Posts Tagged ‘diy’
Holiday gifts are such a challenge for crafters. It seems like a no-brainer to make a gift but in the end it’s an expensive, time-consuming, soul-crushing experience. Sobs between sips of heavily-spiked eggnog, fingers crooked and bleeding after hours and hours of work. It’s not worth it. Sorry, family and friends. You’re all lovely people and you deserve great gifts but it’s just not possible.
My mom’s family is diverse and pretty large. I can’t afford to buy the kind of presents that they deserve for each and every one of them and I like to think that, since they are all grown adults, they buy themselves the things that they really want. I try to give everyone the same gift (so it’s equal) which presents another challenge. It’s really difficult to find something that they would all like and use or put in their homes. I refuse to give weird pieces of crap also known as “decorations” or “tchotchkies” because I don’t think I’d like to receive any. We don’t have the same taste and that’s ok, let’s just not pretend that we do.
So I like to gift them with food. Everybody likes to eat and generally everyone cooks or bakes at least enough to get by. Buying food gifts can get expensive (gift baskets, fancy chocolates, liquor) so I try to keep everything DIY. I’ll be the first person to tell you that DIY gifts do not mean free or cheap but when it comes to food, you can keep it relatively inexpensive while staying fun and thoughtful. Besides, DIY gifts are like a present for the gifter as much as they are the giftee. Making gifts is fun and rewarding even when it’s exhausting and all of your hair has fallen out.
Last year I put together these hot chocolate mugs. They were really fun and adorable and probably cost less than $5 for each mug. If you cut the marshmallows as I suggest below (using a biscuit cutter that’s just slightly smaller than the opening of the mug), you’ll be able to sip the cocoa through the marshmallow the way you would with whipped cream. It’ll be like a cloud keeping it hot and yummy. This is my favorite part.
While packaging everything up in this “I thought of you and hope you enjoy a cozy evening courtesy of me!” kind of way is lovely and gifty, the key to this present is the marshmallows. People that have never made marshmallows before think that they are witchcraft. They’ve never given any thought to where marshmallows come from (marshmallow trees?). They will be very impressed with you.
Here’s how to do it!
1. Make your marshmallows. While they’re setting up, put together the hot chocolate mix.
2. Line the mug with one of the little gift bags. Pour in hot chocolate mix to fill about 3/4 of the mug.
3. Now that the marshmallows have set, use the biscuit cutter to cut them into circles. Dust them lightly in confectioners sugar and place two or three over the hot chocolate mix. Close the bag and secure with ribbon.
4. Add a gift tag with instructions for the cocoa mix and maybe even include a recipe in case they want more.
Ta da! Merry Christmas!
Next week, I’ll be sharing a few more quick and inexpensive DIY gifts so stay tuned!
What’s your favorite DIY gift to give? How do you gift food?
* The mugs are the most expensive part of the gift. You can pick up adorable Christmas themed mugs at the dollar store or you can go all out and buy a hand-thrown piece on Etsy. Let your budget be your guide. (I used these CB2 mugs because I loved that they came with a little spoon. I believe they’ve been discontinued but here they are on ebay. $3 per mug! ) But this mug will become your relative’s new hot chocolate mug and when you see them next Christmas they will say, “Every time I drink hot chocolate in that mug I think of you!” Awww! Choose wisely.
I wasn’t expecting much when I heard about Jenji Kohan’s new show for Netflix Orange is the New Black. I loved Weeds (up until season 4, at least) but the premise of Orange seemed a little too similar (white ladies + drugs = surprise!). The posters also seemed a little too sit com-y and the trailer made me scared that it might be uncomfortably racist. But Jon loved Weeds, and we have a really hard time agreeing on what to watch. So we decided to give the first episode a try to see if we liked it.
We watched the whole first season in 24 hours. And in the same weekend, Jon had finished the first three chapters of Kerman’s memoir.
Since then, I can’t stop thinking about the show. I’m so excited to have a good excuse to write about it here.
Inspired by Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, OITNB would have you believe it is about artisenal-soap-making Park Slope blonde Piper Chapman. She is sent to prison for smuggling drug money during an ‘adventurous, post-college, lesbian’ phase. But the story is much more than the fish-out-of-water it’s billed to be. It takes a lot of time to really explore all of the characters with incredible empathy.
While I can’t speak to how accurate the show is, it is certainly moving. And it has to be commended for a diverse range of characters and fantastically off-beat female actors. I’ve never seen an ensemble drama spend so much time developing characters that were all so complex and real. It’s refreshing to see so many talented female actors carrying a series and I certainly hope it’s the first of many like it. Long story short, Jenji is my new hero.
