Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pretty Little Patchwork

Dear Shayne,

A few weeks back, you and I talked about doing a craft-along. You suggested we make projects from the book Pretty Little Patchwork and, since I had some credit in my Powell's account, I went ahead and ordered it (send them your used books [they pay the shipping!] and they'll give you credit to use for more books -- love that!)

When I got the book, I sat down and looked through every project, thinking about what fabrics I would use to make some of them -- I'm pretty excited about it! (We'll need to figure out a Project Timeline at some point, but I know we've both got other stuff going on right at this moment, so it can wait... perhaps we can begin in the fall?)

At any rate, the reason I am posting here is to say that I like this book and many of the projects in it. In fact, I like most of them, which is pretty impressive for a craft book.

But I was blown away by this weirdness that I just have to share. Check out this hat:

The hat's okay, but I probably wouldn't make it. I glanced at the list of supplies and it included interfacing and fusible webbing and realized that I would make an absolute mess of it. I'm useless with fusible webbing on a large scale. Pucker, pucker, pucker, blech.

You can see the list of "What you need" right here:

I was a little confused about where it says "Notions, such as interfacing and fusible web, based on pattern," because I thought, "Don't they know how much I'll need to use their pattern?" And then I thought, "Oh, maybe it's a different amount for different sizes..."

So I poked around to find the pattern (I don't know why, since I probably won't make this hat anyway... just curious, I guess) and I couldn't find it. So I looked again more carefully at the "What you need" list and...

What you need to make the hat shown in this book is... a pattern for the hat. Whaaaa---?

Isn't this a book of projects? I don't understand. I guess this project is actually "How to incorporate patchwork into a hat pattern you already have." Which I... guess... is... okay. Sort of. Still seems weird though.

Even if you can get past that, they do not tell you what pattern they used to make this hat. Now that just seems super strange to me. What if I wanted to make that hat? They have not given me nearly enough information.

Not that I was going to anyway, but still! I wonder if anyone has bought this book intending to make that hat. And I really wonder how well that went for them. My guess? Not well.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Dear Shayne,

Have you ever seen a tutorial and thought, "Wow! That is so simple! I want to try this simple thing and get the same fantastic results that person got!"(Or something to that effect?)

Well, that happened to me with a "simple" tutorial to make a lovely flower out of paper. (Go -- check it out. I'll wait here. Really... go on!)

Does that look simple and lovely? I mean, really! How hard could that be?

Well, gah.

I tried it out yesterday night and mine are... not nearly as lovely. Mine just look like boring spirals of paper -- hers look like lovely little roses! Bill says it's the photos, which I guess may be true, since mine also look better in photos than they look in real life, but still.

Here's one from cardstock (ignore my pencil marks):
Pink cardstock rose

I guess it does look all right in the photo, but in person, it really does just look like a spiral of paper. Here it is from the top down:
Pink cardstock rose

And here is one made with regular paper. It didn't hold together nearly as well:
Pink paper rose

And here's the final cardstock one I tried before giving up:
Blue cardstock rose
I feel like the originals kind of fan out more as they finish up. The entire flower seems... I don't know... more flat in the tutorial than mine are. Do you see what I mean?

Anyone else want to give this a whirl and tell me how yours came out?


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Dear Shayne,

I've been working on this little bear for the Mother Bear Project, which is an organization "dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear." (That's from their site.)

He's not quite done yet -- need to finish the head, make him some arms and a face, and stuff him. But here's what I've got so far:
Bear in progress

We're doing a little "bear-along" at work, so I'll be sure to post a photo of our Bear Family before we send them. Despite mine not looking so great here, they are really cute when finished. (Jan has already made one -- you can see her finished bear here.)


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Anniversary card for Bill

Dear Shayne,

Yesterday, Bill and I celebrated the five year anniversary of our first date. And, as you know, we got also engaged earlier this month. (Yay!)

So I incorporated our upcoming nuptials (that's a funny word) into the anniversary card I made for him:
Anniversary card: Outside

I thought that the grim look was hilarious, especially when paired with what I put inside:
Anniversary card: Inside

After I finished, I realized the message was similar to the Valentine's Day card I made for him this past February. I guess I have a bit of a sick sense of humor. Thank goodness Bill does too!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cool folks I met at Renegade

Dear Shayne,

Besides the cool stuff to buy, there were many cool people to meet at Renegade.

