Harry Pottercraft!

In honor of Harry Potter’s birthday (July 31), the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and my recent trip to Harry Potter World, I’m doing a quick post on pottercrafts!

Deathly Hot: The Hallows Tank Top

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Just before leaving for Los Angeles to visit the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood, I decided I needed a DIY top appropriate for the 100+ degree F weather of LA in July. Luckily (felix felicitously?), I found this great Deathly Hallows cutout tank tutorial on YouTube. I made my lines extra sharp by using an X-Acto Knife instead of scissors, but either will work. Just swish and flick!

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You can still kind of see the chalk lines here. They faded eventually, but I’m probably going to get more chalk on it, seeing as how this is a great top for the rock climbing gym.

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See that high stepping move? Definitely the (hor)crux of the boulder problem. 🙂

House Colors Headband -Gryffindor version

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The other item I wore that weekend was a headband, in lieu of a house scarf. Even though the Sorting Hat has placed me in Ravenclaw (and my cat too!), I figured that Gryffindor colors were the way to go here. I drew inspiration from the scarf pattern seen in the 4th Harry Potter Movie. But what I’m most proud of is the fact that I made this on the car ride down from Northern California! I actually finished it in the dark!

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It’s a little wonky because of that, and the fact that I had no pattern, and the fact that I forgot scissors and cut the back threads with a pocket knife, but I’m sure Dobby would still wear it.

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I mostly wore this headband when I went on rides, but once again, I forsee using it quite a bit for rock climbing:

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Perhaps it will help me be braver when bouldering! At any rate, I know Dumbledore would approve of this knitting pattern. Need proof? Here it is, book 6:

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By the way, this the first Harry Potter themes knitting I’ve done—that would be the Lion Cat Toy from a post in 2012.

Also: bonus photos!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

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Me as Hermione in 2007:

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Lovebirds: An Owl Pillow

What gift do you give to two crazy lovebirds (known to friends as the Owls) when they get married in a spectacular DIY ceremony in a field behind a farmhouse? Well, if you are me, you give them this:

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An Owl Pillow, complete with button eyes, a leafy tree, and the date of their wedding.

As with nearly all of my knitting projects, this one is cobbled together from several different patterns and adapted on the FLY. When a knit has to fit, I measure and gauge swatch and carefully plan everything out. When it doesn’t well—I WING it.

Pattern notes and bird puns below!

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To begin, I used this free calendar numbers chart to place the date at the bottom: 5 * 29 * 16. I was knitting from my stash, trying to use up the brown and green wool from Farmhouse Yarns that my aunt gave me nearly a decade ago (same yarn that I used for my Owl Mittens!). Since I had two dye lots of brown, I decided that the ground, tree and owls would be the darker brown, while the border and the sky would be the lighter brown. It worked. WHO is pretty good as guestimating yarn? I am.

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The main pattern I used was Dr. Owl from Rowan, which is available for free. But since I was doing colorwork and adding the date at the bottom. I had to make a lot of adjustments, let me tell you. The date at the bottom was stranded knitting, but the tree and the owls were intarsia. The leaves were knit separately and sewed on. And did I mention the original pattern is in the round and I knit this flat? Keeping track of all the various yarn balls and the altered stitches was not exactly a HOOT.

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Furthermore, I added a second owl to the pattern. I couldn’t have just one for a wedding pillow—I needed  a PARLIAMENT! When the piece was as tall as it was wide, I finished and blocked it. It was about 14 inches square—conveniently the size of a pillow form.

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Sewing on the leaves and eyes was pretty easy and really made this piece SOAR. However, I had no time or yarn leftover to knit a second panel for the back, so it was off to the fabric store for a pillow form and some brown fabric remnants.

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Confession: I am a crappy seamstress. It’s just not really my thing most of the time. But I managed to get two wonky looking back panels, which are held together with velcro, so that the whole pillowcase can be removed for washing if necessary. And it OWL came together a few hours before the wedding!

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And there you have it. The flappy happy couple texted me later to say that they loved it—sometimes it’s risky to make a knitted gift without input from the recipients, but in this case it worked out.

As a side note, I didn’t realize just how long it had been since I posted in this blog! I was thinking it had been 2 or three months, but it’s more like 7. I’ve been teaching a lot of courses and I just don’t have the time on the weekends that I used to in grad school. But I have a few more little projects that I will share here in the future!

The Seven-Year Sweater

In 2008, I started a PhD and a sweater. This year, I’m finally finishing both of them. Starting with the sweater!

2015-07-02 14.20.02Do you know the Six Swans fairy tale? The one where six brothers are cursed to be swans unless their one sister knit them shirts out of stinging nettles without speaking—and it took seven years? I would have so failed at that task. Here’s what I had a year and a half in:

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My version of the ironically named Easy Weekend Pullover was made with cotton yarn. If you’re not a knitter, you should know that cotton has a bit of a reputation for being hard on your hands. Think of it like running with a weighted vest on.

So I would get really into this sweater for a while (like, for a month in 2010), finish part of it, and then get tired and forget about it again.

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But I as a wrote at the start of this year, my DIY goal for 2015 was to finish my unfinished objects (UFOs), and this sweater fit the bill.

2015-05-08 22.42.14So in May, I dug it back out. I had a front piece and half a back piece at that point. Keep in mind that this is my first bottom up, set-in sleeve sweater, so I didn’t even know if the pieces would fit together well.

