Creating The Perfect Craft Room

When the last of your children heads off to college, you may find yourself thinking that your house feels a little empty. No more teenagers blasting music or talking on the phone 24/7 or having friends over to raid your refrigerator. And while this is often a bittersweet time, one thing that many people look forward to when their kids go off to college is turning the newly empty bedroom into a craft room. This can be an easy, relatively inexpensive project that will leave you with an organized space to do your crafting.

The first step in transforming your bedroom into a craft room is to clear out all the furniture and clutter. Evaluate the furniture and decide what you want to keep and what should be donated or put in storage. Shelving units and bookcases can be used for extra storage in a craft room, but bigger pieces like a bedframe and armoire will just take up space. If the furniture pieces you are planning to reuse are looking a little run down, consider adding a fresh coat of paint to liven them up a little. Now is also a good time to decide what other furniture and storage items you need for your craft room. A large desk or table with drawers and plenty of room to spread things out is crucial. You’ll also want a comfortable chair and good lighting. Take the time to plan the layout of the room so that you end up with a comfortable, functional space.

Before you start moving furniture and craft supplies back into the room, give it a good deep cleaning and make any updates or repairs. Run a vacuum over the carpeting, dust the baseboards, and fill in any old nail holes. If the paint is looking dingy or you aren’t a fan of your child’s paint color choice, consider repainting the walls in a color you love. Once the room has been thoroughly cleaned and you are happy with the look of it, you can start moving your furniture back in.

When setting up your craft room, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the space as organized and efficient as possible. Store items that you use frequently such as scissors, markers, and glue in a handy place on top of your table, rather than tucked away in a drawer. Use clear plastic containers to hold loose items such as stickers, stamps, and ribbon so that they stay organized and don’t end up all over the place. Pull-out drawers are also the perfect place to keep paper and cardstock so that it can lay flat and not become wrinkled or creased. It’s also a good idea to label your storage containers so that you can easily find something when you are in the middle of a project.

With a little time and effort, you can turn your child’s old bedroom into the craft room of your dreams!

Guest blogger:  Rochelle Whitman is an avid crafter and decorator. She has written about interior design, home improvement, and DIY home renovation projects.

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Yarn Typology

Photograph by Paul Esson (via Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0]

There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a yarn for your next knitting project. Do you go for a soft King Cole chunky merino blend or a hypoallergenic alpaca yarn? The answers to questions like these are often dictated by the type of project which you’re going to undertake or the texture and distinct properties that you want a kitted item to embody once completed. This short guide will have a brief look at some of the kinds of yarn available and in what areas each excels.

Merino

Merino is a common wool on the knitting market due to its incredibly high quality. This wool is so popular because of the soft textures offered by the microfibres and its distinct wicking properties. Wicking is the process of drawing moisture away from the surface of the skin when worn as a lower level. As a result of this breathability and the fact that when the wool does get wet it has the ability to retain warmth, Merino has become a huge success within the sports clothing market and is currently completely unmatched by any man-made alternatives.

Alpaca

Alpaca are a herd animal found in South America. For hundreds of years their wool has been a prized possession with the inhabitants of the continent. The unique qualities offered by alpaca yarn have made this yarn popular throughout the world, leading to a rise of alpaca farms across the world but especially in the USA and Europe. Alpaca could be the perfect yarn to use for a baby project as it is hypoallergenic, meaning the likelihood of the yarn causing any irritation or allergic reaction is minimal.

Alpaca yarn is warm and soft, softer than cashmere in most people’s opinions, making it an appealing choice for any knitted project going.

Cashmere

Cashmere is goats’ wool, from the Cashmere breed. This wool has been used for thousands of years by the peoples of Kashmir and Nepal and has since spread, being able to be found worldwide today. High quality luxury knitted or woven items are most likely to have Cashmere included either as the main material or as part of a blend. The desire for Cashmere is due to the light weight of the material, offering an excellent insulation to weight ratio. Another reason may be the time and effort that goes into gathering Cashmere as the Cashmere fibres need to be extracted from guard hair, as the Cashmere goat produces a double fleece with guard hair covering over the finer fibres that we associate with Cashmere as a material.

Guest blogger:  Thanks to our guest blogger, Nathan Stevens.  For a fabulous selection of king cole chunky yarns head to the wonderful online knitting world of Yarnfest.

Knitted Jewelry, A Hot Fashion Piece for 2012

Knitted Necklaces from Independent Knitting News

Knitted Necklaces from Independent Knitting News

Knitting isn’t just about yarn anymore. Anything that can be wrapped around needles and used to make stitches can be used to knit with. Knitting has always been a form of arts and crafts to create sweaters and quilts. But, by using anything from licorice to grocery bags, you can create beautiful knitted jewelry that’s both fashionable and fun to make.

DIY knitted jewelry may sound like a summer camp experiment you did as a child. Well, it can be just as fun, that’s for sure. To begin, you need to decide what type of thread you’re going to use. Remember that knitting your own jewelry is an arts and crafts project. So, be creative. Things such as fine string, metallic thread, gold or silver wire, or any type of unique threadlike material will work.

Then, you need to add depth, texture and color to create your visual masterpiece. Beads are great for knitting jewelry. You simply slide various beads of your choice between the stitches. By using different shapes, sizes and colors for your bead choices, you can create DIY knitted jewelry in styles ranging from casual to dressy and funky to elegant.

Planning Your Knitted Jewelry

Decided the type of drape you want for your jewelry. Will you be creating a standalone, solid piece? Or, are you hoping for something that will lay against the skin, the way the strands of pearls do?

Also, choose your needle wisely. Smaller needs can make wire manipulating harder. Fine crochet hooks are great as jewelry knitting needles. Tip: The hook circumference should closely match the size of the needle. The hook helps you secure your loops, while drawing them through your stitches.

Here are four basic DIY jewelry knitting styles for you to choose from:

Firm

One of the best tools for producing rigid jewelry is wire. The rigidness of your piece can be altered by choosing between thinner or thicker wire. Thicker wires are more rigid. However, they can be a bit more difficult when it comes to manipulating them with needles. Fine wire has a more delicate charm, but they can bend out of shape more easily. Fine wire is great for pieces made for special occasions. For an everyday piece, it’s best to choose a wire with a bit of thickness.

Semi-Firm

For a semi-rigid piece, various types of nylon and metallic threads will work. Semi-firm knitted jewelry is a good choice for creating a draping piece, that’s rigid enough for everyday wear-ability.

Relaxed

To create a completely fluid jewelry piece, choose threading material that’s easy to manipulate. Things such as thin threads, even strong dental floss, are good choices. Fine crochet string will create the style you want, and is pretty easy to work with.

Choosing Knitted Jewelry Beads

Now, it’s time to decide on the visual style you want to create. This involves choosing beads and the right beads for your DIY jewelry project. There are so many types of jewelry beads to choose from. They come in hundreds of sizes, colors, shapes and styles.

Your choice can flaunt your favorite color, your elegance, your funky side, etc… But, while being creative, keep in mind the type of knitting thread you’ve chosen. Tiny beads may not hang properly if you’re using a thicker thread. If you choose a very fine, thin thread, it won’t hold up under the weight of very heavy beads. But, whatever you decide to use, have fun when you make your own knitted jewelry. Remember, knitting isn’t just for DIY quilt patterns anymore.

 Guest blogger: Liz is a blogger by profession and uses most of her spare time with needles! She does cross-stitching, knitting and quiltingwhenever she feels the need for writing inspiration.

Crafty Christmas Creations – A Guide to Making Christmas Cards and Decoration

Year after year we all end up spending a lot of money on cards and decorations for Christmas, but they just never feel unique or special. So why not make them yourself using decorations and items that are personal to you?

This approach even costs less!  Here are some ideas of  on the things you can make:

  • Making your own edible Christmas decorations doesn’t guarantee they will last on the tree till Christmas, but the cookies in different shapes iced decoratively will look lovely!
  • Homemade sweets or chocolate wrapped in cellophane are a treat.
  • Instead of buying wreaths for the front door make one with natural materials and ribbons. Also you can make tree decorations that add a little sparkle to trees in tasteful and understated way.
  • Dry some oranges in the oven, then add cinnamon and cloves for that lovely Christmas fragrance throughout the house.
  • Collect pine cones and spray them with some gold or silver spray, then position them around the house for a nice little finishing touch.
  • Make your own Christmas crackers for the table.
  • Make your own Christmas stocking by decorating a knee length sock or by using felt and a sewing machine.

The first Christmas card was made in 1843. At first they were very expensive, but by the late Victorian period they became much more affordable and they have been a popular tradition ever since.

Taking up card making is easy and it does not have to expensive in the least. The first things you need are card, glue, scissors and some pencil crayons. Now you are all set to get making some simple and personal cards and the whole lot could cost you a fraction of what you might spend on branded cards in the shops.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of an artist and you enjoy spending the time on creative crafts, then you might want to take things further with extra bits of card activity — try a card making kit. However, for those who are not so keen on getting their hands dirty, there are also online methods of designing your own cards and then it’s just a case of getting them delivered.

The wordsmiths out there can even start to write their own poems for the inside of the cards in order to lend a more personal touch to the tradition of sending cards. Personalised messages and images help to make your cards more original and they give your seasonal greetings more character.

