What to do, What to do…?

Today’s topic: macrame! (That’s “maac ruhh may.”  You know, that cool jewelry-making thing people do with knots? Weirdly enough, when I talk about it to people, they either don’t know what I’m talking about, or instantly associate it with 10-13 year-old girls. Hmmmmm.)

Anyway, I happen to think macrame is loads of fun. I got started out when one birthday (possibly Christmas) when I was about 10 or 11, I got as a gift a book on how to make “friendship bracelets”. Essentially, macrame. 

macrame bracelets, 4 different styles

At first, I was so excited to get into it, and the book came with some pretty colors of embroidery floss, as well as a few other helpful things, and the instructions were easy enough to follow, especially with the images on how the knots worked.  However, one thing the book wasn’t terribly clear on was how to close the thing once you’d finished it. Making jewelry is very cool, but without some nice-looking way to close the loop, it just doesn’t stay. So, I worked with it a bit, and I came up with a few alternatives through trial and error.  

If you’ll notice, the picture has 4 bracelets, and I’ll let you know just how you can make some nice macrame bracelet/anklets/necklaces/shoelaces/zipper pulls/keychains/etc.

I warn you, the lengths are purely trial and error. I’m sure there’s the possibility of a mathematical way to calculate how much string each knot takes, etc, etc, but I am bad at math, so I just use the trial and error approach.

Starting with the blue one at the bottom with the beads:

  • get one REALLY long strand of a color you like (and I do mean long, about a yard, I think) and  make sure you have your beads ready– long, thin ones work the best for the method I used here.
  • wrap one end around our wrist, giving about an inch or two to use as a tie at the end, and at the fold in the strand, tie a knot so that you have a loop
  •   like so—.
  •  <———-‘

 

 

 

 

 

So you have one really long strand and one strand that goes around your wrist comfortably with room to tie a knot at the end (you can include the length of the loop in this, but make sure it’s not too snug when the knot is tied)

  • Take the long strand, lay it horizontally across the short strand, and then pull the end (of the long strand) through the loop in between your knot and the spot where you’re doing this knot. (I will demonstrate with my earphones)
    like so

And then you just pull it tight. Not that I’ll do that with my earphones, but you get the idea. 🙂

So, you do this over and over, and there develops a line of bumps on one side of the thing. Now, if you’re pulling it tightly enough, it will spin into a cool little spiral around the short string, like threads on a screw. (you could just want to keep it flat, and that’s fine, I’m just telling you how I did it. All you’d have to do is do the knots a little looser and twist them to line up. It’s pretty easy, once you get the hang of it.)

Once you get a decent amount of knots done, to the point where it looks like a good spot for a bead, all you have to do is thread the bead on the short string, and put the next knot on the other side of the bead. That’s how I did it, but you could also thread both strings through the bead (if they’ll fit) and keep right on knotting until it’s a good spot for the next bead. However you think it should look. After all, it’s your bracelet! 😀

When you’ve finished to a length and knotfullness (really not a word, but oh, well) that you like, simply make 2 square knots at the end with the remaining length, or however you see best. Tie a knot in it, and then try it on for size. If it’s only a bit snug, odds are you can just wiggle it a bit and stretch it to the most comfortable fit. Macrame’s pretty forgiving.

Enjoy your new fashion statement! 😀

(I’ll post instructions on the other 3 styles soon, this is all I had time for currently.)

Snow in August???

…made of snow. 😀 Yep, snow.

So, I know it’s kinda hot out, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I miss there being snow outside. Last March, if you can believe it, on a day that my classes were really spaced out, it just happened to have snowed about 6-8 inches of *perfect* sculpting snow. For those of you who think that all snow is created equal, let me clarify: there are 2 types of snow: 1:wet snow, and 2:dry, powdery snow. For sculpting of *any* kind (including snowballs), you want the wet kind. This snow, for reasons beyond my meterological knowledge, was the perfect balance of moisture.

