Our Hyacinth

We made it!

Congratulations, Northern Hemisphere! We made it through winter! It was a long, hard slog, but we did it.

We still have a stubborn snow pile that, while it shrinks daily, will probably be here for a couple more weeks. After the last of The Snows I bet Jesse that the plow pile would probably be there until May. It looks like I’m going to be proven correct, though I now wish we’d actually wagered something on the claim.

I’m busy getting ready for the next show: Punkcake is Springing Up Again! It’s in Worcester, MA on Saturday, April 25th. I hope you local folks can make it out, because it looks like it’s going to be a super fun day. There will be music and all sorts of vendors, and while it’s being held at a pub, it’s an all-ages affair. I am really looking forward to it!

In the meantime, here are some spring-time photos:

The first of the crocuses emerged on April 6th.

FIRST!

It was soon followed by several more of its friends. Here they are nine days later as my subjects while I play around with depth and focus on my new camera.

Crocus

Our Hyacinth (said like Daisy and Rose from “Keeping up Appearances”) opened yesterday and the warm sun really brought out the fragrance.

Our Hyacinth

I put out more of the garden ornaments. I try to not go too Pinterest-mad, but I had to hang out an old teapot. I’m not sure what to plant in it yet, but I’m sure it’ll be Pinterest-worthy.

Tea for Two Flamingos

I like gnomes. A lot. I’ll save you from a photographic tour of my gnome collection, but here’s one of my newer ones. My mother’s an enabler and she gave me a set of solar gnome lights last summer.

Gnome Lights

The veggie garden is coming together slowly. I planted a batch of seeds in these peat pods, but I left the heating pad plugged in on a sunny day and I cooked them. I started a new batch and am trying to not kill those. If all goes well, I’ll have two kinds of tomatoes, cucumber, melon, lettuce, and cabbage. The beets and carrots and herbs are all getting direct seeded outside, but probably not until late May.

Starting seeds

I planted a few kinds of peas in the one raised bed I’ve cleaned up thus far (I added some not-quite-ripe compost, hence the egg shell fragments everywhere). We need to make a cover in case I started them too early, and we usually have potential for frost through mid-May. The cabbages and lettuce will be going in next as soon as they’re ready.

Peas! (Soon.)

And because ending this with a picture of dirt is a little boring, here’s one of the faded, plastic whirlygigs stuck in the fence surrounding the veggie garden. Happy Spring, everybody!

Whirlygig

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Tutorial: A sash or a banner for your badges

If you’re going to make yourself a bunch of badges, you’ll need to collect them somewhere. The sash is classic, and if you’re having a bad day you can put it on, strut around the house, and remember all the ways you’re awesome. Or you can make a banner to hang on the wall for all to admire.

To make the sash you’ll need the following:

  • Fabric
  • Sewing machine and coordinating thread
  • OR heat-set hemming tape, like “Stitch Witchery,” and an iron
  • Measuring tape
  • Cutting mat and rotary cutter (optional, but highly recommended) or scissors
  • Ruler (the clear plastic quilters rulers are great)
  • Pinking shears (optional)

sash-01

Measure yourself from your shoulder to your hip, diagonally across your body. Add 6 inches to that measurement. Cut 2 rectangles of fabric to that length and 6 inches wide if you’re using the hem tape or 7 inches wide if you’re sewing.

Lay the two rectangles down on a cutting mat right sides together. Using a ruler and rotary cutter, measure from one corner on one side of the short end to one inch down on the other side and trim on the diagonal. (Or use the ruler and a pencil to mark and cut with scissors.) This is the shoulder of the sash.

sash-02

Separate the two panels. On one panel, fold the edges over twice (approximately 1/4 inch) toward the wrong side and sew around three sides, leaving the shoulder unhemmed.  Repeat with the second panel.

sash-03

 

sash-04

With right sides together, sew the sash at the shoulder using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Use pinking shears to trim the shoulder seam. Iron the seam open and stitch flat. Because the seam is at an angle, you’ll have to tuck the end of the seam allowance under so it doesn’t show on the right side.

sash-05

 

sash-06

[Iron-on hem tape method: Separate the two panels. On one panel, fold the edges once toward the wrong side and and heat set the tape with your iron, leaving the shoulder un-hemmed. Repeat with the second panel. With the right sides together, heat set the shoulder seam. Press the seam flat. Use a second piece of hem tape to set the seam to one side (optional).]

