Archive for July, 2009

The Earbud Poppy Laundromat tutorial

July 16th, 2009

I’ve posted before about my laundromat projects, but this time I thought I’d bring my camera along with and share a quick one perfect for your next trip to the laundromat. I was inspired by  Diana Eng’s book Fashion Geek available on Amazon. I made up my own pattern for my version, but feel free to check out the book (I saw it at my local library and there seem to be  a lot of cute projects in there.)

IMG_7226

IMG_7201

Step 1

First, get your laundry, your quarters, and your supplies and head off to the laundromat. I like to do my laundry at midnight at the 24 hour laundromat when it’s nice and quiet and empty, but that’s optional. The supplies you’ll need are few and easy to tote along with you.
-Felt in two colors, one for your petals and one for your center circle. Scraps are fine
-Scissors
-Needles, thread (I like to carry a mini sewing kit in a film canister)
-Your headphones / earbuds

-*- Optional -*- hot glue or tacky glue
IMG_7136

Step 2

Cut your pieces out of felt. For the petals, cut a strip of felt about 2 inches tall. You don’t really need a pattern to cut the petals, they’re just rectangles with a rounded top. The curve of your thumb should make a perfect template. Trace your shape onto one end of the felt, cut it out, and use that as your guide to cut out 5 more petals for one flower ( 11 more if you want to make two flowers.  From here I’ll be describing how to make one flower), all the same size and shape.

IMG_7147

Step 3

With your needle threaded you’re now going to stitch the six petals together.

Holding the bottom of the petal (the flat side opposite the curve) fold the flat side in half.  Then fold the edges up towards the fold. Push the needle through the four layers, near the edge of the flat side.

See the image below for a step by step.  Click the image if you need to see  it bigger.

IMG_7153

It should look like this once you slide the petal onto the thread and release it:

IMG_7156

String the next five petals onto the thread (If you’re making two flowers, string six petals on one thread and six petals on another thread)

IMG_7162

Step 4

Time to check in on your laundry if you haven’t done it yet.

IMG_7177

Yep, Spin cycle.  Once your laundry is in the dryer just tumbling away, we’ve got about 20 minutes to finish this up.

IMG_7189

Step 5

Pull the ends of the thread to gather the petals together. Pull it nice and tight and tie a couple of knots to make your flower.

IMG_7164

You could call this done if you like, and sew or glue this onto your earbuds now, but I’ve got a few more minutes to kill until folding time.

Cut a small felt circle of your second color of felt and stitch it to the center of the flower with a matching thread.  I used a simple blanket stitch.

IMG_7214

I still had some extra time, so I added some french knots in a contrasting thread color for a little extra bit of detail.  On the other earbud I also added a little green leaf underneath the flower.

IMG_7226

Step 6

Attach the flower to your earbuds.  I simply sewed around the earbud and through the petals a few times to hold it in place.  Alternately you could use glue, or a glue gun would work great.  I noticed some open outlets at the laundromat and realized I could’ve brought my hot glue for a quick and easy fix, but this worked just fine.

IMG_7224

Step 7

IMG_7229

Put on your headphones, turn up the tunes, and get that laundry folded!

IMG_7227

Another Lucky Thrifting Find

July 9th, 2009

img_6898
I get some of the best luck thrifting, but I was still surprised to find this Brother knitting machine for just $8. wow. I had to get it despite the fact that I’m rubbish at knitting and had no clue how one of these were supposed to work. It actually was pretty easy to get the hang of! I looked online and was able to find a manual and get the machine set up pretty easily. I had almost everything I needed, but I was missing a piece that held up the tension thingie so I improvised with some dowel rod. With a little more luck, the machine worked perfectly (except for some learning curve and user error) and I was making up little swatches and stuff in just a couple of hours.

I thought I’d share some basic photos to share what a knitting machine looks like.
img_6905
The machine consists of around 200 of these “needles” that are just like latch hooks and lay in channels along the “bed” of the machine.
img_6910
The carriage sits on top of the machine and glides across it with the help of channels along the bed. Now I’ve read a bunch of explanations of how exactly the carriage makes the stitches, but I don’t know how to explain it so we’ll just call it magic. Basically, when you slide the carriage across from one side to the other it lays the yarn across the needles. The new yarn is simultaneously pulled through the loop already on each needle, dropping the first loop below and keeping the new yarn loop on the needle ready for the next row. (yeah, we’ll just call it magic)
img_6909
This is what it looks like when there are a bunch of stitches on the needles. You can just go back and forth to create stocking stitch, or you can create lacey eyelets or chunky cables by manually moving stitches from one needle to another with the help of these little tools.
img_6932

using a tool to move a stitch

using a tool to move a stitch

A stitch moved over one to the right.  Running the carriage after this will leave an eyelet for this row and continue knitting as normal on the next row.

A stitch moved over one to the right. Running the carriage after this will leave an eyelet for this row and continue knitting as normal on the next row.

The machine is great for me because I have a really hard time keeping track of where I am in a pattern or how many stitches I’ve done. On the bed of the machine the needles are numbered every 5 needles, and on the back of the machine it’s got a row counter that automatically counts each time the carriage goes by.
img_6915

I worked off of this pattern (with a few changes, leaving out the purl stitches and adding the lacey bit to the center)
img_6913
and made a swatch that looked like this in about a half an hour
img_6929
It’s a little strange, because the right side can’t be seen while you’re working, but that’s part of the fun, I think. It wasn’t until I’d bound off this piece that I could see the full pattern.

I really like this machine and I just know I’m going to have a good time getting to know more tips and tricks and how to make some nifty knitted goodies!
img_6935

I strung some beads

July 6th, 2009

I strung some beads this weekend as my “laundromat project”. I think time waiting for your washers and dryers is best spent with a little project to work on, and this week I made myself a simple necklace.
necklace1

I quite like it. It’s long enough to slide over my head so it doesn’t have a clasp at the back, but it does have a clasp hanging from the center front to hold the pendant.
necklace2necklace3

Now I can wear my scissors everywhere! They’ve already come in handy a couple of times!

Night Hoops

July 4th, 2009
Some of our hoops, decorated with colorful tape

Some of our hoops, decorated with colorful tape

Last summer I heard about making your own hula hoops. I found out that hoops you find in the toy isle at the store just aren’t that great, and a bigger, heavier hoop can not only make hooping easier, but it’s a lot more fun, too! Since then I’ve spent many hours outside hooping it up, learning some tricks, and surprisingly getting a great workout (and the bruises and sore muscles that can come with it, ha!).
I’ve made quite a few hoops now. I’ve tried a bunch of different sizes and weights to see how they feel. Smaller, lighter ones are great for fast spinning. Bigger, slower hoops are perfect for a relaxing spin. I’ve made most of them out of cheap irrigation tubing I picked up at the Home Depot, but after seeing some cool LED hoops online (starting at $100!) I decided I wanted a glowing hoop, but for cheaper. The cheap tubing I was buying is black and opaque, so I set off again in search of a better tube. I found Pex tubing this week. It’s a white and more transparant kind of tubing intended for potable water. After visiting some home improvement stores for tubing and my friendly neighborhood dollar store to score some glow sticks I just had to wait until it was dark and start spinning light.

070209

Glowing hoops in the grass

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture of the hoops actually spinning, but you’ll just have to trust me, they look really cool.  The larger one is for me, and is about 13 feet of tubing and 7 glow necklaces. The smaller one is perfect for my favorite 8 year old and is 10 feet long and has 15 glow bracelets.  The glow sticks work great for one night, but I’m planning on running leds through them for more uses.

Here’s a classic tutorial for making your own hoops if you’re interested: http://www.jasonunbound.com/hoops.html

For Portlanders looking for supplies:

The black irrigation tubing for regular hoops I get at the home depot on SE 82nd ave in Clackamas.  They have it  in rolls of that make about 6-8 adult hoops for around $20.  I like the 3/4″ tubing and the grey connectors that fit at 28 cents apiece (you just need one per hoop) note: There’s also 1/2″ tubing that is a lot cheaper, but it just doesn’t work.  It’s worse than the cheapie kids’ hoops you’re trying to replace.

These glowing hoops were made from “Pex” tubing.  Besides their color difference from the other tubing, it’s also a little bit smaller (even though it’s also called 3/4″ tubing) so you’ll also need different connectors.  I found 10 foot lengths of pex at the Lowes out by milwaukee for about $3.50.  One of these is perfect for smaller people, but I like having 12-13 feet of length so I picked one up for the kiddo and kept looking.  They only had some big rolls of it for around $45, but I wasn’t sure yet how well it would work so I wasn’t ready to invest that much yet.  I looked again at the home depot, but in a different isle than my black tubing and found the pex there, too.  They had one piece that was cut at 3/4″, but it was only 5 feet long.  Luckily, I also found a roll of 25′ for $15.50, which is perfect to make two hoops my size!