I *was* just going to go inside the union and get a hot cocoa, honest! But then I thought about how many hours I had until my next class, and how perfect the snow was, and I just couldn’t resist! I don’t know why I decided on theVenus De Milo, or when, but after a while, the idea was planted in my mind.
I gathered up a little mound of snow at first, sweeping all the snow together from the surface of the concrete. I just kept sweeping it together with my hands, building a bigger and taller little mountain of snow, until it became a pilliar, then a pilliar with shoulders. I did a bit of  of adding snow on then packing it in, and a bit of carving out curves and hollows with the blade of my hand. (That’s the pinkie side edge of your hand for those that have never attended a martial arts class lol)
A few things I learned that I will be sure to put in application next time it snows:
  • Wear WATERPROOF gloves. When I did this, I was wearing knit gloves. Not only were they completely useless after about two minutes, They actually collected snow in the spaces between the threads and made me colder. Just not wearing any gloves is also a really bad plan, because I did some of that while I was out there sculpting, and my hands didn’t really forgive me over the whole ordeal for about a week, give or take a few days.
  • Take breaks that are indoors somewhere heated. This was amazingly helpful, and much more so when there was hot cocoa present. Of course, I may be the only one crazy enough to spend hours in the cold just to make a snow Venus De Milo, but hey. I had fun. 😀
  • if you are making something with a realistically proportioned head+neck, be VERY careful. It took me nearly 2 hours just to get the head balanced so that it would stay. Now that I think about it, a little under 1/2 of the total time I spent on that thing was spent solely on  the head. And let me tell you, it fell off SO MANY times. So many. Go slowly and carefully, is all I can really say. When you’re packing new snow onto the head, hold it steady so that you don’t harm it with the pressure of your packing hand. I know I pushed the head completely off by packing carelessly.
  • You should probably either do a better job at making it recognisably the Venus De Milo, or choose a different subject matter than I did, if you’re making this thing in a public place. Because there are a lot of people who called my venus a “snow woman”, which, while accurate, was not the point, and has connotations I did not care for.
  • If you want the outside of the sculpture to be pretty white, instead of covered with random dead leaf litter and dirt, use some snow from a fresh place, skimming off the top, to pack on the outside. Kinda like painting it. Only not really lol ^_^
  • Have fun!! This is essentially a different spin off of building a snowman,
  •  so don’t be afraid to be a kid just a little bit. 😀

Happy sculpting! Too bad there’s no snow right now, but someday, there will be.

 

New Weaving Experiences

After a great many failed attempts, my continued efforts produced 4 lovely woven rectangles with loose fringes.

So, recently, I decided I would try my hand at weaving. I crochet, and I’ve done at least a little knitting, (enough to form some sort of opinion about it) and I thought weaving might be fun. Don’t ask me why, (though comments are appreciated) but I got it into my head that making a pair of shoes this way would be cool. So, I bought a few balls of some nice twine (my reasoning being that twine was strdy, and thus, a good shoe material), already having a nice chunk of cardboard at home, and began my attempts. I had no real clue about how to begin, but I’d heard of cardboard notch-style looms, and seen  a few pictures, so I just jumped right in. After my many failures, here’s a few tips for those who may like to try this type of weaving:

  • use a thick, study piece of cardboard (a single layer simply *will not* cut it, and it’ll bend as you try to work with it.) A thin piece of wood with pegs/notches will probably work even better, if you want an even sturdier loom, but I’m cheap, haha so I just took a large piece, folded it in thirds, and taped it tightly shut to keep it flat. True, it was harder to cut notches through multiple layers, but for just a bit of extra work, I had a reliable little loom that I’ll probably use again.
  • measure the space between the notches, and make them as close together as possible. The thickness of whatever you’re weaving will play a part in how close/far apart your notches/pegs are, but a good guideline is simply to make them as close as you can manage without bending the cardboard.
  • use yarn/thread/twine/embroidery floss/whatever you want to use that is already the thickness you want the cloth to be. A thicker gauge can make a thicker cloth, but it’ll also create a rough, homespun look. Not a bad one, but I’ll admit, the roughness of my little cloth rectangles suprised me a bit.
  • pull the yarn/thread/twine/etc as tightly as you can possibly manage. This may be uncomfortable on your fingers, but having to take breaks periodically is much better than having loose, unreliable cloth.
  • DO NOT cut the ends of whatever youre weaving off at the ends of the loom. When you loop the thread/yarn/etc, tie a good knot at the end of it, and loop it all the way through the notches, like this:

 

 Doing it this way will help your cloth have tight edges, ones that aren’t as liable to unravel as ones done other ways.

  • At this point, you weave through, over-under, however long you want, until you make your cloth the size you want. If you make it shorter than the width of the loops, all you have to do is tighten them throughout the weave, creful not to harm the weave, and cut off the excess at either end.
  • Now, it seems like the horizontal threads would be best done like the vertical ones, to make the cloth less likely to unravel on those ends, too, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that, really. So any input on that would be cool, if anyone’s reading. 🙂 I just cut it to the necessary length, leaving a tail on either end of about 2 1/2 inches.

Currently, I have 4 rectangles about the size of the soles of my feet. (2 layers thick makes for a sturdy sole, maybe?) So obviously, my shoes aren’t quite finished. I’ll keep you apprised though. 😀