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Kaleidoscope of Krafts

For your reading convenients below you will find all the kaleidoscope of krafts published in 2015

March 2015

Hi all, For my first article, I'd like to share with you a bit of the history of origami, or as it is also often called the art of paper folding, and, at the end of the article, I invite you to try out folding a little something for yourself...

The exact origin of the art of origami is unknown, but it is thought to have originated within either Japan or China and it is probably almost as old as paper itself. When one thinks of Origami, the crane is perhaps the most well-known symbol of this art of paper folding. The crane has long been a symbol in Asian cultures representing good health, longevity, truth and fidelity. The regal, upright carriage of these elegant birds reflects their dignified status as the noble birds most worthy of serving as messengers to the ancient immortals.

For many centuries origami instructions were passed on by oral tradition. The oldest known written document about Japanese origami, the Senbazuru Orikata ("How to Fold One Thousand Cranes"), surfaced in 1797. Over time, origami also spread to Europe and South America, and later, to the rest of the world.

In more recent times, the origami crane has also become a symbol of hope, love, perseverance and world peace. The modern tale of the 1000 cranes tells how a Japanese girl called Sadako Sasaki became famous as she attempted to fold 1,000 cranes. When Sadako was only two years old, she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, towards the end of the Second World War. As she grew up, she developed leukemia. Suffering from the deadly disease, she learned the ancient tradition about the 1,000 paper cranes. Inspired to follow the legend, Sadako folded paper cranes in her hospital bed. A popular version of the tale is that Sadako folded 644 cranes before she died at the age of twelve in 1955; her classmates then continued folding cranes in honor of their friend. She was buried with a wreath of 1,000 cranes to honor her dream. While her effort could not extend her life, a granite statue of Sadako was subsequently erected in the Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan. It depicts a girl standing with her hands outstretched, a paper crane flying from her fingertips. Every year the statue is adorned with thousands of wreaths of origami cranes. Her story stands as an inspiration to all, and a testament to the continued power of origami and the paper crane as a compelling symbol for hope, love, honor, and peace. The tale of Sadako has been dramatized in many books and movies. In one version, Sadako wrote a haiku that translates into English as: "I shall write peace upon your wings, and you shall fly around the world so that children will no longer have to die this way ..."

I established the Accessible Origami Project in 2009 after becoming aware that, like with many things on-line, origami instructions are often presented in formats that are, for the most part, inaccessible for blind and visually impaired people. You can read more about how the project came about at http://accessibleartsandcrafts.blogspot.com. Presently, the project has available free text-only instructions for some 40 models in two volumes. These instructions have been developed especially for use by blind and visually impaired people and contain no diagrams, pictures or any other visual materials. My sincere gratitude goes to everyone who has helped me fulfil my dream of creating this project. It is my hope that it will be to the benefit of many visually impaired adults and children all over the world. For me, this is an ongoing project, since, there are, as yet, very little access for blind crafters to this art, while there are more models than one could ever imagine, and more being added by talented people all over the world on a daily basis.

There are many different types of origami. Just looking at the kinds of materials that have been used thus far illustrates how creative people can be and how versatile origami in general can be. Objects, large and small, have been folded from newspaper, old magazine pages, printer paper, candy wrappers, teabags, sticky notes, foil, dollar bills, business cards, serviettes, towels, and the list goes on. A model could be folded from one piece of paper, or in modular origami, two pieces may be folded to slot together like the pieces of a puzzle, or structures have been folded from thousands of pieces of similarly folded units.

Origami and its related concepts have been used in almost all areas of life, including education, physical therapy, math and science, arts and crafts, socially and politically, and by individuals all over the world just for fun and to create useful and beautiful objects. One such useful object is a mini file folder, created from one piece of rectangular copy or printer paper that appears in Accessible Origami Volume 1 as MDL0019. I have included the instructions for creating this easy model below.

Paper to be used: Rectangular, copy or printer paper will work well
Folding level: Easy/Beginner
Steps: 11
Description:
This is a small, simple wallet or folder with two or four exterior and one large or four small interior pockets. On the inside of the folder is another secure pocket with a horizontal opening.

Remarks:
This wallet or folder can be used to hold small receipts, other documents, photos, notes or coins, or any other small pieces of paper or flat objects. Fold one for yourself or use decorative paper to make one as a surprise gift for someone else For visually impaired people, the two small triangular corners that have been formed at the bottom left and/or right edge of the model can be used for orientation purposes. To distinguish between two different bank or credit cards, allocate a pocket to each card. Take note of the position of the small folded triangle at the bottom of the mini folder. Take care to always return the removed card to its allotted pocket. Alternatively, unfold the folder and mark in braille or with some other tactile marking at or near the corners just mentioned. If using two-sided origami paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.

Step 1
Place a rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface, with the short edges at the left and right and the long edges facing top and bottom.
Step 2
Fold the left edge over to meet the right edge. Crease and unfold.
Step 3
Fold both the left and right edges in to meet at the vertical crease line you have just folded. Crease well and unfold.
Step 4
Fold the two top corners downwards toward the center, aligning the edges with the vertical crease lines you folded in Step 3. Crease well and leave folded.
Step 5
Fold the two bottom corners upwards toward the center, aligning the edges with the vertical crease lines you folded in Step 3. Crease well and leave folded.
Step 6
Bring the left edge of the model over to meet the vertical center crease line. Crease and leave folded.
Step 7
Bring the right edge of the model over to meet the vertical center crease line. Crease and leave folded. There should now be two triangular shapes, one at the top of the model and one at the bottom. Turn the model over.
Step 8
Bring the top edge of the model down toward the bottom edge until the triangular shape created in Step 4 is entirely visible. Crease and leave folded to create a rectangular flap.
Step 9
Bring the bottom edge of the model up toward the top edge until it hits a point midway between the top and bottom of the flap created in Step 5. Crease and unfold.
Step 10
Bring the bottom edge up toward the top of the model once again. This time tuck the bottom edge into the folds of the rectangular flap created in Step 8. Press flat.
Step 11
Bring the left edge of the model over to meet the right edge. Crease and leave folded.
You have just finished your very own mini folder or wallet.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_origami http://1000cranes.com

April 2015

SIMPLE MACRAME BRACELET Rope knotting has no doubt been used for thousands of years as a method for creating and decorating different objects, as well as for other practical purposes. To some, macramé might perhaps be considered as being more decorative than practical, although the objects that are created can be very useful as well.