One such lovely person was Wexford Girl. You might remember that I won twine in her giveaway last month (we still need to do one of those!) She has a great personality and does fantastic work -- check out her shop here. (Psst... all of her bears are here.)

Her husband is also a talented artist and has been generating a lot of online buzz lately with his fantastic Prez print (click on that link -- it's the first item in his shop). Together they make up a very friendly team, as well as a sweet business: 3 Fish Studios. It was very nice meeting Annie and Eric and I imagine that I'll be seeing them around, since they are soon moving to my little town. Yay!

As I was motoring through the fair, I put on the brakes when I saw a sign for The Sweetie Pie Press. I said, "I think I sent you something in a swap once through Craftster!" It took us both awhile to remember what it was-- I just went digging through archives and realized it was October 2005!

When we finally did remember, I was sad because it took me forever to make the thing and I was soooo late sending it that I did not take photos. I wish I did, because I could show you it to you right now. It was a soldered pendant that I had the worst time making (sort of like this one for sale on Etsy, only that one is way better). I even took a class at the Craft Gym with my friend Micki and, well, we both swore a lot during that period of time. Have you ever soldered? Ugh. I really need to try again. I think it's one of those things that takes lots of practice...

Oh, well (tangent there -- sorry). The point of this is that I met someone I had previously "met" online and she was just a doll! She keeps a blog and I am really enjoying her stories from the road, as she is traveling to various craft shows this summer. Check it out here.

I also met the artist who created a print we have in our house. I bought it at Reform School in LA (awesome shop). When I saw her booth, I thought, "Hey -- this looks familiar!" (Funny side note: she is a collage artist and her booth totally smelled like Mod Podge. I love that!) Her name is Michelle Caplan and she does amazing work.

This is the print we have -- it's called Jeremy:
(click for a more detailed view)

(I am embarrassed that I could not remember the name of the print when I met Michelle. I could only remember that the text of that page in the upper left hand corner says "The Two Brothers." Michelle, if you ever read this post, I apologize for that awkward encounter. I'm a dork and you are lovely.)

One week later, this concludes my Renegade roundup. I probably should have taken photos, but I really just enjoyed looking around. Can't wait to go again next year when I have a bit more time to spend there!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Shirt from... you!

Dear Shayne,

I got home yesterday to find a super-fun package from you, including this sweet t-shirt you decorated:

Love them roller derby gals! Is this an iron on? It feels all velvet-y!

Thanks a bunch!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Renegade purchase: Lovely apple

Dear Shayne,

Bill's mom has a large collection of apple themed items, so when I saw this post on Design*Sponge (great design blog -- check it out) showing those lovely apple shaped boxes, I thought, "Oh, I need to buy one of those!"

Then I read in the comments that the creator, Miss Natalie, was going to be at Renegade and... there ya have it!
Wood apple, shut!

I just love that the "stem" is a piece of leather -- it adds a really nice soft touch.

Here is the box with the lid off:
Wood apple, open

Bill's mom doesn't have internet access, so this surprise is safe. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying having this little beauty on our mantle for a little while before I send it off!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Renegade purchase: Awesome stamps

Dear Shayne,

After buying my crazy impractical yarn, I tried not to get too nuts buying other stuff at Renegade.

But I found these awesome rubber stamps and could not resist:
Awesome rubber stamps

These are made by Fishcakes and I bought them from Mahar Dry Goods, which had lots and lots of fun stuff in their booth. You need to check out their site -- it's super fun!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Russian Dolls

Dear Kelly,

I have this bowl on my dining room table:

I searched for months for the perfect bowl that I'd actually want to leave out all the time. I'm pretty sure I found this one at Joanns. Since I got it, I've been on the hunt for something fill it with. Something that either the cats can't remove or that would hold up well if they got them.

Today, via Craft: zine, I found the perfect idea:

Lauren of the very lovely blog, Goody-Goody Handmade, was kind enough to share a pattern and instructions for making these super cute Matryoshka tooth fairy pillow dolls. I think it would be fun to make a whole bunch of these (without the pockets, of course, since they won't be used as tooth fairy pillows) to fill up the bowl.

If I have catnip, I'll go ahead and put some in each one. If the cats are going to steal these, might as well make it exciting for them.


