Recommended Knitting Tutorials

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Grandest of Mondays to you, fellow Hackers!

I hope that all of you enjoyed a restful and enjoyable weekend and that most importantly, you fit in a little crafting time. This week, I wanted to share with the knitters out there some of my favorite places to learn more about knitting. Most are YouTube channels and I highly recommend subscribing so that you can get alerted to when there are new videos up. But there are also a couple websites that I check out occasionally to learn new stitches or find out the latest about new yarns on the market.

One of my favorite YouTube channels to follow is Joanne’s Web. There is something really lovely about Joanne’s tutorials. She is very good about going slowly through each step so as not to confuse newer/beginning knitters. She is also the adorable older lady and from the very first of her videos that I watched, I just loved her. It felt like sitting down and learning to knit with one’s grandma (who is ironically who originally taught me how to knit when I was just a preteen). She not only teaches things like how to actually do different types of stitches, but she also has specific patterns she teaches you. I use her fingerless glove pattern all the time because they are quick and easy to make. Another benefit is that a number of her videos are in Spanish as well.

Wool And The Gang is another fun channel to subscribe to. They also offer easy-to-follow tutorials so it is great for beginning knitters and novices. They also have a number of free patterns that they offer. Wool And The Gang is an actual company so in addition to their YouTube channel with wonderful tutorials, they have a website and blog. You know what else they have? A mascot… Meet Al The Alpaca.

Those are my main go-to YouTube channels when I’m either looking at learning a new stitch or trying to find a new pattern to try out. Some others that I subscribe to are RJ Knits and Sheep & Stitch.

Most of us are not only aware of Craftsy, we practically LIVE on their site. This is fabulous place to find patterns (they offer free and priced, but I have yet to see a bad pattern on that site). I also am a fan of LoveKnitting because they also sell yarn (like Craftsy and Wool and the Gang) and offer coupons and special pricing almost daily. (I recommend signing up for their email list to see what’s new and what specials they’re offering that day).

I hope that, for any beginners or skilled knitters out there, these resources not only help to continue your ever-expanding knitting knowledge but also provide you with a bevy of new projects for your horizons.

Happy Knitting!

 

~Scribe Sarah~


DIY Fall Floral Arrangements

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Happy Monday, Hackers!

My favorite season is now upon us and most people seem to be super-duper excited about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I, however, most look forward to two very important things related to fall: Fall decorations and Halloween (my favorite holiday so be forewarned…my October posts will ALL be Halloween-related).

I usually put up fall decorations right around Labor Day and most of these I procure at Dollar Tree because they are cheap and easy and well, we all love cheap and easy. But there is one thing that I do every single year not only because they add lots of those beautiful fall colors to my apartment but they are also really cheap and easy and FUN to make. Floral Arrangements!

Using fake leaves and flowers are a wonderful way to dress up your space without having to maintain a plant. It’s also beneficial for those of us who have furry friends and family (since many real plants can be toxic to our beastly brethren). You can customize these easy arrangements to your specific decorative vision. Unlike real bouquets and plants, you can create something that you know you’re going to love.

All the supplies I gathered for the small piece I made for this post were obtained at my local Dollar Tree. They always have a pretty broad and diverse selection of flowers and leaves to choose from and it’s an inexpensive place to find the foam forms and floral moss you’ll need to stick the pieces into and dress up your arrangement. Other stores that you can find great and usually inexpensive supplies at are Michaels and Joann Fabrics. But also check out your local craft stores, especially those independently-owned ones. Support local businesses!

 

For this piece, I wanted something small for the little table by my recliner so I chose this lovely white ceramic bowl with a festive fall leaf design around the rim. I then placed my foam form into the center of the bowl. You’ll want to find a form that is just slightly smaller than the dish or basket you are placing your arrangement in. It should almost fill the space, leaving room for you to dress with moss around the edge and over the top. There are also large forms that can be cut down and shaped to whatever you need.

 

I like to choose a center focal point for my arrangement. This gives me an idea of what colors I’ll want to use, the different levels I’ll want to achieve and where the rest of the flowers and leaves will be placed. While you don’t necessarily want your arrangement to be perfectly symmetrical, you do want to have a sort of uniformity to the piece. Using a focal point helps to accomplish this.

Then, I put my floral moss around the edges and over the top of the form to hide it. Once you have that finished, let your creativity flow. Play around with what flowers, berries, or leaves you want where. Use different lengths to the stems when you cut them (you can use a regular scissors to cut them but it is a little tough to get through the wire stems so I recommend having a wire cutter handy). Poke the stems into the form to place the flowers; don’t be afraid to angle the stems, bend them to place the flowers exactly where you want.

 

Move the pieces around as you go, play with the arrangement until each item is exactly where you want it.

Once your arrangement is complete, all you need to do is set it out in whichever room you want to display it. Don’t forget you can also redo them anytime you like. Just take the flowers out and rearrange them or add new ones whenever you feel like a change. You can make small arrangements, like the one I made here, or you can make them as large as you like. I made this slightly larger one last fall and still love it. It will definitely be a part of my fall decorating tradition for years to come.

The best part of this fun and simple DIY is that it is not season or holiday specific. You can use any color or type of fake flowers, add touches like holly for Christmastime or eggs for Easter. You can make them with school colors for graduation parties or as gifts. The possibilities are endless.


Labor Day Celebration: Relax yo’self

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Hello my beautiful Monday Hackers! And a happy Labor Day to you all!

In honor of the holiday, I wanted to spend a little time on relaxation and rest. It is important to maintain a balance in our lives, which is part of the reason our country celebrates this holiday. As such, I wanted to give a few ideas for things you can do to help rest and restore yourselves from the stresses of every day life.

One of my absolute favorite ways to relax is to take a long, hot bath. Adding bath salts and fragrances add a lovely level to your relaxation time. In a post a few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for making your own bath salt. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s inexpensive and you can find that recipe here. Some great relaxing scents you can use for this (or for a spray that can be misted over your bed before you go to sleep) are lavender, rose, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile, and frankincense.

In addition to the salts in your bath, having a good book with you can be a super addition to your rest time. Sometimes, taking a journey into a fictional world while inhaling calming scents is just what a human needs to fully decompress.

Another way to pamper yourself is to mix up a homemade facial mask. Many of these can be made with items you have in your kitchen, some are a little more detailed. But sometimes, unclogging your pores can really help unclog your mind. This may be construed by some to be a rather ‘feminine’ thing to do but I feel this is a great thing for any gender. Clean skin makes anyone feel better about things. Below is a quick and easy hydrating mask for dry skin.

Cocoa Dream Hydration Mask:

Mash up one quarter of an avocado and add one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of cocoa powder. Apply the mixture to a clean face and let sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat face dry. (I like to follow things like this with my favorite toner, Pacifica’s Coconut Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic, which can be bought at Target, Ulta, and Sephora or online at Amazon. Pacifica’s products are also all cruelty free and 100% vegan!)

Another fabulous homemade mask ingredient is bananas. Bananas are great for skin as they are high in antioxidants and moisture. This mask is super easy and great way to get glowing skin.

Organic Banana Face Mask:

Mash up half a banana and add one tablespoon orange juice (fresh squeezed is best!) and one tablespoon of honey. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

One of my favorite ways to relax and de-stress is by doing a little yoga. Even the most novice yoga practitioner can accomplish these basic poses for relaxation. As with any physical exercise, make sure that you are trained on how to do these poses correctly by a licensed yoga instructor. Doing yoga poses incorrectly can actually damage your body. This webpage has five easy to achieve and fully relaxing yoga poses. Other poses that I enjoy and that help relax and relieve tension are locust pose and supine leg twist. For anyone who is a yoga practitioner who wants to have yoga on the go, I highly recommend the apps FitStarYoga and Asana Rebel. They are easy to use and show videos on the poses as well so it’s great for people who are not yet proficient.

I’d like to end my post on the most efficient way to de-stress, relax, and recharge. It’s quick, it’s easy and you can literally do it anywhere. Deep Breathing. Some people call this meditation and it is. However, all you really need to do is take in oxygen in order for your body to naturally relax and find serenity. Sit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. If you can’t find a somewhat quiet spot, put in earbuds and start whatever relaxing music you like (I personally go straight for Chopin’s Nocturnes). Close your eyes and take one slow, deep breath in, then slowly let it out through your mouth. Repeat this for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, however long you feel you need to fully let go of your stress and find peace. Don’t think about anything; no mental lists of what you still have to do for the day, what you’re going to have/make for dinner, if you need to stop at the store on the way home for toilet paper. All those things will be there waiting for you when you’re done breathing. Just focus on the slow intake of oxygen and the release of breath out. Imagine all the bad thoughts and feelings you have exiting your body with the exhale. Even just 5 minutes of this can make all the difference in your mental state and how you approach or deal with your day.

