Did you know that May is National Photography Month (and has been since 1987)? That’s ok, I didn’t know it either until just a few days ago! I’m going to take advantage of the timing of getting a new camera a few weeks ago and focus (pun intended) on building my craft photography skills during May. I’d love it if you’d join in with me!
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. This post is part of an ongoing collaboration with B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio, but all opinions and thoughts are my own. Materials in this post were provided by Baby Lock, B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio, Fully Spun, and Pastiche Accessories.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have seen several Stories about a collaboration I’m doing with B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio. B&H is a business just about a mile and half away from my apartment, and they also happen to be one of the largest retailers of photography and video (and audio) equipment in the United States. Though they ship around the world, to me B&H is a local business that I’ve known about for all of my life.
I’m super excited to be collaborating with them because I’m always trying to improve my photography so I can show even better pictures of my projects and make video tutorials that people can hear and enjoy. One of the highlights of this amazing pile of equipment B&H sent me is the Sony Alpha a6000, a mirrorless camera.
If you’ve never used a mirrorless camera before, don’t worry! None of the 99 people who responded to my Instagram Story quiz had ever used one before, either.
This video by Sony is pretty helpful in explaining the difference between mirrorless cameras and DSLRs, if you’d like to nerd out on photography stuff along with me.
Since I have a new camera and I’ll need to take actual photos to test out all of its features and settings, I thought it might be a good time for another Instagram Challenge.
What is the Maker Photo Month Instagram Challenge?
Every day in May, 2019, celebrate your love of making along with National Photography Month by following a photo prompt for Instagram. All crafts are welcome! You can see all 31 prompts in the image at the top of this post if you want to get a head start.
How Can I Join In?
To join in, share a picture on Instagram that was inspired by the prompt for that day using the hashtag #MakerPhotoMonth. So, for example, share an “About me” picture on May 1 and a “Close up” picture on May 4. This is a fun challenge where we can (virtually) meet other makers, get comfortable with our cameras (including phone and tablet cameras), and show off our crafty creations, so please don’t stress too much about getting everything “perfect” — I know my pictures won’t be perfect, either. Also, remember that you can always write in your note on Instagram to share how your picture relates to the prompt. You can participate for one day, a few days, or every day in the month.
It would be awesome if you could follow meon Instagram, too. You can also follow the #MakerPhotoMonth hashtag here to keep up with all the pictures everyone is posting.
What If I’m Not on Instagram?
I got a late start on Instagram, too. It’s fun and I’d love to see you there! But if Instagram’s not for you for whatever reason, you can still join along on your blog or social media platform of choice.
If you like to crochet (or knit) big projects using several colors of yarn, I may have found the perfect project bag for you. Read my detailed review of the ArtBin Yarn Tote for more details!
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. A free sample of the ArtBin Yarn Tote was provided to me by Flambeau, Inc. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.
My dad is an artist and my mom works with commercial artists, so ArtBin is brand name that I’ve known and trusted since childhood.When I first saw the ArtBin Yarn Tote at Creativation, the annual trade show for the craft and hobby industry, back in January, I had high hopes.
ArtBin’s parent company, Flambeau, reached out to me after the show and then sent me the ArtBin Yarn Tote to review. I liked it right away, but I’ve been fooled by project bags that fall apart with a little use before, so I decide to put it through some serious usage before sharing my review with you. After using it regularly for six months, I can definitely say that it’s as solid as it appeared when I first received it!
Let me tell about the what I like about the bag. There’s a removable yarn sleeve that you can fit 8 large skeins of yarn into with each skein in it’s own pocket. This sleeve has bag handles, so if you have a smaller project, you can take out the sleeve and carry it around by itself. Since I only have 4 skeins in the sleeve in this picture, the other pockets collapse into the side so they don’t take up extra space in the tote.
The base of the tote is flat, so it doesn’t sag and cause the yarn to roll around. Instead, it provides support for your yarn and project. There are grommets for each skein of yarn on the sides of the tote, so you can work on a large, multicolor project, like an afghan or blanket, tangle free.
The front pockets are really deep, which is helpful for packing sharp scissors, your wallet or even the semi-enormous smartphones of today for easy access when you’re traveling with your tote.
There’s a magnetic closure on the top, so your yarn doesn’t get snagged on the fastener.
The tote is made from a lightweight canvas, so even though it’s super roomy, it isn’t heavy. In this picture it’s holding 4 skeins of yarn, another small project with yarn in the small bag, a crochet pattern book, and my folder and it still has plenty of room.
Ok, so how did I put this to the test? All the features I’ve described are great and they have lasted. I’ve worked on several multi-color projects with no yarn snags and few tangles. But the real test was when I used this bag because of its larger size and flat bottom to help me carry stuff around New York City that is much heavier than yarn. I’ve used it to carry my Cricut Cuttlebug and EasyPress 2 (at separate times) while still in their boxes to another location to film an “unboxing.” I’ve used it to carry yarn, paint, tripods, camera equipment, my laptop, quilting mats and rulers, and more to do photo shoots. I’ve used it to carry nearly completed blankets on the subway so I could finish crocheting projects during my commute. Through it all, the bag has held up and the straps have stayed strong.