P.S. Picture of bowl is from me. Picture of the dolly is from Goody-Goody Handmade.

Renegade purchase: Wild yarn

Dear Shayne,

In recent months, I have tried to slow down on my yarn buying (no -- really!) I mean, knitting is a rather slow craft and I can buy yarn way faster than I can use it up. So I've been abstaining (mostly) from buying yarn since... well... since I went nuts in February.

But (you knew there was a "but," right?) there was this yarn I saw at the SF Craft Mafia Made show in October 2007 (I would link to them, but it seems as though they have disbanded? Hrm.) and I really, really wanted it. But it was pretty expensive and not very practical. It's handspun with all of this nutty stuff in it and it's only 87 yards. So I abstained.

But (again with the "but") I have been thinking about this skein of yarn since I saw it in October of last year. That's nine months! I have even stalked this skein online through the maker's website and almost ordered it several times, but I have contained myself.

Until this past Saturday, when I saw it at Renegade Craft Fair and I could no longer resist. I bought it:
"Joy Defined" yarn
(No need to adjust your monitor -- it really is that bright!)

I have no idea what the heck I'm going to do with it -- put it under glass for display for the rest of my life? Perhaps. I just could not resist! Despite the way it looks, it is really soft. Especially the pom-pons! I love it!

I bought a couple of other things and Renegade and I met some amazing people. Stay tuned and I'll share the rest this week!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

I need one of these: Thread Catchers

Dear Kelly,

I'm browsing some sewing links found at Angry Chicken and found these cute thread catchers at NearSea Naturals. I think I'll try to make one myself. I've seen these several places recently, but the clever thing about these in particular is that the bottoms are weighted with sand.


P.S. Photo is from NearSea Naturals.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jocelyn!

Dear Shayne,

Remember Jocelyn? She made me this awesome pin cushion (Pinny!) and this lovely little book? Well, yesterday was her birthday and I made her a knitting bag:
Knitting bag for Jocelyn

It's basically the same one I have made in the past, except I eliminated interior pockets this time. Mostly because I realized I never use the pockets in mine. When I told Jan (Hi, Jan!) this, she said she does use the pockets in hers, so perhaps I should continue making pockets? (I've also made this bag for Dawn, so... poll time! Do you use those pockets, Dawn?)

The exterior of this bag is made from a pre-patchworked fabric, so I didn't do all of that patchworkiness myself. The interior is made from an old pillowcase and I just love the print:
Knitting bag for Jocelyn

Isn't that print lovely? I think so!


Thursday, July 10, 2008


Dear Kelly,

My ex-Mother-in-Law was kind enough to send me a Michaels gift card for Mother's Day. Which I promptly misplaced. Until today! I have no idea what I want to get. I guess I'll have to browse up and down every aisle. Any suggestions?


Paper-Source Clearance Sale

Dear Kelly,

That's right, Paper-Source is having a big ol' clearance sale! Go forth and shop!


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Craft from the past: Latch hook!

Dear Shayne,

While we were visiting my parents last week, my mom uncovered the following Craft o' My Youth:

Wow. Latch hook.

That tasty little piece of business is about 14 x 14 inches. When I saw it, I said, "Oh, I think I was going to make that into a pillow..." Moments later, my mom pulled out a Joann Fabrics bag with a bit of matching fabric in it. The back of the pillow!

This is how I know that the Craft Procrastination Habit runs deep within me -- an unfinished project from when I was 11. It's been sitting in that bench for 23 years!

(It will remain unfinished.)

The best part about the find might have been the Joann Fabrics bag -- check out the font and colors on this puppy. I guess we really are old enough for items from our youth to be "retro."

Right after I took these photos, I disposed of both of these items. I've been trying to get rid of excess junk for a few years and this little project definitely does not make the cut. I did take that fabric, though. Never know when you might need it! (Baby steps... baby steps...)


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pillow covers

Dear Kelly,

Awhile ago I posted about the artwork Jenny and I made for her newly painted blue living room wall - this one here. Right away I planned on making throw pillows to match and even bought the fabric awhile ago. I only had to make pillow covers for her existing pillows and I finally did it this week. I'm really, *really* pleased with how they turned out.

(I planned for the rectangles to be rough and crooked. Really.)


