Lila’s Birthday Party: Michael’s Superhero Craft Party

Michaels Superhero Craft Party |

Please forgive the photos. the party room is painted a bizarre bright yellow/green, and it messed with the colours in all the photos, it seems! I also didn’t want to put any photos of the blogs that contained photos of other people’s children, so they are pretty cropped. 

After asking you guys for birthday party ideas for Lila (thank you so much! So many great ideas, including this one!) I went with a Michael’s superhero craft party. Michael’s (a popular craft store chain in North America, for my wonderful international readers) has prepackaged craft party ideas, geared to different ages. They supply the invitations, crafts materials, thank-you cards and a staff person to facilitate the craft, and you provide the food, drinks, and kids. They generally gear the parties to about 8 children, so we invited 7 other kids to Lila’s party.

When I first called to set it up, they assumed that for a 4 year old girl I would want the princess party, which I flat out turned down. Not that I have anything against princesses, but little kids often have mixed boy/girl parties, and Lila isn’t interested in princesses at all (and no matter how many times I offer, she doesn’t want to watch Frozen). I went with the superhero theme, as the crafts seemed the most fun- they would make capes, masks, power cuffs, and decorate a photo frame. And Lila loves tying on a baby blanket and being ‘Super Lila’ at home.

Guy and I decided that since a photo frame was part of the package, we would send the kids home with a photo. I created a photo backdrop of the city to use for the kids to pose in front of:

backdrop for party

I used Picmonkey, which is what I use to edit my blog photos (I might learn how to use Photoshop one day, but my kids are going to have to be bigger so I have more time!). Picmonkey has some theme bundles, and I used the Comic Heroes theme, using the ‘Graphic Novel’ overlay (Guy is such a great photographer, right?!), and I designed the posters using themed overlays- they are below in the photo collages, with ‘Kaboom! and ‘Wow!’.

We brought a digital camera, laptop, and a printer to the party- Once the kids finished making their superhero costume crafts, we took a photo of each child against the back drop, then Guy transferred the images to his laptop, plugged them into the template, and we printed on site and put them into the frames. The results were super cute:

Michaels Superhero Craft Party |

You can see a quick video of Lila trying to blow out her candles on Guy’s Instagram, here

I made a chocolate cake,  and covered the whole thing in rainbow sprinkles and added some little printouts of  some of sound effect bubbles for a cake topper. I am always surprised at how hard I find cake decorating-  there is a big disconnect between my Pinterest cake dreams and my actual abilities.  I need to take a cake decorating class!

Michaels Superhero Craft Party |

The staff liked the posters so much they asked if they could keep them! 

To get all the party supplies on theme, I got a birthday-in-a-box set from Birthday Express. I am really impressed with the wide variety of party themes they have (even the superhero theme had 15 different types of superhero party-in-a-box themes) and I found exactly what we wanted– a generic comic superhero theme, complete with balloons, plates, cups, cutlery, decorations, etc. I think it’s really good value (the quality is great) and it is a huge relief to just get everything I need shipped to my front door in one box.

When Lila plays ‘Super Lila’ at home, she says James is Super Baby. So for the party, I put his bib on backwards and sewed a little felt star to a onesie. Instant Super Baby! If we had a bit more forethought (and less general birthday party chaos) I would have liked to take a photo of James in front of the city back drop, I wish we had thought of it at the time.

Michaels Superhero Craft Party |

What Worked Great:

  • We went in a couple weeks in advance and picked out the colour scheme for the crafts, choosing red and turquoise blue felt. I did this to ensure that both colour options were unisex, and it was worth it.
  • We took measurements for the frames in the party room, for the printout ‘POW!’ signs.
  • We also took measurements of the photo frames they use for the parties, so Guy could create a pre-sized frame template so he could drag-and-drop the photos of the kids easily.
  • My parents came in from out of town, and it was a huge help- extra sets of hands to help with James and Lila, especially at the end when Lila was exhausted from all the fun and started crying that she wanted to go home (this was about 20 minutes after she had declared that it was the Best. Birthday. EVER!). Guy and my dad took the kids back home while my mom and I cleaned up.

What I Would Do Differently:

  • The capes were a bit long for the 4 year old set, I wish I had asked them to make the capes about a foot shorter than normal (capes come presized).
  • There was also a clearance bin just outside the door of the party room, and the kids pillaged it and it got awkward- tears were shed over who was or wasn’t ‘sharing’. I wish I had moved the bin before the kids arrived. You definitely want the area clear of distractions.
  • This next part sounds a little crazy, but I wish we had a ‘photo list’ of the photos we wanted to take that day- I wish we had got a family photo, I wish we had taken a photo of James as Super Baby in front of the photo back drop. I wish we had got a group shot of all the kids in their costumes together. Next time, I’ll know it’s worth putting a list together so we don’t forget.

