Posts Tagged crafts
As I mentioned before in my Ugly Hats post, I am a passable but not great knitter.
Well, something possessed me recently, and over the course of three days, I churned out these:
The maroon one came out wrong, since I let myself get distracted while I was making it, but I’m pretty proud of the others. They range from baby sized to adult.
All were knitted on size 13, 15″ circular needles. The smallest is 30 stitches around, the largest is 45.
The method I’ve found easiest for these is as follows:
Cast on the desired number of stitches as you would on straight needles, plus one. Slide the initial stitch around to the opposite needle and k2tog to join the sides, making sure that the piece is not twisted. (If you have a twist in the initial row, you won’t be able to close the top of the hat – I’m in the middle of intentionally knitting a tube scarf like this. They call them Moebius scarves.)
I don’t count rows typically, because I’ve found my row size to be too unreliable (not a great knitter, remember…). Instead I simply knit until I have enough length, then begin the process of narrowing the piece toward the top. I’ve found that narrowing is best accomplished by doing a whole row of knit 4, k2tog, then a standard row, rinse repeat. Then I eyeball it. Eventually the goal is to get down to 10-12 stitches, then k2tog all of them until I have just two stitches. Then I cast off and leave a little tail, which I use to pull the top of the hat downward into the inside and tie it off.
It’s not the prettiest pattern, but it works. If I’m using more than one color, it’s easy enough to tie it in.
The result is stockinette stitch, which has only one real disadvantage – it curls at the bottom. Better knitters than me will do rib knit for the bottom few rows in order to prevent this, but I’ve never mastered it.
Here’s a selection of my hats available for sale from my sister’s Etsy store. As much as I like to disparage my knitting skills, they are all solidly constructed. I think their chunky ugliness makes them charming.
On October 29th, my lovely assistant and I attended a circus-themed Halloween party at a friend’s house in Maryland. Well, I hate to arrive at a party empty-handed, so I decided to make a suitably creepy and theme-oriented host gift.
We had decided to do sideshow costumes. I was the Tattooed Woman, which I accomplished via the cheater method of printed nylon shirt and stockings. My lovely assistant was the Bearded Lady, in a rather fetching leopard print wrap dress and the blonde bouffant wig from my Barbarella costume. What else does every sideshow have?
Things in jars.
I decided to take an old pickle jar that had been lying around (I had some vague notion months ago of using it for something, thus why I kept it) and make a fake freak – a gaffe, though it’s generous to describe my attempt in such lofty terms, as usually a gaffe is an attempt at making a realistic-looking freak.
For some reason known only to my twisted subconscious, I felt that conjoined twins were the way to go.
It was surprisingly difficult to find what I needed. I wanted two inexpensive baby dolls, small enough to fit together inside the jar, with entirely plastic bodies. I went through pink aisles at several stores before I located them. One blue-eyed and one brown, these were bathtime toys – no plush bodies here – and they were perfect.
First they needed to be removed from the insane bondage of their packaging, and then I had to divest them of their clothes.
Naked plastic babies, surrounded by the implements of their doom. Their tiny rubber duckies watched the carnage with strangely amused expressions.
The next step in their transformation was to remove their limbs. Easy enough – they pop right off:
Brace yourself: next is the cutting.
I knew I wanted the twins to be joined at the torso and the cranium, so I needed to cut away those areas so they would fit together.
Here you can see the seam I cut to allow one doll’s torso to fold smaller and fit inside the other. I carved away the limb openings on both dolls to achieve this.
A front view:
I had to rubber-band the heads to keep them from separating while the hot glue cooled. In the final product, you may be able to see that the heads separated a bit anyway.
I covered one of the most obvious seams with the ear I cut off one of the dolls, and glued an arm over the groin seam. One of the spare legs covered the back seam.
Then it was time for paint.
I used a mixture of green, yellow, red, blue, black, and cream-colored acrylic paint, in varying amounts to get a shifting color scheme.
Then it was time to carefully compress the doll so it could fit through the opening in the jar.
Unfortunately I got a little too enthusiastic and went ahead and filled the jar with water before the paint was completely dry. This resulted in the water being way too cloudy, and some of the paint coming off the dolls. I poured out the water and let them dry a bit before refilling.
Here’s the final product. I used three drops of neon green food dye and a drop of purple to get the water color I wanted.
As you can see, some of the paint washed away from their faces. I couldn’t get a better photo, but believe me, this thing is super creepy and if you don’t look at it up close, it’s surprisingly realistic.
My friend loved it, which made me feel a bit less like a weirdo for making it. But believe me, I’m well aware of how twisted this is.
I finally found a use for the overabundance of herbs in my garden – I couldn’t use them all up before we start getting freezing temperatures, but I hated to just let the leaves wither in the cold.
Wound up making wreaths with them, and they look very festive and pretty. They also smell nice, as does the entire first floor of the house where I made them – my friends host a craft night. Unfortunately the straw forms I used irritated the fuck out of my skin, but I rubbed on some Benadryl cream and it should be fine.
The best part is that because I didn’t use any glue or chemicals, once these dry out I can still use the herbs to cook with.
I had enough sage to do an entire 8″ wreath entirely out of it. I don’t use sage much in my cooking, so the fact that my sage plants exploded was a source of chagrin for me.
I made these after reviewing some various instructionals online. Basically I took two 8″ wreath forms and wrapped them slightly loosely with thin floral wire. I gathered the herbs into small bundles and wrapped the stems in masking tape – I tried using floral tape, but honestly that stuff sucked.
Once the herbs were bundled, I simply slipped the taped ends under the wire, working in a gradual circular motion around the form and angling the bundles. Then I looped a heavier aluminum wire around to create a hanger.
Here are the final products:
This one is a mixed bundle of herbs – peppermint, Kentucky Colonel mint, Thai basil (purple flowers), Italian basil flowers, rosemary, lemon thyme, and oregano.
This one is the all-sage wreath.
Both were hung on the door of our 40%-scale TARDIS for their photos:
It was a really easy little craft project. I would say it took me about half an hour to bundle all the herbs, and then about an hour to assemble each wreath. Probably would have been faster if I had had the slightest clue what I was doing.
I chose the straw forms over the styrofoam ones because I thought it would look more organic, but it made kind of a mess (straw bits everywhere) and, as I mentioned, it made me very itchy. Maybe next time I’ll stick with the foam.
Anyway, these need to dry out for a couple of days, and then one is going on the front door. I’ll probably end up gifting the other.
There’s a website out there called Uncommon Goods that sells a lot of cool, funky stuff. I love it. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff is also kind of pricey, so I lust after items but never buy.
The other day, they added this little beauty:
But, well, they’re $65. Plus shipping. I looked at these for a long time and thought about buying one, and just couldn’t justify it. Not that it’s overpriced – the scarves are handmade, and wool – but I already have a TON of scarves. (Including a beautiful replica made by the sitemaster of DoctorWhoScarf.com)
I’ve been knitting like a mad fiend lately – 10 hats in a month – and whenever I see a cool knitted item I try to assess whether or not I could make it for myself. Most of the time, the answer is no. I am a shitty knitter. However, in this particular instance, yes! I could knit this for myself!
A loop is actually very simple to make if you know how to knit in the round. It’s essentially the first part of a hat that you bind off without tapering.
I grabbed a skein of acrylic yarn in a nice maroon color that I got super cheap at the local craft store and got going.
I’m a few links in and making good progress. When I’m done, I may give the finished product to my sister to list on her Etsy store, or I may keep it. Not sure yet.
One thing is certain: mine will not look as good as the ones in that picture up there.
My then-boyfriend wanted a Jayne hat, though he didn’t voice this desire outright, and the only thing stopping him was the fact that a lot of the ones people were selling were, well, wrong. They were usually the wrong colors (not the only time this has bothered me in fandom – the famous scarf of the Fourth Doctor comes to mind), with fans tending to assume the original was much brighter than it appears on screen. The Jayne hats were also frequently knitted out of cheap yarn, probably Red Heart Super Saver (which is not a bad product at all – I have used it many times – but it is thin-stranded and 100% acrylic). They were fine for strolling around convention halls, but my boyfriend wanted one he could actually wear as a winter hat and not have his head be cold.
I decided to venture back into knitting and provide yet another man in my life with yet another shitty knitted item.
I had no idea what I was doing. I knitted in the round on circular needles, but by the time I got to the top I had exhausted my knowledge. How was I supposed to join it all together at the peak? If you flip the resulting item inside out you can really see the depths of my ignorance. It’s a monstrosity. I joined the top using a canvas needle, like using a drawstring to close a bag. Thankfully the pom-pom hides this.
There is definitely a bit of pride in knowing I found colors that much more closely resembled the original than most other Jayne hats. It’s a warm wool/acrylic blend, good for keeping one’s noggin warm.
Above all, the saving grace of this piece is that the original is very ugly, so a replica can be pretty bad and still be pretty good.
The guy I was dating must have thought it was pretty cunning, because he wears it, and, well, he married me.
After this relative success, I felt a lot bolder, and I went on to make hats in the same style for all three of my sisters and a handful of friends. The last one I made was a gray and orange construction that actually isn’t all that ugly, which my friend wears while playing video games in his poorly-heated upstairs gaming room.
Maybe the trick is not to try and make something that looks perfect, like it was knitted by a machine. People have a certain level of tolerance and fondness for things that are imperfect because they are unique and required effort to make. That’s my hope, at least.
If you’re interested in an ugly hat, I’m planning on making and selling a few through my sister’s Etsy shop: