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How to Make Minecraft Steve and Creeper Heads

Update: This tutorial is now also available as a downloadable PDF here. More details at bottom of this post.

It’s October!  That means it’s okay to start talking about Halloween, right?

It is according to Henri- when I woke him up for school this morning he gazed up at me sleepily and grinned “It’s October 1st.”  When I asked why that mattered he smiled even more adorably and said “Because now it’s almost Halloween.”

‘Almost’ is relative.  (He clearly gets his awareness of time from his father).  However his mention of it reminded me that I never showed last year’s costume.  So.  Now, with plenty of time to get ready for this year’s holiday… here’s how I made the boys Minecraft Steve and creeper heads, and how you can too!

how to make minecraft steve and creeper heads

The boys decided for Halloween they wanted to dress up as their favorite Minecraft characters.  They do sell ready-made cardboard heads in stores but they are expensive, and there are a ton of tutorials online.  I looked at a few, then worked things out with what I had on hand, and what I was able to find at the dollar store.

What you’ll need:

minecraft heads wip 01

1. Yannick came home with 2 small boxes he’d found somewhere.  Grocery stores often have ones you can ask for, or as a last resort you can buy boxes.

2. I used two-sided tape to tape the outer flaps to the inner ones (not shown) so the inner flaps wouldn’t drop down onto the kids’ heads.  Then I used masking tape to fully tape over the top seam, both to securely close one end of the box, and to make the seams less visible once they were painted.

3. I cut the lower flaps off the boxes and then used the same masking tape to cover the exposed edges.  It would gave a cleaner look, vs the rough look of cut corrugated cardboard, plus was less likely to catch and tear, which could potentially pull off the paint.

4. I divided the 4 sides and top into even grids.  I looked at pictures of the characters online and mapped out roughly how many squares per color/face, and then used a ruler to divide the front (face side) into the grid.  Once the face was set, I carried the markings around the sides of the boxes, and finally the top.  Because the boxes are taller than wide, the top has fewer squares than the sides do.  That’s not what the characters SHOULD look like, but I didn’t think the kids would mind.

minecraft heads wip 02

5. Once the boxes were plotted I used a cutting blade (also from the dollar store) to slice out the eyehole sections.  For Steve, only the dark pupil area was cut out.  For the creeper it made more sense with where Henri’s face was to cut out the larger nose/mouth section.  After removing those areas I covered the exposed edges with masking tape.

minecraft heads wip 03

6. Finally it was time to start painting.  The paints and brushes were from – you guessed it – the dollar store.  The advantage with the Minecraft characters is that if you have to custom mix your paints to get the right colors, it doesn’t matter as much as it would in most projects if you have enough to complete your painting or if you need to mix more and risk not matching quite right.  The goal is to have an assortment of shades, so blending colors works perfectly.

That said, if you prefer a more accurate version, I have compiled this tutorial into a downloadable PDF (linked at the bottom of the post) which includes full-color screen-accurate charts for both characters, including the hex codes for each color so you can color-match accurately.

minecraft heads wip 04

Here’s the four sides of the painted creeper head.  I set the boxes to dry on a paper towel roll to hold them off my counter until the lower edge was dry.  (I held them up the same way while painting too).

minecraft heads wip 05

Same goes for our buddy Steve here.  I’d only had three shades of brown paint on-hand to work with, so I blended them together with some black for the hair, and then lightened with some white and a touch of red for the face.  (I’d actually done the face/neck/ears first, so then I could re-use the same paints but darken them for the hair.  That avoided any waste and kept the same unifying overall color tone for the head.)

minecraft heads wip 06

I had them both on the counter while I cleaned up the dining room table of all my painting gear.  Couldn’t resist this dramatic shot.  Look out!  He’s behind you!

minecraft heads wip 07

7. The next step was to seal the heads with an aerosol can of clear sealant.  I didn’t know what the weather would be like on Halloween and didn’t relish the idea of my hard work being ruined by a few drops of rain or thick snow settling on the kids’ heads.  I moved the heads into the garage and set them on some newspaper to protect the floor as I sprayed, and did a few coats, allowing each one to dry for about 20 minutes in between.  If you have a dry, open area outside or good, even weather you could do this next step outside, but here there was nowhere I could leave them unattended, so I had my garage door open the entire time I sprayed, and then left it about a foot open during the drying time between coats.  Once they were properly sealed and dry to the touch I brought them inside and allowed them to dry for a full day before the final steps. 

minecraft heads wip 08

The last bit in getting the masks ready to wear was to block out the open areas.  I bought a gauzy sheer black scarf (also at the dollar store!) and cut off squares large enough to fully cover the open areas.

8.  Using the same double-sided tape I secured the black fabric down around the cut areas.

9. Finally I covered all the exposed edges of the cloth with masking tape, making it doubly secure and hiding any rough, cut edges so they wouldn’t catch or fray.

With that, the masks were complete!  The black gauzy fabric looks opaque from the outside but from the inside it’s so sheer that it’s quite easy to see through it, making it perfect for this project.

