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9 Way Indoor/Outdoor Scarf

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A couple of weeks ago, I bought some fluffy reddish yarn and decided to crochet myself a scarf that I could wear as an accessory in my chilly apartment. I wanted something long and soft and beautiful to wrap around my neck. I was a great idea, except I don't crochet well at all. So after I unraveled the wonky rectangle that I'd formed, I reverted to the one stitch I can do consistently - chain stitch.

The result was exactly perfect. I made a very long chain, wrapped it into a loop and attached a tassel. The scarf can be worn long (nice with a dress or tunic) or looped into shorter lengths in a number of ways. There are far more than nine ways to wear this.

9 Way Indoor/Outdoor Scarf
time required: about an hour

1 ball soft and fluffy yarn (the texture hide imperfect stitches!)
1 crochet hook (mine's 6mm or 10/0)
1 large yarn needle

  1. Make a tassel. I did mine by wrapping the yarn around my Moleskine notebook about 30 times, then slipped it off, folded it in half, tied it in the middle and again around the bundle to make a ball. Trim the ends and fluff as desired. Once you have your tassel, set it aside.
  2. Crochet a very long string. It should be nine to ten meters long depending on how long you want your scarf to be. (I looped mine around my neck and down as far as my belly button.) Depending on the size of your skein and how much yarn you used for your tassel, you'll get close to finishing it all.
  3. Loop the chain to make a circle with five strands on each side. I hung it over a hook as I looped to help me keep it even. At this point you can unravel or continue chaining to get the length just right.
  4. Connect the ends of the chain by crocheting them together or tying them.
  5. Attach the tassel. I used the tail ends of the chain to thread my needle, and sewed through the tassel, then tied the tails and threaded them vertically down through the tassel, trimming the ends to length.

To gift one of these scarfs (it's a quick and easy stocking stuffer), you can print a 4-up A4 sized version of the graphic (Download PDF) that shows ways to wear it. Quarter the page, roll and tape the sheet, and slide the folded scarf inside with the tassel hanging out.

515 scarfy thing
Me modeling one of the nine ways

Christmas Tree, 2009 - hardcover edition



For the past nine years I've crafted a Christmas tree out of found objects, bits and pieces, useless odds and ends and occasionally a purchased item or two. This year, we had a box of books that we'd been trying to give away since the summer. A dozen hardcover castoffs became the foundation of the Christmas tree.

I am especially pleased with the way this tree turned out. But it was a 4-step process that took most of an afternoon, so I couldn't do the complete construction on Christmas Day in my usual tradition. Here's how it worked, in case you want to try one yourself.

Step 1: Drill This caused a bit of controversy in the household. Tod didn't want to hurt the books. I wanted to spike them so they wouldn't collapse. He went to work without a better suggestion and so I drilled the books by opening each book to its center spread, laying it page-side down and using a hand drill through the middle of the spine.

Mix and match painted covers

Step 2: Paint I silvered the edges of the pages with spray paint to make them consistent. The titles ranged from Great Grillin' to a 1963 children's edition of the Canterbury Tales and the covers were a range of tacky and plain so I decided to paint them with a mix of green acrylic paints. Because I like the artwork on the Canterbury Tales, I left that one unpainted and dry brushed any of the beige books to coordinate, while giving good coverage to the blue, black and red tomes.

Spools of thread between books make space for lights

Step 3: Assemble This was a little bit harder than I expected. It took several attempts to get the spacing and shape right so I was sliding books on and off my dowel rod multiple times. The dowel I used was thin and flexible, so the tree leans a bit. I slipped a small spool of brown thread on the dowel after each group of three books. This enforced a few inverted Vs big enough for the lights.

Just like a real tree, I need to rearrange the lights - there are some dark patches!

Step 4: Light I topped the dowel with a cut-and-glued star made from a manila envelope, and tucked a string of colored bulbs in the spaces between books. This makes the tree glow gently in the dark.

Reduction Printing with Erasers

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Reduction printing is a way to make multiple color prints in limited edition series. Unlike traditional block printing where each printed color is a separate piece of carved medium, in reduction printing you use only one block. As you work, you build up the colors of your final picture after carving away more and more of the print block. Because you are destroying the previous layer as you create the next one, the final prints can never be reproduced.

In this tutorial, you’ll work with a rubber eraser as your print block. There are instructions to make two different four-color designs in limited editions. You can download a PDF booklet of the instructions and add the necessary materials to create a mini craft kit to give as a gift. Or follow along here for your own fun crafternoon.

