Tag Archives: pinitdoit

Fiber Arts Party debrief

Word Lily knitsWord Lily spinsSo, I had this party. I had the idea for a fiber arts party for my birthday this year, but I wanted all these people to come. And with a February birthday, I didn’t think asking people to drive and drive was a good idea. They’d end up not able to come — or stuck — and I’d end up disappointed. Instead of throwing away my plans, we just decided to move it to a time of year that usually has better, more drivable weather.

The party finally happened last weekend.

Not everyone I wanted to attend was able to make it, but we still had a really good time (as far as I can tell; I said afterward that I wasn’t able to step back and get a good perspective on everyone’s experience or the party as a whole because I was running around the entire time). Since I never took a step back from the action, though — and because the decorations didn’t really finish going up until after the party started — I don’t have good photos of all the things we did. Living in the moment, friends!

The set up /slash/ overview

I invited friends and family from near and far. All the moms were allowed to bring their children (After all, I’d have A with me!). I figured there were a few activities the older kids could do, and we’d bring toys to hopefully keep the littler ones occupied.

We had several stations with different activities. The pompom-making station was in use nearly all day. (The party went from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

I demonstrated wet felting, and quite a few people took a turn or two at the towels positioned in front of containers of hot and cold water.

A few of the girls were brave enough to attempt spinning on a drop spindle after my demonstration. My wheel got at least a small workout, but only from me.

One person learned to knit, a few others tried their hands at crochet for the first time.

We ate lunch and later had cake.

My fabulous husband made a set of giant knitting needles out of larger-than-a-broomstick dowels, and there was some rope on hand to knit with them. He also made the cake — chocolate with a peanut butter cookie layer in the middle, graced by peanut butter cream cheese frosting. It was yummy and pretty.

The decorations

Way back in January, when I started thinking of this party, I started pinning decoration ideas. Partly I was browsing for ideas, but a few of them came to me and then I found a pin to represent that.

We made a chandelier, except upon installation it changed to more of a waterfall.

chandelier, from below

The yarn … bubbles? hang from the 12-foot ceiling.

This was super messy to make. And practically required two people. You might want to wear and apron. And remove your rings. Also, we made up about 15 balloons, and we used a full two bottles of glue. So be prepared. It took awhile to get a system worked out for how to get the yarn through the paste and then out without it getting all knotted. And the instructions didn’t mention any starting points for how much yarn to use per balloon. I ended up with a range from 12 to 25 yards, I think. (And: yarn weight matters. Fingering weight yarn takes more yardage to give a similar visual coverage that can be achieved with fewer yards of a heavier yarn. It sounds like common sense, but it wasn’t included in the directions.) The first few balloons we made, we had cut too short of a yarn length.

We worked in a variety of shades of white, including creams and off-whites and winter whites and even a taupe or two. I thought the more subdued color palette would work, since the space where we hung it has bright walls.

I made pompoms, anchored them to chopsticks and stuck them in vases.

Pompom flowers of various sizes.

Pompom flowers of various sizes.

DSC_0048There are tons of pompom tutorials out there, but all the ones that used the poms as flowers seemed to require hot gluing the pom to the stem. I wanted to use our gigantic supply of plastic chopsticks, and I didn’t want to use glue, since I figured this was a more temporary installation than the chandelier/waterfall.

Instead, I left the strings I’d used to tie the pompoms long. I inserted the tip of a chopstick (thought about using bamboo skewers, too, which might have worked better on the smaller pompoms) into the center of a pom and used the long ends to firmly criss-cross down the stem a ways and ended with a knot. I just left the yarn ends, as a nod to leaves.

Also, I used little balls of yarn I had around in the bottoms of the vases to help situate the stems and give them a bit more height (the vases were taller than my stems, oops). And hey, more color!

I hung garlands of shawls on two walls.

Sarah knits plus garland of shawls

My sister learned to knit! Also, this is the best photo I have of the garlands of shawls. We were apparently having too much fun to remember to take photos.

I saw this photo of shawls on a clothesline, blowing in the breeze, in an online magazine. They were using it to showcase/introduce a knitting pattern. I thought it would be fun to replicate it with shawls I’ve made as decorations for the party. We ended up with two lines, on opposite walls, filled with shawls of all shapes, sizes and colors. (I like knitting shawls.)

DSC_0047
We hung a photo poster in a frame, kind of.

This one did double duty: We had the photo up at A’s birthday party (since it’s a photo of him, after all), and then we hung it for this party, on a wall large enough to accomodate the giant frame, too. It didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. 🙂 (For reference: The photo is 16×20.)

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Conclusions?

I had a blast, despite the running around like crazy. (I knit and entire half a round on the sock project I brought with me.) We made a knitter and introduced a few people to crochet. Some current knitters hopefully gained some confidence in their abilities.

If you’re counting for #PinItDoIt, that’s four pins completed (in addition to the two from A’s party and the cookie one from my sign-up post, so, seven total).

There was talk of doing this again, maybe even regularly. Sounds like a good idea to me!

