Archive for gift

Sweet Wedding Shawl

IMG_2472My husband’s step-sister, Joella Sweet is getting married in October. Although I have never officially met her, I am very fond of her and I wanted to make her something special to wear during her wedding. I thought a lace shawl would be perfect.

This is my first lace shawl pattern. Although I am happy with the finished product, I did find this pattern difficult to understand and very frustrating. If you decide to knit this and aren’t an experienced lace/shawl knitter, be prepared for some challenges. It took me a long time to get into the rhythm of it. If it wasn’t for the tips offered by my super-fantastic knitting group I don’t know if I would have finished it.IMG_2431

If you are new to lace knitting, I recommend that you learn how to use a lifeline. If you use ADDI click needles, they sell a lifeline tool. However, if you want a free and handy substitute you can just use a different color yarn and big needle to thread it through your stitches. There are videos on youtube that will show how to do this if you don’t have a helpful knitting group. I STRONGLY recommend that you use a lifeline when knitting shawls. All those YO’s and K2TOG are impossible to save if you drop a stitch.

That yarn is from KnittedWit, an Etsy seller. I am a big fan of Etsy and handmade products. I was excited to buy this yarn from a “real person”. I loved this yarn and I recommend that you check out her shop. She takes custom orders and is very easy to work with.

This wasn’t a free pattern so I won’t go too far into detail about the knitting. It’s knit top down and then the border is knit left to right with a tiny bit of short rows. When it’s finished it should look like this…IMG_2438

Weave in the loose ends. In theory you shouldn’t have many because this shawl can be knit with one skein of yarn, but I had a few mishaps including a time when I almost vacuumed the half finished shawl and snapped the yarn. I use a tiny crochet hook and a big yarn needle for weaving ends.IMG_2439

Give the shawl a soak rinse and block the shawl. This step amazes me. The shawl instantly grew to about three times its size. I used a ruler to make sure I wasn’t stretching one side too far and I gave the bottom a bit of a point but other than that I didn’t get too fancy. IMG_2458

I was a little alarmed by how green the water turned from the yarn. I believe it’s because the yarn was hand dyed. I rinsed the shawl twice until the water ran clear. Hopefully, this will ensure the shawl doesn’t bleed on the wedding dress. Also the shawl color didn’t fade at all. If anything the bath seemed to make the color pop more. I really love how beautiful this yarn knits up!IMG_2443

I am excited to mail this out to Joella. Even if she decides not to wear it down the aisle, I think she will get plenty of use out of it.IMG_2453

Sweet Valentines Day Soap

IMG_2125 2DIY heart soapsIMG_2125 2 Edited

I wanted to make something special for my family and a few special friends to celebrate Valentines day. I saw lots of projects for felt hearts and heart soaps on Pinterest and I thought between the two, this seemed to fit my skill level.

So, before you read my post I should tell you that on my first try I did burn myself – badly and set a small fire. I will say that thanks to that fire, I learned that not only did my husband decide that the best place for the one fire extinguisher we own was in the basement, but that he actually moved it from that place and didn’t remember where it was. However, I didn’t even know we HAD a fire extinguisher. So, yay for important lessons learned during small fires!

I read several blogs with instructions on how to make soap. This is the way that worked best for me – excluding the fire and burns.

Sweet Valentine's Day SoapI used:
glycerin soap (clear and opaque)
soap dye or food coloring
glass measuring cup
non stick pan or silicone pan
heart shaped cookie cutter
rubbing alcohol (poured into a spray bottle)

Several blogs that I read suggest food dye. I tend to steer clear of food dye because I’ve had some bad skin discoloration experiences using food dye in sugar scrub recipes.

I wanted soaps in a several colors so I bought tiny cake pans. However, if you are going for just one color or larger quantities of soap just use a bigger pan.

Martha Stewarts blog said the best way to determine how much glycerin you will need is to fill the non-stick pan with water to the level/width you want your soap to be. Then pour that water into a measuring cup. This is the amount of liquid glycerin you need. I used 1 1/4 cup to fill my tiny pans.

I created a double boiler to melt my glycerin by filling a pan about 1/2 full of water and then placing a measuring cup inside. I turned the water on low and then waited approximately 3 days, 6 hours for it to get hot.

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

While I waited for the double boiler to heat, I started cutting the glycerin into chunks about 1/8 inch thick and 1/4 wide – Later I used a cheese grater to shave it into smaller pieces that melted faster (my knuckles are still healing).

