Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tasty yarn

Rather than whine about being sick, how about some photos of my kool-aid yarn dyeing experiment?  This is grape and cherry, and just for the record, you need a fair bit of kool-aid to dye this much yarn (8 packs of cherry for 105g of yarn, 10 of grape for 125g of yarn)!

Still, I'm pleased - nice vibrant colours.  The grape isn't as fully saturated as I would like, but I'm hoping it results in a heather-like look, rather than an incomplete dyed-look.

I have more of this yarn to dye, but I think I'll wait until I start a project and see how much I need of what colour.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

White Yarn

Like most knitters/crocheters... I have a yarn stash. It's tucked away in a few different places so I never see it all at once and have to face that I have a problem. One thing that has nagged me about my stash are the batches of natural coloured yarns I have that I'm not interested in using. I picked a bunch up from a former weaver, but didn't use them in my weaving projects. I thought I might try dyeing some of it and Kalin (fellow Maked girl) suggested I do a test with kool-aid dyeing, to see if that would work (some of the fibres are of unknown content, and kool-aid dyeing works best on natural fibres like wool).

So I did! I read a tutorial on kool-aid dyeing, watched a youtube video tutorial, and did it. Easy peasy! And now I know one of my fibres takes kool-aid colouring super well, one takes it in a more pale way (soy/acrylic blend), one took it very pale (cotton, I think), and two others don't really take it at all (which means I need a different kind of yarn dye, or I need to donate the yarn to someone else who will use it).  And, as a bonus, my kitchen smells like cherry kool-aid.

In the next day or two I'm hoping I can find time to dye the large batch I have that sucked up the kool-aid colouring so well - it's a great yarn, from a thrift store sweater I unraveled! I'm excited at turning it into a colour and actually using it to make something finally!  (I used some of it, au natural, in a weaving project a while back. More photos here.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Fairly Tired

Thanks to everyone who came out to Got Craft on Sunday - it was crazy busy, like usual!  I'm going to give you a secret tip... the trick to avoiding the crowds (i.e. where you practically have to stand in line to even look at a table) is to arrive at 4pm. The fair goes until 5pm, so you'll have a good hour to shop, and you'll be able to stroll around leisurely and see whatever you want - no need to elbow someone out of the way! It's very calm and civilized in the last hour. It's up and down during the other hours - you might get lucky and be there during a lull, but at 4, you'll be set.

Maked had a good day. Hopefully our stuff will make people happy. I always love the people who admit they're buying something for themselves - it means they loved something so much they broke their own rule about buying for themselves - that's pretty satisfying for a maker to hear!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Got Craft Anticipation

I'm kind of obsessed at the moment with making reflective flower pins. It's a bit out of control really. So I'm hoping loads of people show up at the Holiday Got Craft fair in search of them!

Sunday, December 4, 10am - 5pm at the Legion Hall on Commercial Drive.

Got Craft is fabulous for so many reasons. It's always a great mix of vendors - creative local folks making beautiful things (who all happen to be super nice people as well). It has good music (this is important when you are there for 7 hours as a vendor!).  It has a chance to hand-make something lovely yourself at the Spool of Thread Sewing Lounge area.

I know I'm looking forward to getting some tasty tasty items from Bake Sale Baking Co, in addition to picking up some gifts!  I particularly recommend you check out Atomic Broccoli who has the most fabulous lego jewelry.

Be sure to put it in your calendars!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Keeping it Simple

Most of my craft projects tend to be very detailed and intricate.  They can take months to finish. I don't know why I'm attracted to really lengthy projects that take forever to complete, perhaps because I feel like if I'm going to go to the trouble of making something by hand, I want it to be amazing and complicated/elaborate.  Still, every now and then I get the urge to make something quick and simple. Or I'll get an idea for something that is very plain and I can't bear to make it more fussy.

I've been missing my beads lately, what with all the other crafts, so that combined with some components I picked up at the store recently resulted in a few new necklaces that I'm very pleased with! Simple, unfussy necklaces - some with an sparkly industrial style even.  I know my style might not appeal to everyone, but that's another benefit of making stuff for yourself - it can be custom made to suit me! 

I do feel strange showing these off as things I 'made' when I really just assembled components that other people/factories made.  It's not the kind of handmade I usually do!  Let's call this, necklaces I assembled.

First off - a very simple, classy snowflake necklace for winter.  It's got a bit of sparkle and I combined it with sterling silver chain and a pretty magnetic clasp I've been holding on to, waiting for the right project.

Next, does it get any easier than this? A cool bar component that is industrial + sparkly, paired with stainless steel neckwire. I thought about making this more complicated but love it too much as it is.

Last one - harder to assemble, but still keeping it simple & clean - a two bar necklace.

Sometimes it's good to do something different. It is also very nice to be able to finish several projects in one sitting for a change!

These may appear in the etsy shop one day - email me if you're interested.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


This may not be strictly craft-related, but it does include a dose of cute and some creativity....

I recently roped a friend of mine into taking photos of homeless cats in need of homes - to spruce up their online profiles. He's been very enthusiastic about it and on Tuesday, we did our second photoshoot with cats.... except this time it was mostly KITTENS!

It's been a long time since I've been around kittens, and having seven 5-week old ones running around was seriously cute overload. It was awesome.

And, Ben took more fabulous photos!  Don't these photos make you want to adopt them all?  I think Ben and I both want to quit our jobs and photograph cats full time.

All these cats are available for adoption from HomeFinders Animal Rescue!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I have a habit of entering online contests. I used to do this a lot a few years ago, and even won $5000 cash from an online contest. Mostly I win movie passes, DVDs, tickets, that kind of stuff. I do really like free stuff, who doesn't? Obviously, I'm particularly drawn to contests with craft supply prizes. You may recall when I won a Yudu screenprinting machine a year ago? I was ridiculously excited about that! Well....

Here's my latest win - an Accuquilt Go! Baby.

It's a die cutting machine - it cuts accurate shapes out of fabric super fast. Since my experience sewing has shown that my biggest issue is that I cannot cut stuff out accurately, I'm quite excited about giving this machine a whirl. I got to pick 3 dies that were included in my prize - so I selected triangles, hearts, and 2 1/2" strips (perfect for bike cuffs!).  It's a very generous prize from Accuquilt! I won it from a lovely craft blog called Follow the White Bunny  (if you like embroidery, you'll love her blog) - thanks Nicole!

I'll be sure to post again when I've had a chance to play with it. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for crafty blogs with great prizes (I've seen several Accuquilt contests over the past year), it's always worth tossing your name in the hat! The best advice I can give for entering online contests is to set up a separate email account for your contest entries, because you will get lots of newsletters and spam - but every now and then you'll get a notification about a win too!

In other news - Peter and I made our annual batch of cold-process soap last night. That's what everyone does on a Saturday night, right? Make soap? Peter was skeptical of the whole idea of making soap at first, but I lured him in with the danger aspect of it (lye can burn) and once he used our homemade soap, he was a convert, and now we make it every year - some for us and some to give as gifts. He's actually more particular about it than I am and hates store bought soap! 

We always use this tutorial and recipe as our base, though we vary it a bit according to the oils we have on hand. We have a signature scent that's a mix of sweet orange, clove, and cinnamon - smells like the holidays to me now. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crafty Halloween

Any Doctor Who fans in the house? I'm a huge Doctor Who fan - I think the recent seasons are well written, funny, fun, smart, and just entertaining. If you've watched the most recent season or two then you should find this Halloween costume by Reese Dixon very impressive. It's so well done! They would get a boatload of candy from me if they showed up at my door. Though I might need to see the sonic screwdriver.  It kind of reminds me of this costume I discovered last year - Doctor Who and the Tardis. Brilliant!  I love it when people get creative with their costumes!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Craft Fair Prep

Since getting the great news that Maked was accepted for the Holiday Got Craft fair, I've been using my bits and pieces of spare time to try and make stock.  A few soap pours here and there - including space invaders inspired soaps and jewel-themed soaps for the swag bags. 

I bought a lady's soap supply off her as she gave up her craft business - which means I got a huge quantity of soap base for a great price. Which means I have a HUGE quantity of soap base! I'm hoping to get a lot made for Got Craft, partly as a way to free up some space in my apartment, but also because they're great stocking stuffers and the Got Craft crowd seems to love them!

My personal favorite product we have at the moment are my reflective flower pins. These are made of the same reflective material as stripes on a runner's jacket so when light hits them directly they really shine! But in ordinary daylight I think they're still cute.  They do take a bit of time to make however, but it's good movie-watching crafting and I just joined Netflix so I've got lots of stuff to watch. :)

Less than 2 months to go, but I'm feeling pretty good about the stock I'll have on hand for the fair!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Return to Got Craft

Fantastic news - Maked will be returning to our favorite craft fair in Vancouver, the holiday Got Craft fair.  This fair is always full of great vendors with lovely products, and wonderful customers who really appreciate handmade goods.  It's just a great fair overall.  Kalin and I will be doing this one, so a scaled down version of Maked, but I think we'll be able to fill a table!

It's a ways off yet, not until December 4, but that's good, we'll need to time to make stock!  I might not get that knit blanket finished so soon after all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Learning to Unknit

Remember that blanket I started knitting back in June?  Er, yeah, still knitting it.  I can say I've had lots of good practice in unknitting as I'm not so hot at remembering to stop and count rows.  So, it's been a good learning exercise/practice!  I remember how frustrating I used to find unknitting - and how hard to remember, especially coming from crochet where you just take your hook out, pull your yarn until it's unravelled past your mistake, then stick your hook back in.  So easy.  Knitting, not so easy.  But I've got the hang of it now. Learning new stuff is awesome - one day something is frustrating and hard, you keep working at it, and then realize at some point that the thing that used to trouble you, you now do without a thought.

I will finish this one day soon!  It'll be interesting to see how even my stitches look after a wash and a blocking... I'm hoping that will work some magic. But in the end, it's more about the process than the product anyway, right?  I don't even have a recipient in mind for this blanket yet. 

Check it out - it's definitely come along:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crafty Event - Sept 18

Any Vancouver area people in the house?

There's a fantastic-sounding event on Sept 18 to raise funds for the Craft Council of BC: a Sunday afternoon 1920's themed party and silent auction. Live jazz music, vintage silent films, Prohibition-themed cocktails, and art!

If I hadn't just booked a trip to Latvia* for that week of September, I'd be out shopping for a flapper dress to wear. You should all go in my place and report back on how much fun you have!

Details are here:

*This sudden week-long trip to Latvia is due to my Peter's work. I'm totally tagging along and am thrilled! Any excuse to go to Europe, and I love it when random locations get picked for me!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

No Loom

One of the hard parts of being a crafting nut is accommodating all the crafting supplies. It was all very manageable when all I did was beadwork, but then came sewing and crochet and then.... weaving. I blame the weaving entirely on Felicia of SweetGeorgia Yarns who blogs about her weaving adventures and who has an incredible sense of colour and style. She made me see that weaving could be bold and colorful and modern (example). So I got a small floor loom about 2 years ago.

Only problem was that I live in a 600sqft apartment with my husband-like-person and two cats. And my husband-like-person often has a mountain bike in our apartment. So we just don't have a lot of space. And with my other 48 hobbies, I wasn't spending much time weaving. So, since it took up the most space and was used the least out of all my crafting supplies, I decided that the floor loom should find a new home. The happy part is that it went to a lovely lady who is very excited about learning to weave and she loved it on first sight - so it's in a happy home and will help launch someone's weaving adventure.

I figure I'll find myself another little floor loom one day, maybe if we ever move into a 2bedroom apartment. Until then, I'll just have to distract myself with one of my 12 works-in-progress. And maybe I'll have to spend some time in SweetGeorgia's weaving studio. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Swap-o-rama 2011

Saturday was my favorite event of the year in Vancouver - Swap-o-rama-rama!

This is my fourth year helping out, this time as the volunteer coordinator. I'm happy to use my time to help, I think this event is fantastic.

It's part giant clothing swap and part crafty/diy party. You bring your unwanted clothes, pay a small admission fee, and you get to hunt through the piles and take as much as you want. Then there are sewing stations and screen printing stations where you can experiment with refashioning your new finds to make them better. People are a lot more open to experimenting on clothes they just found and didn't have to pay for, so there's usually some fun stuff going on in the crafting rooms.

Spool of Thread, Vancouver's sewing lounge, was running the sewing room, and they were getting people who had never sewn before to work some magic on their new clothing finds.

It's really fantastic to see people willing to give something new a try.

I got lucky with a crew of fabulous volunteers who signed up to help and were willing to do whatever needed to be done. Great volunteers make everything super easy for me.

The event went really well. I was busy, but still managed to find some great new clothes, as always. I hope everyone else refreshed their wardrobes too. :)

And, at the end, all the leftover clothes get donated to charity so it's a win-win-win situation. Swap-o-rama-rama happens in city's all over the place - and if it doesn't happen in your city, maybe you're the person that needs to change that!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I'm still quite new to knitting, but I generally always have a project on the go, even if it takes me forever to finish it. Finishing things is a milestone to be savored, not rushed.

My latest knitting project is the concentric squares blanket. I saw the version Kim made and knew I had to try it. As I'm trying to use yarn from my stash, I, of course, had to do some math to adjust the pattern to deal with my thinner choice of yarn - otherwise I'd end up with a kerchief instead of a blanket. The pattern author was kind enough to message me back and forth on Ravelry with help on how best to make adjustments. I finally did start and it does still look like the blanket is going to be tiny, but I'm sure I'll find a use for it.

In other news - I don't know if I've ever mentioned on here that one of my hobbies is dancing. My husband-like-person and I started taking ballroom/Latin lessons a few years ago and we love it! It's loads of fun. (PSA: It's key to find a really good studio that knows how to teach, otherwise it'll be super frustrating. Our first attempt to learn was at a cheap place and we just fought all the time, it was terrible.) I'm very excited because there are two summer dance series happening in downtown Vancouver over the summer (at Robson Square). Friday nights will be ballroom and Sunday afternoons will be salsa! I love the idea of just going for a walk downtown, stopping by a public square and dancing for a bit. If you need me this summer, that's where I'll be. Starts in July and I can't wait!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I don't know if you heard, but the Canucks won Game 2 of the Stanley Cup last night. You might have heard the City of Vancouver screaming and partying ? Seriously, the City celebrated in a major way - thousands of people in the streets, high fiving and being very happy. (They won it with a goal 11 seconds into overtime.)

It makes one wonder what'll happen if Vancouver wins the Stanley Cup - if winning game 2 causes such joy! I'm looking forward to finding out! I do love it when the Canucks score a goal - we actually mute our tv and listen to the city scream and cheer. It's hilarious and awesome.

From a planning perspective - it's interesting to think about how events like these really show where the heart of a city is. Where do the people gather? What streets do you close down? Where do you set up the large outdoor screens for people to watch? Do you have public space appropriate for celebrations? Fortunately for us, the Olympics made Vancouver face all these questions and figure all this stuff out. I think the Olympics also taught us how to have street parties. And we're all really good at giving strangers high fives when prompted. So, I think we're ready for the Canucks to win the cup.

One photo showing a small portion of the crowd out on Granville St after the Game 2 win: (photo by Vancouver Police Department - who are doing a great job letting people have fun and keeping things safe.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Baby Blanket 572

Apparently I need a hard deadline like a baby being born to get me to sit down a finish a project. Hence all the baby-related crafting lately.

There is other crafting going on, I'm sure of it, I just can't find the finished product to show you. ;)

This blanket might look familiar since it is my go-to favorite blanket to make and I'm sure I've posted other versions of it.

Here are the instructions if you want to see how simple it is.

It's not excessively fussy to make but I think it's cute (without being overly precious). I'm trying to stay away from cutesie baby fabrics, thinking parents might appreciate some relief from all the pastel colours, animal shapes, etc. This is for a summer baby so I used a thin fleece and some summer stripes cotton. A little rick rack trim for fun, and now I just need to pop it into the mail because the mom went into labour today!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Baby blanket

One of the things I love most is to crochet baby blankets. They're just the right size of project - easy to get going and then great for working on when watching tv/movies, and they end before you start to hate them. Perfect!

This one has been in the making for a while, using some wool yarn from my stash (pat on back for using stash yarn). I usually avoid making baby stuff out of wool because I assume all baby stuff has to be machine washable given how messy babies are. But I was told that parents have 'special occasion blankets' that don't face the same abuse as everyday blankets.

Also, the mom I had in mind for this is a knitter herself, so I figured she, if anyone, would appreciate the natural fibre and would know how to care for it. I hope it's useful to them. It's the only 100% wool in my stash - I imagine I'll be sticking to washable fibres in the future - they're just more practical.

I used this free pattern that was simple but created a lovely texture and a nice, cushy blanket. I do like that crochet makes nice, thick blankets.

On to the next baby! This time I'm trying a knit blanket - wish me and my rudimentary knitting skills luck!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

For the Animals

Kim and I were so inspired by our trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in November (read about it here: part 1, part 2, part 3), we really wanted a way to help out and spread the word about the awesome things that animal shelters everywhere do for homeless pets.... and so we concocted a scheme which launched today: For the Animals! .

The webpage Kim made for it explains - but the idea is that all you crafty people use up some of your stash to make blankets and beds for animal shelters (Best Friends, or your local shelter).

. It's helpful for animals to have some warm and snuggly things in their shelter spaces (shelters are stressful places) and it helps brighten the appearance of shelters so they aren't so dreary for visitors. .

Often shelters will send adopted animals home with their blankets so they have a familiar item in their new place, making it less scary. .

We're hoping people really get excited about crafting for a good cause and post about it, send photos of the stuff they make, send the link to the website around, etc. We want to create a wave a hand-crafted snuggly things landing on shelters. And we want people to talk about how important and wonderful it is to adopt pets rather than buy them (puppy mills = very very very bad) .

The best part is that pet beds aren't huge projects, they can be quite simple and quick and a great way to use up odds and ends of yarn or fabric! .

Everyone can make a rectangle, right? Just double up your machine-washable yarn, grab a crochet hook, pick your favorite stitch and go to town! .

In anticipation of launching this project I made a few blankets and cushy pet beds to ship to Best Friends. I crocheted a bunch - I even made a circular poof of sorts. It was fun to experiment a bit with patterns and techniques I've been wanting to try (like a 2 colour spiral hexagon). .

I also pulled out my sewing machine and made some mats with batting. Two of them got made from leftover minky fabric - some cats are going to get very lucky! .

Kitty tried a few out gave them her stamp of approval. . I hope to make a few more soon to take to the local SPCA. .

It would be great if more crafty people could get involved and help spread the word! Here's the link: Tell everyone! .

I'm off to smother my (adopted) cats with love, the thought of all the poor animals waiting in shelters to be adopted makes me sad. I'm a sap that way.

UPDATE - there is now a Ravelry group For the Animals - if you're on Ravelry, please join us there!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Knitting - proof

I mentioned at the end of 2010 that I had taught myself how to knit (with internet assistance). I also had the good fortune to go on a week-long trip with a more experienced knitter, so I decided to tackle a hat project for my boyfriend, knowing I would have assistance on hand when I got myself in trouble (that turned out to be a good plan). So I proudly present my first knit hat, carefully photographed so as to hide the glaring spots where I knit instead of pearled and vice versa.

I'm currently challenging myself with this scarf, which is the "My So-Called Scarf" pattern that I have admired for a long time. It's tricky but I'm doing okay so far - except for the part where I buggered up and had to rip out a good 3 inches of knitting and then pick up all my stitches again... but that's all part of the process, right? I have to say - I do prefer crochet in that way, ripping stuff out is way easier since you only have to get one stitch back on your hook!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


The hardest parts of weaving are the starting and the finishing. The actual weaving itself is easy and fun. But planning out a project and setting up the loom is kind of daunting. And then finishing off the fabric when you've pulled it off the loom is somehow even harder.

I hate fringe so I always struggle to finish the ends of my fabric so it is secure and looks good. I tend to procrastinate and hem and haw about what I'm going to do for a good while before actually attempting anything. It's a bad habit - but when I've got at least 3 different craft projects on the go, it's easy to put one down when I get stuck and move on to another one.

That said, I did finally finish my purple project over the holidays! Hurrah! I took it off the loom and washed it and hemmed the edges. This one is a table runner for now - I've never had a table runner before, so I'm not sure how I feel about it. We'll see. I do love the pattern and am surprised that there aren't any major mistakes jumping out at me.

I would consider this a success - although apparently prone to wrinkles! (Apologies for bad wintertime photos.)

Not sure what will go on the loom next.... have yet to be inspired.

Monday, January 03, 2011

I Yudid it!

Way back in May I was super lucky and won a Yudu screenprinting system from Got Craft (my favorite craft fair in Vancouver because it's full of awesome).

I had a lot of ideas for it but struggled to find a big chunk of time to learn and get it going and make a disaster of the apartment. There was one idea I wanted to pull off in time for Christmas, so I finally got to work on it once my holiday vacation started.

My plan was to customize a set of cloth napkins for my Polish in-laws with the Polish word for "cheers/good eating": smacznego! I had a transparancy printed at Staples with my image on it. Besides "smazcego", I put on some additional images that I wanted to use to customize some handkerchiefs - to maximize my use of the screen.

I followed the step by step instructions that came with the Yudu and burned the screen without any problems. Easy peasy.

Then on to the fun part - the printing!

I taped off all the images except the one I wanted, flooded the screen with ink and did my first impression.

It turned out perfectly! I was really pleased with all of the prints, actually.

I think it helped that I had done some screenprinting before (although burning the screen was new to me) - it can take a bit of practice to get a good impression. I did the set of 8 napkins super quickly and cleaned off the screen so I could untape the other images and print those too.

Really the biggest problem with screenprinting is that it is best for printing large quantities of things.... and how often do you need large quantities of stuff printed with the same image? I usually only need 3 -4 copies of something.

All in all, the Yudu is pretty neat - for those of us who don't have workshops to get messy with normal screenprinting - it's a compact, tidy way to do it.

I live in a 600sqft apartment, so having the screen-burning + drying rack + printing surface all in one makes it doable. If you've got more space, you can probably screenprint the normal way for less.

In the end I didn't make nearly as big a mess as I thought I would - it also didn't take as long as I thought; I burned the screen on one day and did the printing the next day - which gave the screen loads of time to dry and made it all seem less daunting somehow. :)

These napkins turned out so well, my brain is off thinking up new projects!

Thank you Got Craft? and Yudu!!