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Tips & Tricks for Craft-Related Repetitive Strain Injuries

The last day of February is International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day.  Whether you knit, crochet, color, sew, cross stitch, embroider, or enjoy other crafty pastimes like diamond painting or LEGO building, you’ve likely done repetitive motions while in pursuit of your hobbies.  I reached out to Alyssa Cape from Alyssa Massage for tips, tricks and helpful hints on ways to keep our mobility and flexibility healthy so we can continue to craft for many years to come.

Me: Hi Alyssa!  Crafters (like myself) have a tendency to sit for long periods of time.  We can be hunched over our desks during activities like coloring, sewing or diamond painting, or spend many hours cross-legged on the couch while knitting, crocheting or doing embroidery.  Do you have any posture tips for long crafting sessions?

Alyssa: I’d put a small step stool or shoe box under the feet so the knees are slightly higher than the hips. This helps the small curve in your back from pinching and then your neck automatically goes forward. This way when your feet are slightly elevated, the pelvis is tilted back a bit so you can rest your back on lumbar support or pillow and your muscles relax. 

I wouldn’t suggest sitting cross legged, however if you do, switch positions often. Get up to drink some water and to walk around to give your body a break. 

There are multiple videos showing how to be comfortable while doing crafts like knitting or crocheting, like this one: 

Me: Crafters can be prone to sore wrists, hands and fingers.  Sometimes this pain can shoot up into the arm.  Should we be doing exercises to keep our hands, wrists or arms in shape?

Alyssa: Here are 2 links, one shows 3 stretches for carpal tunnel and the other is self hand massaging.  I do these myself as well! They can also be used for computer/ desk work.

I would recommend not to over-stretch as you can pull on the nerves. Nerves are like dental floss, they pass through the joints. They don’t stretch like muscle, tendons and ligaments. So if you feel tingling or burning in your fingers, stop!

Me:   How hard should we be stretching?  How often should we do them?

Alyssa: Do the stretches gently so you feel a slight stretch/ resistance and then stop. You’ll see mobility, flexibility and strength will come! Seeing a physiotherapist is also a good idea as they can provide you with multiple exercises and stretches and suggest the frequency of both as it’s different for each person.

Me: What should we do when in pain?  Is that the time to stretch?

Alyssa: I don’t recommend when in pain to stretch and self massage. Rest hands as much as possible.  There are thumb/ wrist/ arm braces that can be worn while crafting and at night as well to help stabilize the wrist during sleep.  

Me: Do you recommend ice or heat?

Alyssa: You can alternate heat and cold compresses 15 minutes each. Heat allows for more blood flow which speeds up healing and cold reduces blood flow for swelling and inflammation.

Me:  Any other tips?

Alyssa: A warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts really helps de-stress the muscles and then you can apply cold on the specific location. Drinking lots of water also helps with muscle soreness and tension!

That said- always consult with your doctor before doing any stretches or exercises to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue!! 

About Alyssa: 

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Alyssa has been a registered & certified Massotherapist for over 12 years.  She is professional, dynamic and intuitive in her practices and completely dedicated to your overall wellness. You can enjoy the benefits of preventative and ongoing massage therapy for your health and well-being by visiting her here.

Disclaimer: I reached out to Alyssa on my own and asked for her professional advice to share here today. There was no compensation given on either part in exchange.


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How to Enlarge Pattern Charts Physically and Digitally

It’s been almost 2 years since my Order of the Phoenix blanket was published in the Knitting Magic book. 

There it is on the cover!

The Black family’s ancestral home played a huge role in the source book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoneix) so in honor of today being Sirius Black’s birthday I’m going to answer the number one question I get asked about my pattern: how to enlarge the charts.

In case you missed my previous post about it, The Order of the Phoenix blanket is a circular throw that features motifs representing Harry’s scar as well as phoenix feathers and flames to represent the phoenix’ rebirth. A primary feature of the blanket is the text “The Order of the Phoenix” that goes around the center.

As the book is under copyright I’m not allowed to share a digital version of the charts when people request it, nor use that as my example here in this post. Instead I’m going to use my Lullaby baby blanket pattern for reference as they are both similar in having a charted band of words going around the center.

Lullaby was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of the now-defunct St-Denis magazine, that supported Veronik Avery’s yarn line of the same name. It has a deep border of garter feather-and-fan lace and features the words HUSH * BABY * SLEEP * BABY * around the center.

Using my hand for scale you can see that the charts are of relatively similar size between the two pattern books:

Obviously I had to blur out the charts themselves but you can still see the suggestion of where the words are and so the instructions I give for Lullaby will work just as well on Phoenix or any other chart by any designer.

There are a few different ways you can enlarge your patterns, depending on if you start with a physical or digital pattern, and on the result you want (physical or digital enlargement).

