Give Handmade This Year: I'll Teach You to Crochet!

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If you’ve ever wanted to learn to crochet—I’d love to teach you, for FREE! I’ll walk you through 3 simple dishcloths from beginning to end and when you’re finished, you can even download my free printable labels to share your gift in style. All you need to get started is some cotton yarn and a crochet hook. Get the details (plus all my other Skillshare courses) at NO COST with a free trial.

How much would everyone your list love to get a cute bundle like this—made by you???!?!? Can you even imagine?!?!? I can’t wait to see what you make!

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Pregnancy Album and Diary Template

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Back when I was pregnant with Zé, I kept a diary of photos and memories which ultimately culminated in an album/book of some sort. Naturally, I shared it on social media and has people asking for a template. I've just gone through and updated it for 2018 and added it to my shop. These are the details:

Features

  • 86 drool-worthy pages including an intro/outro, birthday spread, and a full-spread per week (x 40 weeks)—but don't feel like you have to fill in every week! Feel free to edit as needed!
  • Totally editable! Add/subtract pages, edit fonts/colors/layouts—whatever!
  • Don't want to use Blurb? Just adjust the specs to fit whatever vendor you want and get to it already! (Out of the box it's formatted for a 7x7 hardcover book from Blurb.)
  • THIS IS AN INDESIGN TEMPLATE. It is saved as an .idml file, so it can be opened with versions as far back as InDesign CS4. (If you're looking for a Photoshop template, stop and ask yourself, "Why would I design an 86 page document in Photoshop? That'd be crazy! I should know better than to even consider that!" Then, return to your senses and proceed with InDesign.
  • Includes an InDesign Library file with all the icons for each week making it super easy to rearrange/add/remove pages and drag-and-drop design elements as needed. (Instructions included!)

Tips for Easy, No-Stress Diary Keeping:

  1. Write as Much (or as Little) and as Often (or as Infrequently) as You Feel. Just because a template (this template) includes a spread for each of 40 weeks—doesn't mean you have to make an entry every week! I found pregnancy to be the most challenging thing I've ever put myself through, and as such, if I had tried to force myself to journal every week, it would've been a recipe for failure. I didn't even make my first journal entry until week 13 after we heard the heart beat, and that's totally ok. From that point on, I only made entries when I felt like I had something worth sharing with baby. Sometimes that was several times per week, other times there were 4 or 5 weeks between entries. Do what works for you and add/subtract pages as needed.
  2. Keep it Real. You don't have to fill the diary with flowery prose about rainbows, unicorns, and perceived pregnancy bliss (because let's face it, pregnancy can be hard). Write about the day-to-day happenings, how the plans for the nursery are coming along, or even current events that are on your mind.
  3. Use Tools That Make it Easy. Maybe you'll want to make your entries directly into the template in InDesign. Or maybe you want to get it out first, before worrying about making it pretty (that's what I did). I used Google Docs to make my entries (even adding small images to remind me what images I wanted to include), letting them pile up for months before I transferred (copy and pasted) everything to InDesign.

Just remember to keep it simple—pregnancy can be hard enough on its own. Hang in there mama!

I Made a Font!

After years of admiring well crafted fonts from a distance, I decided to get up close and personal by creating my own. The result is Happy Thoughts, a hand printed typeface with extras like ligatures, stylistic alternates, and multi-lingual support. You can grab it for just $12 at Creative Market or in my shop. Happy fonting!

Coming Soon to CreativeLive

I've got several new courses in the works for CreativeLive! One is about working with Adobe Spark, another is about creating Stylized Portraits in Photoshop, and the third is about working with Adobe Stock in Illustrator.

Here are a few images from the different projects we'll be creating—I hope you'll join me and follow along! The courses will be broadcast live on Tuesday, September 25th, after which you'll find them among my others in the CreativeLive course catalog.

A Cross Stitch Here, A Cross Stitch There

If you haven't tried cross-stitch before, you may be surprised to discover that it's easier than you think. I fell in love with the adorableness of Stitch People, and pretty soon found myself stitching up entire family portraits (for my and my husband's side of the family) for Mother's Day. 

