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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/07/17

2017.  Wow.  I can’t believe I started this blog roughly 13 years ago, nor that some of you have been around since the very beginning.  Whether you’re one of my original few hundred subscribers or one of the couple thousand who discovered my site when looking for my most popular Halloween DIY, hi there, happy holidays, and happy New Year!  I’ve got a lot planned for this little blog over the upcoming year, so if you’re an old friend- thanks for sticking around… and if you’re new- I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay a while.

Some of you may note that I’ve slowly made changes to the type of content that I post.  I’ve never been a mono-crafty person, and the blog will always adapt to whatever creative pursuits I’m into at the time, whether they’re knitting or crochet, cosplay or cakes.  Coloring books are going to have more of a showing on the blog, as will as a variety of crafts beyond the yarn-based ones.  For the last two years I’ve taken step-by-step photos of all the projects that I’ve made with the intent to focus more on sharing helpful DIYs, tutorials and tips going forwards, instead of merely showing off whatever I’ve made.  I’m going to have more reviews coming up, both sponsored and non, and while there might be affiliate links popping up at the end of some posts, I can promise you that my reviews will always be strictly my honest, unbiased thoughts.

Another feature I’m going to add is a weekly roundup, to both keep track of and hold accountable to the projects I’ve got ongoing.  Not everything needs to wait for a finished reveal, and sometimes quick projects or small pastimes get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day.  To that end – this is my first Crafty Compilation.  I plan to post these on Sundays and to cover the previous week’s goings-on, but this first one is being posted on Thursday because life LOL.  Amazing how, even when one is off work in post-op recovery, when it comes to crafting, there still isn’t enough time!  This first CC will cover some stuff worked on over the holidays, as well as last week.


Knitting

  • Gift knitting

Over the holidays I knit a special baby hat.  One of Yannick’s closest friends had a baby girl just before the holidays, and when he showed me the gifts he planned to bring for the friend and his other young daughter, I told him I knew just the thing to make for the new arrival.  The little girl’s dad has similar geeky tastes as we do, and I thought this pattern would be perfect.

I’ve knit it once before, back in 2013, as part of a Hallowe’en costume for a baby girl aptly named Leia. This was a pic of Jakob trying it on for me at the time:

jakob-in-leia-hat

and this is a pic of the little sweetheart in her full costume.  Cutest Leia I’ve ever seen!leia-in-princess-leia-hat

The pattern is very well written and it’s a pretty quick knit, even with all the icord.  The hat and the ear puffs each took a night’s worth of knitting to work up, then the assembly took barely an episode of Elementary.

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Forgive the bad pics, it’s hard to take hat pics without an appropriately-sized head! 🙂 I’m really pleased with how the hat came out, even though I’d knit it before and expected it to look the same.  One thing I love about this pattern vs others out there is how it incorporates ‘bangs’ and the center part (not clearly visible in these photos but seen better in the one of Leia wearing it above).

  • Drops v-neck sweater

I also completely frogged a sweater I’d been working on.  Back in September I’d started a garter-stitch oversized sweater with a lovely gray yarn from my stash.  I’d thought it would be perfect ‘no-look’ movie or tv knitting but after measuring a sweater I own that had the fit I wanted, I realized that what I was making wouldn’t have the proper shape.  Plus I’d been having a nagging feeling that the garter stitch was eating up too much of my limited yarn.  So I frogged it one evening last week and began this pattern instead.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough yarn, and if not I’ll work the neckband and/or cuffs in something contrasting.

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So far I’m at about 32cm of the 34cm I need to be at before splitting for the low v-neck.

Coloring

  • Doodle Fusion ‘Christmas Tree’

A few weeks ago I’d taken a page from Dede Willingham and done color washes across a bunch of my coloring book pages.  From what I’ve seen she primarily uses acrylic paints, but I mixed it up a bit, using not only paint, but also my Neocolors (seen previously here, in imagimorphia) and my Inktense (last seen here, also in imagimorphia).  This particular page, from Zifflin’s Doodle Fusion, seems to deliberately invoke a Christmas tree, so that’s how I decided to approach it.  I colored over the whole image with the Inktense in shades of green.  The first pic is immediately after wetting the pencils, and the second is the next day, after the page had dried.

doodle fusion christmas tree 00.jpg

My plan is to color the characters in colored pencil over the Inktense, keeping them muted and dark, but to color all the eyes and anything round-ish in bright gel pens, so they’d (hopefully) look like bright ornaments on the tree.  If you squinted at it.  Maybe.

