Friday, March 20, 2015

Currently Working On // Week 11

Happy Friday! I've been stressed, sad, and disappointed by this whole moth fiasco, BUT on the bright side it's forcing me to explore and reconnect with other crafts. I still haven't broken my March Challenge - everything I'm working on is from my existing inventory of craft supplies. So other than de-mothing my apartment, here's what I'm currently working on (unless I decide otherwise, everything is for fun!):


I finally got around to taking my online calligraphy class! I learned the basics and have all my supplies, so now it's just a matter of practice, practice, practice. And when March is over, I'm buying a bunch of new ink colors!


One of the last art supply purchases I made was this masking liquid pen from Blue Rooster Art Supplies in Los Feliz. I LOVE IT. For those who don't know, masking fluid is a mix of liquid rubber and latex that you apply to areas that you don't want painted. It resists the watercolor, then you either peel it off or rub it off with an eraser, leaving an untouched white area. It typically comes in a tub and you apply it with a paintbrush, so it's hard to get very detailed, which is why I was SO excited when this pen came out! This was one of the first experiments with it. I love you to the moon and back!


I've also been playing with creating patterns! I followed this tutorial from an old Design*Sponge post, and it's been super fun. I started out with kitchen supplies because they're easy to draw and there's lots to choose from. Still coloring it in, stay tuned.

That's all for now, have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ideas for Using Leftover Yarn


If you're like me, you may have some spare yarn lying around the house leftover from various projects throughout the years. For me, it's usually not enough for even a small project (like a beanie), but too much to be thrown away - which always feels so wasteful to me. Since deciding on my March Challenge to not buy any new crafting materials, I've been trying to find different ways to use the yarn I already have. Here are a few projects I've made that can be done using minimal materials:

My First Weaving!

1) Weaving! I've already written about my love for weaving here, but it bears repeating in this context. It really is the perfect project for using up spare yarn because you can use just about any length you have on hand. A few inches could be made into a lone tassle, while several yards could be woven into a large block of color. The options are endless! It's also particularly great because you can combine different textures, materials, and colors into one piece.


2) Bobble Garland! I have a few of these quirky bobble garlands lying around the apartment. They're easy and quick to make! And depending on how long you want them to be, require just a little bit of yarn. I followed this tutorial, with a couple of variations to suit the aesthetic I was going for and the yarn I had on hand.


3) Wash Cloths! Best with cotton yarn, you can easily crochet or knit a small wash/dish cloth. It's really as simple as making a square. Seriously, that's it! No tutorial needed, really :)


4) Pom Poms! Oh how I love pom poms! They're one of my favorite trims (as seen on this blanket) and they're not hard to make. Because I was using them a lot for my blankets and beanies, I bought the Clover Pom Pom Maker in several different sizes. It's super easy to use and much easier than making them by hand, if you plan on making a lot of them. If not, you can make them on your fingers, a toilet paper roll, a piece of cardboard, or even a fork!* I made a bunch of hot pink ones in different sizes, and stuck them in with my cacti to compliment the pretty flower. *Bonus: All those links include different projects for pom poms, in addition to the tutorials!

Those are the 4 ideas I've used in my home, however there are also lots of great ideas around the web too! Here are a few that I've been wanting to try:

  • Elise Joy's Scrap Yarn Seed Stitch Blanket uses the "log cabin" knit pattern to make an entire blanket from her scrap yarn. It looks great, and I can't wait to try it!
  • A Beautiful Mess's Woven Rug Tutorial is essentially just a functional, circular, weaving! Another fun way to incorporate different textures and colors.
  • Purl Bee's Flannel Receiving Blankets use a crocheted edge to add a special flair to a simple flannel blanket for new babes. If you have some flannel or fleece lying around, this would be a great project! You could also keep it simple and just do a blanket stitch all around.

I hope that's helpful!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sad Crafting News + Advice

Untitled I interrupt your regularly programmed blog post to bring you this breaking news:

I have discovered moths in my yarn.

For those of you who don't know, moths* are attracted to and eat natural fibers including wool, silk, alpaca, cashmere, and sometimes cotton. *I'm referring specifically to clothes moths here, not the kind you find in your kitchen.

I had seen a couple last week here and there but didn't think much of it until the past few days, when I began seeing more and more - specifically in the living room near my (mostly wool) yarn. The good news is that I caught it early enough that it appears most, if not all, of my yarn is in pretty good shape and can be salvaged (no holes). The bad news is it's a really lengthy and difficult process to get rid of the moths completely from both my yarn stash and my apartment.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or want to prevent this from happening to you, here's what I did:

PHASE ONE: I separated my natural fibers from my acrylic (synthetic) fibers. Moths do not eat synthetic fibers, which is awesome since that's what I had been using almost exclusively until last fall when I started making beanies. Luckily (and unluckily) for me, the yarn I keep in the living room is only the yarn I'm using for projects that I'm currently working on - everything else is stored in my bedroom closet. Since I've been working with lots of wool lately, almost all my wool was in the living room, meaning my bedroom closet is not affected (good for my closet, sad for all my wool).

I went through all the set aside yarn to assess the damage. Miraculously, it all seems to be in tact! Still, going through this process I saw a couple little buggers, so I'm continuing with the whole decontamination process. I gathered anything potentially affected into several plastic bags, squeezed as much air out as I could, and tied them closed. I read that clothes moths don't particularly like cotton, but since I had some skeins of it mixed in with the wool, I threw them into the bags too. Basically everything with wool (even blends), and everything that was in the living room had the potential to be infected, and was therefore put into airtight bags.

PHASE TWO: Next comes the freezing. According to several sources I read online, the best way to eliminate existing moths, is to either heat them or freeze them. I don't have a reliable enough oven to attempt heating all my wool without fear that I'll burn the apartment down, so I went with freezing. The yarn has to be frozen for at least a week, then set out to thaw for 24 hours, and back into the freezer for another week. This cycle of freezing and thawing will kill any remaining bugs, eggs, or larvae. Because my freezer is already full of lasagna, blueberries, and alcohol, I'll have to do this in batches. Everything that doesn't fit in the freezer, is stored in a plastic bin for now. This process will take me about a month.

PHASE THREE: This paragraph is short, but the process is long, so it gets its own phase: Clean, clean, clean!! You have to vacuum and clean every nook and cranny of your home. Pay special attention to corners, cracks, and floorboards.

PHASE FOUR: Once the yarn has been decontaminated, store it in an airtight container to prevent further moth attacks. I've read some people keep all their wool in zip locks, while others use plastic bin. Whatever you use, make sure it is AIR TIGHT.

So what does this mean for Mighty Mellie? Well, basically everything that I was in the process of working on will be put on hold for at least a few weeks. In the meantime, I will be switching gears to stationary and greeting cards. I'll also continue experimenting with new materials, like wire. And when all else fails, I have my trusty acrylic yarn! Say what you will about synthetic fibers, but at least bugs won't eat them.

Also, in case you're wondering, yes I did consider using moth balls, but basically every article I've read about getting rid of moths strongly advises against them. I was also hesitant for a couple reasons: A) I typically sell my work to others and didn't want to mess with funny smells and chemicals, and B) I don't want to risk my nosey pup being around them either. So I decided not to take any chances. Here's an excerpt from one of the articles I read:

“Moth balls, flakes, or crystals containing naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene are … available for protecting clothes in storage. These materials are toxic and must be kept away from children and pets. They also leave an unpleasant odor on clothes and other cloth objects. If placed in contact with plastic buttons, hangers, or garment bags, they may cause the plastic to soften and melt into the fabric. As these chemicals evaporate, they produce vapors that, in sufficient concentration, will slowly kill insects. The vapors build up to the required concentration only in an airtight container. If the container is not airtight, the chemicals only weakly repel adults and any larvae already on clothes continue to feed.”

So that's that. I was really excited about learning to weave, so I'm considering the possibility of breaking my March Challenge and buying some more wool. We'll see...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Currently Working On // Week 10

Happy Friday! I'm about two weeks into my March Challenge, and while it's tough not buying new materials when inspiration strikes, it has totally been forcing me to finish projects that I start and use up my existing supplies! On that note, here's what I've been working on this week:


I've said it before, weaving is the best way to use up yarn scraps!! I decided to try something different, so I salvaged the gold wire from last week's tangled mess of a failure and used it as the warp for my weaving. It was definitely challenging to work with, but I love the way it's turning out - especially with the negative space.

I really liked the copper bowl I was working on last week (see below), but since I had crocheted it on a larger hook, the weave was really loose. This wasn't a huge deal, but it did make the bowl a bit floppy. I used the leftover wire to start a new bowl with a tighter weave. The look is better, but it will require more wire, and I'm all out for now. Stay tuned!


My First Weaving!
Hooray, it's done! I wrote more about weaving earlier this week, but I'll elaborate on the process for this specific piece. As you can tell compared to last week's post, I took some parts of it out and started over in certain areas. It's a little warped here and there, but overall I love the final product! I even added a scrap of leather to the top left corner because I'm fancy like that [insert sunglasses emoji here]. AND - a good friend even asked if she could buy it from me! So now it's sold as well :)

Done! Like I said earlier, a little floppy but still works. I definitely learned a lot from it for next time. Here are the two side by side for comparison:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Color Crush // March Edition

This month's Color Crush goes a long way back and has a very specific inspiration: Mexican Talavera Pottery in blue and white. I've always thought it was so so beautiful. I'm not exactly sure what the name is for that shade of blue, so I've decided that Lapis, Cerulean, Cobalt, and Royal Blue all qualify this month.


