Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wiki-How Article on Making A Cat Bed from an Old Wool Sweater

How to Make a Cat Bed from an Old Sweater

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
(Click on title to find original article and pictures)

In 30 minutes and for less than $5, an old wool sweater from the thrift store or the back of your closet can become a cozy cat bed (or dog bed, if the dog is small enough or the sweater's especially big). Here's how.


  1. from armpit to sleeve halfway down bottom sleeve edge]]

    Lay the sweater out flat. If it's a wool sweater, it should be felted first (see Tips). With yarn and a tapestry needle, stitch the seamed edge of the sleeve to the side of the sweater, about half way down the sleeve from where the arm pit meets the side seam (shown in contrasting yarn to make the stitches more visible).
  2. Fold the bottom edge of the sweater up and place the sleeve in front of it.

    You want to roll (or fold) the bottom up far enough that both sleeve cuff edges will be able to overlap slightly when placed in front of it.

3. Secure the sleeve to the top of the rolled up sweater edge with a whip stitch or a blanket stitch. Remember that you’re going to stuff the sleeves, so be sure to stitch only through the top layer of the sleeve.

4. Repeat with the other sleeve.

As the cuffs overlap slightly in front, put one cuff just inside of the other and stitch down the outside cuff edge along the top layer, just enough that you’ll be able to keep the stuff ing inside t he tube y ou’ve just created with the sleeves.
5. Make a running stitch from one “armpit” to the other.

Create an arched shape to make a rounder bed. Be sure to go through both layers of sweater fabric. You should now have a “channel” that can be stuffed with batting or old rags (or strips of old sweaters). Stuff until you get a sausage-like ring. If you want to pad the bottom, now is the time to do that as well.

6. Stitch the neck opening closed.Give it to your favorite kitty/puppy and consider making another to donate to your local pet shelter. It took more time to post this than to make the bed, if that tells you how quick and easy this project is!


  • To felt a wool sweater, first make sure sweater is at least 80% wool. The larger the sweater, the better, for it shrinks. Wash in HOT water (top loading machines only -- go ahead and throw some towels or jeans in with it for extra agitation) and lay flat to dry. Felting is not absolutely necessary, but it makes the fabric stronger and longer-lasting. If the sweater is acrylic, just skip the felting process. Wool is much warmer, though, if that's a consideration.

Things You'll Need

  • A large old sweater, preferably 100% wool (found cheaply at thrift stores)
  • Polyester or cotton batting or old rags for stuffing
  • Yarn
  • Tapestry needle
  • Scissors

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Cat Bed from an Old Sweater. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Hanukkah Gourd

I started on a Hanukkah gourd that could be used to store Hanukkah candles, dreidels, gelt, etc. I'm using an apple gourd which already had the top cut off. Fortunately for me, the "innards" came out easily with very little scraping. I did manage to save a few nice seeds for later projects or for planting.
I wanted a Star of David on the front and thought 1/4" masking tape would be perfect to create the star without making it too wide. It took some adjusting and a mini level to make sure the star was straight. A sharp craft knife was used to trim the ends. I left the tape on until the paint was applied and dried. I used a combination Plaid Folk Art Inca Gold (metallic) and Night Sky (their new Shiny Paint), which I applied with a sea sponge, double-loaded. I went over the gourd a couple of times to layer with both colors, then over a third time with just the blue. After drying with my hair dryer, I removed the paint starting from each point and working carefully toward the inside of each strip so as not to remove any paint with the tape. I liked the look of the star without adding paint to it since the rest of the gourd is rather vibrant and left it natural.The inside was then painted using just the Shiny blue paint and a One-Stroke sponge. While it was wet, I sprinkled glitter on the inside to add some sparkle. I'm leaving it overnight to dry completely, then I'll add a sealer, probably satin. This would make both a decorative object for the holidays and a functional holiday piece. It's large enough to keep a small box of Hanukkah candles or larger candles could be kept in it if they are removed from the box first and placed in baggies.

