Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Little toes, revisited

I was going to title this post "deja vu" but I tend to associate that expression with a chain of strip clubs (do they have the Vu outside of Michigan?) and I worry about what sorts of google searches will lead people to this blog.

Anyways, after posting about freezer paper stencils a while ago, I made some more last week. I am no more original in my knitting it seems. I made a pair of booties a while back so that Baby Avery's feet wouldn't get cold.

I finished another pair over the weekend to keep Baby Laura's feet warm. Maddie ate the ball band but I am hoping that I can figure out what this yarn was with a repeat trip to my local yarn store. It was less than $6 for a skein that has already yielded 2 pairs of tiny shoes and it looks like there will be enough for one more pair (which is good because there are more babies coming). It is an acrylic yarn because I cannot imagine asking a new mother to hand wash anything, but it is super soft and very nice to work with.

The pattern is from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting! I can't believe they used that exclamation point in the title, but I have learned a lot from their charts and instructions.

On a slightly more original note, check out the cute card that Susan sent me for the C4 swap:

I sent her some cheesy cardstock and the dregs of a pack of brads and she made this cool paper pieced daffodil. Very cool.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Now with actual crafting...

Did you think that all I was going to accomplish this week was a few pirate jokes and project links? Because for a while there, I did.

Last night I cut out a bunch of pictures for buttons. ChristineRenee has a pretty sweet deal at her etsy shop where if you send her circles, she'll send you back buttons. You should definitely check it out - except you know, not until she is done making my buttons.

A while back I attended one of those scrapbooking home parties where you feel guilty if you don't buy anything. And this was before I started scrapbooking. I bought a large circle punch, thinking I might use it for other crafts. Last night, I think I finally got my money's worth for that thing. This would have taken forever with scissors. More on the buttons to come.

I also made a few more shirts using freezer paper stencils. I tried it once and I was hooked. Well, I guess I didn't make the shirts - I found them on the clearance rack for like $2. But I made 'em fancy for my friend's birthday. I'm pretty sure she doesn't read this, so I feel safe giving y'all a sneak peek.

My camera may need new batteries, but I think you can still tell this is a brown wife beater with a chicken on the hip. Stencils + ribbing is something I may need to practice a bit more. This didn't come out perfectly, but I still think it is cute.

This is a close-up on the chicken. He's blue. You can make your own jokes, it wasn't my most subtle work. The chicken came from Microsoft clip art.

I also made her a blue t-shirt with some swallows on it. The swallows came from the Fitzpattern stencils that Make posted recently. (And thank you to Handmade Detroit for posting the link, because I totally would have missed this)

This is a close-up on the swallows. The gold one isn't quite that gaudy in real life. Well, maybe it is. I used Tulip soft fabric paints for all three birds.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Holiday Crafting, Part 2 - Aye, 'Tis a Made-Up Holiday

Avast ye landlubbers! Did ye not know that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day? Aye, 'tis a made-up holiday but she's a fair day for craftin' if ye be so inclined.

Aarrr. Should ye be puttin' down your sword for some other pointy sticks, there be lots of knitterly things to make. Aye, there be hats and bags, and lest we forget...

What be a pirate's favorite socks? Aaar-gyles.

If ye do not knit, there still be plenty o' pirate booty to make.

Make ye some pirate jewelry or a pirate quilt. Aye, and don't forget to document the festivities in your pirate scrapbook.

And for the wee ones, you can make newspaper hats or this here milk carton pirate ship. Aye, she's yare.

If ye cannot be craftin', ye can be preparin' a pirate feast. Or at least, have a pint of grog while ye be watchin' yer Johnny Depp movies.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mail - oh how I love mail!!! C4

Woohoooooooooo! After a swell 10 hour day at work where I was consistently well treated, respected, inspired and praised....HA! I came home to mail! Mail! I love mail! Not crappy bill mail or pizza flyer dear resident mail...but honest-to-god-made-an-effort-wrote-your-name-fancy-on-a-special-envelope-mail!!!!!!

Susan mailed me her crafty crap for my co-op card. She also included a card making magazine and a candy bar. Whee!!! As I licked the chocolate from my fingers I tore apart my booty!

I have three buttons, six cardstock cards, four envelopes, five pieces of cardstock, some gold vellum scrap, a porcelain tag that I am too paranoid to use, and 11 different bits of ribbon. I am going to try to make some Fall/ Thanksgiving cards and mail one back to her. The gold inspired me to Fall. Susan said she used the gold for Christmas.

Susan also made me feel a tad guilty as I mailed Nic's envelope of crap the day mine came. We can't all be timely I guess! She also trumped me with the inclusion of a snack....next time I'll be cooler! I'll report back on how I do creating my co-op card! Or perhaps will be sooooo fancy it will be worthy of Susan reporting back....hint hint...openly compliment begging...hint hint...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Holiday Crafting, Part 1 - The Coffee Lover

Distant early warning: Christmas is 15 weeks away. Hanukkah is even closer. If you have visions of your friends and family opening gorgeous packages containing lovingly handmade articles this holiday season, you better get cracking.

To help you in your crafty endeavors, I am presenting what will probably be the first of many holiday gift ideas.

Voila! Christmas Coffee Cozies.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not such a devoted recycler that I am worried about the impact of those little cardboard sleeves on the environment. I like these more because they are cute and add a bit of kitsch to your morning caffeine fix.

Plus, how cute would this be filled with chocolate-covered coffee beans and a gift certificate to your favorite local coffee shop? A quick homemade gift for any caffeine-addicted college students, harried soccer mom or java snob on your shopping list. Beats a boring old Starbucks gift card.

I got the idea from poops and modified the pattern on her blog for bigger needles (I only have 8's). I wanted to practice knitting with double pointed needles before attempting my first pair of socks. I also wanted to learn to duplicate stitch. I realize that duplicate stitching is ridiculously easy, but I'd never done it before. Sheesh.

Conveniently, this is a flexible enough project that you can use it to practice any stitch technique you like.

The coffee cup is modeling the Christmas version. I used US#8 DPNs and some leftover Lion Brand Wool Ease. I cast on 36 stitches and used three rows of a K2P1 ribbing at the top and bottom to keep the edges from curling. The rest is basic stockinette stitch. There are three decrease rows (K10, K2TOG across; K9, K2TOG across; and K8, K2TOG across) spaced out roughly evenly. I think I used five rows between the decreases, which may have been a bit much as this is a pretty long cozy.

I made up my own tree pattern for the duplicate stitching. You could probably also just freehand a triangle with a stick at the bottom, but this is what I did:


The gray cozy in the foreground was the prototype. It has curled stockinette edges and some duplicate stitch polka dots. I don't really care for the curled edge, so I definitely recommend the ribbing.

Using a very slippery pair of aluminum DPNs for my first attempt at knitting in the round, I was able to make these up in about two hours. With a little practice, you could churn these out it no time.

More holiday ideas to come. Don't blame me if you procrastinate.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

What better way to celebrate than with a cocktail? None that my drunken self can think of anyway.

A few weeks ago on the get crafty boards, someone posted a recipe for a Mars Bars martini. Mars Bars being tough to come by here in the States, I went for a slight variation.

And since we were already straying from the recipe and nobody really likes a double boiler, I went for a slightly less conventional cooking approach.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you: CHODKA (chodka of course being the adorable pet name you come up with for chocolate vodka when you are on your third glass).

Chocolate Candy

For our test batch, we combined five fun-size Three Musketeers bars with one half of a fifth (a tenth?) of Stoli. The recipe can be adjusted to taste.

To mix the chocolate and vodka, you have several options. You could (a) melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave and add it to your vodka, (b) chop the candy into little pieces and allow it to dissolve in the vodka over time, or (c) use your dishwasher for heightened dramatic effect.

We chose option (c). The dishwasher isn't used nearly enough in food preparation.

Add the candy to the vodka and seal tightly. Place bottle in the top rack of your dishwasher.

