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

1:2

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!

5:6

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.

7:8

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!

9:10

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.

15:16

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.

17:1819:20

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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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?

How To Make Envelope Liners

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Making homemade envelope liners is a really nice way to spice up a letter or a card. They’re typically decorative in nature, and aim to complement the style of the envelope/card. Snail mail feng shui, anyone? Wrapping paper, magazine pages, photographs, and art are all great examples of what you can use to make these diy liners. There are so many different ways of doing it that it’s one craft that will never get old for me.

Below I’ll teach you how to make an envelope liner template and also how to adhere the envelope liner to the envelope. It’s fun and simple, and only takes a few minutes once you get the hang of it.

DIY Envelope Liners

Materials:

  • Envelope
  • Liner paper
  • Computer paper
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape

Step 1: Open the envelope and trace its shape onto computer paper with a pencil. Cut it out using scissors and then cut an additional one inch off of the bottom.

Step 2: Slide the computer paper cut-out into the envelope. You might have to shave off an eighth of an inch on the left and right sides of the cut-out in order for it to fit. Does everything look right? Do all of the lines match up? If so, trace your cut-out onto a piece of cardboard to create a template. (Cereal box cardboard works really well!)

Step 3: Use the cardboard template to trace the envelope liner paper. Cut it out and slide it into the envelope.

Step 4: Read this carefully. Next, use one hand to hold the liner paper and envelope firmly in place. Use your other hand to fold down the envelope flap. Crease the envelope and liner together, and slide your finger across the seam to create a fold in the decorative paper, making sure that the envelope liner does not move in the process.

Step 5: Lift up only the envelope flap and you’ll notice that the liner paper sits an eighth of an inch below the envelope seam. Push up the liner paper so that the two seams sit right next to each other (see below).

Step 6: Place double-sided tape as close to the edges of the liner paper as possible. Holding the paper in place, fold down the envelope flap once more. Press firmly to secure the tape. Lift up, and the envelope liner will be adhered!

It is a good sign if the bottom of your envelope liner slides up and down when you open and close the envelope. It moves to accommodate the changing angles of the envelope flap!

Practice makes perfect with envelope liners. Don’t give up if it doesn’t look right the first few times. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough, and will be churning them out just in time for the holidays.

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DIY Address Book

One of the things that is most vivid in my mind from childhood is the address book my parents kept in the kitchen drawer. The outside was covered in a patterned green paper, tattered around the edges from decades of use, and the inside was kind of hairy — business cards and scraps of paper with phone numbers written down were tucked between the already-full pages. Names and addresses had been written and rewritten as people moved or as someone got a cell phone for the first time.

Only now am I realizing how important it is to have a book like this, filled over years with friends and family we can reach out to. These days, it seems like community networks are growing smaller and smaller. This was not the case when I was growing up. Maybe it’s a symptom of being twenty-something.

But who has an address book these days? Everything is in “the cloud,” and I’m still trying to figure out what that means exactly. Information is scattered between apps and devices, and conveniently vanishes when I go looking for it. It is high time for our very first address book.

If there’s one thing you can find many of in our apartment, it’s blank notebooks. I can’t say why, exactly, but we just have this thing for notebooks. Obviously, I wasn’t about to go out and buy an address book when I’m sitting on gold. Time to DIY!

DIY Address Book

Materials:

  • Blank notebook with about 80 pages
  • Letter stickers
  • Colored paper
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors

Step 1: Stick each letter on different colors of paper. Cut out the colored paper so that there is a small border around the letter.

Step 2: Line up the alphabet along the edge of the notebook to decide on spacing. Use double-sided tape to adhere the colored paper to the inner edge of the notebook. (Note: It’s up to you how many pages each letter gets. I gave mine anywhere from 1-4 pages, depending on the letter.)

Step 3: Get creative with a title page!

That’s really all there is to it. It was a fun project, and one that we’ll be reaping the benefits of for a long time to come. Here’s to building community. Happy crafting!

Chalkboard Paint Door

2015 went out with a bang. In the course of one month, Anne and I proposed to each other on our 7-year anniversary, drove from Philly to Chicago and back to spend time with Anne’s family for her birthday and Christmas, hosted my family in Philly for a post-Christmas/engagement/New Year’s party, and made delicious fried pork dumplings as a last hurrah of the year. Phew!

January is all about recalibrating and figuring out what is and isn’t working. What wasn’t working toward the end of last year was working long hours six days a week, not feeling focused on one task at a time, eating too quickly, being absorbed by social media, and generally feeling the holiday frenzy.

This year I’ve decided to focus more on uni-tasking (read an amazing article on it here), as well as taking time to cook, bake, knit, and continue teaching myself to sew. I’ve rearranged my work schedule back into five days a week (for now) so that Anne and I can fill our time off together with home projects and celebrating our engagement!

Our latest home project was revamping the inside of our front door. It was feeling pretty sad and overlooked, and I thought that chalkboard paint would be both practical and really fun. We didn’t need many supplies for this project, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to spice up a little piece of their home. Below is the tutorial!

Chalkboard Paint Door

Materials:

  • 180-grit sand paper
  • TSP spray
  • Rag or paper towel
  • Washi tape or painter’s tape
  • 1 quart chalkboard paint in any color
  • Wooden paint stirrers
  • 2-4 foam brushes
  • Chalk
  • Eraser

Step 1: Take the door off of the hinges, and place it on a tall, sturdy table. Use 180-grit sand paper to thoroughly sand the side of the door to paint. Insure that the surface of the door is smooth and free of any large bumps.

Step 2: Use a rag or paper towel to spray TSP onto the door. This spray will remove all dust and debris from the door, creating a clean surface for painting. Cover door edges and metal hardware with washi tape or blue painter’s tape.

Step 3: Open the can of paint and mix it with a paint stirrer. (It is beneficial to keep the paint stirrer nearby to stir occasionally as you work.)

Step 4: Apply paint to a foam brush. Create even strokes of paint that go with the grain of the wood. Cover the door with one full coat of paint, and let it dry for 4 hours. (If the foam brush begins to disintegrate, discard and use a new brush.)

Step 5: After drying for 4 hours, apply a second coat of paint and let dry again. The door is now ready to be put back on its hinges!

Step 6: Wait three days before continuing this tutorial, as the paint needs to set. Then, prime the chalkboard paint by using the long edge of a piece of chalk to cover the entire door with chalk. Take the eraser and erase over the whole thing. This is a critical step for chalkboard paint so that the first thing you write doesn’t imprint. Your door is ready to be used! Leave important messages, write down a favorite quote, or lay out your week of meals. Having this board in our kitchen (where our door opens into) is going to be so much fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!