General

New Year’s LARP resolutions for 2015

First of all: Happy 2015 everybody! I hope you all had wonderful holidays with your family and friends, I definately did. As 2015 has started and all the party is over, time has come to think about the year ahead of us. I’m not really a person to make very stringent resolutions for myself, as I know that not living up to them is very probable and also very stressful for me. The new year is, however, a good moment to reflect on last year and think about things that I want to do in 2015. So no ‘real’ resolutions for me, but when it comes to my hobbies, I do have a few things that I would like to do this year! I thought I’d share them here with you. In December (that sounds so far away right now…) I will see what came true this year. So, here is my list:

1. Visit fantasy LARPs again. In 2014, I visited not a single fantasy LARP organised by the association I’m a member of. Of course I had my reasons (no money, no time, new job…) but after a year off I start to miss them. I miss the people I normally see at those events and I miss the intimate atmosphere of an event with 50 people or so. I did visit post-apocalyptic LARPs (where I’m an NPC and game master, which is not the same as being a PC) and Drachenfest in Germany, but those things are definately very different. I hope I can find the possibility to re-enter the stories I’ve been a part of for quite some time either with an old character or a new one!

2. Attend a huge LARP event again. As said before, last summer I went to Drachenfest, an event with about 5000 visitors in Germany. I was blown away by what I saw… I just couldn’t wrap my head around the shear amount of tents, houses, gates, gardens and (most of all) dressed up people doing their thing. I went to the Elf Fantasy fair quite some times (which draws 15000 people but is just a fantasy festival where you can but stuff and see acts), but this is so different and so much better. I will write an article very soon about this experience, as it was wonderful. We will visit the festival again next summer, and I’m already looking forward to it.

3. Visit a fantasy festival in a pretty dress. This might sound like a stupid one… I will explain why I want this. I visit the Elf Fantasy Fair (or Elfia as it is called now) twice a year. Not as a visitor, but to promote the post-apocalyptic role-playing events I have been a part of for about 4 years now. This means I live at the festival terrain for those days, in run-down tents, cooking my food over oil drums and people watching everything you do all day long, and all this while wearing run-down clothing, covered in mud. It’s awesome, no doubt about that, but somewhere in my heart I want to have a pretty dress too sometimes. If only for one day 😛 So in 2015, I want to make a real victorian bustle dress and walk the festival grounds in a pretty dress!

4. Use up a lot of stuff I have lying around. This is something that a lot of people who like hobbying as much as I do will recognize I think. I have a big stash of fabric, wool, beads and other stuff lying around, which are either leftovers from other projects, projects-to-be and the things you just couldn’t leave in the store because they are so pretty… It happens to all of us I think, and you don’t really realize what you have… until you move. In March, I moved to a new house and I started packing my stuff. I was a bit shocked to see how much I had! I threw away a lot of hobby stuff (or rather, donated it to other people) and kept quite some stuff too. In this new year,  I will try to use something I already have in each hobby project.

5. Maybe blogging a bit more? Last year, I wrote 2 articles. That is not a lot! Considering all that happened it’s not weird, but I sometimes missed the writing a bit. I hope that next year I will be able to write some more articles and put some love in this blog again 🙂

 

That pretty much sums up my hobby resolutions for 2015! Do you have any nice plans for 2015 when it comes to your hobbies?

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My First Quilt: Part 3


Hello all! Hahaha, it has been almost a year since my last post, but I decided I didn’t want to quit my blog just like that. In fact, I would really like to pick up the writing again. A lot has changed for me, I moved to a new house and started a new job last year, which might explain my absence here. Anyways, in the meantime I finished a lot of projects, including this nice quilt:

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In my last post, I told you that I was a bit afraid of the quilting part… Because of that, it rested for 2 months on a shelf before I found the courage to pick it up again. I wish I had done that earlier, because in the end the quilting was so easy and the blanket was finished in no time! Here is the final part of this tutorial (after part 1 and part 2), and a bonus quilt made by the same method at the end of this post!

STEP 13

So, after finishing the quilt sandwich, it’s time for the quilting! Since I have a very old sewing machine without free foot option (the one that allows you to make the nice swirly patterns) I decided to go for a simple grid. I first stitched over the seams in between the blocks to fixate the layers of the quilt. Afer that, I stitched the seams in the blocks  themselves from one edge to the other (yes, that means stitching through the big squares, don’t worry!). Just do what you like best, you can find countless ideas on how to do this on the internet!

