Marzipan Yarn Ball and Knits Tutorial
It looks like in response to the overwhelming response VeganYumYum received for her awesome vegan cupcakes topped with marzipan knits, she posted a tutorial on how to make the yarn balls, as well as how to create the knitted texture. You can see her detailed step-by-steps and clear pictures at the post How to "Knit" Marzipan.
Awww, this octopus charm found via the Craft: blog is just so darling that I had to add it here if only to keep track of it for a future project. And what a great tutorial it is, especially for someone like me who seems to be cursed in the ways of claymanship.
Oh, the Cunning Mrs. Darcy
The pattern comes from Ramblings of a Knitting Obsessive, a three-month old blog that I've already added to my RSS feeds. Despite the fact that the cardigan is only sized for a 34" bust (tiny!), I'm adding this to my tentative to-knit list. I'm thinking it'd be lovely—and affordable—in Knit Picks Shamrock, or Cascade 220 Tweed. Or maybe I can find something soft and slightly fuzzy, like a baby alpaca.
I probably would have bought yarn for it last night if I didn't already have, oh, my entire Knit List 2007 to tear through. And I can't forget all the yarn I already have for the following projects outside of my resolutions: the two-tone shrug from Fitted Knits (using left-over yarn), a U-vest also from Fitted Knits, the Union Square Market Pullover from Interweave Knits Fall 2005, and the Elfin Bride.
Eep! That's a lot of knitting!
Chinese New Year Good Luck Bags
More Lunar New Year goodness coming up! Here's a tutorial for an embroidered Chinese New Year good luck bag from Purl Bee: "This fun embroidery project makes a great...small token of good luck in celebration of Chinese New Year. Fill the bags with favorite candy, incense, lucky coins (maybe chocolate ones!), or a special greeting."
Mmmmm...Lucky chocolate...A ninja's best friend...
Today, my local newspaper ran an interview with Steve Dodds, author of the book Re-Creative: 50 Projects for Turning Found Items Into Contemporary Design. Dodds is a regular contributor to ReadyMade and has a penchant for collecting curb-side materials and giving them new life. Sound familiar?
The above article also includes a sidebar detailing the steps to make a "record album mail organizer." Not only is it a useful way to reuse records, but it's a change from the oh-so-three-years-ago record bowl or record cuff.
I've never found too many patterns I like at MagKnits. However, I have recently been on a sock kick, and when I saw someone link this pattern for basic "tech socks" with a chart for an Apple logo, my knitting fingers began to twitch. Suddenly, an image of over-the-knee socks (or even thigh-highs) with an Apple logo popped into my mind. How scandalous it would be to wear a short skirt with tall Apple socks to my current place of employment—their direct competitors. BWAHAHAH!
Alas, first I must finish up the various belated Christmas and birthday and holiday-less spoilage gifts for the manflesh's mother. Then I have to finish that other pair of socks I'm a quarter way through—a pair that I listed on my 2007 knitting resolutions (the embroidered ones). Oh, and I'm sure there's a ton of other half-finished projects I really should get to before these socks. Waiting until all of those are complete might be asking for too much, though. After all, I really don't want to be wearing thigh-high merino socks in the summer, do I?
SIM Card Earrings
SIM cards are removable "smart cards" in phones that securely stores the key identify a mobile phone as under the service of a particular company (T-Mobile or Cingular in the US). In essence, a SIM card allows one to buy a mobile phone and keep it if they decide to switch plan providers.
That said, I'm all for recycling and reusing materials, so if you have a few SIM cards laying around because you change plans back and forth between Cingular and T-Mobile, then here's a way to make them into awesome earrings: How To Make SIM Card Earrings.
The Manflesh and I woke up to yet another round of snow. The snow from the first round hadn't even melted. Two real snowfalls! In Seattle! In one month! What's going on here?
