Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nerf DIY for Teenagers

I realize plenty of teenagers still like Nerf, but by the age of thirteen nerf has to compete with the cool factor of Airsoft, paintball, goggles, and the firing range.  My son's massive Nerf collection is sort of languishing in the garage.  He and his friends play with them sometimes but mostly when there's nothing else to do.

So, after being grounded from video games for a week (just being honest, here) he's decided to start a Nerf upcycle project- something between Nerf and Airsoft.  So, now there are all sorts of camouflaged, sawed-off weapons laying around in the yard and garage.

I asked if he'd write up a tutorial, in his own words, for the tiger striped machine gun, as a guest post.  He kindly obliged:

Tiger Striped Nerf Machine Gun DIY

You will need:
whatever weapon you want to paint, 
2 or more spray paint cans of your choice (plastic paint or primer works better ), 
masking tape,

First you want to choose what weapon you want to paint and make sure that if it has stickers, to scrape them off. It doesn't matter if it is a messy scrape because the paint will cover the messiness.  Also, put masking tape over any parts you don't want painted.

Next thing you want to do is choose which side you want to paint first and what color you want to be the main color. Once you've done that, spray the side of the gun you want painted first, but be sure you don't touch it because it will screw it up. Make sure you've got an even coat. Wait for it to dry. (In a sunny spot it can dry in 1 to 2 hours.)

Now flip it over and paint the other side. Once that side is dry, paint any spots that haven't already been painted.

Now you can apply the pattern.  (I chose tiger stripe, but you can choose any you want.) Draw the pattern on some cardstock paper or heavy paper. (This gets soaked in paint but doesn't get floppy like regular paper.)
Now, cut out the pattern with scissors and make sure the paint on the gun is dry, or it really will mess it up.

Put the pattern over the gun in the spot where you want it to be. (It doesn't have to be directly on the gun; it can be a little off- center.)   Spray over the pattern and move the pattern around if it is a small one.   If it's large, you could probably keep it in the same spot. 

Let that dry.

Now, after it's dry, flip the gun over and apply it to the other side. Same procedure as before. 

Let it dry.

If there are any spots that haven't been painted yet, that you want to be painted, paint them
and let them dry.

Basically , your gun is now finished; but if you want to go ahead and paint the magazine, like I did, keep reading...

Get the magazine and paint it whatever color you want, I chose my primary color because it goes good with most colors. Paint one side of the magazine. Let it dry.  Paint the other side and let it dry. Now paint any spots that haven't been colored yet. You can apply the pattern to this if you want, but I chose not to.

You're done, but keep in mind if any parts won't move, the paint has glued it. If you locate that area, where the paint has stuck together, you can sometimes push down on the part that's stuck. If that doesn't work, get an exacto knife and cut the paint. 
 The end.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spiffed Up, a Little

My Raleigh is good to go with spiffy new tires.  They didn't really need changing; I just wanted to dress it up.  These are the same tires I have on the Schwinn and I really love them.

Flickr and LovelyBicycle have been big inspirations in the vintage bicycle department.  Putting the Schwalbe Delta Cruisers (28 x 1 1/2 from DereksCyclesOnline but I've since seen them on Flying Pigeon for a bit less) on this bike isn't quite as simple as the Schwinn.  One of the shoe clips was a little bent and, once it was fixed, the front tire was no big deal.  The back tire is a different story.  I would hate to have to change that innertube on the side of the road somewhere.  I'm counting on the bike and tires being as indestructible as I've read.  Otherwise, I need to keep a diagram and cheat sheet in the tool bag.   Since it was slipping in second, I took this opportunity to play with the gear cable until it was tight enough.

I was confused when ordering the Pletscher rear rack, it won't work on this bike, bit it fits the collegiate, so it wasn't a loss.

I've had the basket for a while, but the Crane Suzu lever bell ($16.49 at   BikeZilla) is new.

A tool roll from Anhaica Bag Works just cause.

Union block pedals (9/16) and rear reflector from Yellow Jersey, where just about everything I need to maintenance/ repair this bike can be found.

If you haven't guessed, this post is mainly a place for me to remember vendors and tips I used, also a really nice Saturday afternoon.