The art of macrame was introduced into England at the court of Mary II in the late 17th century. It became quite popular during the Victorian era, when most homes were adorned by this craft.

Even before this time, for hundreds of years, sailors had made macramé objects in off hours while at sea, and sold or bartered them when they landed, thus spreading the art to places like China and the New World. Nineteenth-century British and American sailors made hammocks, bell fringes, and belts from macramé. They called the process "square knotting" after the knot they used most frequently. Sailors also called macramé "McNamara's Lace".

Though the craze for macramé faded, during the first half of the 20th century, it regained popularity during the 1970s as a means to make household items like wall hangings, bedspreads, curtains, plant hangers and accessories such as belts, necklaces and fringe for other garments.

By the early 1980s macramé had again begun to fall out of fashion as a decoration trend, but it has resurfaced as a popular craft from time to time, as is the case with many modern hand-made and fashion trends.

Other interesting and useful things that may be created using macrame techniques include bags and purses, photo frames, hammocks, curtain ties, wind chimes, and more.
Materials used in macramé include cords made of cotton twine, linen, hemp, jute, leather, yarn, or a myriad of modern man-made fibers, which, today come in many different shades and colors, making it possible to create brightly colored, decorative and useful modern items.
Other supplies for this craft include some kind of project board, pins, tape or glue to prevent ends from fraying, rings, dowels as well as embellishments such as beads, gem stones, shells, charms, pendants and the like.
For this month I have chosen a fairly simple macrame design. Although we will be making a bracelet, a matching necklace can be created by simply making a longer version of the same design. Similarly, the design could be used to make a strap for a handbag, a dog collar, a belt, and more.
I call this design the Twist and Turn bracelet. It is a variation on a well-known design many of us might know from our younger days, called the cobra stitch bracelet.
Materials you will need: Any kind of cord, scissors, measuring tape, safety pins, a clipboard, tape or glue to stop ends from fraying, but at the minimum cords, safety pins and scissors will do. If not using a clip board, tie all the cords together in an overhand knot and push a safety pin through this knot, and then secure it to a pillow.
Using two different colors for this bracelet will create a nice effect. It is not really necessary for this design, but if preferred, cut your cords and mark the two colors in some way, by e.g. placing a knot or tape at the bottom of the cords to create a difference between the two colors.
For this project, you will need 4 cords each at least 1 and a half meters or around 5 feet long.
Directions:
Step 1: Start by tying all 4 cords together using an overhand knot. Pull tight and leave enough cord if you'd like for the end to dangle.
Step 2: Divide your cords so you have two filler cords in the center and the two working cords on the left and right. If using two colors, group your cords so the two cords on the left is one color and the two on the right another.
Step 3: Make a half square knot by doing the following: Take the left cord and bring it over the filler cords and then under the right cord. Then, take the right cord, bring it under the filler cords and pull it through the loop on the left. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. This forms a half knot.
Step 4: Always starting from the left-hand side, make 7 more half knots. Your cords will start to twist in a spiral formation.
Step 5: Make a half square knot in the opposite direction by doing the following: Take the right cord and bring it over the filler cords and then under the left cord. Then, take the left cord, bring it under the filler cords and pull it through the loop on the right. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. You have now completed another half knot, but it is facing in the opposite direction from the 8 you have already completed.
Step 6: Now, always starting from the right-hand side, make 7 more half knots. Your cords will start to twist in the opposite direction from your first sennet of 8 knots.
Step 7: Repeat the pattern by making 8 half knots from the left-hand side and then 8 half knots from the right until your bracelet reaches the desired length.
Step 8: End off with two half knots from the left, leave a small space and then make two half knots from the right. This will create an opening for the other end of your bracelet to fit through.
Step 9: Use a tight overhand knot to tie the last knot to secure. Cut off and glue ends if necessary.
I hope you will enjoy trying out this month's project. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any help or have feedback.
Until next time...

May 2015

Folded Card for Mother's Day

The custom of honoring mothers goes back at least as far as 17th-century England, which celebrated (and still celebrates) Mothering Sunday. Some sources state that Mother's Day in the United States originated in 1872 with Julia Ward Howe, a writer, abolitionist, and suffragist who wrote the words to "Battle Hymn of the Republic".

But, apparently, the holiday has more somber roots:

According to an article appearing in National Geographic last year, called "Mother's Day Turns 100: Its Surprisingly Dark History", it all started in the 1850s for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace after the U.S. civil war. But when the holiday went commercial during the early 20th century, its greatest champion, Anna Jarvis, gave everything to fight it, dying penniless and broken in a sanitarium.

Anna Jarvis never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother's Day observances in 1908. On May 10 of that year, families gathered at events in Jarvis's hometown of Grafton, West Virginia at a church now renamed the International Mother's Day Shrine as well as in Philadelphia, where Jarvis lived at the time, and in several other cities. Largely through Jarvis's efforts, Mother's Day came to be observed in a growing number of cities and states until U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914 for the holiday.

But Jarvis's success soon turned to failure, at least in her own eyes. To her it wasn't about celebrating all mothers by buying gifts or using the day to profit from selling cards or as an opportunity to collect funds for charities. She thought of it as a day to connect with or remember one's own mother on a personal level. She spent the latter part of her life trying to fight against what she saw as the over-commercialization of the day. Jarvis's fervent attempts to reform Mother's Day continued until at least the early 1940s. In 1948 she died at 84 in Philadelphia's Marshall Square Sanitarium.