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I knit the sleeves two at a time.

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And I had to redo the shoulder portion, because it turns out that I did not remember that I was knitting the smallest size!

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So the sleeves are a bit on the loose side, I but I can live with that.

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I am proud of myself for learning a new skill to finish this sweater: setting in sleeves! I highly recommend watching a video tutorial before attempting it (this one is good, as is this one).

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The shallow armscye seemed like it would be a problem for my broad shoulders at first, but it actually worked out fine because the neckline is so wide. The neck is probably my favorite part of the sweater.

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It was 90 degrees when I took these pictures, but I was so happy to have this knitting project done, I didn’t want to wait for a cooler day.

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I hope this can be an inspiration to other people with creative projects that have been on the back burner for waaaaay too long. I went from liking the weird salt-and-pepper yarn to hating it to actually kind of loving it. I went from certain I would finish, to certain I would NOT finish, to being determined to finish, even if the whole thing turned out completely weird and unlovable to anyone but me.

There’s probably a metaphor for writing a dissertation somewhere in there.

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What was my point again? Oh yeah—just finish it! Finish all the things!

 

 

 

 

Ten MORE of the nerdiest crafts I have made

Project #5 preview: My DNA is showing!

Project #5 preview: My DNA is showing!

In 2012, I shared a list of the Top Ten nerdiest crafts I have made. Recently, I realized I have made enough nerdy crafts since then to have a second top ten list. (And who doesn’t love a good listicle? I am a total sucker for them.)

Here’s the list! I have written about most of these before, but #5 and #1 are brand new projects!

10. Harry Potter Cat Toy20120821_174144Details: Knit in August 2012 for a couchsurfing host, first blogged here, based on this pattern.

Nerd Alert: The recipient had two cats named Harry and Ron (brothers!), so of course their cat toy had to be knit in Gryffindor colors. I also gave it a mane, because of course I did.

Bonus Pics:

Harry caught the snitch, er, mouse in his mouth.

Harry caught the snitch, er, mouse in his mouth.

Honorable Mention: I recently knit a purple washcloth with the Knight Bus on it. Maybe the pattern did not turn out very visible…OR maybe, the Knight Bus cannot be seen with muggle eyes. You decide.

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9. Sweatered Shetland Pony Cozy

2014-11-17 13.24.17Details: Knit in November 2014 for a fellow knitting friend, blogged here, pattern details here.

Nerd Alert: Many knitters make sweaters. A select few knit sweaters for Shetland Ponies. But to my knowledge, I am the only one who had made a sweater for a knitted pony on a beer cozy.

Bonus Pics:

one pint of ale, please.

one pint of ale, please.

8. Katniss Cowl

2014-03-29 17.54.23Details: Knit in March 2014 for myself, blogged here, ravelry pattern notes here. Based on the cowl the main character wore in the second Hunger Games film.

Nerd Alert: Did I wear this to see the most recent Hunger Games  film? Yes, yes I did. Also, it’s still held together at the side with my cable needle.

Bonus Pics:

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7. TARDIS PillowTime And Relative Dimension In Spacebigger on the OTHER side!Details: Knit in December 2013 for my brother, blogged here, pattern details here.

Nerd Alert: You don’t have to be a Doctor Who fan to enjoy this pillow across all of time and space…but it helps. I blame/thank my brother for introducing me to the show. (Also—notice how it’s bigger on the other side!)

Bonus Pics:

just a little blue box

6. Adventure Time Washcloth

IMG_1935Details: Knit in December 2012 for my brother, blogged here, pattern from here.

Nerd Alert: Confession—I haven’t seen Adventure Time. I know this is Finn. His face is a little gray but he doesn’t seem to mind.

5. DNA Double Helix Legwarmers

2015-01-07 16.49.17Details: New project! Knit in January 2015, pattern details here.

Nerd Alert: That’s right—that’s a double helix cable! Expertly charted, or so I have read. The original pattern was for a scarf, but I added some ribbing to the top and bottom, knit two of the pattern at a time, and stitched them together in the back to create legwarmers. (And yes—I wear these! To the gym! In public!)

Bonus Pics:

Bringing back the 80s.

Bringing back the 80s.

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4. Battlestar Galactica T-Shirt

2013-10-01 14.36.33Details: Made in August 2013 for myself.

Nerd Alert: Not only did I stencil the signature phrase “So Say We All” from BSG onto a t-shirt—I also made a second shirt for my friend with the phrase “Nothing But the Rain,” an even more obscure reference. Nerdy stenciling at its best.

Bonus Pics:

Starbuck, what do you hear?

Starbuck, what do you hear?

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3. Sonic Screwdriver Chapstick Cozy

2014-01-22 10.54.33Details: Knit in January 2014 for myself, blogged here, pattern here.

Nerd Alert: Not only did I make Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver to hold two chapsticks…I may have shown it to a cosplaying Tenth Doctor I ran into. Just saying.

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2. Cylon Potholder

20130101_113650Details: Knit in November 2012 for the friend who introduced me to Battlestar Galactica, blogged here, pattern here.

Nerd Alert: Before I saw BSG, I dismissed it as Top Gun with Robots in Space. That is, until my friend convinced me it was about much more than that (like the ethics of what it means to be human—I was sold) and I gave it a chance. To thank her for this, I made her a potholder that not only had a creepy red glowing cyclon “eye” but the words “FRACK” and rounded corners at the top. It’s a terrifying potholder. I’m that kind of friend.