From idea to finished product this project took about 4 days.  Halloween was on a Friday last year and Yannick brought me home the boxes on Monday night.  Tuesday I did everything up to/including painting.  On Wednesday night I sprayed the clear coat, and then on Thursday night I stuck the black fabric in.

They were pretty darn excited!

Halloween night they posed for a quick picture inside…

minecraft heads wip 10

…then it was time to go trick-or-treating.

minecraft heads wip 11

Can’t you almost hear the tick…tick…tick…BOOM? The heads held up beautifully and the boys felt like mini celebrities as they walked down the street and people from all over, even in passing cars, yelled out “Steve!” and “Creeper!” and gave them high-fives.  The heads have now become part of our dress-up box and are still in great condition, and they wore them for ‘Halloween Day’ at their camp this summer.

*Update in 2020: the heads are still going strong! The boys outgrew them of course, but we keep them as nerdy shelf displays and they look exactly the same as they did back when I made them.

minecraft heads wip 12

I hope this post shows you how easy and fast it can be to make your own Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads!

You can adapt the tutorial to make any Minecraft mob, and I’ve got an assortment compiled for you here.

As mentioned above, if you’d like an easy-to-print-and-save PDF version of this tutorial, I have made it available on Etsy here. The 9-page PDF includes full instructions with additional details, clear photographs, as well as game-accurate full-color numbered charts for all 5 sides of both character’s heads along with their hex codes for perfect color matching.

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More Minecraft-themed fun:

How to make a Minecraft Enderman head and diamond block trick-or-treat basket

How to make Minecraft Lootbags

How to make Minecraft Mob fondant cake/cupcake toppers

How to make a Minecraft cake

Throwing a Minecraft birthday party

Minecraft Zombie Charts

Minecraft Jack-O’-Lantern Charts

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 Calculate Yardage Needed for Plastic Canvas Stitching

how to calculate yardage for plastic canvas

Sometimes you have a project in mind, and yarn on hand, and boy it sure would suck to get mostly completed and realize you don’t have enough yarn to finish. In my case, I’m impatient.  Sunday night I had one hank of appropriately-colored gray yarn, and a gray wrench to stitch, and I would have loved to get started… but first I needed to know if I had enough yarn to fully cover the entire thing.

Here’s how you figure it out.

sprocket wrench wip 13

Step 1- Cut a set length of yarn.  In my case I cut a strand of yarn that is 36 inches long.  A few reasons for this- 1) my measuring tape is in inches, making that a convenient measure, 2) 36 inches = 1 yard, and yarn labels list yardage, so I won’t have to do any conversions, and 3) 36 inches is a comfortable working length for when actually stitching, so my beginning and ending tails can be reasonably included in these figures.

Note- this will only be a helpful estimate if you use yarn that is the same, or at least the same thickness, as the yarn you plan to use in your project.sprocket wrench wip 14

Step 2- Take a scrap piece of plastic canvas, the same gauge as your project, and begin stitching.

Make sure to use the same stitch you will be using in your project, as some stitches take up more yarn than others, for example cross-stitch uses more than Continental.

Keep going until the yarn is nearly done, and fasten off as usual.sprocket wrench wip 15

Step 3- Do some math.  My 36″ of yarn allowed me to fill an area that was 6 holes wide by 19 holes high.  Yes, I’m counting in HOLES, not stitches.  Why?  Because some of my pieces are oddly-shaped and the stitches I’m using are slanted and I don’t feel like having to figure out how many stitches will fill irregular areas.  Counting the holes is simply faster for me.  You can count stitches if you prefer as long as you make sure to count total STITCHES needed later.

So. 1 yard (36″) of yarn will allow me to stitch an area comprised of 114 stitches.

Then all you have to do is count the number of holes in the project (or stitches, if you’re doing it that way), divide that by your swatch yardage (in my case: 114) and the result will tell you how many yards of yarn you need to fill it.

To that resulting number I would pad it based on certain factors- areas where you have to cut excess away, areas where you accidentally used too much to tie-on and get a few stitches short on that piece, etc.  So for smaller projects I’d say this is a good way to know if a finite amount of yarn will work.  For larger projects I’d say this was a good way to estimate the minimum amount of yarn you’d need.

Make sense?

If you were going to purchase yarn for this project and the count you end up with gives you the yardage of just UNDER a ball of your required yarn, I’d spring for an extra ball.  Best case scenario: you don’t end up using it and can return it.  Middle-of-the-night-likely scenario: you remember you have that second ball once you run out of yarn.  For Sprocket’s wrench, I’m trying to avoid buying yarn.  I have two different yarns in an appropriate gray that I can use, but one of them only has one, already-started, skein.  I’d prefer to use that one, but I don’t want to risk running short.  So I’ll count up how much my pieces will use without padding for any extra.  If I see it’s pretty close to the amount of my preferred yarn I have I won’t bother starting with it, and I’ll use the other one instead.

Note– this method does NOT include yardage for whipstitching the edges together.  That’s fine with me, because some of my edges are joined with a different color, of which I have plenty, and if I run out of my gray for the sewing-up I don’t mind using a slightly different shade for the assembly.


