Thursday, August 22, 2013

Embroidered Metal Mesh Pencil Cups


When we were at Ikea buying a pencil cup for my office desk, my husband mentioned he needed a pencil holder for school. He's an elementary school media specialist, and teaches some classes in the library.

I mentioned that all the teachers were posting "sharp" and "dull" pencil cups to Pinterest. He immediately grasped the classroom management principles, so I offered to make a pair for him. He liked the price of Ikea's Dokument pencil cups ($2.99 for 2), so I told him about the embroidered metal mesh pencil cups I had seen on Ikea Hackers.

A week later, he had a pair of pencil cups in the school colors, and I had a new pencil cup for my desk.

At the bottom of the cup, I embroidered a line of heavy chain stitch. At the top, I made two lines of back stitch three rows apart, working over two openings. In between, I worked a row of herringbone stitch, which I planned out to follow the lines of the mesh.

If you're going to work with the Ikea Dokument cups, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. It's a diamond mesh, so ditch any pattern that relies on a rectangular grid. These cups flare out. The spacing between the rows is a bit irregular. It may not be absolutely straight, either. Also, there are a pair of big raised dots or bumps on each side. (If you look closely at the center of the photo, between the two cups, you can see it a bit on the sides.) And finally, there's an overlap on one side; this is the seam. I was able to work around all of this, but some embroidery designs may not work as well.

When using metal mesh for embroidery, keep in mind that it's very open. Knots may show through if you're using floss instead of thicker yarn, especially if you're using a very open stitch (like the herringbone stitch). I put up with the inconvenience of very long threads just so I could avoid knots, on the herringbone. Instead, I tied the starting end to the finishing end once I completed the round.

The cardstock label is sewn to the mesh at the corners, carrying the thread behind the label so it's invisible from the front.

By the way, my husband is very happy with his new pencil cups, and claims they'll be the coolest in the school. And I realized metallic embroidery floss is evil.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

An Introduction to Pamphlet-Stitch Books

Though I'm a graphic designer, that's not my first love. At heart, I adore books. I read them by the score, from children's books to science fiction and fantasy to nonfiction. I can't get enough of them.

And what's almost as fun as reading books? Making books! No, not writing books. Making books. I'm absolutely addicted to book arts and papermaking.

I fell in love with book arts when I was a senior at Georgia State University. (Many years there's only one book arts course, and it was limited to sixteen or so when I was there. So if you weren't a senior, you would never get in!)

Like any addict, I want company. So I'm going to show you how to make one of the simplest of books: single signature pamphlets.

Here's the idea. One sheet of paper is folded in half, to make a "folio." Nest several of those together, and you have a "signature." If the outside sheet is heavier, like cardstock, you can stitch it all up and have a basic little book. These can get fancy, but they also make excellent little notebooks. The best part? You can use whatever paper you have on hand.

How to Make a Simple Book

This is a folio. Nest them together to make a signature.
Supplies

  • Four sheets of lighter-weight paper (pages)
  • One sheet of cardstock or heavy text-weight paper, same size (cover)
  • Bone folder or other implement to smooth the folds
  • Ruler or other straightedge
  • Pencil
  • Embroidery floss or bookbinding thread
  • Awl, pushpin, or heavy (sharp-pointed) needle
  • Embroidery or similar needle for sewing


Prepare the Pages and Cover


To make a pamphlet-stitch book, first you'll have to assemble the signature.

  1. Fold each sheet of light paper in half, as shown at left. (If you're serious about this, you'll need to fold your paper along the grain. However, if you don't tell, I won't!) Do not fold the cover yet.
  2. Run your bone folder (or whatever) along the fold of each folded sheet (folio), flattening and smoothing it.
  3. For best results, find the center of your cover. Align your ruler with it and run the edge of your bone folder along the fold line. This will press a crease into your paper (called "scoring"), making it fold more neatly.
  4. Fold your cover and smooth with your bone folder.
Assemble the Book
Open one folio and lay it flat, with the fold down. Use your ruler to find and mark binding holes along the fold line: one in the center, and .5" to 1" from each edge. (Keep the marks light!)
  1. Using your awl, pierce a small hole, just larger than your sewing needle, at each mark.
  2. Using this folio as a guide, pierce the cover and remaining pages. Make sure all holes go exactly through the fold.
  3. Insert the page you used as a guide inside the cover. Nest the other three pages inside it. (This hides any errant pencil marks!)

  
Sewing It Up

It's easy. Really.
This method leaves your knot in the center of the book. You can experiment with this. If you start at the outside, at the top, you can tie on a tassel with the tails of the thread. (I love to do this!)
  1. Thread your needle with a length of thread equal to four times the height of the book.
  2. Bring your needle up through the middle hole, leaving about four inches of thread as a tail. Your thread will come out of the book through the middle.
  3. Bring the needle down through the top hole, to the inside. Pull it snug, and check to make sure you still have enough of a tail.
  4. Bring the needle up through the middle hole again, being careful not to pierce the first thread.
  5. Bring the down through the bottom hole, to the inside.
  6. Bring the thread back up to the middle and run it between the pages and the first thread. Do not take the needle through the cover and pages!
  7. Snug up all the threads and tie a secure knot in the tails. A square knot is fine.
  8. Optional: Dab a tiny dot of glue on the knot and let it dry.
  9. Trim the thread ends.
This may seems complicated, but it's actually very straightforward. And once you've made one or two, it's unlikely you'll need the instructions. It's that easy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baby Surprise Jacket in the Works!

