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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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Annual Halloween Roundup

It’s October, so that means it’s time for my annual roundup of costume-related patterns and tutorials available here on the blog.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make Minecraft Steve & Creeper heads.

Next up (with over 420,000 impressions on Pinterest in the last 60 days alone!) is a similar tutorial, this time for making a Minecraft Enderman head along with a diamond block trick-or-treat box.

Both projects include full charts for game-accurate colors and the exact hex codes for perfect color matching!

If your idea of fantasy is less block-based and more magical, here’s a free knitting pattern for an easy scarf in the Gryffindor house colors.

If training a dragon is more your thing, here’s how to make a viking vest.

If you prefer Pokemon to Night Furies, here’s an easy, last-minute Pikachu costume idea.

If your friends-group themed costume runs more Grease than Greninja, here’s how you can make a super simple Poodle skirt.

If you’re looking to visually upgrade some inexpensive props, here’s a demo on repainting plastic swords.

If you’ve got a last-minute party invite to deal with, here’s a SUPER quick ‘n easy Jughead Jones (from Archie Comics) costume tutorial with free burger dream bubble printable!

If your group costume needs accessories, here’s a free tutorial on making Super Mario Bros Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi hats

If you want to take those Mario Bros costumes one step further, here are instructions on making their respective mustaches

If you REALLY want to go all out, here’s the full costume breakdown with instructions on making an entire Wario costume

Finally, if you’ve got enough knitting time on your hands, you can knit my Baby’s First Superhero Costume pattern as-is with cute designs for boys and girls, or convert the chart and the colors to create your superhero of choice.

Find more tips and tutorials on my How-To page!


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How To: DIY Super Mario Bros Wario Costume

All month long I’ve been sharing Super Mario Bros-themed DIYs for my official 2022 Mario Month, and today’s post pulls all the Wario costume pieces together with some final touches to round out an easy DIY Wario costume.

For a refresher, here’s the yellow-and-purple guy himself:

And here’s how my cosplay turned out:

You will need:

To make the Wario hat you can follow my DIY instructions here.

My easy DIY instructions for the Wario mustache are posted here.

Wario’s gloves are a pair of simple white gloves with a rolled cuff and large blue “W”s on the back of each hand. I used an inexpensive pair of winter “one-size-fits-all” stretchy gloves and the same dark blue felt as for the W on his hat.

Because my costume was needed for several performances with quick (and rough) costume changes, I sewed the “W”s into place with matching thread. If you’re not worried about durability you can choose to use hot glue instead. In both cases, however, I would attach the letter while wearing the glove, as if you sewed it while laying flat it would not stretch properly once worn. (The glue or stitches would hinder the gloves’ stretch and the letters would appear wonky and/or possibly detach).

Repeat the process for the other hand.

Note: I’m right-handed, so it was easy to sew the left glove while wearing it, but not as easy for the right. At first I tried to compensate by wearing the left glove backwards on my right hand, so I could continue to sew with my dominant hand.

Unfortunately the results look terrible. Therefore I really recommend wearing the glove on the appropriate hand and sewing with your non-dominant one if necessary. If you go slow and take small stitches while awkward…it’s not impossible, and the results look much better.

Wario’s clothes consist of a solid-color yellow tshirt and purple pants with suspenders. I’ve linked suitable options for all three items above, though for my costume I was lucky and found the shirt and pants at my local thrift store. I didn’t think Amazon would have purple suspenders so I made my own. I happened to have some purple fabric at home so used that, though the color match wasn’t the best.

To make the suspenders yourself, put on the pants and and take the following measurements:

Length: measure the length in inches from the waistband in front, up and over the shoulder, and down the back to the waistband in back. Add 3-4″ to this measurement.

Width: the desired width of your suspenders in inches, doubled, plus 1″.

You will first create a tube by folding your fabric in half lengthwise, wrong-sides out, and then sewing a line about 1/2″ in from the open edge.

Once your tube is secure, carefully flip it inside-out. A knitting needle/skewer/chopstick is handy for this! Arrange the fabric so the seam is in the center and iron or finger-press the edges down to keep the strip flat.

The 3-4″ inches extra length added were for use in attaching the suspenders. If your pants have belt loops, first pass one raw edge through the opening of the claw hook, fold the edge in about 1/2″ and then sew down securely. My hook rotates but if yours is stationary be sure to have the side of the tube with the seam at the back.

