Other Crafts

I have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile

Other subject lines that were considered for this post:

"I've got garlic in my soul."
Rejected because: As an individual of Ukrainian descent, of course I have garlic in my soul.  Heart, soul, genes - you name it, it's there.  If I still ate meat, I'd probably be working my way through a coil of kubasa from Tenderloin Meats as I type this.

"I wouldn't touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole."
Rejected because: In these fourth-wave days of aerosolized droplets, this actually sounds like sound public-health advice.  Thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot poles: when two metres just isn't enough.

Back when Craftster still roamed the interwebs, one of the members posted a picture of this same scarf she had made for herself, along with a bit of a rant how, as soon as she posted it on social media, everybody and his brother dogpiled on her: “Can you make me one? I neeeeeed it!” Several duplicates later, she was sick of the yarn colours and didn’t want to see the darned thing again, when all she had originally wanted was something cute to wear to a holiday party.

My crochet skills at the time were pretty rudimentary and I wouldn’t have dared attempt this for myself back then, but I’ve gained a bit of confidence and really wanted to try it this year. I didn’t include it as a Craftmas post because a) this was for myself, and not a gift, and b) I didn’t have it finished by the 25th. But who cares? It’s still warm and cute!

It’s folded in half in the picture above – the bottom half (not seen) is solid red, and altogether it measures 138 cm in length. I didn’t take a lot of in-progress shots because it worked up fairly quickly and there wasn’t a lot to be said. It’s done in Corner-to-Corner (C2C) crochet, which means that instead of working in either horizontal or vertical rows (depending on your perspective), you work it on the diagonal.

Like this:

See how that one side is much longer than the other? There are lots of great tutorials for it online, so I won’t attempt to elaborate further except to say that if I can do it, anyone can. The way you work “squares” of stitches at 90-degree angles to one another makes for a lovely soft and squishy texture.

The eyes and nose are crocheted, too, and then sewn on, and the mouth was free-hand sewn on. I was going for his devious, plotting smirk.

(I promised my model anonymity in the form of decapitation.)

Even though Christmas is over, I’m still going to wear him until the weather warms up – hopefully he’s recognizable by the general public.

Thanks for looking – Happy New Year! 🙂

craftmas, Other Crafts

On the third day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a sparkly bauble for the tree.

It happened like this: my friend was trying to think of something he could give his immediate team at work for Christmas that wasn’t just a three-pack of Lindt chocolate or something else that had been done before. I saw a tutorial to make glitter-filled ornaments, and that pretty much settled the matter. (Are you noticing a theme in this year’s Craftmas posts yet? Hint: it’s glitter! I swear that was unintentional.)

We started out with a container of 80mm disc ornaments from our friendly neighbourhood craft store and removed the cap from the top of each…

Mike McEwen’s Beijing dreams will go unfulfilled, sadly…

…poured a bit of Polycrylic (we had to venture a bit further afield for this; the big box store next to the friendly neighbourhood craft store charged twice as much for half the amount) into each one and swirled it around to coat, before inverting the ornaments in an egg carton to drain the last few drops out…

…and then went wild with glitter! We poured some into each Polycrylic-coated ornament using a funnel, and then shook/swirled it around to coat the entire inside before emptying the excess glitter back into its container.

We didn’t stop there, though. We used the cutting machine to cut everyone’s name out of permanent adhesive vinyl, plus “2021” for the back of each one and a few snowflakes for good measure, and then set to work personalizing each one.

Of course, we had to remove the excess vinyl (“weed”) first:

I made a couple for my neighbours, but he was a machine putting together the ones for his coworkers!

We even had a bit of pop-culture fun with these:

All in all, these were a really fun project to put together. We have almost an entire can of Polycrylic left over, so I suspect there will be more sparkle in the future.

Thanks for looking – Merry Christmas! 🙂

craftmas, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

On the second day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: some hoops for the wall (or the tree)!

This is indeed serendipitous timing: I downloaded the patterns for these hoops exactly one year ago (based on the “printed” date at the bottom of the pages). Someone on Lettuce Craft had stitched one of the designs, and I absolutely loved the typography. I immediately went off to download a digital copy of the magazine they were from (the November 2020 issue of Cross Stitcher, if anyone’s interested) even though I knew there was no way they were happening last year, not with 10 days to go before Christmas.

