Thursday, 26 March 2015

Imperial Eagle Cross-Stitch on a Crochet Dice Bag

Hello! If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've probably heard about the elusive creature that I call my husband, aka Scott. Scott is very, very patient with me as I constantly promise him things and then take ages to actually make them so his presents are quite often late. But, a strange thing has happened! I promised Scott a dice bag for his birthday this year and it's finished ... two months in advance! I think this means I better make him something else to give him on the actual day, what do you think?

I used this pattern by Geek's Dream Girl to crochet this bag, but made a few changes so that it could accommodate Scott's largish dice collection, which he uses (along with *a lot* of tiny, hand-painted army figurines) when he plays Warhammer 40K. The pattern suggested doing five rounds to make the base of the bag, but I did eleven. I did 21 rounds to make up the majority of the bag, and then seven rounds to make the bit that ruffles when you close the drawstring.

I used a DK weight wool to crochet the bag, and a thinner acrylic yarn to be the drawstring. For the drawstring, I just threaded two lengths of yarn through the trebled section of the bag (that will make more sense if you take a look at the pattern!), knotted the ends, and added a toggle.

One of the other advantages of making the dice bag bigger was that I had room to test out a technique I'd been keen about giving a go; cross-stitch over crochet!

I made a pattern for a very simplified version of the Imperial Eagle (which you can grab from my Google Drive here if you'd like to!) and cross-stitched it onto the bag, using the lines of the crochet as a guideline. It's certainly not as easy as cross-stitching onto Aida cloth, but I'm pretty happy with the result! 

Here's a kind of action shot, with Scott's Space Marine Centurion and Chaos Space Marine Maulerfiend looking on. Open ...

... and closed!

I'm currently working on some ~secret things~, which I absolutely can not wait to share with you, as well as a couple of gifts ... I think I better whip up something for myself too so I have something to show you next week! ^___^ What I'd really like right now is a bathtub to soak my skating-induced aches in, but I think that's a little beyond my abilities ~____^

- Lisa xx

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Polymer clay foods

Hello! It seems that Autumn has arrived today in my city! I woke up this morning to find cloudy grey skies and plenty of rain! I'm sure I'll grow tired of it soon, but right now it's a lovely novelty ^___^ One thing I love about cooler weather is that is really makes me want to crochet and knit! I've got a few projects on my list that will be perfect for rainy days, but lately I've been messing around with polymer clay. 

I made these peas in a pod, which has been done many, many times before by other people ... but look at those little faces! Eeep, they're so cute! I only had one colour of green clay, so I mixed some green and white together to make the lighter colour for the peas. The peas are made simply by rolling clay into three balls of the same size (or, well, same-ish size). For the pod I made a rectangle and wrapped it around the peas. I pinched the ends together and cut off the excess, and then smoothed everything on the back down. You have to do this carefully, because otherwise you might squash your peas! Once it was baked, I painted on the faces with black paint and a very tiny brush. I have made this one into a brooch ^___^

I added brooch backings to these two pieces of fairy bread as well, but I'm planning on wearing them as collar clips ^___^ I don't know if people in other countries eat fairy bread so, for the uninitiated, fairy bread is buttered white bread covered in sprinkles. It's a staple at children's parties, and good for invoking nostalgia in older Australians ~___^ To make these, I made a square with beige clay and then sliced it in half to make triangles. After it was baked, I used brown paint dabbed along the outside edges to make the crust. The butter is cream coloured puffy paint, and the sprinkles are from thin clay "snakes" that I baked and then sliced with a razor. If you sprinkle on the, uh, ... sprinkles while the paint is still wet, they will stick in place ^___^

Pancakes!! I am so in love with these pancakes. I made them by making three disks of beige clay, all about the same size. Rebecca made me a little nub of butter by making a little square of yellow clay. I baked the pancakes and butter separately and then glued them together with a mixture of dimensional magic and brown paint. I glued this onto a ring base so now I have a pancake ring just like Annika! It's kinda an enormous ring, but I love it ^___^

I also made these two toasts and a jammy dodger, but I'm not sure what I will make them into yet. I dabbed them with brown paint, the same as the fairy bread, to make crusts and give them a just baked look. The jam on the toasts and inside the biscuit is acrylic paint. The jammy dodger was baked in two pieces and then glued together with the paint.

And lastly, I made this zombie brain! It glows in the dark, which I think is pretty cool, but it still needs a little something-something. Time for some experimenting! (insert mad scientist laugh here)

I'll see you next week, hopefully with some crochet! ^___^

- Lisa xx

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

All hail the Glow Cloud

Recently I was digging around for a gift bag behind the couch (... isn't that where everyone keeps their massive stash of gift bags?) and I found a big paper IKEA lantern. I have a vague memory of buying this once, intending to try to make it into a Death Star, which obviously never came to fruition. Instead, I decided to make a glow cloud, using this tutorial by 3 Chic Geeks.

