Alabama Chanin On My Window

Who would have thought that an Alabama Chanin stencil could be used to create a “frosted glass” window.  Tempera craft paint (not regular paint), a container, a kitchen sponge and 5 minutes is all you need.

The design blocks the views but let’s all the light in when the paint is properly diluted with water. Chanin’s stencil “Bloom” reminds me of falling leaves, perfect for my favorite upcoming season.

Here is what you need if you want to give it a try:

– a suitable stencil (mine is from Alabama Chanin’s first book)
– Tempera Craft Paint (DO NOT USE REGULAR PAINT,  so you can wash it all off, when the mood changes)
– a small container (anything will work, because tempera paint is non-toxic)
– a kitchen sponge
– paper towels

1. Place a little paint in the container. A little goes a long way…
2. Dilute with a bit of water and try sponging it with the stencil on the window. If the mixture is too runny, add more paint. For a more realistic frosted glass look, use a denser sponge.

Don’t worry if you make a mess at first, a damp paper towel will clean it up easily. Any stencil will work, if the the design is not too intricate. However,  I might give snowflakes a try -not that I’m rushing things- , but this would be a perfect project with children.

I’m also still making bracelets. Here’s my latest version:

This is one of those projects where the end result improves the more I make and experiment.

When they’re worn over time they will look better and better as the leather becomes more supple. Lucky me that I still have 100 yards of leather binding left……

Enjoy your weekend.


Tutorial: Simple Cowl and Hat

Doesn’t the word “cowl” sound unappealing? Sounds like scowl or growl. Let’s call it a “neck warmer” instead, which sounds functional and friendly.

Rudimentary crochet knowledge is necessary, but the item is so simple, that a beginner should be able to accomplish  this with ease. If you need support with the stitches, I found this to be a good resource. As with most simple accessories, the “neck warmer” can be worn in many different ways and customized easily. This one can also be a hat in that moment of need (very cold or bad hair day).

Let’s begin. For the neck warmer above, I used vintage wool with 3 stitches to an inch. Bear with me as I’m new to the crochet tutorial world and its mysterious terms. Below is a “doll size version” to show the basic stitches and techniques. Two strands of wool were used as there was no thick yarn on hand. Not that clever for a tutorial, but you get the idea.

Chain 70 stitches. Mine is 11 1/2 inches wide. If you would like to wear your neck warmer on your head as a hat, make sure it fits comfortably around your forehead without slipping. If a different number of stitches is chosen, make sure it’s an equal number and can be divided by 8 or 10, which is the number of ‘button holes’ needed.

For this example, let’s stay with 70 stitches.
Chain 70 and close into a ring.
Crochet the first row into the “spine” of the chain as shown in image 2 above. The backside has a small ridge and looks like a spine. Crocheting into the spine makes the selvedge look neat. However, do whatever is comfortable.
Make sure you still have 70 stitches. As much as I embrace imperfection, it’s also good to try your best and easier to correct a mistake early in the game.
Crochet into the back loop (image 3) of the first row to achieve the ribbed effect. Crochet 37 rows or approximately 10 1/2 inches.
Next come the “buttonholes”. These are needed to convert the neck warmer into a hat.
An equal number of holes is needed to thread the string through. I decided on 10.
Next row: Single crochet 5, chain 2, skip 2 and crochet into the next loop (see image 5). If my description isn’t clear, here’s a visual illustration on how to make buttonholes. Finish the round until you have the 10 buttonholes. Note: Buttonholes are important if you want to use a thicker tie. You can omit this step and thread a thinner string directly through the stitches.
Crochet 3 more rows (roughly 1 inch) or a little more if desired. To fasten off, cut the yarn at 4 inches, make a chain stitch and pull the yarn through the loop. Weave the tail through the stitches. Next, weave all the tails in.
Crochet a string 52 inches long. Thread this through the buttonholes and you’re done.

Variations: Use a thin silk scarf to thread through the holes. Make pom-poms to give the head a 50’s feel. Pin a flower on it.You can also weave some thread through the ribs (image below left) or wear it on the “wrong” side (image below right), which makes an interesting pattern.

