Bright

If you’ve been here a while, you know all about this.

You know that this is a compunction that comes on me this time of year.

A compunction that I am more or less helpless to resits.

I spend a few minutes folding a bunch of these.

Then carefully carefully glueing them together (the glue dots are new this year and so far, they are a tremendous improvement over previous methods).

Rinse and repeat until the urge passes or I run out of window space.

People always always always ask, so yes, I can tell you how to do it.  Or rather, I’m not going to actually teach it to you myself (that is suspiciously like work), but I’ll point you to where you can find the info.

I’ve put it all together in one place over here on amazon. Those are totally all affiliate links.  If I’m going to pause my beloved holiday childhood activity and take pictures and then go trawling the internet for info then write it all up here, I’m absolutely going to let amazon send me a few cents for my trouble.  I’m mean and greedy like that.  If affiliate links bug you, it’s totally cool not to click them, I’ll never ever know.

At the link, you’ll find books on how to fold them in both German and English.  I tend to think the German ones are a bit more intricate, and I’d probably go with those if you like the ones I’m making.  You’re mostly going to just be looking at the pictures and doing very basic folds (if you’ve ever made one of those fortune teller things or a paper crane, you have the folding skills you’d need to make these), so the language bits aren’t super important.  But if you’re feeling nervous, there are some English ones too that are a bit simpler and will be easier to read (you know, assuming you don’t happen to read German).   If you don’t want a book, you can also google “fenstersterne falten anleitung” (which works out to “window star folding instructions” more or less, I’m not having you google anything dreadful) and you’ll find all sorts of stuff.  It will be in German, but you’ll mostly be in it for the pictures, and I have faith in you.

You’ll also find links for the special paper you need.  It’s not the sort of tissue paper you wrap presents in.  Do not try and use that, you’ll end up frustrated and disappointed.  The paper you want is much crisper than tissue paper (sort of like a cross between colored tissue paper and waxed paper and tracing paper).  Finding the right paper is the one fiddly part to this whole process.  If you don’t have the right stuff, the stars flat won’t work.  You need paper that’s stiff enough to fold, but translucent enough to let light through, because the light coming through the different layers is how this whole thing works.  Luckily you only need a couple of sheets of paper per star, so the package I linked to will let you make dozens of stars.

I trim my paper to size with a paper cutter because if you don’t get your pieces the same size and the edges nice and straight, the star will be messy.  The paper is hard enough to come by that I don’t want to waste it by trying to cut with scissors and being off a bit.  I make my folds with a bone folder because my thumbnail eventually gets sore if I don’t.  And this year I’ve started using glue dots to both hold the pieces together and hold the finished stars to the window.  It’s easier than double sided tape or glue.  I’ll see how they hold on the window over the season, but so far so good.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the window in my office faces west, and I need to see just how many of these I can fit in there.  I’ve got to do something to make up for the sun setting at 4pm.

 

Bright

The sun is setting somewhere around 4pm.  All I can say is that my office windows face west, so at least I get the light as long as possible.  That helps…and filling those west-facing windows with these helps too!

I’ve chatted about them here before, and the fascination remains as strong as ever.

If you want to make some yourself, you need the magic paper.  It’s sort of like a cross between tracing paper and cellophane (it’s not like the colored tissue paper you wrap presents in).  You can find little squares of it here and big giant sheets of it here (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).  I use the small squares and the stars I make are somewhere between the size of a salad plate and a dinner plate (you use several sheets per star, so they get big).  If you used the big sheets, you’d end up with something that would fill a door!

There are some books with instructions here and here.  And there are some kits that come with instructions and a little bit of paper here and here (though you’re probably going to want more paper than those include if you decide you like it).  Full disclosure, those aren’t the books I have (mine are old and in German), but they seem to be very much the same as mine.  And there are a few online guides for some of the simple stars here and here and here (and some fancy ones here if you don’t mind it being in German…you really only need the pictures anyway).

You don’t need much in the way of tools…possibly something to cut the paper to size and something to hold your pieces together (so scissors or an x-acto knife and tape or a glue stick).  But if you get as unreasonably entertained by it as I am you will want a paper cutter (I like this one because it has replaceable blades) and a bone folder (it makes more of a difference than you’d think…it takes me about a third less time to make a star with one, my creases are neater, and my thumbnail doesn’t get sore).