I don’t want to get into any spoilers here so I’ll stick to the topic at hand: crafts. Having limited resources, these women are very creative. DIY isn’t just for recreation but is often a necessity of prison life. According to Kerman’s book (which I look forward to reading in full), crochet became the craft of choice for many of her fellow inmates. The show has done a great job portraying this from bedspreads, pillows, scarves, and hats, to rec rooms full of women hooking away while others play cards and Scrabble.
Badass prison chef/mother hen Red even wears her glasses on i-cord croakies. Ahem!
I did a little bit of Google-ing about prison knitting. (Apparently crochet hooks are considered less dangerous so it’s more common amongst inmates.) I came across a program in Maryland that has gotten a lot of press called Knitting Behind Bars. They teach knitting to male inmates as a form of recreational therapy. I think it’s amazing that these crafts can bring some catharsis and rehabilitation to them! (Does anyone have information on more programs like these?)
Have you been watching Orange is the New Black? Are you already looking forward to the next season? Does anybody want to talk about the show with me? I can probably go on for hours!
ps. Tomorrow is the drawing for the Metropolitan Knits giveaway! It’s not too late to enter!
The factory collapse.
I wasn’t going to write about this because I don’t really know what to say. I like to keep things light hearted around here but my heart feels so heavy. I don’t like to write about things that make people sad especially on a Friday because I am a fun distraction from the work you’re supposed to be doing or the laundry you don’t feel like folding. But I can’t keep it in any longer. I don’t really know how to put it into words and I’m not sure if I’m the one who should say anything. I don’t know the history and I don’t work in the industry. But I keep seeing the numbers rise and every time I do, my heart aches.
As someone who makes clothing, even just as a hobby, maybe, especially because it’s a hobby, because for us it’s frivolous and trendy, I feel like I should say something because I know. I know what it takes to make a piece of clothing. I know that it’s not magic. I know that it’s a craft. I’m sure that I’m preaching to the choir here. But this is where my soap box is located.
Being a part of the DIY movement which is in full swing today, especially in Brooklyn, people are starting to get back to the root of it all. Where does our food come from? How is furniture made? What things can I create with my own hands instead of paying a big company? I like being part of that. Because I feel like I’m more aware of what I’m putting on/in/around my body and I can better appreciate what I have. It’s gotten me in touch with countless other women who have sat down to make things today and over the course of history. It’s reminded me of my great-grandfather who cut patterns in the garment district and my grandmother who made my kindergarden Halloween costume. It’s big.
In fact, I enjoy the thought of someone halfway around the world living a life so very different than mine making something that effects my life. That, even though we don’t speak the same language, we are connected because we both know how to make something that you wear. But I can’t come to terms with the fact that so many people are exploited and certainly a number of them are putting their lives on the line.
When I saw this photograph, I cried. (I thought about posting it here but I think it deserves a warning. But please look at it. It’s very powerful and important.) I thought to myself that I could never buy a regular piece of clothing again. That blood was on my hands. That’s incredibly dramatic and also unrealistic but seeing this photograph made me immediately sit down with tears in my eyes and write this. I’ll admit it: I’m going to buy clothing and I alone am not responsible. We have a broken system.
So what can we do?
Here’s what I plan to do. It’s four steps and they don’t seem very big but this is it.
1. Buy less, make more. I’m not going to pretend I have enough time to make everything that I want to wear. But when I do buy, it won’t just be furiously hoarding sale items into my shopping cart and crossing my fingers that they fit. I am going to make sure what I’m purchasing is something that I need and that I love. Pieces that are simple and versatile and timeless. I’ll be honest with myself: while I’d love to always be on trend, it’s just not that important to my life and the greater good. And I think that we can all agree that we’d love to have more dollars in our wallets and room in our closets. Of course, I’ll supplement my wardrobe as I always have by making pieces that I put care and thought into – garments that I’ll be sure to keep for the rest of my life.
2. Make do and mend. I have lots of cheap clothing that I bought years ago and some that I got last season. None of these $5 tees are not supposed to last long. You get what you pay for. But I’m going to stretch those items as long as I can. I’m going to fix holes and add buttons and I’ll do my hardest to make adjustments even though I’m a novice. I’ll care for these pieces as best as I can when it comes to laundry and storage and I’ll always look out for hand-me-downs and vintage pieces even if they need updating and love.