And that was Lila’s 4th birthday party!

Note: I’m sure it goes without saying, but none of this content is sponsored. This is just what I chose to use, and I have zero contacts at Michael’s, Picmonkey or Birthday Express.  

Modification Monday: Crescent Swallowtail

Modification Monday: Swallowtail Crescent |

Original Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl

Knitter Extraordinaire: Susan (Ravelry ID, blog)

Mods: Modified this classic triangular shawl pattern into a crescent shape, and then very thoughtfully wrote up a great 4 page pdf on how to do just that, including adding a picot bind off. Full details and a link to the pdf can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: A crescent shaped shawl has a lot more versatility than a classic triangular shawl, as well as often looks a bit more modern. The trick for changing it up has to do with the increases, which Susan has beautifully mapped out in her pdf to include a how-to guide for both the classic shawl and  stockinette version (pictured below). I love the added detail of the picot bind off, it’s so beautiful!  Susan’s great guide could be used as a template for figuring out how to turn other triangular shawls into crescents, with some additional tweaks for the pattern repeat of your choice. Thanks to Susan for putting together such a comprehensive modification!

Modification Monday: Swallowtail Crescent |

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

The librarian who saved Timbuktu’s cultural treasures from Al-Qaeda is a wonderful, fascinating article- that guy is a hero, and this should be a movie.

You’ve heard of Mixed Martial Arts, right? Here’s Mixed Martial Arts & Crafts. So. Damn. Funny.

A museum in Russia tried to play an April Fool’s Day joke, and ended up employing a cat.

I loved these quotes from women on love, life, and being the person you are meant to be.

My Favourite Pins This Week

You guys know how I adore grilled cheese in all it’s various forms, so you’ll have to forgive me two different takes on this treat this week!

Pin Ups and Link Love: Cinnamon Grilled Toast with Chocolate |

I absolutely love buttered toast with cinnamon sugar, and this decadent treat takes all of 5 mins to put together and is better and more satisfying than any chocolate bar. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Bacon Mac and Cheese Melt |

This bacon Macaroni and cheese melt is utterly decadent, and the perfect solution to leftover mac and cheese. I haven’t had this yet, but man oh man, do I ever want to try it! Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: DIY Holographic Vase |

 I love this holographic vase DIY- it reminds me of that similar glaze effect you see on some old decorative ceramics. This looks so pretty and fresh for spring! Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Easy Knitted Sock |

The dynamic duo of Arne & Carlos have a great tutorial on how to knit a super easy sock with an afterthought heel. Have you tried a sock with an afterthought heel before? If you like your knitting on the mindless/zen side, then this is perfect. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Japanese Cat Cards |

I’m completely smitten with these adorable Japanese cat playing card letterpress illustrations, and after much hunting, it turns out these are a desk of playing cards- they are postcards! The illustrations are so sweet, if they did make them as a deck of playing cards, I would definitely order them in a heartbeat. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here (but in Japanese).

This week passed by in a blink for me- how is it already Friday? I could have sworn it was only Tuesday. Oh well. Don’t forget that today is the start of the Instagram #craftyblisschallenge!  Even if you don’t have Instagram, you can click that link any time and check out the photos people are posting. I hope you’ll join us!

Instagram into Spring- A #craftyblisschallenge

Last fall, Melissa (of Miso Crafty Knits) and I hosted a 10-day Instagram challenge, and it was so much fun we decided to do it again!

Instagram #craftyblisschallenge Spring 2016|

Starting this Friday, April 22nd, we will be hosting a fun and easy-to-do 10 day Instagram challenge that will get you looking at your day in a new way.

 An Instagram Challenge is a series of daily photo prompts for a set number of days. The prompts are meant to inspire you to engage in the world around you a little differently, and take a photo to share on your Instagram account. There is no ‘right’ way to interpret a prompt, they are meant to be a little bit vague so that you can interpret them any way you like! Even if you don’t have an idea for one of the prompts, sometimes I wait until a few others have posted, and it sparks my creativity, as well.

You should come join us! It’s addictive and really fun to see all the different ways people can translate the same word or phrase with a photograph. when you click on the #CraftyBlissChallenge hashtag, you automatically go to a feed that shows all the photos tagged with that special hashtag- so you’ll be able to check out all kinds of interesting and awesome photos from other knitters and crafters. You will probably even find some new people to follow who regularly post photos that you really enjoy.