The process was fun, relatively quick, and totally painless (except for a few needle pokes here and there). Since making the initial family portraits, I've made a few as gifts for friends and some other non-portrait cross-stitched pieces for other projects.

If you're new to the art form, Lizzy makes it easy with super simple starter kits and tons of patterns and inspiration, some of which are entirely free. All you need to get started is some Aida fabric, a hoop, some floss, a needle, and some scissors. Then just like that—you're a cross-stitcher!

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Free Googly Eye Appliqué for Valentine's Day

monster-love Zé has a thing for googly eyes, so a few weeks ago I picked up a set of large, 4" eyes for him. When I got home, Emir mentioned that they'd be fun to have on a shirt—so here we are, a boy-friendly Valentine's design!

My idea was to incorporate the eye in a way that's removable for washability and for when Zé decides he's had enough and just wants the eye off. So when you take the googly eye out, there's another appliqué eye underneath. It's one shirt, two ways!

Supplies To make your own, you'll need:

  1. Fuse the Wonder Under to your fabric and cut out the pattern pieces.
  2. Starting with the horns, peel off the paper backing and fuse each one into place.
  3. Fuse the monster body in place being careful to make sure it slightly overlaps the bottoms of the horns.
  4. Fuse the appliqué eye-white in place on top of the monster body.
  5. Decide on the desired placement and fuse the pupil onto the eye.
  6. Using a pen or marker, trace the mouth in place (it may help to place the pattern piece behind the shirt and hold the whole thing against a window) then position the teeth and fuse in place.
  7. Sew a line of straight stitches around each of the different pieces, changing thread colors as needed.
  8. Using a satin stitch (a tight zig-zag), stitch along the mouth you traced in step 6, making sure your stitching covers the base of the teeth where they overlay the mouth.

At this point, you have a cute shirt! You could stop here, but if you want to add the googly eye, read on.

Adding the Google Eye The secret (ok, not really) is using ribbing to form somewhat of a pocket to hold the googly eye in place. The eye I used measures 4" in diameter, making a circumference of roughly 12.5", so I cut a 2 x 9" strip of ribbing. You want the ribbing to be shorter than the actual space it will occupy so it has to stretch.

  1. Cut the ribbing to desired size and with a zig-zag stitch, sew the long edge together (right sides facing).
  2. Turn the tube right side out, press, fold in half and sew the short ends together, forming a circle.
  3. Divide the circle of ribbing into fourths by placing a pin at the top, bottom, and center of each side of the circle. Do the same on the white eye on the shirt, dividing the eye into forth with pins.
  4. Place the ribbing in place around the eye of the shirt (with the raw edges facing inwards), matching up the pins to evenly distribute the ribbing. Pin in place using additional pins as needed (I like to add another pin between each of the existing pins, dividing the eye into 8ths to make sewing easier). Check out this pic to see an in-progress example from another google eye shirt I made.
  5. Using a zig-zag stitch, sew around the inner (raw) edge of the ribbing, making sure the stitching stays outside of the white appliqué underneath (to prevent it from being seen outside of the ribbing).
  6. All done! Flip the ribbing inwards, press, and pop in the google eye.

Don't forget to tag me on Instagram (@kplicanic) so I can see your handiwork. Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Design Inspiration with Creative Market Freebies

creative-market-inspiration-freebieCheck out this darling print design made with assets from this week's Creative Market freebie downloads! Pick up the Happy Bees and Scandinavian Christmas Pack files for free now through Sunday. And if you're loving the hand letters script font shown here (the text says, "may your days"), it's called Loveluck, and it includes a collection of gorgeous swashes (shown here as the swirl leading in to the letter "m"). It's part of the incredible Hand Lettered Fontbox Collection that has quickly become many of my go-to favorite fonts. And it's currently 90% off!

There's still plenty of time to make beautiful things for the holidays, but don't wait too long! Grab some hot chocolate, light up the fireplace, and settle down with your favorite tunes and a pile of pixels. xoxoxo

The Enthusiast's Guide

New Book! Enthusiast's Guide to CompositionGreat news for shutter bugs everywhere, my good friends at Rockynook publishing have put together a series of books specifically for beginning photographers called The Enthusiast's Guide. It includes books on creating multi-shot techniques by Alan Hess, a guide to portraiture by Jarod Fosters, and a book on composition from yours truly. The series will be released this October. Good things to come!

