Friday, November 29, 2013

Washi Tape Christmas Countdown Chain

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time for Christmas decorating!  This makes me extremely happy.

I was lying in bed the other morning thinking about those old-school Christmas chains I used to make out of construction paper as a kid, and it occurred to me that a little washi tape could totally make one of those chains feel all grown up.  Washi tape can do that for just about anything, don't you think?

When I put my idea into action, I also realized that the washi tape makes the chains even easier to make than the construction-paper-only chains from my childhood because you can use the edges of the tape as a guide for cutting straight lines.

Another bonus is that this project only took about 15 minutes!

To make one of these washi tape chains, you'll need the following:
1.  Red and green construction paper (one piece of each color)
2.  A roll of washi tape with red accents and a roll with green accents.  I used striped tape because it reminds me of candy canes.
3.  Scissors

Here are the instructions:

1.  Place 13 strips of reddish washi tape across the width of a piece of red construction paper and 12 strips of greenish washi tape across the width of a piece of green construction paper. As you do this, leave an inch-long tail of washi tape hanging off of the edge of the construction paper.

2.  Cut out the strips of washi taped construction paper, using the edges of the washi tape as a guide.  You should now have a total of 25 red and green strips.

3.  Turn your first strip into a loop and use the washi tape tail to secure it.

4.  It will look extra-professional if you make the pattern on the washi tape tail match up with the pattern on the tape that you're taping over.  See how the diagonal stripes all match up with each other in the 4th picture?

5.  Now add the rest of the chain links one at a time by repeating steps 3 and 4 with each strip, making sure that you loop each new strip around the previous loop before you tape it closed.

6.  Once you've added all 25 links to you're chain, hang it up, you're finished!

I hung my chain in our cabin, and I think it compliments our porthole picture very nicely.

I'm looking forward to December 1st so I can start ripping off one of the loops every day until Christmas!

How are you counting down to Christmas this year?


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm in Mexico today, and there's no turkey or pumping pie in my near future, but I have a lawn chair by the pool and a whole lot to be thankful for.

So in the spirit of the holiday, here's a list of the top 5 things that I'm thankful for today:

1.  My family.

2.  My awesome friends back home who put up with me being away at ice shows all the time.  (I'm looking at you, Karleen!)

3.  Getting to do what I love for my job.  It's seriously the best.

4.  Spending today by the ocean in Mexico.  If I can't be at home; this is a pretty great second choice.

5.  The internet, for keeping me connected to all my friends and family all over the world.

What are you thankful for?


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Knitting for Christmas

It's the week of Thanksgiving and I'm proud to say that I've already begun knitting this year's Christmas presents!

This is monumental because I'm normally the procrastinator of all procrastinators.

My early start doesn't necessarily mean that I'm completely safe from the Christmas Eve knitting frenzy that occurred the last two years in a row, but I'm extremely hopeful that this will be the year that I break the pattern.

What are your Christmas knitting habits?  Do you put everything off until the last minute like I normally do?  If you have a good knitting schedule that helps you avoid the last minute panic, I'd love to hear about it.

I'm pretty sure that Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start.  I'll let you know if I still feel that way when Christmas comes!

Some Christmas knitting from years past: An Ice Skate Ornament, Men's Mittens, and Little Knitted Flowers.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Showgirl Beauty Tip: Looking Cute in Anything

Every once in a while I get to skate in a show where every costume is adorable and glamorous.  When I wear those costumes, it's easy to feel like a million bucks.  But those shows only come around once in a blue moon.

Normally my costumes are a mixed bag, ranging from lovely to crazy and everything in between.

This picture is from the show that I'm currently skating in, where I have the pleasure of dressing up like a boy in an old school powdered wig.  It's not exactly my definition of adorable.

But it actually does turn out to be adorable when it's paired with a sassy attitude.  It's a super upbeat part of the show, and we get to skate to fun music and act like the sneaky tailors who make invisible clothes for the emperor in The Emperor's New Clothes.  I absolutely love it, and as long as I remember to embrace my character and exude confidence, I end up looking cute.

I feel like this concept transfers perfectly into everyday life, don't you?  Just like in ice shows, it doesn't really matter what you wear; what matters is how you wear it. When you accessorize with the right attitude, you can make any outfit look great.

Embrace your aesthetic!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Elbow Patch Knitting Pattern

I had only owned my newest sweater for about a month when I realized I had ripped a hole in its elbow.  To be fair, it was a pretty cheap sweater from H&M and sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

I was still bummed out about the hole, though, so I decided to knit some fun elbow patches to cover it up (and to protect the other elbow from getting holes too).

I've seen various iterations of heart-shaped elbow patches on sweaters in stores and on the internet, but I haven't seen any knitting patterns for them so I made up my own.

This pattern is similar to the hanging heart knitting pattern that I posted last Valentine's Day, except I made this one slightly shorter and wider and less pointy on the bottom so that it would cover my elbows properly.  I also knitted these patches with 2 strands of yarn at once in order to make them extra thick and sturdy.

-  2 skeins of worsted weight yarn (or one skein from which you can use both ends)
-  US Size 8 knitting needles
-  Scissors
-  Tapestry needle to weave in the ends

Abbreviations used in this pattern:
kfb:  Knit front and back.  An increase stitch involving knitting the front and the back of a single stitch to create 2 stitches.
k2tog:  Knit two together.  A decrease stitch involving knitting two stitches together to form a single stitch.
k2tog(tbl):  Knit two together through the back of the loop.  Inserting the needle through the back of the loops of 2 stitches to perform a k2tog decrease stitch.
k3tog:  Knit three together.  A decrease stitch involving knitting three stitches together to form a single stitch.
k3tog(tbl):  Knit three together through the back of the loop.  Inserting the needle through the back of the loops of 3 stitches to perform a k3tog decrease stitch.

*Knit this entire pattern using two strands of yarn together as if they were one strand.*

Row 1:  cast on 2 stitches
Row 2:  kfb, kfb
Row 3:  purl 4
Row 4:  kfb, knit 2, kfb
Row 5:  purl 6
Row 6:  kfb, knit 4, kfb

You have now created the top left hump of your heart.  Cut the yarn so that your knitting is no longer attached to your skein of yarn, leaving a long enough tail to weave in later.

Push the existing knitting down the needle, saving it for later.

Repeat rows 1 through 6 again, starting by casting onto the empty needle.

Now you should have both humps for the top of your heart on one needle.  Push them together and knit the rest of the pattern as if it were all one piece.

Row 7:  purl 16
Row 8:  knit 16
Row 9:  purl 16
Row 10:  k2tog, knit 12, k2tog(tbl)
Row 11:  purl 14
Row 12:  k2tog, knit 10, k2tog(tbl)
Row 13:  purl 12
Row 14:  k2tog, knit 8, k2tog(tbl)
Row 15:  purl 10
Row 16:  k2tog, knit 6, k2tog(tbl)
Row 17:  purl 8
Row 18:  k3tog, knit 2, k3tog(tbl)
Row 19:  purl 4
Row 20:  k2tog, k2tog(tbl)

Bind off purlwise and weave in the ends.

Attaching the patches to the sweater:
Use safety pins to attach the patches to the sweater, then try it on to make sure they are in the right spots.  Once you've got them in the right place, sew the patches onto the sweater using a tapestry needle and the same yarn that you used to knit the patches.

I couldn't be happier with the way my elbow patches turned out, and I hope you feel the same way if you choose to knit these too.

Here's a before and after picture of my sweater.  Note the hole in the left elbow on the "before" side.  And just for funsies, you can also note how crazy windy it was when I took the "after" shot.

Happy heart knitting!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Link to Love: Marathon Knitting

Did you see this story that was posted online in the sports section of the New York Times on November 1st?

It's all about two knitting runners who have been breaking each other's world record for the longest scarf knitted while running a marathon.  Yes, that really is a category in the Guinness Book of World Records.

I love this story for two reasons.  First, I'm amazed that someone even came up with the idea to knit while running.  That's some serious creativity right there.  Second, I think it's awesome that the two knitting runners in the story became friends over the internet.  It speaks to the strength of the online knitting community, and it makes me feel good about being involved in the world of knitting bloggers.

So what do you think?  Do you think you can run and knit at the same time?

Happy reading!

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to Add Your Own Doodles to Digital Photos

I'm in love with adding hand-drawn borders, doodles, and accents to my photos using the Beautiful Mess App. If you've ever seen my Instagram account, you already knew that, though, didn't you?

So I was thinking about that app the other day and I started wondering if I could make my own doodles and borders to add to my photos instead of always using Elsie and Emma's drawings. I did some playing around in photoshop, and it turns out to be relatively easy! I'll walk you through the process.

Start by drawing your picture by hand on white paper.

I prefer to draw in pencil, but that doesn't work as well as pen does for this process, so I drew my doodle in pencil first (step 1) then drew over it in pen (step 2) then erased the pencil (step 3).

Take a photo of your hand-drawn picture, or you can scan it if you have a scanner.

Load the photo into photoshop.

Click on “Image” then “Adjustments” then “Levels.”

Select the white eyedropper and use it to click on the white paper in the photo.  Everything except your pen marks should suddenly turn perfectly white.  If there are some spots that aren’t 100% white, click on them again with the white eyedropper until everything in the background of your drawing is white.

Then click on the little arrow below the graph on the left hand side and drag it to the right.  This will make your pen marks darker and easier to select in the next step.

Now go to “Select” then “Color Range.” 

Choose “Shadows” in the drop-down menu.  All of the pen marks in your drawing should now be selected.  If they aren’t, go back to the “Levels” menu and drag the little arrow to the right again, thus making your lines even darker and easier to select.

With your drawing selected, click Control C to copy the drawing then Control V to paste it into a new layer.

Now you can make the background invisible by clicking on the little eyes next to every layer except the newest one.

Save your project as a photoshop document (.psd) so that you will always have it on hand to open it up, select your hand-drawn artwork, and drag it on top of any other photo you’d like.  

Check it out:

Happy doodling!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Showgirl Beauty Tip: Trimming Lashes to Fit

Life is suddenly wonderful again.  We're deep into our fifth week on the ship, rehearsals are finally over, and we've made it to the beach at last.

As I sit here at this beachfront cafe, I'd like to share another showgirl beauty tip regarding false eyelashes.

When you first take your lashes out of the box, they will be super long.  Unless you hit the genetic lottery and have extremely large eyes, the strip of lashes is going to be too long.  So before you apply the lashes, hold them up to your eyes to determine how long they should be, then cut off the excess length.  

I usually cut off about two of the little clumps of the lash.

Once you've cut your lashes so they fit your eyes properly, they will be significantly more comfortable.

Happy cutting!

Friday, November 1, 2013

October in Instagram Photos

My Instagram account does a pretty perfect job of summing up this month.  It started out with lots of crafty fun at home, and then I flew away to my next skating gig where I was sucked into the rehearsal vortex and was never heard from again.

I made a fun Halloween photo backdrop from strips of fabric, and I took in the lovely views in my own backyard.  I did some knitting when I really should have been packing, which is pretty standard.  I also had a quick glimpse of snow, which made me want to stay in Colorado even more.  I did some baking for my boyfriend, and then suddenly (much more suddenly than I had expected) I flew off to my next skating contract and spent the next four weeks in rehearsals.

Luckily, we finally opened our show yesterday, and things will be back to normal now.  I'm so, so, so excited about it!  I have tons of blogging and crafting ideas in mind for the coming month and I can't wait to get them going.

Happy Halloween!
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