How to participate: You’ll need an Instagram account (which is free). Then for 10 days (from from April 22nd to May 1st) you just take a photo or share one via your Instagram account and tag it with our special hashtag- #CraftyBlissChallenge.  Don’t forget- if your account s set to private, we can’t see your images! So if you normally have your account set to private and want to participate, you will need to adjust them to public for just the duration of the challenge- then we can heart your beautiful photos, make comments, all kinds of fun!

Here are the prompts we came up with:

Instagram #craftyblisschallenge Spring 2016|

Update: We will have prizes like last time, too! For those of you who post for all 10 days, two lucky (and randomly selected) participants will win some knitterly goodies! As if sharing all the pretty wasn’t enough motivation, right?

I hope some of them already have your mind buzzing, thinking up things that you could share and tag. Don’t forget, you don’t have to be literal about any of this. Melissa and I will be on it every day, checking out all the photos with the hashtag, and sharing our own. If you haven’t participated in an Instagram challenge before, this is a great group to start with, very friendly and lots of fun. And if you are joining, help us get the word out- feel free to tweet or repost the prompts to your Instagram feed. If you want to get a jump on things, you can check out my instagram feed here, and Melissa’s instagram feed here. I hope you will join us!

Review: Stranded Magazine Spring 2016

Stranded Magazine Review |

Stranded Magazine is the cool new kid on the knitting block, created by Andi Satterlund and Erin Birnel. The concept: a digital knitting magazine that is very designer-friendly. Each issue is available for one year, after which the pattern rights revert back to the designer, who can individually sell and promote the patterns as they wish. Designers are paid for their pattern contributions as well as receive a portion of the magazine sales, so adding that to their ability to also be able to sell the pattern again after one year maximizes a designer’s ability to profit from their designs.  The patterns aren’t for sale individually during that year- you need to buy the issue to get them.

The issue is beautifully photographed as a retro road trip, which fits the vibe of these patterns- fans of retro midcentury styles will love the 6 patterns included. You can check out their look book here, or view the patterns on Ravelry here. For knitters that aren’t fans of the retro vibe, look a little closer- many of these could made to look quite modern in a more neutral colour palette, or adding length.

My favourite pattern in the collection is Median by Andi Sutterland. It’s a breezy summer tank top  knit in fingering weight that is shown in a great two colour combo:

Stranded Magazine Review |

I also love Route 99 by Lee Meridith, a very cool turban-style hat that I bet would look utterly amazing on anyone with bangs/fringe. This can be worn different ways, too- with the band at the side for a 1920s jazz age feel, or at the back for a more modern look. It’s worth checking out Lee’s black and white prototype to see some different styling inspiration.

Stranded Magazine Review |

The Pit Stop mitts by Erin Birnel are the quickest knit of the bunch at less than 100 yards of fingering weight. And before you question the validity of summer driving mitts likes these, let me tell you- the backs of my hands are starting to get permanent sun spots. I wish I had spent the last decade wearing little mitts like these to protect my hands from the sun while driving on long road trips. Or you could lengthen the cuffs to make them more appropriate for cooler temperatures.

Stranded Magazine Review |

The magazine also contains an interview with Cirilia Rose which was quite interesting, and I normally (confession time) find interviews with designers super boring. This one was different for me because it focused more on Cirilia’s role as a brand ambassador for the yarn company she works with, and how they go about developing new yarn lines, colours, etc. It wasn’t a job I’ve read much about before, and I suspect that’s probably true for most of us knitters. It felt really fresh to hear about a knitting-related role that wasn’t a designer or a dyer. Don’t get me wrong- I love so many designers and dyers…. I just don’t find reading/listening to interviews asking ‘how did you get started’ and ‘where do you get your inspiration’ particularly interesting.

There is also a great photo tutorial on cabling without a cable needle, and a truly illuminating article on a beginner’s guide to paper piecing, which is a kind of quilting. As someone who has never, ever quilted a thing in their life, I read the tutorial and actually understood the entire process. I feel like I could attempt to hand quilt after reading it!

My favourite feature of the magazine is that they have printer cheat sheets, meaning you can print out just the pattern without anything else- no photos, schematic, supplies, etc. This is perfect for when you have already started on your project, and just want to print off  the pattern to carry around in your project bag. A great way to conserve paper!

I’m happy to see this sort of digital magazine come out, and I’m excited to see how it grows and develops in the future. They are planning to put out 3 issues a year, and I will definitely be looking forward to it.