It’s another Tour d’Davis craft post! Several years ago, we were team Oregon Trail. Last year, we were sheep. This year, we did our costumed bicycle tour of town as Hobbits! We enjoyed breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, and ales while frolicking in the Shire:
Every team member wore three handcrafted items: a cloak, a leaf pin, and a pair of furry sandals. Pro tip: take photos from above to create the appearance of hobbity sized humans!
I sewed the cloaks for our team on my sewing machine, making a drawstring hem for the ribbon at the top of each. These costumes only had to last the day, so they were very simple brown cloaks! They were about 3/4 length because we needed to be able to ride bicycles (aka horses) in them.
Next up: leaf pins. Allie designed them out of felt, pipe cleaners, and glitter glue. We made our own and fastened them to our cloaks.
And last but not least: furry feet! Most of the team used fake fur glued to flip flops. I had to be a weirdo hobbit and use MY OWN HAIR. I happened to be getting a hair cut that week—my hairdresser thought it was funny and asked to see photos of the final result.
I used my sewing machine and some scrap fabric to sew a tube of fabric around my sandals, then used hot glue to attach the hair. I know they are a bit much, but hey! Hobbit Realism.
We were each responsible for our own hobbit clothing, and that mainly meant one thing: a vest! Vests from thrift stores. Vests from costume stores. Vests over white peasant shirts. Say yest to the vest.
*Picnic Break* (tea, scones, and picnic blanket were provided throughout the tour!)
We also created our very own Shire, decorated for the festivities. After all, it was Bilbo Baggins’ Eleventy-First birthday! Bunting and signs greeted all of our welcome visitors. We served them delicious vegetarian shepherd’s pie at this spot:
And since no hobbit meal would be complete without a pint to wash it down, several halflings converted the garage into the Green Dragon Inn, complete with Lisa’s amazing, hand-painted signage!
And last but certainly not least: a hobbit hole! This geodesic dome (which took a lot team work to set up) got the Shire treatment with green tarps, a window, a sign, and Allie’s handmade bright yellow door. The door knob came from a jar lid!
The inside was as cozy as could be!
Last but not least, we welcomed guests by playing “Concerning Hobbits” from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack on flute and recorder:
I hope this inspires your own halfling-themed crafting!
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!
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.
See that high stepping move? Definitely the (hor)crux of the boulder problem. 🙂
House Colors Headband -Gryffindor version
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!
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.
I mostly wore this headband when I went on rides, but once again, I forsee using it quite a bit for rock climbing:
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:
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
In 2008, I started a PhD and a sweater. This year, I’m finally finishing both of them. Starting with the sweater!
Do 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:
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.
So 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.
I knit the sleeves two at a time.
And I had to redo the shoulder portion, because it turns out that I did not remember that I was knitting the smallest size!
So the sleeves are a bit on the loose side, I but I can live with that.
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).
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.
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.
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.
What was my point again? Oh yeah—just finish it! Finish all the things!
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 brandnew projects!
10. Harry Potter Cat ToyDetails: 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.
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.
9. Sweatered Shetland Pony Cozy
Details: 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.
8. Katniss Cowl
Details: 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.
7. TARDIS PillowDetails: 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!)
6. Adventure Time Washcloth
Details: 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
Details: 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!)
4. Battlestar Galactica T-Shirt
Details: 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.
3. Sonic Screwdriver Chapstick Cozy
Details: 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.
2. Cylon Potholder
Details: 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 BagDetails: 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!
(You should be able to get an idea of how to sew the zipper in from these photos)
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!
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.
The Ghost of Amelia Earheart
In 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.
Most 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).
Since 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.
Here 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.
This was easily my favorite photo from the party. And the costume was a hit!
If 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.
This 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.
If 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.
Now 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.
Make 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.
Don’t forget to make a hand turkey! Mine is crossing a busy street, as the local turkeys are wont to do.
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.
I 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.
First, 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.
Now 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.
The 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.
Any 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.
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.
Truth: 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.
Sometimes, 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.
Recognize 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!
These were the tights that actually inspired the whole costume. Ebay tights are the best.
You 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.
As 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.
Remember 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.
You could always go as a grumpy Christmas elf too.
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 plus this
I hope these costumes inspire some epic Halloween 2014 creations of your own!
(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):
This 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.
While 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:
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!