Monday, 30 July 2018

Dragon scale drawstring bag

Hello! It's time for another update on this increasingly sporadically updated craft blog! I am wondering if I should write some posts about my plants? I am doing a lot more gardening than craft these days as even when I ignore my plants for a week they keep doing things (unlike all those WIPS ... ~___^). Something else that I have been doing lately is playing Dungeons and Dragons! My husband, Scott, wanted to have a go at being a DM (Dungeon Master) and he needed some players to facilitate the game for. So I put the call out to my friends, and Spooky, Jeneva, and Moon were all keen ... and wanted to each bring along their husband, partner, and son (respectively) so we ended up with quite a large group!

If you do not know much about D&D, all you need to know for the purposes of this post is that to play each player needs a notebook, a pen, a set of dice, and a character figurine. My character for this campaign is Seraphina Underfen, who is a Halfing Druid, but I have a couple of other figures for characters I want to play in future campaigns plus a wolf, a bat, and a unicorn because they were cute and I thought they'd come in handy ~___^

So I thought I would make a dice bag to hold my dice but then as I was making it I thought that maybe it should be big enough to hold all my things and so it got bigger and bigger and bigger until the almost ridiculously sized "dice" bag you see before you today existed! It does not hold my spell binder though, so maybe next I should make a cover for that.

The pattern which was the kicking off point for this bag is the Dragon Egg Dice Bag by Cindy de Vries on Ravelry. The alterations I made were; 

  • increasing the rounds on the bottom to nine (from four)
  • doing nineteen rows of rows six and seven (in Cindy's pattern, row six is the base for the scales and row seven is the scales themselves)
  • adding twelve rows of trebles to make the ruffly bit of the bag above the drawstring

For the drawstring, I just chained to a length that I thought looked good and then trebled into each chain stitch to make a long flat cord. I wove it through the v-stitches of the last "row six" and then just pulled it to tighten the top of the bag. I am a little concerned it might stretch with prolonged use, but it looks fine for now and I can always replace it in the future.

The yarn I used was one that I found at the discount store; the brand is "Knit&Purl" and the colourway is listed as "Myalla" but I brought some other balls of yarn which is a different colourway on the same day and they are also apparently "Myalla" so maybe that just refers to the gradient effect they both have. It's a 100% acrylic yarn and I used three 150g balls to make this bag. I used a 4mm hook for this project.

I had not done a project with the pineapple stitch before, which is the stitch that makes up the dragon scales. My scales do not lay as neatly as Cindy's, but I still like the effect ^___^ The pineapple stitch was a really interesting one to do as it's done a little differently from most other crochet stitches. I definitely want to try another project with it!

Below you can see how much bigger my bag is compared to my D20 ^___^

I'm a huge geek for stationery, so I also had to get myself a special pen to use for our D&D sessions; I choose this pom-pom flamingo at I found at the Japanese variety store because it's simply adorable! The added bonus to this is it's also a really good pen. I went back to see if I could get another one as a backup, but they didn't have them anymore so I hope this one lasts a long time!

 When I'm not laying them out for photos, I keep my pen, item cards, and figures in this adorable turtle pencil case which was a gift from Spooky ^___^ (she got it from Teeturtle!)

So in my dragon scale bag, I have my turtle pencil case, my old character sheets, and my dice ... still in their original plastic case. I wonder if I should make a dice bag to go inside my dice bag ... ~___^

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Sushi to fish amigurumi

Hello! It has been a while since I felt the urge to get out my crochet hook, but recently it was two of my lovely friends' wedding anniversary and since we were going to be at their home to play D&D that evening, I thought a little gift would be in order! I know this is a little bit weird for an anniversary gift but there was a convoluted thought process behind this particular gift ...  but I won't bore you with that ~___^

I used a pattern by Irene Kiss which is available for free on Ravelry. I found the pattern very easy to follow, but I do suspect, as usual, that I tensioned a little too tight as it's a bit tricky to do the transition from sushi to fish and back.

No guidelines were given on hook size but if I made this again, I would maybe use a 4mm or 4.5mm hook (I used a 3.5mm for this amigurumi).  

The only real adjustment I made to the pattern was to make the nori wrap in the round so I didn't have to seam it together at the end and I also added a few more rounds as I thought it would be very difficult to get the fish into the sushi with only seven rows; I did fourteen rows instead. The trade off to this is, of course, that the sushi is bigger and takes up more room inside the fish! 

I used the same colours as Irene, but most likely different yarns as I used what I had in my stash.

Doesn't the little fish tail look cute sticking out of the sushi? ^___^

There are no photos included in the pattern regarding how the sushi and the fish are sewn together. I turned the sushi roll inside out and then stuffed it base first into the fish, so that the white square with the hole in the middle was lined up to the fish's mouth. In the photo below you can see my orange yarn stitches, but when the transition in complete it isn't noticeable.

Instead of crocheting the whiskers on the fish I tied on a length of yarn to each side and I stitched on the eyes with a little leftover black yarn. 

You can see how fat this fish gets when it has the sushi roll inside!

When I was making this pattern I wasn't convinced that it was going to work (that's more a comment on doubting my abilities than doubting the pattern though!) so when it was all sewn together and I could change it from a fish to a sushi it felt very exciting!

My friends both enjoyed their magical sushi to fish amigurumi and I really enjoying starting (and finishing!) a crochet project. 

I've been doing a lot of crafty things at work (I'm working as a Young People's Services Librarian right now which means lots of Storytime and School Holiday crafts) and I'm also working on a crafty business plan with some friends so even though I'm not posting on here as much, I am still working on things! ^___^ I hope to be able to share some things from the latter project with you soon! Although, if you want Storytime ideas, just let me know! ~___^ 

- Lisa xx

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Making beeswax wraps with Jen

Hello! A couple of weeks ago my friend Jeneva and I made beeswax wraps, and it was really fun and easy! Beeswax wraps can be used instead of plastic wrap to keep food fresh and they are reusable and washable in cold water. You shouldn't use them to cover meat though, since you can't wash them in hot water.To make your own beeswax wraps, you'll need:
  • beeswax (we brought ours from Riot craft stores)
  • jojoba oil (you can get this from chemists)
  • cotton fabric
  • a cheese grater
  • a saucepan
  • an oven safe dish
  • an airing rack 
  • newspaper (to catch drips under the rack)
  • pinking shears
  • healing mat, rotary cutter, quilting ruler (optional)
  • iron 
  • oven

We started off by grating the wax; Jeneva ended up grating up about 375 grams of beeswax. Grating the wax makes it melt quicker and more evenly.

While Jeneva was grating the wax, I cut the cotton fabric into squares. First I ironed the fabric and then cut it into squares using my healing mat, quilting ruler, and rotary cutter. Then I used my pinking shears around the edges of each square. I thought that making sure the fabric was cut into squares with straight edges before I used the pinking shears would be easier than drawing out the squares and the pinking them, but you could really do it either way!

We melted the beeswax in a small saucepan over a low heat and then added three teaspoons of jojoba oil per 100 grams of wax; we added a total of 11 teaspoons of jojoba oil. We put all of the fabric squares in an oven safe dish, poured the melted wax over it, then put the dish in the oven for 15 minutes at 100oC. The low heat of the oven keeps the wax liquid to give it time to really soak into the fabric.

Then we pulled each piece of fabric from the dish, and hung it on the airing rack to cool down; because the beeswax stiffens the fabric, we didn't need pegs to keep them on the rack. Some of the fabric had too much wax on it so I would hold the fabric up over the dish and Jeneva would use a butter knife on either side of the fabric to scrape off some of the excess wax.

After the fabric was cool, we folded it into little packs and tied them with twine - we think they'll make lovely gifts! We made 28 beeswax wraps altogether, and I'm already using mine!

- Lisa xx

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Pug plushie

Hello! Oh my gosh, I've been gone from here a while! If you follow me on Instagram then you'd be pretty caught up but I've just finished my post-graduate studies and become qualified to be a librarian! I start my first ever librarian job on January 2nd 2018, but in the meantime I'm hoping to get lots of crafting and skating done ^___^

First up: this adorable little pug plushie! I found this pattern on Cut Out + Keep and thought the cute little puppies could easily be cute little pugs. The pattern is free to download, but there are no instructions included; you will have to get hold of the book "Palm Sized Softies" by Hitomi Takahashi if you need them. However, I didn't find it too difficult to complete the plushie without instructions, so maybe give it a go even if you can't get the book ^____^ I do kinda want to look at the whole book now though, since this pattern is so cute!

I used polar fleece to make my puppy, in tan and black for that pug colouration. To try and make them look more pug-like I also added black rings around the eyes and a black muzzle. For the nose I glued on a tiny piece of black pleather. Black on black is hard to see, but I think the different textures work well together.

This puppy does have a black leather collar on, but I thought they should look a bit more cheery so I also tied on a bright red bow!

I added a short piece of pipe-cleaner in the tail to try and make it curl like some pug tails do, but I don't think the tail itself was long enough as it didn't really work. It does curl upwards, just not in the corkscrew way I was aiming for.

I also think the ears turned out a bit bigger than how the ones in the original pattern picture look, which is odd because I followed the pattern exactly! Still, I think this little pug turned out pretty darn cute! 

What do you think? Pug or not? Cute or not? ~___^

I'm working on a big blanket project (ummm, when am I *not* working on a big blanket project?) but hopefully I'll be back soon with some smaller projects too! I've got something in the works for those who wear helmets (can you guess?) ^____^

- Lisa xx

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Blast from the past: No Knit Kitty Hat

I often really like looking at fancy knit stitches but I am so not good at making them. What I am good at though is thrifting! And you too can make a knit hat with absolutely no knitting skills! (Although I do still want to get better at knitting ...)

I made my hat a kitty cat hat, because why not? Mine is a black cat, but yours could be any colour ^___^

First step: go to the op-shop and buy yourself a sweater! It doesn't matter if it's an ugly or ill-fitting shape, but choose one that has ribbing around the edges and a nice looking stitch pattern. I used a cardigan, but a sweater is preferable because you get more fabric to work with!