This might be a fun activity to do with small children before the holiday:
Take a full box of candles: 45.
Have the child count out enough candles for each day, including the Shamash candle, which is used to light the others. After the child has sorted them into groups, let him/her bag them and label them with the number within or the day they'll be lit.
Each day, let your child be in charge of gathering the correct bag of candles for that night's lighting.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 2 Part 4

The first three parts of this podcast are on my Craft Write blog. I'm including this part here because it is for animals. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa, and to all an especially Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 2 Part 3

Organizing my craft space is an ongoing project. The more varied my crafting, the more organization becomes essential. In this part, I organize the knitting patterns that came with my Knitting Daily calendar. I'm hoping to pick up the 2009 Knitting Daily Calendar this week. I can't wait to see the new patterns. I'm posting Part 4 of this episode on my other blog, Crafting for Animals because it's about stringing cranberries for the birds and squirrels. So, please join me for my other blog as well.

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 2 Part 2

I finished my hat and started on my new scarf project: The Hurdle Stitch from my Knitting Daily calendar.

Craft Write Video Podcast Episode 2 Part 1

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! Henry really got into writing today, so I escaped upstairs to my studio. I got into organizing - my knitting patterns. I loved my knitting daily calendar last year, but I was left with lots of loose pattern sheets. I'll show you how I organized them in Episode 2 Part 3. I'm finally finished with panel #2 for my cabled afghan. I thought I'd pull the video camera out and share my current projects, including stringing cranberries for the birds (Part 4).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah

This is the second night of Hanukkah. The menorah shown here was given to me by my mother-in-law. There is always an extra candle for the menorah, which is the shamash. The shamash is lit first and is used to light the other candles. It does not figure in the number of candles lit each night. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left according to which night of Hanukkah it is (first night, one candle; second night, two candles, etc.) and lit from left to right. Hanukkah candles come in various colors. An extra blessing is said over the candles on the first night only.
The prayers are said as the candles are lit:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav, vitzivanu lehadlik ner shel Chanukah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, she’asa nisim la’avoteinu bayamim haheim baz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

This prayer is said on the first night only:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu, melech haolam, shehechiyanu vekiyamanu vehigianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

Traditional foods for Hanukkah involve cooking in oil. A favorite of ours is potato latkes. They're very fattening, but quick and easy to make. The traditional way involves grating with a food grater. I myself prefer the quicker, more modern food processor. I would never make them if I had to stand and grate by hand. They taste the same to me. Here's the way I make them:
Peel and wash several baking potatoes and a large onion.
Cut into manageable pieces and place through the grater on the food processor.
Dump all into a colander to let drain a few minutes.
While this is draining, place about a quarter to a half inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet and begin heating on medium to medium high. Transfer the onion/potato mixture into a large bowl. Add pepper generously.
Add enough plain flour to be able to form patties. I do this by feel, so it's hard to give you an exact amount, but I think it's probably about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
Mix well, then dip out a large serving spoon size into the hot oil.
Keep a watch because this cooks pretty quickly.
Watch the edges. When they begin to brown in the middle of the pan, turn around so the other edge is browned.
Flip (carefully, remember this is hot oil) when the bottom is sufficiently browned.
Keep turning so the latkes are browned evenly.
Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a plate with paper towels to drain.
Serve with either sour cream or applesauce, or both.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Foo Pets

There is a neat website where you can adopt virtual pets. They have animated, but fairly realistic dogs and cats that you can apply to adopt. You have the chance to feed them, send a toy for them to play with and watch them play and "talk" to you. The kittens purr very loudly and the animals have very realistic personalities and movement. For those with children who can't have a pet due to allergies or living situations, this would be a captivating site for them and would give some of the interactions that a real pet would give, minus the touch factor. I think it would also give your child a sense of responsibility of owning and caring for a pet. You might take note of how many times you'd need to remind your kids to feed their "pets" and to see if they bored of the animals too quickly. Right now, the website is only taking applications. The adoptions will be given out later. You can check out the site here:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hand-Made Cards

