Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays! I hope you take time to breathe if you've been crafting gifts. (Some of you are probably still crafting. The end is near!)

Stuff yourself full of fatty foods, and then make something for yourself. Or work on a project you haven't had time to do because you've been tangled up in yarn and fabric scraps.

Bake cookies. Eat cookies. Repeat.

I already got started with some peanut butter cookies.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wire-Wrapped Rings

Earlier this month, I got my weekend dose of craft by taking a wire-wrapped ring class at Brooklyn Bead Box.

This store is dangerously close to my apartment, so I avoided it for a long time when I was completely broke. Luckily, Groupon came to the rescue. I used my Groupon to take the ring class, plus buy a bag full of supplies.

The class was laid back and fun. Sharon, the instructor, taught us the basics and then chatted with us as we tried oddly-shaped stones and more complicated wraps.

Brooklyn Bead Box has some crazy amazing stones. This one was my favorite. I think it looks like something David Bowie would have worn in Labyrinth. It's tough navigating a crowded subway when you're wearing this, but I'm almost certain I could use it as a weapon.

I was thrilled by this blue ring mandrel. Usually ring mandrels are black, so I snatched this one up to make some rings for Christmas gifts!

I'm giving wire-wrapped rings to no less than six people this Christmas! What's your go-to DIY Christmas gift this year?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Handmade Holiday Gift Exchange

Today is the last day for my Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway! Hop over to the giveaway post to win vintage and modern sewing patterns!

It's Handmade Gift Exchange time again! Over the summer, I made a lovely Anthropologie-inspired bracelet for my new friend Martha. This time, I traded with Jenni at Kissed by a Frog. Here's what I sent Jenni.

Crocheted Cupcake
I thought Jenni could use this as an ornament or just a cute little touch to her kitchen. I got the pattern from blog Bitter Sweet.

Wire-Wrapped Ring
This is my newest obsession after taking a wire ring class. (More photos of the other rings to come!)

Many thanks to Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous for organizing the Handmade Gift Exchange again! And thanks to my new friend Jenni for being my trading partner!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Guide: Knitters

My Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway is still going on through the end of the week! Hop over to the giveaway post to win vintage and modern sewing patterns!

As a knitter, there's no way I could ever afford all the awesome knitting accessories out there. But when Christmas rolls around, you can bet it's all on my wishlist!

Here are some of my favorites this year that would make perfect gifts for the knitter in your life! (Or gifts from you, to you. Heh heh.)

Heart Memoric Markers
Any knitter would love to have these cute hearts hanging from knitting needles! These are so much more exciting than plain old circles.

Addi Click Lace Set
I already own the Addi Turbo Click set. This lace set is great for small projects like hats, gloves, and all the good stuff that requires 16" circulars!

Funky Tree Knitting Needle Case
The all-important organizing tool for the knitter! I love this one for its multiple pockets that can hold scissors, stitch holders, and other necessities in addition to needles.

Malabrigo Worsted Merino
This is my go-to yarn when I am itchy for a new project but have no idea what I want to make. It's soft, and all the colors are gorgeous.

Interweave Knits Subscription
Knitting magazines are more exciting to me than People magazine, and that's saying a lot. Interweave Knits is one of my favorites. Sample Snips Subscription
It's like joining a Bacon of the Month club, except your cholesterol won't go up! Your favorite knitter will receive yarn samples in the mail every Tuesday.

Double Pointed Knitting Needle Tubes
Genius! Do you know how many double-pointed needles I've lost? Or how ugly they look with rubber bands tied around them?

Knitters: what's on your wishlist?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sew, Mama, Sew! Pattern Giveaway

Welcome to my Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway!

Update: Congrats to Tia and Jordann, winners of the vintage and mod packages! Thanks to everyone for entering!