I did have to go to work, despite the fact that city shuts down with a wee bit of snow$#8212;this seasons weather has cost me a lot of money since I don't have paid leave or any benefits befitting a real employee. But even if it doesn't save me from going to work, I still love the snow. Thus, I'm going to honor it with some awesome snowy finds via the wonderful Make: Blog:
- Save a Snowflake for Decades (using super glue).
- Grow Your Own Snow Crystals (using dry ice, a plastic bottle, and a Styrofoam cup).
- How to Make a 3D Paper Snowflake.
Knitting With a Dash of Crochet
My personal preference has always leaned towards the fabrics that knit and purl stitches create, rather than the thicker and knottier stitches of crochet. Now that I have learned basic crochet and have spent time experimenting with the types of stitches (and fabrics) available to the form, I feel comfortable in saying that my personal preference still leans towards the fabrics that knitting creates.
However, that's not to say that I don't see the potential crochet stitches offer. Amigurimi (stuffed animals) being just one of the many things crochet excels in above knitting. And lately, I've been toying with the idea of using crochet motifs and flowers mixed with basic knit stitches for scarves. Crochet offers the ease of building out motifs and shapes by the simple fact that you can shape whatever and wherever you want—just insert the crochet hook and make a stitch. To create wildly complex shapes in knitting is a much more complicated task, and often lacks the streamlined finished product of a crocheted motif.
I'll save the extensive critique of crotchet versus knitting for another time. Today, I wanted to share some particularly awesome and free patterns for crocheted flowers I stumbled across:
I currently have no plans for using the Picot Flower, though it's so lovely that I would love to build a project around it. I am, however, currently in the (slow) process of using Bam Boo, to make the Crochet Flowers. I plan on using these to embellish a scarf knitted in the very lovely Byzanz, in violet.
By the way, I highly recommend both Bam Boo and Byzanz. Aside from it's incredible softness and luster, the eco-friendly nature of Bam Boo has secured it's place as one of my favorite yarns. Byzanz, on the other hand, makes a wonderful splurge yarn for an easy project. The yarn is flat and thick, with a cord of metallic thread running through the middle. It knits quickly and seems to shine more with very basic stitches. But because it requires US size 15 needles, I'm reluctant to recommend it for a beginner's scarf—I always recommend size 8 for those just learning.
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.
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
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:
Stuffed Felt Monster
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
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.
Using two strands of Encore yarn and 10.5 knitting needles. # stitches and # rows = #" x #". (Gauge for the scarf doesn't matter).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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: Balaclava for the Whole Family
These hideous knitted facial monstrosities known as "balaclavas" freak me out to the point of nightmarish fits of sleep. But then, I suppose Halloween is just around the corner. There's still plenty of time to download the patterns and knit one of these "bad boys" up.
Potato Chip Bag Shrinky Dinks
I found a totally random—but totally awesome—tutorial at Craftster: Candy/Potato Chip Wrapper Cuff Bracelet Tutorial. Who would have guessed that you can pop these plastic bad boys in the oven and they'd shrink down just like shrinky dinks?
Vintage-Style Skull Stockings
The greatest thing about these Skull Stockings from Vintage Stitch-O-Rama! is that they couple my love for vintage and my obsession for pirates. They're knit using the "Elizabethan stocking formula" so you can easily achieve a custom fit.
Also, be forewarned: Ye who ventures into the hazy waters of Vintage Stitch-O-Rama! may ne'er return.
For Your Hands
About two and a half years ago (winter time), I wanted to knit myself a pair of arm warmers/fingerless gloves. When I searched for patterns to get some ideas, the Mikado Ribbon Fingerless Gloves pattern was the only decent pattern I could find—even amongst patterns for sale in the local yarn store. Just last year, I noticed a huge influx of freebie patterns for arm warmers/fingerless gloves becoming available on the interwebs. I anticipate that number to continue to skyrocket, as even the summer issue of Knitty has one pattern for fingerless gloves and another for "fingerless mitts" (or, those half-fingered gloves from the 80s).
In the meantime, here are my favorite free fingerless gloves/mitts/arm warmer patterns:
- Mikado Ribbon Fingerless Gloves
- Lace-up Opera Gloves
- Hands Up, from the Progressive Gloves article published in Interweave Knitting.
- Tyra Wristwarmers
- Hooray For Me Gloves
Caution: It's Warm
The woman who designed this caution scarf has been subject to some rather scathing critiques of some of her other designs. But this scarf is awesome and makes up for any other fashion faux pas she may have committed in the past.
Play With Your Food
Of late, miniature food art made from Sculpey seems to be cropping up all over the place. A recent search for tutorials brought me to the amazing work of Pine Studio. The site hosts a number of pictorial how-tos that are not in English, but the gallery is where I spend most of my time. Whoever this person is, they're one of the more detailed and amazing miniature food artists I've seen.
If you're more interested in purchasing miniature food, there's some amazing sellers who make food jewelry and such over at Etsy. Aoi's Art is one of the more notable Etsy food artists, but I absolutely adore Tatsuko's sushi platter necklaces, earrings, and wall art.
Knitted Katamari Damacy Hat
I randomly found this hat on Flickr when I was looking for this upcoming Friday's dose of fug. The picture was most striking, especially against the actual specimens of fug that my search had turned up, so I thought I'd share it here.
The creator posted very lengthy notes on her process at her blog. If you'd like to replicate it, I suggest you be at least an intermediate level knitter, or have a lot of time and patience. Her notes are by no means a clear and easy-to-follow pattern.
Manflesh showed me an article published a number of months ago by Discover about mathematical "knitting" titled Knit Theory. What they really meant was crochet, but I'll forgive them since the writer was obviously a stupid waste of skin given the sexist over-tones of the article (he describes Daina Taimina, a female Cornell math professor, as an "ebullient blond", among other descriptors that make it hard for the reader to take her seriously). Despite the sexism, the article is worth a read as it dips into the history of hyperbolic geometry, which forms the foundation Taimina's pretty nifty sculptural fiber creations.
Before Discover ran this article, Taimina and her husband, David Henderson (also a math professor at Cornell), have been well-received by the Crafty Clan of Smartypants. By this, I am referring to that group of people who are really intelligent and have channeled that intelligence into crafts. Yeah, like you and me.
There's a much older interview with Taimina and her husband online at Cabinet, a quarterly arts magazine. It's not written as well as the Discover article (even after factoring in the sexism), but it goes into more details about hyperbolic geometry and how that relates to Taimina's crocheted creations.
So, what kind of craft blog would this be without resources on how to make those cool hyperbolic shapes?
- Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane, by Taimina and Henderson
- Taking Crochet to a Higher Plane, Interweave Crochet, Special Issue 2005
- Build Your Own Hyperbolic Plane, The Institute for Figuring
And while not really hyperbolic knitting/crocheting, here's some patterns for higher-level beginners and intermediate knitters and crocheters to make a möbius scarf:
Knit me some gloves
Unless you're like my cousin who's been knitting scarf after scarf for over ten years, most beginning knitters eventually decide to make the leap beyond the trusty rectangle. Mittens are easy, but...mittens? Aren't those for kindergartners who aren't coordinated enough to realize they need their fingers?
But gloves—now there's a useful item in almost any frigid and brisk weather. Most people begin with fingerless gloves and a slit for the thumb. And while easy, not having a thumb gusset lends that extra "homemade" air to your gloves. Homemade is not bad, but everyone dreams of being asked "Where did you buy those?" rather than "Did you make those?"
Bronwyn, a friend via Etsy, reminded me of this wonderful resource from Interweave Press on "progressive" glove making today. The pdf guides you through the process of making a pair of fingerless gloves with a thumb gusset all the way through to a pair of your very own full-fledged gloves. Also, here's some glove patterns from Interweave, in case you're not quite ready to figure out a pattern on your own.