How to enlarge a PHYSICAL pattern (book, magazine or printout)

There are 2 options for enlarging a physical pattern.

Option 1: home scanner/copier/printer

Most home printers these days have a built-in copy/scan feature. If you scroll through the copy settings you can find an “enlarge” option that will allow you to increase the size of the chart in the printout.

You can also use the printer’s scan function to get a digital copy of your pattern that you can enlarge with any of the following digital methods.

Option 2: public photocopy center/machine

You can find both self-service and with-service public photocopiers at commercial copy centers like Staples. You can also often find public photocopiers at your local pharmacy or library.

This is a direct photocopy from my pattern. My hand is provided for scale.

This is an enlargement of the same page, made using the photocopier’s built-in enlargement option. Most photocopiers can handle legal and oversized papers. In this case, I used the 129% option to print on the largest size paper available (11″x17″).

You can see the difference between the two sizes.

The HUSH chart, for example, is 1.75″ high by 6″ wide in the original (and copy), and 2.25″ high by 8″ wide in the enlargement. These differences might make printing as-is enough of an enlargement for you, or you can take the enlargement and use it as your starting image to photocopy again even larger…repeating the process as-needed until the resulting chart is of a size for you to work with comfortably.

How to enlarge a DIGITAL pattern

There are many options for enlarging a physical pattern. I will be demoing these methods using my computer and/or an iPad. It is possible to do them all on a smart phone as well but since the point is to enlarge a chart to make it more convenient to work from, I’m going to assume you’re going to be working from your tablet or computer/laptop and not the smaller screen of a phone.

Option 1: from a physical file

Take a picture of your chart with a smart device and then email it to yourself so you have a digital file to work with.

Alternately you can upload it directly to an accessible storage media like Dropbox or Google Drive, or upload the image directly into a data-processing app like Microsoft Word, Excel or OneNote, Google Docs or Sheets, or your favorite annotation app/software. From there you can proceed to the enlargement instructions below.

Option 1b: from a digital file

You would use this option if you already have your pattern in a digital format. In this case I’ll be using the sale pattern version of Lullabye.

Use your favorite screenshot app to take a picture of the chart on your screen. I like Microsoft’s built-in “Snipping Tool” but you can use Snagit or any others including the “print screen” button yon your keyboard. As the “print screen” key method has a few extra steps, both ways are shown below. TIP: enlarge the chart on-screen before taking the screenshot so you are already starting with a larger version.

A) Using Snipping Tool (or other screen-grab software)

Open your pattern document (ie: Word doc, Excel file or PDF) on screen. Make sure the chart (or section of the chart you wish to capture) is in full view, then open your screen-grab software.

Click “new” to start a new screenshot. The software will freeze the entire screen as it currently looks.

As it says on the prompt – drag the cursor around the area you want to capture. Use your mouse to drag a square or rectangle from one corner to the opposite diagonal, making sure your desired image is fully inside your boundaries.

You can see the red boundaries on the image above. I started my capture at the upper left corner and dragged down to the lower right (where the cross is). Everything inside the red rectangle will be part of my screen-grab. I made sure to include my chart’s legend as well as the instructions on the bottom.

After you release the mouse after dragging, your cropped result will appear within the software’s window. If you don’t like the results, or are missing part of your chart, simply click “new” to start over and drag again.

Once you have the results you want, click “file” then “save as” and save the image to your computer. I keep a folder for every project I work on so I would save it in there for easy reference but you can save it to your downloads or anywhere that you would like.

B) Using your keyboard’s “print screen” key

Open your pattern document (ie: Word doc, Excel file or PDF) on screen. Make sure the chart (or section of the chart you wish to capture) is in full view, then tap the “print screen” button on your keyboard. This will take a screenshot of your full screen – everything showing on your monitor.

Open any software that will allow you to paste and then crop an image. I’ve used Word, Excel and Paint regularly with great results, and many other programs will work as well. My example is using Word.

Place your cursor anywhere on the page and use ctrl-v or click file→paste to paste your screenshot into the document.

You can see the image of my screen is now pasted into the Word document – background, taskbar, clock and all.

Click on the image within the document itself.

This will bring up a “Picture Format” tab at the top of your Word window. Click on it.

If you look over to the far right of the ribbon bar at the top, you will see a “crop” option. Click on it and you will see black crop bars appear on the border of your image. We will use those to remove all the excess parts of the image, leaving only the chart you want to work with.

Drag the dark black crop marks to surround only the part of the image that has your chart. As you drag you will see the edges of your image get shaded. Those are the parts that will be cropped out of the final image.

Keep moving the borders from the top, sides or corners until your chart is isolated. Then click anywhere outside of the image.

The shaded areas will disappear and you will be left with your desired chart.

