November 8, 2016

Westdragon's NaNoWriMon

NaNoWriMon– a pokemon that evolves with your word count!


This one’s from the official page.

Now I have to keep going to make this look good at the end of the month!

October 30, 2016

img_7236Here’s my latest finished project, a knit hat.  I was going to link to the pattern, then realized it was from a magazine, Knit Today.  The magazine just ceased production this June, and I feel guilty now, because it is hard to maintain a knitting magazine when you can search Ravelry for thousands of free patterns, find still more on blogs like mine, and then have a pattern without paying a cent.  The problem with losing another source for designers to get paid is obvious- another place lost that vetted its projects.  Of the thousands of patterns out there,  how do I know which ones have major mistakes? I am relying on other hobbyists testing and commenting when something goes wrong.

So the pattern is Lace Beanie, page 43 of Knit Today May 2106 issue.



Sewing a Katara Costume

I created a costume without using a pattern.  This is akin to driving without a map in a foreign country, or performing a musical after seeing a movie.

It’s always best to have something to go by.  Either a pattern or a piece of clothing that you know fits your subject.  Since this was unique, I used measurements instead.  My original idea was that the dress would be slipped on over her head, but it became clear that img_6624it would be extremely difficult to do that.  So I went to plan “B” and made it a wrap-around dress with two overlapping panels, attaching at the waist with snaps.  I finished off the edges with a strip of white fabric.

The panel sides had a simple rolled  hem, and at the bottom I appliquéd a white piece ( A simple rectangle in the back, a wave in the front).img_6623img_6626

The next difficulty was I had made the shoulders too tight.  This is a problem I keep running into when improvising or changing patterns- sleeves and pant inseams need to be bigger than basic measurements to ensure motion and comfort.  IMG_6687If possible, find a pattern for the sleeves, even if it is for a completely different shirt, it will help you see how it is supposed to fit in.  I eventually used a sleeve pattern from a dress.

I 3-D printed her necklace (but you can purchase one from crafters). I made her arm-bands using this tutorial.  She wore leggings and a tank top underneath, and sandals.

We went to Dragoncon!  I had so many costumes I wanted to make, but I’m glad I at least finished this one.  My daughter wore it to the Aquarium night and pretended to water-bend.  .  She was so happy!


August 14, 2016


A-Mazing  Mazes

Mazes are good for a STEAM program because they teach spacial relations and problem solving while being fun.

For our maker lab, which this time had a large amount of seven-year-olds, I kept it simple.  We made marble mazes, then used the Sphero with a drawing attachment to make our own trails.IMG_6034

Marble mazes use straws.  I only had regular drinking straws, but I recommend that you use thicker shake straws.  You can get a bag of marbles from the dollar store (from their floral section!).  The other materials are sheets of paper, tape and small boxes.  Gift boxes or shoe boxes would work, but boxes for holding paper are just right.   IMG_6044Have the children plot our their maze with a pencil.  Talk to them about making enough space for a marble to roll through.  They then tape the straws down to the paper, trimming when necessary.  Put the paper in the box, add a marble, and test!

The Sphero part of the program requires more prep.  For older kids, they can have a complete program in itself coding the robot to navigate around a maze that fills the room.  It also works as a remote-control device using the iPad app.  Don’t have a Sphero?  In this class, an RC car would have worked as well.

sphero carriageI found a file for a carriage for the Sphero on Thingiverse, and printed it out on the library’s 3-D printer.  Then I covered a table in paper, taped pool noodles to the edges, and there was our contained environment.

My plan was to draw a maze with a marker, then have the kids use the robot with the drawing attachment to try to navigate.  However, control of the sphero by this crowd was not that delicate.  It went wildly around the paper like a drunken gerbil ball.  sphero in drawing carriage

This was only an hour program.  If I was doing a day program or a series, I think making a life-sized maze from boxes would have been a lot of fun.


Sew a Sock Monkey Hat


One of the challenges on the G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. list this year was: “Make a sock monkey hat from orphaned socks.  So I rounded up a pile of likely victims and started sewing.  This…interesting hat was the result.  I used the sock ends for ears, opened up two socks for the front and back, and used a larger sock end with a extra triangle of fabric for the top.  I added the face using a piece of purple sock with another white sock and a part of a red sock for the lips.  I used embroidery floss for the nose and scraps for the eyes.

I’m not sure I could convince anyone to wear this.

