December 5, 2013

New (free!) pattern: Superduper in Knitty!

Have you seen the new Knitty yet?  That’s me on the cover!  Whoa!!  Very exciting!


My pattern is pretty bonkers, but only because of the yarn, which I feel like shouldn’t even be called “yarn”… it needs some other name… It’s The BagSmith Big Stitch Merino, and it knits up on size US 36 (20mm) needles at a gauge of 3 stitches per 4 inches!


My pattern, Superduper (on ravelry / leethalknits), is a giant cowl that can be worn many different ways.  Above, you see it as a double-layer cowl, with a smaller neck-warming inside, and a larger shoulder-warming outer tube.  If that’s turned around, you get this…


…and then the inside layer can be pulled up as a hood, for ultimate head/neck warmth:


(I tested out the level of warmth in some windy freezing snow, and it is COZY!)


So then if you flip it completely inside out, the tubes arrange so they’re together, as one giant double-thick tube (instead of the bigger outside and smaller inside), making a ridiculously humongous cowl:


This style is a bit silly and impractical, yes, but fun, I think.


And then you can flip the outer tube out to un-twist the whole thing, and it turns into a kind of figure-8 scarf+handwarmer piece:

Superduper! Superduper!

And if you pull that the other way, so that the two sides are the same size, it can be worn as a shoulder shrug kind of thing:

Superduper! Superduper!

Personally, I like it as a cowl hood that’s all-consuming and makes one look like a super-cozy performance artist or something:


How about a little backstory?  I was given the chance to design in this awesome yarn (and I use the term awesome in this case more with the dictionary definition in mind: extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear), which I could never afford to use normally, to be honest, not my normal yarn scene ;)  So it was a really cool opportunity to have, and I thought it would be a fun design challenge to come up with a great pattern for it.  My big bump sat around my house for awhile, as I waited for the inspiration to come to me…

Superduper! Superduper!

…and eventually an inspired idea struck, I spent a few days sketching and swatching in a regular super bulky yarn to get the pattern figured out, and then I realized it was way too complicated and wasn’t going to work in this yarn.  After days of work, it kind of hit me like a slap in the face, what was I thinking with this many-sectioned, modular, complex design?!  That wasn’t going to work at all, I needed to simplify!


So, I started from scratch and spent several days developing a flat, simple-shaped design, which I thought would be perfect for the yarn.  I knit up a sample using bulky yarn held triple-stranded, thinking that would be a similar weight to this yarn.  It was fabulous, I loved it!!  So then I knit up the real sample in this yarn all the way to the end, ignoring how much it WAS NOT working, until it was finished and I stepped back, and I realized how much of a complete failure it was.  Turns out, this yarn is MUCH much heavier than triple-stranded bulky.

The good news about that design: it turned into Lemmy (below).  The white Lemmy sample was the original sample, then when it failed for this project, I reworked the pattern and made the other samples in the other weights, and I’m really happy with that pattern, so it’s all for the best.  (Side note: the first failed design is on hold for now, but I plan to also turn that into its own pattern in the future.)


I VERY carefully frogged that whole failed piece, started from scratch once again, having learned from all my mistakes, keeping it SIMPLE, and came up with Superduper.  The final pattern uses the yarn in the best way, keeping to basic stitch patterns and simple shapes.  I’m really happy (super duper happy) with how it turned out!


Of course, if you want to make a Superduper but the yarn is outside your budget, substitutions are totally possible.  It might not be as easy as with most patterns, but if you think outside the box a little it shouldn’t be too hard.  One idea:  bulky yarn triple stranded twice, to make it 9-strands-thick, by chaining the whole skein using this technique, then chaining it again as you knit.  Or 6-strands thick by holding two balls together and chaining them as you go.  You’d need to play around with your bulky yarn to see how many strands are needed to get the approximate gauge – of course, you can mess with the gauge too, to make a slightly smaller piece.  Another idea:  knit with roving!  Okay I’ll leave other ideas up to you, but I just wanted to say that I know this yarn is a very specialty item that most knitters can’t really justify buying (myself included) so if you like the item, you can making something work!

Superduper! Superduper!

Let’s see, other fun things about the pattern… The cover shoot, in the snow, was done last weekend at Timberline Lodge (aka the Overlook Hotel from The Shining!) in some seriously cold, windy conditions.  You can see above how I couldn’t control my hair at times, and I don’t know what I was doing in that outtake shot, but I think I got a bit silly from the cold!  The cowl got put to the test in these conditions, and while my hands and feet were numb, my neck and shoulder region was toasty warm!  The initial photoshoot, on the other hand, was done back in August (thankfully not during a 100 degree heat wave, just a normal August day in Portland), and I recommend NOT wearing this item in the summertime ;)


I think that’s that, everything you might want to know about Superduper!  I hope some of you try making it, and then post photo in your ravelry projects so I can see!  I don’t expect this to be one of my most popular designs, but it really is fun, and it knits up QUICK, like a few hours total, so if you have yarn that will work, give it a try!  Fun knitting times!

Filed under: knitting,quick project,yarn — leethal @ 5:12 pm

January 25, 2011

Ten minute no-sew recycled t-shirt bag!

Tutorial time!  I got a gig teaching a recycled t-shirt project at the library a few months ago, with a request for a recycled tee bag – the only bags I’d made from tees in the past had required sturdy sewing, and I didn’t want hand-sewing to be the only thing holding the bottom closed in a class version of the bags, so I started brainstorming about some kind of hand-sewing-friendly or no-sew bag idea…. and here’s what I came up with!

No-Sew T-shirt Bags! No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

The simplest version of these bags is great for smaller tees, or the more light-weight kind of girl-tees – just turn the bottom of the shirt into a drawstring and tie it closed!  As you can see, even with a not huge tee, this will still leave a significant hole in the bottom of your bag, but for purposes like grocery shopping, this size hole shouldn’t really matter…

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

But to make smaller holes, just make more than one of them!  Here’s a bag bottom with 2 holes:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

And now for the actual tutorial – for this one, with the step-by-step, I will be making the bottom with 3 holes.  So, start with a t-shirt that you don’t wear anymore, or a fun one you found at a thrift store.  Besides a tee, you’ll also need scissors and a safety pin.  That’s it!

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Cut the sleeves off, but try to make a somewhat straight line, and go in a bit from the seam – these lines will be the sides of your straps:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Cut some strips from those sleeve pieces – about half an inch wide, the length of one time around a sleeve is good, and as many strips as the number of holes you’ll be making in your bag bottom. (I’ve made bags with 1, 2, and 3 holes, but I haven’t tried more than that.)  Pull the ends of the strips to stretch them out and make them curl in:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Cut the neck out to become your bag’s opening – the way you cut this can depend on your tee’s picture (if there is a picture), and also the shape you want your bag.  Just make sure you cut a big enough opening to fit things through, for a functional bag:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

You could make it rounded, V-shaped, or squared like this one:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Now the top/straps part is done, time for the bottom.  Snip slits in the hem part of the tee bottom – as many slits as you want holes.  3 slits, below, is for 3 holes, for a single hole, like the yellow one at the top, just cut one slit, and for 2 holes, snip 2 slits.  The slits should be equally spaced from each other, but the spacing doesn’t need to be exact – I just eyeballed my slit placement, no measuring:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Now stick a safety pin through the end of one of those strips you made, and start running it through the hem, through one of the slits:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Run it through to the next slit (or all the way around and back to the beginning, if you’re making a single hole) and pull the cord so it’s centered-ish:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Tie the hole closed as tightly as you can, and tie a tight knot:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Now repeat those steps for the remaining sections, one slit to the next, tie tightly.  This is after the second hole is closed:

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

For an ultra sturdy bag bottom, tie one cord strand from one hole together with one strand from the hole next to it, tightly, and repeat for each strand (as many of these knots as the number of holes you have; ignore this step if you’re making a single hole), so that the holes are all tied to each other.

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Now, you can choose whether you want the t-shirt cord ties hanging down at the bottom, or hidden on the inside.  To hide them inside, bring them through the center, then tie bows on the inside so they don’t fall back through.  Or, tie bows on the outside if you prefer (or you could just cut the cords short and skip the bows):

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

My finished Sonic bag!

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

The 1-hole version of this project takes more like 5 minutes, but the more holes you have, the longer it takes (by a few minutes) – it’s my favorite kind of project: 100% recycled materials (in this case, just the tee and nothing else!), minimal tools, quick+easy, and a super useful finished product!

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

I made these for everyone in my family as extra bonus xmas gifts – my mom just told me she’s been using hers all the time and they are stronger than she would have expected.  I even used my family’s bags to wrap their gifts in, to save on paper wrapping waste and because it looked fun!

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

I failed to show you this idea before the holidays, but you can always save it away in your memory (or bookmarks) for your next gift-giving occasion.  I hope you love this project as much as I do!  Now go and make lots of them so you’ll never be without a reusable shopping bag again!

No-Sew T-shirt Bags!

Filed under: general crafts,gifts,quick project,tutorials — leethal @ 3:56 pm

June 8, 2010

Dry Erase Magnets tutorial, plus other magnet ideas!

Dry Erase Magnets!

Look what I made yesterday!  I had this brainstorm about making dry erase magnets back when I was making magnet projects for the May club, but I was just going to try it with white paper, for a plain white background… then I saw this tutorial via Craft: and thought of using images for the backgrounds!  Now I have a great looking note-taking station on my fridge!

Note taking magnets! Note taking magnets!

First you’ll need a basic flat magnet – freebie promo magnets work fabulously.  If you can find an image that’s light and low-contrast enough that you’ll be able to see notes written over it, then you just need glue (glue stick works well) and packing tape – higher quality, thick tape is ideal, as opposed to the really cheap, thin type.

tutorial photos

Cut the image (could be: magazine/book picture, photograph, printed out image, etc) into a rectangle a bit bigger than the magnet.  Glue it onto the magnet, then trim the paper neatly around the edges.  (Now it’s probably good to let the glue dry, but I didn’t because I was anxious to finish and see how it worked!)

tutorial photos tutorial photos

Smooth a piece of packing tape over the front – as you can see below, my packing tape was just a wee bit more narrow than my magnet… Since my magnets are thin and easy to cut with scissors, I decided to trim the magnet to tape size, but you can also deal with this problem by layering another piece of tape to cover the whole surface:

tutorial photos

Trim the tape around the edges and your functional dry erase magnet is complete!

If you want to use an image that’s too dark/bright/high-contrast for the writing to be clear on top, then you can add an extra step to make it work…  You’ll just need tracing paper or tissue paper (or some other kind of paper that’s translucent enough for the image to show through, but will dull it enough so the writing will be clear), plus basic white glue (or Mod Podge will work) and a brush for the glue:

Dry Erase Magnets! tutorial photos

Complete the first couple of steps from above – cut out the image and glue it onto the magnet – then spread out white glue over the top of the image (photo is before spreading it out with the brush):

tutorial photos

Now smooth the tracing paper or tissue paper over the top… I used tissue paper because it’s all I had, but I’d expect tracing paper to work much better, since it wouldn’t tear nearly as easily.  On my first try, I attempted to smooth out the tissue with my fingers, ended up tearing the paper badly, and had to peel it off and start over.  So, just smooth it out the best you can without ripping it:

tutorial photos

Then trim the edges, add the tape over the top (after the glue is dry would be best), just like the first version above, and there you go!  By the way, both of my images came from an old yarn company catalog – great source for background images!

Dry Erase Magnets!

To complete your refrigerator’s dry erase station, you’ll need a clip magnet big and strong enough to hold a dry erase marker, and if there’s a spot where you can stick a piece of paper towel to use as an eraser, excellent!  Or, you can make one of these awesome fridge tin pen holders by Not Martha!

Note taking magnets! Note taking magnets!

And then my other note-taking magnet idea – this one needs no tutorial because it’s so simple – chalkboard magnet!  Buy some chalkboard paint at your local craft supply store (I used this kind), follow the instructions on the container to paint over your basic flat magnet, and tah dah!  Love it!

Chalkboard Magnet!

And then going back to my club magnet projects to finish things off… I mentioned these over here, but not in any detail.  I used a simple foam stamp (from the dollar section at Joann, impulse buy!) to stamp designs onto old book pages, then cut out the shapes and layered them on the magnets:


You could use the same concept with drawings over the book pages, or you could layer pictures from magazines or photographs over the text background… this one is a rectangle of book page with a stamp on it, then another cut-out stamp design layered over that.  I like the look of the text going in different directions on the 2 layers:


Then the final magnet idea, also from the club, was record album artwork magnets – no instructions needed, just cut out a piece of old album cover and glue it onto the magnet:

magnets! magnets!

If you make over some reclaimed magnets using any of these ideas, I’d love to see them!  Happy crafting!

