Project #5 - Sarubobo (The 12 UFO projects of Christmas)

Saturday, December 21, 2013
This is the Fifth project in The 12 UFO projects of Christmas. An explanation of what I'm doing and a list of all projects can be found here.

Project #5 - Sarubobo

Reason for UFO status: I remember starting this project but I don't really remember what put it into UFO status. I was probably working on multiple projects and this one got pushed aside and forgotten until rediscovered when cleaning.

A Sarubobo doll is a Japanese good luck charm and they're given by mothers to daughters for a good marriage and children. Traditionally they are red colored and faceless (no one knows why the dolls are faceless; it is speculated that the absence of a face allows the owner to imagine it). Modern Sarubobo's are available in many different colors but still remain faceless.

I had been following and reading the blog Mairuru who is a Japanese crafter. She wrote this post - How to make Sarubobo plush - and I was immediately enamoured with the idea of making one. The above picture shows how far I got before the project was derailed by who knows what. All the prep work of supply collection, pattern making and fabric cutting had been done and I had even started stitching the first body so I forged ahead and finished one Sarubobo plush. I had pattern pieces for a second plush cut out and ready to sew but decided to make only one.

I couldn't resist playing around and taking this picture of the Sarubobo in the pink tulips!

Final Thoughts: I thought this project might be a prototype for a valentine (hence the heart fabric) but I don't want to make a dozen of them. The hand stitching and stuffing were straight forward and easy, but fussy. They're cute but not THAT cute (my daughter Laura thinks they're creepy) and how to use them is a big question. So in the end it's a "meh" project and not going to be developed further.

Project #4 - Web & Blog Updates (The 12 UFO projects of Christmas)

Sunday, December 15, 2013
This is the Fourth project in The 12 UFO projects of Christmas. An explanation of what I'm doing and a list of all projects can be found here.

Project #4 - Website and blog updates

Reason for UFO status: A website with a blog is a perpetual UFO. There is always something that needs to be updated, fixed or written.

It takes a fair amount of time to write web pages and blog posts. It takes even more time to solve coding problems with html, php or css. So here's a sampling of recent fixes and updates:

Blog updates:
  • Blogger "About Me" - Finally got around to deciding out what I wanted to say and then writing a few sentences for the About Me section of the blog. It's a succinct and accurate statement of my crafting philosophy.

    Blog fixes:
  • The Google search box widget on my blog wasn't working. Google widgets stop working periodically and normally I don't have to do anything because Google fixes them before I even know they're broken. This time I noticed because I regularly search my blog to find old posts that I want a link for - so I went looking for a solution. I found this resolution - Is Your Search Box Gadget Broken?, which works, but I prefer the way Google's search widget displayed results so I'm going to have to remember to check back and see if Google has solved the problem.

    Updates for mobile devices:
    I tested my website and blog on a couple of mobile devices and overall everything looks and functions well. However, I did find some issues that needed to be corrected:

  • Homepage - The homepage of my website wasn't centering on mobile devices so I had to research how to vertically center a div (a coding tag that defines a division or a section in an HTML document). I found this well written blog post about Vertical Centering with CSS which solved the problem.
  • Additionally, the drop down menu of my navigation bar wasn't working and it took awhile to track down why - it's because the touch interface of mobile devices doesn't support the :hover selector. On computers you use the mouse and "hover" to drop down new menu levels but phones and tablets use only "touch" so some of my site navigation didn't work right on a mobile device. I want my website to be viewable across multiple platforms and this problem had the potential to become a MAJOR code rework or even a site redesign. Luckily, I found an easy and quick fix here that appears to be working.

    Website update:
    Through the years I've participated in a number of art installations so I've highlighted this activity on my website with a new section.

    Final Thoughts: I wanted to complete a couple of updates to my blog and website but wound up fixing more things than I updated! That's par for the course though when it comes to computer/web work.

  • Project #3 - Été Chic (The 12 UFO projects of Christmas)

    Monday, December 09, 2013
    This is the third project in The 12 UFO projects of Christmas. An explanation of what I'm doing and a list of all projects can be found here.

    Project #3 - Été Chic shawlette

    Reason for UFO status: Finishing details - Needed blocking.

    I love the design of this shawlette. The lace edging was knit first and then stitches were picked up along the length for the body which was finished with short rows. It's more scarf than shawl or shawlette so I was slightly disappointed by the size but that's a minor complaint because I'll wear it no matter what you call it!

    The pattern can be found here. My Ravelry project page is here.

    This project was the easiest to find the motivation to finish because all that was needed was to get out the blocking equipment.

    Final Thoughts: Perfection!

    Project #2 - Microwave Potato Bag (The 12 UFO projects of Christmas)

    Thursday, December 05, 2013
    This is the second project in The 12 UFO projects of Christmas. An explanation of what I'm doing and a list of all projects can be found here.

    Project #2 - Microwave Potato Bag

    Reason for UFO status: I started the project in a moment of interest but didn't finish.