P1120981 (1)

July 23, 2016

IMG_6095Book Spine Letter Holder

(Before anyone gets upset about ruining books, this was made from a Reader’s Digest condensed book, by definition not a first edition, rejected by most book sales, unwanted and unloved.  ***Documentary voiceover*** “The  Librarians of the Northeastern region use every part of a book..”)

Supplies needed:
  • Book spine
  • Ribbon
  • Stapler
  • Sheets of felt
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Strong glue- I used Elmer’s Extreme School Glue, Tacky glue would also work. ( Or a glue gun, if you are coordinated enough not to burn yourself every time you use one.)

If you haven’t removed the inside of the book yet, it is pretty straightforward, just use an Exacto Knife to slice it out .

Make a loop of ribbon.  This will be how your piece will be hung up on the wall.  Staple the 2 ends of the loop to the inside corner of the book.  Make a second loop and staple to the other corner.

IMG_2322Measure your felt against your book, and cut a piece that is the length and width of the inside of the book when it is laid flat.  Then cut two rectangles that are the width of the spine of the book and the length of one side.

Find the center of the long side of the large rectangle and sew the short side of the small rectangle to it.  Repeat on the other side.  IMG_2324Now is a slightly tricky part- if you try to put the pocket together now, it will look like the sides are too short!  Don’t worry, just line up the two tops, leaving a little pinch of fabric in the corner. Sew all seams, making the same pinch in each corner.


IMG_2325Turn the project inside out.  Then apply glue to the inside spine and press the felt pocket down onto the glue.  Apply glue to each side, and press the felt into place, making sure to cover up the staples on your ribbon loops.  IMG_2328Hold the felt in place with paper clips until the glue dries.


Now you have a nice receptacle for outgoing mail for your office or home!

IMG_5983Zombie Party Planning

I almost left my brains in the fridge, but fortunately my clerk reminded me.  I think we all had a great time, and I only had to scold someone for throwing body parts once.

We’ve had several zombie events at our library over the years, and I have learned what works and what doesn’t.  We bring in professional make-up artists.  While it is possible to do DIY, you need to know what supplies to get, what makes what effect, and be comfortable getting right in people’s faces.  Also, having a IMG_5955professional in is a learning experience- the teens see a career in action, see what it takes to make the shows and movies they love, and get to talk with the artists about acting and costumes.

How to make your zombie event successful:
  • Have everyone under 16 have a permission slip signed by a guardian agreeing to make-up and videotaping.  All over 16 must state they have no known skin allergies.
  • Provide a secondary activity while makeup is being applied- we played Plants vs. Zombies on the x-box
  • Have lots of snacks
  • Have costume options- men’s button-up shirts from a rag-bag are best.  The fake blood is hard to get off of clothes.
  • Be prepared to take lots of pictures and video- this means planning a backdrop, scripting a simple scene or making sure your battery is charged.
  • Set up the makeup station with two chairs, a table, a garbage can, a plastic tablecloth on the floor and lots of room to move around.
  • Plan for an event that lasts at least 2 hours.

What do you do once all the participants who want to be are made up like zombies?  Some places do a charity walk.  Others hand it over to students to make their own film with their own equipment.  This time, we took pictures in front of a green screen, then filmed some basic scenes of mayhem in our small library.  The one that worked the best was the horde of zombies trying to get into the library, pressing against the glass door.  Remember that in film making you can take shots out of order.  I’m still looking for actual looks of horror from the “victims,” there was too much giggling going on.  The kids also just had fun pretending and live-action roleplaying (this was where I had to supervise, to make sure no one actually got hurt when they “attacked”).

zombie brainsWe served pizza, soda and Jell-o brains.  At the end, one of the boys apologized for any bad behavior he had ever done at the library, and wanted to come back for our weekly teen time.  Mission accomplished.

My daughter and I then stopped by a cemetery on the way home for a photo shoot.  I was able to sneak in some history lessons,  as well as a philosophy discussion, without being too obvious, as we walked around the tombstones.  She drove us home (on her learner’s permit) and I really hoped we didn’t get pulled over- I didn’t want to explain why I was letting a zombie drive my car.

Pokemon Party

The event of the week was our pokemon party.  I got a lot of ideas off Pinterest, of course.  There are so many creative people sharing what they do for their own children’s parties.  We had cupcakes, cookies, and drink boxes, because I ran out of time to make themed food.P1120771

Who’s that Pokemon?