Behind the Shot: Halloween

finalIn celebration of Zé's first Halloween and the lumberjack hat/beard I crocheted for him, I put together the above graphic and thought it'd be fun to share how I made it.

To accomplish the clean white background, normally I would shoot on white seamless (lit to delicious pure white perfection), but my studio gear is currently packed in moving boxes (yes, still), and I didn't want to mess with setting up hot shoe flashes, so I put together this low-tech and super easy solution using only available light (and set-up took all of 30 seconds!).

I photographed him on 30x40 white foam board (sold in a 10-pack which is GREAT because they are handy for so many things!), sitting about where you see the dragon in the photo below. I used one piece for him to sit on, another behind him (propped up by a basket), and a third piece opposite the window to bounce the light and fill in some of the shadows. You can see the set-up in the photo below.

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The photo below is the result straight out of camera (SOOC). Because I was using only available window light coming from the front/left, I wasn't able to blow out the background by over exposing it the way you easily could in the studio. Thus, we can see the seam where the floor board meets the background board, requiring a small adjustment. (And, that's our wood floor peeking out from below the foam board at the bottom of the photo.)

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I used the Dodge Tool (O) to clean up the background, paying special attention to the seam where the two boards come together. To fix the floor, I used the Eye Dropper (I) to sample the white near the bottom of the foam board and the Paint Brush (B) to simply paint over the wood floor.

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Working with white backgrounds can be tricky when you're not shooting them in the studio. Dodging can make things appear to be in order, but if you view the image on various screens from certain angles, you might see your brush strokes. To prevent this, I like to add a temporary Levels Adjustment Layer which I purposely destroy with a severely exaggerated midtone adjustment, which shows me any spots I may have missed with the Dodge Tool, as seen below. To fix any errant background information, I simply dodge the background layer while the Levels Adjustment Layer is still active, effectively checking my work as I go. When I'm finished, I drag the adjustment layer to the trash.

touchup2 Once the background was cleaned up, I used the Eye Dropper Tool and Option/Alt clicked to load the white background color as my active background swatch. Then, I switched to the crop tool to resize the whole image. (You can leave the settings blank and just drag from the corner to visually adjust the canvas area, or enter specific dimensions if you know what size you want the final piece to be.) Photoshop will fill in the canvas area with whatever color you sampled for your background swatch when you Option/Alt clicked with the Eye Dropper. This makes it possible to use the crop tool to essentially reformat the image and extend the background, creating room for our design. If you did a good job of cleaning up the background area, it should appear seamless.

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To create a more organic feel, I opted to add some paper texture to the design. You can use any kind of texture file you want. I used paper48.jpg from this Give Me Some Papers Quick texture collection by Nicky Laatz. After making sure the texture file was sized appropriately for my image, I dragged it into the composition and changed the layer's Blend Mode to Multiply.

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Next, I added two text layers using Monster and Rockwell typefaces and used the Eye Dropper Tool (I) to select the text colors from within the image itself. Finally, I added the spider web graphic (again, changing the layer Blend Mode to Multiply) to finish the design.

final And that's it—frightfully simple!

Down the Aisle: Buzz + Andre

You know you're in for a treat when the bride's nickname is Buzz! Being in residency in NYC, she's crazy busy, so her dad did most of the wedding planning, and I didn't get much interaction with Buzz until I walked in Saturday morning and introduced myself. I was immediately smitten and instantly knew the day would be a blast. And wouldn't you know, I was right! Then I met Andre and I thought—how does this keep getting even more awesome? What a gorgeous couple! And so in love. When you look at the photos you can tell they were radiating joy all day long. An adventurous gal myself, I was fascinated to learn that Buzz climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with her brother and dad. (It's on my list!) And later in the evening, after a first dance that was too smooth for words, I found out that Andre, a scientist who's originally from Jamaica, was a professional ballroom dance instructor in college. Because—of course he was. He's fascinating and talented like that. See what I mean? Spending the day with these two and their families was like much needed medicine for my heart. Thank you all!

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