Technical Difficulties

I came home Wednesday night tired from shopping for last-minute Halloween supplies and subsequently carting them via weakling limbs to my apartment. I flopped on the futon and opened up my 5 year-old iBook. Suddenly—as if summoning banshees—the hard drive began screeching and scratching. And then it shuddered violently and shut itself down. Because my iBook loves me that much, it hung on to the very bitter end until I could safely transfer all of my precious photos, music files, and writing scraps over to the Manflesh’s much older and hopefully more stable Mac. Then, it shuddered and convulsed. Then it died, with one last gasp of screeching breath.

So…all of my photos and such are kinda hard to access right now. That means Fug Fridays may be infrequent. Mohair Knitter Mondays will last a bit longer as I have made those entries in advance. Everything else is up in the air, as this is a craft site and thus relies on a lot of photos to keep it interesting. Since this blog isn’t officially “here” yet (i.e. I've been blogging on it before finishing the design and code) , I’ll probably be really lazy about updates. Thus is my way of the craft ninja, I suppose.

Halloween Menu

For me, the best part of a party-prep is the food. I love food. I adore food. There's nothing better than a warm raspberry pie with a large dollop of ice cream after a hard day fighting enemies with my special knitting ninjutsu. And to combine my love of food with the creativity of preparing for a party—well, that's just ecstasy.

And forget All Recipes when it comes to finding recipes on the net (those people wouldn't hire me, much less interview me). No, my favorite recipe site is Epicurious. The recipes I've gleaned from them are mouth-watering compared to the bland community-based recipes from All Recipes. Strange, I know; you'd think it'd be the other way around. Surely recipes from real people would be much better than those from the culinary snobs who contribute to yuppie gourmand magazines. My only explanation is that the average American doesn't appreciate flavor when it comes to food. And yuppies do. Or something....

For Epicurian Halloween munchies, I'm eyeing their Brandied Pumpkin Pie and their Curried Pumpkin Seeds. Of course, I'm not such a devotee that I'm planning a menu based solely from them. Also in the mix is pumpkin bread (recipe to be determined), my mother's Cranberry Streusel bread, and Jell-O shot eyes (if I can find a round ice cube tray). If the Jell-O shot eyes are successful, I'm thinking of floating them in a spiked punch ala the Witches Brew from Kraft.

Lastly, check out these awesome food ninjas and their Halloween Supper. Truly a force with which to be reckoned.

Totoro Baby Bonnet

Awhile back, I randomly ran into a Totoro Baby Bonnet pattern via Flickr. I don't know any amine-appreciating babies, but I do want to convert this to an adult hat. Another thing to add to my ever expanding "to-do" list.

That same site, Hello Yarn, also has some other great free patterns worth checking out, particularly if you're looking for a nice cable project, skulls, or gorgeous double-color knitting. My other favorites include the Besotted Scarf, We Call Them Pirates Hat, and One Baaad Poncho. There are also some gorgeous handspun and hand-dyed yarns for sale, though I'm too poor to do anything but drool for now.

Spotlight: Flash Bags

Amazing artist and Etsy seller mLee was recently approached by a company called Flash Bags after they discovered one of her wood block prints through a feature on the Etsy front page. Flash Bags takes interesting, unique and beautiful (in mLee's case) works of art and turns them into simply gorgeous bags like no other, splitting the profits with the artist. Even better is that buyers have some customization control—being able to choose from a selection of artwork and styles to create a unique bag that's all their own. It's a great idea, executed in a stunning way.

Both shop links are definitely worth a browse for inspiration, if not for gift-purchasing.

Fug Friday: Ugliest Necklace

Joy! There's an annual Ugly Necklace Contest!

Witness above: the 2006 Winner. Truly an ugly necklace—though could it be uglier? If you think you can take this one on, there's still time to enter the 2007 contest!

More Puppets!

Remember StaceyRebecca? A really new blog, Puppet Building, just linked to her after finding my newest favorite puppet—the cute and a peeling banana.

