Tuesday, 26 May 2015

How to make stickers into brooches

Hello! I don't know if anyone else is like this, but I have a hard time using stickers. It's just like, once you use them, that's it! I know, it's weird - and I keep buying them hoping to find the perfect place to stick them to. This has resulted in me having quite a lot of stickers but I've finally discovered the perfect use: make them into brooches! Yes!

I started off with these two cute rollerskating stickers that I got from a Roller Derby bout (p.s. if you're in Perth you should come to the next WARD bout! I'll be on the sidelines cheering and dreaming of the day when I'd be good enough to join in! ^___^). I didn't want to stick them to my helmet because I thought they'd probably get ruined next time I hit the decks (this happens a lot) and I figured they'd be perfect for repping derby in my everyday life ^___^ I got a lot of questions at work on how I made them, so I decided to get out my sticker collection and make some more!

To make your own you'll need some thin balsa wood, a scalpel, jewellery hardware, E6000 glue, PVA glue or mod podge, and some fun stickers.

I just stuck my stickers directly to the balsa wood, but I noticed one of them moving around while I was wearing it yesterday so in future I would brush on a very thin layer of glue before adding the stickers.

Cutting them out with the scalpel is the most time consuming part! I used the time to catch up on some Welcome to Night Vale episodes ^___^

Lastly, use the E6000 to glue on the jewellery hardware and leave everything to dry.

I made three hair clips; the popcorn one has gotten a lot of lovely compliments at work ^___^

The larger stickers are the best ones for brooches, as you can't see the badge backing peeking out behind them. The Hello Kitty milk choco brooch was the easiest to cut out - square stickers are definitely the way to go if you want to make one of these brooches fast!

I made three sets of earrings from these tiny animal faces. The lions were tricky due to their manes, but I really love them! ^___^

Lastly, I made two larger earrings from some Maneki-neko stickers Pip brought back for me from Japan, and made a ring from a fan sticker from the same set.

I've still got a lot of stickers in my collection so I think I'll be making more of these in the future, and now I have an excuse to buy even more stickers ~____^

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Ruby Red the amigurumi chicken

Hello! Here's something about me: I don't eat chicken. Not for any reason except that I don't enjoy the taste, which is something most people find incredibly abnormal. It doesn't often come up in conversation (unless we're having a conversation about fussy eaters because, wowzers, I can certainly contribute there ...) but this little fact made me find it rather amusing when I mentioned to a co-worker that my evening plans were to continue making a chicken for my friend and her response was " ... like ... cooking one ....?" She was utterly confused why it would take more than a day to prepare a chicken which I assume is understandable, *unless* you're talking about amigurumi!

My wonderful friend Catherine gifted me with some lovely hand-dyed wool for Christmas last year and, since I am a terrible, terrible friend, it has taken me this long to complete the chicken amigurumi that she requested in return. Oh dear. I better start working on her present for *this* year now so this doesn't happen again!

As with many amigurumi, the first challenge arose with finding the perfect pattern (well ... it was possibly the procrastination, but stick with me here). I had a firm idea of what I wanted the chicken to look like, but no real skill in shaping 3D objects that would allow me to freestyle.

And then, happily, I found Jennifer Olivarez' pattern for her Rainbow Chicken. The Rainbow Chicken had the perfect chubby body that I wished for my chicken, so I got out my hook and yarn and made it up.

I love how squishy and chubby and curvy this chicken is! I stuffed it very firmly with polyfill so that it would keep it's shape and stand up by itself. Well, mostly. This chicken does have a tendency to want to lean a little, but I think it just adds to its charm.

The next step was to make the crest, for which I again followed the pattern except for a small change. The pattern suggests to pick up some stitches from the chicken's head and crochet the crest from there, so that it is attached as you crochet. I think my tight tensioning is possibly to blame, but I couldn't get my hook through my stitches! So instead I crocheted five chain stitches to use as the base, and then did the rest of the crest in these chains instead. Afterwards I used a tapestry needle to sew it on to the chicken's head.

I did my own pattern for the wings, which are really just half-circles and are worked in rows rather than circles. Here is a little pattern for them, which remains untested and so probably contains errors.