It was only a matter of time before the celebration spread to many other countries around the world, continuing the trend of commercialization that was set in the early 20th century.

Presenting mums with flowers, gifts and cards have become customary around the world. No matter for which occasion it may be, According to the site, greetingcard.org paper cards remain popular. They state: "The tradition of giving greeting cards as a meaningful expression of personal affection for another person is still being deeply ingrained in today’s youth, and this tradition will likely continue as they become adults and become responsible for managing their own important relationships".

So, if you would like to give a real, personal, hand-made paper card for this coming Mothers' Day, why not try your hand at the folded card described below?

All you will need is some colored construction paper or any kind of decorative or patterned paper, a clean, hard, flat surface to fold, and some quiet time so you can focus on the task at hand.
To make your card, do the following:
If using two-sided paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.
The folded front part of the card will be patterned or colored while the single back layer will be plain or white.
Step 1: Place a rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface, with the short edges at the top and bottom and the long edges at the left and right.
Step 2: Fold the left edge over to meet the right edge. Crease and unfold.
Step 3: Fold the top left corner downwards toward the center, aligning the top edge with the vertical crease line you folded in Step 2. Crease well and leave folded.
Step 4: Fold the bottom left corner upwards toward the center, aligning the bottom edge with the vertical crease line you folded in Step 2. Crease well and leave folded. The right-hand side of your paper will remain unfolded while the left-hand side will have a straight center part, with the top and bottom corners of the paper sloping inwards.
Step 5: Fold the bottom edge of the model upwards to meet the top edge. Crease and leave folded. At this point, the right half of the model will have a rectangular shape, while the left half will resemble a triangle, sloping down sharply to the left, almost reaching the bottom left corner of the middle.
Step 6: Now, locate the small, vertical part at the left bottom corner of the model and fold it straight over to meet the right edge of the paper. Crease well along the left edge of the paper and leave folded. Notice that your card has now been folded into quarters, thus you will have 4 layers of paper: the back of the card will be made up of two layers with a normal 90 degree square top right corner; the front of the card will comprise two folded layers lying at an angle running from the top left corner of the card to a point just above its right bottom corner.
Step 7: To lock the card in place, grasp the top right corner of the paper, top layer only, and fold it downwards and to the left so as to tuck it in between the two diagonal layers forming the front of your card. Leave folded.
If the 4 layers were labeled from front to back as A, B, C, D, you will have tucked c in between a and b.
You will end up with a simple rectangular model with two pockets. One large rectangular pocket at the back and a smaller, more or less triangular pocket in the front.
Apart from being a gift for Mother's Day, this pocket card can also be used in scrap books, on top of gifts, for enclosing smaller cards, notes, coupons or vouchers, money, any small, flat object.
The model is quite secure as long as you do not fill it with things that are heavy or bulky.
Alternatively, a note can simply be folded into this model and decorated for a quick children's project or a personal touch.

Making origami accessible to visually impaired crafters through text instructions. Compiled by Lindy van der Merwe, December 2013 Revised: April 2015 Sources:

National Geographic
Greetingcard.org
Accessible arts and crafts

June 2015

Father's Day is celebrated in many countries during the month of June, so for this issue I have included two easy children's crafts.

Doing crafts and making simple objects from scratch should be a part of all children's lives. By being open-minded and thinking creatively we can do a lot as parents and grandparents to teach children about the joy and fulfilment that crafting can bring.

Apart from the treasured items that may be created, crafting together with children also provides the opportunity to build relationships and create precious memories, while teaching basic skills like measuring, sorting, cutting and more. Making cards and gifts for various occasions also serve to make children aware of important traditions within their society and can help foster cultural awareness and sensitivity.

Often, we tend to think of arts and crafts as something visual, when, in fact, drawing and coloring is only one of many ways in which children may learn to be creative. For instance, using paper as the primary medium, texture and definition can be created by folding, cutting, weaving, tearing and combining other materials like yarn, glue, wood, leaves, glitter, and many more, to create arts and crafts that can be enjoyed by all, including adults and children with visual or other sensory impairments.

There are so many ways in which we could challenge ourselves to enhance and expand craft projects so that they could be enjoyed and appreciated by someone who cannot see a picture.

The first project for this month is an example in point. The shirt card described below is folded from a single sheet of rectangular paper. Apart from the fact that the card should be instantly recognisable by touch, because of its sleeves and collar, it can also be embellished to be even more tactile by adding, for instance, small buttons down the front or creating a bow tie from a piece of paper or ribbon. Another idea is to add small stickers to the shirt or to simply color the shirt in by making some random dots or stripes on the folded card, for which no sight is needed. Alternatively, use colored construction paper to match the theme or occasion, or start off folding with dotted or striped decorative paper.

If using two-sided origami paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.
Step 1: Place a rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface, with the short edges at the top and bottom and the long edges facing left and right.
Step 2: Fold the left edge over to meet the right edge to create a vertical center crease. Crease and unfold.
Step 3: Now fold the left and right edges to meet in the center. Crease and leave folded. You will have a rectangular piece of paper with two flaps meeting each other along the entire vertical center line of the model.
Step 4: Grasp the top left flap that is lying along the vertical center of the model and fold it to the left and a little downwards at an angle to form your first sleeve. Press flat. The exact angle of this fold is not critical, as long as you fold out the right sleeve at more or less the same angle.
Step 5: Repeat with the right flap. Press flat. Your sleeves have now been formed.
Step 6: Rotate the model 180 degrees so that the sleeves are now nearest you. You will be working on the shoulders and collar of your shirt next.
Step 7: To make the collar, fold down a small corner of the left and right flaps that are lying along the vertical center and press flat. These flaps should be fairly small in relation to the sleeves of your shirt.
Step 8: If preferred, shape the shoulders of your shirt by using a mountain crease to fold the top, outer corners of your model to the back. This makes the shoulder area a little rounder.
Step 9: Lastly, fold the rectangle in half by bringing the bottom edge of the model upwards, tucking this edge under the collar area of your shirt. After this fold, make a strong horizontal crease at the bottom edge of the paper to complete your origami shirt and decorate as preferred.