STEP 14

Now it’s time to put the binding around your quilt! You remember the strips of fabric from the beginning? You’ll use them now! Sew all of them together on the short sides, creating a very long strip, and press the seams open. Now fold the strip in half, long sides together, and press. Starting approximately in the middle of one of the long sides of your quilt, line up the rough edges of your binding with the edge of your quilt top, and pin in place. Yes, both layers! Don’t unfold your binding, because he double layer of fabric will give a nice, firm finish.

Binding

 When you reach the corner, fold the binding as indicated in the picture below:

corners

So first outwards, and then back to your quilt top, lining up the fold line with the edge of your quilt. This will allow enough room to fold your binding to the back of your quilt. When you reach the start of your binding again, leave a 1,5 cm overlap between the two ends and cut off the rest. After pinning, start the stitching of your binding about 10cm away from the start of your binding. Stop about 10cm before the end of your binding, because you have to join the two ends first! Grab the two loose ends of your binding and unfold them. Line up the edges, pin and sew with a 7mm seam allowance. press the seam open and voila! Your binding is joined all around! Stitch the last 20 cm of seam and you are ready for the final steps…

joining

STEP 15

And now for the last few bits…. almost there! First, trim the edges of your quilt at 1,5 cm from the stitch line of your binding. Then, fold your binding to the back, around the rough edges. You can do two things now: 1) machine stitch your binding into place and hope that it will look good, or 2) spend a little more time on hand-stitching your binding and being sure it will look very neat (I chose option 2, as you might have guessed). Using a blind stitch (see picture below) about 1 cm apart, secure the binding all around. It took me about 2-3 hours, enough time to watch a movie or some episodes of your favorite series. Who says finishing your quilt by hand is boring? This is multi-tasking at its best!

blind stitch

And after this, your quilt is finished! This is my end product:

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I love it! It’s always somewhere near my couch, and when it gets a bit cold in the evening I snuggle up under my quilt. I really loved making this one, and decided to make a second one for friends who were expecting a baby:

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Made by using exactly the same principle, but a different arrangement of the blocks! Making this one was a lot of fun,because of all the cute fabrics I got to use. What will be next?

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Latest obsession: Amigurumi!

Hi everyone! A happy 2014 to all of you, I hope you’ve had a nice holiday season. I certainly had, with a lot of nice people, good food and of course a lot of hobbying! In fact I discovered something new I am totally crazy about: Amigurumi! Somewhere in November a friend invited me and some other people over for an evening of knitting and crochet. She showed us some books on amigurumi, which is (apparently) the Japanese word for cute small stuffed animals. I loved the idea the moment I was introduced to them! When I went home again, I decided I would ask Santa for some books on Amigurumi, and he certainly heard me I guess! I got two books, one with animals from the forest (owls and frogs, so cute!), and one with 25 different animals (a lot of cats and dogs, but also very nice birds).

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I couldn’t wait to get started with all the cute animals in the books, but I wanted to start with something small and easy. In two hours, this lovely blue snail was born! He is tumbling over all the time (on his face or his side), so next time I will fill the lower part of the body with something heavy, but I like it nonetheless. He seems to be a happy snail, but I’ll have to make a little friend for him some time soon!

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Because I know everything can be found somewhere on the internet, I also looked for amigurumi patterns online. A myriad of cute crochet patterns awaited me, and I picked out two (or actually three) of them to make as presents for family and friends.

The first pattern is of a Bad Piggy and an Angry Bird, that I found on Nerdigurumi (link to the pattern). Wijbe’s uncle loves to play Angry Birds all the time, so I decided I would make him those as a present. He loved them! Unfortunately I forgot to make a picture of them, but this is what they looked like:

Angry Bird and Bad Piggy by Nerdigurumi

The last (and my personal favorite) amigurumi I made as a present was a Prinny. Prinnies are penguin-like figures with small bat wings from the game Disgaea. I never played the game (will do in the near future I hope!) but since I am a big fan of everything penguin-like I decided to like them anyway. A friend of mine, who played the game and told me about prinnies, ceebrated his birthday in December so I decided to make him a Prinny. I found this amazing pattern and started right way. He really liked it, and now the two of them drink a whisky together regularly:

Prinnycollage

I really loved making those amigurumi, and I will definately make some more in the near future. I hope you liked this post and let me know what you crafted recently!

