Cigar Box Love

Cigar Box Love

 Have I ever mentioned that I like cigar boxes?  Well I do.  I like them a whole lot.

Now I’ve discovered a cigar store just down the street from my studio with a fantastic collection of cigar boxes for sale (never mind about the actual cigars)… this could get dangerous…

 
As many boxes as I’ve already collected, seems like I can always use a few more.
In my studio, I use them to store business cards, office supplies, spools of thread and various other crafting tchotchkes.  At home, my stacked boxes hold my supply of stationary and cards.
The best part of using cigar boxes as storage is that I can hide everything in plain sight.  All I have to do is group the boxes by size and color and my storage units serve double duty as decorative accents.
 
Even the odd sized cigar box can be used.  This one turned out to be the perfect chair for Dolly and her Zombie-Bear.

With just a little bit of measuring, cutting and sewing, cigar boxes can also be fitted with customized drop-in pockets.  Suddenly, this pretty little box becomes an ultra organized crochet caddy (or sewing caddy or needle felting caddy…).  More details on these nifty crafting caddies through this link or this one.

Cigar boxes.  Love ’em!

Nurture Shock

Nurture Shock

 
Just finished reading “Nurture Shock”  by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.
Wow.
This book is fascinating.
If you haven’t already, you really need to read this.
Sections I found especially relevant were the chapters on sleep, why kids lie and why, for adolescents, arguing with their parents can actually be a positive thing.
This week, I supplemented our family’s daily read aloud with also reading excerpts from this book.  I was excited to share what I was learning with my boys (9 and 11.5 years old).  I was also curious about how they would react to some of the rather surprising statistics and study results described in the book.  Our ensuing conversations were both eye-opening and hilarious.  My littler guy wants to hear more about Black Santa (chapter 2 – Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race).  My older guy jokes that this book messed up everything since I’m now clued into the fact that children do regularly lie to their parents… well, at least I think he’s mostly joking (chapter 4 – Why Kids Lie).
Topics, studies, statistics and interpretations presented in “Nurtures Shock” are so thought provoking that I’m going to have to read quite a few chapters over again.  
Are you a parent?  Do you work with kids?  Do you want to understand better how children learn and develop?  Then you really want to read this book.

Crafting Klatch

Crafting Klatch

It’s a Crafting Klatch.

What:  A very casual social gathering where we work on our individual projects (knitting, crochet, embroidery, etc) and hang out with others who love to make things too.

When:  Once a week on Thursdays from noon to 2 pm.  And every second Wednesday of the month from 6 to 8pm.

Where:  My studio!  Stitched Tribeca at 131 Varick St, Suite 927.

Who:  Everyone is welcome (…uhh…. but maybe not everyone at once since the space is teeny tiny… please do let me know if you intend to come to a crafting klatch – stitchedtribeca@gmail.com).

Why:  Because it’s fun.  And because being with friends in real time and real space is a good thing.

Fun at the Maker Faire

Fun at the Maker Faire

It was super crowded, a little chaotic and yet, so cool… what a fun time we had visiting our first NYC Maker Faire.

My friend and I took our boys for this field trip first thing Saturday morning.  Had a little snafu with the commute out (no 7 trains from Manhattan to Queens), but luckily, we were delayed only for a little bit.  After that, it was all playing, learning and making.  My favorite kind of day.

I think it’s safe to say our boys loved everything electronic.  They designed short computer animation clips, made light up LED pins and played with littleBits kits.  But the “toy” that had them both salivating were the many 3D printers on display.  All sorts of 3D printed tchotchkes, but my favorite was this black ukulele.  Can you believe you can just come up with the design… and print it?!

There were also all sorts of over-the-top spectacles to goggle at and giggle over.  I was especially entertained by the singing fish and lobster car.  Take a look at this link – I think it’s hilarious.

 
Another fun activity was the making of dyes from natural elements.  One boy ground up a little wasp nest while the other crushed dead bugs to make black and purple dye.

There really was so much to see and do.  But the highlight of my day was meeting and talking with Jackie Huang of Woolbuddy.  I’d met him once years ago in San Francisco where he’d introduced me to needle felting – now one of my favorite crafts.  When I mentioned that particular demo, he remembered the event and even the project (I still have my penguins).  Wow, what a friendly, helpful & inspiring artist.  Here he is, posing with his 10 foot tall needle felted dinosaur.

Here’s the thing, I haven’t made super ambitious projects (yet)…  But when I am in the throes of creating something, I really get into it.  And when mumbling to myself or figuring out details or even texting my long-suffering-friend in the voice of my current creation, I sometimes feel a little bit alone in my crafting obsessions.  But to see what all these other people are tinkering with… it’s really awesome.  So much of their work is crazy intricate and time consuming.  I can’t even imagine the time that went into, say, that 10-foot dinosaur.  So maybe we’re all a little bit alone when we’re making things… but it’s truly fantastic that more and more, we are coming together and celebrating the very process of making.