Their tutorial is very easy to follow, basically you are just sticking toy stuffing to a paper lantern using a hot glue gun. I found that doing this on a chair, with me varying between sitting and standing, made reaching all sections of the lantern easier and also meant that less hair was sticking to the toy stuffing (poor Scott; living with me is basically like living with a giant, constantly shedding cat). I also found that ripping the stuffing into handfuls beforehand made gluing much more efficient.

We hung it in the corner, above the bookshelf where a paper swallow mobile had been basically since I moved in (one of my first ever home decor projects ... ahhh, memories!) using command hooks. Here's a hint: don't use command hooks. Your glow cloud will fall down. One of the things on my to-do list is now to go to the hardware store and get a proper hook.

 During the day it looks like an innocent fluffy cloud, but then at night ...

 ALL HAIL. These photos are pretty bad, mostly because I am still using my phone as a camera for literally everything. But, you do get a sense of it's constantly mutating hue nonetheless, right? To light up the glow cloud, I used a "colour changing light mood lamp ball sphere" that I brought from ebay, because the hardware store/ craft store people looked at me very strangely when I described what I wanted. If you don't live in Australia, you might have more luck with finding this in a store. I sometimes have dreams about visiting America and just going to craft stores ~____^ Anyway, the most important thing is to buy a lamp that won't heat up, because you definitely don't want to set your glow cloud aflame!

I also brought an LED torch from the hardware store, which is meant for work site safety. It is *very bright* - it even comes with a warning not to look at the light directly. It makes for a much brighter glow cloud, but it can only be yellow and red, and the red is a scary flashing warning light which makes the glow cloud seem very angry. While the colour changing light is not as bright, it is brighter than the pictures above would lead you to believe, and it's actually very relaxing to watch. I am still considering hanging some plastic animals from the bottom of the glow cloud, but I don't know if that would be a little too much. What do you think? 

In other news, I am now in week two of roller derby training. I have muscles that I did not know existed! My t-stops are dreadful, but I can plough stop pretty well, and last night I did 19 laps in 5 minutes which I thought was pretty good. I think we're going to time laps again tonight, so hopefully I can overcome the thigh pain to maybe reach twenty!

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

What's new, pussycat? Kitty necklace from a beaded bracelet

Hello! I think I have finally gotten back to mostly good health, just in time for my first week of roller derby skills training tomorrow! I am so excited, and also quite nervous. I don't know about you, but for me crafting is a fantastic form of stress release and so, despite my illness, I have managed to start a few projects this last week. Of course, starting a project doesn't necessarily mean finishing it (my WIP crate can attest to this!), but there are exceptions ~___^

I brought the bracelet below while I was in Singapore, but soon realised that it was too big and too heavy for me to really want to wear around my tiny baby wrists. I didn't want those adorable kitty beads to languish in my jewellery box forever though, so I cut the elastic cord of the bracelet and reconstructed it into a necklace ^___^

I like it much better this way! I wanted to let the cat beads take center stage on the necklace, so I didn't complicate it overly.

I threaded one crystal bead onto a headpin, added one cat bead, and then trimmed the wire and twisted it into a loop which I then attached directly onto the necklace chain. You could use jump rings for this, but I felt having two jump rings between each headpin and the chain looked a little too busy. After attaching all the cat beads, I just added a lobster clasp with jump rings to attach the ends of the chain.

There are eight cat beads on the necklace, which is a deviation from my usual preference for odd numbers, but eight is a lucky number so I figured I would do well to keep all the cats together ~___^

One other thing that happened recently was that Frankie Magazine shared a photo of my knitted pineapple tea cosy that I made for the Giant Pineapple KAL! My pageviews went through the roof, so welcome if you've found this little corner of the interwebs via Frankie! If I'd known I was about to have so many visitors I may have tidied up a little bit ~___^

I'm picking up my sewing machine from the repair shop tomorrow and I can't wait to finally make some headway on my alterations pile! Shortened straps and taken-in waistbands aren't all that interesting to other people though, probably, so I'll simply have to make some new things as well. What a shame ~___^

- Lisa xx

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Crochet chevron cowl, a 60s mod costume, plus photos from Singapore!

Hello! I'm back! I spent last week in Singapore, which was so much fun! I'd never been overseas before and we were in time for Lunar New Year, which meant everything was decorated and everyone seemed in a festive mood ^____^ One thing I was worried about though was that I wasn't going to finish a project for the Get Geometric KAL! I'd started Tanya's knitted cowl pattern a few times, but I just couldn't get my head around it! I think I need to do some more simple knitting and work my way up to it.