1. The Dungeon Master’s D4 Dice Bag2014-12-21 14.33.06Details: New Project! Knit in December 2014 for my brother, pattern here.

Nerd Alert: I’ve never played Dungeon and Dragons, but my brother leads several D&D groups and has need of dice transportation! Not only did this project require maths to get the exact size of triangle, it also required sewing a zipper. I stitched the numbers in different embroidery threads to make it extra colorful!

Bonus Pics:

(You should be able to get an idea of how to sew the zipper in from these photos)

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While I enjoy making things for myself, the best part of being able to knit something nerdy is having something fun to give to the lovely nerdy people in my life. Here’s to ten more nerdy knits!

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Costume Extravaganza: DIY Halloween for 2014

It’s that time of year again—Halloween! The perfect holiday for those who love to craftily construct homemade costumes. The holiday for those of us who never got too old to play dress up:

Me and my little bro as pint-sized cowboys

Me and my little bro as pint-sized cowboys

The DIY Halloween costume post has become a little bit of a tradition for me. In my 2012 Halloween costume post, I shared four fun DIY costume ideas (not including those from my top ten nerdiest crafts post), including Patty Mayonnaise, Princess Peach, Holly Golightly and a Carrot. In my 2013 Halloween costume post, I shared six more playful costumes, some for individuals like Radioactive Marie Curie, Ballerina Annie Oakley, and Lady David Bowie, as well as some for groups like Alice in Wonderland, Game of Thrones, and The Great Gatsby.

This year, my focus is on fun, kick a$$, and easy DIY costumes for ladies. Every October, there are news stories about how store bought Halloween costumes for women (and increasingly girls) are pretty much all “Sexy Fill-in-the-Blank.” No problem if that’s what you’re looking for—but now it’s basically the only option out there. On the other hand, every year there are news stories about the amazing DIY costume ideas out there—which are fantastic, but often take a lot of time and/or money to make. This blog post covers the middle ground! So without further ado, here are 6 costume ideas in three categories.

HISTORICAL COSTUMES

The Ghost of Amelia Earheart

2013-10-31 23.03.26 - Version 2In keeping with the creepy-versions-of-historical-women theme of several previous costumes, this was my Halloween costume last year. Famous female pilot Amelia Earheart was the first woman aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She disappeared without a trace while flying across the Pacific Ocean in 1937. She still haunts people’s imaginations—which is why she makes a perfect ghost.

2013-10-26 21.30.01Most of this costume consisted of clothing I already had—a button-up white blouse, gray scarf, tan pants, brown boots and a brown faux leather jacket. The two items I had to purchase were the aviator hat and the googles. I got both online for relatively cheap—both were found on ebay for about $10. (Apologies for the blurry mirror photo).

2013-10-26 21.30.14Since I wore this costume to two different parties, so I had some time to work on the ghost makeup. The first time I did it very subtle, as in the close up above—white powder on my face, light gray eyeshadow around my eyes, and black lipstick. But the next time, I went for a more ghoulish, undead look.

Photo on 10-31-13 at 7.53 PM #2Here I used black and dark gray eyeshadow and black eyeliner around my eyes, with the light gray eyeshadow on my cheeks. It was a much more dramatic look, kind of like an easier version of the grayscale makeup I’ve seen people do. I like this version better.

2013-10-31 20.54.19This was easily my favorite photo from the party. And the costume was a hit!

Thanksgiving Pilgrim

Photo on 11-23-13 at 1.18 AM #3If you don’t mind skipping ahead one holiday, you too can be a Pilgrim. I realize that pilgrim women wore bonnets and dresses, but I really wanted to wear the buckle hat, so I did.

2013-11-22 15.34.52This costume does require a little bit of sewing. But you only need a small amount of white fabric (felt for the least sewing) and an old shoe lace. You can make a quick collar pattern by folding your felt in half (if it’s fabric, make sure there are two layers of it, then fold in half), then finding a shirt or dress with a neckline that fits you well and folding that in half too. Trace the line of the neck and extend the shoulder line as far as you would like it (the longer the line, the bigger the collar). Then trace a one-quarter circle from the shoulder line to the fabric fold. There’s a good tutorial here.

2013-11-22 15.06.34If you used felt, just sew the shoulder seams together, cut the shoelace in half, and sew it to the corners of the collar at the neck. If you used doubled over fabric, bear with me, I’m bad at sewing descriptions and I did this a year ago. Basically you’ll have four pieces of fabric, you need to sew them into two facings. Sew the shoulder seams for each pair together so that you have two complete collars facings. Put them right sides together and sew those collars together around the edges, except for the inner curved neckline. Turn right side in and press. Turn neckline hem about 1/2 inch in and press. Top stitch together, leaving 1/2 inch open spaces at the corners, then thread the shoelace in one opening and out the other.

2013-11-23 14.01.42Now for the hat and shoes! You’ll need construction paper (or large pieces of foam sheet paper), an X-acto knife or scissors, and tape. I used a wide brimmed black felt hat to start. I cut two rectangles of black construction paper and taped them together at an angle and placed that over the top to make it look more like a Pilgrim’s hat. I then cut a rectangle out of yellow foam paper, cut a smaller rectangle out of the center, and taped it to the hat as a buckle.

