Free Project PDF: Filigree Earrings

October 29, 2010, 19:20 pm  Posted by Lark

Every Friday evening, I post a set of free project instructions.

During my trip to San Francisco, I lost not one, but two different earrings. Snarl. Back in the day, I always woreNathalie mornu wearing Coral Blossom Earrings from "Beading with Filigree," by Cynthia Deis mismatched earrings, but that’s not my style anymore.

My loss is your gain—well, in a way.

This past weekend I remembered that a year or so ago I had bought all the fixin’s to make my favorite project from Beading with Filigree by Cynthia Deis–but that I never actually assembled them! (I bet you don’t slack off that way, do you?)

After rooting around through all my junk, I finally found the supplies and put together my Coral Blossom Earrings. I’m showing them off here, and giving you a free PDF of the project instructions so you can make your very own pair. Just click here for the PDF.

Beading with Filigree," by Cynthia Deis


Closet Monsters Giveaway(s)

October 29, 2010, 11:21 am  Posted by needlearts

Some of you might remember Ronny from earlier this week, when he managed to get us all in trouble. But the truth is, he’s one of the most fun monsters to hang out with. He likes having friends around, going out for a drink, and just relaxing. He’s good looking too! How do you think he managed to land the cover of Closet Monsters?

And while anyone can make their own Ronny clone with the instructions in the book, we have the original Ronny–handmade by John Murphy–right here at our side, ready to give away. To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment on this post by 9 p.m. EST on November 5. Any post will do, but we’d love to know: What would you and Ronny do first if you won? What’s your favorite expensive coffee drink and where do you get it? Or which Closet Monster is your favorite? (Don’t worry; Ronny won’t read the comments.) One winner will be selected at random and announced on November 8. Click here for the official rules. PIXIDEN IS THE WINNER!

But wait, there’s more! Everyone’s a winner this Friday because we’ve also got a monter-themed desktop wallpaper. John was nice enough to sketch this up last week and we think it has the power to make your screen both ready for fall and ready for fun at the same time. The links are below for the most common desktop sizes.

Enjoy! And we can’t wait to read the comments…

To download the desktop wallpaper, right click or control click on the size you want below and download the link:

United States: 1024 x 768 / 1600 x 1200 / 1920 x 1200

United Kingdom: 1024 x 768 / 1600 x 1200 / 1920 x 1200


Craftastic Pre-Christmas Party!

October 28, 2010, 14:30 pm  Posted by Lark

I know, I know. CHRISTMAS?!? Already? SERIOUSLY? … Yeah. I’m serious. As a heart attack. (Ok. Maybe not a heart attack. But heart burn. And that stuff is serious.)

This year is my year NOT to procrastinate on Christmas. I’ve already started making a list. So what inspired me before even Halloween? Going to the Southern Highland Craft Fair last week right before my whirlwind awesome Girl Camp weekend. That’s what.

I thought, “Shoot! I need to get on Amazon pronto figure this out!” But then I realized, “Hey! I’m artsy. I’m crafty. My friends are super-fantastic and deserve some thought-out gifts!” (Below is a shot of some of these friends at Girl Camp weekend):

A sampling of my friends who deserve awesome Christmas gifts and will hopefully be attending my Craftastic Pre-Christmas Crafting Party!

While we were hiking back from Rainbow Falls, my friend Michelle planted the seed in my head that we could all make Christmas gifts together. Cool! THEN another friend was kind enough to send me a link to this hilarious video that is, well, craftastic and inspiring:

Bingo. A reason to pull out my gold lame leggings. So what should we make? I’m making a list of ideas including:

1. Shrink Plastic Jewelry. PERFECT for friends you’d like to personalize necklaces, earrings, etc. for.

2. Polymer Clay Bead charms! We could make some skull beads (for those goth friends) or just some colorful polymer clay bead charms.

3. My friend Abby really wants to try to solder something. I have a soldering iron and figure I should whip out the Ultimate Jeweler’s Guide to learn how to handle tools for jewelry making…and probably read the section on ‘safety.’

