles.

I always loosely plan out the design I start gluing the decorations on. Just stick a few things in the wreath and play around until you find something you like.

The first look I have for you is really simple and rustic. I found picks with leaves, fruit, berries and pine cones. I used both single picks and bunches of two picks together spacing them evenly around the wreath.

To secure them in place you put a dribble of glue on the end of the pick and stick it into the pine branches.

Then I added the bow by wrapping the wire around the wreath and securing it in the back. This took about 6 or 7 picks in all and just a few minutes. I used a few different fruits, pomegranates, apples and pears. All in a deep burgundy, red and orange-brown pallet. By varying the amount of picks I bunched together it looks a bit more natural but still has a rhythm to the design.

The next look is asymmetrical. I must admit I usually don't go for this look. Something in my personality wants a wreath to be balanced but I wanted to show you some different options. This time since the design was based on everything spraying out of the bow I started by placing the bow on the wreath then added the decorations.

I made bunches in my hands to figure out which elements I wanted together.

Once I had a good idea I added the largest ornaments first. I not only glued the ends of the wire picks but also the back of the balls so the heavy ornaments stayed in place. Then filled it in with smaller berries and beads in two colors.

The last look- which is my favorite- has a lot of things going on. I started by attaching the bow to the top of the wreath. Using a box of mini ball ornaments I wired and glued some bunches of two and three together.

I placed those around the wreath then cut up some sprigs of white beads into smaller pieces and added them too.

Then I glued some single red ornaments around the wreath to fill in the space; and tucked some decorations around the bow. I felt the wreath needed some earthy elements to ground all the those flashy shiny element so I gathered some twigs from the back yard and grabbed a bag of mini pine cones I had stashed away. I stuck the small twigs around the wreath pretty evenly adding glued to the bottoms to keep them in place.

The larger of the pine cones felt right when they were placed near the bunches of ornaments.

The tiny cones looked good around the edges. I glued them onto the branches in a way that felt as thought they were growing naturally on the pine.

So there you have it- a few easy ways to decorate a wreath for the holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Decorating a wreath part 1: how to tie a bow

This sketch to helps illustrate the technique.
Each color represents one set of loops as well as the final single loop and tail in the middle.

I love to decorate wreaths, as a child I did this every year with my grandmother. In fact my first crafty business was making and decorating wreaths for the holidays (I was about 10). I sold them to the neighborhood and people in my mom's office. My best friend was a boy who lived down the street and I employed him to go into the woods and collect the wreath making materials...I was a precocious kid. Now a days I don't really have time to make my own wreaths but I always decorate one- and the first step is learning how to make a good bow.

To start you need a spool of wire edged ribbon. You'll also need floral wire. cut off about 10-12 inches of wire and keep it handy.

Roll out a length of ribbon about five inches longer than the length of the tail you'll want. Don't cut the ribbon off the spool you'll work with it on the spool until the end.

Making bows is just making a series of loops from the back to the front. The first loops are the largest and then they get smaller and smaller.

To make your first loop fold your ribbon over and pinch it together at the end of the loop with your index finger and thumb. I make the loop about 4 or 5 inches long. This is the first loop on the left hand side.

Twist the ribbon over in the middle (just after your pinched fingers) so the right side of the ribbon is now facing the back.

Now make a second loop on the right side that's about the same size as the first. Always making your loop from the back to the front so the right side ends up facing out. Pinch the end of that loop together too.

Twist the ribbon over so the right side is facing the back again and make another loop on the left side. This time the loop should be a little smaller than the last set.

Continue making loops on alternating sides until you have 3, 4 or 5 loops on each side. Each time you make a set of loops it should be smaller than the last set. How many loops you have on each side depends on a two things- how full you want the bow and how large you've made your first loops. I usually find that 4 is good.

Now make one last loop and leave a tail about the same length as the tail on the other side and without letting go of the loops pinched in between your fingers on one hand cut the ribbon off the spool with the other hand.

Now (still without letting the ribbon go) grab that piece of floral wire and put it around the center of the bow where you've been holding the loops together and twist the wire together in the back. The tighter you twist the wire the better your bow will look. I use to hands (once the wire is around the middle and holding my loops together) and pull the wire as tight as I can.

Now the magic part to making a bow is fluffing out the loops. Don't be afraid to pull the loops where you want them to make a full bow.

Once the bow is full clip the ends of the ribbon tails to make a nice even finished look.

And there you have it!

I'll do another post on how to decorate a plain store bought wreath tomorrow!
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