Crappy Craft Creations: A Recap Stuff I Recently Made

It’s always hard for me to focus on doing crafts during the summer because I love warm weather and being outside as much as possible. But once fall and winter roll around, it’s always a little easier to be an inside-dweller and get back into crappy crafting.

Like most of you reading this, I spend entirely too much time on my laptop and generally staring at screens. There’s something unique about crafting that appeals to me on a psychological level because it’s so different from what I do to make a living.

Here are some of my recent craft creations that have made my brain work in different ways than my day job.

IMG_0386Hands down, this winter’s craft-of-choice has been loom knitting. I’ve done knitting and crocheting, but this is a different approach for a similar result, and one that I find to be way quicker and easier than the alternatives.

IMG_0388I bought a set of colorful looms at Michael’s and a few balls of yarn. The process of loom knitting is really as simple as wrapping yarn around pegs over and over again. After looping the yarn around each peg twice, you pull off one piece of thread with a needle, which makes a knot.

And after just a couple hours….BAM….you have a hat!


One thing I really loved this winter about loom-knitted hat making is that it’s a portable craft. I have knitted hats while riding in the passenger seat on road trips and even inside our new pop-up camper with a bottle of wine and a podcast.

IMG_0463The simplicity of the process and the pretty-much-perfect results every time motivated me to make more hats…

IMG_0623And more hats, and more hats! Basically everyone on my Christmas list got a hat this year.

IMG_0918Sewing has taken a bit of a backseat so far this winter and continues to intimidate me. I received this shirt pattern from a friend and decided I would use it to try making my very first shirt.

IMG_0456Hours of struggling resulted in this blue thing that has two sleeves. Two sleeves = shirt, right? I continue to have issues with translating my personal measurements into properly sized garments, and this shirt was drastically large and floppy on me.

Some seams are inside out, but at least all the pieces are in the right place. I can’t say that I’ll be wearing this out of the house anytime soon, but I am glad that I at least stuck with it and finished it. Maybe the next shirt will be easier?

IMG_0454Another craft I’ve really gotten into lately is needle felting. Check out my post, My First Attempt at Felting: Project Plush Gnome, to learn more about how this whole felting thing works.


For Christmas gifts this year, I decided to make two felted birds….one for my grandma and one for my sister-in-law. So far, I’ve made a needle felted gnome, a monkey, and an owl-in-a-tree, and I’m always surprised at how fool-proof this craft is. I literally just stab fluff with a needle until it takes shape and it somehow turns out looking pretty good.

I was super pleased with how these little birds turned out. I bought the little nests at Michael’s and super-glued the birds to them so they have no chance of escaping.

IMG_0921I used one of those paint-a-mug sets designed for five-year-olds and made a mug for my grandma too. I mean seriously, what else do you give a 92-year-old besides homemade gifts?

IMG_0912The paint is supposed to be cool with microwaving and dishwashing, but only time will tell. It was a really basic set so all the writing and drawing was done free-hand, adding to the kindergarten look of it.

After painting it, the instructions said to put it in the oven for 30 minutes, which I did. I’m not sure if I’ll make another one of these, but it was an easy craft an I think my grandma enjoyed getting it.

IMG_0913Sometime earlier this fall, I painted a birdhouse with crazy colors that would drive even the most sane bird batty. I have a bird feeder and hummingbird feeder on my miniature balcony outside, so I thought a birdhouse would be a fun addition.

However, I have not yet figured out a way to attach it to the balcony. So it remains sitting on the living room floor taking up space, dreaming of future bird residents.

20150808_101343In other news, I sculpted a really dumb-looking elephant.

Sculpting is definitely not my gift, and I honestly don’t have the patience or precision for it. But a couple years ago, I randomly made my husband an elephant out of clay. It was purple and lumpy and barely distinguishable. When we moved to Atlanta, that poor purple elephant’s ear fell off, which must have been quite painful.

Elephant 2.0 is blue, has tusks, and is misshapen in different ways than Elephant 1.0.


So what’s next for this crappy crafter?

Well, I figure it’s high time for a new sewing project. I’ve been wanting to learn to make handbags for awhile now and just settled on a pattern I found online.

One barrier to sewing for me is going to the craft store. There isn’t a convenient one nearby and I really don’t like shopping in stores for much of anything. So to eliminate that barrier, I ordered some materials via Amazon Prime and used some old fabric I had lying around. Yes, that’s the same gnome fabric from the skirt I made from my very first sewing class!

So far, I’ve cut out the material, pressed out the wrinkles with my fancy new Rowenta iron, and gathered everything up to dive right in…one of these days…


Creating via crafts is so different from creating via words, and I’m so glad I didn’t wait until old age to pick up on these hobbies. I try to be a minimalist and hate being surrounded by clutter, but I do enjoy giving homemade gifts and wearing things I’ve made with my own two hands.

