Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sneaky Tiger

After I made the first tiny ninja, it occurred to me that one would be a great holiday present for my TKD grandmaster, with one little change...

Our school is the tigers, so it had to be a tiger ninja...










I love the tail!!



Fun fact learned while looking up tiger pictures for the details: Tigers have black ears with white spots.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Handmade Holidays...

So remember all that stuff that I couldn't show you before?? :) Most all of it has been given to the intended recipients, so I can show you what I've been up to for the last month!

There are still a few things that have yet to be given, so there will be an addendum to this next month when it happens...


First, the sewing:

My sister got fleece airplane mittens that match the pillow I made her last year:


Grandma got a pouch for her sewing/crocheting bits:



Dad got an ear warmer, similar to the one I made for me (but to be truthful, I did his first):





And the crochet:

Mom got a new cowl (as requested) in shades of red:

I tried out some broomstick lace for this one.


Stepdaughter got a scarf in her favorite color:



My brother got a Cabled Hat :

(did I mention how much this pattern rocks? Thanks Rheatheylia!)



All were very well received, which was a huge relief. It's fun making and giving things, but there's always the chance that the giftee won't like it, or doesn't realize how much work went into it (oh, the horror stories you can find in the Remnants board on Ravelry).


Anyway, I'm happy.
Gift wise, I got some new hooks and goodies, a bunch of pattern booklets, and yarn, so my crafty holiday turned out okay for me. Now I've got plenty of stuff to occupy my free time until classes start back up again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Work in progress

So even though I barely wear hats, I'm making myself a hat.

I should clarify - the only hats I wear are toboggans, when it's cold.

But I'm going to try and change that so I'm making myself a beret.

I'm using the Phannie pattern from Berocco. I saw it over at Crochet Me
the other week, and decided "meh, why not?"




So far, so good....

Monday, December 21, 2009

more productivity

I made a tiny sweater ornament for my tiny yule tree:



Pattern found here


And today is COOKIE DAY!!!
I've made four different kinds, for people at work and my various activities:







YUM....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This is what it did all yesterday:


Pretty, but at the same time, disgusting.



So, while killing some time waiting for my 4WD ride to work (yes, I had to go in, hence the disgusting), I made myself a new ear warmer, since my other one seems to have wandered off...


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ready, set...

I'm ready to craft! I set aside tomorrow as a crafting day before I have to go to work. My goal is the three presents I have to construct. I don't think it'll take long, but I'm anxious to get working. I may even make a head start tonight when I get home.

Are you close to being done with your holiday crafting?

(And confession: snow makes my job horrible, I hate it when it's in the forecast, but I really want to make a bunch of paper snowflakes...)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Update

Extended family:
Gift 1 is done. Can't be revealed yet.
Gift 2 is done.
Gift 3 is in progress.

Immediate Family:
Gift 4 is done, needs blocking.
Gift 5 is done, needs blocking.
Gift 6 is designed but not started.
Gift 7 is mostly assembled, but not quite done.


So all in all, I'm not doing too bad. Gift #3 is going to take a while, just because it's knit and my fingers still haven't gotten the hang of it yet.

Tuesday I'm going to sit down and have a sewing afternoon and try and get 6 and 7 done.
I may also add another crochet gift in there, a small one.

Including this week, I have two weeks of classes left, and one week of exams. So I'm gonna have a lot more free time after that...


I'm in the process of doing some backups on the computer, and cleaned out a bunch of bookmarks, and found some I forgot about! I may share them later....back to gift #3...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gifts for Crafters from the crafty clueless

It's time again for Gifts for Crafters!!!

Got a crafty person in your life? Need an idea for a gift because you really don't know anything about what they do? Look no further!


First things first - your major Do and Don't of giving a crafter a gift....



Consider this your #2 rule of giving to a crafter:
Even if your crafter is imaginative and craftily recycles other things like plastic bags or stuff, UNLESS THEY ASK FOR IT, it is NOT a good idea to give them a box full of junk with the caveat "oh, they're crafty, they can do SOMETHING with it!"
No.
ONLY IF they ask for it.
NO.
Don't do that. Just...no. I know you mean well, but chances are your average household crafter is not going to be pleased with a box of random flanges and whatnot that came out of repair kits or whatever. So like I said, the ONLY time that is acceptable is if they ask for something like that.
There is your DON'T.

