June 2012

Knitting with fabric strips

Looking to mix it up a little? Have some fabric leftovers that need using up? Want a summer project that doesn't stick to your sticky sweaty fingers the way wool yarn does? Try knitting up a rug with fabric strips! 

At its heart, knitting a rag rug with fabric strips is a simple matter. You turn fabric into strips, join them, wind them into a ball, and knit a big honkin' rectangle of garter stitch. (This is also a perfect summer knitting, in the sense that if you do it outside, it's much easier to deal with the clean-up from all the millions of fraying bits that fly loose.)
How do you cut the strips?
If you are using a woven cotton fabric, it's easy: just nick the edge of the fabric with your scissors and then tear. Aim for strips that are between ½ an 1" across.
How do you join the strips?
The easiest way is to just knot them together at the ends. If you want to get fancy, you can sew them together with a serger, or just tack them together by sewing an X. Or you can cut a slit in the end of both strips, slip one end through, and pull it tight. (Note: these methods create bulk at the join, of various thicknesses.) 

Clay fish craft

With summer currently in full swing, your kids are bound to spend time fishing or swimming with the fish in the ocean. Afterward, they can take some time to wind down by creating a clay fish.

First, your kids will need to scour the beach for seashells, smooth stones or any other item that they think they can use to decorate their clay fish with. You can give each of the children a bucket to collect their treasures.

Second, give each child a block of clay that they can shape into a fish. The clay doesn't have to be colored because your kids are going to paint the fish in the next step. They make fish molds for use on the beach if you want to use one of those to create the shape of a fish. My kids like turning their clay into fish without the mold, but it could be helpful for some kids.

The Olympics Committee vs. knitters everywhere

The United States Olympics Committee is one of the most litigious organizations in the world, rivaling even Disney for sheer "don't mess with our copyright" attitude. Therefore, when I heard that Ravelry had received a "Cease and Desist" letter regarding the Ravelympics, my first reaction was "I'm surprised it took so long." Anything that even suggests five rings will receive a smack-down from the Olympics. And using half the name to make the word "Ravelympics" is like waving a cape before a bull.

But the USOC didn't just tell Ravelry to knock it off and use some other name. No, they went a little bit farther and suggested that knitters should feel bad about it, too:
"We believe using the name "Ravelympics" for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.  In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country's finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work."

Give your apples sun tattoos this summer!

What would you "tattoo" your apples with?

The concept of "sun tattoos" is not a recent one. If you have ever doodled anything on your skin with sunblock before going out in the sun, you have hit upon the basic premise. There are several companies that will sell you stickers that you apply to your body, so that you can get a white spot left behind on your tanned skin in the shape of, say, a heart or a butterfly. One fascinating artist even created a "tattoo robe," with cut-outs that create a beautiful floral motif on the skin after a day of hard-core sun tanning.

But tanning your actual skin, in the actual sun? Not such a great idea. Skin cancer and all. Direct exposure to the sun's rays is harmful to our skin, but this is not true of the humble apple. Sunlight is what turns a red apple red (along with the right genetics - sunlight alone will not turn a green Granny Smith red). 
As you might have guessed by now, if sunlight turns a red apple variety's skin red, then blocking sunlight can leave a mark on the apple's skin as well. This is called a "tattoo," even though it isn't really a tattoo in the traditional sense.

Fourth of July magnet craft

Looking for an Independence Day craft to do with your kids? How about a creating magnets that resemble the American Flag? You can use these magnets on your refrigerator, or hand some out at your Fourth of July party.

The first thing you need to do is cover your work space with old newspapers. The craft can get a bit messy. You may also want to instruct your children to put on some old clothes that they no longer care about if you don't have any art smocks.

Now you can help your children create the clay that they will use to craft their magnets. Get out a mixing bowl and add 1 ¼ cups of flour, ½ cup of water and ½ cup of salt. Combine the three ingredients together and set them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Queen Lili'uokalani's Quilt

This quilt is a political protest.

What would you do if you were sentenced to house arrest? As a crafter, you would no doubt spend a lot of time working on an incredibly intricate project. Surely there would be few better ways to pass the time. I suspect this is true of most crafters, and it is also true of Queen Lili'uokalani, the deposed Queen of Hawaii.
Queen Lili'uokalani was overthrown in 1893, her reign ended, and the Kingdom of Hawaii brought under rule of the American mainland. Queen Lili'uokalani herself was found guilty of treason as part of the resistance movement, and was sentenced to permanent house arrest in an upstairs bedroom of the Iolani Palace in Honolulu.
Queen Lili'uokalani had many artistic talents, including music composition (she composed and wrote a song that became a classic, "Aloha Oe"), writing, needlework and quilting. After being sentenced to house arrest she continued these activities, even though her resources were limited. And so she began making a quilt as both a political statement and a record of her imprisonment. 

Happy Father's Day tie card

Dads don't need store-bought Father's Day cards. They need homemade ones that were made lovingly with little hands. One such card can be made to resemble a shirt and tie. This is especially great for dads who have business careers or dads who dress up for church on Sunday.

You will need the following items to make your Father's Day tie card:
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • One of dad's ties
  • Pictures of you