A whole lot of Zack, swants for the holidays and tips for avoiding the bulge

Really, Dylan, what did you expect?

Aside from Miley Cyrus opening the wounds from the days you let your brain rot watching the Disney Channel, another star is reminding us, too. Dylan Sprouse, who played Zack on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and the second installment, The Suite Life on Deck, saw photos he posted of himself go viral earlier this week. Though the photos aren't that bad, especially compared with previous Disney stars (cough, Vanessa Hudgens), they haven't been any less of a target. Sprouse took to Twitter to poke fun at the incident, tweeting from his account, "Whoops, guess I'm not 14 and fat anymore." His twin brother, Cole, tweeted an insightful remark from his own account as well: "Now they've basically seen me naked which is weird I guess." We're not sure how much of a trauma this should be, but the jokes are making it seem worthwhile. As we've read online (cue Mr. Mosby): "NO NUDES IN MY LOBBY."

Katie Lamont, East Lake High/SPC

The problem with Florida is that we never really have a winter. We have one week at some random point around now that gets to be freezing, then it shoots back to the normal scorching sadness and we end up kicking the AC down to 60 so that we can put Christmas decorations away without melting.

But we do have that one week, and we should take full advantage of it. We can thank Stephen West, of Westknits.com who devised swants, an Internet trend that turns old sweaters into the most ridiculously comfortable pants you will ever wear in your life. Though undoubtedly the ugliest things you will ever put on, the comfort is unmatched.

To see if comfort was worth the work, tb-two* put sweater pants to the test. They were. The work wasn't even all that bad, even for amateur sewers such as myself and my comrades, Palm Harbor seniors John Bruno and Sara Landis (top photo). Westknit's instructions make a more fitted pair of swants, but I found a simpler tutorial at instructables.com for "low crotch swants." Depending on your level of sewing experience and the material of the sweater, it could take between 30 and 60 minutes to make your first pair. Sara and I made a second pair together (bottom photo) in about 10 minutes. Follow our step by step instructions to create your own swants, then share your pictures on Instagram or Twitter #tbtwo. Happy swantsing.

What you'll need

Hideous sweater

Needle, with eye large enough to thread yarn through it

Yarn

Elastic, for waistband

Directions

1. Pick a sweater. Don't spend money on a fancy sweater from Macy's. Pick the ugliest sweater you can find at a thrift store, preferably one with an awful pattern. Keep in mind that you'll be wearing the sweater upside down, so if you really want to stand out, choose one with a pattern that looks even more bizarre bottom up.

Put your legs through the arms to make sure the sleeves are long enough, or you'll have winter capris. Bruno, the lead guitarist of heavy metal band Apnea, selected a purple and green sweater. His was ridiculously soft — much preferred over the scratchiness of other, equally hideous sweaters.

2. Cut off the sleeves. Yes, completely off, but save them, they become your pants legs.

3. Cut the body of the sweater. From the bottom of one armhole on the front of the sweater, cut on a softly curved line (like a slight smile) to the bottom of the other armhole. On the back of the sweater, cut on a line like a slight frown. (See illustration.)

4. Attach the "legs" to the curved sides of the sweater body. Make sure that what was originally the bottom of the sweater is now at the top. Pin the "legs" to the sweater body (outsides of sweater should be facing each other inside, so you're stitching on the wrong side of the sweater), matching the non-seam side of the arms to the seam of the sweater, so the leg seams are inside. Stitch by hand with small stitches (or use a sewing machine with regular thread). Do this for both on both legs, then continue to close the seam between the legs to form the crotch.

5. Keeping them on. You'll now notice, if you haven't already, that they may not fit. I tried just using a belt to keep them up, which didn't work. The best thing to do is make a waistband. Fold an inch or so of the top of your swants inside, and stitch it close to the edge to make a casing, leaving a couple inches unstitched. Cut some elastic that fits snugly but comfortably around your waist, attach a large safety pin to one end and thread it through the waistband casing you have made. Stitch the two ends of elastic together, then stitch closed the remaining two inches.

6. Wear them. Top off your swants with a bulky sweater for ultimate comfort on that long car ride to grandma's (or, avid swantsers can grab a button-up sweater and sew it on to the waist to make a swantsie). You'll never want to take them off. Further tweaking might be needed, such as sewing a pocket out of some of the leftover neck piece to the back of your swants.

Don't look for Santa here

The acceptable way to celebrate holidays in public schools has always been a sensitive issue. Some teachers are able to avoid religion in the classroom and still give students time to celebrate, sticking to more secular rites, including Secret Santa, where everyone draws the name of someone to buy gifts for without acknowledging who the giver is.

Hillsborough High Spanish teacher Yamille Gonzalez takes things a step further to guarantee no one is uncomfortable participating in a ritual based on one religion. "I faced students coming from different family traditions who celebrate different holidays," she said, so she created a "Secret Friend" gift exchange, to "celebrate and appreciate each other no matter what religion." It's like Secret Santa, but it focuses solely on friendship and giving, not on the holiday.

This year's Secret Friend exchange is Friday.

Hannah Baade, Hillsborough High

You can call her Queen B

As if Beyoncé could be any more fabulous, her surprise self-titled album, that somehow never leaked, nearly broke the Internet last Friday. Just after midnight on the East Coast, the singer released the 14 track "visual album" without any promotion whatsoever. That must really sting for Lady Gaga, whose record label reportedly spent $25 million on the promotion of her latest album Artpop. Beyoncé took a risk by not even hinting at an album, and it paid off. Apple released a statement Monday that she broke an iTunes store record, selling 828,773 albums in just three days. We can almost feel the burn, too, Gaga. Also burned, apparently, is Target, which announced it is refusing to sell CDs of the album because she released it online first and sold so many. You can find our review on Page 13.

Katie Lamont, East Lake High/SPC

Five ways to survive holiday feasting

Like it or not, in Florida, we do pay attention to our beach bods. But the holidays can make it easy to forget our favorite bikini or swim trunks scrunched in the back of our dresser. Here's how to keep off the festive pounds this break.

1 Start a homemade tradition. Make as much food as you can from scratch to avoid unnecessary unhealthy ingredients. Just think, you may never need to buy a can of cranberry sauce again.

2 Traveling for the holidays? Use your location to your advantage or discover new local spots. Go swimming if you find yourself near a beach or head for a hike in a nearby park, even if it's snowy.

3 After a huge meal, try to stay moving or go for a walk. It will help to digest the food and prevent "food babies."

4 Listen to your body. You will know when that next helping of stuffing becomes one too many.

5 Keep leftovers in their place. Try not to binge on leftovers. Eat small amounts at meal time, not at "graze by the fridge" time. Remember to savor that holiday food, slowly.

Hannah Baade, Hillsborough High

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A whole lot of Zack, swants for the holidays and tips for avoiding the bulge 12/18/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 1:36pm]

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