Once the hook is attached, fold the other raw edge over as well and then sew it to the pants at the rear waistband, again being sure to have the seam on the inside. If you prefer a less permanent option, you can use claw hooks on the other end of the tube as well, and attach on both sides using the belt loops.

If your pants don’t have belt loops you will need to sew all 4 edges into place.

Wario’s pants are actually overalls with big white buttons but it’s easier to create suspenders and then fake the button look on top. If you prefer to make overall straps then instead of attaching claw hooks you will need to make a buttonhole and then sew 2 buttons onto your pants. I was worried buttons might undo during my dance number so I went for the more secure option of suspenders.

To fake the button look, cut two circles out of white felt and stitch (or hot glue) them into place above where the suspenders attach.

With that, your Wario costume is done! I wore this during a performance with fast quick-changes, so having my next costume underneath was the perfect way to add some padding and give Wario his more rounded physique.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

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: Easy DIY Super Mario Bros Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi Mustaches

Today’s post for Mario Month is a really fast and easy DIY for making Mario, Luigi, Wario or Waluigi’s iconic mustaches. You can also adapt the same technique to make any other style of costume/cosplay/dress up mustache you’d like.

You will need:

The first thing you’ll want to do is find a reference image of the look you’re going for. I found this clear picture showing all 4 character’s faces from straight-on.

You can freehand your desired shape onto scrap paper if you like. In my case, I cropped out the mustache portion of each image, scaled it for an adult-sized head (with the same proportions as on the characters) and printed it out.

Once you have your template drawn or printed, cut it out and trace it onto your cardstock. This will be sandwiched between two layers of felt to give the mustache stability. For Mario and Luigi it’s not as important, but Wario’s and Waluigi’s need a stronger construction to keep them from falling flat and limp.

Next, trace your template again, this time onto your felt (image 1, below).

Important- you want to cut out your shape BIGGER than the template (image 2, below). You can freehand this when cutting or trace around your outline and then cut along that new line.

Trace the felt cutout a second time (image 3, above). Then stack your two pieces of felt to be sure they are identical, trimming or adjusting if necessary (image 4, above).

Place your first felt piece with the front (public) side facing down. Place your template on top. Make sure your second felt piece is oriented correctly and then sew the middle of a strip of elastic to the center. The ends will be knotted and trimmed later, though if you prefer you can cut yours to length now and sew the two ends together here for an unbroken loop.

Using the same thread color as your felt, sew the two halves of the mustache together with the piece of cardstock in between. You can use a running stitch, backstitch or whip-stitch the edges. Alternatively, you could hot-glue the two layers together.

The two larger mustaches (Wario and Waluigi) need a bit of extra support to remain upright and angled as in the reference images. (You can see how it pulls away from the face on the right side of the upper image). Try on the mustache and mark the spot where the elastic and mustache should meet (as I am doing on the left side of the upper image). Note: it is important to mark these points while WEARING the accessory due to the elastic’s stretch. Once your spots are marked, sew the inner felt piece to the elastic on each side of center.

Here you can see the final Wario result! The two ends are standing up perfectly and the extra two stitches keep the mustache conformed to the face instead of free-floating. They also help hide the elastic when the accessory is viewed from the front.

The process is exactly the same for the remaining characters.

Here you can see all 4. Wario and Waluigi have the extra stitches on the elastic. Mario and Luigi do not and I think they would have benefited from it.

In all, this was a really quick and easy add-on to these costumes. They held up through 6 full performances and many rehearsals, including rushed quick-changes between numbers.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

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: Easy DIY Super Mario Bros Hats

Continuing Mario Month, today I’m going to show you how to make really easy character hats for Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi.

I’d looked at a lot of online DIYs when planning my Wario costume for our Super Mario Bros skit, and I liked bits and pieces of each. In the end I compiled suggestions and ideas from a few different patterns and am sharing it as a tutorial so you can use it to make your own costume or cosplay pieces!

For reference, here’s Wario and his hat.

While it’s very similar to the other 3, his is unique in having the white circle cut off by the brim, and by having his initial oversized. As such I decided to make his first, and then focus on the 3 remaining hats for my castmates.

