Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Sweets - Skewered Eyeballs

This treat is pretty straightforward. I found the recipe on the internets, however, it didn't go as expected. I had to improvise and I think my way actually turned out better.

First you take about 12-18 plain donut holes and stick them onto forks (I used plastic halloween colored ones). Make sure you don't compromise the structural integrity of the donut hole when skewering (you don't want it to break apart in the next step). I put them in mugs to keep them from touching each other or a flat surface.

Then you take each forked donut and frost it lightly with white frosting. When they are all frosted, put them in the freezer so that the frosting hardens (about an hour or so).

When the frosting has set, melt some colored candy melts in a plastic resealable bag to make the irises (**note: this is not what I did, but I wish I had). Make sure all the air is out of the bag and then cut off a corner so you can squeeze out the candy. Make a round shape on each frosted donut. Have chocolate chip pupils ready to insert into the colored candy while it's still malleable. Put the donuts back into the freezer to set again if necessary.

The last step is to add the gore. Use red decorator frosting to add some bloody-ness to your eyeballs, freeze or refrigerate until they are served, and viola!

**The original recipe called for the use of white chocolate. It should be noted that I hate white chocolate, so when it didn't work out, I was not heartbroken. Anyways, I tried to melt the white chocolate in a saucepan and it immediately started to burn, so then I put it in a glass measuring cup to melt in the microwave. This worked and the chocolate was smooth and melty. I tried dunking the donut and the chocolate would not stick to it! After a couple tries the donut fell apart and the chocolate started to harden. So I put it back in the microwave and instead of melting it burned again. I tried melting it in a non-stick pan after that, but it was ruined and I had to throw it out. I cast around for a substitute and found some frosting, which quite frankly, is more appetizing anyway. I made my irises out of white chocolate that I had melted in small glass cups and then mixed in food coloring. This is not advised. The chocolate immediately started to seize up when the color was added. I was able to melt it in bags after that, but it was a total PITA to get it to stick to the donuts (I used a clean finger to shape the iris into a circle... I did a better job of this with the green). And it should be noted that I didn't add the pupils soon enough to the blue eyes and so I had to remelt the center of the blue white chocolate with the tip of a hot butterknife (I was cooking dinner at the time, so I just held the knife to the bottom of the cook pot I was using for about 10 seconds to heat it up).

Friday, October 29, 2010

The search for the perfect Christmas ornament

Two years ago I started a tradition of crocheting Christmas ornaments for my family.

It's inexpensive. It's fun! Homemade gifts are the best!

I made snow flakes two years ago.

This is what I did last year - they're mini Christmas potholders:

I found the pattern at Crochet Soiree. They have lots of free patterns to download. The original potholder pattern called for worsted weight yarn - but I love to miniaturize! So I used thread instead, and voila!

This year I wanted to do a little Christmas tree. I tried to come up with something of my own, three tries later I'm getting close to something that may be acceptable...this is the first time I've ever tried to make my own pattern so I suppose I should cut myself some slack.

But in the meantime, The Kansas Hooker had this cute pattern. Again, instead of using yarn, I used thread and it came out quite quaint and precious.

However, I don't think it's quite what I'm looking for. I think the shape is too simple. And it's very small - only about an inch and a quarter high.

Oh well, the search continues!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Drawstring Purse

Here's a quick and easy project to do if you have a little girl (or if your little boy likes this sort of thing.....).

Using this tutorial over at 7 Layer Studio - I made Madeline a fun little bag - for candy on Halloween - but I'm sure she'll use it for other things too!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Knitting Cat Sweaters

"Why would you knit your cat a sweater?" you ask. Yes, they're perfectly capable of staying warm on their own. However, it is hilarious. I think I laughed for several minutes straight the first time I put a sweater on my cat. It happened to be the one on the left. This was also my first attempt at making any kind of sweater, and incidentally, it was good practice for making "real" sweaters (you know, for babies and stuff). A couple of things about my obese diabetic cat Nalla: She is very tolerant (not all cats will allow you to put a sweater on them). She is an odd shape (i.e. fat, but in a weird way... she's kind of gourd shaped). She also has excess skin that hangs down around her belly and arms. This ensures that no sweater pattern will ever fit her as written. It's kind of hard to see in this picture, but there's an argyle pattern on the front. This sweater turned out really nice considering I used crap yarn (i.e. Red Heart) and I ignored the gauge on purpose to make the sweater bigger than written (I ignore gauge a lot, and it usually works out all right... but I'll need to do a future post on "when ignoring gauge goes horribly, hilariously wrong").