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A very dot-ty party

The birthday I’d been looking forward to and planning for months has come and gone! My little boy is 1. I planned his birthday party around the idea of Damien Hirst’s spot paintings, although it probably just looked like it was polka-dot themed.

Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 11.23.57 AM

The invitations: Hand-drawn and hand-cut (with details printed inside), each one unique.

The decorations: We got a huge pack of scrapbook paper (but 8.5×11, since we’re cutting it all), in all the colors of the rainbow, and a circle cutter. I started with the curtain. A had seen strings of circles sparkling as they swung and twirled on the air currents in one of our rare trips to the mall, and he’d been mesmerized. We cut 2-inch circles then spaced them about 1 or 1-1/2″ (I just eyeballed it) apart, applied rubber cement, placed sewing thread on the first circle, and pressed a matching circle into place, sandwiching the string between, then continuing up the thread.

Eleven circles got me about 3 feet in length. My strings are all between 3 and 4 feet long. When I finished constructing each thread of circles, I cut the end, leaving a tail of maybe 18 inches, which I used to tie it on to the curtain rod. It’s not the sturdiest decoration, but it worked for the party. 🙂 All you sewists (is that the term we’re going with these days?) could also make it by stitching through a single circle, leaving space, then the next, etc.

Then we also cut circles of various sizes and used them to create both the birthday banner and various spots (heh) of interest throughout the house, including a “table runner” (tablecloths and 1 year olds don’t mix) and something on the front door to draw guests in.

The cake: Three layers of gluten-free chocolate cake (from the best cake mix ever), plus cupcakes. Frosted with 7-minute frosting. (I got pasteurized egg whites so I didn’t have to worry since this recipe doesn’t require the hand-held mixer over the double boiler bit, so the eggs are never on the stove. So much easier this way!)

And then the dots. Instead of starting with melted sugar syrup on the stove (or Instamelt, which I discovered too late since I can’t get it locally), I was inspired by stained-glass cookies to try just melting candy in the oven — stained-glass cookies without the cookie, essentially. I bought a mixed bag of Jolly Ranchers and one of LifeSavers. Between the two, I had a good range of colors (just no yellow). After some experimentation, I ended up melting the LifeSavers in my mini-muffin pan and the somewhat larger Jolly Ranchers in regular-sized silicone muffin cups.

With the oven at 350°, making sure each piece of candy was centered in its place, I let them melt and puddle. I started at 5-7 minutes, and then I was watching them very closely. If they go too long, they start bubbling and that’s kind of a mess to deal with. If you need to tip the tray a bit to get complete circles, do that as you remove them from the oven. Let them cool and them pop them out onto parchment, then apply to cake. The ones in silicone were a cinch to remove, compared to the ones in just the nonstick pan, but I couldn’t find silicone mini-muffin cups, so hey. [They get sticky relatively quickly, especially in high humidity. And they don’t last forever.]

The fruit: I made a fruit salad to match the circular theme, using the melon baller on watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and papaya, and added pineapple chunks and halved grapes.

The event: He had a great time pulling on curly ribbons and letting them spring back. He liked unwrapping presents, until the pile of paper and tissue became more interesting than unwrapping for the moment. He quite enjoyed his first taste of refined sugar — he took teeny tiny pinches of frosting until he’d eaten nearly all of it — but he didn’t really care for the cake (I don’t think he even tried it, even when I placed a small bit in his mouth).

Happy birthday, baby!

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Pin It and Do It

PinitDoitMay2013My friend Trish of Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity created a Pinterest challenge, wherein participants actually do/make the things they’ve pinned. She’s been hosting the monthly challenge for a whole year now, but this is my first time to participate.

The Pin It and Do It challenge is open to everyone, so join in the fun!

I’m signing up at the Pinterested level, hoping to complete 4-7 pins.

I feel a little bit like I’m cheating, since this installment of the challenge runs for the month of May, and a couple pins I’ve already done (or at least started), but hey. She said it was OK, and she’s the host.

My first completed pin (for the challenge)

We (and by we I mean my husband, but I found the recipe) made these cookies last night. Chocolate chip cookies, but with browned butter, sea salt, and Nutella? How could they be bad, right?

And they’re not (bad). They’re actually really tasty. But they’re also complicated. And we’re not convinced that the Nutella actually adds to the experience, *gasp*! (We made some with and some without. They basically look the same, though, so you just get one one type pictured.)

cookie

I totally didn’t notice that Nutella seepage while taking the photos. Oops.

We did make a few modifications, of course. First, we subbed out the flour, to make them gluten free. I think that may be the cause of the giant-ness of them? They spread like crazy. And we didn’t have sea salt, we used kosher salt.

A cookie in hand is worth two?

Pictured here on my relatively large hand for scale.

Now excuse me while I go pin some things I have planned to make/do for A’s birthday party. I also have some projects I pinned months ago for my own birthday party that I’m planning to accomplish this month, too. Lots of party-related pinning and doing planned for this month, over here!