Monthly Archives: November 2010

Flaming Pollyanna: The Day Death Guild Came to Kidsville

Anna-Liza here, with the final installment on Burning Man 2010. Because, really, this has dragged on way too long.

Thunderdome, run by Death Guild, has been a fixture at Burning Man since 1999 (my first year there). Simple concept: giant dome in which bungee-suspended combatants whack the hell out of each other with large, non-lethal weapons while crowds of people cheer wildly for carnage. Wavers required. This personal account pretty much sums it up, as does this:

(No, Darlin’ K wasn’t one of the firespinners in the video. But he did spin as part of the Conclave the night of the Burn).

One day, Death Guild came to Kidsville.

Death Guild arrives

I want black banners and Chinese red parasols on my car, too.

 They do this every year, you know.

Mini Thunderdome anticipation

Fierce mini-gladiators

 Mr. R told me he wanted to fight, too, but he was afraid to go in because he didn’t know much about fighting. I told him that he should go talk to his dad for some advice.

I knew what Darlin’ K would tell him — in a fight, the one who gets craziest generally wins — but I had a feeling he’d take it more seriously from his dad than from his mom. K also told him it was all just for fun, with no intention for anyone to really get hurt, but if he felt like he would feel too bad about if he lost, not to do it. After thinking it over, Mr. R decided to go for it.

And of course, there are no pictures of his epic battle with a boy a good foot several inches okay, pretty close to a foot taller than he was, because we were too busy cheering him on to take any photos. But he won. Decisively. And here he is with his opponent, who was an excellent sport, after the bout.

Mr. R and his opponent, plus a random kid and a Death Guild chick

He’s the short kid on the right. He was pretty proud of himself. And he won a Death Guild shot glass as a trophy.

A Pollyanna Tutorial: Make Your Own No-Sew Everyday Napkins

Hi, Anna-Liza here. Frugalista and craftista that I am, I don’t like spending money on throwaway items, and I do like making stuff. When making stuff actually saves me money, is low-stress, and lets me reduce my negative impact on the environment, and makes my life feel more luxurious, all at once, that’s Happy Dance time.

So without further ado, Making Your Own No-Sew Everyday Napkins.

First off, there are some choices you’ll need to make – size of napkins, and what they’re made of. Remember, these are meant to be used every day. It feels all fancy to be using cloth napkins for everyday meals, which is a really nice feeling to have. At the same time, they cost hardly nuthin’ to make and to maintain. So, while there are some practical considerations which I’ll explain directly, also consider what you like – colors, graphics, feel.

I tend to make my napkins small – between 13″ and 15″ square, depending on the fabric. My kids seem to have an easier time with that size, and it’s more than adequate for wiping mouths and hands. However, it’s a little small for full lap coverage. If you want a napkin that will entirely cover your lap, you’ll need something at least 18″ square. How many napkins you’ll get from a width of fabric will depend on a few things, not least will be the actual width of your fabric! Keep in mind, you’re not likely to get exact dimensions.

The next choice has to do with what kind of fabric you choose. Obviously, you want something that’s machine washable and dryable. For this particular project, an even-weave, not-too-heavy cotton or cotton/poly blend will work best. Go for a blend with more cotton than poly. You will want to avoid knits, very heavy fabrics, or weaves that don’t rip evenly along a straight thread.

As far as color goes, dark, busy prints hide stains best. Solid colors will be the worst for stains showing. (Of course, I will be demonstrating with a light floral with a lot of white background, just to be ornery. But hey, the fabric was free).

Sometimes, there will be things that won’t come out completely in the wash, usually oily stuff. Unless you want to be throwing away your napkins and making more pretty frequently, which sort of defeats the purpose, something that hides stains is definitely better.

If you want to be really frugal, use an old sheet. I have some that don’t fit any of the beds I currently own, as well as some that are worn too thin to use in some spots, but have a lot of good fabric left. These will make excellent napkins, and odd-shaped leftovers can be used as rags or patches for mending things.