Photo on 11-23-13 at 1.18 AM #4Make two more buckles and tape them to some black shoes (Mary Janes work well). I paired all of this with some simple clothing I already had—white tights, white socks, knee length black shorts and a black long sleeve t-shirt.

2013-11-22 22.56.11Don’t forget to make a hand turkey! Mine is crossing a busy street, as the local turkeys are wont to do.

additional ideas:

I already blogged about our live action Oregon Trail game, but the prairie girl outfit is another good historical costume! Your Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-loving-inner-ten-year-old will be proud of you for making your own bonnet.

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NERDY COSTUMES

River Song 

2014-10-18 13.10.33I am a total sucker for the cheesy wonderfulness that is Doctor Who, as you probably know from previous posts. But a realistic costume for his fellow time traveling troublemaker River Song was not in the cards for me—her original parachute style dress is outrageously expensive now. So this is my version.

2014-07-16 14.39.29First, the dress. I really wanted to make one that looked like hers, but my sewing skills are not that advanced. Instead I found one in a similar color with the same zipper style neckline on ebay for about $12. It took some searching and it’s a bit loose on me, but you know. I like to think my hair makes up for it.

2014-07-16 14.44.59Now of course, the most important DIY part of this costume is my sonic screwdriver. This is my own original pattern for a sonic screwdriver chapstick holder, which you can find right here! Alternately, you could also just hold a banana like I did in the first photo (and for any fans who point out she wore a different dress when she had the banana…this is probably not the cosplay website you were looking for). Or you could buy or make your very own TARDIS journal—there’s a great tutorial for making one here.

2014-10-18 13.24.56The only other accessories you really need are some brown boots, black tights (not pictured because it’s still like 80 degrees here), and a wide studded belt. I faked it here with the two brown belts put together. A brown gun holster would also be a nice touch.

Ensign Ro

2014-10-18 13.56.32Any other Stark Trek TNG fans out there? Casual viewers may not know this character, but I always had a soft spot for Ensign Ro Laren. I’ll admit, I threw this costume together last minute because I discovered I still had the uniform top in my costume box. I’ve had it since I was like 12! (I’m not sure whether to be slightly proud or slightly embarrassed by this). It doesn’t quite fit as well as it used to, but it works.

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I had some fun making her Bajoran earpiece for this costume. I used a broken necklace, a regular pierced earring and a clip on earring to recreate it. I also made a pip for the collar of my uniform using a thumb tack and an earring backing, just as I did when I was 12. I didn’t get too elaborate with the Bajoran nose—I just used eyeshadow in two different shades of brown to create the illusion of creases.

2014-10-18 13.55.09Truth: I was not quite ready to take photos of myself outside in this, so excuse the blurry mirror photo. This is just to show the rest of the outfit (black leggings, black boots). If I’d had more time I would have straightened my hair and tried to find a red headband. At least there are some stars in the background!

additional costume ideas:

If you can knit the Hunger Games Cowl fast enough, you could be Katnis Everdeen! Bonus: it would be a warm and cozy costume.

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ABSTRACT COSTUMES

Anatomical Heart

2014-03-08 19.05.57Sometimes, I like to attempt non-humanoid costumes. I was particularly pleased with this interpretation of the human heart. Since veins and arteries are often depicted in blues and reds in anatomical drawings, I went with that theme. I painted dots in blue eyeshadow and red lipstick on my forehead, with an earring of each color. Then I found some children’s tights in a discount bin at Target in blue and red. I cut off the feet and stuck one arm in each, tying them together behind my back to form a sort of shrug. It stayed put surprisingly well.

2014-03-08 19.05.19Recognize the top? It’s was my Valentine’s Day party Free Fall Tank. It’s a quick pattern that you could totally finish before Oct. 31. I thought it worked well for the heart costume too. The red belt and the black tutu…well, that was more to make it more costume-y for the party. But check out the tights!

2014-03-08 19.06.20These were the tights that actually inspired the whole costume. Ebay tights are the best.

2014-03-08 21.04.31You should know that I served lots of donuts dressed like this. I doubt anyone knew what it was supposed to be, but I knew what it was. In my heart.

Christmas Tree

2013-12-15 02.05.43As I promised that some of these costumes would be very easy, this final idea is one that I executed in about 30 minutes. Technically this was for an ugly sweater party around Christmas time, but it works just as well for the October holiday.

2013-12-15 02.05.12Remember the foam sheets I mentioned for the Pilgrim costume? I got a bag of odd sized ones from the dollar store, and cut them into squares. I used all the green ones to create a Christmas tree with a brown one for a stump, then found some sparkly ones in different colors to be the gifts below. I used duct tape to adhere them to an old sweater and wore it with my brightest red pants.

68877_10101285046722953_685670951_nYou could always go as a grumpy Christmas elf too.

additional ideas:

I think leggings can be a great inspiration for abstract costumes. If I had a chance, I would probably pair these paint splatter leggings I have with an actual paint splattered top.

this 2014-04-06 13.09.322014-04-06 15.23.28 plus this 2014-09-05 22.35.23

 

I hope these costumes inspire some epic Halloween 2014 creations of your own!

NSFW: The Fantastically Phallic lip balm holder

(NSFW: The following post contains photos of a phallus made from yarn and as many phallic puns and double entendres as I could manage. You have been forewarned.)