Your Do?
The #1 rule of giving to a crafter: KNOW YOUR CRAFTER.

Do they knit? Crochet? Scrapbook? Sew? All of the above? Start with an idea of what they do and things get easier from there.
Also, if they've provided you with a list of things they want, go with that. :)



On to the Goods



Now let's talk about some GOOD things you can get them, no matter what craft....

1. Something crafted by YOU. Yes, we LIKE getting crafted things. Especially if you're someone we love.
If you don't want to do that, however, then keep reading.



For Knitters:

I see lots of good things being said about interchangable needle sets.
Two options: Knitpicks or Denise
These sets allow you (at the least) to change needle sizes without having to unloop your circular needle from your project. Why is that important? Pulling out needles lead to dropped stitches and having to redo work and leads to much cursing on the part of the knitter. I haven't tried these myself, as I'm still getting the hang of straight needles, but everyone I've heard mention them says something good.

Any complete set of needles (circular or straight) is definitely a good idea. Even if they started out with one already, things happen, needles wander away.



For Crocheters:
There are a BUNCH of crochet pattern books out now that have awesome designs. Gone is the day of the ugly granny afghan in orange and avocado green.

Doris Chan's Amazing Crochet Lace

Lily Chin's Couture Crochet Workshop

And of course, The Crochet Liberation Front's First Ever Book!

Also, a complete set of hooks from D to P are a nice touch. Bamboo is a good hook material, when you can find it


For both Knitters and Crocheters:

Yarn. Ask subtle questions or PAY ATTENTION to hints from your crafter as to color and weight (yes, there's more than one). Perhaps they would like a nice bamboo sock yarn, or maybe an alpaca blend worsted. Maybe they've said the words "Noro" or "Malabrigo" and you think they're speaking a foreign language. Write it down, and get to a local yarn store where the nice salespeople will help you find what they're talking about. Don't freak out at the prices. Sometimes pretty yarn is expensive, but isn't your crafter worth it?

If you decide that's just too much effort, go with a gift certificate. Not only can your yarny crafter pick out something they'll like, they can have all the fun of petting soft yarn while they're choosing. Yes, it really is fun.



Scrapbookers:
I will be honest, I do not scrapbook. I have no clue what a lot of it entails, but I will say that if you go to the craft store and buy a big stack of paper with cool patterns, and some decorative punches, it'll probably be a very good stocking stuffer. I advise asking your scrapbooker if there's anything specific on their list.



Sewing Crafters:

When your crafter sits down at their sewing machine, is there a lot of cursing involved? Maybe a bunch of "ohmygod you piece of crap machine! I hate you! just WORK!!!!" Then maybe (just maybe) they might need a new machine. Ask if you're not sure. Some people just curse at their machines to keep them obedient. But if you hear loud snapping noises with crying afterwards, it might be worth it to get your crafter a better tool.

OR, you could kidnap their machine and take it to a repair shop for an overhaul. Sewing machines have little motors in them, just like a car. And just like a car, eventually it will need a tune up. Sewing machines that get used get dirty and clogged. Sewing machines that just sit get dusty. Things get stuck in gears and belts that they're not supposed to. There are parts that need oiling. Take the machine in for a few days for some adjustments and general maintenance and when it comes back running smooth like a brand new car, your crafter will probably kiss you. Just make sure that they're not under any sort of deadline to get something done BEFORE you take the machine. That might get you kicked out of the house.


If your sewing crafter is a quilter, you might want to consider this yardage calculator. This may even work decently for non-quilters, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm generally pretty good at converting measurements into yardage (hooray geometry), but a lot of people aren't. Some people just hate math period. Make it easy for them and help them eliminate measurement mistakes.



For ALL crafters:

I still stand by my recommendation from last year for Good scissors and cutting tools.
Blades are a very underrated tool. Good scissors make cutting anything easy. Rotary Cutters are dangerous but Oh so helpful.


