About The Incurable Homebody

(A.k.a. Maya.) Full-time DIY video producer, part-time blogger, socially awkward recluse, and a crafter with a purpose. I blog about crafting and the pursuit of confidence for the socially anxious.

the homebody is home for good — PLUS how to make galaxy cushion covers

How to Paint a Galaxy Design on Cushion Covers

Nebula art cushion covers I made for eHow

Hello? Is anyone still out there? Of course not — who am I kidding? After an absence as long as this, I’d be silly to think that my two readers would still be checking my little site for updates.

But I’m brushing away the cobwebs and revving up my DIY engines again because I have actually left my 9-to-5 office gig as a website content manager (complete with a lousy 3-hour roundtrip commute in L.A. traffic) for my dream job — working from home as a full-time video producer and writer for the lovely folks at eHow. Yes, I am actually DIY-ing for my bread and butter. And I, the incurable homebody, get to do it all from HOME SWEET HOME. (Check out my contributor page.) Pinch me. Seriously.

I’ll try to update my blog whenever a new video/article gets published to eHow, plus give you some additional helpful tips on the craft projects and recipes.

And there’s no better time than the present, so let’s start!

Check out one of the first videos I created for eHow: DIY galaxy-themed cushion covers. Click here for the full tutorial.

Originally, this tutorial was going to include sewing the cushion cover as well, but as I’m the queen of shortcuts, I figured why bother? Instead, I bought these super affordable and really great quality covers on Amazon. The video and tute came out great, but there are a couple of things I would have done differently — namely, the bleaching step. As you can see in the video, I was a little trigger happy, plus the nozzle should have been set to a more focused spray, so too many areas of the cushion lost its color (*womp womp wooomp*). I should have probably only squirted once, as my cover was only 12×12. Anyway, I filled in the over-bleached areas with purple paint, which I wouldn’t have had to do if I’d not given it that extra squirt. Ah well, they still turned out pretty well I think.

Also, instead of making a million tiny stars with the tip of a paintbrush, you can be bold and flick on some white paint using toothbrush bristles for a splatter effect, like this cute li’l boy is doing in this video. But, I didn’t “boldly go” that galactic route. (See what I did there with that infamous split-infinitive Star Trek reference?)

And here’s the image I used as my inspiration. It’s a galaxy cluster officially named Abel 2744, a.k.a. Pandora’s Cluster. Gorgeous, right?

pandoras-cluster

The bleaching technique is the most widely used, but if you don’t want to mess around with nasty chlorine, there are other tutorials that give a bleach-free option. I for one liked the randomness of the bleach spots, which will guide the rest of your design. Kind of like the chaotic yet beautiful nature of the universe. Not sure if that analogy works, but I like the sound of it.

easy DIY: scarf to kimono-esque cardigan

Image 16

Whenever I’m out shopping, I find it extremely difficult to resist the allure of a scarf with a particularly beautiful colorway and print. The result? A scarf drawer crammed to capacity, with many a silken or sheer square buried and forgotten beneath the ever-growing collection. I always knew that these lovely, neglected pieces of fabric presented a prime DIY upcycling opportunity — I simply needed to figure out what that opportunity was. Now I know! After stumbling upon a couple tutorials (here and here) for turning a  scarf into a kimono-style cardigan, I made my own version using a sheer, rust-colored, fringed scarf I brought home as a souvenir from Barcelona.

I can’t adequately stress how painless this project is. You don’t even need a sewing machine. In fact, all you’ll need is a needle and thread and the ability to hand stitch a straight line. So fool proof, it’s silly. Just fold a large square scarf in half. Then, with the folded side at the top, seam the right and left edges about halfway up from the bottom. See figure below. Voila. You’re done. Open it up, stick your arms through the armholes (i.e. the unsewn edges), and let your cardi drape around you for effortless, slouchy, boho fabulousness.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 5.46.51 PM

Image 15 Image 17 Image 13

Seamless shawl collar cardigan

Image

After a long stretch of unbearable busy-ness with grad school, I now find myself with too much time on my hands. Currently in the midst of a job search, but truth be told, I enjoy my newfound freedom!

With so much time at my disposal, I knit this seamless raglan cardigan with very affordable (and surprisingly delightful) Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool. For the basic raglan pattern, I used Knitty’s Shapely Boyfriend, but with garter stitch edges and a shawl collar (instead of 2×2 rib). I didn’t taper the sleeves, as I wanted them to look slightly flared, ’70s style. I also wanted it to hang open, so I didn’t add buttons. I figured if I wanted a closed cardi look, a belt would do the trick. Since I was looking for a project with a load of brainless knitting that I could do while watching TV, all of the (self-designed) colorwork was embroidered on (using duplicate stitch) afterward. I had such great results with duplicate stitch in the past that I’ve planned a load of projects using it instead of stranded colorwork. If you haven’t done it yourself, give it a try. However, because you’re doubling up on yarn at the location of your colorwork, be aware that the area you embroider will be a bit stiffer than the rest of the piece, as well as raised — sort of like one of those old school iron on patches. I, for one, don’t mind this. I love the resulting cardigan and have been wearing it to death, as L.A. recently went through a bit of a cold spell. The wool pills quite bit, but I expected as much. Good news, though, is that it’s gotten softer with wear. The perfect cozy cardigan to wrap around myself while sipping creamy Mexican hot chocolate on a chilly evening.

Image

homebody buttoned mug cozy knitting pattern (plain and cabled)

Since I’ve gotten quite a few queries on how I made the Christmas gift mug cozies blogged about here, I’ve decided to post these quick patterns I threw together. Sorry in advance if you catch any errors as pattern writing isn’t really my forte. Any corrections are welcome. Enjoy!

Cabled mug cozy

BUTTONED MUG COZY (Cabled or Plain)

Any worsted weight yarn will do. US Size 8 needles.

Start with the buttonhole strap:

CO 4 and knit two rows.

3rd row: k 2, yo (to make buttonhole) k 2 (5 st total)

Knit about 4 more rows in garter stitch (i.e. all knit st) before increasing

Work an increase row:

K1fb in each stitch (10 stitches total)

Now, choose one of the following two options for the rest of your cozy — cabled or plain.

Body for a cabled cozy:

Add one more increase row: K1, (k1fb) 3 times, k2, (k1fb) 3 times, k1 (16 stitches total)

Start 6-stitch cable pattern: (right side) K3, p2, work cable twist pattern over next 6 stitches (slip 3 st onto cable needle and move to back of work, k3, knit stitches from cable needle. Twist the cable like this every 6 rows. When not on a twist row, knit the 6 stitches), p2, k3

Next row (and all wrong side rows): k5, p6, k5

Repeat these last 2 rows until your body is the desired length (ending on a twist row). Start on button strap.

Decrease for button strap:

Dec row 1: (k1, k2 tog) 5 times, k1 (11 st total)

Dec row 2: (k1, k2tog) 3 times, k2 (8 st total)

Dec row 3: k2tog all the way across (4 st total)

Knit 4 rows even.

Bind off.

Body for plain cozy:

Add one more increase row: K1, k1fb, k1, k1fb, k2, k1fb, k1, k1fb, k1 (14 stitches total)

All wrong sides: k3, p8, k3

Right sides: knit

Repeat these last 2 rows until your body is the desired length.

Decrease for button strap:

Dec row 1: (k1, k2tog) 4 times, k2 (10 st total)

Dec row 2: k2tog all the way across (5 st total)

Knit 5 rows even.

Bind off.

Add an embroidered design to your cozy, if so desired.

On my needles: the “Sarah Lund” sweater

I’m finally home (hurrah!) after a year spent in Northern Ireland working on an M.A. at Queen’s University Belfast. I’m supposed to be fully immersed in researching/writing my dissertation (due in a few months), so I swore up and down that I would not start a new craft project until I was finished with it. Then I promptly ignored myself and picked up my knitting needles. I blame Danish television, for which I currently have a slight obsession. It started when my husband introduced me to Forbrydelsen (or The Killing — the US TV version of which pales in comparison), then we progressed to Bron/Broen (the Bridge — a Danish/Swedish production), and we’re now quickly making our way through Borgen. If you’re looking for addictive, pulpy-yet-smart television, then jump aboard the Nordic bandwagon! Alright, so what does this have to do with knitting? Well, if you know anything about The Killing, you’ve probably heard about the famous “Sarah Lund sweater/jumper” — an article of clothing that the detective heroine of the show wears so often it should receive co-star billing. Indeed, there is an entire website dedicated to it and a YouTube spoof inspired by it.

Image

So, after doing some research online (mostly on Ravelry where many have made terrific renditions of this sweater — just search projects using the keywords “Sarah Lund”) I got to work. Ravelry member sunshinewheels provides some great notes (albeit not a detailed pattern) on how she knit hers up.  The actual sweater is made by Gudrun & Gudrun and is available to purchase here, but if you’re not prepared to drop 280 euros (about $350) then you can buy the exact wool used for the sweater from the Faroe Islands (which I did) and make your own (which I am doing).

Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Image

The problem is, it fits very, VERY snug on me. Hopefully blocking will do the trick, but I fear I’ll have to give this one up to someone of more petite build. Still, it’s a fun project and a much needed diversion from the schoolwork. Too much of a diversion, though, I fear!

navajo-inspired cardi

And here’s another project I finished a while ago but neglected to blog. Inspiration came from Free People’s Navajo Cardigan (currently unavailable). Alright, it was a bit more than inspiration, it was downright thievery as I closely copied the stunning Navajo design, even down to the colorway. In doing so, I spent a good amount of time charting a pattern on Numbers (Apple’s answer to MS Excel). The actual sweater, though, is my own. Ideally, I’d have made it in gray (like the Free People one), but I had a load of oatmeal-colored aran wool to use up.

