*Crochet Your Heart!

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(Last year’s Valentine’s Card. I’m working on this year’s!:)

CrochetYourHeartToday!

I think I might like Valentine’s Day even more than Christmas. Well no…maybe it’s a tie. What I like is that Valentine’s is simple. Or can be. Just a little gift to let someone know you “heart” them. And of course, the chocolate is pretty cool too! crochetheartpin Last year I designed this CROCHET HEART as I was wanting to teach a friend how to make a simple one. I searched the web for one I liked and couldn’t find just the right shape or find it simple enough for a beginning crocheter. So I designed this one, made several into pins last year, and have been wearing mine each day here lately. Feel free to use this little pattern (click on the link above) and share it with friends. Fronts&Backs

(Ugh. the color is ghastly here! So sorry!)

To make the pin, you simply crochet the heart using my pattern here, then single crochet around the edge with something sparkly. Add a pin back and a button or decorative brad to the center. Et Voila! But there are so many other things you could do with this pattern!! Since I may not have time to make all of these, I drew them for you! Working with various sizes of yarns and hooks, you can make this heart large or small!! So, big yarn and big hook = big heart! Small yarn and small hook = small heart! Garland&Flowers Small hearts make for great pins, attachments to cards and gift wrap, and even a lovely heart garland for your window or mantel. You could also make some heart “flowers”, hot gluing them to a stick and placing them down in a pot.:) HeartPurse Bigger hearts can be made into sachets and purses for little girls. Simply crochet TWO of them and stitch them together. For the purse, stitch it up only around the sides and bottom, leaving the top humps of the heart open. Crochet a chain as a handle onto the little purse, or just sew a ribbon on. You can even decorate it with buttons or beads if you like! heartSachet For the sachet,  just prior to sewing up the entire seam around the edge, stuff it with stuffing that has been spritzed with your favorite perfume or scent. Place one in a drawer to scent your clothing. Hang one from a clothes hanger for freshening the closet! Pin&Wands   Ooooh…and I saw on one of my favorite crochet blogs, Tangled Happy, a Crochet Heart Wand made with two hearts, stuffed a bit, with a sparkly pencil for the stick!! Add a few ribbons and what a cute valentine gift for a girl! IMG_3782 I also found online a wonderful pattern for KNITTING a heart! I was so tickled to see it was from a favorite blog I follow, called The Sitting Tree. Do check out her blog with a cup of tea in hand. You’ll enjoy every minute there! All of the above ideas could be made with these knitted hearts! I’m sure there is much much more you could do with them… CrochetYourHeart …Leave YOUR ideas in the comment section so we can all benefit! And HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!

Stashbuster Mixed Media Cowl

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Before my Art Show in November, I made several of these and they have been well received by many folks there buying them for gifts or for themselves. I wanted to type up a tutorial for any who might be interested in making one (or LOTS) also. It’s a great way to use up your existing stash. In fact, I made it my mission to ONLY use what I had on hand…little bits of this, leftovers of that.

M&MMakeCowl The first thing I do is gather up my yarns. Mortimer and Millicent wanted to oversee my photo tutorial efforts, giving invaluable (and sometimes annoying) suggestions and critiques along the way. 🙂 I like to put the yarns in a white bowl so I can see them sitting there together. I pull anything and everything that tickles my fancy: solid yarns, variegated yarns, fibers with a bit of bling, textured yarns, etc. I don’t worry too much at this point whether or not I’ll actually USE them all…this is the fun part of putting color together! There may be a yarn or two that just don’t make it into the finished cowl. Or I may just use them all!

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I choose a bulky yarn as a “base” or anchor. Since I’m using either a size 13 knitting needle or an N crochet hook, I want the stitches and yarns to be rather chunky. But this doesn’t mean I can’t use worsted, DK or even fingering weight yarns. I just have to combine the thinner yarns to approximate a chunky weight. I’ll demonstrate this a bit in the photos.

If I’m knitting a Mixed Media Cowl, I cast on 40-50 sts. This is a wide range that you will have to determine the number based on how thick your yarn choices are AND based on how generous you want your cowl to be. I’ve made them anywhere from neck huggers to cowls with a bit of drape. You choose! The knitted version is simply garter stitch all the way through.

