Top 3 Crafty Podcasts

As national craft month comes quickly to a close, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite crafty podcasts. DIY

3) Destination DIY Destination DIY is a independently produced radio show from Oregon, US that is also released as a podcast. It tackles a variety of crafty topics, from maker fair to crafting disasters. The professional quality of this podcast makes it a joy to listen to. Unfortunately it is not produced very often.

imake

2) iMake iMake is a multi-craft podcast from Guernsey, an island dependency of the UK. It usually consists of a craft segment, and a segment about Guernsey itself. My favorite thing about this podcast is the range of crafts it covers, some of which I had not heard previous to this podcast.

Electric Sheep

1) Electric Sheep Electric Sheep is a knitting podcast, featuring pattern reviews, knitting essays, a ninja sheep, Molotov chickens, and beards. This smart and funny podcast from London, England, is the only crafty podcast that Fire Beard has ever willingly listened to, even the kids like the yearly audio panto at Christmas Time.

In celebration of national craft month check out some of these entertaining crafty podcasts!

Gift Giving Lessons

This holiday season, like most holiday seasons, I ended up with many gifts I loved, and I few I'm not so keen on. I also gave a few gifts that the recipients were not so keen on (kids don't keep these things to themselves). In an effort to avoid poor gift giving decisions next year, I am cataloguing the lessons learned this gift giving season for future reference.

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Lesson 1: Unless you are a professional fashion designer or stylist, and know the size and style of the person you are buying for, don't buy clothing. It is inevitably the wrong size, style, color, or fit. If you need to give clothing, accessories in neutrals are safest. You can't really go wrong with a pair of black gloves and a matching cozy hat.

Lesson2: Sometimes the things they like the most, are not the things they ask for. Firebeard's grandparents gave my daughter a magic kit. She had never previously expressed an interest in magic, but she has played with almost nothing else ever since.

Lesson3: Getting what they ask for doesn't guarantee they will like their present. My daughter asked for a diary for Christmas, so I got her a really cool one, with great reviews on amazon. She hated it. She didn't want a cool diary, she wanted a pad of paper.

Lesson 4: Even kids appreciate digital gifts. My son has played with the "barefoot atlas" app the good doctor gave him for hours at a time.

Lesson 5: If you are at a loss for what to give, a luxurious, yet practical gift, like fancy soaps or shaving cream, will almost always be appreciated. I became very ill Christmas evening. Laying on the couch under a stack of blankets and cuddling a heating pad, the only gift I was thinking about was the thick cuddly pair of socks I had received earlier in the day.

Lesson 6: Giving nothing is better than giving something unwanted.

Our Newest Family Members

On Easter Sunday, the Easter bunny left more than just eggs in our yard, he also left two adorable baby chicks.  The kids found them in a basket with a note from the Easter bunny, asking the kids to give his chicks a good home.

They are growing faster than any other chicks we have had, perhaps because there are only two chicks sharing feed.  Above is a pics on the little girls in their brooder box (basically a wooden box with a heat lamp on top) yesterday, already looking pretty grown up.

As you can see, they are very well loved.

FO - Twinkle Twinkle Little Socks

As I stated in a previous post, I have actually had more time to craft since I started working full time than I had prior to working full time, due to a period during my working hours my coworkers foolishly refer to as lunch time.  I have more accurately dubbed this hour during my day craft time, and have used it to great advantage.  One of the projects I have been able to complete during this time is the Twinkle Twinkle Little Socks Pattern by Aimee Skeers.   I really enjoyed knitting this pattern (which is especially surprising because I tend not to enjoy knitting socks).  The open lace work was easy enough to be fun, but difficult enough to keep my interest, and the heel (a mixture of short row, and heel flap) was brilliant.  I love the finished object - they are beautiful, fit very well, and are cozy warm.  Now for the details;

Dragon Cake

I forgot one of the best cakes (Thanks for reminding me Gadabout Knitter)! The dragon cake that my MIL and SisIL made my son for his 2nd birthday.  So here it is....

The wings and fire are made of fruit leather - pretty clever I thought.

The party was Mighty Knights themed, and the dragon cake wasn't the only dragon at the party.

I created the "fabricy"part of the costumes for the human and animal guests, firebeard made the wooden shields.

Highly accurate armor, don't you think?

Chalk Alternative

I love chalkboard paint.  I use it on just about everything.  Even my dining table is covered in chalkboard paint.  There is just one problem.... chalk.

Even if you forget about allergies, and the mess that chalk dust makes, chalk still has a serious flaw.  Chalk will not hold a point, it simply  breaks too easily.  So it is nearly impossible to write fine lines or on small surfaces with chalk.  I have seen a few new liquid chalk pens that write wonderfully, but they are very expensive (around $5 or $6 per pen).  What is a thrifty, chalkboard loving gal to do?

Buy a soap stone marker like the one pictured above.  Soap stone is an extremely soft stone.  It is so soft that a small amount of it will actually rub off on hard surfaces and leave a light mark.  This mark can be removed, but it does not rub off as easily as chalk, making it ideal for marking on items that will be handled (like the above food jars).  They can even be sharpened like a pencil, so they can write very fine lines.

Soap stone markers are traditionally used by metal workers, as they write easily on metal.  And since they are a tool they can be found, rather cheaply, at hardware stores.  My soap stone marker, seen above, was found at my local hardware store for about $2, and refills can be found for about $1 for a five pack (not that you will need them - I have used the same piece of stone for about 1 year now).

Happy marking...

Thread Organizer

Fire Beard was able to come home this weekend, which was great for the kids.  It isn’t something he will be able to do every weekend, since the cost of gas is so high, but I think that the transition will be made easier for the kids by this early first visit.  

Since Fire Beard Vacated his section of our office I have been transforming it into my studio.  I was inspired by some of the beautiful crafting spaces I have seen on Pinterest, to create a space that that was more organized, and more beautiful.  When the transformation is complete I will show you my entire “studio,” until then, I will show you some of the pieces I am creating to make this space my own.

This thread organizer is probably one of the most useful changes I have made in my craft area so far, as my thread organizer was constantly falling over, and allowing the spools to roll across the floor.  To make this organizer I painted an unattractive cork board that we had on hand.  I covered the cork portion with fabric (I glued it on with modpodge).  After spray painting the thread holder, I screwed it on to the cork board.  Then I mounted the whole apparatus on the wall.

You may be wondering why I didn't simply mount the thread holder to the wall.  Well, mounting it to the cork board allowed for an additional use.

I could stick pins in the cork to the bobbins as well!

Recycled Crayons

It is back to school time once again, and you know what that means, new school supplies -  Fresh notebooks, full bottles of glue, and best of all, new whole pointy crayons!  But what do you do with the old broken bits of crayon that sit neglected in the shadow of the new crayons?  You make crayon blobs.

Simply take your broken bits of crayon (paper labels removed), stick them in an oven safe mold, and melt them at 175 degrees Fahrenheit until they are well melted (about 30 minutes).

Helpful Tips:

  • Use a mold that will not be used for food later, or line the mold with paper.
  • Don’t be tempted to turn the temperature up, or leave them in too long, because the pigment will sink to the bottom of the mold.
  • Small molds are easier for little hands.  Try not to make your crayon blobs larger than will comfortably fit in a child’s hand.

If you want to be even greener, you could try putting your filled mold in a car on a very hot day.  I know my car will get hot enough to melt crayons :)

New Beginnings

Spring has sprung in my corner of northern Florida.  The few trees we have that loose their leaves are now covered in blossoms, little green shoots are pushing their way out of the soil, and the world is bathed in daily showers.  The entire scene gives a sense of rebirth and renewal, like the earth is gearing up for something new and wonderful.

This time of year makes me want to start anew, re-prioritize, and refocus.  One of the things I have decided to focus on this year is making more time for me and the things that I want to do.  As a full time stay at home mom of two, and part time crafter, I stay very busy.  It is all too easy to pour all my effort into my home and family and have nothing left over for me.

So, why am I spending some of my, “me time,” blogging?  Because I enjoy it.  Every time I make something or do something, and I am asked how I did it, I think, “I should write a tutorial about this.”  I like to share my knowledge.  I hope that it will help others.  It makes me happy.

Happy Holidays

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth, or died, or stopped blogging altogether. I don't even have a good excuse for my long absence.  I simply fell out of the habit of blogging, and even having good material to share didn't motivate me to do so.  Why the sudden return then you may ask?   It is all about the timing.

So far December has been a bit of a roller coaster for my family, filled with ups and downs.  Right now we are having a bit of a down turn.  It started when my son came down with a high fever, which turned into strep throat and a bad sinus infection.  My MiL came down with pink eye while helping me keep the kids seperated.  I got both the sinus infection and pink eye, then DD came down with the sinus infection.  The bad news is that I look like I have been punched in the face due to the combo of red eye and dark circles from lack of sleeep.  Also, this is my first ever bout of pink eye, and it is more unconfortable than I expected.  On the plus side the kids are far more doscile than normal, and Ihave gotten some knitting done while sitting with them.

Dengue, West Nile, and EEE on the Rise

Fellow Floridians, and travelers to tropical and sub-tropical climates, mosquito borne illnesses are on the rise in both animals and humans.  In the past few days the 2nd Floridan of the year died of Eastern Equine Encephalitis.  This person was from a county very close to my own, near the Florida Georiga border. These illnesses are very dangerous.  Please take precautions when mosquitoes are about to help prevent the spread of these diseases.  Follow this link to learn more about mosquito borne illnesses and prevention.

What is a Sloper or Block?

When a dressmaker wants to make a fancy pattern using the flat pattern method they usually begin with a sloper or block.  A sloper is a basic pattern without seam allowances, made to fit the measurements of the person who will be wearing the fancy pattern.  Once a sloper is perfectly fitted it can be used to create a lot of different clothes by changing the details, like the length, or neckline, and adding fancy stuff life ruffles.

Why would a knitter care?

Knitting schematics are basically flat patterns.  If a knitter has a perfectly fitted sloper, and knows the measurements of that sloper, then the knitter should be able to adjust the measurements of the knitting pattern to match the measurements of the sloper, and get a perfectly fitted garment.  Interested yet?

I am currently adjusting a pattern to fit me based on  a sloper, and I plan to tell more about it once I get a bit further into the pattern, so stay tuned.

Fun, and a little Sun

With heat exhaustion, and being carried away by rouge bands of mosquitoes becomming real possibilities, I had had to get creative at play time.

The first solution; and large high powered fan pointed directly at the play area.  Benefits; a constant stiff breeze makes the temperature feel like it has dropped about 10 degrees, and the mosquitoes seem to be blasted away by the breeze (on the other hand the dragonflies like it, and look like they are playing a game of chicken with the fan to see who can get the closest).  Drawbacks; high powered fans can mangle little fingers, so I can't relax for a second out there, and our daily thunderstorms mean dragging the thing inside and outside every time we use it.

The second solution; and indoor chalk playground.  Benefits; central air, and no mosquitoes, need I say more?  Drawbacks; chalk has to be scrubbed off the floor, and my kids draw all over the floor.

Do you have a creative way to keep cool and have fun?  Tell me about it.  Leave a comment .

Visual To Do Lists

I started drawing to do lists for my kids, because they are not able to read yet.  My reasoning was that they would be able to recognize the task I drew on their list, and then perform it.  I found very early that my ability to draw had deteriorated to the point that the kids often had no idea what I had tried to draw.  I was not deterred however.  I continued to draw to do lists, and they have become more recognizable over time.  I have even started drawing them for myself.  Here is an example;

While I won't be exhibiting in a gallery any time soon, I am enjoying drawing regularly for the first time in years.  Give it a try.  You might enjoy it, get your kids to do their chores, and become a better artist all at the same time.

Success in the Garden

My daughter and I were shocked yesterday when we found these giant cucumbers hiding in the back of our cucumber patch.  They had survived the early plucking most of our other cucumbers have suffered, because they were nestled behind and under the bushy leaves of the plants.  The size of these makes me wonder how much bigger they would have gotten had I not discovered them.

These beauties are Burpee's burp-less variety, grown organically.  The sandy soil they were planted in was heavily amended with compost, and planted throughout with marigolds.  So far these plants have flourished with little care.

Our dinner was graced with these beautiful Roma tomatoes, also picked from our garden.  This is the first year I have successfully grown tomatoes in my garden, and I couldn't be more pleased.  So far the only pest I have encountered is stink bugs, which are more annoying than harmful.  Blossom end rot is a bit of an issue when we get excess rain, but it goes away pretty quickly (I think the raised bed they are planted in helps).

I found this bizarre little creature crawling on my foot while relaxing in the yard the other day.  I have no idea what it is, but I find it's hot pink legs and wings intriguing.  Do you have any idea what this thing might be, besides an abomination?

FO - 75 yard Malabrigo Fingerless Mitts

Pattern: 75 Yard Malabrigo Fingerless Mitts, by Jeanne Stevenson Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Velvet Grapes (approx. 63 yards used) Needles: US 7, 4.5 mm Notes: The yarn used in this project was left over from the Pauline Bonnet.  I was worried through most of the knitting, that I would not have enough yarn, but I ended with an excess.  I could easily have embellished the mitts as I had the Pauline Bonnet with the left overs.

Additionally, the mitts turned out rather big for my hands (women's size small/medium in gloves).  Firebeard could, if he so desired, wear these mitts himself.  Had the mitts been knit to fit me, as intended, even more yarn would have been left over.

If I make these mitts again, I will reduce the size significantly.  I might also increase the length of the cuff, as it is rather short.

I would consider knitting these again, if I had about 70 yards of Malabrigo leftover after a project, as this pattern gives a very practical use of a small amount of yarn.  However, I will rewrite the pattern to fit my hand first.

Back Home

My family and I have been home for a few days now, but only today  have I begun to feel like my brain is working again.  We visited the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.  The temperatures were in the 70's, the wind was gentle but constant, and despite the near constant rain the humidity still felt low.

We came home to, "air you can wear."  The humidity was so high that you could actually see faint traces of water in the air.  It is hard to explain this phenomenon, but I will try.  It is a bit like a fog that is unable to burn off, even in the full heat and sun of midday, and a haze hangs over everything in view.  It feels like a steam room, or a bathroom after a long hot shower.  Like a thick wet blanket wrapped tightly around your body on a blistering hot day.  Muggy does not begin to adequately describe what the air feels like.

Today, even though the temperature was 95 degrees farenheit near my house, the weather was pleasant.  The humidity had dropped to around 50%, and there was a breeze that, while still warm, was cooler than the surrounding air.  Sitting under the shade of a large oak tree this afternoon, I felt as if I could think for the first time since leaving the mountains.

As you can probably tell, visiting North Carolina is like taking a breath of fresh air for my family (almost literally).  I had planned to tell you in detail everything about our trip, but as they say, a picture says a thousand words.  I think these pictures tell more eloquently of our trip than I could.

Beautiful isn't it...

By the way, I have a freebie planned that was inspired by this trip. I hope to get it up tomorrow or the next day (fingers crossed), so keep an eye out for it.

~Gerwerken