December 30, 2012
When Secret Santa was suggested at my job, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I’ve only been there a few months, and I’m still getting to know everyone. Plus, we had the stipulation of a $5 limit (good on the wallet, bad on the inspiration), so I really had to do a lot of thinking. But when I found out that you could make microwaveable hand warmers with felt and rice, I knew I had found the perfect gift! Our library is always either really hot or really cold, so I knew my giftee would love personalized hand warmers.
These are, in fact, very simple to make, and I’ve made more for family. Take fleece or flannel (double layer the flannel if it’s thin), cut into whatever hand-size shape you want, and sew most of the way around the edges. Fill with uncooked rice and add a little tea (I suggest peppermint), because the rice can smell a bit strange when heated. Finish sewing shut, and you’re all done! I want to make more and more, because they’re easy to make and make very quickly, so they’re satisfying.
To use, simply microwave for 30 seconds, and they’ll stay warm for 20-30 minutes! I need to make some for myself just to keep in my purse.
December 28, 2012
As I’ve mentioned on my food blog, I am totally and utterly in love with my Cuppow. This magical disk transforms a regular canning jar into an adult sippy cup!! I love mine so much, I had to give one to my friend (to whom I also gave homemade pickles, so really, it was just a way to reuse the jars I’d given her). She told me how much she loved it too, but complained that the glass was just to hot to use it for warm beverages. I told her I could fix that (not quite knowing how I would actually do that).
And since I’ve picked up knitting again, I can all of a sudden read knitting patterns. They have NEVER made any sense to me, and it was like I woke up one day speaking in tongues. I searched around for some knitted mug cozies, and I found people just as obsessed with their Cuppows as me.
The pattern I ended up using is from Miso Crafty Knits (which I found on Pinterest). It’s simple and yet looks very nice. I wasn’t entirely happy with how this turned out, but again, I’m just learning!! Considering a month ago, I never would have chosen to knit a gift for someone, let alone learn how to knit on double-pointed needles, I think I did a hell of a job!
December 26, 2012
When I was a kid, I got this magical ball of gifts wrapped in crepe paper. I don’t remember where I got it or what was in it (small trinkets of some sort, I’m sure), but I remember what a blast it was unwinding it to find all the things hidden inside. When I came across the same idea on Pinterest before Christmas, I knew I had to do something similar for my brother’s kids.
And then, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make one for everyone in my family. I knew my mom wasn’t going to do stockings this year, so I took it upon myself to make “stocking balls” – all the tiny things that would be in the stocking, all wrapped in a giant crepe paper ball!
I spent far more time than necessary, going through the dollar store and the dollar bins at Target and the sale racks at literally every store I went into. I picked some specific things for each person, plus more generic candies and toys that I knew everyone would like. I also made hand warmers for all the ladies (I would have made them for the guys too, but I ran out of time). All of these carefully selected items where wrapped up in crepe paper (one ball of paper was just right for one gift ball) and labelled with names.
One of my absolute favorite parts of Christmas was watching everyone open their balls and discovering what lay under each layer of paper. I loved making these, and I’m sure I’ll make them again. These would be cute for birthday gifts, too, especially if the main gift is something small like a gift card or some jewelry.
And one of the things I included in each ball was a pack of snowman gum! I thought this was super cute when I came across them on Pinterest, and since everyone in my family loves gum and these looked so simple to make, I knew I had to add them in. The only problem with these is that the orange pen I used for the noses wasn’t right – should have been a Sharpie – and it faded fairly quickly. The black Sharpie for the eyes and mouth was perfect. Oh well, just another excuse to buy some more pens!
December 12, 2012
I almost feel silly posting about this, but I think it’s so damn cute, I just had to. My brother’s kids came over last week to help decorate our Christmas tree with handmade ornaments. I brought all kinds of crafty things for them to use (but the paint was by far the most popular). After they left, I had a few clear glass ornaments left, so I was looking for something quick but cute to put up.
Luckily, I had pinned this adorable melted snowman ornament on Pinterest, and it was made out of things any self-respecting cook would have in her kitchen – salt (I used crazy-huge crystals), peppercorns, and a little piece of paper colored orange and rolled up tight. You don’t have to worry about messing it up by shaking it around – the peppercorns and paper are lighter than the salt, so they’ll stay on top. Simple and adorable.
Posted as part of the Pin It and Do It challenge.
November 25, 2012
I’m not a knitter. I’ve tried – multiple times – to understand the whole knit/purl thing, but it’s never stuck. So what made me pick up needles again? No idea. But this time, the whole concept made sense. I don’t know what’s different, but I’ll go with it. I’ve already completed a scarf I started last year in stockinette stitch, and now I’m doing one in plain garter stitch to showcase this awesome yarn. I love seeing the pattern evolve as I work this yarn.
Do you have any favorite knitting websites to help me learn more than these two designs? I’m especially interested in trying lace at some point.
November 13, 2012
I haven’t been embroidering as much as I used to, but hopefully this winter will make me want to curl up under a blanket with my hoops and needles. I made this piece over the summer (one of the few pieces I did this year) for my mother. It’s our favorite poem from a book of nonsense poetry that I adored when I was a child:
Mother, may I go and swim? Yes, my darling daughter. Hang your clothes on yonder limb, but don’t go near the water.
My mother doesn’t need things, which can make getting presents for her difficult. But when this idea popped into my head, it went from idea to reality in very little time.
