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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frog Box

Since it's leap year, I wanted to try drawing a frog. Here's a box with that frog on it. I hope you like it! Click on the image for a larger version, print on card stock, cut, score, fold, glue!

This is the fortune that came in my husband's fortune cookie last night. It's too funny not to share!

So.. can you come up with better fortunes?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Star Mandala

I get a lot of emails from teachers who use my mandalas in classes, and wanted to do a simple star design especially for them. This got away from me and got a little more complex than planned. Hope you like it! Click on the image for a larger version to color. Transparent PNG format.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tiny crocheted gym bag charm pattern

It's a tiny gym bag! I stuffed this one with lavender, and sewed it shut, but it could be left open just as a miniature. It's also super quick to stitch, using just chains, single crochets and slip stitches.

To make it you'll need:

  • 2 colors of size 10 thread- small amounts! I used some of my thrifted thread
  • size 7 (1.65mm) steel crochet hook
  • scissors
  • tapestry needle
  • small amount of stuffing if you're going to sew it shut
  • pins
Abbreviations: (American terminology used throughout)
  • ch= chain
  • sc= single crochet stitch 
  • sl st= slip stitch
  • st or sts= stitch or stitches
In the diagrams the Os are chains, the X are single crochets, and the dots are slip stitches.
With the first color
Disk pattern- Make 2
Ch 2
Round 1: 6 sc in first ch, sl st to first sc to join
Round 2: ch 1 (does not count as first stitch) 2 sc in each st around, sl st to first sc in round to join (12 sts)
Break off thread leaving a 6 inch tail for sewing

Ch 50, sl st to join without twisting, sl st through all chains

With second color
Ch 12
Row 1:  ch 1 (does not count as first stitch) sc in each stitch across (12 stitches)
Row 2-8: Repeat Row 1
Now to sew it all together! Start with putting the strap on the body of the bag. The bag stitches to the sides along the long chain 12 edges. So the strap goes on that way stitching between the second and third row of stitches. Fold the strap in half and the body in half to find the center of both, and pin them together. You don't sew the entire length. Skip the first 2 columns on the top and bottom so you're only sewing 3/4s of the length. The arrows show where to start and end the stitching. Sew with a running stitch, and knot off and weave the end on the wrong side of the fabric (the side without the strap)

Now with the long tails on the disks, sew them to the body of the bag, working around the circles.
If you're going to stuff it, stuff it now, then sew the top shut. Weave in all ends.

It stitches up fast, and it's so very tiny. It might be a good purse for a Barbie doll, or like mine, a charm on a key fob. 

If you like tiny things, I really recommend the book Microcrafts. ( affiliate link)- it's full of adorable tiny projects. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Walking on a very gray day- Photos!

Raven in flight

There are always ravens it seems like. I like ravens quite a bit, they are revered by most of the tribes up here. Today we drove out down by the airport to hike and look for owls. The ravens were flying everywhere, conversing in warbles, chuckles and lots of other sounds that definitely weren't caws. It looked like they were playing aerial tag. I also saw a pair of eagles in air. Click on images for larger versions.

Snowy woods by the coastal trail in Anchorage,AK

This path seemed like a good place to take a photo of TG, who had a new purse she wanted to make sure got photographed to post to the craft boards she is on. It's all hand-stitched. She knows how to use a sewing machine, but prefers hand-stitching for a lot of things.

The Amazing Turnip Girl and her new purse

Yes. Her shirt does say "You never forget your first Doctor" and yes, her pins are Doctor pins. More info about them here. I'm almost willing to bet she has PG Tips tea bags in her purse. 

More snowy woods!

Isn't that pretty? The path in that area was just tromped down snow. I sat down rather abruptly at one point. Or fell, depends on how you want to look at it. I'm going with "sat down rather abruptly".

That's just barely a path through the snow.

All that snow! You can tell, looking at the solid white sky more snow wants to fall. It was coming down just a bit, but it needs to warm up 5 degrees to really start falling.

Bald Eagle in Anchorage, Alaska

Bald Eagles! Definitely not owls. It was hard photographing the pair because there were trees in the way. The other eagle was tagged.
Tagged Bald Eagle- 77!

And yes. I spotted one owl.