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

I can not began to tell you how horribly boring waiting for glycerin to melt is. I was determined to complete this process right, so I started out with the burner on super low. Nothing. Happened. Slowly, I increased the heat little by little until it bubbled over and burned me. Shortly thereafter it started a fire. I also noticed that it created a weird white froth that didn’t dissolve as the soap dried. Based on these findings, I never ever turned the burner up again while making soap. I also learned that it’s important to keep stirring your glycerin. It speeds up the melting process and it prevents a irritating skin layer from building up.

Once the glycerin is melted QUICKLY pour it into your pan. It begins to harden almost the second you take if off the stove. Here’s where you use the rubbing alcohol. A few quick sprays while dissolve bubbles that form on the top.

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

Once your soap has hardened, use your heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out your heart shaped soaps!

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

I also used some silicone heart shaped ice cube trays I’d gotten from Ikea for $.99. To be honest, I thought the silicone trays were easier, but I needed thinner hearts for the next step of my project (stay tuned).

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

I cut the scraps up and threw them back into my double boiler. Then I just added more soap and dye until I got the desired amount and color for my next batch.

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

This project was the least complicated in theory – well, aside from the fire obviously. But, it made the biggest mess. Nothing that I used seemed to really get the glycerin residue off the pots and sink. Tupperware that was in the dishwasher during the same cycle as the stuff I used to make the soap ended up with a soap residue that I couldn’t get clean and eventually had to throw away. But, I can’t help but smile when I see my little bag of heart shaped soaps. I hope the recipients enjoy them.

Soap Hearts

Holiday Thank You Cards

IMG_1504IMG_1502I decided to send out handmade thank you cards for the gifts that we received this year. I am still new to paper crafts so I wanted to try something that would be pretty but not so challenging that they wouldn’t be received until sometime this spring.

What I used:IMG_1430 Edited
Martha Stewart Craft Punch – Arctic Snowflake
Martha Stewart Craft Punch – Alphabet
3.5in x 4.8in White Cards
Card Stock Colors: Navajo, Patina, Turquoise Mist, Avalanche, Ocean Breeze
Mod Podge

Paint Brush
Exacto Knife
Friskars Super Cut Paper Trimmer

Paper Trimmer:
The first step is to determine the size for the border. To determine the border, measure the width and height of your card. I went with .5 inch IMG_1485 Editedborder. The cards I used are 3.5in x 4.8in so the card stock should be cut to 2.5in x 3.8in. Using the Paper Trimmer, cut the card stock to the dimensions you picked.

When I originally bought the supplies I asked the Michaels associate what would be the best cutting tool to use. She suggested the exacto knife. I specifically asked her about the cutting board because they were on sale but she said that I wouldn’t need it for this project. I wasted two sheets of card stock and way too much time cutting crazy crooked not so exacto lines before I went back to Michael’s and bought the paper trimmer. I just wish I’d started the project when the sale was still going. GRRRR! But hey, you might be someone who can use the exacto knife and make straight lines with no problem. I cut all of my card stock in the three colors first because I wanted to mix the different color snowflakes between cards.

Craft Punch:
Use the Martha Stwewart Craft Punch to cut out the snowflakes. Remember this is the card stock you will be gluing to the thank you cards IMG_1444 Editedso be creative with your punching. Also be careful that you don’t punch too close to the previous punch or to the edges of the card stock.

I recommend that you punch all of your card stock before you start the next step. This serves two purposes. When I planned out these cards in my head I didn’t plan to glue the snowflakes back onto the cards. If you like the way the cards look as is, then go with it, but you also have the option to glue the snowflakes back onto the cards. I mixed the colors of the snowflakes on a few of the cards. I was really surprised by how great they looked. I almost decided to save these for christmas cards for next year. But I convinced myself that by next year my card making skills will be so advanced that they will almost be 3D holograms.

Mod Podge:
Use the paint brush and Mod Podge to glue the card stock to the card. This can be tricky because the card has snowflakes cut out of it. I found that applying the Mod Podge directly to the card, not the card stock got the best results. I also find it helps if you use a paint brush with a tiny pointy edge to dap glue into the tiny edges to get a firm fit.

Next, Glue the snowflakes down. In this case, I applied the mod podge directly to the snowflakes and then once I applied the snowflakes to the card I wiped the excess mod podge away.

In my opinion Mod Podge dries cleaner then a glue stick or elmers glue will and you can wipe the excess away without it leaving a sticky residue or any weird splotches on the card.

Fill in the Blank:IMG_1490
Make sure you write something personal inside. Nothing is lamer then a handmade card with nothing but “Love, Your Name” inside. : )


Frosted, The Mason Jar Snowman

IMG_1334 Edited-2IMG_1378IMG_1336 Edited-2I got the idea for the mason jar snowmen while I was working on my holiday gifts. I needed a jar for the sugar cubes I made for friends and family for Christmas. I love gifts that can be practical and beautiful. I’ve become a big fan of upcycling and I’d been wanting to experiment with frosted spray paint. I had 5 mason jars that I’d gotten from Tokyo Joe’s restaurant that I thought would be perfect. I love how the white sugar cubes add to the “snow” effect and it’s a gift that can be reused for decoration or refilled with something next year during the holidays. (I hope)

What I used:
Mason Jar w/lid
Black spray paintIMG_1258
Frost spray paint
Clear sealant spray paint
Super glue (I recommend the kind with a brush)
Orange Felt
Ribbon (I recommend wire edge)
Paint (white, black) and any colors you want to paint your scarf if you choose this option

Glue Gun (optional)
Paint Brush
Masking Tape

I put my snowman together in the below order because it helps me keep my face centered. I like crafting and being creative but I’m not the most artistic or good at tiny details, so “dressing” the jar in a scarf and ear muffs reduced my error rate. You do not have to do it in this order.

Frost the Snow Jar:
Clean the jar thoroughly. Cover the rim of the jar with masking tape to protect it from the frost spray paint. I also put spray paint can tops into the jar to protect the inside from any fly away spray paint. Lightly spray the jar with a thin layer of frost and let dry. IMG_1147 EditedRepeat 2-3 times or until you feel that the jar is frosted to your desired level of frostiness. Apply two coats of sealant to help protect the frost from chipping.
The frost won’t stick to a jar that has any oils from your skin so stick your hand inside the jar to complete the instructions. Be sure to put something over the top to prevent any rebel spray paint drops and don’t skip that sealant. The first jar that I frosted chipped badly when I put it under running water to clean it. I didn’t even use soap or scrub it. So invest the time and $4 dollars on a can of sealant.

Old Silk Hat:
Spray paint the lid black. I used three coats and a clear sealent to try to protect it from chipping.

I put a glitter overlay on one hat, which I have to admit was my favorite! I’m a little glitter crazy right now so I put the glitter away and stuck to the traditional flat black hat.

Make it Snow:
I believe this step is pretty self explanatory. However if not, dip a pointed paintbrush into the white paint and randomly dot it on the jar. Remember, no two snowflakes are the same (sorry couldn’t resist).

The snow serves two purposes. First, in my opinion it gives the jar dimension. Second and more importantly frosted spray paint has the flaw I mentioned previously. Adding “snowflakes” covers up any chips and also helps to protect the jar from future chips.

You have two choices. You can pick a festive ribbon that you love or find a ribbon/fabric that you want to paint. I recommend that you choose a wire edge ribbon as it clings to the glass and prevents slippage. (I used puffy paints because they wereIMG_1394 Edited-3 close at hand and dried really fast.) Once you’ve made your ribbon choice, wrap it around the jar as tight as you can and knot it about 2/3’s of the way down the jar. Cut the ends and slip it off. Untie the scarf and with a glue gun apply a thin layer of glue to the scarf and quickly retie it to the jar…this glue dries fast! 

I choose to paint my ribbon because I liked the rustic country look. It also allowed me to make each snowman somewhat unique without buying 5 different ribbons. This step is really up to your discretion. I only did this to about 1/2 of my jars, because I kept changing my mind about wether or not it made sense. No matter how tight you retie the scarf it slips. However, once it’s glued it’s going to be a pain to rinse or wash the jar. Granted, the ear muffs aren’t exactly water proof – but still, it’s something to consider.

I got lucky with this, my jar had two seams down the sides so I knew where the exact middle was. The most important thing to remember about using superglue is that your decision is semi-permanent. If you pull the earmuffs off, you’ll also pull off a little bit of your snowman. I suggest starting small, if you glue a small part of the earmuffs to the glass and it’s uneven you have some room to manuever them by moving parts of the muffs around and gluing that edge down. If it’s a lost cause and your muffs are hopelessly crooked you can pull it off and cover a small glue spot with a slight shift.