Right-click anywhere within the image and choose “Save as Picture”. Now you can save your cropped chart image anywhere on your computer for use in the following enlargement step. In this example I kept all 3 words and the legend as one image, but if you want to enlarge each word even bigger you can repeat this process 3 times to crop out each individual word and save it as its own chart image.

Enlargement Instructions:

Once you have your chart in digital format enlarging it is really easy!

Option 1: Paint, Befunky or other photo-editing software

Insert or open your saved chart image into your favorite photo editing software and resize it to enlarge. You can save the image in its larger size and print it at home or email it to your local copy center for printing. You might also find that having it large on-screen is enough for your purposes.

Option 2: Word, Excel, Docs or Sheets-type data processing software

Open your favorite processing software and use the “insert” feature to add your digital chart image. Once inserted you can drag on the corners to resize the chart. You can also right-click for more editing options. Once you have the image large enough for your purposes you can use it on-screen or print it for a large paper copy.

Option 3: PDF Annotation Software

There are a number of computer and iPad/Android programs that will allow you to annotate a PDF. To use your favorite one, insert your chart image into Word or Sheets as per Option 2 and then save your file as a PDF. Open the PDF in your annotation software and you can zoom in as well as make notes or highlight directly onto the chart.

My favorite annotation software is OneNote, and I use it daily for making notes, highlights and annotations on PDFs as well as images for all my crafting needs. It is free but since it might not be widely-used I’m putting it as a standalone option below:

Option 4: OneNote

I use OneNote extensively and find it an invaluable tool for any crafter/hobbyist. I love that I can import an image of a chart, blow it up as big as I’d like, and then in draw mode can use my Apple Pencil or finger and the highlight pen to highlight chart rows as I go just as I would on paper. The ability to undo mistakes is a big improvement over paper charts and I can also annotate as I go.

I like to insert my digital chart image into a new page created for my current project.

Tapping on the image will allow you to move it on the page as well as to drag the corners for an initial resize. You also have the option to rotate the image if desired, though as the chart in this case is rectangular I prefer to use the width of my iPad.

You can resize the image even larger if needed. Use two fingers to pinch and zoom out to enlarge the chart to its maximum size.

My favorite thing about OneNote is how I can work on my charts completely digitally. Here I’ve left part of the chart un-blurred so you can see how I use it. It’s possible to make notes about dropped sts, missing yarn-overs or any other reminders for yourself, as well as to switch to a highlighter pen in your favorite color and nib width and mark off your rows as you go. Better than on real paper- if you make a mistake you can easily erase the highlighting so you’ll always be able to keep track of exactly where you are.

I do use the Apple pencil as pictured above but you can do the same with your finger tip or a stylus, including change the pen nib size so everything is clear and legible.

I’ve used this method for everything from complicated cable knits to incredibly detailed 18ct cross stitch and it works perfectly every time. It also syncs to my OneNote account so I can access my chart on the computer or on my phone or even log in from any internet device so I can bring my work with me where ever I go.

I regret that I cannot share the charts for my Order of the Phoenix blanket pattern, but no matter what project you’re working on hopefully the above tips and techniques will help you enlarge your charts into something you can work with comfortably. If there are any other tips or techniques you’d like to learn about, feel free to message me or leave a comment below!


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Cartoon Girls Trio – UPDATE (19WIPtoFO2019)

Back in January 2019 (!) I posted 19 projects I was determined to complete in 2019.  Spoiler alert – I failed – but I have made significant progress on about half of the projects on the list. Inspired by the recent Masters of the Universe and Suicide Squad remakes, here’s the current progress on my trio of 80s cartoon girls.

What I said: I’ve never shown these before, except for the odd glimpse in the background of Instagram pics.  I started this trio of plastic canvas portraits when I moved in August 2017.  While I love how they look in black and white (and blue), I designed them to be in full color and I’d love to see them complete.

What I did: Quite a bit of progress! 

I’d never shown them on the blog prior to that post, so here’s a look back at how they got to where they are now.

I’d moved in 2017 and was really excited to be able to fill my space with all the crafty, nerdy little things that make me who I am. 

Every shelf and table has some item that references my varied interests, and I’ve even used some previous projects as home décor – see the Minecraft heads from my tutorials peeping from above the kids’ desk, along with an as-yet-unshown secret project hidden among the books – so I was really excited to fill a blank wall space in my dining room with a handmade project.

First I purchased three of the largest plastic canvas sheets I could find. When looking for inspiration for what to stitch on them I really didn’t need to look very far. There are Archie comics in nearly every room in my house, thanks to my kids enjoying them as much as I do. In addition to the coloring book from my last post, I’ve drawn Betty on the blog here before, and Henri had drawn Archie a few years back. (He was even an Archie comics character for Hallowe’en last year, and I’ll be sharing that project here in October.) So clearly, Betty Cooper would be one of my cartoon trio.

