Wooden Easter Sign

For this month, I was planning to unveil a pattern for a TV table runner I’ve been working on. However, after several failed attempts at the pattern, I decided it might need an additional month. Crafting is supposed to be my escape, after all, but sometimes I get frustrated when things don’t come out the way I want.

So much fun!

It was on a trip to Joann Fabrics to look for yarn options for this pattern that I found this month’s craft. I’m a sucker for paintable wooden crafts, and when I saw a display of Easter wooden crafts, I fell in love with an egg-shaped sign. I also fell in love with the 50% discount the store was offering. Desperately needing something to calm my nerves after pulling out yet another row of knitting, I decided to paint my sign so I could hang it in time for the holiday.

Pay no attention to the price tag. The sign was 50% off.

Since I often paint wooden and plaster crafts, I already had most of the paint and Diamond Dotz I needed for this project. Both paint and Diamond Dotz are relatively inexpensive, and can be for several projects, so these types of crafts are very economical.

Tip: if you have the paint, but not the Diamond Dotz, simply paint a small swatch of paint onto a piece of paper and bring it with you to the craft store. This is the best way to find the exact match you’re looking for.

Before I start painting, I always like to plan out the colors I want to use so none of the same colors are close to each other. Taking a pencil, I lightly marked the wood flowers so I can keep track of what color goes where. For the egg, I decided to paint it a light dove gray.

For the hyacinth flowers, I wanted to try to give them a pop of contrasting color.  To do this, I painted them a solid color, then when that dried, I went back and applied small dots of color in a lighter or darker tone of the same color.  This gave the flowers some depth.

To add the “Happy Easter” to the middle of the sign, I bought some vinyl cut-out letters and traced them. Unfortunately, after I laid them out, I did not like the way the “y” in “Happy” looked. For some reason, it was much smaller than the other letters. To solve this, I simply wrote out “Happy” in free-hand and used the vinyl letters for “Easter.” As you can see, it took me a few tries to get it right as evidenced by all the pencil lines I left behind. To hide all the pencil lines I applied another layer of gray paint.

Once the painting was complete, it was time for the Diamond Dotz. I applied a coat of Aleene’s Tacky Glue to the areas I wanted to sparkle and then waited about an hour before getting to work. Turning on a Netflix documentary, I poured out my colors and got to work. There’s something calming about applying Diamond Dotz. I needed this after the frustration of my failed knitting pattern.

Use a craft stick/coffee stirrer to help spread the glue over the small spaces.

I love the way this egg sign came out.  I love anything that sparkles, and when the sun hits this sign it really dazzles.  If you’re looking for something to take your mind off the stresses of life, I recommend trying a simple wooden sign that can be found at almost any craft store.  They’re almost always on sale, and with a little paint, you can make something you’ll treasure for years to come.  Happy Easter!

Measuring Cup Ornament

This quaint craft is perfect to do with your kids on a cold afternoon. After this flu/cold/COVID season, many of us have a bunch of those little plastic measuring cups that come attached to the top of cough syrup bottles. Instead of trashing them, I’ve come up with a small and easy craft to upcycle these cups into a fun Christmas Bell ornament.

To decorate my little bells, I scoured my craft room. This is a great craft to use up any scraps you’ve accumulated throughout the holiday season. I was lucky to find a small sprig of plastic pine, some tiny bows and glitter. You could also use tiny pinecones, ornament balls or just about anything. Have fun finding something unusual to make your bells unique.

First, I cleaned the cups thoroughly and dried them. Cough syrup is really sticky, and you definitely don’t want any residue on your ornament. Next, I had to create a hole in the middle of the flat part of the cup. To make this easier and to prevent the cup from cracking, I put a small bit of painter’s tape over the spot where I wanted the hole. I used a drill to create the hole, but you could also use a sharp nail and a little pressure.

To create the silver rim, I used some Mod Podge and sparkles. You can use glue, but I used Mod Podge since it was what I had on hand. Using two paper plates, I poured a tiny amount of Mod Podge and sparkles into each plate. Then I simply dipped the edges of the cup into the Mod Podge, then rolled it around in the plate of sparkles. Allow the rim to dry for at least an hour.

