Archive for the ‘Lessons learned’ Category


Project 46: Lessons learned

December 25, 2011

I Got Bored So I Roasted a Chicken - Picture of My Dinner 9-30-08

Final guest post by Nicole:

The verdict:  Butchering is so stinkin easy.

Lessons learned:
– This is definitely a craft.  And unlike with needlepoint, if you don’t do this well the animal suffers.  Do yourself a favor and find someone to guide you through the process in real life the first time you attempt it.  I have a lot more respect for butchers now.
– Butchering goes much, much easier for both you and the chicken if you have sharp knives.
– It’s better to kill chickens on a sunny day that’s not too cold or too hot, preferably fall after the flies have settled down.
– Taking the life of a living creature hasn’t gotten easier for me a dozen birds in, but there is a huge satisfaction in knowing that I can put meat on my family’s table without a grocery store.  Organic, pastured chicken is delicious... and cheap if you do it at home.

Many thanks to Nicole for this great series!

Photo by The_Smiths on Flickr


Project 45: Finished calendar and lessons learned

December 21, 2011

Calendar wall hanging

Here it is! This was a quick project. I enjoyed printing my own fabric and imagining a finished project around it. Designing your own fabric has gotten so accessible that anyone can do it. You can even print it at your house. Yay technology!

Lessons learned:
– It helps to have the right equipment so you don’t end up knocking on a friend’s door in search of a color printer at the last minute.
– It helps to have good friends.
–  With advances in technology and the vast amount of supplies available to us, we really can make anything our imaginations can dream up. Go create!

Next up: a guest series from an intrepid friend. Are you ready?


Project 44: Finished ornaments and lessons learned

December 20, 2011

Resin ornament

Here is one of my glittery resin ornaments! Cute, eh? I’m pleased with how they turned out. It took many more days than I expected for the resin to cure. They may even still be a little bit tacky but at least they’re not leaving resin and glitter on my fingers anymore. They even hang pretty evenly.

Lessons learned:
– Resin ornaments are a quick way to whip up a whole lot of little Christmas gifts at once. Just leave them some extra time to cure completely.
– If you can, pour and cure your resin outside. That stuff is stinky.
– Use a fully heat proof vessel for mixing your resin. Styrofoam and thin plastics won’t work.
– Don’t be afraid of resin! Once the chemical reaction is over it’s just an easy(ish) way to make cool stuff.

Next up: finishing up the last handful of projects. Stay tuned!


Project 43: Finished hanger and lessons learned

December 8, 2011

Wirework hanger

It’s done! This was a quick project. Once I had the right materials it only took a few hours from start to finish. I think it’s really cute. I have never in my life considered making hangers before, but this could be sweet in a little girl’s room for a special dress or something. I also kind of like the folk art-ness of it. What do you think?

Lessons learned:
– Having the right materials makes finishing projects much easier.
– Straight lines and perfect curves are overrated.
– It is more fun to work with friends. Thanks Cheryl!

Stay tuned for another project in my pre-Christmas blitz…


Project 42: Finished baby shoes and lessons learned

December 6, 2011

Photo by Elina Pelikan

There is the baby wearing my shoes! I wasn’t totally happy with how they turned out, but they fit the baby and she wasn’t slipping all over the place so I consider them a success. If I were to make them again (and I have enough material left over to make many more) there are certainly some things I would change.

Lessons learned:
– Bias tape and twill tape are not the same thing.
– A pattern with wrong sides sewn together may look easier, but the finishing work to cover those edges is going to be much more fussy. Trust me on this one.
– Babies aren’t too picky about their shoes.

Next up: the 8 final projects in a pre-Christmas blitz. Here we go!


Project 41: Done! and lessons learned

November 21, 2011

Finished smocking

Despite the lateness of this post I actually finished this swatch in one afternoon. It has been sitting in my house waiting for me to take a photo. I think I was going to iron it, too, but I didn’t. I’m kind of excited to try a larger smocking project in the future. It’s a neat technique and looks so darn cute when it’s done.