Sadly, this is the only piece of talavera I own! I got it during a trip to Mexico in 2009 and it's still my favorite mug (and I have lots and lots of mugs). Nevertheless, it's the inspiration for this month's Color Crush. Thank you to Akira for modeling it because I'm physically incapable of taking cool, stylish blog photos - see outtakes below.


Clockwise from left: Postcard from the Hammer Museum; wool roving for felting; acrylic yarn in Royal Blue; California print by Blue Atlas States; paper cranes; talavera mug from Mexico

It's also the inspiration for this granny square blanket currently in my shop:

blue and white granny square blanket

In related color news, I would like to go to Greece now please and thank you.

I was going to end the post with that nice picture of some beautiful place in Greece, but instead I'm ending it with this ridiculous picture of me and Akira.

and this...

Ok for real, I'm done now.

Greece image via Pinterest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Weaving Wednesday


DISCLAIMER: I probably won't be making this a weekly post - I just really like alliteration. Anyway, as I mentioned on Friday, Scott got me this loom for my birthday last August, and I've slowly been adding to it in my free time. It took me six months, but I finally finished it! I didn't work on it very often because I have 8 million other hobbies, but since I'm not buying any new craft supplies this month, I've been working on it a lot more.

  • Looms are relatively easy to DIY from a variety of materials including old picture frames, scrap wood, and cardboard.
  • It's a great way to use up spare yarn scraps.
  • You can use a variety of different yarns/fibers/materials of any texture/shape/size/color, etc. 
  • It's easy to learn the basics and work with what you have on hand.
  • The level of difficulty only depends on how intricate you want your piece to be.
  • It makes a fantastic decorative wall hanging!


I've been seeing a ton of really wonderful pieces online, and I follow several of the artists on instagram. There are so many great textile artists out there, and these are a few of my favorites:

weaving inspiration
Clockwise from left: Maryanne Moodie; Melissa Washin of SheLovesLife; Janelle Pietrzak of All Roads Design; Kayla Mattes; Lindsey Campbell of HelloHydrangea; Elodie Mra.


If you're looking to learn, here are a few great beginner tutorials that I've found to be really helpful:


When I was learning to weave, I didn't want to splurge on a fancy beginners kit to get the other tools I needed, so I grabbed some household items from around the apartment and used those instead. For example:
  • Instead of a shed stick, I used a ruler. You could also use a paint stirrer. This is woven through your warp (the vertical yarn) and left there to help save time when you're weaving through to create a new row.
  • Instead of a fancy weaving comb, I used a fork. You could also use a wide tooth comb from the 99cent store.
  • Instead of using a wooden dowel to hang your piece on, you could use a copper pipe, a branch, or a piece of driftwood. 
  • Instead of using a shuttle, I just...didn't use one. It worked fine without it.
If you do want to splurge, however, you could support small businesses by purchasing one of these beautifully crafted kits on Etsy here (without a loom), here (including a loom), or here (also includes a loom).

Happy Weaving!

Monday, March 9, 2015

March Challenge

It's March! Where has the time gone? My apologies for the hiatus last week, I've been backlogged with projects that I either want to start, or are in progress. However, inspiration doesn't know what "I don't have time" means - so of course I've still been purchasing arts and crafts supplies whenever I have a new idea. I took a look at all of the yarn I have, the paints, the papers, the pens, the ink, etc. and realized it's time I make a concerted effort to use what I have before buying any more stuff.

I saw Elise Blaha Cripe's post for Make&Give30 where she has a similar goal to use stuff she already has, so I decided to do the same thing for March! I'll be challenging myself to only create new things using the materials I already have. I'm a rebel who hates rules, so obviously there's a couple of exceptions: 1) If it's free, I'll take it. 2) if I run out of materials for an existing project, I'll get more just to finish it.

Even if I don't buy anything new, I still currently have more yarn than I'll ever be able to use in a reasonable amount of time - some of it has been sitting there for years. So I also decided to participate in Reddit's Gift Exchange for yarn (thanks, Allain!)! I'll be sending $20 worth of my yarn (unused - believe it or not I have plenty that are still in the wrapper) to another redditor. Will I receive yarn in exchange? Yes. Isn't that getting new yarn that's not technically free? Yes - BUT it won't get here until April and by then my challenge will be over and I can reward myself! Win Win! Edit: I didn't realize that you can specify in the gift exchange what kind of yarn you want, so I probably will go out and buy something special for my exchange partner instead.

I will keep you posted!

Image from Pinterest.