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Throwing A Minecraft Birthday Party

First came the Minecraft lootbags, then the Minecraft fondant toppers, and then the Minecraft cake.  Now’s where it all came together – the final Minecraft birthday party.mc party collage

Once again, this was Henri’s 6th birthday party, from back in January.  Jakob just had his own Minecraft party but I didn’t change much except for the cake, and that will get its own post shortly.

There are a lot of ways you can incorporate Minecraft ‘foods’ into your own party.  A quick look through Google images or Pinterest will show idea after idea, I pulled some of them out and added my own to get what worked for the small group of kids we had.  If you’re having a larger party, or its for a gaggle of teens, you can really go all out with some creative food arrangements.  I’ve seen everything from pretzel-grid trap doors to a soda maker doubling as a brewing station!

mc party dinnerI didn’t go quite so elaborate.  Only 10 kids, a few lingering adults, and I knew the children would be rushing through the food to get back to playing video games (we were at an arcade).  The place provided pizza, so I added a quick veggie side dish to the table.

mc party dinner carrot

Clear enough?  🙂

mc party dessert

I had a little more fun preparing the dessert table…mc party dessert 02

Regular and Golden Apples…mc party water buckets 01

…Water Buckets… (blue raspberry Jell-O… would have been cuter in plastic shot glasses if I’d thought about buying some in time)…mc party tnt

…and TNT  (red licorice bundles with black licorice whip wicks).

Combine these with the Minecraft lootbags the kids got when they left, and it made for a party they could all dig.  (Get it?)  😉

Can I just say that I love the dollar store square dishes and platters?  Love them.

mc party cake closeupHenri really enjoyed his 6th birthday party, and I had a lot of fun putting everything together for it.

You can download and print the images below to make your own Minecraft party.  I copy/pasted a bunch onto an Excel spreadsheet so I could fit as many to a page as I needed.  The TNT strips were sized at 3″ tall by 5″ wide (the block of 10 strips), the water bucket graphic is 1.75″ wide by 2″ high, and the apples and carrots were 2.25″ by 3″.tnt 3inby5in water bucket 2inby175inred apple 3inby225in golden apple 3inby225in carrot 3inby225in

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More Minecraft fun:

How to make Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads


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How to Make Minecraft Cake/Cupcake Toppers

So last post I showed you the Minecraft lootbags (inventory chests).  Today I’ll show you how I made the toppers for the Minecraft birthday cake.

How to make Minecraft cake cupcake toppers

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the cake itself, but I knew I wanted to have a bunch of Minecraft mobs scattered about.  I didn’t feel like having to prepare enough fondant in the assorted colors, nor did I really want to start sculpting, so I turned to my current favorite technique- hand-painted toppers.

I’ve used this on a number of cakes, which I’ll link to once I post them.  With one exception, Nick’s Star Wars cookies, I always painted with thinned-down color gels, and had great results… (especially the Jake & the Neverland Pirates figures) but there were some flaws.  The painted pieces too much longer to dry, making it more difficult to do finishing touches, the “paint” was often very wet, which could cause the fondant base to soften and/or get slimy, and sometimes the piece would crack as it dried (like in the Charlie & Lola cake).

For some reason I switched techniques when making Sean’s last Goalie cake, I tossed in some icing sugar to give my white coloring some opaqueness, and then I recalled painting with icing on the Star Wars cookies.  It was a duh moment, and I’ve stuck with that ever since.  It’s easier (for me), faster (for me), and it dries quicker, so I can add eyes or other details MUCH faster.  Plus, because icing is thicker than water, I can play with layers and build up dimensions, if I want, similar to decorating cookies with royal icing.

My first step is to cut out the topper shapes from fondant (or if you’re painting on cookies, bake them and let them cool until there is no heat left inside, I’d wait overnight if possible).  You can use cookie cutters or freehand it, I am not above tracing.  I’d printed out the mobs (it stands for mobiles for those of you who don’t play… all the moving characters in the game) I wanted to use and scaled them all to the rough sizes I wanted.

I rolled out some scrap teal fondant left over from Jakob’s 2nd Adventure Time cake, the B-MO & Gunter cakes.  The thickness of the fondant depends on the intended use of the piece.  In my case I needed something thick enough to stand up, and also be thicker than a toothpick.  For something that will be laying flat on a cake you can go thinner, and if it was meant to be a plaque that would stand upright or lean at a diagonal I’d go thicker, so there would be a solid base.

mc top traceLay the paper templates out on the fondant and cut it up into manageable sizes, then use a knife or your preferred cutter to trace around the templates.  In the pic above you can see I’ve almost finished cutting out Diamond Steve.  Keep your fondant scraps and store them properly for next time.

mc top cut

Here are all the mobs cut out.  I slid a toothpick into most of them while the fondant was still soft, and reinforced where necessary with more fondant.  I wasn’t worried about the smaller fondant blobs showing because I knew I’d be painting with icing, which is thick, but if you’re painting with straight color gels you’d rather have a flat surface.

The next step is to let the pieces dry.  I mean really dry.  At least a day.  Two is better.  The longer you can wait, the more in-advance you can get them cut and set them aside, the better, because fondant will wilt and melt when it gets wet, and there is a lot of moisture in the icing.  Also, larger pieces will take longer to dry through than smaller ones.  The Jake & the Neverland Pirates gang were dry enough to paint after 2 days left exposed to the air.  I hadn’t given myself enough time with the Charlie & Lola toppers, they were so big and still flexible after 2 days.  Or maybe my house was more humid at the time.  Either way, they ended up spending 24 hours in a bed of icing sugar to draw out as much moisture as I could get.

Once the pieces are firm, not floppy, they’re ready to paint.

I didn’t take any in-progress painting shots.  You can use whatever you like as a palette as long as it’s food-safe and not used for any non-food purpose.  (I also keep my cake stuff away from peanut and nut products because I make 3 nut-free cakes every year).  I mostly paint with toothpicks but I have some food-only paint brushes I’ll use from time to time, and I use repurposed apple sauce cups for extra water and icing sugar.  There are a bunch of tricks I use, like using a medicine dropper to add water to thin the icing if necessary vs a spoon, so I have more control over how much I add, and using those sewing pins (in the tracing pic) to help mark out any details on the fondant cut-outs, in addition to “drawing” on them before I paint.

mc top nice mobs

These are the non-hostiles- a sheep, Diamond Steve, regular Steve and a pig.  I chose some of my kids’ favorite characters, leaving out only the Mooshroom because I knew I already had plenty to cover the cake.  Plus if I’d kept going they also wanted an ocelot, and a dog, and a bat, and a spider jockey, and zombies, and…

I didn’t plan too far ahead on each piece, though I do try to work in a way that makes sense.  Whenever possible I work backwards in color, to minimize icing waste.  For example, I didn’t want to have to re-mix black, so planned to work with it last, and do any details if necessary then, at the end.  I started with the Steves, and mixed up their skin color (though now they look like Zombie Steves), then added a touch more brown and used the same icing for the sheep’s face and the lighter areas on his hooves.  A touch more brown and it was used for the darker areas of the hooves and Steve’s hair.

The same blue used for Steve was also used for the squid’s face, then darkened for his body, and eventually darkened further for the black.

Just like when painting with real paints, when I mix colors I don’t always blend it all in, so if I’m adding more pink to do some shading on the pig, I only mix it into half of the icing, so I still have some light pink to play with.

mc top hostile mobsThe hostile mobs- the Ender Dragon, a spider, a creeper, an Enderman and a squid (who probably isn’t technically ‘hostile’).  I don’t know why the Enderman’s eyes don’t look purple, I think the light washed it out ‘cus in person they did.  The splotches on the spider were made by mixing in some white while the black was still wet, and most of the details on the Ender Dragon were dry-brushed for shading, since I didn’t have to actually paint him black to start.

mc top groupThe final touch was to make a wooden sign and then the gang was all done, ready to set aside somewhere safe to dry (and avoid being eaten) until the party.

For more from the party:

Minecraft Loot Bags

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Throwing a Minecraft Party

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More Minecraft fun:

How to make Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads


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How to Make Minecraft Lootbags

With Jakob’s 8th birthday coming up, and likely another Minecraft-themed event, I realized I never posted any of the pics I took from Henri’s 6th birthday, also Minecraft-themed, back in January.  I hadn’t returned to blogging then, so they obviously weren’t here, but I also never posted them on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, which all link to each other.

I figured it would be fitting for an inaugural post to break in the ‘new’ blog, as well as officially link everything all together.

So.  When Henri had told me he wanted a Minecraft party I a) wasn’t surprised, because my house is ALL about Minecraft (I play too, my mansion has a giant working waterslide, thankyouverymuch), and b) wanted to go a little beyond just making a cake.  I generally try to tie in the invitations and the lootbags, for example, a pirate-themed party had eye patches and gold hoop earrings and spyglasses.  So I went looking around online.

I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do for the cake yet, and Henri kept wavering on if he wanted a giant Creeper, or an Ender Dragon, or a giant Creeper covered in smaller Creepers… so I put the cake off until it got closer to actually having to bake it.  I decided to start with the loot bags and get them ready and set aside.

how to make a minecraft lootbag

There are a LOT of great ideas online.  I took a look at them, and went to a few stores to see what was available to me.  I ended up getting stuff at my local Dollarama, a grocery store, and Papillon (a Bulk Barn-type store), because 2 of those 3 are in the same mall and I had limited time/desire to run around.  I found graphics of the Minecraft inventory items online and knocked them together in Word, putting a frame around them only so I would cut them all out the same size.  I have included the graphics at the end of this post, feel free to download them and use them for your own projects!

Putting everything together, here’s what I came up with:

lb lava wrapped

The lava buckets had me running around to a few stores.  My local Dollarama had a mixed-pack of mini Jell-O knock-offs, but only half the pack was orange or red.  I was really hoping to find red/orange (for lava buckets) and blue raspberry (for water buckets… which I had printed and managed to salvage at a later point).  In the end I found Jell-O cups at my grocery store, and used those.

