I'm always on the lookout for new crafty gadgets. They're like my favorite thing. I don't have to use or even need a gadget to justify it's purchase. So when I got the urge to make buttons, I knew that there was a button making gadget out there, and that it had to be mine.
What a disappointment to find that badge/button makers are apparently REALLY expensive. Like hundreds of dollars expensive. The cheapest I found was a badge-a-minit "starter" hand press. At roughly $40 it was a much better deal than $400 but still out of my impulse buy price point.
Now, about a week from my 35th birthday my mom texted me about birthday gifts. After a few rounds of the obligatory polite refusal and accompanying "no really what do you want" I remembered the button maker and decided to seize the opportunity and send her the link.
Shameful. I know.
Well, mom pulled through and about a week later I was in button making business!
This machine has a tiny learning curve. The hardest part is having to refer to the directions for every step. Even after doing the first six buttons, I STILL couldn't remember which ring went next. The first button I made was a mess. half of the plastic cover didn't get tucked in properly.
After a bit of reverse engineering, I figured out how the pieces were to fit together, and discovered the root of the problem. You can't just go all willy-nilly. You have to add a step or two that badge-a-minit doesn't properly explain.
The secret tip!
I'm not going to explain the whole process of using this tool, because it's confusing enough as it is. But here are a few tips.
Keep your image from becoming off center by adding a TINY amount of glue to the face of the button front. You don't want to go crazy, because it will show through to the other side. Just a small little dot, then smudge it around a bit with your finger. Your image should stick immediately and not slide. Smooth out the image and be sure that it's not still wet.
This step might not be necessary if you're pretty good at keeping it centered to begin with. But if you've had problems with the image not tucking into the pin-back properly, give this trick a try.
The biggest mistake you can make is not tucking in the edges! The Badge-a-minit instructions state that you should be sure that the pin-back is not tucked into the paper/plastic. But it is awfully hard to tell where the paper is once you've put the pin-back in place.
The best way to guarantee that the plastic will be out of the way and catch properly, and to double check your image placement, is to tuck in the exposed edges.
Be sure that you hold the red ring in place while pressing in the paper edges. You can also set it on your work space and use a tool to help turn down those edges. I used a combination of thumbs and the flat end of a wooden crochet hook. Make sure you press down both the paper and the plastic, as sometimes the plastic can be hard to see.
While the Badge-a-minit is a great, affordable tool for making nice buttons, I don't recommend it for people looking to start a badge making business. It takes a bit of time to work each one, and 95% of the steps are manual. But if you're wanting to make a few hundred, (not 1000) then I give it my stamp of approval.
It's perfect for what I needed. Making buttons for geocache swag!
More on Geocaching later, but it's worth looking up right now if you're curious!
As it turns out, I AM able to finish a project! Who would have thought!? But of course, crafty stars don't always align and sometimes they fall. And damned if they don't fall hard.
I've never made a shawl before. Never really thought I'd want one. But when my crafty-bestie suggested we dye yarn together, and do a crochet-a-long, I was totally on board. Shawls are quick, easy, and don't need a lot of yarn, so it would be something I knew could complete. I even finished before she did and she crochets like a machine! Shout out to Atomic Flamingos on IG. I wish I could be as cool as her. :)
She picked out the pattern, and I was in love. It's a gorgeous shawl. The pattern was well written and a lot of fun to work on. I'm a lazy crocheter, so I tend to pick simple, boring patterns that don't require a lot of concentration. But the Peachy Geometric Shawl by Sandra Paul had just enough difficulty to keep it interesting, but an easy enough stitch repeat to ensure it's success. I have absolutely ZERO complaints about the pattern. The pattern wasn't the problem.
