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Monday, April 22, 2013

Back to Basics: Introduction to Knitting

By Kandis Hamrick

Choosing your tools

There are a variety of needle types to choose from in knitting. In addition to having straight sets of needles in varying sizes, there are also double-pointed needles (DPNs) and circular knitting needles. Standard knitting needles are pointed on one end and have a cap of some kind on the other, sometimes flat, sometimes rounded.

DPNs are much shorter than standard knitting needles and (as the name suggests) are pointed at both ends; they are typically used in knitting socks or other small projects that are knit in the round.

Circular knitting needles can vary greatly because in addition to different needle sizes, there are different cable lengths to consider. These needles are used for two reasons: knitting in the round or knitting a much larger project as you can keep more stitches on the cable.

Other factors to consider in choosing your needles is the material they’re made with. Common materials for needles are wood/bamboo, nickel/aluminum, or acrylic. I recommend trying each so you can see what feels right for you; personally, I don’t like the feel of acrylic and I prefer the sound of metal needles as you work, but for some that sound might be annoying. Use whatever feels right for you.

Simple stitches

Cast on
k - knit
p - purl
yo - yarn over
Bind off

Stockinette stitch is among the most recognizable stitches in knitting and is accomplished by alternating a row of knit stitches and a row of purl stitches.

Another common stitch pattern is the ribbed stitch which is accomplished by alternating knit and purl stitches to form vertical rows; this can be a simple k1, p1 pattern or wider ribs can be created by repeating k2, p2 and so on.

Putting it together

Once you’ve cast on using your preferred method, you’ll need to knit your first row. In the first row you’ll need to be careful to maintain the correct tension in your stitches. If your cast-on was loose then you may end up with loose loops in your first row. This is something that may take some practice to get just right, or you may want to try a different method of casting on that you find easier. There’s no right or wrong choice here, it just depends on your preference.

As you work knit stitches, you’ll want to keep your working yarn behind your work; when you work purl stitches, you’ll want to keep your working yarn in front of your work. When you reach the end of a row, you will simply turn your work and start your next row. When your project is the desired length, bind off and weave in the end of your yarn.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wedding Project: Adding some sparkle!

By: Courtney Patach

Ever feel like those heels of yours would be absolutely fabulous with some extra sparkle? Or, that favorite pair of yours that may be too scratched up the back of the stiletto stem to wear out anymore. Well, don’t pass up those pumps or throw away those walking buddies; let em’ shine, let em’ shine, let em’ shine!

In this case, it was my wedding shoes. I knew I needed a low heel to wear all night long but, couldn’t find any that were SUPER cute, like their many 6” stiletto counterparts! And then it hit me, I could just add my own SPARKLE!


  • Blah Heels OR Slightly scratched heels*
  • Paint in desired color
  • Glitter in desired color (Extra Fine)
  • Spray Mod Podge
  • Paint brush
  • Tape & Plastic grocery bag (to catch over spray)
*If using slightly scratched heels, make sure to clean your heels of any dirt or damaged material from the application site.  


First, tape off the parts of the heel you do not wish to be glittered. In this case, I only wanted the outer heel to be glittered so almost the entire shoe was wrapped/covered.

Next start painting the part you want glittered. I found it best to work in small area’s; paint a small area and apply a thin layer of extra fine glitter. Repeat until the entire application site is covered.

Let dry completely.

Repeat application process until desired sparkliness is achieved! Once the level of shine is reached apply a thin layer of sprayable Mod Podge to create a flexible seal.

Note: Post to be updated with wearing “Wedding Day” pic; to be continued 9.14.13

Monday, April 8, 2013

Faux-Bangle Bracelets

By: Kandis Hamrick

I adore bangles, in part because I have a fascination with Indian culture. I bought a few bangles after spending an entire weekend watching Bollywood movies, but it was difficult for me to find bangles that both fit and that I liked. Then I had gone to a thrift store one day and I saw what looked like a set of bangles that I loved. When I picked it up, however, it turned out to be one continuous bracelet made with memory wire so it could coil around your wrist without the need to mangle your hand putting it on. I was inspired so I went to the craft store and got memory wire and an assortment of beads.

The bracelet above was the original which served as our inspiration. I made several bracelets with a dear friend while she was in town and once we had that down, I invited some of the other divine ladies over for a bracelet making party. First we gathered our materials.

