Monday, October 17, 2011

No mermaids here

This year I decided to pull the mermaid costume listings from my etsy shop so that I could concentrate on training my intern on the finer points of ninja-costume-sewing:
She ran the accelerator, I steered.  And nobody ended up bleeding on the costume - bonus!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I've been working at the yarn store ...

... all the live-long day (on Tuesdays and Thursdays while LazyKid is at school)
I've been working at the yarn store
Trying to put some wool away ...

(I had the easy job - Cathy - or is it Kathy? - had to put all of the inventory in the computer and put price stickers on all of it)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Did I mention I'm growing potatoes this year?

Okay, so my "potato condo" is actually a collapsible yard waste bin from Target, and about four bags of potting soil ...


Who cares?  I still grew potatoes!

Today is my daughter's first day of school, so I'm going to wait until she's home to harvest the rest.  I can't wait to see how many we got in that little container!

And speaking of little containers, did you know you can grow awesome carrots in a deep flower pot in your front yard, and nobody will ever know (until you harvest them)?



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New class in development: Super-size Scrappy Square Blanket

My most recent attempt to use up scrap sock yarn generated a lot of interest, both in the Muggle public and at sit-and-knit at my local yarn store.  

I'm guessing that there are a lot of people like me who save oddball amounts of leftover yarn with the intention of doing "something" with it someday, but they have a hard time finding a pattern that doesn't end up looking like something the cat barfed up.  With truly random color choices, there's always an unfortunate possibility that your project will turn out to look significantly less than awesome.

I'm thinking of writing up the patterns for both the solid square blanket (above) and a super-sized granny square afghan (which would be along the lines of this one on Ravelry).  Or maybe a rectangular one in stripes?  These projects have all the hallmarks of being a Lazy Mama favorite:
  • You design the color progression to avoid unfortunate color neighbors
  • Uses yarn you've already got on hand
  • Works with any gauge and thickness of yarn
  • Pattern lets you keep working until you get bored - makes an infinite number of sizes.
  • No seams, and it's easy to work in the ends as you go, so practically no finishing.
I'll need to work up some samples this weekend to get my instructions ironed out, but I think these patterns show a lot of promise.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Upcoming class - crocheting rag rugs

A lot of people love the look of traditional rag rugs, but they're not thrilled with the idea of having to sew together miles and miles of braid with stiff thread and a heavy duty needle.  Luckily, you can get a similar result with the same materials much more easily - with crochet!  

And better yet, it doesn't require any special stitches or equipment - just single crochet and a size Q hook.

On Sunday, September 11, I'll be teaching a class on the rag rug crochet technique at River Colors Studio.  I'll cover fabric selection and preparation, different shapes you can make, how to make an extra-reinforced version that will stand up to heavy wear, and more!  I'll provide a written pattern to make a circular rug, and in class we'll work on a project that can either be the beginning of a rug, or a chair pad or trivet if you don't want to make something quite so large.

Call soon to register - there's been a LOT of interest in this project when I've brought it to the sit-and-knits on Saturday afternoons.

Having my own craft show

We're having a garage sale today, and I figured that since I had a captive audience anyway, I'd try to convince them to Gsee things as a Lazy Mama.  Translation: I set up a table of items from my etsy shops in the middle of my garage sale.


It's not beautiful, but it gets the job done, and I've already sold more SWAK blankets in 2 hours than I have all year on etsy.

So if you've ever had a hankering to check out my stuff in person (and you're near Cleveland, Ohio today), come on by and chat!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If I had a hammer (and a decent staple gun)

My craftiness has been channeled into our new patio room, where I have traded my knitting needles for a hammer and some panel adhesive ...

While I had the paint out for the paneling, I rehabbed a wooden bookshelf I pulled off of a trash pile last summer.  One coat of paint and a yard of fabric later, and voila! Instant happy bookcase!

Simplest fabric project ever.  Fabric, scissors, staple gun.  I didn't even measure it, just cut it to fit as I went.

This won't be the last thing I'm making for the room, so keep your eyes peeled for more projects soon!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Super stash-busting extravaganza

A few weeks ago I taught a beginning crochet class at River Colors, and my student caught onto things so quickly that we had time to get into some of the more advanced topics, like changing colors and making granny squares.  One of the projects I used as an example of how she could use these skills was the standard stash-buster blanket ... which I've never actually made.  It's been on my radar for a couple of years now, and the stash of leftover sock yarn has been growing and growing, but I could never decide on a pattern I liked enough to commit the time and energy to make.