4. Anything to do with RetroCrafts and also adding glitter to any and everything.

Do you have any ideas for making your own Christmas gifts? If so, please comment! I’d love some more ideas! :)


Gaga for Grannies: Granny Square 101

October 28, 2010, 14:27 pm  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

vickiehowellRecently, I went through the attic at my dad’s house where came across a few, forgotten crochet projects I’d made as a child including, a granny square doll’s blanket. All 15 squares and scalloped edge are still in perfect condition (by what I can only assume is the grace of the acrylic yarn it’s made from, because it certainly wasn’t properly stored), making it a well preserved heirloom-cum-drag-around-blankie for my 17-month-old daughter.  Even this

My daughter, holding a granny blanket I made as a child.

semi-cynical, Scorpio found it impossible to not crumble into mush at seeing my real baby wrapped up in the same, handmade piece that had swaddled my pretend babies, *cough*,  25+ years ago. That moment was a gift, for sure. It also got me thinking; as a designer who regularly calls upon the timeless kitsch of the granny square, learning how to crochet them was a gift, too (thanks, mom!) So, to those who haven’t yet hopped on the hook when it comes to this particular crochet skill, I’d like to pay that present forward. From me to you, here’s the scoop on Granny Square 101!

(Oh, a stay tuned next week for a round-up of some of my favorite Granny Square designs.)

How-to Crochet a Granny Square

Crochet Hook
Tapestry or Yarn Needle

ch(s) = chain(s)
dc = double crochet
hdc = half double crochet
sc = single crochet
sl st = slip stitch
sp(s) = space(s)
[ ] = Work directions inside brackets as many times as indicated.
( ) = Work directions inside parenthesis into st or sp indicated.
* Repeat directions following * as many timed as indicated.

Ch 6; join with a sl st to form a ring.

Round 1: Ch 3, (counts as a dc here and throughout), 2 dc in ring, [ch 3, 3 dc in ring] 3 times, ch 3; join with sl st in 3rd ch of beginning ch-3.
Round 2: Ch 5, (counts as dc and ch-2 sp here and throughout), *(3dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next corner ch-3 sp, ch 2;

Charted Directions

repeat from * 2 more times, (3 dc, ch 3, 2 dc) in first corner ch-3 sp; join with a sl st in 3rd of beginning ch-5.
Round 3: Sl st in next ch-2 sp, ch 3 (counts as dc here and throughout), 2 dc in same ch-2 sp, *ch 2, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next corner ch-3 sp, ch 2**, 3 dc in next ch-2 sp; repeat from * 3 more times, ending last repeat at **; join with a sl st in 3rd ch of beginning ch-3.
Round 4: Ch 5, dc in next ch-2 sp, *ch 2, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next corner ch-3 sp**, [ch 2, 3 dc, in next ch-2 sp] twice; repeat from * 3 more times, ending last repeat at **, ch 2, 2 dc in last ch-2 sp; join with a sl st in 3rd ch of beginning ch-5.
Round 5: Ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-2 sp as joining, ch 2, 3 dc in next ch-2 sp, *ch 2, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next corner ch-3 sp**, [ch 2, 3 dc in next ch-2 sp] 3 times; repeat from * 3 more times, ending last repeat at **, ch 2, 3 dc in last ch-2 sp, ch 2; join with sl st in 3rd ch of beginning ch-3.
Round 6: Ch 1, sc in same ch as joining, sc in each dc, 2 sc in each ch-2 sp, and 3 sc in each corner ch-3 sp around; join with a sl st in first sc. Tie off.
Weave in ends. Block if necessary.

Now that you’re schooled in squares, you’re ready for your first project–try my modern take on the granny pillow! The I Felt Square pattern is available for free on the Caron website. Get it here.

