A costume for a Toad is pretty simple as almost any colored vest, white pants and dark shoes will get the gist across. The main feature of all Toads and Toadettes is their big, pouffy toadstool-esque hat. Whether you call it a head or a hat there’s no doubt that it’s a needed part of any Toad cosplay and here’s how you can make your own!
NOTE: As with the rest of my Mario costumes & props this hat was needed for a stage show which meant it had to be durable enough to last for a number of rehearsals, dress rehearsals and then stage performances. As such while you can use cardboard to do these first few steps I chose to use plastic canvas for extra strength. The plastic might bend but it would be unlikely to tear or break making it more reliable for quick changes where the hat would get tossed around backstage.
The hat needs structure to support its height so I started by aligning two sheets of plastic canvas vertically and whipstitching the side edges together. I repeated this with a third sheet and then tested the fit around my own head as the wearer would be another adult. I marked the appropriate row, cut away the excess and then whipstitched the final seam to create a tube.
I measured the diameter of the tube and traced out a circle of a matching size on a fourth sheet of plastic canvas, then cut it out. I could have whipstitched around the edge here as well but didn’t want to risk mis-aligning the pieces so for an easier option I used some of the white yarn to tie the disk to the tube in one spot with a knot. I then made another knot directly opposite the first so the disk was centered. I then knotted at the halfway point of each side so the quarters were each tied in place. This ensured the circle was evenly placed on top of the tube. Then I continued, knotting in pairs on opposite sides, until the disk was fully attached.
Try on the hat at this point. The tube will sink down so the disk rests on top of the wearer’s head. For the best result the lower edge should fall just above the wearer’s eyebrows, so if your tube is too long trim the bottom edge accordingly.
For the white outer shell of the hat measure the height up one side of your tube, across the top disk, and then down the other side. Add 2 inches for a generous seam allowance (1″ on either side). This will give you the diameter of the circle you will need to cut from your fabric. I didn’t trust myself to freehand an even circle so I divided this measurement by 2 to get the radius and tied a pencil and sewing pin the radius’ length apart on a length of yarn. I pinned the pin into the center of my fabric and swung the pencil around, keeping the yarn taut, to trace out the shape.
I cut a length of white sewing thread about 1.5 times as long as the outer perimeter of my circle and then sewed a running stitch all the way around, about 1/2″ in from the edge. When I got back to the beginning of the circle I snugged up the ends doing my best to keep the gathers even all around.
I inserted the plastic canvas tube into the bonnet-like white fabric and stuffed all around the sides. Don’t forget to stuff below the tube too so the top of the hat gets its round, puffy shape.
To join the fabric to the plastic canvas tube I switched to white yarn for strength and stitched around the open edge of the tube, through the white fabric. It’s a good idea to keep checking the look of the hat as you go, adjusting the gathers or adding more stuffing if necessary.
Here’s the finished puffy tube. I could probably have added more stuffing but I’d ran out.
Toad’s hat has 5 colored spots. I found a bowl that was a good size for the appropriate scale and traced it out 5 times on some red felt. You can sew the spots in place if you like but I chose to hot glue them instead.
Voila! Your very own Toad hat/head.
The hat can be worn as-is or you can add a chin elastic if needed to secure it in place on the wearer.
It fit our Toad cast member perfectly and just like all the other props and costume parts, lasted through all rehearsals and performances without any signs of wear or damage.
Even through vigorous dance routines and quick changes between numbers!
Can you believe it’s March already? It’s the 2nd annual Mario Month here on the blog and this year’s first post of the Super-Mario-themed collection is a DIY for a star wand you can carry as part of a Princess Peach costume.
I’d been asked to make the accessories for a Mario Bros skit and was given the above example of the desired wand for our Princess Peach character. Easy-peasy! Most of the needed supplies can be found at the dollar store or you might even have them on hand already.
Start by scaling an image of the Starman to the proper size for your wand and cut it out of regular paper. (Alternatively you can draw a star shape freehand but I ALWAYS mess those up!). If using heavy cardstock for your star you can jump to the next step. My bag was the perfect color but a bit flimsy, and this prop had to last for at least 6 shows and a dozen or so rehearsals, so I chose to reinforce mine with plastic canvas inserts. If you would like to do the same trace your star template onto plastic canvas. It’s a good idea to mark which direction is “up” so your stars will be sure to align.
NOTE: I should have made my plastic canvas inserts SMALLER than the Starman template. As you’ll see below, I ended up trimming them down so the yellow stars could meet evenly at the edges. To avoid this mistake trace a second line about 1/4″ inside your original edge and cut out on that line.
Wrap your dowel evenly with yellow electrical tape. You can paint the dowel yellow instead but for our purposes the electrical tape was more durable and waterproof. It also allowed me to even out areas where the bamboo was uneven by wrapping more (or less) in those spots. Then wrap again with the silver ribbon, spacing out the wraps to create diagonal stripes. You can secure the ends with regular scotch tape or more of the yellow electrical tape – neither end will be visible once the wand is complete so use whatever you’d like.