Amigurumi Black Cat

Amigurumi Black Cat

Here’s a little tip about making amigurumi:  Understand the shape of the body parts you are making and don’t worry about the details until the end.  Oh, and ignore any obnoxious comments along the way…

Wondering about the need to say such a thing?

Just two nights ago, my boys were making fun of my cat.  At the time, I was crocheting the body.  My littler boy insisted I was making a vase (I’d constructed the cat’s lower body and neck).

“It’s not a vase,” I said. ” It’s a cat!”

Shortly after that, I finished crocheting the head, stuffing the body and stitching the top of the head closed.  That’s when my older boy flipped it upside down and said it was either a really big exclamation point or… as he grabbed a baseball… a really soft bat!

I rescued my poor cat body from him and exclaimed, “It’s a cat.  Can’t you see it?  It is a CAT!!!”

Of course it was a cat.  But apparently, obvious only to me.  It wasn’t til I added in the eyes, ears and tail that everyone else finally said…. “ooooh…. it’s a cat!”

If you’re not into crochet, you should stop reading this post now.  But if you’d like to crochet a cat for yourself, please read on for gory crochet details

First, there is a plethora of amigurumi black cats already on the internet.  Some with links to other blog posts or to patterns for sale.  I took a look at all the cats out there, then drew a sketch of what I wanted my cat to look like.

The body of my cat can be thought of as a series of concentric circles and can be crocheted in one piece with no seams.  Starting from the base to head, the shape grows from disc, to bowl, to vase, to upside-down exclamation point.  Remembering to stop periodically to stuff the body, neck and head.

Now, if you’re like me and dislike following other people’s patterns, then perhaps you’ve read enough and enough information to to just wing it from here.  Otherwise, if you want all the nitty-gritty on my specific cat… by all means read on!

Materials:

  • 2 skeins Lion Brand Wool-Ease worsted weight black yarn (I ended up using just over 1 skein of yarn)
  • Scrap green yarn for eyes
  • Fiberfill
  • 1 black pipe cleaner (to use in tail – though you may want to use a stronger wire)
  • US G hook
  • Tapestry needle

Abbreviations:

  • SC – Single Crochet
  • Sl St – Slip Stitch
  • Ch – Chain

Instructions to make the body:
So I don’t have to type this over and over again – be sure to slip stitch every round closed and then CH 1 before starting the next round.  I always mark my chain with a stitch marker.

  • Round 1:  Slip knot, ch 2, SC 6 into the second chain from the hook
  • Round 2:  SC – increase by 1 on every stitch.  End with 12 stitches on the round.
  • Round 3:  SC – increase by 1 every 2nd stitch.  End with 18 stitches on the round.
  • Round 4:  SC – increase by 1 every 3rd stitch.  End with 24 stitches on the round.
  • Round 5:  SC – increase by 1 every 4th stitch.  End with 30 stitches on the round.
  • Round 6:  SC – increase by 1 every 5th stitch.  End with 36 stitches on the round.
  • Round 7:  SC – increase by 1 every 6th stitch.  End with 42 stitches on the round.
  • Round 8:  SC – increase by 1 every 7th stitch.  End with 48 stitches on the round.
  • Round 9:  SC – increase by 1 every 8th stitch.  End with 54 stitches on the round.
  • Round 10:  SC – increase by 1 eery 9th stitch.  End with 60 stitches on the round.
  • Round 11:  SC – increase by 1 every 10th stitch.  End with 66 stitches on the round.
  • Round 12:  SC – increase by 1 every 11th stitch.  End with 72 stitches on the round.
  • Round 13:  SC – increase by 1 every 12th stitch.  End with 78 stitches on the round.
  • Round 14:  SC – increase by 1 every 13th stitch.  End with 84 stitches on the round.
  • Rounds 15 – 24.  Stay at 84 stitches on the round.  SC every round.
  • Round 25:  SC – decrease by 1 every 13th stitch.  End with 78 stitches on the round.
  • Round 26:  SC
  • Round 27:  SC – decrease by 1 every 12th stitch.  End with 72 stitches on the round.
  • Round 28:  SC
  • Round 29:  SC – decrease by 1 every 11th stitch.  End with 66 stitches on the round.
  • Round 30:  SC
  • Round 31:  SC – decrease by 1 every 10th stitch.  End with 60 stitches on the round.
  • Round 32:  SC
  • Round 33:  SC – decrease by 1 every 9th stitch.  End with 54 stitches on the round.
  • Round 34:  SC
  • Round 35:  SC – decrease by 1 every 8th stitch.  End with 48 stitches on the round.
  • Round 36:  SC
  • Round 37:  SC – decrease by 1 every 7th stitch.  End with 42 stitches on the round.
  • Round 38:  SC
  • Round 39:  SC – decrease by 1 every 6th stitch.  End with 36 stitches on the round.
  • Round 40:  SC
  • Round 41:  SC – decrease by 1 every 5th stitch.  End with 30 stitches on the round.
  • Rounds 42 – 50:  Stay at 30 stitches.  SC every round.  You’re working on the neck – and this is when everyone around will think you are making a vase!  Before you start the 51st round, use fiberfill to firmly fill the body and neck.
  • Round 51:  SC – increase by 1 every 5th stitch.  End with 36 stitches on the round.
  • Round 52:  SC – increase by 1 every 6th stitch.  End with 42 stitches on the round.
  • Round 53:  SC – increase by 1 every 7th stitch.  End with 48 stitches on the round.
  • Round 54:  SC – increase by 1 every 8th stitch.  End with 54 stitches on the round.
  • Round 55:  SC – increase by 1 every 9th stitch.  End with 60 stitches on the round.
  • Round 56:  SC – increase by 1 every 10th stitch.  End with 66 stitches on the round.
  • Rounds 57 – 64.  Stay at 66 stitches.  SC every round
  • Round 65:  SC – decrease by 1 every 10th stitch.  End with 60 stitches on the round.
  • Round 66:  SC – decrease by 1 every 9th stitch.  End with 54 stitches on the round.
  • Round 67:  SC – decrease by 1 every 8th stitch.  End with 48 stitches on the round.
  • Round 68:  SC – decrease by 1 every 7th stitch.  End with 42 stitches on the round.
  • Round 69:  SC – decrease by 1 every 6th stitch.  End with 36 stitches on the round.
  • Round 70:  SC – decrease by 1 every 5th stitch.  End with 30 stitches on the round.
  • Round 71:  SC – decrease by 1 every 4th stitch.  End with 24 stitches on the round.
  • Round 72:  Stay at 24 stitches.  SC.  Use fiberfill to stuff head.  Be sure you’ve stuffed the cat evenly and with enough fiberfill so he can stand tall.
  • Round 73:  SC – decrease by 1 every 3rd stitch.  End with 18 stitches on the round.
  • Round 74:  SC – decrease by 1 every 2nd stitch.  End with 12 stitches on the round.
  • Round 75:  SC – decrease by 1 on every stitch.  End with 6 stitches on the round.
  • Bind off.  Leave enough yarn on the tail to weave in the end.

