Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Textured Stripes Knit Scarf

There is an overabundance of scarves in my house and so when the weather started turning cooler and I donned a scarf, my daughter insisted that she have one as well. I brought out my bushel basket (yes, I literally have a full sized bushel basket full of scarves and mittens etc.) and told her to pick one out.

This one? No, too stripey. This one? No, too fuzzy. This one? No, too pinky. This one? No, to ruffly. Yep, she actually said “ruffly”. So what’s a knitter and a mother to do than to custom make the kid one.

She picked out her own yarn color and I made a small swatch first to make sure she approved of my pattern and within a week her new scarf was born.

Not too stripey, fuzzy, pinky or ruffly.

It was super easy and super quick. See below for the pattern. Well actually it’s just instructions. I don’t have much skill/experience with writing good knitting patterns.

You'll need:
Yarn – I used Threads and Loops - Aqua
Knitting needles – size 8 US or whatever size works well with your yarn and desired size.
Cast on 25 stitches

Row 1 – 10: Stockinette stitch (alternate rows of knit and purl) you’ll start with a knit row and will end on a purl row

Now you’ll reverse your stockinette so that the purl side is on the front and the knit side is on the back. This creates the bumpy stripe.
Row 11: purl
Row 12: knit
Row 13: purl

Reverse your stockinette stitch again. This will make the mini knit stripe
Row 14: purl
Row 15: knit
Row 16: purl

Repeat until you have 3 textured strips on the front side of your scarf and then do 10 more rows of stockinette stitch and then start your stripes again.

Continue until you reach the desired length. Here's what the top side will look like:

And the back side:

I hope that makes sense. It's a really cute textured scarf and a great project for a beginning knitter to practice their knits and purls.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Road Trip Supplies

As if this time of the year isn’t busy enough, what with the upcoming holidays and the frantic gift shopping/making. Both of my children also have birthdays. My son’s is right around Thanksgiving and my daughter’s is the first week of December.

This year as a joint gift for both of them we’re headed to the Mall of America to celebrate at the indoor amusement park. It’s a little bit of a jaunt for us – about 3 hours. Plus we’re also making plans to visit my husband’s family for Christmas which is an even longer road trip – about 6 hours.

So it seemed to make perfect sense to make them gifts that might help entertain them on the road (sure we’ve got portable DVD players in the car but even Scooby Doo loses his appeal after a while).

For my daughter, who is turning 4, I used this tutorial as inspiration and made her a little pony playmat to take in the car.

I used a fabric base and incorporated some fish, flower and apple shaped buttons and extra stitching for texture and I think it turned out really cute. It’s the perfect size for these My Little Pony toys that we got as Happy Meal toys a while back. I love them because they’re based on the original My Little Ponies I had as a child – not what I refer to as the new “Bratz” version (freaky oversized heads and eyes paired with small bodies do not belong on ponies ok people – not on My Little Ponies – you want to do that crap to Littlest Pet Shop you go right ahead but don’t mess with the ponies!)

I mean which do your prefer? This: (my skin is crawling!)

Or this little cutie?

I rest my case. Moving on. . .

My son is turning 7 and he’s obsessed with Lego’s – as all men and boys are. He’s not that much of a builder though and he often will just play with the mini figures for hours on end without even thinking of clicking two bricks together.

So I thought something he could tote around some of his figures in would be a good idea. I found this little wooden box at my local craft store and gave it a custom paint job. I finished it off with a couple coats of polyurethane also for durability.

A small square lego base sheet came with one of his many sets that he never puts together so I figured it would get much more use glued inside the box as a base for his figures.

I'm thinking he can play quite a bit with all these little guys and their accessories on the road, and he'll have this handy little box to store them in.

I can’t decide if this is my best or my worst idea ever. Sure it looks great, and I had a lot of fun putting together this mini lego diorama in tribute to two movie characters played by Harrison Ford and then later turned into Lego figures (yes, Lego Indiana Jones is getting ready to make out with that little lego lady – she can’t resist his rugged appeal!)

But I may come to regret this gift when I’m wedged between the seats of the car searching for a Lego stormtrooper helmet. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hanging Circular Knitting Needle Holder - a tutorial

I have a lovely knitting needle carrier. It's one of those roll-up types and it's great for when I'm on the go, but I rarely need to take all my needles with me and then there's the problem of my circular needles. I try to wind them up in such a way so that they won't get kinked or tangled but it never works out very well and they're just a mess.

