Happy Friday everyone! Phew! What a week! I could not be more relieved that the weekend is finally here. For this week's Friday Feature we are sharing the super crafty blogger, Miss Alice Merlino of Futuregirl. We came across Alice's site one day searching for new knitting projects and instantly fell in love with all of her knitting, crocheting, and sewing projects. Her projects are cute and Alice's writing makes following even the more complicated projects a walk in the park. We knew that our fellow crafters would love her site too, so without further ado meet Alice Merlino.
1. Tell us about Futuregirl. How did you get started as a blogger/crafter?
I feel like I was born a crafter. As a toddler I watched my father hand carving wood and my mother sewing and crocheting. At gradma's house, we used homemade glue and images cut from the Sears catalog to make dollhouses out of discarded cardboard boxes. Girl Scouts in the 70s was all about macrame and other hands-on crafting. I have always felt the urge to make things myself and everyone around me offered encouragement.
Blogging is a different story. I had a very negative view of what blogging meant ("today for breakfast I ate ..."). On top of that, I'm a very private person. But once I discovered craft blogs, I couldn't help but get sucked in. Specifically, it was Maitreya of <a href="/http://craftlog.org/">Craftlog</a> and <a href="/http://www.craftlog.org/craftingjapanese/">Crafting Japanese</a> who inspired me to first dip my toes into blogging. I'd submitted some crafty photos to her Crafting Japanese site. She was so nice to me and the blogs I found through her blog were also run by such nice people ... everyone was so generous, sweet, and *excited* about crafting. I'd definitely found "my people" in all the noise of the internet.
2. What are some of your favorite tips for crocheting and sewing beginners?
I have two things that I'm continually saying:
Often I'll get emails asking me questions that I can't possibly know the answers to - What size hook should I use with this yarn? Would it look better if I did 'this stitch' or 'that stitch' for this project? I always suggest the person try out what ever they have a question about and discover the result for themselves. That's what I do! I don't have any secrets or special knowledge that didn't come from doing the work. People seem so afraid to make mistakes that they keep themselves from experimenting. Not sure what you should do? Experiment!
No matter how good I get at something, there is always more to learn and more challenges to face. I find that the number one way to get good at something is to practice. Many times, people will just give up because they think they're just "no good at crocheting" but no one is born knowing how to do this stuff. We should give ourselves the room to be totally bad at something for a while so we can practice and get better. When I learned to knit recently, I put in tons of hours of total crap knitting - awful knitting - worthless, ultimately unraveled knitting. Practice is the only reason I know everything I know about knitting today ... or any of the other crafts I do.
These are both aspects of the same advice, though, which is to let yourself make mistakes. Turn your inner critic into your inner cheerleader. Turn, "you just don't get this, do you?" into, "keep trying, you'll get it!"
3. We love your “What I posted in…” posts each week. Do you think you’re style has changed over the course of time or what you’re into?
Thanks! I'm really enjoying looking back on a handful of posts each week. My timelines for big projects can be years-long, so it's fun to see the origins of ideas that I end up completing much later. It can also be a little disheartening to discover the beginnings of a project that never got off the ground. I recently rediscovered my plan for a sewing machine cover that still hasn't been made.
I'm noticing that over time, I focus more on one craft or the other, which is a function of my limited free time. Sometimes I'm crocheting a lot, sometimes knitting, other times embroidering. I love them all, but I don't have the ability to do all three all the time. I don't think my style has changed, though. If anything, tools like ravelry for finding crocheting and knit patterns and the wonderful new colors available in yarn, have helped me express the style I already had more fully. The projects I'm making now would have been the projects I would have made at 16 if I'd had the skills and supplies to execute them.
4. We are big fans of crafting with girlfriends over here at Thursdays. Can you tell us a bit about Crafting in Public?
I've made a lot of friends through my craft blog. Most of them are outside of my physical realm, but many of them were in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I moved back here a couple years ago, I had a couple informal meet ups with those friends, and it was spectacularly fun. The complication is that I'm an introvert, so my inclination is away from social interaction. I noticed that just scheduling one of these get togethers seemed like such a hassle. To simplify the scheduling and take the social pressure off of me, I decided to create a recurring night, Crafting in Public, where anyone and everyone is welcome. It's perfect for an introvert like me ... nothing to plan and no group to manage; a self-sustaining social life.
I've made several more friends through Crafting in Public. I'm always excited when a new person shows up. It's great to have such a great in-person crafty resource pool to ask questions of and get help from. I learn so much more easily when someone shows me how to do something. People attend when they are available and they know that even if they can't make it this week, we'll all still be there next time. I look forward to these nights!
5. We're always looking for inspiration. What inspires you? How do you keep things interesting and creative in your crafting?
Anything can inspire me. The common thread is whether or not something strikes a chord in me. A favorite quote can become an embroidery. A practical need, like a coaster, can become a crochet project. A friend's sense of style can become a handbag to give them as a gift. A character from a book can become the surface design of a sweater. I always have my eyes open, and when I see something that resonates for me, I hold onto that and try to bring it into my day-to-day life.
To keep crafting interesting and creative for me, I'm always challenging myself to try new things. Whenever I want to do something and I can't find a pattern or any instructions for it, I love sussing it out for myself. The icing on that cake is sharing what I learn on my blog. Many times, I get even better ideas and wonderful feedback from other crafters to do things that I hadn't thought to do. My blog also pushes me to actually finish projects, which didn't always happen pre-blog. When I finish a project, I always get excited about how I'll make the next one even better.
What you need:
- Lace, ribbon or fabric strip
- A pin
What you do:
It's pretty simple, really:
1) Cut your lace to the right length to fit around your wrist.
2) Fold over one corner. I laid a pin across the end of the lace where I wanted to make the fold, then used my finger to fold it over and press it down.
3) Repeat for other corner.
4) Use matching thread to sew the folded edges into place.
5) Add a small button to one end and a loop of thread to the other end.