Because everything can be a little cuter

Why knit? More like…why not?*

Basic things you'll need to get started knitting - some cheap yarn, a pair of needles, and scissors

So up to this point a lot of the crafting I’ve done & shared on the blog has been sewing or painting, which are still super fun activities! But now I’m going to switch up the focus a bit and get into the basics of knitting.

You might be asking yourself…knitting? Isn’t that just something for old women in the 1800s or Serena on The Handmaid’s Tale? Lies.

The reason I took up knitting has a lot to do with the reason why this blog has been sadly quiet for so long. I just graduated from law school, and it’s no coincidence that law school lasts 3 years and it’s been 3 years since I’ve gotten to update the blog.

But I took up knitting thanks to pressure from my sister and to have a stress relieving hobby to work on when I needed a break from studying. Here are some of the reasons I’ve stuck with it through the years and have been neglecting other crafts:

  • Knitting is super easy to put down and come back to later, so you can just work on it a little at a time when you need to unwind
  • Doesn’t take up nearly as much space as sewing — having to clear off my table anytime I wanted to craft was really hard to do
  • Great for stress relief and other health benefits
  • Super easy to take things apart and start over if you realize you’ve made a huge tactical error, and you don’t have to toss out yarn

And that’s all just off the top of my head.

So what do you need to get started? Basically everything you see in the picture above will help you get the foundational skills down. First, I recommend getting two contrasting colors of a cheap yarn — I don’t want to recommend any particular brands here because I feel kind of bad singling out a brand as “cheap.” But I always keep the white and pink yarns you see in the photo handy for experimenting with new techniques.

Second, get one or two pairs of needles. I have size 7s in the picture, but size 10 is also a good one to get started. We’ll talk more about picking the right sized needle for a project later, but for now anything in the 7 to 10 range should get the job done.

You’ll also need some scissors to cut the yarn, and not pictured but also very handy is a yarn or tapestry needle. It’s basically a needle with a really big eye for when you’re weaving in the ends of your yarn.

And finally, brew yourself a nice warm mug of tea. Just because it’s good for you.

Now while you’re out at the craft store picking those up, I’ll be here getting ready to show you the first steps in any knitting project: casting on stitches.

*I regret nothing.

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We’re getting the blog back together!

Do your eyes deceive you?

No, they do not!

This is a new blog post!

Yes after years and years of waiting, Paroxa is back and ready for action.

We’re going to get back into the swing of things with some how to’s on knitting! And the Etsy store is going to make a comeback! And I’m learning to make gifs! So many exciting things!

Stay tuned because we’re about to go feet first into the wonderful world of knitting. See you then!

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The Fabric Pile

A big pile of my fabric for crafting

 

Pictured above is my attempt at organizing my fabric and notions collection. I took the painful step of throwing away any fabrics that I knew I’d have no use for in the near future, like scrap fabric that was basically in shreds. Even when I have a ton of ideas for things to craft, it’s hard to get started without knowing exactly what I have in inventory because there have been times when I’ve started a project only to realize I didn’t have the right zipper, lining, thread, etc.

I’m also looking for inspiration for things to craft out of all this fabric. Just browsing the internet for project ideas is a project all on its own!

I should mention however that the picture above doesn’t even include my Christmas fabric. That’s sitting in an extra large JoAnn bag in my closet and has to be lifted from the bottom with both hands. But summer and spring aren’t exactly ideal times for Christmas crafts right?

I’ve added a few new items to my Etsy Shop if you’d like to check it out and created a section just for spring and summer items which I hope to fill pretty quickly!

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Quick Sewing Tip: Easy Cleanup

If you’re anything like me, when you get done with a big sewing project your table looks a bit like this:

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

Threads and scraps everywhere!

I used to try to clean these up by wiping with my hand or with a piece of fabric, but that only knocked thread to the floor.

But alas, there’s an easier way!

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

That’s right. A lint roller.

If you haven’t thought of this already you’re probably hitting yourself like I was for not thinking of it sooner. Usually I only think to reach for the lint roller when I’m wearing black, but it’s a great cleanup tool.

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

Look at all that. It’s almost gross.

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

 

Now it’s clean and pristine!

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Christmas Sewing Craft: Drawstring Pouch

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I’m not ashamed to say I use reusable grocery bags every time I go to the grocery store (unless I forget to bring them with me). Yesterday I went to an event where they handed out fabric bags to throw your goodies in, and my first thought was “Yay another grocery bag!” My family also holds onto gift bags and reuses the same ones over and over and over again. So I thought to myself, why not sew a fabric gift bag?