If I had a magic wand (because I’m me), the ArtBin Yarn Tote would be available in a few more Caribbean-themed colors. The grays are a bit drab and just call out for customization. On the other hand, if there’s only going to be one color, it’s better that it’s neutral! I’ve gone back and forth in my mind about padding for the straps. When I’m carrying yarn projects, it isn’t needed at all. But when I’ve carried big boxes in here (because they fit), padding would have been nice. However, it would just add to the weight of the bag, so in the end, I feel like the folks at ArtBin made the right choice by keeping the bag as lightweight as possible. If you have 8 skeins in there and half a blanket, you don’t really want any extra weight.
If you like to crochet or knit large projects, or if you do a lot of crafting on the go, I think you’ll love the ArtBin Yarn Tote!
This is the second in a series of 12 weeks of roundups for the handmade holidays. I’m sharing 40 free crochet and knitting patterns for shawls and wraps! This roundup includes lacy, cozy, striped, and solid shawls in a variety of shapes. You’re sure to find your next project for something special for you, or to gift.
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. Photos are copyright the respective designer/publisher and are used with permission.
Shawls and wraps are great accessories. They can really add a handmade touch to a “blah” outfit. They can keep you warm. And, they can be really fun to make! I searched the web to find 40 beautiful patterns to share with you today.
40 Free Crochet and Knitting Patterns for Shawls and Wraps That Make Great Gifts
Roundup by Underground Crafter
28 Free Crochet Patterns for Shawl and Wraps
These patterns include light and lacy options as well as comfort shawls and wraps for cold weather.
Left column, from top to bottom:
Soft Easy Shawl, free crochet pattern by Joy of Motion Crochet: This lacy, asymmetrical triangle shawl is beginner friendly.
Are you looking for a quick gift for your favorite yarn lover, or perhaps something to announce your own love of yarn to the world? I’m sharing a tutorial for how to make a handmade yarn with knitting needles ornament. With just a few supplies, including leftover yarn from your last crochet or knitting project, you can make this easy peasy ornament in less than 15 minutes!
This project is part of Craft Lightning Hot Glue edition.
Before I share the tutorial, let me tell you a little about me and hot glue.
Growing up, I had three main creative influences:
My dad, who is a painter and photographer. He taught me basic painting and drawing skills.
My maternal grandmother, who was an expert in all things needlecrafts. She taught me to crochet, sew, and embroider, and tried to teach me to knit, too. From time to time, we’d do some other crafts, like latch hooking.
My mom, who is a masterful seamstress and can flip beat up old furniture into like-new beauties. She would decoupage from time to time, too.
Nowhere in my childhood did I experience hot glue. As a relatively clumsy teen and then adult, I continued to avoid it. It seemed like I’d be tempting fate to put heat and glue anywhere near my flesh.
Then, in January, I went to Creativation, the annual trade show for the crafts industry. Before the event officially kicks off, Angie from The Country Chic Cottage and Carolina from Always Expect Moore and 30 Minute Crafts host a night out for crafts bloggers. They had a hot glue project planned, and they patiently took me from life as a hot glue newbie into the world of the anointed.
Hot Glue Hacks and Crafts starts off with Glue Gun Basics, which tells you everything you need to know about different types of glue guns, glue, and accessories, while also sharing some great tips like how to avoid those little strings of glue that seem to trail off everywhere. The rest of the book is filled with projects, which are organized by type (for kids, home decor, holiday, jewelry, and entertaining). There’s also a Glue Gun Hacks section which shows you how to make stencils, stamps, molds, and faux geodes with hot glue, as well as how to etch with hot glue. This section includes a project for making your own stand, too, which is really helpful (and safer) if your glue gun didn’t come with a stand. There are also templates in the back for some of the projects.
My favorite projects in the book are the lampshade, the stencils, and the stamped pillow. All of the projects include detailed progress pictures — just like what you’d expect to see in a blog tutorial — so even when the project isn’t something you plan to make, you can still pick up some hot glue tips and tricks. If you’d like to have the ability to make some quick handmade gifts for friends and family (and yourself), but also to learn how to really maximize your hot glue gun, I highly recommend Hot Glue Hacks and Crafts!
As you might have guessed by now, the book is the inspiration behind this edition of Craft Lightning, where a group of bloggers share 15 minute craft projects. Here’s what I made with my glue gun!
How To Make a Handmade Yarn with Knitting Needles Ornament
Tutorial by Underground Crafter
Now that you know where to get more information if you’re a hot glue newbie like I was just a few short months ago, let’s dive into the project! This yarn and knitting needles ornament works up quickly and it’s great for decoration or a gift. I got all the supplies I needed at Michaels using the Buy Online, Pick Up in Store option.