If you're using a cardigan, fold it so that the ribbing around the neckline and the hem is matched up. If you're using a sweater, just lay it flat and ensure the ribbing around the front and back of the hem is matched up. Use a hat that you like as a template for your shape; add pins around it, plus a little extra for seam allowance.

Cut out your new hat shape!

Cut out four cat ear shapes.

Match up your cat ear shapes, making sure they are right sides together. Sew around the sides, leaving the bottom open, using blanket stitch or a sewing machine. Turn your cat ears the right way out.

Turn the fabric of your hat shape so that the right sides are together. Put the cat ears in the position you want them, making sure they are between the two hat pieces and pointing inwards. Add pins around the edge, leaving the bottom open, and sew together by hand (with a blanket stitch) or using a sewing machine (using a zig-zag stitch) or by using an overlocker.

Use a scrap of felt to make a heart shaped nose and add some whiskers with embroidery floss. Purrrfect!

- Lisa x

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Blast from the past: Pavlamington

The third blast from the past - and what a blast this was! I was challenged to make an Australian recipe and so I combined two Australian foods, the Pavlova and the Lamington (that we possible also might have stolen from New Zealand), to make the gourmet monstrosity that is: THE PAVLAMINGTON

It's basically a huge meringue covered with cream, strawberries, chocolate syrup, and mini chocolate and strawberry lamingtons. It is extravagant and decadent and also very, very tasty.

Also, while chocolate and strawberry are the kind of "traditional" flavours for lamingtons, they can really be any flavour. Imagine pineapple and lime mini lamingtons paired with a cream covered meringue, drizzled with lime juice and chucks of fresh pineapple - yum! 

This recipe is kind of an undertaking, so if you're going to make this, be prepared to spend a bit of time on it. Or, you know, you could go to the shops and buy a pavlova base and a packet of lamingtons but that wouldn't nearly be as much fun! Here's what you'll need:

Pavlova Base
  • 6 Egg Whites
  • 1 1/4 cup Caster Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cornflour
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 tsp Vinegar 
Mini lamingtons
  • 125 g Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Caster Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups of self raising flour
  •  1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 cup Desiccated Coconut
Chocolate lamington icing
  • 1 cup Icing Sugar
  • 15 g Butter, unsalted
  •  1/4 cup Boiling Water
  • 1/8 cup Cocoa Powder
Strawberry lamington icing
  • 1 cup Icing Sugar
  • 15 g Butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup Boiling Water
  • 4 tbsp of Strawberry Jelly Crystals
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Strawberries, chopped
  • Extra Desiccated Coconut
  • 300 ml Thickened Cream

Let's begin! Preheat your oven to 120oC (248F) and line a baking tray with foil. Grease the foil with a little melted butter, and sprinkle cornflour on it, to prevent the meringue from sticking. Whisk the 6 egg whites until they form soft peaks then start adding the sugar. Add a little bit at a time and keep beating the mixture constantly while you do this, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the cornflour, vanilla, and vinegar and whisk to combine.

Gently spoon the meringue onto the foil lined tray, making it into a flat circle shape. Bake in the oven for about 1.5 hours. It should feel dry when you touch it, and be slightly browned. When it's cooked, leave it to cool completely before you take it off the tray.

While you're waiting for your pavlova base to cool, you can start making the lamingtons. Keep the oven on, but bring it up to 180oC (356F), and line a rectangle cake tin with baking paper. Beat together cubes of softened butter, sugar, and vanilla until it looks fluffy.

Then add the eggs and beat them in well.

 Mix in the flour and milk.

Put the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for half an hour. If you put a skewer in it, it should come out clean.

Let it cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack. This is a kinda massive amount for mini lamingtons, but I wanted to have leftovers for some big ones as well. Feel free to reduce the recipe if you don't think you'll need as much.

While you wait for the lamington to cool, prep the icings. Chocolate and strawberry are the traditional lamington flavours, but I've also seen lemon, raspberry, rose, blueberry, white chocolate, matcha, lime, and Cherry Ripe - so go wild and make whatever ones you'd like!
To make the chocolate icing, mix the icing sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and boiling water in a bowl until you have a smooth consistency. To make the strawberry icing, mix the jelly crystals, butter, and boiling water together until the crystals and butter are dissolved. Then stir in the icing sugar until smooth.

Cut the lamington into small cubes. Using a fork to hold the cube, cover it in icing. Then roll it in desiccated coconut and pop it on a plate to set.

Put your pavlova base onto a large plate and beat your thickened cream until it's really, really thick. It's ok if it cracks (like mine!), the cream will cover most errors ~__^

Spoon the cream over the pavlova and drizzle with some chocolate sauce.

Add the chopped strawberries, mini lamingtons, more chocolate sauce, and the sprinkle the whole lot with the extra desiccated coconut.

Serve immediately - and make sure you have a lot of friends around to help you eat it all! ~___^

If you ever make a Pavlamington, I'd love to see it! Reading this recipe has made me want to eat it all over again - maybe I'll make another for my birthday ^___^

- Lisa xx