13 February 2009

Hiatus

I am taking an extended hiatus from Redux Designs to focus on some other aspects of my life. I do have a couple of tutorials in the works, and plan to post them as I am able to complete them. In the meantime, I am leaving all the tutorials and tips up. Hopefully they will continue to provide information and inspiration to others out there.

Until later.......

07 December 2008

Tutorial: Sweater Purse

Need - or want - a new purse, but finances are tight? Have an old pullover sweater that has seen better days? Keep the sweater out of the landfill and have the purse you need/want for free! Keep reading for the tutorial...

Don't have an old sweater? Then hit the thrift stores and find one you like! If you come across a wool sweater (rare here in Memphis since it doesn't get that cold), you can felt it first for a different look. Just follow the tutorial for making the purse.

Have a sweater that has stains on it? Cover it up with an applique or embroidery, or pin on a brooch to quickly hide it. Let your imagination run wild!

Here's the instructions:

Supplies:

one pullover sweater - the larger the sweater, the larger the purse. Great use for any outgrown sweater, or one that has stretched out. A sweater with a ribbed bottom works nicely, but it isn't necessary

some type of handle - I used round bamboo handles for this one, but you may have something else you can use

leftover fabric for the lining

interfacing for the lining if you wish (I recommend this if the lining is rather thing - it will provide extra support when the purse is full)








Lay sweater flat. Cutting from one side to the other in a straight line just below the arm holes. The ribbed edge will be the top while the cut edge will be the bottom.










Turn the piece inside out. Zig-zag stitch or serge around entire cut opening to help prevent it from unraveling. Pin cut edges together. (which will be the bottom of the purse). Securely sew shut.









Use this piece as a template and cut two pieces from any leftover fabric. This will make the lining. If you are using interfacing, attach it now following directions that came with it.








Add any pockets in whatever size you desire. This is your chance to personalize the purse the way you want it!









With right sides of lining together, stitch around side and bottom edges. Press top edge of lining toward the wrong side. Place the lining inside the purse with the wrong side of the lining facing the wrong side of the purse.









Pin the top opening of the lining to the top opening of the purse just below the ribbing. If there is no ribbing, allow enough fabric to easily wrap around the handles. Stitch the lining to the purse along the top edges and sides as needed.








You will need to cut open and seam the sides of the ribbing. This will make it easier to wrap around the handles. I find circular handles work well with this, and the larger the sweater, the larger your handles will need to be. Lay the handle on the wrong side of the ribbing, wrap the ribbing around the handle. Pin, then sew into place - and the sewing may have to be done by hand. Just make sure it is very secure. Repeat on the other side.

You could also attach hook and loop tape and use that to close the ribbing around the handle. I haven't tried it yet, but it would let you remove the handles if needed.






And there you have it! A new purse from an old sweater - recycling at its best!

As always, I'd love comments about this tutorial. Was it helpful? Did it inspire you to remake something you have? If something isn't clear, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to clarify.

Thanks for reading!

01 December 2008

Excellent Customer Service from Supercrafty.com!

Tis the season! The holidays are approaching, and in these tough economic times, retail businesses are looking for ways to get - and keep - customers. You will hear businesses tout their customer service, and no doubt many will be stepping it up to try to help sluggish sales figures.

I've recently had an experience with excellent customer service from an online merchant, and I had to share. When I find something good, I want everyone else to know about it!

Here's the backstory. Earlier this fall, I decided to knit my mom a gift for Christmas. (Momma - if you are reading this, please STOP!!) I found a pattern and casually began looking for yarn. Then I came across a note I had written to the effect that I'd make her an apron for a gift. I wasn't sure if she had mentioned it, or if I just thought it would be a good idea. I hated to ruin the surprise, but I wanted to make sure she got what she wanted, so I asked her. She gave me some specifics as to style, colors and patterns she would like, and I began creating a pattern and looking for fabric.

But I couldn't find what I wanted. Lots of great fabric, but just not right.