This year, however, I started early to make sure they’d be done. Although I loved the typography, I didn’t love the original colour scheme – the yellow-green looked so wishy-washy – and so I chose my own colours for a bolder, simpler look.

The holly berries were supposed to be red cross-stitches, but I had some beads on hand that worked perfectly. The gold metallic accents were my substitution, too, and worth the frustration of working with metallic thread.

I framed the finished pieces in 4″ wooden hoops that I sprayed with glitter spray paint – it’s not a solid, disco-ball kind of glitter, but adds a bit of shimmer to the plain wood. It also carried the theme of the iridescent fabric, which doesn’t show well in the above pictures. But take a gander at this progress shot:

What a beaut, huh?

My other moment of inspiration in making these: because stitching on pieces of fabric that are too small to fit in a hoop or frame properly is the worst, I cut one large piece and marked off thirds, then centered a design in each third.

My mom laid claim to two of these as soon as they were done, and the third went to a friend. No matter where they hang, though, I hope they spread some holiday cheer.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, Other Crafts

On the first day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a card to spread greetings merry!

When my friend and I first made our foray into the world of cutting machines last year, we didn’t realize their full potential. I made a couple of Schitts Creek-themed masks using heat transfer vinyl (HTV), and we experimented with HTV on tea towels, but…how many vinyl-ed tea towels or whimsical pop culture masks does anyone really need? As such, the Silhouette sat largely untouched until I discovered that by upgrading my software to a paid (ahem!) version, I could open and cut SVG files rather than importing only PNG or Silhouette-formatted ones.

After making the haunted house box card and pumpkin banner for the Halloween Spooktacular Swap, I was feeling good about my paper-crafting abilities and scanned SVGcuts.com for something cute and Christmassy. I wasn’t disappointed.

I liked the elegance and (relative) simplicity of the Rooftops Box Card, and decided it was perfect to send to my aunt and uncle.

It creates such a neat effect with just four shades of cardstock.

A better angle to show the dimension (I used 3D foam squares to affix Santa’s sleigh):

And just for good measure, a close-up of the glittery snow I added before assembling:

There may or may not have been glitter all over everything, including my pants, by the time I was done.

I also decided to try my hand at North Pole Rudolph. This one was part of a larger set, and didn’t have an instructional video so I was left studying the product image carefully and trying to make mine look like hers. I think (?) I succeeded.

More glitter on this one, too, but what’s Christmas without at least a little bit of glitter? The designer had used a red adhesive gem for his nose, but I had mini pompoms, so that’s what I used. I hope it stays on until it arrives at its destination!

It’s a little hard to tell from the picture above, but this is a tri-fold card:

(The colours are truer in the first shot, but this proves that it can actually stand up.)

It just dawned on me that I didn’t take pictures of the back of either card, but be it known that I stamped a festive message on each one. They went out in the mail yesterday, so should be ready to spread good cheer in just a matter of days.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, General Sewing

On the fourth day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: some fun, patterned PPE!

(If you had asked me back when I started this blog whether I’d ever use the term “PPE” here, I probably wouldn’t have known what you were talking about. Oh, the times we live in…)

My friend Jeanette is considered an essential worker, and although I would sincerely hope her employer provides her with suitable equipment when she has to be around people, I wanted to do something fun for her. A writer, she loves all things vintage-typewriter, and when I saw this fabric at Marshalls this summer, I had to pick up a third of a metre – just enough for a mask or two.

They have the coolest fabrics there, honestly (that’s where my background came from, too). Earlier in the summer, I found this beautiful zodiac fabric and made my mom an Aquarius mask, and then found Leo and Scorpio for my dad and for Mr. Gummi Bear when I found the typewriter key fabric.

The original Aquarius mask (not pictured) wasn’t long for this world. On about her third or fourth time wearing it out, she bent and re-bent the nose wire so vigorously that it broke. This is probably also a cautionary tale about using dollar-store pipe cleaners as nose wires, but what do you have to do to it to break it so quickly? She also complained about the thin elastic I used for ear loops cutting into her ears; the fact that she requested that elastic specifically was irrelevant. Could I replace the wire and elastic? I thought about the amount of unpicking required, and decided it was easier to make her a new one. And hey, if she was getting a new one for Christmas, so were the others.

