brought to you by Theresa B of Egret Effects

I'm a learn-as-you-go kind of gal, so one day I started knitting a toy bear but only got as far as finishing the arms before realizing that I didn't know how to do the rest. I knew from the pattern specs that I would need double-pointed needles (DPNs) and I had a set thanks to my grandma's hand-me-downs, but what the heck do you do with them?

Like most things in knitting, it looks way more complicated than it is. DPNs allow you to knit a nice little tube - a spiral of stitches - just like circular needles. The difference is that circular needles come in different lengths so you can knit larger items in the round (like a sweater), whereas DPNs are for smaller projects that don't have enough stitches to stretch all the way around a circular needle (like socks).

This year for the holidays I wanted to make my mom a wine bottle cozy, but I didn't come to that decision until December 21st so it's still in the works. This pattern is perfect for practicing on DPNs because it really is just a tube that's cinched at the top to contour to the bottle's neck.

To begin, I cast on all my stitches to one needle. Then I distribute them evenly between two more needles. Most sets of DPNs come with five needles, but in this case I'm only using four - three to hold the stitches and one working needle. I can do this because I don't have so many stitches that they're crowded on three needles. If there were more and they were in danger of slipping off either end, I would have distributed the stitches onto four needles and used the fifth as the working needle. For today, that fifth needle is sad and lonely in its case.

With my stitches set up, I join the round (being careful that nothing is twisted) by beginning to knit at the last stitch I cast on. I know where the beginning of my round is by the cast-on tail dangling between needle one and needle three.

So the stitches on needle one will be knit onto the working needle until needle one is empty. Now you have a new working needle and can proceed to knit off of needle two. When needle two is empty, it in turn becomes the working needle and will take on the stitches of needle three. You've just knit in the round with DPNs.

If you were to just knit every stitch, you'd end up with a tube of stockinette - all knit stitches on the right side. No purling necessary. This pattern involves yarn-overs, knit-two-togethers, and slip-slip-knits which is how it takes on this texture. Think of the possibilities! Toys, socks, mittens, wine cozies, iPod cozies, cell phone cozies! You can make a cozy for just about anything.

FAQ and January Bookplate Giveaway

Hi y'all.

It's been a long while since my last post, but I have excuses, of course:

Excuse A) I have been super busy launching my book and going on tour (more pics and recaps of the tour to follow soon.)

Excuse B) I have been SUPER busy working on edits for Book 2

Excuse C) On top of that, I just starting teaching for the semester at Pepperdine, a novel-writing class this time. My students rock, by the way, but then they always do.

Excuse D) I am still a mom and a wife and a home-owner, and I have to keep everybody in my family alive and fed and in clean underwear and my house from getting up and crawling away. This, regrettably, takes a lot of my waking hours.

So pick your excuse. But I promise, a time is coming pretty soon where the book will be done and the semester will be rolling along smoothly and then I will start playing CATCH-UP in a major way, starting with this blog.

Until then, I wanted to answer a few frequently-asked questions:

YES, there is going to be a sequel to Unearthly! I swear, I get like four or five emails a day asking me if there's a sequel. YES! See Excuse B! Oh so yes! There will also definitely be a Book 3, and quite likely a Book 4, so stay tuned.

The sequel does have an official title, but I'm not allowed to announce it just yet. I love the title, though, and it's the title I wanted almost all along for the book.

The sequel will be out, if all goes according to plan, in January 2012. I realize that this is a horribly long time to wait. I sympathize. But that's just the publishing industry. One year between books is pretty standard, or so I'm told.

I may be biased on the subject, but in my not-so-humble opinion, Book 2 will be worth the wait. :)

On to the second most asked FAQ: Will Unearthly be available as an ebook?

YES! There will be an ebook copy of Unearthly available, I swear. And SOON. I love brick and morter bookstores so much, and I love real, printed copies of books even more, but I have to admit that getting an ereader revolutionized the way I read. So I am extremely happy to know that Unearthly will be an ebook very soon. I promise, the second it's available I will be shouting it from the rooftops.

Question 3: When will you come to my city so you can sign my copy?
This is the part where I sigh wistfully. I would love to come to your city and sign a copy for you. But it's complicated. You might have noticed the basketball-sized lump on my belly if you've seen any of the current photos of me. Yes, folks, I'm creating a life right now. A girl, who I am oh-so-excited to meet. But the one drawback is that they won't let me go on an airplane after this week.

So, at least until early summer, I think, I'm grounded. I am doing a couple of events in the area, one in Los Angeles at Flintridge Books on February 13, 4pm. And the other sometimes in February at Pepperdine--we're still working out the details. But that's about it for a while.

So, if you want me to sign a copy of my book, one awesome thing you could do is to participate in my Bookplate giveaway. Here's how you do it:

1) Go to your local bookstore and take 2 pictures, one of Unearthly on the shelf in all its booky glory (make sure we can see the other books around it, too, as part of the fun for me is seeing what company I'm keeping), and one of you holding the book.

OR if you purchased your copy of Unearthly via the internet, simply take a picture of the book is some kind of humorous situation. Like this:

Sigh. I love this photo. Two girls fighting over my book. What author wouldn't love that?

Ahem, anyway, take a funny Unearthly picture!

2) Email me the photos, along with your name, address, and the name/location of the bookstore where you took the photos. My email address: writercynthiahand@gmail.com

THEN, I will:

3) add your photos to my Unearthly on the Shelf! compilation, which I will post to my blog sometime in late February.

4) mail you a bookplate, (I had these printed special and they are all purply beautiful) which I will sign so you can put it in your copy of Unearthly and therefore have a signed copy even if you can't make it to a formal signing! I also tend to throw in a signed bookmark, just because I can.

5) choose three (3) of these entries at random and mail them a signed and doodled upon (meaning, my little comments and pics in the margins every now and then) copy of Unearthly in hard cover.

Be patient with me on this one. I might not get to the actual mailing part for a couple of weeks, see Excuses A-D, but I will get to them. I am also extending the deadline for my giveaway to February 15, so you still have a couple of weeks.

Now I'm back to working on my excuses. . .

HandmadeMN Giveaway - Kat's Creative Arts

By Michelle of Evie's Tool Emporium

Congratulations to our latest giveaway winner! Thanks to all who entered and we wish you good luck with this week's giveaway!

This week Kat of Kat's Creative Arts is giving away this sweet Boston Terrier orignal acrylic painting.

Boston Terrier - 4x4 Print on Canvas of Original Acrylic Painting - "Bambi"

This is an archival giclee print that has been varnished onto a 4x4 inch canvas. Signed on the back by the artist, these small pieces have the same glow and brilliance as the original paintings at a much smaller price and size so you can get more art on your walls!

Many people collect these smaller works for small spaces that need a bit of light, like an office cubical, or a small stairwell, or a bathroom wall.

This piece is a portrait of my late-mother-in-law's beloved pet, Bambi, a sweet dog with a very fast tounge. The original is 20x20 inches.

How to Enter:

Visit Kat's shop, pick your favorite item and leave a comment on this post about it.

Open to US snd international residents.

Please make sure we have a way to contact you!

For Bonus Entries:
Please leave each in a separate comment, as each comment is an entry (To qualify for extra entries you must do step one above).

1. Visit other HandmadeMN team members shops (listed in the sidebar here) and leave a comment(s) here with your favorite pieces.

2. Blog about this giveaway with a visible link back to this posting and comment here with a link to your post.

3. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment(s) with a link to your tweet(s).

4. Follow our blog (you want to do this anyway to learn about upcoming giveaways!). Leave a comment here letting us know you are a follower. If you are already a follower, leave a comment anyway, as each comment is an entry.

5. Follow HandmadeMN on Twitter. Comment back here with your Twitter link. Existing followers just leave your Twitter link here.

6. Become a HandmadeMN Facebook Fan. Comment back here with your Facebook name. Existing fans just leave your Facebook name here.

8. Follow Kat's blog My AUTOBI-DOG-RAPHY. Leave a comment here letting us know you are a follower.

Contest ends Saturday, February 12th, at 12:00 noon Central. One winner will be chosen by Random.org.

Good luck!
HandmadeMN members are not eligible to win.

DIY Sequins Heart Wreath {tutorial}

So, I was wandering around Gardners Village the other day and I saw the most adorable Valentines Day wreath EVER!  It was made of sequins.  I had to have it...until I picked it up and saw the price tag...NO THANK YOU!  I put it down {{sigh}} and thought to myself...I could make that!  So...here goes nothing...

You'll need:

Styrofoam wreath
Craft pins (1/2 in. or 3/4 in.)
Ribbon (not shown)


1. Start pinning.  I started at the bottom crease and pinned in rows, overlapping each sequins as I went.

2. Repeat.

3.  Repeat.

4. Repeat.

5. Repeat. 

Check it out...halfway done ~ almost!

6. Repeat ~ again!

7.  Almost done!  You can jump up and down for joy now...

8.  Attach ribbon to back.  I simply folded a piece of ribbon in half and used my staple gun to attach it.

Don't you love that ribbon?  Bought it at Michaels years ago!

If you ask me...mine looks WAY better than the one I saw at the store (teehee).

Fun Friday Finds ~ With Heart

By Jenna Halek ~ Artistic Edition

With Heart
 (Click on the image to enlarge)

Visit these HandmadeMN shops to see more:
Click on any of the names below

Rosettes {how to / tutorial}

I'll start off by sayin that I absolutely love Ucreate


She has an online craft group and, of course, I just have to participate!  So...here's my first one!

You'll need:

A frame
Strips of fabric or ribbon
Glue gun

1. Tie a knot in your fabric/ribbon and hot glue the knot to your frame.

2. Twist the excess ribbon and wrap around knot.  Hot glue to frame.

3. Twist remaining fabric, wrap around knot - hot glueing the ribbon to the frame as you go.

4. You'll have a little piece of ribbon left.  Twist it tightly and glue it under the flower.

5. Repeat process as many times as you want. 

6. Embellish flowers with some ribbon.  You could use tulle, more fabric, or just leave the flowers alone.

7. Embellish flowers with bling.  I used the hot glue gun to attach everything.

8. Put your picture or text in the frame.

Wild Flowers are True Survivors...a motto that suits me just fine.

DIY Craft Bead Necklace {tutorial}

You'll need:
Round wood craft beads ~ I used seventeen 1/2" beads with a 1/8" hole, eight 3/4" beads with a 1/8" hole, and three 1" beads with a 1/8" hole.

Styrofoam piece
Toothpicks and tape
Spray paint
Ribbon (not shown)


1. Wrap some tape around the top of each toothpick (this will hold the bead up).  Put one bead on each toothpick and stick it in the styrofoam piece.

2.  In a well ventilated area spray the beads with the spray paint.  As you can see, I put the styrofoam on top of a box so I could spray the beads easier.  You'll only be able to get the top part and most of the sides.

 3. Let beads dry completely.


4. Once they are dry, turn the beads over and repeat the spray paint process.  
5.  Remove beads from toothpicks (after you try to get all of the spray paint off of your fingers if you did as I did instead of as I said).

6.  Cut a length of ribbon that suits you.  Tie a double knot about 6-8 inches in from the end (you can always trim this down later).


7.  Start stringing your beads.  I folded the ribbon over a toothpick and strung it through the holes of the beads.  This is much easier than trying to stick the ribbon through with just your fingers.

8.  Once you've done all of your beads, tie a double knot on the other end, cut the excess ribbon to a length that will allow you to tie it comfortably around your neck...and that's it...you just added a super easy, super inexpensive, super cute piece of jewelry to your collection!

 I loved it so much that I wore it to work today!  Isn't it stylin'?

Minnesota Purse-onality

Minnesota has lots of personality and character!

As the 12th largest state, it has over 5 million residents,  metropolitan areas, small rural communities, and its famous 10,000 lakes along with forests and wilderness areas. 

Did you know that the word Minnesota means "sky-tinted water" and, other than Alaska, it is the northern most state in the US?

And to no surprise to those of us who live here, we endure (yes endure) cold winters and hot summers.  Since the record high is around 114 F and the record low is around -60 F, that means our temperature could fluctuate 174 degrees in any given year!  Our weather brings us sunshine, rain, snow, blizzards, thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, and high-velocity straight-line winds.   No wonder we have personality and character!!  (See  Wikipedia for more Minnesota details.)

