Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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Charm Exchange Part 3: Coming Together

Our group of fabulous jewelry-making artists met at Axios Estiatorio in Denver on a rainy October Sunday to exchange charms and enjoy some really fantastic Greek food.

Annie started us off by showing the eye and heart charms she made for Sylvie’s “Eye Adore You” necklace. Using mixed media that includes beaded embroidery, felt, hand-stitching, and some very unique statement beads, Annie’s charms are truly eye-catching (excuse the pun).

Sylvie's Necklace October

Sylvie’s charms for my Coral Reef bracelet included a mermaid and a jellyfish. A tiny model mermaid rests inside one of Sylvie’s signature “deviled eggs” – miniature dioramas that are truly delightful! The jellyfish was made with long plumes of yarn in a variety of colors and textures that really capture the look of tentacles.

Jennifer's Bracelet October

For Annie’s Birds & Flowers necklace, I crocheted two small birds based on a pattern I found at Attic 24. Using DMC floss and a size 10 steel hook, I crocheted three rounds, then added a tail before fastening off. After folding the bird in half with the tail at the back, I sewed up the bottom. Then I added a crocheted beak and stitched on the eyes and wings. The large flowers at the bottom are made from felt buttons (the same ones I use in Podge’s hair).

Annie's Necklace October

Alexandra explained that she experimented with new tools to work with fimo on her charms for Rosalind’s Garden of Earthly Delights bracelet, adding that she loves using the tiny ballpoints on the tool to make the pieces stick. She was surprised at how the rose head didn’t cause too much trouble — she made the head, stuck on the hair, and added petals around where needed.

Rosalind's Bracelet October

Our charm bracelets and necklaces are really starting to come together. Don’t they all look great! Join me next month to see how I go about crocheting a kokeshi doll for Alexandra’s bracelet. It should be a lot of fun!

Check out previous posts in this series:

Part 1: Make Jewelry, Make Friends

Part 2: Working on a Small Scale Poses a Big Challenge


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Hodge’s Favorite Things: Free Thanksgiving Crochet Cuteness

Excited HodgeHodge is very excited for Thanksgiving. I mean, look at him. He can’t sit still, he’s so excited.

He says he’s jumping for joy because there’s just so much to look forward to. The food. The football. The friends and family. The food. And all the Thanksgiving decorations and toys he plans to crochet to make the season as festive as can be.

This year, Hodge has helped me gather some of his very favorite free Thanksgiving crochet patterns to share with you. He says you should make them all and proudly display them on your mantel for everyone to see. Or if you will be traveling this Thanksgiving, any one of these would make a very unique gift for the host and a sure conversation starter.

Hodge's Favorite Things Thanksgiving 2014

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Countdown to Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos is almost a week away! To say I have been busy getting ready for the event is an understatement. I don’t know quite why I do this, but as I’m sure you’ve observed from my previous crochet projects here on the blog, I have a very distinct tendency to overdo things. I blame my imagination. Once I get something in my head, I just have to create it. So in preparation for this upcoming Dia de los Muertos Mart at the Pirate Gallery, I have been crocheting like crazy. Let me show you.

I’m calling these Skullbow (Skull + Elbow) Hoodies. I crocheted the skulls, of course, sewed them onto the sleeves like elbow patches, and even embellished some of them with beads. Nothing in my studio is safe from embellishment at this point.

Like I said, I’ve really gotten into adding buttons, beads, and embroidery to these skulls. I ended up making five Skull Art Hoodies and I love each one. I hope you like them too!

Then, because I just couldn’t stop myself, I made four more hoodies with plain white skulls on the back. Each will come with a large, very colorful flower pin on the skull’s forehead, and shoppers will be encouraged to purchase additional flower pins to really personalize their hoodie if they want. Crochet flower pinsAs you can see, I made a ton. Some of these flowers will be for the pins, but I’m also making hair clips too. I have been crocheting these everywhere I go: you know, on the bus, on my lunch break, in line at the grocery store. The problem is I just keep coming up with more ideas and I have to try them all! Most of these flowers were made using the patterns in my favorite flower crochet book, 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet. The marigolds were made using the mum pattern from Suzann Thompson’s Crochet Garden. Bamboo crochet hooksI was crocheting so much this month that some interesting things started happening to me. Things that have never happened before… First, I got a rash on my hand. (I’ll spare you the picture; just trust me, it’s weird.) I couldn’t figure out what was causing it, until I realized that my crochet hooks, which I’ve had since I began crocheting 15 years ago, are nickel-plated. And earlier this year, I developed a crummy nickel allergy. The upside of this crochet-related injury is that I get to try out some new hooks. I got these bamboo ones from Amazon for $10. Score! Also for the first time I’m beginning to experience serious muscle pain in my fingers. After this, it may be time for a (hopefully short!) vacation from crochet. Hodge and Podge are madThis coming week will be just as busy I’m afraid, as I set about the task of organizing and pricing everything. As you can see, Hodge and Podge are not happy about this. In all the flurry of activity for the Muertos Mart, I didn’t get a chance to make their Halloween costumes. My sincere apologies to you and Hodge and Podge. I know many of you were looking forward to Halloween costume patterns for your squirrel friends. Maybe after my crochet vacation I can get started on Christmas costumes instead. How about Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel Claus? MEAP could be an elf. Eric could be the Grinch. What do ya say?