Here is how the swatch looked when I was done embroidering:


You can see my pattern clearly and the dark pleating threads are still intact. The first photo is what happens when you remove the pleating threads. I kind of love it.

Lessons learned:
– Smocking is not difficult. I imagine that hand pleating could be tedious, or a larger piece of fabric in the pleater could get cumbersome,  but the embroidery is kind of fun and the possible patterns are limitless. I’d like to try to make a garment with it some day.
–  With my schedule these days I need to take photos and post right away or it won’t get done.

Stay tuned for project 42!


Project 39: Chocolate truffles

October 21, 2011

So our tasty chocolate would not temper. What would we do with all of that shiny lusciousness? Jenni came up with the brilliant idea to make truffles. We added cream and let the whole thing firm up in the fridge.

Soon to be truffles

Then we rolled marble sized portions and coated them in one of three toppings: powdered sugar, cocoa powder, or chopped nuts.

Truffles in progress

Finally we had yummy little nuggets of our own handmade chocolate. They were delicious! I hope that you will try this yourself one day so you can experience the amazing range of flavor that chocolate can have. We had thought that we would add flavorings to it but it was so complex that we didn’t need to.


Lessons learned:
– Making chocolate by hand is messy and has a lot of steps, but it isn’t that complicated and the end result is amazing.
– Raleigh folks can buy your beans at Escazu. If I had known this before I bought online I probably would have done that instead.
– That said, the Chocolate Alchemy site has lots of great information for people making chocolate at home.
– I will probably do this again!

Next: The video


Project 35: Finished hook and lessons learned

September 16, 2011

Finished hooks

Here are our finished hooks! Mine is the extra curvy one on the left. The instructor’s hook is on the right. I kind of love them all. Can you believe we made these?

Maybe one day I can aspire to be like this guy:

Vladimir Putin, blacksmith

… or maybe not.

Lessons learned:
– Blacksmithing is fun!
– I have kind of wimpy arm muscles.

I really enjoyed this one. Now I need to figure what to do next week. See you Monday!


Project 30: Done… for now

August 12, 2011

Knitting gauge

I’m declaring my laser project week finished because I did, in the end, successfully cut something on the laser. Whether that thing fulfills its intended purpose is another question entirely. But look! There is my knitting gauge. It certainly looks like it should work — it is full of holes and everything. It is modeled here with my husband’s 3 year-old unfinished scarf for those cold winter trips to New York.

Gauge detail

The gauge has a little knitting ball detail on top so I can remember what it is.


Here it is telling me that my scarf needles are a size 4. Are they really? I don’t recall, and given the sizing issues I had with my design file I don’t think I trust my gauge. I think this ultimately makes it a decorative object and not a gauge at all. It certainly can’t claim to be any sort of proper ruler despite the little tick marks on the sides.

Still, it’s mine and I kind of love it. Maybe I can call it art?

Lessons learned:
– Some projects are trickier than others.
– In design, as with anything, it helps to have the proper tools and to devote enough time to their use.
– Despite the flaws of the user, lasers are awesome.

See you next week!


Project 29: Finished watch and lessons learned

August 5, 2011

Completed watch

I made this! It’s big and chunky and has a good weight to it. I kind of love it. The macrame band came together in mere minutes though securing the ends and sewing the clasp on took a bit longer. It was still a really quick and very satisfying project.

Here is a detail photo of the band:

Band detail

I made it using a simple square knot.

And the clasp:


I just overlapped the ends and sewed on a simple snap.

Lessons learned:
– Macrame is seriously underrated.
– At this point in the project I’m feeling like I could make nearly any accessory item I might want.
–  There is nothing like a quick win to energize a person.

I might make a few more of these and put them on Etsy. Would anyone be interested in buying them?

Check back next week for a project using either glass or lasers (or both?).