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My First Quilt: Part 2

Hello all! I know, it has been ages since the last update on this project, like on so many projects actually ;). To recap: I am talking about this quilt:

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Last week, I decided to continue working on it. I have lots of now projects coming up, so better finish this one first! The last time I worked on it was before the final stage of my study, which was somewhere in july I think. I already bought all the stuff I needed, so the only thing I had to do now was putting everything together. So I gathered all the pieces and continued!

My last post on this quilt (part 1) ended with a finished top layer. So let’s continue with the back of this quilt!

STEP 8

I decided to include a pieced strip in the back, because this will break up the otherwise solid chocolate-brown fabric of the back. For this, I needed 26 rectangular pieces of fabric, 15 cm long and 7,5 cm wide. The first four pieces were provided by the leftover block from the quilt top. Bust out the seams and cut the square in half, and you already have 4 strips! The rest is cut from the rectangles you cut in the beginning. Don’t cut all of them to pieces, you are gonna need some of them for the border around your quilt later on! Therefore, keep track of how much you’ve cut. Then, sew them all together along the long edges into a strip like this:

DSCN4258press all the seams the same way and put this strip aside for later.

STEP 9

Take the fabric for your back and make sure it’s absolutely flat. Cut of the selfedges and make sure the cutting edge of the fabric is straight and perpendicular to the selfedges. Now, sew one side of the pieced strip to one of the selfedges, and the other side of the pieced strip to the other selfedge. In case it’s not clear: you are making a tube! Press the seams towards the back fabric. Now, determine how far from the edge you want the pieced strip to be. Fold the tube on that line and pin it to your ironing board, like shown in the picture. If your ironing board is not long enough, no worries! You can shift the whole thing later on.

DSCN4264After you’ve measured and pinned your tube along the length of your ironing board, press the fold very thoroughly. Remove the pins (careful, they are HOT!), shift the tube a bit and repeat the process until you pressed the fold along the whole length of the pieced strip.

STEP 10

Now move your pressed tube to your cutting mat and grab your rotary knife and ruler. Cut of a tiny strip from the pressed edge, only a millimeter or so! This will transform the tube into your quilt back, with the pieced strip somewhere incorporated. Cool, right?

STEP 11

The time has come to put everything together into a quilt sandwich! Make sure you have enough room on the floor to spread your quilt, with some room all around for walking and pinning later on. You want to avoid climbing onto your quilt as much as possible, because this can shift around the layers and that’s something you don’t want to happen! First, spread your quilt back on the floor (face down) and make sure no folds are present. My carpet is like velcro, so it stayed flat by itself, but if your floor is very slippery you might want to tape it down with painter’s tape along the sides to keep everything in place. Then spread your batting over the back. Spread it as flat as possible and flatten out any folds. Then, put your quilt front on top, leaving about 3 cm of back and batting on the edges (this will allow for some possible stretching during the quilting later on). Again, try to put it down as flat as possible, but don’t disrupt the layers underneath! After several atempts I figured rolling up your quilt top and unrolling it on top of the sandwich was the best way, because you can control things much easier. The whole thing should now look like this:

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STEP 12

The next step is basting your quilt. Some people prefer real basting (as in: with needle and thread) but the tutorial I followed used a lot of safety pins, so I decided to try that too. First pin the corner of your quilt and from there, put a safety pin every 10-15cm in a square pattern. Just a little reminder: don’t put pins where you want to quilt. If you plan to sew along the seams, don’t put pins there or you’ll be annoyed all the time later on because you have to remove safety pins all the time. Just a thing to keep in mind! The picture is not very clear, bu this is my quilt somewhere half-way the process:

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Search for the pins ;). After basting your whole quilt, cut the remaining back and batting away (remembering those 3cm around). Now it’s time for quilting! I myself was a bit scared, so I put the quilt away for now, but it’s staring very angrily at me all the time… I guess I can’t run away from it forever!

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Perfect Autumn dish: Pumpkin Lentil Soup!