I decided that this last week of school was too hectic to try anything too heavily academic for my students (see my last post on our Goalies blog: More Characterizations From Everyday Life, or Christmas Would You Just Get Here Already?). Since I do teach Reading, and Writing kind of/sort of falls under that heading, this was a good time to incorporate my crafts into my teaching. We've been going on and for inspiration on how to design a greeting card. It took a little prodding for my students to get started. Some wanted to copy one of the card verses from the websites. Others sat and stared at the computer screen (oh, how I recognized the writer's block stare). They finally started writing and the words began to flow. I'm so proud of their heartfelt words, mostly to their parents, but a few have been given to other staff around the school. We're using 12 x 12 Christmas scrapbook paper, cut in half to make two cards. Each piece is then folded the long way. A bone awl was used to crease the edges. The kids are creating their verses on Word, then printing them off, trimming the verses and gluing the verses to the inside of the card. The scrapbook paper makes a lovely covering. I'm going to take a few of my scrapbook items today for them to add to the designs. I also decided to make my own cards, complete with verse for them this year. I'm posting a tutorial here for my snowman cards.
After the outside paper is folded and creased, I used two different snowflake punches on the front and the back of the card.
Next I folded a piece of white paper the same size as the outside paper.
I used a border punch to add interest to the outer edges of the front and the back of the card.
I used a glue stick to glue the two papers together.
This allowed the inside white paper to show through the outside paper.

I composed a verse for my students and cut this out for the inside of the card, rounding the corners, then gluing it to the inside.
Around the verse and on the white paper, I glued snowflakes which had been cut previously with the punches.

My favorite part of the card is that when you hold it up to a light, the snowflakes from the outer paper show though the white paper, giving it an added dimension.

A foam snowman sticker and two vellum snowflake stickers were added to the front of the card. Blush was added to the snowman's cheeks using a Q-tip and some scrapbook chalks. My camera has decided to go on the fritz this morning, so I apologize for the final pictures' being a little blurry.
I hope you have fun with this project. My students were excited to get their cards and some began making a new card with the punches similar to mine. They even used plaid paper with green or red insides which also looked very good. Save your cut-outs for embellishments for the cards you're presently working on or for future projects.
Take care and have a safe holiday: Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Chanukkah!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Painting Poinsettias Video

I tried filming a short segment on painting a poinsettia today. My first tape ran out half-way through, so I changed tapes and finished taping. Unfortunately, the first half didn't tape or was erased somehow in the download. I'm going to post the second half. The leaves on top are painted basically like the leaves on top, so you can get the gist of it. These are painted in a One-Stroke/primitive/whatever style. I had fun with it and I hope you'll try it and have fun with it as well. I would redo it, but I need the DVD for my One-Stroke Painting students for our club meeting on Thursday. I think it will be long and detailed enough for them. The supplies I used were:
Folk Art paints: School Bus Yellow, Berry Wine, Bright Baby Pink, Passion Punch, Lime Yellow, and Warm White
One-Stroke Brushes: lower leaves - 1" Flat; upper leaves - 3/4" Flat; stems - #2 Script Liner; flower bracts - Small Filbert
Miscellaneous: Floating Medium, Styrofoam plates, paper towels, water basin, palette holder
The leaves were all base-coated with Warm White and Lime Yellow. The bottom leaves were painted with Passion Punch, Bright Baby Pink, Lime Yellow, Warm White and Berry Wine. The top leaves were the same minus the Passion Punch. Flower Bracts were painted with School Bus Yellow, Warm White and Berry Wine.The first part of this video will be posted below.

Part 2 A

Poinsettia Pictures

I took several pictures of two poinsettias I purchased for inspiration. I'm including them in a slide show below. Feel free to use these pictures for your own holiday craft projects.

Click to play Poinsettias
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Henry's Book is Out!

