More Kitchen Experimentation

Last week I wrote about making a body butter lotion. I really like “sciencey” DIY projects like that. It’s always so cool to be able to make things like that myself. So when I came across a string of Lush substitute DIY posts on Pinterest, I knew I had to try them.

The first project I tried was the bath bomb recipe found here. Super simple, just four ingredients (I left out the colors). I don’t really get to take baths often, but I do like using those shower melt things to help with congestion. I tried one once that was just baking soda and peppermint oil, but it didn’t really have enough smell to it and washed away too quickly. But these new ones work great. Lasted a lot longer than the plain baking soda cake in the shower stream, too.

Another simple one I found was the sugar lip scrub. I didn’t bother pricing it out, but it uses so little of each of the ingredients there’s no way it’s not a better deal than the $10 it costs at Lush. Plus, it really is just things you probably have around the house. One tip for using that recipe, though: I had to add almost twice as much sugar to get the right consistency.

I Made Up My Mind…

to make the Make Up Your Mind tank by Julie of Knitted Bliss. I fell in love with the Mr. McGregor’s Garden comfy sampler from Knit Picks (unfortunately not available anymore) and decided I would find a pattern for it once I got it. I tried to make my own first, but that didn’t work out quickly enough because I wanted this to be my project on vacation.

After a little searching and swatching, I decided Make Up Your Mind was what I wanted. I cast on provisionally for the 40 in size since my gauge was a bit smaller and I wanted it to be a little more flowy since it would be going over another shirt. I did mostly stick with length measurements from the 34 in size, except when it came to how many times to repeat decreases. Actually, I fudged a lot of the numbers because I kept getting off with the stitch patterns and would just decrease until I had an ok amount for the pattern. I was on vacation; I didn’t want to have to actually count my stitches.

This pattern was fairly easy to work, and very easy to follow. I’d say it’s a good bridge between beginner and intermediate skill sets.If you can knit, purl, yarnover, increase and decrease, you can make this pattern, too. Best of all, no sewing seams! You just graft the shoulders together and weave in the ends and you have a ready-to-wear shirt.

These Cookies Are Popping

Pops are the “treat of the moment” lately. Cake, brownies, krispie treats, basically anything you can shove a stick into and cover in chocolate is being turned into cute treats. Including Oreos:

When this Nerdy Nummies episode came across my instagram feed, I immediately forwarded it to one of the birthday boys’ mamas. If you can remember, he’s obsessed with Baymax. So I thought those would be perfect for treats for his party.

He’s also obsessed with Pokémon, so I thought I’d try to make a few of those. I figured out how to turn Baymax into Pikachu and made a Pokémon ball to make four different characters.

One thing I changed from the tutorial was using popsicle sticks (well, all I could find was tongue depressors, but same concept) instead of the lollipop sticks. That’s because I was using regular not-Oreos that don’t come in the triple-stuffed variety. I think they might even work better in the triple-stuffed version.

I also forgot to get styrofoam for drying, so I taped two cake boards together with plastic dixie cups between them for height. I cut slots for the sticks with a steak knife, then made it the right size by shoving a popsicle stick into each.

These were super easy to make, and they taste really good. They were a hit at the party (and with my mom, who ate all of the test ones I made at her house).

Lego My Table

One of the boys with a June Birthday is completely obsessed with Legos. So I knew I wanted to do something Lego-themed for his present. I didn’t just want to get him another set to build, though. The perfect gift came across my feed one day when I saw this on IKEAHackers. Considering my entire room is furnished from IKEA, I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a simpler version.

Truthfully, the most difficult part was probably deciding how I wanted to glue everything down. We used Legos to hold the plates together (I found these plates on Amazon) before gluing them in place with rubber cement.

Altogether, the whole project cost around $30. Much better than the alternatives I found at Toys ‘R’ Us for about $100 more. Not counting drying time (or searching for the table in IKEA), it took around thirty minutes to finish this. Best to have at least two sets of hands, though. Even with the Legos holding them together, the four plates can get a little unruly.

Adventures in Grafting

I often see knitters who have a general disdain for grafting, or Kitchner stitch. I don’t know why. I love how it makes it easier to make things in the shape you want. Take these dishcloths, for example

I tried three times to get them square by working them corner to corner, but the knit corners were always rounded and the final corner always ended up way too long. Finally I just decided to work two halves at a time, making two triangles that I then grafted together. Perfect squares every time.

Here I’m going to take a little bunny trail to give you the basic formula:

Basic Diagonal Dischloth

Materials

  • 100% cotton yarn (I use Peaches and Cream from Michaels because it is readily available and feels nice on my fingers)
  • Size 7 or 8 knitting needles (preferably circular, but you can use whatever you can find)
  • Yarn needle

Instructions

  1. Cast on two sets of three stitches (either working from different ends of the same ball of yarn or two different balls). From now on, instructions are written once to be done on each set of stitches.
  2. Knit row
  3. Knit one, make one, knit one, make one, knit one
  4. Knit row
  5. (RS)Knit two, yarn over, knit to last two stitches, yarn over, knit two
  6. (WS)Knit two, purl to last two stitches, knit two
  7. Repeat last two rows until sides measure as long as you want them. I use my hand and make the sides reach from my wrist to the end of my middle finger. You can decide how long you want yours to be. End on RS row. Graft together with WS facing in. This is where having them on circular needles will help, but you can always transfer one side to the empty needle if using straight needles.

    This next one takes the grafting to the next level, though. I started on each point and made diamonds. Or at least aimed to make diamonds. I ran out of the self-striping yarn, so I continued on from that point as if I were making a regular two-sided square. Then I connected those two pieces, and grafted the outside pieces to the straight edges.

    I’m really liking the options making things in pieces gives me. I’ve always tried to make everything in as few pieces as possible, but perhaps having a little more flexibility makes the extra work in putting it all together at the end worth it.

I Love Yarn Day

Though it might be every day for me, tomorrow is apparently “I Love Yarn Day”. According to the Craft Yarn Council, this day happens on the second Friday of October. They even have a website where you can find local celebrations. Most of these seem to come in the form of a flash mob. I have no idea what a yarn flash mob would be, but it does sound interesting.

They also suggest ways to celebrate on your own, such as knitting/crocheting in public, wearing something knit, gifting yarn, making things for charity, etc. Basically, do something yarny. And pretend that was a real word.

I will probably celebrate by looking at my current project

IMG_0961.JPG

as I walk past when getting up in the morning because I am spending my weekend up to my elbows in small children. But maybe I will get into the spirit by wearing a headband or barrette. Because, you know, it’s still 90° here like it’s not the second Friday of October.

Quick DIY: Neon Chalk Sign

I bought some chalk markers the other day, these chalk markers to be exact, and immediately I knew I had to make some decoration with them. After livening up my “To Do” board with the nice, fluorescent colors, I knew I wanted to make something a little more “permanent.

The perfect idea came to me as we were shopping in Target. I got a frame and decided to make my own “neon” sign. It’s so easy and took me only about half an hour including sketching out how I wanted it to look.

What You’ll Need:

  • Chalk Markers
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Black (or Dark) Paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Marker (with similar sized tip as chalk marker)
  • Library/Credit/Store Loyalty Card

Not Pictured:

  • Picture Frame with Glass plate (I used this one from Target)
  • Scrap White Paper
  • Tracing Paper
  • Clear Contact Paper

How to do it:

  1. Start by deciding on your phrase and sketch out how you want the words to look. I started with regular printer paper and writing the words as large as I wanted to see which style of typeface would work for the effect I wanted. I used the title of my favorite Foo Fighters album because it’s also just a phrase I find stuck in my head regularly.
  2. Once you have your styles chosen, remove the backing and front plate from your frame and trace inside the actual opening of the frame so you have the boundaries of what will be visible inside the frame. This way you know exactly how much space you have to work with.
  3. Lay out your phrase the way you want it to look inside the frame. This may take a few tries, so I would suggest to trace yourself a few spaces to use.
  4. Once you have it looking the way you want it, trace it onto the tracing paper using your regular marker. Make sure you also trace at least the corners of the bounding box to match up with the glass.
  5. Now you want to clean the glass with a damp paper towel and dry it really well with a dry one. You want to be sure there are no finger prints and you want to be sure there aren’t water streaks that will cause the colors to run.
  6. Flip your tracing paper over so the words are backwards and lay the glass over it so the words are where they should be.
  7. Now trace everything with your chalk markers. You want to make sure everything looks the way you want it to. Make sure it has a few minutes to fully dry, as well.
  8. Take a piece of clear contact paper that has at least a few inches on two sides to hold onto and place it flat over the glass. Take whatever type of plastic card you have on hand and smooth out any bubbles that may have occurred.
  9. Cut your black or dark paper to fit inside the frame and reassemble the frame with your glass, the paper, and the backing. You are finished!

Now you have a nice, bright sign to decorate your space. If you ever decide you want it to say something different, just remove the contact paper, wash the marker off, and start over.

Mine is now adding some much needed color and decoration to the shelf I added to my wall as a charging shelf. It was very bare during the day when I had nothing charging.