A little drawstring Christmas pouch is great for small gifts, candy, ornaments, etc. It’s reusable, and the drawstring opening builds suspense by completely concealing what’s inside. And if your Christmas party is lacking anything, it’s suspense.

What you’ll need:

  • A Christmas fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Ribbon
  • A safety pin

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

First I take a cut of fabric that’s about twice as long as it is wide.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I press them in half where the bottom of the bag will be, and the two free ends that meet at the top will form the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

My ribbon is 3/8″ wide, so I’m making the drawstring casing 1/2″ wide to allow adequate room. to make sure no frayed edges are exposed, Fold over about 1/8″ on the edge of the fabric and stitch it in place. Only one side is pictured above, but I do this on both sides of the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Next I fold down 1/2″ and press to form the casing.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I stitch down the casing with a zigzag stitch to keep the edge from fraying as much. I could theoretically overlock and then straight stitch it down, but the zigzag stitch just looks more fun. And in the words of Sheldon Cooper, “What’s life without whimsy?”

2013-11-03 15.51.11

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Next I pin the right sides together to form the sides of the bag, and these I stitch with an overlock stitch and no seam allowance so that the stitch will line up perfectly when the edge of the casing. Make sure to leave the opening of the casing free so you can insert the ribbon!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

To make the bag stand up on its own, you’ll want to sew the corners of the inside into two triangles that will lay flat against the bottom. I don’t know if there’s a science to determining how wide you want your triangles, but I make mine half the width of my pouch. My pouch is 6 inches wide, so you can see in the picture that I’m making my triangles 3 inches wide, with the side seam right in the middle. I draw a line where my gauge is measuring 3 inches and stitch right along that line, then draw a similar line on the other side and repeat.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

A view from the top after I stitched my corners.

Next it’s time to insert the ribbon and make it a drawstring pouch!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I used leftover pieces of ribbon from another project that weren’t quite long enough, but you’ll want yours to be twice the width of your bag plus a couple of inches. My pouches were 6 inches wide, so I should have used 14 inch ribbons, but alas.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Affix a safety pin to the end of one of your ribbons, and insert it into one of the casings. When you reach the next opening, keep pushing the ribbon through the other side of the casing until the ribbon has come full circle.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Now you’re halfway done!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Finally, attach the safety pin to one end of your second piece of ribbon, and insert it into the other side of the opening, where your first ribbon simply continued through without stopping. You’ll again want to move the ribbon all the way through so that both ends of the same ribbon are on the same side of the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

And voila! You have a drawstring little pouch for Christmas. I think these would be great if you’re having a party and want to give out little goody bags, and you can make it taller or wider as you so desire!

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Living on the Edge: Installing Wall Shelves

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectWall shelves can be a sleek, minimalist way to create some storage space in your home. I decided to install some wall shelves above my TV to clear up some of the clutter on my TV stand.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBefore, I had junk all over the stand blocking my remote signals and stressing me out. Also I had a gaping empty stretch of wall that needed filling!

Remember the post where I talked about how to find a stud in your wall? Well this is why I had to learn how! Each shelf has three screws to secure it to the wall, and for maximum weight capacity at least one has to be secured to a stud.

Here are a few screwing tips I learned to hang these walls.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBefore you get to screwing, you’ll want to use a skinny drill bit like the one pictured above to form a little starter hole where you’re planning to drill in a screw. It’ll make the screw move into the wall more easily.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectThe white screw-looking object pictured above is actually a dry wall anchor. Anchors will help stabilize a screw in the wall so that it can carry more weight without pulling out a chunk of the wall. I only used anchors on screws that weren’t going into a stud. Different kinds of anchors come with different instructions, so be sure to follow yours closely!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectIf your screw ends up looking like the one pictured above, and no screwdriver can turn it in or out, you have yourself a stripped screw. The only choice is to take it out and put in a new one. Mine got so securely stuck I had to get out the pliers and jiggle it out!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectEventually all my screwing hung the bracket above that in theory I’d be able to gently slide the shelf onto, but really sliding the self onto the bracket may have been the most difficult step!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBut eventually I was able to do it! And now I have some nifty storage space and some screwing experience under my belt.