Henry's book, House and Philosophy, Everybody Lies has hit the bookstores. For anyone who loves the show, House, MD, as much as we do, you would enjoy seeing the characters through a philosophical eye. We were so excited to receive the first copy of the book in the mail last month. The publisher has been pleased with sales and they're already translating the book - into Portuguese! The book was a work of love for Henry, one of House's biggest fans. He is the writer of the first article and the main editor. Series editor is Bill Irwin. Contributors of the articles included philosophers from around the world. John Wiley & Sons is the publisher. Henry is scheduled for two book signings so far: Barnes & Noble in Greenville, NC and Border's Books in Carey, NC, both in February. The book is available through, Barnes & Noble and Border's Books.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Knitting Basics Part 5: Binding Off

Okay, so what do you do to end your knitting? When you reach the end of your scarf or other flat piece, you will "bind off." This sounds like you're banishing the knitting or tying it off. No, you're actually knitting it off your needles so that it can stand alone without unraveling as a finished piece, like a scarf or until you sew it to another part of a garment such as a sweater. I hope you've enjoyed these videos and that they've been useful to you. There are other videos on the web which will give additional help to various aspects of knitting. My favorite is I've tried to go slowly enough that you can knit along with me. I've probably overdone the repetitions, but with knitting, as with any craft, practice can only improve your skills. I made myself a DVD of the combined videos to use with my knitting students at school. That way, I can put it in the DVD player and several can do this at once. With only 45 minutes once a month, it's hard to get to everyone when I have up to 32 kids at once by myself. Fortunately, I have a great group of kids to work with. So, here's a challenge for those of you who wish to learn to knit: See who can start knitting and finish a scarf before the end of the year. I will mail a free skein of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick to someone who sends me a picture of a completed scarf by January 1, 2009 that they made after using these videos. Good luck; now, go out and knit!

Knitting Basics: Part 4 Purl Stitch

This is the purl stitch, which when done alternately with the knit stitch, gives you the v-shaped stitches on one side and a series of loops on the other. It's a nice stitch to alternate with the knit stitch to add more three dimension to a piece. It's also nice to alternate with the knit stitch when cabling.

Knitting Basics Part 3: Knit Stitch

This is part three in which I will demonstrate the knit stitch, English style. There is a poem that is often used to teach kids how to knit. There are several versions. Here are two:

In through the front door, out through the back, all around the house, off pops Jack.

In through the front door,run around the back,out through the window, and off pops Jack!

Here's one I found on another blog for purling or knitting:

Under the fence, Catch the sheep, Back we come, Off we leap.

I think either poem works. They give a visual cue and a rhythm that kids (or adults) can use. Try each one and see which one works better for you.

Knitting Basics Video Part 2

After the slip stitch is made, you'll need to cast on. This means adding more loops onto your needle to be knitted. The number of stitches will determine how wide the piece will be. I'm demonstrating here the Long Tail Cast On method. It gives you a more flexible edge when knitting. It seems very complicated when you first learn this, but I find it fun and relaxing. The main thing to remember is that your "tail" will be used to make the stitches, so allow about three times the length that you want the finished piece to be. I find this to be the hardest part. I'm forever having to start over because I didn't allow enough yarn, then when I undo the cast on and start over, I end up with too much yarn. It's an ongoing learning process for me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Knitting Basics Videos Part 1:

I've filmed a series of videos to show the basic steps for knitting. I'm starting with the first step: Making a slip knot. This will enable you to start adding stitches from which to knit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Painting a Cluster of Flowers

I finished a short clip of painting small cluster flowers. Sorry about the intro being a little blank. Just hang in there for a few minutes. I'm filming, painting, etc. by myself,so it may appear a little awkward at times. I hope this is helpful. Let me know if there is a certain thing you would like for the next video. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wall Border Project Video

I'm in the process of painting a wall border in my studio bathroom. I'll be updating as I paint. I filmed myself painting a flower cluster last night, but must not have hit the record button firmly enough. I'll try that again later.