(my Flickr)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Garden Lasagna

It's not exactly ready to eat, yet, but we're getting there.  This is the lasagna method of no-till gardening.  Basically it is the lazy girl's way to compost and prepare soil.  Let's compare:

Previously, I have had to till the space where I wanted the garden to be,  pull grass, and till some more only to find that this gumbo soil is impenetrable.  I'd then have to get my husband to help me bring in 2 or 3 truckloads of soil from a nursery and dump it on top, rake it and follow with another load of manure or some fertilizer.  Then my tiller breaks so I mix it all with a pitchfork by hand.  Oh those were good times.

So this year I wanted to try a trick I read that some Houston gardeners use, dubbed the Lasagna Method.  

Here's how it works:

1) You lay out about 3 layers of newspaper that family members have collected for you, because you don't subscribe, over the grass in the dimensions you want your garden to be.

 2) Follow up with 1 part green compost (from our compost pile or bagged manure compost from a home/ garden center)

3) then 2 parts brown compost (pre-bagged leaves from your neighbors's curbs).

4) Water it.

No tilling, no raking or pulling.  No annoyed family members.  

All I have to do now is keep it wet and the newspaper will kill the grass while the compost layers provide nitrogen and carbon.  Some people add earthworms and top with a layer of hay to discourage weeds.  Bunch of overachievers.  I'm going to stop with a layer of leaves, since this experiment is about ease, and I really like the idea of just burying last year's attempt with the remains of winter to wait for something new.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Don't Blink

They look like two skeins of yarn, but they are so much more.  Very soon, they'll become this dropped stitch sweater and a reminder of one of my favorite Dr. Who episodes.  You know, where Sally Sparrow finds all the VHS Easter egg messages from the Doctor and finally understands the cryptic words "Don't Blink" refer to the quantum-locked statues around her...   Oh, just watch the clip before Youtube removes it.

Anyway, this Gissing by Roman Hills is such a soft, fingering weight yarn with much color depth.  The color is... Don't Blink.  See, I was going somewhere with all of the geekspeak.  I won a big discount on a sweater's worth in a Holla Knits contest and was so excited to get the actual Who inspired colorway.   It's like wearing a little bit of a classic, paying homage to the Tennant Years.  

It's going so quickly, I'm almost ready to separate for the sleeves.   Guess what I'll be watching while I work on it?

(more on my Ravelry and my Flickr)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Worth Doing Well

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.  -  an old proverb... and my mother

I have not failed.  I just found 10,000 ways that won't work.  -  Thomas Edison

Try again, fail again, fail better.  -  Samuel Beckett

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  -  Thomas Palmer... also, my mother

A depressed person is a perfectionist who finally gave up.  -  my sister

Just what you were expecting after all the brainy quotes, right?  A photo of another sweater?

So, anyway... the Georgia sweater, by Jane Richmond, was worth doing well. 

 It did require a couple of tries.  I was 2/3 of the way through and realized my gauge was off, so I reknit it in the smallest size.  Then I was finished and realized the garter edge was curling up too much for me, so I ripped it back and changed it to a K1P1 rib.  Seems like I knit a practice run on most things I love, but without too much frustration.  I'm doing something I love, that relaxes me, wether it's near the cast on or bind off edge.  It's rare that I throw a project against a wall these days.

 I fall somewhere between my mom's favorite saying and my sister's, willing to try over and over, but without getting bent out of shape over it.

 My notes- I used size 2 needles and knit the size 28"at a slightly larger gauge (1 stitch more per inch) to get a size 32" for a fitted look.  I also spaced my buttonholes closer together to avoid too much button band peek, about 1.25- 1.5" apart; and so, needed more buttons.  I really think there's just going to be a little gapping on a fitted cardigan like this, no matter what you do.  I see where plenty of knitters tried oversizing theirs in hopes of avoiding it, yet still found it gapped a little.  However, I'd rather have gaps on a fitted cardigan than a loose one.  Even Jane's sample has a bit of obvious stretch at the button band, so I'm not sweating it (like the perfectionist destined for disappointment).  I really like the fit, so I'm pleased.

The garter bottom band looked nice, but I really like the ease of 1X1 rib.  It's so much easier to not be worrying about the bottom rolling up all day.  Plus, I think the ribbing looks cute at this shorter length.

I also used a trick I tried on Caramel to keep the underarm stitches nice and neat.  I think it's the most flawless job I've ever done on picking up stitches for the sleeves.

What makes this pattern, for me, is the purl ridge and pleats across the front yoke and back.  My back pleats seem to have flattened out after blocking, but I'll fiddle with them and steam block them in place.

I'm also crazy about this yarn from Laura Jimenez of Gynx Yarns.  It's called faded jeans and has exactly that casual, weekend-ish feel to it.  I only used 1.5 skeins to make this, so I've got a little left for stripes on a hat or socks, or something.   Laura is behind The Dyer's Notebook and also dyes really cool Totoro themed yarns,  Catbus being next on my yarn wishlist.

The subtle color changes are beautiful, but I found the color changes looked differently on sleeves than on the wide span of the cardigan body.  To avoid a striping look, I tried something I read that a lot of people do when using multicolored, hand dyed yarn: alternate between two balls of yarn for every two rows on the sleeves.  It's sort of a pain to have two strands of yarn going at once, but refer to the quotes at the beginning of the post.  It was just worth it for a seamless color flow.  I can't see a difference between the knit fabric of the body and the sleeves (below).  Can you?

But even with all of this attention to detail, or maybe because of it, I finished, washed, blocked, then set it down for a while.  Maybe I reached my sewing threshold when finishing the Scallop of the Sea clutch last month.  Whatever the reason, it languished for a month or so, waiting for buttons; 12 buttons to be exact.  That was a whine you heard.

Then yesterday, on a spring cleaning kind of high, I decided to finish every knitted thing I've started, wash all the laundry, add compost to the garden, and outfit my bike with all the accessories I got for my birthday.   So, buttons were sewn while my sister and I had a little visit.

There's another Georgia post here , more details/ pics on my Ravelry and Flickr, and there's a sweetie who kept walking in front of the camera accidentally, below.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's Henri

...but when I think it, it sounds like "Awn- reeee" in a bad French accent.   This sweater by Ann Leachman of Magical Grammar was the one thing I had to make this winter.  Is it not the perfect fall sweater: oversized, cabled, tweedy, and warm?

(my instagram)

I used size 3 needles to get gauge and made a size 34".  That's my size, but there's plenty of positive ease for a comfy feeling sweater.   It is so comfy, in fact, that I threw it on backward to take my first set of photos and didn't notice until I was editing them.  Classic me.  Yeah, the photos I really liked best... all freaky backward-sweater-girl.  There's one, below.  It's to the designer's credit that she can make a sweater that even looks good backward.

Keep in mind that I never block before making finished object photos.  I just didn't feel like it and there wasn't anything to "fix", so I seamed it up and wore it.  I'll get to blocking tomorrow.

 Ah, here we go, a picture of the front, on the front of me.  Much better.  I used City Tweed in kitten (it really begged to be something cute) and loved it.  If you're into tweedy, alpaca blends, this yarn is perfect for you.  It doesn't highlight the stitch detail quite as much as the yarns used for the pattern samples, but it does push the fluffy, cozy sweater thing to the limit.  I think I have some more in my stash for this sweater.

To recap: the front and back of this sweater are knit separately, then seamed along the sides.  Deciding how I wanted to seam was the most difficult part of this project.  I'm thinking the side seams look fine.

All of those crazy stitch patterns in one place make Henri seem like a knitting sampler, sort of a knitting Pu pu platter.  I missed my calling to do pattern write ups, huh?   It has a lot going on, only don't let all the activity intimidate you.  It's just knits, purls, and cables in varying order.

Key points for knitting this sweater were:
1) trust the pattern
and 2) spend some time getting comfortable with the different stitch patterns before turning on the tv.  Remember when knitting was enough, in itself, and you didn't have to have podcasts, ipads, books, or netflix humming like a shrine to information all around you?  Well, like that.

A note on the sleeves:  See the stockinette wedges along the underarm of the sweater, above?  That tripped me up at first.  I thought I was misreading the pattern, but it is the designer's intention and repeated all the way up the arm.  So, you'll be knitting the puff stitch, mistake rib, honeycomb, all up to the marker, then it's stockinette at the edge.

For the neckline I picked up a bit more than every other stitch- 43 in front and 35 in back.  On the bottom band it was 124 and for each sleeve 28, I think.  I used Jeny's Super Stretchy bind-off, as recommended by Sara on another sweater I'd like to try.

(mmm... is this the back on my back?  Why, yes, it is.) 

By the way, check out all of the finished projects for the Downton Abbey Knitalong on Luvinthemommyhood, be inspired, and have a happy Valentine's Day with people you love!

Previous posts on this sweater:  the beginning, halfway point, and the seaming.  More photos /info on my Ravelry and flickr.