November 30, 2017

Harry Potter Escape Room

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:35 pm by Pam

So, hi! I haven’t written here in forever! Many things have changed – most importantly, I am now a full-time teen librarian in a library that I adore! I get to do awesome things for and with my group of teens, many of which are crafty, so this seems like as good a place as any to share. I tweeted about this before it happened, and a number of people were eager to see how it turned out, so hi!

I always like to do a big event at the end of November – Hunger Games my first year, Harry Potter my second. When I asked the teens this year what they wanted, Harry Potter was again the winner. So I combined Harry Potter with something else I’ve been wanting to try – an escape/puzzle room – to great success.

When I started thinking of doing a puzzle room, I had lots of ideas about how to do the puzzles, but it just wasn’t coming together. Once I figured out the problem that players would have to solve, though, everything fell into place. Luna’s spectrespecs have been stolen – not by nargles, as she would presume, but by some trickster thief. The thief has left behind a series of puzzles and clues, however, for Luna to solve. She has to rush to class, though, which is where the players come in. If they can solve the puzzle before Luna’s class is done, they can get a reward, which she has left in a locked bag. Of course, you’ll need the spectrespecs (which have red film to read that red area of the letter) to get the prize out.

 

I was thrilled when I found a lock that had the four Hogwarts house colors on its wheels. Once I found that, I knew I had to make one puzzle for each house, which would lead to the solution for this lock. (The glasses are in the box this is locked onto.)

I wrote a short poem leading the players to the four different puzzles, but the poem was also the clue to open a box containing blacklight flashlights. A few of the puzzles would not be solvable without the flashlights. The directional lock was fun to use, and it took them a while to realize that the directions in the poem were there for a reason. I made both lock boxes a little trickier by adding codes to them.

 

I set the room up with the lock boxes and original puzzle on a central table and each individual house puzzle on their own table around the outside. I used plastic tablecloths as runners to help denote house (also useful for folks who don’t know Harry Potter so well – just match the runner to the wheel on the lock!).

 

For Gryffindor, I used the potion puzzle from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Since you never actually find out the answer or how to solve it in the book, this seemed ideal. It is basically a logic puzzle, trying to find the potion that will allow you to move forward. I labeled 7 empty bottles 1 through 7 and gave the players cards to shuffle around to try to figure out the contents. My teens had a lively debate while they tried to work it out, and they got the correct answer on their first try! As the designer, you have to make a few assumptions about bottle size, and I found this discussion very helpful.

 

Next up was Slytherin, for which I used a modified sudoku puzzle. This was the easiest challenge, and I might redo the puzzle for next time, removing more numbers, to make it harder.

For Hufflepuff, I bought a 100-piece puzzle and intended to write something on it that they would need the blacklight to read. When I got the puzzle, though, I realized that I could have the players count the number of items in the picture instead. I put a blacklight clue inside the box lid, telling them to count two different items and do a little math. It took them much longer than I expected to do the physical puzzle, and a few tried to resort to counting from the picture on the box (thankfully, that was too small for them to see all the details!).

Finally, for Ravenclaw, I used a book cipher and more math. With a book cipher, you have a three part number that corresponds to page, line, and word. The players had to find 10 words (all were numbers, so there could be math after) to complete the puzzle. Surprisingly, the teens were able to figure out to go to the first one, but then they thought the clue on that page, which should lead them to the next number, was the number itself! I had to coach this group a lot more than the others, just subtly hinting that they weren’t thinking the right way about things.

As I mentioned, each house puzzle gave the players a single digit number. They put those into the lock wheel and were able to unlock Luna’s glasses! It took them a few minutes to realize that Luna’s glasses and her letter went together, and then quite a few more minutes to figure out how to read the final clue. They were heavily invested in the blacklights by that time, and shining it on the red reveal puzzle made it impossible. The glasses revealed a single word, which unlocked this lock.

Escape Room - Luna's Bag with Prizes

I made individual chocolate frogs for the prize, which they were all super excited about. When I run this program again, all I’ll need are more frogs (and probably some sturdier lock boxes). I also need to print up some rules and have them posted – most importantly, do not just try every combination on the lock until it works! Maybe I’ll tell them there’s some kind of curse on the locks if they try that?

Please let me know your thoughts, especially if you have ideas that could make this even better!

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December 30, 2012

Hand Warmers for a Cold Day

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:31 pm by Pam

Hand WarmersWhen 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

Why wouldn’t you knit a cozy for a mason jar?!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 11:39 am by Pam

Mug Cozy

 

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

Christmas Gift Balls

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:48 am by Pam

 

 

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.

 
Snowman GumAnd 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

Melted Snowman Ornaments

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:10 am by Pam

Melted Snowman Ornament

 

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

Knitting!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 10:23 am by Pam

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

Mother, May I Go And Swim?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 8:45 am by Pam

 

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

It’s Muppet Time!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:33 pm by Pam

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

Valentine Craft Swap

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:31 pm by Pam

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

#@%&!!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 8:29 am by Pam

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.

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