Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Easiest Ombre Knitting Technique


How do you feel about variegated yarn? It wasn't always my thing. Yarn with too many crazy color variations just looked too flashy. I liked the variety of colors and shades while it was in hank or skein form, but once it got knit up it would look so funky I'd just be overwhelmed. But still, I loved the look in theory, the pretty shades that moved from light to dark creating such a nice contrast. I just needed a way to tone it down a little.

Enter two of my favorite things: gray and stripes. Through a little experimenting I realized that by alternately single rows of a solid color with a more complex colorway I'd end up with a really pretty ombre that showed off the subtle variations in the yarn. Easy trick, but I love the result.

I made the mitts above on a loom, following another video tutorial by Tuteate. (She used a 3 color stripe pattern, while I just stuck with two). I used Patons Classic Wool Roving in Natural and Patons ColorWul in Jardin. The one caveat is this technique works best if you're knitting in the round or on a loom. Trying this technique on straight needles would require you to carry yarn up both sides of your work, which would be a little more difficult.

So that's my cheater ombre/toned down variegated yarn, and now my hands are nice and warm. What about you, does anybody else have any color tips to share?

P.S. The loom knitting tag on Instagram has been going crazy. I think this might officially be a #trend.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Craft Trends 2015

Hey everybody who sometimes accidentally reads this blog, Happy New Year! I know people love to work on new projects and goals in January (which makes zero sense because it is freezing, and by all rights we should just be eating cheese and watching Netflix) and I'm no exception. Thing is, every year work is MURDER on me in January because of a big annual event. Sadly, it isn't the ideal time to try out new stuff, so I decided to make a little list of the new skills and crafts I'm looking forward to learning this year, that way I don't forget them before February rolls around.

loom knit beanie
Loom knit slouchy beanie, pattern by Tuteate

Another loom knit hat in simple stockinette pattern.
1. Loom Knitting: This is sort of a cheat since I actually got into loom knitting over my holiday vacation. Weaving on looms was HUGE in 2014, so knitting on them seems like the next logical step, right? In December I surveyed my craft closet and realized I had somehow acquired 3 (3!) different knitting board/loom sets and decided it was time to actually use them. I started with a slouchy hat I made following a youtube pattern by Tuteate and I can't say enough about how good their videos are. Detailed, very easy to follow, and available in English AND Spanish. So far I've made 2 different styles of hats, and several fingerless mitts as gifts. Traditional knitting will always be my favorite, but it has been fun to try something new, and I'm excited to see what other projects I can come up with.

Leather Jar Cozy by Design Sponge
 2. Leather Working: Last year my boyfriend and I took a leather working class together where we made belts, wallets, and keychains. We enjoyed it but didn't do much with it for a year. So for Christmas I gave him a set of leather working tools of his own. So far we've made a few small projects and this leather mason jar sleeve. I would love to take another class at The Chicago School of Shoemaking to get a little more skilled and maybe make the perfect leather purse. The dream is to someday make my own leather boots.

photo via Stranger/it/is, prism by The Wild Unknown. Sadly, it is no longer for sale, but they do have some pretty cool tarot cards.
3. Stained Glass: I have zero experience with stained glass, but lately I've been seeing some beautiful minimal stained glass pieces that have really inspired me. Forget old church windows and imagine clean geometric lines on smoky gray glass. I think I soldered something once in junior high so I'm sure I could do it again. Luckily Chicago has a lot of opportunities for classes, and it looks like a project that you can easily do at home once you have the skills.

1lb block of Beeswax via Amazon
4. Beeswax: I'm really into beeswax lately, and I'd love to do more with it. We made some soy candles last year so experimenting with beeswax would be fun. I definitely would like to perfect a homemade lip balm recipe, and waterproofing a denim jacket with wax is on my Spring to-do list. 

So, that's me. Any new crafts you're into for 2015?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cinespia Photobooth

Cinespia photobooth: Clueless and La Dolce Vita
If I ever visit LA I am absolutely going to a Cinespia event. The group hosts screenings of iconic films at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. People bring blankets and picnics and watch movies from the lawn, and by itself, that would be cool enough to grab my attention. But Cinespia makes it even better by setting up a themed photobooth, elaborately decorated to match that evening's film, and I am completely obsessed with them.

Cinespia photobooth: Seven and Back to the Future
I mean, you thought funny hats and a mustache on a stick was cool, but have you ever been in a photobooth with a severed head in a box? I didn't think so. There are tons more pictures to browse on their facebook page. Check out booths from The Graduate, TRON, and The Craft, just to name a few. Plus a Breaking Bad album that actually has Aaron Paul in it!