Our weekend is long and for that, we are all grateful. Who doesn’t love a day off work? But remember the real reason for it and that is to take care of and treat yo’self. Happy Labor Day, kids!


Hand-Knitted Ear Warmer/Headband

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The days and nights are getting chillier. Fall is just around the corner. And beyond that…winter is coming… (Sorry, had to make *some* mention of the Game of Thrones finale).

For the knitters out in our little crafting world, I wanted to pass along this very simple pattern that I came across on the interwebs. I have adapted this a bit to custom to varying head sizes. This pattern works best with chunky soft yarn. I prefer the Lions Brand Hometown USA. Whichever yarn you use, make sure that it has a little give because you will want the headband to stretch.

You’ll want to have US size 10 needles and a pair of scissors and a yarn needle handy as well. You will need two different color yarns; one will be what you knit the band out of and the other will be your accent color to finish the warmer. If you want to dress up your headband, you can also have a plastic or fabric flower handy or some felt shapes cut out to be stitched to the band. This is also a slightly more difficult pattern in that it uses the seed (or moss) stitch. This requires knowledge of the knit stitch and the purl stitch.

First thing to do is the make sure you’re spotted. I like to have a knitting buddy for this.

Just make sure your buddy doesn’t try to play with the yarn. *wink*

Cast on 10 stitches. On row 1, start with one knit stitch, then purl. Repeat this to the end of the row.

Row 2: *p1, k1; rep from * to end of row.

All odd numbered rows will start with a knit stitch; all even numbered rows will start with a purl stitch. I highly recommend using a stitch counter to track your progress. You can lose track of which stitch you need to start on very easily if you’re not paying attention. Your seed stitch should look like this.

Continue this pattern for 70 rows. You’ll want to keep your tension loose so that the headband will still have some stretch and give. If the tension is too tight, the headband will not fit. Once you get to row 70, bind off your work.

Then stitch the ends together to make a knitted circle. Then take the ends and tie around the ends to bunch the band in one spot.

 

Once that’s tied off, you will take your accent color and pull it through the center of the band. I usually have about 3 feet of yarn on each side, then wrap it around in a chunk. Once you have it fully bunched up and covered in your accent color, you will tie off the ends and snip it close. Then tuck the knot into the threads to hide it. Flip your band inside out and you are finished! You can decorate the band with anything you choose; buttons, flowers, whatever ideas you can think of.

This pattern can also be adjusted for head size by either increasing or decreasing the number of rows stitched. It can be completed in a couple hours and make great gifts!

(Note: you also may want to make sure your buddy doesn’t fall asleep on the job. LOL).

~Scribe Sarah~

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Etsy Shop Featurette: Identity Metals

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Who loves jewelry? I know I do, especially fandom-inspired things. I have a TARDIS necklace that is just the best. So when I stumbled across this little Etsy shop, my eyes just about popped out of my head.

Identity Metals is run by Katie Hroncich and is all about hand stamped metals. Every piece is unique in the smallest way. Katie explains in her Etsy bio that hand stamping means that no two pieces will ever be aligned or straight and that the pressure of the stamp gives a different depth and alignment to all the characters. These pieces are truly original and best of all, they go with everything.

There are bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Fandoms featured include Supernatural, Teen Wolf, Game of Thrones (I personally adore the Game of Thrones Inspired – Moon of my Life, Sun and Stars Keychains), The Walking Dead and more. The best part of Katie’s shop is that she does customized pieces as well.

I highly recommend this shop to anyone who loves to wear their fandom heart on their sleeve…or neck…or ears. You can browse through the wonderful items at Identity Metals here.


DIY Bath Salts (part two): Know your ingredients

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Last week, I showed you how easy it is it make your own bath salts. As with any recipe, they are not set in stone. You can certainly customize these recipes just as you would food recipes. However, as with the food you eat, it is important to know which ingredients are good for you and which are not. That’s what this Monday’s post is all about.

There are three main ingredients in most of the DIY bath salt recipes you will find online; salt, essential oil, and the carrier for the essential oils (usually another oil). Some of these recipes will add baking soda but I have found it isn’t absolutely necessary. However, it does provide some health benefits in its own right! Let’s start with the salts.

There are four kinds of salt that are most beneficial for bath salts. The easiest to find is, of course, Epsom salt. Anyone who has played sports or been active knows that Epsom salts are incredibly helpful in soothing sore muscles. It also helps when you’re sore from a bad fall…not that I have any personal experience with that part at all…. I’m lying, I fall on my face frequently. But Epsom salt (and really all salts listed here) are a great source of magnesium. Epsom salt is actually composed of tiny crystals of magnesium and sulfate, making it very different from your run of the mill, regular table salt. Our bodies need magnesium for a number of reasons, one of which is that it helps our bodies produce serotonin. Serotonin is that fun little chemical in our brain that helps make us happy. Low levels of serotonin can be a key indicator of depression in humans.

Magnesium also helps relax us and reduces irritability. This is something that can come in handy for us females during certain periods of time. *winknudge* Another huge benefit of magnesium is that it helps eliminate toxins from your body. Soaking in this will allow your body to expel toxins through your skin, which helps to keeps us healthy and happy. Some people even believe that soaking in magnesium sulfate can help purge your aura of negativity. For some other ways that Epsom salts can benefit you, please see this article over at Natural Living Ideas.

The other salts I mentioned earlier also contain magnesium, so some of the benefits are the same. Himalayan Pink sea salt also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties which makes it really soothing and beneficial for skin problems like eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Also, it’s natural coloring makes it popular for bath salts since you don’t need to use artificial coloring then. Only downside there is that it only comes in pink. Dead Sea Salt is one of the most natural bath salt ingredients you’ll find. These salts are extracted directly from the Dead Sea and undergo very little (if any, in some cases) processing. This one, however, is a little more difficult to come by and can cost more. The biggest difference between Epsom and sea salts is the composition: while Epsom salts are purely magnesium sulfate, sea salts are mineral rich. They contain important minerals like calcium, copper, iodine, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and zinc. These minerals are all natural and things that our bodies need to be healthy. Our lifestyles in today’s society tend to be deficient in a lot of these minerals so this is a lovely way to replenish them to our bodies.

A fourth salt that can be used is standard kosher salt. This works great to mix with the Epsom salts. This way you get the benefits of the magnesium sulfate from the Epsom salt and the minerals of the sea salts.

The other important ingredient is what is called a carrier or base oil. This is what you will add the drops of your essential oil to in order for it to mix with the water of your bath. I personally like to use oils because of the benefits to skin but you can also use things like castile soap or shampoo. I’m going to focus on the oils that I have used in the past. One reason I like these is because you can mix the essential oils with these and use them as moisturizers instead of mixing with the salts. Some of my favorites are apricot kernel seed oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, vitamin E, and grapeseed oil. You can also use green tea seed, olive, jojoba, sesame, and hemp seed. All of these oils are great for moisturizing skin but most of them also have antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties.

As I posted in last week’s post, if you are using a base oil like sesame or sweet almond, make sure that the person using it is not allergic to it. DIY bath salts are super easy and inexpensive gifts for showers and holidays but you don’t want your gift to make your friend or family member to break out in hives or, ya know, go into anaphylactic shock.

Basically, these things are easy to make as long as you know and respect the ingredients. Some wonderful resources to look through if you want to research your own can be found here and here.

 

~Scribe Sarah~


DIY Bath Salts (Part One)

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It’s been a long, hard day and all you want to do is soak in a hot bath, maybe with a book or some soothing music. Adding aromatherapy to this scenario will take your relaxing bath to a whole new level. Some people use incense or Scentsy wax. But there is a little something that anyone can whip up quite quickly that will make that bath not only soothing but also beneficial to your health as well. Add a little bath salt.

There are a bunch of different recipes that you can use to make a simple, scented bath salt. I’m including the one that I use more frequently. This recipe is simple and all the ingredients are easy to obtain. Most items can be found at a grocery store and things like the essential oils can be found at stores like The Vitamin Shoppe. Be aware that essential oils need to be understood and used with care. I did a lot of research about how to use essential oils safely and the chemistry involving how these oils interact with your body.

There are many types of salts that can be used in bath salt recipes but Epsom salts are usually the easiest to find. Next week, you can read about the different types of both salts and carrier oils that can be used in the making of bath salts. A carrier oil is a seed or vegetable oil used to dilute the essential oils before they are applied to skin. If you try to put straight essential oil into your bath water, you’ll notice that your skin will start to burn and irritate. This is because oil and water do not mix so the essential oils tend to float on top of the water. Then you get into the bath and the oils are attracted to the lipids in your body, causing irritation (usually made worse by the heat of the water). You should never add essential oils directly to the bath water, always make sure you are diluting them with either a carrier oil, salt or both.

The recipe I use most uses both a carrier oil and salt. I like this recipe because Epsom salts are not only easy to find but it also helps sooth sore and achy muscles. This is especially nice after a hard workout or if you’ve taken a fall. You will need the following items:

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt
  • ½ cup Baking Soda
  • 2 tbsp carrier oil of your choice
  • Essential oils (whichever scents you want)
  • A large bowl
  • A small bowl
  • A whisk
  • A rimmed baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Mason jars

To begin, combine one cup of the Epsom salt, one cup of the kosher salt, and a half cup of the baking soda into the large bowl and mix together.

Once you have those things mixed well, place off to the side and in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of your carrier oil. For the batch I made today, I used sweet almond oil. Be aware that if you plan to make a gift of these, check with the person about potential allergies! You don’t want to give someone who is allergic to almonds a bath salt that is made with almond oil.

Next, add 20 drops of your essential oil to the carrier oil. You can mix different scents if you like. I used eucalyptus, lavender, and spearmint for a relaxing and head-clearing bath salt. Stir the essential oils into the carrier oil. At this point, if you want to add a color to your salts, you can do so by adding a drop or two of food coloring to the carrier oil and mixing it in. You do not have to do this. Take your large bowl with your mixed salts and add the now mixed carrier & essential oils. Mix thoroughly with the whisk. (Make sure the dishes you are using for this either get cleaned really well or use dishes that are not used for food items).

Once the carrier oil is thoroughly mixed into the salts, spread some aluminum foil onto the baking sheet and then spread the salts out onto the foil. Let sit for about 15 minutes. This allows the salts and the oils to dry out a bit and bond together. Then you can carefully pull up the corners of the foil and use this to pour your salts into your Mason jars for storage. I like to use Ball Mason jars because they have measurements on the side. 1 cup of the finished salts equals one bath.

     

I hope you enjoy this recipe and there are a number of other recipes and tips to try from the internet as well. One can be found here along with a number of other fun DIY items (the focus of the webpage is for brides but some of the items can be for every day use also).

~Scribe Sarah~

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DIY Dye Jobs – Clothing or material

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Hello again, fellow Hackers of Crafts. Scribe Sarah here with some helpful tips I came across whilst attempting to fix a portion of a Renaissance-y cosplay I wear yearly. You’ll be seeing more of me as I will be posting every Monday here on the Craft Hackers blog.

We’ve all been there. You search and search and search for just the right article of clothing or a specific shade of fabric. But alas, your efforts are for naught. You have either too specific an idea in your head that you can’t find that perfect item to match or you run short of time and money and must make do with what you can get. The latter happened to me last year for the Bristol Renaissance Festival. I had spent months putting together the perfect cosplay and it came down to one last item. All I needed was a pair of leggings. I had put this off to the last thinking that finding a pair of either olive or chocolate leggings would be the easiest thing in the world. Leggings are all the rage right now, right? Well, apparently, I was wrong and the best I could find on short notice was tan leggings. They worked.  But I got multiple comments about how it looked like I wasn’t wearing any pants (which is true).

A friend first suggested, then my sister seconded that I just dye the pair I had to a darker brown. I had put it off, thinking that I had a whole year to try and find a better pair. Guess what? Life happened. I got busy, I forgot about it, I got even busier…you all know how this goes. We all experience it. So here we are, a year later and I’m going to Ren Faire next weekend. I never found a better pair of leggings. So I thought, “I’ll try this dying thing…”

I have never dyed cloth before. I have watched other people do it but I was nervous. What if I messed it up and ruined my one pair of leggings? Then I really WOULD have to go pantless! So I thought that I would document my little DIY journey for others, just in case you find yourself needing to break out the RIT.

The first thing you need to do is look at the type of material you want/need to dye. My leggings were a bit more difficult because they are 85% polyester. Most regular dyes don’t work as well on blends or synthetic fabrics. I went to Joann Fabrics and diligently perused the dye selection. There were the regular RIT dyes and then a couple specifically designed for synthetics and blends. I opted for the one to the right because the color was closest to what I had envisioned.

 

Now, the first hiccup I came across with this process is make sure that you read the packaging BEFORE you purchase the product and get it all the way home and start your dying process. This particular dye required boiling. That’s right, I basically had to boil my pants in dye. It was a learning experience. However, it ended up being a fun process and not nearly as difficult as I first anticipated.

Tip number two: Read ALL the instructions before you start. I was a tiny bit anal-retentive due to fear I’d ruin my clothing so I read them three times before starting and then also constantly referred to them as I proceeded. But I cannot stress enough how much easier everything was knowing what steps I had to take and when. Follow the directions and you’ll do just fine.

Tip number three: make sure you have rubber gloves to wear during this process. I used kitchen dish gloves because they come up the arm further and protect more of your skin. I also highly recommend either having an old apron to wear as you work or make sure the clothes you have on are ones you don’t care about. As I stirred and shifted the leggings around in the pot, sometimes they would slip off the spoon and *plop* back into the hot water, making little splashes of chocolate brown water.

The dishes you chose to use should be ones that you are never going to use with food again. My old spaghetti pot will never be the same, sadly. But it was the only thing I had that was big enough for the leggings. The spoon wasn’t as big a deal but truly, make sure the tools you have at your disposal match your needs. This was my second hiccup, sort of in correlation with my first (had I paid attention to the fact this needed to be boiled, I would have gotten the other dye that you can use in warm water in a stainless steel sink).

During disposal of the dye (which is septic and safe to pour down the drain), either pour it down the stainless steel sink (or a utility sink, should you have one) or resign yourself to immediately scrubbing your tub with Ajax or a bleach cleaner. My third mistake; I thought, “oh, I’ll dump it down the tub drain so I won’t splash up on the kitchen counter!” Not my best idea ever. Half the tub looked like I hadn’t ever cleaned it. So I had to immediately take care of that before the permanent dye set in. In related news, Ajax really is a great cleaner! Not as good as Francis, but….

All in all, the process wasn’t hard or time-consuming, as long as you prepare fully beforehand. It is possible to have that perfect colored fabric or clothing item and it won’t cost you a fortune! Now that I’ve done it once, I feel like it would be fun to experiment with designs and maybe even mixing my own custom colors. Uh oh, I think I have a new hobby….Couldn’t you just DYE?


DIY Unique Yarn Storage

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Hey there, Hackers! Tis your intrepid ScribeSarah, back with some tips on how to keep your crafting space clear and organized. Now, even little ol’ anal-retentive me gets her home a little messy with all her little projects but there are ways you can get that chaos organized, even if it doesn’t always look like it. While I tend to be a bit of a jack of all trades in the craft arena, for today’s exercise, I thought we would focus on ways to keep your yarn both accessible and stowed so that it’s not taking over your home.

There are quick and easy ways to store your yarns and threads, most of which you can find at your local Container Store (a place I am not allowed to go unsupervised because I will buy all the things). However, if you’re looking for something a little less ordinary (and costly), there are a bunch of things out there that you can use or re-purpose for these needs.

For yarn that isn’t being used currently (or for that yarn you found you just couldn’t leave the craft store without despite not having a specific project you bought it for), you could use old wicker/weaved baskets. My grandmother had a ton of these just hiding in her cupboards and when she passed away, rather than donate them to the Goodwill, I kept and re-purposed them. Some I use for small balls of yarn (leftovers from projects past) and some I use to keep finished projects. These can be decorative and left out by a chair or sofa or can be standard square that fits in a closet or on a shelf easily.

Another thing that gives your not-being-used yarn a happy and somewhatImage result for vintage suitcase retro home is to put those old suitcases to work. Vintage suitcases are a beautiful way to store these items that still look neat and classy. They fit in closets, under beds or sofas, but still show off a little glamor when pulled out for use. They can also be stacked decoratively in a corner or on a shelf (e.g. hat boxes, etc). You can line old suitcases with any fabric you like too, so the inside as well as the outside has a special sort of flare.

If you like assembling items, this next item is for you. Simple pegboard and hooks are a fabulous way to store your yarn while still keeping it readily accessible and easy to use. You can customize size, shape, even color quite easily and load as many or as few skeins onto a board as you see fit. You can also create many small boards to mount along the wall of your craft room in a funky design or pattern. The sky’s the limit with this option and it works best if you have a dedicated craft area or room.  For an easy-to-follow tutorial, check out Dwell Beautiful’s step-by-step instructions here.