Run your dishwasher as usual. The heat should be enough to melt the chocolate without cooking off the alcohol. Your chodka may require a quick shake to mix.

Chill and enjoy.

For more alcoholic enjoyment, I invited a few friends over to sample the chodka and invent some cocktails. We chronicled the festivities in the name of science. (right, "science") You can read about that here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What time is it?

How much do I love long weekends? So much.

In honor of three glorious days off work, I have two projects to tell you about. Although in all fairness, one was almost done prior to the weekend and one isn't even my project. But c'mon - it's football season. A woman cannot live on craftiness alone. She also needs beer and hot wings.

I finished blocking my Branching Out scarf. To recap, I used Rowan Calmer yarn (in calmer) on US7 needles. Thirty-two pattern repeats required one and a bit skeins. It was 45 inches long pre-blocking and 60 inches long post. The blocking definitely seemed to open up the stitches, but blocking still stresses me out - I think with a bit more courage I could have gotten it a bit bigger.

I really enjoyed this pattern, and may knit another one of these for myself. Or I may try my hand at a different lace pattern. Who knows? But I have one full skein and one nearly full skein of the Rowan Calmer left. It's so soft and pretty that I am sure it will be calling out to be made into something soon.

While it was drying, I devoted several more hours of my weekend to trying to find a top to match it. The scarf is for my mom and she is much more matchy matchy than me.

When I picked out the yarn, it seemed like a color that was currently fashionable. Didn't think it would be such a challenge to find a top. Usually, you can walk into the Gap and they have shirts in every color of the rainbow.

Not this weekend, apparently. I went to Kohl's, The Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, Chicos, Banana Republic, J Crew, Meijer, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Ann Taylor and Eddie Bauer. Struck out absolutely everywhere until I finally found a t-shirt that matched at Eddie Bauer. Only the Eddie Bauer I was at didn't have my mom's size. So now I have to go to a different Eddie Bauer tonight. The "throw in" t-shirt has now taken nearly as long to acquire as the knitted scarf. Man, I hope she likes this.

My other bit of craftiness for the weekend was actually craft repair. My friend Jason made me this chalkboard clock as a housewarming present a year and a half ago. Unfortunately it has never really kept time. But since it was cute and since I hammered nails into my freshly painted kitchen wall, I left it up.

The problem was that the hands were painted and seemed to stick together. Jason was clever enough to realize that you could buy a whole clock for less than the cost of the clock-making kits at the craft store. So he bought a cheap-o clock, broke it apart to get the clock mechanism out and painted the hands white so they would show up over the chalkboard.

Great idea. But if anyone is looking to replicate this, I'll recommend that you rub a little candle wax on top of the hands to keep them moving. It only took me a year and a half to figure that part out.

And if you really want to replicate this, take a square of plywood and finish the edges with a little molding. You'll need the molding to extend backwards past the clock mechanism. (If you don't have a miter box at home, Lowe's and Home Depot let you make cuts like this in the store)

(back view)

Depending on the width of your plywood, you may need to use a router to cut out a space for the clock mechanism. (The advantage of the craft store clock making kits is they come in a variety of widths and you could just buy your plywood accordingly)

Spray the whole thing with chalkboard paint (it may need a couple of coats), screw on the clock mechanism (after you wax the hands) and Voila! chalkboard clock. Thanks Jason.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mission Control: We are GO for Crap

Sign-ups are closed, so let's get the C4 cardmaking exchange underway.

At this point, everyone should know who their partner is and have their mailing address (if not, check the comments section of the original post). If you forgot to sign up - tough luck - but check back, we'll play another game soon.

We have a long weekend ahead of us, so start gathering your forgotten and neglected cardmaking supplies.

I am a procrastinator by nature, so I need deadlines to actually get anything done. Hopefully this schedule will work for everyone:

Mail supplies to your partner by Saturday, September 9th. (I know, it's only a week, but how long can it take to fill an envelope with crap?)

Make a card, or two, or three... with the supplies your partner sent you. Mail is fun. Send a finished card back to the person who sent you the supplies by Saturday, September 23rd.