It’s been a long time since my last post! Let’s skip the part where I explain how busy I’ve been, and get on to the gettin’ busy part—namely, the phallic lip balm holder. Also known as the penis lipgloss cozy. Also known as the chapdick. (I could go on, but you get the idea):

2014-09-13 15.41.58This project didn’t take too long (long!) to finish (finish!), mainly because I was really pressed for time. But I wanted to add a personalized touch (touch!) to my bachelorette party gift for a fellow knitter and crafter. Another friend suggested I knit something as a gift, and I recalled how my version of a chapstick holder that I blogged about back in February looked a bit like a tiny penis, thanks to the color of yarn I used. And so that became the inspiration for Phallicozy.

2014-09-13 15.41.10While I could have used a pattern, because there are some nice free knit patterns here and here as well as a nice free crochet one here, I decided to just wing it. It wasn’t too hard (hard!). I went with crochet instead of knitting and held the yarn double because I knew it would go faster and that the finished project would be thicker (thicker!) I tried to take notes as I went, but I am the worst at crochet patterns because I rarely read them, so they are rather vague.

I started with chaining 5 and making a circle, then increased in every stitch so that each round was 10. I kept crocheting in the round until it was about as tall as the lip gloss I was going to put inside it (put inside it!). Then I decreased every two stitches just before the end, which became the bottom (I wanted it to open at the top but it didn’t work with the shape of the lip gloss). For the testicular formation, I started with the same first two steps, then crocheted one round, then immediately decreased in every stitch in the next two rounds, finally pulling the yarn through the last few stitches at the top. I stuffed each with half a cotton ball, tied the family jewels together and sewed them securely the base. The final result was that it could stand erect (erect!) all by itself:

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If I’d had more time, I would have put a little more effort into the contouring and shaping of said member and figured out a way to give it a top opening. But as it is, I’m pleased with the results. It’s hard to go wrong with a chapdick!

The Oregon Trail game of your childhood, DIY style!

If you were in elementary school in the United States any time in the past, oh I don’t know, 40 years, you probably played the Oregon Trail computer game. The most old school version looked something like this: River Crossing at Big Blue

Several weeks ago, a group of my friends and I got the chance to recreate part of that Oregon Trail gaming experience, in live action form, for about 200 people (all grown ups, mind you!). And of course, we took a do-it-yourself approach to the task. Join me on an image-heavy DIY journey full of Bison Hunting, River Fording, Dying of Dysentery, and more! 1782479_10152423001246354_2419330697076540521_o

The Setting First, a little bit of background. We were part of an all-day event that could best be described as a moving/progressive party, with costumes, on bicycles. Everyone was in teams, the teams had themes (hence the co-ordinated costumes), and at each place we stopped for food and drink, one team hosted and the other teams competed in games. So as Team Oregon Trail, we needed to provide food, drinks, games, and of course, ambiance for our guests.

Since we were hosting at a rather rustic venue down an unpaved road, we took advantage of the opportunity to make it part of the trail, with painted cardboard signposts and gravestones: 2014-05-02 19.42.06 2014-05-02 19.40.46 2014-05-02 19.37.41

I’m so bummed I didn’t get a close up of the headstones, because I figured out a really cool way to make them look like stone: I found this speckled stone spray paint! I used gray primer and then gray stone spray paint, then we pasted printouts with epitaphs on them in courier font. To stick them in the ground, we taped them to those little signal flags—the kind you see to mark gas or water lines in construction sites—and pushed the metal parts into the ground.

Then of course, for the travelers who made it through alive, we needed a watering hole. So we made a bar! 2014-05-01 17.24.17

Using the backing of a warped bookshelf that was left at the dumpster and some acrylic black paint, we created this sign. Making the sign involved looking at some Old West style fonts online, blocking and sketching them out onto the wood, and filling it in with paintbrushes.

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Some of out team members had a tall table that was already rather DIY to begin with (the top was an old door), so we nailed the sign to the front of it.

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It made for a great bar! Not pictured is the table off to the right with lemonade and water. (If you were to re-create this event for children, I’d suggest sticking to those).

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For food, we had chili, cornbread, chips, watermelon, and trail mix (the last was my idea—I couldn’t resist the pun!) Have you ever wondered what chili for 200 people looks like? Would you believe that this isn’t even all of it??

The Activities  We debated what our official game should be for some time, but in the end, we decided that it would be hunting. Just like in the Oregon Trail game, you would have to shoot at pixelated animals. But with a twist! (or to be more exact, a twister.)

But first, a look at the animals:

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We had a rabbit, a bison, a deer, a squirrel, and a bird. All of them were done on cardboard with either acrylic paints or markers. For the pixelated style, they were filled in with squares of color instead of smooth lines.

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Ironically, from a distance they looked normal! They were attached with string to poles out in a field, kind of like a laundry line, but with animals.

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The actual “hunting”  game required players to shoot the animals with airsoft guns from a distance. To add an element of challenge to this game of skill, my idea was to add some possible handicaps based on all the bad things that can happen to in you in the original game—like dysentery, for example. Players from the competing teams had to spin the twister spinner and see if they would have to shoot with a handicap. There were eight such things that could happen, so I put all of them onto a twister spinner with my label maker, and then made list of their handicaps:

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Whenever possible, I made them roughly correspond to the disease or injury—for dysentery, you had to squat while shooting.

