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“This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!” • DIY Yarn Swift

Just two months in and the dad of the year award goes to…

For Christmas I requested a ball winder, which I received from my mom. It does wonders, and I have spent hours re-caking floppy cakes. But, with the lack of yarn swift, winding new hanks was still quite the task. I found ways to do it, with upside down chairs and lazy susans, but obviously, it wasn’t ideal. My dad, who knows absolutely nothing about knitting saw my struggle, and took it upon himself to resolve the problem. That’s what dads do isn’t it?

One day, I came home from work and he said, “I made you a swift“. We both looked at each other for a moment- me, not fully grasping the idea that my dad knew what a swift was, and him wondering if he had called it the right thing. Turns out, he really did construct a fully-functioning yarn swift!

When I was little, I had a toy ironing board made of wood. Looking back, it was quite the gendered toy for a little girl to have, but I loved it. I had a wooden iron and would flatten out little handkerchiefs for my bears. Last summer, we did a massive house purge, and all the stashed childhood toys came out. While the rest of us were ready to be rid of the past, I think my dad struggled to let go of the memories of his little girls. He ended up hoarding some of the possessions we threw out, including the aforementioned ironing board.

As it turns out, ironing boards can be easily reconstructed into yarn swifts! What I love most is that what was once something I loved has now grown with me. I’m glad we didn’t throw it away. There are still a few minor kinks to work out, but aside from that, it does the trick! Any chance to make it yourself, upcycle, and save some money is awesome to me. One night, a friend visiting from Singapore commented, “This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!”. Either yarn swifts aren’t as common as I think, or maybe my life is like a fairy tale. Either way, I’m not sorry!

You’re always my dad of the year, but this is pretty neat. Thanks, papa. <3

DIY Letterboard

I am the proud owner of a letterboard! Am I cool yet?

I have been totally envious of people I’ve seen who have felt letterboards or cinema marquees. They’re just so incredibly neat! However, as a maker who is just starting to make her mark in the online world, these are a luxury I can’t justify having.

On the flip side, as a maker, I have the tools and ability to create my own budget-friendly version! It took me a few failures and adjustments before I was able to come up with something functional, but that’s part of the crafting fun, right?

I started off following instructions I found online for a felt letterboard using dowels wrapped in felt, but I just couldn’t achieve an even layout that kept my letters attached securely. As frustrating as this was, I wasn’t ready to surrender just yet. I set it aside to return to another day. It was actually my also-crafty mother who brought a photo on Pinterest to my attention. Her idea was for a DIY ring holder/display using sponge or foam, but the concept inspired a whole new thought process.

All I had to do was fit a piece of flat sponge/foam batting inside a box frame and slice some lines about halfway deep running across the sponge. I centred the sponge on the back board of the frame and glued it down. I did have to order the letters online, but it worked out perfectly and is super customizable! The pegs on the letters fit inside the slits and can be changed just like a felt letterboard. Aside from the letters, everything I used to make this project could be found in the home and reused, or bought for cheap.

I will totally be using this all the time. Feeling excited to step up my Instagram game, starting with a SALE announcement! I recently hit 200 followers on Instagram, and I’m all about celebrating the little things, so I’m offering 20% off everything in the WWK Shop for the next 2 weeks. Just use the coupon code “hooray200” at checkout! I have also added a few new items which are also included in the sale. Head on over to check it out!

Self Haircut

Self Haircut

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I’ve been cutting my own hair for a few years now. I don’t claim to be an expert at all and there’s definitely technique issues with how I get my cut, however I’m usually pretty happy with the final look and that’s all that matters, really.

When I was a kid, my mom used to cut my hair–and I hated it! Whenever it came time to trim the ends she would have to bribe me with toys. Lucky for her, I was very easily enticed by a new stuffed animal or game. I always ended up with some kind of china doll bowl cut, or a super boxy blunt edge which at the time, was super uncool (oh, the struggles of being 6). She always said she would only trim the ends yet somehow I always ended up with short hair I didn’t want!

In later years, I started experimenting with more expensive salon cuts. I was convinced that I could fork out a ton of money for a trendy professional to properly style my hair. This didn’t exactly work out in my favor either. I was able to find pictures of what I considered to be “beautiful” online, but those cuts were never transferable to my face shape or hair texture. Stylists would try, but I was never satisfied enough for it to justify the high cost. I was also unable to put to words how I wanted my hair to look, nor was I brave enough to let a stylist know I didn’t like what she was doing.