So I re-examined my knitting idea. If I'm going to knit something for her to wear, seems that giving it to her at Christmas, when she can wear it immediately, made sense. I could make her apron for her birthday in May (and I'd have more time to find the perfect fabric).

So, back to looking for yarn. On site I visited was Supercrafty. I've followed Allison's blog for over a year now, and occasionally she'll mention some new yarn she has tried out. A look through Supercrafty showed me the perfect yarn - Misti Alpaca. I knew that was what I wanted, and placed my order.

I soon received shipping confirmation and anxiously waited to get the yarn. It was early November, so I had less than two months to make this. I'm fairly new to knitting, so I'm rather slow. Add in a full-time job, trying to get my design business going, and single-parenting a 13 year old, and I don't have much free time.

And I waited. Veteran's Day holiday meant no mail delivery, but I hoped for the day after. But it didn't arrive then, or for several days after.

I finally checked online and noted that the post office had confirmed delivery a week earlier! Um, maybe delivered, but NOT TO ME! I was home at the time the delivery was noted, and no one came by. There was no noted left in my mail box to pick up a package. I double-checked my order, and it was sent to the correct address. So, I called the post office and reported it. I ended up calling my local post office four times; three times I was told that they would have to check with the mail carrier, and he wasn't in but they'd ask and call me back. But they didn't call back. So I'd call again.

Finally, I talked to a supervisor who told me that if there was delivery confirmation, the only thing I could do was file a claim if it was insured. This gentlemen even went to an address that is similar to mine to see if the package had been left there in error, but no one was home.

As soon as I found the post office had delivered it, I contacted Allison and explained what had happened. I thought that if it had been mis-delivered, it might be returned to her, and I wanted her to know that I did want the yarn. She said that it had not been returned, but she would look for it.

Once I finally learned that there was little hope of getting the package, I decided to re-order and try again. I contacted Allison asking if there was a way to add insurance to the shipping charge in case this package went astray also. Her reply left me speechless - in a good way! She said that she guaranteed delivery of all orders and she would replace the yarn! I really did not expect this - she had very promptly shipped my order to the correct address. The fact the post office mis-delivered it was not her fault. I received an email notice that the order had shipped last Wednesday. On Saturday, it was waiting in my mailbox!

I am thrilled! Not only is the yarn wonderful (oh, it is so soft!), but the customer service I received was outstanding! I will definitely order from Supercrafty again - and I hope that if you are looking for wonderful yarns or other knitting and crocheting supplies, you will check her out as well.

And now, if you will excuse me, I have some knitting to do!

21 November 2008

Tutorial: Granny Square Stocking

The holidays are fast approaching, and I often find I want a few more decorations - but little money to purchase them. I also seem to have quite a supply of leftover yarn. You know the part left over after you complete a project. Not enough to make anything with, but it seems too much to just throw away.

Here's an idea to use your leftover bits - a crocheted granny square. Sewn together, it looks a bit like a Christmas stocking and can add some holiday decoration around your home.



Granny squares are easy to make, making them the perfect project for someone who has learned the basic crochet stitches. They are a great project to carry around with you because they are small and easily transported - no need to haul that afghan with you.

Granny squares can be joined to make scarves, blankets, and wraps. An internet search for “crochet granny squares instructions” will turn up many results, often with pictures, so I'll only cover the basics here.

You can select any yarn and hook size you want. The larger the hook, the larger the final square will be. Play around with different yarns and hooks to find the look you like best. You can also use one yarn throughout or change yarns as you go, depending on how much yarn you have and the look you want.

To begin, make a foundation ring by chain 4; join the last loop to the first chain with a slip stitch and pull through. There is another way to create a foundation chain here; I've used this a couple of times, but am still trying to get comfortable with it, so I often still use the traditional method.

Round 1: *3 double crochet in ring, chain 2; repeat from * 3 times.
Round 2: *3 double crochet, chain 2, 3 double crochet in the 2 chain space, chain 1; repeat from * 3 times
Round 3: *3 double crochet, chain 2, 3 double crochet in the 2 chain space, chain 1, 3 double crochet in next space, chain 1; repeat from * 4 times
Round 4: *3 double crochet, chain 2, 3 double crochet in the 2 chain space, chain 1, 3 double crochet in the next space twice, chain 1; repeat from * 3 times.

