Archive | September, 2012

Fun with puns and the USPS

27 Sep

Fred’s dad recently retired.  Figuring a bouquet of delivered cut flowers might not be his thing we customized a Congratulatory package for him.  Fred mentioned that his dad liked the MN favorite Salted Nut Rolls. I bought two different multi-pack sizes of them and dumped them in a bright red new bowl from my closet of random Tupperware (I happen to be a consultant).As you can see the red really made an impact.  A bowl of nut rolls seemed random enough, but I felt like we needed to include a few puns that would tie these items to his retirement.  So I Fred and I together came up with the following puns.

Ha! Get it? Nut going back to work? Now comes the part that will bowl (ha!) you over: Did you know you can mail nearly anything from the United States Postal Service? Yes, the friendly postal workers know my face at the post office and usually have something sarcastic to say and look a little disappointed if the shipping vessel is a simple cardboard box.  I’ve received coconuts(from Hawaii!), wooden logs and plastic fruit through the mail.  I have mailed to others inflated beach balls, flip-flops, and inflated animals! Obviously explosives and the whole list of questions they ask you when you go to the post office are NOT included and if you aren’t clear what is and isn’t allowable to ship you can find answers to most questions here.  For instance, I recently learned that you may NOT mail things in beer or alchohol boxes even if the contents aren’t beer or alcohol.

So we pressed down the Tupperware seal, slapped on an address label, taped the bowl up and shipped her on her way for just a little over $5.00

She (not sure why the bowl is she- must be her great curves!) arrived safe and sound as seen from the photos above and below. Wahoo! Who wouldn’t love a bowl full of nut rolls?

What is the craziest thing you’ve mailed to someone or had mailed to you?


Got Yarn?

25 Sep

I have pretty strict rules when it comes to buying yarn.  In other words, I don’t want to become the lady that lives in her shoes yarn stash.  My main rule is that I can’t buy yarn unless I know exactly what project it will be used for, and what size needle, yarn weight, and yardage is needed.  I’m pretty good at adhering to this, but even so, left over yarn still piles up.

I’ve been trying to find some fun projects to use up some of my stash and have a few planned, so this is the first edition of a series called “Got Yarn?”.   My first project is a quick and easy one -based on some fun earring ideas I’d spotted on Pinterest.  Okay, so this project isn’t going to really use up very much yarn, but the best part is that I was able to make these earrings using things I already had on hand.

I started with a pair of paper clips and opened them into triangles.

I took some turquise yarn from my stash, and wrapped the entire paper clip with the yarn.

I then criss crossed the yarn across the width of the triangle to create a graphic pattern.  Once complete, I glued the edge of the yarn in place.  I had a number of earring hooks from a previous earring project that I was able to use. I simply pried open and crimped the earring hook around the top corner of the triangle.

Check out the finished look:

This was so quick and easy that I decided to try another way to make this earring. This time, I took some jewelry wire I had in my small collection of jewelry supplies and cut two pieces of equal length.

I wrapped each wire and then shaped them into tear drop style earrings.  Because of the thick top joint, I used a larger jump ring to connect the tear drop to the earring hook.

I think I like this one even better!

If you’ve got even the smallest bit of yarn, string, or thread lying around, it would be easy to whip something like this up.  And don’t forget to check your earring collection, you could use some earring hooks from an old pair of earrings you don’t wear anymore.

Chunky Knit Cowl

20 Sep

Ok. It seems I’m into cowls. After I completed my infinity scarf last week, I went ahead and knit a fun cowl this week.  And I have yet another version of a cowl on another set of needles that I’ve been stitching here and there since spring. I may need an intervention!  But hey, we have a number of cowl friendly months ahead.  Because it uses chunky yarn and large needles, this was a quick and easy knit, and I learned some new knitty things as well.  This would be a great beginner’s project or quick knit gift idea when you are in a pinch. I probably logged about 3-4 hours from start to finish.

I used this free pattern that I found on Ravelry – If you are a knitter or crocheter, and you haven’t checked out Ravelry, get over there now! Membership is free and it is nothing short of awesome!  I used Lion Brand HomeSpun chunky yarn and size 15 needles. The pattern called for size 17 needles, but I figured 15 would be good enough…if you haven’t noticed yet, that’s usually the way I roll.

This pattern calls for a provisional cast on – this was a new concept for me.  It basically has you cast on using scrap yarn, and then you start knitting with your project yarn.  This allows for you to remove the scrap yarn at the end, and stitch the edges together to close the cowl into a seamless circle or round.  I found this video to be very easy to grasp the provisional cast on instructions.  This was such a nice cast on, that I might consider using it as a regular cast on in the future. Here you can see my purple scrap yarn as a temporary edge:

Once I finished knitting the piece, I pulled out the purple scrap yarn, and thread the loops back onto my needle.

With my two edges back on needles, I used kitchener stitch to graft the two edges together with my yarn needle.

