Tutorial: How to Sew Scales

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One issue that I had with my Hogwart pattern when I was having it test knit is the scales! Yes, it’s a finishing aspect, so it’s not really knitting, but it was so hard for me to describe how to do them.  So, this is my attempt to explain how to add scales to your knit toy. 

To add scales, you need: Felt, a sewing needle, embroidery floss or thread that matches your felt, and pins.  Pins are essential! If you don’t have sewing pins, quilting pins, or dress pins, you can use safety pins.
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Step one is to cut out the scales.  I cut felt into one-inch strips, then cut those strips into rectangles.  I don’t really about size consistency – that’s kind of the charm, that some scales are bigger or longer than others.  So, there’s no template.  After the rectangles are cut, I round two corners of the rectangles to make the scales.  Most of them are about the size of a nickle.
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Then, out come the pins! Starting at the bottom of your scaled-area, pin your first row of scales.  Because hedgehogs kind of taper off at the end, I like to start with three scales around the hedgie’s bottom, but if you were doing a square object you would just place them in a row.  Whipstitch across these scales (3 stitches per scale should hold it on.)
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After the first row, lay the second.  To give it the right effect, stagger the scales so that each row overlaps with the space between the scales in the row below.
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And then just keep laying rows until you’ve covered the area that you want to cover!
I hope this helps people that are having trouble making their own hedgies.  You could also use this on other toys, throw pillows, etc.  I’ve been wanting to make a sewn fish with lots of different blue felt scales – which would be easy on a sewing machine, because you can just zip it through.  I’m not ballsy enough to do that with knit fabric.
Once you get the hang of adding scales, it’s really relaxing.  Soon you’ll be drowning in knit hedgehogs!
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Whoops!

I’ve been so busy attempting to get back into the swing of school/work/misc that I forgot to mention that I did a guest post for the blog of one of my awesome online friends, Carla! She runs the blog Tiny Angry Crafter. 

So, if you’re interested in designing knit toys, or just interested in a little bit of my process, check out my post on Carla’s blog!

My Easiest-Ever Nutella Mousse Recipe

Happy World Nutella Day Everyone!
World Nutella Day was started in 2007 by Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso
and has grown to be a huge event in the past few years. I’m excited to participate this year and show my love for everyone’s favorite chocolate hazelnut spread!
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In celebration I’m sharing my really easy, really tasty recipe for mousse.  It only has three ingredients, and doesn’t require any boiling, whipping… or other painful work. Because of that, it’s great for satisfying post-studying sugar cravings. You can just keep the ingredients around and make it whenever you want it.
And, guys, it’s SO EASY! It took me longer to type this post out than it takes to make it – no lie!
You can read the full recipe after the jump. If you want to participate today, just follow the directions here!

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Easiest-Ever Nutella Mousse
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of Cool Whip
  • 1 tablespoon of Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon of Chocolate Syrup
Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
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Finally, after you’ve mixed everything together, spoon the mixture into bowls and top with a little bit of syrup, fruit, crunchy cookies… or all of the above!
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Seems like the nutella mixes best when it’s room-temperature.  You can always chill the mousse in your fridge for after dinner… but be careful it doesn’t “go missing.” 😉 This recipe makes two 1/2-cup servings.  Trust me, a half a cup is more than enough of this stuff.  It’s very rich, so try not to gorge on it… you could make yourself sick.