Though the colorwork at the back and on the sleeves was knitted using a combo of fair isle and intarsia techniques (time consuming!), the left front panel was done the easy peasy way — through embroidery. I used a duplicate stitch (a.k.a. Swiss darning) which mocks the look of fair isle or intarsia and although it increases the thickness of the fabric, the look is clean and the process is quick and simple. Just how I like things.

 

baby kimono

Here’s a little number I made for a friend’s baby shower a while back. There are a number of baby kimono patterns on the web, but I wanted something that allowed me to use a bulky yarn for a quick knit. Lion Brand supplied exactly the pattern I was looking for, and for yarn, I used my last skein of Tweedle Dee by Moda Dea. Her baby is now 5 months old, and the kimono fits the little lady perfectly.

Instead of a side tie, I used a couple of my homemade polyclay buttons, using the yarn-over increases as button holes.

i’m still around! just lazy.

The jury is in and I’m guilty of being the world’s laziest blogger. I’ve been happily unemployed and crafting…and not updating my blog. Without an excuse in the world. Anyway, I’ve got a backlist of creations to report, which I shall do.

Oh yes, and in one week’s time I will be on a plane headed to Belfast, Northern Ireland for a year-long M.A. program…or “programme,” rather. (I should get used to having to switch off US spelling mode). Feeling excited, nervous, and all those things one would be expected to feel when leaving home and husband for a full year in a foreign land. So, yes, the Incurable Homebody will actually be away from home for a while. 😕

Now, onto the neglected creations:

It occurs to me that I never blogged last year’s Christmas creations for fear that the recipients might have their surprises spoiled. So in the spirit of better-late-than-never, here they are:

A couple of improvised mug cozies. Great projects if you’ve got leftover yarn lying about.

  

  

Teddy bear baby hat. Made two of these — one for my sis-in-law’s wee girl, and another for my brother’s youngest (the little lady pictured below, throwing up a peace sign before retiring for the evening). I couldn’t find a pattern that I liked in its entirety, so created a mashup of these two: The Hat Menagerie bear and Bernat’s Cottontotts hat. As you can see, I made the lined beanie and ears using the Bernat pattern (though shorter so not to have a fold-over edge) and for the face, I used the Hat Menagerie pattern. Note: the afterthought nose is something of an upside-down heart shape sewn on and stuffed with some fiberfill.

  

A stuffed kitty made from scrap material:

More long-overdue updates to come!

low-carb chocolate madeleines

Being borderline obsessive, I knew that the moment I decided to significantly cut my carb intake would also mark the beginning of a feverish quest — to seek out then hone low-carb recipes which best mimic their high carb counterparts. It’s been a formidable challenge, not to mention a pricey endeavor, but so worth it as my energy level has skyrocketed. And today, folks, I have stumbled upon my greatest success thus far:

Low-Carb Chocolate Madeleines

1 stick of unsalted butter (softened)
1/4 c. granulated (1 for 1) sugar substitute of your choice*
3/4 c. brown sugar substitute. I recommend Ideal Brown.*
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. vanilla whey protein powder. I recommend Biochem Whey Protein Isolate
3/4 c. almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 330 F. Cream butter, Splenda and brown sugar substitute. Blend in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the whey protein powder,  almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix by hand until incorporated. Your mixture should now have the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough. Spray your madeleine pan with non-stick coating. Spoon the batter into the madeleine cavities ’til they’re about 3/4 full, then use your fingers to pat them down flat. They’ll rise considerably when baking, but the initial puffiness will subside quickly while they cool. Bake for about 10 – 11 minutes or until the edges have browned. Enjoy with a hot beverage of your choice and a good book. I recommend tea and Proust. 🙂

 

Yield: 20 madeleines

*UPDATE:  I originally listed Splenda as the granulated sweetener, but have since cut sucralose out of my diet. I currently use xylitol, but it seems a whole lot of people have also gotten terrific results in their sugar-free baking using Swerve (which contains erythritol), though I haven’t tried it myself. Regarding the brown sugar substitute, for whatever reason, Ideal Brown doesn’t appear to be available anymore—a shame, because it worked so well! I haven’t made these madeleines since running out of my stockpile of Ideal Brown, but I’ll probably give Just Like Sugar a go. Will update when I do!

fabric appliques + old boots = new boots!

First, a Facebook friend posted this…and then I remembered seeing this…and so I did this…


…using some leftover outdoor fabric I used for bistro chair cushions a few months back. These old faux leather boots had been sitting in the back of my closet unworn for over a year, as I have too many brown pairs of boots  to keep track of. After today, no longer shall these be lost in the crowd! I simply cut out some pretty floral motifs from my fabric, coated the backs with Fabric Mod Podge (paying close attention to the edges), and applied them to the boots. I’m currently waiting for them to dry so I can seal the appliques with more Mod Podge. Before I actually wear them out, I plan to treat them with a couple more coats of Outdoor Modge Podge (once I buy some, that is). Now I’m off to see if I’ve got any more footwear needing a makeover!