Archive for the ‘crafts’ Category

A new needle craft

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

I learned something new when I was in Japan this summer. I purchased a needle felting kit from their local Dollar store, ”Daiso”. I started fooling around with felting some ornaments this Christmas.

This little guy is hanging out with me until he can get to his new home. The massive ice storm we had has hampered his delivery.

That’s a picture of my friend Aki who is visiting from Japan to experience a Canadian winter! What a year to come visit. We had a big weekend…almost getting evacuated due to a fire on a construction site

Ad then this intense ice storm. Luckily we kept power for most of the time, so we could stay indoors and bake and do crafts.

This is the second needle felted ornament that I made. It’s a pretty accurate representation of the human heart, presented to an anatomy student that I know. He thought it was pretty cool!
I anticipate a brain, liver or lungs next year. He will have a morbid tree if I have anything to do with it.

Preparing for the Worlds

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

After earning a spot at the World Championships for robotics, knitting was kept on the back burner for a while….time was spent doing fundraising–a fantastic bottle drive….bottle drive

…building a battery caddy….


…decorating Easter eggs…


…and preparing for a mammoth bus ride to St. Louis!

A Sewing Project

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

As Kick-Off for the robotics season nears, I devised a way to keep track of safety glasses and to keep them from getting scratched while not being worn.  Here’s my Christmas gift to K-Botics–a safety glasses protection unit!

glasses holder

I managed to find remnants of fleece and other soft fabrics on sale at Fabricland, which combined nicely with a donated piece of purple fleece to make this safety glasses holder.

I hadn’t sewn fleece before on a large scale, and I’m still surprised at how much stretch there is in the material.  Stretch is important because safety glasses are not flat!  It’s not as neat as I’d originally hoped, but it is complete, and will serve a purpose well for our team.

There are 42 pockets on this wall hanging.  Pocket dimensions are approximately 6 inches deep, and 5.5 inches across.

Step 1: cut out fabric strips 6.5 inches wide and hem them on one side (1/4 inch)

Step 2: sew a casing at the top that will fit the size/length of dowel that you have.

Step 3: sew on one strip at a time, arrange it with right sides together, so it will fold up covering the seam.  It gets bulky working with such large pieces.

Step 4: measure and pin the pocket seams.  Leave an extra 1/2 inch on each side for side seams.  Sew the pocket seams (save the exterior ones for the very end of the project)

Step 5: after all pockets are sewn, hem around the entire wall hanging-this will finish off the exterior pocket seams.

The dowel will be put through the casing, and be tied with a cord which will be suspended from a hook on the wall, once we figure out how to drill a hole in the cement wall that is!

Five Batches of Cookies…Parchment Paper Is My Friend

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

This year Christmas kind of snuck up on me. I had been so focused on all the mini deadlines that I had lost track of the fact that December is here, and almost gone! I didn’t really get all the knitting done that I wanted to. I didn’t really want to go to the malls, although I did go a few times. When I woke up on December 23rd and realized that the next day was Christmas Eve, I knew I needed a solution!

Thankfully I had stocked up on butter and flour and eggs…I got out my recipe box and on December 24th made lots and lots of cookies. Cookies are great gifts for cousins and friends. They make wonderful care packages for those who might be spending Christmas away from family, or for whom the season might be difficult.

I love all the recipes, and want to share them with everyone. For massive cookie production, I recommend clearing a large place for cookie cooling, clearing space in the fridge for chilling dough and pans between trips to the oven, and using parchment paper to line the pans! (I actually don’t recommend making all of these in one day–it left very little time for all the other Christmas Eve things, like delivering gifts, eating dinner as a family (we have lasagna every year), and singing at the late church service.

Cookies were baked and cooled, and packaged in time to deliver by 5:00pm. Delivering nicely wrapped home made cookies to people on Christmas eve who are not expecting a gift is kind of a special thing. I was able to see some of the people, but others were left as part of stealth missions of Christmas joy. I may never hear back from those ones, but I imagine that they were thrilled to receive a Christmas surprise. I enjoyed being the secret santa to about 10 unsuspecting people this year. If you get into a cookie baking marathon, you need to think up about 10 families that will eat all the treats!

Here’s my dining room table when things were winding down.


For some reason, I didn’t get to taking a picture of the disaster area that was my kitchen. It’s clean now though, I promise!