Here again is how my daughter wears the same piece, proof that one size fits a large variety of head sizes.

Now I really need to go, because my latest distraction over the weekend was Downton Abbey. I’m sure everybody has seen it already, but I’m often a bit behind. It’s even more addictive than Britain’s Got Talent. Darn Netflix!

Lights in Winter

Solstice was yesterday and we are now over the hump as far as long dark nights are concerned. All the candles in my house were in use, even the ones that usually live on the porch in summer. The idea of tea-lights in flower pots is not original, I remember seeing these lights elsewhere, but can’t remember where.

The idea is simple. Find some small clay flowerpots. Buy sunny yellow half gloss paint (samples are really good for this project), take a brush and paint the inside of the pot.  After the paint dries, place a tea-light inside and presto, instant atmospheric light. The candle reflects beautifully.  If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, they’re a great addition to a warm summer night.

Have a great weekend, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate!

Making and Baking

Remember the tatting flowers?  My daughter loved the idea of wearing flowers around her neck in winter. When using wool, it makes in her words “a cool scarf”. I’d use a different color next time (maybe bright red) and even thicker yarn. I might also make the flowers a tad smaller.

We also baked some cookies. The kind a nine year old can make all by herself and here’s the recipe:

The dough is sturdy thanks to lots of fat, and the dough behaves  “…just like play dough”. Once they’re baked, however, the play dough texture disappears and they taste really good.

It’s one of my German mama’s recipe and therefore  all the measurements are in grams.


75 g flower
250 g potato starch
100 g powdered sugar
30 g cacao powder
250 g butter or margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Knead everything together until the dough forms into a ball. It might take a while and seem all crumbly for an awful long time, but it will eventually come together. Place in the refrigerator for 30 min., make a roll of 1.5 inches wide and cut small pieces, the size of a walnut. Flatten between palms and don’t be disappointed if they don’t look like much when they’re on the baking sheet. They’ll be just fine after baking them at 375F for 12 – 15 min.Let the cookies cool,  melt some chocolate chips and dip them. Lick the bowl clean and you’re done. Note to daughter: Licking the bowl does not replace the dishwasher!

Paper Stars

Ready for some more paper stars. A few days ago, I saw this pretty garland in the TOAST catalog (top left) and thought, “hey I can probably make those, that looks easy…”. And guess what… it is (top right). As ever, the web provides.  All you need is paper, scissors and a pencil. Extreme Cards […] Read more »

Blues: Knitting With Sewing Thread

Remember the wispy knitting? The scarf is finally done and I thought that it might be fun to experiment with some sewing thread. With the large assortment of colors available, making something in an exact shade is easy to do. Here, I’ve used two colors and blended them to create a seamless transition from color to the other.  See […] Read more »

Needle Flowers and Clouds to Knit

Over the weekend I experimented a bit more with tatting and this is the outcome: spring flowers. Not a major creative achievement, but nevertheless fast and easy to make, perfect for gift decorations, jewelry components or hair pins. All that’s needed is a tapestry needle, yarn or string and a pair of scissors. The first […] Read more »

Bolero II

It’s always nicer to see how a garment looks when on a person and not a hanger. My daughter volunteered this morning to show how the square bolero worn and although it’s a little big on her, you get the idea. There’s real potential here and although I’m not a knitter, I’m tempted. The second […] Read more »

Square Bolero…

Let’s call this a bolero and not a shrug. Bolero sounds of music and latin songs and Spain, while shrug sounds like this:  …a form of nonverbal communication that is performed by lifting both shoulders up, and is an indication of an individual either not knowing an answer to a question, or not caring… (Wikipedia) […] Read more »

Blue Flower Skirt Progress

The laundry is piling up, but my skirt is wearable. Let’s see how it turned out. I really like it……………until I look at the source of inspiration; then I like it a little less. The original design was balanced, while mine is not. Instead, it has a random flower, twig and leaf pattern. That’s why […] Read more »