(You can use the same yarn throughout, or you can change - with each round, only on one round, or for the single crochet edging. Play around with it and see which look you like. This is also a great way to use up leftover bits of yarn you have around. If you have enough for two rounds, use it, then switch over to another. Experiment, play, and see what you create!

The granny square is now finished!

To make the stocking, fold the square in half. With the same hook and same or different yarn, join the bottom and side together with a single crochet stitch. Put the hook through a chain on both layers; pull yarn through both layers and finish stitch.

When you reach the top of the “stocking” continue with the single crochet stitches, but only go through one layer (so you will need to circle around the top of the stocking. When you complete the round, join with a slip stitch to the first single crochet. If you want a hanging loop, then chain stitch to twice the desired length of the loop you want; bring hook down and slip stitch next two first chain of the loop. Finish off.

Or, you can thread a needle with yarn and sew the edges together.

You now have a granny square stocking! Isn't it cute!



And now - what can you do with these?

They look really cute hanging from the Christmas tree:



They can also be used to hold the To/From cards on holiday packages:




As well as placecard holders for your holiday dinner table. Add a few pieces of candy and let the guest takes these home.




What other uses can you thing of for these?

16 November 2008

Weekend Review

My son was at his dad's this weekend, so I took advantage and accomplished several things on my to do list. The fact it was cloudy and cold Saturday helped keep me inside and working. But it was very nice to see the sun today!

Here's what I did over the weekend, in no particular order:

I learned to play mah jongg! I first heard of this game when I read about it in a Nancy Drew mystery. Can't even begin to remember which one, but I've always wondered about it. No more - I now know how addictive it is!!

I worked on a couple of clutches using upholstery samples from a furniture store. Here's a sneak peak:
















I made tarn! What's that - t-shirt yarn! Cut old t-shirts into strips and use the strips to knit or crochet. Not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but at least it is ready to go:

















I attended this. It was nearby, and I hoped to get some inspiration. Instead, I was overwhelmed by the beads available! Such gorgeous colors and stones that I haven't seen before. Since I prefer to reuse materials, however, I think next time I'm going with money to purchase findings. The prices seemed to be good compared to the local stores, although I really need to research that some more.

And I watched this:




A documentary about Karl Lagerfeld released in 2006, it follows him through setting up and photographing ads, sketching (he uses correction fluid to get the look he wants on some sketches!), packing, traveling, talking about some of the Chanel shows, and interviews with him about his life. Love him or hate him, agree with him or not, this is a fascinating look at one of the great influences on fashion today.

My son is back from his dad's, and I'm going to wrap up this weekend with this blog post!

What did you do this weekend???

10 November 2008

Yarn Transformation - part 1

A few months ago, a friend was cleaning out her closet, and gave me several items to take apart and remake. Included was a sweater she had knit from wool yarn. I asked her if she wanted to unravel it and reuse the yarn herself, but she wasn't interested. Because I've had a hard time finding thrift store sweaters that can be unraveled, especially wool ones, I gratefully took it. Instructions for unraveling a sweater (and how to identify a hand-knit one that can be unraveled) can be found at Neauveau Fiber Arts.

From this:




To this:



What comes next??


I think I want to knit something, although I may crochet. But so far, I haven't decided. A hat? A scarf? The yarn is really soft and warm, so I want to make something special. If you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment!

08 November 2008

Fall Photographs

The leaves are turning in Memphis, and this year they are very colorful. We had quite a bit of rain in mid-October, followed by some cold temperatures, then warm. Apparently the combination worked to produce some gorgeous shades of red, gold, and yellow.



This is the view from my front porch. I took the photo a week ago, and more leaves have turned. I need to get another photo today before they start falling.







I want to collect some of the red maple leaves and put them in a bowl for a splash of color in my apartment.