A few supplies, a few hours of folding (put on a tv show, it’s meditative in much the same way knitting is), and you can fill your windows up and fight off winter gloom!

 

Spicule (plus giveaway)

Want a hat?  Wait, actually, want three hats?  Maybe with a little something extra thrown in for fun? Because if so, I think Spicule might be just the thing.

d-1 copyThat’s three lovely, snuggly, cozy hats (just perfect for the cold weather that I suspect will arrive any day now).

d-6 copyPlus three unspeakably adorable ornament versions that will look just darling dangling from your tree or tied on top of a present (massive massive bonus points if you knit someone a hat, wrap it up, and put the ornament sized version on top of the package as a present topper).

crownsNow of course, each one is totally cute enough to stand on its own.  The cables on each are lovely and intricate (I’m such a sucker for twisty little cables).  And the crowns are rather marvelous if I do say so myself.

ornament 2But cute though they are individually, there’s something about putting them together as a set (especially with the ornament sized ones in there) that’s just more fun than it has any right to be.  I couldn’t resist bundling them all together, and I suspect you won’t mind!

d-3 copyI used different yarns for the full sized versions and the ornament versions.  For the ornaments, I wanted something tiny to keep the scale of the things reasonable (I’m a fan of small ornaments, these come in at about 3.5 inches across).  I used Gloss Fingering (in the undyed color called bare) from Knit Picks for them.  But for the hats, I wanted something more substantial, both so the stitches would show up and so the project wouldn’t take too terribly long.  I went with Swish Worsted (also in the undyed color called bare) also from Knit Picks.

They were both a lovely match for their projects, and I just happen to have a skein of each to pop in the mail.  I think it would be best to share the love, so how about we do two winners.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me how you feel about knitted ornaments.  Already got a tree full?  Totally going to sneak some in before the holidays?  Putting them on top of all of this year’s presents?  Not quite sure what the fuss is about?  There’s no right or wrong answer, I just like to know how you feel!

And while I can’t quite manage to send yarn to everyone, I can give everyone a discount.  You can use the code ORNAMENTAL to get a dollar the price between now and Friday.  Just put Spicule in your ravelry cart, click on the ‘use a coupon code’ button, and type in the code ORNAMENTAL.  You’ll see the change in price reflected right away.

DSC_2256 copyComments left between now and the end of the day (eastern time) Friday, November 4, 2016 will be entered to win.  I’ll pick winners, contact them to get their addresses, and arrange to send yarn their way.  Be sure to use a real email address so I can contact you if you’ve won (I won’t do anything with those email addresses besides notify the winner).  If I do email you, I need to hear back from you within 72 hours or I will pick a new winner and contact them.  Sorry, but I can only ship physical prizes to US addresses.

Oh, and for anyone paying alarmingly close attention at home, the ornaments sized versions were originally released as part of the Adorn ornament collection put out by Knit Picks last year.  So if you have that, you already have the mini versions.  The full sized versions are only available in the Spicule pattern (though you might be able to wing it if you’re feeling adventurous).

Stellar

Oh hey look, I remember how to make them!

DSC_4399Does anybody else make these?  Or maybe any other paper-based ornaments?  I confess I find it unreasonably satisfying to turn paper into something so substantial and three dimensional.

And yes, I need to get out the super tiny, super sharp scissors and trim my ends more neatly (as always, amazon links are affiliate links), but these were just a practice run to see if I could still remember how to make these.  I suspect the first go will end up as cat toys (the kittens have already shown an interest), and they’re not picky about tidy ends.

If you want to make your own, there are some good instructions over here.  All you need is paper strips (I use these, but you can start with typing paper if you want to see if you like the process) and a few minutes of folding.  You could have a tree full by the end a netflix binge if you were so inclined!

Sooner than you’d think (plus giveaway)

I think yesterday may have been the last really hot day of summer.  Which is actually rather excellent timing, as I am well and truly sick of hot weather.  Now, that doesn’t quite mean I’m ready for woolly sweaters (actually no, that’s a lie, I’m totally ready for snow and wool and thick socks and blankets, but I know everyone will throw things if I say it too loudly).  But it does mean it may just possibly be time to start thinking about winter knitting.

