Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paper Bag Scrapbook

Greetings loyal blog readers!  I'm Natalie, a new contributor to 11 Spring Street, and am thrilled to share my craft/cooking/DIY successes (and many failures!) with all of you! 

I do not consider myself a scrapbooker.  The process of sorting, printing and arranging photos seems daunting to me, and with a 5 and 2 year old, I just don't feel like I can put that kind of time into one project at this point in my life.  I'm more of an "insert-photos-into-prearranged-layouts-and-purchase-a-book-through-Shutterfly" kind of gal.  The expense of all of the decorative do-dads, cutting/punching tools and paper has also been a deterrent for me to embrace this hobby.  However, for Christmas 2009, my Mom, Sister and I decided to do a handmade gift exchange.  I was racking my brain for an idea when I remembered some cute scrapbooks I had seen at a friends' house.  This friend, (let's call her Amy since that's her real name), told me that the book was constructed out of brown paper bags!  Yeah, that's right - the kind you can buy 100 of at Walmart for about $2.  I could hardly believe it and immediately knew this would be my gift idea for my Sister's Christmas present. 

I went home and Googled the term "paper bag scrapbook" and lots of links came up.  I've included a link to one tutorial that shows how to assemble the book, and one way of binding the edge.  To keep it simple, I decided to limit the photos for the book I made to those from the most recent calendar year.  Lucky for me, my sister had recently had some very nice family photos taken, and I had enough of my own photos of their family from the past year to supplement.  Basically, you cover the paperbag pages with scrapbook paper (card stock weight works best), design your layout, add photos & embellishments and voila!

I was super happy with the result, and although it did take me about 6-8 hours worth of work to finish up this bad boy, I have to think that it was a lot less time than a traditional "from scratch" 12x12 (or whatever the traditional size is) scrapbook. 

All in all, I spent about $40 on materials.  That included a large pack of fancy scrapbook paper, Mod Podge adhesive (more on this later....), embellishments, paper bags and photo printing.  Use those 40% of JoAnn Fabric coupons, of course!  Now, $40 might seem like a lot, but I have enough of the materials left over to probably make 2 additional books of the same size.  So, let's say the cost was closer to $15 for the one book. 

A few things I liked about this style of scrapbook vs. a traditional book:

1) The novelty of it being made out of paper bags!
2) The little pockets where you can tuck additional photos or momentos
3) The size - easier to leave out on a desk or table for people to actually see and enjoy

Here's a tip that I will share with you if you decide to make one of these books.  Use double sided tape to stick down things that need sticking.  I used an adhesive called Mod Podge to glue everything down that needed gluing.  Only later did someone suggest to me that you can also use double sided tape - DUH, why didn't I think of that??  I would definitely try that next time, as once in awhile the Mod Podge would seep out from under the edge of the item being glued and get on my fingers or worse, one of the photos, and kind of smear up the finish a little.  Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, using tape would eliminate all of the drying time required in between pages.

Here are some photos of the finished album I made.  Names have been removed to protect the innocent!

Front cover - I used an accordian-fold binding method, but you can punch holes along one edge and tie with ribbon, among other things

Here's an example of the pockets created by some of the pages and how you can tuck additional photos or momentos inside. 

Other hiding spots for additional photos can be created when you only glue/tape down three sides of the main photo on the page, as in the page on the left.  The photo behind it is on its own individal card that can be pulled out.   

Vellum and transfer letters came in super handy to create the look I wanted. 

Some of the additional photo cards I made for inserting into pockets within the book. 

I love the idea of making one of these for a kiddo for their birthday, or for a spouse to have on their desk at work. 

I'm greatly looking forward to seeing the projects of other contributors and hearing what our readers have to say!

 Happy crafting!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blizzard Socks

I am a total delinquent with this craft blog. If it makes you feel any better, I've been a total delinquent about most things for the last 6 months or so. It's to the point that a couple nights ago at dinner, my husband jokingly told me to write a letter of resignation from the chores I am abandoning, so he'll know what he needs to do to pick up the slack. (I say"jokingly" just because he wasn't mad about it, not jokingly as if he thought it wasn't true that I had decided to pawn off household chores on anyone who will do them.)

Anyway, I digress. I am finally back today to show you all what I've been up to.... You see, I caught this disease..."Knobsession", "Knitsession", er....I'm obsessed with knitting, ok? I can trace it back to the day last July that my photographer friend Kara (ps, check her out because she rocks) asked me if I could knit her a sock monkey with a matching hat to use ith babies in her photo sessions. I had never heard of such a thing and honestly, the idea of it didn't say "cute" to me. It said, "creepy baby picture that these babies will grow up to roll their eyes at and make fun of". But because Kara takes great pictures, I figured that she probably knew something I didn't, so I told her I'd give it a try.

I figured it would be easy enough to find a knitting pattern for a sock monkey hat on (it's like facebook for knitters & crocheters). Kara had said that she had seen these hats "all over the internet", so there had to be patterns available, right? Well, that could be correct if I knew how to crochet, which I don't. I felt super-lucky when I finally found a site that listed a "Knitted Sock Monkey Hat" pattern. So happy, in fact, that I downloaded it immediately without allowing myself to believe that the site looked a little shady. What I actually ended up downloading was the virus that put the final nail in the coffin for our 6-year-old pc. What kind of monster attaches a computer virus to a KNITTING PATTERN, I say?!

Anyway, after that whole fiasco, and now in need of a new computer, I decided to write my own freaking pattern. Not that I had ever done that before, but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge. I found a sock monkey toy pattern here and made that sucker first while deciding how I was going to pull a matching hat out of thin air. In the end, I just figured out how to knit a basic earflap hat (which turned out to be not-so-hard, except for the part where I had to find children of friends in various sizes to fine-tune the sizing of the thing). Then I modified the face features from the sock monkey toy pattern so they would work with the size of face I was trying to create on the hat. Voila! Knitted Sock Monkey Earflap Hat Pattern was born and put up for sale at the end of July, and it's still the only one I can find on the internet (well, except for a few ugly "stocking cap" styles, but I'm not afraid of that competition!)

Since then, I think I've sold about 70 or 80 monkey hats to friends and in my etsy shop, and written 4 more patterns. Total sales at my etsy shop just topped 300 this week, and in honor of that (and being trapped in the house for 3 days because of the blizzard) I decided to write a pattern to offer up for free!

I've been wanting to do hand-knit socks, but my first few attempts were disappointing. Nothing more annoying than socks that don't stay up, or are baggy around the gussets (those are the little triangular sections on the left and right sides of your heel...the patterns I've encountered so far have not had nice, tight gussets!) So I decided I was going to write a pattern for The Best Fitting Socks Ever. And, here they are (drumroll, please......)

Nice, right? Look at those tops staying where they're supposed to be! Check out my nice, tight gussets! (Is it hot in here or is it just my socks?)
Anyway, I'm offering this pattern for FREE for the entire month of February, so if you want a copy, all you have to do is go to my etsy shop, click on the left sidebar where it says "Contact" and send me a message (including your e-mail address, so I know where to send the pattern!) saying that you saw the free sock pattern on the Sprint Street Blog. I'll be sending patterns out at least once a day, so you should get yours within 24 hours of contacting me!