Tardis Mittens

A very sad thing happened on Christmas Day. My raggedy man left me.

If you are a certain sort of person, you know who I'm talking about. That's right, I speak of The Doctor, specifically the 11th Doctor, who said goodbye to all of us devotees on Christmas Day.

So let me take this opportunity to let my Geekdom shine: Goodbye Matt Smith, we will miss you.

And in honor of your departure, I've decided to make this:

Yes it's Tardis mittens! Or, rather, Tardis mitten. Also I haven't got around to doing the thumb yet. But you get the idea.

Now, this is really my first try at modifying a knitting pattern and I guess I'll have to confess to not being completely happy with the result. These mittens were based on a Ravely pattern for a pair of Tardis socks, and so it doesn't really fit my hand that well, partly because it is, you know, a sock and partly because I used a sport weight yarn instead of a fingering yarn (the fingering yarn didn't come in Tardis blue).

Here's what it looks like on:

See how there's all that give at the wrist? Don't like that. But I'm not sure if I should do the second one just like it so they will match, or just start over and do two more. I'm pretty sure I could get rid of that give in V2 but I don't know if I want to devote that much time to it. Sigh.

Otherwise pretty cute, yeah?

A simple heating pad cover to start the New Year

I'm not going to say that my New Year's resolution is to update this blog more, because there's probably no better way to make sure that I hardly ever update this blog during 2014.

If you want to know if I'm still alive, you can find me on my other blog: Travel by Stove.

But I did want to make sure I carve out plenty of time for crafting and sewing this year. So I started off the New Year (on New Year's Day, actually), by making something simple. Because someone told me once a long time ago that you should spend New Year's Day doing the things you want to devote your whole year to, and I thought that making and finishing a simple project would be a good way to fit my crafting resolution in with a little bit of organizing and time spent with my family (my other two resolutions).

So I decided to tackle this ugly thing.

It's my heating pad, or rather the ugly blue cover for my heating pad, complete with "Do not put in microwave" warning label. This thing is so ugly that my house cleaners once threw it in the garbage because they thought it was trash.

So I fished around in my stash until I found some cute coffee cup fabric (sooo me) and then I just did a rough measure of my heating pad. I cut out the fabric, keeping a fold at the bottom and stitched a seam at the top and then down the sides. Then I made a buttonhole and added a wooden button I had on hand. Total time: less than an hour. And now my heating pad looks like this:

Oh that's so much better! Happy New Year!

Pinterest: How to fix banned, broken and spammy pins

Have you ever clicked on a Pinterest link only to discover it's been banned? Don't worry, there is an easy way to fix that banned, broken or spammy link.If you're a pinner, then you've probably had this experience. If not, you've been lucky. Because at some point, this is going to happen to you, too. It's becoming a big problem on Pinterest--just like it is on the whole rest of the Internet.

You've got a board full of cool pins. Crafting pins, let's say. And now you have some extra pocket money and a free morning to spend at the craft store. It's time to sit down with your pins and decide on something to make.

Oo! There's that really cool little up-cycled eyeglass case turned sewing kit you pinned just last week. You click on the photo and navigate to the website in search of the step-by-step instructions and a list of materials. 

At least, you think that's what you're doing. Instead, you get this:

Yes, it's the dreaded blocked pin. This is what you see when you clink on a spammy link on Pinterest. Usually, you will only see this message when you're particularly excited about making whatever the thing was that you pinned.

Why does this happen? Well, spammers long ago figured out that they can hijack perfectly useful pins by simply replacing the original link's URL with their own. So they steal someone else's photo of a really cool looking craft or a yummy recipe, they attach their own spammy link to it and then they count on a lot of people pinning it without first checking out the link. That way, the link gets propagated all over Pinterest, and when all of us innocent pinners finally get around to checking it out it either goes somewhere horrifying or we get the above error message.

Now, when you have this experience you probably just grieve a little and then move on to something else, thinking that pin is lost to your forever. Well, I've got good news--in most cases you can figure out where that link ought to take you.

Fortunately for all of us, spammers are neither smart enough nor talented enough to create their own enticing images to attach to their crappy links, so they almost always steal the images from perfectly legitimate websites. And that means with a little sleuthing, you can pretty easily fix your pin so it goes to the right place. Here's how:

So this is the pin I had on one of my boards that turned up the above error message:

Doesn't that look yummy? That's what I thought, too. So I was kind of bummed when it turned out to be a spammy link. But alas! All I had to do to find the actual source of this image was this:

Right click on the image and "save as." Put it somewhere on your hard drive where you'll be able to easily find it.

Now go to Google Images at images.google.com. Click on the little camera icon in the search box.

Now choose "upload an image, " then click "browse."

Almost done. Navigate to wherever you saved that original image, and follow the on-screen instructions to upload it. Here's what you'll get:

There will probably be a few potential hits in your search results, and not all of them will be correct. But if this image exists somewhere else on the internet Google should be able to find it. In this case, the correct link was the second one in the search results.

Now all that's left to do is re-pin, and then delete that old pin from your board so that other pinners will have the correct link. If you only ever pin stuff you find on Pinterest, here's a short explanation of how to pin from a website:

Lots of websites and blogs already have a little "Pin it" icon. Just click on that. If they don't (I couldn't find one on this particular blog), you can use your browser's "pin it" button (you have to download and install it--Pinterest has a help page that will tell you how). Click on that button and follow the on-screen instructions to pin the correct link.

Then go back to that spammy pin and click on that little pencil icon in the top right corner:


Now click on "delete pin" in the bottom left corner. Done!

