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Play Furniture and Pretend Food From Recycled Materials

November 15th was National Recycling Day and I thought it would be fun to share some toy accessories that you can make by recycling materials you have on-hand.

This all started back when Henri had received a Zhu-Zhu Pets toy hamster for Hanukkah one year. It wasn’t long before his “pet” needed to have its own house and so we adapted a shoe box into rooms with a garage.

Of course every home needs furnishings and that’s where these projects came in. According to Henri there was a bedroom, kitchen and living room, so I tailored what I made to that, but you can easily adapt any of these little projects to your rooms of choice.

The first recycled materials to be used were an egg carton and a plastic bendy straw. Cut out sections of the carton to create different types of furniture.

The cups that hold the eggs became armchairs (when the upper rim was kept on 3/4 of the edge) and a table (when flipped upside down and trimmed to have legs).

Two of the flat base of the egg cups were cut out to become vessels for food and water, and finally the divider piece that separates the eggs was cut out to become a lampshade.

One of the cup bases was painted silver to become a serving plate and the slightly deeper one had the inside painted blue to appear like water. To make the most out of using what I had on hand (pun intended!) I painted them both with nail polish!

The lamp shade was painted Henri’s color of choice with regular acrylic paints and then set aside to dry.

Once dry it was time to assemble the lamp. You need a base that’s sturdy and heavy enough to support the weight of the shade. You could use wood blocks, a little box filled with rice or sand, or anything else heavy enough. I used a few spare washers I found in my toolbox.

I cut a felt circle for the base and hot-glued the washers on top in descending size order, making sure to keep their holes lined up. I also glued a decorative bead to the top of the lampshade.

The shade was filled with hot glue to set the straw in place and then more glue was used to attach it inside the tower of washers.

With that, the little hamster’s living room lamp was complete!

The bendy bit of the straw was a nice touch, allowing the lamp to be angled wherever the little guy needed.

The silver platter received a coat of clear nail polish to seal it and the water bowl was filled with more hot glue to look full.

To make the pretend food for the hamster takes only three supplies – a pool noodle, fabric paint, and scissors.

That’s right – all these little pretend foodstuffs are actually squishies! They’re really easy to make: simply cut pieces of the pool noodle foam into the general shape of the food item then use fabric paint to make them look like their respective foods. A toothpick comes in handy instead of a paintbrush when working at such small sizes. I scaled my foods to the size of the egg carton “plate” and made (clockwise from top right) pepperoni pizza, chocolate chip cookies, donuts, a cheeseburger, and a chocolate cake.

The food storage bin was made from plastic canvas and yarn scraps.

First I made a base large enough to hold all the food. The lid is the same size but less deep, and the faux latch is simply stitched on top. The lid was sewn to the base all along the back edge but I used the same gold yarn as the latch to embroider 2 fake “hinges”.

The living room furniture was painted black and copper “studs” were added with a paint pen. One neat thing about using the egg cups is that the furniture will stack which makes putting it away after playtime that much easier.

Finally the hamster’s cardboard box bed was upgraded to one with a full headboard and footboard, and painted with gold glitter paint.

I used scraps of white felt and stuffing remnants to make a mini mattress and pillow, and leftover sock yarn knit up quickly to make a colorful blanket.

One evening of crafting and by morning the hamster had his house completely tricked out. Henri was really excited to set everything in place and added more to the decor by painting a rug in the living room and even drawing a TV on the wall!

Bonus – I wanted to take some current pics to show how well these little accessories held up after 6 years and we thought it would be really cute to include Jakob’s REAL hamster for scale. Here’s Dusty enjoying a little nap…

…and here he is foraging in the snack box looking to see what other treats there might be.

These were such simple, quick and easy DIYs to make and became playtime accessories that were loved and used over and over, AND held up incredibly well over the years. I hope this post gives you some ideas on how you can recycle items from around the house and give them new life with a new use.


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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 Make Plastic Canvas Gift Tags

Looking for a different way to label your gifts this holiday season?

These personalized plastic canvas gift tags are quick and easy to make and are reusable as charms after the wrapping paper’s been recycled.

You only need a few supplies to get started:

  • plastic canvas – I used 7-ct but if you have a more complicated design that you want to fit into a small area, you can use 10-ct or 14-ct. (The “count” is how many holes per inch).
  • plastic lobster hooks – metal will work just as well. You can even cannibalize hardware from broken keychains or charms you already own
  • yarn – scraps from other projects will work great for this
  • yarn needle
  • scissors

The first step is to choose your designs so you can create a chart. My example tags were made for a young boy whose name starts with a “B” and was really into Minecraft, and a young girl whose name starts with “K” and was really into Monster High. So I decided to put their initials on one side and something iconic from each theme (Creeper & Skullette) on the other.

