January Craft Roundup

This year, I’ve decided to try doing a craft roundup at the beginning of every month for the prior month.

Of course, I’ve somehow managed to lose all the pictures I took of the gifts I made for one of my friends. It’s a shame. They turned out nicely.

However, I did manage to make myself a new pair of mittens. Finally.

A pair of handmade mittens with a section that flips over the fingers.I had made myself a pair years ago, and promptly lost one of them. Each year, I told myself I’d make matching mitten to replace the one I lost.

Of course, I lost the orphan mitten.

So, there we go. A new pair for this year. I didn’t follow a pattern, but I like how they turned out.

I’ve also decided to make a temperature blanket for this year. One row gets crocheted per day, and the color is decided by that day’s high temperature. Since I’ve been using scrap yarn, it’ll probably be more colorful than most people’s.

A partially finished crochet blanket.I like how it’s turning out so far. January has been rather cold, hense the blues and purple. That purple is actually 22 degrees and under. The dark blue is right around the freezing point, and the lighter blue is above freezing.

Hopefully, February will be more productive.

Cosplay Brainstorming!

A blurred picture of a woman in a homemade cosplay with the words "Cosplay Brainstorming!" superimposed over her.I realize the convention I’ll be attending isn’t until July, but last year, my friends and I talked about doing steampunk TMNT this year, and I’d like to carry through on that. Since my budget is next to nothing, that means I’ll be making everything.

I have a few ideas in mind.

Crochet Gear Shell
Since the steampunk look is all about gears and intricacies, I thought it’d be a good idea to incorporate that into the shell. Turtle shells naturally have different sections, so why shouldn’t I crochet some gears, make a little shell-shaped backpack and sew them on in an appropriate pattern?

It should be interesting to see how it turns out.

DIY Goggles
Much as I’d like to pick up a pair of commercial goggles, maybe like these gorgeous things, I’ve found quite a few DIY tutorials. Most of them are completely doable, and although the results wouldn’t be quite as intricate as some of the ones on the market, they should turn out well.

Corset – Maybe
I like corsets. I’ve always liked how they look, and one style I’ve tried on was actually pretty comfortable. That said, the vast majority are way, WAY out of my price range. A good corset may be amazing, but there’s no way I can afford one.

That said, I still have the notes from a panel my buddy and I attended last year about costuming on a budget. One of the topics that came up was DIY corsets. I still have to check out the web page, but if I can try my hand at making one, even a faux corset, I will.

A turtle plastron painted onto a lighter colored tank top.
It might be neat to see if I can incorporate this into the corset.

Clothes
When I think “steampunk” I think of skirts and intricate patterns. However, when I was chatting with another friend, she mentioned she liked how women dressed in steampunk style look in pants.

After looking at some pictures, I agree. But the thing is, this will be in early July, so a skirt might just be cooler. I don’t know. There’s still time, anyway.

Now, I should really break out the yarn and experiment with crochet gear patterns.

Where Can I Find Free (or Nearly Free) Knitting and Crochet Patterns?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.Where can I find free or almost free knitting & crochet patterns?

Although knitting and crochet are great skills to learn, since yarn is generally less expensive than clothing, it can be tricky finding truly free patterns to try. Recently, I’ve discovered four great resources.

Amazon
I hadn’t thought to look to Amazon for knitting or crochet patterns, but they have quite a few low cost options. For instance, this link: knitting patterns is what came up when I searched for patterns for knitting and then sorted the results from low to high.

Shortly before the holidays, I found quite a few free patterns that I downloaded onto my Kindle app. In fact, I made the below blanket off of one of them.

A blue patterned knit baby blanket.

Smartphone Apps
While you have to be careful with these, there are a few nice apps out there that offer free knitting or crochet patterns. If you decide to go on the hunt for apps, make sure you read the reviews before downloading or installing them.

There are several apps invented by craft magazines with the sole intent to sell the magazine by showing potential subscriber pictures of crafts and advertising free patterns. That said, apps are still an unexpected, potentially effective resource for free patterns.

