26 July, 2011

Craft Book Review: Big Little Felt Universe

Big Little Felt Universe by Jeanette Kim is a lot of fun to look at. Jeanette Kim lives in Singapore and has a felt pattern Etsy shop called UmeCrafts. All of the designs are adorable and she has some great ideas such as using velcro to make the fruit "cut-able".

The book is broken up into 12 sets: cake, camping, sundae, office, grill, plants, holiday, veggies, doctor, fruits, tools, and purse. I counted 80 different projects between the 12 sets so that's a lot of felt stitching! I may one day challenge myself to make everything in the book but for now I've made 3 Pieces, 6 if you count the small fruit toppings. I made a piece of cake with raspberry, blueberry and kiwi fruit toppings, lucky bamboo, and the wrench.

All of the pieces turned out well, the patterns themselves were perfect though the instructions left room for interpretation. Some of the instructions were unclear or didn't tell you how to do it at all, skipping steps and assuming you'd figure it out. Sewing these items wasn't brain surgery and the poor instructions didn't hinder me too much but I expect them not to be so vague.

I don't regret buying this book. Although the instructions were sometimes disappointing everything else was not. The patterns and ideas are fun, clever, and life size so they're sure to please any child who plays make believe. They will also please some adults. Aaron insisted that the lucky bamboo be on his desk!

22 July, 2011

Things to Love #1. Nest

I'm going to start "Things to Love" posts. These posts will contain things I find so great that I just have to share them with you. For the first installation I bring you "Nest".

Nest is a hand-knitted, adult, bean bag chair from the two women of Zilalia. It looks so comfy and beautiful and not what comes to mind when you think of a bean bag. They're handmade, eco-friendly and health friendly. You can check out their site for more specs and info. I look at this and see it as a challenge to knit, knit, knit one but I'm also intimidated. It would take me FOREVER! Which along with the quality of the materials explains the price tag.


I've been experimenting with new shapes and textures of crochet and today I came up with this.

His name is "Lumpy". Lumpy is a mistake but I'm happy to have him. The intention was to find a texture to crochet a sheep and I knew early on this wasn't working, but the intrigue was there so I kept going. I used a popcorn stitch for the lumps and threw in single crochets along with some increasing and decreasing the get the round shape. He's very strange and fun to hold. About halfway through I remembered some big bells I had and so I entombed one inside!

Now he's fun to hold AND he jingles. I don't know whether to give him to a cat or a baby! Both would love his jingle but babies benefit from the texture so I think baby wins. Now I want to make a bigger one, maybe the size of a grapefruit. Only time will tell if I follow through. Now I just need to figure out that sheep!

A New Bag

Aaron and I are heading up to Seattle tomorrow to scope out the city and meet with a couple rental agencies. Mainly we're planning on checking out different neighborhoods to find a good fit. While doing laundry, packing, and planning I decided I needed a new purse. My trusty seatbelt purse has served me well but its short handles makes it tiresome to carry around on excursions. I wanted something I could sling over my shoulder or across my chest. So what does a lady with limited income do? She makes a new one of course! With some fabric I'd been neglecting to use I whipped up a new bag, large enough to hold the necessities (a book and a ball of yarn) and small enough to not be in the way. The design is simple, no pockets, just a bag with a lining. It took about an hour and a half to complete from concept to finish.

I was very happy with the result. This was the second bag I've ever made and it came a lot easier this time around. The strap is two separate pieces so it can be tied at different lengths. I really like that feature because it looks pretty cute when you tie it short. I may spruce it up a bit and quilt around a spattering of the leaves and flowers. I already have about half the colors in thread so I think it would be a nice embellishment. I'm also going to work on a tutorial for making a bag like this. Until next time folks!

21 July, 2011

I Love These! Double Walled Glassware

I LOVE tea and I love the things people come up with to serve, strain, and drink it with. My new favorite is double-walled glassware. Glass is so lovely, clean and renewable. You also don't have to worry about nasty carcinogens with glass. I first fell in love with dwgw with these tea tumblers from Blue Q.