You will need:
two plastic erasers
one craft knife
four stamp pads (sky blue, green, dark blue, black)
printing sheets

Print 1: House

The completed House print

This is a simple four-color reduction print, where each new color adds detail to the layer below it.

1. Four an edition of ten prints, count out 14 printing sheets. I always print a few spares to compensate for the inevitable mistakes. Remember that you can never make more because you must cut down the block to finish the print.

House: Sky Blue layer

Using your craft knife, cut away the area for the clouds as shown in the House: Sky Blue image. Print the sky blue ink once on each printing sheet. Allow to dry.

House: Green layer

Next, using House: Green as a guide, cut away everything that won’t be printed in green. This preserves the blue sky and creates a base for the house and tree. Paying close attention to aligning the colors (see note on registration below), print over your sky blue layer with the green ink. Print all the sheets and allow to dry.

House: Blue layer

Now, using House: Blue as a guide, cut away the areas that will remain green, keeping what will be printed in blue. Print dark blue over the other colors, paying close attention to color registration. Allow the sheets to dry.

House: Black layer

Finally, with House: Black as a guide, cut away the areas that will remain blue, leaving only the house details and tree trunk. Print black over the other colors. Allow prints to dry.

Print 2: Flower


In this reduction print, details are added in multiple colors as the general shape is revealed.

Count out printing sheets for your edition. Remember that you need to make a few extras to cover any mistakes.

Cut away the white area as shown in the Flower: Sky Blue image, below. Print the sky blue ink as many times as you want prints. Allow to dry.

Using Flower: Green as a guide, cut away the center area of the flower, keeping the petal details and center of the flower. Carefully registering the block, print over the sky blue layer with the green ink. Print all the sheets and allow to dry.

Using Flower: Blue as a guide, cut away the stem, leaf, and center areas that will remain green. Print dark blue over the other colors, paying close attention to color registration. Allow the sheets to dry.

With Flower: Black as a guide, cut away the leaf and flower details that will remain blue. Print the final black over the other colors. Allow prints to dry.


Note: Printing and Registration


Aligning the color layers is critical to having a neat finished print. With small print blocks like rubber erasers, use the block as a rubber stamp. Tape each printing sheet paper to table to prevent it from slipping and align the corners of the print block to the previous color layers using a square.

How to wind a mini-spool from a cone

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Now that I have a serger, I adapt a lot of my patterns to use it. Today I'm making a dress that can be 95% overlocked. But zippers and darts still need the conventional sewing machine and I want matching thread for these seams. Instead of buying a separate spool of thread, I've wound a mini-spool from my cone of overlock thread.

It's easy to do. Put the overlock thread cone in a coffee mug on the table behind the machine - this will prevent the it from bouncing around as it unspools. Use this thread to set up your bobbin-winding apparatus as usual and wind two bobbins from the cone. Use one in the bobbin case and slip the other over your machine's spool rod. Voila! enough thread to do darts, zippers, and hems.

Sci-Fi Hoop Dress Tutorial

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Leila rocks her hoopy dress with an LED hula hoop in the hem.

I made this bouncy dress for a friend who had a mission. I can't reveal what the mission was, but the dress was so fun that I want to share the technique with you. It's not a pattern, per se, as the dimensions will vary depending upon your fabric and hoop size.

You will need:

1 hula hoop
1 tank top pattern
2 meters 4-way stretch lycra, a bit more if you want a longer skirt.
1/2 meter stretch fabric for the top
1-3 meters stretch trim (optional)

The trickiest bit of this process is calculating how wide the dress has to be at its widest point and along the bottom hem curve. You need to know how stretchy the fabric is and how big the hoop is.


If you have a tank top pattern that you like, trace it out and adjust it to be empire length so that it ends just under the bustline. For a relatively flat chested girl like me, that's about 12 cm under the armpit. If you don't have a pattern you like, you can trace around a finished tank top that fits well. Don't forget to add a bit for seam allowances. Cut two tanks (4 pieces total) - one in the outer material and one in the lycra for a lining.

For the skirt, you'll do a bit of measuring (see below) using the calculations you did a few minutes ago. Pattern paper or newsprint comes in handy here! Don't forget seam allowances but you won't hem the skirt. When you have the skirt pattern measured and drawn, cut two pieces from lycra. Don't forget seam allowances.


I use a serger/overlocker, but if you are using a regular sewing machine, be sure to use a zig-zag stitch to allow for stretch.

First construct the lined bodice. Sew the outer bodice together at the shoulder seams. Repeat for the lining. With right sides together, sew lining and bodice together around the neckline. Turn right side out.