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This was after my first pass with the gel pens.  I think I got all the areas I’d wanted, but I’m sure as I work on the figures I’ll find more.  I’m looking forwards to coloring the characters now in dark tones to really make the gel pen pop.

PS- this book is crazy, and I love it.  I’ll be showing a lot more of it in future posts.

I finally finished a page I started coloring back in November in the Disney Villains coloring book Yannick had bought for me, but as this post is getting long I’ll save them for another.  That’s another excellent coloring book that I’ve been working in quite a bit.

UPDATE: those pages are posted here.  🙂

Other Crafts

  • While the boys were off school for Christmas break I tried to keep them occupied with more than just Minecraft, Little Big Planet, or their new Skylanders Imaginators. Every few days we had ‘technology-free’ time during which we’d color, or do pencil puzzle books, and during one of those afternoons I taught them how to make their own stuffies.  However I took a TON of photos and so I’ll share the step-by-steps of their work in another post

Alright, that’s it for this round-up!

If interested in either the pencils or book that I’ve talked about in this post, you can check them out here:
Derwent Inktense colored pencils
Caran d’Ache Neocolor ii water-soluble crayons
Zifflin’s Doodle Fusion with illustrations by Lei Melendres
  • these are affiliate links.


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FREE PATTERN: Perfect Lay-Flat Knitted Diagonal Garter Washcloth

With my upcoming surgery looming in the near future, I decided to make the most of my time and get a head start on this year’s holiday teacher gifts.  I still make the Christmas and Hanukkah gifts for my kids’ teachers, lunch ladies and daycare workers, and, not knowing how much I’d be up for a long bout of down-to-the-wire crafting post-op (since I somehow always end up working til 4am the night before the last day of school), I was smart and started early.

I decided to make dish/washcloths again.  It’s been a few years since the junior campus staff got regular square washcloths, and I haven’t made them for anyone on senior side yet, so I wasn’t worried about being too repetitive.  I dug some favorite Bernat Handicrafter Cotton from my stash and pulled up the most basic, well known, standard dishcloth pattern Ravelry had to offer – a plain old, diagonal-knit garter washcloth.

Plenty of yarn, plenty of time, and a well-worn pattern.  This, I thought, would be a breeze.  I was even optimistic enough to think I’d have the Xmas gifts ready before November!

Heh.

My troubles started early on.  After completing the first washcloth, actually.  I had finished it and set it down flat on the table and noticed the lower edge immediately curl upwards.  I smoothed it flat but it quickly rolled inwards again.  It wasn’t terribly noticeable, and – let’s face it – this is a dishcloth.  If used properly it would end up scrunched and rolled and pulled and would sag and ease out of shape quickly.  But I was annoyed at how it looked and poked around at it a bit trying to figure out why the top half was fine but the lower half curled in.  The top half, by contrast, lay beautifully flat. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong.

Finally I realized it wasn’t my fault – there was an inherent flaw with the pattern. It was the kind where you increase into the second stitch of every row.  That type of increase pulls imperceptibly on the outer stitch, eating up the slack between the first two stitches.  When this is done at intervals one would hardly notice, but when it is done at the beginning of every row the result was edges that curled inwards.  This didn’t occur on the top half of the diamond because that was the decrease half and I wasn’t using any of the previous row’s slack at all.

I could smooth it flat and I could have blocked it but come on… blocking washcloths?  No thanks.  I’d rather figure out how to knit it without the flaw.

The main thing was to figure out what increase to use.  Any increase which went into the prior row, including a standard ‘make 1’, would cause the same inward tugging.  Yarn-over increase patterns didn’t have that problem, but I didn’t want eyelets dotting the sides of my washcloth.  I wanted these cloths to look less dainty, more ‘rugged’, if that makes sense.  I decided to work YO increases but to close them on the subsequent rows by knitting them through the back loop.