Anyways, when I put this on her she looked like a sausage and refused to move around. It was too short and the arms were too restrictive for our little fatty. We ended up sending this sweater to a friend of ours with small dogs. Sadly, this pattern is no longer available on the internets (which is where I've found all of my cat sweater patterns). I'll have to type it up and post it on here sometime. Always print out your patterns, since you may not be able to find them again!

My favorite sweater that I've made so far is the Mandarin Cat Sweater. I even tried to adjust this one as indicated in the pattern and it still wasn't quite right. Oh, how kitty wishes she were as elegant as the siamese cat in the orginal post! I should have made this one a few inches longer in the torso and a few inches shorter in the arms. Because she's got fat hanging down around her arms, this makes her legs seem a lot shorter. She was basically tripping over the arms. I also didn't like the yarn I used for the black trim. I was worsted weight and was a little too stiff and heavy in comparison to the cream colored yarn.

The last sweater I'll talk about is the Cat Hoodie, which on any other cat (or dog) would be really cute. This is the only sweater that I've made that I can accurately say fits her. I believe I increased needle sizes to make it bigger. I also made it longer in the torso section. I would have liked to include the sleeves, but once again, fatty arms doesn't tolerate sleeves. If I were making this again I would have lengthened the hoodie part to make it a little more functional.

I decreased the needle size to make the same sweater for my parents' dog last Christmas. The hood on that one
is basically decorative. It's way too small (and dogs kind of have long necks it seems). I don't think I could have made it functional without it looking funny. I also shortened the sleeves and it turned out super cute.

Pink Butterfly Halloween Costume, Part 3


There was no way I was going to let Madeline step out in plain ol' BORING shoes, so I decided to try making my own. Why not, right?

Well, I turned to my trusty old friend, the internets, for some guidance and there was.....pretty much none to be found. Why is everyone so hush hush about making shoes? Free patterns? Yeah, right.

This made me a little annoyed, because, ya know, I'm cheap. And lazy. And I don't know nothin' 'bout makin' no patterns.

But.....I decided to give it a shot anyway.

So I traced my daughter's feet on a sheet of paper and then prettied them up a bit so they actually looked like, ya know, FEET (if you've ever tried tracing a three year old's anything - hands, feet, whatever - you know it's no easy task). I knew I wanted them to be pointy so I took the basic foot outline and made it pointy from the proximal phalanges (i.e. the widest part of the foot) forward. Then I added a 1/4" seam allowance to the whole thing. By the way, I just made one pattern (for the right side) and just flipped it over for the left foot (for the sole and top both).

My method for the shoe top was to fake it 'til I made it. My first attempt wasn't successful - it wasn't a complete failure, but it wasn't completely right either. However, my second attempt was perfect! How did I know it was going to work? Why, I made a paper shoe of course!

I thought the paper shoe turned out pretty snazzy!

Anyway, once I had my pattern worked out, I had to cut out my fabric. I decided to go with satin, pink broadcloth for the liner and this shiny mesh-like fabric - I *think* it might be tulle but I'm not sure (all three of these came from my late Grandmother's vast fabric hoard so forgive my ignorance).

I cut out two top pieces from each fabric. For the soles, I cut four of satin and four of broadcloth (two right and two left) because I was going to do a sole and an insole.

To make the sole, I sandwiched some stuffing between a satin piece (which is the bottom of the shoe) and a broadcloth piece, sewed a straight stitch around the whole thing, sewed a zig-zag stitch around the outside edge, and then did some patterned stitches in the middle to keep the stuffing in place and provide some (minimal) traction.

For the insole, I put a satin and broadcloth piece right sides together and sewed a straight stitch around the edge leaving a hole to turn it inside out. I turned it, stuffed it and did another straight stitch around the edge and some patterned stitches in the middle.

For the top, I layered the tulle with the satin and sewed the heel right sides together. Then I sewed the broadcloth liner's heel. I pinned the top and liner together around the foot hole (right sides together) and sewed around. I cut the sharp corners so they would lay flat when turned and turned the whole thing so it was right side out.

I pinned the top to the sole, right sides together, and sewed around. This is what it looked like after all that:

Then you just have to turn the whole thing right side out and insert the insole. I tried to sew the insole in but I didn't like the way it was turning out so right now it's going commando. I suppose velcro would probably work, though I haven't tried it.

Easy peasy, right?

Well, maybe not. But I had so much fun with these! My experiments often don't turn out well so I was very pleased with my results here and it's given me confidence to try making patterns for other things as well.

(My happy little butterfly)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pink Butterfly Halloween Costume, Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of what is turning out to be a very long post about my lovely child's Halloween costume. You'll have to wait until part 3 for the shoes, I'm afraid.