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But since not all 200 people could play the hunting game, we had a few other activities. First up: Fording the river!

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We made the “river” out of two blue tarps, held down by rocks on the sides (we changed the layout a little bit after the photo below to make it a wider river).We left out a sign, a few pieces of cardboard, and instructions for getting across (you can only have as many pieces of cardboard as you have people on the water, and everyone has to be in the river before the first person can reach the other side):

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Then we pretty much let people fend for themselves and do whatever they wanted. They could just play it like a version of “the floor is lava” and have a good time. I think everyone made it across safely…

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…But for those who wanted to see how they died on the Oregon Trail (and who didn’t?) we had the Wagon Wheel O’Death:

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The Wagon Wheel O’Death was exactly what it sounded like. It was made from an actual bike wheel (minus the tire and tube), mounted in the center to a piece of wood, which allowed it to spin freely. Each of the eight wedges (brown paper painted with acrylic paint) had one of the ways you could die on the Oregon Trail on it.

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Anyone could spin the rim of the wheel, and whatever the rattlesnake’s tail (i.e. the quick release lever) pointed to, that was how they died. And then they got a sticker! A really cool sticker.2014-05-25 22.17.29

Wanted to know how I died on the Oregon Trail? Now you know.

 The Costumes  No Oregon Trail game would be complete without travelers and their means of transport! Humans and bikes both underwent some nifty transformations in preparation for the journey. Here’s most of our crew at the start of the day:

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My costume included a bonnet, a dress, an apron, and a cotton corset top and shorts underneath (which came in handy because it was a hot day!)

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The dress was a thrift store dress that I altered—I wish I had take a before picture. It had long sleeves and huge, ugly silver button and trimming on the waist and wrists. I took off the buttons and trim, shortened the sleeves, and used the sleeve material to add a single hidden pocket to the full skirt.

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I sewed the bonnet myself, using scrap fabric and this tutorial a friend showed me. It was pretty useful, although it’s helpful to have some minimal sewing knowledge, like using interfacing and such. The tutorial only really lacks descriptions for two parts: how much and what kind of elastic to use (I used 6 to 7 inches of 1/2 inch elastic, guessing from the tutorial photos) and how to match the head part to the bonnet brim. To do that you need to do a basting (loose) stitch around the head piece, pull the ends of that threat to gather it, and then line it up with brim, so it looks like this:

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I made mine a bit too big (I went a little bigger than the suggested dimension because I have thick hair),but it worked. I opted for ribbon ties instead of fabric ones.

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Bonnets were a popular choice for the Oregon Trail team! The one on the left in the above photo was also homemade. Our assortment of bonnets and western hats proved quite practical in the heat.

Some of also stayed out of the sun under covered wagon bikes!

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The covered wagon bikes certainly made us stand out. I was not directly involved in their creation, but I can describe some of their basic construction. For bikes that had back baskets/racks and straight handlebars, the wagons were attached directly with clamps. For those that didn’t, two by fours attached to the bike held the wagon frame in place (a special, large drill bit was needed to drill a hole large enough for the wagon frame to fit):

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I should point out here that the bloomers above were also home made from a sheet! Anyway, the wagon frames were made from flexible thin plastic tubing. If you want to try this, you’d probably want to play around with different types of flexible PVC pipe—the tubing we had was freely available to us, but it was rather thin and not that sturdy, and the wagon frames tended to list to one side after a while.

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The wagon coveres were sewn from sheets. The front end had a casing a little wider than the tubing, kind of like what you would sew for a curtain rod. The back was simply gathered together. We discovered that they needed some vents in the sides so that the wind wouldn’t make cycling too difficult for the cyclist inside (I think it also helped with visibility on the sides somewhat). We also had a mini version of the wagon on one of the bicycle baskets:

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No wagon train would be complete without some beasts of burden! Some of us decorated our bicycles as oxen or horses using paint and cardboard (and one of our team members dressed as an ox as well!).  We all made these separately, so there was a lot of variety in appearance.  Some of them were realistic, like these oxen, Oxford Comma and Margaret Thatcher:

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And some of them were very simple and cartoony, like my oxen, Oxnard and his buddy (I forget if we named him—I call him Ollie Oxen Free):

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We even had a pixelated horse!

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We also got a few real life tumbleweeds from nearby fields and attached them behind bikes with string:

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Putting this event together was a lot of work, but it was also a ton of fun. It gave me a whole new appreciation of how talented my friends are in arts, crafts, and DIY endeavors! Here’s to Team Oregon Trail 2014!

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Animal knits!

I haven’t had a lot of time for new knitting —different large craft projects are taking over, but I can’t share them yet! So today will be a Throwback Thursday post of previously unblogged knit projects from the 2000s. All are either for animals or feature animals! (Sadly, nothing knit BY animals. Yet.)

Stashbusting Kitty Bed

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This is my version of the Princess Snowball Cat Bed. Next week is National Pet Week, and it also happens to be my cat Josephine’s birthday. I adopted Jojo nearly six years ago, and I quickly discovered that she loves to snuggle …and steal yarn.

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When I first got her, I often found her curled up on the sweater I was knitting, which gave me the idea to knit the cat bed. It’s worth picking up the Stitch N’ Bitch book from your local library for the pattern, though if you know how to make a large garter stitch circle, you could probably come up with your own pattern.