I prayed pretty vehemently that hanging these right above my TV wouldn’t backfire terribly, but so far they’ve been safe and secure!

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Easy Home Decor Project: Chevron Sponge Painting

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor project

I took up painting as a hobby in college, because I kept thinking of paintings I’d really like to buy but didn’t exist yet. So I realized the solution to this was to paint them myself. However, I don’t quite have the dedication to the craft to make hyperrealistic paintings (besides, that’s what cameras are for), so instead I focus on abstract designs.

This painting project is extremely easy, and you can use any combination of colors that you want. So if you have a spot of empty wall you’d like to fill with something but don’t entirely know what, this is a great flexible project you can try!

Materials for a chevron sponge painting , a really easy DIY home decor projectYour materials (pictured above) include a canvas or other painting surface, painter’s tape, a sponge, your chosen paint colors, and a palette or similar surface to hold multiple colors of paint.

The first step is to lay down your tape vertically to form columns, and then diagonally across the columns to form the chevron pattern. Your dimensions will vary based on the size of your canvas and your personal preference, and they don’t even have to be equal in size, but for my project I made the columns 2 1/2″ wide and the rows 1 5/8″ tall. Or maybe it was 1 3/8″. Oh well, not the important part.

The important part is that you remember to factor in the width of your painter’s tape when deciding on your dimensions!

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectIn this picture you can see my evenly spaced columns. Notice that on the edges, I made sure to completely cover the edge of the canvas in tape. I do this to hold down the canvas so that when I do my sponging it stays in place even as I’m rapidly dabbing.

You can also see that the columns end a little further from the edge on the right than they do on the left. This is due to the canvas company lying to me about the dimensions of this canvas paper, and I feel horribly betrayed and will never forgive them for that. But we’ll move on.

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectNow for this step, you’ll probably want to click the above picture to enlarge so you can really see what I’m saying.

Notice on each side of the column there’s a small pencil mark, and the diagonal piece of tape lines up with these marks.

The two marks are 1/2″ apart, but on opposite sides of the column. You can choose whatever width you want to create a deeper or more shallow angle, but I went with 1/2″ because it’s easy to remember. Make these marks wherever a diagonal line will go, remembering to alternate the direction in each column to create a zigzag line.

But one important thing to remember is to be consistent with which side of the tape you make your marks. As you can see in that picture, I laid the tape so the top edge lined up with the marks and then made sure that every time I laid down the tape I was lining up the top edge with the marks.

It can be a little confusing at first, but once you get into the pattern it’s easy. Also, if you make a mistake, painter’s tape is easy to remove and replace!

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectMake sure you lay down extra tape to cover up the edges where you don’t want paint to appear!

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectAs you’re laying down your diagonals, be sure that the end of the tape doesn’t go over your column tape. The diagonal lines should just meet in the middle.

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectOnce you’ve laid down all your tape, rejoice! The hardest part is officially over. Now it’s time to sponge.

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectSponging is extremely easy. To start, squirt some paint into a section of your palette. I usually choose a base color to cover most or all of the canvas, then use the other colors as accent colors. For this I decided to use a blue and a purple as base colors, and started with the blue.

Dip your sponge into the paint. You can see from the middle picture that I got a hearty glob on the sponge. Globs take longer to dry and make it hard to layer other colors, so I dabbed on the newspaper a few times to get excess paint off the sponge.

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectAll you have to do is press the sponge onto the canvas to make your first mark, then repeat over and over to cover an area. It’s quite easy!

You can cover the entire surface evenly with your base color, but I choose to vary the coverage across the canvas, making the color thinner in some areas and heavier in others.

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectNext I simply repeated the sponging process with my purple of choice to create a solid base on which to lay my accents down.

Now it’s time for the accents!

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectIn general with acrylic paint you’ll want to layer lighter colors on top of darker colors, and do several layers because the paint will thin as it dries so lighter colors will fade into the background a little. As you can see I used varying shades of blue, pink, and purple. There doesn’t have to be any pattern or forethought, just dip & dab away until the area is covered and you’re happy with your colors.

Now just let your paint dry and then remove all of the painter’s tape.

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectYou may have some stray marks where the paint leaked through or under the tape. You can leave them and ignore them, but you can also easily cover them with some carefully applied white paint.

A chevron sponge painting is a really easy DIY home decor projectAnd voila, you now have a funky painting that’s exactly the colors you like and will be completely unique to your home, and it only took about an hour!

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