STEM with Straws


In my problem solving class, we spend some time each week working on a recurring project – building stable towers with drinking straws. The initial goal is to get a golf ball to a height of one foot. No tape, no string, no glue – just straws.


My class of sixth graders has done super well with this over the last few weeks – one team got the golf ball a yard in the air, and then decided to just go for height. It’s taller than most of the students now…

Wishing you all a happy Friday!

This Week’s Project: Patterns and Dresses


This week I’ve been doing a lot of measuring and pinning and cutting to get these dresses started. Sewing will happen soon, but since this part is my least favorite, I figured I’d better get all the pieces ready to go – then I can sit down at my serger and sewing machine and happily put everything together!

Although I don’t Continue reading This Week’s Project: Patterns and Dresses

Rag Rug Part 1: Cutting your T-shirts

If you want to make a rag rug like the one I showed you last week, your first step is to cut your fabric (I’m using old T-shirts) into inch-wide strips. My favorite way to do it, and the way I’ve been using for my rag rug, is to cut each T-shirt into a long continuous strip (using the method I’m about to show you), wind it into a ball, and then cut pieces of the length I want as I go. It gives me a bit more flexibility with length, so my colors look more random.IMG_20180406_114958794.jpg

Here’s how to do it:

Continue reading Rag Rug Part 1: Cutting your T-shirts

This Week’s Project: Rag Rug

Here’s what I’ve been working on recently.


I’ve been working on a t-shirt rag rug project for a couple years ago, but a change of method a few weeks ago, and a total restart, has sped things up a lot – the progress I’ve made in the last two weeks is twice as much as I made before.

I originally started this project braiding t-shirt strips and then sewing them together with doubled thread, but I really struggled to keep the rug flat. Plus, it was pretty slow going, and I was worried that the thread wouldn’t stand up to actually being walked on a lot.

(Blurry bonus cat for scale.)


So, a bit more research later, I found a more traditional method. It uses a four strand interlocking braid, so the t-shirt strips get braided right onto the rug. Much faster!

I’ll be doing a tutorial for this soon. Collect your t-shirts!

Slide-Together Spheres


These are hanging above my desk right now, and they make me so so so happy.

I use slide-togethers like this as a puzzle for my students, often in a problem-solving class that I teach.


But all but one of these I made myself… They’re just fun!

You can find printable templates for these here. Both this site and the original creator of the puzzle leave the instructions intentionally vague, so I won’t get too specific either – you really do have to just puzzle it out!


A few tips:

Continue reading Slide-Together Spheres

Dyed in the Wool (With Kool-Aid!)


I have a problem.

For some reason, hand-dyed, varigated spinning fiber – especially in a soft, fluffy merino or blend – just gets me. Every single time.

The problem, of course, is that that stuff is expensive. And I spin pretty fast.

Luckily, my problem has an easy solution – buy natural roving and dye it. (Or yarn! Any kind of wool works). My favorite method of dyeing is using kool-aid. It’s cheap, smells good, and makes gorgeously deep and subtle colors. You also don’t need any special pots or equipment for it, unlike most chemical dyes, because it’s food safe – a blessing for my small kitchen.


Today I’m going to talk about dyeing on the stovetop, which is great for making fairly uniform colors, or different shades of the same color. You can also dye with kool-aid in the microwave, which is best if you want very different colors on the same wool.

The process is pretty simple.  Continue reading Dyed in the Wool (With Kool-Aid!)