Sunday, December 16, 2012

THE WREATH OF KHAN: A Tutorial Best Served Cold

“Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity, but improve (a traditional holiday symbol) and you gain a thousand fold.” 
- Khan Noonien Singh "Star Trek: Space Seed (#1.22)" (1967)

To know Khan is to love him. (Or, more probably, to fear the consequences of his intense narcissism and mercurial mood swings.) It seems only natural to include this memorable (terrifying, fantastic) Star Trek villain into your holiday celebrations.

MATERIALS: Bowls or other circle templates 
Stapler and staples 
Green paper (or paper of your choice) I used green printer sheets 
Green  poster board 
Modge podge or other paper glue and a paintbrish 
Picture of Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh.

Feel free to use this one! I printed it at 8x8 inches.
Lay your cardboard out and cut a circle the size of your intended wreath.  I used a plastic deviled egg tray as my template. You could use a mac knife, x-acto knife or scissors at this point, as you like.
Cut the same sized circle out of green poster board. 
Find an appropriate sized bowl or draw out another circle and cut out your picture of Ricardo Montalban.
Glue Ricardo to the green poster board, and the poster board to the cardboard circle. Press firmly.
As that dries, use some left over cardboard to cut a leaf template.
I made a 4x2 inch leaf, but you can make it larger if you like. Smaller can get problematic, but the first time I made this, the leaf was about 4x1.5 inches, so you can play around with this.
Trace several of the leaves onto your green paper and cut them out. (I realized after doing this step that I could easily have made the template in software and printed it on the green paper. )
Once your wreath form is dry, cut a notch near the top to use as a hanger. (Scroll for photo. I forgot to take a picture at this step!)
Carefully staple the leaves to the form. Roll the leaves a bit to give them shape and staple lengthwise for stability.
Start at the top and work your way around the circle. Be sure to cover your staples with the next leaf.
Not gonna lie, this part is finnicky pain-in-the-bum.

I crowded Khan just a bit...
At this point, depending on the length and awesomeness of your staples, you can choose to turn the wreath over and cover the pokey staple ends with tape so they don’t snag on anything. 
Make a bow with your ribbon and pass the tail through the notch at the top and secure in place. Or, as I did, find a surprise stash of twist ties while searching the office supply drawer for a desperately needed staple remover. Use the twist tie through the back of the knot, thread through the notch in the wreath form, and secure that in place. Fluff bow.
Hang your Wreath of Khan where it can bring joy to the greatest number of people.
"He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before I give him up!"

EDIT: This is where the Wreath of Khan idea originated! GUYS! I NEED TO MAKE A WREATH OF DON!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Jayne Hat

It's no secret that I'm a devoted Browncoat. I've been a fan of the short lived sci-fi series Firefly for years and years. Not as long as some, but just as dedicated. Once you're a fan of this little show, you're a fan for life.

Interwoven in the show's plots and fantastic characters is a certain sort of handmade charm - It's there in the wooden table where the crew takes meals and in Inara's lush, fabric-draped shuttle. An undercurrent of every episode is that these folks are cobbling a life together from the wreckage of a recent war. Every little bit of their space traveling home feels like salvage put to the very best use. It reminds us that a family lives aboard.

In the episode The Message, the crew heads to a way station to pick up their mail. Among these items (notes, notices, the body of a dead friend, etc.) was a letter to the ship's gun hand, Jayne, from his mother. Jayne Cobb, played by Adam Baldwin, is a large, surly, somewhat dim, rather crass man, who's really only good at violence and weaponry. Jayne's mother, naturally, is an avid knitter.

Well, "avid" might be a stretch, but she did design and make an icon...

She writes him a note and sends along a multi-colored hat, ostensibly to keep him warm in space.
"How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't ya think?"

