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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Useful, Craft-y Tools

Pom Pom Maker
Mine is from Lion. It was three concentric rings that snap together, so you can combine them indifferent ways to create different sizes and densities of poms. Also, there is a little bit of a ridge on the outside edge of the rings, which makes it really easy to cut only where you intend to.

Pointed Tweezers
I've used these a lot in the last few days on a sewing project I've been working on (more on that later). I'm not very good at sewing. Often, I 'forget' to remove the pins until I've sewed right up to that pin. If I sew over the pen, I may break the needle; to remove the pin by hand I need to lift the foot, which could misalign the (already misaligned--sh!!) seam. The tweezers were the perfect size and offered the right precision.

Rotary Cutter
I can't cut straight lines in fabric without one. Since I am without one, I just can't sew straight lines in fabric, period.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Decorating pt 2

As promised, a look at the Christmas Corner:

video

The stockings:
I started the pair in January, from the Falling Snow pattern by Jennifer Hoel. It was my first time making any kind of sock, and turning the heel was not as complicated as I had feared. I finished knitting them in February, I think, and then they sat in the closet for a long time. I needed to line them before actually using them, which I should have researched better. The blue one is mine, because I did it first, and so it isn't as good. For both linings, I just traced the outline of the knitted stocking, and then added an inch for the seam allowance. I then sewed and hemmed the woven fabric stockings. For the first one, I sewed the lining to the stocking by hand, in the same way you first learned how to sew. The result didn't meld. Before joining the second lining to the second stocking, I read some Techknitter. Specifically, this post on attaching linings using the overcast stitch. Best thing ever! Compared to the first stocking, it was easier, it is more flexible, and the stocking hangs better. I will probably end up ripping out the first lining and re-sewing it with the overcast stitch before putting them away for the season.

The tree:
As mentioned before, a wedding themed tree courtesy of my future in-laws.

The presents:
The ones wrapped in Justin Bieber are from my fiancé. He found the paper at Target and thought it was hilarious. It will be especially hilarious when used to wrap a birthday present.

The ones in the white and silver snowflake paper are mine. I decorated them with poms made from the leftover stocking yarn. I'm doing the same with the rest of the gifts we're giving. I like my gifts to look pretty, and to look pretty as an ensemble. Am I a bit obsessive? Probably. I taught Ben to make the poms tonight. He was unsure of the first, having fun by the third, and bored by the fourth. It was cool seeing him so excited about something he made, though. I may be able to get him to make a few more yet...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Decorating 2011 Pt 1

I decided to move the Christmas tree off the dining table, so that we can dine at the table. However, because it is a small tree and because we have a dog who likes eating things he shouldn't eat, we can't put it on the ground. Solution: put it on top of his crate. And then I had to make Christmas really hit that corner. I wish I took a before picture.

A picture that I hate but my fiancé loves is in that corner. It's bright orange and green, and has a quote from Camus on it. Normally, it escapes my notice because it's in an out of the way corner; until that same corner became Christmas Central. So, I found a simple, non-permanent way to make it fit: cover it with fabric!

Materials:
Transparent tape
Straight pins
Framed picture/image/art piece
Enough fabric to cover your art with at least 2 inches overlap. I used 1 yard for a piece roughly 18" x 18"

Make a note of how your piece is hung. Mine is hung by a wire, so I needed to secure the fabric in a way that would not impede the wire. If your piece is hung differently, adjust accordingly.

Please note: the apparent right side in this photo is actually the top. 








Lay your fabric down, wrong side facing you. Center the art piece on top of it, wrong side facing you. Fold the top of the fabric over the art, smooth, and secure with transparent tape. Repeat on the bottom. The tape is circled in the picture at right.









Fold one side of the fabric over the art. Using straight pin, pin folded fabric to the fabric on the top edge. Repeat at bottom. The pin is circled in the picture at left. At this point, you will have excess fabric at the edges. Repeat on the other side.












Gently pull and fold that excess fabric diagonally, in such a way to minimize the bulk. Pin in place. This pin is circled at left. Repeat at each corner.





 Hang and admire.



 More details about the mini-transformation to come!
















Friday, December 16, 2011

Surprise Christmas!

Last night, I came home to find...



a surprise, wedding-themed Christmas tree! Courtesy of my future in-laws. Now it feels like Christmas has reached our little corner of the world. Next up, finishing that last darn stocking, cleaning, and present wrapping. Not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I got a late start on my Christmas knitting this year--as in, I started last week. Last year, I started my Christmas knitting in September. Luckily, I'm planning fewer knitted gifts this year due to the lateness, but it has prevented other projects from moving forward.

