Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Halloween Project #5: Severed Monster Finger Chapstick Cozy

Well, Chapstick, you lose. I've been saying for years that you guys should make a keychain holder so I (and everybody else in the world) don't have to buy chapstick every 4 days (or maybe that's exactly what you want us to do...).

Well, now it's too late. Not only do I have a keychain holder to keep my chapstick in so I'll never lose it, BUT IT'S IN THE SHAPE OF A SEVERED FINGER. BEAT THAT.

This took almost no time, and even less materials. You can find the pattern here. I omitted the button clasp, as it's very snug, and there's no way that chapstick is coming out on it's own, and I used black for the fingernail and knuckle instead of brown...other than that, the pattern is easy to read, very accurate and really fun.


Halloween Project #4: Jack O' Lantern Mug Cozy

This pattern should have been really easy to come up with, and I was flabbergasted when the traditional Jack O' Lantern mouth didn't turn out perfectly on the first try. I made about 4 - 5 attempts to crochet a mouth that looked somewhat decent for a Jack O' Lantern before I decided to just simplify it. I simply used a zig-zag pattern. So even though this guy doesn't look exactly like a Jack O' Lantern (and kind of looks like he's wearing a comically over sized mustache), I still think he's pretty cute...and will give me extra comfort when I drink Pumpkin spice tea.

What you'll need:

- Medium worsted weight yarn (I used Red Heart..."Carrot", to be exact.)
- Size H Hook

How to do it:

Base is worked in continuous rounds.

Using your orange yarn:

R1: Ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook (6 sc)

R2: 2 sc in each sc around (12 sc)

R3: *2sc in next st, sc* 6 times around (18 sc)

R4: *2 sc in next st, 2 sc* 6 times around (24 sc)

R5: *2sc in next st, 3 sc* 6 times around (30 sc)

R6: *2sc in next st, 4 sc* 6 times around (36 sc)

R7: *2sc in next st, 5 sc* 6 times around (42 sc)

R8: 1 sc in each sc (42 sc)

Sides are worked in rows back and forth.

R9: ch 1. In back loop only, hdc in each st around ss to first hdc, ch 1, turn. (42 hdc)

R10 - 11: Working in both loops, hdc in each st around. ss to first hdc, ch 1, turn. (42 hdc)

R12: hdcdec over next 2 sts, 38 hdc, hdcdec over last 2 sts, ch 1, turn. Do not join to first stitch of this row. (40 hdc)

R13: hdcdec over next 2 sts, 36 hdc, hdcdec over last 2 sts, ch 1, turn. (38 hdc)

R14 - 23: hdc in each st around. Finish off at the end of R23. (38 hdc)

Making the ties:

Join orange with ss at the end of R22, ch 30, sc in second ch from hook and next 3 sts, hdc to end of ch, ss to end of R21, finish off and tie in ends (4 sc, 25 hdc)

Repeat tie on opposite end of mug

Making the eyes (Make 2):

Using black yarn:

- Ch 5, sc from 2nd ch to end of ch (4 sc)
- 1 sc, 1 scdec, 1 sc (3 sc)
- 1 scdec, 1 sc (2 sc)
- 1 sc (1 sc)
- Finish off, leaving a long tail to tie onto cozy.

Making the mouth:

- ch 29. 2 sc in 2nd ch from hook. (1 sc in each of next 3 ch. Miss next ch. 1 sc in next ch. Miss next ch. 1 sc in each of next 3 ch. 3 sc in next ch) twice. Miss next ch. 1 sc in next ch. Miss next ch. 1 sc in each of next 3 ch. 2 sc in last ch. Finish off.

When sewing on the eyes, if your triangles are a little wobbly, use the yarn you're using to tie it on to even out the edges a bit.

And the final step: drink some coffee (or more appropriately: Pumpkin spice tea).

The next project will be...well...a mystery. Not because I'm a master of suspense, but rather, because even I don't know. I guess we'll see when we get there!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Halloween Project #3: Boo Ghosts

These guys were definitely a bittersweet project. Much like the Candy Corn in my previous entry, I assumed they would take very little time (considering how tiny they are), but as it turns out, it's actually a pretty real project.