I screwed the lid on as well to help me get an idea of where everything fit. I know it sounds like a small step, but this really helped me with placing the earmuffs evenly.

By now you will have narrowed the expanse of your snow jar greatly, so it’s time to create your face. The snowman has a classic smiley face. : ) I made the eyes pinprick small and then drew a smile with dots. The first time you do it I would suggest keeping the smileIMG_1399 somewhat small as well until you think you are finished. You can add on, but it’s tricky to get rid of black dots. Next, I attached the nose (see nose instruction below). Once the nose was attached, I enlarged the eyes and filled in the smile.

It may seem like a strange method, but my first snowman looked like something out of a b-rated horror film. It’s very difficult to sweeten a killer snowman. By starting small and building the face slowly you give yourself room to “edit.” The small dab may start out as the center of your eyes but once you attach the nose you may discover that they are too close together – let that be the corner of the eye instead, etc. Another reason to start with small dots is if you make a mistake that can’t be fixed with creative maneuvering, you can cover it up with a white snowflake – just be sure that the black paint is completely dry first otherwise you will make dirty snow.

The nose should resemble a triangle but also have a 3D look. Cut out a larger size triangle and glue the top two corners together. This will give it a sort of beakish look. To keep the 3D effect only place glue on the top half and affix it to the jar. 

Surprisingly, at least to me the nose was the hardest part (as you can see from IMG_1187 Editedthe multiple cuts in the felt). I put it at a slightly upwards angle so that it doesn’t lay flat against the jar. Just remember be sure you are committed to the spot. If you pull the carrot off it will pull the frost off as well and you’ll have an ugly spot. My snowmen were going be a tribute to the classic holiday song “Frosty The Snowman”. In the song Frosty didn’t have a carrot nose. He had a button nose. While I waited for the spray paint to dry on the frosting jars I made a practice jar, and I’m so glad I did. The button nose was a fail. It turned my snowman into a snow bear and now I have a very strange cup holder. If you are following this post and making your own snow jar and had the same aspirations as me, I hope my fail will save you time and disappointment.IMG_1333 Edited-2

As you can see your snowman is complete! You can keep your snowman empty as decoration, or fill it with sugar cubes, cotton balls, q-tips, or even place a votive candle inside for a festive glow.

Willow’s Cherry Blossom Blanket

Crochet Cherry Blossom Baby Blanket TutorialCrochet, Cherry Blossom, Baby Blanket, Crochet Flowers, Crochet Branch,Crochet Cherry Blossom Baby Blanket TutorialThis is Willow and her Cherry Blossom Blanket. Willow is the daughter of my close friend Kat. Although I have not met Willow, I like the thought that she has started her life and will (hopefully) always have something from me that is full of all of my good thoughts and love.This post is not as much a step by step tutorial, but it is one of my most favorite and most time consuming projects I’ve worked on. I will admit that by the time it was done, there was a part of me that wanted to keep it and I might have – if I was 2 feet tall.

What I used:

Flowers (butterflies)
Crochet Hook size C
DMC Mouliné Spécial 25 Six Strand Embroidery Floss
Blog_0277 Edited

Crochet Hook size I
Knit Picks Comfy Worsted Flamingo (5 skeins)
Knit Picks Comfy Worsted White (3 skeins)
Knit Picks Comfy Worsted Peony (5 Skeins)
Knit Picks Comfy Sport Bison (1 Skein)
Curved needle
Transparent thread

How it got started:
Originally, I did start this blanket following The Tulip Baby Blanket pattern. The problem is Crochet. Crocheting and I are like you and your best friend’s boyfriend. You have to get along because your best friend (we’ll call her “Awesome Finished Object”) is the most important thing in the world to you. But really, you think he sucks and if it wasn’t for Awesome Finished Object, you’d have nothing to do with him. Anyway, I bought all of the supplies for the “Tulip Baby Blanket” and completed the base and border. Then my BFF’s creepy boyfriend and I got into a HUGE fight. Tulip Baby Blanket Pattern

Going rouge:` Edited-2
I couldn’t figure out how to make the tulips and I was just about to give up on this project when a friend suggested I use the ‘butterflies’ I’d made about a year earlier for a un-finished project. I use the term butterflies loosely because really the butterflies are flowers with a string/antenna tied around the middle. 260 antenna severed and I had flowers. I used DMC Mouliné Spécial Six Strand Embroidery Floss to make the flowers, It’s the stuff you likely used to make friendship bracelets back in the day (which was a Wednesday by the way). I doubled it up and used a C hook. Flower Pattern