My crafts are far from perfect, but that’s not really the point. For me, crafting is just as much about the process as the end result. When I’m not cursing in agony and frustration, the process of creating something from nothing feels therapeutic. It makes me focus on one thing at a time and takes my mind away from whatever else is clouding it up. I wish I could sneak a couple extra hours into the day to make more time for crafting, but for now it’s a great mini-escape for me that results in something that I can show off, give away, or just laugh about.

Crafting on the Road


I’m not exactly a homebody, and I’m certainly no artist. However, my hands have this annoying tendency of becoming idle and my mind is constantly restless.

I didn’t grow up a crafty kid and I’ve never had a Pinterest account. However, there’s an odd, misshapen void in my life when I’m not creating something…even if that something is hideously ugly and hopelessly unrecognizable.

As I began traveling more this past year, I found myself sitting in campgrounds wishing I’d squeezed my sewing machine, my piano keyboard, or maybe my sculpting set into the Jeep. Here’s how I found a compromise:

Sketching on the Road

My trusty sketch book was my original form of artistic expression when I traveled. I wrote a post awhile, Art from the Road, back highlighting a few of my memorable (but artistically awful) sketches in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

Mt. Gnomemore

Colored pencil sketch of Mt. Gnomemore

Any trace of drawing/coloring skill can be traced back to Free Crappy Portraits, a public art experiment that my buddy Rj and I came up with in 2008. Whenever you’re feeling a little low and could use a self-esteem boost, head over to my FCP portfolio and have a few laughs!

FCP banner

Painting on the Road

Thanks to the burdensome 3-ounce rule, I’ve never been brave enough to bring paint on board a a plane. However, I love packing small canvases and acrylic paints or watercolors for short road trips. I discovered the hard way that oil paints take too long to dry and test my patience unnecessarily.

The Maine Coast

Acrylic painting along the coast of Maine (an attempt at “abstract landscape”)

I recently selected “abstract landscape” as my ideal painting technique because I can stare at outdoor scenery longer than anything else, and because nothing I paint really looks like what it is. That means it’s abstract, right?

Knitting on the Road

Just before setting out on my Texas adventure in September, I signed up for a one-time knitting class through Dabble. Hat and glove season was soon approaching and I figured knitting could be a portable substitute for sewing when I got a fabric craving.

Oddly shaped knit scarf

Oddly shaped knit scarf, n.k.a. a shawl

I started making my mom this “scarf” for Christmas, but somehow it’s gotten wider and wider as I’ve knitted along. I’m thinking of just calling it a “shawl,”  and then calling it a day. I prefer to work with dark yarns while I’m living outdoors in case my hands are less than spotless when craft motivation strikes.

Crocheting on the Road

After partially-mastering a single knitting technique, I decided to teach myself to crochet with The Crochet Dude‘s book and a few YouTube video. My Grandma Ruth used to be a master crocheter back in the day, and I have the afghans to prove it. She just turned 90 last week, and her arthritic hands haven’t been able to hold needles for a long time. Afghans sounded a little too ambitious, so I set out to make Grandma a dish cloth.

Trapezoidal Crochet Dishcloth

Trapezoidal Crochet Dishcloth

While my first knitting project got wider as I went along, my first crochet project got narrower. No, I have no explanation for either phenomenon. Then again, trapezoids are cool, right? Who says that I need to wash my dishes with squares?

Cross stitching on the Road

Cross stitching was actually the first yarn craft that I ever picked up. And I have Julie Jackson of Subversive Cross Stitch to thank. I connected with Julie through Free Crappy Portraits a few years ago and have since cross stitched a few of her clever patterns to give as amusing gifts.

Candy is Dandy

Suggestive (and true) cross stitch gift I made my boyfriend

While browsing the visitor’s center gift shop at Death Valley National Park last year, I picked up a cross stitch pattern of Zabriskie Point. Every time I pick it up, I put it right back down again. It’s large, it’s complex, and it’s awfully intimidating. But as my current needlework projects are wrapping up, I think this will be a great project to take on my next big trip…wherever that may be.

Zabrinskie Point

One of my favorite views and next cross stitch project

To me, crafts represent tangible progress. When I can’t see progress in my own life, I can look down and see a few more stitches sewn and a few more rows done.

The objective is clear: keep moving forward. And the reward is clear: a finished product awaits you. If only life were spelled out so clearly as a scarf, a dishcloth, or a framed piece of fabric.

Crafting keeps my mind steady, whether I’m sitting on the couch dreaming of my next big adventure or smack dab in the middle of it. It’s a little piece of home that I can take with me wherever I go. Regardless if I’m full of hope, or lost without any, crafts keep me on track, moving forward, and laughing at myself along the way.