The entirety of this project is actually 15 seperate pieces that are sewn together at the end, and it made for a somewhat tedious task. I always get kind of annoyed when starting a piece, so starting 15 pieces became...irritating, and made things more time consuming than they would have been otherwise. Not to mention, all the tight stitches cramped up my right hand a few times, and I definitely got some new callouses from this project. However, I didn't spend every free minute of my time for the past 2 days doing these guys because I hated the project. Although tedious, it was really fun, and came together very smoothly. Making the letters, the poses and the faces were by far the best part. If you're looking for a fun Halloween project to dedicate yourself to for a little while, this is definitely it....also, admittedly, it probably wouldn't have been as tedious if I had given myself some time off from the project

The funniest part about this project was actually an incident at work. As I've mentioned before, my job allows me to crochet or read between busy times, and I was working on this particular project yesterday. We were somewhat busy, and I had just set this project to the side as I worked. I had been working on the letter "O" when a customer asked me what I was making.

Not sure exactly how to explain the entirety of this project to her in less than two seconds I simply said, "Ghosts."

"But ghosts aren't orange."

"Yeah...well...they're going to be holding up the letters B-O-O, to spell 'Boo'"

"Pfft. everyone knows ghosts don't have arms!"

Err...what? I wasn't sure what kind of ghosts this woman had been seeing, but apparently my tiny crochet project did not meet her expectations, or replicate the things that had apparently been haunting her. I still kind of chuckle about it, but that wasn't the first (nor will it be the last) time that someone has said something....silly regarding my crochet projects.

The pattern for this project can be found here, assuming you're all okay with making ghosts that have arms (even though everyone knows ghosts don't have arms).

Halloween Project Number 4 will be a pattern of my own, and I'm hoping it works out. It looks like I'll be getting all the crochet projects out of the way first, then onto other things.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Halloween Project #2: Amigurumi Candy Corn

So as you may, or may not, remember, back in June, I decided to do 31 Halloween-related projects before Halloween. I did one, and there was nothing for a long while (not because I didn't want to...you know how it is when your car breaks and you get 25 commissions to help pay for it, and then you move and simultaneously decide to write a novel. Or maybe you don't...but that's what happened, either way).

Well things are calming down a bit, and so I can finally move forward. It's finally Autumn, and so I think we're all in the mood for Halloween, anyway.

These little candy corn are, for lack of a better word, FREAKING ADORABLE. They are about 3" high, and take about 30 minutes to make (so you can make a million of them!). I can't wait to make a bunch to put in candy dishes, or possibly put on string to make a festive candy corn garland. Either way, this is a quick project, and you can get 2 - 3 finished in an hour.

You can find the pattern on the Lion Brand website here.

The next pattern involves ghosts! It's another crochet one, and I'm excited for it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scarf with Pockets

What a brilliant idea, right? Right. I wish I could even take credit for the idea, but a friend of mine commissioned me, and I couldn't say no. It's basically a scarf, but about 2 feet longer than you'd like, then sew up the pockets. If you're interested, here's the pattern for this exact scarf, but this scarf can pretty much be done with any set of colors or patterns, just sew up some pockets at the end.

This scarf is long enough to be the appropriate length for pocket usage after it's been wrapped around your neck once. Snuggly! :3

Color A - The short section of color (Purple in this scarf)
Color B - The long section of color (Black in this scarf)

Ch 32 w/ color A, dc in the 3rd crochet from the end, dc to end of scarf (30 dc)

[[Dc 9 more rows of color A (10 rows)

Change color to color B, dc 30 rows of color B. (40 rows)]]

Tie in loose ends.

Fold Color A over so that is goes over 25 rows of color B, leaving 5 rows of color B still exposed. Using a tapestry needle, sew both sides together using color B yarn. Fold inside out so the seams aren't able to be seen. I did this first instead of doing both pockets last, so I would have an idea of how long it was going to be. I didn't want to finish the scarf thinking it would be long enough, only to sew the pockets over to find it was too short.

Repeat directions between the [[double brackets]] 5 more times.

dc 10 rows of color A. Finish off.

Tie in all loose ends

Now sew up another pocket. Since you're going to be flipping this pocket inside-out, be sure to fold it over to the opposite side of where your first pocket is, then when you fold it inside-out, both pockets will be on the same side.

Now you will have a scarf to keep your neck and hands warm during the winter! Enjoy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beautiful Tarantula Photography - AshLee Loverin

Today, instead of showing you how to create something, or even showing you one of my own creations, I'm going to try to get some beautiful tarantula photography some exposure.

"Invertery Box"
As a tarantula enthusiast, I see picture after picture, photo after photo, of tarantula owners taking pictures of their beautiful pets in unflattering scenery: Their own cage. It's not that cages are particularly ugly, or that tarantula owners have ugly cages FOR their pets, it's that it doesn't do the animal justice. If you were a model, would you have all your photoshoots in your room?

AshLee is fearless. She takes her tarantulas (Fair Tease, Creech and Midreavus the Misfortunate are some of her favorite models), out and about into the world, on people, and in strange and beautiful items (A typewriter, large yellow flowers, and in mouths are just a few of her choices for locations), and does a magnificent job positioning them in beautiful and graceful ways. Where many tarantula owners are possibly nervous or worried about handling their spiders, or having something happen to them, she is very experienced and knowledgeable about their behavior and personalities.

"Five Records"
So maybe she has that advantage over everyone else. I have two tarantulas, one of whom is supposed to be 'tame' but tries to bite everything, whether it's alive or not, and the other one is so fast I am scared it's going to run off into the sunset like a racehorse. I am aware that I am not capable of handling my tarantulas, especially multiple ones at once, so I don't. I suggest you all do the same, unless you really know what you are doing.

"Wind Chimes"

A lot of people are frightened of spiders, tarantulas especially. I, personally, am not sure why anybody is afraid of them. Most of them are too scared to even come near a person, and those who are brave enough hardly ever think about biting them. Maybe they look scary, but with photography like this, how could anyone even think that? Ashlee captures personality, and gives people just one less reason to be afraid of these animals. She injects grace and beauty into a subject where those attributes were already overflowing, and she just happens to find a way to help everyone else see it.

"Old Fashioned"

So maybe tarantulas are scary. Maybe they are the things of your nightmares, and your greatest fear, but I think AshLee's photography is just another reason why that's not true. As a tarantula, and all-around spider, enthusiast I can tell you there's absolutely nothing to be afraid of when it comes to spiders, and there are pictures like this in the world that reinforce those feelings and thoughts. Beauty is present in all sorts of animals, even those we tend to find frightening or worrisome, and it truly shines in Ashlee's photography how incredibly elegant and gorgeous tarantulas really are.


For all of AshLee Loverin's photography, please visit her DeviantArt. She has many, many more tarantula pictures, as well as photography of other subjects.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Favorite Little Crochet Project.

After making this necklace for the 3rd time last night, I've realized this is definitely one of my favorite things to crochet. It only take a little over an hour, a few buttons, and minimal yarn. You can find the original pattern here.

The pattern calls to 'improvise' a flower, but I wasn't able to do so. I have a pattern for a flower, that you guys are more than welcome to use if you'd like.

Ch 5, sl st to join.

R1: Ch 1, 10 sc in ring, join with sl st to 1st sc.
R2: Ch 1, sc in same st as joining, ch 2, skip next sc *sc in next sc, ch 2, skip next sc. Repeat from * around, join with sl st to 1st sc.

R3: Ch 1 (sc, hdc, 3dc, hdc, sc) in each ch-2, sp around join with sl st to 1st sc.

R4: Ch 1, sc in same st as joining, ch 3, placing ch behind petals (sc in 1st sc of next petal, ch 3) around. Join with sl st to 1st sc.

R5: Ch 1. (sc, hdc, dc, 3 tr, dc, hdc, sc) in each ch-3 sp around, join with sl st to 1st sc. Finish off or...**

**Optional R6: Ch 1, sc in same st as joining, ch 3, placing ch behind petals (sc in 1st sc of next petal, ch 3) around. Join with sl st to 1st sc.
**R7: Ch 1, (sc, hdc, 2 dc, 4 tr, 2 dc, hdc, sc) in each ch-4 sp around, join with sl st to 1st sc. finish off.

(I did the 3rd round of petals on the blue flower, but only did 2 rounds of petals on the green one, so you guys can get an idea of the difference.)

On a related note, can I just say that I just discovered Bernat yarn (the beautiful Aqua yarn I used for the blue necklace), and I am incredibly impressed! For about $0.30 more than Red Heart Yarn, you get the same amount of yarn, but it feels softer, works better and looks nicer. It doesn't even feel like acrylic yarn. I would really recommend looking into it. I just discovered it at Wal Mart, and it seems to be pushing Red Heart out of the picture a bit. So don't be frightened! Give into the unusually cheap, yet somehow, high quality yarn. I can't wait to buy more so I can make more projects with it!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another food post - Hot Sauce Fried Chicken

I know I've been posting a lot about food lately, but this is actually something I've wanted to share since I made it for the first time a few months back, and after this, life should hopefully resume to a world of crocheting and Halloween-related crafts.

About this time last year, I loved cooking. I loved making dinners, and picking up food for dinner and experimenting with flavors, and taking my time to make a wonderful meal. Over the last year, I've somehow lost that interest and want dinner to take as little time as possible to make. This chicken is insanely easy, not too spicy, and doesn't take any time or brain capacity.

Hot Sauce Fried Chicken is just like fried chicken, except instead of dredging your chicken in egg, you dredge it in hot sauce!

I used cut-up chicken breasts, but any kind of chicken will work. Put your hot sauce (or salsa will work) in a bowl. Dredge chicken. Cover in Flour. Fry up in vegetable oil. Feast!

I thought this would be too spicy, but it's really rather mild, and you don't have to think about how to spice up your flour since the hot sauce does all the seasoning for you!

The next time you're short on time, I really recommend doing this. It's quick, easy, and tastes delicious with ranch dressing...what more could you possibly ask for?


Sunday, September 4, 2011

How To Impress People Without Actually Being Impressive IV: Truffles!

There's something about the words 'white chocolate' that really impresses people. It's not like it's any different, or more expensive than other chocolates, but there's something about it that makes people think of fancy occasions and baked goods that you can only find in bakeries, made by people who went to college to get some kind of white chocolate degree.

Certainly these were not made in a kitchen, or photographed in a living room!

And then, you follow 'white chocolate' by the word 'truffles' and suddenly people are really waiting to hear you speak. Their ears perking up at the idea of gourmet truffles, and their brains working at full capacity trying to figure out what kind of rich and genius person you are.

The secret is: white chocolate is just like any other chocolate, and truffles are really, really easy to make.

What You'll need:

- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 24 oz. chocolate chips (I used white chocolate, but any kind will do)
- 20 oz. Melting chocolate (I used vanilla flavored almond bark, but as long as it's chocolate, and you can melt it, it will work)
- Miniature cupcake liners (optional)
- Optional add ins (Liquor, nuts, etc....I omitted these things but simply added some sprinkles)

How To Do It:

1. In a sauce pan, bring your heavy whipping cream to a simmer.

2. Slowly whisk in chocolate chips. after chocolate is melted, now would be the time to add any add ins, if you want.
2a. White chocolate is slightly different than other chocolate in that it will not be as thick as, say, milk chocolate ganache right off the bat. If using white chocolate, put in fridge for about 60 - 90 minutes, stirring it with a fork or whisk occasionally.

3. Leave your ganache in the fridge for about 2 - 3 hours until it's cold and able to be molded.

4. Using either gloved/washed hands or a melon baller, roll your ganache into balls. Leave these in your fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight would be ideal).

5. Melt your chocolate, and using a spoon, roll each truffle in the chocolate. Place either directly on your miniature cupcake liners (if desired) or wax paper. If you are adding sprinkles, nuts, or whatever else as decoration, add it on while the chocolate is still a little warm.

6. Cool in refrigerator for 15 - 20 minutes to solidify the chocolate.

7. Truffles can be served cold, but are best at room temperature!

Although these are somewhat time consuming with refrigeration, they're a great dessert, and you're certain to impress everyone. Enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ribbon Jewelry (A Tutorial for the Craft Inept)

Okay, so it's not that you're inept, rather, I am. I know I do a lot of projects, but if it's too difficult to keep together with airplane glue, or duct tape, then just forget about it. I cut corners, I know that if someone isn't going to see it, then why not cover it in duct tape and modpodge?

However, when I saw that Michael's was trying to sell necklaces of ribbon for nearly $4, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I'd wanted to make necklaces using ribbon for quite awhile, but couldn't bring myself to spend nearly $10 to buy a few of them to practice on. What  did instead, was bought some ribbon and was on my way to go home and see if I could make this work.

What I made turned out very lovely, although, yes, duct tape is involved. If you have a large pendant that you don't think chain will do justice to (or in my case, a pendant with brass accents that would look awful on a silver chain), ribbon is a good alternative, and always adds an extra sense of elegance to whatever you're wearing.

What you'll need:

- Ribbon
- Duct tape to match (Black tape on black ribbon, blue on blue, etc....I used this because I happened to have it lying around, and it matched my choice of ribbon the best)
- Two Crimp End Caps
- One Jump Ring
- One Lobster clasp.
- Pendant(s) of your choice

How to do it:

1. Cut two lengths of ribbon about 17" (If you're going for a choker. Longer or shorter if desired).

2. Fold the last 1/2" or so of the end of ribbons in half and then in half again, wrapping a short length of duct tape around it. It will now somewhat resemble a shoelace or sorts. Do this for both ends, using both ribbons.

3. Before taping your end cap on, I would attach your jump ring/lobster clasp, respectively. this will make things a lot easier. Pinch he duct tape, so it's small enough to put the end cap on.

4. Tape it on, so it is secure.

5. Do the same thing for the other side.

 Add your pendant, and you're set! You've got a beautiful ribbon choker for 1/50th the price of a pre-made ribbon. And using this method, you can customize the length of your necklace.

This is another choker I made, but using tarantula fang beads from my molted Pink toe, Brynhilde, and using a shorter length of ribbon. Adding multiple smaller pendants gives this choker an added dimension, and the short length is good for fragile beads.


Ribbon bracelets are also very easy, and something else that is generally rather overpriced at jewelry and department stores. This didn't take very long, but will require very, very minimal sewing (don't worry, I tried both glue and tape, but sewing was the only thing that worked).

What you'll need:

- Ribbon
- Beads
- Needle and Thread (or a fancy pants sewing machine if you have one).

1. My beads happened to be a pre-made length at Michael's bargain bin for just under $2, but you can do whatever you'd like. Use a length of about 4" or so (just shorter than your wrist.)

2. Through the jump rings on either side, pull your ribbon through. Both my ends ended up being about 7" or so, I believe, with an extra 2" to sew on the bottom. It may seem too long for a bracelet, but remember that you're going to be using the ribbon to tie a bow, and will need quite a bit of length.

3. Fold about 2" or so underneath the ribbon. About 1/2" away or so, sew the ribbon onto itself. Cut any excess ribbon off from the undersside that you just sewed on. do this on both ends.

Now you have a beautiful ribbon bracelet!

Hopefully if you guys have some extra ribbon and jewelry stuff lying around, you'll now have an excuse to make something from it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Victory post, as promised.

See that graph? That's what victory really looks like. That's what difficult, seemingly impossible, absolutely ridiculous tasks look like. I won 4 out of 31 battles, and I still won the war. In 13 days I wrote 171 pages (50,035 words), and if I had had time to write on all 31 days, who knows how long that novel would be. Only four days out of the month did I make the daily goal, and I still got to the 50,000 word milestone.

If you have ever considered writing a novel, please please give me a reasonable excuse why you haven't done so yet. I'm 22. This is my 3rd novel. Why haven't you written one yet?

There were days I didn't want to write, there were days I spent an hour-long commute to and from work, with 12 hours days in between, but I still did it. I moved. I moved all of my things from one side of town to another, then I unpacked, then I spent long, long days at work to make up for the hours I lost. There were days I didn't work, but couldn't write. There were days my boyfriend said "I feel like I haven't seen you. Ignore your novel, come spend time with me" and I did, and I didn't want to leave him, because leaving him meant writing more, and writing more meant more headaches, more exasperated sighs, more junk food to keep my hands from compulsively checking my word count every 50 words. There were days I felt like i wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote....but nothing came of it. It went nowhere.

There were days I wrote scenes of people napping.

There were also days where I wrote one-liners that made me crack up so hard I had to stop writing, but didn't want to. There were days I looked back to a random page and read a sentence, and couldn't stop reading because...it was good, intriguing, really. There were days I couldn't stop thinking about my main character, and would have given anything just to go home and write about her. There were days were i wrote twists and turns even I didn't see coming, and my fingers couldn't keep up with my brain, and my eyes lit up with imagination and intrigue. There were days i couldn't stop talking about my novel, and days where I told Gabe something that happened and he would respond with "That...actually sounds really cool." There were days I wrote thousands and thousands of words, and I was invincible.

And there was the day I hit page 100. There's just something insanely magical about hitting page 100.

Yes, writing a novel in a month is scary, and awful, but it's wonderful and beautiful, and outstanding and above all...you can tell people you wrote a novel.

So what's stopping you? The actual NaNoWriMo event starts 2 months from today...and it's never too early to write down your seemingly 'stupid' idea, and turn it into an amazing outline, and possibly even an amazing book.