I also figured I'd want something to do on the plane flight over, so I packed some balls of chunky yarn and a big plastic crochet hook in my check in luggage. I did double check with the lady who checked me in at the airport, and she said I should be fine. Luckily, security also didn't mind and I was allowed to keep my crafting supplies!

I used the same stitch pattern that I used to make my chevron fingerless mitts, but I worked this cowl in the round. I crocheted with two balls of black yarn, then changed to green for two rows, and then finished off with another ball of black. It's very squishy and cosy, but not really appropriate for Australian, or Singaporean, weather!

My phone started playing up basically as soon as I left Australia (maybe it got homesick?) so I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked to. Nonetheless, I took a fair few!


On the first day we went to Gardens on the Bay, which was really lovely. We went into the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest which were amazing feats of both technology and gardening, and I found the information on sustainability fascinating. However, my favourite part was probably the goats made of flowers! They're just so adorable!

We saw the Sultan Mosque, and spent some time wandering around the Arab Quarter. There were so many silk and carpet stores; the tiny camel carpet was especially tempting for me! We had coffee in a tiny Turkish coffee shop which was covered in beautiful tiles and lanterns; I wish I could have photographed that! Also, we saw lots of interesting street art!

Chinatown on Lunar New Year was amazing, and absolutely packed with people! We lined up to see the parade, but nothing happened for hours and we were too weak to wait until midnight to see the fireworks so instead we had dinner; at a Thai restaurant in Chinatown, ironically!

We also went to the Singapore Zoo, where my phone took many blurry photos. Damn! I did get these two of the flamingos and the mouse deer. I'd never heard of a mouse deer before and they were so cute! They are tiny and one of them had a baby, which was even smaller and more adorable! We also saw elephants, giraffes, a polar beer, a white tiger, a komodo dragon, giant turtles, otters, and many many monkeys ... it was incredible fun!

I'm a big fan of froyo here in Australia, and I thought it was cool how different it is in Singapore! Still very delicious though ~___^ The chocolate eclair I thought was cool because it had a merlion on it! Seriously, merlions are everywhere in Singapore! By the way, if you're ever in Singapore, I can highly recommend the high tea at the Ritz Carlton - eight courses of pure deliciousness and more tea than any one mortal could possibly consume.

And then, the day after I got back, Bec and I headed out to a 60s themed birthday party. It was so much fun! We hit up the opshop earlier that day, and found enough mod/beatnik-ish clothing to make some fun outfits ^____^

My outfit consisted mainly of a black polka-dot mini dress with an aqua collar and waist tie; it cost me $7! I also wore knee high black socks and black wedges, which I already owned. My handbag is one left to me by my Nana Tess; I don't know what era it is actually from, but I felt that it worked well with the rest of my outfit. I wore contacts so that I could wear massive false eyelashes, and I used a bump-it to fake a bit of a bouffant hairstyle.

Bec hit the jackpot and found a black turtleneck (high necked knitwear is very difficult to find in Australian opshops!) and this super cute overall dress. She also wore black ballet flats, round sunglasses (yes, at night; that's dedication to a costume!), and a vintage pendant she had found previously at an antique store.

Bec and I also spent some time before the party icing the birthday girl's cake. It's well ... it's not pretty. But, it tasted amazing! I used this recipe to make the two cakes, but I left out the milk (I used plain water instead), used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, substituted self-raising flour for the plain flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and added 2.5 teaspoons of peppermint essence to the cake mixture. I also ended up doubling the recipe for each cake ... this thing is pretty massive as I used a deep square tin, about 12 inches wide. I made the icing from unsalted butter, icing sugar, peppermint essence, cocoa, and a *lot* of black food colouring. The dots are made from store-brought fondant, although I did colour the yellow dots myself using gel food colouring. If I had the option, I would buy pre-coloured fondant though, because I think the food colouring slightly changed the consistency of the fondant which made it sticky and harder to work with. Plus, I dyed my hands yellow >____< If I made this again, I would change the ratio of butter to icing sugar to make the icing thicker because the icing did seem to slowly kinda ooze off the cake ... the hot weather here also probably doesn't help with that! Anyway, Bec and I had a good time putting it together, and all the guests had a wonderful time eating it ~____^

 And that's it from me right now! Next week I start roller derby training and I can't wait! I did catch a cold the day after the party though (I'm blaming the aeroplane) so I'm really really hoping that clears up before then! My current plan is to eat lots of garlic bread and spend a lot of time resting (aka crafting) on the couch so I'm fighting fit by Monday! Any cold cures would be greatly appreciated ~____^

- Lisa xx