Just Plain Sweet

knitting, sewing and crafting by Kendra Turner

Month: March 2015

Fingerless Mitts For Everyone!

everett's mittJust when I thought spring was here to stay… SNOWFLAKES! Good thing I just finished these fingerless mittens for Everett! I had pulled out my old grey fingerless mitts during our last snowstorm, when Emilia took notice of them… I had to make her a pink set that night! Then Everett saw hers and wanted a green pair for himself. No one is ever happy unless they have what the other one does. *sigh*

I looked at almost every pattern Ravelry had to offer, and I found this adorable pattern for FREE! It’s very basic and can be easily customized (lengthened, cabled, or cinched with a bow). It beat out the other top contenders because it offers specific measurements for little ones ages 12 months to 7 years as well as adult small, medium and large. I made a set of size 2 and size 5-7 and found the measurements to be very accurate. Did I mention it’s free?


Myla Wilson’s Ravelry pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/alevins

You’ll notice that I knit the bottom of my mitts all the way to the kids’ knuckles to keep their hands super cozy (longer than pictured in her pattern). My children like these because they can still play with their iPads in the car or pick their noses whilst wearing them! Also, I think it’s nice that both mitts are exactly the same so they can’t put them on “the wrong hand.”

This pattern uses 4.5 mm needles, which are the smallest I can stand to use, and it calls for worsted weight yarn. (Which every knitter has tons of!) I used Lion Brand Heartland for both the pink and green set and carried them with a thin accent yarn… glitter for Emilia and lime wool for Everett.emilias mitt

Oh! And if you don’t like the way the thumb holes are written (casting off a few stitches and adding in the same amount later), you can always just knit up to the hole, turn your work and knit in back in forth rows (not in the round) for the desired length, then re-join your work! Even a beginner at in-the-round knitting can handle it!

Hope you give these a try! Or you can hit me up for a pair… *wink wink*


Emilia’s Rotating Dress Up Closet


Emilia didn’t want to pose, so my son, Everett, stepped up to the plate!

Little Emilia has lots of dress up stuff. There are always tutus, crowns, purses, princess wands and jewelry pouring out of the toy boxes. Last year I installed some hooks on her bedroom wall to alleviate the problem, but that’s no longer cutting it. I like to give my children a “practical” present for their birthdays (since they get so many toys from everyone else). So, this year, I decided to build her something to solve our little problem: a pretend play wardrobe inspired by a Pinterest project I saw about a year ago. Don’t worry… even though its practical, it was still her favorite gift this year!

The original wardrobe post was a stationary version made from an old bookshelf. It was painted purple, had a closet rod at the top, all shelves removed, and a fancy “princess” mirror on the outside.

I had intended to make a similar model and spent a couple of weeks looking for a good solid bookshelf on Craigslist and our local buy-sell-trade Facebook site, but found nothing. Tired of waiting around for the right post to come along, I decided to try out a used furniture store down on historic Union Avenue. As luck would have it, I didn’t find a traditional bookshelf, but instead found this superior little gem for only $35! You can’t beat that price. It has four sides, two with deep removable shelves and two with ledges designed for books. It had four casters and 6 shelves included. This wasn’t what I had envisioned, but the wood was in immaculate shape, it didn’t need any work, and it was the perfect size for a toddler.BOOKSHELF

Because I’m nosy, I looked up this exact piece of furniture online to see what it sells for brand new. The best deal I found was $214 with free shipping at this link: http://www.wayfairsupply.com/Guidecraft-Big-4-Sided-Library-Book-Display-G97012-EZ1234.html

It is made in America and constructed of solid Birch. I would give this product 5/5 stars for quality and durability.

As soon as I got it home, I realized the casters weren’t going to work on the high pile carpet in Emilia’s room. I could push it with some effort, but she couldn’t. Solution: turn it into a Lazy Susan. In order to make this spin, I needed a base. I got really lucky on this one, because my brother-in-law had gifted me a random giant wooden circle about a year or two ago; specifically a 32-inch diameter Rev-a shelf Lazy Susan shelf. It’s been collecting dust in my garage. “You’ll find something to do with it,” he had told me… and I finally had! As if by fate, the wood color matched my bookshelf! My point being, USE WHAT YOU HAVE!

I had never installed a Lazy Susan mechanism before and I will tell you it was a HUGE PAIN! But, it was definitely worth the effort and I can now see why, though very confusing, the instructions were written the way they were. Home Depot sells only one choice; a 6’’ Lazy Susan by Everbilt for $4.48. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-6-in-Square-Lazy-Susan-Turntable-with-400-lb-Load-Rating-49548/203661089

The packaging states that you should install the top plate of the Lazy Susan to the shelf (in this case the bottom of the bookshelf) first, then uninstall it. WHAT? WHY? I didn’t take this seriously and instead just marked the holes on the bottom of the unit and drilled pilot holes. BAD IDEA. The darn thing is so tricky to align once you screw the bottom plate to the base. I had to undo it and start over. If you follow the directions, installing it should probably take you only 30 minutes, even without experience. An extra set of hands is helpful for this part! A BIG THANK YOU to my husband for working through this with me!

