Photo-A-Day: Messy

August 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

My desk at work. This is what genius looks like, people:

I have no idea how many actual projects are in that pile, but I’m going to say no fewer than 5. The rest are swatches I’ve done in the name of figuring stuff out so I can explain it to other people better.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? I love my job.


A Little Sparkle

July 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

I know I haven’t been showing you a lot of knitting and crochet lately…that’s because I’ve mostly been working on Sooper Sekrit type projects that I’m not allowed to reveal. However, it occurred to me that one of the things I’m currently working on is something I’m planning to publish myself in a couple of weeks, and I can totally show you pictures of the WIP:

Ain’t she purdy?

I bought this yarn (wooliebullie Twinkle Superwash in Enchanted Evening, ftr) for some other project that I can’t even remember now. I don’t even know if it was to design something else or for someone else’s pattern, but it whispered that it would very much like to become what it is becoming, and it’s so lovely to look at and feel I had no choice but to give in.

Honey Badger Needs a Leash!

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve just published a pattern over on Ravelry that honestly I’m almost embarrassed to call a pattern. Last week when I was at The Knit and Crochet Show, I needed a cord for my badge. So I made one. I thought some of you might need such a thing, too, so I’m sharing what I did.

You can download the pattern here.

An Expert in My Field

June 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve got a post all ready to go for Tasty Tuesday this week, only it’s already Wednesday and I haven’t pulled the pics yet. So Thursday will be tasty this week instead, mmmkay?

I’ve talked a little bit before about how I have a hard time self-aggrandizing. The fact that I have such a hard time saying nice things about myself publicly makes it twice as nice when someone else does. It is possibly three or four times as nice when the “someone” does it publicly on the blog of the company I work for. (It’s not the most flattering picture of me, but if you’re curious, the sweater is the one I talk about making here.)

It amazes me every day that not only do I have a great job that I love because of my expertise at something that started out as a simple hobby, but that said job involves my sharing that expertise with others on an ongoing basis. It is incredibly fulfilling to know that every day I am helping people solve the problems they encounter and improve their skills. Yay, me!

Found It on the Internet Friday #13

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yes, Found It on the Internet Friday is back, baby! Woohoo!

This week, I made a Rapunzel wig for my daughter. A few weeks ago, she told me that they would be having “Dress as Your Favorite Character” day at school, and she really wanted to be Rapunzel but [insert tear-filled big brown eyes and a suitably pitiful expression here] her hair was too short. I’d seen Rapunzel wigs around on the interwubs, and even Pinned a couple with the intention of making one for her someday. Looked like “someday” had arrived.

I obtained yarn (3 balls of Lion Brand Baby’s First — a bulky cotton acrylic blend that’s nice and soft and just the right color yellow along with a single novelty oddball in the same color for a little texture) and studied the tutorials.

The first step was to get the yarn out of the balls and into suitably long strands. To make as per the tutorials (which I didn’t, but more on that later) you want the strands to actually be twice as long as the desired length of the hair, as one half will be on one side of the head and the other half will be on the other side. The easiest way to do this is to wrap the yarn around a tall piece of cardboard like you’re making a giant tassel (note to self: hmmmmm…giant tassel might be an interesting decorative element). I still had the display from Becky’s science fair project, which is about 3′ tall — perfect.

After winding all of the yarn off (important note: you want all of the yarn ends to be at the same end of the cardboard), I used a piece of waste yarn to tie the bundle together loosely at one end (opposite where you ended the balls) and then cut the other end open. Now it was time to sew it onto the base.

Ah, the base. So, the first tutorial I found indicated one would need a wig cap. I did not have time to obtain such a thing. Another tutorial suggested using the cutoff sleeve of an old t-shirt. This I could do. I cut the sleeve off and sewed the end shut, then tried it on Becky’s head, and it fit. Awesome! I took my bundle of “hair” and centered it on the cap, then used my machine to sew right down the middle, front to back (you could totally do this by hand but it would be tedious and I hate hand sewing with a white hot passion anyhow).

I put it on my phrenology head and braided the hair, then tried it on Becky again. No good. Couldn’t get it to stay on her head. I thought maybe I’d started the braid too far up, so I took that out and started it lower (leaving the hair at the top looser so the cap would have room to stretch). Still no good. Maybe the cap isn’t deep enough? Perhaps if we sewed it to a hat we knew fit?