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I used this pattern as an opportunity to get use up a bunch of left over stash yarn. I held it double to get the extra thickness. I went with colored stripes alternated with white to use up the most possible stash yarn. Each section on the long rectangle is 9 rows. The sections on the circular base are either 6 or 7 rows each, corresponding to the increase/decrease sections of the pattern.

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I think the finished object has a rather nautical look to it, which was unintentional but I like it. I did not stuff or sew down the outer ring, I just tucked it under and it worked fine.

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The best part, of course, is that Jojo loves it. She loves it so much that I cannot show you a current photo of it, because it is absolutely covered in fur. It’s under a different chair in my living room now (she prefers it to be under something), and she hides there whenever an errant garbage truck or lawnmower comes too close to my home for her liking.

Cat Mat

I had a little less success making something for my mom’s cat Digory to sleep on, but I still think it’s a cool idea!

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This is my own design, and I don’t have it with me so I can’t check the stitch count or dimensions, but it’s basically a placement-sized mat in stockinette with a garter stitch border. I searched for an alphabet chart online for a pattern for the letters (see how many free ones are on ravelry!?) and centered them in the middle. This was a quick stocking stuffer Christmas gift, so I didn’t have time to make a full cat bed.

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Digory’s a bit of a stubborn cat, so he wouldn’t sleep on it right away, but I have since seen him on it. Sometimes.

Small Personalized Dog “Sweater”

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Can you tell I was on a “personalized pet knits” kick for a while? This was a dog sweater of sorts for my friend’s pup, named Barbara Streisand. This and the cat mat were both Christmas 2007 knits. Back then, Ravelry was brand new and in only in beta (and I had not even heard of it), so knitters had way less online resources for patterns! Anyway, this was another one of my own pattern creations. I basically measured/eyeballed the size, then did a stockinette rectangle with ribbing at all sides and charted “Babs” at the top.

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Instead of making armholes and dealing with that whole business, I just connected the rectangle with garter stitch straps—one fit under her stomach, one went under her neck. It was loose enough so that it wouldn’t choke her, but I would still keep an eye on any dog wearing something like this just in case it got caught on something, or else connect the neck strap with velcro. This faux sweater looked rather sweet on Babs! Sadly she is no longer living, but I am glad she had a cozy sweater while she was with us.

LOLCat Blanket Buddy!

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Moving on to knits featuring animals, I’m rather proud of my LOLCat version of the Bunny Blanket Buddy! The original pattern, which is suppose to be a child’s toy, has long rabbit ears and is pretty cute by itself—I made a half sized version for my friend’s baby shower, in fact:

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You can easily shape the ears differently to make a dog if you wanted to. Make sure to grab some stuffing for the head part if you make this!  For the LOLCat version, I shortened the ears and put “O HAI” onto it using a crochet hook and single crochet chains. This was part of a craft swap I did way back in the day, so I made other fun LOLCat themed things like a t-shirt and I-Can-Haz-Cheezburger? style word magnets:

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Oh the mid 2000s and their memes…

Fishy Potholders! (bonus crochet!)

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Who doesn’t love a good pescetarian potholder? Once again, this was for a craft swap back in the day, so I don’t have many photos. For the crocheted clown fish oven mitt, I used this Fish pot holder pattern, with the exception of the top fin, which I eschewed in favor of a full knitted thumb. For the bottom potholder, I just did a really long stockinette rectangle with a charted goldfish pattern that I found somewhere on the internets (I can’t seem to find it now, but you could substitute this one.) I sewed it up on all sides and then added I-cord loops to both so they could be hung up.

IMPORTANT NOTE! To make both of these items safe to use when handling hot dishes out of the oven, you need to line it with insulated material that is heat resistant. I used Insul-Brite, which has a thin metallic-looking layer in the middle that helps keep your hands from getting hot. I cut a slightly smaller version of the fish oven mitt, sewed it together, and slipped it inside. For the other potholder, I cut out a piece and slipped it in before sewing up the final seam of the square.

And that’s all for this Throwback Thursday!

Katniss Cowl: A Hunger Games Knit

Last week I finally finished my version of The Huntress Cowl by LollyKnits! Here is the finished item, which resembles nothing so much as knitted armor:

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I knew that I wanted to knit some incarnation of this piece since I saw Hunger Games: Catching Fire back in December. Non-knitters might not recall what Katniss Everdeen wore in the opening scenes (images here and here), but knitters were all over it.

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I started this project way back during the Ravellenic Games, but it felt like the odds were not in my favor—that is, it took forever to complete it to my liking. However, the two biggest issues with the fit ended up canceling each other out, which left me with a garment I’m actually quite happy with.

My Huntress Cowl

When I started this project, the charcoal gray colorway in the recommended type of Lion Brand yarn was long sold out, so I went with oatmeal instead. I then had to do a lot of adjusting to account for my loose knitting gauge and my long torso. I had never knit in herringbone stitch before and the pattern gives gauge in stockinette, so I wasn’t sure if my swatch was accurate.

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I ended up casting on 60 stitches on size 15 needles instead of 44 stitches on size 17s, and decreasing every other row to get longer, wider triangles for the front and back piece. However, this made the triangles way too long, so when I had about 30 stitches left I started decreasing on every row.