Monday, July 07, 2008

My helper

Dear Kelly,

As usual, Randy has his crap all over my side of the basement. In the meantime, I decided to have him bring my sewing machine upstairs to the dining room. While he was doing that, I filled a basket with the tools and notions I needed and left it on the table. This is what I found a little while later:

Patsy thinks she's the mending :)


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Log o' yarn

Dear Shayne,

Last year, a friend went to Morocco and attempted to bring back some yarn for the knitters in her life. She tried to get the vendor to give her several small balls of yarn in different colors, but he kept bringing down huge quantities of the same color: brown.

Finally, given the language barrier and his increasing level of frustration, she took what he gave her and ran.

Therefore, I now present... the Log o' Yarn:
Giant log o' yarn
(Please note the ruler there for size. It's a big log o' yarn. BIG.)

It's a nice rich brown color (that I didn't capture very accurately in this photo) and it feels good... kinda soft, but sturdy. We're not quite sure what it's made of yet... but we can do tests! With fire! Let the fun begin!

Meanwhile, I'm ashamed to admit that this log o' yarn has been sitting under my desk for over six months. There are a few of us who are going to divvy it up, but the Herculean task of winding it into manageable balls is daunting.

We need to have a big ol' windin' party or something. With cocktails. Large cocktails. Whooopeee!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hand quilted hearts

Dear Shayne,

Last week, I posted the memory quilt top that I've been working on and I asked for some quilting advice. I got a few responses, but I'm still on the fence. (No pun intended.) (That quilt design is called "fence rail." Hahaha -- quilt-y humor!)

At any rate... Sister Diane suggested that I try stitching in the ditch. (By the way, Sister Diane is a Craft Goddess and I am so honored that she reads our little blog -- she's the genius behind the CraftyPod podcast. If you've never listened to it, you must!)

I actually really liked this idea, but the more that I read about hand quilting in the ditch, the more discouraged I became. I've done it on a machine, but everyone says it's a nightmare to do by hand. Then I actually tried it on a sample and almost died. Too much going on in the seams for this little beginner quilter. So that's out. Sigh.

On my flickr photo, quilting pro 2ndAveStudio had some lovely suggestions -- hearts and words and a memorial wreath! Wow! But I don't have nearly her skill level of quilting. It's just not within my realm of expertise. Sigh.

While talking it over with my friend Iyabo (also a quilter), she suggested a meandering pattern and I just love what she said: "I'm not sure if I'd do hearts yet if you haven't done it before. Something that doesn't have to actually resemble a recognizable shape is probably a better idea." That totally cracked me up! She's got a good point there!

However... here are the first two hearts I tried (this is still on the sample piece) and I think they're pretty sweet, if I do say so myself:
More practice hand quilting: hearts
(Ignore the goober at the very bottom tip of the left one. I was still working on knots then.)

I really like the way those came out -- much nicer than my straight lines! But I'm still stuck on how to arrange them on the quilt top. A heart in every block? Perhaps flipping every other one over, like in my sample? Or is that too... basic? Country? Hrm... not sure.

I'm still taking input (and I hope that Sister Diane and 2ndAveStudio are not offended by my public rejection of their ideas -- I really loved their ideas, but I don't think my skills are quite there for either of those techniques yet) so if anyone wants to chime in with ideas, let me have 'em!


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Plug

Dear Kelly and all of our lovely readers,

In an effort to get the house cleaned up and organized, I'm selling copious amounts of magazines. Most of them are crafty magazines, so go clicky and see the list

and buy some issues. You know you want to. And check there regularly. I've got a ton more to list. Maybe two tons.

Mention this blog and get 10% off the purchase price (shipping *not* included).


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bill's green thumb

Dear Shayne,

You know I've been posting about my little plants lately? Well, Bill's got a jungle going on in the backyard that blows all of that away! He started with these tiny tomato plants about six weeks ago:
Bill's tomatoes: Early May
(Need to mention here that he also built that raised garden bed -- my man is craft-tay!)

Just look at those crazy plants now:
Bill's tomatoes: Late June
WOW. They are at least five feet tall. I have no idea how he did that -- he's like the Tomato Plant Whisperer or something.

And super exciting -- there's some fruit starting to grow:
A little tomato on the vine!

Yay! I loooove tomatoes!