To make the bell function, I used a 5-inch length of embroidery floss and a bead. Folding the floss in half, I tied a knot with the ends. Then I threaded the bead to rest on the knot. I had to use a small amount of hot glue to keep the bead steady since the bead I used had a large hole. Then, I threaded the floss through the hole at the top of the measuring cup. I used a paper clip to help me get the thread through the tiny hole. Using some more hot glue, glue the thread in place, making sure that the bead is hanging about halfway down the bell.

Tie the ends together to hold the bead in place. Use a bit of hot glue inside the bead to keep the bead from slipping through.
Hot glue the thread in place.

Once the glue is dried, it’s time to decorate! This is where you can get really creative. Since the bells are tiny, i cut a piece of plastic pine sprig up into bits. I took two tiny bits of pine and glued them on either side of the top of this bell. Then added a bow.

For another bell, I dipped the ends of the pine sprigs into Mod Podge and sprinkled the ends with some more glitter. I simply poked the ends of the pine into a small block of floral foam and then dipped away. The floral foam makes a perfect holder to allow the Mod Podge to dry.

Poke the ends of the pine sprig pieces into floral foam.
Dip in glue and pour sprinkles over it. Presto! Icy pine sprigs!

I love taking something destined for the trash and turning it into treasure. Who knew cough syrup measuring cups could look so fancy? Most of the items I used for this craft were scraps from my craft room, so it cost next to nothing. I hope this craft inspires you to find something in your medicine cabinet, or anywhere in your home, and turn it into something special.

Winter Box with Lights

This past Christmas season I was shopping at TJ Maxx looking for some last-minute items for stocking stuffers. In the long, winding checkout line, a small white box caught my eye. It was made from lightweight balsam wood and had a simple snowflake stamped on it. At $7.99, I decided to throw it on top of my pile of Christmas purchases. By the time I was pulling my car out of the parking lot, I was plotting what to do to make this simple box something warm and inviting for the cold months ahead.

This project is a perfect January craft since you can acquire most of the items just after the holidays when discounts and steals are aplenty. Plus, who says the lights all have to away just because the holidays are over? I was able to get three bundles of pinecones at my local Stop & Shop on sale for only $6. The blue and silver berry picks came from Joann Fabrics and were 80% off. The floral foam and pine sprigs were on sale for 70% off at Michael’s craft store. Lastly, I used a string of 50 white lights to give the box a warm glow.

A necessary evil.

Disclaimer: Cinnamon-scented pinecones: I hate them with a passion. Unscented pinecones are available, but at the time I was shopping for this project just after Christmas, I couldn’t find any. Every Christmas season I dread the arrival of the bins of scented pinecones that fill the front of the local grocery stores. The smell is overwhelming, and I want to gag. If you’re like me, don’t despair. When you single out the bundles of scented pinecones, they don’t smell so bad. Plus, after a while, they lose their scent completely. Since the grocery store was having such a great deal on the pinecones, I decided to suck it up and buy them, although I did leave the windows of my car open a crack so I wouldn’t get a headache from the smell while I drove home.

Okay, now that I got that off of my chest, let’s get crafting! To begin, I cut the floral foam blocks to fit into the box. I recommend doing this over a table since the floral foam makes a lot of dust. Next, I arranged the pinecones on top of the foam and moved them around until I found just the right look. Then it was time to get the hot glue gun.

I covered the bottom of the pinecones in a healthy amount of hot glue to keep them secure on the floral foam. Letting them set for at least a half hour, I then untangled the string of 50 white lights. Lights with green wire is best since it’s much easier to hide. Keeping the plug-end of the lights hanging over the edge, I carefully wove the lights between the pinecones. Once the lights were placed, it was time to fill it all in with some pine branches and accents.

Since the box I had was small, I only needed one large pick of greenery. I pulled out the individual sprigs from the pick, then I stuffed them between the pinecones, adding a dab of hot glue to the ends of the branches to keep them secure.

Cut or pop off the individual sprigs.
After adding pine sprigs.

To finish the wintry look, I cut up a few picks of white and blue berries to add a touch of color to the light box. Before gluing them down, I first placed the berries to see where they would fit best. I cut the blue berries individually and the white ones in groups of three to keep the look consistent.

Using wire cutters or scissors, cut off small bunches or individual berries for accents.

When I finished, I kept the box lit all afternoon. The (thankfully faint) smell of cinnamon filled my sitting room as the warmth of the lights heated the pinecones. The whole project took only an afternoon to complete. The box looks beautiful on my hearth. I was lucky enough to find this crate at the store, but most craft stores carry unpainted crates that could easily be painted just like this one. Keep warm this winter, and keep crafting!

Personalized Wooden Gift Tags

For this holiday month, I wanted to share a super simple craft. The best part is that it’s also an inexpensive one. Even though the holidays are a busy time, I like to try to add something crafty to everything I give to let the recipient know I care. Recently, while I was perusing Amazon, I came across a set of laser-cut ornaments for just under $15. I was looking for something to jazz up my gift bags this year, and I thought these shapes would make for great name tags.

The set came with twelve ornaments of different Christmas shapes, red & white string to hang them and jingle bells of different colors.  After deciding who in my family would get each shape, I went to my craft room for some acrylic paint.

Paint used for this project
Diamond Dotz used for this project

Diamond Dotz and paint used:

White: Craft Smart paint in white and Diamond Dotz #8002

Green: DecoArt Americana in evergreen and Diamond Dotz #8230

Red: DecoArt Americana in Alizarin Crimson and Diamond Dotz #8042

Silver: DecoArt Americana in Silver Morning and Diamond Dotz #7005

Blue: Americana in Winter Blue and Diamond Dotz #8125

After painting two coats of paint onto the ornaments, I matched up the colors to Diamond Dotz. The Diamond Dotz would not only make the ornaments pop, but they would catch all the lights on the Christmas Tree and really dazzle.

To personalize some of the ornaments, I printed out the initials of my family using Word. For the smaller ones like the stocking, I drew freehand with a fine-tipped Sharpie marker. You can use stencils if you wish, but I simply used Word to pick the font I wanted and the size that would work. Then I cut out the letters and carefully traced them with a pencil onto the painted ornaments.

Next it was time to prepare the ornaments for the Diamond Dotz. I used Aleene’s tacky glue for this part. After applying a thick coat, I wanted until glue was completely translucent (about 1-2 hours). For the reindeer and stocking, I decided not to cover the ornament in Dotz and to instead add a touch of sparkle. When the glue was ready, I started adding Diamond Dotz to the monogram letters first. Then, starting at the edge and working my way in, I added the rest of the Dotz. Since the ornaments were small, it only took the length of a Hallmark movie to complete.

When I was done, I used the string provided by the craft kit to hang them onto each gift bag. The tags made it easy for me to see who got what. I even used the colorful jingle bells! Giving something thoughtful for the holidays doesn’t have to mean spending a ton of money. Most times making someone feel special only takes a little bit of time and creativity. That’s what makes crafting so great. Happy Holidays!

Norway Spruce Holiday Swag

I wanted to try something different to decorate my front door this year.  This is the time of year I stalk the local grocery stores, trying to find an inexpensive wreath to hang on my door.  Since I don’t have a storm door, I like to get a real wreath so that it can hold up to the elements.  But I’ve also been trying to keep the holidays as simple as possible.  When I noticed my local supermarket was selling real pine wreathes for over $20, I decided this was the year I was going to look to my yard for inspiration for a door-hanging.

Monster Tree

Every fall my yard is literally bathed in pine cones, needles and leaves.  My yard has several large trees, most of them evergreen.  On one side of my yard is a giant Norway spruce.  I call it the “monster tree” because when I first saw it, I thought it was quite scary looking.  With long sweeping branches of pine, the tree truly is monstrous.  I’m always trimming its large branches back away from the house.  So, I thought, why not try to use some of these branches to make a festive piece for my front door?

Out to my yard I went with a pair of branch trimmers. The hanging pine branches are thin and all that is needed is a pair of hand clippers to cut them. It only takes a few of the hanging branches to make a decent swag, and the tree in my yard is so full that you can barely notice where I trimmed. I decided to take a few branches with pine cones still attached for an added rustic feel.

Arrange the clippings in a nice bunch.

For the bow, I used some buffalo check ribbon found at Michael’s craft store and an inexpensive red bow from Walmart. I took the red bow apart and used the wire to attach it and the buffalo check together. I’m not the best bow maker, but I did my best. Then I added some simple plastic berries I picked up on sale at JoAnn Fabrics.

Next I gathered the tops of my Norway spruce clippings and tied them together with what was left of the bow wire. Then it was time to hang it on my front door.

This craft illustrates how you don’t have to spend a lot of money to “spruce” up your exterior for the holidays. Don’t forget, you can always re-use the picks and bows on another swag or wreath next year. Not only was it cheap, but it took me no time to do. Using natural elements, you can have a door hanging that is elegant and inexpensive. Happy Holidays!