Instructions to make cat ears:  You need to make 2 of these.  Also, remember to chain 1 and turn at the end of each row.  If you don’t like the specific instructions, the gist of this is that you are making a triangle from tip of ear to base.  Increase by 1 stitch in each row.  Increase at the midpoint of each row.

  1. Slip knot.  Ch 2.
  2. SC 2 times into 2nd chain.  End with 2 stitches.
  3. SC 1, SC 2 times into the 2nd stitch.  End with 3 stitches.
  4. SC 1, SC 2 times into the 2nd stitch.  SC in 3rd stitch.  End with 4 stitches.
  5. SC in first 2 stitches, SC 2 times into 3rd stitch.  SC in 4th stitch.  End with 5 stitches.
  6. SC in first 2 stitches.  SC 2 times into 3rd stitch.  SC rest of row.  End with 6 stitches.
  7. SC in first 3 stitches.  SC 2 times into 4th stitch.  SC rest of row.  End with 7 stitches.
  8. SC in first 3 stitches.  SC 2 times into 4th stitch.  SC rest of row.  End with 8 stitches.
  9. SC in first 4 stitches.  SC 2 times into 5th stitch.  SC rest of row.  End with 9 stitches.
  10. SC in first 4 stitches.  SC 2 times into 5th stitch.  SC rest of row.  End with 10 stitches.
  11. SC in first 5 stitches.  SC 2 times into 6th stitch.  SC rest of row.  End with 11 stitches.
  12. SC in first 5 stitches.  SC 2 times into 6th stitch.  SC rest of row.  End with 12 stitches.
  13. Bind off.
  14. We’re done making our triangle, but to give the edges of the ear a little extra definition, SC around the 2 sides of the triangle (not the base).

Once you’ve made your two ears, pin then stitch them into place on top of the cat head (wherever you think best).  Weave in all ends.

Instructions for cat eyes:
I wanted to use safety eyes, but the ones I had available were way too small.  This time, I went ahead & crocheted the eyes, but next time, I might spring for taxidermy cat eyes….

  1. Using the green yarn – make a slip knot.  Ch 2.  SC 6 times into 2nd chain from the hook.  Sl st round closed.  Ch 1.
  2. 2 SC into each stitch.  End with 12 stitches.  Sl st round closed.  
  3. Bind off & weave in end.
  4. To make the pupil, stitch in an oval shape with the black yarn & then use satin stitch to color in the pupil.

Once you’ve made your two cat eyes, pin then stitch them into place.

Instructions for tail (finally!).

  1. Ch 60 (+1 for the turning chain).
  2. SC around your black pipe cleaner 60 times.  Chain 1.  Turn.
  3. SC one more row.
  4. Bind off.

Stitch your cat’s tail onto his little butt, weave in those ends & you are done!!!

And there he is.  Standing proud (and looking a little over caffeinated) at just over 12 inches tall.  Checking “black cat” off of my Halloween Make List… And it’s onto the next project!