#makefun: Colouring as an Adult

Creative Therapy adult colouring book. It's one of the best I've seen!


I bought this adult colouring book before the New Yorker came out with their article about this thing that’s been going on for ages but now that the New Yorker covered it it seems totally new. I’m starting to feel concerned that journalists will treat colouring like they treat knitting, but instead the lazy, clichéd, offensive not your grandma’s it’ll be the lazy, unimaginative, not-as-interesting-as-the-real-story not your kid’s.

There’s no difference between us and kids when it comes to making stuff. Or at least there shouldn’t be. Experience making stuff shouldn’t take away from exploration, play, indulgence and fun.

Colour on, friends. Colour on!

PS My kid wants to colour with me when I colour in this book. Adult schmadult.

PPS #makefun is the tag I’ve decided on for posts and photos about the work (fun work) I’m doing about having fun making stuff. Follow along, and use it when you post about stuff you’re having fun making!


That’s right, friends, as of today I’ve got one more year till 40. Put another way, today I am three bar mitzvahs!

I’m not doing anything particularly exciting beyond continuing our now fully established family tradition of eating breakfast for dinner (the boys will be making waffles tonight!). Greg gave me an Apple Watch as an early birthday present a couple of weeks ago, and this morning Owen gave me raspberries (do you call them zerberts? just me?) all over my face. All I really want is to see our friends more after a year of far, far too much work and work travel. We’re already doing that, so I am a very happy birthday girl.

Yesterday, my friend Liisa Facebooked that she didn’t really enjoy weaving and was selling her 10″ Cricket loom. I’ve been cooking a new book idea in my brain, and have had weaving poking at me through my thinking, so this seemed like a sign from the gods. Also, timely birthday coincidence. (Actually, I’m nearing the end of cooking the new book idea and am about ready to start writing up the proposal for it. So that’s a pretty fun way to start my year of being 39.)

So this is now sitting on my dining-room table, and I think after I post this I’m going to go set it up and give my first warp a whirl.

Do you weave? Got any tips for a total n00b?

Block Printing: I Made This!

I’m not entirely sure when I became obsessed with the idea of block printing. It may have been a few months ago, when Meighan O’Toole took Jen Hewitt’s block-printing class and started posting photos all over Instagram. Yes, that may have been when the seed took root in my brain. That may have been when I bought a lino-cut starter kit. I didn’t actually use that kit until this week, though, such was my obsession with the idea of block printing.

But I packed the kit, along with some other print-making stuff, when we went on our road trip. I had visions of carving stamps after Owen went to bed, and returning home with all kinds of things to print.

As it turned out, the weather was colder and far windier than we’d anticipated it would be in many places, and when it wasn’t super windy it was often very hot and so Owen went to bed later than usual, and anyway what I’m saying is that I hardly made anything at all on the trip, stamps and blocks included. (I also hardly knitted, and I didn’t bring out the watercolours even once.)

It was on one of the last nights of the trip that I finally said enough, and I pulled out a wee circle of rubber. I forgot to reverse the design for proper directional printing, but I made a stamp of our wee camper, and in the process of doing so I fell completely in love with block printing – not just the idea of it, but the actual act and product of it.

As I knew I would.

Block printing, see, like screen printing, is just so practical. You get the one-time thrill of creating something new, going through all the steps to make a stamp/screen, and then you can use that stamp/screen over and over and over again. In some ways, block printing is even more satisfying than screen printing: blocks take up less room to store than screens, they’re less fiddly to apply, and set-up and clean-up are faster and easier.

So when Owen decided that he wants the activity at his half-birthday party this weekend to be tie-dyeing t-shirts (just like last year, for he is a creature of habit) I knew that I had to make a stamp for those shirts. Obviously.

And so I sketched. And I ended up taking to the computer. And I printed. And I traced. And I drew. And I transferred. And I carved. And I printed. (And lest you think it all went perfectly in one go, take a look at the final photo on the right. I touched up the lino block twice before getting the small lines deep enough, and it took me a few goes to get a feel for how best to print on fabric vs. paper.) (I printed up a onesie, too, because I found one at the bottom of a pile and thought WELL DUH. That one’ll go to the next baby shower I attend.)

This weekend we’ll make a good-old classic mess (in a heat wave, no less) in our backyard, and when O’s friends get their tie-dyed shirts home and untie them so they can be washed, they’ll see that stamp on there reminding them that they made the shirt. (I have it in mind to make a quick stamp that says “in 2015″ to add on tonight in red, so then when parents dig up those shirts in a few years, they’ll remember when their kid made it.

