Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spring's done sprung, at least in retail stores...

Actually, here in Colorado, it has been quite warm outside, as well... but the high Tuesday is supposed to be 1 degree, with a low of -11, so I'm thinking the season are not changing just yet.

But in my heart it has - Christmas is over, and I have no use for cold weather anymore! Apparently retail agrees with me, as I am starting to see lawn and garden stuff everywhere I go, along with springy decorations. This spring invasion includes Michael's dollar section, which has some really cute stuff right now! I created a new table centerpiece (or it would look great on a shelf, too!) with some things I found there.

They had these mini vases in four different colors.

Not from the dollar section, but these were $1.99. There were actually about six stems of three on here, but I didn't think to photograph things until I had disassembled it! Pardon the crappy photos, by the way - I was taking these at night.

So here is the finished product. I moved the heads of the flowers around so there were three of the same color on a stem. Looking at this picture, I think I will cut the laugh and love stems down some. This would be great with real gerber daisies too, or maybe some carnations. In case you are wondering, the fourth vase choice was a blue one that said "hope", but I wanted to stay with the L theme. Anyhoo, cheap and took me all of 5 minutes to do.

There were lots of other great things in the dollar section, too. Here is what I picked up...

The big green flower is a pin - they had lots of these in different colors and flower styles. I'm going to pin it to some of my plain knit tops to brighten them up! They also had more Valentine's stamps - I had to get this one, because I love keys! The little luminary above was the only one I saw, but they had little metal buckets, without the punch designs, in other brights colors. There were adorable little springy felt embellishments for your card makers, cute drawer pulls, journals and note cards (as usual), and a bunch of other stuff that I am forgetting! If you need a little spring pick me up, I recommend dropping in your local Michael's for a looksy :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tutorialish - Crochet hook case from a dish towel

Hello, and welcome to episode one of Tutorialish. I'm calling this Tutorialish, because I am really not good at taking step by step pictures of stuff. When I'm making stuff, I just want to do, and not take 15 minutes setting up a perfect photo for every step.  Those of you that can, yay you! You have drive and dedication, and I salute you. I'm too busy and too ADHD, however, so you'll get nothing and like it!!! Well, you'll get something, just nothing spectacular.

I'm also calling this tutorialish, because to call it a tutorial, I somehow feel like I would be making claim to this being some groundbreaking new idea that no one in the multiple universes (yes, the multiverse, I'm on board) had ever thought of before, and essentially saying, "I AM THE FIRST! BOW TO MY BRILLIANCE, PEASANT!"  And I really doubt that I'm the first person to ever do this. But here is how I did it, if anyone cares :)

I am ALWAYS losing crochet hooks, or else I end up buying new ones because I don't think I have that size, and then when I get home I find that I DO have that size. I really wanted to make a crochet hook case to help remedy these problems. I was going to just use fabric and sew one up, but I had this dish towel that I really loved. It seemed so bright and springy, and it was so cold and gloomy here. It seemed perfect. So I set about figuring out a way to use it to make a hook roll.

So here is the dish towel. I folded it in half and ironed the fold.

Then, I ironed on some interfacing to half of the towel. I'd say this is probably a medium weight. I just used what I had lying around.

Then I folded it back in half, and pinned. I decided I was going to use a zigzag stitch in a contrasting color around the edges, so I pinned it wrong sides together. I definitely think wrong sides together is the way to go if you are using a dish towel. The hems that are already on the dishtowel would make a right side together seam way too bulky.

You will also note here that I took this opportunity to insert some ribbon for my closure. This should go on one side of the roll (your choice) and will be wrapped around and tied after the case is rolled up. If this makes no sense, check out the last couple of pictures right now - those will hopefully help.

Remember when placing your ribbon, part of this big piece of fabric you have is going to be folded up to make the pocket, and part of it will also be folded down to make a little barrier at the top (to help keep things from falling out), so you won't stick the ribbon smack dab in the middle - you will have to do a bit of figuring before deciding where to put it. Again, you may want to see the later pictures to better understand what I am saying here.

If you ARE sewing with right sides together, remember that your ribbon should be pinned in so that the loose ends are sandwiched between your two pieces of fabric, not hanging out like this.

Ok, so your interfacing is ironed on, your ribbon is pinned in - time to sew up the sides. Just sew up all three open sides. Like I said, I used a contrasting thread in a zigzag stitch,which was apparently stupid, because I had never used a zigzag stitch before and it didn't go very well.... live and learn! Next time, zigzag... next time.

Ok, the sides are all sewn up, and it's time to make the pocket for the hooks. I didn't measure, just eyeballed it. Keep in mind that you need enough for the pocket, and also enough to make the little fold over flap at the top. My advice is to grab your hooks to help you figure out how big to make the pocket. Keep in mind the aforementioned little flap at the top is optional, but I think it is a nice safety feature!

Anyhoo, once you have determined size, fold your pocket up and iron the fold well.

If you want to, you can make a tiny pocket to attach to the big pocket you are making - I made one to hold the big needles used to weave in ends and sew crocheted things together and such (the name escapes me at the moment). You'll start with a small piece of fabric, like the one above.