Try on your sash and pin the ends together at your hip. Tack it in place, or pin it with a safety pin and call it a day.

sash-07

If you’re not the sash wearing type, you can easily make a banner instead. To make the banner you’ll need the same materials and tools as above and also a wooden dowel and some string.

Decide how big you want the finished banner to be and add three inches to the length and one inch to the width. Cut the fabric in those dimensions. Fold over the edges twice and stitch around all four sides.

banner-01

Fold over the top edge toward the wrong side two inches and stitch, creating a channel. Insert dowel into the channel, tie some string to each end of the dowel, and hang up your lovely new banner.

banner-02

 

banner-03

 

If rectangles are too boring for you, try out some different shapes – maybe a curved bottom, or a triangle. And you don’t have to choose a busy toile print like I did, either. You can go as plain or as garish as you like. You do you, my friends. (Yes, that’s a knitting needle instead of a dowel in that picture. I couldn’t find an appropriately sized dowel at the time.)

There you go. A super simple method for making a sash or a banner upon which to display your lovely badges. Feedback is always welcome, and I’d love to see photos of your projects! Happy crafting!

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OtherWhere Spring Faire!

I’ve been working like mad lately getting ready for the spring show season. Up first is the OtherWhere Spring Faire Saturday, March 28 at Mill No. 5. It’s shaping up to be a great event. There will be everything from pottery to leather masks to embroidered patches and more.

I’ll be debuting a new apron, which I’m super excited about. It combines my favorite elements from a few different vintage aprons in to a simple and practical style. I’ll also have some tea bag and utensil pouches, as well as lunch bags in fantastic new prints. Behold!

IMG_2743 IMG_2751

I’m really looking forward to this season, and not just because it means milder weather. I hope I’ll see you at the OtherWhere Spring Faire!

Please note: I’ve been spending my time making fun things for the market, so I got a bit behind on my tutorial schedule. The sash tutorial will be up Wednesday, April 1 (no fooling).

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Tutorial: Yes, we need some stinking badges.

Badge Tutorial
I used to be a Girl Scout and as an adult it’s a bit disappointing that we don’t get to earn badges for doing stuff. I’m not suggesting the world owes me a cookie for being a decent, mostly functioning adult, but I do think giving oneself a little reward here and there can make life a bit more fun.

Badges are great for personal achievements. Get a promotion? Make yourself a badge! A friend is playing their first public gig? Make them a badge! Refrain from killing that annoying coworker? Badge!

They don’t have to be merit-based either. A few years ago our circle of friends decided we’d gone on long enough without earning badges so we started a club (the Unnamed Society of Friends in Favor of Frippery and Frivolity, or US4F). Really it’s just the usual friends getting together, sharing a meal, doing some sort of thematic activity (which is sometimes just eating), and getting a badge to sew on our sash just for participating (or eating). It’s a way to mark the occasion.

A badge can take many forms. For our club’s strawberry themed event we just used red buttons. For the 70s party we sewed on costume mustaches. As long as it fits the occasion and you can sew it on a sash it’s fair game.

The classic round scouting style badge is really easy to make. You’ll need the following:

  • Scrap fabric
  • Scissors or pinking shears
  • Embroidery hoop, floss, and needle
  • Fabric markers

Your badge design shouldn’t be too complicated. It should be something that can be done in one or two colors, doesn’t have a lot of fine details, and conveys the idea of the achievement or occasion simply.

Once you have your design sorted, choose your fabric. For this tutorial I used some scrap denim from a pair of old jeans. See additional fabric recommendations below.

For a quickie badge, draw your design onto the fabric with fabric markers.

doodles on denim

 

Mark the border of the badge. I used a votive candle as a template and traced around it.

Badge Tutorial

Cut it out with pinking shears (which will prevent the edges from fraying) or scissors, and you’re done. Denim works great for this kind of badge, so if you’ve got some scraps of old jeans lying around this is a good way to use them up. Canvas would work great, too. Avoid felt for this version because the fuzzy surface does not work well with markers.

Badge Tutorial

If you want to get a bit fancier, put the fabric in a hoop and embroider over your drawing. I embroidered just the outline to save time. You could even embroider some outlines but not others as I did with the bubbles example below, or fill it all in completely.

