Saturday, July 12, 2014

Building a Kid-Sized Adirondack Chair for Charity

A co-worker of mine is putting together a benefit for her friend's sick child. As part of the benefit, they are going to auction off some items. She had asked for any kind of donation for the auction.

Since this is a benefit for a child, I wanted it to be something kid-orientated. I also wanted something that was gender neutral, so I decided to build this cute Adirondack chair.

The plans I used for this chair can be found in Ana White's book The Handbuilt Home. Because of that, I'm not going to give you the exact details about this build. I'm sure that there is some type of copyright that I would be violating if I gave you all the details. I highly recommend buying this book if you don't already have it. Ana White makes building so easy! She does have a bunch of free plans for Adirondack chairs on her website, but the book plan is slightly different.

Here are the steps I took to make the chair.

Step 1: Cut your wood to the measurements in the book.

Step 2: Attach the armrest support to the front and back legs. For all of these steps, I like to glue it first and then screw the pieces together. You have to make two of these side pieces. Remember, the set should not be identical, but the pieces should mirror each other. The supports should face the inside of the chair.

 Step 3: Attach the armrests to each side.

Step 4: Attach the stringers. These should also face the inside of the chair.

Step 5: Attach the front apron.

Step 6: Attach the seat boards. The ends of these will rest on the side stringers.

Step 7: Lay out the back pieces. Make sure to evenly space the boards. Attach the back supports.

Step 8: Attach the back to the chair.

Step 9: Fill any holes with putty, sand everything, and paint or stain to your liking.

I, actually, put another coat of paint on the chair after I took the top picture, but I forgot to take a picture of it completed. I did take this picture. This is my three-year old niece giving it a try before I gave it to my co-worker to auction off.

Hopefully, the benefit is a success and some little boy or girl will enjoy it!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Knitting Newborn and Preemie Hats for Charity

My current workplace encourages the employees to volunteer. As part of this effort, there is a group of knitters and crocheters that select charities and create items for them. I am part of this group. We have made items for veterans, orphans, animal shelters, etc. This month, we are making hats for newborns with Down's Syndrome.

I have made many hats over the years and I have a very simple pattern that I use as my go-to pattern whenever I make a charity hat for a baby. It also works if you are in a pinch and need a quick baby gift. This pattern is not fancy, but it does the trick.  It knits up fast and it does not use much yarn. If you happen to need a quick hat for a baby, these hats are perfect.

If I have patterned yarn on hand, I prefer to use that. The patterned yarn makes it look a little fancier without any additional work. I made a couple of these this weekend. The pink jacquard is the preemie size and the print is the newborn size.

Here's the pattern! Here is the printable PDF version of this pattern.

I've made this hat both knitting in the round with double pointed needles and also knitting on straight needles, so I included both options. In my opinion, the hats that are knit in the round look slightly nicer, but not everyone is comfortable knitting with double pointed needles.

The preemie size is written first, followed by the newborn size in parenthesis. If there is only one directive listed, the instructions are the same for both sizes.

Any sport-weight Yarn (less than 20 grams per hat)
Size 3 (3.25mm) Double Pointed Needles or Size 3 (3.25mm) Straight Needles
Tapestry Needle

6.5 stiches = 1 inch
The yarn you choose will determine the gauge, as not all sport-weight yarn is exactly the same. Gauge is not super important, as babies have heads of all different sizes.

Finished Size:
11(12) Inch Diameter

Pattern for Knitting in the Round
Cast on 72(78)
Divide the stitches between three DPN and join
Rounds 1-6 (K2, P2) around for 2x2 ribbing ((K3,P3) around for 3x3 ribbing)
Rounds 7-31 K around
Round 32 (K4, K2Tog) around 60(65) st
Round 33 K around
Round 34 (K3, K2 Tog) around 48(52) st
Round 35 K around
Round 36 (K2, K2 Tog) around 36(39) st
Round 37 K around
Round 38 (K1, K2 Tog) around 24(26) st
Round 39 K around
Round 40 (K2 Tog) around 12(13) st
Round 41 K around

Cut the end of the yarn. Thread the yarn end through the remaining stiches. Pull the yarn through to the inside of the hat and pull it tight. You may or may not choose to place a knot at the inside of the top of the hat to ensure it stays tight. Weave in the ends on the inside of the hat.