I have sewing patterns up for grabs this time. Because it's the holidays and I wanna feel like Santa, there will be two winners this time! Here's what the two winners will get:

Winner #1: Vintage Package
Simplicity 8051 Girls' Jiffy Pantdress (size 12 girl)
Simplicity 5854 Young Junior/Teens' and Misses' Unlined Shirt-Jacket and Pants (Size 12)
Two BurdaStyle Personal Measurement Chart Cards

Winner #2: Mod Package
Simplicity 2381 Bags
Simplicity 2286 Misses' Pull-On Skirt with Trim Variations (Size A
Two BurdaStyle Personal Measurement Chart Cards

To enter, just follow my blog and then leave a comment below telling me what gift you're dying to receive this holiday. Make sure you also specify which package you'd like: vintage or modern. For a bonus entry, follow me on Twitter and leave a comment saying you followed me!

Giveaway closes on December 16 at 8 p.m. EST (5 p.m. PST).

Good luck!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Martha Stewart Cookie Swap and Holiday Party

My co-workers are all talented in some Martha-esque way, whether it's crafting, decorating, or cooking. I'm no professional baker, but when Martha Stewart hosted an employee cookie swap during the holiday party, I gave it a try!

For my cookie, I used Everyday Food's Black Forest Cookies recipe. They're chocolate cookies with even more chocolate folded into the batter at the end so that when you bite into them, you get dried cherries and large chunks of chocolate. My cookies were delicious, but they sort of resembled little piles of dog poo.

The company gave us Martha boxes for packaging. I love the polka dot paper and scalloped edges.

There were two long tables full of cookies. Some of the cookies at the swap looked so professional! I was intimidated when I brought my little piles of dog poo over.

Lots of delicious food floated around the party. Pierre Schaedelin always caters our parties, and he never lets me down! My favorite was a mini grilled cheese, but I couldn't get a photo because I was using my free hand to fight my co-workers for the last ones on the tray.

The meatballs were pretty good, too.

Martha Stewart chose to -- unlike me -- take some great photos instead of stuffing her face. Check out Martha's blog for photos of my coworkers and the party! (I'm definitely dancing in that next-to-last photo, but I'm barely recognizable in the dark. I may have also been singing "Holiday" by Madonna.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Yarn Tree

On Saturday, I was in a Christmas mood and decided to break out some of my holiday decorations.

Decorating a Brooklyn apartment is no easy task. In such a small apartment, one item can take up a lot of room and look like clutter. My solution? Tiny little Styrofoam cone Christmas trees!

I simply wrapped Lion Brand yarn around a Styrofoam cone, securing it at the beginning and throughout with drops of hot glue. I poked little beads from Michaels into the cone for decoration and added a circle of felt to the bottom so it wasn't scratchy.

It took only a few minutes to make, it was inexpensive, and it didn't make my brain explode. Now that's my kind of Christmas.

Have any ideas for decorating small spaces during the holidays? I'd love to try out some new decor!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dinosaur Knit Hat

Lots of baby hats have been hanging around my apartment lately, but all of them have been for girls. (See the Watermelon Hat and the Pumpkin Hat.)

My co-worker is having a baby boy, so I had to abandon fruits and find a more manly hat. Enter the dinosaur! Rawr!

What I used to make the hat:
1 skein Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Sprout
1 skein Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Lipstick

I created this pattern by knitting a basic baby hat with a rolled edge, k1p1 ribbing, and stockinette stitch. Then I crocheted three triangles. (I didn't stuff mine, but I saw a few other people online who did.) Then I sewed the triangles down the back seam of the hat.

Have any other manly baby ideas?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stitch Nation Sidewalk Shawl

Last month, I did a round-up of my favorite shawl and wrap patterns. After I posted it, I was itchy to make the Sidewalk Shawl.

I'm nuts about all the new Stitch Nation Yarn patterns. They are all lovely, but I really love shawls in the fall and winter. In fall, I can wear them in place of a jacket. In winter, I can bunch it up like a scarf on my walk to work and then wear it around the office. (One thing I recently discovered I can't do: wear the shawl as usual and layer my coat on top of it. I looked like a bloated snowman. Coincidentally, this was after a night when I'd eaten a large amount of broccoli and already felt pretty bloated.)