I used a sturdier wire in all three of them, and the elastic is this super-soft and springy, rounded stuff I found on Etsy. Just let them try and complain about sore ears!

Thanks for looking – Merry Christmas! 🙂

craftmas, General Sewing

On the third day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a scarf for the pep rally!

Even though my friend Ricky* defected to Toronto 15+ years ago, and I see him once a year if I’m lucky, I still try to find the perfect Christmas gift to send every year. In this case, “perfect” translates loosely to “not totally impersonal, not ridiculously expensive, and not a bear to ship in terms of either packaging logistics or postage costs”. I don’t ask for much, do I?

A couple of years ago, I put together a Batman starter kit (mini Bat Signal plus some socks, soap, and mints all featuring the caped crusader’s likeness), and last year it was a box of local goodies that he wouldn’t be able to get in the Big Smoke. With everything that’s been going on this year, I opted for something nostalgic to remind him of those carefree high school days. *pause for laughter* Or at least something in our school colours.

I’ve actually made this scarf twice before, but this was my first time making it according to the original instructions and not trying to shoehorn in an extra colour. Based on a tutorial from the dearly departed Craftster, the premise is simple: choose two colours of fleece (A and B); cut eighteen 4″ by 6″ rectangles and four 6″ squares out of colour A; cut twenty 4″ by 6″ rectangles out of colour B; use nine, two, and ten of each kind of cutout to form each side of the scarf and then sew the two sides together for double-layer warmth.

I sincerely thought that cutting out all those rectangles was the most annoying/time-consuming part of this (admittedly simple) project – and then I remembered that every time you sew two of them together, you have to tie off the thread ends at both ends of the seam. Every time. For 2+10+9-1 seams per side.

To be fair, tying off the thread ends isn’t difficult or as prone to causing hand cramps as marathon fleece-cutting, but it’s the start-and-stop (especially if you leave them all until the end) that makes them a pain. By the time I was doing the second side of my scarf, I got smart, and tied my threads while I was on a conference call – it kept my hands busy, but wasn’t so distracting that I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on.

I think this should ward off the Toronto chill, no?

There was a time when I would have wrapped that scarf all around my model’s head to preserve anonymity or else digitally alter the photo up to and including decapitation; but darned if a co-ordinating mask doesn’t do the trick.

And sure, the scarf is nice and wouldn’t look out of place at the homecoming game (assuming we had a football team, which we did not), but it needed a little something extra to really complete the theme.

Perfect, right? It had the blue-and-gold scheme, and we both spent four years with the same English teacher who spent those years drilling into our heads such gems as the eight (nine? Ten? Google seems to be very divided on this) parts of speech. I think all of my grammatical neuroses can be traced back to that classroom.

In some miracle of modern postal service, his parcel arrived with a week to spare before Christmas, and I hope he’ll be able to get some use out of both, lockdown or no.

Thanks for looking….go Sabres!! 🙂

*Not his real name, but a nickname given by that same English teacher.

craftmas, General Sewing, Other Crafts

On the second day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a flock of sheep for the tree!

Back in the days of Craftster (RIP), I participated in the Sweat Shoppe Ornament Swap a couple of times. Basically, you’d create three or six ornaments – usually similar if not actual clones of one another – and be partnered up with three or six people to swap one for one. It was really kind of lovely because you could get your ornaments made well ahead of time and then just wait for your partners’ information. Craftster’s successor, Lettucecraft, is still in its infancy and the swap process has been a little different, and there was no SSOS this year.

Being me, I had already found a pattern I had wanted to use, and wound up making a few anyway.

I added some miniature 1:12 (I think?) lights that weren’t called for in the pattern, but took these from just being sheep to actually being Christmas sheep, and therein lies the difference.

These were really simple to make! My first one came to life during a conference call that required nothing from me apart from confirming my presence during roll call and answering the icebreaker question, and I completed the next two over a few evening phone calls with friends.

When I started making these, I couldn’t decide whether their overall vibe was “Fleece Navidad” or “Baaaaa Humbug”, but my “focus group” overwhelmingly preferred the former.

I call them a flock of sheep at the top of this post, but pity the poor collie who has to herd them: they wound up with (or are in the process of making their way to) friends in three different countries.

If the SSOS ever comes back, I might have to revisit these little guys. Love ’em!

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, Other Crafts

On the first day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a calendar to count down daily.

