Monday, December 12, 2022

Craftmehappy Joyful Wreath #9 - Ta-Dah - It's Finished!

In March this year, I began one of my biggest projects yet - my Joyful Wreath.  It was very much inspired, both by Attic24's Christmas wreath, and Ingrid Fetell Lee's observations on the Aesthetics of Joy.  

This year, I'm taking my 50th trip around the sun and, having a December birthday, I thought it would be kind of exciting to have a big project that broke down into lots of little projects that I could work on throughout the year, with a final reveal on my 50th birthday.

I've been writing my blog for over 16 years now, and in that time I’ve written tutorials on many different crafts.  I thought it would be a fun idea to revisit some of those projects, as well as introduce a few new ones, and incorporate them all into one, mad, crazy, joyful wreath.

So, happy birthday to me!

I honestly had no real plan, or idea of how the finished wreath was going to look, I just knew that if I kept to Ingrid's formula for a joyful aesthetic and had enough elements on there for it to look abundant and busy, everything else would come together. 

This was the checklist that I followed that helped to inspire me -

  • Bright, saturated colours
  • Elements from nature
  • Circles and coils
  • Busyness and an abundance of repeated motifs
  • Weird or quirky details 
  • Objects that float, fly or can be seen in the sky eg. confetti, bubbles, birds, butterflies, rainbows, stars… 
  • A mixture of texture and scale.  

Building the Wreath

For fun, I made a time-lapse video of me pinning all of the elements onto my wreath before I sewed everything on in stages.  If you'd like to learn a little more about my process, read on...

You can see how I knitted the base for my wreath here.

Using my handspun rainbow yarn, I crocheted the wires around some smart fairy lights and wrapped them around the wreath base to look like swirling party streamers.  I intended for them to be almost covered, so I was really just interested in having an even distribution of lights around the wreath.

The main focal point, and the object that inspired the arrangement of colour on my wreath was the knitted rainbow that I sewed to sit inside the base of my wreath.

In the last few weeks, I've been laying all of my wreath elements onto the base and trying to decide how to arrange them.  It all felt kind of 'bitty', as if it needed another element that was as big, if not bigger than the needle-felted flowers.  I also felt as if it needed a little more whimsy to give it more of a childlike, feel.

My 14-year-old daughter loves collecting things with images of mushrooms or toadstools on them and it's definitely a motif that I'm seeing around a lot recently.  I thought it would be cute to work out a knitting pattern for a toadstool, and knit a spectrum of them with the remainder of the rainbow yarn I spun recently.  I'll probably write up the knitting pattern for the toadstools in the future, but for now, that's a future me problem. 

Once I’d pinned the needle-felted flowers, and knitted toadstools on, I sewed them on with a long beading needle and some thread.  I added extra beads to the flower centres to hide the stitches.

I then pinned and sewed the knitted curlicues in place.  

I’d knitted 24 of them, so I placed them in spectrum order which helped me to space them evenly all the way around my wreath.  I felt that they looked better hanging off the sides so I pinned them around the inside and outside edges, and then sewed them in place with some wool yarn, the same colour as my wreath base.

After sewing on the curlicues, I added needle-felted beads to the larger gaps on the wreath.  I used a long, sharp wool needle to sew them to the base with a single stitch.  

Pulling the yarn through quite tightly created a little dimple in the middle of the felt beads, giving them the appearance of colourful berries which was very pleasing.

Following on from the beads, I added the layered singed flowers using a very long needle and complementary sewing thread.  I’d made the singed flowers out of leftover fabric and so some of the colours weren’t as saturated as I would have liked them to be.  As I wanted the design elements to carry around the sides, I just put the less brightly coloured flowers on the inside or outside of the wreath so that they just added to the busyness of the design without being front and centre.

The final step in assembling my wreath was to fill any obvious gaps with silk top pom poms.

This was really when the whole wreath started to come together and I got a genuine feeling of more is more.  I’d left long tails on the pom poms, which made them really easy to attach to the base.  I just threaded the ends through, one at a time, and then knotted them together at the back.

I’ve never thought of myself as a maximalist, but the more I was adding to the wreath, the happier I became!  It took me 3 days to sew everything on, but my motivation to finish my wreath was strong.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I’m so happy with it!

Every time I look at it, it fills my heart with joy.  This is definitely not just going to come out at Christmas!

Well thank you so much for reading, and following along with my bonkers project.  If you’ve found any of this interesting or useful, please pin it to Pinterest.  It makes a big difference to me and helps other crafters find it too.