After that I decided that if I would be just as unsatisfied with an expensive cut, I might as well just go for a cheap cut when my ends were looking particularly nasty and just bear with hating it for a few weeks until it grew out. My mom had a few friends in the neighborhood that did hair, so I would stop in for a snip. This sufficed for a little while, until they all moved away, leaving me abandoned.

At this point I started watching youtube videos on hair cutting. As someone who loves to learn techniques and understand concepts, this really gave me hope. Of course, trying to translate a video of someone cutting another person’s hair to doing it on your own head is very difficult! I would explain these concepts to my mom and ask her to help me out in the back (micromanaging every snip from the chair). This worked for awhile too, but took way longer than a haircut should.

Finally I really got committed to figuring it out for myself. My go-to haircut really isn’t that difficult. Cut a straight line, layer, texturize… I did everything I could to make the process easier. I pulled chip clips from the pantry to help hold the hair straight and bring it to the front of my face to cut. I used string to tie a mirror to the towel rack so I could see the back of my head and use both hands to cut.

It’s not perfect, but it works. It’s convenient, it’s free, and if something goes wrong, I only have myself to blame so there is zero resentment towards anyone else. And most importantly, I do feel good about myself after I’ve showered and can see my new cut all done up.

The ability to clean up the ends whenever I feel they are getting wild is such a blessing. It just leaves my hair feeling so healthy and fresh. I do a clean up every month or so, so it’s nice to be able to do it from home in between my list of other chores to get done and not have to pay for it every time.

Oh Deer, Is Christmas Over Already?

Oh Deer, Is Christmas Over Already?

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We have officially taken down our Christmas tree, and even though Christmas day is already just a faint memory, it still makes me a little sad!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas ornaments. What I mean by that is I like the tree to be properly decorated with sets of baubles–maybe 2 or 3 varieties, and some lights and tinsel. To have a tree completely cluttered with ornaments that came from here and there is too much for my OCD brain to handle! I mean, clearly you’ll have favourites and some will inevitably be shoved to the back of the tree. And those that are super cute on their own end up clashing with all the other super cute ornaments, just fighting for attention. This year however, the family that I work with in my day job had a beautifully decorated house that I was lucky enough to get to visit for a few hours most days. On any regular day, their interior design is #goals, but when Christmas season rolled around, boy, did it become like a movie set. They had a chubby tree completely littered with all sorts of ornaments…and it looked good!

So against my better judgment, I decided to crochet Christmas ornaments. Even though ornaments people gift to me often just end up in a box somewhere, I could feel that they would fully appreciate and make use of them. I wanted to make something that the kiddos would enjoy, and upon browsing a tiny amigurumi book (book on tiny amigurumi…the book itself was actually quite large), I settled on making little reindeer ornaments.

I learned 2 very cool things from this book:

  1. You can crochet an i-cord.
  2. When making tiny amigurumi limbs/antlers, you don’t have to darn each one on to the body (which I hate), you just have to leave openings to pull the entire tube through! (ie. Instead of making 2 front legs, you make 1 piece that is equivalent of both legs plus a little, and leave holes when making your body so this long piece can be pulled right through. It requires a little bit more planning, but totally worth it in my opinion.)

So, as we start a new year and wait for Christmas season to roll around again, I can only hope these little fellas get to come out again next year!

I’ve never been so happy to see this…

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Most of the time when I finish a candle I feel a sense of emptiness. It’s kind of sad when candles go out…especially when it’s a Christmas scent you won’t be able to get again until next year!

Since my failed attempt at home-made candles, however, I’ve been trying again to resolve the problems and create a functional candle. I finally managed to get one of my candles to burn all the way to the bottom! (Hooray!)

In my second attempt, I braided three strands of yarn to make a thicker wick, then followed the same process as in my first attempt. Since the wick ended up thicker than before, I used a glue gun to tack it to the base of my container rather than a wick stand. This candle burned for longer, but still went out before all the wax was gone.

To try and remove as many variables that could be affecting the chemistry of my candles, I then went back to the basics and simply melted the wax alone without the colouring or scent. I again used the braided wick. This third attempt was my first success. It burned all the way to the edge and bottom without any problems. This leads me to believe that it was the crayon I added for colour that changed the burn time of the wax, causing it to last longer, thus extinguishing the wick.

As Christmas season is creeping up on me, I’m rushing to try one more time to add some scents to the melted wax to get the right chemistry for scented candles. I’m hoping that it was only the colour that was affecting the burn and not the essential oils!

Ultimately, I don’t think these will be up to standard for Christmas, so I may have to keep working on it for next year. In any case, fingers crossed attempt #4 will be the one.

