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Archive for Paper Crafts

reconstructing a yarn swift

Thanks to Heather and Jesse, I now have a very cool vintage umbrella swift, with one slight problem: the spinning part is missing, so all I had was the umbrella part to hold the yarn. I’ve been waiting for months to find the time to buy wood and get my handy husband to help me make 1) a new base that I can clamp to the table and 2) some sort of rotation mechanism so it can spin freely. So far, we’d only got as far as finding a Lazy Susan bearing mechanism.

Yesterday I got sick of waiting and decided to rig something from available materials: cardboard, craft glue, and thumbtacks. Less than an hour later, I had a functional yarn swift and ball winder combo:

yarn swift

All I did was build 2 cardboard blocks, each made from 3 layers of corrugated cardboard glued together. Corrugated cardboard is very strong, especially if you stack each piece at 90 degrees to the last so the ribs run perpendicular to each other. Here you can see the swift in action: the bottom block remains still, while the top block and swift both rotate as the ball winder pulls on the yarn:

yarn swift

This was my magic idea that would allow it to work without damaging the swift with glue or nails: before I assembled the top block, I cut a fitted hole into each layer of cardboard. With the swift snugly embedded into the cardboard, the two should be able to rotate together:

yarn swift

Here you can see the Lazy Susan ball-bearing mechanism between the two cardboard blocks. I attached it to the blocks with a simple thumbtack through the screw hole at each corner and pushed into the cardboard:

yarn swift

The moment of truth – does it really work? I wasn’t sure if it’d need some sort of non-slip mat underneath the bottom cardboard block, or a clamp to attach it to the table, but it was perfectly stable without either; as I turned the handle on the ball winder, the swift started to spin easily, allowing more yarn to be wound…

yarn swift

…until, within minutes, the entire hank had become a beautiful centre-pull ball. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to wind an entire 400m laceweight yarn hank without getting into a terrible tangle.

yarn swift

Once the umbrella is folded up, the whole thing is very conveniently small:

yarn swift

It’s so refreshing for me to take a break from my usual perfectionism and just MacGyver a ‘good-enough’ solution to a problem. It may not last forever, but I can easily make replacement cardboard pieces (or a sturdier solution, when I have time) – it’d only take seconds to remove the thumbtacks and have the bearing mechanism ready for reuse. But this is the perfect solution for now.

Mission accomplished: now I can crochet my gorgeous yarn into a new design!

Comments (8)

punchneedle globe WIP (part 2)

Punchneedle Globe menu:

So, as everyone guessed from my last post (yeah, I didn’t think it’d be much of a stumper!), my ongoing punchneedle project is going to be a 3D globe, embroidered onto two flat circles (with wedge-shaped gaps around the edges so I can stitch them into hemispheres later) and then stuffed and stitched into a full globe.

punchneedle project - work in progress

It’s pretty ambitious, and even more so than I first imagined when I decided on the size: as the fabric will be curved after punching it, the loopy stitches will end up splaying further apart than usual, so I’m punching my stitches very close together so you (hopefully) won’t be able to see the fabric between the stitches after the globe is assembled. It’s sloooow going, but also quite nice to have a ‘mindless’ project I can work on – designing projects all the time is tiring, and, now I’ve completed the design for the globe, this is a soothing project to work on when I’m watching TV, just filling in each area with the right colour.

As you can see from the picture below, I have completely finished 2 of the 12 sections of the southern hemisphere, and I’m partway through the rest. And – hey – is that Australia I spy?

Here’s something that’s made it more fun though: Jessica at How About Orange linked to these cute printable floss bobbins designed by Wild Olive, and I thought they’d inject a bit of cute into the process.

I printed a sheet of bobbins onto white cardstock and cut them out (yes, I did pick the 4 shades that were closest to my floss colours – silly things like that make me happy). In contrast to the globe, they were a very quick and satisfying project!

Here’s a little papercrafty tip for you: to cut a smooth curve like these bobbin edges, hold the scissors steady and rotate the cardboard as you cut.

punchneedle project (work in progress) + cardboard bobbins

As I punch with 3 of the 6 strands of floss at a time, I usually cut a 1.5m length of floss, split it into two, and then leave the other 3-strand length languishing in my project box until I need it. Now I can wind the spare length onto the bobbin, and it’ll be neatly stored until I need that colour again. And I’ve even pre-cut and split an entire skein of the blue floss and wound all the lengths onto my blue bobbin, so I won’t be interrupted with cutting new lengths during my next punchneedle session. (As I’m working on the southern hemisphere, there’s a lot of blue ocean to fill in!)

