Science for the Masses: Looking Glass Leggings

Hippocampal Pyramidal Neuron w:o key

Large pyramidal neuron from rat hippocampus (the memory center of the brain!)

I want everyone to see how cool science can be. I want them to see how beautiful a cell can be if you let it.

When I tell people that I work with brains, half the time they get excited and ask me more. The other half of the time, however, they get a look of discomfort on their face and think that what I do is “icky.” So I went on a search for ways to show people that what I do and what I look at is actually quite beautiful.

I took a course in college on scanning electron microscopy (SEM), something I highly suggest looking up, because if there is anything that can make tiny things look beautiful, it’s SEM. I decided to take photos of the brain cells and spinal cord of a rat (that’s right, a rat).

These photos are what came from that class:

Through colorizing them and patterning them in different ways, I turned them into this fabric:



And then turned them into these leggings:

My goal with these leggings is to both inspire people to add a little science into their life and wardrobe as well as ignite curiosity surrounding the items in the photos. I want people to look up what the heck a neurite is, what the hippocampus is for, and what is so special about cerebellar granule neurons.

If you need a little bit of science in your life, you can find Plaidypus Looking Glass Leggings in the “Leggings” section of our Etsy store, or at Wadoo Gifts in Fort Collins, CO. And remember, science is cool. Even rat brains.


Plaidypus at ArtStir Denver!

artstir denver plaidypus booth may 2015 art festival craft fair

We’ve done art fairs and festivals in Fort Collins and in Colorado Springs, but somehow we’ve managed to completely skip over Denver. Well no more! On May 23 and 24 this year (memorial day weekend and also THIS weekend), Plaidypus will be participating in ArtStir, a Denver art festival located at the Denver Pavilions. It was voted best new festival in 2014, and features 100% Colorado artists and designers, so I thought it would be a good fit for us.

‘What will Plaidypus be selling at this fair?’ you may ask. Well, let me tell you. Plaidypus is pleased to announce that we will be debuting our soon-to-be famous Leggings line, which incorporates scanning electron microscope images of brain cells or lily pollen (they’re basically wearable science). Along with these, there will be our t-shirt skirts, which until now have only been sold at Wadoo in downtown Fort Collins, as well as our beloved t-shirt headbands and our hair clips and pins made from felted sweaters.

plaidypus looking glass leggings rat spinal cord neuroscience fashionPlaidypus hair clips pins upcycled recycled wool felted sweaters plaidypus t-shirt headbands

So get excited, people! I’ll be there for two whole days, rain or shine, with old favorites and shiny new products for you guys to choose from. Also, in case you needed more reason to come by, leggings and skirts will be sold at a discount price at the fair (because I rounded down to the nearest multiple of ten so I don’t have to bring as many $1 bills).

We take cash, we take credit, and if we think you look like an upstanding citizen we will even take your personal check.

Plaidypus will be located in this funny little area dedicated to “emerging artists” (which you can see in the below map as the bright green squares). I did this partly because the booth price was significantly lower for students like myself, and partly because they are going to supply me with a tent and a table, meaning I have less to drag around with me and less set up to struggle with. I have no idea who I’ll be sharing my booth tent with (because they weren’t just going to give me my own tent for that price) but I bet they’re cool too, so come hang out and buy things from us.

artstir denver art festival plaidypus emerging artist booth craft fair 2015

I will be a little off the beaten path. But fear not, because I will still be highly accessible and near activity areas of the festival! I don’t know what activities there will be, but they will be near me according to the map.

To recap:

ArtStir Denver
May 23 and 24 from 11am-7pm
At the Denver Pavilions (map provided below)

Check out the ArtStir website for more info on the show itself, and look for us on their “Artists” page (hint: Plaidypus is represented by a photo of our fabulous headbands). Come say hi. Tell your friends. Buy things, maybe?

plaidypus artstir denver art festival may 2015

Plaidypus Spotlight: Colorado College Arts and Crafts Fair in Colorado Springs, CO

colorado college arts and craft fair plaidypus participation 2014 logo

The Colorado College Arts and Crafts Fair is held every year on the first (or second?) weekend of December. It’s held at, you guessed it, Colorado College, which is a small, liberal arts college located in Colorado Springs, CO. And it is a fantastic show to participate in or go to.