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Pro-tip: After wet blocking, you can tell that your item is dry when the cat decides to sleep on it. You can’t quite see it in this photo, but the piece that Jo is sleeping on came out a little bigger than the other one, because I got better at herringbone stitch as I went along. It worked out fine in the end though.

 

For the neck piece, I decided to use a make a different version from the original by using a tutorial called the Hob’s Collar. I just wasn’t sure about having a super stiff rope collar in a knitted cowl. The image tutorial has detailed instructions, but it basically walks you through weaving the yarn around three circles of fabric, cut from a small shirt.

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I ended up cutting up two shirts, one teal and one white, because my fabric was so thin. I think it worked best to have a white shirt because it makes it harder to see any parts that I didn’t completely cover with yarn. The results looked pretty great! The main downside was that it was even floppier than I imagined—it didn’t really hold this shape when it was around my neck.

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I was running low on yarn at this point, so after picking up stitches around this neck piece, I only increased to 80 stitches for the shoulder connecting piece, even though I have very broad shoulders. And even with loose knitting, it was very tight.

Soooo then I let these three pieces linger in my project bag for like two weeks. I am not a fan of seaming, and knowing that I had some wonky pieces to put together discouraged me. But guess what? When I finally picked up the sewing needle, I realized that I could tuck most of the shoulder piece stitches UNDER the collar, it would make the collar stiffer and take up most of the portion that was tight on my shoulders. There was still plenty of length in the triangles for the whole garment to work. So that is exactly what I did. I did end up sewing some rather wide triangles to a narrow collar, but it worked out pretty well.

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Above, I’m wearing the cowl with the larger triangle in the back. Below I’m wearing it with the larger triangle in the front. I think it works both ways, but I prefer the slightly larger triangle in the back.

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In both photos I’m using a cable needle to pin the pieces under my arm. At first it was because I was traveling and that was all I had, but now I kind of like it. When I wear it with the bigger side in front, I have to overlap the pieces differently to get a good fit.

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I had hardly any yarn left when I finished seaming, so if you’re going to make major adjustments bear that in mind! I realize that it’s Spring now and no one is really making wintry knit objects, but it was cool and rainy last week so I got to wear this more than once. If you’re willing to make the adjustments, it can be a really fun piece to wear!

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Sonic Screwdriver Chapstick Holder!

My blog reached 10,000 views today! To celebrate, I’m sharing details about my most recent finished object—the 10th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, which I have conveniently modified to serve as a chapstick holder!

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(Yeah, that’s right, because making a TARRIS pillow was not enough whovian knitting for me…)

This project is a modification of a modification of an original pattern for a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver. That pattern was for the sonic used by the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith), which is different in shape and size. I found this modification from user Cordetta on ravelry that changed the colors and some of the shape to be more like that of the 10th Doctor (David Tennant), which is what I wanted. I have to give a lot of props to her mod for helping me out! But I had to modify it even further to make it shorter and tighter to fit two chapsticks with just a little room on the ends.

To be honest, when I finished this project it was late and I did not record every single detail of my knitting. But I wrote down enough to tell you approximately how I did it.

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10th Doctor’s Sonic Chapstick Holder

materials:
-size 3 double pointed needles (set of 4), yarn needle.
-worsted weight yarn in black, dark gray, light gray, and blue
Cast on 9 sts in black, divide over three needles, and join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist stitches.
Rnds 1-2: k all sts
Rnds 3-5: p all sts
Rnds 6-10: p all sts
Rnds 11-12: k 1 grey, p 2 black*
Change to dark gray
Rnd 13: k all sts
Rnd 14: k1, m1, k to end of rnd (10sts)
Rnd 15: k all sts
Rnd 16: k5, m1, k to end of rnd (11sts)
Rnd 17: k all sts
Rnd 18: k9, m1, k to end of rnd (12sts)
Rnd 19: k all sts
Rnd 20: k2, m1, k to end of rnd (13sts)
Rnd 21: k all sts
Rnd 22: k7, m1, k to end of rnd (14sts)
Change to light gray
Rnd 23-35: k all sts
Rnd 36: k1, k2tog, k 2, k2tog repeat to end of rnd (11sts)
Rnd 37: k2, k2tog, k5, k2tog, k to end of rnd (10sts) 
Change to dark gray
Rnd 38: k all sts
Rnds 39-44: k1, p1, repeat to end of round
Rnd 45: p all sts*
Change to blue
Rnd 46: k all sts
Rnds 47-49: p all sts
Rnd 50: k3, k2tog, k3, k2tog (8 sts)
Cast off loosely.
With blue yarn and yarn needle, stitch a straight line lengthwise up the light gray section.
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*if you haven’t done colorwork before, consider skipping these two rounds and going straight to the gray section, it’s kind of annoying to do. If you chose to do it (I promise, it looks cool!), be careful to move the black yarn to the inside of the work at the end of the last round.

**at this point, if you want to weave any of the ends into the inside of the tube, do it now! It will be too tight to turn it inside out after the final section.

As always, remember that my gauge is looser than most—use your own tube of lip balm as a guide. The way I made mine, both ends are open but they are tighter than the middle section, so the chapstick naturally remains inside until I push it out. I’m sure there are ways you could make a closure at the top or bottom, but I found I didn’t need it.

The sonic screwdriver chapstick holder—it doesn’t work on wood or deadbolts, but it does work on dry lips!