Filed under: general crafts,home stuff,quick project,tutorials — leethal @ 7:23 pm

February 9, 2010

5 Years Together and a fun+quick Card Project!

photoboothstrip1 old fisheye us

Exactly 5 years ago today, I met up with an old college radio acquaintance at a coffee shop in Costa Mesa for a non-date that ended up lasting 6 hours.  And the rest is history!

147_4701-01 146_4693-01

154_5427-01 152_5282-01

These are some oooold old old shots of us, mostly from our first few months together in 2005.  February is a fun month for me, with our anniversary on the 9th, my birthday on the 11th, and then silly Valentine’s Day, which we mostly ignore, but it’s fun to have 3 days right there in a row.  This year is extra fun because Pete took a 2 week vacation from his day job, to work in his studio and hang out with me, so I’m taking some vacationy time also.  Yay!


So I just wanted to show you this cute little mini anniversary card I made with some reclaimed pretty patterned cardstock from Scrap

card04 card05

This print company gave a bunch of great looking cards and things to Scrap when they closed down their shop, so I picked up stacks of these tags for a dollar an inch, sweet!  They are about the size of standard bookmarks, with a score in the middle to fold into tags:

card01 card02

So I took one of each color/pattern, freehand cut two into hearts, used one as the card base, and turned them into a little card, which would be perfect as a Valentine, if you happen to have some pretty patterned paper/cardstock around in your stash!


Oh and I did a roundup of heart projects on Threadbanger last week, so if you’re looking to do some V-day crafting, you might want to check that out!


I love you, Pete!

Filed under: general crafts,personal,photos,quick project — leethal @ 6:38 pm

December 22, 2009

Craft a Silly Tote Bag!

Last minute gift idea!  I made this grocery bag for a gift for my brother last year – quick, fun, and recycled! Yay!

giftbag1 giftbag2

How-to:  Find a tote bag to reuse (I thrifted this one at Value Village), and an old t-shirt with a fun/funny image.  Cut the tee image out a few inches smaller than the bag front.  Use an iron-on fabric adhesive interfacing thing (like steam-a-seam) to iron the tee piece onto the bag (using the instructions on the interfacing).  Then hand-sew around the edges.


You could stitch around with yarn or embroidery floss instead of thread, or you could add extra embellishments or personalized decoration…

Hope this helps some of you with last-minute gift crafting!

Oh yeah, by the way, the holiday card winners were Jen, Heather, and Miranda! Yay!

Filed under: general crafts,quick project — leethal @ 12:46 am

December 22, 2008

quicky gift idea – before and after photo

this is a gift i gave my parents a couple years ago, pre- do stuff!, and when i saw it here at the house i thought it would be a good project to share. i’m sure i saw the idea somewhere else, but i don’t know where. you could either make it in a photo editing software program like i did, or you could build it with 2 photos by cutting them into strips and gluing them onto a sheet of cardstock.

straight on

i used two photos of my brothers – the first when they were about 2, 4, and 6, and the second one current (i would have used photos of all four of us, but i’m the only one in my family who takes photos, so there were no current ones with me in them). i split each of them into about half inch sections, and pasted them together in the photo editing program with the strips switching between the two photos.

before after

then i just printed it out on photo paper and carefully folded in accordion-style on the lines between the strips. i glued (or 2-sided taped) the ends onto the blue paper and put the whole thing in a frame with no glass that i got free from my old job. (if you have any connections with someone who works in a place that sells frames, you might be able to score a free no-glass frame, maybe.)

from above

so that’s it, pretty simple, but super cool effect in real life (hard to capture in photos with bad lighting). and i’m thinking if you’re in portland and were saving some of your shopping till the last minute, you might be in need of some diy gift ideas that you can make with things you already have in the house!

photo light lit blue photo light lit red

if you want to see another photo gift project idea, check out my latest craftstylish post!

Filed under: craftstylish,photos,quick project,tutorials — leethal @ 1:18 am

October 18, 2008

mom’s applique birthday card

mom's birthday card

my mom collects elephant things, and her birthday was friday, and my gift to her was not elephant related, so i wanted to make a card that was.  i had just read jenny’s how-to for using an iron-on applique method on 3-ring binders, so i tried the concept out on the card and it totally worked!  yeah!

(photo from craftzine blog)  i used “steam-a-seam2″ instead of heatnbond, and it worked out fine, super easy!  don’t know if it’ll stay stuck forever, but it seemed to be secure.  fun little quick craft, great for fabric scraps, try it!

Filed under: general crafts,quick project — leethal @ 10:31 pm
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