Category: tutorials

I love Austin

I love Austin, TX!
I love Austin, TX!

Make your own “I <3 This City” art with this photo tutorial. Use whatever materials you want! Paint, wood, fabric, cardboard, buttons… embrace that creativity and run with it!

 

Customized Knitting Needles!

The other day I realized that I’ve been knitting for almost 7 years! I had this realization while trying to find the twin to my US7 straight bamboo needle, and being frustrated with the lack of organization in the 7-years worth of knitting needles I’ve collected. And why are the sizes engraved with tiny little numbers on the side of the needle, where they’ll eventually wear off with use?

Suddenly inspiration struck. I should label my needles on the top, and add a bit of color while I’m at it!

Here are the steps to make your own customized knitting needles!

  • Step 1: Set up your work space. I placed a scrap piece of cardboard on top of 2 sawhorses so that I could stick my needles through the cardboard, keeping them secure, making them easier to paint, and giving them a safe place to dry. I also used a pegboard to keep things organized, but that’s not at all required.
  • Step 2: Arrange your needles by their size, and stick them through the cardboard. I used the screwdriver to poke the holes for the skinnier needles, since I was worried I might break them while trying to jab them through the cardboard.
  • Step 3: Paint! I used acrylic paint and a basic old paintbrush. (Because I’m a color nerd, I found a color palette I liked from colourlovers, saved it on my phone, and used it to pick out my paints.) I painted 3 coats total, because I wanted to make sure I had excellent coverage. Acrylic paint dries SUPER fast, so 3 coats of paint was easy to do. I found the easiest strategy was to spin the needle from under the cardboard, and brush from bottom to top of the needle “bead” until all sides were painted, then finished with a brush or two on the top.
  • Step 4: Once your paint is dry, use a sharpie to write the needle sizes on the top. I also thought of using a sticker or a stencil, but at this point I just wanted to finish them, so I just used the sharpie.
  • Step Oops! (Not Suggested) Accidentally grab a can of black spray paint instead of the clear coat, and spray black speckles all over your beautiful needles. Immediately stop and freak out. Curse at things. Take a break and grab a beer. Inspect the damage. Decide your needles aren’t ruined. Move onto step 6.
  • Step 6: (Definitely suggested) Use a satin or gloss finish spray clear coat (I used satin finish, just because that’s what I had). You should only need one coat, but make sure to spray from all sides to get everything covered.
  • Step 7: Let dry. I left mine in the garage overnight, but they probably don’t need that long. Throw all your needles in a pretty container, and revel in your awesome creativity!

Other ideas I had included to label the side of the needle “bead” and glue something pretty on the top, like a button, or a plastic or fabric flower, or a bow… Pretty much anything you can think of!

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my circulars and DPNs. Who has some ideas?

Getting labels off wine/beer bottles

I don’t remember where I found this tip (once I do, I’ll link to the site), but I’ve discovered the best way to remove labels from wine and beer bottles. Not only is the label salvageable, but the stickiness of any leftover glue residue is easily removable with water and a brush or some Goo Gone.

The key: The oven, on bake, at about 175 degrees. Preheat your oven, pop in your glass bottles, and let them get warm/hot – I’ve found about 10 minutes works best. Then remove the bottle – with an oven mitt! – find the corner of your label, and peel. The heat should have melted the glue, and the label should peel off easily. You can now stick the label to a piece of paper or something else (stick it on wax paper to save it for another project).

I used this process on 3 bottles yesterday, and all my labels came off perfectly! 

Pictures to come… once I get around to taking them. :)

to anyone hosting a webinar

A couple pieces of advice…

  • Do a dry-run of your webinar a couple days beforehand, with test participants (your family, friends, coworkers, roommates, whatever). Figure out how to advance your slides, and what your participants will see during the presentation, and how you sound to them, how to allow others to talk or have control over the slides, etc. Don’t figure these things out during your “live” teleseminar.
  • Slides are free. Don’t put EVERYTHING you’re trying to talk about on one slide. Make it several slides. Use as little text as possible. If your slides are boring or too text-y, I’m going to be doing something else (ahem, blogging) while you’re talking.  (OMG If you ever find yourself saying “You might not be able to see that too clearly” then you should not use it on your slide.)
  • Send out a copy of your slides to attendees and have an archive of the webinar available by the next day, at the latest.
  • You don’t need your logo & website on every.single.slide. When you send out the copy of your slides, you can put it in there as a footer. But you really don’t need it on every slide. It’s annoying.
  • Stick to a color palette. Use like images. Use 1 font – maybe 2. Use large fonts. Don’t use Comic Sans.
  • Spell out acronyms.
  • You don’t have to write out everything you’re going to say – that’s why you’re saying it. If I can get the same information just by reading your slides, then you’ve written too much.
  • Host the webinar from a quiet space. Yes, we can hear the people in your office giggling in the background.

DIY Mat Remake

I like having a specific spot where the cats go to eat. In my old apartment, I used a somewhat torn-up straw mat that had spent many days at the beach.

