Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amigumicrobes: Cold Virus #1

Attempt one at crocheting microbes is finished!

Success? Close, at any rate. The bottom and top are not quite symmetrical - the last ring of "proteins" is really really close together. Will have to rework a bit and try again, but I almost have a functional pattern! Eyes (because obviously virusus have eyes...) will come when I get one right :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I suppose the whole point of safety eyes is that they are supposed to stay on well, and perhaps that means hard to get ON, as well as off. But I really didn't think it would be quite so bad!

The first set of eyes (for the Cthulu, from Jo-Ann's) went on fine. The owl, though.... the yellow cat eyes from Hobby Lobby proved rather more of a challenge. Try as I might, the backs would not go on to the eye posts. Finally, I had success with a hex wrench that fit around the post (without pushing the back of the washer closed). Put the eye against a hard surface and the back on the eye post with the wrench on top of it, and push down on the wrench.
Voilà, eyes!
 Fair warning, though - don't do this on a surface you care about! (oops....)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Tomorrow, I will be making a call to accept a middle school science teaching position (hooray!). A few problems... I left much of my teaching stuff at my old job - at least the things I thought I'd never use again (when I planned on never teaching again!). Sigh. I know I will have at least a few things to replace!

One thing I always meant to buy and never did was one of those awesome giant plush microbes. They'd be perfect for games, calling on students ("you only get to talk if you're holding the Flu!"), etc., aside from being just plain awesome. Well, having now discovered not only crochet, but also amigurumi, I think it only appropriate that I crochet said Flu (and friends) for my classroom! Sadly, Ravelry contains minimal microbe amigurumi patterns. It's like there aren't more biologists who crochet! Naturally, this means I'll need to try my hand at concocting a pattern (or a few) for amigurumicrobes :) Soon, there will be no shortage of germs to go around! I'm thinking middle schoolers will get a kick out of it, too!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I have discovered Amigurumi. This is not good. I've made a little owl, a cthulu, half a baby dragon, and part of a big owl. I see no end in sight. I will, however, post pictures - just maybe not til I finish the mad rush of making caramels, baking cookies, bread, more cookies, more bread, a few more cookies just for good measure, lefse and perhaps go shopping for real food to make for Christmas dinner!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trios Fingerless Gloves

This is the result of my not being able to find something that I liked that was within my skill level and possession of materials (there's some great stuff for teeny tiny yarn and teeny tiny hooks!). It's a Christmas gift, and is a bit tight on me. I'd go up to an H hook for big hands!

I want to put thumbs on these, but haven't figured out a good way. If you come up with one, let me know!

Trios Fingerless Gloves Pattern

Monday, December 14, 2009

I might be crazy

I have to wonder how many UFOs and WIPs (that's Unfinished Objects and Works in Progress, for the unenlightened) are now floating around my house (all having appeared within the last 2 weeks!). Some crazy part of me decided to make Christmas gifts, using patterns I've never tried (obviously, since I just started crocheting!)... and this is the result. I can think of at least 4 or 5, off the top of my head. Most of those consist of equally unfinished pairs. I can only hope I will finish in time for Christmas! And I gained 2 skeins of gorgeous wool from a bellydance friend today - to make her 2 pairs of Surface Waves wrist warmers, which already make up 2 of my unfinished objects!

And why did I decide to make my own pattern for hand warmers?? I couldn't find one I liked well enough.... However, I am pleased with how they are turning out. That pattern will be posted soon!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Making Old Things New

Mira is probably the biggest inspiration for this. I envy her knack for finding the cheapest way to do everything (lessons, please?!). I'm learning, bit by bit. But really, what is more fun than taking something old and at the end of life and giving it a new one? So here are bits of some recent projects of ALL different types.

Recycled Lamb I had an old wool sweater that had finally gotten moth holes in it, and didn't want to give up on it. I found (or rather, was shown) this set of patterns for felted wool animals. Shrink, cut, sew, stuff - cute new toy :)
Buttermilk The stuff is so stinking expensive, yet so darn easy to make - take 1/4 C cultured buttermilk, add regular milk, leave on counter overnight. Done! Use some, refill with milk, repeat. Never-ending supply of cheap buttermilk.

Gleaned Yarn Found a nifty, loosely knit (and basically unworn) scarf at Goodwill for $2. Pulled apart for three balls of yarn! I LOVE the orange (all the colors are a bit darker than the picture shows). Now to decide what to do with them.

This one's definitely Mira's idea - despite the fact I've no baby butts to cover! 

New & Improved Darrell's  My favorite cookie recipe is and has been Darrell's Forget-the-Cookies-Just-Give-Me-That-Batter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough from the Klutz Kids' Cookbook. This is my "New & Improved" version:
Mix & melt in pan or microwave:
   2 T butter
   6 T applesauce
Add & stir:
   2/3 C brown sugar
   1/3 C white sugar
When cool, add & stir together:
   1 t vanilla extract
   1 egg OR 1 T ground flax seed plus 3 T water - let sit 3 minutes before mixing in
In a separate bowl, mix together:
   1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
   1/4 t salt
   1/2 t baking soda (or a bit less, if you live way up high like me!)
   1/4 C wheat germ
   2 T flax seed (I just sprinkle some on top)
Add sugar mixture, mix well, then fold in:
   ~1 C (or a handful) Chocolate Chips
   ~1 C (or a handful) Oatmeal
   1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)
Place bowl in refrigerator for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes - don't overbake! Eat & enjoy :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who needs a teacher...

... when you have tutorials this awesome?

So as I said, I re-taught myself to crochet a few weeks ago. The entire process became infinitely easier when I happened upon Crochet Spot. You know how sometimes you go to look something up, and all you find on google are crappy YouTube videos and those terrible About.com links? No pictures, lots of words, not much help. This is NOT one of those sites.

Crochet Spot has awesome tutorials, step by step instruction, and a close-up picture of each step of each stitch. Brilliant! Everytime I find a new stitch, this is where I go to figure out HOW exactly to do it. Also, for you lefties, hover each picture for the mirror - left hand version. My only complaint - there's no index of all her "How To Crochet" tutorials. So I'm making one here (including hers and a few assorted others), as much for myself as for anyone who might find and read this post. Enjoy!

Getting Started:
How to Read a Crochet Pattern
How to Hold Yarn in Crochet
How to Crochet: Slip Stitch (sl st)
How to Crochet: Chain (ch)
How to Crochet: Foundation Single Crochet (fsc)
Another FSC tutorial from Snuffykins
"Magic Adjustable Ring" for Crochet in the Round

Regular Stitches:
How to Crochet: Single Crochet (sc)
How to Crochet: Extended Single Crochet (exsc)
How to Crochet: Half Double Crochet (hdc)
How to Crochet: Double Crochet (dc)
How to Crochet: Triple (or treble) Crochet (tc)

Increases & Decreases:
How to Crochet: Single Crochet Decrease
How to Crochet: Single Crochet Invisible Decrease
How to Crochet: Double Crochet Decrease
Another Invisible Decrease
I haven't found an "increase tutorial" yet - but as a general rule, just do 2 stitches in one stitch to add a stitch to the row.

Special Stitches:
How to Crochet: Front Post Double Crochet (fpdc)
How to Crochet: Back Post Double Crochet (bpdc)
How to Crochet: Tunisian Simple Stitch (tss)
How to Crochet: Tunisian Knit Stitch (tks)
How to Crochet: Popcorn Stitch
Loop and Nub decorative stitch Tutorials (from NeedleNoodles)

How to Change Colors in Crochet
How to Finish off and Weave In Ends
How to Minimize Weaving In Ends
Joining Yarn: Russian Join

7 Tips for Consistency
Using Stitch Markers in Crochet
How to Crochet on the Opposite Side of a Chain
How to Find the End of the Yarn in a Pull Skein
Master List of Crochet Abbreviations

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hooks & Yarn

Back in the day, my grandmother taught me to crochet. I was never very good at it (always managed to miss a stitch!), but it was fun. I dropped it for 10 (15?) years, and never really thought twice about it until about 2 weeks ago when I decided to give it a try again in order to (what else?) make a bellydance belt.

What's that? Yes, bellydance. Like many things, this too is Aertimus's fault. First gypsies, now bellydance. Well, it was only a matter of time.
So, a bellydance belt. I couldn't find a pattern for one I liked, but did manage to find Crochet Kitten's AWESOME blog. She has a great set of bellydance patterns, and I promptly made myself a set of Josephine Gauntlets (for which I need to take a better picture - this one will do for now!).

But, alas, no belt. I liked the pattern well enough, though, to fumble through my own adaptation of the "Josephine" stitching, and came up with something I am quite please with! Add fringe (this is the pricey part - even cheap ribbon is not cheap when you need a yard and a half for each fringe!) and a cowrie belt I found at a thrift store last year, and voila! Awesome dance belt.

Crochet? Want a pattern? Here you go.

 © K. Frank, Handmade Gypsy 2009. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Moving week creations

Something about moving always brings out a strange productivity in me. Most people, they move and so they put all the projects on hold. Me? I go to work on all the projects I've been planning for the last, oh, four years.

You already know I [finally] started my wedding album. Yeah, its not done yet - awaiting more mats (coming from California!) so I can finish plotting. And that I made a new chemise. And even that the new chemise wasn't gypsy enough - it didn't match my skirts (none of them! hard to believe when I have, like 6 options). So the new chemise, which is a rather thin (somewhat translucent when backlit) cloth, necessitated an overskirt (to fix the "translucent" thing):

Picked up a neat silver goblet last week, and I figured it'd go well with the outfit, so something to attach it to my belt was in order.
Also, I have a gecko. His name is Edgerton, and he's my baby. He lives in this big glass paradise (aka terrarium) in my living room, and he's coming to Colorado with me. But not in the big glass paradise - it weighs a ton. Bought a nice (small) plastic cage, but needed something to carry it in.

Now the remainder of my productivity for the week will have to be channeled towards packing. Too much packing!

Update, ages late:

How not to be a terrible landlord

*WARNING: Rant ahead*

It is my professional opinion that landlords who decide not to include ANY utilities in the rent (even the ones they get billed for and then have to forward to you) just to make their rent sound better, AND make you pay for and arrange annual furnace cleaning AND make you pay for "minor maintenance" under $75 AND make you pay for up front (then hopefully get reimbursed for) and arrange all other maintenance, all the while making you go back and forth as the middleman between them (the actual decision-maker) and the poor guy who gets stuck doing the work *inhale, don't forget to breathe, girl* are not good landlords. And when they make you paint their bathroom trim just because you were nice enough to rip out their horrid, peeling wallpaper.

Not happy!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I want one


Maija Baerngard - drawing by Todd Lockwood, coloring by wraith2099, hair removed by my dear husband, with help from Gimp
Last night was the end of Maija - my ridiculously awesome barbarian in our Midnight D&D campaign. A little background - in 4 or so years of my D&D playing experience, I've mostly played casters of some sort. They do some damage, give a few buffs, and are fun to play (like my halfling druid with the dire badger for a pet!).

Enter Carl, and Midnight. The world in a nutshell: gods took to fighting, the arrogant evil one got banished to earth, where he stuck out his tongue at the rest of the pantheon - and sundered the mortal plane from everything else. Evil god Izrador now has his own little playground with the rather unlucky folks left on earth.

Result: a pretty depressing place, where magic is illegal (unless you work for Izrador), being fey is illegal (unless you work for Izrador), reading is illegal (unless you work for Izrador - sensing a theme yet?), weapons are illegal (yup, same thing), and so on and so forth. Also, no extraplanar anything, and no contact with any deity but - can you guess? - Izrador.

I decided to break out a bit here, and played Maija, a Dorn female barbarian. Midnight gives PCs (heros like we should be!) heroic bloodlines, so Maija is a Northblood. Anything to do with cold - she likes! Not to mention the bonus Con...

So by the time we played last night, our characters had advanced to 18th level (raging, I had 366 HP, 34 Str and 34 Con), gained a second bloodline, been sacrificed by the elf queen to save the world and shatter the barrier enclosing the mortal plane, and ascended to demigodhood (no, it's not sacrilegious. It's a made-up world. We can do that and it's perfectly okay!), and were ready to square off against Izrador's demigod minions.

Which we did, rather successfully. I rather liked the full-round attack (3/4 hit!), Smite Evil, Power Attack, Hunter's Strike, 270 points of damage blow that Maija did to the other barbarian. And the fact that she's immune to negative energy drain (perk of the second bloodline) and sort of smiled when he tried it on her. Or the part where our halfling shapeshifted into a felhound, grappled the sorcerer, and proceeded to chomp on it for 4 rounds. Plus taking bits of the world, buffing them insanely, and running over Izrador's troops.

All in all, this campaign setting is amazing (ok, so playing a barbarian who can soak up - and deal out - that much damage helped!). Izrador is a jerk, so rather easy to unite against, and there's so much background in the book that it feels very real. Plus Carl is an awesome DM. If you like 3.5e, try a Midnight campaign sometime! You will not regret it (except, perhaps, when Izrador's legates are beating you to a pulp...).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Well it's about time!

4 years ago was my wedding. We had this awesome photographer, who took TONS (like, 1200) of pictures, so you'd think we'd have a really cool album, right?

Nope. Bought the negatives, daunted by the possibilities (that perfectionist thing again), and never got it done! Even bought an album - just never put it together. So here we are, a week and a half before the big move (PA to CO!), and I'm finally doing it.

This is the progress, thus far:

It's a start! The real question is can I finish it soon enough to get pictures printed - before we move, and I have to find a new photo place I trust with my precious negatives!

(Looking for a good developer in Western Denver...)