Initially I drafted up Betty, Archie and Veronica, and planned out a triptych of the three of them, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it was Betty specifically that I like, and that I didn’t care if I saw Archie and Veronica daily, so I scrapped them and looked around for more inspo. As soon as I had the freedom to look beyond Riverdale I knew Harley Quinn HAD to be one of them. I’ve adored her for decades, and she’s featured in assorted places around my house, including in two different spots on this one shelving unit:

Finally, it wasn’t hard to decide on Teela as my third girl. I grew up watching He-Man and playing with the toy sets along with my younger brothers. I don’t know if it’s that she’s a strong, independant woman or if it was because she often wore a cobra headpiece and had a snake staff, and I’ve always adored snakes… but either way she had to be the one to complete my cartoon trio. I’ve shared Teela and a portion of my 80s toy collection on the blog before, and they’ve now found a home in a cabinet along with other childhood relics:

The hard part done, the next step was to create charts for each character. Instead of doing it the easy way and importing reference images into a stitch software, I decided to go the hard route and chart them myself in Excel. I found reference images for each character, adjusted the Excel cells to be square and marked off an area with the same stitch count as my total canvas size. From there it was just a matter of redrawing each girl, pixel-art style, and tweaking the design until they looked right. I’d originally planned to use continental stitch to save time, but quickly realized the angles would be skewed and that cross-stitch would be best, using one stitch for every pixel/cell in my chart.

I ordered a bunch of yarn from Knit Pics, then got started.

Here you can see the initial stages. I didn’t want to have to refer to the charts throughout the entire stitching process so decided to start with the black outlines first, so I could then later fill them in, coloring-book-style. Plus I didn’t know how long they would take to complete into full color and wanted to be able to hang them on the wall in the meantime. Considering I started these in 2017 and I’m typing this post in 2021, I’m glad I had that foresight!!

After finishing most of Betty I moved on to chart HQ next. I bet you’re wondering why I left Betty mostly done instead of finishing the rest of her border? Took me a moment to remember too lol but it’s because I left myself things to work on that didn’t require concentration, so when I had more time I would work on HQ and follow my charts, and when I had the kids with me or was watching something that required more focus I could work on Betty’s border that didn’t require much thought or any chart reference. Basically it was the cross-stitch equivalent of having knitting or crochet projects of varying difficulty levels.

Once the outlining was all done I worked on each of their eyes, as I thought it would look better on the wall, and truthfully HQ was a bit creepy without them. Then, while I still had the blue out, I added Betty’s shirt. Her top was red in my reference image but blue is my favorite color so I swapped it out, plus I liked having a color that was in each of the 3 images, to help tie them together. The middle pic above is the one posted on the blog back in 2019, and where they sat for basically most of the last 3 years. At some point I filled in their mouths and got started on Betty’s skin, and that’s where I’d stopped and moved on to other projects.

Eventually I started working on them again. I’d always had it in mind to work on equal parts of each, so as they hung on the wall they’d look similar in completion. First Betty had the slow progress on her face and neck…

…and then this past summer Teela got the same treatment, using stash yarn so she wouldn’t have the exact same skin tone as Betty’s.

Technically I should have done Harley’s face next, for them to all match, but these sheets are large and get folded up against my body or resting under my arm as I work. Since Harley’s face is white, and clearly a focal point of the image, I decided to hold it off for last so it wouldn’t get dirty or faded, and work on her costume instead.

At that point I was on a roll! The new Netflix Masters of the Universe had just come out, and it was kinda cool to start working on Teela’s tiara while watching the premiere. In fact, I got so into it that I kept watching until I found I’d binged the whole first season!

Spoiler-free take: ignore the men complaining about the show. It’s awesome to see the old gang again, even Stinkor! (Man I can still remember the smell of that toy!) I love the focus on Teela and magic vs tech. Made me think about Skylanders and my girl Sprocket – guess I’m always drawn to my tech girls! Also, as a big Buffy fan, with Sarah Michelle Gellar as the voice of Teela, it’s fantastic to hear Buffy kicking butt again. ♥

This is where the girls are now. I’ll be working on HQ’s white bib and pompom next, to complete her outfit, and that will put me into the home stretch with only 2 sections left on each girl. At the end I’ll have to do one run of border around each one, as the edges are currently unfinished, and then finally attach rings for hanging them properly, as I’m currently holding them to the wall with thumbtacks.

I know it’s not conventional wall art for an adult woman, but I love them.


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WIP to FO Challenge- 19 for 2019

It seems like everywhere you look online these days, people are taking stock of 2018 and setting goals for moving forward.  The first few days of the new year tend to be all about making resolutions, and to that end- here’s one of mine:

I resolve to turn the following 19 wips (works in progress) into FOs (finished objects) before the end of 2019.