But I was inspired by my student to give it a try, so I hauled out the jar of sock yarn scraps and started organizing them.  I like the look of a scrappy blanket ... as long as it's not too scrappy.  I want the colors to sort of flow into each other, not look like I made the thing in the dark while blindfolded.  Kind of hard when half of my yarn is boring husband/in-law yarn and the other half is whackadoo Lazy Mama/Kid yarn.

So far, so good!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lever knitting sample, or, how to fix your tension in one fell swoop

My regular style of knitting (yarn in the left hand, otherwise known as "picking") is fast, but my tension is so loose I often have to go down FOUR needle sizes to get the right gauge (or, more frequently, just redo all the math in the pattern to match my gauge).  I wasn't expecting to "fix" this when I took Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's class on knitting for speed and efficiency at Squam ... but amazing things happened when I switched to her lever knitting technique:
 The top and bottom rows of the piece were done in my usual style, and the middle section was done using lever knitting.  Same number of stitches, same needles, vastly different gauge.  Wanna see it closer?

Now Stephanie told us that whatever tension problems we had when initially learning to knit in our original style would be duplicated when learning the lever knitting, and I was an insanely tight knitter when I learned several years ago, so I guess the tighter tension shouldn't come as that much of a surprise.  But it's still really cool to see, and I thought I'd share it with the class :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Pass it on!

Took a class in block printing from Lizzie House while I was at Squam this year, and as soon as I got home I decided I needed to share my New Favorite Hobby with Lazy Kid.  She took to it like a duck to water:

She's six years old, and yes, that's a sharp linoleum knife she's using, and yes, I did spent like 20 minutes going through all the hideous things that would happen if her hands got anywhere near the sharp end of the blade.  I've got her trained to the point where all I have to do is whisper "hospital" and she stops what she's doing and moves her hands back to where they're supposed to be.

She's really good at removing the background stuff around the main design, but I do the detail work for her.  That keeps her fingers well back, and prevents the "oops, the knife slipped and I ruined my block" meltdown that would inevitably occur otherwise.  But she's got a good eye for design, so she draws 'em, I outline 'em, she carves out the bulky stuff, and we both print 'em.  Great division of labor, I think!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I have decided that it is spring

And there's no going back now, because yesterday I washed All The Knits and hung them outside - in the sun! - to dry.  So I don't care if it ends up being 30 degrees and snowing next week, we're going to school/work/the grocery store with no hats and mittens, because those things are CLEAN!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Angry Birds party prep, part 4 - the actual party

Whew!  Are you sick of Angry Birds yet?  I know I am ... especially after we inflated 40 balloons, tied strings to them, decorated them with faces, and taped them to the ceiling the day of the party.
The balloons proved to be a big hit with the kids, especially when I allowed them to pull them down and pop them.  Forget the carnival games - we want mass destruction!
Speaking of mass destruction, the carnival game was a big success, too.  When we ran it at school for 22 kids, we had two towers and two groups of four kids would take turns throwing the balls to knock down their tower.  We made sure all the kids got a turn to throw, but not everyone got to be the one who knocked down the tower.  At the actual party, we gave each kid their own tower and let them throw the balls until all of the pigs were down, then they got to help build the tower for the next kid.

We only had a handful of kids, so this didn't involve too much waiting - otherwise I would have run two towers, or had them work in pairs or something.

Perhaps you're wondering how I made the pigs?  With porcupine kooshy balls, of course!
I cut off the spines in the area I planned to use for the face, then glued on some googly eyes and added details with a Sharpie.  I'm particularly proud of the ears, which are just the finger loop that was originally attached to the ball, cut in half and glued on with E6000 glue.  This dude made it through the whole party with ears intact, which counts as a success in my book.

After the carnival game we took a break to get some snacks and take some pictures with the photo opportunity.  That worked out well, too, with the handles staying attached and everyone being willing to get their picture taken with it.  We need to work on these kids' angry faces, though.
After that we proved that 5- and 6-year-olds really don't have any basic sense of direction, at least not while blindfolded.
I ended up using eyeballs instead of eyebrows for the game, partly because I didn't feel like cutting out the eyebrows by hand (I already had some extra eyeballs from another project and could easily make more with two paper punches).  I'm glad I did, because the Octoclops angry bird is too funny for words.

And that's about it for the themed stuff.  We sang, ate cake, opened presents, ran around the house in various sparkly costumes (the kids) or ate unhealthy amounts of guacamole (the adults) until it was time for the guests to go home.  The goodie bags for the kids included some cookies, the birds' nests, a punch balloon, one of the crocheted angry birds, and a shrinky-dink necklace of the red bird that I made at 11pm the night before the party.

And the verdict?
This was the best party ever!

And next year I think I'll just take them bowling :)

Angry Birds party prep, part 3 - the refreshments

It's not a theme party without over-the-top food, right?  For LazyKid's school party I took the easy way out and made a box mix with frosting-in-a-spray-can, added a cupcake pick and some red or green sugar sprinkles, and voila!  Cuteness!
I had a few picks left over after the school party, and those came in handy for dressing up some of the food I prepared for the grownups in attendance at the actual party at our house.
The kids' food, on the other hand, needed no dressing-up at all, since it was all part of the table decoration:
In case you're wondering, that's pepperoni slices (red birds), colby cheese triangles (yellow birds), string cheese cut into rounds (egg birds), melba toast slices (blocks), two sizes of pretzel rods (blocks), corn chips and Doritos (more yellow birds), green grapes (pigs), and blueberries (blue birds).  The toy in the center is from a Happy Meal that LazyGrandma picked up on her way out to visit us this week, and it plays the most annoying music I have heard in a long time.  Needless to say, the kids loved it.

Since I hadn't planned on doing a really decorated cake, I made some sugar cookies that were easy to make look (sorta) like red birds, golden eggs, and pigs.
These were actually easy to make, if somewhat time-consuming.  I made the sugar cookie dough earlier in the week, dying half of it light green.  The day before the party we went into cookie production mode, baking and decorating all of them over the course of the day.  The eggs were easiest - roll an oval of dough in your hands, then smash it flat on the cookie sheet using the bottom of a glass that's been dipped in sugar.  When they were baked and cool, I spread premade cookie icing on them, then LazyKid flipped them upside down and dipped them in gold sparkly sugar.

The pigs used a similar method - one large ball of dough with two smaller balls stuck to it on the cookie sheet, flattened with the bottom of a glass dipped in a LOT of sugar (lest the ears stick and get ripped off).  When baked and cooled, we decorated them with premade black decorator frosting and stuck on some candy eyes.  We initially tried to use green frosting to make them darker (the ones in the back), but the lighter ones looked better.

The birds took the most effort, but were still easy.  Those were balls that I didn't flatten on the sheet, just baked so they would be rounded when they came out.  Cooled, then frosted with red cookie icing, which I also used to stick on the candy eyes.  Unfortunately, the slope of the cookies made them drip a little, so I tried to stick the eyes on so that the drips looked like the feathers atop the bird's head.  After that was dry, I used black decorator frosting to pipe on the eyebrows, and a little yellow frosting for the beak.

After making a couple of dozen of the cookies, I was ready to tackle the cake.  I had extra batter left when I made the cupcakes, which I went ahead and baked in an 8" cake pan and some mini muffin tins, then froze until the day before the party.  Thawed out the cake and cupcakes , flipped the cake over so I'd have crisp edges to work with, nestled the cupcakes in to look like tail feathers, and went to town with the frosting and a star tip.
The only trick here was that I only had white cookie icing, not frosting, so after I got the body and eyebrows done, I used a moist finger to smooth the red frosting down under the eye area, then flooded it with cookie icing.  Added the beak, and the black details with a smaller tip, and it was done!  The best part of it was, the cake was so small that it was just big enough for each person at the party to have a piece, with no leftovers to store.  Score!

The final bit of food I made special was in the goodie bags the kids took home after the party.  I made little nests with melted peanut butter chips and chow mein noodles, then added some Whopper eggs and blue Peeps leftover from Easter.  Put in a nice red party bag, it looked pretty decent, even if none of the kids probably ate them!
The kids also took home some of the cookies, but I didn't bother getting a picture of that.

That's about it as far as food goes ... stay tuned for more info on the actual party!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Angry Birds party prep, part 2 - the banner

Okay, so now here's my favorite project (at least so far): The Pin-The-Monobrow-On-Red-Bird game!  There are tons of Angry Birds images online, but none of them were anywhere near the resolution I'd need if I wanted to print something large enough to use for a game.  So I found an image I liked, printed it as large as I could, and got started duplicating it on a much larger scale.

First, I drew a grid of 1" squares over the picture, using a ruler and pen to just draw them right on the printout:
Next, I laid out my banner paper on the floor and taped it down to make a stable drawing surface.  Since my paper was only 12" wide, I needed 3 strips taped on top of one another to get the size I wanted for the project.  I cast another grid on the banner paper, this time with squares 6" on each side.  Then I spent the better part of 90 minutes copying each square from the printout onto the corresponding square on the banner.  Some of the squares had a lot going on, so I cut those squares into quarters and copied each quarter over.  It was actually much easier to do than it is to describe.
Then LazyHusband and I went insane.
But sometime before 10:30 last night, the drawing was done!
All I had left to do was erase all of the gridlines on the banner and paint the whole thing ... with watercolors ... which required a tiny paintbrush and two coats to get a decent-looking color.  Oh, well, it was done shortly after lunch today, and I couldn't be happier with the result:
Seriously, how awesome is that?  All I have left to do is make some fake eyebrows for the game and tape the strips together on the back, and it's done and wicked cool.  I mean, come on, look at the comparison:

Angry Birds party prep

LazyKid turns six years old tomorrow, and party preparations have been underway for weeks.  We're big Angry Birds fans around here, and when we saw this cake, we knew we had to do an Angry Birds party (albeit with no fancy moving-parts cake!).  Since you can't go out and buy many Angry Birds-themed items right now, it's going to be a crafty, crafty party, I thought I'd share some of our projects here.

One of the first things we decided was that there was no way that Lazy Mama was making that cake, and the edible toppers I found on etsy, while outrageously cute, were way out of our budget.  Cupcake picks to the rescue!

These were so simple, and turned out so cute!  First, I bought the 1" digital images of the pigs and birds from an etsy shop, then used a scrapbooking punch to cut them out.  Found some cardstock in colors that matched the artwork and used another punch to cut out 2 1/2" circles and 2" flowers.  I used a gluestick to attach the art to the centers of the flowers, then taped a lollipop stick to the back.  Then I used the gluestick again on the back of the flowers, which I stuck to the circles.  I found this was a little awkward with the stick in there, but it worked well if I gently bent the circle in half to make a sort of shallow trough for the stick to sit inside.

LazyKid loves balloons, so I knew we needed to have plenty of these Angry Birds balloon characters:

I blew up a bunch of balloons one day, cut out the faces the next, and we'll be sticking the things on until the party starts on Sunday, I suspect.  The balloons are hanging from a quicky swag I made using several very long strands of yarn held together and twisted together to form a loose cord.  The tails of the balloons can be slipped in between the strands to hold the balloons in place, at least temporarily ... I'd use something more secure if I was going to have this as an outdoor decoration.

Party invitations were easy - I ordered them from DigiSweets, too, then printed them at home on photo paper.  We used this design:

While all this was going on, in my spare time I was working on pieces for the Angry Birds carnival game we're going to play at the party - basically throwing stuffed birds at a tower of blocks to see if we can knock off the pigs.  There are a ton of designs for Angry Birds amigurumi on etsy and Ravelry, but I'm pretty good at winging these things, so I made up my own.  I'll have better pictures later, but I have to show off the Mustache Pig now, at least, because he's so stinking cute!
Reminds me of my old trombone teacher ... but I digress.  Anyway, in addition to the pigs and birds, we needed a tower that was larger than the wooden blocks we had on hand.  Luckily, I had been volunteering at LazyKid's school pizza day and saving the Capri Sun cartons to use as giant building blocks.  A few minutes on each one to break it down, flip it inside out so the brown cardboard was out, tape it together, and use a marker to apply a white-trash version of faux bois, and voila!  Wood blocks!
The only officially licensed Angry Birds item we've purchased for the party so far is a poster, which we found on  We're using it to make a photo op where the kids can look through the hole in the poster and look like the red bird.  I used spray adhesive to stick the poster down to a piece of cardboard, then trimmed neatly around the edges to get rid of the sticky overspray.  And then I did the unthinkable:
This would have been a lot less stressful if I had remembered to do it when there was still time to have a replacement shipped if I screwed it up.  Luckily, it all worked fine:
Realizing that having somebody's hand in the picture looks dorky, I used some extra cardboard and duct tape to make handles for the back so the kids can hold them invisibly.
Well, this post is getting way too long, and I'm nowhere near done, so I'd better just arbitrarily end now.  Check back soon for more Angry Birds posts!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What I did on my spring break in Jamaica

I spent last week at a resort where there was a nanny to take care of my kid and I had no responsibilities other than to sit on the beach while enjoying the view and drinking Adult Beverages.  I knit an entire tank top, most of a size 13 man's sock, and 1/4 of a skirt for the kidlet.

I knit on the beach.

I knit on the balcony.

I knit on the beach again.

I knit on the balcony again.

I knit in the bar.

I did not knit on the glass-bottom boat (too wet), in the restaurant (too many nom-noms in the antipasto bar to try), or while sleeping (at least intentionally).

I also read 3 books and played a lot of Angry Birds.

It was a good week.