The small plastic zip-top bags that the rest of the treats are in are craft bags from the dollar store too, and even the tape used to affix the images was from there.  Gotta love when you can find supplies as inexpensively as possible! 😀

lb melon wrapped

The melon slices are sour gummies from the bulk store.

lb fish wrapped

The fish gummies are also from the bulk store.  For all the inexpensive candies I just grabbed a few handfuls and portioned them out evenly once I got home.

lb gold wrapped

The ‘gold bars’ are Hershey’s Gold Nuggets.  They’re a little more expensive so I counted those out.  (Plus, um, 2 for quality control… in my mouth).

lb stick wrapped

The sticks are pretzel sticks.  Surprisingly my dollar store didn’t have any, so I bought them at the bulk place and eyeballed ‘even’ amounts.  lb cookie wrapped

I’d been planning to get the cookies at the bulk store, they have the Voortman’s ones that you can buy individually, but I found a pack of chocolate chip cookies at the dollar store so that turned out to be cheaper, and each kid got 2 (only because there weren’t enough for each to get 3 in the pack).lb complete wrappedInitially I wasn’t certain how to package everything together.  Then I remembered these boxes we’d had laying around at work.  They’re supposed to open the other way- the short ends.  So I ripped the glued sides open and re-taped them up with packing tape (ALSO from the dollar store) so they opened like a chest would.  If I’d planned that in advance I’d have made the chest graphic large enough to cover the whole side, and printed the word “chest” for the top.  But, in a pinch, this worked.

lb stack complete wrapped

Everything fit nicely inside and I heard the kids loved their “inventory packs”.  If you try this yourself and can’t get ahold of boxes, brown paper lunch bags would be fine, or if you wanted to go EXTRA fancy you could get each child their own actual chest from the dollar store.

melon 2inby175instick 175inby2in lava bucket 2inby175in gold 2inby175infish 2inby175in  cookie 2inby175in chest 225inby325in

You can download and print the above images to make your own.  I copy/pasted a bunch onto an Excel spreadsheet so I could fit as many to a page as I needed.  The bag graphics were sized at 2″ tall by 1.75″ wide, and the chests were 2.25″ by 3.25″.

More from this party-

Minecraft Cake/Cupcake Toppers

Minecraft Cake

Throwing a Minecraft Birthday Party

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More Minecraft fun:

How to make Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads

 


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how to make a viking vest

Henri has wanted to be a viking for a while now.  Not for Halloween, I mean he wants to be a viking in general.  (It’s either viking or pirate, depending on the day).

Jakob got a light-up viking helmet at the How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, and unfortunately when we brought Henri the next day they were all sold out of helmets, so he got a Toothless plushie instead.  (Jakob, you’ll remember, got the one I knitted for his birthday…which I think I never blogged.  Oops).

The kids share the helmet, and last month when it was time to pick costumes for ComicCon (which I think I also forgot to blog…crap) Henri REALLY wanted to wear the helmet and be a viking, but a quick search through the closets revealed that we didn’t have any viking clothes.  All we had even close to a viking vest (like Hiccup wears in the movie) was a gray zippered sweatshirt-style vest.  The kids dressed as Avengers instead but Henri had it stuck in his mind that that was his viking vest and he has worn it non-stop ever since.  He’s worn it to school on back-to-back days, he’s worn it over his fall jacket, he wears it around the house, and on more times than I can count I check on him at night to find that he’s put it on over his pjs and worn it to sleep.

(Something about a 3 year old with tousled sleep hair in footie-pjs, amirite?)

He stops strangers to point out his “viking vest”, but commented a few weeks ago how “it’s not a REAL viking vest, Mommy, because it has a zipper and REAL viking vests have buttons”.  Oh.  Right.  ‘Cus vikings didn’t have zippers.

I promised I’d make him a viking vest, and yesterday I did just that.  I took photos throughout so if you want to make one, you can too.

I used some fur fabric my neighbor gave me, a sheet of newspaper, a sharpie & a pair of scissors, plus a sharp large-eyed needle, black acrylic yarn and white cotton yarn.  The only other thing you need is a vest that fits your child (or you!).

I started by laying the vest on the paper and traced half of it.  I used my finger to push down then traced to know where the neckline in the middle lined up.

I knew I wanted to add some length to the bottom and the armhole so it would fit him longer, as well as lowering the neckline to a v-neck, so I made those changes on my template.

I cut it out and checked against the vest.

I decided I wanted to make the neckline more sloped so marked off the changes on the pattern…

…then cut it out and checked again.

I was happy with the shape so I traced it onto my fabric.  It’s hard to see, but I traced out the half-vest pattern, flipped it and traced again for the other front, then traced it back-to-back, flipped, for a piece to fit the back.  The only thing I didn’t realize is that the fur fabric had a direction to it in which the fur laid flat.  I tried to be as economical with the fabric as possible so didn’t have a choice, but you would probably rather make sure you’re lying the pieces with the fur running from up to down, like natural fur.

I cut the pieces out on the porch which was a great idea because there were bits of fur flying EVERYWHERE.  I used my fingers to fluff up and pick at all the edges to make sure I’d gotten as many stray cut bits as possible before bringing it into the house.

I used a sharp needle and black chunky acrylic yarn from a big-box store to work a blanket stitch edging around each piece.  I eyeballed it, placing the stitches roughly 0.5″ apart, and 0.5″ down into the fabric.

The simple edging really gave the pieces a finished, yet still “handmade by Vikings” look.  (In this light you can see my fur runs in the opposite direction from how the vest will be worn, oops!)

This is the inside of the pieces, for those who like that kinda thing.  🙂

I used the same black yarn to seam the two sides and the shoulders together.  I did something similar to mattress stitch, butting up the two pieces to be joined and catching a loop from each edge all the way along.

Almost done!

Inside shot.

For a finishing touch I used white worsted-weight cotton yarn (dishcloth cotton) and made large stitches across the joined pieces.  This is purely decorative, but makes it look like Vikings really made it! according to my 3 and 5 year olds, and I trust them.

This is Henri’s final costume- a green long-sleeved tee, brown cords, his new vest and the light-up plastic helmet.  I may make a Viking axe if I have time/remember by Halloween.

Henri the Brave!

Back view.

He thought he was dancing for me.  I just wanted to see the decorative stitches.

That’s one happy Viking!


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linden’s left front – done

Last night I finished the left front of my Linden jacket.  I remember reading on Ravelry that people said to not continue the cables in the collar shaping, so when I got to that part I was careful to pay attention, looking to see why so many made mention of the collar directions being difficult or to avoid the cable crossings within the shaping, etc.

End result?  I have no idea why so many people had problems with it.  The directions are all there, nothing is omitted or unsaid, if only you know how to read it properly.

Here’s how it works, and hopefully this will help others who haven’t knit this yet but wanted to, and maybe were nervous they wouldn’t “get it”.

After the majority of the front is complete, the st st portion of the front is decreased away  then bound off completely, and the cable is worked on alone until it is long enough to reach up around the back of your neck.  There are short rows worked 4 times to make the collar curve nicely over your shoulder and around your neck.

I don’t want to write out the actual directions here, because it’s part of pattern copyright.  But I think I can be vague enough to not infringe, while still being helpful.

The cables are on a 16-row repeat, with the cable crossings themselves on rows 7 and 15.

The collar shaping instructs you to work 5 rows of short row shaping, then 7 rows in est pattern, and then to repeat these 12 rows 3 more times.  Only the first 4 of the collar shaping rows are partial (short) rows, the 5th row (a ws row) has you working back across the complete row.  The pattern also has you only start the collar shaping once you’ve done a cable cross row, either row 7  or 15, depending on the size you are knitting.

For my size, I started the collar shaping after working a row 7 cable row.

I think what’s throwing people off is that they are looking at the 12 rows you work 4 times, and are thinking it doesn’t work out within the cable crosses.  What’s being overlooked is that you’re not working 12 COMPLETE rows in the cable.  You can ignore the first 4, and only count the 5th row, because that’s the only one that is actually worked across the whole row.

Therefore:

Collar Shaping Row 1 – WS – doesn’t count with cable rows

Collar Shaping Row 2 – RS – doesn’t count with cable rows

Collar Shaping Row 3 – WS – doesn’t count with cable rows

Collar Shaping Row 4 – RS – doesn’t count with cable rows

Collar Shaping Row 5 – WS – counts as cable row 8 (or 16, but I’m working with my size here.  You can adjust the row numbers for where you ended before “Shape Collar”).

Work 7 Rows in Est Patt:

Row 1 – RS – counts as cable row 9

Row 2 – WS – counts as cable row 10

Row 3 – RS – counts as cable row 11

Row 4 – WS – counts as cable row 12

Row 5 – RS – counts as cable row 13

Row 6 – WS – counts as cable row 14

Row 7 – RS – counts as cable row 15 – cable crossing row

And that’s the first repeat.  Then you do it 3 more times.

How this works out is that you have some short row shaping (the first 4 partial rows), then 7 full rows of stockinette stitch, then a cable crossing row, 4 times total.

It’s actually really smart how the short-row shaping was worked into the cables without actually affecting them at all, and hopefully this will help anyone having trouble figuring it out.

My mother-in-law called this weekend to say that we’d be celebrating Thanksgiving next Monday at my sister-in-law’s place, and wouldn’t it be nice if I were to surprise B with her long-awaited  pillows?  Hmmm.  Subtle.  So unfortunately I’m going to have to put Linden on partial hold while I work on the pillows.  It’s frustrating because I’m seeing it progress so fast, but I think I’ve figured out a way to work on both, by bringing Linden as my “take-along-knitting” for the appointment I’ve got later this week, but keeping the pillows (and their accompanying “designing”) as my night-time knitting.


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no tapestry needle? no problem!

