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Kaleidoscope of Krafts

For your reading convenients below you will find all the kaleidoscope of krafts published in 2018

January 2018

It is with great pleasure that I welcome all readers to the first edition of Kaleidoscope of Crafts for 2018. I hope you will not only enjoy reading, but try this month's craft out for yourself.

If you enjoyed playing with clay or doing science experiments as a child, the do-it-yourself bath bombs and fizzy bath salts I share below will definitely be something you might want to try, on your own or share with kids or grandkids. Children love these especially, but there is no reason why we adults cannot also enjoy making them and adding them to our baths.
Depending on the type of molds or containers you use, bath bombs or fizzy salts will not only look pretty but they will add some sweet scents and fizzy fun to your bath time.

I am sharing both bath salts and bath bombs because most people find that they have to experiment a little when making bath bombs. Complaints most often center around the fact that the bath bombs fall apart when removed from their molds or become misshapen and lumpy or crumble after a few days, but I am hoping that this will not stop you from trying out this really fun craft. Depending on different factors, there are solutions to the problems mentioned above, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that there are no strong preservatives used in DIY products.

If your attempt at making bath bombs do not succeed at first, don't despair. Simply crumble, press or grind the shapes up into a powdery mixture again and present as fizzy bath salts in an attractive container.

These bath bombs or fizzy salts are made with some basic ingredients you may already have at home, or if not, you can buy them on-line or at your nearest supermarket, craft store or pharmacy.

For fizzy bath salts you will need:
1 cup Epsom salt
1 cup sea salt
1 cup baking soda, sifted
½ cup citric acid
20 drops of essential oil
1-2 drops food coloring (optional)

Step 1: Mix the Epsom salt, sea salt and baking soda together well.
Step 2: Add the food coloring and essential oils to the dry mixture.
Step 3: Slowly add the citric acid to the mixture.
Step 4: Using a funnel, gently pour the bath salt mixture into an airtight container and seal.
Step 5: Decorate if preferred, adding a card stating what your gift contains and how it should be used.

For bath bombs you will need:
Dry ingredients
1 cup or 8 fluid oz. baking soda
½ cup or 4 fluid oz. citric acid
½ cup or 4 fluid oz. corn starch
½ cup or 4 fluid oz. Epsom salt

Wet ingredients
Olive oil or cooking spray
A little water in a spray bottle
20 drops of essential oil
1-2 drops food coloring (optional)

You should be able to find all kinds of molds where crafts or cooking utensils are sold since they can be used for baking, soap making, clay work, etc. It is best to use molds that are fairly small for your bath bombs. These molds often come in the form of a plastic or silicon sheet with between 6 to 12 shapes on one sheet.

Step 1: Start by mixing all your dry ingredients together in a glass bowl with your hands or a whisk. Make sure you get all the lumps out!
Step 2: Use a spray bottle to lightly dampen the mixture you’ve just created. Add only enough water so that the dough is compactable, but avoid adding so much that it becomes fizzy and must be started over.
After spritzing the mixture two or three times, give it another stir with your hands. It should hold its form when pressed together. If it doesn't, add a little more moisture and try again, keeping the fizz to a minimum as far as possible.
Step 3: When your mixture can be easily molded in your hands, add a few drops of essential oil and food coloring to your liking.
Step 4: If preferred, lightly spray your molds with a little olive oil before adding your dough mixture, using a lot of pressure to compact the dough firmly into the molds, to prevent cracking.
Step 5: Leave the bath bombs in the molds in a cool, dry area, away from moisture, for at least 24 hours. If after 24 hours the bath bombs still feel slightly damp, remove them from the molds and allow them to air dry independently.
Step 6: When completely dry, gently remove the bath bombs from their molds and wrap in cling film or plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.z
To use, simply add one or two bath bombs or a teaspoon or two of fizzy salts to warm bath water and enjoy.

If you are interested in this kind of craft, you will be happy to know that there are thousands of recipes and directions you can try out to make personal products you can use for yourself, in and around your home or as gifts.
Google will be more than willing to assist you if you type in terms like DIY recipes followed by whatever you'd like to make, from lip balm to hair conditioners and more.


February 2018

Welcome to all to another Kaleidoscope of Crafts!
Many people like to do crafts or DIY projects to solve some kind of problem they are having. Often it may be something small but that may be occurring on a daily basis.

Our craft for this month is an effort to solve just one such problem that most of us may have faced at one time or another: constantly finding kitchen towels on the floor where they have been deposited by inquisitive toddlers, mischievous dogs or cats, or careless humans passing by, or even worse, finding many more or less clean towels strewn all over the kitchen after someone has prepared a meal, instead of only one or two dirty towels you were expecting.