Fold it in half, right sides together (I used flannel, so it didn't matter much), and sew around the open edges, leaving a small opening for turning.

You will then turn it right side out, and position it on your pocket flap and sew it down.

Here is a picture after I had attached it. As you can see, I sewed around the sides and bottom of the mini pocket, and then I sewed a few lines, creating pockets within the pocket.

This is totally optional - I really just threw mine on in a rush, so it is a bit of a mess, but it works! Just remember, if you do it, sew the tiny pocket onto the flap for the big pocket BEFORE you sew down the sides of the big pocket. If you wait until your big pocket has been created to put on the little one, you will be sewing the little pocket and BOTH sides of your case roll together, essentially making that part of the case roll useless for storing larger items. I hope that makes sense...


Now that your tiny pocket is on, you will sew up your big pocket. I sewed up the sides first, then I went across the pocket and used the little guides on my sewing machine plate (no idea what those are called!) to create different sized pockets. I know the guides delineate different measurements, but not sure exactly what those measurements are, either. I found that using the second line gave me pockets that were big enough for most hooks up through J or so., but it is best to experiment and see what works for you and your hook collection :) I made some larger hook pockets, in case I get some larger hooks in the future. I also made a wide pocket that can store a small pair of scissors.

Now is also the time to make your little flap at the top. I folded a portion of the top down, ironed the fold, and stitched just below the fold to hold it in place. The above picture shows the case holding one hook - you can see how the flap comes over the top of it. If my roll were to get turned upside down and thrown around, this should keep the hooks in it from sliding out and getting lost.

There was a problem, as you can see above. I do own one freakin' big hook, and it is too long for this roll. If I had forgone the top flap, it would have fit, but the roll would have been really big, and I wouldn;t have had the piece of mind that flap provides I decided to just leave this one out. I'd say  99.9% of the crochet I do is with K or smaller, anyway.  Plus, how could I possibly lose this guy? He's HUGE!

Here's a picture of the finished product with my hooks and doodads in it. I forgot I actually made two big pockets. You see my scissors on the right, and on the left, you see the needle pocket. In the big pocket behind that I have stored my packet of stitch markers. You see my hooks all tucked away, too. I used to have a lot more, but since I didn't have a nice case like this to put them in, a bunch of them got lost :(

Here is how it looks on the outside.

And here it is all rolled up and tied.

Feel free to comment if you have any questions!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The 5 Rs - Reading, Riting, Rithmatic, Rats, and Recession

Another change to the blog address... sorry to anyone that has me bookmarked. I think I'll be sticking with this one, though.

Not much in the way of creativity happening at my casa right now. In the past week, I have acquired two testy pet rats, grad school has started back up, and I've been looking for a job. Maybe those things should be addressed one at a time....

First, there are Bert and Ernie....

Ernie is the one looking at the camera. Don't ask what got into me, or made me decide pet rats were a good idea... looking back, I am not really sure. I've never had rats before. They are supposed to be more intelligent and more loving that other small animals, like hamsters or gerbils. For some reason, small, furry, caged animal = great idea. 

I found a listing for these guys on Craigslist. Someone was selling their cage and taking the rats was optional. My first thought was, what the heck is going to be done with them if someone takes just the cage?? So, we rescued these guys. I guess that is good, but I think these guys need rat social services.... or rat therapy... or something. They were fed through the bars of their cage (BAD idea... never do this with an animal), they were not properly socialized, plus I think they were probably tormented by the kids that owned them previously. Bert, in particular, bites, and does not like to be held. Ernie does not have as many problems with it, or so I thought, but judging by how much I got pooped on yesterday, I may be wrong. And boy, do they poop... everywhere... all over everything... why they cannot do it in their litter box, or AT LEAST, in the bottom of their cage, I do not know... the concept does not seem that hard to grasp to me.

Anyhow, I need to revise my rat handling techniques for poopy emergencies, I guess. Hopefully things will work out - they will calm down, and learn that being handled and brought out of the cage is fun, and that pooping should happen in designated areas. At the moment, however, I'm kind of frustrated and regretting the whole idea - sigh.

In addition to rat adjustment, grad school as started back up...

One of my favorite pictures, from a study session in my first semester. Oh Advanced Psychopathology, you so silly!

Ahhh grad school... what to think of you. I'm still not sure. At this point, I am planning to finish up my MA in experimental psych. I'll be working on my thesis this semester, along with taking a couple of classes. One is Psych and Law, which I'm really quite excited about. I have had several classes on Psych and Law in the past with the same professor, as well as taking my undergrad honors program classes with her. She is a wonderful teacher and person, and I always enjoy her classes, so I'm pretty pumped for this one. I like her classes because A) I think she is very fair in the amount of work she assigns, and B) they always make me challenge my own thoughts and opinions on things. 

I'm also teaching again - hooray! I really do enjoy teaching. I'm a TA for a lab section of a psych research and methods class. I have a full group of 16 this semester, and so far, they seem engaged and willing to ask questions, which makes me very happy.