The Coffee Frame

September

Much like crafting, coffee is another passion of mine. The first thing I reach for when I wake up is my precious morning cup. There’s something comforting about holding a hot cup of coffee early in the morning. Because I drink so much coffee, I have an assortment of coffee mugs that I use. I’m quite picky about my specifications for the perfect mug. Must be roomy, but not too big. Handle mustn’t be too small or narrow. When the weather turns crisp and the leaves begin to fall, I have a few harvest and Halloween mugs that I take out of storage to use. As soon as Halloween is over, I take out my collection of holiday mugs to drink from. I have so many that I dedicate an entire cabinet in my kitchen to Christmas mugs!

Meet Betty Duck Duck Goose!
Even the bathroom gets seasonal rubber duckies.

It’s no surprise that I already have a few coffee signs hanging in my kitchen. Walking through home stores, there are endless coffee signs to buy, but I couldn’t find a coffee sign that changed with the holidays. I have always loved décor that changes with the seasons. In my bathroom, I have an assortment of different rubber duckies I’ve collected over the years that I display on a shelf depending on the time of year. By my fireplace, there’s my plastic lawn goose, Betty Duck Duck, and I have a picture frame that I have written about previously that displays the different holiday pin art that I create. But for all the different signs that are sold in stores, I had nothing in my kitchen that changed with the different seasons and holidays. That’s when I came up with the Coffee Frame.

Bought on Etsy
Bought at Walmart

I went on Etsy to find the wooden coffee mugs. There are several shops that sell laser cut wood in just about any shape. I bought six since each coffee mug so that when each side was painted it would be twelve images. For the sign, I wanted something around 8 x 10”. I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for since I wanted something hollow in the back so I could store the extra mugs, but I was able to find an inexpensive frame at Walmart that would work.

Bought at Walmart
Bought at Michael’s Craft Store

For the images, I found a variety of stencils at Michael’s Craft Store and Walmart. But, if you can’t find a stencil that you like, the internet is full of free clip art that can be printed, traced or used for inspiration.

Use tissue paper to transfer a traced clip art image
One side is July
The reverse is August

Before I started, I planned out the colors and stencils I wanted to use to depict each month. I first painted each side of the coffee mugs with the background colors I chose. Since I didn’t want to repeat any color, I thought it out before starting. Then I simply added the stencils or images on top. For some, I decided to add some simple dots or simple design to help finish the look.

To seal the coffee mugs, I sprayed them with shellac. After they dried, I drilled a small hole in the top of each mug for hanging. In hindsight, I wish I had drilled the holes prior to painting, but honestly, my drill broke and I wasn’t able to replace it sooner in the project. The next step was to paint the actual sign.

I wanted to paint the sign a nice coffee brown, and I found the perfect color.  It was even called cafe ole! For the wording, a darker brown vinyl was used.   For the lettering, I had my co-worker help, since I’m still getting the hang of using my Cricut.  If you don’t have a die-cutting machine, you can always use stencils for the wording.  After the vinyl was placed, I sealed the plaque with some more shellac.

Online I found a small “L” hook to hang the mugs. Once I gently nailed the hook into the sign it only took a few twists before the hook easily attached to the sign. The last step was adding a sawtooth hanger to the back.

This project was a lot of fun and the perfect addition to my coffee sign collection. The possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to start switching out the mugs as the months change. You can make a birthday mug, or even print a funny saying on one of the mugs. Just remember: it’s always time for coffee!

June
May
October
March
December

Wooden Butterfly Figurine

The last few weeks at work have been hard on me.  With the world adjusting to life in what seems like an endless pandemic, everyone seems stressed.  Working in healthcare has its challenges, but a particularly tough patient had me in tears recently.  It’s funny (or not so funny) how one person can ruin your day.  The anger consumed me so bad that I lost a little bit of my spark.   I have some larger craft projects that I hope to share with you soon, but this weekend I wanted to do a simple project I had on the back burner for a while.  I was glad I took it off the shelf.  I needed to relax and get back into crafting to find my light again.

