I do not need more blanket projects

I’m already working on one blanket. Which I can’t tell you anything about in case the person it’s for reads this.

Now, I already have yarn assembled for the Babette blanket.

And I’m about 80 hexipuffs away from having enough to make a Beekeepers Quilt the size I want.

So another blanket project would be crazy.

It would be utterly insane to, I don’t know, also have bought enough yarn to make a Lizard Ridge. (It was 40% off in Spotlight. I can’t help it if 12 balls of Moda Vera Bouvardia just jumped into my shopping basket and asked me to take them home…)

I’m certainly not thinking of making any others.

I didn’t at all buy another blanket pattern today either.

I don’t have a problem.

I can stop any time I want to.

When I am an evil queen of the world, my fortress will obviously be made of blankets.

5 ways to make the world a better place

I have had a lot of feelings about the world in the past few days. Many of them have not been happy ones. On Friday night I had to steer clear of social media, because the news that Britain- my mother country- had voted to leave the European Union, in spite of the huge amount of support among young people (the ones who will have to live with the decision longest) for staying in, in spite of the fact that the campaign promises and claims of leave were largely unfounded… well, it left me deeply depressed. And it only got worse from there. People saying they wanted to change their votes because they “didn’t think it would actually happen”. The leave camp admitting they actually have no plan for how Britain is going to exit the EU. And worst of all, casual racism in the streets and people of many nationalities (including British) and ethnicities living in fear.

And then I had the horrifying realisation: if Trump is elected president, it will legitimise prejudice in exactly the same way that the leave vote has done in the UK…but the racists, xenophobes, and homophobes will have ready access to guns.

I can’t sit idly by and let the world go to hell in a handbasket. And while I know there’s not much I can do to change the outcome of the US election, and not much I can do from the other side of the world to help people in the UK, and while I know that what one person can do is just a drop in the ocean…I want to do something. If you’re reading this, perhaps you do, too. So here are just a few practical things you can do to make the world a better place.

1: Give some Kiva loans

Kiva is a microfinance organisation. They work by members giving small loans ($25) and collectively funding larger loans to communities where it is needed. For example, war-torn countries where credit is hard to come by. Here’s the beauty part- as the loans get paid back, you can re-lend the credit. So that $25 can help people again and again and again.

2: Make some twiddlemuffs

If you knit or crochet, you can make these. A twiddlemuff is for people with dementia. Put simply, it’s a knitted (or crocheted) muff with little fiddly things (beads, tassles etc) attached so that people with dementia have something to do with their hands. With the added bonus that a knitted or crocheted muff helps keep their hands warm. If you’re in NZ, the link above will take you to Knit World’s page for Twiddlemuffs. If you’re elsewhere, google ‘twiddlemuffs’ and your country or locale to see if there’s a collection going on in your area. Or just contact a local hospital or retirement home to ask if they need any!

3: Eat your lunch

If you’re in Auckland (or, soon, in Wellington), you can help Kiwi kids living in poverty by supporting Eat My Lunch. You buy yourself a lunch which is delivered to your workplace, and for every lunch you buy, a lunch is given to a child in need. Many kids in NZ have to go without basics like a packed lunch through no fault of their own or their parents, so this is a great way to stop them from going hungry.

4: Buy some underwear

Smalls for All is a charity that provides underwear for women and children in Africa, where many girls often miss days of school every month because they are having their period and don’t have any underwear. Then there are the women suffering with conditions like fistula. And even more alarming- having underwear in many areas is seen as a sign that a woman has someone to care for her- that she’s not alone and vulnerable. You can donate packs of underwear, or money (which goes towards helping get said underwear to people who need it). Or both!

5: Take advantage of peoples’ love of baked goods

Baking is easy- a while ago I shared a super easy recipe for scones. Three ingredients. No muss, no fuss, bake ’em, get some jam and cream and you’re ready to go. Or perhaps you’d prefer some three-ingredient peanut butter cookies (gluten and dairy free y’all!)? Why not make a batch, take them to work, and tell people ‘hey, if you’d like a cookie/a scone you can have one- just pop a coin (or neatly folded donation) in this tub for…’ and pick a charity. Time it right (Monday or Wednesday morning or Friday afternoon) and you should have no shortage of takers.

I guess what I’m trying to say is- there are lots of things you can do that don’t take much effort on your part, but which could make a world of difference.  All of us are drops in the ocean, but the more of us who do what we can, the better the world can be. If the world isn’t giving you much hope, you have to find a way to create some for yourself.

Links of Joy: Mad Max- Fury Road

Just because I loved loved LOVED Mad Max: Fury Road, here are some excellent articles that I hope will persuade you to go see it.

7 ways Mad Max sublimely subverts movie sexism

Furious about Furiosa  at We Hunted the Mammoth (another article about how MRAs are losing it over the film)

And again- ‘Misogynists are boycotting feminist ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ which is one more reason to see it

The Daily Beast agrees- ‘How Men’s Rights Activists killed the world

George Miller, the director, talks to Vanity Fair about how he can’t help but be a feminist.

The Mary Sue thinks it could be his answer to his own franchise.

Also, the things you think are CGI? Totally not CGI.

This is how they made the flamethrower guitar.

How is anyone who was in this film not dead? It’s a good question, when you watch this.

 

Links of Joy

It feels like it’s been a while since I gave y’all a random selection of links to peruse. So here goes.

I only recently discovered ‘The Thrilling Adventure Hour‘. This is a good thing, because it means I have *so many* episodes to listen to and enjoy. You have to love a show that includes Timothy Omundson (King Richard from ‘Galavant’) as a guest star.

I stumbled across Oh Bite It via Buzzfeed (c’mon, it’s usually that or Pinterest, people). There isn’t a single recipe on there that doesn’t make me feel like my arteries are hardening just looking at it. I quite like that about it. Behold! Deep fried margaritas. Yes really.

And then there’s Bad Jelly. Oh Bad Jelly. It makes me cry with laughter. They don’t seem to have updated in a while but it’s still worth a read. Please enjoy the Party Elephant (filed under ‘things I’m totally making for my housewarming) and the piece de resistance, the Banana Candle (no, I’m not making one of those. Ever.)

In conclusion, Big Bird Dressing Gown.

Craft projects for freaks and geeks: witchbabies and neopagans

Whether you’re wiccan, pagan or Asatru, there’s a lot of gorgeous crafting you can do to celebrate it. Obviously, if you’re a practicing witchbaby, you may save your crafting for altars. But it seems a shame to limit it.

For the knitters, there’s this magickal throw by Erssie Major– you could even mix and match the symbols for a different effect. What about a Warholised Norse Knot pattern, for example?

I’m also rather in love with her Maiden’s Glory knitted flower crown. Perfect for dancing by the light of the moon or for that medival damsel character you got cast as in a LARP. Accessorise with a felted pentacle bag

Or how about the Green Woman tunic, for a project to get your teeth into?

Hardanger embroidery is a Norse tradition, and there are a myriad of tutorials out there on how to do it- it’s more challenging than straight embroidery, but the results are just beautiful.

Or if you want something a bit more straightforward (and I wouldn’t blame you- it’s good to mix it up!) Urban Threads (oh, you know how I love me some Urban Threads) have a bunch of gorgeous design packs celebrating Pagan beliefs and culture. There’s the five elements, the zodiac, (imagine these on a circle skirt!) or maybe you’re super into the changing seasons and would love to display the Wheel of the Year in your house.

If you want to craft an altar, there are, again, a bunch of sources of ideas for this. I personally love portable altars like this altoid tin travelling altar and of course Veronica Varlow’s altar in a train case (because who doesn’t want a glamorous retro train case?).

One final super-awesome idea which seems to me to fit well here- making beads from flower petals. Maybe ones you’ve used in a ritual? Or as the site suggests, wedding flowers.

Don’t forget, if you’ve found other awesome craft ideas on this theme, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Or just tell me what you’re making at the moment.

Craft projects for freaks and geeks: planeteers! Recycle with crafts

Lets face it, every little helps. I’m not saying crafting can save the world, but reusing and recycling things is definitely a good thing, and there are lots of ways to do that with a few craft skills.

Lets start with t-shirts. Most of us have a bunch of them we don’t wear. There are t-shirt quilts of course, but what do you do with the leftovers?

How about a t-shirt shag rug? You can make one with a t-shirt as the base, or go fancy and get some of the mesh used in latch hook rugs as the backing. Either way, fluffy and squishy for your feet!

I’m pretty sure I’ve  said this before, but it’s super-easy to turn a t-shirt into a tote bag, too- great for the shirts that are just too big (or small).

Plastic bags are everywhere- if, like me, you have a bunch of them that aren’t going anywhere, turn them into something awesome.

You could make a basket, or go a step further, and crochet a bunch of reduction rows and you’d end up with a cushion! You can also add a soda can into the mix and make a cute little basket/storage tub (please, please, wear gloves and goggles if you do this- metal is sharp, guys!).

This plastic bag bag doesn’t need any knitting or sewing at all!

Then there are the food packets we throw away all the time. Juice boxes are just prime for turning into awesome bags (or wallets- just have a look, there are a bunch of things to do with them! Get pineapple juice pouches and you’d be very in. Apparently everything at the moment is about pineapples. I’m as confused as you are.

And, finally, for those like me who have a huge weakness for crisps (chips to you if you’re not British), how about an apron made of crisp packets? (I don’t think it even really needs the backing fabric, if you overlap the packets and sew both horizontal and vertical lines). I like the multicoloured look, but you could show your passionate love of one flavour, like salt and vinegar, or prawn cocktail.

Shut up, they’re delicious.

Craft projects for freaks and geeks, part 4: Zap! Pow! Comic book fans

Lets face it, there’s something about comic books. Or graphic novels (not always the same thing). We all love a good hero. Some of us love a bad hero. Some of us just like watching Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston shirtless. What? Just saying. Hell, Kim Boekbinder even wrote a song about it as part of the Infinite Minute. Whether you have walls of pristine first editions still in the plastic sleeves, or just happen to love a good Marvel movie, there are plenty of crafts out there to celebrate your love of all things graphic and speech-bubbly.

Let’s start with something simple. If you have comic books you’re willing to chop up, and some Mod Podge, you can make everything from comic book coasters to comic book shoes. The wonders of decoupage! (Oh, and you can also make your own Mod Podge.)

How about a cross stitch all about the awesomeness of superheroines? Wee Little Stitches has you covered. Or if that seems like too much work (or like it’ll take too long because you want to make a gift for the comic book nerd in your life), how about a mini Batman cross stitch?

Another little simple idea- Avengers friendship bracelets. Make them yourself or buy some at the other end of the link.

If you’re a crocheter, you could make yourself a spiderman afghan, for super-spidey-sense-snuggling.

You could also make your very own Baby Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy, totally relevant here) thanks to Twinkie Chan. Or you could go to Mashable and make an actual dancing Baby Groot.

I’m not gonna lie, this DIY jet pack made with plastic drink bottles and felt is for kids, but I would totally make myself one and pretend to be the Rocketeer. Or you could add some wings and suddenly you’re in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I’d totally make myself one of these Batmobiles too, but it’d be way too small for me. But such a clever idea for giving an old toy car a new lease of life!

So tell me, which of these tickles your fancy? Have you found a great comic book-inspired project you want to share, or made one? Let me know in the comments!

Craft projects for freaks and geeks: Tabletop!

Let me tell you a little secret about tabletop- it’s great for crafting. Whether it’s a board game or a roleplaying game, you’d be surprised the amount of stitching time it gives you. Let the other players argue about numbers or stats or what they’re going to do next (though you have my permission to call them out for being dicks if they start talking about what you’re going to do next, or think you need their advice just because you happen to have a vagina)- it just means more crafting time. And here, for the tabletop fans out there, are some gaming-related things you could be making while you play!

Someone had to make this Settlers of Catan-themed cross stitch. Hur hur hur. Maybe if you make it for the people who keep making that joke they’ll stop making it. Maybe.

Another good thing to have- and super easy to sew- dice bags! Or you could always knit one, if that’s more your speed. (See how I didn’t make an ‘if that’s your bag’ joke? I’m growing as a person.)

There are a bunch of tutorials on making dice towers out there- if you don’t know, the idea of a dice tower is you drop the dice in the top and it rolls them for you. Here’s an example:

And finally, why not go one step further, and make your own GIANT PLUSHIE DICE? Come on, admit it, it would make game night way more fun. And also more cuddly!

 

Craft projects for freaks and geeks, part 2: goth-a-palooza

Guys.

GUYS.

You have no idea how much stuff you can make if you’re into anything remotely goth. This post has got you covered whether you’re a full-on, two-hundred-shades-of-black, bats-and-coffins goth, a lover of horror movies, or you just happen to like to be able to give answers like “an amigurumi vampire” when asked the inevitable question “what are you making?”.

Bats!

Lets start with simple and fun: na na na na na na na na BAT SHOES.

And while we’re at it, how about making a drawstring batpack (see what they did there?) to go with the shoes?

If that’s not enough bats for you, then you could always make yourself a bat chandelier. And if THAT’s not enough bats for you, then I’ll be suggesting you eat this garlic over here and stay away from my neck.

Skulls!

Lets start with a couple of awesome knits- this skull lace shawl (it really does look like a swarm of lost souls!), and this set of intarsia arm warmers (I love the snowflake-to-skull design) from the Anti Craft.

If you prefer a hook to needles, you can always crochet some skulls. Either flat ones (which you could sew on things for some memento-mori applique action, or how about a glorious (and rather alarming) 3d skull?

Then there’s the option of recycling a bunch of white buttons on the back of a jacket in a skull design.

If all that looks too much like hard work, here’s another awesome deconstructed no-sew t-shirt tutorial to give you a tee with, you’ve guessed it, a skull design.

Undead goodies

Let’s see now… this I <3 Zombies chart could be turned into a scarf, or a cross stitch, or you could do the thing with perler beads. Never let it be said I don’t give you options!

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could just go ahead and make yourself a coffin to add to your home decor, and pretend you’re in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’. Note: If you do this, I totally want to see photos. Like, immediately.

And I wasn’t actually joking about the amigurumi vampire.

If you make any of these projects, I’d love to see the finished results!

 

 

 

Craft projects for freaks and geeks, part 1: Steampunks, straight punks, retro queens

Ah, the internet. It’s a magical land of hope and wonder. Full of sweets and joy and joyness…no, wait, that’s candy mountain. Sorry, came over all Charlie the Unicorn for a minute there.

Anyway. If, like me, you like to make things for yourself but you don’t see anything in the average craft magazine or in most of the books at the library that suit you (or you see them and immediately want to deconstruct them or mess with them in some way), then trust me, there will be someone on the internet who makes things you’ll actually love as-is.

I wish I could say confidently “this will be the first instalment in a three part series!” but the truth is if I do that it’ll end up going all Douglas Adams with the trilogy of five. I don’t know how many of these there will be, but I do want to cover as many different groups and interests as I can- let me know in the comments what cultures you’re into, or what hobbies/pastimes you have, and I’ll go searching for some craft to match!

The aim of this series of posts, which will go up on Wednesdays, is to highlight some of the crafting awesomeness available to you. Starting with…

Punk

Obviously. For a start, how about knitting yourself some striped corset arm warmers, as designed by the Running Yarn?

I may have linked to this before but I don’t care. Customise a t-shirt into a punk rock masterpiece, no sewing required, by following Veronica Varlow’s instructions. Hells yes.

Have you ever heard of or seen the traditional embroideries featuring Sunbonnet Sue? Did they make you feel just a little queasy? Olde-worlde, but not in a fun way. Urban Threads have the antidote- meet Sinbonnet Sue! She comes in many flavours, but I like the original one the best.

By the way, I googled Sunbonnet Sue for an example. The link above is what I got. My first response was “holy hell, I don’t think the website has changed since it was launched”. But then I looked closer and I found this series of quilts featuring Sunbonnet Sue all about domestic violence. Now THAT is awesome. Also, can we talk about the fact that someone came up with Bad Bonnet Sue? Better believe I’ll be looking into Sunbonnet, Sinbonnet and Bad Bonnet Sues.

I’m digressing.

Steampunk

I love me some steampunk. It’s a little OTT, a lot fabulous, with a sharp edge (OK I may have been watching too much Project Runway.) It’s also hella expensive, a lot of the time. Making things yourself is a much better option, and to do it, look no further than Victorian clothing. With a little thought in how you go about it, you can easily mod these to be steampunk.

Truly Victorian is a fantastic option for steampunk sewing. I know because I’ve made several steampunk outfits using patterns from their site. Their revised bustle petticoat (designed so you can sit and stand without problems) is a fantastic base for so many looks- I’ve made it with a shorter front panel for a more female-airship-captain type of look. I’ve also got one made as-is. It involves a LOT of frill (I bought frill trim for it and it made life a lot easier, although expensive). They also sell a pre-made set of wires for the bustle on the site. This 1870 skirt pattern is a great one I’ve used over and over again. Be warned, though, Victorian/Steampunk clothes use a LOT of fabric. There are 5 metres in the skirts, and that’s the simpler skirts. One solution I’ve found that works really well is to buy saris on the cheap (check your local charity shops), or bedlinen. It’s worth it for the flounce!

You could also embellish them (or your everyday clothes) with even more steampunk flair with Urban Threads’ collection of steampunk embroidery patterns. Yes, I love Urban Threads. #sorrynotsorry. I’m a lot enamoured of the Apothescary collection, but that’s just me.

For knitters, I have a bit of a thing for The Jane Victoria’s glorious knitting patterns. Like the sewing, they take a lot of materials. You can use a sweater’s worth of yarn just in one of their hoods. But it’s worth it. Continuing the female-airship-captain thing, how about this Aviator tam? And then there’s this hooded mozzetta (no, I don’t know what a mozzetta is), can you even?

Retro queen

There are so many retro patterns out there. SO MANY. And especially with knitting patterns, a lot of them are free. Be warned, many will only come in one size, but if you’re willing to do the maths and resize them, the rewards are great. For example, I found out that this Bridge Jumper exists and now I need to make it to play Surrealist Poker in (AND crapscrabble). Or for something a bit more quick and dirty (because sometimes that’s just what you want), how about this turban? Or indeed this one?

Butterick, Simplicity and Vogue all have retro pattern lines, but edited to fit modern body shapes- one issue with some vintage patterns is that womens bodies have changed, along with our undergarments, and it can be hard to fit some vintage patterns on a modern woman. But you can also find some gorgeous retro patterns from smaller indie designers, and I love supporting small craft businesses doing their thing and doing it well. Wearing History patterns have some lovely designs- I lust after the Dahlia blouse and the Sunkissed Sweetheart set. Mrs Depew Vintage is also worth a look.

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments what subcultures you’d like to see crafting for!