February 2, 2013

I'm Destashing!

Do you ever wake up and realize that too much of a good thing isn't good? I have this revelation more and more often as I try to get our unpacking done (it's been almost a year and we're still not unpacked!) and see how many things I have. Normally craft supplies are keepers in my eyes, but I have finally realized that I no longer want or need some of them. The first example is yarn.

I am a yarn addict and I am not ashamed. However, I have become disenchanted with my stash, which is mostly 100% acrylic yarn, a great deal of which was passed down to me by relatives of dead crocheters. The other day it just hit me like a flash of lightning, "Why am I keeping this stuff if I don't really like it? Why am I letting it take over huge amounts of space? If I like natural fibers so much, why am I using 100% acrylic yarn?" And so the great yarn destashing has begun!

I have split my surplus yarn into yarn to sell on Etsy and yarn to donate to a retirement or nursing home. I have already added a few skeins to my Etsy shop. Keep checking for more! I have a few interesting vintage skeins that will be coming up for sale soon!

DESTASH Red Heart Giant Lime Apple Green 16oz

Destash Caron Colour Perfect Slate Blue

Destash Red Heart Super Saver Teal Yarn

January 30, 2013

Great Books For Toddlers

I have a toddler and these books have all been tested on her. Some were my favourites when I was her age!

This is one of The Precious's favourites. She loves not only to lift the flaps to reveal the babies, but enjoys naming objects in the pictures as well. Sometimes I try reading it aloud in Spanish.
Where's the Baby?

When I was little, this was one of my favourites. I especially loved the picture of the chocolate cake and saying, "Scat, cat!" to the wide-eyed cat who tried to steal some of it. They really should bring it back into print!

A Day on the Farm

The Precious has an obsession with feet, so this one is a natural for her.

The Foot Book

With gorgeous pictures and the reassuring message that Mama will be there, even in the night, this is one of my new favourites for little ones.
Owl Babies

For something completely different, try this book. It even includes a mirror at the end so you can be sure you are not a cow!
Are You a Cow?

Learn the alphabet and emotions with cute photos of real babies!
ABC Look at Me

We checked this book out from the library and have so much fun with it! The Precious loves to have the different types of hugs and kisses acted out, and the pictures are so cute. We're going to have to get our own copy.
Huggy Kissy

This was The Precious's favourite until she inexplicably tore it to pieces. She learned so many words from this book, it was amazing! Her favourite is the photo of the astronaut on the moon.
On the Go

There are so many good ones! I'm finding it hard to stop. But I guess I'll end with one of her new favourites, which she wants us to read over and over and over. It has so many things in it that she loves: a mouse, cookies, milk, sweeping, crayons, tape...no wonder it has become a classic.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If you want to see some of my other picks, based on their read-aloud-ability, click here!.

January 28, 2013

Make a Grumpy Cat Brooch!

In case you didn't know, I am in love with Tardar Sauce, better known as the famous "Grumpy Cat."  Like most of the world, I see that sweet little ball of grumpiness and wish I could take her home and hug her and squeeze her and call her name George. Since there just aren't that many cats like that out there, I think I will have to settle for making a felt version.

See Grumpy Cat Brooch and 1000's of others - or share your own on Cut Out + Keep

January 27, 2013

I'm on Cut Out and Keep

I published my lanyard tutorial on Cut Out and Keep!

See Sew A Fabric Backed Ribbon Lanyard And Keychain and 1000's of others - or share your own on Cut Out + Keep

This way if you like it and need to download a PDF file so that you can make your own, you can.  Sharing will also be way easier!

Nerdy Quote of the Week

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King

I am always aghast when I hear someone who doesn't read claim that they intend to write books. "How?" I wonder. I think that Mr. King is right on the money here. What do you think?

Tutorial: Make a Lanyard and Key Chain from Fabric and Ribbon

I lock my keys in my car way too often.  I always have.  I have spent more on locksmiths and gas for people to come and unlock my car than I care to think about.  After my most recent incident, I decided to follow the annoyed advice of those closest to me and start wearing my keys around my neck.  A lanyard would be just the thing, I thought, but to my surprise, there really weren't very many around here to pick from. The ones I found in stores either advertised a football team I wasn't interested in, were too long, or made from flimsy, scratchy materials.

So I decided to make one myself and searched the internet for a guide.  Once again, nothing.  The only tutorials I could find were for those braided plastic lanyards, and I had decided that if I was going to have to wear this thing around my neck every day, it would have to be something I actually wanted to wear and didn't mind being seen wearing.  In other words, neon plastic was out.

"It can't be too hard!" I exclaimed, deciding to figure it all out for myself.

Guess what?  For once, I was right!  Mine did not turn out quite so perfectly as I had hoped, due to a sewing machine with a mind of its own, cheap thread, and my own stupidity.  However, I am satisfied with the results and want to share the process with you in case you too need to wear your keys around your neck.

First, pick out your ribbon.  I found my goth/emo/punk Hello Kitty ribbon on sale at Wal Mart for $2.50.  It is 7/8" wide and 9 feet came on the roll--enough to make three lanyards and three key chains!

Next choose your fabric.  You will need at least a yard.  I raided my stash for some (not very good) fake Burberry plaid flannel, which will be soft and comfy on my neck.  Be sure to choose a fabric that is sturdy (if you can see through it, forget it!) but soft.  If your lanyard is irritating to your skin, you will not use it and then your keys will be locked inside your car again in no time!

Now for the actual making!


2.  Cut your ribbon to the length you want your lanyard to be.  To figure this out, try hanging it around your neck and crossing the ends, leaving about 4 inches hanging down.  Now add about 3 inches to this length just to be sure you have enough.  If you have too much, no worries--you can use it for a key chain   For me, the best length was 36 inches.   

3.  Lay your ribbon down on top of your fabric and decide how wide your fabric rectangle will need to be.  For me, the answer was 4 inches.  You will need the fabric to be at least twice as wide as your ribbon for best results.  If you want more fabric to be showing on either side of the ribbon when it is finished, you might want to add more.  

4.  Cut your fabric into a rectangle as long as your ribbon.  Do not do as I did and cut messily.  I did not follow rule number 1 and was tired and in a hurry.

5.  Center your ribbon on your strip of fabric and pin it down.  

6.  With a fine needle (I used a number 11) in your sewing machine and matching thread, sew the top edge of the ribbon down, adjusting the pins as necessary.  Be careful not to let the ribbon pucker!  When you get to the end, sew across the end, back up, and sew across again before turning and continuing down the bottom hem of the ribbon.  Repeat this step when you return to the place where you started sewing.  This will ensure that your ribbon is anchored well.  Remove all extra threads.

7.  Carefully fold the strip (which now has the ribbon firmly sewn on) in half, trying to match the ribbon seams on each side.  Pin as you go.  Make a seam that goes the length of the strip--do not sew the ends!  If you have pinking shears, pink the raw edge of the strip so that the fabric will not ravel.  It is unlikely that it will  but I think it never hurts to be safe.  DO NOT PINK THE FOLDED SIDE--YOU WILL CUT YOUR RIBBON STRIP IN HALF!

8.  Now comes the fun part--turning the tube right side out!  I say this sarcastically of course, because this is often the most annoying part of the process.  However, I now have a special turning tool that makes it relatively quick and easy.  You can find these at Wal Mart and many craft stores for about $3. There are other methods of turning--I don't have time to talk about all of them here but I'm sure that Youtube has the answers!

9.  Now you have a nice strong string for your lanyard.  However, it is likely very wavy and funny looking, so you will need to carefully press it with an iron.  I recommend either using a pressing cloth or turning the tube upside down so that the hot iron is only touching the fabric, not the ribbon.  This is because the ribbon will melt!  I found out the hard way.


10.  Now you need to take your nice toasty lanyard string and wrap it around your neck again in a Y shape.  See where the joining of the two ends needs to take place and be sure to leave at least 4 or 5 inches hanging down so that your key ring can be attached.  VERY IMPORTANT:  make sure your lanyard is not twisted at any point!  Double check this or you will regret it.

11.  From the back, sew one piece of the string over the other to make a Y shape.  I chose to stitch diagonally.

12.  See where this is going now?  Before you sew any more seams, check again and make sure your lanyard isn't twisted.  It's way easier to remove one seam than 20.  Good? Okay, now reinforce that seam by sewing over it again and again.  Cut off any excess fabric--I had a good 5 or 6 extra inches of tube.  Do not throw this away!  You can use it to make a key chain! Zigzag the end of the piece that hangs down, where the key chain will go.

13.  Thread a key ring onto the bottom length of lanyard string stuff.  I chose to add a clip to the ring so that I can easily remove my keys if I need to.

14.  Fold under the raw edge and sew to the back of the lanyard where the other two pieces meet, making sure that the key ring does not fall off.  Reinforce this seam by sewing diagonally across the original seam so that both seams together form an X.  Move down to where the key ring now hangs from its little section and sew an X in a box near to the ring, leaving just a little wiggle room.

15.  You are done!  Cut off all of the little extra bits of thread and enjoy.  
Remember step number 1?  In case you've forgotten, it is 
1. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS IF YOU ARE VERY TIRED.  I ignored this and ended up with a twisted lanyard.  

It still works just fine though so I am just going to wear it and be happy.

Now, remember that extra bit of tube that I told you to save for a key chain?  Now's the time for it, and I promise that it won't take long.

1.  Thread the tube through a key ring.  Make sure that you thread it through so that the ribbon is on the inside or you will end up with your lining permanently on the outside for all to see. 

2.  Sew the ends of the tube together with a zigzag stitch, backing up and going over the seams over and over to make it sturdy.  Turn right side out.

3.  Close to the ring, but leaving a little wiggle room, sew a box with an X in it just as you did on the lanyard. Make sure to use a straight stitch and to sew each seam back and forth several times for stability.  Clip your extra threads and you are done!

Now that wasn't so bad, was it?  I found it very fun and can't wait to make more!  Next time, though, I will use better quality thread, make sure my ribbon seams are nice and straight, iron only on the fabric side of the tube, and most of all be sure I haven't twisted it all around.  Once I perfect my techniques I hope to start making some of these for my Etsy shop.