 


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Charm Exchange Part 2: Working on a Small Scale Poses a Big Challenge

On a bright Sunday morning, Sylvie, Annie, and I gathered at Erikia’s house for the August Charm Exchange. I couldn’t wait to see what everyone had brought, and our little group delivered handsomely with both well-crafted and gorgeous charms and a delicious potluck brunch. There were breakfast sandwiches and pastries from local shops, a yogurt parfait bar, a homemade raspberry gelatin, fresh fruit, a cheese and bread plate, and mimosas!

With our plates loaded, we headed to Erikia’s enchanting backyard where she had a table set up for us under her brand-new canopy. She’s very excited about using the new canopy at her booth in the upcoming Salida Fiber Festival, where she will be selling her vintage tin stitch markers. She’s done an amazing job preparing for the festival, punching out the markers from antique tins and then professionally finishing and stamping them. She used similar techniques to create her charms for Annie’s Birds & Flowers necklace. The red flower is made of copper, which she shaped into a curve before enameling it with powders and a torch to give it its vibrant color.

Annie's Necklace August 2014

I crocheted my charms for Erikia’s In the Dark necklace using No. 10 crochet thread and a size 11 steel crochet hook. Working in this small scale presented a huge challenge for me. It took me several tries to get it right. For my first attempt, I crocheted the spider from the book Itty Bitty Crocheted Critters, but I didn’t really take the legs into account when I was working on the body. Although the body was only about an inch long, the legs made the whole thing over three inches! Then I tried just crocheting small balls to see what I could come up with. Stuffing these balls with Fiberfill revealed that I would need something sturdier inside to preserve their shape. I finally found some bronze-colored Bakelite beads in my stash that I thought would be a good fit both in size and color for Erikia’s necklace. I crocheted around the first bead and fastened off before it was completely covered, allowing the bead to show through. For the other bead, I ended up enclosing it completely and then sewing on small black and green beads to give it a spiky texture.

Erikia's Necklace August 2014

Rosalind used polymer clay to sculpt a mermaid charm and a squid charm for my Coral Reef bracelet. In the squid, she also added oxidized sterling silver chain and some gemstones. Even though she also found that working in this scale has its difficulties, I’m so impressed by all the detail she has managed to include in these charms. Keep in mind that they are under an inch long!

Jennifer's Coral Reef Bracelet August 2014

Sylvie created a tiny diorama inside a mini pocket watch for one of her charms for Rosalind’s Garden of Earthly Delights bracelet. It features a teeny baby with Monarch butterfly wings amid the moss of a forest floor. For her second charm, she brought new life to a piece of broken jewelry with the addition of colorful vintage floral beads.

Rosalind's Bracelet August 2014

Rosalind and I weren’t alone in our struggle with scale. Annie agrees that making charms this tiny poses a challenge, but I think she succeeded handily with her felt and bead charms for Alexandra’s Kokeshi Doll bracelet. All of the stitching is painstakingly done by hand, and as always, Annie’s eye for color shines through.

Alexandra's Bracelet August 2014

Alexandra sculpted her charms for Sylvie’s Eye Adore You necklace in fimo. Most of her experience is with sculpting people or animals, so working with this subject matter was a challenge for her. It forced her to think outside the box, but it also left her inspired to start on the next set of charms right away!

Sylvie's Necklace August 2014

These ladies have inspired me too. I can’t wait to get started on my charms for Annie’s Birds & Flowers necklace. We’ll be meeting again in October, and until then I think I will try working with lighter thread and a smaller hook to see what I can come up with. I might need to invest in a magnifying glass.

Check out previous posts in this series:

Make Jewelry, Make Friends


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Bringing the Picnic to Cut Out + Keep

promo_squirrelpicnicI’m so excited to tell you that I’m being featured as the Knit and Crochet Superstar on Cut Out + Keep this week. Each day they will release one of my original patterns for their fun-loving community to enjoy. I’m not sure they are quite aware of the extreme cuteness that is in store for them!

Cut Out + Keep is an online community of over 180,000 members who share free step-by-step crafting tutorials. I’ve had a wonderful time exploring some of the 69,000 projects available in a variety of craft categories like jewelry making, sewing, baking, even home décor and beauty.

As I mentioned, I was asked to select 7 of my patterns to be featured throughout this upcoming week. Boy was it hard! Trying to choose these patterns gave me the opportunity to think about what this blog means to me. At the end of the day, I really hope that I’ve added a touch of joy, and maybe a little silliness, to the world. My favorite patterns are the ones that continue to make me smile — so those are the ones I chose for their feature. I hope that being a member of Cut Out + Keep will help me make a few more people smile too.

Be sure to check out my interview and the super-kooky photograph I provided with Hodge and Podge. If you’d like to look around Cut Out + Keep, I recommend typing your favorite item (for me, it was robots) into their search engine. You’ll be amazed by what the members of their community have been up to. And of course, if you like what you see, you should become a member too!


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Calling All Crafters! You Could Be Featured on Squirrel Picnic

Susan's Croshades

Susan uses croshades to turn urban sculptures into funny characters.

Margie's Mr. Potato Head

Margie’s Mr. Potato Head is amazing. She even crocheted the facial features!

Have you made a pair of croshades and used them to yarnbomb your neighborhood? Have you made a Batman mask, a Mr. Potato Head, or a Bowser sweater for your turtle? Do you have a Squirrel Picnic character that you’re proud to call your own? If so, I’d love to see it.

I’m in the process of putting together a roundup of crocheted awesomeness by fantastic picnickers like you. If you’ve had fun using one of my patterns, send a photo of what you made to squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com by August 22, and I’ll include it in the roundup.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!