Badge Tutorial

Cut it out using the same method above. You’ll want a fabric that can handle dense stitching. Consider using interfacing if you choose a particularly thin fabric. Scraps of denim work great for this option as well as canvas. Craft felt is a good choice if you don’t mind not being able to draw your design on in detail before you embroider. I love working with felt because it comes in dozens of colors and is inexpensive. Cross stitch fabric is particularly helpful if free-form embroidery gives you the willies.

Badge Tutorial

 

Badge Tutorial

To affix your badge to something (sash, banner, super 80s denim jacket), pin it in place and hand stitch around the outside using a coordinating thread. Or if you have a sewing machine, use a dense zigzag stitch all the way around. If you don’t feel like hand sewing and you don’t own a sewing machine, get some fusible iron-on tape and heat set it in place.

Et voila!

US4F Sash

You can make a badge for any occasion or achievement. Make a bunch to keep on hand to surprise your friends. Take to the streets and leave a few out in the open for people to find. A little bit of silliness might brighten someone’s day (and we could all use a bit of brightening now and then, especially to get us through a difficult winter). Use your imagination and have fun!

See next week’s tutorial on how to make your own sash.

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Project Update: Running with Sticks

running with sticks

Last year I decided to try knitting while walking/running. It was going great for a while. I completed two and a half pairs* of legwarmers before I stalled out in the fall when I got super sick. I’m feeling much better these days, but a combination of weather doom and the difficulty of restarting something after a long hiatus has kept the second legwarmer of the third pair languishing on the needles in a sad little heap in my knitting basket. It’s time to pick it back up again and show that legwarmer some love.

February was supposed to be my get-back-to-the-gym month, but I have pushed that forward to March because winter has broken me and I do not have the fortitude to make time to go until it stops resembling Hoth** outside. I don’t want to wait that long to restart the legwarmer project, so I’m trying various exercises at home to see which I can pair with knitting.

Thus far I’ve tried marching in place with various goofy leg and knee lifts, but none of those have worked particularly well. Mostly I just end up standing in place knitting while listening to music, because apparently I need either a moving platform below me or a road out in front of me to understand how to move my legs. My next hilarious experiment will be to use the lower step on the stairs step-aerobics style like in the 90s. I do have the ridiculously bright shoes to match.

running with sticks

I’m glad to be back at it again – both the legwarmer knitting and the exercising. I’ve got two and a half pairs to go before I finish the first round, and I’ve got two people on a waiting list for round two. Fret not, legwarmer subscribers! Kristin, yours is the pair in progress that I’m close to finishing. Sarah, yours are up next, and then Lisa’s. Thank you for your sponsorship of this project, and thank you for your patience. Warm ankles will be yours soon!

* The second pair were yellow and green and I loved them. I loved them so much I forgot to take a picture before I sent them on their way to their new owner.

** More like a combination of Hoth and the trenches the Rebels have to fly through on the Death Star.

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Sunday Eats! Carrot Soup and Crusty Bread

Carrot soup and crusty bread

  • Carrots
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 large onion
  • Garlic, as many cloves as you like
  • Ginger, a couple chunks
  • 1 can of white beans

Peel and chop all ingredients (except the beans), put them in a pot and add enough stock to just cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until soft enough to puree. Strain out all the veg, place in blender, pour cooking water in a little at a time. Rinse and drain the beans, add to the blender and puree until smooth.

Add less of the cooking stock if you want a thicker soup. Save whatever you don’t use for your next soup.

The bowl is from Squirrel Forge, who makes all sorts of great pottery; the bread recipe is from the Inn at the Crossroads Game of Thrones cookbook; and the napkin is made from vintage fabric.

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Boston cosplays as Nebraska

SNOMG

Temperatures consistently below freezing, five or more feet of snow on the ground and more on the way – it’s ridiculous. Snowdiculous*, if you’ll allow the portmanteau.

We’re lucky out here in the suburbs, though. In town there’s about six feet or seven feet of snow and absolutely nowhere to put it. We at least have the space for the 20 foot snow piles and are both fortunate to have jobs that allow us to work from home. We’re also lucky to have personalities such that we’re more likely to laugh at the absurdity of the situation than to cry over it. (This is true most days, and one can certainly forgive us the occasional cry after a week of five hour commutes to and from work.)