I’m especially happy with how the two-tone coloring came out. I wanted there to be a little variation in shades but have it remain one color. The matting of the finished piece helped pull it together too.
And in case anyone was wondering, here’s a little insight into my planning process for a piece. I take the original (here, a photocopy of the page from the book, blown up to the size I needed) and create a simplified tracing of it on my lightbox. Then I use a water-soluble pen to trace that simplified design onto the fabric (again, on the lightbox).
November 3, 2012
Well, I must say that my group of friends has a knack for wacky gifts. We’ve had the Supernatural dolls and the zombie kit (among others). So when Melody said “I don’t want anything for my birthday. Well, I guess, maybe a muppet of myself” it felt like the gauntlet had been thrown.
Originally, I found the Muppet Whatnot Workshop at FAO Schwarz (which is what you get if you google “make your own muppet”), and we spent days arguing over which choices would make for the perfect Melody doll. When we went to order it, however, it seemed that the site was down and we couldn’t get a call through, so we started brainstorming ideas of how to actually make the thing ourselves.
Then we were going to do a real puppet – moving mouth, hand up the ass, and all. We were going to settle for a largish shirt that could act as a body and have the whole thing need to be used behind some kind of table (like a real muppet). But when we got to Old Navy (what better place for cheap kids clothes?), we found so many different outfits we wanted, including the terribly perfect My Melody shirt (above), that we decided we HAD to go with a more typical doll (simply so she could have a whole wardrobe).
I could go into detail on the multiple nights of crafting madness that resulted in the My Melody doll, but frankly, they’re a blur. I do remember frequently looking up and saying “We MADE this!” It was awesome to see us each take control of a little piece of the project and, more quickly than expected, see it all pull together into one cohesive thing.
So let this be a warning to everyone I know: I have made a muppet, and I can do it again. Don’t tempt me!
February 14, 2012
When I signed up for the Oh Strumpets Valentine’s Day Craft Swap, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be paired with one of the coolest, sweetest nerds on the internet – Kelly of Craftlockian. We bonded in emails over nerdy/geeky things like books, video games, and of course, crafts. For the swap, Kelly made me these gorgeous fingerless gloves (in my favorite color, of course!) and an adorable heart pin. Since we’re both gamer girls, I thought it would only be fitting to declare these my gaming gloves, because my hands get way too cold when using my xbox controller.
In our emails, Kelly told me about her love for all things Sherlock Holmes. That made it pretty easy for me to pick an idea I skimmed through some of the old Sherlock books at my bookstore and really loved the original illustrations that went with them. This particular illustration is from The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (with modifications, of course, to make it Valentines-y). I liked that the two men were so puzzled over what they were looking at on the chair. I hope Kelly likes it!
The embroidery is done in back stitch, French knots, and satin stitch (with a little added lace), black and red on ivory cotton.
February 4, 2012
I’m nothing if not ambitious. This is my very first cross stitch, and did I pick something easy on a low count aida fabric? Nope. Of course I went for a slightly more complex pattern on evenweave linen (already mounted in a wooden frame). It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s how I feel about a lot of things right now.
The pattern is from Subversive Cross Stitch (I bought the book for a friend for Christmas), and the fabric/frame was in the dollar bin at Michaels. Expect more projects with these frames, because I snatched up a whole bunch of them.
January 23, 2012
I might have mentioned this when talking about the Supernatural dolls, but I have the best (and most creative) friends. Thus far, I’ve always been on the creative end of our weird gift sets, but this Christmas, I found myself in possession of my very own zombie preparedness kit! My friends went all out to A) protect me from future undead threats and B) make me laugh and howl in joy. I’m happy to say that this worked on both accounts.
The majority of the gift had to do with zombie preparedness. Here is my new (albeit blood-spattered) survival pack (this might have to be the bag I take to PAX with me this year), filled with necessities like a first aid kit, lighter fluid, spam, Vitamin Water, flashlight, 50 feet of cord (wrapped up nicely as the red and black bracelet), Swiss army knife, extra band aids, grenade-shaped stress ball (the apocalypse is bound to be stressful, after all), an inflatable brain (so I can throw it at any encroaching zombies and make my escape), astronaut ice cream, and the currency of the future: Twinkies. Also included was a map of my town with important spots, like gas stations, drug stores, etc marked out. I’m good to go now.
Then there’s this gorgeous journal – a chomped-on brain and crossed shotguns on the front, and the Cherokee rose (state flower of Georgia and also the title of an episode from season 2 of The Walking Dead) on the back. The edges are beaten and burned for authenticity. The inside is filled with things like zombie survival rules and references to countless zombie movies and tv shows.
And then there is the weaponry. Not only did they provide me with a katana (a replica of the Bride’s sword from Kill Bill) as well as a wooden practice katana (gotta get my training in), they also steampunked a Nerf gun for me. Perhaps the most twisted of the bunch had her father help her drive nails through a baseball bat so I’d have the most primitive of zombie-fighting tools. I’m a little weirded out knowing that I now own a bloody baseball bat with nails, but it’s pretty damn awesome at the same time.
On the more artsy and less preparedness side of things, the kit included two zombie tshirts, two zombie necklaces (one with the picture of a zombie nurse, the other a brain-shaped locket), a stack of zombie movies (most of which I’d never heard of), a book on how to speak zombie, a gorgeous framed zombie PSA, and some Walking Dead souvenirs. Seriously awesome, every inch of it!