I chose the Mermaid color in Bamboo Ewe, which looks really pretty with gray, dark purple, and black. It worked up quickly, and I skipped the fringe. You just don't know what could happen with fringe. You could get it stuck in a subway door. You could get tangled in it. You could choke. Fringe is very unpredictable.

The gorgeous pineapple pattern:

Have you made any of the other Stitch Nation patterns? I'm dying to do another one, but I can't choose just one!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monkey Boy Birthday Place Mats

Earlier this year, a customer on Etsy contacted me to make custom place mats for a monkey-themed birthday party in November. I had almost forgotten about the party until I opened my Etsy messages to find a photo of the place mats from the party!

Photo by Silvia Enders

I love making these, but I really love seeing people use them for fun things like birthday parties! I especially loved the party favors tucked into the utensil holders.

If you're looking for place mats for the holidays or birthday parties, I have a few sets in my Etsy store, including some pretty polka dot sets!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Knitted Pumpkin Hat

You know much I love the Wacky Baby Knits book. It's Halloween, and I broke the book out again to make another hat.

This is possibly the last time I will torture my niece with a hat this calendar year. (She already has a headpiece for Christmas. I'll share that one later!) I love the way the purls in the pattern make the pumpkin look more realistic.

I was also thinking that if you skip the ribbing on the band of the hat, you could stuff it, sew it up, and make a cute little fall decoration from the pattern!

My niece and nephew went with a storybook theme this year dressed as a little pig and a wolf. Hopefully the pumpkin hat will stretch to the Thanksgiving holiday so she can wear it more than once!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Fascinator

On what was probably the hottest day of the summer, I rode my bike to Third Ward in Brooklyn and took a fascinator workshop.

I don't know where I'll wear this thing -- maybe a swing dance? -- but creating it was fun. I have a million ideas for other designs. This means I'll have several fascinators lying around and nowhere to wear them. But that never stopped me before! (See my extensive collection of hats, even though I'm rarely seen wearing a hat.)

The fascinator was made by lining a teardrop hat frame with three feather pads. I made the blue flowers from one large artificial flower that I ripped apart, and added three rooster feathers to give it some height. I also sewed some tulle just under one of the flowers.

I felt like the fascinator was a little dreary in color, so I bought some purple sew-on stones from M&J Trim, which I then hot-glued to the flower. Shortcut!

What I liked about this project:
The design possibilities are endless.

What I didn't like about this project:
Sewing things to the hat frame was a pain, especially since I was sweating so much and the needle kept slipping. If you're sewing one of these, use a really sturdy needle.

What I listened to while I made this project: my sweat drip onto the floor... and maybe even onto the fascinator. Ewww.

So whadya think? Where should I sport this crazy thing?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clothing Swap Tips

Since I moved to New York, financial and spacial restraints have pretty much put a stop to shopping for new clothing. My solution? Clothing swaps.

When I hosted a Singer Sewing Party back in May, a lot of the guests were using sewing machines to alter their clothing. My friend and I decided that a combination clothing swap/sewing party was inevitable.

Everyone at the party went home with a hefty bag of "new" stuff. My personal favorite find was a vintage emerald green velvet blazer! Big pimpin'. We ended the party with -- to my downstairs neighbor's disappointment -- a little Wii Dance-off.

It's easy to host your own party with your gal pals, even if everyone doesn't wear the same size!(And Wii Dance isn't a requirement, but it sure does make the party a lot more fun!)

1. Set up a sewing machine for guests. There will be a lot of different sizes, so you want people to be able to alter clothes on the spot.

2. Organize! Make piles around the living room for shirts, pants, accessories, and dresses to keep everything separated.

3. Designate a changing area. I use the bedroom, but offer the bathroom to the more modest guests.

4. Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Make sure you have at least one full-length mirror in the changing area.

5. Pass around books for inspiration. I used Little Green Dresses and Megan Nicollay's Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt reconstruction book.

6. Provide munchies. Munchies are not only yummy, but they will keep the guests rotating from the trading room to the kitchen so no one gets swap burn-out! I like to keep it simple: cheese, crackers, hummus, chips, fruit.