I’m actually something of a rarity among knitters. I don’t do Christmas knitting.  None at all.  Scandalous but true.  But, while I absolutely will not under any circumstances knit you a Christmas present, every now and then I do fall under the sway of Christmas-y knitting…like maybe some tiny adorable ornaments.

Collection of knitted hat ornamentsThese are pretty much cute enough to make it past even my impressively strict ‘no Christmas stuff’ filter.   I have a soft spot for small projects (these take about 30 yards each, not counting the tassel), and love using them to play with fiddly techniques (yes, teeny tiny twisted cables, no I’m not even a little bit sorry).

Knitted hat ornament, shugaBecause really, how could you be sorry for that.

Knitted hat ornament, nilasI’m pretty sure you should actually be pleased with that.

Knitted hat ornament frazilI’m also pretty sure I’m going to give in and need human-sized versions of these somewhere down the road, but that’s not the sort of thing I’m sorry for, either!  In the meantime, if you find you might just possibly need to make one for yourself, they’re in Adorn, the new book of ornaments out from the good folks over at Knit Picks.

Adorn cover ebookIt comes in both electronic and paper versions, and it’s full of all sorts of adorable things.  I’ve got two of the paper books to share with you guys, just in case you might want to make something of your own!  Just leave a comment telling me your stance on Christmas knitting (no way? every year? there’s no wrong answer).

Comments left between now and the end of the day (eastern time) Friday, September 11, 2015 will be entered to win.  I’ll pick  winners, contact them to get their addresses, and arrange to send books their way.  Be sure to use a real email address so I can contact you if you’ve won (I won’t do anything with those email addresses besides notify the winner).  If I do email you, I need to hear back from you within 72 hours or I will pick a new winner and contact them.  Sorry, but I can only ship physical prizes to US addresses.

Not Quite

You’ll recall that this whole star thing started as a way to make it snow.  It still hasn’t worked, but apparently my furnace heard about my concerns and wanted in on the act.  So last night, when it was just the tiniest bit nippy outside (even if it wasn’t snowing) he stopped working.  Well not quite, he kept blowing air, he just stopped heating that air before blowing it on me.  Very refreshing.

I responded with stoicism and wool.   And another star.

My office windows are now full, so it’s likely time to stop.  I’m sure the snow will arrive any day now.

And because you guys really do seem enamored of these, I’ve done a bit of looking around, and I’ve found a few more links for you.  Here is someone who has made them with just tissue paper and has instructions for a few basic stars in English.  Here is a place to buy the sort of paper I’m using (or something close to it, I’ve not ordered this so I can’t say for sure, but it sounds the same).  And should your own dexterity/time/energy not quite be up to the task, here is a place to buy the completed stars.

Now this evening, my goal really is to get the second of those cabled socks on the needles.  With any luck at all, we should return you to your regularly scheduled woolly goodness very shortly.

Easily Amused

Huh, ok, you guys like the stars.  Honestly, I’m a little surprised.  I find it ever so slightly shameful that I like them (they’re paper…folded paper…there should be fairly low amusement value here).  I’m downright shocked that you guys do.  I was expecting some folded arms and foot tapping and a little gentle prod back in the direction of the yarn.

But who am I to argue?  The first round of stars didn’t do it (no snow yet), so now I’ve added a yellow one to the mix.  It might be my favorite so far.  I’ve got one more window in my office, so I may well need to do one more star tonight…just for symmetry you understand!

If you’re really itching to try your own, there are some directions (in German, but you’re looking for the pictures anyways) online.  You can likely make a fairly simple one out of tracing paper if you just want to practice.  It won’t be quite the same, but enough to know if you like it.  There are some directions for one here, and another here, and one more here.  If you put ‘fenstersterne anleitung’ (window star instructions) into google, you’ll find more!

My Misspent Youth

Earlier this week, I opened the windows in my house.  Yesterday, I went to the grocery store wearing sandals.  Something has to be done.  It’s December, it’s Ohio, it should not be in the 60s.  I need to make it snow.  This is traditionally done by hanging either straw stars or paper stars in the windows.