3. Speak up. I don’t just mean writing blog posts where I preach to you guys. That would be annoying. Like I said, I can’t go the rest of my life not buying clothing. Of course, I hope to be buying from companies that are small and local as much as I can afford. After the collapse, I read a lot about what I could do, where I should be shopping. A lot of new stores are on my radar and I want to share them with my friends. But one article said that garment makers fear boycotts because a drop in revenue can cause workers to lose the jobs that pay them the little money that they need to survive. But I’m not just going to use that as an excuse for lazy consumerism. I plan to get in touch with companies that I buy from and let them know how I feel. The customer is always right, right? I’m going to demand that they be transparent and ethical because I do love their clothing and I do want to buy it. I’m going to tell them that I don’t mind paying more. That they can count on me if I can count on them. I’m going to tell the companies that produce in the US or pay their workers living wages that I appreciate what they’re doing and that I want them to keep up the good work and that I’m happy to spend money with them. It sounds idealistic but maybe if enough of us do it, we can make a change.
4. Teach others. To make, of course. If you teach a man to fish, he can eat for the rest of his life. Each piece that they make on their own is one less that they have to buy and you can pat yourself on the back for that – for teaching someone how to do it for themselves and helping them understand the effort that goes into making clothes. Let’s all dedicate ourselves to starting the cycle of buying less and making more and mending what we have by showing others how good it feels to make a piece of clothing from start to finish.
These are the small things that I can afford to do. I wish they were enough but I think it’s a good start. And if I ever find myself coveting a piece of clothing I should otherwise not purchase, I’m going to take a long, hard look at that photo because I think that sometimes I need to remind myself of my priorities.
What will you do to help fix what’s broken?
Thought I’d do a little spring cleaning this weekend and go through my notions bag. I keep my notions bag, as I do most of my WIPs, knocking around under the coffee table. Usually there’s a bunch of crap spilling out of it onto the floor or a pile of magazines. One day I will get it all together and my knitting life will be beautiful and tidy.
Until then, at least it’s all in one bag…
This brought the perfect opportunity to share with you what I do have in my dandy little notions bag. Here’s a little inventory of the rag tag band that helps me do the dirty work:
-2 tape measures
-a yarn cutter that looks like a ninja star that I once wore on a ribbon as a necklace in high school (what a loser!)
-teeny tiny scissors on a keychain
-a bunch of yarn labels because I hoard them and promise to paste them into a notebook one day and then usually I just throw them out
-toy button eyes
-regular old buttons
-an exacto knife?
-tags for knitted gifts
-a bunch of tapestry needles I can never find because they’re alway at the bottom of the bag
-stitch markers and little containers for them
-a paper clip I used as a stitch marker once when I couldn’t find those stitch markers
-an impromptu cardboard pom pom maker
-a bunch of scrap yarn that I use as stitch holders but refuse to throw out in case I need stitch holders because I hate cutting good yarn for scraps
-an old school stitch counter that I probably haven’t used in years and was actually surprised to find
-a gauge ruler/needle size thingy
-3 wrist support gloves (fourth is MIA.) not sure where I got the second pair though
And finally my nifty notions bag which my awesome Aunt Sherry got me (actually, she got me a bunch of the notions pictured above!). It’s got this crazy collage thing going on with clippings from probably a billion magazines and such.
The first notion bag I ever bought was a pencil case with rainbow hearts on it. I paid for it in the cafe at Barnes and Noble in high school because that’s where I did a lot of hanging out. Good times! Before that I was using a make up bag my mom got with some kind of Clinique gift set.
Anyway, that’s a lot of talk about notions. Where do you keep your notions? What’s a must for your notions bag? What am I missing!? And where did that damn tapestry needle go?!
ps. Thanks, everyone for entering the Craftsy giveaway! So great to hear what everyone is interested in learning about! I’ll be emailing winners soon with the info soon so check your emails!
Missing the weekend already? I think I have something that might sweeten this Monday. How about a giveaway from Craftsy!?
I’ve been slowly collecting all of the sewing classes on Craftsy so that I’m prepared to really learn this summer! Craftsy is a great place to take a variety of DIY video courses and workshops and the best part is that they’re all online. I’m always looking for ways to expand my knitting knowledge and Craftsy has a great selection of classes. You can watch them whenever you want, however many times you please! And you don’t have to worry about classes being overbooked or sold out. It’s all on your own terms.
The wonderful people at Craftsy have been nice enough to share a few classes to give to you lovely readers! I am so excited to be able to give away one class to FIVE people! Thanks, Craftsy!
So here’s what you have to do to win. Just go to Craftsy and check out their classes. Cooking, knitting, jewelry – they have it all. Leave a comment here telling me which class you’d like to take. (I’m looking forward to taking the sewing with knits class, myself.) At 12pm EST on April 29th, I’ll pick five winners through random number generator so make sure that you leave your email address in the comments so I know how to get in touch with you if you’re a winner! It’s that simple!