You will need:

The first thing you want to do is draw a template on paper you can cut out. If you have bowls of the appropriate size then you can trace them, otherwise you can use a compass and ruler.

To save paper, draw your circles within each other. In my original template (above) I didn’t have a bowl with the diameter I wanted, so I traced my largest bowl then manually sketched in another circle about an inch wider, so there’s an extra circle showing. Also my pencil marks aren’t as easy to see so here’s a clean template with dimensions:

These dimensions are for an adult-sized hat but it’s easily customizable to make any size you’d like.

Cut out all pieces from your template. The easiest way to do this is to cut out your largest circle (A) and then cut circles B and C from within A. You can cut square D out from circle C after using it, or out of a scrap of paper (so you can keep all 4 pieces of your template for future use).

If you’re planning to make numerous hats you can preserve your template by laminating it with packing tape as I did for the Warp Pipe. You can also cut it from cardstock instead of plain paper for added durability.

Circle “A” is cut twice. One “A” will be left whole and will be the top of the hat. The second “A” will be the lower half. Circle “B” is cut from inside the second circle “A”. It should be centered evenly and then shifted down a bit to leave one section a bit deeper. (In the image below, you can see the hole is a bit higher and to the right vs centered, leaving more yellow on the lower left side).

If you are making Mario, Luigi or Waluigi hats, you can continue to the brim. Wario’s hat is the only one with a two-toned brim, so I traced half of template “B” onto white felt – “(B)” above.

All 4 characters have a white circle on their hats, so you can cut circle “C” from white felt.

Take circle “A” with the hole in it and position so the deeper section is upwards. This is where the details will go.

Position circle “C” into place (noting for Wario that his is the only hat whose circle is more obviously cut off by the brim) and then use matching thread to sew it into place. (You can also use hot glue, as I did for the other hats later in this post).

The other 3 characters’ initials will be cut from square “D”. Wario is the only one with an exaggeratedly large initial on his hat. Cut the “W” from felt and sew (or glue) it into place.

For Wario’s brim, first I lined up the white half on top of the yellow circle “B” and then cut off the excess. Then I sewed the half-circle edge together, leaving the straight edge open. Next I flipped it inside out and smoothed it flat, and then stitched the flat edge shut.

To easily center the brim, fold it in half and mark the center lightly. Do the same on the yellow circle. Line up the two marks, and keeping them aligned, sew the flat edge of the brim to the hat under the initial.

Place this completed lower hat piece upside down on the whole circle “A”. In the first image I had pinned them together, and the second image is after the stitching is complete.

Flip the hat inside-out and you’re done!

If you find the head-hole too small you can cut it larger, but you want to err on a more snug fit as felt will stretch over time. I used the 6″ diameter for all 4 hats and they fit perfectly, staying in place during 6 performances and multiple rehearsals!

The remaining character hats are all identical (except for color and initial) so I did them all assembly-line style. First cut out all template pieces.

Cut the initials from square “D”. I used scraps from cutting out the largest circle. I also switched to a glue gun for the details as it works really well on felt (though since the hats would be getting a lot of rough usage I stuck to sewing for the main construction).

Glue the details into place…

…fold the brims in half and sew them shut…

…then sew the brims into place. After that just sew the two large circles together and flip.

A final, optional step is to iron the edges to help keep them crisp and flat.

Each hat takes under 30 minutes to complete, making this a really quick and easy DIY.

They make a great addition to any Super Mario Bros costume or cosplay and would also be wonderful party favors for gaming-themed celebrations.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

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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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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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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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/07/17

2017.  Wow.  I can’t believe I started this blog roughly 13 years ago, nor that some of you have been around since the very beginning.  Whether you’re one of my original few hundred subscribers or one of the couple thousand who discovered my site when looking for my most popular Halloween DIY, hi there, happy holidays, and happy New Year!  I’ve got a lot planned for this little blog over the upcoming year, so if you’re an old friend- thanks for sticking around… and if you’re new- I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay a while.