You've guessed it, the solution is the hanging, no slip, stay put kitchen towel. It turns out that there are quite a few options for how to turn these floating fabrics into pretty, practical helpers in the kitchen.

These include adding snaps, buttons, Velcro strips, fabric ties and the list goes on. I have experimented a little and have come up with two very simple versions for taming the traveling towels, the low sew and no sew methods. You can use both methods for a falling or wandering guest towel in the bathroom too. And, for both methods, instead of ribbon, you could use any other type of cord like silk, cotton or thin leather. Alternatively, add a personal touch with crocheted, braided or knitted ties or even cord.

Before describing the first method, I would like to encourage those who want to skip this part to consider trying it out. The sewing is minimal and will be hidden in any case, so if you have been wanting to try working with needle and thread, this may be your chance. If it is your first time trying, don't hesitate to ask for help. It is by no means easy to work with a needle and thin thread that keeps on slipping and sliding. There are various devices and techniques to work with needle and thread without the benefit of good eyesight, but this might be an article in itself for another time. Consider using embroidery thread that is thicker than ordinary thread.

For the first method, you will need:
1 rectangular kitchen towel
2 pieces of matching or contrasting ribbon or cord, each 20 inches or 50 cm long
Thread, embroidery thread or thin cotton yarn
Needle with an eye large enough to accommodate the thread you have chosen
2 Safety pins

Step 1: Place your kitchen towel on a clean, flat surface with the short ends at the top and bottom and with the right side of the towel (if it has one) facing away from you.

Step 2: Fold up the bottom edge of the towel to meet the top. You will have a two-layered rectangle.

Step 3: Now, fold the top layer only of the towel back down to meet the bottom edge. You will now have three layers of fabric at the bottom and one layer making up the top part of the rectangle. The fold line you can feel running from left to right at the center of your fabric will be a guide for where you will sew on your ribbon or cord. Place a safety pin on the left and right of the towel, just below this fold line, through all three layers of fabric to keep the folded towel in place while you work.
Note that your ties will not be attached at the horizontal center of the towel, but more towards the top of the towel, so that, when it is hanging, most of the front of the towel will hang while the shorter part of the towel will be at the back of the rail. This ensures that a large part of the towel is available for use.

Step 4: Find the center of the first piece of ribbon and sew it to the left side of the towel, just above the fold line you created in Step 3 and just inside the side seam of the towel. You are sewing it to one layer of fabric only. Try to work as neat as possible, bringing the thread from behind the towel, catching the ribbon or cord in the process and pulling all the way through. Then insert the needle again as close to the previous stitch as possible and pull towards the back of the towel again. Do this a few times until you feel that the ribbon or cord is securely sewed to the towel.

Step 5: Repeat on the right side of your towel, also sewing on the second ribbon or cord just above the fold line as you did in the previous step. Try to make sure the two ties are placed straight across from each other as far as possible.

Step 6: Lastly, remove the two pins on the left and right side of the towel.

How to use:
Flip your towel over so the right, pretty side is facing you with the short ends at the top and bottom. The ties you have attached should be at the back and towards the top of the towel. Drape the towel over a rail or the oven handle, ensuring that the ribbon or cord hangs down at the back of the rail.

You now have two choices for tying your towel:
Wrap the ties around the towel, crossing them at the back and tie into a pretty bow at the front, or take the left piece and tie securely into a bow around the handle of the oven, repeating on the right side.

The first type of tie will gather the towel together just beneath the rail while the second way of tying will let the towel hang straight.

Now for the second method.
For those who want a quick fix, no sew solution, we will turn to one of those household items we often take for granted; the rubber band, or if, for some reason, you can't find one in your entire house, as often happens with these kinds of household items, a pipe cleaner or a clean hairband will do the trick just as well.

Drape your towel over the rail on the oven door so most of it is hanging in the front, with only about a third of the towel hanging at the back of the rail.
Gather both ends of the towel with one hand just below the rail and slip your rubber band around the towel with the other.
You could use a matching color if preferred, e.g. if your towel is white and red, a red rubber band or pipe cleaner should look pretty.
Alternatively, cover the rubber band with some ribbon or cord that matches or contrasts with the colors of your towel.
Tie the ribbon or cord into a nice bow and arrange the towel so it hangs straight. It is sure to stay put. When it is time for washing, simply remove your bow and rubber band and your towel is ready for washing.

Until next month, happy crafting to all!

March 2018

Hello and welcome to another Kaleidoscope of Crafts! One of the popular crafting trends I have come across for a while now is "arm knitting". I thought it sounded interesting and spent some time trying to figure out what it was all about. So, for this month I am sharing some basic instructions for how to do this interesting craft.

As you might have guessed, arm knitting requires no needles or other equipment, just some yarn and your own two arms. However, it is important to choose yarn that will be bulky enough to complete your project. One option is to purchase yarn that is super bulky and meant for arm knitting. You can find this type of yarn in most craft stores or from on-line stores like Amazon.