Which Craftsy class do you have your eye on?
ps. Check out this little interview with me on UrbanCraftMag!
To kick off 2013, Kollabora asked me to be a part of their Learn to Knit Campaign. They’re encouraging everyone to learn a new skill which is awesome. I’ve taught countless people how to knit over the years and I am fascinated by the way that the craft has been passed down from generation to generation. It’s really incredible that more and more people are learning to knit and building their skills through sites like Kollabora, Youtube, and other blogs. I’m definitely always learning new things from the community on Twitter and the comments you leave me here. It’s just the same as how my mother gave me advice on my projects but on a global scale.
As part of the campaign, Kollabora is hosting a beginner project knit-a-long. All of their patterns have great project kits and detailed instructions including videos. I’m going to be making this headband. I just got my kit in the mail over the weekend and I am very excited to cast on and show you my customized headband.
Want to get in on the knit-a-long? Kollabora has been nice enough to supply a kit for one of you lovely readers! Their kit is adorable and the project is fun and quick, even if you’re an advanced knitter.
In fact, this would be a great gift for an experienced knitter to give to someone that’s curious, maybe a daughter or son or a friend that’s always ogling your knitting. Or you could customize the otherwise simple project to make something unique and exciting for yourself.
To enter to win the kit, leave a comment below telling me about the first thing you ever knit (or if you’ve never knit anything at all, that’s even better) by Friday 1/18 at 12pm EST. (Make sure you include your email or some way I can contact you!) I’ll chose the winner by random number generator and announce the lucky knitter next week.
If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed I’ve been nerding out a bit recently. You may have also been afraid I’d traded in my knitting needles for Aida canvas but, don’t worry, it’s just a passing phase.
I spent all of December working on an ambitious cross stitch project. That’s right. I was gift-crafting and it got out of hand. And I learned my lesson. Because I didn’t finish said gift. (And I didn’t finish a couple of other gifts either since I’d spent so much time on this one.)
Anyway, I was keeping the project off of the blog on the off chance that its recipient is a reader (doubt it, but, you know, better safe than sorry!) but since the project remains incomplete, I had to show him something to prove that I hadn’t forgotten to bring a gift.
My cousin John is an avid gamer. I have fond memories of watching him play through the entirety of Ocarina of Time while I cheered him on and he made sarcastic comments. He got me my first N64 game for Christmas years ago. We hang out a lot still and he and Jon (boyfriend Jon, I know they have the same name) have become close friends since they both work in the same field (three guesses as to which). Last year, I got him this awesome poster. (The year before that, I made him homemade ketchup. He likes hamburgers.)
Since John has a history of giving cool gifts and because he took me to the Symphony of the Goddesses concert after Thanksgiving (Guys, it’s a live orchestra playing Zelda music. That is some higher-level nerdom), I thought making him a really neat 8-bit cross stitch would be perfect. And I knew he’d love it.
Sounds easy enough. Take one of the badass title screens from an early 8-bit Zelda game, slap a grid over it and get to it, right? WRONG. God was I wrong. Besides the fact that I don’t really know anything about proper counted cross stitch, this pattern is GIGANTIC and involves something like 10 colors! And this shit is tedious! And that’s coming from someone who knits entire faire isle sweaters with five colors on size 3 needles for laughs. I DO NOT have the patience for cross stitch.
(By the way, when I was planning out my Christmas Craft Domination Tour of 2012, Jon thought I was being a little over ambitious, that I might regret piling on the crafts. And while I hoped to be Tom Hanks in this scene in A League of Their Own, I ended up getting hit in the face with all of the incomplete gifts.)
Long story short, I banged this thing out for a month. I worked on it every moment I could short of bringing it to work and slaving over it during my lunch hour. Then some work popped up and I had to put it aside up until the weekend before Christmas. Short story even shorter, it didn’t get finished. Not even nearly a little bit close to done. And I ran out of both black and dark grey embroidery thread and I bought them both from two separate stores across town. What was I thinking? Recipe for disaster.
While I’ve got a ton of stuff in the works, I will NOT give up on this project. I really love how cool it looks and I would love to see what it looks like when it’s finished. I don’t regret it and I am so excited to make something really awesome for John. I know I can get it done but I just need a little time off, I think. Stay tuned. This is not the last you’ve seen of this WIP. You can’t defeat me, cross stitch!