Wenches of all stripes

First of all, I'm covered in cat hair. This is entirely irrelevant to the post at hand, but it was bothering me! Thanks to Peanut Butter and Jelly (no, I didn't name them - they're my friend's cats) for that. So now I'm sitting here at the shop, waiting for my car to be fixed (and drop another $1000 on it, I'm sure!), picking cat hair off me, and blogging. What else is new?

Back to the topic. Kia lent me her sewing genius this week - and is trying to make some of it rub off! - and helped me make a brand new chemise. The old shirt I had - well, it's getting old. Plus the poofy sleeves, while quite fun looking, are rather annoying at times! So it was time for something new to wear. I found some light blue-gray fabric on sale ($1.50/yard!) at Jo-Ann's, and got 8 yards of it. A garage/estate sale provided me with some really pretty lace at dirt cheap. So a new chemise it is.

Now here's the problem. Every time I go to the fair, I get more and more gypsy. Ok, so I can't do anything about the blonde hair. Sorry - I draw the line there. But still, I've racked up a pretty decent collection of scarves, belts, jewelry, etc., and can make a pretty nice gypsy costume out of it!

This fabric, though, is silky and pretty. And did I mention the lace? Add purple velvet bodice, and that it doesn't match my gypsy skirts, and I have a problem. It just may be that I have to go to faire this year and NOT be a gypsy. Or a pirate.

I might have to be - gasp! - respectable. Like an innkeeper's daughter (wait, no, that's Kia's role! I suppose I can't steal that). Perhaps a noblewoman? We shall see (and there will be pictures). I think I have a string of pearly-things that might work out well.

Nevertheless, I can't NOT be a gypsy, just for lack of a shirt. It's in my blood.

It just means I'll have to make another :) Less pretty (more wenchy?) this time! A gypsy's work is never done - and her wardrobe never complete.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What to do in your spare time

I've found a new hobby this summer. First you must understand that I am a teacher - or at least, have been for the last two years. Second, I used to play WoW.

To anyone *in the know*, this should immediately tell you that I used to have NO FREE TIME whatsoever. But now it's summer. And I quit WoW (for now, at least, until Kia talks me back into it). Read: I have free time now! At least til I move across the country in two weeks.

But for now, I have a new hobby. It started with going to Africa this summer, and being put in charge (okay, so I volunteered) of meals. Me, I like yogurt. And I've become rather fond of strange things, like bulgar wheat, wheat berries, and beans of many types. So I decided I needed some recipes, and I needed to know how to make these things that wouldn't be so easily found, say, 8 hours out in the middle of nowhere. So my experimentation began. Pita bread, yogurt, tortillas (on my lefse iron!), french bread. Modest experiments. But they worked!! So now I'm hooked. Why buy it when you can make it, and it's FUN? Now I've made some cheese, which tasted pretty good (needed salt), and bagels are next on the list to try. I'm not up for challenges, but this stuff is easy!

"Jungle Camp" Brownies are good (Thanks Maggie!) but I take issue with "makes 16" - not the way I eat them!

Pancakes are so bloody easy, why use a mix? More-With-Less (new favorite - discovered in Burkina!) has a good 10 different kinds. I made Wheat Germ Griddle Cakes (minus the mace - no clue what that is or where to find it!) this morning, in all of 20 minutes start to finish.

The upshot is, this is fun :) Trying new things, probably cheaper (but then, who knows?) and they sure taste better. Downside? My dear husband has more dishes to wash. Well. I suppose I can help with those - at least a little!

Check back for new recipes whenever I get the urge to try them (and feel like writing about it)!

An introduction

Back in college, titles and introductions were usually the last parts of my paper to be written. The content was so much easier to come up with than the snappy things that make a good start to a story.

The idea of writing on a blog has appealed to me for some time. I've got plenty to say, but like any good perfectionist, I was hung up on what to call it. One can write a paper without a title, but you can't really MAKE a blog without giving it a name (URL, etc.) first!

So I've finally thought of something. Were I ever to start a tavern, or a strange and random sort of B&B, it would be called the Barefoot Wench. Lacking either a tavern or a B&B, this blog gets that name instead.

It's a collection of thoughts and ideas, running the gauntlet from crafty things (new bodice, felted wool lamb that's next on the list) and recipes (made tortillas last week!) to favorite RPGs (D&D, LARP, MMOs) to musings on politics, science, religion and philosophy. Just like a tavern - a little bit of everything! Now if only I had an oil lamp and a mug of beer...

Update: I changed my name! I still would name my tavern the Barefoot Wench, but this blog is now the Handmade Gypsy. Moving a little more towards the craftiness that started it all!