Gift certificates: To some people they're a cop out, but to others, they're actually helpful. If you honestly have NO idea what your crafter wants, then go with it. Don't risk the mistake of getting them something they can't use. With a Gift card, they can get something for a project they're doing now, they can get stuff for a future project. They can buy a tool they had been considering but didn't quite want to spend the money.


Pamper your crafter!

Crafting can be hard on your hands and body.

My friend Liz makes an awesome sugar scrub. She's got multiple scents to choose from, and it leaves you feeling super soft and moisturized.

What's also a nice gift is a massage. Spending hours hunched over a sewing machine is hard on the back. Help your crafter work all the kinks out when they're done. The good thing about this one is you can do it yourself - no purchase necessary.

Any of these items can be found on the Internet (the sites provided are what I've used or what I've got), or at your local stores.


If you're still looking for MORE ideas, check out my list from last year.



Happy gift hunting!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday madness has begun

So somehow I have decided that I am making gifts this year. Small things, and all in addition to the other presents, but I decided on something for nearly everyone.

Extended family:
Gift 1 is done. Can't be revealed yet.
Gift 2 is 98% done - needs edging. Also cannot be revealed.
Gift 3 is in progress.

Immediate Family:
Gift 4 is in progress.
Gift 5 is designed, but not started.
Gift 6 is also designed but not started.
Gift 7 is mostly assembled, but not quite done.


I know, I'm so vague. But the day I decide not to be is the day where *someone* decides to explore the internet....

I don't know what prompted the crafted gifts this year. One was actually requested, but the others, not really. Hopefully the recipients are appreciative.


(ps, an updated Gifts for Crafters post is coming...got any ideas you want me to include? Leave a comment!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Stuff

I've put up a few things in the CraftyKix Etsy today.

I'm doing a little destashing, and I have another pair of mittens ready to go for someone that needs warm paws this winter!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Link Dump

Ok, this post is mostly just for my own future reference, but I'm sure someone else will want to look at pretties...

I went to Target today. I got sidetracked in the accessories section.

I do not like buying mass market crocheted items because there is no guarantee that the people that crocheted them were paid an honest working non-sweatshop wage. I know the time it takes to make a granny square or doily, and even if you used supplies that were free I don't see how you could do that and still sell a scarf for as little as they do.

Knitted items, however can be done on machine, and I don't feel bad about buying mass knitted items because I don't knit well. Yes, I will try, but if it's something I really really like, I will buy it with only a little bit of "well, i know i could make that" twinge because yes I could make it, but I probably WON'T.


Anyway...Target had scarves. And hats. and hooded things. and they were soft and pretty. And I'll probably ask for them for christmas or something.

Blue cabled "neck warmer"


Blue basketweave hat


hooded scarf wrap thing



There was also another scarf they called an infinity scarf, but I can't find it on the website. it was three different shades of blue, each its own knitted strip, then braided into one scarf.

THAT one I can most likely make easily. And I very well might try.


And yes, I do prefer to support a local crafter in person or via Etsy, but I happened to be there, so it's really a "matter of being in a place and musing" post than a whole "policy and practice" post. Take it as you will.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cooking is Crafting With Food

Lately I've been on a big baking cooking/baking kick. Can't really explain it, other than the colder weather is making me feel nesty.

Sunday's endeavor was Pumpkin Bread. I use this recipe from Runner's world, and it is delicious. I made it for our Thanksgiving dinner last year, and my sister hijacked what was left of the loaf and kept it for herself. The recipe does make two loaves, so I wasn't that sad. :)




Last week was Banana Bread and Ginger cookies.
The banana bread was okay. It came out a little chewier than I liked, but was still tasty. Maybe less banana next time.

Cookie Recipe from Paula Deen. I think it could have used a little less molasses and a little more ginger, but I like my ginger cookies spicy.

There wasn't a picture of the cookies, they got eaten too fast. :)
And I could have sworn that I took a picture of the banana bread, but can't find it anywhere. :\


The week before THAT was pretzel rolls.
Confession: I am in love with the Sheetz pretzel melt. It's meat & cheese (or my fave egg & cheese) on a pretzel roll, and heated to make it all melty. But seeing as Albemarle County will not let us have a Sheetz in Charlottesville, I either have to go to Greene County or over to Waynesboro to get one. That doesn't happen often. I like them, but unless I'm headed that way anyway, I can do without.

So I found a recipe for pretzel rolls and made my own.

It wasn't very labor intensive, but it was time intensive what with the mixing, the letting rise, the cutting, the 2nd rise, the boiling and then the baking. I also only got 6 out of it, instead of 8, but I suspect my yeast was old and didn't rise as well as it should.


Either way, you can't argue with results:



What's next? I don't know. I would like to try to make regular bread, there is a soda bread recipe I want to try and soon the holidays will be coming up and I will have the Giant Cookie Day of Doom (I have a lot of people to whom I want to give cookies). It's also about the time of year where we make hard candy, and we make our own homemade ice cream every few weeks. There's always something cooking over here...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

randomocity

Hi kids, how's it going?

Things are going ok here. It's gotten cold at night, which has made me itchy to make warm things.

I went to the fabric store AND the craft store yesterday and ended up with some fleece and a lot of yarn envy.

Did you know that Deborah Norville of Inside Edition has her face on a bunch of yarn? indeed she does, I saw it yesterday. Didn't look like bad stuff either. Anyway, I can't test it yet, because I've declared that I have to clean out a bunch more of my stash (either via selling or making) before I can accumulate any more.


I've started two crochet things, which are both probably going to be gifts, so I can't show you yet (sorry).

I'm actually thinking about knitting a sweater. Yes, me who got confounded by the Calorimetry and doesn't really knit things that aren't square. But I have some really pretty Simply Soft shadows, and I don't think that the color changes will go right if I try to do it with crochet.
Still plotting.

Anyway, it's not like I haven't been creating. I've been baking. A Lot. It's kind of odd really. But Cooking is just crafting with food, right? Right now I've got pumpkin bread in the oven. Last week I made banana bread, and before that ginger cookies.

And I also tried to finish decorating the apartment. We've been here over a year, but I'm still tweaking. Maybe it's a re-decorating. Whatever. Back two apartments before this one, I had a bunch of CDs on my wall above my bed.

Back to the past:


It was actually really pretty, and I missed it. So I decided that the den/craft/guest room was the perfect place and got to work.

CDs part 2, electric boogaloo:






Please excuse the mess on the desk & shelves (I tried to crop it out)- we're still trying to actually use it as a desk and not a clutter gathering spot....and failing. And ha, I just noticed that one of the cds fell off. I guess I'll be fixing that in a minute, huh?



I would also like to leave you with this link. I found it through the Craftgrrl community on livejournal, and I love it. The blogger, Jess, works in a fabric store, and is starting a blog with a bunch of information that nobody ever tells someone that's starting to sew. There's stuff in here I didn't know, and I grew up watching my mom sew, and I read A LOT. I've got it added to my Google reader, and I encourage you to do the same if you're interested in sewing. Please check out Perspicacity: Jess White Sewing. You won't regret it. :)

And now I get to go pull pumpkin bread out of the oven!! Yummy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Stuff!

I have a new item in my shop!

Fleece Mittens!

There is one pair there for now. I need to buy more snaps to finish the other two pairs before I can post them. But more will be coming!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Warm Feet!

I finished the 2nd sock!

Proof that I do not have Second Sock Syndrome at this time. :)



The 2nd one came out a bit lumpier than the first. I'm not sure what I did different.

Either way, they are being laundered at the moment to finish them off.





There is another sock pattern I want to try, but I've got something else started right now, which is probably going to be a gift, so you won't get to see it for a while.

But since when have I ever only crafted one thing at a time?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shirt #2

So this time I remembered to take a before picture....


Before:






two seams and it becomes this:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When Spontaneous Crafting Goes Very Very Right

I love my boyfriend. He also has good taste in clothes (in my opinion).

Boyfriend cleaned out his closet this weekend, and decided to rid himself of a few shirts that I snagged before they hit the Goodwill bag.

Boyfriend is a larger person than I, so in order for me to be able to wear these few shirts (comfortably), I need to do a little modification.

One is a button down, which will require some thought, pinning and tailoring. There will possibly be a post about that when I get to it.

The others are t-shirts.