SNOMG

We’re also not really susceptible to cabin fever, and as long as the heat and water stay on we can amuse ourselves with books and crafts and be content.

This week’s shop update is all cozy and silly things. When the walls of the trench leading from your door tower above your head and the forecast is calling for more snow in a few days, you may need a fleece blanket that folds into a pillow that looks like toast to cheer you up. If you really need cheering, you may need to get yourself a goofy nose warmer with a tassel. They really do keep your nose warm and they look silly enough to make your crabbiest neighbor smile (as long as you’re wearing it while you help them deal with the ice dams on their roof).

SNOMG

Stay safe and keep warm, New England! Spring is on it’s way. Really.

*Snowdiculous is not my invention. I thank my friend Jamie for that one.

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Hot Chocolate o’Clock is my Favorite o’Clock

heartfelt

Every day (or nearly) at three o’clock in the afternoon I have a cup of hot chocolate. It’s become the tastiest part of my winter survival strategy (which also includes a daily vitamin D supplement and a 30 minute session in front of my LiteBook). As a dairy-free person it’s difficult to grab a cup on the go, so I make my own powdered mix and carry it with me to work. All you need is hot water and it’s your very own hot chocolate o’clock.

Here’s my recipe:

Mix everything together and keep in an airtight container. Two heaping spoonfuls is enough for one standard mug of hot chocolate, but you may need more or less depending on your mug size and how rich you want it to be. I never need more than three heaping spoonfuls in my largest mug, but your mileage may vary, of course. Fill your mug with hot water, stir until everything’s dissolved, sip, and enjoy. (Yields approximately 5 servings.)

Winter is difficult and we’ve got two more months of the stuff ahead of us. Share this recipe with your friends to keep them warm. Better yet, make them a batch and present it in a mason jar with a Cuppow! lid adapter and felt cozy (available in the Storenvy shop).

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We’re back!

The shop is reopened and it feels so good!

Listings in the Etsy shop include lunch bags, mason jar cozies, and dice/gaming bags (which can be used for snack bags if that’s your thing – just don’t get your snacks and dice mixed up). There are still a few of the discounted 1.0 style lunch bags available. All new lunch bags will be made in the new size – see the Robot, Mushroom, or Bento lunch bag listings for more information.

Mason jar drinking lids are available via the Storenvy shop. Cozies are available at the Storenvy shop as well, so if you’re placing a cozy+lid combo order you don’t have to do so via multiple shops. (I sell the lids on Storenvy because I do not make them myself and cannot sell them on Etsy.)

The next scheduled shop update is Monday, 16 February 2015 when we’ll be adding more lunch and dice bags and party banners. As always, custom orders are welcome any time.

Cheers!

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Project Update: Longest Scarf Ever

Just keep knitting

Before I started sewing for a living, I’d spend much of my free time knitting. Now my creative brain is all used up on the job and there’s little left at the end of the day to put into complicated wooly pursuits. Luckily, this garter stitch scarf is waiting for me whenever I have a spare moment to knit a few rows. It requires little thought at all and I can shut off my brain while simultaneously channeling my nervous energy into something productive.

I began it in October 2013 and I’m quite close to being 3/4 of the way through it. I’ve been weaving in the ends as I go (every couple of feet), so I won’t have those looming over me at the end of the project. Once I’m through the knitting, I just have to add the fringe, then BOOM. DONE.

If you’re on Ravelry, the yarn and pattern details are here. As I’ve mentioned in previous project posts, I’m using a pattern from (now defunct) Witty Little Knitter and working in Valley Yarns Northampton in the (approximately) appropriate colorways, though my red isn’t orange enough, and my tan is too grey. Those are the only two colors that really bother me. The rest are passable. Thus far I’ve made do with one ball of each color, though I will have to order more of some colors before the end. I’m terrible at yarn estimating and I’ve been putting it off.

My probably-making-things-harder-than-they-need-to-be plan is to knit until I run out of one color, add up all the rows I’ve knit in that color, and figure out how much of each of the other colors I’ve already gone through. Then I’ll probably panic and just order one more ball of each, spending more money than I have to, and be stuck with a bunch of yarn in 1970s colors.

Until then? I knit.

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