The saga of this advent calendar started almost a year ago. A few days after Christmas – not Boxing Day; I’m not insane – Mr. Gummi Bear and I hit the streets to check out a few stores. He wanted to look for some jeans, and after a fruitless search for a pair that fit properly, and a life-regenerating coffee at a Starbucks that was tucked away in an out-of-the-way Sobeys, we found ourselves in a scrapbooking store. I was looking for some stickers to send a swap partner, and thought they might have a bigger selection than Michaels.

Near the front of the store, they had a table of Christmassy supplies marked down by 50%, and even though I’m not a papercrafter per se, I wandered over to see what they had. The advent calendar kit jumped out at me. It comes with everything! And it’s half-off! “I’ve got a whole year to put this together!” I crowed, tossing it in my basket. It was going to become a much-loved heirloom, I could feel it in my bones.

Shortly after it arrived home, it got set aside and forgotten about until early November.

When the latest restrictions on gatherings came into effect, and it became apparent that our weekend carousing (read: getting takeout and watching Netflix at his place) was going to be stymied, I thought this might be a fun way to keep a piece of me around (sort of) as December wore on.

It really did come with everything. All of the little pieces for the pockets were cut out and pre-scored for folding, and (bonus!) even came packaged in the right order so I wouldn’t have to sort them out later.

The kit didn’t include instructions for what to do with the tags, so I opted for the corny, bad Dad-joke route.

The most tedious part, probably, was cutting 6″ lengths of baker’s twine for each of the 25 tags. If you look really closely, you can see the “25” not looking super-firmly attached to the pocket – I don’t know what kind of adhesive their stickers had, but it wasn’t great, and I wound up touching up a few with my gluestick to make sure they would hold.

All laid out and ready to be packaged up and given to the lucky recipient.

There was about 11.5 feet of baker’s twine left over once all the tags were tied, and I left it all as one length so he could decide for himself whether he wanted one long row of pockets, or a 12-13 split, or 5 rows of 5, whatever he wanted.

He opted for a single length, and even found some complimentary cutouts of Christmas lights to add to the ambience.

OK, so it might not become one for the generations, but it’s (almost) a way to be together apart, and a fun way to start the holiday season.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, Other Crafts

On the fourth day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a last-minute Christmas quickie!

(Get your minds out of the gutter…)

I’m not going to do a big, long how-to, but keep it simple: I used this tutorial to create some golden snitch chocolates for a friend’s stocking.

They came together really quickly; I had Discord open in the background while I worked (because apparently I keep glue at the computer desk), and it took less than 10 minutes to get all three made.

There’s no way these were getting back in the cellophane sleeve, so instead, I’ve tucked them into a little organza bag to go at the very top of his stocking, and hopefully keep the wings from getting crushed.

Thanks for looking – Merry Christmas! 🙂

craftmas, General Sewing

On the third day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a gift that’s very “hand”-y!

When I was little, my grandmother used to cut decorative hand towels in half and then crochet a topper on each half, complete with a loop for hanging. When she had a good stash built up, she’d bring them out at a family gathering and let us pick which one(s) we wanted. These were a serious staple of my childhood, and I can’t imagine a kitchen without one.

My own crochet skills are not as sophisticated as hers were, sadly, but when I saw this glorious fabric:

…I had the perfect plan for it.

I took a towel I had bought somewhere else (charity fundraiser?) and traced around its fabric topper to draft a pattern for myself. I found some plain red towels at the store that matched the red lettering pretty much perfectly. I cut each towel in half (width-wise, not lengthwise), folded each half in approximate thirds (lengthwise, not width-wise) to fit into the topper. Once they were fit in, I sewed the topper shut, et voilà.

The first time I tried making towels like this, I attached some Velcro unbranded hook-and-loop tape to make it easy to hang the towel from an oven handle or whatnot. Unfortunately, after repeated washings, the Velcro-like product lost its “stick” and the towel would fall to the floor at the slightest provocation, like some sort of kitchen-linen fainting goat.

Sooo…I worked through my dislike of sewing buttons and sewed on buttons. It honestly wasn’t as painful as I remember, and now these towels aren’t going anywhere until you decide they are.

My mom has laid claim to two of them; the rest will be tucked into various Christmas gifts as a fun little bonus. In fact, one has found its way to its new home already:

I want a dishwasher handle like that!

Thanks for looking! 🙂