The second craft is an ice-cream stick coaster which I have previously made with my children. It was fairly easy to make and it can last for a long time.

You will need:
Around 20 to 30 ice-cream sticks - colored or plain (can be bought from most craft and stationery stores)
Craft glue
One piece of cardboard, construction paper or felt, about 4 inches or 10 cm square (optional)
Embellishment (optional)
Notes:

The felt or paper square mentioned above is optional. The craft can be done without having the felt or paper square base, but using a base not only looks better and is more durable, but it also serves as a guide when placing down your ice-cream sticks, especially if you are doing the craft for the first time. If you do not use a base, you will have to keep your first layer of ice-cream sticks in place with one hand while placing down and gluing the second layer. I have found that this can be quite difficult to do, since the first layer of ice-cream sticks tend to shift around a lot until the second layer is glued into place, hence the suggestion of using a base to start off with. The straight edges of the base provides a defined area for you to work within, ensuring that your first layer of sticks are placed straight and can be glued into place before starting the second layer.

Step 1: I usually ask for assistance with cutting a true square from construction paper, cardboard or felt. You could use an existing coaster or any square object that is around 4 inches (10 cm) square as a template.
Step 2: This is quite a messy craft, so place your square on a sheet of newspaper, foil, wax paper, or similar to enable you to clean up easily after your project has been completed.
Step 3: Starting from the left, glue ice-cream sticks vertically in a row next to each other onto your square so it is covered as far as possible. Ice-cream sticks come in various sizes, so you might need more or less sticks to cover your square. It is fine if the sticks are slightly longer than your square at the top and bottom. If you find the sticks are too short, you might have to cut your square a little smaller.
Step 4: Check that all your ice-cream sticks are lying straight and as close to each other as possible. You might sometimes still be able to make an adjustment here and there before the glue has set. If you are happy, wait a few minutes for the first layer to dry.
Step 5: Starting from the top, glue on the second layer of sticks but this time, placing them in a horizontal position, so they cover the layer of sticks that was created in Step 3. It is likely that you will use the same amount of sticks for the two layers, so if you used 10 sticks to cover your square from left to right, the same amount will cover the square from top to bottom.
Step 6: Repeat Step 4, adjusting if possible and wait for the glue to dry properly.
Step 7: Finish off and decorate your coaster as preferred. To finish, wipe off excess glue with a damp cloth. If the sides of the coaster needs to be cut or trimmed, you can do it at this point or ask for assistance with this step if you feel you might not cut straight or neatly enough.
Decorate the coaster by coloring or painting the ice-cream sticks if they are plain. Use self-hardening clay to make a frame around the coaster or make a small object like a flat flower or an animal to stick onto one of the corners of the coaster.
Cover the coaster with contact paper or paint with craft varnish or clear nail polish for extra durability and a nice shine.
Until next time, best wishes and happy crafting!

July 2015

Knitted Necklaces
For this month's craft, I am focusing on knitting.

It is only one of many yarn crafts and there are a myriad of different ways of knitting, including knitting with needles, finger knitting, arm knitting, loom knitting, machine knitting, and more.

Many different types of yarns are available today - some made from natural fibers and others that have been processed and manufactured using various methods.

Apart from the various traditional brands of yarn, novelty yarns have become more widely available in recent years. Novelty yarns are often thin strands of yarn that have been woven together or fibers that have been processed so it feels like fringe, tassels, lace, fleece, etc. with some having a thick, coarse texture and others a soft, fluffy feel to the finished project. These types of yarns can sometimes have some metallic threads in them, lending a shimmering quality to the finished item and colors are often combined so that, even if the item is knitted in a simple stitch pattern, the end result looks beautiful because of the way the colors have been incorporated into the yarn strands.

The yarns could be very thin, with some fluffy pieces woven into the strands, or some yarns look like flat pieces of ribbon, producing a twirly, piece of knitting that work up very quickly and looks great as fluffy scarves.

The fiber you use can make all the difference to how your finished item will come out. For instance, for baby booties you might want to use some soft, fluffy yarn, while, for a necklace or bracelet, choose some silk or cotton to knit with.

While doing some research for this article, I came across the story of Davey Hulse. He is a blind knitter who has written a book called "The Touch of Yarn". Hulse was looking for something to keep his hands busy, a hobby he could enjoy and do independently. He decided to try out knitting, but found he was struggling as a blind beginner, having to make sense of instructions that were often unclear, or accompanied by pictures or diagrams.

An article published in 2010 on the Blindskills, Inc. website explains: "Hulse became so frustrated by the learning challenges with those inadequate instructions that he nearly gave in to the temptation to throw those big needles and twisted balls of yarn into the trash and walk away. But he persisted, eventually progressing to the point where he could keep that pledge to write it all down." Hulse has been blind since age 7, but he has been able to learn to knit as an adult. It once again reminded me that we are never too old to learn something new.

So, even if you only have basic knitting skills, this month's project may be worth trying, and if you have not knitted before, you can be assured that knitting is something that can be done with great success by people who are blind or have low vision, even if you did not learn to knit at a young age.

I have found that a lot of people get frustrated with a craft like knitting because they attempt projects that take too long to complete. So, I have gone for a project that is quick and easy, but the end result is really stunning - a simple necklace using ordinary knitting needles.

This project will give you some practice using the knit and purl stitch. Be sure that your yarn is nearest you when doing the purl stitch and farthest away from you when doing the knit stitch. Always check your needles before starting a new row. There should only be two stitches on your needle at all times. If you notice three stitches, it is likely that your yarn has twisted around your needle, so first remove all extra loose yarn before proceeding. For this knitted necklace, I suggest choosing soft cotton or satin cord or a novelty yarn that you think, will make a nice necklace.

