Week 17: Nook Case

So as y’all know, I have now had my Nook for a few months, and am really loving it. I have been using a cover that Dan bought me for Christmas, and it is hot pink and folds open like a regular book, except it has a handy dandy notepad in it, too. And it’s a great cover, but I discovered that (for me, at least) the kind of cover that opens like a book and folds back on itself is really awkward and unbalanced to hold while reading. It started to drive me crazy.

So I started shopping online for a new case, thinking a flip-top case or just a simple cozy that just stores the Nook when you’re not reading it would be the best. I didn’t really find anything I liked, but I resigned myself to choosing a really basic neoprene zip-top case and was moments from clicking “submit order” when I saw that Marianne had just posted a photo of the cozy she had just knitted for HER Nook. (What? I multitask. Always.)

And I said DUH. Why did it not EVER occur to me to make one for myself? With all the freaking MAKING OF THINGS that I have been doing since 2011 started??

I started on Ravelry, but was too drawn to the cable-knitted cozies (and I don’t know how to knit cables yet), so I turned to a basic Google search. It didn’t necessarily have to be a pattern for a Nook-specific case, but if I could find one where someone had already figured out the measurements, I was all for that. I found this pattern from Little Birdie Secrets and loved it.

nook case

I decided to crochet stripes because I was so in love with the colors I used for Thea’s hat, and had a really fantastic time choosing buttons at the local fabric store. (Okay, fine, I bought way more sets of buttons than I needed for this project.) I actually also bought white rick-rack because my brother said this would look like a kind of adorable monster if I added some teeth.

handmade52.17 nook case

As I was starting, I had a feeling that it wouldn’t be quite wide enough, but decided to just go with the pattern’s measurements. Of course, in the end, it’s a little too snug, but I’m hoping the yarn will stretch a bit. This is also the first time I’ve ever used (or, hell, heard of) moss stitch, which works up amazingly fast and looks really great. I’m not happy with the not-perfect job I did stitching up the sides, or the fact that I probably should have blocked this with pins and all that jazz so the edges stop curling… but it’s just so cute! And stripey. I will probably make another one in other colors, because it’s not like I don’t already have the buttons. Or extra yarn.


Week 15: Pom Pom Hat


I have been planning to make this hat for Thea’s birthday for a while, and then had to keep it a secret until I knew the package had made its way into her (parents’) hands. I used another pattern from the Inner Hooker etsy shop, and it was an interesting twist on a hat, simply because it isn’t started in the round because it’s, you know, a rectangle.


Again, I made the 3-6 month size (with a few extra rows of each color at the bottom), perhaps knowing that it’s not exactly hat time of the year, but I think it turned out pretty adorable. Even though I don’t get along very well with pom poms, stupid “easy” pom pom maker be damned. (Also, why are they referred to as pom pons when everyone says pom poms? Is everyone wrong? Is it like how everyone pronounces “sherbet” wrong?)

Week Eight: Linoleum Prints

This particular crafty adventure has been in the works since way back in December when I revealed my linoleum-printed holiday cards. Pookie and Schnookie and I have been joking for a while about trying lots of new things until we stumble upon what will lead us to internet crafty millionaire-dom. They’ve been pondering all sorts of things and I love papercrafts, and we decided to plan a Craft Spectacular Day to start from the beginning and try linoleum printing together.

We settled on Presidents Day, because all three of us had off for the long weekend. We spent a while browsing online for supplies, and each of us bought a few linoleum blocks, a carving tool set, a roller, and some paint. I supplied the endless paper (I used this event as an excuse to buy a pound of scraps at the craft store last week, and boy was THAT a treat) and pencils and tracing paper.

The only hitch in the plan that day was that there was some sort of water main break at my apartment complex, so I hadn’t had water since the late morning. But we figured it would be back in a few hours and got started anyway.

I think the hardest part for all of us at the beginning (okay, well, all day) was trying to figure out what to carve. It’s hard to be very precise on the linoleum, so you’re trying to think of something that would be easy to carve but not boring at the same time. The basic method is to draw your design on tracing paper, flip the tracing paper over onto the linoleum block, and rub the back of the tracing paper so the pencil lines transfer (backwards) onto the linoleum. We then floundered a bit with whether we were carving the positive or negative image, too.