In addition to this, I'm planning to start working on an AS in computer science at the local community college. I just think that computers will end up being a better line of work for me, and offer a LOT more job opportunities. I only need around 24 credit hours to do it, since I already have a lot of the requirements from doing a BA. I'll have to pay completely out of pocket, though. Right now, I'm waiting to see if I'm going to get any additional financial aid before I register. If so, then I should be able to afford it.

So, we have school, and rats... I've also been trying to find a job

I have no relevant photo to go with job hunting, so I decided to just share something cute.
Maybe I can make it relevant... job hunting has put me in my little box of sadness... where are you friends? FRIENDS!?!?! :((  I'm not sure anything is quite as depressing as trying to find a job (particularly in this economy) when you have a "useless" BA. I don't think it is useless, mind you. I think the work I've done in psych qualifies me to work in HR, or PR, or any number of things. I've learned how to deal with people, how to listen to them, how to write well, how to proof read, how to research, how to analyze data, how to design projects... but my degree isn't in HR, or business, or marketing, or whatever, and my on-the-job experience is limited. This = fail. I'm having trouble finding anything I'm qualified for aside from call center positions. Now, I am not a very picky person, but I am trying to avoid call centers. Nothing takes it out of me quite as much as being on the phone 8 hours a day. I could do it, but doing it, plus teaching, and working on two degrees... that might be a bit much.

I still need to tweak my resume, put in for a few things I saw, and maybe see about the career office at school helping me find some other opportunities. It is just such a downer, when you know there are so many things you could do well, but you don't meet the qualifications on paper.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Faux stained glass - on the cheap!

This was so nifty, I just had to share. I dislike reposting other people's photos, so I'll just link you over to the tutorial on Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom

Now, I was immediately drawn to this because I love peacocks. I really have 0 interest in stained glass, excluding, perhaps, the potential it has to become jewelry. For on thing, it always seems freaking expensive - all the paints and materials. But since it was a peacock, I clicked anyway. It was also linked by one of my favorite sites, Dollar Store Crafts. So that made me think it might actually be reasonable. Boy was I right! This beautiful piece is made using acrylic paints and Elmer's Glue!

I love the idea of using coloring books for patterns, too. You may be seeing a Hello Kitty stained glass piece from yours truly here soon ;P

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Practice makes waste... or, How I Wish I Could Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bombs

Sink with Colored Sprinkles
Installation Piece
Ashley Gunn
Colorado Springs, CO

Hopefully it is clear that the above is tongue in cheek, and I do not, by any means, think this is a beautiful work of art =)

Today, I was to make cupcakes. Beautiful red velvet cupcakes with white icing and cute little pink polka dots. They would be iced using the icing attachments on my cookie press. They would be lovely and delicious. But, I haven't made cupcakes in awhile... I overfilled the cups, so the cakes came out funnily shaped.  Then I made the icing, and remembered that if you just use regular ol' vanilla extract, you're not gonna get white icing. So I dyed it pink. I loaded up the cookie press with about a third of the icing... and quickly realized that was only going to ice about three cupcakes, with the way I was doing things. The way I was doing things was not nearly as pretty as I imagined, either.

So, my lopsided cupcakes got iced with a knife and I threw some red sugar on top. They look like something a grade schooler would bake.

Experiences like this always bring me down. You always hear that practice makes perfect, but somehow, in my mind, it makes waste, and that bugs me. I thought to myself after trying to use the cookie press/icing gun that I probably needed to make up a batch of simple icing and just sit down and play with the thing... but then my mind kicked in - that would be wasting all that nice icing. I'm like this with everything. That would be wasting paper, or paints, or canvas, or fabric, or beads, or yarn. If it;s not wasting materials, it would be wasting time.

WHY do I think like this! WHYYYYYY!!!!!!? I expect myself to be able to pick something up and be perfect at it. I know it's not logical, but it is apparently the way my mind works.

Everything I create seems so very mediocre. There is always someone out there doing it better - whether it's baking or crocheting or sewing or photography or blogging. I feel like, no matter how hard I try, there always will be someone who does it better, so what is the point?

I wish I could just learn to let go, play with my art supplies, bake monstrosities, put up a fugly blog and not care... but I don't think I'm ever going to develop that skill!

*Sigh* Well... at least the cupcakes are tasty.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New look

I am in love with this scarf from Lion Brand! It uses Tweed Stripes yarn, which I haven't heard of or seen before... However, the name is making me go, "Yipes! Stripes! Tweed Stripes Yarn!"

If you aren't a child of the 80s and/or don't remember the commercials for Fruit Stripes Gum, you probably won't get that one...

Some of you may have noticed I'm trying to create a new layout here... I imagine it will be changing a lot, so please bear with me, all two of you ;)

I think a name change may be coming, too. I'd like to set up my own domain, and I know would never be available ;)  I may go with Hello Ashy! Thoughts? Opinions?  I had a website years ago named that, so thinking I may go back to it.

Hope you all are enjoying 2011 so far :)