Guest blogger: Sarah Day shares her interest on the wide range of Craft site Craft Supplies available today.

Embossing Guide With Rubber Stamps

Heat embossing is a fun project that you can do with your kids. You can use these designs for your scrapbooks or personalized holiday cards. It’s very easy to do and requires minimal effort and tools.

Here’s what you need:

  • Rubber stamp
  • Heating gun
  • Brush
  • Scrap paper
  • Card stock
  • Embossing ink
  • Embossing powder

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Choose a rubber stamp. Press the rubber stamp onto the ink. Make sure that the rubber stamp is fully covered with the ink. Press the rubber stamp about three times on the ink pad.
  2. Press the stamp on the card stock or any paper that you are using to the desired position that you want.
  3. Place the card stock above the scrap paper. Sprinkle the design with the embossing powder. Make sure that you coat every part of the design. Be generous with the embossing powder.
  4. Place the card vertically over the scrap paper to remove the excess embossing powder. Tap gently.
  5. Get your brush and remove any other extra embossing powder around the image. Be careful not to brush over the design.
  6. Get your heating gun to set or melt the embossing powder. Hold it a short distance away from the image. Make sure that all sides are evenly heated by sweeping it back and forth over the design. Do this until you see that the powder has melted or has changed texture. Set aside.
  7. Put the excess embossing powder on the scrap paper back into the bottle for future use. To make this task easier, be sure to fold the scrap paper prior to dumping the excess embossing powder so that it will be easier to transfer the powder to the bottle. You’re done!

Tips on Embossing

  • There are a lot of kinds of embossing powder. You can choose from pearlized, metallic, glitter or even perfumed. You can also choose matte, shiny, distressed or antique.
  • There are three types of embossing powder – regular, extra fine and ultra thick. If you’re a beginner, regular embossing powder will do. You can use this in a wide variety of projects. Extra fine can be used to emboss very fine detail. The ultra thick one is used for really big and chunky rubber stamps.
  • The best colors to start with are black, red, silver and gold. You can use these colors in most of your craft projects.
  • Be careful when using your heat guns. There are different types of heat guns depending on the way they direct heat. Some heat guns can cause your paper to catch fire. Choose one that you are comfortable using.
  • As for the stamps, you can use any stamp that you have.

Embossing is a great way to liven up a project. It’s fast, easy and very affordable. Its something that you can teach your kids to do to develop their creativity.

Guest blogger:  This article has been written by compare franking machine, your best place for franking quotes.

Featured Artist: Nan Nevels

LinxWest.com is excited to introduce to you to our August 2012 Featured Artist – Nan Nevels from Southern Joy Artworks!

Nan is a paper clay artist, a craft she learned while living abroad in Japan.  Her style reflects her strong Southern roots, love for children and the beauty and joy she finds in every day life.

Nan’s Background

Nan’s love affair with art began when she was a toddler, as her mother’s old college textbooks, now “enhanced” with her bright Crayola drawings, will prove.  “I even remember when I got my first box of 64 Crayons with the built in sharpener…..oh the possibilities!” mused Nan when asked how she got started in art.

Nan went on to study art in both formal and informal settings; from college pottery and sculpting classes to Japanese sculpting classes at a small local community center in coastal Japan.  It was while she was in Japan that she learned to use paper clay.  “Paper clay is a great medium for relief sculptures because it is so light-weight, enjoys various types of paint, and it air dries,” says Nan.

What Inspires Her

When asked where her inspiration comes from, Nan replied “My inspiration for creating almost always comes from nature and children…two things that always show me God’s mighty hand, amazing grace, and possibilities all wrapped in color and FUN!!!  I treasure the evenings when I can sit on the beach and watch the children giggling as they run up and down the sandy shoreline; drinking in the colors of the ocean against the evening sky. For me, it’s like getting a massive hug from God!!!”

Nan hopes that her art appropriately expresses her love and thankfulness for her amazing life.  “My hope is that people who purchase my work will just walk by it from time to time and smile…even during their most difficult days.”

Where To Find Nan

Nan can be found as a Featured Seller on LinxWest.com.  Her pieces are part of the featured items rotating display on the home page and can also be found under the category “sculpture.”  You can contact Nan to place a custom order on our site or at facebook.com/southernjoyartworks.

Nan’s creations are charming and whimsical and will sure bring a smile to everyone who sees them. We are thrilled to have Nan and her amazing work of art as our August Featured Artist on LinxWest.com.  We are absolutely sure you’ll be touched by her colorful clay dolls and love them as much as we do! Stop by LinxWest.com http://linxwest.com/items/98/folk-art and grab yours now.