Next, cut the wire to the desired length. Memory wire will maintain it's shape, so we judged the length based on how many times it was coiled. If you  want a smaller bracelet that looks like only four bangles, then you'll use four rounds. Next you need to bend one end of the wire to act as your bead stop. In the original bracelet, this was just a loop at the end that also had a bead dangling from the end. We used some small pliers to bend our ends; we used charms at the ends on some, but left others with just the loop as a bead stop.

Once your end is finished, start putting your beads on the other end. You'll want to use your fingers to hold the beads at the top long enough for you to make sure you like the pattern you're creating first. Be careful not to tangle your coiled wire when you push the beads further down the wire.

When you've reached the end of your bracelet, you'll want to leave just enough wire to create a second loop to finish the bracelet, probably 1/4-1/2" of wire depending on how big your loop is. Use wire cutters to trip the excess and you're done!

This is fun and simple project that can be done fairly quickly. These make great gifts and would be fun project for kids too if you used larger beads. Below are the other bracelets we've made so far if you need some more inspiration. Some had a color scheme or theme in mind while others went more for the element of chaos. There's not right or wrong here, so just have fun with it!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Back to Basics: Introduction to Crochet

By Kandis Hamrick

Crochet uses a hook to pull yarn through intertwined loops to create a finished project.  Crocheting will probably immediately bring the Granny Square to mind. Unfortunately crochet is often regarded as the lesser of the two big yarn hobbies. People think of knitting as being for wonderful clothing items like socks and sweaters and resign crochet to the “old lady” niche. Crochet can actually be quite remarkable and for years it was my preferred method as I thought it had more possibilities. [Note: I’m not saying I no longer believe in the beauty of crochet, but that I’ve also grown to appreciate knitting more fully as well.]

Choosing your tools

Crochet hooks come in a variety of sizes. Before you choose your hook, you will want to choose the yarn that you’ll be working with. If you’re not sure how to choose your yarn see our Back to Basics: Choosing Yarn post. Most yarns will list the hook size that they recommend for that weight of yarn. You can also manipulate the final appearance based on the hook size. If you’re using a lighter weight yarn, the recommended hook size will be smaller; however, if you want your final project to have very loose stitches, you can go up in your hook size. My best advice is to practice a couple of rows and see if you like the appearance before beginning your project.

Simple Stitches

Below is a list of basic crochet stitches and their abbreviations. Each is a link to a short video tutorial.

ch - Chain stitch
sc - Single Crochet
dc - Double Crochet
hdc - Half Double Crochet
tc - Triple Crochet

Putting it together

You’ll start by making a slipknot and putting your hook through the loop. Pull the tail to tighten the loop on your hook. Make sure that you don’t pull the loop too tight or it will be difficult for you to get your hook through as you crochet; the loop should be tight enough to stay on the hook but loose enough to slide freely.

Make your chain the desired length. If you’re going to be using single crochet, you’ll go into the second chain from the hook for your first stitch; for double crochet you’ll go into the third chain and so on. The extra chains at the beginning of your first row will count as the first stitch. At the end of each row, you will chain 1 and turn your work. The ch 1 will count as your first stitch in this row.

When your project is complete, you will cut your yarn to leave a tail. Pull the tail through your final stitch and weave it into your work. Note: if your project requires you to stitch pieces together, you can leave the tail long enough to use for the stitching and tie off when your seam is complete.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mega-Con 2013 Cosplay, Part 2

By: Kandis Hamrick

Last week, you saw Vicky's Ranibow Dash costume for this year's Mega-Con. Well, I also went as a pony. Rarity is often accused of being snobby and rude, but I think she's simply misunderstood and I adore her. I mean, she's a brilliant fashion designer so what's not to love? Normally, Rarity looks like this:

My original plan was simple, find a cute white dress, make an applique for her cutie mark and use temporary spray-in hair color. Then I was at Party City and found beautiful fairy wings that reminded me of the "Sonic Rainboom" episode when she gets gossamer wings and enters the best young flyers competition wearing the following:

So I decided to go all-out. I bought ribbon, tulle, feathers, sequined elastic and a tub of rhinestones for some bedazzling. I found wide wired ribbon in dark purple to use as a belt. Since it was wired I was able to tie a big bow and curl the ends to resemble her tail rather than having an actual tail.