Hey all! Again, it has been a while! My last post is from August 31, which is quite some time ago, and much happened since then. I finished my studies (yes, I am a Master of Science now, that sounds awesome) and since then I have been on a short holiday and spent a lot of time finding a job. I did not succeed yet, but I am confident I will find one before the end of the year! Hopefully a bit sooner, but you can’t press your luck too much 😉 So, here we are, it’s autumn already! Here in the Netherlands, it has been raining for days now and the trees have started to change colour. Most people seem to dislike this season, because of the rain, dropping temperatures and shorter days, but to be honest, I don’t mind. Surely I do like long days with a lot of light and warmth, but the autumn is the time of candles, cosyness and above all: wonderful fruits and vegetables. Fresh apples, brussels sprouts, and my favourite: The Allmighty Pumpkin! Why I love it so much? You can use it in soup, pie, curry, desserts, roasted, mashed, cooked, baked, stewed, or use it as a Halloween decoration. Last week I bought my first pumpkin of the season and changed it into pumkin-lentil soup, a very warming dish due to the spices I like to use. Since it’s so simpe to make, I decided to share the recipe with you!

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You will need:

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  • a pumpkin. Size doesn’t matter in this case, unless it’s so big its contents won’t fit in the cooking pot
  • red lentils
  • some cloves of garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • an onion (yellow or red, it doesn’t matter)
  • curry powder

First, clean your pumpkin and cut it into pieces. This is quite a messy process, since the inside of most pumpkins consists of seeds and slimy, mushy fiber-like things. Remove those, you ain’t gonna need them. Cut the rest of the pumpkin into pieces. Most of the times, you don’t need to remove the skin of the pumpkin, but check it for small pieces of stone or sand and wash it thoroughly before you use it. Then, dice the onion and fry it in some oil. As soon as the onion becomes a bit transparent, add about 4-5 chopped cloves of garlic and some chopped ginger, depending on your taste. Let this brown for a few minutes, then add about 500 mL water with some salt, or use chicken or vegetable stock if you have some. Bring this to the boil and add about a handful of lentils, one dinner spoon of curry powder and the pumpkin pieces.

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Cover your cooking pot, turn the heat low and let this simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until both the lentils and the pumpkin pieces are soft. Turn off the fire, get your immersion blender and blend the pumpkin pieces until you have a thick, porridge-like soup. If its too thick, you can always add some water or stock.

And now it’s time to enjoy! I like this soup with some fresh baked whole grain bread, cream cheese with herbs and a few bits of cucumber and tomato. I hope you will try this dish too, and I hope you liked this post!

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Cute stuffed animal

When it comes to gifts, I always prefer giving home made items over bought presents.  Not only do you give a unique gift to that person, matching to what colours, shapes and so on the receiver likes, but I also think home made presents show a lot of appreciation and love from the person who made it. Maybe it wasn’t as expensive as that piece of jewelery from the store, but someone put some thought and effort in making something special for you. How nice is that!

Not so long ago I made this cute stuffed animal for the little daughter of two friends of mine. This one is a chicken, but I think the weird shape can easily be transformed into a lot of different animals. It’s very soft and squishy, and this one got chewed on right away. I guess that is a good thing for very young explorers!

Chicken2

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I’m back!!!

Hello everybody, I’m back online! I am still alive, although it has been very quiet here for some time. Yesterday, I was shocked to see I didn’t post anything for the last 3 (!) months. This was mainly due to my study, because in a few weeks I will be able to call myself MSc in natural sciences, which is something I am quite proud of.

Not blogging (or even touching the sewing machine) for so long made me think about how to continue with this blog. My intentions when I started this blog was writing about LARP and making costumes, but I realized I have so much more hobbies I could write about! Writing about them is also fun, and since making tutorials takes a lot of time, writing about books, games and recipes will give me a chance to put a post on this blog much more often. So, in the weeks to come I hope I will have more time to blog and see how it turns out! My first recipe is already on its way, so stay tuned it you want to know how to make my favourite pie…

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My Easter weekend

Hello everybody, maybe it’s a bit late to tell about how I spent my Easter weekend (I wanted to publish this post last tuesday, but yeah, life got in the way again! :P). It was a very good weekend, despite the fact that it was too cold for the time of the year, about 4-6 C, why?!? It didn’t matter much, my boyfriend was at my place for this long weekend and we both spent some time on our hobby projects. Since the weekend counted 4 days, I could finally sink my teeth in some projects that I neglected for far too long. In this post, I want to show you what I did and what you can expect in some post the upcoming time!

The first thing I did is something I wanted to do for a very very long time: I cut the fabric for my first quilting project! About a year ago I stumbled upon the blog Obsessively Stitching, which has a nice comprehensive tutorial on how to make a disappearing nine-patch quilt. It looked so interesting and appealing to me, that I wanted to give it a try right away. But as with a lot of my hobby projects, the fabrics I bought were hibernating on my shelf for almost a year, but last weekend I decided to cut them all up! I expected it to take a very long time (84 squares and 16 rectangles) but it only took me about 3 hours! Why didn’t I do this before?

