Friday, May 13, 2016

Lover's Knot Shawl

Remember the Virus Shawl? When I was looking at the pattern on Woolpedia's site, I came across another crochet shawl pattern that looked interesting. There's actually quite a few interesting patterns, but one in particular: the Lover's Knot caught my eye. The pattern looked fast enough to be near instant gratification.

It's a shawl, like the Virus, with the squares on the diagonal. It's light and airy and scrunches up quite nicely to wear as a scarf. I worked on this one concurrently with the Virus shawl. It took one ball of the yarn used to make a triangular shawl about four feet along the base of the triangle.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Virus Shawl

In March, my LYS Nature's Yarns ( and newsletter advertised an upcoming class to create a "Virus Shawl".

The pattern seemed simple enough. I had this gradated blue color-way cotton originally used for a partially-completed knit mini-poncho. Unfortunately, the poncho had a major error that was best dealt with by ripping the stitches back to zero. A new project suitable for the yarn made that ripping a bit less painful.

I couldn't find much information about the pattern beyond what's listed on Ravelry and the originating site: (scroll down to find the Virus pattern). Woolpedia's authors claim the design has been floating around the internet for years and no one seems to know why the pattern is named "Virus". Some speculate it's because of the pattern's recent surge in popularity. To me, the pattern motif looks reminiscent of bedspread and doily patterns from the last century. Maybe somewhere around the middle. Might be worth a little digging to find out.

The whole thing took about two months, working on it off and on. The pattern is fairly easy and mindless enough to do while sitting through other activities. The Woolpedia site has links to YouTube videos explaining how to work the pattern. You basically repeat the pattern until you reach the size you want or you run out of yarn. I ran out of yarn. The shawl isn't quite as long as I would like, but it's long enough to wear as a warm-weather scarf. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the finished shawl.

05-06-2016 Update: I found the label to the fiber used. The fiber is 100% cotton, 480 yds (438 m) and 100 g. It's made by Wolle's Yarn Creations and the colorway is titled "Unique Blue". I bought it from a vendor at the Shenandoah Fiber Festival a couple of years ago.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Mehndi-inspired t-shirt

One of my ongoing projects is perfecting a flattering, well-fitting t-shirt pattern. It takes a few iterations and I think I’m close.

My latest iteration is a white t-shirt. I’m dressing it up with Mehndi-inspired

The doodles are drawn using a black Stained by Sharpie fabric marker with a brush tip. This marker gave me the best line quality overall. Line quality was clearest when I held the marker vertically–there was less drag against the knit fabric.

I used contact shelf paper to stabilize the fabric and keep it from stretching and moving around while doodling. I tried embroidery stabilizer first. Then I discovered the contact paper works just as well. Which is good because I had a lot of it and not much of the stabilizer. The contact paper also proved effective at preventing bleed-through by the marker. Win!

The doodling part is about done. Next up is coloring. Who needs a coloring book when you have a t-shirt?

And... We're back

Littleberry Makes is back after a too-long hiatus. The past year or so has seen a lot of making but very little posting.

In the intervening time, I gave some serious thought to how (or if) I wanted to move this blog forward. One of the stumbling blocks was writing up something after finishing up a project. That turned into a bigger task than I could keep up with. And, when it came down to a choice of writing versus making? Making almost always won.

For now, I’m going to focus on publishing photos of works in progress with an eye towards my making methods. You’ll probably see some of this on Twitter and Instagram (@littleberry for both), too.

Ready for more making?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Vacation Bible School Crafts: Day 5

This is it! We made it to the end of the week of VBS. Catch up on the previous four days of treasure chests, popsicle stick boats, seashell wind chimes and ornaments, and regrouping.

Day 5: Leis

The final requirement for VBS crafts was Friday’s craft needed to be quick (no more than 15 minutes) and couldn’t require drying or setting time. This was the last day and the kids and their crafts were going home. Friday had a shortened schedule as well..

Spending the week on ‘the island,’ of course we were making leis. This was the second idea for crafts to gel after the treasure boxes. However, for being the quickest craft to make, the leis required the most preparation time. Here’s how the craft went down.

The leis were made with lengths of plastic lacing (also known as gimp, scoubidou, boondoggle), artificial flower heads, and drinking straw “beads”. The plastic lacing was cut to 36” lengths. I choose plastic lacing for stringing because it was sturdy enough for the younger kids to easily hold and string the flowers on without needing a needle and without unravelling on them. Cutting and prepping the plastic laces was the easiest and quickest. The drinking straw beads were cut from drinking straws. That was also easily accomplished, but took a bit longer to do—there were a lot of straws to cut.