The problem. As usual, is that I'm my own worst enemy. And biting off more than I can chew is almost always my downfall. I got it into my head (thanks, Atomic Flamingos) that DYING yarn was so easy, anyone could do it. And in a way, it is. I had a blast dying up 4 skeins of yarn using colors I love, but what I didn't take into consideration is that when learning a new skill, you aren't always promised amazing results. Just like the professionals, there's a bit of a learning curve you've got to overcome. Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. If you don't have enough bare yarn to practice several different techniques and color combinations, then don't expect your completed project to look professional. Because it wont. (Unless you're a dying savant, like my bestie, apparently)
After dying my yarn I was thrilled. It was gorgeous. I loved everything about it. I loved the rich colors professional acid dyes produced. I loved the interesting color blends. I was so proud!
What could possibly go wrong? Right? Well, according to Murphy and his law, apparently everything can go wrong and if it can, it most assuredly will.
It all started to go downhill when I mistakenly assumed that, because all of the various shades of colors came from the same dye, then they would definitely work well together. This is false. And while each skein would have worked up beautifully on it's own, they didn't necessarily play well together. I couldn't quite perceive the disaster looming on the horizon, because in the beginning, it looked really nice.
After reaching the half-way point, however, I realized that I might have a problem. It was soon brought to my attention by my dying savant friend that I was working with spring AND fall colors. By now, however, I'd gone too far to rip it out. I know myself too well. I would have frogged the whole thing, shelved it, and never returned. So I made the unfortunate decision to forge ahead. It just got worse and worse. And soon it became an embarrassment.
When things really got bad
I can fix this. I can make it better. I can salvage this disaster. I thought about it for days. But sometimes things are better off with a silent burial and quiet mourning. I really wish life had an undo button, because what I did next was probably the most idiotic thing I've ever done.
My genius plan was to go back in and dye the offending "spring time" colors to a darker shade in the hopes of adding a little continuity. It was going to be so easy. Just take a bit of dye and a paint brush and gently color in the stitches that needed to be a little darker. I then heat set the new color properly, letting it steam for about half an hour.
I thought to myself, "I'm so clever. Instagram is gonna love me". But when I unrolled my precious shawl, rinsed, and stretched it out to see what I'd done I was horrified. Mortified. It was a near death experience. My life flashed before my eyes and every craft failure there ever was bowed down to this monstrosity. Behold:
I try to be optimistic. Even though it was already very late in the evening, and I'd been awake since 3am that morning and worked all day, I didn't think for a second how my exhaustion could cloud my reasoning. I'd wondered if bleach would ruin the color of hand-dyed yarns. So I figured this would be the perfect way to test that theory. The shawl couldn't get any worse, could it? And the best possible scenario would be that all the color would fade and I could dye it a solid hue. Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, let this be your official PSA. Bleach has no affect on the color of your hand-dyed yarn. Or at least it didn't in this situation. However, WASHING MACHINES are your worst enemy. Especially when you're tired, and not thinking clearly.
I KNEW that felting would happen. But I did it anyway because I was optimistic. I hoped that the crafting gods would look down on me with pity. I expected to open the washer and find a perfectly bleached white, beautiful shawl.
What I didn't realize though was that in my haste, I'd chosen the absolute worst possible machine setting for washing wool. Super hot, with brute force agitation. When I pulled the shawl from the washer I was gifted a hard, thick, exponentially shorter version of the soft, stretchy fabric I'd put in.
I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I went through all five stages of grief.
What happened next
After my initial sorrow, I threw the shawl on the floor. (stomped on it a few times) and went to bed. I didn't even let it dry out. Just left a soggy heap of depression lying on the floor.
I didn't move it the next morning either.
When I came home from work that day there was a cat sitting on it. Hours later, the cat was still there. Over a week later and the shawl is still exactly where I left it and a cat is usually sitting on it as well.
I have since made peace with the disaster shawl. In fact, I no longer view it as a disappointment. The craft gods work in mysterious ways, and what was once a shawl is now a properly felted cat pad. That is what it was always meant to be. Even if it is still ugly.
A fun little series I'm considering is a Saturday Accolade. Basically a weekly post dedicated to those who inspire me, or deserve a little love.