HubPages
I’ve written on and off for HubPages for a while, but I’ve also done quite a bit of reading on them, too. You can find several free patterns. In fact, here’s what I got when I searched “free knitting patterns”.

A crochet doll of Leonardo from the TMNT.

If you like TMNT, I’d also posted a basic crochet pattern for turtle dolls here.

Pattern Sellers
It’s recently come to my attention that people who write and sell their patterns will sometimes offer modified patterns for free to their past customers. Some will also offer beta patterns to past customers in the interest of refining them before offering them for sale.

You can find these sellers in places like Etsy, Ravelry or Patreon.

While it can be difficult finding reputable places for free patterns, I’ve had a lot of luck with these sources in the recent past.

New Year Yarn!

Yesterday, I celebrated the first day of 2016 by picking up some new yarn. Thank you parents-in-law for the gift card, and thanks Michael’s for 55% off yarn sale!

A plastic bag of yarn with a pair of knitting needles sitting on top.That meant that today, I finally got around to making a blanket for my friend’s baby due in February.

Naturally, the cats were thrilled for an opportunity to claim my attention.

A black cat with green eyes looking at the camera with my hand holding the project I'm knitting resting on his back.
He’s so very helpful. He was lying on my stomach and trying to claim my arms, too.
A black and white cat lying on his back.
This little guy rarely sits or curls up on us. When I knit, though, he likes sprawling partially on me.

Our tabby paid me a visit, too, but I couldn’t get a picture of her, because she likes pushing her little head into my hands for scratches. She does that when I’m trying to type, too.

Those kitties are so sweet that I can’t get angry at them for wanting my attention. It’s quite an effective defense mechanism.

All of the feline interruptions aside, I still managed to finish the blanket! I haven’t taken a picture of its entirety, since the lighting in our house at night isn’t that great, but I did get this detail.

A knit blanket with a diamond pattern of blue, white, green and brown.That pattern was completely unintentional on my part. The blanket was knit using two strands of yarn throughout. The color lot in those two skeins were colored in just the right way to result in a diamond pattern.

So cool.

That’s part of why I enjoy using multi-colored yarn. I never know exactly what the pattern is going to be like when I finish making my project, and it’s neat seeing how it plays out.

I’d say this is a good start to the year.

Quick ‘n Easy Tutorial – Make Your Own Gift Tags!

The fact I’m writing this at just shy of 9:30 on December 23rd demonstrates just how last-minute I am with making and wrapping gifts. If you have a few last minutes gifts that you’d like to personalize, why not make your own tags?

This was quick and easy. All I needed were printed out tags, though you could easily draw your own if you’re so inclined, contact paper, scissors, a hole punch and some yarn.

Since I already had a tag-sized image printed out, I’ll use it as an example.

A picture of a small picture of a snowy bridge and trees with the words "We Live In A Wonderland" in the foreground.I’ve found that right around 2″ by 2″ is a good size for cards, though smaller sizes work, too.

Once you have your tag printed out, cut out two pieces of contact paper that are a little bigger than the tag. Carefully apply them to each side of the paper.

The above picture between two peices of contact paper.There will be bubbles, but they’re easily gotten rid of by scraping the contact paper with your fingernail or coin.

Trim the edges of the contact paper and punch a hole either in one of the upper corners or in the middle, near the top.

The tag sitting on a ball of yarn, next to a little box with the carving of a person sitting peacefully on it.Lastly, cut a length of yarn or string, fold it in half and put the folded edge through the hole. Then, pull the two tails through the loop and tie it to the gift!

There you have it. A unique tag for the perfect gift!

A bottle of herbs with a custom tag tied to it and the words "Make Your Own Gift Tags" in the foreground.
Hey, hey you. Pin me!

How to Make Crochet TMNT Ornaments

While there aren’t many traditions I observe this time of year, I have adopted the idea of getting or making a new decoration for our Yule Tree. In 2013, I made a lovely garland, and wrote up the pattern here. This year, I made a set of four TMNT ornaments!