Henrietta

One thing that brought me joy this August was raising a Monarch caterpillar. Every summer, my sister searches my mother’s milkweed patch for signs of Monarch Butterfly eggs. Monarchs lay their eggs on the under-side of milkweed leaves. Tearing the leaf from the plant, she places them in a jar to hatch. This year, she found several and gave me one to take home. I was terrified to be in charge of this tiny creature, but eager to try. After a couple days, the small white egg hatched and a tiny dark caterpillar emerged.

Baby Henrietta

Every day on my way home from work I stopped at a nearby soccer field.  I knew from when my daughter played soccer years before that this field had lots of milkweed.  I picked the fattest leaf I could find and placed it in the jar.  Slowly, to my great relief, the caterpillar grew and she began to show the yellow and black stripes of a Monarch caterpillar.

We named our little caterpillar Henry/Henrietta, since we weren’t sure if it was a male or a female. As the days went on, everyone in the family took turns watching little Henrietta grow. Then, the morning came when she left her milkweed leaves behind and began to crawl to the top of the enclosure. After nearly two weeks caring for her, it was a little sad to see her hang upside down from the top of the cage, readying her body for a massive transformation. But I knew going into this that she wasn’t mine to keep. I left for work that morning and my daughter texted me a couple hours into my shift. Henrietta was a bright, green chrysalis.

Every morning, instead of searching for milkweed, we checked her enclosure for signs she was ready to hatch.  Finally, after eleven days, the chrysalis turned translucent and her black and orange wings were visible on a sunny, but terribly windy, morning.  Once she was fully emerged, her wings told us she was a female butterfly.  Later that day she finally found the courage to fly into the windy afternoon.  Henrietta clung to a hydrangea leaf as the wind battered her, but finally, she flew out of my view and into the world.

I couldn’t think of a better craft than to make a sparkly butterfly figurine for my shelf. Whenever I go to a craft store, I like to explore their wooden craft section for just this purpose. I picked up the butterfly carving a few months ago. With the Monarch migration in full swing, it’s my way to honor their beautiful wings. It doesn’t hurt that since their wings are black and orange, it fits in perfectly with the Fall.

Supplies: Black, orange and white acrylic paint. Diamond Dotz used: 8002 White, 8001 Black and 8333 Dark Orange. You will also need an embroidery pen and wax to apply the Diamond Dotz.

To start, I painted the figure. You can see from the picture that the piece had designs carved into the wood, but I ignored them. You can go the further step of filling the lines with wood fill to make the wood smooth, but since I was planning to cover the piece in Diamond Dotz I didn’t bother.

Using a picture of a Monarch Butterfly as my guide, I drew the patterns of the wings with a pencil. To make the wings as identical as I could, I used a piece of tissue paper and traced the pattern on one side of the wing. Carefully, so as not to rip the tissue paper, I traced the pattern on both sides of the tissue paper so that the image would transfer onto the wood.

The last part of the painting was adding the white dots of the Monarch’s wings. Once that was done, the piece was ready for some sparkle. Using Aleene’s Tacky Glue, I applied a thick layer of the glue all over the front of the piece. The glue goes on white, but once it is ready it will appear translucent. It takes about one to two hours for the glue to settle. Then it’s time to add some sparkle!

Don’t worry, it will dry translucent, I promise!

To apply the Diamond Dotz, I used what they call an embroidery pen.  To help pick up the gems, I also recommend purchasing wax pads or pots.  Simply dip the embroidery pen into the wax and then you’re ready to go.  Whenever I want to add Diamond Dotz to a project I’m painting, I always go to the craft store (I prefer JoAnn Fabrics because I find they have a great variety of gem colors) and pick the paint out first and then head over to the display of Diamond Dotz.  This is the best way I have found to match the gems with the paint.

I love Diamond Dotz.  It’s such an easy and fun way to add some sparkle to a painting project.  And if you’ve seen my other crafts, I love sparkle.  The great thing about the tacky glue is that if you place a gem incorrectly, you can pry it off and try again.  Since I drew the pattern of the wings free-hand, I found I had to fix a few gems so they looked just right.  With such a small project, I was able to get all the gems on in one afternoon while watching football.

We all must find what brings us joy in life. For me, my joy is in crafting and writing. The world is a tough place to be right now, but if you know what brings you happiness, try to find time to do it, even if it’s for just a few minutes a day. And definitely don’t let anyone take your passion away. Happy crafting!

Safe travels, Henrietta!