The blocks are super hard, so you need a lot of pressure to carve out the designs. I was busy telling them about how my mom had warned me to be super careful while carving, because the carving tools are reeeeally sharp, and maybe she thought we should wear gloves on her left hand… and that’s right about when my right hand slipped and I jabbed the damn carving tool right into my left pointer finger. And my water was still off. And it was bleeding. And my mom TOLD ME SO.

the injury

We all laughed heartily about that for a while, or I pretended to laugh heartily to disguise how much my hands were shaking, and how afraid I was to actually look at the wound, and Pookie and Schnookie looked at me shifty-eyed and asked if we needed to go get me stitches. Then they made me eat cookies. It turned out to be not too bad, other than the holy crap that hurts factor, and the I can’t believe I stabbed myself during crafts factor. But my dad had put together a pretty serious first aid kit when I moved into my first apartment, so I had lots of bandaging materials.

first print

At this point we had just started printing with our first blocks, and were pretty excited about the results. I, naturally, stuck with super boring stripes, but Pookie carved a masterful strawberry, and Schnookie made a spool of thread which was intense. And the prints? Especially on my array of colored paper? Are SO cool!

We did that for a while and then broke for the almost-as-important trip to Pete and Elda’s portion of the day. I also really, really needed to use the bathroom (still no water) and was concerned about not having really washed my wound yet. So we did all of that, and ate a surprisingly large amount of pizza and drank a bunch of beer (to fuel the crafts). And I thought, as I do every time I am there, that I need to set up some sort of rotation so that I can get myself to Pete and Elda’s on a more frequent basis.

that beer tasted SO good.


We then went back to my apartment and started carving new blocks, trying to be more creative or correct the mistakes that we made the first time around. (Or, you know, not stab oneself in the process). We also had some rubbery looking blocks (they looked and smelled like gigantic art erasers) that we used the second time around, and these were much easier to carve but seem to be a little more flimsy. So I think the idea is that you use the hard gray blocks if you want to keep the block and reuse it again and again, while you use the easier to carve blocks for more intricate designs that you don’t need to keep? (Going back to the gray blocks after the ez-carve ones was IMPOSSIBLE.)

more stripes

our masterpieces


So we had a day of crafts, pizza, beer, and hilarity. And we made some really cool cards in the process. I think next time I carve linoleum, I will think a little more in advance about what I want to make in the end (which will, let’s face it, be stripes because I both cannot draw and am unoriginal). But really, this was just an awesome time all around. (And I didn’t need stitches.)

Week Six: More Hats

So I’m still making hats. I suggested that Dan might want me to make him one (because he doesn’t own a hat and while he didn’t seem to care, I had to point out that all those days he’s had to shovel? It would probably be better if he had a hat). I tried to convince Dan that an all-black hat would be supremely boring and unfun, but he never wavered: he wanted a black hat. No stripes, no colors, just black. A hat.

Okay, buddy, then that’s what you’ll get.

Meanwhile, my brother saw Lindsey’s hat and requested one for himself. But he wanted stripes. In gray and blue. I was all set to evenly distribute the stripes, but it turned out that he really, really wanted random stripes. (Just to make my orderly brain suffer, I think.)

handmade52.6 more hats

Dan’s hat turned out too big once he tried it on, so when I made John’s hat, I made it match. And John’s was too small. I took this picture before I added two more gray rows to John’s hat.

Oh, and I almost forgot my favorite part of this week’s crafty endeavor. When Dan saw John’s striped hat on Superbowl Sunday, he looked at me and said sheepishly, “So if I ask you something, will you promise not to be mad?” “Of course,” I replied. “I think I want my hat to have stripes.” “You mean ‘You were right, Elizabeth, stripes ARE the best!’?” “Yes. Would you make me a hat with stripes?”

So I’m making Dan a new hat, this time with stripes. He even let me suggest a foresty green for his stripes. And black, because we wouldn’t want to get crazy or anything.

Week Four: Lindsey’s Hat

My sister has been very patiently asking me to make her a hat ever since she saw the first hat I crocheted for the first of all of the babies back in August. Once the time-sensitive hats were all made, we finally started deciding what kind of hat she wanted. There were a lot of emails back and forth; she knew she wanted earflaps and braided tassles, but wasn’t sure about the rest, and she really wanted to leave it up to me once she picked the colors (light gray, dark gray, and a small amount of red, to match her winter coat and the snow boots that she just got).

braided tassles

So I made her a hat, with earflaps, braided tassles, and a really fat pom pom on top for good measure.

with a pom pom on top.

The pom pom caused some grief on my part, just because I couldn’t get the plastic pom pom maker I bought to work properly on the first couple of tries. The hat itself is just a teensy bit too big, but Lindsey has really thick hair so it sort of balances out in the end. There are a few details that I’m not happy with, mostly because I was expecting to need quite a few more rows than I did, so I would have added more light gray on the brim, but that really doesn’t matter too much in the long run.