So here are the recipes:
2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. butter
1 1/2 c + 2tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift flour and baking powder and salt together then set aside. Put butter and 1.5 c sugar in the bowl of the mixer. Mix on medium until pale and fluffy (3 min). Mix in eggs, reduce to low speed and mix in dry ingredients.

Stir cinnamon and 2 tbsp sugar in small bowl. Shape dough into small balls then roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake cookies until edges are golden (12 minutes. Cool on sheets.

Lemon Poppyseed
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice +3.5 tsp grated zest
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
2tsp pure vanilla
1 tbsp poppy seeds and more for sprinkling

Bring lemon juice to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook until reduced by half.  Add 1/2 cup of butter.  Stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, b.powder, salt in med. bowl.  Put remaining 1/2 c. butter and 1.5 c sugar in bowl.  Mix until creamy.  Add egg and reserved cooled lemon butter.  Mix until pale (3 min). Mix in vanilla and 2tsp. lemon zest.  Reduce to low.  Mix in flour and poppy seeds.

Stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1.5 tsp lemon zest.  Roll dough into 1.25 inch balls. Roll in lemon sugar.  Press with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar mixture until 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Bake at 350 F until browned (12min).

Oatmeal Raisin (These were the favourite of the season!)
3 c. rolled oats
1 c. + 2tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 c. wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I added more)
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. unsalted butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 F. Stir together oats, flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Put butter and sugars in another bowl and mix on medium until pale and fluffy (5 min). Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add oat mixture. Mix until just combined. Add raisins.

With a 1.5 inch ice cream scoop (or large spoon) mound dough on pan. Space 2 inches apart. Bake for 14 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 min. Cool on wire rack after that.

Molasses Cookies
1/2 c butter softened
1 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar and 1/4 cup for rolling
2 large eggs
1/2 c unsulfered molasses
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp salt

Put butter, brown sugar, 1/2 c granulated sugar in the mixer (3 min) on medium. Mix in eggs followed by molasses and oil.
Reduce speed and mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, all spice, salt. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or more.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Put remaining 1/2 c granulated sugar in a bowl. Scoop out dough and form balls then roll in sugar. Place on a pan 3 inches apart. Bake for 17 minutes. These cookies spread a lot while baking.

Gingerbread (my great aunt’s recipe)
2.5 c flour
2 tsp b.soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cloves
2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. butter
1 egg
2 tbsp. molasses

Cream the butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses. Add the dry ingredients. Chill 1 hour at least. Roll to about 1/8 inch and cut into shapes. Bake at 400 F for 5-8 minutes.

Super Top Secret Craft Club Meeting

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

It was a crafty Friday!

craft club

A group of us got together and made porcelain snowflake Christmas ornaments.  It’s a wonderful thing to know a potter who is generous in their time and materials.  If you have access to clay and a kiln, and want to know what we did, here are the steps.

1.  Make a paper snowflake.  Fold paper into quarters or sixths and cut out along the edge and the middle.

2.  Unfold the snowflake and use a damp sponge to adhere it to a thin rolled slab of porcelain.

3. Using a scalpel blade/exacto knife, cut out the snowflake.


4.  Peel back the paper, and let the snowflake dry and harden.

5.  Fire the snowflake in a kiln.

Some of us were not really into the whole snowflake thing.  They thought that making guns ornaments would be more manly.


I look forward to seeing what the finished products look like.

Cool Things I Saw This Week

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Robot hats are causing quite the stir.  I think some kids wear them all day long!

A colleague dropped off a newspaper clipping on my desk.  It appears there are some yarn-bombers around town!  It’s not me.  I wish I had enough time to do it though!

Another intriguing crafting idea that I saw was a decoupage project done on church chairs.  Some are just pictures, from cards, magazines, and old calendars I think.

And others have words of motivation…

Enchantment is the Essence, Let Inspiration Flourish

or even poetry.

Cooking and cleaning
Can wait til tomorrow
Cause babies grow up
I’ve learned to my sorrow
So quiet down cobwebs
And dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby
And babies don’t keep.

It’s a great idea for what to do with old chairs and old magazines.


Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Hallowe’en is a really big deal at my house.  We’ve become the scary house in the neighbourhood, so our pumpkin carving has to be pretty good.  These are the pumpkins that will scare all the ghosts and goblins that come to our door tomorrow.

That Time Of Year

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

As August nears, I start searching out sources of embroidery floss.  It is a tradition of sorts.  Since 1994 I have made large, colourful, and sometimes very intricate friendship bracelets as birthday presents for a buddy of mine.  I have found a way to get them to his door usually on his actual birthday.  Some have been mailed from Japan, and Egypt, others have been left in mailboxes, or tied on the front door.

birthday bracelet

This kind of bracelet takes a little bit of time to complete, but luckily you can put the project down and pick it up again later.  They are a great portable project for road trips, and I used to often keep one on the go in my pocket at summer camp.

x and o bracelet

All of those little dots of colour are actually knots, two knots per dot….that’s a lot of knots!  Each knot, made thinking of the one that will wear it.  These knots can be tied to make so many different patterns–from diagonal stripes, chevrons, X and O, or even fish!

Ask any teenager, and they’ll let you know that friendship bracelets like these are meant to be worn until they fall off.  Some even claim that you get a wish when that happens.  All I know is that there is great sentimental attachment to these cotton strings.

So….a big happy birthday to my bracelet wearing buddy!  Check your mail box soon.

Road Trip

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Participating (rather poorly I might add) in the Tour De Fleece this year has made me realize that although I do really like spinning, I do NOT really enjoy preparing fleece for spinning.  I’ve been asking around, and found that there’s a fiber mill about 20 minutes from my house, so today I packed up my fleece to see if they could mill it into lovely roving for me to spin.

two bags full

I brought along Maggie, who knits, spins, throws pots, and is generally very crafty.  She’s the one that is making the ball gown from jeans.

The mill is located in the garage of the motel in Odessa Ontario.  We met Janet, who explained how to tell if a fleece is worth milling.  Take a lock of fleece.  Hold it with two hands, and pull lengthwise to stretch the fiber as far as it will go.  If you hear a crackle it’s a fragile fleece (not good).  If you hear a ping sound, then the fiber is strong, and it will make good roving.

Paul, Maggie and Janet with the spinning machine

Apparently you get what you pay for.  My fleeces were all donated to me from various places, and they all crackle when pulled.  Too bad!  It’s not worth it to have them milled, but I can still make something quite useful with them if I can put up with the slow and tedious process of carding.

Paul gave us a tour of the mill.  There’s a picker to get the locks of fleece open and fluffy, another machine to get rid of vegetable matter and guard hairs, a very large and complicated looking drum carder, a spinning machine and a plying machine.  It’s an amazing operation!

roving being spun onto bobbins

The store was next on the tour.  Such gorgeous merchandise, and all produced right there–yarns of all sorts and colours, rovings, woven scarves and blankets, knit socks.  I bought some superwash merino, and some “pandora’s box” (unknown fibers, mostly grey) roving.

the store

What’s best about this store is that you’re encouraged to touch and smell and really enjoy the fiber before you choose what to get.

Maggie with a soy silk moustache

We got talking with Janet about our fiber projects, and the topic of Maggie’s denim dress project was brought up.  This led to Random Freebie #1: 3 Pairs of jeans for Maggie’s ball gown!

Maggie with my purchased roving, and her free jeans

The next stop on our trip was to Wilton Pottery, just down the road.

We met Tim, who explained about his kiln and his process.

If you are in the area stop by to say hello, and have a look at the work that he and his wife Diane are doing.  She grows crystals in the glaze of her porcelain.

such beautiful crystals

We totally lucked into Random Freebie #2:  Zucchini!  I’ve frankly never seen a zucchini this big before in my life.  I’m not exactly sure why Wilton Pottery was giving them away, but it was a very nice treat.

The next stop on our way back to town was in Sydenham at a vegetable and antiques market.  There were lots of treasures to be found in this place, but I think I lucked out when I found sock blockers!

antiques/vegetable market

There’s something nice about taking a drive in the country on a lovely summer day.  You never really know what adventures you’ll run into.  I highly recommend it!

What cottage industries are in your neck of the woods?


Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

I walked downtown today to have a look at the arts and crafts fair by City Hall.  Now, when I think of arts and crafts, of course, I’m hoping for wool or knitted things of some kind on display.

Alas, it was not to be.  There were some amazing visual artists, and potters and wood workers, but among all of those tents, not one had knitting.

The weather was great, and there was some fabulous didgeridoo music, and a group of tai-chi masters doing their thing.  I’m glad so many people were out and about enjoying the day.