Monday, July 28, 2014

Inspired by Geekery

Since I didn't get the chance to put together another Crochet Basics entry for today, I thought I'd participate in Inspire Me Monday, hosted by Create With Joy.

Basically, you share what's inspiring you at the moment, or in general. It can be anything, writing, photography, crafts, art, food, whatever.

So what inspires me? Lots of things, but in general, great stories, great art and general geekery inspires me to be creative.

DON'T PANIC pouch is inspired by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.
Leonardo is from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He and Donnie are still hanging out in my Storenvy Shop.
The gauntlet to the right is inspired by Deadpool, an off the wall character from Marvel Comics.

A small selection of the many books that inspire creativity.

So, what inspires you?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Knitty Gritty

This week was all about knitting and household cleaners. Kind of an odd combination, but it is what it is.

First off, I've made a little more progress on that shoulder bag strap. Pardon the washed out colors. I wasn't up to fiddling with the light in order to get the camera to cooperate without flash.

There's still quite a way to go, but if it works out the way I have it pictured in my mind, it should turn out nicely.

Next, I got started on making a gift for someone yesterday. This person doesn't wear much by way of jewelry, and they tend to be on the more practical side, so I thought, "HEY! I'll knit them a shawl! That shouldn't take too long!"

HAH! Hahaha! Hah.

If I knit for a good part of today, I might have it ready for blocking tomorrow. Even if I don't get it done by then, I don't exactly have a time limit. I'm loosely basing it on this pattern, but since the buttons I have aren't that huge, this one will have its own style and fit.

Either way, it should be nice and cozy when it's done.

As for the cleaning products, I wrote a hub with the five recipes here. I prefer using those types of solutions instead of commercially made ones. Vinegar may be a bit potent at first, but the smell clears much faster than bleach does, and baking soda is just awesome.

Otherwise? Not a whole lot in the crafty department. I've been doing a little more cooking than usual, and I'll be doing some juicing/cleaning between knitting and writing later today. So, yep. Fun times all around.

What have you been up to?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Flowers - Wordless Wednesday (Linky)

Some of our oriental lilies are in bloom! The flowers this time of year are gorgeous. I should collect some to press.

The bulb in front of the lily will bloom into a purple flower - a balloon flower.

Flowering hostas.

My other breed of hosta.

Oriental lily, Russian sage and firewitch flowers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sugar Scrub Goodness Recipe

I dislike shaving, but I enjoy the feeling of smooth legs, so I'm always on the look out for effective hair removal techniques. I've tried those awful chemical preparations that dissolve the hair, sugaring, waxing, and of course, shaving. None of them have come close to this simple scrub.

There are quite a few recipes for sugar scrubs out there, and after perusing them, I decided to make my own. Here's what you need:
  • Coconut oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Sugar
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
It's pretty simple.

Step 1: Plop a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of coconut oil into your bowl, and heat if the oil isn't already soft. This gave me enough to use on my entire body after the first application to my legs, so an even lower measurement might work for you.

It was a warm day when I did this, so the oil was already pretty soft.
Step 2: Mix about 1/5 to 1/4 cup of sugar into coconut oil. If you'd like a grainier texture, add more sugar. Naturally, if you'd like it less grainy, use less.

I may use less sugar, next time.

Step 3: Mix in about 10 drops of lavender essential oil. You don't have to use lavender if you don't like it, but I use it because it's excellent for healthy skin.

There you go! You have your scrub. To use it, take a nice hot bath or shower. Turn the water off if you're in the shower when applying it. The sugar will melt when exposed to water.

The coconut and lavender oil will moisturize and revitalize your skin as the dead cells are sluffed off by the sugar.

Rinse your legs, then shave as usual. Reapply the scrub, rinse and shave again to get any missed stubble.

I personally dislike the feeling of oil lingering on my skin, so I wash with soap again after this step, but that last step isn't necessary for everyone, especially if you have very dry skin.

After I'm finished and have dried off, I've gotten into the habit of applying a mixture of tea tree and lavender oil to my legs. It soothes any accidental razor burn, smells nice and generally feels wonderful.

I've noticed that I don't need to shave as often, because the shave is closer, and my skin is healthier than before I started doing this routine.

Do you have a favorite homemade scrub or lotion?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three Ways to Make Button Holes - Crochet Basics

I feel like I should have titled this "All About Button Holes" for the simple reason it sounds like something from a PBS show.

In reality, these are just three ways of making button holes that I've figured out through trial and error. I'm sure there are many more methods out there, and some may be better than what I've been doing.

These are just what have worked for me for various projects in the past.

Yes, those are kitties in the background. I didn't feel like hauling fabric out for the background, so I just used my office chair pillow.

Decrease Method
When I know I'll be working with small buttons, I'll sometimes use this method. As you can see from the picture, the hole ends up being very small, and is easily hidden with the rest of the fabric.