Use something from your yarn stash, or if you are a beginner, go for yarn that is of a medium thickness.
Choose medium-sized needles and one or two or three matching colors. If using more than one color, treat the three strands as one by knotting them together before starting to knit. Make sure that your skeins can move freely and that they do not tangle when you pull on the working yarn.

The instructions below have been adapted from a free pattern fromLion Brand yarn

This site is very accessible, with lots of free patterns and help on learning to knit. Their pattern is called the "Two Stitch Knit Necklace", but by varying the stitches and techniques, the concept described could be used to create many different jewelry items such as necklaces and bracelets.
Use one of the following easy variations to make your necklace.
Knitted Necklace - Variation 1
You will need:
Needles, Yarn, Scissors
Directions
Leaving a 4 inch (10 cm) tail, cast on 2 stitches.
Row 1: Slip 1, knit 1.
Row 2: Slip 1, purl 1.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 40 rows.
Measure the length of your knitted piece and add more rows if preferred.
Cast off, knot and cut yarn, leaving a 4 inch (10 cm) tail.
Knot tails together. Cut tail and glue ends or leave tail as is.
Gently twist necklace in one direction, pulling slightly as you go. This will cause your necklace to form an attractive twist!

Knitted Necklace - Variation 2
You will need:
Needles, Yarn, Scissors
Directions
Leaving a 4 inch (10 cm) tail, cast on 2 stitches.
Rows 1 and 2: Knit.
Rows 3 and 4: Purl.
Repeat rows 1 to 4 until you have 40 rows.
Measure the length of your knitted piece and add more rows if preferred.
Cast off, knot and cut yarn, leaving a 4 inch (10 cm) tail.
Knot tails together. Cut tail and glue ends or leave tail as is.
Gently twist necklace in one direction, pulling slightly as you go. This will cause your necklace to form an attractive twist!

Enjoy and please contact me if you have any tricks, tips or information for other blind crafters to share, lindy at The Blind Perspective

August 2015

For this month, we will be folding a CD or DVD case or cover from one sheet of rectangular paper without using glue.

One of the best sites for info on everything origami is at http://www.origami-resource-center.com.

It has a lot of info about the different types of origami that is out there and from the site you can follow links to a lot of other origami sites across the Internet.

Here is what it says on the page listing various CD covers. "CD covers are a necessity for those who buy CDs in bulk. Instead of spending more money on CD sleeves and jewel cases, why not make your own CD covers? The sleeves can be folded from letter-size paper or from A4- paper. Some of the designs are easy to fold and make very functional CD covers. These take a bit of time to make but are beautiful and certainly one-of-a-kind. Fold them for yourself or fold them for a friend. Use recycled paper or decorative paper. Either way, it's a good thing. ... "

The cover we will be folding is loosely based on a design called the Connelly CD case, described at http://bbq.sourceforge.net/conncase/.

At the top of the page, it says: "The Connelly Case - Low Cost Alternative To CD Jewel Cases.” From the above, it seems making your own CD or DVD sleeves might not only be fun, but you could be saving and recycling in the process as well. I have made a few changes to the folding method, hence I am saying that the cover is only based on the Connelly case, but I think that the end result is fairly close to what is described on the page mentioned above.

So, if you have your CD and some rectangular paper ready, we will get started.
Description: This is a simple, flat, CD case or cover. Once folded, it will enclose a standard CD on both sides. It is fairly secure. It closes by sliding a smaller flap into the large back flap of the CD case.
Unlike with some other CD cover models, I love the fact that this cover has a closing flap, and that it is not too difficult to open and close.
This CD case is a good alternative to plastic CD cases or sleeves, both in terms of saving cost and saving space. It is, of course, not as durable as plastic cases or sleeves, but it will keep your CDs safe on a temporary basis and it can be embellished and personalized to present a special CD to a special person in your life.
Furthermore, paper is an excellent surface to write on in print or in braille, thus making it a practical choice to help with the identification and organization of your collection. You could write on a print or braille sticker before placing it onto the CD case.
This model is also an excellent example of a folded paper pocket or pouch. It can be used in scrap books, on top of gifts, for enclosing cards, notes, money, photos, any small, flat object. The model is quite secure as long as you do not fill it with things that are heavy or bulky. It is a good option to teach to children. After folding the model, it can be marked and/or decorated as part of any occasion or just for fun.
If using two-sided paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.
Step 1: Place a rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface, with the short edges at the top and bottom and the long edges at the left and right, or in the portrait orientation.
Step 2: Place your CD down on your paper, about an inch from the bottom edge and at the vertical center, meaning there should be the same amount of paper open to the left and right of the CD. Try to hold the CD in place as best as you can for the next step.
Step 3: Working with the inch of paper you have open at the bottom of your sheet, fold over the entire bottom edge of the paper, so it covers some of the bottom part of the CD. Crease well along the bottom edge of the paper and leave folded. Except for the CD, you do not have any line to guide you here, but just do the best you can, checking your fold on both sides as far as possible. After practicing this fold a few times you will be able to make a nice, straight bottom fold. What I sometimes do is to sort of roll the paper over and only make a light fold at the vertical center of the sheet. I then use both hands to measure the fold on the sides of the paper, maneuvering the paper until I think that it is straight. Then I run my fingers along the folded edge in a swift motion to gauge how straight the fold might be, making small adjustments if necessary. Only when I am satisfied with my fold do I press down firmly to make the final crease. This technique is not recommended for producing neat, crisp folds, but it works very well for when you are still practicing to fold a model.
Step 4: Next, fold the entire long, left edge of the paper in over the CD, using the same technique as in the previous step. Try to make the fold so the CD has some space to move within the case. This will make it easier to remove and place back in the cover once it has been completed.
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 with the right long edge of the paper, once again folding it in, but leaving a little space for the CD to move within the CD case. Your CD will now be enclosed by narrow bands or folds on three sides.
Step 6: Using the already folded sides and the CD itself as a guide, fold down the top edge of the paper as far as it will go so it now covers your CD entirely. Crease well along the top edge of the paper and leave folded. The last two steps that follow, are important, because, in my view, they turn this model into an actual usable object, as opposed to just folding a piece of paper over a CD.
Step 7: Turn over the CD case like turning the page of a book. You will notice that a small flap has formed at the bottom of the CD cover. Fold this small flap up as far as it will go and crease well along the bottom edge of the paper.
Step 8: Lastly, unfold the small flap again and tuck it into the large flap that is forming the back of the CD case to close your CD cover. To open, turn the case so that the small flap is at the top and back of your CD cover. Hold the CD case lightly in the palm of your hand near its bottom. Open the small top flap and pull out the CD and press the case closed again.