Now, for the first post, it's only fitting to acknowledge the person who really helped get my wheels turning on the whole blogging experience. And how silly of me to not tell her sooner, but I only just considered this idea. If I hesitate to post, however, I'm sure I'll procrastinate, and it might end up being a Tuesday Accolade, which doesn't quite roll off the tongue.
So, on with the story.
Recently I made a granny square shawl. Which is probably one of the easiest things to make. Granny squares were the first "pattern" I learned as a kid. But even so, sometimes starting a project without a clear plan can be daunting. Even if you've already made something similar 1000 times.
So, I did a little google and was blessed with a well written and easy to read refresher from Taylor-Lynn Crochet. Her pattern was easy to follow and the shrug was adorable. And even better, Taylor turned out to be the kind of blogger who actually seems interested in her followers. She was really nice!
She works hard to create crochet patterns that feature trendy styles, and are easy enough for beginners. The patterns are quick to make and cute enough for even experienced crocheters.
And to prove that crochet isn't just for winter or grannies, this girl has got you covered when it comes to summertime. If you thought crochet couldn't be sexy, check out her bikini patterns!
So, how am I inspired?
It's very simple, really. I've been toying with the idea of blogging for YEARS. And I always had an unobtainable idea of how it should be. Blogging just seemed way too overwhelming for a procraftstinator like me.
I was afraid that I wouldn't have time, or good content. I was afraid that I needed to have the perfect URL and branding everywhere, and a million subscribers and patterns and tutorials to keep readers engaged. And I DO need these things. But I don't need them before I've even got the first post published!
Taylor indirectly inspired me to give it a shot when she messaged me and we had a quick little chat. I realized that she's just a regular person. She wasn't built in a blogger factory. And even though her blog is awesome, and she's professional (and gorgeous, can I just say?) she's a person who loves the craft and wants to share what she knows. Just. Like. Me.
Even though I'm just starting out, with so much to learn, I don't quite feel like a total failure. I know that one day, I'll be where all my idol bloggers are. One day I'll have 100 tutorials, and maybe even make some change off a few original patterns. One day, I'll look back and remember how awkward my first blog posts were. But I'll always remember Taylor-Lynn's blog for helping me say, "hey. I can do that" rather than "I wish I could".
Procraftstination has been ruling my life lately. I've got dozens of WIPs that are strangling me. And even worse, I've got dozens more waiting to get started!
I finally had to tell myself that enough is enough. I can't be productive if I continue to add 3 new projects to every one I halfway finish. And for me, having a clear, visual reminder of my goals might help guilt me into staying on track.
In true Procraftstinator fashion, however, writing down my goals simply wasn't good enough. I needed another "craft" to track my crafts. I wanted a trendy little chalkboard!
But I'm learning! I'm getting better! I'm moving forward! As I stood in the craft section of Wal-mart pouring over boards and chalk paint, glues and decorations...I finally came to my senses and realized that I would spend $30 on supplies and be guaranteed a 35% chance of actually finishing the project. So I turned around and BOUGHT a ready-made chalkboard with a cute little stand for only $7 and went straight home and actually got to work sorting through my goals.
That's a little unusual for me.
Basically what had to be done was a massive WIP purge. I started by writing down all my WIPs (that I could remember). I then sorted them into categories like:
From those categories I bravely restashed materials or trashed projects I knew wouldn't ever bring me joy. I abandoned projects that I no longer needed or wanted. And I shelved large projects (like my 1" hexagon and postage stamp quilts) for days when I'm probably retired.
The actual working project count came around to 4 WIPs. Which isn't nearly as stressful or overwhelming. But with only 4 projects, there's loads of room for more? Right?!
NO! There isn't. Because I thought of that too! I knew the procraftstinator in me would ruin everything, so I gavemyself the rule, "Finish Two Before Starting New".
And to remind myself of all the interesting ideas I want to try, I've included this list on my chalkboard as well!
I have high hopes for me now. I might even have to change my name!