Chain two
Row 1: treble four times into the second chain from the hook
Row 2: treble twice in each stitch (8 trebles)
Row 3: slip stitch into the first two stitches, *chain two, slip stitch into the next stitch. Repeat from * a total of four times. Slip stitch into the last two stitches and tie off.

I made two wings, and then sewed them to the chicken's body using the long end from where I tied off and a tapestry needle.

To make the beak, I did two chains and then made three single stitches into the second chain from the hook. Then I slip stitched into the front loop of the first single stitch, and tied off. I then used the two long ends of the beak to sew it to the chicken. Honestly, the beak does not have much of a shape, but because it is so small, it doesn't really need to. For the ... whatever that thing is called is that chickens have below their beaks, I chained twice (again!) and did three trebles into the second chain from the hook. Then I tied off and used the long ends of the yarn to sew it underneath the beak. The most important part for this is that you leave the ends long because that is what you use to draw the stitches into the teardrop shape.

After that, the only thing left to do is to sew on some black buttons for eyes and the chicken is finished, hurray! Catherine has already named her Ruby Red, from the book "Banjo and Ruby Red" and I think she's rather sweet ^___^ Ruby Red stands 11cm tall from bottom to crest and is 22cm wide around her belly.

I'm currently working on some projects for my partner in the Welcome to Night Vale swap on Craftster. I've never done a swap with someone I don't know before, and I'm finding it really tough! Although I have spent quite a bit of time on the projects that I've completed, I feel like the swap package doesn't look very impressive. Yet, I need to balance this with making things that aren't going to be too heavy or delicate to post and that don't take longer than the swap guidelines suggest. It has to be in the mail by the end of this week though, so I will be forced into a decision one way or another!

- Lisa xx

P.S. Roller Derby Assessments are tomorrow!! Wish me luck?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Crochet Kraken and a House Greyjoy inspired outfit

Hello! Do you watch Game of Thrones? I must admit I'm terribly behind (I think I kinda stopped watching in the middle of Season Two ...) but Pip recently invited me to her GoT premiere night and I simply couldn't resist attending! I have read all the books currently out, so I figured I wouldn't be totally lost. Now, don't worry, I won't share any spoilers! But Pip mentioned that we should dress in House colours and, you know me, I'm always up for a costume!


I decided to play subtle tribute to House Greyjoy. Well, subtle apart from the kraken on my head!

House Greyjoy rules over the Iron Islands, and their coat of arms features a gold kraken so I figured my blue hair would be a nice stand in for the ocean, and a little kraken would be a lovely fascinator!

I used a pattern by Mr Fox, which I had actually made up once before. In 2011 I made a squid for my friend Molly using this pattern, and have been planning to make myself one someday since then. Well, it only took me four years! ~____^

To attach my kraken into my hair, I used a yarn needle to thread a short length of wool through the base of the kraken. I then tied the two ends of the wool into a bow, making sure to go through the teeth of the hair comb so that it would stay attached. When the party was over, all I had to do was undo the bow and pull out the yarn to detach the hair comb.

I used buttons instead of safety eyes and I gave my kraken a little smile with some embroidery thread; just because the Greyjoys are mean (along with basically every House in the series ...) doesn't mean my kraken has to be!

The pattern doesn't say anything about sewing up the little gaps underneath the head fins, but I did because I was concerned that the stuffing would leak out otherwise.

And I french knitted the tentacles and arms because I really, really, really don't like crocheting arms and legs. This is probably the main reason I don't make more amigurumi!

I also put wire in the arms and tentacles to make them posable. However, my pipe cleaners were too thick to go in so I used floristry wire which isn't really as strong as it needs to be to hold the arms up. So it's really only semi-posable, but I still think it's more fun than having totally floppy arms.

For the rest of my outfit, I stuck with blue and black, with some studs and boots for that piratey flavour!