For the past four years Plaidypus has participated in the show, making trunkfuls of Fuzzy Fingerless Mittens, Coffee Cup Cozies, Headbands, Hair Clips and Pins, and sometimes even throwing in surprise Sweater Sleeve Scarves or bags made from neckties. It’s always been a fantastic show for us, and we always love participating.

plaidypus booth table at colorado college arts and craft fair 2014

Here’s our table for December 2014 at the beginning of the show (it was much more bare by the end of it!)

There are a number of reasons this is a great show.

First of all, I’m a little biased because I graduated from Colorado College in May and so I just really like the people who put it on. (In case you were wondering, I graduated with a B.A. degree in psychology and a minor in performance design.) For three of the four years I was a student at CC, I participated in this fair, and this year as an alumnus I did the same. So I do have a sort of loyalty bias for this fair.

But there’s more than just that to make this a great fair.

There are thousands of customers who come through this fair every year. Thousands. There are locals from the Springs, students at the college, people driving in from surrounding cities such as Denver or Boulder or Pueblo, and all those people are starting their holiday shopping. It’s a festive show to go to, whether you are selling or buying. Makes you feel like the holiday season has really begun and you can start your shopping and decorating and cookie-baking. Colorado College arts and craft fair 2014 plaidypus call to artists and about sale

If you are an artist in Colorado, this is the fair to participate in. Especially if you’re a student at the college. They give students a great deal on the table fee so that they can learn what it’s like to sell their own goods without the terror of a large fee hanging over their heads. And alumni get a discounted table fee, so the support from the school continues there. But even if you don’t go to CC nor have you ever gone there, the table fee is minimal compared to many other fairs.

It’s three days of talking to artists or customers or both and finding your own gifts for family and friends (I found some particularly good items for my family this year) and seeing what other people can do. It’s a student center packed with inspiration and artists who are willing to help you out by giving you trade tips and sometimes free yarn (not kidding, I got two huge cones of undyed wool yarn from some very nice women this year so I could play with yarn dyeing techniques).

So look out for it next year. You can find great gifts there and great people who make them.

If you want to participate as an artist, I think applications are posted in September and due by October 1 for outside parties and alumni, so start snooping around then. It is juried, so make sure the photos you send in and the descriptions you write frame your products nicely.

If you have questions about the fair, direct them to the Colorado College Arts and Crafts Program. The people there are super nice.

And if you have questions about us, you can direct those to me in a comment below or on our Contact Me page.

colorado college 2014 arts and craft fair plaidypus

Spiced Apple Pie Cupcakes/Muffins

Cupcakes of Manipulation

So my friend moved away (which I still haven’t forgiven him for), and before he left he was coming over to say bye and I made him stay by promising cupcakes. These cupcakes, you see, were made of manipulation (and love, but he couldn’t see past the manipulation piece).

He told me I baked with intentions too often and I decided to, well, tell the internet all about it. Which is kind of a weird reaction now that I think about it, but I figured there is someone out there who really wants to hear about how to use baking as a weapon (but, like, the good kind of weapon, not the kind that kills people. We don’t do that here. You’ll have to go down the street for that sort of thing).

So these are, as my cookbook says, “Warm Spiced Apple Pie Cupcakes.” They’re more like muffins, but that may be something I did to make them more dense. Either way, these are fantastic. I didn’t get any photos of the ones I made, but I’ll take a picture of the pretty ones in the book because for once in my life what I baked looked like what was pictured. So I don’t feel bad doing that.

Anyway. Here’s the recipe:

Spiced Apple Pie Cupcakes/Muffins


3 1/2 Tbsp butter, softened

1/3 cup raw brown sugar

1 egg lightly beaten

1 heaping cup all-purpose flour (which looks exactly how it sounds.)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 large baking apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped (I used a Braeburn apple)

1 Tbsp orange juice

(For the topping)

5 Tbsp all purpose flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

2 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup superfine sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350. Like a 12 hole muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. To make the topping, place the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, butter, and superfine sugar in a large bowl and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (this was my favorite part). Set this aside.

3. To make the cupcakes, beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until it’s fluffy. Then gradually beat in the egg. Sift in flour, baking powder, and spices and fold into the mixture. Then fold in chopped apple and orange juice.

4. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Add the topping to cover the top of each cupcake and press down gently. I suggest being very generous with the topping, because it’s delicious.

5. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Enjoy.

These are sort of like tiny apple pie muffins. As someone who likes apple pie these are fantastic. Even if you don’t really like apple pie (which I can see as I didn’t really like pie for a long while), these are still pretty fantastic.

And fun fact: you can use them to manipulate your friends to stay longer than they had planned. If you’ve got leftover topping, stay tuned and I’ll tell you how to use it for Snickerdoodle cookies (which is what I did, making my friend stay even longer as I baked a few dozen cookies, but that’s a story for next time).

How to Use Fabric Scraps: The Hair Clip

Felted Wool Sweater Blue Heart Hair Clip/Pin

I go through a lot of felted sweaters. Like, A LOT. I scrounge for wool sweaters at the ARC or Goodwill at least once every week from September until March (which according to thrifts stores is sweater season). I felt and cut up sweaters once every month or so and organize all my pattern pieces so they are easy to grab and use. My goal at this point is to throw away as little of the sweater as possible, so I’ve had to get creative over the years.

Plaidypus felted wool coffee cup cozy in the making

I started by only using sweaters to cut out patterns for my Coffee Cup Cozies. But there were all these parts left over. I began using the sleeves to make scarves, which helped ease my guilt, but I still felt like I was wasting some good scraps. I started looking online for small accessories I could create, and realized that hair clips were a worthy investment.

I found inspiration for the pattern I eventually made on the internet and at home.
After searching the web I found a few tutorials and photos that I really liked and tried to figure out why I liked them. For example, Here’s one that I liked because of the layering effect they used.

I also had a few hair clips at home that friends and family had bought me over the years that added to my inspiration and designs. Inspiration really is everywhere. Plaidypus felted wool hair clip pinI knew I wanted layers and I knew I wanted buttons (because I like buttons on everything. Who doesn’t like buttons?) so I messed around until I made something I liked and then stuck with that and made a bunch more.

Because I was just using up scraps that I would have thrown away otherwise, I was keeping costs low and could therefore keep the price lower for customers. Also, I felt better about not throwing away so much good wool (because wool is getting harder and harder to come by as acrylic and acrylic blends take over the sweater market).

If you don’t use sweaters, you can still make hair clips or pins out of other scrap materials you have laying around. I also use a lot of t-shirts and end up with a lot of scraps from that and I’ve been thinking about making hair clips from those scraps as well. A lot of people have scraps from quilting or sewing projects, and those can be made into hair clips just as easily. Here’s a website with a bunch of great collection of hair bow ideas that you can make with your fabric, yarn, and ribbon scraps.

Scrap yarn crochet flower headband featured on Plaidypus blogScrap fabric hair bows featured on Plaidypus blogScrap fabric hair flower bow headband featured on Plaidypus blog


Bonus: Plaidypus pink and purple felted wool sweater hair clipHere’s one of the first hair clips I ever made combined with the moment I realized how difficult it was to take photos of myself with an SLR camera. At least my hair looked fabulous.


Plaidypus Spotlight: Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins, CO

Plaidypus at the 15th annual sustainable living fair in fort collins, colorado

I’m pleased to announce that Plaidypus will have a booth at the annual Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins, CO!


Here are the quick and dirty details:

Where: Legacy Park, 300 Woodlawn Drive in the Heart of Fort Collins, alongside the Cache la Poudre River

When: Saturday, Sept. 20 10am to 6pm; Sunday, Sept. 21 10am to 5pm

How much: $10 (12 and under free)


So what is the Sustainable Living Fair? Well it’s put on by the Sustainable Living Association, which is dedicated to educating and promoting–you guessed it–sustainable living through buying local, reusing and recycling, and using eco-friendly products. The fair, then, is a place with speakers, workshops, exhibitors (of which I will be one!), hands on education, and food/drink that embody the Sustainable Living values.

Plaidypus fits in because it’s not only a local business, but upcycles old t-shirt, neckties, jeans, and sweaters into new fashion accessories and clothing. We were going to be in it last year, but there was some terrible flooding and the fair was cancelled. But we’re back this year and hoping for some beautiful weather!