Now, let me back up.  I’m not sure either of these things is a very traditional holiday craft in the States.  But I grew up in Germany, and making both of these was always part of the season.  The straw stars make a huge mess and are not kitten friendly, so last night I decided to go with the paper ones.

It starts with a paper cutter, the instruction book (optional, you really can just wing it) and some fancy colored translucent paper.  I’m not sure this stuff is available here.  It’s not tissue paper like you’d use for a present.  It’s more like tracing paper.  I think it may actually be what’s called glassine paper.  If you want to buy your own, the closest I’ve found seems to be the stuff called kite paper.  I’ve got a fair bit left over from years ago though, so I just dug around in the closet.

Then comes some folding.  And a bit more folding.  And one or two more folds.  It’s not hard at all, just tedious.  I suggest doing it in front of the tv.

Each individual piece looks like this (had to hold it up to a lamp as it was dark outside, sorry about that).

Then you tape them all together (this is the part I usually botch up) and hang them in your window.  When it’s light outside (which it’s not terribly here, but hopefully this gives the idea), you can see all the different layers as differing shades of the color.

I made a little orange one too.

And of course Levon had to come supervise as soon as he heard the camera.  He’s helpful like that.

Now, I just have to wait for it to start snowing.  I’ll make a few more to hurry things along, but I don’t see how this could fail to work.

What about you guys, does anyone else make these?  Does anyone else have any sure fire ways to make it snow (or stop snowing…which I’m sure I’ll be interested in come February)?

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you’re all having a lovely day. Our plans include procuring the traditional Thanksgiving pizza, playing lots of board games, petting kittens, and generally just chilling.

Sometime over the weekend, The Boy will be doing some funky footwork to spiff up the blog (what, you say you’re supposed to update this stuff more than once every three years, oops).  I will be playing with this lovely wool felt I picked up and concocting some sort of festive holiday decoration (an odd urge, since we don’t actually decorate for the holidays, but one I’m giving in to anyways).  I’ll report back if they’re cute, and deny all knowledge of this post if they’re not.

I hope your day is a lovely one.  And, if you’re feeling the need to add some knitting to your holiday plans, be sure you check out the details of the Thanksgiving sale from yesterday’s post.

Ornamental

Everything looks better on the beach.  Rocks are shinier and more colorful when they’re wet.  Shells are too, and they don’t have nearly the same risk of funny smells when they’re still by the shore (that only develops after you’ve forgotten them in your trunk for a week).  This shameless deception leads me to pocket no end of beach-y treasures.  They’re always less charming when I get them home.  You’d think I’d know better by now, but I still fall prey to the shiny every single time.

This most recent trip to Maine was no different.  I came home with bags full of rocks and shells and pine cones and sticks and sea glass.  Now admittedly the sea glass is still pretty and will find a home, but the rest of this stuff I could probably live without.  I needed a plan.

Part of the problem is scale.  One little shell is a marvel of nature.  Thirty are an imposition.  Another part of the problem is familiarity.  If you see the same little bit of stuff every day, it becomes part of the background.  If you only see it occasionally, it becomes special again.  So, if you want tiny and you want occasional, the obvious answer is a Christmas ornament.

I started out with these as my supplies:

Then I dug around in the kitchen until I found a few little jars.  These happen to be the ones that saffron comes in at Trader Joe’s, but I’ve seen similar things used to hold fancy salt or single servings of jelly.  If you don’t have some hanging out in your kitchen or your basement or your garage (and don’t want to buy some saffron), you can probably find something suitable in the wedding favor aisle of your local craft store.  A few minutes with a spoon, and a quick knot in a bit of twine, and I had these.

I must admit I’m taken with them.  I may add a tiny tag that says Maine 2012, or I may just write it on the bottom of the bottle.  If you had pretty penmanship and a wood burning tool, you could put it on the cork instead.  It might even be nifty to make one each time you go to a beach and have a whole collection of them on your tree (or on your windowsill if that’s more your speed).

What do you think?  Is that a reasonable amount of beach treasure to have on display?  Would you hang it on your tree, or is it too weird?  Do you guys bring stuff like that home too (or area you all more clever than me), and if so what do you do with it?