Epic ornaments for Christmas crafting

I admit, I may be a little biased when it comes to Christmas tree ornaments, but I think they’re awesome. I collect them, too. My best friend in the UK and I exchange the craziest decorations we can find each year. There have been Christmas mushrooms, Flying Santa, the Christmas Giraffe, Santa and Mrs Claus paddling a waka (ah, New Zealand), Elvis playing the ukulele- we never seem to run out of options. I have to admit I was rather disappointed to discover that I couldn’t buy a Santaur this year because Archie McPhee doesn’t take payments from outside the US. But it’s probably for the best because I would inevitably have bought a whole bunch of other stuff too. I still want a set of giant Christmas tree googly eyes though.

But for Christmas crafting fun, what’s not to like? They’re festive, they’re great for gifting, and they’re quick. With 3 weeks until Christmas, quick is good. Experienced crafters know this. And to save you the time of disappearing down the internet rabbit hole looking for ideas, here are some of my favourites:

Colourwork Christmas ball ornaments are a classic for a reason (and that link will take you to a free pattern!). They’re beautiful, and the possibilities for designs are endless. Also you get to make a lot of jokes about balls while you’re knitting them. If you fancy buying a whole book on the subject, you can! May I recommend: 55 Christmas Balls to Knit by Arne and Carlos (who also have a book of creepy knitted dolls, and another of Easter decorations, if you’re that way inclined.)

Or how about some kitschy but lovely felt ornaments from Wild Olive? If you feel like dabbling in some stitching, felt is a good way to go (very forgiving and easy to cut).

If you have a social-media obsessed friend, how about this bird ornament by Sarah Elizabeth Kellner? It may say it’s the Bluebird of Happiness but you and I both know it’s totally the Twitter logo. You could add a festive hat, for intensified Christmassing.

Not much for stitching or knitting? All you need, pretty much, is some glue and some yarn, and you can make these pretty stars from Labores en Red? Yes I know, the site is in Spanish, but the pictures are pretty clear.

Have a hot glue gun? Get some mod podge and some glitter, and make snowflakes! Instructions by Pitter and Glink.

Beads plus ribbon plus a teeny bit of sewing=Christmas trees over at Stars Inspirations. Kinda hipster Christmas trees. But Christmas trees nonetheless!

Buy some green baubles. Get some appropriate coloured ribbon, and some glue. Add GOOGLY EYES (it’s ALL about the googly eyes, people). What do you get? Teenage Mutant Ninja Baubles and a lot of geek cred for your tree.

Sadly, I can’t have a lucky yodelling Christmas pickle (owing to the aforementioned ‘if you’re not American we won’t take your money’ issue). But I can crochet my own Christmas pickle, courtesy of Fresh Stitches, and add the yodelling myself.

I’m totally getting a lump of coal next year, aren’t I?

Have you made ornaments? Are you planning to? What decorations are you busting out for the festive season? Let me know in the comments!

Gratitude-sday: Warning, contains sap

A day late because it was Labour Weekend here in NZ, which meant time AFK.

(Speaking of AFK, you should totally consider backing their Kickstarter to make a webseries. First gratitude point- seeing the pilot of the show at Armageddon over the weekend. You can watch the trailer here. It even includes a small cameo by the Best Beloved, who’s an extra in the pilot. SO proud.)

Crafting 

We had a crafternoon on Monday at my place organised by my flatmate, and it was lovely. We were all, I think, exhausted from the weekend so just sitting quietly making stuff was a good change of pace. One Christmas gift is well under way, which is good because I have more to make. Going to need a few frames for gifts this year, but that’s all I’m telling you.

Helpful friends

I was volunteering on a stand at Armageddon promoting LARP at the weekend, including managing the stand on Friday. Due to an omnishambles of circumstances the people who were supposed to be helping with setup didn’t appear, so I was, and am, extremely grateful to the two friends who, at the last minute, volunteered their time both setting up the stand and enticing punters on Friday night. Couldn’t have done it without Team S.L.A.S.H (Super-Lastminute-Armageddon-Standrunning-Heroes)!

The Best Beloved

Yes, I know, he comes up every week. But this week he gets his own section, because once again he proved me wrong when I thought I couldn’t love him more. I warned you this post contained sap, didn’t I? He’s one of the biggest blessings in my life, and one I plan on holding on to.

The little things:

Steampunk Gentleman Rainbow Dash (HOW are there no photos of this most glorious of Cosplays?), Hustle Butter, Treat lip balm, Macarons 101 (yes, I’m going to try and bake them, and yes, it’s probably insane), and crazy shoes.

How about you?

 

Tues-torial: Creating your own colourwork or cross-stitch charts

Or, why loving computer games can make you a badass crafter.

If, like me, you have a habit of procrastinating by searching seemingly random and unconnected sets of things on Etsy, you’ve probably seen your fair share of patterns for creating images with fabric, whether it’s colourwork motifs or cross stitch designs. They’re everywhere!

And here’s the thing…they’re actually easy to design. Yes, even if you’re just a beginner. You just need a computer, a printer, some coloured pens, and a bit of patience.

The reason loving computer games can lead to badass crafting can be summed up in one word: PIXELS. Those little squares of colour that make up images on computer screens or in video games? They use the same principle that you’re about to to design your own images. If you’re not feeling confident, start with picking a favourite old school video game character (or buy a pre-done pattern so you can see the idea at work) to recreate.

First, we’re going to work out what size squares to use for your graph paper.

If you’re doing a cross-stitch, this is a simple process- you just need to know the count of your Aida cloth (available at most any craft store). The number on the packet (usually between 7 and 22, mostly an even number) is the number of ‘squares’ per linear inch- this is the number of crosses you will stitch per inch through the teeny holes in the Aida cloth. Go to this cross-stitch graph paper generator and pick the right number from the drop down that says ‘grid size’. Pick your paper size, click and save the paper to your computer, then print out a few sheets (to allow for messing about and mistakes).

If you’re knitting it’s a little bit more involved, and I’m about to use two words that make most knitters recoil in horror: gauge swatch. OK, if you’re English those words probably don’t make you recoil in horror, but these two mean the same thing and will do the same thing: tension square. But see, it’s actually a good thing! You get to check your gauge and get ready to chart out your design AT THE SAME TIME. See? It’s like killing two birds with one stone (how exactly are you supposed to do that, anyway? Do you just use a really big stone?…) Anyway- knit up your little square- at least 4 inches by 4 inches, ideally bigger. Measure carefully and get the number of rows and stitches per inch.

Then plug those numbers into this knitting graph paper pattern generator, click create and voila! Your own printable graph paper with squares the same size as your stitches.

Why does that matter? Simple- get the number wrong on cross stitch and your picture will end up much bigger (or smaller) than you intended on the cloth you’re using. Get it wrong with knitting and it can end up a completely different shape to what you intended (ask me how I know *coughcoughweirdshapedmapofnewzealandcoughcough*).

Now you’ve got the paper, it’s time to create the image- this is the easy bit. Take your coloured pens (or pen, depending on how many colours you’re planning on using), and fill in the squares to fit the picture. For example:

 Star chart

Yes, I know the star in Super Mario doesn’t give you an extra life. I hadn’t had quite enough tea when I drew this one (this is why you print multiple sheets of graph paper, people!)

When you’re finished, you’re ready to start stitching! Each square you’ve filled in with pen represents a colourwork stitch if knitting, or a cross in your cross stitch.

I wish you much badassery in your stitching.

And now to leave you with a little link candy, here are a few fun patterns from Etsy you could just download if doing all the above seems like way too much work: Perhaps a starter Pokemon set? Or some Super Mario power-ups. But I have to say my personal favourites are The Ghost Pirate LeChuck and Swordfighting insults from Monkey Island! I mean c’mon, MONKEY ISLAND!

Have you ever designed your own patterns? How did you find it? What are your tips? Let me know in the comments!