Book Review- Knits for Nerds

This collection of fandom inspired knits is just fantastic. Toni Carr got contributions from other designers and put lots of her own patterns in the book. There is a good range of skill levels as well, so beginners will have patterns they can use, and more advanced knitters will also find some lovely lace items. The patterns are written out clearly with fun photos of finished items modeled by roller derby girls at Neil Gaiman's house.

As a long time geek, I was thrilled with the books and movies covered.

The Lord of the Rings inspired  Toni Carr's pair of hobbit slippers and Ashley Fay's Light of EƤrendil Shrug, a lacy ethereal shrug patterned with leaves.

Neil Gaiman's Death and Mr. Nancy both make an appearance in felted knit hats. A tiny top hat for Death and a bright green fedora for Mr. Nancy.

Firefly makes a strong showing with the Aim to Misbehave Brown Jacket, cunning socks and a cunning scarf.

Star Trek is covered with a Next Generation sweater, an original series mini dress and tribbles.

Also covered are Doctor Horrible,  Real Genius, The Big Bang Theory, Temeraire, Harry Potter, Wicked Lovely, Star Wars, and Doctor Who in a variety of projects like fingerless gloves, stuffies, sweaters, shawls and bags.

For the male geek, there is a unisex Harry Potter inspired book bag, a sweater that looks like a Star Trek- The Next Generation Uniform, a wonderful cabled sweater vest and Mr. Nancy's Hat.

The end of the book includes a key to commonly used knitting abbreviations, and an overview of how to knit with photographs.

My daughter, who is a proud nerd and fan, and who loves to knit snatched this up as soon as we got it, and took it for 3 hours. She chortled and giggled and got very enthused. Her favorite patterns are the above mentioned green fedora, the cape pictured on the cover, and  Aim to Misbehave jacket, which is a lovely longer jacket for Browncoat fans and the Big Bang Theory Raj inspired cabled sweater vest.

My favorite projects are the shrug mentioned above, the Super Awesome Fantastic Mega Super Cute Manga Leg Warmers which are flared to look just like illustrated chibi style legs, the colorful Tank Girl socks (I love Tank Girl!), and the adorable, quick to knit, button eyed Creepy Filler Bunny.

You can get this book directly from the publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing

My reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Quote Cross Stitch Pattern

"There is no such thing as too many books. However, there is such a thing as not enough room"

William said that one day when I was talking about going out book shopping. My husband said "Don't you have them all?" And I said "NO! and there is no such thing as too many books!"
I told my son it should be a cross stitch pattern. So it is! I based it off an old pixel bookshelf that I made years ago. Click on the image for a larger version. Print to fit page. It's 140x140- so 10x10 inches in 14 count.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review- Make the Pool Your Gym

I know this is an unusual review for this site. So a quick explanation, as my regular readers know, I have some pretty serious back and knee issues, and without regular exercise, they can get worse. Water aerobics is perfect for people who have mobility issues and it's a regular part of my week. It's also something that you can do even if you can't swim. I've been able to swim since I was a baby, but one of my friend's who goes to class regularly with me is a non-swimmer, and she can do all the exercises. The pool we go to is a salt-water pool and if you have one locally, they are so much better than chlorine pools! All the public pools locally are indoor pools if you're wondering. So I can do this year round.

Make the Pool Your Gym: No-Impact Water Workouts for Getting Fit, Building Strength and Rehabbing from Injury by Dr. Karl Knopf is a photographed manual on how to start water workouts for absolute beginners who might not have a class available to attend.

If you've never done water aerobics, some moves are done using flotation devices like pool noodles, and some are done using something for resistance like paddles, webbed gloves or foam dumbbells. It's something that can be done at almost any fitness level.

It starts with a short introduction to water fitness, and explains the benefits and a bit of the physics. There is a strong emphasis in the book on safety.

Getting into actual workouts, there are sample workouts and suggested exercises for various issues. Each of the exercises listed has the page number to see how the exercise is done. The exercise photographs are clear, shot underwater and easy to see the movement and correct posture.

If you have arthritis or other issues, and feel like you can't exercise as much as you'd like to, I do recommend trying water aerobics, and if you don't have a convenient class to take,this book is an excellent start.

For my friend, who was not as comfortable in the water as I am, we built up over a few weeks, starting with just water walking, and building up to full hour long workouts. There are people we work out with who are in their 70s, and my first teacher was a young lady in her early 20s who had serious knee injuries that got her doing water aerobics. My teenage daughter enjoys the classes as well, it's just a lot of fun.