The base piece from my garage. Pretty good match huh!?

The base piece from my garage. Pretty good match huh!?

Now for the modifications I made to the unit:

(For ease of construction, I would do these things prior to attaching the unit to the Lazy Susan. I found it much more difficult to screw things into the wood when it was wiggling all over the place!)

I removed all but the top two shelves, one on each side. Make sure your kiddo can reach it! You want to be sure you do this first, because we’ll need to install the closet rod in relation to the shelf.

top shelf

For the closet rod, DON’T use a tension rod. It WILL fall down on your poor kid every day. For $1.49 you can buy these plastic sockets at the hardware store. Allow at least 1” of space between the bottom of the shelf and the top of the socket. You want to be sure the hangers go on and come off the rod easily! http://www.homedepot.com/p/Prime-Line-Closet-Pole-Sockets-1-3-8-in-Plastic-N-6568/202636660

You’ll also need a wooden dowel rod (usually located right next to the sockets at the store) http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-1-1-4-in-x-48-in-Hardwood-Dowel-114-4EDC/100006905 $4.76 for 48”. I needed only needed two 15” pieces, so I cut it down with my miter saw when I got home. If you don’t own a circular or miter saw, the staff at Lowes or Home Depot can cut your rod down to size for you. Be sure to use short screws to install the sockets so they don’t poke out the other side of the bookshelf. Then just sit the pole down inside the sockets.

I didn’t want to waste any opportunity for additional storage so I also screwed in a double hook on all four panels flanking the curtain rod. I paid $2.98 for each of the hooks.




That’s all I did to it! Grand total: $25 in supplies.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to modify the two sides of the bookshelves lined with ledges, but as I sorted through Emilia’s things, I found these 2 1/2’’ pockets were perfect for purses and dress up shoes. She could also toss small things like jewelry in there. If you’re looking for alternate design ideas, I did consider installing four pretty glass knobs on the face of each ledge for more hanging space. The ledges could also hold Barbies and other small dolls!

I haven’t put any “decorations” on this wardrobe, but you can easily personalize it with removable wall decals featuring your child’s favorite princesses or little ballerinas. Perhaps I’ll get around to it… 😉



Everett’s Mario Kart Party… DIY Galore!

Oh, Internet, how I have missed thee. Between my kids’ hectic schedules, three ear infections, potty training, and a nagging head cold, we just haven’t had enough time for each other. But don’t worry… I’ve still been making awesome stuff that I can’t wait to share with you!

Two weeks ago we hosted Everett’s Mario Kart birthday party! This year’s theme yielded some fun and crowd pleasing crafting. Nintendo is one of those companies that doesn’t put out as much birthday party merchandise as a Disney-type company, so you’ve got to get creative to flesh out decorations and games.

MarioBagsFirst up, simple treat bags that look like Mario and Luigi’s hats. I made these with nothing but white sticker paper and my Silhouette cutting machine… and of course, lunch bags. They took a whole twenty minutes to make. Surprisingly, no one out there seemed to have a tutorial for this method which can be used on party hats and so much more!

I am fairly new to my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, so don’t expect anything mind-blowing here. LOL. First, buy the bag, box or hat you want to adhere these stickers to, that way you can scale the round logo appropriately. (There’s nothing worse than cutting everything out and then kicking yourself for NOT measuring!)

I used standard size lunch bags that I bought at Walmart in the giftwrap aisle (5 ¼”w x 10”h). They’re made by Hallmark and are 3/$1. You can buy cheaper bags at the party store, but they are also cheaply made and can’t hold the weight these did, so I’m standing by the pricier bag. Next I bought some Silhouette brand “White Printable Sticker Paper” at Michaels. Of course, you can use any old brand you come across. (Avery sells sheets of plain full page white sticker paper in the office supply section at Walmart.)

I decided on 3 ½” circles for the logo stickers. If you’ve never drawn a circle in Silhouette before, you can keep it perfectly round by holding down shift while pulling it to 3 ½”. Duplicate it to the right. Now for that perfect font to match The Mario Brothers’ hats. I looked at EVERY SINGLE font in the Silhouette store and “JW Space Alphabet” was the winner. I used 200 pt. font size. Make an “M” in one circle and an “L” in the other. Group them by selecting both the letters and circles with your mouse while holding shift, then right click and select “group.” Last, just “duplicate below” twice. Done! Cut setting is blade level two. Line it up on your mat and cut. Boom! You just customized these so fast you’re laughing!

If you’re doing paper party hats, use the same stickers! And of course, if you want to get fancy, you can always buy red and green foam visors at the craft store and cut these logos out of white craft foam and hot glue them on!

I’d also like to point out that you can use these stickers on plain red or green note cards to make matching thank you notes.

The possibilities are endless!!!