I printed out pictures of pokemon, put them on a foam core board and numbered them, then gave out guess sheets.  At the end of the party we announced the answers.  The kids enjoyed this one, and even started using the books on display to help.


My volunteer made a Pokemon pillowcase, which we raffled off.  We also let the kids select 3 mini figurines from a large batch set I bought off of Amazon.  Having the kids choose what they got was more time consuming and contentious than I had anticipated.  I had them choose by age, with youngest first (the party ages ranged from 5-13).  My wonderful volunteer was able to identify each figure (I kept asking her dumb questions like “what’s this monkey with broccoli on its head?”) She also made origami Pikachus.  If you can find a volunteer who is an enthusiastic fan, grab them and make sure they’re appreciated.

Pokemon scavenger hunt

I decorated a large box of ping-pong balls as pokeballs, using red paint, black sharpie marker and ring binder reinforcement stickers.  If you plan to do this for your party, be aware of the number of participants.  A box full of these looks like a lot, but if you have 13 kids searching, they only get about 3 each.   I think I should have hidden the mini figurines we gave out as well.  We did have two specially marked balls that meant getting a special prize.

Make your own cardIMG_0133

There’s a great website for customizing your own pokemon card.  I took pictures of the kids using our iPad, then a volunteer sat with each kid and entered their powers, abilities and descriptions.  I then saved the picture and emailed it to my desktop.  I happened to have postcard paper left over from another project, which was perfect for this.  The website says to print it out and paste it to an actual card, we did not do that.  If we had, we would have to fuss with the exact sizing.

I had expected the kids to bring their cards and play and trade, but only 3 out of the 22 kids did.  If I do this again, I will get the local game store involved to help run a mini tournament with the 10-12 year old crowd.

4353114920_e23c078835Library Olympics

We started off the summer reading program with Library Olympics! This year the theme is “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” with an emphasis on sports.



First, opening ceremonies.  I really wanted the high school band to play, but they were not able to make it.  We settled for a parade around the library with a decorated book cart, ribbon streamers and music.  We hired a balloon twister who made us all fabulous hats.  The Friends of the Library served hot dogs, lemonade and desserts.


  • book cart race
  • boat races
  • badminton
  • figure skating
  • obstacle course
  • hula hoop challenge
  • balloon challenge
  • javelin throw
  • figure skating

Figure skating was a craft.  Using stock paper, we made a figure, then attached it to a magnet.  With another magnet underneath a sheet of paper, you can move your skater around.  For our rink, I repurposed a buffet heater stand.


P1120696The boat races were in a kiddy pool .  We made pool noodle boats with straw masts and foam sheet sails.  I sliced the noodles up ahead of time, so the only tools needed for this craft were scissors and a hole punch.

Note: if you plan to play badminton in a library, buy lots of birdies.


The javelin throw target was a small hula hoop suspended between the shelves.  The javelin was half a pool noodle.  (I use a lot of pool noodles!)

For our book cart races, we put golf and ping-pong balls on the cart (after fashioning a cardboard rim for the edges).  When testing it, I wondered if I had made it too easy, nothing fell off when I zipped around.  No fear.  Apparently the corners were the tricky part.  We had our athletes do four laps around the shelves while we timed them, with the best time being the winner.


We gave out trophies and medals to all our athletes.  All in all, I think everyone had a blast!  A good way to start the summer.

For Librarians Who Secretly Wish it was “S.T.E.A.” and not S.T.E.M…

When I was asked to do a math-related program as part of a S.T.E.M. grant, I freaked out.  Math has been my nemesis since third grade, when I realized that I could not do quick calculations in my head, or for that matter, slow calculations.  Science, I could do- fun experiments, facts about animals, space and machines, that was easy.

Do a story-time for preschoolers, my grant coordinator urged.  Basic math, like shapes, counting…  I remembered to breathe.  Ok.


I did a little research, and my eye stopped at a picture of dice.  Dice?  That was math?  I slapped my forehead.  Hello!  Gamer!  Reading dice uses a skill called subitizing, where you can look at a collection of items and know the number without having to count each one. Jane's Folly Library Race boardgame  I put together a take-home kit for the kids (I visited our local pre-school) with a printed game-board* I designed, one die, and a flyer about our library.

Books read:
  • One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab by April Sayre- counting by feet.  A snail has one foot, and a crab has ten!
  • How Many Jellybeans? by Andrea Minotti.  Could you eat a million jellybeans?  You might change your mind after you see
    how many that really is!

one is a snailHow many Jelly Beans?






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