Some of you may note that I’ve slowly made changes to the type of content that I post.  I’ve never been a mono-crafty person, and the blog will always adapt to whatever creative pursuits I’m into at the time, whether they’re knitting or crochet, cosplay or cakes.  Coloring books are going to have more of a showing on the blog, as will as a variety of crafts beyond the yarn-based ones.  For the last two years I’ve taken step-by-step photos of all the projects that I’ve made with the intent to focus more on sharing helpful DIYs, tutorials and tips going forwards, instead of merely showing off whatever I’ve made.  I’m going to have more reviews coming up, both sponsored and non, and while there might be affiliate links popping up at the end of some posts, I can promise you that my reviews will always be strictly my honest, unbiased thoughts.

Another feature I’m going to add is a weekly roundup, to both keep track of and hold accountable to the projects I’ve got ongoing.  Not everything needs to wait for a finished reveal, and sometimes quick projects or small pastimes get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day.  To that end – this is my first Crafty Compilation.  I plan to post these on Sundays and to cover the previous week’s goings-on, but this first one is being posted on Thursday because life LOL.  Amazing how, even when one is off work in post-op recovery, when it comes to crafting, there still isn’t enough time!  This first CC will cover some stuff worked on over the holidays, as well as last week.


Knitting

  • Gift knitting

Over the holidays I knit a special baby hat.  One of Yannick’s closest friends had a baby girl just before the holidays, and when he showed me the gifts he planned to bring for the friend and his other young daughter, I told him I knew just the thing to make for the new arrival.  The little girl’s dad has similar geeky tastes as we do, and I thought this pattern would be perfect.

I’ve knit it once before, back in 2013, as part of a Hallowe’en costume for a baby girl aptly named Leia. This was a pic of Jakob trying it on for me at the time:

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and this is a pic of the little sweetheart in her full costume.  Cutest Leia I’ve ever seen!leia-in-princess-leia-hat

The pattern is very well written and it’s a pretty quick knit, even with all the icord.  The hat and the ear puffs each took a night’s worth of knitting to work up, then the assembly took barely an episode of Elementary.

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Forgive the bad pics, it’s hard to take hat pics without an appropriately-sized head! 🙂 I’m really pleased with how the hat came out, even though I’d knit it before and expected it to look the same.  One thing I love about this pattern vs others out there is how it incorporates ‘bangs’ and the center part (not clearly visible in these photos but seen better in the one of Leia wearing it above).

  • Drops v-neck sweater

I also completely frogged a sweater I’d been working on.  Back in September I’d started a garter-stitch oversized sweater with a lovely gray yarn from my stash.  I’d thought it would be perfect ‘no-look’ movie or tv knitting but after measuring a sweater I own that had the fit I wanted, I realized that what I was making wouldn’t have the proper shape.  Plus I’d been having a nagging feeling that the garter stitch was eating up too much of my limited yarn.  So I frogged it one evening last week and began this pattern instead.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough yarn, and if not I’ll work the neckband and/or cuffs in something contrasting.

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So far I’m at about 32cm of the 34cm I need to be at before splitting for the low v-neck.

Coloring

  • Doodle Fusion ‘Christmas Tree’

A few weeks ago I’d taken a page from Dede Willingham and done color washes across a bunch of my coloring book pages.  From what I’ve seen she primarily uses acrylic paints, but I mixed it up a bit, using not only paint, but also my Neocolors (seen previously here, in imagimorphia) and my Inktense (last seen here, also in imagimorphia).  This particular page, from Zifflin’s Doodle Fusion, seems to deliberately invoke a Christmas tree, so that’s how I decided to approach it.  I colored over the whole image with the Inktense in shades of green.  The first pic is immediately after wetting the pencils, and the second is the next day, after the page had dried.

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My plan is to color the characters in colored pencil over the Inktense, keeping them muted and dark, but to color all the eyes and anything round-ish in bright gel pens, so they’d (hopefully) look like bright ornaments on the tree.  If you squinted at it.  Maybe.

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This was after my first pass with the gel pens.  I think I got all the areas I’d wanted, but I’m sure as I work on the figures I’ll find more.  I’m looking forwards to coloring the characters now in dark tones to really make the gel pen pop.

PS- this book is crazy, and I love it.  I’ll be showing a lot more of it in future posts.

I finally finished a page I started coloring back in November in the Disney Villains coloring book Yannick had bought for me, but as this post is getting long I’ll save them for another.  That’s another excellent coloring book that I’ve been working in quite a bit.