Sparkly rainbow plastic lacing cut and ready for counting

Big bowl of plastic straw beads

Finally, there were the flowers. The cost-effective way to do this in bulk was to get flowers by the bush—not individual stems. The more flowers per bush, the better. It was also important to make sure the disassembled flowers were suitable for stringing. Some flowers, like roses and carnations were made of multiple pieces, effectively doubling or tripling the available flowers for stringing. Likewise, where possible, the flowers’ leaves were used. Getting the flowers off their stems was easy, and quite fun—they just pop right off. The job was so fun, in fact, I was able to convince my two sons to do this work for me. For the leis, I only needed the petals for stringing. The second step was to remove the centers from the flowers. This job was not nearly as fun and was quite tedious. It’s a good activity for binge-watching one’s favorite shows, but does tear up the fingernails after a bit. It took a few weeks to get all the flowers taken apart and the straws cut.

This was about a third of the flowers prepped.

Flower centers

Flowers de-centered and ready for crafting

The day of the craft arrived. For set up, we split the flowers between the three rooms. I chose to have the flowers strewn along the table for the kids to select from for their leis. Each child received a plastic lacing cord and we showed them how to make a ‘locker’ bead with one of the straw beads to keep the beads and flowers from falling off at the bottom.

In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have made all the flowers available all at once. Doling them out over the course of the day would have been a better idea. The flowers were the one material we ran into the risk of running out of. Fortunately, it worked out and we had just enough for everyone. When the kids finished stringing their leis, we tied the ends together and they had the option of wearing their craft for the rest of the day at VBS.

Finished lei

C models his lei

And that’s a wrap on the week with VBS crafts. After all that making, it was time to clean up and go home. I received a lot of positive feedback from parents and kids. Many said it was their favorite part of the day. This is what makes all the planning and preparation worthwhile. If there were kids who discovered joy in making or were inspired to continue making, then that is a week’s worth of work well-done.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Vacation Bible School Crafts: Day 4

We're past the middle of the week and the end is in site. Catch up on the happenings earlier in the week on days one, two, and three.

Day 4: Rest and Regroup

The team

The crafts endeavor for VBS was not a one-woman show, by any means. I had help. In fact, I think trying to accomplish all the crafts solo would have ended disastrously. Our VBS program was run by two women, one of them a friend of mine. The co-directors were an organized team and were super-helpful to me and the crafts team with whatever we needed. They even brought snacks down to us! I also had a collection of volunteers and family who helped prepare and stage the crafts and who helped get the rooms set up. And, finally, there were the volunteers who operated each craft room (mentioned below). I'm thankful to have had the help I did. It made the week far less stressful that it could have been.

The set-up

The fourth day of VBS was the day the children went to daily Mass. As such, the schedule didn’t have room for crafts that day so my team and I had a little break in the crafting action. This was our day to regroup and get everything ready for Friday’s dismissal. With this little breather, here is the set up crafts ran with:

Crafts were held in three multipurpose-type rooms, typically used for classrooms and meeting space. Each room had few tables, about 3’ by 6’ sized and arranged together in a tight rectangle. As crafting space goes, it was great. We had plenty of room for each group to have a little elbow room between kids. Storage in the room for completed crafts or staged materials for crafts wasn’t as abundant. Fortunately, we had access to a fourth room where we could store the completed crafts.

To save us angst when clean up time came around, the tables were covered with heavy brown craft paper. This gave us a surface we wouldn’t be afraid to get glue or paint on and provided a blank slate for crafting. We encouraged the kids to color on the tables if they finished their crafts early.

Day to day

VBS classes were arranged by age group. Each group, over the course of the morning, would rotate through one of the craft rooms. They always went to the same craft room each day. Over the course of the week, we got to know the kids a little and they got to know us as well. Each of the craft rooms was run typically by one adult volunteer and one teen volunteer. For the most part I had the same group of volunteers—tremendously helpful for maintaining some consistency. It didn’t take long for each room to develop it’s own characteristics and vibe. The day’s flow started with setting out the supplies for that day’s activities, running through the activity with the children, collecting and storing the completed crafts, cleaning up, and doing it all over aging for the next group.