I think she looks totally adorable in it, and she loves the hat, so that makes it a success!

handmade52.4 Lindsey's hat

Stripes in the City

I had the day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, and decided to take the opportunity to spend the day in New York City, just because it feels like it has been such a long time since I have been there just to explore. Luckily, Jodi was off, too, and despite the weather and some other circumstances that prevented a few other friends from coming (boo!), we had a great day. Jodi had actually been saving up stripey destinations for the next time I visited, which was AMAZING. (Also amazing: the insane Italian lunch we had, the decorations in Kate’s Paperie, the Impossible Project Space, the tiniest, fattest Moleskine ever, and a superfun dinner with Erin where we bonded mightily over rule-following.)

Anyway, here are my favorite stripes in the wild from the day:

magenta, diagonal

ribboned, sad

upholstered, fancy

tiled + houndstoothed

swirly stripes

holy stripes, you guys

stripes of texture and color at the same time!

the. best.

toothy, spraypainted

tired eyes.

reflected, arty

gold, architectural

collaged, unidentified

rainbow-ordered, pretty

stark, weathered

A Much Bigger Mental Challenge Than I Expected

As I finished the last rows on the scarf I made for Dan for Christmas, I realized with a jolt that I haven’t made a scarf for MYSELF in a very, very long time. I used to crochet scarves a lot. Because crochet is so mindnumbingly relaxing. And because while I’m not the word’s best crocheter, I sure have mastered the long, narrow rectangle. Anyway. I looked back in the archives and discovered that I was right, and I haven’t made myself a scarf in four years. (Unless you count the only thing I ever made from the Happy Hooker book, which I don’t, not really.)

So it was past time to make myself a scarf. I decided it should be aqua and red, partly because it’s an awesome combination, and partly because I have a red winter coat and I have a brand new turquoise down vest waiting impatiently in my closet for the weather to get warmer and all this damn snow to melt. I’m nothing if not practical, people.

January 18, 2010

And as I polled the universe about how to arrange my stripes, a challenge emerged. My own mother dared me to crochet my scarf in a completely random pattern. I should toss my carefully randomized graph-paper rendering. And ignore mathematical sequences like Fibonacci numbers, or the random stripe generator. No, she dared me to just wing it. Because I think the thought of me struggling over what counts as really random made her giggle. Friends advised me to drink copiously while working. And I learned that I’m not the only one who feels a little creepy-crawly when thinking about a scarf whose ends don’t mirror each other.

Is my brain really that inherently ordered? (I’m of course thinking back to that fateful personality test we took at that librarian workshop. You know, the one where I was deemed to be the gold personality – the rule-following, order-loving, organized one. The geeky, stick-in-the-mud, no-fun-for-you one! Not the creative, emotional, sensitive one! Or the logical, questioning, scientific one! And surely not the outgoing, party-lovin’, loud one.)

random stripe scarf is ready for its closeup

Crocheting the scarf turned out to be quite the mental challenge. With each new stripe, my brain started whirring. “Okay, the red stripe you just finished was two rows. I did a blue stripe with two rows before that one. Am I putting in a pattern of two-row stripes here? Am I using red enough? Maybe I need a really, really big blue section here instead. And after that a short blue row with some longer red ones. No! Short red ones. No! One long red one and one short blue one and then a short red one and a short blue one. No! That’s a pattern!”


my brain horrifies even me sometimes

After I measured out to just past where I thought the middle should go, I decided it would be a good idea to count the rows of each color, just to make sure I wasn’t using way too much of one color or the other. So I counted the rows at the point where the above picture was taken.

And to my utter HORROR, there were EXACTLY 50 rows of red and 50 rows of aqua. And I DIDN’T DO IT ON PURPOSE. I was trying to be random! My brain IS that inherently organized?

I’m so embarrassed.

February 17, 2010

But I kept going, and at the very end counted the rows again to make sure I’d end up with the same number of rows of each color. I suppose that’s against the spirit of the project, but even I have my limits.

ready for its closeup

In the end, I’m pretty happy with the result. Is it a little TOO overly long? Yes. Does it need some breaking in thanks to the cheap yarn? Yes, especially compared to the pashmina style scarves I’m used to. Am I totally psyched with the random-ness of the stripes? Hell yes. Will I embark on another “random” project soon? Probably not, no. And that’s okay with me.