Macramé with Rebecca Landman

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Today’s blog post comes to us from my friend and fellow crafter, Rebecca Landman. Rebecca and I met in college in upstate New York, and while she lives in California and I live in Chicago now, I’ve been following her crafting endeavors on social media for some time. She is a real inspiration, both because of the creativity in her work and because she isn’t afraid to tackle big projects that demand problem solving and patience. #creativethoughtmatters

Be sure to follow Rebecca on Instagram to see her latest macramé and natural dyeing creations. They are absolutely beautiful!

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From Rebecca: Macramé found me via frustration. My partner Chris and I had just moved into a new apartment. I was desperate to decorate our barren living room with some sort of cozy, textured wall hanging. Weavings, macraméd pieces, whatever! I wasn’t being picky.

But Chris saw this move as my opportunity. He’d just watched me finish crocheting my third blanket. He’d seen me obsess over weavings and macraméd pieces for basically forever. He’d developed this unwavering confidence in my creativity. A confidence I’d never really been able to wrangle in myself before. So each time I’d lust all hot and bothered (hi there, frustration) after something on Etsy or at basically any LA boutique in my general vicinity, he’d lightly remind me that I was a designer. I was a maker. I could easily create something even more beautiful. Our perfect something.

Me? Me? I’m not sure. I don’t think so! But no, Chris knew so. He believed in me. His steady stream of confidence slowly started making its way into my mind. Hmm. Well, maybe I could at least try.

I took a beginner macramé class and then another class on natural dyeing. Soon, I was buying rope by the yard, spending hours each night searching the web for all sorts of different natural dyeing techniques, and following along with as many YouTube knot-tying tutorials as my little hands could bare. Rope burn is real, people. You have been warned.

But guess what? Chris was right. I could totally make that.

A year and a half later I’ve started an Etsy shop, created a few wall hanging patterns I love, and have scheduled macramé in as a regular part of my daily routine. The following pattern is one of my favorites I’ve been making thus far.

DIY Diamond Macramé Wall Hanging

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Materials:

  • 250 feet of 3/16″ organic cotton rope, available here
  • 7/8” wooden dowel, at least 17″ long
  • Masking tape
  • Sand paper
  • Hand saw
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Clothing rack
  • Two s-hooks

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Step 1: Cut 20 pieces of rope, 150″ long each. Secure each loose end of rope with masking tape.

Step 2: Place the s-hooks on your clothing rack and your wooden dowel on the s-hooks.

Step 3: Cast each piece of rope onto your dowel by folding the rope in half, threading the looped fold over the dowel, pulling both ends of the folded rope through the loop, and pulling tight. Starting from the left-hand side of your dowel, label each of your working ropes by number on the masking tape. #1 will be your left-most rope and #40 your right-most rope.

*From this point on, think of each half piece of rope as its own entity — so each long, 150-inch piece of rope you halved and looped over the dowel is now two distinct pieces of working rope.*

3:4

Step 4: Pull the fourth rope from the left-hand side of your work diagonally to the left across the three ropes directly to its left. Take the piece of rope to its left (Rope 3) and place it over and around Rope 4. Pull it tight to make a knot, all the while holding Rope 4 at that diagonal. Repeat for a second knot with Rope 3.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 with each of the two ropes to the left of Rope 3 (Ropes 2 & 1). Now you’ve tied your first row of diagonal clove hitch knots!

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Step 6: Pull the fifth rope from the left-hand side of your work diagonally to the right across the three ropes directly to its right. Take the piece of rope to its right (Rope 6) and place it over and around Rope 5 (the opposite way you went in Step 4). Pull it tight to make a knot, all the while holding Rope 5 at that diagonal. Repeat for a second knot with Rope 6.

Step 7: Repeat Step 6 for each of the two ropes to the right of Rope 6 (Ropes 7 & 8), thus completing your second row of diagonal clove hitch knots.

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Step 8: Leave your two outer ropes in the eight-rope set be (Ropes 4 & 5), and make a square knot tying Ropes 1 & 8 around Ropes 2, 3, 6, and 7. To do so, wrap Rope 1 around the front of your four central ropes while simultaneously wrapping Rope 8 around the back. Holding each rope loosely wrapped around the four central ropes, you’ll see that you created two loops on either side of the central ropes. Thread the end of Rope 1 through the right-hand loop front to back while threading Rope 8 through the left-hand loop back-to-front. Pull tight to secure. Now reverse it — thread Rope 1 back across the front of the four central ropes and Rope 8 back around the back. Thread through their respective loops, now in the opposite direction as the knot you just tied. Pull tight and your first square knot is complete!