UPDATE: those pages are posted here.  🙂

Other Crafts

  • While the boys were off school for Christmas break I tried to keep them occupied with more than just Minecraft, Little Big Planet, or their new Skylanders Imaginators. Every few days we had ‘technology-free’ time during which we’d color, or do pencil puzzle books, and during one of those afternoons I taught them how to make their own stuffies.  However I took a TON of photos and so I’ll share the step-by-steps of their work in another post

Alright, that’s it for this round-up!

 
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Last-Minute DIY Pikachu Costume

All month Henri has been telling me he planned to wear his Creeper costume for Halloween this year.  He’s brought it up many times and even pulled the head out of the dress-up bin in our den to try it on and be sure it still fit.  And then this past Friday his class went to circus school for the day and he came home like this:

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and then told me he wanted to be Pikachu for Halloween.

This guy:

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Um.  Okay.  We had nothing at home I could use to make a physical costume, but I knew we’d be going to Walmart the next day so I told him if we found a set of face paint, I’d buy it and would paint his face like Pikachu.

Saturday we were at Walmart and found some inexpensive face paint, but then he started complaining that he didn’t have Pikachu’s ears.  I thought about it a little and told him we’d be going to the dollar store next; if he found a headband that fit him I’d buy some yellow felt and make him some ears.  He found a girl’s one with a plastic bow attached, but it was yellow and fit him, and they had a pack of felt with yellow in it so we brought it home and I set it aside.

Yesterday I was at my parents’ house for dinner and Henri made a comment about being excited to wear his Pikachu costume to school the next day and I realized – oh crap, Halloween is tomorrow!

Ahem.  Forgive me, my brain has been a little foggy lately.

We got the kids home and to bed and then I sat down and made Henri’s costume.  It was quick, and it was easy, and it used either dollar store supplies or things you may already have on hand, so if you’re stuck for a last-minute costume, here’s how you can whip  this up in plenty of time to go trick or treating tonight.  Grab a friend who’s dressed like a Pokemon Trainer and you can be your very own live Pokemon Go team.  🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

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The first thing I did was carefully cut off the plastic flower on the head band, then I put it on Henri’s head and marked off where the ears should sit.  As it happens we have a large Pikachu doll that was the right size to trace for the ear shape, but you can just freehand it.

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After the ear shape was drawn, I drew a second line about a quarter inch outside it, for a seam allowance.  Then I cut out the shape through all 4 layers of yellow felt.

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The next step is to sew the ears together.  I used yellow thread and a simple running stitch since the ears wouldn’t really be under any tension.  I left the open end edges unsewn for about a quarter inch so I had enough fabric open to gather over the heandband.  If you don’t want to sew, you could also glue the sides shut, but if you do make sure to put the ear side that you drew on on the inside to hide the pen markings.

Next I colored the ear tips with a black sharpie.  The mess you see on the right is the transfer of ink from one side when I flipped it over to color the other side.  I’m showing you this so you can be prepared and cover your work surface.

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Once the tips were colored I stuffed each ear with some loose batting then sewed them over the sides of the headband where I’d previously marked.  I used a blanket stitch to close the open edge but you can use any stitch you like, or glue them shut as well.

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Here are the finished ears.  They look silly off but are kind of cute on.

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(Yes I had to try them).

While I was working on the ears I kept glancing over at the tail on our stuffed Pikachu and realized it wouldn’t take that much more effort to make one too, and surprise Henri.

To start I took some cardboard from our recycling bin and sandwiched it between two sheets of white cardstock with a regular glue stick.  To make sure it dried well I placed it flat on the table and set some heavy books on it.  Once the ears were done the cardboard had fully dried and I was able to trace Pikachu’s tail onto it.

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Then I cut out the tail.  I brainstormed a few different ways to attach it to Henri.  I don’t like the idea of sending a 7yo to school with a safety pin on his butt, so I came up with a belt method.  To make it work I carefully pried back about an inch of the tail section and folded the cardstock on each side outwards.