Once I was tinkering with the pattern I also added a plain row at the max width point before transitioning into the decreases. Diagonal patterns always seem to have you go from wide to narrow without any plain row in between and I find that the extra row tugs less on those points of the diamond.  The result is a lovely garter washcloth which has wonderful drape and lays flat beautifully, and is now my go-to knit washcloth or dishcloth.

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I’ve knit 9 of them so far… sadly not anywhere near how many I need, but enough to know I’m really happy with how it works out, and I added it to Ravelry tonight.

The yardage listed is for a dishcloth knit to 41 sts, which results (at my tension) in a 9” x 9” square. You can easily make them larger or smaller. If desired before binding off you can create a strip to fold over and sew down for a hanging loop by either knitting about 4” of garter on those 3 sts or knitting them into a 4” long 3-st i-cord.

This pattern would work equally well for baby blankets or throws, continuing to increase until whatever max diagonal is desired before working the plain row and then beginning the decreases.

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Directions

  • CO 3 sts 
  • row 1- k across 
  • row 2- k1, yo, k to end 
  • inc row– k1, yo, k to previous row’s yo and knit it tbl (to close the hole), k1 
  • Repeat inc row until diagonal of cloth is at desired widest point (I stopped at 41 sts)
  • Next row- k to previous row’s yo and knit it tbl (to close the hole), k1 
  • dec row– k1, k2tog, k to end of row 
  • Repeat dec row until cloth is back down to its original number of sts 
  • BO remaining sts & weave in the loose ends

Update!

This pattern is on Ravelry here.

This pattern is provided for free above, but if you’d prefer an easy-to-print version, I have made it available here for a very small fee. The PDF includes the full instructions, an easy to read layout and full color images.

*Updated January 2020


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Halloween help

My phone has been pinging quite a bit lately, notifying me that people have been saving my pins.  While I think that’s awesome, and am flattered, I was also confused because I couldn’t think of what I’d posted that would be so popular at the moment.  And then I remembered – it’s almost Halloween!  Sure enough, it was my Minecraft-related pins getting all the love, the Creeper/Steve head tutorial especially.

So for anyone who found my blog via those pins, or anyone else who’s interested, here are some quick links to my (few) Halloween/costume-related tutorials.  I do have more coming up this month, so be sure to come back and see.

For those with some boxes and paint lying around: here’s how to make Minecraft Steve & Creeper heads.

For those who need an easy addition to their Gryffindor robes, here’s a quick free scarf pattern.

For those with a young’un eager to train a dragon, here’s how to make a viking vest.

And finally, for those with a lot of knitting time on their hands, here’s how to make a child’s first superhero costume, as well as a look at how I used that same pattern to turn Jakob into Superman for his first Halloween.

I hope you enjoy the links!  For my fellow Minecraft-loving folks, I’ve got a matching Enderman tutorial coming up, complete with his very own diamond block.  Stay tuned!

 


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on the way to Hogwarts

Those who follow me on Instagram/FB got a sneak peek at Henri’s Halloween costume this year.  The boys fell hard into the world of Hogwarts when we began showing them the films this year, though we stopped after the 5th one because they were getting a bit too dark.

Jakob wants to be Draco Malfoy.  It was his original costume choice, now possibly swapped out for a Minecraft Enderman, but in general, he wants to be a Slytherin.  He thinks Harry was put in the wrong house, and that Slytherin is where it’s at.  It’s less to do with the negative traits or a penchant for the color green, than it is that, as he likes to remind me, “We love snakes, Mom.“.  Yes.  Yes we do.

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Jakob, age 4, with friend.

The Snake is my Chinese sign and a long-favored creature of mine, and that love transferred down to my oldest.  In fact, we’d have a pet snake at home if it weren’t for 2 things: 1. I would be too heartbroken to feed it mice, and 2. my father-in-law would never visit again.

In any case, if ever he were to dress up as anything from the Potterverse, it would be in Slytherin colors.  But Henri?  He’s Gryffindor all the way.

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Doesn’t he even LOOK like a young Harry???

We bought those glasses and wand last weekend at the local Halloween store, and my mom lent us a black grad gown that is PERFECT for his robes.  I’d like to find time to make a crest for the robe, but the main finishing touch for his costume is the scarf, so I decided to get on that last night.

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The burgundy isn’t quite right, but I’m working with stash yarn and I don’t think he’ll mind too much.  The pattern is my own, such as it is.

CO 30 sts with burg yarn.  Work 1×1 rib for 30 rows.  Change to yellow, work 1×1 rib for 30 rows.  Repeat, ending after a burgundy section.  Add fringe.

I decided against working stockinette because I really didn’t feel like taking the extra time to make it doubled or in the round, and a flat panel of st st would curl like crazy.  1×1 rib contracts enough to look almost like stockinette and won’t curl, making it quicker and easier for a 6yo’s Halloween costume.  🙂

UPDATE AFTER HALLOWEEN: Here’s Henri’s final costume!


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SuperBaby, revisited

The boys keep talking about what they want to be for Halloween this year, and it has me reminiscing about Jakob’s first Halloween, and one of my very first designs.

Here’s a repost, coming to you from all the way back in 2007.  Lookit how wittle he was!!

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From November 2007: May I present…

SuperBaby!

SuperBaby’s special powers include drowning his adversaries in massive amounts of drool, and the ability to shove anything into his mouth. Foes are often foiled in their plots by his awesome cuteness which requires all who pass to stop, come closer, and kiss him.

SuperBaby also managed to stand by himself (leaning on the sofa) for the purposes of taking this photo.
His detachable cape is this season’s “in” accessory. No SuperBaby would be caught dead without a cape this year, and we hear that shiny red is the new black.

The pattern is my own, for both the outfit and the cape. I had Yannick’s help in creating the baby, and the Superness is all his own. 🙂

By the way, these are the pumpkins that Yannick bought for outside our house. Should I be insulted that the “Daddy” and “Baby” pumpkins are perfect, and the “Mommy” pumpkin is all lumpy and deformed?

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Heh.

My brother Aaron edited that pic up there and now SuperBaby looks right at home, defending the city.

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He wore the outfit again for Purim too.  🙂

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A little while later I’d contacted DC inquiring about permission to write up and publish the pattern.  (They, duh, refused me).2746347727_708f81ccb0_n

So… I modified it into a generic superhero instead, and now anyone who wants to can knit up their very own!

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The pattern is written for ages 6-12 months [12-18 months], and includes full instructions and charts for the costume, the two shown chest shields, and the cape.  There is also a blank chart with instructions on how to design your own shield, in case you want to personalize it with your favorite SuperBaby’s initial.

It’s on Ravelry here.


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Featured on KnitHacker.com!

Whoa… exactly what it says up there.  Thanks to a shout out from Laura on Twitter, my Skylanders Sprocket cosplay was featured on KnitHacker this morning, with dings going off on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all about it.

I’m so thrilled people like the costume.  I spent so much time working on it, staying up til 2-3am every night for 5 weeks… even bringing pieces to stitch while I waited at the daycare for my kids, or sneaking in a line or two in traffic.  With all that work it was still 2am the night before the con and I had no gauntlets/gloves, and I was feeling so dejected, like the whole thing would be a waste because of not enough time.  I ended up staying up til 4am knitting a quick set of fingerless mitts, and was so tired the following night I was asleep by 6:45.  😛  It wasn’t complete, it was far from perfect, but to see that it’s appreciated by more than just myself for my crazy efforts… it’s really awesome.

To anyone who stumbles this way and finds this: all the rest of the tutorials and step-by-steps are coming.  I have all the pics and just need to put them into a cohesive order.

You can check out the write-up here.  Thanks so much Laura, and thank you Danielle for posting it!

kroon skylanders sprocket(Also thanks to Jenna at Kroon Designs for the great pic!)


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Post-Con Blues

skylanders sprocket post con blues

There’s a letdown that comes after 5 weeks of non-stop rushing.  Instead of reaching for my project bag I’m avoiding it ‘cus it’s only filled with the left-over odds and ends that need sorting and putting away.  My thumb has a sore spot from forcing my needle around awkward angles.  I have this weird amount of this strange thing called time.

I’m putting the time to good use, sorting through all my pics to prepare coherent posts.  I’ve got all the rest of the step-by-steps and a ton of completed pics from the con itself and afterwards.  I’ll probably post the rest of the WIP stuff first, then close with the FOsskylanders sprocket teaser

If you’re in Montreal, and have some free time today, I highly recommend checking out the final day of Montreal Comiccon 2015!