Don't neglect that last couple of critical steps! It is important that we purge all those spammy links from our beloved Pinterest. Think of it like picking up litter from the street--you're just making Pinterest a more beautiful place. And isn't that what we all want?

Halloween Advent Calendar

My kids bug me everyday with this question:

"Mom! How many more days until Halloween?"

You know, kids, that's just way too much math. But yes, my kids look forward to Halloween almost as much as they look forward to Christmas. Maybe even more. And we have a Christmas advent calendar, so ....

I decided to make them a Halloween one, based on a Christmas advent calendar tutorial I found on Pinterest. I know, so much for that whole "crafting my library" thing. I'm thinking of changing my tagline to "crafting my pins, 10 minutes at a time ..."

I spent literally a couple of hours on this calendar, and I think it turned out really cute:

What I love most about it is that it uses dollar store supplies. The cookie sheet came from The Dollar Store and so did the flat-backed glass marbles. Then all I had to buy was some Halloween scrapbooking paper and magnets. I already had some Mod Podge.

The steps are simple:

  1. Cut the numbers out of your scrapbook paper and paste each one onto a black square. Tack the numbers to the cookie sheet (I used two Halloween designs on either end of the calendar to make the numbers even out).
  2. Mod Podge over the whole thing. I used two coats.
  3. Meanwhile, cut little Halloween characters/phrases/scenes out of the scrapbook paper. For this part you'd obviously want to choose paper that has pictures on it about the size of the glass marbles. 
  4. Mod Podge the cutouts to the back of the marbles, then let dry.
  5. Glue the magnets to the back of the marbles. I just used Tacky Glue for this.
  6. Drill holes at the top of the cookie sheet so you can hang it up. Done!
Now my kids don't have to ask me half a million times a day to figure out how many days there are until Candy Overload. They can just go count. And no, I don't ever remember what the answer was from the day before, so it's not like it's just a matter of simple subtraction. :P

What's in my knitting bag?

One of my favorite craftsy blogs (http://www.luvinthemommyhood.com/) recently posed a question that I felt compelled to answer:

What's in your knitting bag?

Hmm, good question. I haven't looked in there in a couple of months. So I dumped it out and here's what I found. (I was going to take a photo, but read on and you'll know why.)

  • One case for interchangable knitting needles
  • A piece of cardboard shaped like my foot (for making socks)
  • A case containing three sets of circular needles
  • A pattern book for making bags
  • One finished knitted bag
  • One unfinished knitted bag and 7 small balls of yarn to go with it
  • One skein of green yarn
  • One "knit-chek"
  • One set of #7 double pointed needles
  • A reusable grocery bag
  • Half a set of #10 double pointed needles
  • One blue colored pencil
  • One #10 straight needle (where the heck is the other one?)
  • A tube of Blistex
  • Two M&Ms
  • One skittle (I'm pretty sure my kids were responsible for the candy, because I would never willfully leave uneaten chocolate anywhere, least of all my knitting bag)
  • One black gel pen
  • One purple paint marker
  • A note with a phone number on it
  • One spool of black quilting thread
  • A skein of fun fur
  • One stitch holder
  • Several yarn labels
  • A quilt block template
  • A scrapbooking tag my six year old wrote her name on
  • A small battery powered light
  • A magnet from Real Simple with a bunch of advice about storing produce
  • A small screwdriver
  • A hair tie
  • One piece of pink Lego
Conclusion? I need to clean out my bag.

At last ... Henry's Dinosaur Quilt!

At last, at last, I finally finished Henry's dinosaur quilt. I actually did the quilting ages ago but it's such an enormous thing that I procrastinated the heck out of finishing the binding. Poor kid was always asking me when he could have his quilt.

Once again I had a hard time coming up with a decent photo so I just did the old stand-by folded quilt picture. Here it is:

This one is sort of OK, if you'll excuse my ugly brown carpet:

This is by far the biggest quilt I've ever made, in fact it very nearly covers my queen mattress though it stops just short of being a true queen size. It's really more of an oversized full. And I quilted the whole thing on my short-necked little Brother! Honestly though I don't think I'd ever try to make a quilt this size again, not until I get a machine with a longer neck. This was easy quilting--just straight up and down lines; I can't imagine trying to free-motion something this size.

Anyway yay, done. On to the next project ...

I fudged a pattern

A couple of months ago one of the websites I sometimes get stuff from (I can't even remember which one now) had this great deal on a little bag kit. It was ridiculously cheap, like less than 10 bucks though I also can't remember the exact amount. Anyway I ordered it and then discovered why it was so cheap--because it was a kit without a pattern. If I wanted the pattern, I would have to order it for another $8. And of course it couldn't be downloaded, either, I'd have to order a paper copy.

So anyway, I shelved it and then got it out a couple of weeks ago and wondered if I could figure out how to make the bag from the picture on the front of the kit. Now, that's something I've never done before because I kind of suck at doing stuff like that. But I didn't want to buy the pattern, either. Not because I'm cheap but because I felt like I'd been a little cheated. In my defense, I would have paid extra to get the pattern with the bag if I'd known in advance that the pattern wasn't included. I would have even paid extra to download it. But getting a paper copy seemed like too much trouble for a <$10 bag.

So I mangled it together and it actually looks pretty good. The only thing I didn't really do right is sew on the stupid handle, because I couldn't figure out how to do that with the zipper complicating everything. That's way, way too much geometry for me.

Here's how it looks, not bad for an amateur eh?

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