Crocheting Around Fairy Lights

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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Craftmehappy Joyful Wreath #8 - Crocheting Around Fairy Lights

In March this year, I began making decorations to embellish my Joyful Wreath.  My goal was to try to post one wreath decoration a month, with a final reveal on my 50th birthday in December. Some of the wreath motifs will be new to my blog, while others will be an updated version of one of my more popular craft tutorials. Hopefully, by the end of 2022, I will have made a totally joyful and fabulous wreath to hang on my craft room door, to brighten everyone’s morning.

I'm trying to follow Ingrid Fetell Lee's formula for the Aesthetics of Joy, where she encourages people to go Joyspotting - Actively looking for aesthetic elements around you that naturally bring you happiness, and lift your spirits.

Well, what could be more joyful than some crocheted rainbow-coloured fairy lights that look like party streamers?!  It’s got everything!

I know I said that I wouldn't be doing any crochet on my wreath, but after I spun this rainbow yarn a few days ago, I couldn't resist turning some of it into a swirling, twinkling set of joyful fairy lights.  

I should warn you that my crochet skills are basic.  I’ve crocheted the odd granny square, but nothing substantial.  I’m much happier knitting, so this is definitely going to be a case of, if I can do it, so can you.

My husband's very much into smart technology and he loves dabbling in home automation wizardry.  Last Christmas, he bought a few sets of smart fairy lights that he was able to wire up so that he can completely control them using an app on his phone.  Well, he had a spare set and so I asked him if he could wire a set up for me to attach to my Joyful Wreath.

They're great!  Without rewiring, they look almost like regular, pretty fairy lights - there are just 3 wires going to every bulb instead of 1.  With a smart circuit added, they can be programmed to twinkle in whatever colours I want.  You can buy similar ready-made ones here.

Full disclosure, this blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links to similar products that I purchased myself.  If you make a purchase, I may receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you.

Preparing the fairy lights to crochet around them 

There are actually 10m here, which is significantly more than I want, so I spread the fairy lights out to make them easier to fold a couple of times.

I brought the two ends of the fairy lights together and taped them together with masking tape, placing the last fairy light between the first and second light on the wire so that the fairy lights were staggered and not on top of each other.

I then followed the pair of fairy lights along until I reached the point where the wires folded over and placed some more masking tape over the folded end.

I folded the fairy lights over again, bringing the folded end to almost meet the start of the fairy lights.  I staggered the lights again so that the four layers of fairy lights were all evenly spaced along the length of the wires.

To make it easier for me to crochet around all 4 wires I taped them together every 40cm or so.

Here are 10 metres of fairy lights, reduced down to 2.5 metres.  This length should wrap several times around my wreath, without them being too busy.

Crocheting around the fairy light wire

Crocheting over the wires between the fairy lights

To begin crocheting around the fairy lights, I just made a slip knot and placed it on my crochet hook in the usual way.  I then worked a (UK) double crochet stitch (US single crochet stitch) along the length of the wires.  As there were no holes to crochet into, I just kept passing my crochet hook under the wires to pick up the yarn to work a double crochet until there were enough stitches between the lights to cover the wires up.  This meant that my crochet stitches gathered up quite a bit, but I manipulated the stitches into undulating ruffles later on.

Crocheting the wires underneath the fairy lights

When I reached a light, and I was happy that the wire between the lights had been sufficiently covered in double crochet stitches, I changed my technique slightly.  I inserted my crochet hook between the wires and underneath the fairy light and continued to work 3 double crochet stitches around the wires, leaving the fairy light exposed.

I just kept repeating this technique of working many, many double crochet stitches to cover the wires and then working 3 double crochet stitches around the wires below the fairy lights until I reached the end.

I wanted my fairy lights to resemble swirling party streamers and so I coiled them around the base of my wreath, manipulating them until I felt that there was an even distribution of colour all the way around.

The wreath is going to be almost covered in decorations, so I’m not overly worried about neatness at this stage.  I just wanted to make sure that the lights were well spread out.

To secure the long cable of the lights behind the wreath I stitched over it, tucking it under the strands of ‘fur’ to keep it close to the body of the wreath.

I was able to thread the cable to the battery pack underneath the fairy lights in several places so it's easy enough to remove if I need to.

I just needed to sew two long and one short loop to hold the battery and cable in place.  Once unplugged, the battery can just be slid out to charge it.

The battery was one of the smallest and thinnest rechargeable power packs I could find.  It's thin enough for it not to push the wreath away from the wall too much, and small enough for it not to be seen from the front.

Here’s a sneak peak of my deconstructed wreath.  Hopefully, I’ll have it assembled and finished, all ready to share with you on the 12th…

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