Monthly Archives

December 2014


‘Cheers’ sequins banner

December 22, 2014
I spent some time last week looking up information on how to create great blog photos since I’m not determined to start using my real camera. The best tip I took away: use natural light. So naturally the first weekend I choose to start focusing on photography is gray and dreary, not to mention the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. And to top it off, the final project ended up in the basement which has essentially zero lights. Go me!
I debated saving the project for a brighter day but 1) I thought my husband might stab me if I left my supplies out for another week and 2) I really really REALLY wanted to make this banner. So I took photos in the dark. I made a promise and I was going to keep it, dang it.
So without further adieu, here is my festive sequins banner tutorial (slightly adapted from A BeautifulMess).
Elastic sequins in gold; 4 yards wide (approx. 1 1/2 inch), 2 yards thin (approx. 7/8 inch). Ideally I would have used 5 thick and 1 thin but things didn’t quite work out
Cut-out letters
Scissors and Exacto knife
Hot glue
Jute, twine, ribbon or string of some kind
1. Start by printing out the letters you want to use to make your banner. I should have measured my sequins to make the letters double the size (to fit two strips evenly) but I printed before I bought the ribbon. Thankfully I made it work.
2. Trace your letters onto your cardboard and cut them out. I used an Exacto knife, but scissors might work depending how thick your cardboard is.
3. Decide how you want your sequins to lay. I ended up using smaller cuts, especially with the round letters like c and s, so that I could have the sequins lay the same way as much as possible. I did change it up on the e’s because it worked out better, and I don’t think you can see much of a difference between the vertical or the horizontal strips.
4. Start gluing your pieces to your letters. Make sure to leave a little on the top and bottom to fold over the letter. This will give a nicer finish to each letter. I used a combination of wide sequins (approx 1 1/2 inches) and thin (7/8 inch) and it worked really well to fill out the letters.
5. Once the front of the letter has sequins glued on, turn the letter over and glue down the ends onto the back. I was able to manipulate mine a bit to better see the curvature of the c and s.
6. Space your letters out evenly and measure a length of string or cording to use to hang your banner. I just eyeballed mine, but I’d say I used about 3 feet of jute. I started with the middle letters, so the two e’s, and centered them. Flip the letters over and hot glue them to your rope or cording.
7. Finish gluing each of your letters to your cord and let your glue set completely. I cut the jute between the posts of the h, but feel free to leave it. Then decide where to hang your fabulous sequins banner!
I’m really proud of this project. Not only did I do it in time for the holidays (my goal was to have it for New Years, so I’m actually early), but it was easier than I thought and turned out great. That’s a rarity in my life.

I hope you like my festive banner. I promise I’m going to take a photo in the daylight and throw open the basement curtains to give you an awesome picture as soon as I can!

Best laid plans

December 18, 2014
I had a grand plan for the blog this week—I was going to do a step-by-step tutorial on making a sequins banner. I even said I wasn’t going to make plans any night after work so I would have time to work on it.
Well plans got made, yoga classes were attended and the third Hobbit was seen. Moral of the story: I don’t have a banner for you.
Good news though: I’ll have it next week! I want it done before Christmas since we’re hosting lunch for some of our friends. And I’m promising it to you on here to make sure I have the extra push I need to get it finished.

Goal-making tip 1: Be accountable for your goals. By telling you I’m going to have it made, I now have extra reason to make it beyond just myself wanting it done. Thanks for bearing with me, I promise it will be worth it!

