Have you ever done any charity knitting or crochet? There are so many ways to give back to your local community or to help others around the world. I’ve done a lot in the past…through the Montreal Knitting Guild, my local hospital or volunteer Facebook groups, my friends and I have made everything from Teddies for Tragedies to chemo caps to birds’ nests for Australia. Most recently the Warm Hands Knitting club from my local Federation CJA spent last winter making hats, scarves, and slippers to keep our elderly community warm.
It feels great to give back and YarnCanada.ca is giving you the chance to get the yarn for your projects donated to you, free of charge.
Yes that’s right – they’re giving away yarn for FREE!
They’ve just started their 4th annual event of giving yarn to individuals and groups who knit or crochet for good causes!
In partnership with Bernat and Patons Yarn, they’re giving away $4000 (!!) worth of yarn to 12 different charitable individuals/groups. The hope is that the yarn goes to wherever it can do the most good.
And even better – this opportunity is open to both Canadians and Americans! Yes that’s right – they will ship the free yarn to the US!
To apply all you need to do is click the image above (or click here), fill in the form and tell them your story. Let them know what you will use the yarn for, what impact this or previous projects have had, or anything else important to your story. You can even attach photos to show them past charity projects you’ve done.
You have until January 13th 2022 to apply. Good luck!
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.
There is so much going on behind the scenes for this little blog, and I had all the plans to get it all going in the first half of this year but – YOU GUYS –
Something came up. I was already falling behind because of other commitments I’d taken on, and then I was approached with an opportunity that was just… magical.* And I know – I KNOW – that is the LAMEST of excuses, but trust me when I say THIS WAS WORTH IT. I feel so very lucky and could not pass it up, even if it means shuffling other things a bit later down the pipeline.
I CANNOT wait to tell you all about it, but I’m under legal contract ** and can’t talk about it just yet. Just trust me that as soon as I can, I will. And in the meantime, you can follow glimpses of what’s going on with me via my Instagram, either through the link in the sidebar or directly here.
Before I can properly say goodbye to 2015, let’s do a little visual recap the last few months.
In November Jakob had 3 teeth extracted, his top two front teeth and an extra tooth (mesiodens) that was growing down from his palate, right behind them.
You can see here the missing front two teeth (one of his adult teeth had already started growing in) and the larger dark spot is the hole from where the extra tooth was. Similar to when you have your wisdom teeth pulled, the extraction leaves a hole that closes up in time, only with this there were no stitches required.
Look at that thing! The two baby teeth are on either side, and an area the size of those smaller teeth is what had grown out, of the extra one. Aaaaaaall the rest of it was up in his palate, like his very own in-mouth unicorn horn. We couldn’t believe it was so long!
My monkey-see/monkey-do kids really do behave like twins, even though they’re 19.5 months apart, and Henri managed to lose 2 teeth (one upper, one lower) in the same week that Jakob had his 3 pulled, so they looked like a pair of little bruisers. 🙂
If you follow my instagram you’ll have noticed a little cosmetic change I made, that will have its own post coming up- I dyed my hair pink! The boys were jealous, so one weekend I used some hair chalk and gave them each a blue streak.
I worked on a bunch of crafts as the year drew to a close, and besides the annual teacher gifts and some cakes and things, I knit up a bunch of polar bears for a charity project organized by my cousin Robyn.
The bears were basically garter stitch with some mild shaping, and I knit really fast, and without looking, so as I had a bunch of doctor’s appointments in November, I agreed to knit up as many as I could, and then pass them along to be sewn and stuffed. I think when it was all said and done I’d knit 10 bears- the 8 shown here and 2 others I’d already handed in.
Henri must have been paying attention to Yannick’s morning routine… or television commercials… because one afternoon he came up to me with a Lego creation and told me it was a razor, so now he could shave like a grown up. 😀
Also in November we had a Hanukah gift exchange with my family. Yannick drew my brother’s name, and decided to be creative and hide his gift inside a wooden log. He cut a branch into pieces and drilled in a few holes and I made a little sign inspired by Ren & Stimpy…
By sheer coincidence when Mike held the log up so I could take a pic, it was perfectly placed to look like Yannick was suddenly in Groot costume LOL
The boys only get access to our spare iPhone at doctor’s appointments or other public waiting areas, and it always makes me proud to see how well they get along, sharing and playing together with minimal fighting or frustration. This pic was taken at the first of many visits we had in December, going back every 2 days as Jakob’s fever and cough just would not go away.
Finally he had an xray done, and after missing a week and a half of school and being up through most of the nights, we had an answer- he had pneumonia. Luckily antibiotics did the trick and he was feeling better just in time for Christmas.
Much better. And somehow also managed to become a teenager…?!
The boys were very excited Christmas morning to open their gifts, starting with their stockings.
Later on during the holidays I introduced them to some good classic movies (Phantom Tollbooth) and not-so good ones (The Phantom Menace).
Not staged at all, this truly is how my boys watch movies. Or tv. Or play video games. One is almost always cuddling with the other.
Just before New Year’s we FINALLY got some snow… emphasis Henri’s, not mine. (He was overheard telling my mom that this was the ‘worst Christmas of his entire life’ because of the lack of snow).
And now here we are, over a week into 2016 already. The last few weeks have passed by in a blur, not because I’ve been so busy, but quite the opposite- I’ve done almost nothing. Right before our annual New Year’s getaway with friends I got sick. Spent the entire ‘vacation’ in the hotel room in bed, nearly delirious with 102 fever and the chills and cough, only to get home and discover that I, too, had pneumonia. It’s draining, to be sure, and is the reason why it’s already 9 days into the New Year and I feel like I haven’t been my usual crafty productive self.