While this is a good idea for a garment or accessory that can be used as effectively without all of the buttons fastened, it can be a little hard to find the hole in a pinch.

Step 1: Crochet until you're two stitches away from where you'd like to place the button hole.
Step 2: Decrease those two stitches into one.
Step 3: Chain two new stitches.

Step 4: Without skipping any stitches, decrease the next two stitches into one stitch. This will form the tiny hole.
Step 5: Finish the rest of the row, and continue on to the next one.
Step 6: When you get to the hole, stitch two stitches into the hole instead of the chain. I've found this makes for cleaner edges.
From there, just continue the pattern as instructed, and attach buttons once everything is blocked.

Skip Stitch Method
This technique forms a slightly larger hole. It's also relatively well hidden, but it accommodates slightly larger buttons, and is very easy to do.

Step 1: Crochet up until the stitch before where you'd like to put your button hole.
Step 2: Chain one stitch.
Step 3: Skip next stitch.

Step 4: Continue crocheting according to the pattern.

One of the nicest things about this technique is that you have full control over how wide you want the hole to be. One stitch makes a tiny hole, but when you chain on and skip more stitches, you can create a wider hole for bigger buttons or latches.

DC Method
When you want a taller, more obvious button hole, I've found the dc, or hdc for a slightly shorter hole, works nicely.

Step 1: Crochet until the stitch before your button hole.
Step 2: DC (or hdc) one.
Step 3: Chain one stitch.
Step 4: Skip one stitch.
Step 5: DC (or hdc) one stitch.
 Step 6: Continue pattern as directed.

Unless you're planning on using a huge button, or you're working with a type of yarn that doesn't stretch well, I've found this technique works for the majority of buttons I've come across. It's easy to find when you're ready to fasten the button, but won't detract from the piece as a whole.

If you'd like to share your favorite button hole techniques, feel free to leave a comment below!

For more Crochet Basics, check out the following links:

Four Basic Crochet Abbreviations
What are yo, dc and hdc?
Learn How to Crochet a Magic Circle or Ring
Weaving in the Ends
Blocking Crochet Work

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finished goodies, works in progress and plans!

Ah, yes, the crafting bug is gnawing on my fingertips. The writing bug has, too, along with the cleaning bug. Were they any other kind of bugs, I'd call an exterminator.

Anyway, I've finished and listed the pot holders and coasters I made during the last couple Crochet Basics entries. They may not be the most ornate things ever, but I do hope someone decides to give them a home.

 They're pretty cute, though not perfect. You can find them here for $5.00.

These potholders are also listed for $5.00 here.

Though, if you order them (or anything else from my shop) today, you can get an extra 15% off with coupon code OUCHMYFEET. I didn't do a great job of publicising the sale, but oh well. It also looks like Storenvy's hosting a site-wide 30% sale to boot.

I usually schedule shipping for the next business day, so delivery's pretty swift, and I ship internationally.

Anyway, on to the works in progress!

Yeah, it doesn't really look like much, but this will be an adjustable headband after blocking and buttons are sewn on.

This one was originally going to be another headband, but as I knit, the image of a purse came to mind. So, eventually, this will be an over the shoulder purse. I couldn't resist including my adorable little Raphael cell phone charm.

He's such a cute little ninja turtle.

As for plans? Here's what I'll be working on this weekend/later today:
  • Mixing up some homemade kitchen cleaner, shower cleaner, carpet deodorizer, stove scrub and bathroom cleaner (if there's still lemon juice in the fridge). I'll be cleaning today, obviously, but I'll also be posting a hub about how to make and use all of those, too. It'll be posted on Facebook and assorted other social media outlets when I finally get it in decent shape.
  • Handmade birthday cards! Winnie's Inky Fingers has inspired me. Pictures will be posted once the recipients get them.
  • Button hole examples for Monday's Crochet Basics.
The long term plans include:
  • Double sided scarves and key chain characters from dystopian stories for next year's Art Show for CONvergence. After the chaos from last year, I figured I'd start with patterns now. There will be zombies on one of the scarves. I might do 1984 and Brave New World inspired scarves, too. I may not be a huge fan of the genre, but there are some great quotes from both of those books.
  • Quilting. I've been meaning to figure out how to do that, but haven't had the chance.
  • Experiments in polymer and doll making.
  • Costumes for con, but that's in the future, too.
I'm also considering putting together a newsletter. Would there be any interest in that?

Anyway, I'll leave you with a picture of one of my feline helpers to cue the start of the weekend!

This sweetheart has wanted so much attention this week. Don't worry, baby girl, we'll be sticking around for a long time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Hangin' Out in the Clouds

The sky was as beautiful as the land and water at Lake Superior last week. Who am I to turn up an opportunity to share some of our pictures?