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If I’m crocheting a Mixed Media Cowl, I chain 45-50. Again, this all depends on the above factors. This one is a 50 chain Cowl, which is a bit more generous than some I have made. I use single crochet stitches THROUGH THE BACK LOOP. This allows the crochet to have more drape to it than regular single crochet.

So, here we go:

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I began with the “base” yarn, a chunky yarn combined with a very slim shiny yarn just to add interest. Chain 50.

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Sc in the second chain from hook and in each chain across. I like to crochet into the “butt” of the chain thereby giving a nice edge that looks like bind off in knitting.

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Attach a new yarn or set of yarns. Here I’ve combined two different worsted weight yarns. Together they are somewhat close to the thickness of the “base” yarn. I attach the new yarns just before finishing off the last single crochet stitch. Then, with the new yarn(s), finish the sc, CHAIN 1, and turn your work, ready to go on the next row!

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I work single crochet THROUGH THE BACK LOOPS at the same time crocheting over the ends so that I don’t have to weave them in at the end.:)

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I work two rows of each color or set of yarns. This time there are THREE yarns held together:  a worsted, a textured, and a thin “bling” yarn. Continue working sc tbl, and crocheting over the ends.

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Continue working in this manner until you have the height you desire.

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I worked 7 groupings of yarn, giving me approx. 6″-7″ depending on how much you stretch the fabric out. This crochet stitch looks a bit like sideways ribbing and has a lovely ridge on both sides.

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I end with the “base” yarn again. This is certainly not necessary, but I think it finishes it off. This last time I held a different shiny yarn with it for variety.  I only work one row of this. Weave in all ends.

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The cool thing about this cowl is that you do not need button holes! Place your buttons where you like and you can button it up in two different ways:

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With the buttons vertical, straight up and down (as pictured in the selfie above:).

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Or with the buttons and cowl diagonal, hugging the neck a bit more. Either way is lovely I think!

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Of course, Mortimer and Millicent had to try it on too! They were so upset that it didn’t fit them! Then they thought perhaps I had made them a cozy blanket, only to be dashed again when I explained this was a Cowl for PEOPLE not mice! (I may need to go make a couple of cowls, mice size, for them as they are a pouting a bit.)

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Choosing the buttons is REALLY fun! Go to your button box, mix and match, or find inexpensive buttons in shops you frequent. They add just the right touch!

Wear, smile, and have a beautiful, artsy day!!

Let It Flow

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Finally. I just received my copy of One Watercolor A Day in the mail! But I’ve only had time to read Veronica Lawlor‘s introduction. When I got to the words, “Let it flow…” I knew I was going to love this book! So after teaching yesterday and after dinner, I sat down to my drawing table with just watercolor. I didn’t have a plan or an idea. I just wanted to swoosh watercolor around on the page and let it flow. What ended up happening was a delightfully fun exercise in play I thought I’d share with you:

1. Choosing colors you like, literally swoosh the paint around, with an eye toward there being several boxes (or only a few!) on the page. Try not to have a pre-conceived notion of what it will be.

2. Make puddles, calligraphic marks and lines, some organic, some geometric. Allow colors to flow into one another.

3. Splatter colors all over the sections on your page. Not only will this add richness to the colors you have painted with, but it will also tie in colors from other “boxes”.

4. Let this dry completely.

I went to bed at this point, and woke up this morning to look at the random watercolors with a fresh eye. And then…

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5.  Look at each box. Really stare at it. What do you see? What colors/shapes suggest things to you? Do you “see” flowers? windows? doors? fences? people? landscapes? animals? imaginary things? or simply designs?

6.  Using a fine liner pen or other marker, add a few lines here and there to “clarify” what you see.

7.  Draw a box around it.

8.  Title it (if you want to:).

9. Sign it.

This could be a great warm-up exercise to your drawing/painting session, or something for those times when you’re too tired to concentrate on realistic drawing (as I was after a day of teaching). It only takes a few minutes. In fact, make yourself do the watercolor part very quickly. This will keep your brain from trying to “make something of it” and just let the watercolors flow, like Veronica says in her book. I’m looking forward to seeing what exercises they have for us to do in this book! I know it will be just as fun!!