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYuydpcXbc4

The above is a video I made quite a while ago.  Some of you will recognize the project in my hands – it’s Kate Gilbert’s Papa Bunny that I had made to send to a friend’s daughter in 2008.

This video shows what to do when a pattern asks for a common technique – but you don’t have the right equipment with you.  The last row of the directions said to “thread the live sts onto the working yarn with a tapestry needle and pull tight to gather”.  The only problem was that I didn’t have a tapestry needle with me.  I didn’t like the idea of pulling the stitches open with my fingers so I could get the yarn through easily, as it would distort them.  I came up with this idea instead.  It might be familiar to some of you, or it might be new to you.  Either way, it helped me and I hope it helps you too!  If you’d prefer a photo tutorial (vs the video above) let me know in the comments and I’ll make it happen. 🙂


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18, 19, birthday too! plus – pirate fondant cupcake & cake tutorial

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Mommy with Henri at 18 weeks old.

Week 18  brought Jakob’s birthday and a fun little party at his school, then a fun little party at my parents’ house since they would be out of town on the day of, then a fun little party (with a trip to the pet store to look at the animals) on his actual birthday.  I miss such celebrations for MY birthday!  Thanks to Daycare Disease we were all sick around here, and those of you with husbands know there’s nothing more pitiful than a hubby who is sick.  When Mommy is sick the world doesn’t stop turning, and every little sniffle isn’t cause to down a bottle of Advil Cold & Sinus…I’m just sayin’.  Anyhoo…the colds eased up and just in time, ‘cus week 19 was crazyness around here!

I was busy knitting non-stop for the 2 weeks, but couldn’t show any photos ‘cus my swatches were for submissions to the Winter Twist Collective.  I don’t know if I’ll get accepted, but keep your fingers crossed for me!

Once the submissions were in I got down to work on the plans for Jakob’s party this past weekend.  We were doing a party for his friends (ok, our friends and family with kids the same age) at a local play area, followed by lunch and dessert here at our place for our close family.  That way those without young kids didn’t have to hang around at the kids’ playground, bored.

I whipped up a batch of cupcakes and debated how to decorate them.  We’d sent out pirate invitations for Jakob’s party, and my mom had found similarly-themed table cloths, napkins, plates, etc.  I knew I wanted to do pirate cupcakes and for a long time the plan was to ice the cupcakes then put some white icing in a bag and pipe a skull & crossbones onto each one.  Thank god I talked to my friend Jessa who quickly extolled to me the joys and wonders of working with fondant.  I am now a convert!

I picked up some supplies at our local bulk/baking store: 1 box of Wilton’s pure white rolled fondant, 1 box of Wilton’s bright colored rolled fondant (contains a pack each of red, yellow, blue and green), some black gel icing tubes, and a tube of sparkly-yellow gel icing.  I took it easy for my first time and stuck with simple techniques.

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What do you think?

Pirate Fondant Cupcakes

  • First I baked the cupcakes and let them cool, then did a crumb coat of thin icing
  • I iced them properly with chocolate frosting (store bought)
  • I rolled out some white fondant and cut the circles with a cookie cutter.  I placed a white “face” onto each cupcake and smoothed it in place
  • next I cut green circles with the same cookie cutter, and cut them in half.  Using a Q-Tip and a glass of water, I put a bit of water on the back of the green semi-circle and stuck it in place for the bandana.  I used the green scraps to make little twists for the bandana ties, held in place with another little dab of water.
  • the face was drawn freehand with the black gel icing, followed by a quick dot of the sparkle yellow for an earring.piratecupcakesfo04

I made 42 of them, and they seemed to be a big hit at the party.

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Jakob really enjoyed chowing down on his first of many desserts that day!  He blew out his candle by himself and polished off the entire cupcake before getting into the other desserts and fruit.

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Henri couldn’t have any dessert so he spent the time hanging out with his uncle Mike.  I love this outfit on him- doesn’t he look like he just got back from a round of golf?  I swear, he does NOT look like a 4-month-old!

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Not our best shot, but here’s one of our little gang.

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Mommy with Henri at 19 weeks old.

I’m a few days late for that photo, but we’ll pretend it was taken on Thursday, m’kay?

After the playground we came back to the house to prepare for the onslaught of family (and I mean that in a good way!).  There was much (more) food and laughter and meowing from Sam who was locked in the basement.  When it was time for dessert (again!) I brought out Jakob’s cake.

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I’m so proud of this one!  My first official fondant cake, and I LOVE how it came out!  It was so much fun and so easy to do!  Here’s what I did:

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Pirate Fondant Cake

  • I baked the cake and let it cool, then did a thin crumbcoat.  I actually left it in the fridge overnight at this point because I did the cupcakes that night (Friday night).  I only decorated the cake on Saturday night (his party was Sunday morning).  Before putting it in the fridge I lifted the edge of the cake (I had baked it in a springform pan, so the bottom pan was still under the cake) and put a big dab of icing.  When I put the cake back down and pressed lightly the icing acted as a glue to hold the cake in the center of the yellow platter.  Once it had been cooled in the fridge over night the cake was going nowhere!
  • I re-iced the cake giving it a generous coat and making it as smooth as possible.  I even used a piece of carton at one point as a smoother.
  • While the icing set (firmed up a bit) I rolled out a big chunk of the white fondant.  My cake was about 9″ in diameter plus 2″ high, so since 9+2+2=13, I rolled out a circle-ish shape about 15″ in each direction.  I centered it on the cake and went around slowly, smoothing it into place and easing it gently around the edges.