So I was looking for an old winter hat of hers to tack the thing to, and came across the hat from her candycorn costume (how did I not blog this?!?! Clearly that’s going to have to happen.). Perfect! I sat down and sewed the tshirt cap onto the candycorn cap BY HAND, even. Still no good. Can’t get it to stay on her head, even with no braid. Sigh. Epiphany: I shouldn’t craft while sleep deprived, because I sewed the too-tight thing on to the big-enough thing, making the big-enough thing now too-tight. Duh.

As I sat down to rip the whole thing out so I could sew the hair directly onto the candycorn cap, it occurred to me that there was no need to actually unsew the hair…that in fact leaving it attached to a strip of the tshirt material would make it easier to sew back down. So that’s what I did (if I was doing it again and starting from this point instead of screwing up twice on the way, I’d sew it flat to a strip of material then proceed from there). Then as I was getting ready to attach it front to back again, I had another epiphany: What if, instead of front to back, I attached the hair from side to side around the front of the base of the cap? I pinned it to check if it would work and YES! Beautiful! And much easier to sew! (Except I kept not paying attention and getting strands stuck so the machine needle kept breaking and flying into my face. XTreme Crafting at its finest.)

So, I got the hair back on — above the elastic so I’d still have the stretch — and tried it on the Girl Child. It fit. It stayed on even when she walked around a little. YAAAAAYYYY! Got it braided (I did start too high the first time and had to redo it, but that was no big deal) and it still stayed on. Finally, success! My reward? This smile:

Yep. Totally worth it.

The two changes I want to make are: a) because of the way the hair falls you can see the wig cap in some spots. However, this will be a pretty easy fix — I just need to arrange the hair properly then overstitch it at the “hairline” so the strands don’t fall. Silly gravity. And b) because I needed to keep the stitching above the elastic to retain the stretch, there’s a big white band there. It passable as a “headband” but I’d like to put a ribbon over it and pretty it up a little. Both little things and easy to fix — we just didn’t have time before school this morning.

Sugar/Spice/Everything Nice

October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

When I noticed in the spring that Becky was outgrowing the last sweater I made her, we picked out yarn and a pattern for another one. A couple of weeks ago, we picked out buttons. And now, the munchkin has a new sweater:

Yes, she's adorable.

Hood up, still adorable

It’s a modified version of ChildHood from Knitty made with KnitPicks Shine Worsted in Crocus. The modifications consisted of no striping (obviously), lengthening the body and sleeves (Becky’s a beanpole) and working the buttonband differently (I didn’t do the thing with leaving the extra width on the bottom band; I just worked the fronts all the way across and then picked up from the bottom edge and worked around, skipping every 3rd stitch). Oh, and I did a crocheted button loop for the top button, which is larger than the others.

And Becky absolutely loves it, which is the only really important thing about it.

Next up, one for Zacky. Same pattern, different mods — there’re going to be stripes all over! And we’re going to roll dice (a d10 for the color and probably a d6 for the number of rows) to determine distribution.

Sometimes the Interwebs Just Infuriate Me

September 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

And since I have this lovely blog, I’m going to respond to the thing that most recently infuriated me. (At the end, you will be rewarded with a small Crafty Thing — feel free to skip my rant and scroll down.) Yesterday I came across this post. At first glance, it makes some really interesting points about allowing your kid to be herself, but I think it also encourages parents to make some pretty questionable choices. So here are my responses:

I force my child to say thank you or sorry [or please or you’re welcome] when appropriate, because he is three years old and often doesn’t know that he should. Part of my job as a parent is to teach him about common courtesy and interacting with his peers, elders, authority figures, and so on. He is always afforded the opportunity to do the courteous thing before I prompt him, and if I have to prompt him, we often discuss why the courtesy is necessary. In the case of “please” and “thank you”, it’s just a nicety. But it’s a nicety we practice in our home and expect our children to practice in the outside world. Such niceties let the people they’re interacting with know that they are not complete dillweeds. In the case of “I’m sorry” sometimes it’s a little different…children don’t intuitively know that they should be sorry about certain things, like doing something mean, or teasing, or accidentally hurting someone. They also don’t know that an expression of remorse to the injured party is the right thing to do when you’ve done one of the aforementioned things.

While I would never force my child to eat two more bites of dinner, I do encourage her to eat plentifully of the nutritious food she is offered, and let her know that treats of the food variety will not be forthcoming unless she first fills her belly with an adequate amount of the good stuff. If she’s hungry enough for a cookie or a popsicle, she’s hungry enough for two more bites of chicken.

I “force” my children to clean up, because it is their responsibility to clean up the messes they have made. I also shower them with praise if they clean up before I have a chance to ask/tell them to. (Incidentally, we start with asking and then move to telling, which I guess is “forcing”, if necessary. It’s usually not.) See above re: my job as a parent. Kids aren’t born knowing these things, and it’s really easy to say, “oh, well you show them” but for the first couple of years of their lives what you show them is you cleaning up after them, because they can’t clean up after themselves.

I force my children to dress appropriately for the weather (to wear a jacket), because they are not born knowing what is appropriate for an 80-degree day v. a 30-degree day. Now, there are some caveats here: I’m talking about things that would be potentially dangerous, and/or cost me valuable time in the morning while we’re all trying to get out the door. So no, my daughter may not go to school clad only in a thin dress and a light sweatshirt when it’s 25 degrees outside, because she will step outside and immediately want to change her clothes and we have to get to work/school. She’s not a dummy, she just doesn’t know yet. Nor may she wear sandals when there is ice on the ground, because that’s dangerous. However, she is welcome to present me with arguments for either of those things or, (more reasonably and something that has actually happened) ask if, say, she can wear a t-shirt under her sweatshirt when it’s cold out instead of a long-sleeved shirt, because it gets warm in her classroom. Not only am I teaching her what is weather-appropriate, I am also teaching her that a well-reasoned argument should be presented if she has an alternate to whatever I am proposing she do.

I “force”  (ask, actually) my children to stop crying once they have expressed their fear/sorrow/dreams/anger and we have dealt with the issue, or if they start crying before anything has even happened, usually when they think we’re going to say no to something. We don’t listen to the request until they can stop crying to ask, and then of course if we say no and they are upset, they are allowed to cry about that a little bit (though will be asked to move to another room if they drag it out. Cry as long as you want, but this is silly, I’m not changing my mind, and you’re not looking for comfort, just trying to bully me into saying yes). Being comfortable with expressing your emotions is important, but so is learning when it’s appropriate, what you’re actually expressing, why you’re expressing it, and so on. It’s hard to stop crying once you get started, even if you no longer have a reason to be crying. Learning to control yourself and your reactions is an important part of learning to interact with the world.

The last one I actually agree with, as written: “If a child is told she is not good enough, then she is robbed of a chance to be happy with herself the way she is.” However, I think it’s important that we do tell our children when their efforts aren’t good enough, and why. Example: I have told my son to pick up his books, which are strewn about the room. He tells me he has done so, and I go to his room to check, but see that there are still a few books on the floor. The answer is not, “Oh, you did a good job!” …the answer is, “You made a great start, but need to finish up.” And if his response is to whine about it, I have no qualms about saying that what he did wasn’t good enough. It was a good start but he needs to finish it up for it to be good enough. The lesson here is that they need to put their best effort into everything, not half-ass their way through life.

Okay, done ranting now, and yes, I feel better. Here’s your crafty treat:

Pill Bottle Flower

The other day, my friend at work Pamela brought me an adorable crocheted flower that she’d whipped up for me. It sat on my desk for a couple of days and I had planned to make a pin out of it, but then I needed to call in a refill on one of my prescriptions. I didn’t get around to putting the empty bottle back in my purse and had a Eureka! moment when I saw them next to each other: the flower was the perfect size to sit on top of the bottle!

Wrapped! Super easy -- just trap the beginning end under the wraps, then when you're done, cut so you have about a 3" tail and use a crochet hook to pull it down under the wraps. Trim the end and you're done!

I grabbed some green yarn and wrapped the base up to the threads and cap of the bottle (note: I have not had a chance to glue the yarn on the cap — if you want to use it as a container, you will need to do that).

Mostly, you just want this to be secure enough so the flower doesn't pop off or wiggle around a lot.

I secured the flower to the cap by poking a hole with scissors and pulling the ends through, then tying them off with some scrap yarn. Cute right? It makes me smile every time I look at it.

I am completely incapable of taking an in-focus pic of this thing. This is as good as it got. Trust me, it's adorable.

The Yarn used to wrap is Wool Ease Thick & Quick in Grass and the yarn used for the flower is the new Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool in Cherry Blossom. I think she improvised the pattern, but there are TONS of free knit and crochet flowers on Ravelry. Make one that makes you happy!

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