Turn Vintage Elves Into Shady Shelf Elves

A while back I was at a thrift store when I spotted a pair of plaster shelf elves amongst a pile of Christmas ornaments. I love unusual Christmas decorations, especially vintage ones. So, for a buck, they were mine. Onto my windowsill they went, but I knew I needed to rehab them to bring them to their ultimate potential. The paint was dull and had grown dingy over the years. They looked drab and old sitting on the bright windowsill. One of the elves had a pointy shoe that was broken. I knew they could be so much more with a little elbow grease. After noticing them eyeing me while I decorated the tree, it hit me. It looked as if they were both judging my Christmas decorations. What if I re-painted them and made them true Shady Shelf Elves!

Supplies Needed:

Acrylic paint and fine-tipped paintbrushes

Small piece of sand paper

Wooden craft stick

Drywall spackle

Clear Acrylic Gloss Sealer

Since the elves are made of plaster, re-painting them was the easy part. I simply scuffed them up using a small piece of sand paper to make the paint easier to adhere. Using drywall spackle, I was able to fix the broken elf boot. To help shape the point of the boot, I used a wooden coffee stirrer. After the spackle dried, I carefully sanded it as smooth as I could.

For paint, I used some acrylic paint I had leftover in my craft room. I decided to change up the colors of the elves slightly. It was great to see how much better the elves began to look after a fresh coat of paint was applied. The white trim of the hats and sleeves especially looked much better with fresh paint. I allowed plenty of time for drying between coats. Finally, it was time to make these elves the judgmental elves they were destined to be.

I wanted the elves giving the side-eye to all who pass by them, so I painted the eyes white to get rid of the existing eyes. After that was dried, I painted the pupils in black first. A fine-tip paintbrush makes this much easier to do. Once that was dried, I lined the pupils with some blue paint. I finished by lining the eyes in black to make them pop. To seal the paint, I sprayed clear acrylic gloss over them.

This simple project shows that an inexpensive purchase at a thrift store can turn into a treasured Christmas decoration.  Perhaps my family will think twice before showing up to my house in an ugly Christmas sweater knowing that I have elves sitting on my shelf judging their every fashion choice.   With a little paint and time, you can turn a forgotten Christmas decoration into something fun.

Mini Mittens Christmas Ornament

I took a knitting class over twenty years ago with my sisters, aunt and cousin. It was offered at my old high school at night as part of the continuing education program. The teacher was great, and she started us off with a simple mitten pattern to learn the ropes of knitting. Making mittens is a great way to learn the art of knitting because it includes several components. Any basic mitten pattern includes the ribbing stitch, the stockinette stitch, increasing a stitch, and decreasing a stitch. Not to mention sewing a seam. After that class I was hooked on knitting. I’ve also come up with a few of my own patterns. Tweaking the first knitting pattern I followed, I came up with a miniature version of mittens to be used as an ornament. I created this pattern to sell at a Christmas Fair, but you could also use these little mittens to decorate a gift bag or even for a gender reveal. Leave them empty or fill them with candy.

It’s been so many years since I first came up with the mini mitten pattern, that I lost track of the pattern. Luckily, my cousin still had a copy and gave it to me. I realized quickly when I developed this pattern that simply making an existing mitten pattern smaller does not work. So, I had to try several times to get the mittens to look just right. This pattern knits up quickly and it’s a great way to use up an old skein of yarn. I was able to complete a pair in less than a day while watching TV. You can knit in one color, add a stripe or make the ribbing a different color for contrast. I find worsted weight yarn is the best to hold the shape of the mitten, but you can use baby yarn if you like.

Supplies:

Pair of size 2 knitting needles

Two stitch holders

Tapestry needle for sewing seams

Worsted weight yarn in color of your choosing (I used Red Heart for the ones pictured)

Cast on 24 stitches and work in ribbing (k1, p1) for 1 inch.  One tip is to count the rows it takes you to get to 1 inch.  That way when you make the matching mitten, you can keep them the same size.

To start thumb gusset:

 K11, increase 1 stitch in each of next two stitches.  K the rest of the row.

(all even rows) purl

K11, increase 1 stitch, k next two stitches, increase 1 stitch, K rest of the row.

K11, increase 1 stitch, k next four stitches, increase 1 stitch, K rest of the row.

K11, increase 1 stitch, k next 6 stitches, increase 1 stitch, K rest of the row.

K12, place on stitch holder, K next eight stitches for thumb. Put the rest of the stitches left on the needle on another stitch holder (you will knit these stitches later after the thumb is completed.)