One thing it has given me, however, is time. I’ve been (re)learning a hobby I picked back up just before the holidays, doing more reading, catching up on my YouTube subscriptions and clearing room on my PVR, and doing a lot of thinking and planning.
One of the things I’d like to work on this year is this blog. I have a huge backlog of tutorials and posts I want to share, so I will be working on ways to get that done. I’ve noticed in my stats that my Minecraft posts are pretty popular, the cake-related ones especially.
If there are ever any questions or tutorial requests that you’ve got, Minecraft-related, cake-related, knitting… anything really, please comment or message me and let me know. I’m trying to focus more on explaining how I make the things I do, vs simply showing the end results, but there may be steps I overlook, or techniques that I assume are common knowledge. If ever there’s anything you want a hand with, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Remember me? That whole blog redesign thing I said was coming? Well guess what….?
Ok it’s in progress, better? I was going to wait until everything was up and running but something tells me that means I will never started so… as a friend said, and I’m paraphrasing, go with 85%. I don’t know if I’m quite at 85% but I’m gonna go with it anyways.
To anyone who still had me gathering dust in their blog reader, welcome back! To anyone who finds me now, thanks to Facebook/etc*, welcome. If you like crafty, nerdy stuff, you’re my peeps.
*Oh yeah. I’m not anonymous any more. The blog is now (soon to be) linked to my real Facebook account, and cross posted there, along with my real Twitter and real Instagram (once I get the widget working). For reals.
Knitting, crochet, cakes, crafts, stitching, the kids, even me… soon we’ll all have our own place and everything will be organized properly. I’m going to go through the older posts and repost anything of note, and share all the cool new things that I’ve worked on in the last year or so. Hope it’s worth the wait!
I just noticed that it’s been 3 months, to the day, since my last post.
Huh. Didn’t mean for that to happen.
I don’t tend to enjoy summary posts, because they’re long and unnecessarily detailed, but I really can get away with just a bit here, because not very much happened.
I had my final exam, and passed (yay) and passed the year (yay) with a quite respectable 89%. Year 2 of this program (but our year 4 overall) starts in September, and we’ve got the summer off from studying (big yay).
I had my surgery at the beginning of May. They did find the hernia (yay) and the reason for all the pain I’ve been having (yay) but when sewing in a mesh, my doc accidentally nicked an artery (boo). They had to pull out the laparoscopic tools and do an open incision to fix it, so instead of leaving the hospital a few hours after day surgery, I was admitted and got to go home about 4 days later.
I’d planned to wade through all the games on my phone, while home recouperating. I’d planned to read all 4000+ unread posts in my Reader. I’d planned to finish Henri’s Spidey blanket, and my Linden, and Flugel, and Jakob’s Toothless, and a shawl for a friend, and my May/June socks, and a few more pairs of socks (y’know, ‘cus they’re fast), and then maybe the sock yarn blankies, and ooh what could I knit for myself after that? I’d planned to read the books that have been stacked on my night table for a few years now.
I shouldn’t have planned. I did nothing.
I did *almost* nothing. Once I was home from the hospital I did rush to finish Toothless, so it would be ready for Jakob’s actual birthday. And I did knit a shawl for a friend’s birthday. And then I…mentally checked out.
For 6 weeks I didn’t do ANYTHING. I didn’t knit (much…the May/June socks were knit between June 28-July 2), I didn’t read (much…except the 50 Shades trilogy, one of Chelsea Handler’s books & am now into Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), I didn’t watch tv (much…I skipped everything I taped ‘cus I couldn’t focus, and just left Much Music or TLC or Discovery on in the background).
I played on my phone, but not much. I ate a bit, but not much. I saw the boys & Yannick, but not much.
Things are mostly back to normal now. I’m back at work, mostly recovered (though still a bit sore and trying to watch the heavy lifting), I have my knitting mental mojo back, though many nights it just sits next to me on the couch, and I’m eager to get into the Knitting Olympics and seeing if the nightly habit will get me fully back into the groove.
Jakob’s in soccer, so that keeps us out twice a week, and we’ve been doing a lot of swimming at my parents’ pool. Yannick’s still busy as ever, and I’ve still got my nights free to sit and knit which hopefully means I’ll get my Olympic project done.
See that’s why I wanted to get this out of the way today. I was thinking how tomorrow is the opening ceremonies, and how I need to wind my yarn, etc, maybe swatch, and how I’ll post a daily progress shot…and then I thought…”post“? Oh…I’ve been forgetting to do that! D’oh!
I have pics of all the outstanding projects, but I’ll save them for after the Olympics when I run out of things to post about. I’m not going to play on Ravelry ‘cus I don’t have the focus to even look into what that means, but I will be working on my project at home, watching.
I’m giving up on having daily posts. I’d rather only write when I want to, then force myself to find something interesting to share.
Truthfully, until this past week I didn’t have much to share. Not much going on around here. We had some family dinners, I bought some lovely new clothes and costume jewelry, picked up more nail polish, and squeezed in knitting and studying whenever I could.
Our final test for this year is due on Tuesday, and then we have our final exam on April 22nd. I hope to have all our written stuff done by then too so we can have a true summer vacation…or as much as possible with a full-time job.
I’ve blocked and seamed my Linden and am in the process of knitting the lower garter band. I want it 2.5″ long, and am about halfway there. Each row just takes so long! I should only have ends to weave in afterwards but I might lengthen the sleeves first so I don’t know yet how soon it will be done.
I’m also working on my stockinette stitch swatch for my current design. I had a bit of time to work on it this week but I just couldn’t bring myself to knit.