Coffee cans are a fun, decorative way to store yarn you are currently using on projects. They come in various sizes and, depending on how much coffee you consume, you may have a restoring supply. You can paint or decoupage the outside of each can, simply slice a small hole in the lid of the can, then place the ball or skein in the can and thread the end through the lid. Glue guns, glitter, rhinestones, shelf lining paper and yarn itself are also fun ways to decorate the outsides of the cans. Not only does this give you storage, it is also an inexpensive yarn holder. But if you don’t want tons of coffee cans just sitting around your space, you can also mount them on the wall (without the lids).

Image result for coffee can yarn

And finally, we come to milk crates. These may be a little harder to come by but they give you a great way to create your own yarn shelves. They are stackable, come in different colors and can be used in small and large spaces equally as well. Got a lot of yarn? Just keep stacking on the crates until you have a place for it all. For this idea, I recommend using an anchor of sorts when stacking against a wall; the higher you stack the crates, the more likely it is that the whole thing could topple over. You will also want to lash the crates together as well to make your yarn storage sturdier.

Image result for milk crate yarn storage

These are just a few ways to take items you may have either laying around the house or are easy and inexpensive to acquire and use them to organize your space. But don’t stop there. Look around you. You never know when inspiration will strike. That random item that’s just collecting dust in the corner may be the next great organizational tool in your crafting adventures.

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Fandom Mugs FTW!

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Hey there, fellow Hackers! Tis Scribe Sarah again, here to tell you all about yet another Etsy shop that you should all definitely check out. This shop is especially great for any coffee or tea aficionados. The shop owner is the lovely Ashley Marie and it’s called HandPaintedNerd.

I was attending Wizard World Chicago last summer and one of my favorite things to do, especially at the large conventions, is to browse through all of Artist Alley. I was thrilled to come across many booths that looked interesting but, at one point, my eye drifted to a coffee mug, painted all green and with beautiful Middle-Earthian-type font on the front, it said “What about second breakfast?” My geeky little heart soared with joy at seeing this. There are two things I love more than, like, everything on the planet; Coffee and Lord of the Rings.

I, of course, stopped at the booth to check the price on the mug and saw a bevy of Harry Potter-inspired mugs as well. There were tall mugs, regular sized, even travel mugs! All are hand painted ceramic and gorgeous. Ashley have an incredible talent. She and her booth assistant directed me around the corner to the other side of the table, where I found about 7 different Firefly-themed mugs. I was stuck. I was sold, the only problem I had now was that, at the time, I could only afford one and I didn’t know which one I wanted most.

I landed on this one. Image may contain: one or more people and eyeglasses

(Please ignore the disaster that is my hair in this photo. Let just say that…I wasn’t feeling that whole grooming thing that day.)

Because, let’s face it, Mal Reynolds is an inspiring dude and this was one of my favorite quotes of his (I love them all, the man is my hero). Also, the gun was just so well done, I couldn’t believe it had actually been hand-painted.

I took one of Ashley’s cards and then followed her Instagram. Then I favorited her Etsy shop and I constantly look at the feeds and think about getting another mug but opt out because I literally cannot decide which one to get next. Until recently, that is. Ashley had added a new mug to her Instagram and I almost immediately went to purchase it because I have been a ginormous fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since the movie came out in 1992. But I always had identified most with Willow. When Ashley posted a photo of her new design, I knew I had to have it. And have it I now do. See? ISN’T IT SO PRETTY!? Image may contain: coffee cup

I cannot recommend this shop enough. In addition to mugs, there are also jewelry plates, necklaces, even yarn bowls and the fandoms that are covered include Harry Potter, Firefly/Serenity, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, Arrow, Lord of the Rings, Supernatural, Marvel, Gilmore Girls, Stranger Things, Sherlock…the list goes on and on. Ashley is very up with current new fandoms as well and is constantly adding new designs to her inventory.

Best of all, for hand painted and fired ceramic pieces, these are all quite reasonably priced. So if you are like me and you have a serious coffee mug addiction (seriously, I have way too many mugs already and I still can’t stop buying them), then I highly recommend checking out HandPaintedNerd! You will not regret it (but your wallet might). 😉

Scribe Sarah

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