Not much there yet, but it looks like they intend to collect anything and everything about puppets. So far, there are a few links to puppet tutorials.

Of course, my favorite puppet tutorial is from the Make blog on how to make an iPod Sock Puppet out of those annoying and expensive socks from Apple.

Awesome Product Photos—Light Boxes

Rainbow Jewel

Many people have asked how I take awesome photos. Some think I have amazing photo equipment and a high-end camera. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Let you tell me my dirty secret: PhotoShop, a Cannon PowerShot 410, and a $15 mini-tripod (or sometimes a stack of books). Oh, and a 5 year-old iBook.

So yes, the quality of my photos rely that much on PhotoShop, as well as my tripod. To get the background so bright and white, I need to start out with decent pictures and a lot of time and patience. My method is time-consuming and definitely not fool-proof—something that I really found out this week when one of the lights in my kitchen went out.

With the loss of that one tiny light bulb, I went from bright and crisp photos to dull and over-exposed looking atrocities by using my same PhotoShop methods. My biggest problem is I live in Seattle. And it's October—the beginning of our "second season." My apartment doesn't have this thing called "natural light" that most other parts of the country experience. I open the blinds in the morning, and my living room looks exactly like it did before I opened them. The only difference is that I can suddenly see the over-cast skies and rain-soaked porch.

Having crap photos and trying to sell what I create online just doesn't work. So my response? It's time to make a cheap light box for taking product photos.

The following three links are tutorials on making a light box. Read them, learn from them, use them. And then invest in cheap consumer-end photo-editing software, or download the open-source and free The GIMP. Save your extra craft pennies and don't bother buying PhotoShop. With a light box in hand, you won't need it.

Light Box Tutorials:

Anna Update

It's been slow-going, and in place of a picture, I shall give you words:

The sock is a gloriously deep rust color, fit for the gloriously beautiful female ninja who oversees this blog. The lace stitch is more of an "eyelet" stitch, and will form a stunning thick fishnet-esque fabric for any craft ninja needing to take on the forces of evil during the winter season. Currently, the sock is five inches long—approximately from knee to just below knee.

It'd be much, much longer, but I tried knitting while very sleepy at a friend's house over the weekend. Sleepy lace knitting is not a good idea, especially when surrounded by people carving pumpkins, eating sugar, drinking beer, and screaming shrilly at the porn shop across the alley.

Stuffed Felt Monster

Does your Halloween need more cute? Here's an awesome photo-tutorial on how to make a Stuffed Felt Monster. Via Make.

Mohairknitter Monday: BALACLAVA

A must-have for any ninja braving the frigid Artic. The mitts and balaclava are sewn in so your identity is protected while keeping you nice and toasty. Leave it to the Mohairknitter to create practical ninja gear out of mohair.

Anna Socks

Project: Anna Socks from Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine, Issue 40
Materials: Rowan 4 ply Soft (merino), "Teak"

This is my first time knitting socks, despite having been a knitter since the age of 11. The reason for my sock avoidance is that I'm just not a sock person. The second I come home, off come the shoes and socks. The only time I ever wore socks indoors would have been when living in the dorms (never know what you'll step on, even in your room), and when I lived in a drafty apartment with cracked hardwood floors.

So, you know this pattern must have really impressed me, being socks and all. I have high hopes for these socks. High hopes.

Fug Friday: Needs a New Model

Or, at the very least, Bernat needs a better art director. You know, someone who realizes that dressing this woman in all pastel colors and having her pose the way she does makes her look like an elf. And not a good, happy elf, but the type of elf you'd edge cautiously around and refuse any candy or other sweets from.

Mt. Bear Scarf and Mittens

For some reason, I really wanted a furry scarf. I think the seed for the idea had been planted in my head after watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, although it was a furry jacket that the female character wore—and I had seen the movie some time before actually deciding I needed a furry scarf. When I went to the yarn store to make my furry scarf, I knew I didn't want fun fur, and if you don't know why, read my website more. But the Big Wool Tuft yarn from Rowan, now that was something! Furry and cheesy in all the right ways, and none of the wrong ways of fun fur faux pas. The mittens came later, as a custom order request from someone who had bought my scarfs twin.