I wanted something that I could use at home to keep my circular needles from becoming a tangled mess, and to keep my other needles within easy reach. Where to go for inspiration? Google of course and I saw some great projects and tutorials. Some of them involved binders and plastic pencil cases which looked nifty but still involved folding up the needles. Then I stumbled upon this one made from the leg of an old pair of jeans and this one made from a tie.

They're both brilliant ideas and great upcycling but I wanted mine to look a little prettier so I used some cotton prints that I had just picked up at the fabric store, and came up with this:

Here's how I made it.


2 fat quarters of coordinating fabric

fusible interfacing (optional but recommended for lightweight fabrics)

general sewing supplies

You'll need two pieces of fabric 8" by 19". I used different fabric on the front and back of mine to make it reversible but you could certainly use the same fabric on each side if you prefer.

Two pieces of fusible interfacing 8" by 19". If you're using a heavier fabric such as Home Decorator fabric or denim you might not need the interfacing.

Cut two pieces of fabric, 9" by 2" for the handle.

Iron the interfacing to the wrong sides of your fabric.

Fold over and press a 1/4 seam on both long edges of each large fabric piece. Sew along this seam.

For the handles, place right sides together and sew the long edges with 1/4" seam allowance. Turn right side out forming a tube. Press and stitch again along the long sides.

Place the handle on the right side of one of the large pieces of fabric, as seen below. Lay the other piece of fabric right side down on top of this; sandwiching the handle in between the two larger pieces of fabric.

Sew along the top and bottom seams. You now have a large fabric circle. Turn it right sides out and press the seams.

Top stitch along the top and bottom seams. Mark lines approximately every inch from the top to the bottm seam. These will create the "pockets" for the knitting needles.

Stitch along the lines, load up with knitting needles and you're good to go!

This is just a basic design and could be altered and improved upon anyway you see fit. Add numbers on the pockets to identify your needles sizes, make it larger or smaller, whatever works best. It would make a great gift for the knitter on your gift giving list too.

As always if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Useless Personal tidbit

I once bought 5 yards of brown fun fur to make some stuffed animals for an upcoming craft sale and as I was getting it cut the gal looked at me and said, “What are you going to make?”

I was so tempted to say, “curtains” or possibly “Fifty furry bikini panties. Oh yeah baby!”

But I didn’t.

These are the types of things I regret.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pattern Weights

There's nothing quite so useless as a paperweight. Just a heavy object to take up space, right? But a pattern weight - well that's a whole other story.

I had seen this idea a while back and wanted to make some for myself. Pattern weights are used to hold pattern pieces down on your fabric so pins are not necessary. They're also really handy to use to hold your fabric down nice and securely when using a rotary cutter.

I suppose they could be made out of any small heavy object, but I chose to use washers from my local hardware store.

Want to make some of your own? Here's what you need:

-Washers - I used 2 1/4 inch washers. I can't tell you what kind they are, I just picked out the heaviest ones I could find from my hardware store.
- Decorative paper
- Decoupage glue

I cut out circles using a scrapbooking tool, but you could easily just trace the washer and cut your paper slightly smaller. I cut out enough to cover both the top and bottom of each washer.

Then you simply need to apply the paper to your washer with the decoupage glue. I finished them off with two top coats of glue as well to seal them.

I liked the gold color of my washers but you could always paint them in addition to or instead of decorating them with paper.

Just wait for them to dry and you're ready to go!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is that 100% all natural love or a poly blend love?

I was Pouncing on Etsy the other day. I love Pounce by the way - if you’ve never done it you should try it. It’s a great way to see what’s new and what’s selling and it’s a much more productive use of your time than trolling the internet for pictures of Robert Pattinson without his shirt on. Not that I ever do such a thing.

Um . . . anyway . . . I came across an item that caught my fancy so I clicked on it and checked out the description and I was curious as to exactly what type of fabric it was made out of so I checked the Materials listing. And wouldn’t you know it, the thing was made with Love.

Yep, “Love” was listed as a Material. Now after I threw up in my mouth a little bit I decided to do a little research to see just how many people are out there drinking rainbow juice while stroking their fuzzy flocked unicorn figurine collection and listing “Love” as a material on their Etsy listings.

The result: 93,849. And no, they weren’t all tie dyed items either, though there were quite a few of those.

Okay, I get it. These are handmade items and we all love what we’re doing and what we’re making that’s why we’re making them. We put our time and hearts into these items but really, it’s still a business. Can’t we be a little professional? Let’s save the cutesy stuff for the description area or something. Do we really need to list “love”, “fantasy” and “karma” as Materials used in the making of our products. Are we 12?

Call me a grouch, or a killjoy or whatever but it’s just really annoying and ridiculous to me and if I ever get an inclination to buy something off Etsy and they have “love” listed as a material, I’m going to just say no. That’s just me.

I’m going to go punch a unicorn figurine now . . . and then Google “Robert Pattinson shirtless”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Make a Wet Bag Using a Vinyl Tablecloth

I’ve been in love with the “wet bag” concept ever since I saw my first one. A wet bag is a waterproof bag used mostly by mothers who use cloth diapers as a convenient and safe way to transport soiled diapers while they’re out and about. However, the uses don’t end there. Even if you don’t cloth diaper you could always use a waterproof bag to carry around soiled outfits and really anything else that’s been dowsed with fluids from either end of a baby.

My kids are well past the baby stage (Thank the Lord!) but wet bags are also great for toting around wet swimsuits after a day at the pool or the beach. No more leaking plastic Wal-Mart and Target bags for me!

My first instinct was to purchase one already made from one of many lovely sellers on Etsy. Then I decided I could easily make one myself. However, finding PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric) in any of my local craft stores was like trying to find a carnival worker with all of his/her teeth. I could have ordered it online but well, I’m just really cheap. So I brainstormed and decided to use an inexpensive vinyl tablecloth instead and it worked like a charm.

See the tutorial below for all the details. Keep in mind that a vinyl tablecloth is not as sturdy nor will it probably be as long lasting as a well made wet bag made with PUL. If you’re planning on using your bag often for soiled baby things, I would definitely suggest either using PUL or purchasing one made with PUL. However, since I knew my use of it would be limited to a few trips to the pool every summer, I wanted a quicker, cheaper option and after several wet swimsuit trips it’s held up remarkably well and it only cost me about $5 (3 for the tablecloth, 2 for the zipper and I’m counting the fabric as free since it was leftover from another project).

Want to make your own? Here's how:
- Vinyl tablecloth - the kind with the white felt stuff on the back – any size will do)
- Zipper – I used a 16 inch zipper. Choose a longer or shorter zipper based on the size of bag you want to make.
- Fabric – I used about ½ yard of home decorator fabric I had on hand (home dec fabric is a little thicker and sturdier than cotton but a good cotton will work just as well)
- General sewing supplies; sewing machine, scissors, thread, etc.

Step 1 - cut your fabric and vinyl

I wanted to have as few seams in my vinyl as possible in order for it to be as water tight as possible. Therefore I cut one large rectangle 34” by 14” (if you have a longer zipper then you can make your bag wider). Cut the same from your fabric (if you’re using scraps and don’t have pieces long enough you could always cut two pieces 17” by 14” and piece them together).
Cut a 1 ½ ” by 16” strip from your fabric – this will become your loop/handle.

Step 2 - attach the zipper

Place the lining (tablecloth) and the fabric wrong sides together (as shown above). Lay the zipper face down along the top edge of the lining and pin in place. Sew the zipper to the top edge of the bag.

Then turn the bag so you’re seeing the right side of the zipper and the bag and top stitch along the edge of the seam. Repeat for the other side of the zipper. It should look like this when you are done. Now (since we have no bottom seam) we have a big loop of fabric attached together by a zipper.

Step 3 - the handle

Fold the strip of fabric for the handle right sides together and sew with a ¼” seam allowance to form a tube. Turn the tube right side out, press flat and top stitch the edges. Fold the handle in half and pin to the side of your bag as shown below.

Step 4 - the French seam (ooh la la)

I adore French seams because they are neat and tidy and professional and I always talk with a really bad French accent when I’m sewing them and it drives my husband insane. Now the professional look of it is not really needed here because we easily could have hidden the raw edges between the lining and the outside of the bag, but I chose the French seam for this bag because it’s basically a double seam and therefore will make for a much tighter, more water proof seam than if we just sewed it once.

Transfer your bag with right sides facing you to your sewing machine. Be sure your zipper is open halfway since we’ll be turning the bag through that opening. Sew a ¼ inch seam allowance down each side of the bag.

Trim your seam as close to the stitching as possible, then turn your bag inside out through the zipper opening. Be sure to push out your corners with a blunt point.

Now sew a ½” seam along each side of the lining. Essentially you are now encasing your raw edges within another seam; making for a more waterproof seal and still keeping the outside of the bag looking flawless.

Step 5 - get wet

Now simply turn your bag right side out and you’re ready to hit the water.