I used Excel to create my charts but you can just as easily use graph paper. If using Excel resize your cells into squares and then use the color fill to draw your designs, 8-bit pixel-style.

For the Creeper tag I went with a square shape since most Minecraft mobs have square heads. I then “drew” a capital b in a grid of the same size as the Creeper face. I decided not to do the typical blend of colors for the Creeper since this was just a quick add-on to the birthday party gift we were giving, but you can get as creative as you’d like!

For the Monster High tag I found a free-use Skullette chart and used the size of that chart as a basis for my “K” chart, which I drafted in a font similar to that of the Monster High lettering.

You have freedom to design anything you’d like for your tags! Your only limit is the total size you’d like your tags to be, as the bigger your design, the bigger the results.

The next step is to cut out plastic canvas pieces the sizes required for your tags. Remember that it takes 2 holes on the diagonal to make 1 continental or cross stitch with plastic canvas, so if your grid is 10×10 pixels then you need to cut out a piece of plastic canvas 11 holes x 11 holes, etc.

Stitch your pieces as desired. I used continental stitch (half of a cross-stitch) and did the green background for each piece first, leaving one piece with a tail about 3-4 times as long as the full perimeter. This is optional but by leaving the seaming yarn as your tail it’s one less end to hide later.

After the green I filled in the spaces with black for the “B” and the Creeper’s face.

I followed the same process for the other tag, working from background first to the details last, so the details would remain sharp and not risk getting fuzzy at the edges. First I did the white background (flipping Skullette so the bow would be on the right since the original chart was for Perler beads which get flipped after ironing), then the purple (as I didn’t have pink scraps handy), and finally the black, which I also used to backstitch some shading under the “K”. I didn’t do the tail trick for this one as I wanted to seam it with a different color.

To seam, hold the pieces with wrong-sides together and go from back to front through the first corner 3 times. Next whipstitch around the first side and when you get to the next corner, go through it 3 times again, and continue this process around. When you get to the corner where you’d like to put the hook, do the first corner wrap, then wrap twice while also going through the hook’s jump ring, then go through the corner alone once more.

After all 4 sides are fully seamed you can skim your needle through one side’s wraps and pull the yarn through, for about an inch, then trim the excess as close as you can.

These little tags are under 3″ making them perfect to clip onto a schoolbag or tote.

They really add a personal, handmade touch to a gift without taking too much time or costing the bank.

Have fun creating your own!

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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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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Happy Birthday Sweet Seventeen

Seventeen years ago, on September 7 2004, I started this blog. Yes, this creative passion project of mine is officially old enough to be in college and donate blood. It began on Blogger in the boom of knitting/craft blogs that fed blogrolls and Yahoo swaps and RAOK groups.  We’ve seen the onset of Ravelry and Worldwide Knit In Public Day, and welcomed pattern sources like Knitty, Craftsy, Twist Collective, St Denis Yarns and others before having to say goodbye to some of them.

With YouTube, Instagram and TikTok flooding the internet with video-based creative content, running a blog feels almost antiquated. I’ve been asked by friends and family why I don’t switch to another format but the truth is… I don’t want to. I love video tutorials. I follow a TON of craft-content YouTubers, and have saved a huge amount of “try one day” crafty TikToks to my favorites list too, so it’s not a critique of the other formats. They absolutely have their place, especially for some techniques or tutorials that can really only best be shown in video. That said, I still think there’s a place for blogs and photo-based project/pattern support.

My “blogaversary” this year falls on the first day of Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year.  I think that makes it perfect timing for a long-overdue blog restart. (I know, I know, I’ve said this before. Shhhh!) Coincidentally I was born on was erev (eve) Rosh Hashanna (we won’t say how long ago!) so Happy birthday to the blog, happy sort of birthday to me, and happy Jewish New Year!

To celebrate 17 years in the public craft domain I’ve scoured the site, my notes, folders, and metadata and picked 17 fun, interesting or long-forgotten items from my blogging history.

1-7

Numbers 1-7 are from the archives.  These are posts even I forgot about!  Some are helpful tips, some are free patterns/tutorials, and all are added to the How To section above.

8

Even when I don’t post regularly I get a steady stream of visitors (thanks!) and I’m always curious to see what search terms bring people my way.  So number 8 is my top referrer keywords from back in my Blogger days.  Funny enough it’s a tie between two completely random things that have almost nothing to do with my site: “cute japanese cartoons” & “hangman”.  I’m guessing the former is related to the time I knit a Japanese boy band, but the latter?  NO idea.

9

Number 9 is the results of my top search terms after migrating the blog to WordPress.  Unfortunately/fortunately Google has been encrypting the vast majority of search terms since 2013 so 9771 of my results are “unknown”.  Of the list that remains the top three terms are: “Toothless”, “pocketbook slippers”, and “pocket book slippers”, likely linking back to these two projects (Toothless, slippers).  Wanna know the lowest search result that brought someone my way?  “Long hair cut feet”.  I wonder how disappointed the searcher was to find my post was literally about a long hair transformation??

