Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Happy, not THAT type.

I mentioned in a previous post about how I became a crocheter. And while I didn't learn this way, I would like to talk about Stitch n' Bitch: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller.

The Happy Hooker is Debbie's only book to date devoted to crocheters, but who needs another when this book has already been perfected? It's like why create a new kind of toilet paper when what we have already works beautifully? In my honest opinion, this book is superior to any other crocheting book out there. It's a bold statement, yes, but it's true. Why? Because The Happy Hooker is the bible of crocheting. It explains everything you need to know about crocheting and then some. On top of that it offers patterns to use your new skills on. It is written is such a casual, almost conversation like manner that really makes the learner feel comfortable and confident. And that is extremely important.

There seems to be a virus that goes around fiber friends that makes everyone apprehensive. It could be about a stitch, a technique, a certain garment, fixing mistakes, or really anything that has to do with that craft. For me, in knitting, it was fair isle. Concord that. And now it's cables and I still haven't tackled that monster. In crocheting, it was adding a new strand of yarn. And once I owned this book, I was like "really? I have been fearing this for how long? And it was here all along?!". I truly believe that every crocheter or prospective crocheter needs to own this. Even if you are an expert, you need this, because it truly is the ultimate reference.

The first 100 pages are teaching/reference pages which could be a book on its own. The rest of the book is patterns and there are 40 of them. Yes, I said 40. Most books don't have 40 patterns, let alone a teaching section. Each pattern isn't rated by skill, because this book trys to teach the mentality that if you want to create something, you should. It shouldn't be about a level. If you see a pattern you like then make it. If there is some technique in the pattern that you haven't learned yet, then the first part of the book will gladly teach you. No excuses.

So what are you waiting for? Don't give me the excuse that you don't feel like getting out of the house, or your car is broken or your cat has an in-grown toe nail, because you can order it on Amazon.

Hookers Unite!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Let's pretend we're critters...

I love themed hats with matching mitten-scarves(scarves with a place for your hands to get warm in), but I must say they are a pain to make. Everything is machine sewn until you get to the face details and mitten edging. And that, my friend, is where the real frustration begins. Sure the sets are cute and sure they make people smile, but how many pokes of the needle can a human tolerate before they go nuts? One a positive note, fleece is amazing to work with. It hides all of your stitches so nothing has to be even close to perfect, which for me is ideal when hand sewing the face details.

My panda set was my first. Ahhh, everybody remembers their firsts, but for me this wasn't so sweet. After making this set I swore to never make a set again. Especially since the hat didn't end up fitting right. And then came the A Disney Trip to Remember swap and I got a little request...

(Photo compliments of GatorWrangler)

Sometimes I swear these little sets are just pushing themselves back into my life. Who knows, maybe someday I will work up the courage to make another. But not without chainmail gloves.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Plastic Clay. Erm, I mean Polymer Clay.

Polymer clay is one of those unique mediums that needs no special talent or skill to make it "work". You don't need to memorize a bunch of steps, you don't need to do a bunch of crazy measurements, and you don't need really anything but the clay and your hands(while additional tools can help, they are not necessary). It is was I like to call a stress-free beginners craft. But don't let the beginner part fool you. There are some people out there who have learned how to take polymer clay to the next level. Although such a skill can be wonderful to have, nothing extraordinary is expected from you. All you need is an open mind and the willingness to explore. Having said this, I am going to share a couple of examples of my polymer clay creations(the ones I can find pictures of anyways). They are not jaw dropping, but they are a good example of how you can use polymer clay to make something custom and one of a kind.

I made this for my partner, InstantKarma, in the "Off to College" swap. I bought a photo clip stand from the dollar bin at JoAnns and decided I would customize it with an octopus as it was an animal she admired. So out came the polymer clay.

For the same swap I also made some banana earrings(us crafters are a quirky bunch). My partner also enjoyed banana imagery.

I encourage you to get out there and buy yourself some polymer clay at your local craft store, because there are a world of possibilities just waiting for you. If some day you choose to make human figures, I recommend checking out this tutorial on making hands.

Happy Crafting!

Makes you want to live in felt, huh?

I made this felt house for my first craft swap(Small Mystery Swap) for Mamarose22. The house was almost a carbon copy of the original one in my partner's wist and was definitely an experience. It took a about 9 hours, but those 9 hours were quite relaxing.

And here is a chair pin cushion. This chair was a little tricky and not in the way you would imagine. The tricky part was I needed a miniature afghan to go on it, but I didn't know how to make one. So, I taught myself how to crochet and used crochet thread and a tiny hook to make a tiny granny square. But it wasn't that bad of a choice to learn, because I quickly realized crocheting to be my passion and main craft.

My swap partner had these on her wists and I decided they would be fun to make. Basically a wist is an online visual wishlist. The source of the links and images can come from anywhere on the internet. It is really easy to use and is especially useful for people who participate in craft swaps.

*Sorry about the horrible pics. I took them with a bad camera a couple of years ago

Hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Welcome and enjoy!

Welcome to AlishaMisha - A place where I can share things I have created with others.

Crafting is one of the biggest parts of who I am. I live and breath crafts like it's my job (which may be someday). I go to thrift stores looking at what items "could be", go to JoAnn's to window shop, and horde seemingly non-craft related material because I know I'll use them someday on something. It's an illness, it really is, but at the end of the day I can sit back and feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at what I have created. It gives me a purpose when I feel I don't have one and it keeps me whole and sane. Crafting means something different to each and every person and that is a beautiful thing. Whatever your meaning is, I hope you enjoy.

To start off this blog I would like to talk about my favorite crafting website and that is Craftster has been a HUGE influence on my life. I discovered craftster indirectly through a Walt Disney World forum called Disney as a whole has been an obsession and illness of mine since I was born really, so it was only natural that it lead me to another love of mine. Anyways, through a thread talking about Disney themed crafts people have made, I discovered that two of the members had also been members of craftster. They explained that they had received the crafted items from each other in a craft swap hosted by craftster. I went over to craftster and my crafting love quickly became an obsession.

In the not so distant past crafting was a skill you learned out of necessity. You would gain a skill such as sewing or knitting from your mother or grandmother, and you too would pass down your skill. During those times it was considered economical. Through craftster I discovered that crafting wasn't just your grandmother's way anymore. In this day and age we have sass and we are not afraid to show it! We have taken crafting and have turned it into something more than necessity; it is now a sense of self expression. You can look at an item someone has created and find a piece of the creators soul.

Like I mentioned before, craftster hosts craft swaps. Basically, without going into detail, it means that you make items for your assigned partner and they make items for you. To get an idea of this you can look at my "Swap Archives" on what I have sent and received. Swapping has been a big part of my life for almost three years now. To date I have participated in 14 swap themes and have the joy of swapping with 28 different people. These people have come all over the U.S. and some from Canada. I have not yet had the joy of swapping with anyone outside of North America.

So with all this talk about craftster it has to lead somewhere right? The main purpose is that it saves a lot of questions about what swapping is, because a majority of things I make are for swaps.

So welcome. Steep some tea, open up your mind, and enjoy.