I’ll write at length about each project when I finish (and post) about them, but for now here’s a short blurb for each:

1. FO Project Jars

wip yearly fo jars

I need to rip out all the individual lengths of yarn (1-10 yards long, each), match them up with what project they were from, and put the separated yarn into jars designated for each year.

2. Harvest Moon Pullover – crochetwip crochet harvest moon

I started this sweater on November 25 2016 as a way to use my adored Noro Silk Garden limited stash on something for myself.  Limited yarn + crocheted pattern with big holes = a sweater that might fit… right?

3. Granny Rectangle Blanket – crochetwip granny rectangle blanket

I started this blanket on August 9 2015 as a way to use up random sock yarns I figured I’d never get around to using for, y’know, socks.  Figured out how to make granny squares as rectangles and then alternated with white for… some reason.

4. & 5. Ralph and Black Sheep’s Sweaters – sewing & cross stitchwip boys toys sweaters

I started these sweaters for the boys’ favorite stuffed animals a few nights before Christmas 2016.  They were intended to be little surprises for them but instead they’ve sat in a bag ever since.  Sadly Jakob is no longer as into iHasCupQuake as he used to be, so I’ll need to rip out the stitching on the front of Ralph’s sweater and hope it doesn’t leave gaping holes in the fleece.  Then I’ll have to figure out new designs to personalize the fronts, find where I put the sleeve pieces, and sew the little sweaters together.

6. Drops V-Neck Pullover – knittingwip drops knit vneck

I started this deep-v sweater somewhere in 2015 or 2016.  It’s slouchy and soft and I want to wear it already.

7. Fluffy Shawl – knittingwip fluffy shawl

I started this shawl on April 6 2015.  It’s been sitting untouched in a bag since roughly that Fall.  I love how the colors blend together (black Sandes Garn Sisu and purple/green Noro Kureyon Sock) and would like it to be done and hugging my shoulders.

8. Comfy Socks – knittingwip fluffy ankleless socks

According to myself, I started these socks 2 FULL YEARS AGO.  They’re supposed to be my ‘take along’ knitting but because I haven’t finished designing the pattern, I never take them with me to work on.  I need them done so I can reclaim the needles and portable hanging knitting bag and start being more productive again.

9. Fun Fur Vest – knittingwip fun fur vest

I started this Bergere de France vest in 2012(!!).  My Ravelry projects page has it listed as completed on Feb 10 2015 but clearly it isn’t.  No ends are woven in, it might need armhole cuffs, and I think I was debating overdying the entire thing black.

10. Doodle Fusion Marco Raffiné Page – coloringwip doodle fusion marco raffine

This page from Doodle Fusion was started last summer (I think) using only my set of Marco Raffiné oil-based colored pencils.

11. Grimm Fairy Tales Alice Page – coloringwip grimm alice in wonderland

This page from Grimm’s Fairy Tales was a test to see if I could get good results using dollar store colored pencils.  I’ve since moved the pencils somewhere else and want to finish the image so I don’t need to dig them out any more.

12. Grimm Fairy Tales Little Red Page – coloringwip grimm little red riding hood

Those of you who follow me on Instagram would have seen this page from Grimm’s Fairy Tales back when I started it in June.  I love how it’s turning out and want to see how well I can complete it.

13. Imagimorphia Eagle 2-Page – coloringwip imagimorphia eagle

This double-page spread from Imagimorphia was started in the Fall of 2016.  I loved coloring the tiny rainbows and then lost steam.

14. Imagimorphia Egypt Page – coloringwip imagimorphia egypt

I honestly don’t remember when I started this page.  Luckily I’d blogged about it!

15. The Time Garden Quilt Page – coloringwip time garden pattern page

I don’t recall when I started working on this page in Daria Song’s The Time Garden either but judging from other posts about it I’d made in April 2016, I’m going to guess it was about that time.  I have NO idea, however, why I stopped it so close to being done.

16. The Princess Bride Fred Savage 2-Page – coloringwip princess bride fred savage

This page was blogged when I first started it, way back in March 2017.  I don’t want to move on to another page in the book until this one is done, though, so I need to make the time to finally get it finished up.

17. & 18. & 19. Harley Quinn, Betty Cooper & Teela Wall Hanging Trio – plastic canvas

wip plastic canvas girls trio

I’ve never shown these before, except for the odd glimpse in the background of Instagram pics.  I started this trio of plastic canvas portraits when I moved in August 2017.  While I love how they look in black and white (and blue), I designed them to be in full color and I’d love to see them complete.

Think I can do it?  Want to play along? Use the tag #19WIPtoFO2019 so I can see how many you get through!

ps: As I’m about to post this I just realized that 19 projects means committing to completing more than one per month.  Months that are already pretty busy with Becket, work, kids, commissions and all the new projects I want to work on and might come up over the year… Wish me luck- I’m gonna need it!!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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undateable

In this post: the cast of an NBC sitcom surrounding me as they hold stitched samples of their likeness.  In other words, just a normal Thursday…

Ha!