Easter Weekend 1

These are the fabrics I used. 12 fat quarters, used up until the very last scrap! I’m not 100% sure about the fabrics. I liked them apart from each other, with the rustic motifs and muted colours. Seeing them all together like this, I don’t know how my quilt will turn out. It can either become the rustic quilt I wanted it to be, or something totally kitsch! Only one way to find out, forward is the only way to go!  Maybe I will make a post about the project, showing off my progress and the interesting process behind the disappearing nine-patch. It’s so cool!

I also spent some time on improving my crochet skills. I felt quite unstoppable, until I tried to crochet a flower. My mom came to the rescue again, and I can proudly announce that I crochetted five flowers so far 🙂

Easter weekend 2

If you study this flower closely, it’s obvious which leaf was done by my mother. Yes, it’s the lower one 😉 mine look al wobbly again, but I am improving! *proudness*

The last thing I spent some time on is a new hobby. Somewhere around Christmas my boyfriend dug up hig old Warhammer 40.000 army (Space Wolves, lots of them) and started painting them. Curious as I am, I wanted to give it a try too. I never should have done that. To make a long story short: I have a small army of my own now (Dark Eldar, the only army with a substantial amount of female models in it) and I already did some painting on them. During Easter I started on one of the important figures of my army, Lelith Hesperax. She has very long hair, not that much clothes on her body (I still thinks Warhammer is a hobby mostly for boys, guess why) and two swords. This is how far I got this weekend:

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I’m terribly sorry for the bad picture, there was no camera around, only a mobile phone with a horrible flash. I will make a better picture as soon as I finished the model and post it here. And maybe some more pictures of my army of angry girls in the future!

I hope you all had a good time too 🙂 The weather seems to be improving, which is a good thing considering all the upcoming festivals. Can’t wait for real spring!

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Crochetted Pot Holders!

Hello everybody! I am really proud to tell you all that I learned something new! Believe it or not, until some time ago I couldn’t crochet, which frustrated the hell out of me. Knitting, sewing, and embroidering wasn’t a problem at all. But crochetting….. couldn’t get the hang of it. I tried it several times, but I didn’t seem to get it. You have this little loop over here, that’s okay, and then you poke the needle through a hole in your work, and then you wrap the yarn around. Those steps were all fine by me. But when it came to pulling the needle back without sliding the yarn off… That just seemed impossible! Two years ago my aunt (which is a very nice woman, no doubt about that) did another atempt to teach me crochet (on my own request) and she ended up wiping the tears from her eyes because she couldn’t stop laughing. For me that was frustration all over the place. I really did my best, but the best I could do was make my dear aunt laugh! As you might guess, I gave up 😛

It was somewhere this January I decided I wanted to give it one more try. This time I asked my mother and within 15 minutes I knew how to crochet! I have no idea why it didn’t work out all the time, but I learned it anyway. Still, I needed some practice, and the easiest way to do that is making something square and not to big. I also wanted it to be useful, so I came up with potholders! This is the result:


Pot Holders

I love them, they are colourful and they look even better with banana breakfast muffins ;). Alright, the edges are a bit wobbly, I am pretty sure I added and removed some stitches during the process and they are also not equal in size, but I don’t care! I’m a beginner right? These pot holders add some spring feeling to my kitchen, which is something we can really do with at the moment (last weekend it snowed in the Netherlands, I’m not kidding).

Unfortunately, I can’t show you how I made these. I didn’t use a pattern but just made it up on the go. Garnstudio has some patterns for pot holders I think, and also some very useful movies on how to crochet. This page contains all the different stitches, so I hope these will help you a bit!

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My hobby library

Hello everyone! Today I would like to give you a sneak peek in a very personal part of my life: my bookshelf! Maybe you recognise this, but when I visit people, I always start looking at the first bookshelf I can find. A bookshelf can tell so much about a person: what kind of stories he/she likes, what hobbies he/she has and so on! In this post, I would like to show you the most important books on the shelf that is dedicated to crafting. These are the books I can’t do without when it comes to making things, or just books I had to have very desperately… Maybe I will show some more of my bookshelf later, just let me know if you would like it in the comments!

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