I wore my sword necklace (since the Greyjoys pay the Iron Price!) and made my word necklace say "we do not sow" which I think were the perfect finishing touches to my outfit ^____^

Dress (worn as skirt): Asos via the opshop
Crop top: Jay Jays via the opshop
Stockings: Myers
Boots: Ziera
Word necklace: Jay Jays
Sword Necklace: Diva

I'm currently working on gifts for three different people, so hopefully I'll gift them soon and be able to share some photos with you! I've been getting a lot done on them because I've gotten a nasty little cold. Tomorrow night is revision week for my roller derby training, so I really hope this awful cough I developed over the weekend is gone by then. And, of course, revision week means that assessment week is only seven days away! Eeep! Last week I made 22 laps in 5 minutes for the first time so if I can do that again I might actually pass ... but if I don't pass (which I personally feel is highly likely) then I have another twelve week cycle ahead of me for which to continue practising all the new skills I've been learning ^____^ It's a win-win!

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Sarlacc Cake

Hello! This year for his birthday cake, Scott requested a Sarlacc Cake like this one made by Kathleen at Yummy Crumble. However he also wanted a gingerbread flavoured cake, so I didn't follow Kathleen's recipe. Instead I used my Anzac Cake recipe but omitted the coconut, vanilla essence, and vinegar and added two teaspoons of ground ginger, and half a teaspoon each of ground cloves and ground nutmeg.

For the tentacles I used a cookie recipe from my trusty old "Family Circle Kid's Cookbook 2"; this book (plus it's predecessor) has been with me for years and years and even though it's missing its cover and has half its pages covered in cooking splatters, it continues to serve me well. I used the "Cutout Christmas Cookies" recipe, but adapted it into the recipe you see below;

Tentacle Cookies
125g butter
2/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 and 1/3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup water 

Mix everything together in a bowl. With lightly floured hands, shape the tentacles and place them on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a 180oC oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

A Madeleine tray is recommended by Kathleen for shaping the jaws of the Sarlacc, but I don't have one and didn't think I could really justify buying one. Instead, I used aluminium foil to create two shapes that looked kinda like the head of a spoon turned upside down. I laid a sheet of paper baking over these molds and then shaped the cookie batter over them. It turned out pretty well! I had to cut off some of the biscuit because it was a little too tall for the cake, but I need biscuit crumbs so they didn't go to waste ^___^

Once everything was cooked, I mixed up some cinnamon chocolate icing and put it in the hole of the cake and around the edges of the hole. The icing ensures the Sarlacc tentacles and jaws don't move around too much once you place them in! I used some of the excess biscuits to make into crumbs and spread them over the icing to resemble sand.

I added the remainder of the icing into the Sarlacc's mouth where it works to hold the jaw even more firmly in place, and also kinda resembles a maw. As you can see from the image above, Boba Fett was lucky to escape from that mouth alive! ~___^

This is definitely not the prettiest cake I've ever made, but I'm still pleased with how it turned out and Scott and I can attest that it is very delicious ^____^

Did you make anything for Star Wars Day this year? Do you celebrate any other "days"? I recently discovered that Harry Potter Day is meant to be celebrated on May 2nd, but since that's so close to ISWD I think I'll celebrate on September 1st instead. Scott thinks we should celebrate on June 26th though, as that's when the first book was released. I guess we could always do it twice a year ... ~___^

- Lisa xx

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Darth Vader Coffee Cup Cosy

Hello! Wow, ok, International Star Wars Day is tomorrow! The good news is, if you want to make your own version of this Darth Vader coffee cup cosy, you've still got time! It's a really quick and fun project, and will help you spot other nerds in a crowd (they'll be the ones who get what it is!).

First, chain 52 stitches using a 4mm hook and DK weight yarn. Check that this is going to be long enough by wrapping your chain around your cup; the ends should touch without having to stretch too much. Join the ends of your chain with a slip stitch, single stitch in each chain, and then slip stitch and chain one to start the next row. I did 15 rows of single stitches, but if your hands are bigger you might need more! 

Once you've made your cosy as tall as you'd like it to be, fasten off and weave in the ends. Now it's time to cross-stitch! I used a tapestry needle and coloured cotton thread to do the control panel details. Click here to download the cross-stitch pattern from my Google Drive.

Once I'd finished my cross-stitching, I decided the inside of the cosy looked a little messy so I used black thread to sew in a lining of black felt. You can't even see the stitches from the outside, and the inside looks lovely and neat ^____^

And that's it! Wasn't that easy? ^___^

Don't forget to check out my other Star Wars crafts and have a totally wonderful International Star Wars Day!

May the Force be with you.

- Lisa xx