I hand-stitched the tulle to the ribbon belt as an overskirt I did pink and yellow in the back with the pink being full skirt length and the yellow being half that over top. I did the same with purple and green in the front. 

I used the purple sequin elastic trim as a head band and put pink ostrich feathers in my hair. I used a piece of felt as the base for my very large necklace. I painted it pink and then used rhinestones to bling the whole thing out. I also used some of the same rhinestones to make my earrings. To top the whole thing off, I got purple and green feather boas.

I was afraid that since I went with a costume from a single episode, I wouldn't be recognized but I couldn't have been more wrong. In fact, at one point a fellow Pegasister actually got on her knees and bowed to my greatness.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mega-Con 2013 Cosplay, Part 1

By: Victoria Kulig

This past weekend was Megacon  in Orlando, a rather large annual convention that includes Anime, Video Games, TV shows, Comic Books, Scifi... you name it, it's there.

Conventions are fun in and of themselves, but they're much more fun when you add Cosplay to the mix. Cosplay is 'costume play', in which we dress up and enjoy being a character.

It's incredibly fun, creative, and people create some pretty elaborate costumes.

I put a costume together in about a week after I finally made up my mind to go--so even though some costumes are elaborate and take months to create sometimes, if you put your mind to it, you can put something together that is comfortable, functional, and easily identifiable without a huge time investment.

My costume this year was Rainbow Dash, from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Here's a photo of her, in case you aren't familiar.

Obviously, I'm not really a pony. So I just used parts of her character and coloration to create my costume. Rainbow Dash is a very athletic pony, and prides herself on how fast she is.

So I decided I'd go with an athletic outfit--gym shorts and a T-shirt--with some rainbow flair. I couldn't find anything in the right color, so the next best thing? Buy white - and fabric dye.

I went to Wal-Mart and found some inexpensive, white, cotton workout clothes, then found some fabric dye that was the appropriate color. I followed the directions on the packet to the letter.

I had to use my sink as I didn't have any pans large enough. I was a little concerned that the dye wouldn't be dark enough, as the packet indicated it was enough dye for a 1/2 lb of fabric. However, it came out just fine.

The next step, was to add some flair. I had picked up some rainbow ribbon, and I used it to add a line down the sleeves, and down the side seam of the shorts. I added it to both to give an almost uniform look.

Then I hand painted her cutie mark onto the front-right of the shorts using fabric paint. Now all I needed were wings!

I didn't really think I'd enjoy wearing actual wings throughout the convention so (after numerous discussions with Kandis) I decided I'd make a backpack and paint wings onto it. That way I'd eliminate the need to carry a purse, and not have to wear wings.

I followed a tutorial on creating a simple drawstring backpack, which you can find here. I used some more rainbow ribbon for the straps. It was a very simple bag to create, and took maybe 30-45 minutes. Then I used fabric paint and stenciled on some wings.

Here you can see the bag and the shorts, ready to go.

Now, I love the look of knee high socks with athletic shorts, so why not rainbow?

And we can't forget about Rainbow Dash's hair. It's one the most identifiable things about her! A good friend of mine buys her wigs from a company in Oklahoma City - so I new that if I wanted a quality wig, I should try them. I did check locally but was unable to find one that was decent, or in the right colors.. so I did splurge a bit on a good quality wig from The Five Wits. Then I splurged a little more, and had my hair stylist style the wig for me so it would be more comfortable to wear.

Another item I decided to go for--to stylize her a bit more--was her pet, Tank.

Tank is a turtle who won a contest to be her pet. I thought he was adorable, so I found a little stuffed turtle, and gave him a propeller and goggles.

Now I had a full costume, with cute accessories. Put it all together, and you get this!

Pretty cute, right? I thought so! Of course when I got to the convention, a vendor pointed out to me that I was missing something vital, and decided to help me out....

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back to Basics: French Seam

By Kari Lott

This is a great seam if you want to have a nice finish on the inside of your garment.  This is super easy to do and is my favorite way to make the inside very clean and prevent fraying.  Where you would ordinarily pin the right sides of your garment together, when creating a French seam you begin by pinning the wrong sides together.  Once pinned sew a ¼ inch seam, press the seam out and trim the extra fabric.  Be careful when trimming to make sure you do not trim too close to the seam or the fabric will fray and the seam will unravel.  Next, you must turn and re-pin with right sides together.  Sew again with another ¼ inch seam and press the seam.

And there you have it... A beautifully finished seam.