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But, for the record, a tub of cool whip is 2 and a half cups 🙂 We divided the whole tub between the two of us, and had an evening that would make feasting Romans blush. I’m a little ashamed… but now that I’ve shared this recipe, others can share in my shame, too! 😛

How To: Lacey Tea Towel

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I feel kind of guilty tagging this as a “tutorial” because it was so quick and easy! My dad gave me some tea towels (because well, you really can’t have too many tea towels) and I decided to give it a bit of girly flair.  I was inspired by towels that I saw at W’s mom’s house, and I thought “Wow, how easy would that be to make…!?”  Plus, it can cover up tears, stains, or scorch marks when you leave your tea towel under your electric kettle and nearly set the fire alarm off and have to run the towel outside and wave it around in the snow…
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Oh, is that just me? Anyway, all you need is a towel, some lace (I bought a spool of lace for about a dollar at Wal*mart ages ago: no idea why.) and needle and thread or a sewing machine. 
Sew the lace in rows into the towel.  For best results, pin the rows a little less apart than the width of your lace.
I wish I had some ribbon to finish this off! I think it would also look good mixing different types of lace, or maybe just add a lace edging along the very edge?  So many possibilities! And I still have a whole spool of lace left! I wish I more tea towels.

How To: Make a Cut Paper Garland

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This whole week I’ve kind of been obsessing about paper.  Paper snowflakes, paper garlands around my apartment… so, I thought I’d do a tutorial.
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This post will show you how to make a dancing hedgehog garland using two sheets of paper, scissors, and tape! You can also do whatever design you’d like, but if you want to make my dancing hedgehogs, I’ve included the template here. 

Step One: Aquire Materials
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There’s not a lot of special materials! Basically, you just need two sheets of paper, tape, and scissors.  If you have an exacto knife, you can get a lot more precision in your cutting, but I made my stuff with just scissors.

Step Two: Cut and Fold
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Cut your two sheets of paper in half lengthwise to make four pieces. 
Then, tape the pieces together.
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Then, fold them accordion-style.  Make sure that the squares are the size of the template if you’re using it! If not, they can be any size. 
Step Three: Do some Planning!
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If you’re using the template, cut it out loosely, so that you have the basic shapes but not the details.  If you’re just drawing freehand, draw your basic outline – just make sure that the design extends over both edges of the paper, because otherwise you won’t get a garland 🙂
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Step Four: Cut.
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First, use your scissors to cut out the basic shapes.  Then go back and fill in the details! Making the eyes maybe easier at the end using a hole punch.  I just cut a diamond shape.

Step Five: Reveal!
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Unfold your lovely garland and hang it over your fireplace, the back of your couch, hutch, windowsill… whatever.
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Thanks for checking out my tutorial, be sure to link back in the comments or send me an email with your work.

How to Write a Great Knitting Blog

As a serial blogger and a crazy avid blog reader, I feel like I have some wisdom to impart on blogging, especially for those who want to start or improve their own knitting blog.  I know I’m no means an expert, but there aren’t many posts on the subject.  So if you want to write a good knitting blog, here are some steps!

1.  Decide what you’re going to cover!

You might say “Well, this is silly obvious,” but trust me, I see it broken all the time. I don’t know how many blogs I’ve followed because I’ve seen good stuff, only to have the writer decide that he or she would rather blog about their favorite music, or just push their formspring answers to their blog, or post nothing but pictures of their baby.  Now, I love music and babies, and I’m not saying you should post only about knitting on your knitting blog, but stay true to your original content, at least once in a while.  Usually if a blog goes a month or two without any posts that interest me, I stop following it.

2. Photos!

Photos are an important part of any blog.  They can illustrate a point, provide comic relief, demonstrate, explain a technique, even just give your readers’ eyes a rest from all those words.  In a knitting blog, photos are even more important – and not just photos you take off the creative commons group at flickr.  You need your own photos of your projects, mistakes, and crafty creations. Many blogs, like Attic24, have tons of followers just for the gorgeous photos (I should know, I’m one of them.)