Back at my old restaurant I had a customer come in and sit at the counter with one. We had a 15 minute discussion about how great they are. They even have a built in strainer so you can use them for loose tea. I've been on the verge of buying one for months but I bought this travel mug last winter and don't want to be wasteful. I haven't been able to decide between the green and the yellow one anyways so I can wait a little bit longer.

My love for dwgw resurfaced when our roommate came home with a mug from the thriftstore. You wouldn't believe how lightweight it is. The cashier didn't believe it either and kept insisting that it was plastic. I fell in love with it at once and instantly wanted a set for myself. Even Aaron shared my taste so we looked it up.

This is the 10oz dw mug made by Bodum. They sell them on their site $30 for a pair and our roommate picked his up for $2. What a steal! Aaron and I got rid of all but a few mugs when we made the big move so we might have to pick up a few of these when we settle in Seattle. Bodum also makes other dw products for hot and cold drinks. I might have to pick up a few of these as well!

Happy Tea Drinking!

It Had to Happen

The final Harry Potter movie just came out so of course I had to post about it. Some time before leaving Virginia My friend Erin and I started re-reading the Harry Potter series. I'm not sure how many times I've read them, I tend to get an itch every year or so. The idea was to read all the way through before the last movie came out. If you have read and loved the series but never reread them I'd highly recommend it. There are things mentioned offhand in the first books that reappear in the later books so it's really fun to go back and see J.K. Rowling's foresight. And if you HAVEN'T read the books you should, they're well written, fun and you'll breeze right through them.

The point of all this talk is that my heart has been all a-flutter with love for Harry Potter so of course I looked up some HP crafts to do. There are a lot out there, some cool and some not so much. I've been trying to use up the resources that already I have (bags and bags of yarn) so I chose to knit a golden snitch. My knitting has been limited to scarves, hats and a not so impressive tie therefore I was happy to gain some new experience with a new shape, a sphere. When the knitting was done it was in fact spherical so I was happy! The wings tended towards curling so I slid a wire through the top of the wing for support.

150 points to me!

wire support

As for the movie? For the first time ever I went to a midnight showing. My friend Brittany and I left the boys at home and headed to downtown Portland for the 3-D show. We showed up to the mall around 11 and the two floors the theatre occupied were full of people waiting in line, some dressed up, some with lightening scars, all excited. A kind employee dressed like Harry himself pointed us in the direction of our theatre and to our amazing luck we were able to walk right in and sit down! No waiting on opening night, what amazing luck! We picked up our HP 3-D glasses, found a seat in the back, and popped open our Red Bulls. There are so many reviews out there so I'll just say this. I liked it. There were discrepancies of course but all around I think it was worth it. The beginning went by a little faster than I'd have liked but I think that was to give more time to the epic ending. It's give and take when books are turned into movies. For now I'll continue to love the series, and enjoy my golden snitch. Maybe I'll hang it up when we settle in one spot for more than two months.

18 July, 2011

A Colorful Excuse for a Cold Drink

I didn't even consider the blog world until last winter, now I am an addict! I LOVE looking at craft blogs, there are so many good ideas to try out and it's so easy to wander from one blog to another since every blogger has a list of their favorites readily available. I'll be developing my list soon! In my searching I ran across a beautiful blog called The Purl Bee. This blog belongs to a yarn, fabric, etc. store called Purl SoHo located in New York, NY. They have lots of fun projects available, some for a price but plenty for free. They also offer kits for projects that would make things super simple.

There were many tutorials I wanted to try out but I landed on these simple, bright coasters. They just seemed so perfect for summer and not very work intensive so I gave them a try!

The only thing I did differently was baste the wedges before sewing instead of pinning them. I found this easier to work around and it kept the circle from scrunching up. They have better pictures on their site so if you think you like mine you should check their's out.

Even if coasters aren't your thing (embrace those water rings!) I hope everyone is enjoying a nice cool beverage every now and again this summer thinking about the good things in life. Whether it's a fresh limeade or morning mimosa don't forget to take advantage of this simple pleasure on a hot day.

17 July, 2011

A New Necktie

I made something for Aaron yesterday, a necktie! I think it looks pretty great and I can't wait to go out sometime with him in it. He's more of a T-shirt and corduroy sort of guy so this will be a new direction. He's a great team player and was kind enough to model it for me today.

It was very simple with a little bit of trial and error to get the width right, although what is "right" is up for discussion. Some people say 2" some say 3". I stuck with 2" I like the skinny tie look for casual wear. I had originally started a knit tie with this free pattern from Lion Brand but I didn't like the way the edges were turning out. This was probably because I'm NOT a very experienced knitter but I AM an experienced crocheter so I figured, "Why not crochet a tie?" From there I went to my favorite, simple, cobblestone texture that's made by alternating double crochet and single crochet.

The following pattern is what I came up with. If the width is not what you like all you have to do is increase or decrease your chain by twos and then change the amount of times you alternate double crochets and single crochets accordingly. Also, I used 100% wool, worsted weight but I'm sure you could use other materials. I think it would be super cute to needle felt a heart in the bottom corner, I wonder if Aaron would go for that. Happy crocheting!

Men's Necktie
*ch=chain *sc=single crochet *dc=double crochet
use size E/3.5-4mm hook

chain 12
row 1. sc in 3rd ch from hook, alternate dc and sc 4x's, dc in last ch
row 2. Turn, ch 1, alternate dc and sc 4x's, dc in last ch
Repeat row 2 until your piece reaches ~25"
row 3. Turn, ch 1, decrease, alternate dc and sc 2x's, decrease, dc in last ch
row 4. Turn, ch 1, decrease, dc, sc, decrease, dc in last ch
row 5. Turn, ch 1, alternate dc and sc 2 x's, dc in last ch
Repeat row 5 until your piece reaches ~54". Finish and weave in ends.

I enjoyed the way it turned out so much I started another one today! The texture on this one is more apparent. What a simple way to make a piece more interesting.

Life Lately

My life has been a blur recently so I thought I'd catch the blog up on my sit'ch.

In late May Aaron and I packed up our things and our pup Sagan to settle out west. We now find ourselves in Portland, Oregon for a temporary stay. Aaron was fortunate enough to keep his job and work via his computer so we can go ANYWHERE. Oh the possibilities! We love Portland so far and wish we could stay but there's an opportunity drawing us to Seattle, WA this fall. In the meantime my sister just had a bitty baby and with a 2 and 4 year old running around could use a little assistance. The obvious thing to do here is go help out! Neither one of us has been to California and I love my sister and her kiddos, why not take another adventure! So here we stand, another week or two in Portland then down to southern CA for a month or so, and then back up to Seattle . . . man it's a hard life ;)

The only downfall is that I can't get a job skipping around, so here I am, unemployed, a kept woman, trying to fill my days with something useful. In comes the blog! I'm already crafting around and trying new things to enhance my life so I thought I'd document it if only for my own enjoyment.

Now I'm going to go enjoy the rest of today's beautiful sunshine and think about what project I'll post about first!

camping in Oregon

16 July, 2011

Inventing Myself

Welcome to Invent My Universe! A blog about me and my efforts to shape the world I live in. I don't mean this in a big sort of way but a very small self aware way. Whether I want to move across the country, sew a dress or create the perfect breakfast I'm making decisions and trying to follow through. I believe we all need to develop our own expectations and goals for our lives and forget the typical definitions for success.

This blog will be craft heavy but I will also be throwing in everything else I'm doing; reading, cooking, planting, moving, playing . . .

So here it goes, for better or for worse. Hopefully I'll make it past the first week!