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Step 9: Finish off your diamond with a row of diagonal clove hitch knots along the bottom, again using Ropes 4 & 5 as your diagonal anchor ropes.

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Step 10: Repeat Steps 4-9 for each of the four sets of four working ropes along your dowel.

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Step 11: Tie a second line of diagonal clove hitch knots right underneath your knots from Step 9, using each diamond’s new outer ropes as your anchor ropes.

Step 12: Tie square knots like you did in Step 8 in between each new set of diagonal clove hitch knots.

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Step 13: For the sides of your work — the ones where you can’t make a full diamond — you can create a half diamond. Leave the anchor rope from the previous set of diagonal clove hitch knots be, and you will have three working ropes. Take the two outer ropes of the three and tie a square knot around the single central rope. Line it with two lines of diagonal clove hitch knots just like the full diamonds.

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Step 14: Continue tying these diagonal clove hitch/square knot diamonds until you’ve got five rows’ worth ending in a single row of diagonal clove hitch knots. Or keep going! Or stop earlier! You do you. I also like to finish my final row of diagonal clove hitch knots using one of my anchor ropes as a working rope and tying the two sides together. I do this in the same direction for each of my five diamonds.

Step 15: Once you’ve reached your happy tying conclusion, it’s time to trim and unravel. Cut your remaining rope into any shape you’d like. I chose a triangular shape, but you could also do a straight line, a zig zag, or something more organic.

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Step 16: Use your fingers to unravel the strands of rope up until you reach the last knot you tied. Trim and shape the unraveled rope as necessary.

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Step 17: Depending on how long your dowel is, if it needs a trim, now’s the time. Situate your final piece exactly how you’ll like it on the dowel, and trim down the sides with a hand saw.

Step 18: Sand the dowel edges for a nice clean finish.

Step 19: Hang on the wall and enjoy! You can either fashion a hanger out of some rope or thinner cord, or screw a few c-hooks into your wall and rest the dowel on those.

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I never intentionally set out to create this pattern. I’d actually been stuck for weeks trying to work out a different design. No matter how hard I worked that different design, though — tied, untied, retied, tried this, tried that — it just wasn’t working (oh hey there, frustration. Missed you, girl). Suddenly, macramé wasn’t feeling fun. It was feeling daunting. I needed to put my impossible idea down for a second, quiet all this anxiety I was now feeling over honestly just a pile of rope, and let myself play.

Allowing myself space to play gave this diamond design its opportunity to emerge. Instead of forcing whatever farfetched idea wasn’t bending to my will, I let go and trusted that something easier would come. And it did! Not only have I gleaned this satisfying pattern from my play time, but I’ve also learned to be gentler with my process — with myself. Now, I leave myself more room to breathe, think, try and try again.

Please gift yourself this same luxury. You can do it. You can make that. I know you can.

All photos taken by Rebecca Landman

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5 Things to Make by Hand

It’s beginning to really feel like fall in Chicago, and it has me itching to dig into some cozy craft projects in the coming months. To me, cooler weather is optimal crafting time. We inevitably spend more time indoors in fall and winter, and I’ve got to do something to prevent myself from going to bed by 8 o’clock when the sun sets so early. (I’m dreading daylight savings.)

Today I thought I’d share a few projects that I’ve been eyeing online as ones I’d like to try. Maybe they’ll inspire you to make something with your hands, too! Enjoy 🙂

Cowl via Purl Soho

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When it comes to knitting, I don’t often stray too far from basic patterns. One of my goals is to branch out a bit more and try different techniques and styles. This cowl pattern from Purl Soho seems like a nice way to do that. It should be simple enough that I’ll have success, but will result in a pattern I’ve never tried before. Plus, I have the perfect two colors to try it with.

Orange Spiced Sugar Cookies via This Mess is Ours

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Nothing says fall/winter quite like citrus and spices. These cookies caught my eye as ones I’d like to bake. I ❤ cookies.

Homemade Seed Packets via Idlewife

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As Anne’s mom’s garden has come to an end for the season, I’ve found myself having this urge to save seeds from this year’s flowers. Being that our wedding flowers came from her garden in July, they have an extra special place in my heart. I’m especially excited for our hyacinth, strawberry corn, sunflower, and millet seeds. These seed packets are the perfect way to save them for next year!

Embroidered Alphabet Sampler via Purl Soho

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I actually have this project waiting patiently in the wings for me. I received it as a Christmas gift last year and embarrassingly haven’t gotten to trying it yet. This sampler teaches you a wide variety of stitches, and being that I’ve never done embroidery before, this should be a good way to learn!