Ever hosted a clothing swap? Have tips to share?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tote Bag with Bow

You know how much I love the perk of sewing classes at work with the ladies from Singer.

Last week, the project was this lined tote bag with a bow. The fabric just happens to be one of my favorite colors (purple!).

It took me about 2.5 hours to complete this (keeping in mind that the pattern pieces are cut and prepped for us when we arrive). This tote is one of my favorite projects we've made in the class.

The straps do double-duty as both straps and loops that secure the bow onto the tote. Plus, it's lined for people like me who carry books, lunches, yarn, and other super important items. Heehee.

What I liked about this project: Considering how great the final product looks, it didn't really take that much time to sew. I also like the contrast of the bow fabric on the tote fabric.

Another great thing about this project is that you can switch out the bow for a different look. Or you can use a wide ribbon instead of the fabric bow.

What I didn't like about this project: The bow was a big pain. Thankfully, the Singer gals had already cut and pinned it for us, but sewing it and turning it inside out was tedious.

What I listed to while I made this: Coworker chatter.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Favorite Yoga Poses for Crafting

I've been fortunate in my crafting career to avoid any serious accidents like a sprain or carpal tunnel. I have, however, had my fair share of back pain.

Sometimes I sit on the couch or in the floor crafting for hours. The real killers are cutting out patterns and knitting with tiny needles.

Last weekend, I was cutting out circles for the Felt Flower Heart Wreath for a good half-hour when I stood up to get water. Yikes. Crazy back pain! I felt like an old bent-over man scrambling to find his balance and his cane.

Sometimes taking breaks just isn't enough. In those cases, I do a few simple yoga poses during and after crafting. I am not a professional yoga instructor, so don't try these if you think something crazy might happen.

Here are a few of my go-to poses.

Cat and Cow
This pose feels great when your back is stiff and needs some stretch. I do this one after cutting fabrics or using scissors a lot in general.

Image from

Block Under Your Sacrum
You don't have to own a yoga block for this one. You can use a rolled-up blanket or towel and still feel a nice stretch. I like to do this pose before bedtime. I do not usually put my block up as high as in this photo, and I still feel a stretch. No need to go crazy on the height!

 Image via

Sun Salutations
You don't have to be as bendy as this unrealistic might-be-a-contortionist lady. (Trust me: I'm not!) A simple sun salutation gets your back in motion. Sometimes I do these the morning after crafting.

Image via

Have any tricks for keeping your body pain-free during crafting? I'd love to try them!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Felt Flower Heart Wreath

It's around this time of year that I feel super droopy and upset that summer has left me. It's a rough transition. I went from using daylight hours to bike and hang out with friends to dragging myself home after work to a dark hallway full of dead plants and spider webs.

My hallway needed a real pick-me-up, and I've had my eye on the Felt Flower Wreath from Little Things Bring Smiles for a while.

Here's my version! (I'll spare you the photos of the dead plants and spider webs.)

What I used to make this project:
Grapevine heart wreath from Michaels
Blue and purple felt
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Disappearing ink pen
CD (for tracing)

Here's how I made the flowers:
I followed Katie's how-to pretty closely. Trace circles onto the felt using a CD and a disappearing ink pen. Cut out the circle.

Begin to cut your circle into a spiral.

The finished spiral will look like this:

Roll it toward the center to form the flower.

I used the excess felt at the end to seal the flower and make it stick to the wreath more securely.

Hot glue!

Hot glue your flowers to the wreath! I would suggest arranging them before gluing to make sure you're happy with the color combinations and placement.

What I liked about this project:
It didn't take a lot of time, plus the supplies didn't cost more than $10!

What I didn't like about this project:
The pieces of the grapevine wreath kept falling off. I'm worried that the flowers are not going to stick!

What I listened to while I made this project: M83

What kind of little touches do you put around the house when it gets cold?

Monday, September 26, 2011

A to Z: About Me

Sometimes my craft blog is not very personal. Yeah, you know I like polka dots and baby hats. You know I'm a procrastinator. You even know what my niece looks like. But do you know what I gorge on while watching episodes of The Simpsons and Monk?