But of course, having photos isn’t enough. They need to look good, too! But there tons of resources online to make pictures pop.  Mimi from Eskimimi Knits has some great photography tutorials. that’s worth mentioning 🙂

3.  Make it personal.

If I want to gawk at beautiful finished objects, I can just take a peek at Ravelry – there is some gorgeous stuff on that website! But if you’re posting up stuff on your blog, you should have some personal story around it.  If you’re having some trouble writing, here are some good questions:

  1. Why did you decide to make this item?
  2. Who are you making it for? Is it a surprise? (And, in the future, what was their reaction!)
  3. What are you doing new with this pattern?
  4. Details! What yarn are you using, what needles, did you do a gauge swatch, was it hard to get the gauge? 
  5. What would you tell someone who wanted to make this pattern? Should they? Or not?
  6. Mistakes! Yes, the world wants to see them, it makes the rest of us feel better about ourselves (teasing.)
  7. What do you think about when you work on this? Does it calm you down or frustrate you? Are you ripping back 2 rows after every three, or did you finish in a night while watching Grey’s Anatomy?

The list could go on, the sky is the limit! But you need to make it personal.  This isn’t just a beautiful sock/shawl/dishcloth/stuffed turkey, this is YOUR sock/shawl/dishcloth/stuffed turkey.  Be proud! Be disappointed! Be whatever you feel like being about it, but make it yours. Tell the story behind the stitches.

4. Pillar Content? Pshaw!

If you’re really dedicated to making your blog better, you’ve probably read the myriad of other articles out there, many of which throw out the term “pillar content.” Pillar content is, basically, blog posts that are insightful, witty, and teach your audience something.  For a knitting blog, this free pattern will probably be a tutorial or a free pattern.

While pillar content is great, many knitters are great bloggers, have good photos, and succeed perfectly well without pillar content.  Of course, these bloggers have excellent “all of the above:” Great photos, good writing, and a blog theme that ties their posts together.  As a knitting blog, you don’t really need pillar content to succeed.  You just need to be your own, quirky, crafty self, and enjoy what your doing!


5.  Avoid these two things at all cost.

  1. Apologizing.
  2. Begging for comments/followers.

I know that everyone is guilty of this, but please.  Just don’t do it. Maybe you’ve had a freak ski accident involving a revolving door, a gorilla, and two dozen donuts and you’ve been in a coma for the past month, but chances are, you just haven’t had anything to post about, or you haven’t had time.  Don’t post about how you don’t have anything to post about.  Don’t post about how you don’t have any free time.  It’s whiny, and it makes me as a reader have less respect for you.  So you didn’t post for a week.  Apologize to me by showing me what else you’ve been up to!

As for the second one, let it rest.  Blog for yourself, not for others.  Don’t get discouraged by no one commenting or following you! If you focus on your analytics, your pageviews, and your comments, the fun will slowly drain from blogging, like a leech gorging itself on your foot when you’re swimming.

After all, we don’t say “If no one tells me how good this scarf is, I’m going to stop knitting forever!”

At least, I hope not…

Well, there are my four golden rules.  There are other rules, of course, which apply to all blogs in general, but I thought I’d make some just for knitting blogs! Hope my advice helped, feel free to pitch in your two cents! I hope I came of as insightful, not ranty (since this post was born from a rant I had.)

How to Draw an Owl

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Yes. Another one of these? I don’t know, I thought I’d share my madness method.  Also, I would like to post something but am rather depressed and stressed and super-over-worked.  But the quarter is half way over, only 5 more weeks, and next quarter I’m taking less credits (or my parents will cut me off.)
These are, of course, based on the 1,000,000,000,000 doodles I did before I even started working on the owls pattern. I tend to get things in my head, and think about them over and over again, and when they don’t go according to plan (as in, I don’t see anyone make them, don’t have any test knitters, no one says they like them, blah blah) I get rather glum and down on myself. I won’t say I’m a perfectionist, just an expectionist, I guess.  
Anyway, here’s the little how-to, I’m going to get some cheese for my whine.
(There’s a jump, so if you don’t want to draw an owl, you don’t have to ;P)

How to Draw an Alyoops Owl
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How to Make Iced Tea- Cheap and Easy!