What You Need

  • Green, red, blue, purple and orange yarn (they’re small, so if you have scrap yarn in those colors, you can use that)
  • 4 mm crochet hook
  • 6 mm safety eyes in whatever colors you’d like
  • scissors
  • plastic needle
  • marker (optional)

Pattern

1. 4 stitches in a magic circle
2. inc in each sc
3. inc in every other sc
4. inc in every 2 sc

An unfinished crochet project with the hook and marker still attached.You’ll have something that looks like this.

5-7. Sc all the way around
Switch to the mask color
8-10. Sc all the way aroundPut the eyes in stitches 7 and 10 on round 9
11. Sc all the way around
12. Dec every 2 sc
13. Dec every other sc
14. Dec until only 1 sc left

Once you’re at the final stitch, pull the loop until you can easily get the long tail through it. Pull that stitch tight around the looped tail and cut the yarn so there’s a decent length left.The top of a TMNT crochet ornament with the tail pulled through the last stitch.This part may get a little tricky, but thread the plastic needle with the remaining yarn tail and insert it into the knot formed by that last stitch. Then just pull the rest of the yarn down through the body of the ornament.

For added security, you can add a drop of craft glue or knot the yarn again.The top of a crochet ornament with a plastic needle stuck in it, viewed from above.While I ask that you not use this pattern to sell your creations or to replicate this pattern in any way, I would love to see your results! If you try it, feel free to leave a comment below with a link to your pictures.

Happy Winter Solstice!

TMNT ornaments on a Yule Tree

Behold: The Nightfury!

I enjoy the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. It’s just so much fun, and the characters are all great. When I found out my nephew is also a fan, I knew I had to find a pattern to make him a dragon all his own.

After minimal searching, I found this one over at the Sarselgurumi blog.  At first glance, I though it was much more simple than it was.

Yeah, it took me much longer to finish than I thought it would, and I made a couple mistakes in limb placement, but overall, I’m happy with how this little guy turned out.

I especially like the wings.

Right now, he’s waiting to be shipped off, but I think I’ll make another one for my husband, since he started playing with this one as soon as I showed it to him.

Happy dragon taming, all!

The value of handmade gifts

You can find this adorable pattern here.

Ok, let’s see if I can post this on the CORRECT blog. I’d accidentally posted it over on Alternative Wiring, at first. Woops.

Making your own gifts for others is something of a double edged sword.

On the one hand, few things are more satisfying than making something with your own hands and knowing it brings joy to the recipient.

On the other hand, it takes time to make. This can get in the way when you have as many time management issues as I do. Fortunately, my loved ones understand I have a hard time with dates and times when it comes to gifts or cards.

There’s a relatively common Pagan belief stating handmade objects have more power than mass produced things. The idea is that the creativity, time and effort put into the thing’s creation creates something of a “soul” and enhances the naturally occurring magic in the materials.

If you don’t prescribe to those beliefs, there is still something uniquely special about handmade things. Tiny mistakes or alterations in the pattern/materials makes the object completely unique. Choices made during the creation and preparation add a personal touch mass produced things simply don’t have.

There is beauty in handmade.

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse – Fail

I’m a fan of natural, DIY beauty products. I’ve had lots of luck with coconut oil as a part of a sugar scrub for shaving, witch hazel as an astringent and tea tree/lavender oil combinations for soothing irritated skin.

Since I’ve heard great things about diluted apple cider vinegar rinse (one part ACV, 2 parts water), I thought I’d give it a try last night.

Um, not a great idea for me. When I woke up this morning, my hair was a mass of curls, but it got progressively dryer and generally frizzy as the day progressed.

Either the mixture was off, or my hair just doesn’t react well to ACV.

If normal conditioning doesn’t help, I’ll be giving myself an oil treatment tomorrow.

ACV may be great for treating sore throats, and maybe even toning skin, but I don’t think I’ll be putting it in my hair again any time soon.

Scarves and plants. Is this what my life’s become?

Got work done on my scarf!

So far so good.

I’ve also been hardening my seedlings. I’m probably sticking them in the ground tomorrow.

Where the old and new meet. #morningglory #sweetpea #seedling

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Lastly, I’m trying to get out a bit more. Went for a walk, today. I enjoy ground ivy.