Cover the bottom end of the dowel with black tape. I used my fist as a rough guide for how long I wanted the handgrip to be and then wrapped more black tape, padding out the bottom edge slightly for a comfortable hold.
Optional: I debated hot-gluing the plastic canvas to the dowel but was worried it would break or separate during rehearsals (we were a rowdy bunch lol) so needed something permanent and secure. I decided to use the holes in the plastic canvas to my advantage and sew through the dowel to keep it in place. I marked holes on the dowel using the plastic canvas as a template for placement and then drilled directly through the bamboo dowel with my Dremel. I have a Dremel drill press which makes this step super easy but it’s 100% NOT necessary.
Now it’s time to trace your Starman template onto your yellow paper/cardstock.
I used carbon paper to trace onto both pieces at once to be sure both stars would be the identical size/shape, but this is totally optional. Just be sure to trace on the reverse side so in case you leave any pencil showing it will be on the inside of your finished star. I tested the plastic canvas inserts and realized I hadn’t left any clearance so had to trim down both of my stars to ensure the paper pieces would be able to touch. As mentioned above – if you do this be sure to cut your plastic stars smaller to start.
To attach the stars to the dowel I sandwiched them on either side of the bamboo and sewed a running stitch from one side to the other, then up to the next hole, and back to the first side…repeating this until I’d worked through all the holes. I was able to fit my yellow yarn but you can use doubled thread if your yarn is too thick. This will work best if you pre-mark your hole locations onto both pieces of plastic canvas first, to ensure you’ve sewn both stars to the same height and equally centered.
Use yarn to whipstitch the edges of the star closed.
I used the carbon paper again to trace Starman’s eyes and then colored them in with black Sharpie and a white POSCA paint marker.
Cut out both sides of your Starman. As one final layer of stage/rehearsal protection I sealed the paper’s surface with a layer of clear packing tape on both sides. This would ensure that the paper couldn’t accidentally rip or tear.
The final step is to sandwich the yellow star layers on either side of the plastic insert. Place the face side (with the eyes) in front of you and lay a few strips of packing tape evenly across, leaving a few inches of extra tape all around. Carefully pick up the taped piece and turn it over so the sticky side is facing up. Put the wand/plastic piece in place and then lay the back of the star down, yellow-side out, being very careful to line up both stars perfectly. Apply more strips of packing tape so the sticky sides meet and lock the stars together. **It’s a bit awkward to keep the back star aligned while laying the strips of tape which is why I do the face side first.
If not using a plastic insert then before placing the second side use extra packing tape to tape the dowel to the inside of the first side.
Press the tape together really well all along the edges of the star to really seal the front and back together, and then cut around the star leaving a thin strip of taped edge. It won’t show much (especially from the stage) but it guarantees you don’t trim too close to the paper and create a gap between the pieces.
Enjoy your star wand!
Ours worked great – lasting well through all rehearsals, tech week, and performances!
You may have noticed that when possible I like to tie my posts to something topical. Today is National Cherry Pie Day and amazingly enough I do have a cherry pie-related craft to share!
It all began with a craft exchange in an online group. Members would fill in a little questionnaire to summarize their favorite colors and fandoms and the like and then were paired with others in the same geographical area (for shipping considerations) and would make them something related to their faves. One year I was matched with someone who included Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek and Supernatural in hers. I relate hard to that list and wondered if there was a way I could create something that would incorporate more than just one of the fandoms.
The result was these reversible keychains.
Made from plastic canvas and yarn, these were a quick project but SO MUCH FUN to make! I started by thinking about an iconic symbol from each show. For Firefly it was immediately Jayne’s hat, and then I wondered what would be the same shape/size. R2D2 fit perfectly and I love how it looks like he’s got a pompom on his head. For Star Trek I thought a Tribble would be funny but what round shape would work from Supernatural? I was hesitant to make any kind of pentagram or devil’s trap because it might offend the recipient. Of course there was another perfect round answer – Dean’s fave – good ol’ cherry pie!
I drafted out each shape in Excel to get the sizing down and make sure I had enough room for the designs. I then cut out each shape twice from plastic canvas and cross-stitched them with yarn from my stash. To create the lattice top for the pie I did 6 crochet chain lengths and used the tails at either end to secure them into place.
Once each shape was complete I held them back-to-back and used black yarn to whipstitch around the outside edges to sew them together (in progress in the lower pics above). This hid all the messy ends on the inside as well as gave each item a defined outline. I also used the edge stitching as an opportunity to add a jump ring, stitching a few times around the ring to secure it in place. This allowed me to attach a claw hook (lobster) keychain ring to each grouping so the recipient could hang these fandom charms from her keys or bag if she liked.
Final steps were to make and attach the pompom and use a craft needle to tease out any trapped ends of the fun fur yarn to make the tribble as fluffy as possible.
This project was so much fun to make and gift and I was thrilled that the recipient loved them and immediately attached them to her Tae Kwon Do gear bag and backpack. For both gifter and giftee this one was a hit!
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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??
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.
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!
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!
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…
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.
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.