I decided on the spur of the moment tonight to go ahead and sew up one of the shirts. (It was so spur of the moment, there is no before photo for you!)

So just imagine...regular 2XL men's t-shirt, moderately worn.

A little tracing paper and two big serger seams later...







Yes, I still need to tend to my seam ends, but I am so pleased with the way it came out that there was a little bit of squealing and jumpy giggling (but not too much, it IS 1:30 am, and there are people sleeping). But I am much happier than I look in the photos. (did i mention the timer on the new camera is LOUD?)

I can't wait to do the other shirts!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Look Out Behind You!

Because you might get attacked by a mini ninja!!






He's done!

The pattern has him with a little throwing star, but I didn't have the yarn for it (i know, weird, right?) so he just got a black belt.

Besides, truly adequate ninjas don't NEED throwing stars. :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ami is older than you think...

The first book on amigurumi I checked out of the library was Amigurumi, by Elizabeth Doherty. I just wanted to take a look. On one of the pages, she's got ami cookies! And it occured to me...wait, I've seen those before.

Where? On my fridge.

I have an oreo magnet, made by my grandmother or one of her church ladies. I've had it since I was a kid and got it at the church craft bazaar.

Mmm, delicious yarn cookie....




I also have a butterfly:




The big Ami trend really hit in the last 5 years, but I've had these for at least twice as long. My grandma and the church ladies were ahead of their time...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pet Safety (A PSA)

I'm bringing you this very important safety message - not for you, but for your pets.

Crafting can have lots of obvious hazardous materials like paint, stained glass solder and sharp knives. There are also threats that you wouldn't normally think about which can be just as harmful.



You know how there are all these stylized cards and pictures of a cat with a ball of yarn?

That's BAD. ANY kind of string is very bad for ANY animal when eaten because it can possibly get tangled up in their intestines and can block them or even cut them. It can be FATAL. I'm not joking - it's bad stuff.



This is a constant battle for me, as my Crafty Cat Joe has a string addiction. Seriously, it doesn't matter what it is, if it's long and stringy, he wants to chew on it. My other cat couldn't care less, but Joe is determined enough for the both of them. This includes yarn, twine, ribbon, and thread. In 2001 he had to have surgery to remove a length of thread that he somehow snuck out of a sewing basket I had (which did have a lid).


This weekend Joe (who has been seen earlier with his blankie) for some reason decided that he was going to climb up on my craft desk and get into my serger thread. On a normal machine this wouldn't have been an issue, but sergers have the spools out in the open.

I thought I got the thread away from him in time for him to not eat any, but apparently I wasn't quick enough. Sunday he was throwing up all day, and the morning after that when he wasn't eating, we took a trip to the vet, where he got exams and x-rays. Not knowing all the factors in the situation, we came up with a plan of action and came home.

Tuesday he seemed much better but after we had eaten dinner, he vomited again, which according to the guidelines from the vet meant another trip, this time the emergency vet, since it was out of business hours. After another set of x-rays and some more medication, we came home again to do more waiting.

It's been two more days full of isolation and sticky medicine, but he is FINALLY out of the woods and fine again. He finally passed the thread tonight (5 days since he ate it), thankfully all at once and without incident. And he ate a LOT - way more than I thought he had. We are EXTREMELY lucky that it's ended this well, as the damage could have been very very bad, and I might have lost one furry best friend. :(



So please, please, PLEASE keep thread and yarn away from your pets. It's more dangerous than it looks.

A secure container for your stringy items, and covers for your machines are a whole lot cheaper than vet bills, trust me.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Amigurumi

One of the things I decided I wanted to try this year was amigurumi.

I looked at a book from the library a couple weeks ago, and last trip in I found this book:



It is Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden.

I LOVE this book, even if for the pictures alone. :) They are really so creepy and cute!


I'm making a ninja. So far all I have done is the body, but I'm sure I'll have some fidgety time later to make the head...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lengthen Your Sleeves - A How To...

One of my wonderful genetic traits is long arms. I get it from my mother's father's side, and while I loved Pop dearly, it's kind of frustrating at times. My arms seem to be about 2 inches longer than "normal" so it's very hard to find sleeves that are long enough. I spend a lot of time rolling them up so I won't get irritated that they're not even coming down to my wrists. There are some tops I've found that have extra long sleeves lately, but they're not always easy to find.