    I was making ironing board covers at work and had bought a bag of cotton batting for padding. On the package were the instructions for making a Microwave Potato Bag. My curiosity was piqued! So after I finished the ironing board covers I cut pieces from batting and scrap cotton fabric to make one. Then I set them aside and forgot about it.

    The instructions for the Microwave Potato Bag are online at the Warm Company's web site in the Creative Corner section. The blog Distant Pickles has another good tutorial - You Say Potato, I Say Po-tah-to

    Construction notes:
  • I used muslin for the inside of the bag and then quilted all three together with channel stitching 2" apart.
  • The two narrow ends were finished with matching yellow bias tape.
  • I deviated from the pattern and folded my bag to have a 3" flap at the top of the bag. The sides were stitched and then serged.
  • The finished size is 9½" x 11".

    Instructions for using Microwave Potato Bag:
  • Wash potatoes (do not poke holes).
  • Wrap in paper towel and put in bag.
  • Place bag in microwave with the flap facing down.
  • Bake on high, 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the number, the size of the potatoes and the power of the microwave.

    Final Thoughts: I have no idea yet how well the bag works at cooking potatoes but I love the end results. At the very least it would make a novel housewarming or hostess gift.

    Update: If there's a turntable in your microwave it's important that the bag rotate freely and not touch the walls. Mine was too big so I had to lop an inch and a half off the bottom. The size of my bag is now a square 9½" x 9½".

  • Project #1 - Overdyed skein of yarn (The 12 UFO projects of Christmas)

    Monday, December 02, 2013
    This is the first project in The 12 UFO projects of Christmas. An explanation of what I'm doing and a list of all projects can be found here.

    Project #1 - Overdyed skein of yarn

    This is the first project in The 12 UFO projects of Christmas. A list of all projects can be found here.

    Reason for UFO status: I couldn't find something that worked with the yarn as originally dyed.

    Many years ago I took a class on yarn dying. At the end of the class a skein still remained undyed so I went for random and spontaneous by quickly throwing leftover dyes onto the skein. The result was this:

    An interesting mottled mess of colors! I tried many patterns trying to come up with something that looked good with this dye pattern and colorway. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything I liked so I decided next to try over-dying. I used 1/2 packet of Cushing's Perfection Acid Dye and chose the color maroon which I hoped the old colors would take to and make interesting new shades.

    Final Thoughts: It's still a little bit of a mottled mess but it's a more cohesive one and I'm quite happy with the result. I have high hopes for using it! I think it would be "cheating" on my ban if I started working with it now but I'll update this post when I've made something with it.

    Update: I knit the Sunshine Shawlette with the overdyed yarn. It's now a perfect fall scarf!

    Ravelry Project Page - Sunshine Shawlette

    The 12 UFO projects of Christmas

    Sunday, December 01, 2013

    Like many crafters, I have plenty of projects that I've started and for one reason or another they haven't been completed. Knitters and crocheters have a term for these unfinished projects, they're called UFO's - UnFinished Objects. Let me start out by stating that this project, other than mostly occurring during the month of December, really has nothing to do with Christmas!

    The top four reasons for my UFO's are:

    1) I lost interest. Many times I'll start a project because it's "cute" or "I can make that!" but that sentiment or interest doesn't last through to the completion of the project. Sometimes I lose interest because it's a huge or repetitive project and I get sick of doing it. These projects are usually completed once my interest is piqued again.

    2) I encountered a problem and need to figure out how to solve it. Sometimes this is because I have to learn a new technique but more frequently it's because I don't like the way the project is progressing and have to rework the pattern I'm following or rethink my own design. These projects are the most difficult to finish because I need to do research or wait for design inspiration.

    3) I no longer like or want to do the project. Sometimes projects just don't look the way I think they will, sometimes they turn into a mess that I don't want to recover from and sometimes I can't remember what got me started on a project in the first place. Sometimes I look at an unfinished project and ask myself "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?". These projects just need to be ditched.

    4) Finishing details. Garment hems, sanding and painting and blocking knits are examples of finishing details that can sideline a project. These projects are the easiest to complete but I have to be in the mood.

    I currently have so many unfinished projects that they are taking up space and are distracting. So I've put a self imposed ban on starting any new projects until I've cleaned up some of the unfinished ones. At first I thought I would make the ban a timed event between Thanksgiving and the new year but in the spirit of the holidays and inspired by the song The 12 Days of Christmas. I've decided to make it the completion of 12 UFO projects OR the start of the new year - whichever comes first.

    So here goes.

    The 12 UFO projects of Christmas
    Project #1 - Overdyed skein of yarn
    Project #2 - Microwave Potato Bag
    Project #3 - Été Chic
    Project #4 - Web and Blog Updates
    Project #5 - Sarubobo

    That's it. I've actually done 12 projects but these are the only blog worthy ones. I'm off now to cast on a shawl for that overdyed skein of yarn!