Following in the footsteps of my friend and fellow blogger at Elephant is Love, I decided to fill out an A-Z survey. Maybe you'll learn something you didn't know! And if you do A-Z on your blog, link to it in the comments so I can learn something about you, too.

A. Age: 29. Still deciding how I'm going to persuade friends to cancel holiday party plans so they'll join me for a 30th birthday celebration in December.

B. Birthplace: Kentucky

C. Chore you hate: Laundry. This would not be so bad if I didn't have to lug all my laundry up and down several flights of stairs and carry it two blocks away.

D. Dogs: I don't have a dog, but someday -- when I have a yard and a larger space -- I would like to. He'll probably be a Wheaten Terrier. Or maybe a Scottish Terrier. Or maybe he'll just be a nice little dog I pick up at a rescue. Who knows!

E. Essential start to your day: Face washing. I can't even look out the window without first washing my face.

F. Favorite Color: Purple or blue. I could just combine them and go with indigo.

G. Gorges on: Peanut butter. Anything peanut butter.

H. Hoards: Craft supplies, duh!

I. Instruments you play: Piano and (barely) fiddle

J. Job Title: Web Producer

K. Kicks: Pretty much flats every day, except in winter when I wear boots that I end up loathing by January.

L. Last read: Life by Keith Richards

M. Music all-time fave: the Beatles

N. Nicknames: Red (unacceptable if you're a man over the age of 12, unless you're my relative)

O. Office decor: We're discouraged from having a lot of personal items at our desk, but I have photos of my niece and nephew, a magazine cut-out photo of the Muppets, and random papers that were relevant months ago but aren't really now. I should probably take those down.

P. Phobias: Mice. I realize NYC is not the ideal place for me. Mice are #1 on my list of reasons to move. This is only one thing on a list of hundreds of things that I'm scared of. Clowns? Heights? Mascots? Yes, yes, and yes.

Q. Quote of the day: "I went all Kentucky on you and didn't give an area code with the phone number." -- said to my coworker today.

R. Random fact: I'm the only redhead in my family. Yeah, figure that one out. But don't tell me when you do. I prefer to live in the dark.

S. Siblings: One younger brother

T. Things that tick me off: Laziness and people who complain a lot. Just shut up and get on with it!

U. Underwear: Usually cotton, and it's gotta be comfy. Nothing digging around down there.

V. Vegetables you hate: Peas

W. Word of the day: perspicacious. It's fun to try and say it. Go ahead. Try.

X. Xylophone concerts given: 3, all under the age of 5.

Y. Yummy food that you make: I've been told my biscuits and gravy are not too shabby, but I must credit my mom for that. I also make a really nice creamy peanut butter pie. Mmmm. Pie.

Z. Zoo animals: Most animals scare me. I like the penguins because they're behind glass and pretty fun to watch. I doubt they'd eat me if given the chance. Monkeys on the other hand? They'd totally eat me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Favorite Patterns: Shawls and Wraps

I usually transition into winter with an ambivalent attitude, but I had a great summer full of beaches, babies, smiles, road trips, bikes -- sigh. While there are major positive life changes coming in the near future, it's harder to say good-bye to summer this year.

To ease my pain, I bring you some of my favorite shawl and wrap patterns from the web! I doubt I'll get around to making all of them, but it sure is nice to dream.

Are you working on wraps or shawls for fall?

Herringbone Knit Cowl
This one makes me want to drink a gallon of hot chocolate and then pass out on the couch. Not that I need a cowl to do that.

Versatile Shawl
There are many different ways to wear this pattern, and they all look awesome.

Bamboo Wedding Shawl
This would be so pretty in a jewel-tone green. Love the drape.

Sidewalk Shawl
I'd probably skip the fringe. The pattern looks like it would work up quickly. That's a bonus when your to-do list is as long as Santa's.

Bohemian Shawl
Love the open work on this one. I bet you could also bunch it up and wear as a scarf.

Coin Lace Stole
I have worked with this cuddly yarn before, and I'd gladly do it again -- especially in this color.