Cinespia photobooth: Scream and The Dark Crystal
So now I need to visit LA and step up my photobooth game. If you're already in the area you can check the Cinespia page for a schedule of upcoming films, but you should probably just go ahead and go to them all.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Almond Cranberry Trail Mix Recipe

Am I the only person who eats everything out of a mug. Like everything. Trail mix, ice cream, gin & tonics...

Alternate title: Everything I Had In My Cabinet Trail Mix. Truthfully, this mix was just an attempt to use up odds and ends in a snack, but it turned out so well I've been making it for a month now. This trail mix is really well balanced with salty and sweet, crunchy and soft bits. Plus it has no grains or added sugar, if you care about things like that. And if you don't, well then it still just tastes really good.

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 bag (about 7oz) of roasted and salted pepitas
  • 8oz dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs (optional) 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir or dump them into a container and shake. And you're done. Really the above quantities are just an estimate. Obviously you can use more or less if you'd like, and add or subtract whatever you want (my boyfriend adds raw cashews). A note about the coconut: those flakes are really tiny and tend to settle on the bottom of the mix, so be sure you shake it well before eating.

Hey, Chicago people, don't forget to sign up for Etsy Craft Party 2014. Join me for a free night of fun and crafting!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Etsy Craft Party 2014: Chicago

RSVP here!
Hey crafty people, come join me on Friday June 6th for Etsy Craft Party 2014: Chicago! The event will be hosted by the good people at Neighborly and I'll be teaching you how to personalize your photos with embroidery. The event is free and attendees will leave with a supply kit to take home and spiff up your selfies. Space is limited so please be sure to RSVP on Eventbrite if you plan to join us. Come enjoy a night of creativity as you turn you pictures into works of art!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Church Rummage Sales

My haul: Two vintage Hillary hiking backpacks with aluminum frames, vintage Thermos, blue Pyrex casserole dish, glass canister, hand painted birch nesting boxes, walnut wood serving bowl, vintage flower frog

I love a good garage sale and regularly hit up Goodwills and second hand stores just for fun, but nothing ever compares to the treasures I find at church rummage sales. At first I thought it was just coincidence. But this weekend while I was scooping up everything you see in the photo above for a mere $16.75, I developed an entirely (un)scientific argument as to why church rummage sales are the pinnacle of thrifting.

1. Stock.
Most churches do rummage sales as a special event once a year. Members know it is coming and they start putting their items aside months in advance. Then on the day of the sale it all hits the floor at once. Thrift stores are open every day so they can be a little picked over, it is kind of like going to a store and trying to find something good on a clearance rack. But going to a church rummage sale is like hitting your favorite retailer the first day a new season starts. There is plenty of stock on the floor.

2. Variety.
At any given thrift store or rummage sale you'll find good stuff, and you'll find bad stuff. Face it, not everything people are selling is worth buying. But unlike garage sales, churches have lots of members who donated items to their sales. More people means there will be more of their good stuff to choose from.

A few bonus items I found in the side pocket of the hiking pack

3. Price.
Thrift and vintage stores can afford to be a little more conservative with their pricing. If you won't pay for it, they can wait for someone who will, they have the luxury of retail space and time. But not at a church rummage sale. Most of these events are 1-3 days, and everything they don't sell is something they will have to box up and deal with, so stuff is priced to move. For example, the one I went to this weekend ran for 5 hours. 2 hours before closing all the prices were slashed in half, 1 hour before closing you bought a bag and anything you could fit into it was yours.

4. Demographics.
This last one isn't a hard and fast rule, but I've noticed churches sometimes (though not always) tend to have a high concentration of older parishioners. This is great for rummage sales because these are the people who have real vintage goods, and that is definitely the stuff I'm looking for.

See? Nothing beats a good church rummage sale. Just make sure to get there early. Seriously.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Trend: Blue Nails

Blue Nails
Sinful Colors in Savage (matte) + Gelous Nail Gel Topcoat

I'm not always the most stylish person. The other day a lady at DSW said "Can I ask you a fashion question?" and in my head I was like "I guess you can but it's your funeral." Still, despite my cluelessness, I think I might be participating in a spring trend. My boyfriend snapped this instagram Saturday at a coffee shop and a minute later our waitress came over with the exact same color on her fingers. Then a friend posted a picture of her blue nails on facebook. Then my cousin met me at the gym with fresh blue lacquer. Is this all just coincidence or are we experiencing some sort of mass subconscious post hypnotic suggestion? Either way, break out your turquoise if you'd like to help me keep this movement going!