Knitters are up in arms!

I am always fascinated to read about new and different crafts. Being what I would term a ‘lazy knitter’, I have been much impressed by the giant knitted bedcovers and cushion covers created using very chunky wool and huge knitting needles. To me, it looks much faster than ordinary knitting and I might just give it a go… but wait! Even better than that I may have just found the perfect answer to my quick and chunky knitting aspirations – arm knitting!

Needle-free arm knitting has arrived on the scene! It is such an amazingly simple concept you wonder why no one has thought of it before. If you already know how to knit, then you have a distinct advantage as picking up arm knitting is meant to be really, really easy. Quite simply, your arms stand in for the huge needles and everything is super-sized, from the massive skeins of wool (more like ropes!) and the patterns. If you are not already a knitter, experts say a quick arm knitting project will help build your confidence and encourage you to get more adventurous.

 

As ever, there’s lots of information available online, but a website that really caught my eye was www.simplymaggie.com Maggie describes herself as an ‘arm knitting expert and home DIY enthusiast’. Her website includes a range of patterns available for free including some lovely scarves and an amazing blanket. She makes it look so easy, I really think I might have to give it a go!

Elsewhere, I came across some great advice on how to solve arm knitting problems – my favourite was this FAQ – I confess this was an aspect of arm knitting that had me very worried!

What do you do when you’re elbow-deep in an infinity scarf and your doorbell rings? Don’t panic! Stopping in the middle of a project is both possible and surprisingly easy. Simply move each stitch, one-by-one, onto a stitch holder. “And what might one of those be?” I hear you cry! But being the imaginative crafters that you are, I expect you’d soon come up with the answer – the cardboard centres from sheets of wrapping paper –oversized toilet roll centres really. Carefully slide your stitches onto the cardboard roll and try to remember which arm your last row of stitches was on so that when you’re ready to get back to work, you can quickly pick up where you left off. Easy!

Have any of you tried arm knitting? If you have, I’d love to hear how you got on!

Photos copyright SimplyMaggie.com

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My favourite Thomas Kinkade cards

We make gadzillions of cards through the year. Some are destined to be samples or demos for Create and Craft, some are just for family and friends. But these two cards are among my favourites and I have kept them carefully for months now. You know what it’s like when you have cards that should go somewhere or be for a particular someone and you think, no, I’ll keep those for now… and then never give them away!

Thomas Kinkade images are easy to use as the cottages are gentle and rural, pretty and easy to match colour-wise. The die used here is our Signature die Wild Rose (completely biased now) – and it is one of our best sellers of all time. I just LOVE it.

My personal choice is to die cut in white and then colour with Promarkers, or you can use any colouring medium that you prefer. You can add pearls, or not add pearls, ring the changes and it makes any card look fabulous with very limited effort!

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Tom Mielko – for romantics everywhere!

One of my favourite artists over the years that we have been licensing is Tom Mielko. Based in Santa Barbara, California, his work is mainly coastal images especially of Nantucket on the Eastern Coast. I just love the romance in all the pictures we licensed – there’s a Tom Mielko project book on the website if this is your sort of style!

Here we have an anniversary card – just plain and not too sophisticated to copy, it shows (I think) a very subtle but romantic idea of a couple cycling together. I’m not sure if Richard would think it was romantic if I joined him on his frequent cycle rides, but then he is thinking more about keep fit than sightseeing!

I think this card demonstrates that if you have a beautiful image, there’s a wide range of occasions you can use it for – this could work for a man’s birthday, anniversary as we have used it here, female birthday or anytime card and so the list goes on!

Happy cycling – err I mean cardmaking! Smiles, Joanna

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It’s always time for tea!

This beautiful box of teatime goodies was made by Suzanne Saltwell – it is really intended to be an advent calendar, but it occurred to me that it’s always time for tea and it would make the greatest birthday present any time of year!

Many people now are drinking fruit or speciality teas instead of the usual builder’s best cuppa, myself included. I had never been a fan of ordinary tea but nowadays I am often seen with a mug of peppermint tea in hand as I wander round the garden checking on what’s doing what.

There’s a lot to be said for growing a few herbs in the garden so you can make your own fresh teas – some flowers also, I have yet to try chrysanthemum tea or any of the other more exotic ideas, but mint sprigs grabbed from the garden and dunked unceremoniously in boiling water – yummy! I also have dried mint that I harvested last year and stored. The one thing you can be sure of is that mint will flourish and spread – hence advice always to keep it in a pot even when it’s in a flower bed.

So back to the tea box, here you can see the mug, tea bags and coasters that came inside the box, it’s such a lovely idea, perhaps there are some other themes we could create? Does coffee come in little packets? Has anyone got other ideas we could fill boxes with, for advent or any time of year? Do let me know!

Here’s the link to a downloadable PDF file that Suzanne has prepared so you can work out how it is made. Have fun!

 

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Bikes and Balloons!

I initially thought these bikes and balloons were more male orientated cards than female ones, but come on Joanna – loads of women ride motorbikes, so I shouldn’t be so biased! Just because I am frightened silly of them, I am sure there are many people out there much braver than me!

The Hot Air Balloon card has a lovely gentle colour scheme and apart from using our very popular Hot Air Balloon die, it also uses the very handy Picket Fence die. Add to that some papers – in this case from the Thomas Kinkade triple CD – and you are away!

The motorbike card also uses the map backing paper from the Thomas Kinkade CD – a couple of nesting oval dies, any make you have, and then the Signature Motorbike die, which has been paper pieces to give the different colours and a bit of height/texture. Obviously, you could just die cut in white and colour if you prefer. The borders have been produced using the SD448 Decorative Dividers – a very handy pack as you get two designs that are endlessly useful for £5.99

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