To Timaree et al

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An online artist friend, who has visited my blog for many years and has been a huge encourager, asked a question in one of her recent comments on this beach post. I thought I’d take a bit of time to answer her questions, which may be of interest to others as well. Here is what she asked:

“…Love your drawings. I look at the complexity of them and wonder if you

start in pencil but it really looks like you dive in with pen –

do you just start with the nearest objects and work back?

I don’t see lines crossing through objects as if added after something else…”

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So I’ll try to walk you through a moment in time I wanted to draw. This photo is of my favorite portable drawing chair. I love the arm that hinges up to hold your drawing supplies.

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These are the drawing goodies I’m using for this type of sketching: 08 Prismacolor Fineliner Pen, Oil Pastels, 6″ x 6″ Flexisketch book.

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Here is the view I had while sitting in our driveway. Randy was smoking my favorite barbecue for the Fourth of July. Please note that I was not intent on drawing or painting the light!! This is important, because you have to choose what you’re after in a drawing. If I was here to draw the light, this would be completely different. I am only after the lines…the lovely lines that meander in and through my life, the present moment, this here and now.

I often enjoy drawing something that is up close to me with some of the things in the background. Sometimes I stick very close to what I actually see. Sometimes I move objects around in order to compose them in the square space the way I want them. Degas was a master at composing paintings and drawings that were off-kilter, or partly out of the picture plane, as if he was viewing them through a camera lens. I love this way of drawing.

I do NOT use a pencil first or at any point in the drawing. I just go right into it with the pen. This is VERY important!! Working with a pen frees you from having to erase “mistakes”. You MUST leave your lines the way they are! No need to go and redraw what seems a bit “off”, or even a lot “off”. Of course, redrawn lines CAN be really fun! But I just let lines fall the way they will and keep on going!

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So I start with the biggest shape, which is typically the one closest to me. In my  mind’s eye I have zoomed in on the Weber grill, so I start with the fun shape of the grill, not worrying that some of it goes off the page (in fact that is my intent!!) Once I have the basic shape of the grill, I can add a few details, like handles, the vent at the top, etc.

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Then I begin to work in the “background”, once again choosing the shape I want to be sure is included in my drawing. In this case, I really wanted our red door to be in the picture, so I had to “scrunch” the background over a bit for this to happen. Once I have the door where I want it, I can fill in the bushes, the garage door lines, the begonia ivy, the steps, etc. I forgot to take more pics along the way here ’cause I get so caught up in drawing. Time just falls away…I love that!

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Here’s another view of the same thing, but after the meat has been removed to go cook for a few hours. We’ll be having friends over for our barbecue feast, so I’m grabbing some time here to draw before they come! I moved my chair to give me the view I wanted.

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Once again, I draw the big shapes of the grill first. I don’t worry about being terribly precise. I like wonky. Wonky drawings are better in my opinion! And I don’t worry about how much of the grill doesn’t even get drawn! No need to! I love the off-the-page look! It suggests that these things in my life are bursting off the page, have a life of their own outside of my little drawing.

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Then I decide that the background shape I want to be sure to include is the flag. So I once again, move the background over a bit to accommodate the flag in my drawing. (Does this make any sense?)

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I work my way from the flag down to the bushes and then over above the grill, eyeballing distances between things, but not measuring or making everything perspectively perfect. I’m just after an impression of the moment.

And then comes the  color…

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I pull out my oil pastels (sometimes I use Neocolor II watercolor crayons) and decide which objects will get color. It really has more to do with my preference, or what I want to highlight. But I don’t want to overdo it. Just a few bits of color here or there. And voila!

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I hope this helps, Timaree, and anyone else who might benefit from it! Thank you so much for your faithful presence here on my blog and for taking the time to comment!! I truly appreciate it!!

**And as an aside…this is one of the ways I live artfully. Taking a few moments to trace the lines of my world around me, helps me to see the beauty that lies therein. The pen and the page become a new set of glasses enabling me to see what I really have. Drawing my life silences the clamor in my head for something other than what I have. If you want to draw your life too, check out my Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons.