Saturday, May 29, 2010

Amazing!  Artists With A Special Touch

Kazumi Buatti

I am always in awe of someone who seems to master everything they touch!  I've known many people who flourish in related fields, but when you stumble across someone who seems to be good at everything, well, it's just amazing.  Kazumi is just such a person.  She lives in Yokohama, Japan.  Using "diverse" to describe her work, just doesn't seem to be enough.  Here's why...

First, we have an Amigurumi crocheted pair of sock monkeys on their wedding day!  Doesn't this just make you smile?!  Center, there's a beautifully made coin purse.  Then there's this beautiful chalk art drawing of a cup of coffee.  Talk about multi-talented!

If pursuing all of these seemingly unrelated arts isn't enough, Kazumi has several websites:
Socky's World tells the stories of, "Sock Monkeys who have been adopted by some very kind people around the world!"  It opens with a statement that membership costs 5 bananas (just kidding)...  On top of all of her skills, she has a sense of humor, too!
 Then we have K&K Crafts and Designs, featuring a gallery, links, and a new shop.  This one is written in Japanese.  Even if that's not in your skill set, looking at the pictures is fun!
Not done yet!  There is also K&K Chalk Art Designs.  This site is written in both Japanese and English, contains a shop, gallery and encourages custom orders.
 Still not done!  She has a blog entitled My Handmade Crafts Projects Log, which has pictures and brief explanations about a variety of things.  There's also a list to her other web locations.

Then, there are her shops...  
Two on Etsy - Sockys World and KnKChalkArtDesigns 
One on Zazzle - K&K Chalk Art Designs 
I'm sure I missed something!  Please check out all of Kazumi's links.  If you're like me, you'll find yourself wondering how on earth she keeps up with it all!

Friday, May 28, 2010

How a Handmade Teddy Bear Goes Together

What Some People Will Do To Prove That They Are Completely Out of Their Minds!

A remark was made in one of the topics on HandmadeArtistsForums that, "I have no idea how you would even begin to do this."  Great idea for a post!  So here we go....

First you cut out all of the parts, then you sew all of the parts together.

Then you attach the legs to the body.  My bears' arms and legs move.  I use the "string-and-button" method.  Once the legs are attached, they and the body get stuffed so that I can make sure that the bear sits straight.

Then you attach the arms.  It's easier to see the string in this picture.  Once securely attached, the arms, like the legs, get stuffed to make sure they're in the right place.

Then you place the eyes.  This sounds simple enough, but considering I do this by sight, sometimes it takes me a while!  Once the eyes are attached, the head gets stuffed and sewn onto the body.

 Next, you sew the backs of both arms and legs closed.  Then the bear gets a nose and a smile.

That's all there is to it!  My husband maintains that I am nuts...  Why?  The only part of this project that's '21st century' is step two...  sew all the pieces together, which I do on my sewing machine.  Everything else is truly "handmade!"  If you would like to own this bear (now that you know so much about it!), you can find him here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quiet Time

Did you all  think I had vanished from the face of the earth?  Well, I did...  sort of!  Somehow, I managed to tear the rotator cuff in my right shoulder (my dominant side of course!) and apparently I did it a while ago.  From my reading I've learned that joints will form bone spurs to try and repair/replace/protect an injury.  So in addition to the TWO tears in the rotator cuff, I had a significant bone spur in the joint.  All of this damage was repaired successfully on May 13th.

Since then, it's truly been a challenge!  My right arm is attached to my torso via a sling/brace, so that the repairs can completely heal before I start using that shoulder again.  My right hand is fine, but its range of motion is extremely limited.  But I've learned that if I put the keyboard in my lap, I can type, and here we are!

Pursuing my art is a bit more challenging!  I'm sure I look pretty funny knitting with the needles working somewhere off to the side of my left hip!  Yesterday, and the day before, I have been working on a new doll named Gail.  What typically would take about a day is now entering its third day!  But it's getting done and I am busy, which are both good things!

Thanks for staying with me during this quiet time.  I promise as time goes on that things will get back to normal!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Amazing!  Artists With A Special Touch


You all know (I hope!) that I knit!  Because of this, it gives me GREAT pleasure to introduce you to TwiddleToes, a fellow knitter with much more patience than I!  Her socks are not for the bargain hunter.  She uses high quality yarns, ranging from wool blends to cashmere and alpaca!  But what really impressed me was an article on her blog about how many stitches are in a single pair of socks.  The answer?  Thirty-four THOUSAND!!!!  I can attest to this, too...  Read the whole article about what's in a pair of socks on her wonderful blog here!

TwiddleToes makes tabi socks and traditional style socks.  Since pictures are certainly better than words...


Tabi Socks have a place for your toes to comfortably fit into your flip-flops.  I remember being in Japan long ago and seeing all of the ladies with their ornate flip-flop style shoes, always worn with socks.

You can certainly find the more western style socks in her shop, too!  Whether they are wool blends, alpaca, cashmere or some other wonderful yarn, these socks would make anyone's feet happy!

Please visit TwiddleToes blog or her shop.  And remember when you're looking at these wonderful socks that most people couldn't even begin to count to a thousand let alone knit thirty thousand plus stitches!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Amazing!  Artists With A Special Touch

You may have noticed that Haffina doesn't look like much of a business name.  In fact, it's not...  there's Haffina Creations and BeadsByHaffina in addition to her blog.  To read her bio is intimidating...  in addition to being the "mum of five," she lists many other responsibilities which include titles such as administrator, moderator, member, columnist,  and guildmaster.  Frankly, I was tired just reading it!   If you'd like to see for yourself, here's the link to her bio:

What fascinates me the most are the handmade polymer beads.  We've all become aware of the many incredibly talented jewelry artists that seem to be everywhere.  How many of them are using Haffina's beads?  Are you ready to be amazed?

This handmade cabochan measures an inch and a half in diameter.  The description reads, "This cabochon was handformed, cured and then sanded through 5 grits of sandpaper before buffing to a shine."  Can't you just imagine the impressive piece that could be built around this single bead!  How about this one...

I'm seeing a tropical sunset, full of fire, and waves crashing into the white sand beach.  How these beads would inspire even the novice jewelry maker!

Need more to work with?  How about this...

City nights, city lights!  I just find it amazing that such things can be made from simple polymer clays!


But it doesn't stop there.  Perhaps after creating these beautiful beads, she can't resist creating wonderful pieces of jewelry from them.

Please do yourself a favor and visit all of her sites.  It will certainly be time well-spent!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

From Here to There

How to Knit a Baby Headband
What Can I Do With Those 
Small Scraps of Yarn?!

For those of you who knit, I'm sure that, like me, you've got a whole bag/basket/box/drawer full of small balls of yarn...  too small to make anything with, but too big to throw away.  Here's a great way to put them to good use!

All three of these yarns are acrylic blends and all are worsted weight.  For this project, I'm knitting on size 4 needles.  My gauge is just a hair over 3 stitches per inch, and 4 rows per inch.  These directions are for a baby headband, size newborn to three months (head circumference 13-15 inches).

Cast on 40 stitches, using two strands of yarn.  Work in two-stitch stockingnette pattern (knit 2 stitches, purl two stitches) all across.  On row two, work in the same pattern, knitting the knitted stitches and purling the purled stitches.   This will give the piece a really nice ribbed look.  It's also very stretchy and has great shape retention!

Continue in this pattern until the piece measures in the neighborhood of one inch.  It's better to have it a bit over than a bit under!  Cast off.  **CAUTION**  This is a headband which needs to stretch!  Be sure to cast off loosely.  It's not a bad idea to use a bigger size needle on the cast off row.  Check the overall width of the piece to make sure it's the size you thought it would be/wanted it to be!

Pull the last stitch into a large loop, then cut the yarn leaving another six to eight inches.  Thread the two pieces of yarn into a large-eyed darning needle and pull through the loop, pulling the loop tight.  Hold the end of the headband aligned and sew through the other corner stitch into the knot stitch you just made.

Sew the two ends together, ending at the opposite corner from the first stitch on the first row.  Tie the ends together in a double overhand knot.  Weave the needle with the yarns in it through the seam to the other edge and pull the yarns through.

Cut the yarn off even with the edge.  Weave the needle through the seam again, thread the two remaining yarns through the eye and pull through just as before.  Again, cut the yarns off even with the edge.  Stretch the headband width-wise at the seam a bit to pull the cut ends back into the knitting.

I do this often, so I've made myself a tool.  It's simply a piece of corrugated cardboard covered with clear packing tape so that the yarn slides off easily.  Wrapping the yarn around your fingers works fine, too!  To make a pouf out of single strand worsted weight yarn, I wrap 50 times all the way around.  Since this pouf is three strands, I wrapped 18 times.

Cut a piece of yarn 8 to 10 inches long.  Slide the wrapped yarn off of your tool or your fingers and loosely tie the piece of yarn around the center.  Check to make sure that it is, in fact, centered, then pull it tight and tie at least two overhand knots, if not three!  You don't want this to fall apart!!

Holding the pouf by the yarns you tied it with, cut the loops at their centers... just pull on it a little with the scissors to find the center.  Once all of the loops are cut, shake the pouf vigorously.  If you notice that it's not symmetrical, or that there's a long end here and there, just snip the ends a little bit at a time until you are happy.  Always remember that you can cut more off, but you can't put it back on once it's cut!

You want to put the pouf straddling the seam.  That way, there's no seam showing in the rest of the headband, which on a baby, is visible all the way around.  To one side of the seam, push a crochet hook through the headband, catch one of the yarns you tied the pouf with, then pull it through the headband.  Bring the crochet hook through the headband on the other side of the seam, catch the other yarn and pull it through.

Tie the threads together two or threes times (or four if you like).  Cut the excess off, leaving about an inch there.

That's all there is to it!

My model is a reborn-style doll who is newborn size.  The circumference of her head is 13.25 inches.  Certainly, this could be altered to fit a larger baby or a toddler.  Just remember that the larger the child, the larger the headband.  You may want to make it a bit wider, and you may want the pouf a bit bigger too!  Whatever you do, remember to have fun!