The stitches you make with arm knitting will be fairly large, hence you will get the best results with super bulky yarn.

Another option may be to use somewhat thinner yarn, but holding two or three strands together as one throughout your project. For this method to work, you will have to ensure the yarn can move freely at all times from more than one skein so that you don't end up in a heap of tangled yarn. Needless to say, the second option is not recommended for beginners as you will likely need to concentrate on the actual process of arm knitting first.

You will need:
1 skein of Super Bulky or chunky yarn, or two or three skeins of somewhat thinner yarn
and, of course, your arms

As is the case with needle knitting, there are also more than one ways to cast on when knitting with your arms. The long tail cast on is perhaps the most popular method, but for those who are absolute beginners, I have decided to go with the super simple or backward loop cast on method that many of us may have been taught as an easy way to start off our needle knitting.

1. Start with a slip knot:
Create a slip knot by making a loop near the end of your yarn strands. Reach inside and pull the working yarn through the loop.
Place this second loop on your right arm with the tail closer to you and the working yarn, the yarn coming from the skein or bundle, farther from you.
Gently pull at both ends of the yarn to tighten the slip knot so that it is snug around your arm, making sure that it can still move freely along your arm and over your hand.

2. Casting on:
Move the tail out of your way as far as possible.
Take the working yarn in your left hand and twist it a half turn, forming a simple loop with the yarn. Insert your right hand into this loop, sliding it onto your right wrist.
Gently pull it tight. Repeat this process for as many stitches as you’d like. Ten stitches should be enough for a scarf. You can cast on fewer stitches if you want your scarf to be narrower or more if you want it to be wider.

3. Knitting:
In arm knitting, you knit all the stitches from your right arm onto your left, and then from your left arm back to your right. Each time you move the stitches from one arm to another, knitting as you go, you make a new row.

To arm knit the first row, transfer all the loops on your right arm over to your left arm. Here’s how:
Grab the yarn that’s attached to the skein with your right hand. Hang onto it as you pull the first loop from your right arm right over your hand. Don’t let go of the yarn!
Place the loop you are holding onto your left arm. Pull the yarn tightly just like you did the slip knot, making sure the loop is just big enough to slide over your left hand.
Repeat these steps until all the loops from your right arm are now on your left arm.

Move all the loops from your left arm over to your right arm again. Here’s how:
Grab the yarn with your left hand. With your right hand, pull the first loop from your left arm off your hand.
Place the new loop onto your right arm.
Repeat these steps, grabbing the yarn with your left hand and pulling the loop from your left arm over your left hand.
Continue to arm knit, switching arms for each new row, until your scarf measures the length you’d like.
If you need to take a break from your arm knit project, simply slide your loops onto a piece of spare yarn, a belt or a scarf and tie in a gentle knot until you can resume your knitting.
You could also use a knitting needle, wooden dowel or similar object as a temporary stitch holder, but the end stitches will of course be less secure, so don't use these if you might have to move or transport your arm knit piece.
Slide your stitches back onto the same arm you took them off of, making sure not to cross or twist them in the process.

End with all of your stitches on either wrist.
Knit two stitches, just as you did for each row of the scarf.
Then pull the first knitted stitch loop over the second loop.
Drop that loop.
Repeat, pulling the loops over each other to bind off just as you would if you were using needles. When you only have one stitch left on your arm, pull the loop off your arm.
Cut the yarn at the end and pull the yarn end through this last loop to secure it. Weave in those ends and you’re finished!

I hope you will give this fun craft a try! Please contact me if you have any questions or ideas regarding arm knitting or crafting in general.

If you have the basics of arm knitting sorted out, you could go even further, experimenting with different types of stitches, and techniques, making icord and creating larger and more intricate items such as cowls, necklaces, shawls, blankets and more, using different types of yarn and colors.

Until next month, happy crafting!




April 2018

I am really pleased to be presenting some practical suggestions and ideas from one of our readers, Deborah Armstrong, for this month's Kaleidoscope of Crafts. She focuses on knitting, but I am sure that her writing could just as well be applicable to any kind of craft one can think of.

Here is what she writes:
"I just ran across the blind perspective. I am blind and learned to knit as an adult from Davey Hulse’s book.
I love to knit, but I’m not very good. Here are a few ways I’ve been able to practice, yet make something useful.
I have long hair and am always in need of covered rubber bands to coralle it. I decided to try knitting up my own scrunchies (decorative hair bands) and it’s worked beautifully.

First, I dissected some old scrunchies using scissors to examine how they were constructed. A scrunchie is nothing more than a narrow tube with a piece of waistband-type elastic threaded inside it and sewn together at the ends to form a circle. A typical scrunchie is 20to 25 inches long and when the tube is flattened out, maybe 2 to 5 inches across. Once you sew the elastic together, the tube material “scrunches up, so it is the size of one of those large covered rubber bands.

At Michaels (craft store), I purchased several rolls of elastic waistband in different sizes, from a quarter inch to two inches wide. Then, using leftover yarn from my less successful knitting projects, I started knitting strips, some 3, some 4 and some even 5 inches wide.

My strips were practice pieces. Sometimes I tried fancy pattern stitches and other times I just did straight knitting – which is called garter stitch. When a strip was 22 to 25 inches long, I bound it off.

Next, I folded the strip lengthwise and carefully sewed the sides together with a tapestry needle.
This gave me a long tube about 3 to 5 inches wide when flattened out. Smaller is harder. Tubes you can fit your middle and pointer fingers into are best.

Next, I fastened a safety pin to the end of the elastic, threaded it through the tube and pulled it tight until I had the scrunchie “scrunched” the way I liked it. I pinned the ends of the elastic together, before cutting it off the roll. Using a sharp, self-threading needle, I then sewed the ends of the elastic together.

Lastly, using a tapestry needle, I sewed the knitted tube ends together so it was a complete, springy circle.

What I love about making scrunchies is that knitting mistakes are lost in the folds of the scrunched fabric, and my long hair hides holes created by dropped stitches. Also, my long hair hides any inept sewing!

Of course, as I continued to make scrunchies, my knitting and sewing has gotten a lot better and I am dropping many fewer stitches today.

For Christmas, I knitted up read and green scrunchies and attached bells. I made smaller ones to go around my guide dog’s ankles and one of the autistic students I work with in my job named them jingle-foots. Soon all of my co-workers were clamoring for knitted Jingle-foots for their pet dogs!

Another way I’ve been able to turn a potential knitting failure in to an attractive decoration is to make a pillow. I once started to make a hat but realized it was too big. Another time I was working on a blanket when I accidentally dropped a stitch and it caused a big hole to appear in the center.
In each case, I sewed the creation together, patching up the hole with a tapestry needle. I can make a crochet-like chain with my fingers, thread that onto a tapestry needle and use it to patch a hole in my knitting that, if not pretty, at least works better than simply using a piece of yarn.

To fill the pillow, I use blankets. In the winter we always pull out blankets and by spring, we need a place to stow them away. I’ve found stuffing them inside a hand-knitted pillowcase, with just an end sticking out can be very attractive. It’s also nice to curl up on the couch with one of these blanket-pillows, and if you get cold, you can just pull out the blanket and cover yourself up.

The lightweight fleece blankets are especially useful as you can stuff two or three inside a knitted pillowcase. You can put the uglier side facing away from guests so they only see your knitting successes!
When you manage to make a perfect pillow-case, purchase a new fleece blanket in a matching color and give it away as a gift. I gave several of these for Christmas, knitted in various shapes for the back, neck and as a cushion for sitting on.

One last way to practice knitting with a small project: When you are ready to start working with patterns and need to create swatches, consider sewing up the three sides of a swatch to form a small bag for carrying your Daisy player, cellphone, or if the swatch turned out bigger than expected, a tablet."

As I read the above, Deborah's experiences resonated with me. For many years I did not pursue knitting. I had learnt the basics from various people over the years, but I simply could not find the time or patience to finish anything. One problem I had was that I simply could not correct my own mistakes, so I put my yarn and needles away, believing that, unless I could either correct my own mistakes or knit an entire project without any, I would not be able to make anything worthwhile.

If only I had understood that knitting can be practiced like most everything else and that I did not have to complete a long scarf or cardigan to feel I had mastered the craft.
It took me a long time to realize that there are so many small projects to choose from and making one mistake does not mean you have to start over or give up in defeat. So, for those who are just starting out or who can do the basics of knitting, doing small projects is a wonderful way to practice and, as Deborah mentions, allowing a few mistakes here and there is no big deal.
Some small items I have knitted include necklaces, small baskets or bags, dishcloths or washcloths, headbands, bows, hearts, bookmarks, slippers, hanger covers, and the list goes on.
These days you only have to Google for the words "small knitting projects" or "stash busters".

Many thanks to Deborah, for confirming that anything is possible with patience and a positive attitude. She made me realize once again that crafting is not only about making things that are perfect or made to a certain standard we or others have set, but it is often simply about the enjoyment we are able to find in learning and challenging ourselves to try out new things, or the joy of being able to make something for others using our own skills and time.

I hope this month's segment will encourage you to consider trying out a new craft of your own or perhaps reconsider a craft you had tried and discarded a long time ago.
Until next time, happy crafting and please feel free to write if you have anything to share relating to crafts or crafting.

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