To do

Thursday was different. Thursday was our day to get a jump start on clean up and dismissal. Crafts went home with the kids on Friday, when VBS was over. Our major tasks for Thursday included getting the crafts sorted into the bags they were going home in and doing triage when necessary. Popsicle boats that weren’t glued securely enough or glued too securely and treasure chests painted shut were the main culprits that needed tending to. Photos taken on Monday of each of the students also arrived and needed to go into their corresponding treasure chests as well.

Day four really wasn’t all that restful. Nonetheless, we definitely welcomed the breather. Stay tuned for day five and the culmination of VBS crafts.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vacation Bible School Crafts: Day 3

This is the third article in my series about crafting for vacation bible school. Catch up on the first and second days of crafts at VBS.

Day 3: Seashells

Craft ideas for day three arrived close to the wire. We knew we wanted to include sea shells in one of the crafts and this was the day to do it. My initial idea for sea shells was to reuse a craft previously done for my older son’s second grade end of year party.

Original seashell wind chime craft

The craft consisted of one popsicle stick with pre-drilled holes, two long lengths of rainbow-died cotton string, and twelve seashells. The string was knotted together in a loop at the strings’ middle. Each end was threaded through each of the holes on the popsicle stick. Finally, the seashells were attached to the string using UHU glue dots (these things are awesome!). The craft worked reasonably well, but the design need improving.

Wind chimes

First, after my experience with the craft the first time around, it was clear that it wouldn’t be easy for children younger than rising third-graders. Most of my son’s second grade class were able to complete the project. There were enough who had trouble with the materials and instructions to indicate younger children would have difficulty with the craft. This meant I needed to come up with something for the pre-k’s to 2nd-graders. More on that later.

Second, there was no way I was going to drill a bunch of holes in popsicle sticks. It was barely feasible the first time around--I had fewer kids to prepare the craft for the first time around. From a numbers standpoint, I just didn’t see it working for VBS.

Third, there was the glue dots. Don’t get me wrong, these glue dots from UHU are wonderful. They’re as strong as using jewelry cement, but without the nasty stickiness you get on your hands. Even so, you have to be careful not to touch the glue dots when using them. If you do get the glue dots on your fingers, they’re easy to get off--but at the price of not getting them to stick to anything else again. This was a challenge for the kids in the second-grade class and proved to be a significant…um…sticking point in the craft.

My teen helper and I tried working out the best way to do this craft. The big thing was attaching the shells. We had already worked out making a cross by glueing together two popsicle sticks perpendicular to each other. We used two lengths of raffia tied together as described above. My teen helper figured out winding the lengths along each cross arm and tying them so each strand hung a little away from the others. We tried tying the raffia around the shells but the shells kept slipping out. We considered the original plan to use glue dots or hot glue to hold the shell on the raffia strand and gave those a try. The glue dots worked okay, but were fiddly and had the same issues as before. As I was pulling the glue dots out of my stash to try, I found a bag of leftover scraps of duct tape sheets from crafts the previous year. We gave the duct tape a shot.

I should have started with the duct tape. Duct Tape brand sells rolls of duct tape in all sorts of fabulous colors and patterns. They also sell sheets of duct tape in these same colors and patterns. These sheets have sticker backs to them. You peal the sticker paper off when ready to stick the tape to something. This makes working with duct tape much, much easier. The previous year, one of the crafts used narrow strips of duct tape sheets to tape a string of beads to a plastic cup. These strips were the duct tape leftovers I had. We realized we could cut smaller pieces off these leftovers and use them to tape the seashells to the raffia. It worked like a charm. Duct tape is certainly strong enough and sticky enough to do the job. With this last detail in place, the sea shell wind chime craft was ready to go.

VBS wind chimes craft


Back to the younger kids. I have to credit Pintrest and the interwebs for throwing out this idea. Loosely, I had a notion of making ornaments with seashells for the younger kids. Practically, I was having a hard time coming up with something that used suitable materials and took up the right amount of time. Googling for ideas brought up this idea on Pintrest: Hearts cut from rolled out sheets of air dry clay with seashells pressed into the clay. The only modification I added was poking a hole in the clay for a hanger made from a short length of raffia.

Seashell heart ornaments

The younger kids really seemed to enjoy this craft. Most adventures in crafting with kids are more about process than product. This was especially true with this craft. The kids fun squishing the clay in their hands, flattening it out, cutting out hearts, and pressing the shells in. Then they would roll it all up and do it again.

I think we blew through an entire pack of wipes cleaning up after this craft was over. That’s what I call a good crafting day.

Day four had a respite from crafting, but was still plenty busy. Stay tuned.