Today’s #TipsTuesday post is a guest post from Karen Whooley, the crochet designer, author, and teacher. Karen is going to share her tips for working with hand dyed yarn and introduce us to her new book, Coastal Crochet. If you love the beauty of hand dyed yarn but aren’t quite sure how to work with it, Karen’s three tips will give you the confidence to use up those beauties in your stash!
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.
About Karen Whooley
Karen is an award winning, internationally known crochet designer, author, and instructor. She develops patterns and teaches classes for crocheters who want simplicity and elegance wrapped up in adventure.
Karen is the author of Coastal Crochet, A Garden of Shawls, Crochet Rocks Socksand 17 other books as well as many patterns published in books and magazines. Her classes both online and live are some of the most sought after in the crochet genre. Crochet is her passion and she wants to take that passion and inspire her students in any way she can. Most importantly, Karen wants to bring each student self-confidence and enable her students to take what they have learned so that they can happily create whatever spurs their own crochet passion.
Hello everyone! I am thrilled that Marie asked me to do a guest post on the blog today! I am looking forward to chatting with you all!
I am Karen Whooley and this year marks my 20th year as a crochet designer and instructor. I develop patterns and teach classes for crocheters who want simplicity and elegance wrapped up in adventure. I am the author of 21 books as well as many patterns published in other books and magazines. Crochet is my passion and I want to take that passion and inspire crocheters in any way I can. Most importantly, I want to bring each crocheter self-confidence and enable them to take what they have learned from my designs and classes so that they can happily create whatever spurs their own crochet passion.
In my new book Coastal Crochet (and also, last year’s book, A Garden of Shawls), most of the patterns are made with hand-dyed yarns. I love indie dyers. I always want to support small businesses as I am a small business too. I think it is very important to support each other in this way. I am always on the lookout for new hand dyers to work with!
But taking care of hand dyed yarns can be tricky sometimes. If the color isn’t set properly, it can bleed into other colors that may be in your project. Sometimes there are special fiber blends, such as silk or linen (or even milk or corn!), that may require you to take some extra special care when laundering your project. Today I want to talk to you about how to make sure your yarns stay as wonderful as the day you got them!
I have a little trick I do to let me know if a yarn’s color has been set correctly for colorfastness. I cut a small piece of the yarn off and let it soak in a glass of water. If the color bleeds into the water changing the color from clear to something else then you know that you might need to be cautious on how you deal with the yarn. Put the hank in a lingerie bag and wash it in a gentle cycle in your washing machine or hand soak for a bit then lay flat to dry. I use a bit of wool wash but you don’t necessarily have to do that. If you are still having bleeding issues, especially if you are finding that the color bleeds on your hands, contact the dyer for other recommendations.
If you are using colors such as red or black, or any dark color with a lighter color, always check the colorfastness. Prepping the yarn before you start crocheting or knitting will save you heartache later!
Working with Hand Dyed Yarns
Each hank of hand dyed yarn is unique. Sometimes the color varies from hank to the next.This can be a problem when you are crocheting or knitting along and you add the next hank. All of a sudden on section of the project is darker than the other,
This color difference is normal because everything is done by hand! Although the dyers try hard to keep the colors the same, there are always some sort of difference. To avoid having this obvious difference in color on in the project, make sure you work two hanks at a time.
This is how I do it:
Work two rows with the first hank.
Pick up the next hank and work two rows
Pick up the first hand and work two rows
Keep going back and forth in this manner to blend the two hanks.
Laundering Your Hand Dyed Yarn Project
The type of fibers in your hand dyed yarn is going to determine how you launder your project.
Animal fibers can be wet soaked in a sink. I don’t recommend putting the item in the washing machine the first time you wash the project, unless you had to do some additional prepping before you started. Always wash in cold water and use a wool wash or a gentle detergent. If you soak the piece, lay it out on a towel and roll it up and press to get the excess water out. Always lay flat to dry, shaping or blocking as you need to.
If you have a yarn that is in some form at least a part linen or silk, I do not recommend soaking or machine washing at all. If the project is in need of cleaning, I would bring it to the dry cleaner and carefully instruct them about what fibers are in the piece. If you just need to block the piece, do a steam block with a hot iron or steamer, making sure you get the project damp but not soaking. And make sure you do not touch the piece with the iron or steamer. I have found you can melt fibers that way. (ask me how I know)
Cotton is a beast of its own. I recommend a steam block but others will soak or machine wash on a gentle cycle If in doubt, take to the dry cleaners.
If there is a specialty fiber like bamboo, milk, corn or something else, I would recommend reading the label and contacting the dyer if you are still unsure what to do.
I hope this little post answers questions about working with hand dyed yarns! If you have any other questions on this topic, I am glad to answer them! You can contact me directly through my website.