{I also have really broad shoulders so trying to find shirts in most stores these days is ridiculous because apparently everyone is supposed to be a stick with no muscles or anything. Whatever.}



Back to the sleeves. This can be helped in some instances, and I'm about to show you how.



I have a fleece jacket that I like, but lo and behold the sleeves are too short:





See? Isn't that ridiculous?


I'm going to make these sleeves longer, and it won't suck.

Feel free to follow along. If you need a closer look, clicking on the pictures makes them open up slightly bigger.


I'm working with black fleece that matches my jacket, but if you want to do this with an accent/contrast instead of a match, that's entirely up to you.


You're going to need a seam ripper, your extra fabric, and your item to be lengthened. You can sew it by hand or machine. I'm kind of addicted to my serger right now, but a regular sewing machine will work just as well.


[Editor's Note: I apologize for the crappy photos, but I was doing this late at night when there is no good natural light....]



Here is the Before of the end of the sleeve, just for reference (complete with cat hair):




First step - Remove the "hem" of your sleeve cuffs. Take your seam ripper and pull out whatever crosswise seams are pulling it down.






Second Step - You're going to want to separate the lengthwise seam up the sleeve about an inch or two. The only reason I'm doing this is just to make the assembly sewing easier.





Now you'll need your fabric. I'm using black fleece to match my jacket. If you're doing the same (fleece to fleece or other stretchy fabric) make sure that you're cutting to have the stretch go ACROSS the sleeve, not up the sleeve. You need to have your fabric the same width as your opened sleeve, so if you wait to cut to size until this step, it's probably easier.


Also, I'm using a complete fold over of fabric so I don't have to make a cuff later. If you want to do that, go for it. If you want to just use enough and then hem it later, that's all up to you.




Now for the assembling....start pinning your new fabric to your opened sleeve. Make sure that you stretch either (or both) enough that your ends match and you don't have a bunch of puckering in one section.






All ready for stitching:






Now sew it up. If you're using a serger like me, you'll be on the edge, if you're on a standard machine, you'll probably want a seam allowance of 1/4 inch probably. That's up to you.





Knot/weave in your ends, however you choose to do your hanging thread housekeeping.




Ok, we've gone crosswise, now it's time to go lengthwise.

Turn your garment inside out (some of you may have done this earlier, and that's cool, too).

You can pin your edges together or just hold them, but sew up the length of the new cuff and up past the part of the original sleeve that you opened.

Your end result should look something like this:






Again, housekeep your dangling threads, and turn your item right side out again.


Double check that you don't have any holes or wonky-ness going on at the seams, and you're done!



Repeat on the other side if you haven't done so already.




So remember that ridiculous sleeve from earlier? Look at it now!



No more chilly wrists!



Let me know if it works for you, or if you've got any ideas on the process....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spontaneous Crafting

So today I sat down with my serger and had a long overdue "hi, how've you been?" session. Yesterday I did the same to reinforce some seams something I'd made last year (pre-serger), and get a head start on a Christmas present. Today I worked on a prototype for something I might put in the store, and then made something for me.

Using the Grab It & Go pattern at Sewing Republic (owned by Bernina*), I made a wallet.

I didn't add a vinyl pocket on the outside (extraneous, and besides I don't have any vinyl), but other than that, I think it turned out pretty well.











It's small, but that's what I wanted. I want something I can stick my ID and a few bucks to put in my pocket when it's game day or something.


As for the pattern, it was ok. It was relatively easy to follow, but if you're going to print it out to use it, print it on a color printer, because trying to look at the pictures in black and white/grayscale does not help. At. All. There was an unfortunate seam ripping incident because when I went to layer the pieces together, I put the outside on the inside.

But other than that, I'd give the pattern a solid B+.






*Being raised halfway on a farm, I have to say I'm a little weirded out by the Bernina slogan "Nothing sews like a Bernina. Nothing." Which I find to be curiously like the John Deere slogan "Nothing Runs Like a Deere." Is the second "nothing" supposed to be the thing that escapes copyright infringement?