Mozzarella Sticks via Food52

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Food52 claims that these homemade mozzarella sticks are better than anything you will find in a grocery store (duh), pool, bowling alley, or roller rink. One tip I didn’t know? Freeze them before frying them to insure the cheese doesn’t ooze out from beneath the breading. I am certainly going to give these a try. If they work out as well as they say it does, you’ll most likely be able to hear me shrieking from wherever it is that you are.

It’s a good thing that Chicago’s winters are long. I’ve got a lot of projects to try in the next six months! How do you spend your free time in fall and winter? What are some things you’re hoping to try or get done while the days are shorter and the weather is cooler?

Sourdough Dinner Rolls

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

Friends, it has been nearly seven months since I’ve shared a post on Scissors & Sage. So much has happened since “Snow Day Sugar Cookies” back in February! Here are some life updates on my end:

I got my first ever Devacurl haircut. That, paired with Ouidad products, has made my hair curlier than ever without the frizz. I’ve never loved my hair more.

Anne and I started a little pop-up shop business called Looseleaf Books + Plants. We’ve had two pop-ups so far and had a whole lot of fun.

We moved to Chicago. Talk about a whirlwind! Philly treated us so well, and we were certainly sad to say goodbye for now. We are so excited about this new chapter in Chicago, though, and can’t wait to see where life takes us here.

WE GOT MARRIED! July 29, 2017 in Platteville, Wisconsin. The cows were mooing, the birds were chirping, and the sun was shining. It was a day I will never forget, filled with beautiful people, delicious food, and amazing music. I can’t wait to share more about it in the weeks and months to come.

What’s new in your lives? How did you enjoy the warmer months?

Today, I thought I’d share a recipe I’m trying for the first time. The week before our wedding this summer, Anne and I embarked on making our very own sourdough starter. We decided to make it as a symbol of our love: two ingredients, water and flour, coming together to make something greater than themselves, while also getting better with age. We call it our “wedding bread” and hope to make loaves and share it with loved ones for decades to come.

I celebrated my 27th birthday on Tuesday on our one-month wedding anniversary. My parents mailed me a very cool Romertopf clay bread baker to make all of our breads in! This is my first time using it and I’m pretty excited to see how these dinner rolls turn out (I’m writing this prematurely as I wait for the dough to rise). I altered this recipe from King Arthur Flour slightly, and have shared my adaptation below.

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It feels good to be back on Scissors & Sage, and I can’t wait to share more of our lives as we settle into this new city, new home, and new routine.

Sourdough Dinner Rolls (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Prep time: 20 minutes | Inactive time: 3 hours | Bake time: 50 minutes | Yields: 16 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 1/2 heaping cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough attachment. Add more flour if needed to reach a soft, smooth texture.

Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover and let sit for 90 minutes at warm room temperature. Slightly grease your bread baker while the dough is rising.

Once the dough is doubled in size, divide the dough into 16 pieces on a lightly greased work surface. Shape into balls, and place them in the baker so that they are not touching one another. Cover and let rise for an additional 90 minutes. The rolls should be puffy and touching.

Place the baker in the oven and then turn the heat on to 400°F. (Note: Always place a clay baker in a cool oven to avoid cracking.) Bake for 45 minutes, and then bake for an additional five minutes without the lid on, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool on a wooden board for 15 minutes before transferring the rolls to a cooling rack. Enjoy immediately or store in beeswax bread wrap.

From Scissors & Sage

Snow Day Sugar Cookies

If there’s one thing to know about me it’s that I love learning. I’m a visual learner so, in the age of the Internet, YouTube has become my best friend. It’s amazing, really, how many different kinds of things you can learn on YouTube these days. There are so many passionate people out there making videos about things they care about! Here are some actual snippets of my YouTube search history:

  • “How to add a color knitting”
  • “How to use the Uber app”
  • “How to braid a weeping fig”
  • “How to cut a tree slab”
  • “Replant phalaenopsis orchid”
  • “Royal icing flood consistency”

This last one led me down my latest rabbit hole. Anne’s mom shared the most delicious sugar cookie recipe from her friend a few years ago, and Anne and I like to experiment with making different shaped cookies and decorations. I found one YouTube channel by Julia M. Usher, a well-regarded baker with a specialty in making cookies, that offered a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Since Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, I thought I’d give royal icing a try with these sugar cookie hearts.

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First things first: Make Laura Kutill’s sugar cookies! I hope I meet her someday to thank her in person for this incredible recipe.

Laura Kutill's Delicious Sugar Cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 10 minutes per batch | Yields: 6-7 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Add half of the dry ingredients and incorporate. Add remaining.

Cut dough into thirds and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2+ hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll the dough 3/16″ thick on a floured surface. Cut out the cookies and place on a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes until the edges begin to turn a light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

From Scissors & Sage

Seven Steps to Flawless Rolled Cookies (via Julia M. Usher)

  1. Work with cold dough.
  2. Lightly flour work surface.
  3. Use a good, heavy rolling pin.
  4. Rotate dough while rolling.
  5. Roll dough relatively thin, 3/16″.
  6. Transfer cutouts with an offset spatula.
  7. Rotate for even browning.

Julia also shared her recipe for royal icing, as well as how to change the consistency for outlining, top-coating, and flooding cookies. Below are her clues to making excellent icing.

Royal Icing & Consistency Alterations (via Julia M. Usher)

Icing “Glue”

  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 5 large egg whites

Using the beater attachment, combine powdered sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in egg whites and mix at low speed. Scrape down sides before increasing to high speed for 1-2 minutes. Icing will go from a gray to white in color due to increased air circulation in icing.

If desired, flavor the icing (i.e. incorporate 1 tsp of vanilla or lemon extract).

Makes 4 cups icing, which is enough to cover several dozen cookies.

Note: Color the icing once the “glue” is distributed into smaller bowls.

Outlining Consistency

For 1 cup of “glue,” add 1/2 to 3/4 tsp water. Mix gently. The icing should fall in globs off of the spoon.

Top Coating Consistency

For 1 cup of “glue,” add 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tsps water. Mix gently. The icing should flow slowly off of the spoon and create tracks in the icing that disappear after 15 seconds.

Note: Use this icing for covering cookies without outlining first.

Flooding Consistency

For 1 cup of “glue,” add 2 to 3 tsps water. Mix very gently so as not to create air bubbles. Tap down bowl on counter to help. The icing should run off the spoon a bit faster than top coat, and tracks in icing should disappear in 10 seconds.

Note: If icing is too watered down, sift powdered sugar into the mixture.

From Scissors & Sage

All in all, I’m really glad that I tried making royal icing. It certainly took a long time to get through all 90 cookies I made, but the end result was worth it. Now I get to share my cookies with friends and family this weekend!

PS) I decided to try making Julia’s parchment pastry cones rather than use the canvas pastry bag we have. She walks you through the steps to make these simple bags, and I have to say it was very worth it. You get to just throw the bags away when you’re done rather than clean out the canvas.

DIY 2017 Planner

Earlier in January I decided to make a planner to keep track of our appointments, activities, and work schedules for the new year. We used a beautiful Rifle Paper Co. wall calendar in our kitchen last year that worked really well for us. Rather than go buy a new one for 2017, though, I decided to get a little thrifty and use materials we already had. I can never pass up a good crafting challenge.

We didn’t have the right kind of paper for another wall calendar in the kitchen, so I decided to go with a planner-style project. I found this small binder we had in with our crafting things, and it had unused paper and plastic sleeves inside. Jackpot!

Since Anne and I both love the aesthetic of what Anna Bond creates for Rifle Paper Co., I chose to cut out each month’s painted font from our 2016 calendar to use in our new planner. I mounted each one onto a piece of colored paper using double-sided tape, and then mounted that onto a piece of graph paper to fill the entire plastic sleeve.

Each section/month has five pieces of paper behind it: The first page says, “Monthly Notes,” where we’ve been writing things like monthly goals and things we’d like to accomplish this month. The next four pages have a weekly calendar view from Monday to Sunday. (Yes, I wrote this out 52 times. It was worth it!) I’m so happy with how that layout worked out.

The other fun thing that our new planner has is a space for our meal planning sheets. We slide them in the back of each month’s plastic sleeve, and take them out when we’re deciding what to cook/bake every weekend. We did this style of meal planning last year and we had a lot of success with it. We ended up making so many different kinds of foods, and now we use last year’s notes to help guide us this year:

We have been loving using our new planner. It’s so easy to keep track of all the things we have going on, and it keeps us organized in a lot of different ways: meal planning, monthly goals, daily activities, birthdays, holidays, you name it. The best part is that we still keep it in the kitchen. It sits happily next to our favorite cookbooks and our beloved recipe box — which is also Rifle Paper Co.!

Are you keeping a wall calendar or planner this year? What kinds of things do you keep track of?