When complete, you really can’t even tell what was once the beginning or end. Magic!

The coolest thing about this cowl, is that it can be worn in several different ways.   I tried hooded, scrunched, cowl necked, turtle necked, and around the shoulders.

I’m sure one could think of more ways!

Baby Shower Pennant

18 Sep

When my good friends Bhasu and Simran agreed to let another friend and I throw them a baby shower we used their Safari themed nursery bedding as a jumping off point for the decorations as well. Ekta made a fabulous diaper cake and I spent an afternoon crafting with friends to make a pennant banner, which was all the rage on Pinterest for a few months.

I chose a few different fabrics and drew and cut out a triangle on paper that seemed right for my pennant size.  While I bought a half yard to a full yard of many of these fabrics I soon discovered that you only needed about 1/4 yard.  In order to save myself some cutting time I cut the width of my fabric according to the height of my triangle. I then folded the material so I could cut twice and have many triangles ready to go.  I cut each side of the triangles with a rotary cutter using a straight edge  as a guide.

I then pinned the right sides together and sewed each pennant on the longer sides of each pennant triangle.

Once the two long sides were sewn together. I flipped the pennant right side out and pressed it.  When all of my pennants were sewn and pressed I pinned each pennant flag on the inside of a double bias tape. I zig-zag stitched down the entire bias tape so it would be a nice finished uniform edge.

Here is the pennant in place at the shower along with the other decorations and the cake on the table. It was a fun project to put together for my friends!

Framed Up

13 Sep

For years I have been searching for the perfect earring holder.  Then I joined Pinterest and a whole world opened up for me in terms of where my earrings could find their home. I’ve done this project a few different ways. In this post I’ll show you a few different options I’ve created and some basic steps on how to make them. This is the first version I made for my roommate Kristine more than a year ago. (Pardon the not-so-great ancient photo)  At her request I left the frame unpainted, but I did spray paint the chicken wire black.

During this same time frame I painted a few other frames I had lying around.  I found all of these frames at a garage sale for $1 each.  I finished the next framed earring holder with regular chicken wire and a bright cheery blue spray paint. In addition to a manual heavy duty staple gun I also used a tin snip to cut the chicken wire.

I began by stapling the chicken wire across one side of the frame.  I then continued around the corner to  complete two contiguous sides.  From there I stretched the wire taut and completed stapling one additional side, then the other.  I tried to staple so that the edges of the staple would catch where the wire met.The larger chicken wire was more difficult for me to keep taut, but I think it reflects the rustic nature of the piece.

The finished version with earrings.

At the same time I painted this lovely frame I also painted a much smaller green frame.  I decided I wanted a different look for this version.  Enter the jute I inherited from my mom’s cleaning out of her sewing room. While you probably can’t see it, the blue “oriental jute” on the left was purchased at The Gift Shop in Devils Lake, ND. I’d bet this was purchased in the 1970s, but it now has a purpose.

I used a heavy duty stapler, a needle nosed pliers, a screwdriver, scissors and jute.

I tied off the jute after stapling it to the side, then used another staple to start my criss-cross motion.

In order to space the jute apart I stapled the jute twice on each side for every turn.  Making the loop also made the stapling on this section quite easy.  See all those extra original tiny nails? I used the needle nose to pull them once once I realized they would effect my spacing.  The screwdriver I used to pry up “oops” staples where I missed the jute completely. Be sure to keep tightening the jute on each turn.

And this is the final product.

As another option, I’ve also seen examples of lace strung across as well.

Autumn Infinity Scarf

11 Sep

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the cooler temps, especially when it’s not quite time for a full blown coat, but when throwing on cozy layers is just the ticket. And it’s boot season, of course! I think I’ve pinned more than a handful of infinity scarves on Pinterest by now, including a fun plaid flannel one that would be perfect for fall. One day, a few months back, I was getting ready to check out with some items at Joann Fabric, when I saw that flannel was on sale (plus it was that magical time of year when I had an additional coupon to take off the top of my entire purchase). With that plaid scarf in mind, I impulsively bought a 1/4 yard of fabric, thinking I could whip some sort of scarf up with it. After sale and coupon, it set me back a whole $1.89. Steal!

I have to say, this blog is a good motivator to getting my rear in gear on impulsive project purchases that have been sitting in the back of my closet for months! I found my piece of plaid last night and decided to whip that baby up just in time for fall! After looking at the smallish piece of fabric, I regret not getting a half yard for a bit more volume, but oh well, I’ll “make it work” in true Tim Gunn fashion.

I wanted the scarf to be long enough to wrap at least twice, so I decided to cut the fabric in half and sew together to double the length.  Once cut in half, each piece was about 9.5 inches wide and about 45 inches long.

At first I thought I would hem the sides and simply stitch the two pieces together on each end, but the more I thought about it, I didn’t like the idea of exposed seams and fiddling with hemming both edges.  My plan quickly changed to sew the two pieces together on one of the 9.5 inch edges, and then fold it lengthwise and stitch it closed like a long tube.

This brought the width of the scarf down, but I realized the length would allow for wearing it wrapped three times, which would help add volume.  Plus, this made for a very quick sew on my sweet ol’ vintage Singer!

Once I had my “tube” complete, I flipped it right side out, and carefully stitched the open side as much as I possibly could maneuver, leaving a hole open to hand stitch it shut.

I hand stitched the seam closed using an invisible seam stitch that I often use in my knitting projects.  Here’s a link to a tutorial for the specifics:

I finished stitching and threw it on to see what it looked like.  I wrapped it three times for this final shot, but it could be worn longer if wrapped twice.  Not too shabby for $1.89 and less than an hour in the sewing chair!

How about you? Are you ready for the layer-happy cooler temps of autumn?

All Faucets are not created Equal

6 Sep

In our minds The Craftery isn’t just sewing needles, crochet hooks and paintbrushes.  Our world of craftery also forays into home improvement.

It all started so simply. The faucet was leaking on the upstairs bathroom sink and the stopper on the sink had not worked for the entirety of the 3.5 years I had lived in my home. The pedestal sink itself was chipped underneath.  This bathroom also had little to no storage. Changing out a sink couldn’t be that difficult, right?

A few weeks earlier I had purchased the sink and cabinet at Home Depot for $150 and the faucet for a mere $25.00.

3 trips to my trusty Ace hardware, one trip to Menards,  and 2 trips to Ace later I was in business. Did I mention this process took me three days?

Part One: remove the old sink.  I got so excited I forgot to take photos- oops!

Step one. Shut off the water to the sink. Immediately I knew I was in trouble. My shut off valves looked like this. Have I mentioned that my home was built in 1924?

 I could shut them off, but when I tried to disconnect them- the entire valve started twisting off (not a good thing!). So I shut off the water to the whole house. Ran the water enough to empty out the pipes and then proceeded to take off the shut off valve, which was connected to the sink.

Next I disconnected the waste water pvc pipes.  These come apart fairly easy. Just make sure you have a bucket to catch anything that is caught in the trap.

I then used a utility knife to cut the bead of silicon caulk that ran along the back of the sink. The bottom pedestal portion of my pedestal sink was NOT connected to the top so I removed it and held the sink up with  my hands while unscrewing the bolts from the wall. The bolts and metal piece held up the sink.  NOTE: I would NOT do this alone.  It could have easily come crashing down on me or on the tile and smashed either the tile or hurt me. Fortunately it didn’t.

Eventually the sink just came loose when the metal piece was loosened So I carried the top, then the pedestal out to the curb where someone else picked them up or the trash man found them the next morning.

This was the first run to Ace Hardware for the shut off valve.  They are ever so helpful and asked why I had not brought the valve with (it was still stuck to the sink in the back alley).  I purchased a valve for ½ inch pipe only to arrive home and find it was too big.  So I went out back and disconnected the very rusted fitting  for my second trip to Ace where the helpful folks helped me find the correct piece.  Success!

I installed the new shut off valve and turned back on the water to find I had a little drip.  I used a wrench to turn the valve on a little tighter and the leak was gone.

Installing the faucet

I installed the faucet per the instructions on the Glacier Bay box.  They were fairly straightforward, but when I went to connect the waste water pipe I discovered that I was quite a few inches off.

One hasty trip to home depot and I had the new pieces I needed to get the appropriate connections for the trap to connect to the sink.  I used my handy dandy mini hack saw to cut the pieces to fit as shown below Everything was installed- water was turned on… and I had many a leak near the sink.

I needed a new wrench, but it was 11:00 pm- so this project had to sit again over night so I could pick up the wrench I needed.

And after work that night I let the mega wrench I purchased at Menards work it’s magic-the leak stopped coming from the sink, but it was now coming from the faucet itself which mean the faucet itself was faulty.  My second trip to Home Depot for a faucet was a quick decision- quality but not ridiculously priced. I just wanted it to work.

The minute I opened the box I could see the difference. The pieces of the faucet were metal (not plastic like the other broken model) and it went together like a dream (once I had pulled the other one apart).

Three days of brushing our teeth in the kitchen sink could have been eliminated had I known the following:

(1)   Start with the appropriate tools. Make sure you’ve got a wrench big enough to do the job you need to do.
(2)   Have an assistant to help you hold things as you pull them apart (or tighten them, or merely to hand you a beer while you toil over the sink).
(3)   Make sure you know what size of pvc pipe you are working with- bring it with you if you need to replace pieces.  Take a photo if you are going to need additional help once you get to the hardware store/home depot.
(4)   DO NOT BUY CHEAP FAUCETS. Apparently this is a new homeowner lesson learned. I posted on Facebook my cheap faucet woes and was rewarded with many a story from friends and family of similar trials with cheap faucets.

This was my first full installation completed entirely by myself and while it took longer and cost more than I expected the photo below is reward enough for me.