I'd never made a sewn tutu before. The purple one I made was tied, so sewing one was new territory. It turned out awesome-looking, however, I wouldn't make one the way I did again, since there is absolutely no stretch in the waste whatsoever. It is strictly a 4T size and will always be a 4T size. Oh well.

I cut 20 pieces of light pink tulle that were 20 or so inches by 6 inches-ish. I separated them into 10 piles, folded them in half lengthwise and then folded them in half width-wise. I then cut 40 pieces of magenta tulle that were 10 in x 6 in. I put four of these together and folded them lengthwise, putting one group of four in each of the ten piles.

I cut a piece of elastic that fit my daughter's waist (22" if you were wondering) and sewed the ends together to make it a circle.

Then I draped the light pink tulle through the elastic circle (at the fold I mentioned earlier) and evened up the ends, and just draped an inch or so of the magenta tulle over the top of the waistband and sewed.

Now, here's where I went wrong. Instead of sewing each bundle of tulle separately, I overlapped them, which LOOKS really cool - it's like a tulle pleat!...but renders the elastic useless.

Anyway, after sewing all ten bunches to the elastic. I cut some sparkly magenta tulle into 6 or 8 10 in x 6 in pieces. I folded the the long sides towards the middle of the fabric and then sewed it onto the waistband, folded side down, draping the tulle over the top of the waistband like I did with the other tulle. I sewed the rest of the shiny tulle pieces the same way, leaving little spaces between each on the waistband. And then I declared myself done!

Stay tuned for part 3, where I'll talk about the shoes - this time I mean it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pink Butterfly Halloween Costume, Part 1

So, when I asked my first-born (age 3) what she wanted to be for Halloween this year she said a purple butterfly - which would have been PERFECT because I had already made a purple tutu a year and a half ago and she had purple wings that she got last Christmas - though they were a little sad because they were made from tights material and children just don't come more destructive than mine (yes, that means you too, Ms. Pants).

Unfortunately, she changed her mind the next time I asked and insisted she wanted to be PINK instead. Oh Goody.

So, here's what I did:

Pink leotard - purchased on It was a little big for my 4T little girl, but then I washed it and it was perfect.


I took her old, sad purple wings and cut off all the purple tight material and felt. I was left with the wire frame, which was white (thank goodness - I didn't want to have to paint them!). I suppose I could have just bought some pink tights and pulled those over the frame, but I'm a masochist, so instead I bought some pink iridescent tissue lame (and a special needle to sew it AND interfacing). I traced a pattern using the wire frame onto parchment paper and then cut four pieces of tissue lame and two pieces of interfacing using the pattern. Turns out I could have done it without the interfacing but *shrug*. I sewed the pieces together with the interfacing on top, leaving a (big) hole to get the frame through. I removed the interfacing and then turned the wing inside out and ironed it, then slipped it onto the frame. Repeat process for the other side.

THEN - because I thought they were too boring - I sewed some pieces of tulle onto the wings to give them movement.

I didn't want to use just plain old white elastic for the straps so I sewed some tissue lame tubes and put the elastic through them. I attached them to the frame by sewing them to a piece of fabric that I had draped around the center of the two wings and sewed in place.

To finish everything off I sewed on some tulle to cover anything hideous. Tulle covers a multitude of sins.



I bought the pink sparkly headband at Joann's for $1.00. The wire I had on hand from another project I did last Christmas. I found it in the jewelry making isle at Michael's (I think).

I just looped the wire around the headband and twisted it around itself, tightening it with some pliers. Then I tied leftover tulle pieces around the wound part of the wire. Easy peasy antennae. It took me all of ten minutes.

Stay tuned for part 2, where I'll discuss how not to make a tutu and making shoes!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Welcome to Dual Perspicacity

Hello and welcome to Dual Perspicacity.

I've been considering starting a blog about crafts for awhile now since that's mainly what I've been focusing on in my free time lately (that and re-reading The Wheel Of Time - I don't think I'm going to finish five more books before Towers of Midnight comes out on November 2nd.....). And Christmas is coming up and who doesn't like Christmas crafts - not to mention making gifts. I think homemade gifts are the best!

And look forward to an upcoming post about my first-born's Halloween costume (I made shoes!). Also, I might talk about food sometimes. I love food. Love to make it, love to eat it.

Also, somehow I got my sister, who I have long considered to be more creative, talented and generally more awesome than I am, to do this blog with me! She's the one responsible for the cupcake hat that everyone thinks is the cutest thing ever.

We hope you enjoy and come again!