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So I mentioned on Monday my killer iced tea… So I thought that I’d post up a tutorial! More after the jump.

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You will need: Sugar, Water, Tea Bags, a pot or tea kettle to boil water in, and a pitcher to put your finished tea in.  My tea kettle is 3 cups and my pitcher is about
Step one: Boil a kettle full of water.  After the water is boiling, you can transfer it to a teapot or seep the tea inside the kettle.  I do the second, because, well, I don’t see the harm.  If you can put boiling water directly into your pitcher (I can’t) feel free to seep the tea in the pitcher.
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I add three tea bags of my tea, but if you’re using your own feel free to experiment 🙂 You also have to consider the size of your kettle vs. the size of your pitcher. I use about 1/3 tea 2/3 water, but it’s all up to taste!
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Step two: Add your sugar to the pticher. I use 1/2 cup, but for sweeter tea you can use up to a cup! For really, really sweet tea… the sky’s the limit.
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Step three: After the tea has cooled, pour it into the pitcher.  Drop the tea bags in as well!
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Step four: Fill your pitcher up to the fill line with cold water. Make sure your stir it well to mix everything up. Feel free to taste at this point and add more sugar 😉
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Step five: Chill and serve! I like to add mint to the tea but you could also add lemon. I think it would be super delicious to make fresh mint iced tea… mmm.
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How to Dry Herbs in the Microwave

I’ve really enjoyed my fresh herb collection that I’ve amassed on my little front porch – I’m pretty bummed though, because my apartment at college is way smaller! I won’t have space for all these plants!
Thankfully, I’ve found everyone good homes – Some italian parlsey and basil are going to live at my house, and my peppermint plant, but everything else is going to be given away! Before I do that, of course, I had to steal as much as I could 😉
So I went to the store and bought some of these…
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… and now, I have these!
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From left to right: dried peppermint, Catnip, Fennel and Parsley
I was a little nervous that I would mess up, but overall it was totally easy!

I have to admit, I’ve never harvested my own herbs before! I did have a lavendar plant, but I was too afraid to pluck the leaves off en masse.  But the peppermint plants truly needed a trim! It’s seriously overflowing it’s container, spreading runners everywhere and looking a lot less pretty than when I bought it.  And, my love of parsley and fennel was too great to keep me from plucking those.  The catnip was an afterthought- it’s already started to dry, and I had some crazy vision of making and selling cat toys. Who knows!
Anyway, after plucking the mint, I had a ton!
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But it all dried up in no time.  All you need is:
  1. A microwave.  Mine is an ancient hand-me-down, but it gets the job done!
  2. Herbs (self-explanatory)
  3. Paper towels
  4. An airtight container to store your dried herbs in.
Put the herbs in the microwave between two paper towels.  Cook on high for 2 minutes, then check for dry-ness.  If they’re not dry, cook on high for 30 second intervals until they’re done.
Before drying:
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After drying:
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Different herbs have slightly different drying times.  For me, the mint dried up in 2 minutes, to about half size.  Parsley took 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and dried up to 1/4 size.  The fennel took 2 minutes and 2 30 second intervals, and looked more or less the same.
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I can’t wait to use my fresh herbs to season soups and make tea at school this winter.

How to Draw a Hedgehog

This is me, blogging pointless things from my laptop during lunch.  Just so you know, the not updating thing isn’t because I don’t have things to say, it’s mostly because I don’t have my car this week and without a car… the walk to McDonald’s is about a half and hour… and it’s raining…
Anyway, enjoy my tutorial 😀
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 TWO
 THREE
 FOUR
FIVE – I think you should know, 1 – 4 are usually just one fluid motion.
SIX – Get some back legs
SEVEN – Add a face

EIGHT – Look, you’re done.
Finally, jazz it up.  You can add whatever pattern you want to the quills, I just went plain jane.  Sometimes, when I’m on hold, I use highlighters and make some pretty ravin’ hogs.