Check out Ulysses Press on Facebook. They have giveaways sometimes! A friend of mine won recently.

My reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

Knot to color and embroider

This new two strand knot was a lot of fun to draw. Usually, I say "Feel free to use this for embroidery, pryrography or other craft purposes" but this time there is one especially for outline stitch embroidery as well as the coloring page. Click on the images for larger versions. The coloring page is transparent PNG, the embroidery page is gif format. The embroidery page is 2 colors, which makes the 2 strands of the knot easier to see.

New graph up at Beadwork at BellaOnline, and it comes with this example pattern, which is a set of lover's knots around a trinity knot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rick Rack Boxes

After posting this quote by the Dalai Lama, I wanted to use the same components for printable gift boxes. I hope you like them! Click on the images for larger versions. Print, cut, score, fold, glue!

I'm also trying something new. I created a set of digital scrapbooking papers using the patterns for this box.
This set is available in my Etsy shop for 4.00, so are a lot of my blank box templates!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Printable Quote- Be Kind

Click on the image above to enlarge it.
It's 4x6 inches.

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."
Dalai Lama

I'm going to use the same components for a couple of boxes tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I have happy feet

I mentioned recently about watching France24's Green is the New Black and the focus they did on soleRebel shoes. 

soleRebels is a company in Ethiopia that was started by a lady named Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. The shoes are made with a strong emphasis on renewable resources. Using hand loomed accents, hand spun organic cotton, the soles are cut from used truck tires, any leather is from small farmers. The company hires it's workers at fair wages, and hires a lot of people that wouldn't normally be employed. It's making an honest effort to make the area better, and to do it in a 0 carbon footprint way. 

So I looked up the site, and found out that they have a weekly giveaway. Tweet the link to the shoes you like, with @soleRebels so they see it, once a week, one person wins a pair of shoes. The contest IS international. So everyone gets to try!

I won! I won! And was/am really super excited. 

The pair I won and pictured above are the Xodus Iration in black.

They are so comfortable. The soles are cushy and thick. These are shoes meant to be worn without socks. The fit was perfect. They were also shipped very quickly. The company ships using FedEx. Instead of shoe boxes, they are sent with a lovely cream colored hand loomed drawstring bag made of cotton. You can't see it in that photo, but the sides of that comfy sole are trimmed with a hand loomed ribbon in blues and creams.

I'm in love. Comfy shoes from a company that is just really awesome. Now, I will say, don't do what I'm doing above. If you plan to wear them in snow, use ice grips. Really. The soles are very smooth. 

Now, I have to decide which pair to get next. I love the look of the urbanRunners (and wish so much they came in pink) but the tooTOOs look like the most comfortable shoes ever. Such hard decisions!

Chevron Box and card

I hope you enjoy this fun chevron box. The business sized card can imported to your word process software to make calling cards. I thought about making a fillable form PDF, but decided that I wanted to post these right now before forgetting about them again! Click on the images for larger versions.

I'm thinking about putting a digital grab bag in my Etsy shop. It will have some of the backgrounds I've used on printables like the chevron above, some braided frame PNG format digital stamps, a knot digital stamp and probably a couple templates. If I do this, what do you think I should charge?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Moose Photos!

Click on the images for larger versions. Only 2 this time.

Funny true story-  I said to Michael "This would be a good place to spot a moose." and he said "Or a space bear." since you hardly ever see things after saying something like that. Then we saw that moose. So we stopped so I could take some pictures. He said "Okay, so where's my space bear?"

Recently, a Menchie's opened up here. Menchie's, if you don't know, is a California based frozen yogurt company. They have lots of flavors of soft serve frozen yogurt and toppings. You go in, grab a bowl, fill it with what you want, and top it how you want, then pay by weight. Michael says it looks like a yogurt themed Sanrio shop. All bright colors and merchandise based on their logo of a happy swirl yogurt. We took the kids on Valentine's Day and they were both thrilled. So many choices! They have a couple circular chalkboards that people write on, so my Doctor obsessed daughter wrote on one.
Michael and I like it, I prefer my yogurt to taste more like yogurt and less like ice cream, but liked that they had fruit available and had a vanilla yogurt with peaches and berries. Michael had vanilla with hot caramel and chocolate candy bits. The kids, not even sure what all they mixed in their bowls. It was fun, and since they are in walking distance, it's going to be a fun treat this summer.
TG loved their spoons. A little heavier quality plastic than most disposable spoons with the happy yogurt character sculpted on top. They are brightly colored and she gathered all our spoons to bring home.

Skull Knitting Pattern

In the next few weeks, I'm working on getting a lot of projects from my old LiveJournal posted up here for people who didn't see them the first time around.
This is from September 29, 2008

My first stranded knitting- A dice pouch made on homemade DPNs. No pattern, but the chart for the skull.

"Actually, it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. I only used two colors, and some of my floats were pretty long, so I wrapped? twisted? whatever.. them every 3 stitches, and it turned out pretty okay.
Even though my 2 yarns were a bit different weights. And it was acrylic yarn because I didn't see the point of using cotton with the gitd yarn which is acrylic."

Why is the first picture greyscaled? Because I'm lazy. I accidentally hit the color correction on the camera and it came out *BLUE* so I adjusted it a bit and then greyscaled it. But you get the general idea right?
The great big skulls are Halloween decorations, I picked up a "bag of skulls" then drilled them with my little hand drill and a largish bit. 
The chart as I did it.

The chart as I'd do it again if I did it a second time.

Now the hard question, which kid is gonna snag the glow in the dark skull pouch? Because one will. I know that."

As it turned out, my son wound up with the pouch. He has a few dice pouches, not all of them filled with dice. I think his current dice pouch is a crocheted eyeball pouch that I made him. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mardi Gras Mandala to color

I hope you enjoy this Mardi Gras themed mandala to color. Click on the image for a larger version.

Also, I recently posted a beaded hair bobble project on BellaOnline.

Look for photos of moose later today. :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tasty Mushrooms

Isn't that interesting?
As you can imagine, in Alaska, in the winter, there isn't much fresh, locally sourced produce. During the summer, there are a bunch of farmer's market. In the winter months, there is only one. This time of the year, that one is all stuff that stores well in cold cellars like parsnips and carrots. There is also one guy who imports seasonings and exotic mushrooms who also grows mushrooms.
I admit. I totally bought the one because it was so interesting looking. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the name. The other two are black chanterelles and shitake mushrooms.

People think of exotic mushrooms as being expensive because of the price per lb. The chanterelles above were 14.00/lb I think? But it doesn't take much to add a wonderful flavor to things. I spent about 9 dollars on mushrooms and had enough for pasta for 3 for lunch yesterday. That wonderful, interesting looking one, probably about 20 shitake mushrooms and 8-10 chanterelles.

First I cleaned them all. The black chantrelles can be gritty, so I tore them apart and brushed them, then gave them a quick rinse. A damp paper towel for the shitake mushrooms, and a damp paper towel and quick rinse for the interesting one.
Then I sliced up the big one. Under all those folds is a fairly solid piece, so I sliced it, then cut each slice into quarters. Because it was my first time trying that one, and it's been a long time since I had the black chanterelles, a simple cooking method seemed best so I'd know what kind of recipes they would work best with in the future.

I put 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 cloves of garlic and a half teaspoon of dried lemon peel in a skillet and heated it up, then put in the mushrooms and cooked them down a bit, stirring constantly, then added in some grey sea salt and parsley to finish. Served it over angel hair pasta with Parmesan cheese for Michael and William. I had mine without the cheese so I could really taste it.

The big interesting one had a good and meaty flavor that will work very well in a marinara sauce instead of meat. The black chanterelles will be wonderful in wild rice as a side dish and well.. I like shitake mushrooms quite a bit. In or with almost anything.

In other news, as you know, my husband is currently looking for a job, so considering ways to make money in the interim. Recently, I was asked to do a sponsored post. After careful consideration (about a minute) the answer has to be no. While I'm willing to review books or products that I get from publishers and manufacturers, you know (or at least I hope you know) that I'm not getting any compensation for the reviews, and that they are my honest opinion. The only way that I can justify doing sponsored posts is if I've personally tried the product or service. As far as selling ad space goes, that I'm more willing to do.

The plate above is the salad plate from Rachael Ray's Little Hoot ( affiliate link) set.