I couldn’t find a pattern for the branch, so I winged it using the basics from a ivy vine pattern I found on Ravelry, a social networking site for knitters, and by staring at a canvas picture of a cherry blossom tree on my bedroom wall. Making the branch wasn’t hard, but constantly measuring it against the blanket to make sure it fit was very time consuming. I’d take pictures of how it ‘lay’ pinned to the blanket and then try to crochet it to continue that flow. It sounds easy in theory, but constructing a three foot branch with a bunch of little branches “randomly” shooting out all over the place is wicked complicated. Ivy Vine Pattern

Wretched wretched wretched sewing. Everything that came before I threaded the first needle was the easy part. This took longer then any other part of the Crochet Cherry Blossom Baby Blanket Tutorialproject and I hated every part of it (we’ll come back to this). I basically lived in my dining room for six weeks sewing. I worked on the blanket almost every single day for at least eight hours a day. First I spent an obscene amount of money on yarn that matched each flower. However, I quickly discovered that was ridiculous and bought invisible thread. I didn’t know how to sew when I started sewing the branch/flowers on the blanket, so it looked atrocious (that wasn’t spelled how I thought it would be either). When I realized that what I was doing was absolute crap, I had to take it all out and start over but once I got the hang of it, things started movingly smoothly.

When it was done I had nothing to do. I sort of wandered around the house and felt very sad and restless and tried to cram more and more flowers on the blanket. Then, my husband suggested I make another blanket and I briefly considered sewing some flowers onto his forehead. I realized that although I may have hated working in a homemade sweatshop, I loved creating my own pattern, I loved watching something new and unique being created by my hands and I was sad when that ended.

Do you take Sugar? One Lump or Two? – DIY Sugar Cubes

IMG_1313IMG_1323DIY Sugar Cubes

What you need:
½ Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons of water
silicone ice cube tray or mini candy moldIMG_1194 Edited

What I used:
(in addition to items listed above)
1 Bowl (more if you are making several batches)
1 spoon
1 teaspoon
Aluminum foil
Cutting board
Empty food coloring bottle purchased from King Soopers (Trust me you will want this!)
Airtight jar to store your sugar cubes

Airtight jars I used:
Ikea “slom” Jar
16oz Golden Harvest Jars
Upcycled Mason Jar from Tokyo Joe’s restaurant (which I turned into Snowmen.)

It’s important to complete this process quickly. The sugar water mixture dries quickly and it’s best to get it pressed into your molds before that happens. I recommend reading through this first before you start!

IMG_1165Combine ½ cup sugar and 2 TEASPOONS of water in a bowl and stir. Be sure to scrape the sides. 

The first blog I read just said to make a “sugar paste.” Trust me, 2 teaspoons comes from countless experiments. It might not seem like a lot of water but do not add more or you might not end up with sugar cubes, you’ll have chewy candy goo that never dries. If you get stuck or stop for any reason just stir your mixture a bit to moisten up any sugar that may get dry.

Using the measuring spoon, fill each mold with a 1 teaspoon sized scoop of the sugar mixture. Tightly press the mixture down into the the mold. IMG_1287 Edited-3

I spent a lot of time looking for something that would fit into the molds (and was sanitary). I had a lot of sugar cubes that dried and fell apart because I couldn’t get the sugar packed tightly enough. If you have a King Soopers near by, I strongly recommend that you buy their store brand of food coloring bottles for this project. They may save you a lot of time and frustration. The top of the bottles fit into the corners of each one of the silicone molds that I have used.128821 128811

Once you have all of your sugar cubes packed tightly into their molds, you want to flip them out. Place aluminum foil and the cutting board over the top and flip the mold over. Lift the mold and cover with aluminum foil . Let the sugar cubes sit until dry (usually overnight).

The first 10 or so times I didn’t think to add the cutting board. I broke about 15% of the sugar cubes. However, once I incorporated the cutting board into the process, I never broke a cube again. (Ali, dumb) Unless you have lightening fast flipping skills, I recommend that you don’t skip this tool.

I usually check on them about 12-24 hours later. I just push on a sugar cube, if it breaks they aren’t done. If it holds firm… Congratulations! You made sugar cubes!


Try thisIMG_1356 EditedIMG_1363 Edited-5

  • add food coloring to make colorful sugar cubes
  • Substitute raw sugar or other types of sugar.