Now I want to print everything. Fabric, postcards, greeting cards, random pieces of wood hanging around the workshop, the walls, my bedsheets. Everything.

Block printing t-shirts for a kid's birthday party!
Block-printed t-shirt: I Made This
Block printing trials, errors, and success.

Crocheted Rag Rug (and How to Crochet a Perfect Circle)

By far the most straightforward project I’m making to outfit the camper for our road trip is a crocheted rag rug. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages, and am glad I finally committed to making one for the very small amount of floor space we have in our tiny home on wheels.

First thing I did was wing it without either a) measuring the space I need to fill, nor b) redoing the problematic parts of the rug once I realized it looked funny.

So I’m calling it a useful experiment, and we’ll use this small rug outside the door to collect mud and dirt when we take our shoes off before going inside.

crocheted oval rag rug photo

Problematic things? First (this is for the crochet nerds), I started the rug with a row of foundation single crochet rather than a chain, because I wanted the very centre to have as much thickness and heft as the rest of the rug. But when I actually stopped to look at the thing, I was not pleased with how there’s that one lone loop of each stitch hanging out at the centre. But did I rip it back? Oh no. Like the not-perfectionist I am, I soldiered on.

And as I soldiered on, I increased around the ends of the oval at very regular intervals. Like you do.

But, (again for the crochet nerds), as you know, when you increase at regular intervals whilst crocheting in the round, you don’t actually produce a circle; you produce a straight-sided shape with the same number of sides as stitches you began with in the first round (like this). (For example, if you started with six stitches, you’d eventually end up with a hexagon, not really a circle; with eight stitches, an octagon.)

In yarn as thick as that made from cut-up t-shirts, the increasing at regular intervals bit in an oval-shaped rug did not make me happy.

So, you know. Eventually I went out to the camper and measured the floor, so I’d know how big I should make the next oval-shaped rug.

And you know what I discovered? That wee patch of floor is 36″ x 40″. So, uh, what I actually need is a circle rug.

Well. So much for prototyping for a project that’s actually less finicky than I’d anticipated.

So this is what the inside rug looks like, about 3/4 of the way to a diameter of about 34″:

circle rag rug photo

You may notice that it’s not a straight-sided shape pretending to be a circle. That’s because I’ve spread my increases out instead of lining them up one on top of the last. I’ve gotten some questions about how to do this in my Craftsy class, so I figured I’d write it out in a bit more detail:

How to Crochet a Perfect Circle

To crochet a proper circle that doesn’t have corners where the increases pile up, vary the number of stitches you make at the beginning of the round before you make your first increase. Once you’ve made your first increase at a different point than the first increase of the previous round, continue to crochet the round by counting as you need to to space the rest of the increases evenly. Perhaps that’ll be clearer with an example.

Say I started with six stitches in my first round, so need to increase six times evenly spaced on every subsequent round. It would look something like this:

Round 1: 6 sc.
Round 2: [2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 3: [Sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 4: [Sc in each of next 2 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 5: [Sc in each of next 3 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.

This is the formula that ends up stacking the increases one on top of the others, resulting in a hexagon rather than a true circle.

To stagger your stitches to achieve perfect roundness, try something like:

Round 1: 6 sc.
Round 2: [2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 3: [Sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 4: Sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch, sc in next stitch, [sc in each of next 2 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 5 times, sc in last stitch.
Round 5: 2 sc in first stitch, [sc in each of next 3 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 5 times, sc to end of round.

You can see that the formula is the same, it’s just that starting with Round 4, I began to offset the placement of the increases so they don’t all pile up. Note that in Round 5, I didn’t just continue the pattern I set up in Round 4; instead, I made sure the increases were offset from where they were placed in the fourth round. You’d just continue in this manner, increasing evenly around each round, but with the placement of the increases staggered.

Crocheted Rag Rug Resources

I’ve gotten loads of comments from people expressing interest in crocheting their own rag rug, so here are some great resources: Cal Patch teaches a super Creativebug class on how to crochet rag rugs, including lessons on circle rugs and also oval ones. I used this tutorial for how to make yarn from old t-shirts.

If you’ve crocheted a rag rug, share a photo in the comments! If you want to, let me know if you have any questions!