The yarn for a cardigan I'm working on (mentioned here) is still unavailable. It was supposed to be coming December 22, but that has now been delayed to mid-January due to issues with the manufacturer. Luckily this project isn't a Christmas gift, so there is no hard and fast deadline; however, I had hoped to be able to wear it Christmas day.

The purple vest (also mentioned here) is finished. I am in the process of sizing the pattern, which I haven't done before. I'm stumbling my way through, but it can be hard to force myself to sit down and work on this difficult thing instead of knitting a relatively-simple secret project.

My FMIL's birthday is tomorrow. It crept up on me, and my go-to gift for her (chocolate) is out, since I don't want to sabotage her efforts to lose weight. I wandered around the bookstore for an hour, but nothing quite seemed to fit. Late last night, I got an idea for a personalized, home made gift; cross-my-fingers it will turn out and be done on time...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's been a while

I had been doing well on the posting-something-every-day front, until approximately three weeks ago. Oops.

I have a sweater design going, but it's on indefinite hold. When I originally bought the yarn, there wasn't enough in stock. I bought what was available and put in an order for the rest; it was expected to arrive last week. Unfortunately, the manufacturer's warehouse was out of stock. Fingers crossed, it'll come in December. Until then, inertia.

In the meanwhile, I've started something completely different. Last year, I made the Aran Necklace Camisole (Caroline Bautista, Interweave Knits Spring 2010). My FO is peach, but the yarn I originally intended to use was a dark plum. As I knit the braided cables, most of the detail was lost between the dark color of the yarn and shadows. I switched yarns, and the plum languished in the bottom of my stash for a year and a half. Because of the aforementioned inertia, I went stash diving, and got the inspiration for another design. I'm nearly finished; hopefully I'll be able to post it next weekend. Sizing may take longer.

My Black Friday "Haul" (because two items doesn't really qualify as a haul) includes More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. Coincidentally, Joëlle was my name at French Camp, where I was a counselor for a couple years. I really like that it's organized by the estimated time it will take to knit. On my knit list: Leah's Lovely Cardigan, toe-up socks, soft as a cloud cowls, very pretty lace scarf, beret, sideways fingerless gloves, spiral seat cushion, big lace scarf, baby bonnet, linen-stitch bookmarks, and pointy elf hat. If I actually make half of these, it will have been a wise investment.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

DIY Unity Candle

My fiancé was raised Jewish, I was raised Catholic; now we're both atheists and are planning our wedding (a civil ceremony, of course). He doesn't want any reference to anything remotely religious, so anything like "blessing," "this holy day," "the spirit" is out. I still want to do the Unity candle, because I really like the symbolism; the challenge was to make it non-religous. I have yet to see anything marketed as a unity candle that didn't have a cross on it, and hadn't found regular, pretty candles that fit the picture I had in mind, so I made one. It's really easy, but pushing the pins in left my thumb sore for several days.

Materials:                                                   Candle                                                          Scotch Tape                                                  Graph Paper                                                      Pen or Pencil                                                    Pins with Pearlized Heads


1. Draw your design on the graph paper. I did a simple grid, offset by two squares in either direction. Design anything you want, but be careful not to put the pins too close together. If they're too close together, they don't quite go in all the way, and any slight misalignment will be very noticeable. 

2. Putting tape on one end of the paper, tape paper to candle, being sure to line up the bottom of the paper with the bottom of the candle. 

3. Carefully wrap the remainder of the graph paper around the candle, again keeping the bottoms in line. Tape the paper to keep it in place.
4. Push the pins halfway in as marked, all the way around the candle. 

5. Gently tear away the graph paper. Remove any spare bits of paper or tape stuck on the candle.

6. Push the pins in the rest of the way. Ta dah!

The finished project
Close up

For a different look, you could use straight, unadorned pins alone, or put a bead or sequin on the head. 























Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is it good?

Can one still eat that opened can of beets that's been in the fridge for 9 days? Find out here. Those beets, as it turns out, are not so good anymore. Especially if they were stored inside an open metal can (oops).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ooo, pretty colors

I StumbledUpon this cool tool: Multicolr Search Lab. Choose up to five colors, and the tool automatically pulls pictures using those colors.


palette
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Great for testing color combinations, or looking for a landscape that matches your living room!