I used my Spectrum Noir markers to color the yellow of the tail and then colored the lower edge with a black Sharpie, completely overlooking the fact that it’s supposed to be brown, because I was working in dim lighting.  D’oh.  You can use any permanent markers, and do the proper colors.  🙂

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To make the belt section, I first cut two holes into each side flap.  I then threaded three strands of yellow yarn through each side, made a knot to secure them near the top, and then braided them into belts which I could then slide through the belt loops on his jeans and tie at the front.  I made them longer than needed because I didn’t have his waist with me to try them on, and had planned to cut the excess this morning but we ended up just tucking the ends into his jeans.

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And there you have it!  Add in some yellow face paint, bright red cheek circles and a black triangular nose and poof-

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You’ve got one happy Pikachu.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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Looking for more Halloween costume ideas?  Check out here.

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The Fix is In!

It’s almost June, and that means a few things; the kids will be in summer camp, I can sleep in on Sundays because swimming lessons pause over the summer, and oh yeah- I have to start working on my cosplay for September’s Montreal ComicCon!

Uh.

Waitaminute.

Three years ago it was in September.  Two years ago it was in September.  Last year I missed, but am pretty sure it was in September, right around Rosh Hashana.

This year it’s in JULY??

*pouts* Not fair.  That’s WAY LESS costume crafting time.

Three years ago I went to my first con.  I went on the Saturday with Jakob, and was blown away.  I guess I hadn’t expected to get the CON experience I’d heard about/seen online, and it was, it truly was.  Jakob was dressed up as a SuperTiger (tiger costume with a superhero cape, his idea) and had a BLAST.

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He’s not normally shy but he was beyond extroverted, walking right up to people in costume and asking for pics with them, and posing for the many, many pics people asked to take of him.  I think he felt like a mini celebrity- making a “growl” face and batting at people in the crowd with his tail.  mtlcon1204

(Plus the girls loved him.)

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Happy, tired tiger.

We had SO much fun, in fact, that we went back again on the Sunday, and brought Yannick and Henri.  And this time I had to dress up too.  I borrowed my sister’s Little Red Riding Hood costume (hey, she’s in a ton of media, comics and video games… Uh, Red, not my sister) and though it was a pain navigating the double stroller around, we had a really great time.  (Maybe a bit less for Yannick, who had to keep smiling as he took pics of me with all the people who came up and asked).  Heh.

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In 2013 I went back again, this time just me and Yannick, no kids.  I did my first ever homemade cosplay, but I still have yet to post pics of it here so instead here’s a quick hint at who I played:mtlcon1301Last year I didn’t go, mostly because life was a bit too hectic, and also because I hadn’t had a chance to make the one cosplay that’s been burning a hole in my brain since I got the idea.

I still haven’t had the time, but I did have another idea, one that I’d first had about two years ago when my kids began playing Skylanders.  I muddled it around last night and think I’ve settled.

Sprocket!

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I’ve loved the character since my boys (and I) first started playing the game.  First of all, she’s a girl.  And her element is Tech.  And she’s tough.  And wields a big ass wrench and rides a freaking cannon!

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Her official Skylanders bio says:

Personality

Resourceful, Sprocket isn’t one to sit back and let others do the work. She jumps in with both armoured feet, creating solutions for every problem imaginable.[1]

Biography

Sprocket was raised with all the privileges of a rich, proper Golding. But she cared little for fancy things. Instead, she spent most of her time growing up in her uncle’s workshop, learning how to build and fix his many mechanical inventions. But everything changed on the day her uncle mysteriously vanished. When she eventually discovered that Kaos had been behind his disappearance, she constructed a battle suit and went after him, leaving the luxury and comfort of her family’s wealth behind. From that moment on, Sprocket was dedicated to fighting the forces of evil, whilst never losing hope that she would reunite with her beloved uncle.

Awwww yeah!

What officially sold me on the idea, however, was when I hit upon how I plan to make the wrench.  The best part is that not only will it be lightweight, but if it works the way I think it will, it will have an enclosed compartment to hold my phone and wallet and stuff.

I’m not planning on sticking exactly to the costume as shown, though.  I found a Deviant Art drawing someone did of Sprocket, and have asked permission to cosplay as that version instead.  It’s simpler, more realistic, but still identifiable.

The really best part?  One of this year’s con guests is Jewel Staite!!!  I will be going to ComicCon dressed up as a female mechanic and (hopefully) get to meet one of THE most awesome female mechanics – Firefly’s Kaylee!  *kermit arm flail*