Thursday, February 7, 2013

Felt bowtie pasta

I have these elaborate plans to make my daughter a lot of felt food for her (soon to be created) play kitchen.  These best intentions have so far not led to much of anything except a small pile of bowtie pasta.  Especially as I had plans to give her the play kitchen for... well... Christmas. 

But it turns out that bowtie pasta is really easy to make and looks very very realistic.

Felt in the desired pasta color
Pinking Shears
Thread in color to match pasta
needle and thread or sewing machine


1. Use the pinking shears to cut your felt into strips the width you want for your pasta 
2. Use the scissors to cut your pasta.

3. Fold it in half, and then fold the cut edges up to the middle fold. 

4. Use needle and thread or your sewing machine to sew it together at the fold.  I used the setting on my sewing machine that you can use to sew on buttons, basically you can just do a zig zag stitch with a  zero length or with the fabric feeds disengaged.  or you can just hand sew a tack, but I found sewing through four layers of felt more difficult than it was worth.  The tack runs perpendicular to the fold.

5. Cut the threads.  I found for extra security it was helpful to tie the strings together with small knots before snipping the excess thread, just to be 100% sure it would not come undone.

6. Voila!  Bowtie Pasta!

I gave her the pasta and she immediatly decided the best thing to do with it was to roll them in paint and then use them like small sponge paintbrushes.  So, now we have slightly deformed and very colorful play pasta.  Toddlers will be toddlers.  Gave me a good idea for a homemade "paintbrush" though.  Maybe I'll work on that after I finish this play kitchen. :-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cardboard armchair "how to"

I'm back and slowly catching up on some ancient posts that I've been meaning to complete for a while!  I've taken a very sad hiaitus for creating much lately, and even more from blogging about what I have managed to do... but here are some instructions (and probably not enough pictures) for making a cardboard armchair for toddlers.

What you'll need:
Box big enough to be an entire armchair.
Something to put in the armchair to support weight.  I used two yoga bricks.  The height of what you choose will be the height of your seat and should be shorter than the box.
Duct tape
A few scrap pieces of cardboard.
cutting implement (such as x-acto knife or box cutter)

  • Remove the side flaps from the top and then tape shut along center and sides.
  • Sit your weight supports outside of the box and mark how high up they will go.  
  • Score a line along that height as long as you would like your seat to be.
  • Cut through the box UP from each end of that line to the top edge of the box.
  • Mark how far back you want your seat to go (seat depth).
  • Score a line along that depth as long as you did the line on the front.  These score lines should be parallel to each other and placed the same distance away from the box edges.
  • Cut through the box from each end of the line to the edge of the box to match the cuts you made for the front.
  • Open the box
  • Bend the cutout you just made inwards to form a seat.  You may need to score a line on the inside of the box where the bottom and back of the chair meet.  It probably won't be where the front flaps of the box are taped together.
  • Tape the weight support to the seat bottom.  This ensures that when your toddler sits in the chair it does not collapse.  I used a scrap piece of cardboard so that the duct tape would not make my yoga blocks sticky when I go to reclaim them.  I did not bother filling the rest of the box with anything because I didn't expect it to bear weight, but you could stuff it with pretty much anything to make it heavier if you wanted.  The important part is that you put something under the seat strong enough to hold the weight of whatever or whomever is going to sit in it. 
  • Cut to size and tape the cardboard scraps in to the sides of the armchair where there is a gap between the seat part and the top rest of the box.
  • At this point you should have something looking roughly like this:

  •  Close and tape the bottom of the box shut
  •  Flip it over and add more duct tape to protect and strengthen the seams.  I decided it looked best to just cover the whole seat area with duct tape, so I did that. 
  • Voila!

  •  Put it into your cardboard mansion, or you know, wherever you want to put it.
  • Enjoy!

We have had this box chair and the cardboard house it's in sitting in a main room of the house for about six months now, and aside from becoming more "decorated" with crayons and stickers, it is holding up beautifully!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cardboard playhouse v2.0

The original v1.0 play house is still in the living room, but has been joined by this humongous house.  This beauty was created out of two HUGE boxes.  A friend of mine with a truck delivered them after her neighbor tossed them out.  This is what you get when your sectional sofa comes in a box.  I was in heaven with these.

I started to put it together with duct tape, but it was proving too fidly.  I was rescued with the discovery of these handy little things called "Makedo" which I got at the gift shop of the local Children's Museum.  They are basically little reuseable pins that hold cardboard together (see all the little blue dots).  There are hinges too. They saved me hours of work and probably about four roles of duct tape.  I think I might be in love.

The kiddo actually goes INTO this house to play.  I think she dind't play in v1.0 because she didn't much care for ducking through the door.  Now, no ducking needed.  Not yet anyway.  And all three of us can fit in there together!

I might have come up with some "instructions" but I figure that two humongous sofa boxes are a pretty rare thing to come by.

Sitting in her cardboard armchair next to her cardboard book bin reading her ... board book.

A better view of that book bin and the armchair.  These I could give instructions on how to replicate.  It's easy and just uses one small piece of cardboard and one cardboard box.  Of course, it helps if you have a monstrous cardboard mansion to put them in.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Velvet Patchwork Puzzle Balls

In the interest of posting about things MONTHS after I make them... here is a fun little Xmas present I made for the little one just a day or two before the big day. These are the first two balls from the book "patchwork puzzle balls" by jinny beyer (you can see the cover under the balls in one of the photos). I made them with velvet from this HUGE box of velvet scraps I bought at a yard sale from a lady who had been collecting remnants for years to use "in a special project." I like to think she would approve of these.

The patterns and instructions were easy and straightforward, although the thickness and fuzziness of the felt did add to the difficulty in machine sewing them together (and got lint EVERYWHERE). I've included a complete but inside out pic so you can see the madness. Because of the thickness of the material I did have to leave a larger opening to be able to turn it right side out.

In an effort to use only what was on hand, I stuffed these with some pretty heinous novelty yarn that accidentally invaded my stash, and it actually worked very well. However, be warned you need A LOT of heinous novelty yarn to get the ball to be FULL and it is a bit tricky to get it all in there. I have yet to use the recommended cotton stuffing... So I can't say if that is any different.  The ball in the picture below looks pretty full doesn't it?  Right, well, that whole ball of novelty yarn next to it pretty much went in as well.  And I understand why.  A few months later and it almost feels a bit squishy, almost like I need to rip out a seam and put in some more yarn.  You definitly need to stuff with something that doesn't have any spring in its step if you want these to feel more like "balls" than stuffed animals, and if you want them to hold their round shape for more than 30 seconds.

Most importantly, they turned out just as nice as I hoped they would and the kiddo seems to really like them!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cardboard playhouse v1.0

This is a project from shortly after Christmas.  One store decided to use this box from a fancy set of chairs to ship us an order.  The best part is that it's very thick and much sturdier than regular cardboard boxes, and perfect for making into houses.  So this:

Became this:

To make the top "roof" for the house I took the four top flaps and cut triangles out of the edges of each one and then taped the cut edges together to form the sides of the roof.  I cut a door out of one side and a hole in the other the size of another large box.  the scrap from the box side was cut to the size of the hole on the top of the roof to finish it off. Another box was taped to the side to make it bigger.  Windows were cut and everything was fastened together with duct tape.

Ducks liked it OK but didn't like that she has to duck or crawl to get in.  She is still a little young yet to fully understand play houses, but had fun playing peekaboo in the windows.

At the very least, it took a month or two after Christmas to get all the cardboard into our recycling bin, so this is a good way to keep it lying arounf the house without your living room look like a cardboard storage warehouse.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Child's Abstract Wall Mural

I'd been contemplating a large mural on one side of my child's room since... well... since we decided it was going to be the child's room before we ever even decided to have a baby.  I eventually picked colors for the room (lime green, teal, yellow, orange, and added magenta to the mix when I couldn't find an orange paint in the brand I was buying that matched the orange in the rug and I had one drawer left on the chest of drawers to paint).

Then, while doodling, inspiration struck.  Despite all the other ideas I'd been very carefully mocking up for months, this little doodle WAS THE ANSWER and it simply HAD TO become my wall mural right away.  The urge was overpowering.  Thankfully all it was going to take was an afternoon and way way way too much blue painters tape.  It was so simple I could even wing it and just go.  No measuring, no plotting, no scheming, no carefully drawing first with a pencil, just put tape on the wall, fix up the corners with an xacto, and paint.  Glorious.

It went so fast.  I mean, I already had all the paint (see the chest of drawers in the lower right hand corner of the finished picture, I'd already bought a quart of paint in all my colors and only used them for one each of those drawers), I already had the painters tape, I was going to be home all weekend.  I went into the room and started putting tape all over the wall.  I was really happy when my random application yeilded six vertical stripes since I didn't measure first and around stripe 4 got worried that I'd messed up and would have to make a really fat one or a really skinny one.  It ended up OK, although the one on the far right in the photo (the first one) is a bit thinner than the one on the far left (the last one). Then I trimmed up the corners of the tape where it counted (mostly the inside corners of each box).  And started slapping on the paint. Here it is in all it's painters tape glory, with three of the stripes painted in magenta.  The dark blue is the tape.

And, in all it's finished glory.  The stripes are lime green and magenta and the wall is sort of a pale teal (not quite tiffany blue, but sort of close to it).  The wall is a flat finish and the mural stripes are gloss.  It really makes them stick out even more.

I still have some more decorating and whatnot to do in her room, but the mural makes a HUGE difference.  Also, now she is a bit older and we've put the crib up against that wall instead of a couch.  It looks even better.  Maybe someday I will be "finished" with the room and will do a more complete "tour".  It is pretty awesome, and I'm hoping it's funky and graphic enough to stand the test of time.  One of my initial ideas was rocket ships and outer space but nixed it on the idea that a teenage girl might not want a room with a wall covered in magenta and lime green spaceships.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Swiss Chard Pancakes

Believe it or not, these pancakes are Delicious! You just have to disassociate "pancake" from the breakfast food it usually is. Think of it more like a savory flatbread. You with me? Ok.
I created this as a way to get a very tough to eat veggie like chard into a form my daughter could feed herself, but we all like them. They are an amazing match with roasted chicken and are particularly tasty topped with sour cream and maybe some diced up chives.

1 batch of pancake mix plus whatever ingredients your box wants you to add + a little extra mix
However much water your mix tells you to use.
4-5 leaves of chard (if you have a wimpy blender remove the stalks)
1/4 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
Whatever seasoning you want, I just used black pepper

Put the water and all the vegetables and seasoning in the blender and blend till it's green and soupy
Mix with pancake mix and other ingredients the mix calls for. Since the veggies release water, you will have to use a little bit of extra mix. Get it to the consistency you look for in a pancake batter.
Make pancakes as you usually would.

I like to measure so every pancake is the same size because I burn fewer that way. These are very tiny pancakes each made with just 1 tbsp of batter. Note the size of the onion in the picture, and that there are about 40 pancakes on a regular size dinner plate.

Mom note: these freeze and defrost in the toaster (or in the fridge overnight) absolutely fabulously with no discernable loss of texture or flavor. I plan to always make a nice big batch. The tiny ones go really easily into the baby's lunchbox too, and are easy for tiny fingers to manage (although I usually rip them into 4 pieces anyway).
No, they are not "hidden" vegetables, but my kid is not yet at the picky eater stage so we haven't had to have that battle yet and she eats these just fine. Plus, with only a couple teeth, this is the easiest way for her to eat chard!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baby Surprise in Action

Here are some shots of the BabySurprise Jacket in action! I opted for mismatched bright orange buttons... Actually leftover from my baby shower decorations!! Tip: if you use mismatched buttons a button is easier to replace if you loose it and don't keep extras for every outfit lying around...

The hat was crazy simple and made from some bulky stash noro I lost the band for. All there is to it is a rectangle long enough to go around the head folded in half, then seamed together end to end and along one side. The "ears" are just the corners... Flat and off the head, this just looks like a garter stitch rectangle. I actually made it on a plane flight after realizing at THE LAST SECOND that we were leaving somewhere warm and going somewhere cold and my child did not have a warm hat.

Here's the kiddo getting a shoulder ride from her dad!

And experiencing cold wind for the first time in her little life.  She was delighted and laughed and put her arms up, this is one of the best shots I got of the emotion.

Here's a better look at that hat and the fun orange buttons. They really take the sweater from "nice" to "incredibly cute" in a split second.  I sewed them on with an orange and magenta verrigated cotton yarn, which also helps in the cute department.

While a hat could be knocked out in nothing flat... I am very glad I had realized a week earlier that she also did not have warm pants and knocked out a pair of worsted weight footed longgies... Details and photos to come in another post!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Baby Surprise Jacket

This is the first thing I knit for the baby. I'm tragically behind on updating the blog, this growing a baby thing is had work! I'm due in ONLY FOUR WEEKS, so i don't know how well I'll do on updating it AFTER that either. Still, writing down details makes me happy, so I'll keep on with it.

This was a stashbusting experience knit with three different colors of Rowan's Yorkshire Tweed DK. I just followed the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern. Here's a ravelry link to the project:

This jacket is really warm and I'm hoping it fits for her second or third winter. She'll barely be a newborn for the first winter, so I know it will be way to big for her now.

All finished (but less the buttons):


Halfway folded up:

Even though garter stitch takes FOREVER because it's so dense, the fabric sure looks nice!
BSJ closeup

Sunday, November 21, 2010

socks again

This is the second pair of socks I ever knitted, and my third ever knitting project (the first was a ribbed scarf). I got the chance to "visit" with them again when my mom brought them over to be darned.

They are a very basic pattern, I think it was a "knitting pure and simple" pamphlet. Both this pair and the first pair were the same pattern, same yarn (although different colors). The yarn is the Brown Sheep Wildefoote sock yarn. It's pretty darn durable considering these are a few years old and were knit on size 2 needles (now i usually use 1s or 0s for socks).

first socks

first socks