Crochet Ice Skate Ornaments

As mentioned in my previous post, I gave Christmas gifts to my department this year, and these handmade ornaments were the easy part. My grandmother made a few for each of her children many years ago, and I snagged one from my parents house and did my best to duplicate what she did.

Tools:
2 jumbo paper clips
2 colors of contrasting yarn
F hook

Instructions:

Row 1: Starting with whatever color you’ve chosen as the main skate color, make 10 sc in the top of the paper clip (I found that 8 sc in the bigger section and 2 sc at the end worked best for me).
Row 2: Don’t make a chain here! Skip the first sc, sc in the next st, hdc in the following st, and then dc to the end of the row (you will have a total of 1 sc, 1 hdc, and 7 dc).
Row 3: Ch 2 (counts as first dc), dc to end.
Rows 4-6: Repeat row 3.
Fasten off, then repeat for the second skate.

For the yarn with which you will hang them, I cut 2 lengths of yarn a little more than  twice as long as I wanted them to hang. Take one, fold it in half, and thread the loop through a corner of the skate (either will do, as long as you do the same corner for both skates). Then, take the length and pull it through the loop you just made to attach it. Repeat for both skates, then tie the loose ends together.

With the contrasting color, weave the laces – I cut off 10-12 inches to do this (I learned my lesson quickly; tying knots with tiny bits of yarn is super difficult). It’s difficult to explain this process in words, so hopefully the photos below will help illustrate. (It isn’t unlike lacing a regular shoe…if you didn’t have lace holes, at least.)

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I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out! It’s a pretty easy and quick project, so it’s great for group gifts, like these.

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Cookie Mix In A Jar, Disaster In My Kitchen

In the last year since I’ve updated this blog (whoops), I got a new amazing job for an amazing company in an amazing department with amazing people. (Did I mention my work life is great?) I only started in January 2014, so this is my first Christmas season with everyone, and I didn’t even think about gifts for everyone in my department…of 9 other people. That’s a lot of thinking, and I can barely buy gifts for my husband who I’ve known for 10 years. So, I started looking for ideas online, and realized I could finally try something I’ve been wanting to try for a while but never had the occassion – the (in)famous cookie mix in a jar.

Image from The Creative Junkie

I’m sure you’ve seen these all over the internet, especially if you’re on Pinterest (I’m a recovering Pinterest addict myself). They look super cute and are great and inexpensive gift ideas, perfect if you work in a department with 9 other people. Plus, it’s literally dumping ingredients in a jar. How hard could it possibly be? (hahahahahahaha.)

I looked around and decided on following these instructions from AllRecipes. I got 9 1-qt mason jars from Michael’s for $2.49 each, and decided I would use a few sheets of Christmas craft paper I already had to cut into tags, and print out the instructions on pieces of paper and just glue them to the festive paper. (On an unrelated note, I also decided I would crochet small ornaments to go with these, which I will discuss further in another post.)

Since I purchased the jars on a Friday night, and wanted these prepared to bring to work the following Tuesday, Saturday morning seemed like a good time to have a test run, since I had absolutely no plans on Sunday. I knew we didn’t have enough of everything for 9 batches, so I went to the supermarket before 9am to grab extra of everything. (Did I mention this was all happening the weekend before Christmas? I have been a master procrastinator since I was 7 years old.) I got home and reviewed the instructions; in hindsight, I should have seen a red flag at “1 1/2 c of flour,” but whatever it’d be fine.

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Not so much.

This would be perfect if I didn’t still have to add a cup of chocolate chips! Guess who started baking cookies at 9:30 in the morning, with the organic butter I’d just paid a ridiculous amount for, since we had no regular sticks of butter.

I read through some of the comments on AllRecipes and was stunned that there was only one negative comment about actually fitting the ingredients. Everyone else claimed they packed and packed and packed with an ice cream scoop until it all fit nicely, but I didn’t have the time or patience for that. (Well, I had the time, but didn’t want to have an issue AGAIN, because now I definitely didn’t have enough butter for another batch.) So I figured I could just halve the recipe, and add 2 each of the cookies I’d just surprise-baked, since now I’d have room at the top of each jar. Except…

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Nice try.

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These things spread to be HUGE. I will take some of the blame for this, because the recipe called for softened butter, and I stopped paying attention and half of my butter was melted. But really? There is no way I’m fitting these things in the mason jars.

Now, it’s not even 11am and I’m drinking white wine because this whole experience has me strung out. Plus now I have to wash all the dishes from my surprise baking session. At this point, I’ve already rinsed out the Fail Jar, so I refilled it but with half of all the ingredients.

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A definite improvement, since now everything actually fits, but there is so much OBVIOUS empty space at the top, now I have to think of something else to fill it with. (Oh, and of course, this new job is for one of the biggest candy companies in the world, so putting some candy in a plastic bag and placing it on top would be pointless.) I toyed with the idea of literally dumping packets of hot chocolate into plastic bags, but then decided I would just cut the cookies up until they fit. (Cookie bites are a thing, right?)

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The cookies were a huge hit, and everyone was appreciative. And maybe if I hadn’t done this less than a week before Christmas, it wouldn’t have seemed quite as tragic. But I’ve learned my lesson – if I ever want to attempt the cookie mix in a jar gift again, I’ll just make the cookies.

Santa Hat Pattern

My sister-in-law asked me if I could create a Santa inspired hat (initially for New York SantaCon). She texted me a photo for inspiration, and I came up with this:

Sorry everyone, I’m not single.

I even remembered to write down the pattern!

Hat

Create a magic ring.
Round 1: Chain 3 (counts as first dc here and throughout; the first dc in each round should be a ch3!), 9 dc (10 dc)
Round 2: 2 dc in each dc (20 dc)
Round 3: *2dc in first dc, 1 dc in next dc* repeat from * to * until end (30 dc)
Round 4: *2 dc in first dc, 1 dc each in next 2 dc* repeat from * to * until end (40 dc)
Round 5: *2 dc in first dc, 1 dc each in next 3 dc* repeat from * to * until end (50 dc)
Rounds 6-12: 1 dc in each dc (50 dc)

Do not bind off after round 12!

Earflaps

Row 1: Turn, ch3 (does not count as first dc, here and throughout earflap), dc 7, turn
Row 2: ch3, dc 7, turn
Row 3: ch3, dc2tog, dc3, dc2tog, turn
Row 4: ch3, dc2tog, dc1, dc2tog, turn
Row 5: 
ch3, dc3, bind off

Count 20. join at 21st and repeat earflap pattern. (I would do row 1 of the second earflap, and then make sure it lines up to your own ears. This is what worked for me!)

Belt

**For this, I just worked the first row of sc in the 10th row of the hat. Since you’re working sc over dc (worked in the round, no less, so I had to mess around with stitch placement to get them to line up), I wouldn’t suggest this method. I mean, it looks fine, but it’ll be much easier to sc a black strip, and just whipstitch or sew it to attach. So, I will give the instructions for a black band.

Chain 51, turn
Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc to end, ch1, turn (50sc)
Row 2: sc in each sc, ch1, turn (50sc)
Repeat row 2 three more times. Attach around hat (mine wound up spanning rows 8-10 of the hat)

Buckle

All you have to do here is surface slip stitch in a vaguely squareish/rectangular shape. Just make sure the top and bottom parts of the buckle are on the red part of the hat, and that the buckle is centered in the front of your head. My buckle was 5 stitches on the top and bottom, and 6 stitches on each side.

Here is a video on how to surface slip stitch: slip stitch surface: http://youtu.be/EJ8FI5PJfvk

Edging

With a fur yarn (I don’t know of any other than Lion Brand Fun Fur), sc all round the hat.

Pom Pom

I used the wrap method, and used width of DVD case and wrapped ~60-70 times. This turned out WAY TOO BIG and lead to 45 minutes of trimming and 15 minutes of vacuuming all the bits. I attached it  just by tying a knot on inside of hat.

This project on Ravelry

National Craft Month Intro & Set-Up

As some crafters may know, March is National Craft Month. I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, how I wanted to do something to “celebrate,” but was drawing a blank. Then it hit me – maybe I should unbox the sewing machine I purchased last summer for the first time, and actually use it!

Every week this month, I’m going to write a post about the projects I’m doing with my sewing machine. I am an absolute beginner – that is to say, I haven’t used a sewing machine regularly since home economics class in middle school. I’m very excited to start sewing, and hopefully get to the point I am at with crochet where I can pick up almost anything in the store and say, “I can do that!”

My sister sews on a fairly regular basis (she is basically an apron extraordinaire), so I invited her over one night and we went to the local fabric store for supplies. I got 3 yards of a plain forest green cotton, 1 yard of a decorative blue cotton, matching thread for each, extra needles (for when I surely break mine), and Velcro.

Then it was back to my house to eat dinner and set up the machine. (I felt more comfortable having someone there who was familiar with the hardware – sewing machines have more parts than I am used to with crafting and I was afraid I might break it, regardless of having the instructions.) There’s no point in photographing and explaining how to wind the bobbin, load it, and load the thread and thread the needle, etc. If you are here and having a sewing machine, you likely know how to do it; also sewing machines are slightly different. While setting mine up was MOSTLY the same, my sister came across one or two things that were different from her own machine.

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The first thing I made was a heating pack. You know, the kind you just throw in the microwave for a few minutes and put on your neck if you have a headache or neck-ache. Or are just cold.

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I used the tutorial found here. I didn’t pin anything, because I didn’t really care and couldn’t find my pins at that exact moment. Also I’m pretty lazy, but it was just a heating pad for myself, so I wasn’t particularly concerned. As stuffing, I used some white rice we had in the kitchen. The only thing I wish I’d done differently concerns the stuffing – it is SLIGHTLY overstuffed. I used one of the smaller boxes of Minute Rice and part of a bigger box we had leftover, which was a bit too much. You could probably get away with just one regular box of rice. Remember, you still have to be able to drape it around your neck!

Decorating for Valentine’s Day

I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day; I’m one of those people who just never really saw the point. As it turns out, my dating anniversary with my husband was a few days after Valentine’s Day, so we never bothered celebrating; now that we’re married we’re probably going to ignore it almost completely. (Winter anniversaries ARE THE WORST, so glad our wedding anniversary is in the spring.)

Anyway, I was surprised when I found myself wanting to decorate the house, even if it was only slightly, for Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t figure out where the urge was coming from. I think it’s the color schemes I’m attracted too – coming off the sparkly-brightness(TM) of Christmas into dreary grey January is welcome at first, but it gets dull rather quickly and the bright reds/pinks/purples/whites offset the seasonal depression that starts to set in.

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This door decoration is a combination of a few door decorations I’ve seen around the internet. The base letters are made with 12″ silver cake platters that I had lying around from a wreath I had never gotten to make. I’m lucky that X and O are pretty basic letters, but if you want to do something like this with anything other than these letters (or even if you are doing an X and O) I highly suggest getting some ready-made letters. These were EXTREMELY annoying to cut, they shed cardboard dust everywhere, and more than once my crafting knife blade almost came out of the holder.

I used felt to make these petal looking things:

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First, I cut the felt sheet into quartered strips.

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Then, I cut each of the strips into squares (or something vaguely square-ish). The shape doesn’t have to be perfect because you won’t notice later.

Then I folded each square in half to make a triangle…
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And then in half again…
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And then I snipped off the bottom.
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Then I just covered the bottom with hot glue and pressed it on my base!
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In addition to the door, I made a last-minute-I-don’t-feel-like-buying-anything centerpiece with some items I already had.

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With my immaculately set table.

With my immaculately set table.

The white branches and crystal…things were part of a centerpiece I took from someone’s wedding reception in the beginning of January. The glass beads I had lying around, and this is the replacement vase for the one I broke in the process of putting this simple centerpiece together…

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Apparently mixing glass beads in a glass vase is a terrible idea that results in tragedy. WHO KNEW.

Liara From Mass Effect 3

I’m not quite sure where to start this one; there’s no easy way to describe Mass Effect without playing it. As someone who has logged almost 300 hours of playtime for the series (judge me I don’t care it was worth it) I can tell you it takes place in the future where people fly around to different clusters within the galaxy and there’s aliens. I guess that’s all you need to know in order for this to make sense, but I STRONGLY suggest you just buy the games. The first two are probably $20 each now and you’ll get more satisfaction than you probably will from a month of World of Warcraft.

ANYWAY, there is a character named Liara who is an alien – an asari, actually. I recreated her in her Mass Effect 3 garb because there was something I really liked about the outfit. It’s weird, there’s is (what seems to be) a pretty high percentage of people who LOVE the asari, especially this character; I’m not one of those people. I don’t hate her, but if you’ve played the first game you’ll know what I mean when I say she’s naive, and her naivety enrages me in that game. You don’t really see much of her in Mass Effect 2, and by Mass Effect 3 you’ve formed relationships with so many awesome characters…by that point I just didn’t care about her anymore. The asari and their obnoxious omnipotence can eat dirt – compare them to the turians or the drell and they’re easily swept aside. If you’re me, I guess.

Liara Mass Effect 3

Yarn Liara

I made this up as I went and never wrote a pattern or really measured anything…it shows as her head is huge compared to the rest of her body; I wasn’t able to get her headcrest positioned correctly either. I think the proportions would look better if I had bigger eyes, but I bought a bag of 25 pairs and wasn’t about to buy more when I had that many laying around. Also, they are surprisingly difficult to find anyway.

Yarn Liara's uneven headcrests

Not sure who I’ll make next – my heart says Garrus, but I’m still burnt out with the headcrest so I don’t know if I want to tackle turian mandibles. Maybe Vega. I freaking love that guy. Or Blastos, because what the hell else am I going to do with the huge ball of pink yarn I have laying around?

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Games & Crafts: In Which I Realize The Two Main Parts Of My Life That I Have Been Keeping Separate Are In Fact The Same Thing

Sometimes I feel like I have two personalities. There Crafty Me, who…likes to do crafty things. (DURR) Then there’s kind-of-nerdy-slightly-pathetic me, who has played Mass Effect more than anyone I know combined, and almost cried the last time I went to the Magic Kingdom and they played the Mickey Mouse theme over the bus speakers. I really did view them as two personalities, that would rarely cross paths.

Additionally, as I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve been making an effort to be more active in social media, and basically figure out how to make it work to my advantage. When I first got a Twitter account, I ignored it for years because I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do with it. I figured it was because I wasn’t in high school and don’t have 30 close friends. NOPE, you can totally still use it if that isn’t you! I follow so many blogs, websites, and talented people on Twitter, and I know I wouldn’t see half of the awesome things I see online if I didn’t look at Twitter regularly.

This all came together earlier this week, when I saw a tweet from Holly Conrad (or possibly Jessica Merizan, everything starts to blend together on Twitter) mentioning that Crabcat Industries had a new show on the Nerdist YouTube channel about how they go about making their awesome creations.

WAIT WAIT, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH VIDEO GAMES OR WHATEVER YOU SAID WHEN YOU CALLED YOURSELF PATHETIC?

I’m glad you asking, imaginary reader! Holly and Jessica were featured in Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope when they created some INSANELY AWESOME Mass Effect 2 costumes for the SDCC costume competition. The first time I saw the audition reel, I actually got chills, and cheered with everyone when Al-Jilani got decked on stage. I have put more hours into playing Mass Effect than probably any other game ever. I actually get yelled at for playing it so awesome because I’m apparently missing out on so much awesome stuff…whatever, I still have fun. So watching it all come to life was just…FUN. And now because of their “Try This At Home” series on Nerdist I get to see HOW THINGS HAPPEN? I’d say I’m tickled pink if it was such a pervy-sounding phrase.

A day later, I was browsing my Google Reader account, which I do about 50 times a day, and came across this post on Craftzine/Makezine. For some reason, it was an exciting and kind of bizarre moment – and that’s when I realized that these two iterations of myself I was trying to keep completely separate was, basically, all for naught. I couldn’t even think of a reason why I was trying to be two mes, instead of one crafty-nerdy-slightly-pathetic me. The combined version, which I suppose is “real me,” probably makes much better jokes anyway.

So, that was my strange revelation of the day/week/month/etc. On that note, I’ll be posting about the crocheted Liara I finished last week whenever I get around to taking decent photos of it. Then I’m sure I’ll be posting about my Halloween costume, which I’m super excited about, as well as the other 3 posts I have queued and half-finished.

Rocket flop corgi, AWAYYYYY

Christmas In July Scarf

I got an early start on Christmas gifts this year!

Just the scarf, not the cat. I used this Lion Brand pattern, which is RIDICULOUSLY simple, but the thick yarn and giant hook gave it an interesting look.

This project on Ravelry

More Baby Crochet

Way back in the end of May, I started making some baby items for a family friend who just had a little boy. She contacted me out of the blue the other day, which finally inspired me to buckle down and finish. (The sad part is the only things that needed to be finished were weaving in the ends…I always hate doing that!) The baby’s parents are country music fans, so I went with baby cowboy items.

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I LOVED these little cowboy boots, the pattern was great and so was the payoff!

 

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I wish I could say I loved the hat pattern as much as the boot pattern. Maybe it’s just me and the yarn I used, but it doesn’t lay like a cowboy hat AT ALL. Hrumph. There are other baby cowboy hat patterns that I would encourage people to try out before this one.

Baby Boots on Ravelry

Baby Hat on Ravelry

Wedding Unity Candle

I never really thought of having a unity candle at a wedding, but when the template our officiants gave us had the unity candle in it, I figured why not. (I’m kind of lazy and didn’t want to make changes to the ceremony, because it would probably require research or something.) So after doing some shopping around, I decided I was staunchly against unity candle kits. They were overpriced, and when would I ever use a pillar candle holder with two tapered candle holders next to it? Also they were all a little too cheesy for me…too many hearts and whatnot.

In the end, I got a reversible pillar candle dish, the pillar candle and tapered candles from the Christmas Tree Shops, and reversible tapered candle holders (when you flip them over they’re votive holders) at Walmart. (I also picked up fake forsynthia at AC Moore, and a charm at Michaels that was on clearance.) In total, all these products were about $20. Of course, I had to dress them up somehow, and I’m lucky to be gaining a super crafty sister-in-law, so she came over armed with a glue gun and bits of ribbon, lace, & fabric.

I’m pretty pleased with what we came up with. And by that I mean what she came up with, because I mostly watched and helped glue stuff. I don’t know why, when it comes to simply dressing things up with crafts, I tend to be at a total loss. It’s pretty self explanatory from the above photo – it’s just ribbons glued onto the candles. The blue satin is leftover from the completely awesome sash she made for my niece’s flower girl dress, and the ribbons are from ribbon stash from both of us. Nice and non-cheesy!