First, a brief apology.  After the rush and whirlwind of finishing my Sprocket costume I took a little break from crafting, and blogging.  Took advantage of not needing to stay up until 3am to crash early, or do other things that didn’t involve math, or thinking.  Couple that with an onslaught of weather-induced migraines, and I’ve been getting a lot more rest lately, but it means the blogging has suffered.  :/

So.  A few weeks ago I got word that I’d be able to attend a Just For Laughs panel involving the cast of Undateable.

undateable_ver2

I knew that since it would be a con-style panel, vs a stand-up-type comedy show, there was a chance the audience might be able to meet the cast.  And I decided I wanted to do something for them.  While I enjoy the show, I didn’t do it because I’m the ohemgee number one fan!!! nor to get a chance to potentially meet them.  I just thought it would be nice.  🙂

I hit upon the idea of doing something in cross stitch right away.  I knew it was easy and portable and something I could likely finish in time (I had less than a week until the panel).  I’ve had transactions in the past with an etsy vendor called weelittlestitches and I absolutely love her work*, and immediately I thought of contacting her to commission a custom pattern of the cast.  Unfortunately I didn’t think the timing would work out, so I ended up designing them myself.

I did an image search for each character and put together a little file for each one, giving me the gist of that character’s ‘look’.  At the same time I also pulled out some quotes from each episode so I could add a funny line for each character.

“Justin”, played by Brent Morin

undateable justin pic

Photo 2015-07-23, 11 29 44 AM“I’m kind of like Spanx.   I’m there to support you wherever you need it.”

  “Burski”, played by Rick Glassman

undateable burski pic

Photo 2015-07-23, 11 31 06 AM

“Dibs.”

“Leslie”, played by Bianca Kajlichundateable leslie pic Photo 2015-07-23, 11 30 21 AM

“One-night-stands are like fast food- sure you feel guilty the next day

but sometimes you just need something cheap you can enjoy in your car.”

“Danny”, played by Chris D’Elia

undateable danny pic Photo 2015-07-23, 11 32 21 AM

“Change is hard, Baby Bird, but I’m gonna help mend those broken wings.

I’m gonna be the father bird and just feed you knowledge.”

“Candace”, played by Bridgit Mendler

undateable candace pic

Photo 2015-07-23, 11 33 50 AM

“All I have is a scrawny little white-girl butt… There are people out there who like those too, right?”

“Brett”, played by David Fynn

undateable brett pic Photo 2015-07-23, 11 33 16 AM

“I’ve had sex with a lot of ladies.”

And finally “Shelly”, played by Ron Funches… who wasn’t there, but I hope his got to him anyways.

undateable shelly pic

Photo 2015-07-23, 11 31 45 AM

“I identify with piñatas.  I’m also adorable and full of candy.”

Once at the panel my mom and I were seated pretty close.  Like…

Photo 2015-07-23, 3 52 27 PM

My feet were about 2 feet from the stage.

…really close.  So close in fact that when the cast came out and Rick was using his phone to stream the panel for Periscope, I jokingly offered to hold it for him and he leaned over and handed it to me.  (So if any of you reading this were watching the panel, I’m sorry for swinging it around and possibly making you nauseous before I realized where it was actually aiming).Photo 2015-07-23, 4 45 52 PM

Brent answering a question, possibly about the little gnome in his butt (you had to be there), while David, Rick, Bianca and Bridgit look on and feign amusement.

Photo 2015-07-23, 4 45 47 PM

The other side of said gnome-butt convo, egged on by Chris and more feigned amusement on behalf of Adam Sztykiel and Bill Lawrence, along with the panel moderator (who I think was from Mashable?).

Towards the end of the panel they took audience questions and I got the last one, asking, rather awkwardly, “I, um, made you guys something.  Can I give it to you?”  (Not my finest moment).  Luckily they said yes, and I got to give each one their framed portrait.  At one point Chris asked if it was called needlepoint, and started calling out, all Oprah-esque, “YOU get a needlepoint!  And YOU get a needlepoint!  Aaand YOU get a needlepoint!”.

Photo 2015-07-23, 4 59 58 PMThere was a funny/sad moment towards the very end when they were all looking at each others’ and then Bill put out his hands and looked around like “Where… where’s mine?”  I offered him a hug instead but he didn’t take me up on it.