Pattern for Knitting on Straight Needles
Cast on 72(78)
Rows 1-6 (K2, P2) across for 2x2 ribbing ((K3,P3) across for 3x3 ribbing)
Rows 7-32 work in stockinette st (K odd rows and P even rows)
Row 33 (K4, K2Tog) across 60(65) st
Row 34 P across
Row 34 (K3, K2 Tog) across 48(52) st
Row 36 P across
Row 36 (K2, K2 Tog) across 36(39) st
Row 38 P across
Row 38 (K1, K2 Tog) across 24(26) st
Row 40 P across
Row 40 (K2 Tog) across 12(13) st
Row 42 P across

Cut the end of the yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread the yarn end through the remaining stiches. Pull the yarn through to the inside of the hat and pull it tight. You may or may not choose to place a knot at the inside of the top of the hat to ensure it stays tight. Sewing on the inside of the hat, use the tail to make the back seam of the hat. Weave in the ends on the inside of the hat.

DPN = Double Pointed Needles
K = Knit
Mm = Millimeters
P = Purl
St = Stiches
Tog = Together

If you want to see some of my other knitting and crocheting projects, be sure to check out my Ravelry Projects page.

Monday, June 30, 2014

DIY Edible Fruit Flower Bouquet

Do you want something different to bring to your next family get-together or pot luck? Or maybe you are looking for an alternative to sending flowers to someone or even a unique gift to give friends or family. You can make your own edible fruit flower bouquet!

These bouquets are completely customizable depending on the fruit you have available and the size you want to make. I'll show you how to make a bouquet like this.

Step 1. Gather your needed supplies.
Container (It was about 4" tall and about 6" across.)
Head of Lettuce
Cantaloupe (1/4 of a cantaloupe.)
Pineapple (You need a whole pineapple. Don't buy the pre-cored pineapple.)
Strawberries (2 pounds)
Grapes (60)
Bamboo Skewers or Lollipop Sticks (50)
Cookie Cutters
Melon Baller
1/2 Bag Candy Melts (optional)
Small amount of Sprinkles (optional) 

Step 2. After you have cleaned your grapes, put the skewer into the stem end of the grape and push it through.

You can put 5 or 6 grapes on each skewer. I like grapes, so I usually use 9 or 10 grapes. You may want to put them on by size with the largest grape at the bottom and smallest grape at top. I don't bother with putting them in any particular order. Make sure that you do not push the skewer all the way through the top grape.

I wasn't certain how many skewers I was going to use, so I made 8 grape skewers. In the end, I only used 6 of them for the bouquet. Once you are done, put them in the refrigerator to chill.

Step 3. Cut your pineapple into slices. Do not core the pineapple first. Ideally, the slices should be about 3/4" thick. I am not good at cutting straight, so I just cut and hope that one side does not end up super thick and the other side ends up super thin.

Center your cookie cutter on the pineapple slice and push it through. Metal cookie cutters make a cleaner cut, but you can also use a plastic cookie cutter.

Put the cut outs on a plate and put them in the refrigerator to chill.

Step 4. Cut your cantaloupe in half and scoop out the seeds. Using a melon baller, make the same number of balls as the number of flowers that you make. They do not need to be perfect, you are only going to use half of the ball. I usually make extra in case I mess one up.

Cut the balls in half. Put these in the refrigerator to chill.

Step 5. Clean your strawberries. You can either leave the leaves on or take them off. I like to take them off. Put them in the refrigerator to chill. You can put them on skewers at this point or wait until later.

Step 6. This is optional. If you do not want candy-coated fruit, then you can skip this step.

I made candy-coated strawberries, but you can use any fruit. Once the fruit is clean, blot it dry with a paper towel.

Once it is dry, put a skewer into the bottom. Make sure not to push it all the way through.

Prepare the candy coating according to the directions on the package. Once the coating is melted, take a spoon and pour the coating over the fruit being sure to turn the fruit as you go to make sure it is covered evenly.

If you are going to use sprinkles, take a spoon and dump the sprinkles over the top. Work fast during this step because the coating dries quickly.

Keep the candy coated fruit upright until the coating is completely hardened. They do sell cake pop holders for this purpose or you can put the skewers into a sheet of styrofoam. I just stick them into an old colander or into the holes on the strawberry container. Put them into the refrigerator to harden and chill.

Step 7. Cut your head of lettuce to roughly fill the container. You want it to be slightly higher than the top of the container. The lettuce will be what you stick the skewers into. 

Step 8. Start assembling your bouquet. I usually start with the grapes. Just push the skewers into the lettuce.

Put the grapes in whatever formation you want. Don't worry, if you decide you don't like the position, you can always move it. If the skewers are too long for a certain location, just break the end of the skewer off to a size that works better.

Step 9. Make the daisies. Take your pineapple flower shapes and push the skewer through the center core.

Take one of your cantaloupe half balls and put the skewer into the cantaloupe. Be sure not to push it through the top of the ball.

Put your daisies into your bouquet. Again, break the skewers to whatever length that you need to get the arrangement that you want.

Step 10. Add your strawberries. I like to add any candy coated one's first.

At this point, it will get increasingly difficult to put the skewers in without moving the other fruit. To make this easier, I usually don't put the strawberries on skewers prior to putting the skewer into the arrangement. I put empty skewers in where ever I want the strawberries to be.

Once the skewers are in position, I pierce the strawberries. If you see empty gaps, you can put a couple strawberries on one skewer. I continue to place the strawberries until I run out of fruit or space.

Step 11. Take the parsley and use it to cover the sticks or any gaps. 

Step 12. Enjoy your Edible Fruit Flower Bouquet!

Here are a few extra tips that I have learned over the years.
  • You can use almost any kind of container, just make sure that it does not have anything on it that could be harmful. I usually just buy something from the dollar store. This container was plastic, but if you use a cardboard container or something with holes in the bottom, line the container with plastic wrap or a sandwich bag or something like that. The plastic will prevent any fruit juices from leaking through the container.
  • You can try other things in the base besides lettuce to stick the skewers into. In the past, I've tried play-doh and floral styrofoam, but I think lettuce works the best.
  • This arrangement was about 12" high. If you want to use less fruit but have a similar sized container, an easy way to accomplish this is to make it shorter. 
  • If you are using the candy coating, make small batches of the coating instead of the entire package. The coating dries very quickly, so unless you work super fast, multiple small batches work better than one big batch.
  • If you are having problems with the candy coating sliding off the fruit, your fruit is probably too wet. Make sure that you blot it dry prior to putting the coating on it.
  • If your fruit slides down the skewer, try putting a raisin or mini-marshmallow on the skewer prior to the fruit to hold it up. 
  • Any fruit can be used. Just think of creative ways to use them.
  • Don't limit yourself to just flower-shaped cookie cutters. Try stars, hearts, ghosts, anything that fits your situation or holiday.
  • There is not a right or wrong way to make these. Be creative and have fun! They don't need to be perfect.
  • These can be made by people of any age. It's a good activity for kids and they like to eat the fun shapes. 
This is an arrangement that I made with my 11 year old Little Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. This was at a Halloween event, so we used cat, ghost, and bat cookie cutters. We also used cantaloupe and honey dew slices around the base of the arrangement.

This is an arrangement that my niece made. She was 7 years old at the time and she did a great job! Proof that any age and ability can make these!