If your finished cover is not to your liking, try to fold another now that you know the sequence of steps. Once you have mastered the basic folding sequence, you will be able to concentrate on making your folds neat and crisp, which will improve how the finished cover will look.

If you would like to make a lot of covers or you would like to fold this design on a regular basis, consider having someone cut a template for you out of card board. The template should be cut so it is just slightly larger than a CD with straight sides. In this way you will be able to make straight folds, especially for the first steps of the project and your CD cover will end up the same size each time.

September 2015

For this month's kaleidoscope of crafts, I am sharing two easy bookmark paper crafts, for those who still like to read physical books or who know someone who would appreciate such a small hand-made gift.

Bookmarks are great fun to make and decorate for adults and kids alike. It is a wonderful party activity or an easy craft for a rainy afternoon. It is not only a no-mess craft, but it is also extremely useful to make for oneself or as gifts for family and friends. Bookmarks come in many shapes and sizes, from simple paper projects to intricate knitted or crochet designs.

The first bookmark craft is an origami fold from a rectangular sheet of legal, copy or printer paper, or you could use any decorative paper such as gift wrap, stationery sheets, scrapbook paper, that is cut into a rectangle.

I call this model a bulky bookmark, mainly because it forms a large, sturdy triangle that is excellent to use with hard cover, large print or braille books. But by using smaller pieces of paper, one could create bookmarks to fit smaller book formats. These bookmarks are easy to find and identify in a book and do not slip off pages easily.

Folded bookmarks can also be used by visually impaired people to help with the orientation of print pages. For instance, after documents have been sorted, place a bookmark at the top left corner of pages that have to be filed.

If using two-sided origami paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.
Step 1: Place a rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface, with the short edges at the top and bottom and the long edges facing left and right.
Step 2: Fold the top right corner of the paper down and to the left until you can feel that the two layers of paper lay on top of each other on the left-hand side. Follow the two layers of paper upwards to make sure they line up as closely as possible until you find the narrow, top point of the paper. While holding the two layers in this position, make a sharp crease, running your finger from the top left corner down and to the right to create a large triangle.
Step 3: Fold the triangle you just created in half by grasping the top left corner and folding it down and to the right. Crease well on both sides to form a smaller triangle. Notice that at the bottom of your folded paper, there is a rectangular piece, which has not been folded.
Step 4: Fold both bottom corners of this rectangular part upwards and inwards so they just touch the bottom horizontal edge of the layered triangle you have already folded. Crease well and leave folded. You will now have a flap with two small triangular corners at the bottom of the model and, just above it, a large, thick triangular pocket.
Step 5: Fold the bottom flap up and over on itself and make a strong horizontal crease. Unfold.
Step 6: Lastly, tuck the bottom flap with the two smaller triangles into the large triangular pocket. It should slide in securely all the way to form a sturdy bookmark. Use the same pocket to slide over the corner of a page.

The second bookmark is a kirigami craft - involving folding and then cutting paper. If you are not that confident with a pair of scissors, don't worry. This craft does not require that you cut in a straight line - in fact, you are free to cut whichever shapes you like or can manage.

For this craft you will need: - a piece of colored construction paper or thin cardboard
- small, sharp scissors
- glue

To make your bookmark:
Step 1: Place a piece of copy or printer paper down in the portrait orientation or with the short sides top and bottom.
Step 2: Fold the left edge over to meet the right edge and crease well. Unfold.
Step 3: Fold both the left and right edges into the center of the page and crease well. Keep folded.
Step 4: Turn the page over, like turning the page of a book.
Step 5: Fold the left edge over to meet the right edge again so you have a long strip of paper. Keep your strip with the short sides at the top and bottom for the next steps. You will be making cuts along the long sides of the strip.
Step 6: Take your scissors and cut various shapes through all 4 layers along the right edge of the paper. Decide on one shape, e.g. semi-circles or triangles or squares, or a combination of different shapes. Start at the end of the paper nearest you, cut a shape and then leave a space before cutting the next shape. Try not to cut too deep into the paper, but stay near the side of the edge you are cutting. You can simply make straight or diagonal cuts into the edges without removing paper, but the patterns will be much more pronounced if you cut actual shapes out of the side of the paper.
Step 7: Now, on the left side of the paper, fold the raw edges of the paper away to the right, before cutting. Cut some more shapes on the closed, left side of the paper. You will be cutting through 2 layers only this time. Once again, try not to cut too deep so you do not cut into the shapes you have already made. Use the same shapes you have cut previously or try something different for this side of the paper.
Step 8: Open your bookmark! Be careful when you separate the layers of paper so they do not tare. You will notice that there are symmetrical cuts along the length of the bookmark. The two sides will have similar cuts while the center will look more or less different, depending on the cuts you made in Step 6 and 7.
Step 9: Fold your colored construction paper into a long strip. It should be half the width of your white paper. Lay the cut paper over the colored strip and fold it to the back to cover the colored strip completely. Secure at the back with glue.
Step 10: Press with your fingers on the front of the paper to smooth out all the lines and cuts you have made. You should be able to appreciate the symmetrical patterns you have created. The shapes are also pleasing to the eye because the color of the construction paper will be visible through the decorative cuts in the white paper.
Step 11: If preferred, punch a hole at the top or bottom of your bookmark. Fold a ribbon in half and make a loop. Push the loop through the hole and bring the two loose points of the ribbon through the loop to make a larks head knot.
Happy crafting until next time.

October 2015

The craft I would like to share for this month is lots of fun and can be done with only your fingers and some yarn; no other tools needed.

Finger knitting is a classic children's craft, since it is easy to teach and it produces quick results.
However, even if you have never done finger knitting, it is easy to learn and a great craft to try for adults as well.
Once you have the technique down, you have the option of passing on this skill to children, grandchildren, friends and family. From an educational point of view, young children will learn to follow a sequence and the craft is sure to help with the development of small motor movement and coordination. They might also love to create something hand-made for someone else and your thoughtful teaching might start them off on a path of many joyful hours of crafting.

Use any kind of yarn for this craft. Combine matching or contrasting strands of yarn or use thin yarn and plait or tie finger knitted pieces together.

Basic Finger Knitting Instructions:
Step 1: Hold your non-dominant hand up with your palm facing you and with your fingers splayed. Drape the end of the yarn between your thumb and index finger so it lies across the palm of the hand you are holding up. Use your thumb to anchor the yarn while you do the next step.
Step 2: Wind the yarn fairly loosely around your fingers by going behind your index finger, in front of your middle finger, behind your ring finger, and in front of and around your pinky. Continue in this zigzag pattern until you end up where you had started. You should have two loops on all four fingers. Once again drape the yarn between your thumb and forefinger and use your thumb to anchor the yarn for the next step.
Step 3: Starting from your index finger and moving to your pinky, pull the bottom loop on each finger over the top loop and off your finger so that the yarn falls to the back of your hand. After this step you can relax your thumb since you no longer have to anchor the yarn.
Step 4: Repeat winding the yarn back and forth and pulling off loops until your knitted piece is as long as you would like it to be. Give your finger knit piece a gentle tug now and then to straighten it out as it gets longer.
Step 5: To end off your knitting, with one loop on each finger, pull the first loop off your index finger and move it onto your middle finger. Then move the bottom loop on your middle finger over the top loop and let it fall to the back of your hand. Repeat this step with your ring finger and with your pinky until you only have one loop on your pinky. Then cut your yarn and pull the end of the yarn through the one remaining loop and pull it tight.
Your finger knit creation is done and ready for use.

Now, I am sure you may be asking, what one would or could do with the long piece of knitted fabric you have created? A scarf or a belt might come to mind, but there are many other projects where you could use your finger knit pieces. I share a few ideas below, but there are probably many more uses for your unique finger knit creations.

For a winter scarf, knit with one or two strands of bulky yarn. You could make fringe or pom-poms for your scarf, or leave the ends as is.
To make a headband, use 1 length of finger knitting that is long enough to be loosely wrapped around the head twice. Leave enough yarn so you can tie the ends together. Pull fairly tight before knotting the yarn since the knitting is likely to be quite stretchy.
Finger Knitted Flower: Simply form tiny loops with the finger knitting to make the petals for your flower. Continue working in a circle until the flower is filled with loopy pedals. Secure the loops with a length of yarn and tie the flower to the head band, scarf or belt with a simple knot.
Alternatively, sew or glue the flower to a pillow or other fabric piece.
To create a finger knit necklace, use 1 length of finger knitting that is long enough to be loosely wrapped around the neck twice. Tie the ends together. Arrange your necklace by folding it in half and slipping it over your head, or you might choose to have one loop longer than the other.
Write something: Use finger knit pieces to make letters and glue onto wood to make a name board for a child's room; or glue or sew to fabric to make a nice pillow case.
Make garlands in festive colors to wind around your Christmas tree or use different colors for other special occasions.
To make a place mat, wind a finger knit piece into a circle. Glue onto a round base made of wood or cardboard or stitch place mat together with yarn or thread.
Wind some colorful finger knit pieces around a plain lamp shade or glue it around an ordinary picture frame for some decorative fun.
Use finger knitting to create straps for a knitted handbag or sew to a blanket as a decorative border.

Be creative, but most of all, have lots of fun with finger knitting.

Source: If you want to read more, copy and paste the following link into your internet browser.
http://www.finecraftguild.com/finger-knitting-projects/

November 2015

For this month, I am sharing a simple project I call a "Serviette Surprise".

It is a quick and easy craft, especially for the coming festive season. It can be done for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or for any occasion to provide each guest with a special, small surprise gift.

You will need:
* Serviettes or napkins (paper or fabric; most will work except very small, thin paper serviettes)
* pipe cleaners
* small wrapped candies, chocolates or similar treats

Steps:
1. Place the items in three piles on a clean working surface so you can reach them easily. Organization is key when doing crafts - even more so when you are blind or visually impaired.
2. Place the first serviette flat on the table and place a few candies in a pile in its center. Beforehand, decide on, for instance, 3 or 4 candies, for the sake of uniformity and equality.
3. Gather all 4 corners of the serviette and keep together with one hand.
4. With the other hand, tie a pipe cleaner around your serviette surprise, just above the bundle that has been formed. Simply twist the points of the ties together, or make a loose bow.
5. Arrange the pipe cleaner and loose top points of your serviette surprise so it looks neat and attractive.
6. Optional: Punch holes at one corner of place name or thank you cards and, using the pipe cleaners, tie to each serviette surprise.

You might want to choose colors to match the occasion you are celebrating. For instance, red and white for Valentine's Day, or green, red, gold or silver for Christmas.

You could combine two serviettes to make each surprise even more attractive. The serviette placed down first will show on the outside, covering the little bundle of candies, but because you are tying the two serviettes together both colors will show above where you have placed your pipe cleaner.

You could add a small gift or trinket to the candies, or tie some sprigs or flowers from your garden to your surprise to make it extra special. Or, hide a joke or a thoughtful wish in each surprise or a number to be submitted for a lucky draw at the end of the evening.

What I like about this simple craft is that it can be done with little mess, and it does not involve much preparation. It can be done at home by one or two people, but it also works well in a group setting. Children simply love this little project. It provides a perfect opportunity to teach them about concepts like counting, sequencing and organization, fine motor skills, team work, color matching and recognition and more, while they are having lots of fun.

Very young children or adults with fine motor impairments may need some help, especially with gathering and tying.
* Consider doing this activity in pairs since it would be much easier, especially if some group members will need help.
* One person could hold the serviette while the other does the twisting or tying of the pipe cleaners.

These little bundles can also be tied to a bedroom door or to your Christmas tree to add extra Christmas fun! I am sure there are many more elaborate variations of this craft, but keeping it simple ensures that it is easy for all to do.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, I'd love to hear from you!

December 2015

month I am returning to origami, sharing with you a paper folding project that could be both fun and useful for the festive season, including a technique for making gift wrapping just a little easier.

Actually, by following the instructions below, you could make two different objects to use in different ways by simply varying the type and size of paper you use. You might not think it likely that one could create a hat and use it as a box, or the other way around, but here is where the magic of origami comes in.

If you would like to have some fun with the kids around Christmas, why not find some sheets of pretty gift wrap for each child, although there is no reason why adult family members could not also participate. Try bright or metallic colours like gold, silver, red, green and dark blue. If it will be a large gathering, try to look for cheap gift wrap to save on costs. Alternatively, recycle newspaper by letting children paint the sheets using their favorite colours. To make wearable hats, you will need squares that are cut from at least the size of newspaper sheets or larger.

To make things easier it might be a good idea to have the squares cut before the time. If you don't feel up to the task, consider enlisting the help of a family member or friend. Line up a few sheets on top of each other and place them down with the short edges at the top and bottom. Fold the top corner down and to the right until the top edge of the sheet lines up perfectly with the right edge of the paper. Make a strong crease along the diagonal edge you have created. You will now have a folded triangle at the top and a single, rectangular piece of paper at the bottom. Cut off the rectangular piece and open the triangle to reveal a perfect square. Alternatively, you could fold the bottom piece back and forth along the base of your folded triangle or use a wet cloth to weaken the paper. Then, placing the paper down so the triangle is on the left and the rectangle towards the right, tare the paper with a firm, but controlled, motion. This method might take some practice but it can be used very successfully by those of us who find cutting straight to be somewhat of a challenge. Mastering this technique will enable you to tare paper cleanly - very useful when having to wrap presents during the festive season, or for the next birthday gift you have to wrap.

The crown or crown box is a traditional origami model, meaning it has been folded by people for a long time. The original creator is thus not known. To fold your very own crown, do the following:
If using two-sided paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.
Step 1: Place a square piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface with its edges to the left and right, top and bottom.
Step 2: Fold the left edge over to meet the right edge. Crease and unfold.
Step 3: Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge. Crease and unfold.
Step 4: Use the crease lines on your paper to fold all four corners in to meet at the center of the square. NOTE: This step May require some practice, because the folds should be straight and equal to each other. Try out different ways of folding until you find what works for you. The best way I have found is to recrease the horizontal and vertical center lines, if necessary. Then fold the top left and right points inwards to form two top triangles. Turn the model 180 degrees and repeat this last step. When pressed flat, you should end up with a square-shaped model. Make sure that, as far as possible, all outside corners are folded neatly at a 90 degree angle and that the crease lines all lie straight and meet precisely in the center of the square. It is fine to have very small "gap lines" between your triangles, but keep them straight and as small as possible.
Step 5: Flip the paper over so your folded square model has a smooth surface again and position it as for Step 1.
Step 6: Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge to reveal a rectangle made up of three triangles. Crease and unfold.
Step 7: Fold the top and bottom edges in to meet at the horizontal center line. Crease well and leave folded. As you do this, two triangles should pop out at the top and bottom center of your model. Press the paper flat so the triangles point up and down. What you will have now is a model that is made up of two large triangles pointing away from each other, with their bases touching and 4 very small triangles that lie on the left and right sides, just above and below the horizontal center of your model.
Step 8: Fold the large bottom triangle upwards and press flat.
Step 9: Notice that there are two small triangular corners at the bottom of your model. Fold these small bottom corners upwards and inwards at a 45 degree angle and make sure their edges are straight in relation to the model's horizontal and vertical creases. Crease well and leave folded.
Step 10: Fold the large triangle mentioned in Step 8 down again, so it covers the two corners you have just folded in the previous step.
Step 11: Without picking the model up from your folding surface, rotate the model 180 degrees and repeat Steps 8 to 10. After this step you should only be able to feel two large triangles pointing to the top and bottom, their bases touching to form the horizontal center of your diamond-shaped piece of paper.
Step 12: Turn your paper 90 degrees so the slit at the center of the model is in a vertical position. Pick up the model and gently pull to the sides with your thumbs to open up the slit and gently push the top and bottom sides inwards into a square shape.
Turnover and marvel at your beautiful crown.

If sporting your own paper crown around the festive table is not quite your thing, then consider finding yourself a much smaller piece of paper. It could be a note square or a square made from some colored construction paper.
When folding Start off with your paper with the colored or patterned side up and follow the steps as described above. Then, simply turn your crown upside down to use as a pretty box.
Fold the flaps in underneath the model or let them splay out or stand up around the box. Make a lid for your box by cutting paper just slightly larger than the box with or without the flaps visible. If you prefer, glue the loose flaps down for some extra durability.
If you need extra help with folding, perhaps from a sighted friend or family member, instructions with illustrations for this model can be found at: http://www.origami-fun.com/origami-crown.html

And on various sites elsewhere on the Internet with some minor variation on folding methods and sequences.
Very best wishes for an enjoyable festive season to all!

THE END