Second DIY for this party: Super Star balloons. Our party store (yes there’s only one in our city) doesn’t carry ANY Nintendo merchandise, so we customized some plain gold foil star balloons. I purchased a roll of ¾” black duct tape to make the stars eyes. (Same size as electrical tape if you can’t find this) Cut two pieces 3 1/2” to 4” long, stick them on and voila! You’ve got legit Mario star power! For minimal effort, you’ll earn big party points with these!


Third, we decided on an alternative to your average piñata – piñata balloons! Its winter in Colorado right now, so we couldn’t go outside to hit piñata with a bat (it snowed before, during, and after his big day). Balloons are better for an indoor party, plus it gives a nod to Mario Kart balloon battles! 5-year-olds think popping balloons is fun and challenging… and they fight less if they know the balloon they’re holding guarantees they get their own candy.

Of course, getting candy inside a balloon is easier said than done, so I devised this method. Grab a sturdy tube from around the house with an opening about 1 ½” in diameter. I used a vacuum attachment which I rinsed out and dried before use.

Select candy that will not only fit in the tube but will also fit nicely into an uninflated balloon… think Rolos, Starburst, wrapped gumballs, Jolly Ranchers, stuff like that. You’re only going to be able to fit about 6 pieces inside, so choose wisely. Pull the entire neck of the balloon over the tube so that the candy drops directly into the wide part of the latex balloon and doesn’t get stuck. Send the candies down the tube one at a time so you don’t clog the tube. Last, just remove the balloon from the tube being careful not to let anything pop out and then just blow it up as usual. You can do these up to two days in advance without losing air. I stored mine in a few large black trash bags from the garage.

To be sure that everyone has fun and we don’t traumatize anybody, warn anyone who doesn’t like the sound of popping balloons to leave room before beginning. It’s also a good idea to have some thumb tacks on hand for grownups to help any child who is struggling. This was a HUGE hit at the party! The kids enjoyed it simply because it was different.

Last, but certainly not least, homemade Pin the Mustache on Mario and Piranha Plant Bean Bag Toss games.

gamesThese were easy to make and SOOOOO fun for the kids. I started with a big furniture box we had in the garage. I cut out two 29”wide by 32” high rectangles with a serrated knife and found images of Mario and the Piranha Plant that I felt were simplest to recreate.

Here are the links:



To minimize your stress level when free-handing these, use white chalk to start. You can erase any markings with a Kleenex and avoid layers of confusing lines on your cardboard. Once you’ve got a good outline, trace it with a black sharpie so they have staying power.

You’ll only need a few bottles of acrylic craft paint to fill these in. For Mario: red, black, blue, brown, flesh tone, white and whatever color you want for the background (I used green). For the Piranha Plant: red, white, green, and the background color (blue on mine). With a sponge brush and a small paint brush for the tight spaces, fill in your outline with paint all the way to the lines. Last, come back with a chisel tip marker (I like the narrow side of a Marks-a-lot permanent marker) to outline everything and clean up the paint lines. For your Piranha Plant, cut out a hole in the middle of its mouth approximately 9” wide. Use a serrated knife for maximum control. (A bowl or plate can be helpful here).




I fastened Mario to the wall with some push pins and bought a set of mustache stickers at Hobby Lobby for $1.99. That’s it! For the plant, I got a “tri-fold presentation board” for $2.99 whilst at the Hobby Lobby. When I got home, I cut it in half and hot glued the pieces to the back of my painting. These sturdy sides fold up easily for storage and provide great stability while the kids play. I didn’t go out and buy any bean bags, I just picked out a set of my kids toys for the task, specifically, their indoor snowballs. They’re lightweight and don’t hurt anyone if a ball hits somebody.

When the children completed each game, they got a prize! Gold chocolate coins, and Mario Kart stickers and some cool Nintendo Wii tins filled with gumballs. Prizes encourage participation, plus, it gets kids excited about those favors you put so much thought into!


Here’s a list of additional decorations I bought to complete this party theme:

Birthday banner from Hobby Lobby and the closest match I could find to Mario Brothers’ lettering: $4

Two checkered flag pendants also from Hobby Lobby: $4 each

One large checkered flag from Party America: $.99

Two removable wall sticker sets from Party Bell:

http://www.partybell.com/p-33507-mario-kart-wii-removable-wall-decorations.aspx ($10.43 and reusable after the party for Everett’s bedroom décor)

http://www.partybell.com/p-33627-mario-kart-wii-luigi-giant-wall-decal.aspx ($32.54 These are giant! Everett got the Luigi from his room and we gave the rest of the set away after the party. You can also buy sets starring Princess Peach, Mario, Toad or other characters)


Party Favors:

Sheets of 6 stickers which I cut in half to give each kid 3: http://www.partybell.com/p-33503-mario-kart-wii-sticker-sheets.aspx ($1.21 for 4 sheets)

Wii Remote Gumball Tins: http://www.partybell.com/p-21120-mario-kart-wii-remote-gum-tin.aspx ($22.17 for 8 tins, that’s $2.77 per person. This was our splurge item!)

Chocolate Coins from Target: $1 for 8.

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