I recently had the idea to write about the craft projects I’m working on – not just to show them off, but for other reasons as well. I’m thinking sharing what I’m working on might help keep me accountable, and remind me “hey, I should probably finish these things at some point”. Plus, it’ll be good to see the progress I’ve made on some projects – like the Hue Shift blanket, which is slowly but surely getting bigger. I don’t think I’ll make this a monthly series, but I do want to make a post like this semi-regularly – so we’ll see how well this works out.
It’s the holiday season — a time when many of us have some time off from work, school, or other obligations. And if any of you are like me, you’ll want to spend that spare time crafting, so I’ve pulled together a collection of five free (and in many cases, easy) craft patterns to keep you busy with during the holidays!
The World’s Simplest Mittens by Tin Can Knits
If you’re looking for a way to keep your hands warm this winter, and have never tried knitting mittens, check out this pattern from Tin Can Knits! With sizes from toddler to adult, you can make mittens for just about anyone.
Here’s another free and simple knitting project — this one’s actually been in my queue on Ravelry for quite some time. And come on, what Harry Potter fan wouldn’t want to make these simple socks inspired by Hermione? You could even try making them in Gryffindor red and gold, too.
I love this pattern — in fact, I love it so much I’ve made two of these shawls. This pattern works especially well with yarn that has a slow color change to it, like the Lion Brand Shawl in a Cake yarns, as it results in a really pretty striping pattern. The shawl works up quickly, and the rhythmic pattern is somewhat soothing to do. If you’re looking for a quick and simple shawl to make, this one’s for you.
So, remember the Hue Shift afghan I started a month or two ago?
I ended up starting it over again, and I blame KnitPicks and their holiday sales.
If you remember from my previous post on this blanket, due to me being impatient and wanting to start the project right away, I went to Michaels and bought yarn that was as close as I could get to the colors used in the pattern. And they were definitely pretty colors, but not quite what the pattern called for.
I was knitting along, making alright progress with these colors, when I saw an ad for KnitPicks in my Facebook feed mentioning that all pattern kits were half off that day. My curiosity got the better of me, and I went to see just how much the Hue Shift kit cost – and when I saw it was right around $20, I caved in and bought it, and figured “what the heck, I’ll just start it over again with the right colors this time.”
I will say, take two of the Hue Shift afghan is going to be a bit smaller, since the yarn KnitPicks put in the kit is sport weight instead of worsted weight, but that’s okay. I’m really pleased with how the afghan is turning out, and the Brava Sport yarn is so much softer than the yarn I was using from Michaels.
You might be wondering, though, what I’m going to do with the yarn I bought previously. Well, I’m one step ahead of you there – over Thanksgiving, I cranked out a new blanket for my desk with most of the yarn from the original Hue Shift yarn batch.
This was pretty simple to work up – I just used two strands of yarn and an L hook, and the stitch is a double crochet. I switched out one of the colors every 4 rows, which let me blend the colors together a little bit instead of having stripes of a single color. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I’ve got enough yarn left to make a smaller lap blanket, too.
After I finish the Hue Shift afghan, I think I’m done with making blankets for a while. I have way too many blankets already, between crocheting and quilting, but I figure one knit blanket to add to the pile can’t hurt, can it? 🙂
I’ve been wanting to make a Hue Shift afghan for years. Many, many years. Before I got back into knitting and started getting better at it, I was a little intimidated by the mitered squares, and also by the prospect of knitting an entire blanket. I’ve never knit a blanket before, and the Hue Shift afghan looked like it’d be a heck of an undertaking.
However, last week, I went and bought the pattern and headed over to Michaels to find the closest colors I could to what Knit Picks called for in the pattern. I think I came pretty close, but some of them are a little different — and that’s okay. I want to make this blanket my own, since there are so very many other Hue Shifts out there. Why not try to be a little unique?
I just started the fifth mitered square – only 95 more to go, haha. I was originally thinking “hey, if I crank out a square a day, I could have this blanket done in 100 days!” But I know me too well. You folks know me too well. If I try to crank out the blanket on a deadline, it’ll end up taking me three years.
Instead, I’ll work on it at whatever pace I can manage (and try not to give myself repetitive stress injuries in the process!), and post some updates on its progress from time to time. I want to enjoy making this blanket, instead of feeling guilty about it like I did with the Woodland Blanket. I’ve been wanting to make this blanket for so long, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
I’ve fallen into a new… hobby? obsession? Whatever it is, it ties in nicely with my bullet journalling hobby (yes, I’m still keeping up with that!), and given my love for pens, color, and fancy paper, I’m not surprised I fell into this hobby.
Calling it a new obsession isn’t exactly truthful, though – I was always really intrigued by my dad’s fountain pens when I was a little girl. They were so fancy! And my dad would do silly things like draw smiley faces on my fingers and toes with his fountain pens. It always made me laugh when he’d do that.
When I was a little older, maybe in my teenage years, I decided that someday, I’d own a fountain pen, just like my dad. And, well, now I own six!
What’s interesting about writing with fountain pens is that they all feel slightly different – it’s almost like they have personalities of their own. My green Metropolitan Retro Pop feels like it’s grumpy, and isn’t always the smoothest to write with. (That might be because when I first bought it, I only used it a little bit, then let it sit for two years to dry up… At least I learned how to clean fountain pens, thanks to Green Metro!) My clear Kakuno feels precise, peppy, and energetic. The purple and white Kakuno feels welcoming, friendly, and stable.
Oh god, I’m ascribing personalities to my fountain pens. Please send help. 🤣
More seriously, though, they make writing much more fun, whether it’s for work, in my bullet journal, or in a letter to a friend. I have a different color of ink in each pen, and even more colors to choose from if I want to switch out the ink I’m using. (The Goulet Pen Company’s little ink samples are perfect – I get to try out lots of different colors, and if I find one I love I can buy a big bottle of it.)
It’s been really hard resisting the urge to buy more pens and ink. My wish list on Goulet Pens just keeps growing and growing, haha.
I’m looking forward to seeing what other things I can do with fountain pens aside from writing a lot and playing with different ink colors. Having fancy pens to write with might actually get me working on making my handwriting neater, at least. 🙂
Well, it only took me six months instead of the two that the Woodland Blanket crochet-a-long was originally planned to last, but I finally finished!
I’ll admit, some of why it took so long to finish was because I kept getting distracted by other projects. Which happens a lot to me, and which is why I’ve got piles of unfinished stuff all over the house. (From what I can think of off the top of my head, I’ve got two unfinished cardigans, two unfinished pairs of socks, one shawl I’m actively knitting, one I’ve got stashed in a box until I feel like working on it again, a third that’ll be the focus of a blog post next week, and a pile of stuff in the “Corner of Shame” that will probably never get done.) And the more I let the Woodland Blanket sit forlornly in my craft basket, the guiltier I felt about not finishing it, especially with so many other projects I wanted to do. And I only had 8 stripes and the border left to do. So I sat down one weekend and cranked it out.
It’s not a hard blanket to do at all, especially once you get the hang of translating UK crochet terminology. The wave pattern is soothing and rhythmic to work on, and I absolutely love the colors. The whole blanket looks fantastic, and I’m glad I resisted the temptation to just stop a few rows short from the end and call it done. It’s the first big thing I’ve finished in a while, and I’m so proud of myself for sticking with it.
A couple of weeks ago, I rambled about how I was so incredibly excited that I was finally going to have a pair of Sailor Moon boots to call my own. The boots showed up on Monday, and I excitedly went to try them on, only to find out…
…that my calves were a little too muscular for these boots. Curse you, muscular calves! (Well, not really, I like my calves.)
I ended up messaging the seller (Catzia) telling her the boots didn’t fit my calves, and I asked if I could exchange them for a larger size in hopes that they might fit my legs better. She said she’d be happy to exchange them, but before doing that, I should try to stretch the boots out using a hair dryer to see if I could get them stretched out enough to fit. And it worked! They were snug, but I could zip them up all the way!
While I was waiting to hear back from Catzia, I found a number of “how to stretch shoes” tutorials out there. When I came across the hair dryer method, I figured it’d work for the boots (but didn’t want to try it until I’d heard back from Catzia) – but most of these methods focused on making the foot area of a shoe wider, not necessarily the calves. And they all focused on leather shoes, and not vinyl boots.
Enter The Crafty Nerd, armed with a hair dryer and a pair of epic Sailor Moon boots.
With the warmer temperatures arriving here in Bloomington, I’ve been looking for crafts to do that don’t involve me being buried under a pile of yarn — and I’m sure a number of you folks out there reading this are too. Or, you might just be looking for some new crafts to try out, to add some variety to your crafting life! So, based on a blog post suggestion from my friend Katherine, I’ve come up with a couple of fun summer crafts to try out. Some of these might not be new to you, but you might end up finding some new techniques to try out for some of these crafts!
Make a hand-carved wood sign
This idea I got from Kasi while we were camping together at a festival recently. A bunch of us were crafting around the fire, mostly knitting, and we joked that we should call ourselves the Crafter Circle — and that prompted Kasi to try her hand at making a sign for us, using wood carving tools to carve the letters out of the sign.
It’s a work in progress, as you can see, but it’s looking pretty awesome so far – especially for this being Kasi’s first time doing wood carving!
To get started with something like this, you’ll need wood carving tools (which you can get at craft stores like Michaels or Jo-Ann’s), a blank wood sign, some paint or wood stain (depending on how you want to finish it), and a pencil to sketch out your design with. Check out this tutorial on DoItYourself.com for a quick guide on how to get started.
Dye your own yarn
I’ve been wanting to dye my own yarn forever, and this summer, I think I’ll finally get the chance.
For me, this would definitely be an outdoor craft, since I know I’ll end up making a mess — I mean, come on, every time I try to dye my hair at home, it looks like someone got murdered in my bathroom, what with all the red hair dye that ends up everywhere. This guide from Darn Good Yarn should help you get started with dying your own yarn at home.
Make a crochet mandala
Crochet mandalas seem to be all the rage today — and with it being too hot to do much yarn work with anything bigger than a sock, making a mandala might help keep your hands busy with without you overheating in the process. Lucy from Attic24 has made some lovely mandalas in hoops, as you can see in the following picture.
Okay, so I already mentioned dying yarn, but tie-dying is a little bit different… plus, tie-dying is a craft that I’m definitely not new to. I used to work as a camp counselor during the summers when I was in high school and college, and more often than not, I’d lead the tie-dying evening activities. In the process, I learned you can tie-dye just about anything — shirts, socks, pants, bandannas, pillow cases, bed sheets… if it’s made out of cotton fabric, you can tie-dye it.
There are lots of ways to tie-dye things, and many different dyes and processes you can use. At summer camp we’d use Rit dyes, but they tended to fade pretty quickly if the garment was worn often, so I’d suggest stronger dyes if you want something that will last. Jo-Ann’s has an awesome tie-dye t-shirt technique guide that’ll help you get started, if you want to have some fun with tie-dying your clothes (and bedding, and random quilt fabric, and other miscellaneous items).
These are just a handful of fun crafts you could try out this summer — if you’ve got suggestions of your own, share them in the comments!
I’m pretty sure you folks all know I love to sew. I’ve rambled about it a number of times on the blog. Unfortunately, I haven’t really done much of it lately — largely because I don’t really have space to permanently set up my sewing machine. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to set my sewing space up in the kitchen, sew for a few hours, and then take it all back down because we need to eat. And unless I want to try to sew standing up, with the sewing machine perched on my giant dresser, there’s not really space to set it up in my craft room.
Eventually I’ll have the space, since I’m planning on getting rid of the giant dresser (which takes up nearly an entire wall) and getting a much more reasonably sized one from Ikea at some point, and rearranging the furniture that’s left. However, that’s going to involve some help from friends and a trip up to Fishers to get a new dresser, and a number of other things that I can’t quite get done right away.
In the meantime, I figured out a space where I can semi-permanently set up my sewing machine! You’ll probably laugh, but hey, it’s working out pretty well for me.
Yes, I’ve set up my sewing machine in the garage, of all places. Sure, it smells a little bit like motorcycle fumes when it gets warm in there, but I don’t mind it. I have both my sewing machine and my ironing board set up at the same time, and can switch between them easily — which is wonderful. When I try to set everything up in the kitchen, inevitably I end up tripping over something or knocking something over. I used to flop the ironing board on top of the washer and dryer, but since Ross and I got new ones last year with rounded tops, I can’t quite iron in the laundry room anymore.
It’s actually not so bad, sewing in the garage. Sure, it doesn’t look glamorous at all, but since when do all craft rooms have to be shiny and pretty and Instagram-worthy? And I have the added benefit of being able to enjoy lots of fresh air, since I can just open up the garage door and practically be sewing outside.
Plus, that means I can sew with New Lapis! Who I’ll probably ramble about in more detail at a later date. After all, she is The Crafty Nerdmobile! (And once a month, she’s Lappy the LARPmobile too.)
Anyway, I’ve managed to put my sewing studio to good use so far — I’ve started work on a disappearing 9-patch quilt, and I’m to the part where I can start sewing the completed squares together.
I’m really impressed with how these squares are coming out, on most of them the seams are lining up perfectly. I learned some new quilting techniques (or, more accurately, ironing techniques) that really helped with this. I didn’t know until recently that when you’re working with quilt squares, you shouldn’t iron them like you’d typically iron a shirt or other sewing projects. Instead, you just flop the iron down on the seam you want to press flat and let gravity do the work. I’ve been setting the iron on the seam for a few seconds, then lifting it and setting it further down, and it’s working out really well for me.
I think once I’m finished with this quilt, I might actually get working on the Sailor Moon quilt again – which also might end up being a disappearing 9-patch as well. This pattern is fun, and ends up looking really nice when it’s done. Not sure what I’ll do with either of these quilts when they’re finished, as I’m starting to run out of places to put them, but I’ll figure it out eventually.
Recently, I finally got brave enough to try making the Wingspan Shawl – while I’ve been knitting for… gosh, nearly 25 years, I’ve never really been confident in my skills beyond the the garter stitch until recently. Now that I’ve made a number of pair of socks, though, I figured I could finally tackle the Wingspan Shawl. I’ve been wanting to try it for years, and so I decided to try my hand at it with some yarn I picked up at a trunk show recently. (It’s Blackberry Brambles by Oink Pigments, for those curious!)
Once I got into the swing of things, I found out I really love working this pattern – it’s just interesting enough to keep me from getting bored, but simple enough that I can work it while watching TV. I chugged through quite a bit of this wingspan shawl, but then encountered a problem: I ran out of yarn.
While I was working on the Blackberry Brambles wingspan, though, I had an idea: I could make a Toothless-inspired wingspan shawl, with most of the shawl being black and the last two panels being red, like Toothless’s tail.
So while I waited for my next skein of Blackberry Brambles to get here from Oink Pigments, I went to Jo-Ann’s and snagged some red and black yarn and whipped up this awesome little shawlette:
It’s not quite finished, yet – I want to add the dragon insignia that’s on Toothless’s tail fin, but that’ll involve another trip out to the craft store for some felt. Once I’ve got that added, I’ll share the finished product with you all, as well as the template I create for the dragon insignia and instructions for how to add it to your own wingspan shawl!
Well, the Woodland Blanket crochet-a-long I posted about a little while ago came to a close a few weeks ago. How’s my blanket looking, you ask?
Well, even though the crochet-a-long wrapped up recently, I’m still 11 or 12 stripes away from finishing the blanket. I managed to keep up with the rest of the group pretty well for the first month or so, and then my ADHD caught up with me and my brain said “hey, let’s find something else to work on, we’ve worked on this blanket for like a month straight, so let’s do something new and exciting!”
So I started a pair of socks.
And then I dug out a cardigan that I’d started a few years ago and hadn’t finished yet.
And then I decided to go back to another pair of socks I was working on and do some work on those.
And then I felt guilty about not working on the blanket and went back to working on that for a little bit, but then got distracted by socks again. I know I’ll finish that blanket soon – I keep telling myself that I’ll finish it after I finish the socks with the zigzag pattern, that I won’t start any more projects until I get some others finished. Will I actually be able to stick to that, though? Who knows.
Anyhow, I’ll post about the blanket when I get it finished, I promise. And I will get that finished. I’m determined.
Stuck home on a rainy weekend with nothing to do? Looking for something fun to make for your home office or living room? Check out this roundup of five awesome nerdy do-it-yourself projects to help make your home a little extra nerdy.
DIY D20 Lamp from Our Nerdy Home
This incredibly easy IKEA lamp hack would make an awesome addition to your office, game room, or anyplace else that needs a little extra light. And with the materials costing less than $25, this is a relatively inexpensive project! (Which is always good, so you can save some money for more games, right?) 🙂
Don’t Panic Towel Messenger Bag from Nerd By Night
Alright, this is something I’m probably going to have to make for hauling around Gen Con goodies. I think this is quite possibly the nerdiest bag I’ve ever seen – and I need it in my life. I mean, come on, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy themed bag – made from a towel. And for the cost of a towel, you can be a hoopy frood with a towel bag of your very own.
Light Up and Talking PotatOS from Portal 2, by codename-3c
Looking for something a little more complicated to make? Why not try your hand at this talking PotatOS from Portal 2? (Note: there are spoilers for Portal 2 in the instructions for this project, so keep that in mind if you haven’t played it yet!) I’m half tempted to try making this for Ross.
Geek Welcome Mats from Our Nerd Home
Our Nerd Home has a lot of awesome DIY projects on their site – and this is another awesome project of theirs! These geeky welcome mats look relatively simple to make, and you could easily do all sorts of designs with this technique! (I’m imagining Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark as one idea for a welcome mat…)
DIY Comic Book Lamp from A Girl and A Glue Gun
I like this comic book lamp project. It looks like it’d be a lot of fun to do with not just old comic books, but all sorts of nerdy artwork – and you could easily just make a new lampshade for an existing lamp, or snag a lamp from a thrift store that needs a little bit of TLC!
Hopefully these five project ideas might spark your DIY side and give you some ideas for fun stuff to make the next time you’re bored and looking for something creative to do! I know I’ve got some ideas, that’s for sure.
Did you folks know I’ve never, ever done a crochet-a-long before? Ever?
Well, that changed at the beginning of January – and I’m having a lot of fun with it. For those curious, I’m taking part in the Woodland Blanket Crochet-a-Long, led by Lucy of Attic24. Kasi suggested we do the crochet-a-long together, and so we bought the yarn in December and waited.
And on January 5th, the Woodland Blanket crochet-a-long started! And I did a first for me – I made a gauge swatch before jumping headlong into a blanket.
I was ridiculously excited that the gauge swatch turned out exactly as it should – and I jumped right in after that, and crocheted until my wrist hurt. It’s been a while since I crocheted anything, what with my recent obsession with sock making, hah, and my wrist was out of practice.
Steve’s been really enjoying me crocheting, too. A warm human, sitting still for hours while making a thing to snuggle under? Count him in.
And I’ll admit, instead of writing blog posts, I’ve been crocheting furiously and hanging out around the Facebook group for the crochet-a-long. There are so many pretty blankets being showed off there, and I love seeing all the different ways people are working with the colors and following their own path through the crochet-a-long. It’s almost addicting, working on the blanket and looking at others’ blankets as they’re in progress. The pattern for this blanket has a nice rhythm to it, and the colors we’ve all been working with the past few weeks are delightfully warm and have really brightened up the recent string of snow days I’ve had.
I’ll post about the blanket again closer to when it’s finished, so I don’t end up overwhelming everyone with blanket posts like I’ve been doing on Instagram. It’s been a great project to unwind with when I get home from work. Especially on days like today, when I had one of the least pleasant commutes home ever – I’m so tempted to hibernate until all the snow melts. Driving in snow is scary. Crocheting is not.
Goodness, quilt pattern making is hard. I never realized just how hard until I started work on the Sailor Moon quilt.
First off, trying to figure out how much fabric I needed for this quilt has been… an adventure, to say the least. I started off with very uneven amounts of old Sailor Moon fabric, and thought to myself, “okay, I’ll try out making a pattern where the main squares have a moon pattern in them, and then alternate them with 9-block squares!” I roughed out a pattern based on 12-inch quilt squares, made up of 9 pieces, and figured I’d at least have enough Sailor Moon fabric to make that pattern work.
It was a great idea, and I was super excited – however, I’d actually ordered the fabric I was going to use for the quilt before I actually built the pattern. Which was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had. However, I cut my existing fabric into squares while I waited for the fat quarters I’d ordered from Spoonflower to come, and did some research to figure out how many 4.5 inch squares I could get out of a fat quarter. Turns out, you can theoretically get sixteen 4.5 inch squares from a fat quarter!
If the fat quarter is appropriately sized, anyway.
For those of you who’ve never ordered from Spoonflower before, they custom print your chosen design on whatever fabric you choose at the time you order it. Which is pretty darn cool, I think – but with the fat quarters, they’re not exactly a standard size – and on top of that, the printing was a little off, size-wise, resulting in some quilt squares that have a white border on one edge. (I’m sure it’ll be hidden when I start piecing things together, but still, it’s annoying.)
I did, however, make a quilt pattern. And I think it’ll look pretty cool, once made – but I’m not even sure I want to make it with this fabric, given all the ridiculousness with different amounts of different fabric patterns and all. I might end up doing the disappearing 9-patch pattern I’ve seen around the internet, though – I’ve been wanting to try it for a while, and with a couple solid fat quarters, I should easily be able to make it. What I will do with that pattern, instead, is polish it up into a nice PDF and possibly post it here for people to test out, if I’ve got any followers who are nerdy quilters who’d want to beta test a pattern for me…
And you know what’s really sad? I finally got the solid colored fat quarters I needed to help break up the crazy patterns, and I still haven’t cut them up yet. I’ve had them for a few weeks now and haven’t touched them. Maybe when I’m on vacation, I’ll finally tackle this quilt in earnest…