  • 2 skeins Big Wool Tuft (Rowan) in Rugged (brown)
  • 1 skein Cotton Stria (Manos del Uruguay) in Orange
  • 1 skein Encore (Plymouth) in Brown
  • Sz 10.5 dpns
  • Sz 10.5 standard needles
  • Tapestry needle

Pattern Notes:
Both projects are beginner-friendly. The materials listed above make both the scarf and the mittens. You need at least 1.5 skeins of Big Wool Tuft for the scarf, and less than 0.5 skein for the mittens (if making both, make the mittens first and then use the remainder of the yarn for the scarf). You need the Cotton Sitra for both, also, though you should not be close to running out of the one skein when finished. You only need the Encore for the mittens.

Mitten Gauge:
Using two strands of Encore yarn and 10.5 knitting needles. # stitches and # rows = #" x #". (Gauge for the scarf doesn't matter).

Mt. Bear Scarf

Directions for Scarf:

  • Using both the Big Wool Tuft and Cotton Sitra yarns as one yarn (double-stranded knitting), cast on 15 stitches.
  • Knit 1 row
  • Begin Drop Stitch:
    1. Insert needle through front loop as if to knit. Wrapping both yarns around the needle four times, pull through loop. Continue to end of row.
    2. Knit all stitches, dropping extra loops.
  • Repeat steps 1 and 2 of Drop Stitch pattern until scarf measures #" (or until desired length).
  • Knit last row, and bind off.
Mittens for Minerva

Directions for Mittens:

  • Using dpns, CO 20 in Big Wool Tuft and Cotton Sitra, double-stranded.
  • Row 1: k2, p2 in the round.
  • Continue in rib pattern for 2".
  • Change to Encore, using two strands of yarn at once. Knit to end. 20 stchs.
  • Knit next 2 rows.
  • Begin thumb gusset: k10, place maker, k1, m1, k1, k1, m1, place marker, k remainder (5 thumb stitches between markers).
  • Knit next 2 rows.
  • k10, k1, m1, k3, k1, m1, k remainder (7 thumb stitches).
  • Knit next 2 rows.
  • k10, k1, m1, k5, k1, m1, k remainder (9 thumb stitches).
  • Knit next 2 rows.
  • k10, remove markers and 9 thumb stitches (threading the thumb gusset stitches onto scrap yarn), CO2, k remainder (19 stitches).
  • k 16 more rows—about 4.5".
  • Begin Dec: k2tog all stitches.
  • Next Row: knit.
  • Next Row: k2tog.
  • Weave remaining stitches together and knot tail thread inside the mitten.
  • Thumb:
  • Divide 9 thumb stitches onto dpns. Pick up two stiches from the mitten.
  • Knit 3 rows (halfway up your thumb).
  • Next row: decrease 2 (7 sts).
  • Knit 3 more rows.
  • K2tog around (4 sts). Weave remaining stitches together.
  • Secure and weave in all loose yarn.

Work other mitten as above, reversing thumb gusset.

Fug Friday: Bernat...Then and Now

Awhile back, I wrote: "Bernat is the king (or queen) of terrible patterns—at least patterns that are free."

I take it all back. Someone actually paid retail price for this pattern booklet. Granted, this took place years before I was born, but still...what a poor fool. Even in the 70's, one would think potential customers would be put off by the unhappy kid's expression that clearly says: "Good God, get me the hell away from these freaky people and out of these freaky clothes or I will bite off this woman's nose right here and now!"

Lems' Arm Warmers Update

My customer, "Lemonade", snapped a shot of her in the arm warmers.

I'm simply ecstatic that they fit so well. Making something special for another person and having it turn out so well is one of the greatest feelings!