This mat worked great in my old apartment, but the new house has tile, which makes the mat completely ineffective as a mat. I decided I’d use one of those rug gripper things to make it more sturdy. I didn’t just want to place the mat on top of the rug gripper, though, so I glued them together. Then I got a little bit more creative.

I placed a cardboard box underneath the mat to make sure glue didn’t get on the floor.

Then I placed my rug gripper on top of the mat. Luckily the rug gripper was about the same length as the mat. I’d already planned to cut the width of the mat down, so that size was perfect, too.

Other Required Tools:

Mod Podge & a foam brush

A level to help keep the side of the mat straight.

You don’t really need this, but as I was gluing, the mat was slipping up and down on the cardboard, so I used the level on one side of the mat and just brushed glue on toward the level so that the mat wouldn’t move up and down.

Oh, and a glass of wine. Again, not required, but helpful.

I glued the entire rug gripper to the mat, and let it dry for about 30 minutes.

Then I trimmed my mat around the rug gripper.

Give yourself some space on the sides because you will have extra little reed strips trying to slip off. If you think about it, give a few extra coats of glue on those reed strips that will be the edges of your completed mat – This will prevent them from coming out after cutting. 

My cuts weren’t exactly perfect, so I rolled up the mat and sanded the edges a bit.

This was my intended end-of-project, but I had a sudden epiphany that I could stain the reed mat with stain that I will be using for some other pieces of furniture in the near future.

So I rolled out my mat on the cardboard outside and gave it several coats of stain. it’s not perfect, but I’m okay with that.

Then I stuck the mat in the garage overnight. The next morning, I sprayed on a few coats of clear coat protector, and let it dry a few more hours.

While that was drying, I stuck the extra long reed pieces in a white vase! It looks surprisingly nice! I’m not yet sure what I’m doing with the small section of reed mat that’s leftover.

And here’s the final project under the buffet! A perfect place for kitties to dine.

Yuki inspecting her new food space. Next project: find where on earth I’ve packed the kitty bowls. Ha!

Making Art

A few months ago, I bought a frame from Ikea. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to put in the frame, so I ended up using the cardboard that the frame was packaged in and a cool Photoshop brush that I downloaded and printed on cardstock.

What you’ll need:

  • A cool frame
  • Cardboard – usually it comes in the frame!
  • An interesting picture to print and cut out
  • Cardstock
  • Scissors and maybe an exacto knife
  • Mod Podge
  • Acrylic paint
  • Painter’s tape – or any kind of masking tape will do
  • Foam paintbrush
  • A hair dryer (to help the acrylic paint dry faster!)

Step 1: Trace the opening of the frame on the cardboard (that had packaged the frame) and paint the cardboard a neutral color. I used just white acrylic paint.

Step 2: Choose an image you like, print it over several pieces of paper, and cut it out. I downloaded this cityscape brush for Photoshop from deviant art, and spread it across 4 pieces of card stock. Then I placed the cut-out image on my cardboard to visualize where it would lay so I could add more to the background.


Step 3: I dried my white acrylic paint with the hair dryer and cut out my oval. At this point, I decided that grey was a better neutral, so I re-painted with grey. Then I taped off some diagonal lines and added a contrast color.

Step 4: Once my paint was dry (super-fast, thanks to my handy hair dryer!), I glued down my printed and cut images with Mod Podge. If you look really closely, you can see the lines across the image where it’s 2 different pieces of paper.

Step 5: Place your new art in your frame and enjoy!

Share your ideas! Does this give you any inspiration?

Fabric storage out of beer boxes!

See, I have this cabinet…

That usually looks like this.


Most of that is yarn. So yesterday I went to Ikea looking for fabric boxes, and failed.Then I came home and found these glorious beer boxes, and had an epiphany.

I cut off the tops and sanded down the glossy texture a bit.


I happened to have fabric hiding in a box that fit just right.

I used the fabric and some magical Modge Podge…



Then I split the fabric at the corners.


At this point, I happened to look over and found my cats were involved in projects of their own.

Tau had cocooned himself in the middle of my giant comforter.


While Yuki was grooming in her suitcase bed.


Back to the boxes! I got tired of glue, so I taped down the edges inside the box.

Then I filled the boxes with yarn!

Wa-la! Not perfect, but a start! What do you think?

“sticky keys”

My Macbook started doing this annoying little trick the other day…

Whenever I clicked any of the modifier keys (fn, control, option, or command), they’d display on my monitor and make a little sound effect. And if you held them down too long, they’d “lock” and then you had to hold it down again to “unlock” again.

Annoying. So I looked for a solution on Google. However, any search option I tried was giving me millions of answers to questions I hadn’t asked.

Finally, I found a solution. Sticky Keys. It’s in your system settings. Click on the apple at the top left, then System Properties, then Universal Access, then the Keyboard tab, and turn that damn Sticky Keys option off.

Hooray!