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  • Next, with a sharp knife, I cut away the excess.  Everything I read online said to use a serrated knife, but I used a regular flat one (like a sharp butterknife) and had no problems.

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  • To make the bandana, I did the same think as for the white face, only at just under half the height.  I cut a straight edge with the knife then placed it on the cake, dabbing a few edges with the wet Q-Tip to “glue” it in place.  Once I had it smoothed nicely I cut away the excess.
  • Once I knew where the face would go I used a small ball of white fondant to make the nose by squishing it with my fingers into a triangular shape.  I glued it in place with some water.  I used 2 balls to make the ears and glued them with the water, but since they were raised from the surface of the platter I stuck a small ball of fondant under each ear to support it.
  • I didn’t have any black fondant and didn’t want to use my gel icing to draw a face on.  I ended up making some black fondant by squirting a big dollop of store-bought black icing from a tube into a little ball of white fondant.  I kneaded it a lot to mix it all together.  Ugh- it was the right color, but incredibly gloppy and slimy.  When you work with fondant you use icing sugar instead of flour to flour your surface and rolling pin, so I kept mixing some icing sugar into my black fondant mess until it was a workable texture.  Luckily the icing sugar didn’t cause the black to get pale.
  • I used a cookie cutter for the eyepatch, squashing the top of the circle somewhat to make it flat.  I put it in place first, gluing with water.  Then I rolled out a long, skinny snake and glued that into place for the band.

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  • I used the same cookie cutter as for the cupcake faces to cut circles from my leftover green and glued them down with water to decorate the bandana.  The small circles were cut out with a drinking straw.

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  • I rolled out a thick rope of the red fondant and made an actual knot with it, then glued it to the side of the bandana, over the ear.  I stuck on a few random bits of green so it would look like an actual fabric.
  • I rolled a thick snake of the yellow fondant and glued it in place around the other ear for an earring.  Once it had set I took some of the sparkle gel icing and smoothed it over the earring to add a sparkly, shiny sheen.  It took a long time to dry and always remained tacky, so I wouldn’t do that on an area that needed more work.

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  • Small bits of the black and white were used for the face.

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  • I thought I was done, but last-minute I decided to add a skull & crossbones to the eyepatch.  I made 2 small white snakes and used the knife to make a cut in the end of each.  I pushed the cut open and pinched the middle of each “bone” so they could overlap eachother without having a lot of bulk in the center.
  • The skull is just a small ball of white formed with my fingers.  I indented the eye sockets with the dry end of the Q-Tip I was using to “glue”.

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  • Finally I decorated 4 cupcakes to go around the cake.  I didn’t want to stick a candle in the pirate’s face so I made the cupcakes to say “Happy”, “birthday” and “Jakob”, and added a “nd” next to the “2” candle I stuck in the 3rd cupcake.  So all together they said “Happy 2nd birthday Jakob”.

And that’s it!  It took me about 2-3 hours from the second coat of icing on the cake to “gluing” the 4 cupcakes onto the platter with dabs of leftover frosting.  It was totally easy and a very rewarding experience.  Plus a little fondant goes a LONG way, and I have a bunch left over so  I am already planning to make more cakes!

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I couldn’t believe Jakob polished off another cupcake, and some fruit, plus a cookie, all after having lunch when we got home after the first party where he’d ALREADY eaten an early lunch and had dessert.  No wonder the kid never napped that day!  He was wound up on a sugar high and exhausted, but we were so proud of both he and Henri.  They were both so well behaved at both parties!  Even though there were over 40 adults and 25 kids running around, neither one freaked out or had a meltdown.  Jakob was polite and didn’t grab at the food or the toys, and even when sleepy later he just lay on the couch next to us commenting excitedly about his new stuff as we opened his gifts with him.  They truly are great kids (ok, I’m biased) and they made us really proud.

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a contest!

Dianne is having a contest over on her blog, and is looking for your favorite tips or techniques.  Here’s one of mine!

One of my favorite knitting tips that makes my knitting life easier is how to calculate how much yarn you’ll need for a long-tail cast-on. How many times have you ended up with a tail that is much too long, or run out right towards the end? Here’s an easy way to know how much yarn you need:
Let’s say you need to cast on 100 sts. Cast on 10 sts then unravel your cast on and see how much yarn it took. Multiply that length by 10 (10 x 10 = 100) and that will show what length yarn you need. Add a few inches for weaving in (or a longer length for seaming, if necessary), and that’s it!

(Obviously you need to multiply the 10-st-co length by whatever number it will take to give you the number of sts YOU need to cast on).

(If you decide to enter, please leave in the comments that I referred you. Thanks!)