Over the years, I've made about 20 of these hats for my fellow fans. I learned to knit on this hat. My first attempts were given as gifts, and then replaced years later, when I realized how terrible they'd been and how much I had improved. The Jayne Hat is the most recognizable costume piece from the show and a must have for Browncoats everywhere. Some people love this hat so much, it kinda takes over...
"Man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything. "

Last night, I attended a play. Because I know this pattern backwards and forwards and enjoy multi-tasking, I spent the show knitting a Jayne hat commissioned for the holidays. I had a few strange looks and a few asked what I was making. So here is the story and the completed hat.
It's a different yarn and a slightly bigger hat, I'm sure. There are so many patterns out there, of varying degree of accuracy. Mine isn't perfect, but it's knitted with love for show and fans alike. I really do hope it keeps you warm in space.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Break Time Productivity

Whenever I get sick of knitting, I take a short break.* I try and be productive - usually, I take the puppy outside or clean something. Lately, I find that cleaning takes me out of knitting for HOURS, so I'm trying to keep break times creative.

I did a few digital sketches of Ricardo Montalban for my impending WREATH OF KHAN.

I find your holiday spirit tedious

Then I made a quick poster based on something I saw on the internet.
This delights me. I'll be hanging it up at work, where no one will understand what it means, but it will make me giggle when I see it. Hopefully no one is offended by the skeleton face. Anything's possible in the library!

AND a blog post! YAY for productivity!

*sometimes, it's a very long break. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

TARDIS Fingerless Gloves

Greetings again, lovely people!

A few.. years ago... I decided to design some decent TARDIS Fingerless Gloves, since all the ones I saw online were unappealing to me. It was a clear void in the available knitted patterns associated with Doctor Who. A void I was dedicated to filling. It took me about 7 tries before I got the yarn weight/pattern working, and a few more before it was tweaked to perfection. I posted the pattern for sale on both Etsy and ravelry and it has been mildly popular so far!

So here are the gloves:


If you know how to knit, please follow the links above to purchase the pattern. If you don't, I'll be posting the gloves for sale on my etsy shop as they are completed!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Which Miss Busy Britches Remembers to Blog

Dear blog readers,
I apologize once again for being offensively lax with my updates. I've mostly been asleep.

Well, that's out of the way. So now I'll talk about things! Like how I gave ALL of the door tags from the last post away to the Minions, and then completely lost track of them! They could be anywhere in the world now! And no one thought I was super weird (that they told me)! The popularity of these tags means I'm currently looking into ways to make some hardy plastic ones for selling on my etsy site!

That's right! I've got an etsy site named after this very blog! (kinda) It's pretty sparse at the moment, which leads me to the main point of this blog post....

So you know how I'll stop what I'm doing and make lame things for people? For free? I know them, so I don't charge them. Personally, I think this is not a terrible thing. My friends (and sometimes their friends) wear my things around and when someone asks, they get sent to me to order and, hopefully, pay for the things they want. It's a solid plan, really. I get to trick out my friends with fancy items, and they wear them, thus providing me with awesome advertising. The problem is, I'm so busy making free things for my friends (and sometimes their friends) that I haven't got anything listed for sale on my etsy site. Currently, I've got TARDIS gloves to make for a few people, Jayne hats (which are ALWAYS free to Browncoats. Just doesn't feel right to charge unless I'm donating to charity...), and all of the Yule gifts for all of the people I'll see this holiday season. I'm having an awful time prioritizing. I refuse to make order lists for nonfriends, because that can get very overwhelming and I fear I'd lose track. I plan to post the items on my etsy page as they are completed and let the attentive snatch them up as they can. It's heartless, perhaps, but it's the only way to avoid me getting trampled on. But, as I said, nothing is getting posted to my etsy site at the moment because I'm too busy getting the necessary gift items made for friends and family.

So I got myself a kitchen timer.

That's right. A kitchen timer. And I'm going to come up with a way to do things in blocks of time and mix it up so that I get into the habit of making progress on several things a day and not just working furiously on one thing before moving on to the other. There's an official name for this method of time management, but I can't be bothered to look it up. This, hopefully, will make it less likely for me to get bored, frustrated, or forgetful, and it will force me to take care of myself, since food and exercise will be part of my schedule.

I'm not entirely sure it will work, but I've got to start somewhere. I refuse to start charging my friends (I did once, and it felt wicked), but I really DO need to start putting my stuff out where people who WILL have to pay can find it. And pay for it. So I can keep, you know, eating.

So that's what's up with me, today. Luckily, I now have about 5 blog post ideas in a list, so I *might* actually get more posts up in a timely manner!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pre-D*C post

I have neglected you, oh blogthing. I've been veryvery busy with stuff that didn't end in me making something. Gifts have been few and far between. I haven't been feeling productive or generous, as such.

Still, It wouldn't be Dragon*con if I didn't make presents for my people. I'll do the full round up later when I have all the pictures in, but I wanted to share this one before con, because it reminded me of my blog and why I started it.

Did you ever make something at someone's suggestion, and then realize that there's a good chance that showing up to the party with this might end with you a) being known as a weirdo (too late), or b) getting stuck with all of the things you made because no one wants your weirdo crafts?

All the time. 

Someone specifically asked for one of these. They had a picture of it, but couldn't find it for sale anywhere. So I made it. Then we brainstormed the others and I made those, too. I'm accommodating, enthusiastic and silly. But not confident. :P
I love making things that will make people giggle. The problem is that sometimes I misread what's going to be entertaining. Luckily, I think it's just pre-con exhaustion hitting me in the boldness balls, as it were.  So I'll sleep now. And when I wake, I will assemble my steampunk costume, pack and clean my house. I leave in two days for my nerd pilgrimage. It shall be glorious.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I got a fancy refurbished nook color the other day, and realized quickly that I wasn't comfortable putting my fancy new technology into my purse without some sort of protective covering.

I do carry an odd assortment of potentially harmful things in my purse.

A few web searches later, I had a basic knitting pattern and a few contact paper collages on cardboard as examples of the possibilities. Then I remembered my friend Lauren had recently knitted a TARDIS sleeve for her kindle. I didn't want a fabric case. I knit all the time and I really preferred the look of the hardcover cases. Which led me, of course, to River Song's Journal of Spoilers...

I took apart an appropriately sized coated cardboard journal I wasn't using. It originally had a picture of a grinning moon. I used my handy xacto to remove the paper innards, and then woodburned the design into the front and back of the cover.

I painted the cover, first with my cheaply found exterior house paint in a TARDISy blue color. That was both smelly, and streaky and very easily scraped off. So I followed it up with some acrylic paint: a lightened phalo blue, then a dry brush/wipe technique with some green. I then deepened the etched areas using a sharpie, and smudging with my finger before it dried. This is only possible on a surface that isn't absorbent. Finally, I sprayed it with the smelliest clear coat spray I own. My windows are still open. Fans are running. In February in Ohio.

For the interior, I painted the edges and about a half inch around the edges, as well as the interior spine, with the same technique as the cover, including the final spray coat.
Once that was dry, I cut two rectangles from a sticky-backed piece of blue felt and placed them in the center of the panels. I cut up a black elastic headband and hot glued them in place. (This part, I admit, was guesswork and sloppily done. My practice attempts using superglue failed completely, and trying to hide the edges under the felt meant having weird lumps under the fabric that were both unsightly and prevented the case from closing properly. So I just ended up gluing them as firmly as possible with the edge of the elastic perpendicular to the panel. it's nor pretty, but it's functional.)

Anyway, here's what I ended up with.

It's a bit shinier than I'd prefer. Next time, I'll use a matte sealant. It's just that I felt so strongly that I should use the smelliest spray sealant.

I am not smart.

Update: Here's a nice tutorial for making a tablet case from a book from our lovely friends at

Wish I'd seen it before I made mine!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Yule 2011: The Gifts

This yule was distinctive in many ways. The first is that it may be the last solstice we spend in my beloved (rented) house. My mom and I moved in 8 years ago. It had been closed up for 2 years and needed a lot of work. Luckily, the landlord is a friend and let us do whatever we wanted. The walls are full of color and art and bookshelves. I'll miss it when I go.

Next, I had a few friends stay for the duration. This means I FINALLY got a solstice party! (Longest Night post is next up!)I'm no experienced hostess, but I *think* everyone had a good time. It was a bit crowded, especially once we stole a tree from the curb on Christmas Eve... The additional guests meant I had 3 more fantastic gifts to make in time for the holiday. December is crunch time, and this year included cleaning and preparing for extended guests, and ALL THE PRESENTS!