Here is a nifty magical trick that lets you sew the armhole seams. Follow the diagram below. The neck adn armhole seams will be enclosed and the side seams will be open when this is done.


Sew the left side of the bodice together; leave the right side open for now:


Sew the left side of the skirt together. Sew the skirt to the bodice, matching the side seams. If you are going to trim the dress along the bodice edge or at the hemline, do it now while the dress is flat. Sew the left side from hem all the way up the bodice and bodice lining.

Slip the hoop into the dress and stretch the bottom hemline over the hoop. This can take some fussing, yanking and pulling as you want the hoop to be centered in the dress. You will have about 15 cm of fabric under the hoop as a shelf to hold the hoop in place.

one t-shirt, no sew, 3 piece hooping costume


Click for larger version, or download the PDF

As presented at Spin Matsuri, a quick, inexpensive way to create a costume base that is suitable for hoop dance. Also makes a good superhero costume if you add a cape. Add your own style with fringing, slashes, bling or paint.

Hooper Trading Cards

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hooper-card-tink.jpg hooper-card-mandi.jpg
hooper-card-stina.jpg hooper-card-deanne.jpg

Hooper trading cards! Thanks to a funny comment by my husband, hooper trading cards are unleashed on the Internet. Collect them all! Trade online - use them a profile photos - print them out - add stats on the back as you like. There's a group at Flickr to share them, too.

These are the first four in the series - me and some of my hooping friends. Let's make hooper trading cards for all our hooping buddies and superstars.

Make Your Own
Download this Photoshop CS3 template. Place your photo, type in your name and location, then adjust the visibility of the colored bits. Save as a jpg and Voila! Your own trading card. Use the template back to organise your hooping stats.

Hooper Trading Card template
(PSD, 572KB)
Hooper Trading Card template back
(PSD 488KB)
Creative Commons License

Request a Card
If you don't have Photoshop, I can make your card for you. E-mail me (
1. your full-body hooping action shot (640x480 or larger),
2. your hoop name,
3. city, state/country,
4. preferred border color from these options:

Please note that card production may be delayed until the end of April.

3-Eared Knitted Hat


3-earedhat.jpgI haven't learned to knit in the round yet, but I wanted to knit a hat so I devised one made of three rectangles sewn together. It turned out well and friends have asked me to make more.

It's simple, using only 2x2 rib stitch, moss stitch and a simple increase (or decrease) so I thought I'd write up the knitting pattern and share it.

I'm sure this first attempt at a knitting pattern is going to be pretty awful. Feel free to suggest corrections and improvements. For example, this pattern has no real gauge, but my finished hat is 13 stitches, 22 rows in a 4" swatch. I knit loosely.

Kristen's 3-Eared Hat

#10 needles, 22 cm
1 ball (50 g/~100m) DK or worsted yarn
yarn needle

Cast on 26 stitches*, leaving a 20cm tail.
Row 1-8: k2 p2 to end
Row 9: k1 p1 (repeat for12 stitches), k2tog, p1,k1 to end
Row 10-37 (?): k1, p1 to end

3-earedhat-top.jpgYou will need to measure your head to decide where to stop. I did this by holding the rectangle to my head and when it reached from just above my brow to the crown of my head, I cast off.

Repeat to make 3 rectangles.

Mark the top center point of each rectangle. Using the long tails, stitch the pieces together to form a tube. Bring the marked center points together in the middle and sew the top closed, forming a Y (see photo). If you have extra yarn and want a super-cute hat, sew tassels or pompoms to the points.

* For a hat with tighter ribbing, cast on 24 stitches, do the ribbing rows, then increase (make one) instead of k2tog on Row 9.

Ellie's Chopstick Roll

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My friend Ellie carries her own chopsticks with her wherever she goes so that she doesn't have to use disposable chopsticks at restaurants. Each year, 25 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks (waribashi) are used in Japan. That's 200 pairs per person. There are a few recycling programs, but most used waribashi get thrown into the garbage. What a waste.

Ellie carries her "My Hashi " in her purse, protected in a roll of fabric. She'd like to make a few of these as gifts, but wasn't sure how to do it. So we sat down over a cocktail and I reverse-engineered the design. It's really simple and clever.


Download instructions
A4-size PDF 555K

Flared Skirt with Soft Belt

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Flared skirt in action

I bought some crazy kabuki ghost fabric a few weeks ago and it's been sitting around waiting for me to need a new skirt. Finally, I had a need for a nifty outfit, so I designed a flared skirt and whipped it up between breakfast and leaving the house. It's comfy stylish and easy to wear, so I wrote up the pattern in case you want to make one, too.

Download the pattern A4 PDF 248K

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