Plaidypus will be selling all sorts of goodies, from our famous fuzzy hand warmers to our t-shirt headbands and felted sweater coffee cozies (there are rumors that we will also have some fashionable scarves made from old sweater sleeves). We will also be selling Solemate Socks for our favorite Fort Collins business, Wadoo. The booth might look something like this:

Plaidypus and Wadoo Exhibitor Booth for Sustainable Living Fair 2011

So come by and see us in booth 408 (which is where it says we will be in the Official Program Guide)! You can join me in watching whatever is happening on the “Family Stage,” which I assume will be adults trying to teach kids about sustainable living through magicians and puppets, and maybe some musical ensembles. All in all it should be a good time, so come support local and sustainable businesses this September 20th and 21st in Fort Collins, CO!

Sustainable Living Fair Exhibitors Map 2014 - Plaidypus booth

The Headband: For Those of Us Who Don’t Want to Let Our Hair Down

Plaidypus upcycled t-shirt headband - Purple with black and purple buttons

Yes, you can let your hair down. Or you can put it up. It’s really up to you. But if you want a way to put it up (because it’s summer and it’s hot and if you have long hair you probably get that thing where your hair sticks to your forehead when you’re outside and it feels uncomfortable), there are a lot of options out there right now in the fashion world.

For one, headbands are coming back. I’m not sure if they ever actually left, but suddenly I’m seeing a lot more of them around here. I personally like the bigger, thicker headbands because otherwise they get lost in my hair (I always have more hair than I think I do…)

You can make your own headbands by cutting up t-shirts and braiding them in cool ways (I’ve seen this, but never figured it out myself because braids with more than three strands confuse me), by sewing some pretty fabric to some elastic, or by covering a pre-made headband of any size with fabric. Heck, you can even embellish a pre-made headband until it looks nothing like it’s original form. Here’s a website/blog post that gives you some ideas and some tutorials if you have creative energy and time to kill.

If you would prefer to buy a handmade headband, well then you’ve Plaidypus upcycled t-shirt headband - Orange with rainbow lacecome to the right blog post! Plaidypus makes some lovely thick headbands from upcycled t-shirts. They come in many colors and textures and with many embellishments, and unlike many headbands, they don’t start to give you a headache after ten minutes of wearing them. Check them out in our Photo Gallery or on the Plaidypus Etsy Site.


The Magic of the Fuzzy Fingerless Mittens


Again, it’s summer. I know. I’m sweating here, too. But I still believe in these Fuzzy Fingerless Mittens. Yes, they are probably more useful when it’s cold outside and you still want to use your fingers (like in driving or biking or texting or instead of gloves with fingers), but I swear they have utility even in the heat of the summer.

Well, not literally in the heat. That’s probably a bad idea. But a lot of people work in overly air conditioned homes or businesses where their teeth chatter and their extremities get frost bite as they type away at their computers or file papers or whatever it is that people with real jobs do (I’ll learn what that is as soon as someone is willing to hire a fresh-faced college grad…) Those people might need a little insulation, like a coat or a blanket or, hey, maybe a pair of fingerless mittens (because they do still need to be able to do what it is that they do).

If you are one of these cold people, let me know. I happen to sell these nifty things in all sorts of colors. Otherwise, it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts or gifts for people traveling to places like Russia or Greenland or the northern tip of Norway.

How to Drink Coffee in Style: The Coffee Cup Cozy

How to Drink Coffee in Style: The Coffee Cup Cozy

I know, I know, it’s summer and no one wants to be drinking scalding coffee, right? I thought that, too, until I realized that most people who drink coffee keep drinking coffee, even in the heat! Something about caffeine addiction or something.

Anyway, if you drink hot coffee, and you don’t want to touch the hot cup (because, let’s face it, you’re already consuming the stuff, so you may as well not double up on the heat), then why not try a coffee cup cozy? The ones I create are made of felted wool sweaters (the ugly ones, not the nice ones) and a pretty, big button.

If you’re local to Fort Collins, you can find these babies at Wadoo (in old town). If you live anywhere else, then feel free to order one on my etsy site! I can even try to do custom colors (assuming I can find the sweaters).