Then the panel was over, and I thought that was the end of it.  Instead, however, David jumped right down and came and gave me a hug and said thanks.  Bianca did too, before walking away.  Brent came by, and suddenly I turned around and the whole cast (minus Bianca and the absent Ron) were standing right behind me.  My mom had been taking pics the whole time, so I wound up with this:

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Yep.  That’s me looking all dork-tastic.  🙂

Mom and I had barely made it to the elevator when my phone buzzed, and I saw this Tweet:

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Awwww! 😀

* If you’re into cross stitch, or pop culture, or any combination thereof, go check her stuff out, it’s amazing.  😀


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i think i just blew my own mind

Before knitting, I was a crocheter.  Ok, that’s kinda untrue…I DID learn to knit as a kid, but stopped probably as suddenly as I started.  I’ve always been crafty, though, and can draw, paint, etch, sculpt, sew(-ish),etc…  When I was in high school I used to charge $5 to redraw a photograph onto 9×11 paper, in pencil.  Call me Kinkos.  I only took up the needles again once Yannick and I started dating.

Well the sweater I tried knitting for Yannick for our first dating anniversary didn’t get past 4″, probably because I’d found old needles at home, random acrylic from Wal-Mart, and a pattern from a book at the library, and none of the 3 had anything even remotely to do with each other.  I instead taught myself to crochet, and his gift sweater led to toys, shawls, home accessories and more.  I found my way back to knitting thanks to the fun fur trend of 2004, when I made a hostess gift for a friend and had to knit it because trying to crochet in fluffy black boa (feather) yarn was rediculous when you couldn’t see a single stitch.

But before getting my heart spiked on a knitting needle and fueling the last 8 years of my life, and after the months-long crochet obsession ending in 2 giant sampler blankets, there was cross stitch.  I won’t get into my eBay spending, my binders of print-outs, or the time I filled the cash register tape at 120 items and had to start a new transaction when buying one of every color of Anchor floss.  Here are some of my proudest xstitch items:

This was an ornament I made for an ornament exchange.  The original pattern had an American flag inside, but my swap partner lived in Australia so I charted my own flag for her.

This is a little (4″ square) pillow I made of our cat Sam, using X-Stitch photo software to convert the pic to a pattern.  The back was just lined with a piece of flannel cut off an old shirt.

This is a little piece I made for Robyn when she moved into her first place.  (Not my design, it was from a cross stitch magazine I used to subscribe to).

My mom’s name is Betti, and everyone always buys her Betty Boop stuff.  This is a vest I’d made her back when she was still teaching.  There’s a product called “waste canvas” that is disolvable in water, so you baste it onto your fabric/shirt/etc, do your cross stitch, then wet it and remove the strands of waste canvas, and your cross stitch remains on the fabric below.  Here I’d bought the zippered vest and used the photo software to convert a picture I’d found online.

I used a fun, football-jersey-style font to create the “letterman’s jacket” writing on the back, with more waste canvas.

That same year we were getting together with Yannick’s family for Easter, and I made the hourglass picture for his grandmother as a “thank-you” for hosting all of us.  The original pattern (from the same cross stitch magazine I’d subscribed to) said something in English, like “time with the family is time that counts”, so I translated it to French since Yannick’s family is French-Canadian.  I really enjoyed doing the beading in this piece.

Finally, my most “epic” cross stitch HAS to be this one.  My dad isn’t sentimental, but he loves his family, and I always liked this pic of him, my sister and me.  (My mom and two brothers were in another photo).  I used the photo software to create a pattern using only black, white and shades of gray, and enlarged it to 9×11.  I stitched it on black Aida and framed it with a plaque reading “Daddy’s Girls” and a copy of the original photo on the back.  I love that from far away it looks like a real photograph and you can’t even tell it’s stitched, but I don’t see myself recreating a project like this any time soon, ‘cus it took 192 hours of stitching!  (Luckily I was home on sick-leave at the time, but still…)

Why am I bringing this up now?  Well a few days ago I was watching weaving videos on YouTube and saving them in a playlist (yes, I AM that kind of nerd), and a lightbulb struck when I saw a woman making floats for decorative Christmas trees, and checking her “pattern” she’d drawn with Xs on graph paper.

That was when I realized that weaving, unlike most knitting, is square.  (Assuming you’re using the same weight yarn in warp and weft, and your tension is even).  Maybe I should rephrase to say “plain weave” is pretty darn square.  And I suddenly realized that all those cross stitch patterns snoring away in my office could be put to use if I wanted to practice using a pickup stick and weave with floats on top to “draw” designs.

But today it wasn’t a lightbulb that went off, it was a whole fireworks display.

I don’t need to weave the pictures- I can weave my fabric, a scarf, a shawl, placemats, etc…and then CROSS STITCH on it!  Using my patterns and my floss stash…after all Aida and linen that you buy for cross stitching is nothing more than woven fabric at a certain number of threads to the inch.

Whoa.  Mind-numbing expansion of cross-crafting possibilities here.


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over the weekend and into the week

This post was originally just titled “over the weekend” but I got delayed in posting and now have an extra two days to catch up. I don’t know where the time goes but I can’t seem to get anything done!

On Saturday morning I awoke to hear Jakob crying in his sleep…sort of “fussing”. I know that sometimes he rolls around and winds up with his arm or legs hanging through the bars of his crib (I almost typed “cage” LOL), so I thought maybe he’d rolled around and gotten stuck. I went in to take a peek…

…he’d rolled onto his stomach! In his sleep he’d managed to roll onto his stomach then realized he didn’t know what to do once he got there, so he started to cry. I immediately rolled him back onto his back. He was still crying and I knew if I took him out of bed he’d want to be fed, so I went to the washroom first to wash my hands. I heard him fussing again and when I came back he’d rolled back onto his stomach! I called for Yannick to come, and to bring the video camera. Thank gd he didn’t question why- it was around 5:00am! I rolled Jakob back over and as we watched he promptly rolled right back onto his stomach. We managed to catch it on video. Unfortunately Jakob still didn’t know what to do on his stomach and began to cry in earnest so I took him out to feed him.

I spent the morning with him at a brunch and old friend threw as a sort of “reunion” for lost friends. Over the years we’ve all drifted apart so she set up a little group on Facebook and invited everyone from her friends list who lived in Montreal. I didn’t know most of the people but I hadn’t seen that friend in a long time so I went. Jakob was such an angel- he slept the entire time! He was so good that I was able to take him to the knit-out in the park that was also scheduled for the same day. It was a bit disappointing because only 3 other people were there. I’d gone at the very end, just for a half hour, but they were the only ones who had shown up all day. Then Jakob and I went to FutureShop to pick up my repaired Palm. I was very bitter because Palms aren’t supposed to be repaired, they get replaced and I’d received MY original unit back (I’d marked it).

Finally Jakob and I wound up at my parents’ house where Yannick was doing some brick work for them. Julie came over to see us then my parents took us to Jade Palace for some Chinese buffet for supper. Yum! Once again Jakob was behaving himself like a perfect little guy and slept the entire time.

When we got home I was worried about how to put him down to sleep. We had been swaddling him but I was afraid that if he rolled onto his stomach he might find a way to get the loose fabric into his mouth. I remembered that I’d bought a sleeping blanket that time we were at Fairview, so I took it out to try it.

It’s like a soft flannel sleeping back with shoulder straps.
I knew Jakob would be a bit fussy because he liked to rub the blanket against his cheek, but safety is the priority so we’re trying out the sleeping blanket now. I will still swaddle him during the day when I’m able to check on him, but not for over night.

Sunday was spent running around doing errands. First we went to Walmart for a few things and to have lunch at McDonald’s. Then we went to a really cool gift store in Pointe-Claire. Yannick had bought me a charm for my bracelet to commemorate our son’s birth, but I was afraid the little emerald birthstone might fall out, so I wanted to find out about their warranty. When we left there we went right back to FutureShop since my Palm had died again over night. I complained and said it wasn’t easy for me to run around with a newborn, and they were really nice and exchanged it for me right away. My Tungsten T5 wasn’t available any longer so they switched it for a Palm TX which came with a cool wireless keyboard and built-in wifi. Finally we went to Fairview because Yannick needed some socks and running shoes, so we went to see my brother Mike at Sports Experts.

Sunday night we went to Yannick’s sister’s house for cake and coffee for William’s birthday (last week) and Alex’s birthday (at the end of the month).

We dressed Jakob in this cute little outfit. It had a special meaning- it was part of Brigitte’s gift to us at my baby shower.
That night I heard Jakob fussing again and finally went in around 6:00am Monday morning. The little stinker was folding himself in half again but was too tired to roll all the way onto his stomach so he’d make it to his side then pass out. The little cutie. 🙂

Yannick’s parents had to move his grandmother into a new residence and in the process were helping her empty her old place. They came across this framed cross stitch:

This was my first ever attempt at cross stitch. Back in 2003 I was trying to find a gift idea for Yannick’s grandmother for Easter since all the cousins brought her gifts but everyone usually brought alcohol. I wanted to be different and found this in a magazine. I loved the image and had Yannick’s mom help me change the quote into something in French. I bought all the supplies, did the stitching and beading and had it framed for her just in time for Easter. Now that she’s not as well they gave it back to me so we could keep it.

Later on Monday Yannick and I took Jakob back to the Shriner’s Hospital. Good news- there is nothing wrong with his hip (last time it looked under developed) and he’s just fine. Yay!

Today my mom and I both went to have our hair done so one could watch Jakob while the other was occupied. He was such a little cutie and flirted with all the girls there. We brought him to surprise my dad at work too, then went to Loblaws for some dinner groceries. The little guy woke up when we got there and didn’t stop talking out loud the entire time. After dinner with my mom and Yannick, we came home and I had just enough time to feed him before he passed out. I’m going to follow his example now, since we have another busy day tomorrow.