DIY Candles

Scented candles seem to have gained popularity over the past couple of years. With Fall and Christmas season approaching, candles are starting to make an appearance again.

Good store-bought scented candles tend to be quite pricey for something that can disappear so quickly. The jars that they come in also end up being collected in a closet somewhere or recycled–which seems quite wasteful. I typically don’t buy candles for myself, but I love receiving them as gifts. These don’t tend to last me through the winter though, so buying the components online in bulk was a much more cost-effective way for me to produce my own.

I have never attempted to make a candle before, but based on online instructions and videos, it seemed pretty easy. I decided to do as much of it on my own, without purchasing anything other than soy wax flakes from amazon.

I used:

  • Soy Wax Flakes
  • 100% cotton yarn
  • Recycled wick stands from used tea lights
  • Essential Oils/Candle Scents
  • Ceramic containers (courtesy of One Bear Ceramics)

Here’s what I did:

  • Double boil the wax flakes (2x the amount of your container)
  • Add a tiny piece of crayon to add color
  • Cut a piece of yarn and soak it in the melted wax for 10 minutes, then hang to dry
  • Once dry, use pliers to widen the hole of the wick stand to thread the wick through, then clamp wick into position
  • Take the rest of the melted wax out of the boiling water and mix in a few drops of your scent
  • Place the wick in the centre of the container, using a pen to hold it up straight
  • Pour the wax into the container
  • Leave aside to cool and harden
  • Trim wick and light!

Now, my candles were far from perfect. They really didn’t work very well and had all sorts of problems including but not limited to:

  • Burn range not reaching the sides of the container
  • Scent not strong enough
  • Strange discoloration in wax (ie. not a solid, smooth color)
  • Wick stops burning halfway through and won’t hold a flame again

I am in the process of troubleshooting and will re-attempt this process again. If you have any tips or explanations for the flaws in my candles, please do let me know! I am hoping to fix all the problems and create scented candles that can be gifted by Christmas. I am working alongside OBC to create more ceramic candles, which I think would be a super cool gift since people can use the candle and have a functional handmade pot to reuse after. More to come!

Harry Potter-Inspired Knitted Quilt

Here’s another Harry Potter-themed project!

Back in the summer of 2012, the family took a trip to Singapore where the Singapore ArtScience Museum was featuring a Harry Potter exhibit full of props from the movies. One of the most memorable pieces I saw was a knitted patchwork quilt from someone’s bed (forgive me HP fans, I don’t actually remember whose it was).

This was during the early days when I was starting to get into knitting. I had just graduated from high school and was moving into the dorms at university. I needed something to keep me busy during the nights when I was there alone. My mom taught me how to knit simple squares using scrap yarn, which I would later assemble into a quilt.

Each base square was 4″ x 4″. I had a small cardboard cutout of this square so I could use a variety of yarns and gauges and still get the appropriate size and shape.  I also made a few larger ones equivalent to 4 base squares (8″ x 8″) and some longer pieces (4″ x 8″). Any multiple of your base square would work. Once I got bored of the basic stockinette stitch, I started looking up stitch patterns online. This was where I learned to experiment with knitting, as the little squares provided a good opportunity to try making swatches of different designs.

Once I had collected a decent amount of squares in a variety of colors and patterns, I laid them out and arranged them in a way I liked and began linking them together. If there were any holes, I just made a few extra squares to fill them in. I wanted my quilt to have a bit of a messy, rough look, so I did my stitching in a visible white yarn quite unevenly. I didn’t try to hide the stitching or make it look pretty. Lastly, I used the remainder of my scrap yarn to make tassels to line all the edges at every 4″ join. To make the tassels even, I used a piece of cardboard that was the desired length and wound my yarn around it until it was the desired thickness, then I tied and cut it. I’m sure there are plenty of tutorials on how to make tassels online. This is how I’ve always done it.

The final size of the quilt is about 50″ x 80″. It is quite heavy, so it tends to stretch and wrap around you so it is extra cozy and WARM! I definitely recommend this project to those who are new to knitting or those who want to try out some new stitch designs. Since it is quite big, it does require some commitment, but breaking it down into smaller components makes this process easier! Often times I would have some spare time here and there so I would make a quick square and tuck it away. I have also heard of knitting groups that work together to make pieces that get assembled into quilts and donated later.

I have received many compliments from houseguests who have visited or stayed the night. When not in use, I like to have it draped in the corner of my window bench to add some color and texture rather than having it hidden away in a closet. It definitely adds a homely feel to the room! (: