Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm crocheting! I'm crocheting!

Dear Shayne,

Crochet is a craft that has always held some fascination for me, but every time I've tried it, I've failed. Actually, I did make a scarf once in Single Crochet with a crowbar-like hook and giant yarn. But other than that... nothin'.

But there's this cowboy (well, cowgirl) hat in Debbie Stoller's book The Happy Hooker that I've wanted to make since I first saw it. We have Western Wednesday every week at work (it's not mandatory and most people don't participate, but I think it's fun) so this is a hat I could really get some mileage out of.

My crocheting friend Jocelyn (you've seen some of her lovely crafts before here and here) is a Crochet Master and has graciously agreed to step me through it. Here's what I have so far:
WiP: Cowgirl hat

Doesn't look like much, does it? When it's done, it will (in theory) look like this:

(That's a photo of the book. The pattern is called "Yeehaw Lady." Hee.)

Do you think when I finish this hat and put it on, I will also look like that model? One can only hope. Crochet is magic, right?


Thursday, February 28, 2008

WIP: Mooninites

Dear Kelly,

I had the urge the other day to commemorate the awesome Ignignokt and Err from Aqua Teen Hunger Force in cross-stitch. Most of my cross-stitch supplies are packed up *somewhere,* so while Sam and I were at Joann's (picking out fabric to make sleeping bags for his Build-a-Bear monkeys) I figured I would just pick up new stuff. Aida, check. Needle - know where they are at home, check. Embroidery floss, what color are those little Mooninites anyway? I called Randy at work, he googled them and told me pink and green. Pink, check. Green, check. Then I assumed that they were outlined in black. Black, check. I got home and went online. Lo and behold, I had the wrong shade of green, the wrong shade of pink, and the outline? Blue. So I dropped Sam off at his cartooning class and hit up Michaels. When we got home I started stitching Ignignokt and remembered that I don't like cross-stitching all that much anymore.


P.S. If anyone wants the pattern, leave a comment and I'll email it to you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I heart these coasters!

Dear Shayne,

It's a little late for Valentine's Day, but I think hearts are good all year! Look at these sweet letterpress coasters I bought from Green Chair Press:
Lovely coasters by Green Chair Press

She's still got some of these available here and also the super cute type collage ones. And snowflakes! (Can you tell I dig these?)

I've been using one at work for the past two weeks and it still looks brand-new. Yay!


Monday, February 25, 2008

So much yarn...

Dear Shayne,

So much yarn, so little time...

I was quiet this weekend because I was at Stitches West, which is basically Yarn Mecca. I went last year but didn't buy any yarn. This year, I more than made up for it. Unfortunately, none of this yarn is Shayne-safe, but I have to share anyway. (Some of it's pink, so at least you can enjoy the view...)

The first yarn I bought was some super-crazy hand-spun. It was deeply discounted and I luurve it. Some folks don't like a bunch of "junk" spun into their yarns, but I don't mind it one bit. This yarn has all kinds of stuff in it. I'm thinking it might be a fun calorimetry.
Handspun yarn
(Technical specs: Pagewood Farm handspun in Pink. 4 oz/70 yds of wool, mohair, nylon, and silk.)

This next yarn is a yarn I have knit with before and love. I used it to make Jenny's blue hat. It's super-soft merino wool and it's totally scrumptious. I'm going to make a scarf out of these pretties:
Lovely soft malabrigo
(Technical specs: Malabrigo Worsted in colorway "Amoroso." 3.5 oz/216 yds of kettle dyed pure merino wool.)

This one just jumped out at me when I walked by and I had to have it. I don't have a project for it yet, but I'll figure something out. It's really dreamy and soft and I love this colorway -- it's kind of moody. Also, this isn't the easiest yarn to procure in shops, so I had to buy it while I was at the Yarn Fest, didn't I? Didn't I? Of course I did!
Beautiful Blue Moon Fiber Arts
(Technical specs: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Letitia in colorway "Henpecked." 3.5 oz/80 yds of handspun merino wool from Uruguay.)

Are you bored yet of my yarn photos? Too bad, cause there's more! In fact, the next one is pink, so I know you'll enjoy it...

The photo makes this little skein look big, but it's really, really small. Like, smaller than a fist. Which is what I quickly made around it when I found it at the bottom of a 50% off pile. I'm a sucker for angora (fuzzy!) but it's really expensive. So I bought myself this little ball of fluff on sale. There's hardly enough here to make anything... I'm thinking cuffs on a pair of mitts? Ooh... super-soft mitten cuffs! Yesss!
(Technical specs: Lorna's Laces Angel in Pale Pink. 50 yds of dreamy, dreamy angora and lambswool. Also, the fluffy down from angels' wings. Or something like that. Gotta be.)

This next yarn will someday be fingerless mitts. I wear a fair amount of blue and am always cold at my office, so these will get used frequently. I like the denim-y look of it. Again this yarn is very, verrrry soft. Me like-y soft yarn:
Very soft alpaca/pima blend
(Technical specs: Catalina Baby Pima in colorway "Denim Heather." 218 yds of 60% baby alpaca and 40% pima cotton.)

The final yarn I bought was a total indulgence. Cashmere. Just typing the word feels luxurious. This little ball is enough to make a small lacy neck-warmer. Really, what more do you need when it's cashmere? I'm thinking perhaps a little cowl? Hrm. This is another photo where you can't really tell that the ball of yarn is very, very small.
Oooh... cashmere!
(Technical specs: Windy Valley [no website that I can find] cashmere in colorway 2009. 1 oz/218 yds of 100% delicious cashmere.)

As I was wrapping up the yarn photo shoot, Kaesea decided to check things out. I think here he's saying, "Cashmere may be soft, but it is as soft as me? I think not."
Kaesea checking out the cashmere.

And then the photo shoot abruptly ended when Biscuit came in. Look at him -- I think he is totally ready to take a bite here! Darned yarn-eating cat. Sheesh.
Biscuit checking out the cashmere.

And that is what I spent the weekend doing. Now I guess I'd better get started knitting some of this stuff up!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tote bag for JP

Dear Shayne,

Two weeks ago, I said I was going to make a tote bag for my friend in Iraq -- she needs something to carry her stuff to and from the shower. I'm not sure if this is going to be exactly right for her, but this first one (I'm calling it a "prototype") is finished and will be shipped off tomorrow.

In the original post, I had planned to use oilcloth, but it didn't seem sturdy enough, so I bought this red canvas (canvas does not come in enough fun colors/patterns!) She says it's very dirty there, so I also added the printed cotton fabric to help disguise dirt. She requested that it be colorful and who am I to refuse that request?
JP's totebag, front

The back is kind of sloppy. I accidentally ran over those straps with the iron, which semi-melted them and caused them to shrink. I am not proud of how this ended up, but I wanted to show you how I used the fun fabric on the back and also the small pocket back there:
JP's tote bag, back
(Ugh. You can totally see the puckers. I can't even believe I'm posting that photo.)

I made some modifications to the pattern -- instead of one big pocket in front, I sewed it into 3 pockets for her to stash stuff. Also, I added a pocket on either side of the bag, which you can kind of see here:
JP's tote bag, side

For the interior, I used iron-on vinyl. It came out pretty well, but I'm not sure how durable it will be. Perhaps for the next one, I will use that oilcloth (or another vinyl) for the interior. I also made a divider in there, which about drove me insane -- I've never done that before, so I had to make it all up. I'm not sure if it's right, but it works:
JP's tote bag, interior

The original pattern also had some curves along the top of the bag as well as the bottom. In sewing, curves are the devil (for me, at least) so I eliminated them from the top. I left the curved bottom, but regretted it as I went further. I should have just squared it off for ease of construction. Live and learn.

I shortened the handles a bit because she will carry this in her hand -- due to uniform restrictions, she cannot carry something colorful over her shoulder. I did not use the Bedazzler for her name after all -- I thought the appliqué letters just looked so cute! They look a little wonky here, but they're great in person:
JP's initials, appliqued

If I could, I would sew her up some sort of full-size impervious body suit that would transport her home safely this very instant. Unfortunately, I am not quite that crafty, so I made her what I can, which is a tote bag.

She is not allowed to read blogs where she is, so she won't see this until she gets back. When she does, she can read this post and remember when I made her this bag and laugh at the photos because it looks so clean here but it will be dirty and beat up and very well used by then.

I'm looking forward to that day.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cross-stitch on my mind

Dear Shayne,

The tote bag is progressing, but very verrrry slowly. I've made several mistakes already and am now calling it a "prototype." I'm going to send her this one, then I'll have her report back on the changes she wants (I'm worried it won't be big enough for her), and then I'll make her a fresh new one that's way better.

In the meantime, my crafty mind wanders. And where does it wander? Oddly, to cross-stitch. I say "oddly," because I have not had much luck with this medium in the past. Mostly, because it is a sloooow kind of craft and I'm more of a near-instant gratification kind of gal. So why has my mind wandered that way, you ask?

Well, the first spark was with this amazing "Scarlet Letter" made by the fabulous Etsy seller ChezSucreChez. It's a lovely letter A and it got me thinking, "Hey! I could make a lovely letter K! That's small and quick-ish! Now I just need to find a pattern for a K..." and then I kind of abandoned the thought.

Then last week at Skull-A-Day, I saw this fantastic piece:

That artist has kindly provided a free chart for that skull, so now I want to make that. Perfect for the skull-y bathroom!

If you like your cross-stitch even more subversive, there's the aptly named Subversive Cross-stitch which has some hilarious yet simple cross-stitch patterns that even I might be able to complete without bailing. I particularly enjoy, "Go Fuck Yourself" and "Bite Me." Hee hee.

Today, I ran across a whole new level of awesome cross-stitch -- classic samplers with more, erm "current" phrases included. You've got to check these out. I especially love "Get your freak on" and "When I was your age..." Hee hee. Meanwhile, those samplers are way beyond my patience level. In that case, I just have to admire her work, as I would not be able to stick it out long enough to create something like this.

As for framing, I know that some people do not like the look, but I do enjoy a small embroidered or cross-stitched piece hung on the wall right in its hoop frame. In blog-trolling today, I found that the Blueberry Bandit has a cute little twist on this -- it looks like she's glued ribbon along the edge of the frame. Check it out. Very simple, yet oh so cute!

You know... that reminds me of a project I filed away in my crafty file sometime last year... ah yes, here it is: from Bitter Betty (via Whip Up's Whiplash), it's a decoupaged embroidery hoop! I love me some decoupage, so perhaps that's the way to go for me!

Meanwhile, I guess I would need to start, um, stitching before I can think of framing. Oh, and before I do that, I need to finish the tote bag. Yeah, the tote bag.


PS -- The photo above is from Skull-A-Day. I hope mine looks that good! (You know, if I ever get around to making it...)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New embroidery patterns from Sublime Stitching!

Dear Shayne,

I'm not sure why, but I really enjoy embroidery. I mean, I know why... it's quick, fun, and cool. But I never seem to do much with it. I re-discovered it when making my heart garland, so I feel an embroidery love affair coming on.

Especially since there are some new patterns from Sublime Stitching!

Including, but not limited to... the tattoo alphabet, with which I could make this awesome wall-hanging:

There's also Forest Friends! I love squirrels, and I'm particularly sweet on this guy:

Sigh. So many patterns, so little time!


PS -- These images are from the Sublime Stitching website and are owned and copyrighted by Jenny Hart (who totally rocks!) If you want to get your embroidery on, click on the above links to see her many, many amazing patterns. If I can embroider, anyone can!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Clip-art Valentines

Dear Kelly,

This poodle image has been amusing me for quite awhile, so I decided to use it to make Valentine's. They're actually 8 1/2" x 11" and I just printed them out on plain paper. The look of black & white xeroxed is really appealing to me right now.


P.S. This is the corrected version. On the ones I sent out, I was a bad puppy mother and somehow managed to leave Frida off.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine-y goodness

Dear Shayne,

Valentine's Day around here was fun!

First of all, I made cookies and I took them to work. These cookies are a family recipe that I thought was lost years ago when my Aunt Rody passed away. Fortunately, another aunt had it and gave it to me -- these cookies are awesome and disappear quickly whenever I take them to work.

I made three sizes so people could take whichever size suited their appetite (the big ones went first):

In the afternoon, I got to hand out everyone's valentine mailboxes -- they were all really full and people seemed super-happy to get them. There was a very nice happy feeling all afternoon after everyone shared the love. Awww.

Check it out -- here's mine:

And when I got home, Bill gave me a gift! I didn't even expect one, so that was a fun surprise! And you know what it was? It was that awesome tote bag I wanted made from a recycled sail! It's perfect -- I carried it today and I love it! It's really well made and has pockets inside. So nice!

This weekend, I hope to finish the tote bag I'm making for my friend. It's so different from both the pattern and fabric I originally showed you -- you won't even recognize it.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Dear Shayne,

This year, I didn't go "all out" with the Valentines we sent. In fact, I let Paper Source do the most of the work for me with their heart-shaped cards. (I don't see this particular one on their site, but they do have others.)

I did hand-stamp them, but I did not make envelopes. (Gasp!) However, I decorated the envelopes, which I think counts for something:
Valentine envelopes

Oh yeah -- I also made 94 Valentine-y buttons for my co-workers:
Valentine buttons

And the Valentine's "mailboxes" at work were a total hit! I took a photo of them after they were all full -- I'll post that soon.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The less sweet side of Valentine's Day

Dear Shayne,

Lest you think I am the shmoopiest shmoop to ever shmoop with that lovey-dovey book, here is the card I am giving Bill for Valentine's Day:


I got the image from Skull-a-day, but I made it my own with the decorative trim around the image. It's skull-y and sweet! (Yeah... I'm still a little shmoopy.)

All right -- time to get back to making valentines for all 94 of my co-workers. Cause, as you know... I'm NUTS!



Dear Kelly,

I took Sharpie to paper this evening and did some doodling. This is for a near-future project. It's always exciting when I'm actually pleased with my drawing.

Have you ever seen any of Joy Sikorski's books? If you need doodling inspiration, you should check them out.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Crafty friends rule!

Dear Shayne,

I will warn you right now that you are going to be jealous of the crafty gifts that I got in the mail today from my friend Dawn. Sorry. (But not really, cause these gifts are awesome.)

These are for my birthday and Christmas, which we all know were both in December. Dawn feels bad that these gifts are late, but here's what I have to say to that: Gifts in February?! Bring it ON!

Also, these gifts were well worth the wait! Are you ready to see the goods?!

The first is a little project bag that I can use to carry knitting around. Check the awesome skull-y print:
Project bag from Dawn

There's even a sweet-ass tattoo print inside:
Project bag from Dawn -- interior

And inside of that bag... was a project! She sent me some wonderful yarn (75% Superwash wool/25% nylon -- it's soft!)
Green yarn from Dawn

And a pattern for a scarf that I could not get a good picture of, but it's called the "Crazy Mitred Scarf" which I love, because she is Canadian and they spell "miter" like "mitre" so "mitered" becomes "mitred" (all of those words are now starting to look really weird).

But the really super-duper awesome gift is this totally fantastic apron that she made for me. My photos do not do it justice, but:
Tomato apron from Dawn

It has ruffles! And tomatoes! It's a ruffled, tomato apron! Ack! I have died and gone to heaven! (I should post photos of the tomato kitchen someday... really, I should.)

It even makes a sweet little bow in the back (I love the fabric that the tie is made of):
Bow detail of tomato apron

Isn't it cuuuute? (In case you couldn't tell, I'm pretty pleased with it. Thanks, Dawn!)

Sorry to make you jealous, but I just had to share. Crafty friends rule!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Iron-on vinyl = awesome!

Dear Shayne,

Have you seen this stuff? It's iron-on vinyl! Yes, you read that right... iron-on vinyl. Basically, you can take any fabric (particularly cottons) (of which I have a lot) and make it into awesome water-proof vinyl.

I bought it at Mendel's, which is a small-but-funky fabric and craft shop in San Francisco. When you come to visit some day, we will definitely have to go there.

Check it out... here's a little test swatch I made:

Can't really see it too well there, but the left half is regular cotton and the right half is vinyl. Here's a better angle shot showing the shiny, shiny goodness:

I have revised my tote bag plans considerably since that post. I am now using canvas and cotton for the exterior. The interior will contain toiletries (including recently used towels), so I am going to use iron-on vinyl on the cotton lining. Yeah!

Now I just need to finish it!


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Valentine gift idea: a little book!

Dear Shayne,

I made this for Bill a few years ago on our anniversary, but it seems appropriate to post as Valentine's Day is fast approaching.

Unfortunately, I can't remember where I originally got the idea for this, so I can't give credit where it's due.

Meanwhile, I believe that the one that I originally saw was far fancier than mine. Mine is just a deck of cards, held together with binder rings:
A little book...

As you can see, I didn't bother to disguise that this is a deck of cards -- I just glued my "things" in and left the card-i-ness the way that it was:
One of the things...

I think the original one I saw had gesso and collage and all of that jazz. But if I know myself, this was probably a last-minute idea, so this is what I made:
Another thing I love!
(He was already a Browns fan when we met -- match made in heaven, I tell ya!)

I typed out the first 52 things that popped into my head and printed them. Then I cut them out and ran them through the Xyron sticker maker (love that thing!)
Yet another thing I love
(Just to clarify, I meant physical comedy with that one... not someone actually getting hurt.)

Looking at this project again makes me want to make one with a lot more stuff in it -- the possibilities with this project are endless!
And one more thing.

I punched holes in the sides of the cards and held them all together with binder rings (ETA: I used the 1 inch size), which you can see better here:
Side view of the little book
(I love how fat it is -- satisfying!)

The back is also very basic -- although I did "laminate" the back page (again with the sticker maker -- it's cold lamination, so it's not as melty as real lamination, but it works in a pinch!)
Back view of the little book

It was tough to stop at just 52 -- my man is awesome! So I just wrote down the first 52 and went with those. Perhaps I should make a sequel...


Friday, February 08, 2008


Dear Shayne,

I often get to be creative at work (which is a big part of why I love my job) but not always "crafty." Today, I got to do a craft project at work! Yeah!

We're doing a flash-back to grade school and we made Valentine "mailboxes" for everyone in the office (all 95 people!) Here's the wall o' mailboxes (they're really 6x9 inch envelopes):

I punched out hearts from scrapbook paper to decorate each envelope. I glued each one on with a glue stick -- boy did I long for my Xyron sticker maker right then.

I hope this one gets lots of notes:

Now I get to make valentines to go in all of those mailboxes!


PS -- I wrote this post on Friday, but then blogger would not let me publish it. So I am leaving Friday's date on here. Yeah!

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Dear Kelly,

D.C.'s local independent newspaper, City Paper, sponsors the annual Crafty Bastard craft fair, as well as a blog and classified ads. This week Novelty Kitten was chosen as Craftiest Bastard of the Week! Besides the blog mention, there will be a print ad in next weeks paper! It's like I'm famoose!


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Next up: Tote bag

Dear Shayne,

My next "Big Project" is a tote bag for a friend who is serving in Iraq. She needs something to carry her clothes and toiletries to and from the shower. She is currently using a Trader Joe's bag, so obviously she needs an upgrade.

I bought a pattern from Sew, Mama, Sew (it's called the "Eco Market Tote"). Here's the photo from the front of the pattern :

I will be making some modifications to it, including compartments inside for separating stuff. I feel a little silly buying a pattern for such a simple bag, but sometimes it's nice to have a guide.

I am currently debating what fabric to use. She requested something bright colored (no problem for me!) It's dusty there, so I'm thinking of using oilcloth... have you ever used oilcloth before? I really know nothing about it. I bought some last week that's turquoise and purple, so it's pretty bright. I wonder if that would work:

(Each square in that grid is about 3/4 of an inch.)

After thinking more about it (while scanning in that piece), I wonder if the oilcloth isn't sturdy enough and perhaps I should go with canvas... although canvas usually comes in boring colors. But I could at least find a red canvas. And perhaps spice it up with patchwork or something? I don't know... how sturdy is oilcloth? Any idea?

Also, she asked me to put her name on it and she's not afraid of goin' nuts, so I feel certain there will be a Bedazzling opportunity once again in my near future!


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A new dress pattern

Dear Kelly,

I am bad and haven't finished the grey jumper I started on weeks ago. And I'm nowhere close to starting with the apple fabric. But I got a new dress pattern yesterday anyway. So there. I won't get fabric for it 'til I'm ready to start on it though.

I also got pretty fuschia ball pins. I really, *really* hated using the ones with primary colored balls. They're so ugly.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Where I've been

Dear Shayne,

I've been quiet on the blog for a few days because I was in:
Vegas, baby!

I went to Vegas to meet some friends for the weekend and, of course, I made buttons!

I forgot to take a picture of all of the buttons together (they were all different colors), but here's mine. Everyone on the trip was a fan of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I used a font based on the show's title font called Buffied.

I also thought about making us all wooden stakes, but I realized it might be difficult to get them past security. So I stuck with buttons!