Third, and quite honestly, the most dramatic, was the absence of mom for the actual holiday. It was good, and it was bad. Good in that there were fewer people and dogs in my house, and bad, because mom missed what may be our last holiday here. It wasn't ideal in that sense.

Because of the excitement around this particular week, I felt like some of the gifts may have been a little less than awesome. This is, once again, an incomplete list of gifts I made. I have a horrible tendency to make it and either forget to photograph, or immediately wrap it up...

The Infinity Scarf. Made for my sister, and possibly completely ineffective at blocking cold.

Made for .. someone. i think it was requested by my mother for a friend. From the Hermione Hearts Ron knitting pattern. Also made one in brown.

Another hat made upon request. I don't recall the name of the pattern, but this hat ultimately caused me more emotional trauma than a hat has ever done. The pattern's a breeze, however. I highly recommend it. It was just all the associated misunderstandings. Commissions are sometimes hell.

A lightweight, lacy scarf made for my mother. I'm nearly certain it will never be worn. The scarf actually LOST some structure once I rinsed it for blocking. And there are very visible tension flaws. It's a heavy scarf for such an open pattern. I learned a lot about choosing the proper yarn for a project.

What do you get a Civil War reenactor and blacksmith? Why, a long stocking cap, of course! (Thankfully, his wife gave me a head's up on this one! Guys are so hard to craft for!) The pattern is based on one I found for a hat seen in A Christmas Story, since I completely suck at choosing colors for knitted things. Instead of gold, I used light brown and instead of omgsomanycastonstitches and size 7 needles, I used 9s and cut my cast on by 20!

I made a few of these this season. Shrink plastic and chain. Hope they have as much fun wearing them as I had making them!

A logo thing from a favorite video game played by one of my guests. I hadn't done a lot of shaping with the shrink plastic before, so I had to heat this a few times to get it right, but draping it over a glass spice jar got the effect I wanted perfectly. It's not great at holding hair, and she's got a LOT of it.. Still, as an accessory, it has potential, I think.

These were inspired by some etsy offerings I saw in my emails one day. My mom *adores* her dogs, so I thought it would be nice to give her something to celebrate their existence. The resin experience wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't something I want to do frequently. It didn't dry as clearly as I'd like, and the kind of paper used to present the image makes a difference as to whether the colors stay accurate. Turned out nice, tho.

These are shrink plastic necklaces I made for my Chikara. The cupcake is NOT my design, tho I did add crossbones to it to make it special for her. The dino skull and crossbones was her idea...some time ago. I write down all kinds of things for her, and save links she shares and then cobble things together later. She's by far the easiest person to craft for! Would that you all were so simple!

After the doggie silhouettes were in the brain, traditional silhouettes became an obvious choice for our hard-to-homemade-craft-for mom friends. All that was left was to spray paint some old frames and find some archival paper to cut up!

This was, by extremely far, my favorite gift to make. Fancy painted tshirts are always fun! My friend Jack was coming for a visit, and, being male, is frustratingly hard to make things for. he's entirely too sweet about wearing or displaying the things I give him, despite how they may not make sense to anyone else among his things. So I wanted to make him something he might actually like this time! Late Monday night (24 hours before I had to stop crafting and start actively expecting guests) I thought of this. I was frantic and thrilled, and decided that even if he didn't like it (how could he not?) this was my favorite thing this year! It's a portrait (from reference images) of The Silence from this past season's Doctor Who, along with the count of the number of times they were sighted and forgotten. I adore the creepiness of that character, and I know Jack is a Who fan from all of his cosplaying. To make it even better, he got me a Doctor Who gift as well! Perfection!

What is NOT perfection is the horrible layout of these posts. My general laziness about blogging is compounded by the sheer quantity of time I spend GUESSING where to place images and text in these posts so they are at spatially appropriate. I can never get it right. What shows up in the preview is different than the actual posts and I feel like beating my head against the wall, when I just want a simple image+caption system. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for a different blogging platform, let me know, please!