Spinning yarn

December 12, 2014
One thing I really love about my job is getting to choose the stories I write. I freelance out some of them, and the rest I write on my own. This can include interviewing people and sometimes getting my hands dirty, which I did for an upcoming story.
I thought it’d be fun to write a story about local yarns. Since it’s winter, a lot of people hunker down and knit and crochet (myself included). I thought it’d be cool to feature local yarns. An initial interview with a sheep farmer led to an interview with a second sheep farmer who invited me to her monthly spinning group in Zumbrota. Who was I to pass up an opportunity like that?
So last night I found myself in a super cute fiber arts store in little Zumbrota surrounded by spinning wheels. My patient tutor explained the process and kindly let me use her wheel to spin some of her gorgeous wool. She had some white wool from her own sheep and some purplish wool sent to her by a wool company.
I thought I was pretty good at multitasking, but having to pump my foot to keep the wheel spinning while guiding and pulling the wool with my hands proved more difficult than it looked! The basic premise of a spinning wheel is thus: your foot turns the wheel which spins a bobbin. The bobbin twists the wool in your hands and winds it up, creating yarn. Your job as the spinner is to pull the wool to your desired thickness and try to maintain correct tension while the bobbin spins. Unless you want a more natural look, in which case you can alter the tension and the thickness of the wool.
After spinning with two different types of wool (I never knew there were so many varieties of wool and how to process it!) my tutor took over and, seemingly without effort, began spinning beautiful yarn once again.
Here’s my finished yarn, which my tutor graciously let me keep. She said a bag of wool might cost 60 cents to a wholesaler but could be bought at upwards of $15 from a spinner, so I was incredibly thankful she let me practice with her wool.
Yarn spun from my own two hands (and a foot)!
Doing interviews, reading memoirs and actually spinning yarn myself has given me new insight into just how labor intensive making things by hand can be. And while there are machines that can take raw wool and spin it into yarn quickly, I have absolutely fallen in love with the texture and the story behind hand-spun yarn.

Making do and making it up

December 2, 2014
Alternative title: Lessons from a cold entryway
What an incredibly fulfilling Thanksgiving weekend! It started with a blast of snow on Wednesday followed by some quality family time on Thursday. No Thanksgiving would be complete without a bit of ice skating (or booting, as I like to call it, since I always go out in my boots) so after a bit of digesting, some of us took to the ice and enjoyed the sunshine.

A friend and I did our annual 5k Moustache Run on Saturday morning and rocked it hardcore! Plus the after party was booming thanks to an awesome dj. My brother and I took my mom to see White Christmas at the Orpheum on Saturday afternoon since it’s her birthday this week (happy birthday mom!). It’s always nice to spend time with family whenever you can during the winter, since you never know when inclement weather will cancel your plans.
Sunday was my day to get some things done around the house. You know you always have those projects where you’re like, “one day I’m going to do this and fix that problem and it’s going to be great.”? Sunday was my day to git ‘er done! Our front door is extremely drafty—I’m talking about at least a ten degree temperature difference from the living room upstairs to the entryway. It’s awful having to go down to the laundry room or craft room in the basement because you have to go through the chilly entryway.
Last year, my roommate and I made do by thumb tacking a blanket around the door. Not very practical whenever we had to use the door, and Sylvia thought the tacks were toys and would often pull out the ones she could reach. But we made do. This year, I made it up!
I hit up JoAnn Fabric for fleece for some sweater mittens (haven’t quite gotten to making those yet, but stay tuned) and thought, it’s now or never! I bought extra fleece, some velcro and polyfill. My intention was to simply take some strips of fleece and, using velcro and some duct tape, simply put the fleece over the cracks around the door. And I’m still convinced this will work, but I have yet to add the duct tape into the mix. Watch this space.
Then I moved to the draft stop. I measured, cut, sewed, stuffed with rocks and polyfill, sewed and stuffed some more, and thought I was finished. Until I brought it up to the door and realized it wasn’t tall enough to reach the draft. Dang it!
Being the intelligent person that I am, instead of ripping the first, short stopper apart and starting over, I simply took a bigger piece of fleece and used the original stopper as stuffing, adding more polyfill to fill it out as I went. The result? A perfectly made-up draft stopper! And bonus: it also doubles as a cat toy (doesn’t everything?).
So my lesson for today is that sometimes you need to stop thinking about one day making the perfect item to solve your problem, or finding the perfect rug for the living room. Sometimes you just need to make it up. I’m so much happier that the entryway isn’t freezing cold even though my initial plans weren’t fulfilled (I have fleece and velcro sitting on my bench just waiting) but if I hadn’t bought the supplies and just done it, the draft stopper wouldn’t have been made and I’d still harbor hate for our frigid entryway.