10

Number 10 is a really cool fact- I’ve had visitors from 170 different countries!  The majority are, unsurprisingly, from Canada and the United States, but rounding out the top 20 are the UK, Australia, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, Iceland, Spain, Italy, the Philippines, Israel, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Argentina, Hungary and Denmark.

11-14

Numbers 11-14 are my the top 4 posts since switching to WordPress.  I had a hunch what these were because they keep Pinterest flashing up on my phone.  What I didn’t expect was that the top post would outrank second place by more than double!

15

I’ve spent the last few months poring over my unshared projects and planning out a blog schedule for the year.  For number 15 I thought it would be fun to look through my folders and see just how old my oldest unshared project truly is. There was a lot to wade through but I found it!  Coming in at over a decade old a crafty hack that you’ll see on the block next year dates all the way back to February 2010!

16

Looking through all those projects was a fun trip down a creative memory lane.  As number 16 here’s a little teaser of a post I can’t wait to share in full…

Any guesses?

17

And finally, for making down this far: number 17 is a picture of me at the same age as this blog.

Whether you’ve been here since day 1 or day 6204, thanks for being a part of my creative adventures. I run this blog for me, but I love sharing it with you. ♥

*All search terms and other totals above were accurate as of the date of preparing this post.


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Ear Saver Mask Hook Lanyards

Just in time for Back To School, I’m pleased to share my ear savers / mask lanyards! Mask are an important part of life these days, but they can cause more harm than good when you’re constantly fiddling with them to relieve pressure on your ears or keep them from slipping off your nose. And then there’s the issue of where to put it when you take it off to eat (or in class). Enter the ear saver / lanyard / mask buddy / mask mates / mask hooks (and I’m sure another half dozen names for them!)

There are many options and designs available online, from knit to crochet to sewn or 3D-printed. When my kids asked for something custom, I decided to try my hand at designing my own, in a medium I saw ill-represented – my favored plastic canvas. It’s soft, flexible, washable, and I knew would be excellent for this purpose.

Jakob asked for a Creeper, Henri asked for a Boom Slime from Slime Rancher, but I didn’t stop there.

Want something neutral, to match your hair and not stand out? Got it!

Want something bright and colorful? Got it!

Want to rep your favorite team’s logo? Got that too!

There are currently 13 designs, with more being added as custom orders come in.

All hooks are soft, flexible, made with anti-pill yarn and are completely washable.

All the designs are available in my shop page or here on Etsy. Local Montrealers who arrange for pick up (vs shipping) can contact me for a discount code good on any order!

NOTE: For those of you who’d prefer to make your own, I’ll have a PDF coming for that soon! If you’d like to be notified as soon as it’s available, email me or leave a comment down below.


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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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Featured on KnitHacker.com!

Whoa… exactly what it says up there.  Thanks to a shout out from Laura on Twitter, my Skylanders Sprocket cosplay was featured on KnitHacker this morning, with dings going off on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all about it.

I’m so thrilled people like the costume.  I spent so much time working on it, staying up til 2-3am every night for 5 weeks… even bringing pieces to stitch while I waited at the daycare for my kids, or sneaking in a line or two in traffic.  With all that work it was still 2am the night before the con and I had no gauntlets/gloves, and I was feeling so dejected, like the whole thing would be a waste because of not enough time.  I ended up staying up til 4am knitting a quick set of fingerless mitts, and was so tired the following night I was asleep by 6:45.  😛  It wasn’t complete, it was far from perfect, but to see that it’s appreciated by more than just myself for my crazy efforts… it’s really awesome.

To anyone who stumbles this way and finds this: all the rest of the tutorials and step-by-steps are coming.  I have all the pics and just need to put them into a cohesive order.

You can check out the write-up here.  Thanks so much Laura, and thank you Danielle for posting it!

kroon skylanders sprocket(Also thanks to Jenna at Kroon Designs for the great pic!)


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Skylanders Sprocket Cosplay – getting down to the wire

sprocket progress 02

Montreal ComicCon is in 2 days.  Well it starts earlier, but I’m only going on Saturday.  Forgive the lack of updates, I’ve been working my fingers off til roughly 3am every night the last few weeks, hoping to be done on time.  (I’ve been taking progress/step-by-step pics but those posts will have to wait until AFTER the Con).  With only 2 days to go, here is my current progress.

Cosplay progress completed parts to-date:

  • shirt
  • pants
  • vest
  • wig
  • wrench/purse
  • goggles
  • gauge

Cosplay wip:

  • belt/peplums – 80% complete
  • boots – 40% complete
  • gauntlets/gloves – 0% complete