I know I haven't posted in forever, but believe me, I have been making things left and right! Not making things simply isn't possible for me.

Right now, I have two big focuses: baby knitting and art journaling. Baby knitting, because my sister (due April 1) and my sister-in-law (March 17) are both pregnant, WITH GIRLS, as well as two friends (March 20 and April 8). I've decided to make baby surprise jackets for the nieces, and hat-and-bib sets for the other two babies.

I've wanted to make a baby surprise jacket for the longest time, but I've lacked an excuse. When I didn't make one for the first two nephews, I didn't feel right making one for the next three. And if I'm not making them for nephews, I couldn't very make a sweater for a friend's baby, right?

But after five nephews, I'm getting nieces. Girls! Perfect excuse.

I took that pic when I was on row thirteen, and I'm on row thirty-nine now. I should take a new photo, but if I wait to do that, I'll never post! So you'll have to use your imagination.

The yarn is Pichasca, a hand-dyed thick-and-thin cotton yarn by Ester Bitran (colorway 901). I bought this yarn in September, but found out today that it has been discontinued! I better not run out, or I'm really in trouble.

I cast on 134 stitches; that's what the directions for the A-B-C-SJ version of the pattern give for a gauge of five stitches to the inch. My gauge is actually eighteen stitches to four inches, but I figure it doesn't hurt if a baby item is slightly large. After all, they grow so fast!

Some people find Elizabeth Zimmerman's directions a bit difficult to follow, since she doesn't present them the way we are used to. But the kind folks in the Ravelry Baby Surprise Jacket group hosted a perpetual knitalong earlier this year, and their clarifications are incredible! Such a big help. That's where I stole the idea of doing single increases on either side of the marked stitches. It seemed way easier than removing the marker, doing a double decrease, and then replacing the marker for every decrease!

This is a very easy knit, since it's in garter stitch. My only error was in going along on autopilot after you switch from decreasing to increasing, which happens on row thirty-nine. I had to rip back to my lifeline, because on a few rows I decreased instead of increasing! Apparently I REALLY got the hang of decreasing on either side of those marked stitches. :)

Believe me, I'll be watching that very closely! But I don't anticipate any trouble getting both sweaters and the other baby items finished on time, even taking breaks to work on my entry into the Sketchbook Project.

That's all for now. Keep creating!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Excited yet intimidated


So, I joined The Sketchbook Project, which is unlike anything I've ever done before. I joined at the last minute, midday on the last day of signup, before I could chicken out.

Of course the doubts started piling up the minute I looked at some of the other participants' blogs…like Cody Schibi's "Drawing a Blank".

Besides that, this is especially tricky for me, since I joined so very, very late. I have less than two months to fill a sketchbook. True, it's only a Moleskine Cahiers, so it's smallish compared to my usual Moleskine large plain journal. But still…that's a lot of book!

Since the pages are thinner in a Cahier book, I think I'm going to be gluing together some of the pages for strength, as well as experimenting with gesso as a background. As it happens, I have a spare Cahier at home, so I can try it out on it first. I could rebind it with heavier paper (and not quite as many pages), but I know that will only slow me down! It would probably be a few days before I had time, and between my church Christmas program, my dance troupe's upcoming show, and the general busyness of this time of year, I really don't have the extra time to spare. I'm such a perfectionist that it would take me forever!

So I'm heading straight to journaling. Hopefully I can get started tonight!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Plethora of Apples

My husband and I spent last weekend in the mountains, near Clayton, Georgia. I love the Southern Appalachians, especially in the fall; it was one of the places my family always went when I was growing up. Now, we go with his siblings and his families.

We drove home with a full bushel of gala apples, purchased from Osage Farms, at their roadside "stand." I also had over ten pounds of mixed apples; I bought a few of every type of apple I had not tried before!

Now, this wasn't an impulse purchase. True, we had not planned to buy them when we went to the mountains. However, we were planning to buy a bushel at the State Farmer's Market anyway, so we saved ourselves a trip!

First on my list is slow cooker apple butter. Last year I made a double batch on Halloween weekend. Everyone loved it, and I ran out during the summer, necessitating another batch, so I'm going to be doing either a triple or quadruple batch this year.

But I'll also be indulging in a few wants I didn't get satisfied last year: apple pie filling and cinnamon apples.

I've made up my mind on the pie filling. I'm basing mine on the spiced apple recipe in Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Food, by Eugenia Bone, though I think I'll double the recipe. (Seriously, I don't think I can make it through a year with only four pints if I want to increase my dependence on local foods and home cooking!)

For the cinnamon apples, I would love something similar to Cracker Barrel's, but I don't know if it would work. I may try applesauce, or one of the apple jams from Food in Jars.

Anyway, I'm very excited about all the canning possibilities!