"I Felt Square" Pillows

Recommended References
The Crochet Answer Book, by Edie Eckman
Lily Chinʼs Crochet Tips & Tricks
Crochet Today! Magazine
Interweave Crochet Magazine
My Crochet Books
Pop Goes Crochet: 36 Projects Inspired by Icons of Popular Culture
AwareKnits: Knit & Crochet Projects for the Eco Conscious Stitcher (Hard Copy)
AwareKnits: Knit & Crochet Projects for the Eco Conscious Stitcher (Digital Version)

My Crochet Patterns on the Web



I Want Candy!

October 27, 2010, 17:00 pm  Posted by Lark Jewelry & Beading

I’m quite convinced that my passion for jewelry began with the candy necklace. This iconic sweet treat can be found in suburban convenience stores all across the U.S. I can still feel the slobbery elastic cord against my skin as I devoured each sugary bead.

Halloween is approaching, and I am sulking about the candy that won’t be coming my way. In hopes of reversing this bitterness and satisfy my craving in a fat-free, calorie-less way, I picked up my imaginary pillowcase (yes, I’m that old) and flashlight, and went trick-or-treating online for some sweet jewelry. Literally. What I found was astounding, and only a little bit creepy. Loads of people are obsessed with making jewelry that looks like candy or making jewelry from actual candy. Lots of this can be chalked up to the Kawaii craze, and the rest…well, see above.

The image galleries below are organized by treat type…just like I used to meticulously sort my Halloween haul. Feast your eyes on this super yummy crazy deliciousness!

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Interview: John Murphy

October 27, 2010, 10:00 am  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

John Murphy is the author of Stupid Sock Creatures, the Stupid Sock Creatures Book and Kit, and Closet Monsters. In this interview, John talks about being a counselor at a camp for at-risk youth, his love for Zazmyrna Hoag and Julian Van Voon, storytelling, and agoraphobia.

John, you’re a very creative person who has the skill to both draw and sew. How do the two different mediums interact for you, and which one do you miss the most if you don’t do it for a month?

Aw, blush. Thanks. If I had to choose one medium to miss the most if art-abstinent for a month, I’d have to pick drawing. I draw and doodle all the time. It’s how I think and process my day. Trouble is, I really don’t spend the necessary time to really do an amazing, finished drawing. Most of my stuff is quick. But sewing is such an investment of time and situation. I have to plan for it, whereas with drawing, I can just whip out my sketchbook wherever I am and have a go. I’d probably wind up scratching doodles into the ground or finger painting in my own blood if it came to it.

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How-to: Polymer clay skull beads

October 26, 2010, 15:04 pm  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

Earlier this month, I embarked on a spooky crafting adventure when making the desktop graveyard inspired by Maura Okuley’s mossy Terrarium project in the new Craft-In box set. One of the elements that turned the macabre dial to 11 was the polymer clay skulls. I had so much fun making them, I thought I would show you how to make them. This time I made polymer clay skull beads and used a simple cotton chord to string up a Voodoo Headhunter Choker.

Channel your inner goth and read on…

Hungry for more skulls? Check out Noah Scalin’s Skulls book and his skull a day project.

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Lark Jewelry & Beading’s lead title this Fall 2010 season is Metal Clay Origami Jewelry. The book by Sara Jayne Cole manages to bring together three perennial hot topics — metal clay, origami, and of course jewelry — in one accessible book for crafters, jewelers, and origamists. Clear directions, great how-to photos, and 25 innovative projects make for one truly fantastic craft book.

Want a copy signed by silversmith, metal clay instructor, and origamist Sara Jayne Cole? We’re giving away three signed copies. For a chance to win one book, leave a comment on this post by 9 p.m. on Monday, November 1, 2010. Any comment will do, but how about sharing your favorite origami shape or experience? Three winners will be selected at random, and we’ll announce the winners on Friday, November 5. Click here for the official rules. Good luck, and happy folding!


The Great Closet Monster Escape

October 25, 2010, 14:25 pm  Posted by needlearts

A surprised construction worker and Ulee spent the morning together.

After seeing pictures from the zombie invasion last week, you might think some weird things have been going on at Lark headquarters in honor of Halloween–and you’d be right. But the weirdest thing happened weeks ago, and it wasn’t even something we planned.

It was Thursday morning when Meagan went into our storage room and noticed that some of the stuffed creatures from Closet Monsters were missing. We looked everywhere, emailed everyone, and left work that day mystified as to where they might have gone.

The next day, we received a call from a construction crew who came across Ulee Bingham trying to operate one of the machines. We told them to distract him and keep him there long enough for us to get down there and pick him up. The crew jumped in the car and headed down highway 240.

We found Ulee happily riding one of the machines–no surprise considering he represents property developers from another planet–and making the driver somewhat uncomfortable. We thanked the driver for his hard work and told Ulee we’d take him anywhere he wanted…but not until after he helped us track down his friends.

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Focus: Passages & Focus: Love GIVEAWAY

October 25, 2010, 08:40 am  Posted by Lark

Have you ever been walking through town or on a morning hike when you came to a standstill, entranced by something that caught your eye? Perhaps it was something out of the ordinary, such as a child’s sidewalk chalk drawing, or perhaps it was something unexpected, such as a brightly-colored alley door you’d never noticed before. Did you then reach into your pocket or your pack and pull out your camera–professional, personal, polaroid, or phone–and capture that intriguing image? If so, you’ll appreciate our Focus series, which celebrates the art of the unexpected photo and the community of photographers who embrace and encourage our infatuation with the visual image.

Our first title, Focus: Love, explores the enigmatic and compelling nature of the heart: a wrought iron heart in a gate; a candle flame flickering in the shape of a heart; tree leaves, oyster shells, uncurling fiddlehead ferns, clouds, graffiti, even cobblestones all assume this familiar shape in oftentimes unfamiliar places.

Our second title, Focus: Passages, delves into the photographic community’s passion for the evocative power of doors, tunnels, and other passageways: bright city doors; moss-covered hideaways; underground tunnels; stained-glass cathedral entries; open or closed, each passage has a story to tell or questions to ask.

In celebration of the recent release of Focus: Passages, we’d like to share a very cool book trailer with you:

We’d also like to GIVE these books to one of you! We are giving away a copy of Focus: Passages and its fellow Focus title Focus: Love. To be entered for a chance to win these two books, please leave a comment on this post by 9 p.m. EST on Monday, November 1st. One winner will be selected at random on Thursday, November 4th. Click here for the official rules.

We asked the photographers in Focus: Passages to reflect on the nature of passageways and what the concept of a “door” means to them. Here are a few of their quotes:

“To me, a door symbolizes the liminal space between one place and another. A door equals transition, metamorphosis, progress, opportunity, and the unknown. Yet it also equals a sense of comfort and a sense of home.” –J.C. Fink

“The world is full of doors, both actual and imagined. A closed door is a mystery that urges us to solve it, while an open door is an invitation to a friendlier place. Is something hidden behind a closed door? Is that door a test? What if we opened it and walked into a secret world?” –Christian Cable

“A door is like the wrapping paper on a present. You never know what you’ll find—a room, a tunnel, a staircase—until you open it.” –Pirlouiiiit

“Doors hold the promise of a new experience.” –Pace Ebbesen

“Every door takes us to a different world. Every door is a silent witness of history. When I see a special door and capture its image, it makes me think of the people who have crossed its threshold.” –Leonardo Ramon Diaz

“A door is a connection between two worlds—my own familiar one and an unknown one. A door is a thin film that’s easily—and not so easily—penetrated, a boundary between two worlds that are possibly in conflict.” –Abel Pau Garcia

“As a photographer and wandering spirit, I view doors as symbols of possibility and hope.” –Stephanie Hatzakos

*Also! Keep your eyes peeled for the third and fourth titles in our Focus series due on shelves next spring: Focus: Found Faces and Focus: Letters.