If it’s a sheet, you’ll need to trim off the bits. Elastic and corners if it’s a fitted sheet, hems if it’s flat. Whether it’s a sheet or yard goods, you’ll need to take off the selvedges. The easiest way is to snip about an inch into the fabric next to, and parallel to, the selvedge edge. Then just rip the thing off. Square up the ends the same way – snip and rip.

If the fabric isn’t pretty much rectangular at this point, snip & rip some more to take off any odd flaps or tags that are left. Once you have a rectangle, roughly measure it to see what you have to work with. Or, not.

Next, fold the fabric lengthwise, either in quarters or in thirds. Sometimes I’ll fold it in half and then in thirds, if it’s wide enough. Whatever gives you approximately the size you want in a napkin.

Folding lengthwise in thirds

Snip & rip, making your snips right at the folds.

See? Thirds.

Snip ...

... and rip!

Last, more of the same, but this time you’re folding, snipping and ripping in the direction perpendicular to the way you were before. There will be more folding.

Don’t go all superhero on yourself and try to rip more than four thicknesses of fabric at a time. First, the snips might not line up so well and you’ll get more size variation than you might want. Second, you might hurt yourself! Nursing wrist or shoulder injuries is no way for a craftista to be spending her valuable time.

Better than therapy!

You’ll need to tidy up hanging threads and stuff, then you’ll want to wash and dry your new napkins. This will get rid of any last bits of thread or lint, plus “finishing” the edges nicely. You don’t need to do anything to the edges at all, but you can hem them if you’re really that much of a masochist you want to.

Washed, folded, ready to use. No hemming required.

I’ve been using my first set for several years now, and I’ve only recently needed to make new ones. The first ones haven’t worn out, but they’re getting a bit dingy. I’ll keep them to use when we have spaghetti or something else that stains, but I’ll use my nice new ones for everything else.

Fancy!

Pollyanna and the Perfect Autumn Day

Anna-Liza here. While autumn officially started over a month ago, it’s only recently that things have felt like autumn here on the Front Range. Nights have been getting colder, dipping below freezing in the wee hours, and warm fuzzy slippers are definitely nice to have in the mornings. The afternoons, though, keep on heading up into the 60s and making us want to wear T-shirts.

Saturday was one of those jewel-like days. We all went for a hike in the foothills west of Boulder. We were on a segment of the Walker Ranch Loop Trail, for those who want to know.

Brothers hitting the trail

 The whole loop is about eight miles, but the segment we were on can be accessed from the Ethel Harrold trailhead and is perhaps a mile and a quarter, one way. Very doable with kids, if you give yourself enough time. It’s even doable with kids and an out-of-shape mom! (Darlin’ K probably thought of this as a “fun-size” hike, sort of like the “fun-size” candy bars).

Shall we play Poohsticks?

South Boulder Creek

One out of three people is afraid of heights ...

 Yeah, that would be me that’s afraid of heights, but this rock “stair” wasn’t really too bad, as long as I didn’t try to rush.

Mr. R conquers a boulder!

Mr. B celebrates hitting the water with a rock

 What is it about little boys and rocks, anyway? If there is a body of water nearby, rocks must be thrown into it. If the rock’s too big to be thrown, it must be climbed.

Boys being boys

 Okay, maybe not just little boys ….

We had a wee picnic by South Boulder Creek, and relaxed a bit before heading back out.

This spot was just made for reading!

This spot was just made for knitting!

 Yeah, that’s another sock.

A father/son moment

Darlin' K in his natural habitat

It was a terrific day. We had a good time, no one got hurt, no one fell in the creek, and the kids hardly argued at all. 

All in all, it was a good day to be outside.

The Slippers of Pollyanna, They Are Complete

Hi, Anna-Liza here. I finished something! Okay, not the post about DeathGuild and Kidsville, but it will come. And I finished something else, too, (*cough*OrigamiCardi*cough*) but that will be another post.

Cute slippers & a shapely pair of ankles

The pattern is the famous French Press Slippers pattern — famous because of the Harlot Effect from about a year ago. Wow, Stephanie wields so much power, yet remains so humble! I think a few world leaders should definitely take  lessons from her. Okay, more than a few.

Okay, all of them. But, I digress. (See? I’ve been taking lessons, too!)

I got the psychedelic buttons from Hancock Fabrics. The yarn is Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Mulberry, which I bought ages ago at a shop which no longer exists.

You know what? Way, way too much of my stash is from shops which no longer exist. Knit One Purl Too in Longmont, Posh in Denver, Aurora Yarns in, yes, Aurora, and now Woolen Treasures in Loveland … all gone. Okay, topic for yet another post. But, for now, if you have a nice LYS and you’ve been neglecting it, git yer ass in there and buy something. If you own a LYS, go hug a customer … maybe not literally, but, you know, at least smile at them and say thank you. Okay, I’m digressing again.

As it generally does, the Lamb’s Pride felted beautifully, didn’t it? Bit fuzzy, but I don’t mind that. Knitting Sprite and I had a little felting party at her house, and we took the pattern’s suggestion of forming the slippers on our feet. Well, we formed all of them on my feet, as the ones she was working on were a gift for someone about my size. If you haven’t seen us together, Knitting Sprite is a good bit taller than I am and her feet are proportionally larger.

Mmmmm, wet squishy felt on my feet. 

Knitting Sprite’s version was made with Cascade 220, I believe, or a similar yarn. They also felted beautifully, and rather less fuzzily, as well. So if you want a smoother finish, go for a smoother yarn.

I sewed the straps on first, because I was worried about losing them and I hadn’t found buttons yet. In this case, I sewed the wide ends down as soon as I figured out the placement, but sewed the narrow ends very loosely. Later, when I found the buttons I wanted, I snipped the threads at the narrow end and sewed the buttons on the straps, then sewed the narrow ends down more permanently.

Why didn’t I sew the buttons on and the straps down simultaneously? Two layers of thick felt and limited space on the interior of the slipper made that more difficult. Why did I sew down the narrow ends if I was just going to snip the threads later? Partly to avoid getting them damaged from flopping around loose, partly because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to find buttons, and with the flaps sewn, I could go ahead and wear the slippers if I wanted to.

If I had the buttons already at this stage, I might sew them to the straps first, before sewing the straps on at all, just to cut down on the awkwardness of handling a larger, shaped piece as opposed to a smaller, flat piece while button-sewing.

Um, did that make sense?

The pattern has a nice little detail which makes the upper edge of the heel curl in slightly, so the slipper stays on better. You gather the edge at that spot when you sew the two halves of the upper together, very simple. It really does work. I dislike the feel of slipper heels that slide off with every step, so I like this a lot, and I might incorporate it into future slipper knitting.

Anyway, I’m very, very pleased with these, and they were done just in time. While we still have days in the 60s or even 70s, the nights are cold and it’s so nice to snuggle my feet in these!

Woolly warmth is even better with cuteness.

Pollyanna and the Great Fabric Search

Lyda here. Y’all will remember that I have been commissioned to make a manly quilt for the Sith Master.

I’ve found some fabrics, but I need more.

He wants red and manly, so I thought a Lumberjack check. But he vetoed that.

This one is pretty manly. But wait, it might give him bad ideas.

Hmm, this might work. Wait, why are they green? OMG, they must be ZOMBIE horses. Who could sleep with zombie horses running all over them? Next.

Hey, how about a road trip? Nope. I’m already walking around singing “Get your kicks…” and I just looked at it.

Well, this is obviously not it. Imagine trying to explain it to a would-be girlfriend.

This one would not work for the manly quilt, but it might make y’all laugh. Look, it’s June Cleaver and all her friends.

He really couldn’t explain that to a girlfriend.

Wait!! This is PERFECT!!