See how nice and contained our seam is - and since it's doubled it is extra leakage resistant.

I like to store the kid’s dry clothes in it when we’re on our way to the pool - that way they stay dry even if the bag gets splashed. Then once we’ve changed I just toss their wet suits in it for the trip home. As always, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's a fine line, you tell me if I've crossed it

You know that saying "it's so ugly it's cute"? I like to pride myself on easily being able to distinguish whether something is ugly/quirky cute or if it's just plain ugly.

However, I worry that my judgement on such things tends to lose some of its objectivity when it comes to things I've made myself. So I'm going to rely on you, dear readers.

Don't sugar coat it. What do you think of this little guy? Ugly? Weird? or ugly weird cute?

He's got a little zipper mouth as you can see and he can hold things inside him. He's a little puppy and his ears have wire inside them so they're poseable. The ribbon coming out of the top of his head is for a metal clasp or keychain so he can be hung on a backpack or a bag. He's about 4 inches tall - not including his ears.

Would you take him home or leave him in the pound and pray that some blind little old lady comes and takes him home because no one with proper eyesight would dare?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Patriotic Project

Summer is in full swing and I've been busy with a lot of activities with the kids. I did however manage to whip out a quick project this past weekend just in time for the 4th of July.

I've had this flag fabric in my stash for years and all the cool banners I've been seeing recently inspired me. Two packages of bias tape later and I had a fabulous patriotic banner.

I had planned on putting it on the front porch but since it's not really outdoor fabric I worried about fading from the sun and rain, so I decided to spruce up the gazebo on our back deck instead. Add some alcohol and some food on the grill and we're set for a party!

In other good news, the container gardening is looking up. My teeny tiny squash seedlings have blossomed! I think they just wanted to live up to the fabulousness of their marker.

Have a Happy 4th of July everyone!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recycled Can Lid Plant Markers

I'm trying my hand at some container gardening this year and so far things are not looking all that impressive. I think my downfall might lie in the fact that I'm starting things from seed. I really should buy them at the nursery after someone with some skill has ensured that they survived the sensitive seedling stage. I'm not exactly renowned for my green thumb.

(Yes, I know this is not a zucchini but it makes for a much prettier picture than my sad little seedlings do.)
I realized the other day that I would need some plant markers so that I could remember what was what. Sure I could have just used a sharpie and a popsicle stick but where's the fun in that?

(This isn't really butternut squash either but that antique chicken is neat right?)

In the end I came up with a plant marker that made use of some recyclables so that I could be a friend to the planet and lessen my guilt for the untimely death of all the plants that are sure to perish in my care this summer.

Want to make your own? Here's what you need:

Can lids (I have a can opener that takes off the lids without leaving sharp edges. This is a definite must. You could also use frozen juice lids)
Forks (new, used or antique)
masking tape (optional)
Permanent Sharpie marker and a baby wipe

Stamping set
(I used the 1/8" set and I got it from Harbor Freight. They have other sizes available so you could use a larger set if desired.)

Place your can lid on a stable surface. I just worked on my crafting table as it's seen a lot of wear and tear and is really sturdy, but you're going to be smacking this thing pretty hard so think about that before you choose a work surface.

I used a strip of masking tape as a guide so that I could keep my letters fairly straight. This is optional if you have a good eye for making things straight, or if you like the look of random letter placement.

Then you just grab a letter stamp and start whacking away.

You might want to practice on a spare can lid before jumping in with your stamps. It takes a little experimentation to find out how many hits you'll need to make to achieve optimum results.

Once you're done, remove the tape and admire your work. You could leave it as is, or use the Sharpie method to add a little more dimension.

First off, make sure you have a baby wipe handy. Then, take a permanent black sharpie pen and color over your stamped letters. Really get the ink down into the grooves. Before the ink has a chance to dry, wipe across the letters with the baby wipe. This will remove all of the markers except for what is trapped in the indentations and will give your letters more definition.

Now it's onto the fork. I found some at Goodwill, but if you've got some extra ones lying around the house, or one that's been mangled in the dishwasher then this is the perfect use for it.

Take your pliers and bend the two middle tines back and away from the rest of the fork. Then bend the tips of them back up. You'll probably have to play with it to get it in the shape you want.

There just needs to be enough gap for the can lid to fit snugly. You might also have to bend/adjust the angle of the fork handle as well so that your plant marker will stand up nice and straight and tall.

And there you have it. A cute and quick recycle project for the garden!