Printable cardboard floss bobbins: recommended! They may not last forever, but they make me smile and I can always print more when these wear out. Or – shock horror – use the other shades that I already printed… but I don’t know if my matchy-matchy self will allow me to do that: green thread on a red bobbin? That’s just crazy talk! 😀

Comments (8)

writing my first craft book

Last week, I got a big box in the mail. It contained all the sample projects I made for my book, Paper Chains & Garlands, and shipped off to New York over a year ago to be photographed. It’s so strange to see them again after all this time!

paperchain projects

It brought me right back to early 2009, when I was writing the book – it was my first experience of print publishing, after years of self-publishing patterns and writing web-based tutorials. I thought some of you may be interested in hearing a bit more about my experience of writing my first craft book…

paper chains and garlands

The timeline was very tight. I spent my days writing, designing, shopping for paper and tools, and learning more about how to use Adobe Illustrator for the book’s illustrations. Evenings were spent cutting, scoring, folding, gluing. I re-started every time my scissors slipped, because I was not going to have an imperfect sample in my book. I cried in frustration when my hands were too painful to hold the scissors any more, and I had to stop for the evening. I gritted my teeth and went paper shopping yet again when my editor told me that one of my colour schemes wasn’t going to work (when I’d already cut and folded over 100 pieces for the original sample!).

And then, after killing myself making 16 perfect sample garlands (of at least 5 ft long, and some much longer), the photographs in the book are all close-ups (at least my perfectionism paid off there!) and show no more than 1 ft of the garland in most cases, so most of my work was wasted… Although, now I finally have them back, I have ready-made paper decorations for every possible occasion 🙂

paperchain projects

All this had faded in my memory, but seeing all the paper projects brought it all back. Please don’t think I’m complaining: it was great experience and an eye-opening introduction to print publishing. The book is a Barnes & Noble exclusive (the big US bookstore chain), so it’s hard for me to gauge how successful it is, when it’s not even available to purchase here in Canada! But I see that its status at is ‘sold out’, so I assume that’s a good sign! I’ll let you know if/when it’s reprinted and available again.

paper chains and garlands

Don’t get me wrong; I’m very proud of my first craft book and happy to have been given the chance to write it. But let me just say this: if anyone tells you that writing craft books is easy and fun, they may not be telling you the whole truth…

Comments (13)

‘grass’ sticky page markers

I’ve been avoiding paper crafts since I stopped writing for Folding Trees. Trying to scan the web every day for paper craft resources to highlight was exhausting and ultimately put me off papercrafting. But I’ve started to miss coming up with my own crafty paper tutorials – I think I’m out of my paper funk!

Here’s a really simple paper project. The idea came from these GreenMarkers that Kari found in a Japanese online shop:

GreenMarkers from Yuruliku

When you need to mark up a lot of pages of a book, you end up with a swarm of sticky arrows sticking out of the edge of the book. I love the idea of forming a little clump of grass ‘growing’ out of the book instead, so here’s my simple 5-minute DIY version:

‘Grass’ Sticky Page Markers

grass sticky page markers by planetjune
They look especially cute in my papercraft book, Paper Chains and Garlands, don’t you think? 😀

You will need:

  • Green sticky notes (if you can’t find green ones, you could colour normal coloured notes with a green pencil or paint before you begin)
  • Pair of sharp scissors
  • Bone folder (optional)

I found these recycled paper Post-It notes that include a lovely spring green colour:

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

Take a sticky note and make sure the sticky edge is at the bottom:

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

Cut out blades of grass from the note. You need to make a long thin triangular shape with a slight curve, starting from the bottom (sticky) edge and tapering to a point. Cut the shapes freehand – if they aren’t exactly the same size and shape they will have a more organic, natural feel.

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

Note: Make all the blades curve in the same direction – it saves paper, and when you stick some on left-hand pages and some on right-hand pages of your book, you’ll end up with some blades curving in each direction anyway!

Stick the blades down on a piece of paper.

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

Turn the paper around so that the sticky edge of the blades is at the top. Use a bone folder or the wrong side of the edge of your scissors to score a line down the middle of each blade, drawing the folder towards you from the base to the tip of each blade.

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

You don’t have to be too exact! If you look carefully you can see my scored lines on the 4 rightmost blades:

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

With your fingers, pinch the sides of each blade slightly so that it folds up around the scored line. This adds a little dimension and realism to the grass!

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

Use your blades of grass to mark up your reference books without damaging them!

grass sticky page markers by planetjune

A touch of spring, whatever the weather! I hope you like my grass markers 🙂

Comments (13)

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