Then create thumb as follows:

Knit in the stockinette stitch (purl row, knit row) for 4 rows.

Decrease thumb tip as follows: Purl two stitches together across row.  Gather remaining stitches on tapestry needle and sew seam. Hide the extra yarn by weaving it into the seam.

After completing the thumb, place the yarn from the two stitch holders back onto the two needles. Reattach the yarn by the base of the thumb.

Knit the stitches from the second stitch holder so all stitches are on the same needle. Work in the stockinette stitch for 1 inch (remember to count rows so the other mitten will be the same size).

To create a stripe, when you reattach the yarn after creating the thumb, knit the rest of the stitches on the needle and purl the next row. Then attach the stripe yarn and knit in the stockinette stitch until you reach 1 inch from the base of the thumb. Next, reattach the main yarn color to begin mitten decrease.

Decrease tip of mitten:

K2, K 2 together, K2 across row

Rows 2 and 4: purl

K1, K 2 together, K1 across row

To finish, K 2 together across row. You should be left with 6 stitches on the needle.

Gather stitches on tapestry needle and sew seam. To connect the two mittens, I simply took a strand of yarn and worked it into the seam of the mittens, knotting the ends.

Milkweed & Monarch Pin Art

With the end of spring nearing, I wanted to create another pin art piece that depicted a perfect summer scene.  The first thing that came to mind for me was the Monarch Butterfly.  Living in Massachusetts, Monarch butterflies tend to arrive in my area around July and August.  Since they lay their eggs on the leaves of the milkweed plant, I wanted to include the plant as the main focal point in my piece.

Milkweed is becoming scarce as many people aim to keep their lawns weed-free. Open expanses of green grass may be pretty to look at, but eliminating weeds and wildflowers is detrimental our pollinators. Not too far from where I live is a soccer field that is literally filled with milkweed. This warms my heart, because it is the food source of the Monarch butterfly and is so important to our ecosystem. Every year I visit the fields to gather seeds in hopes of creating my own milkweed patch. I also try to search for any monarch eggs. I have tried several times to get my own milkweed patch to grow in my yard, but I haven’t had any luck yet. I’m hoping by creating this pin art to raise awareness of the importance of milkweed and wild plants that benefit both butterflies and bees.

Supplies

Clip art images of milkweed and butterfly and a piece of tissue for tracing.

1 piece of 8×10 pink velour contact paper

Assortment of 1 cm sequins

1 piece of 8×10, 1/2 inch Styrofoam

Clear seed beads and 3/4 inch sequin pins

Black embroidery thread for butterfly’s legs and antenna. 

Two black map pins for butterfly’s antenna

To start, I found a couple of clipart pictures of milkweed and Monarch butterflies. After printing out the pictures I wanted, I traced the milkweed using a piece of discarded tissue paper from a gift bag. Then I positioned the image of the butterfly over to where I wanted it to be in the picture and traced it into place. After that, I was ready to pin it to my board and adding sequins.

Before I could sequin, I had to prepare my piece of 1/2 inch Styrofoam. To do this, I covered it using a piece of pink velour contact paper. I found this online and it was not expensive. The contact paper helps to keep the Styrofoam from falling apart. Then, I pinned the tissue paper image on top of the pink velour. For the sequins, I was able to find a variety pack of sequins in an assortment of colors online, but they are also available at any local craft store.

Next, I began to sequin. For the milkweed flowers, I used lavender sequins and sprinkled a few dark purple sequins in for added color. I also used two different colored green sequins for the milkweed’s leaves. When I was done, I simply tore the tissue away to reveal the finished product.

When I finished the milkweed plant and butterfly, I decided to add a few blades of grass in all the green sequin colors I had.

To finish, I wanted to give the butterfly an antenna and legs. To do this I used a few pieces of black embroidery floss and two black map pins. Using a small length of the embroidery floss, I tied the ends in a knot. Then, using the sequin pins, I stretched out the floss tight to the black map pins. Make sure to leave the knotted end underneath a sequin to hide it. I did the same for the legs, the only difference is that I spread out the floss to create two legs.

After finishing this piece, I can’t wait to go back the soccer fields by my house and search for Monarch eggs. Watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then emerge as a butterfly is a great way to teach children the wonders of nature. It also is fun for adults, too! I hope this inspires you to create a pollinator pin art piece of your own.