While Minnesota has personality and character, it also has "purse-onality" and our HandmadeMN team members create some of the best!

And what is "purse-onality" you ask?  Purse-onality is the transformation of cotton and other fabric, wool yarn, burlap, oilcoth, vinyl,  inner tubes and other medium into purses, totes, wallets and bags of all sorts.  Here are some colorful ones that display plenty of character and plenty of personality!!

Have you ever heard of Dirty Hippie Bags?  Well, the bags consist of a front pocket but no zip or button closures.  They are to be worn across the chest and on the shoulder.  Koli0 has several Dirty Hippie Bags available in her shop.

And have you seen the totes that ShaggyBaggy creates from repurposed burlap coffee sacks?

Another shop that brings plenty of character and personality to her purses is AnnPrintz.  Ann's bags are hand knitted, felted, and then beautifully accessorized.

One of the most colorful and amazing transformations is that of recycled bicycle inner tubes into adorable and oh so cute coin purses.  Each has their own quirky personality that has been bestowed upon them by shop owner Trigo.

And who doesn't like pink polka dots on black?  This vinyl fabric has been transformed into a mini-wallet that is perfect for credit cards, paper money, and business cards.   It is available from non other  than myself, RitasCreationsOnETSY.

Hopefully you have enjoyed the character and personalities of these purses, wallets, and coin purses!  There are many more available from HandmadeMN.  When in ETSY, simply search on "HandmadeMN bags purses" to get a complete listing.

DIY Mini Moss Ball Planters {tutorial}

As I went through my craft supplies last week (only because I had had enough of my basement being a mess) I found these six mini terracotta pots.  Only heaven knows how long I've had them!  So...I ventured to Hobby Lobby...my favorite store by the way...and found 6 mini moss balls!  I shouted out for glee as this must be fate...6 pots and 6 balls...it was meant to be!  And I knew just where they would go....

In the little cubby on the bathroom shelf!  Super cute eh?!?

You'll need:

Terracotta pots
Moss balls
Glue gun
Ribbon or twine


1. Spray paint your pots in a well ventilated area.  I lined them up in a box outside.  To ensure even coating, I spray painted them with the bottoms up, let them dry, turned them over, and finished them off with the tops up.


2. Once your paint has completely dried, spread your hot glue along the inner top rim of the pot.  As you can see from the picture...it doesn't have to be pretty.

3. Press moss ball into pot firmly.  You'll need to hold them in place for a few minutes to make sure the glue takes.

4. Dab a small piece of glue on the outside of the pot and place your ribbon or twine on it.  Let dry.

5. Wrap twine around pot several times.  Tie a simple knot in the front.  Wrap around the pot and tie another knot in the back.  Cut off excess twince.  If you use ribbon, I would suggest only wrapping it around once and tying a simple bow.

The hardest part about this project was the spraypainting and waiting for them to dry.  But, once done, they are uber cute...especially on the empty shelf in my guest bathroom.  Now, if I can just figure out what to do with the rest of the bathroom!

DIY Stamped Tile Coasters {tutorial}

You'll need:
4x4 inch tiles
Large stamp
Felt pads
Clear acrylic coating


1. Wipe tiles down with a damp cloth.  Let dry.

2. Turn tiles over and attach one felt pad to each corner of the tile.

3. Ink stamp.  Be sure that every line/detail is covered with ink.

4. Press tile one by one onto stamp.  Press firmly and make sure your tile doesn't move around.  You may need to re-ink your stamp after each tile.  Let ink dry completely.  I let mine sit for approximately 1 hour.

5. In a well ventilated area, spray the tiles with clear acrylic coating.  Make sure it is moisture-resistant.  This will prevent the ink from running if moisture touches it.  Dries in minutes but I suggest letting the tiles sit for a few hours.  **Yes, I've tested this.  I placed a glass of ice cold water on one of the tiles for 3 hours.  The glass was dripping with moisture and my tile was completely undamaged.**


These make a fabulous gift and take very little time to make.