Now if only I could play the Song of Time and give myself a few more months before Christmas 2012…
Did you finish all of you ambitious plans for Christmas gifting? What are some cool nerdy things you’ve made? Any cross stitch tips? Anyone know where I can buy some Anchor floss?
Happy Friday everybody! First things first, I want to let you all know that Knit York City is now on Youtube. I think it’s a little more accessible which means that I would love for you all to like the videos, leave comments, and subscribe to my channel!
It’s been a little while since I got to meet with the lovely Anna Hrachovec. When I started looking for designers to include in this series, I was delighted to find out that Anna and I live and work in the same city! I’ve been a big fan of her adorable toys for a while and I think they are just so unique! I love her photographs and her gifs always crack me up!
I hope you enjoy the third interview in the series! Without further ado, here’s Anna!
Big thank you to Anna for letting us into her workspace and pulling out all of her toys! (There was a lot of squee-ing, you can imagine.) Also, these videos could never happen without the support of my girl Ashley and my man Jon! Thank you both!
If you love Anna’s designs, you should check out the photo contest that’s happening over at her blog right now! The deadline for entries is December 3rd!
I’d love to hear what you think! Don’t forget to like and subscribe!
ps. I’ve been writing a lot about the Subway Knits Sandy raffle but I wanted to mention that all profits from the hand dyed Fable Fibers Etsy this month will go toward Sandy relief. The yarn is beautiful! You should definitely check out the shop!
Tags: Anna Hrachovec, crochet, design, designer, diy, gnomes, interview, Japanese, knit, knitting gif, KYC Presents, make, Mochimochi Land, pattern, snowmen, Super Scary Mochi Mochi, teeny tiny, tiny, toy
Have you seen this new magazine By Hand? The first issue just came out and wow, I am in love. I read about By Hand before it was published at the Juniper Moon blog a few months ago and I have been eagerly awaiting it’s debut ever since! They were selling some really fantastic fundraiser t-shirts. (I bought one. I mean, how could you not?)
The magazine is not just focused on knitting (although there are patterns!), it is about the whole handmade lifestyle! There are sections on cooking and growing, sewing and embroidery. I am so excited that that this publication exists!
Big kudos to the team. I can’t wait for more! Buy a copy or read a digital version on their website. And buy a cool tee! How can you not?
Have you read By Hand? What do you think?
Speaking of handmade gifting, I just went to a wedding! The first wedding of my friends, actually, so it was kind of a big deal! Katie and I have been friends since high school and all of our oldest friends took the trip down to Richmond, Virginia for an amazing party weekend.
But, let’s start at the beginning. As you know, I take gifting pretty seriously. Registry? I laugh at your registry. I wanted her gift to be unexpected and awesome and something she didn’t even know that she wanted. I wanted my gift to be memorable. But one can’t gift hand-knit socks for a wedding present. What’s a crafty girl to do?
For a while, I’d resigned to get something from my nemesis the registry. I had a few ideas of what I could make but I didn’t want to disappoint her. Then, at the bachelorette party, Katie turned to me and said that she got a feeling from the questions I was asking her (mainly about her monogram) that I might be making her something and that if I was, she was really excited. So that was that.
I decided it was about time I try my hand at embroidery. I haven’t done any embroidery since I was a kid. But I had a design in mind and I thought a pillow would be a cute gift filled with love for their southern home. And I can finally reveal to you what I’ve been working feverishly on for the past month!
My friends and I starred in our high school production of The Wizard of Oz. (Katie was Glenda, I was Auntie Em.) And since Katie and her new husband Colby live so far away, I wanted to give her something that reminded her that the rest of her friends were always with her no matter where we are.
It was a little too ambitious at first. I, as usual, didn’t really know what I was doing and changed my plans multiple times. But, I’ve realized that’s just how I do things. And I got to do lots and lots of chain stitching. That’s my favorite. The couching in part of the heart is wonky but I’m pleased.
Of course, I’m stubborn and refused to sew only a pillow case so I put together the back of the pillow and stitched the whole thing up and filled it with polyfill which actually makes it really squishy and huggable. Seriously, though, making a pillow case to put onto a pillow form would have been just as effective and probably easier.
I hope that Katie and Colby love it. They are such a lovely couple, it is so exciting to think that they will have this keepsake for the rest of their lives, commemorating their love.
Have you ever made a wedding gift? What is the favorite handmade gift you’ve given?
(instagram by my girl Ashley)
Tags: and your little dog too, chain stitch, couching, diy, embroidery, friends, friendship, handmade gift, handmade wedding, pillow, present, sew pillow, there's no place like home, wedding, wedding gift, Wizard of Oz