Friday, December 28, 2007

Little yarn ornaments

Dear Shayne,

I'm part of a little crafty group at work. We meet on Wednesdays at lunch and most of us knit (although we welcome all crafters). I hatched a plan to make some silly knitter-ly ornaments and here is what I came up with.


Unfortunately, I couldn't think of an easy-as-toothpicks solution for the knitting needles, so I went ahead and used toothpicks. I realize that this results in a disproportionate needle-to-yarn-ball size ratio but... I still think they turned out pretty cute. I mean, you can tell what they are, right?

I used small Styrofoam balls for the core (1.5 inch, I think) and wrapped yarn around and around. I then used a darning needle to poke the yarn through the other side for a hanger. Two toothpicks later and voila! Yarn-aments! (Sorry... couldn't resist.)

Also, note that the first yarn-ament is orange and brown. This one was for Jan, who is a fellow Browns fan. Go, Browns!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The back and the envelope

Dear Shayne,

Because I just can't get enough of myself, I had to also post the backs of our Christmas cards, plus the envelope.

Christmas card, back + envelope

As a little Christmas gift to myself, I had that self-inking stamp made to use on cards and... perhaps other stuff I make. If you want to make a stamp yourself, I got it from (that name kind of cracks me up). I've had several stamps made by them and I like their work.

Behind the card, you see the handmade envelope. Of course. Cause I'm nuts. You may remember last year's nuttiness in this department. This year, all of the envelopes were made with the same paper from Paper Source (mmm... paper source...). You can see it on their site right here.

A few people have asked me where I got the snowflake design for the card front. I cut it out of paper! Haha! It's actually from a real, hand-cut paper snowflake that I then scanned in. I love that! Old School meets Technology!


PS - I love my Print Gocco! It rocks super hard! Can't wait to make more stuff! Wheee!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

and bright!

Dear Shayne,

Christmas card, front

Christmas card, inside

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas scarves

Dear Shayne,

With years of knitting under my belt, I still love... the scarf. I love to wear scarves (they're the perfect Northern California accessory, really) and sometimes I love to give them. Even though they're not complex (oooh... rectangle!) I find they're pretty useful. So I feel all right about giving them as gifts.

Here are two scarves I gave as gifts this Christmas.

The first, you saw in progress in this post. It was really hard to take photos of these scarves in the fading winter light, but I tried. Here it is, lumpy and pre-blocking:
Chunky purple scarf -- pre-block

And here it is, post-blocking, as worn by my dressform (she's such a patient model):
Chunky purple scarf -- post-block

(Wow! These photos are blurry!)

The other scarf is for Bill's sister-in-law. She's a big Detroit Red Wings (that's hockey) fan and their colors are red and white. Bill helped me design this scarf (yes, there is a design here) to resemble hockey socks that players wear. They look uneven in this photo, but the stripes line up in real life. (No, really.)
Red Wings scarf

One one side is the "home" stripe (red-white-red) and on the other half is the "away" pattern (white-red-white). I used a fun, nubby yarn (Knitpicks' Twirl) for this scarf and I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. It's long, so I like it wrapped around with both ends in front:
Red Wings scarf

More Christmas photos to come. Unfortunately, winter light and short crafting time are not this blogger's friend. Poo.



Dear Kelly,

As you know, Sam is obsessed with monkeys and his favorite is Monkey, Jr. from Build-a-Bear Workshop (re: Sam suckering Bill into buying things for Monkey, Jr. during your visit).

My mom and I had lunch at Uno Chicago Grill Restaurant Pizzeria Grille Place To Eat last week and they had the cutest mini pizza boxes for gift cards. Mom snagged one for Monkey, Jr. Then I got some felt, cut and glued and voila! mini pizza for Monkey, Jr.

Then I decided to make Monkey, Jr. some bananas. This evening, I spent way too much time making a dozen felt bananas. I used two layers of felt and embroidered an outline, then cut it out. No way was I going to actually sew, turn, stuff and close twelve tiny bananas. Any ideas for cute packaging?

I feel like a good mom now.


Randy's Birthday Party - Before

Dear Kelly,

EDIT: We postponed the party to the 5th. So close to Christmas turned out to be a bad idea.

Have you ever eaten at Buca di Beppo? It's a small Italian chain with super yummy food and hilarious, kitschy Italian and Catholic decor. Most notable, for parties 10-20, there is The Pope Room...round with a huge round table and right smack in the center a bust of The Pope (in plexiglass for his protection).

We had my sister's 30th birthday party there six-seven years ago. Randy has never been there, but had heard the tales and has been anxious to go. The place is an hour away, so we hadn't made it yet.

His 31st birthday was Wednesday, so I booked The Pope Room for this Saturday. I've gotta say, this is going to be the best birthday party ever, because

1. I made the best party favors ever!

Yes, they are Pope Randy puppets. I photoshopped his picture with some clip-art, had them printed at Kinkos on cardstock, laminated them (if you don't have a laminator, Target has a great little one for $37.99), cut them out, and attached them to extra large popsicle sticks with my ATG tape gun.

2. While running errands the other day, I popped into a party store on a whim and found a nice pope-like hat with the Mardi Gras stuff, as well as a scepter. Then my mom and I went completely overboard at Joann's to get materials for a cape. I spent some quality time in my craft room while Randy was at work today and glued and sewed.

I started with purple polar fleece (too cheap to get velvet) and glued wide, tacky gold ribbon all around. I also glued on a medal applique to fancy things up even more. I actually hand-sewed a gold frog closure to the collar. I also got a birthday medallion and a big, blingy "R" that was with the Christmas ornaments to wear around his neck.

I will be sure to post pictures of Randy wearing these lovely thing after the party!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Other Crafty Purchases

Dear Kelly,

Here's a few things I've bought recently:

"A Good Egg is Hard to Find" from The Black Apple

Egg Pants from Design Glut

And to hang in my craft room, from the school book fair, this kitty poster (yes, I'm seven)



Dear Kelly,

So all the stores have had cute little baby doll style dresses for the past year or so and I've refused to even try one on because I assumed it would make me look pregnant, being on the chunky side.

While I was in NYC, I finally decided to buy one and guess what? I didn't look completely pregnant and I felt cute in it.

Yesterday, I went to Joann's and picked out a similar pattern

I'm going with the top of the blue dress, but without the bubble skirt. Bubble skirts are stupid.

I was going to get some cotton jersey, but there was the cutest selection of thermal prints and solids. I got a plain charcoal and this super adorable apple print

The lady who cut the fabric for me said she'd heard that it shrinks up *a lot*, so I'm going to actually wash it first, something I don't normally do.

Now that I've posted about it, I've got to make these dresses. Shouldn't take too long though...


Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm Gocco'ing! I'm Gocco'ing!

Dear Shayne,

Perhaps you'll remember that Bill gave me a Print Gocco last year for Christmas and I've been chicken to try it?


Well, I finally came up with a design and started Gocco'ing yesterday! Yay! Here is the first layer:
Gocco, step 1

Of course, I am a dork and had to start with both bleeding off the edge (kind of a trick) and using more than one color (this photo only shows the first printing -- more to come!) Why I couldn't pick something simple for my first time out, I'll never know.

Meanwhile, I love, love, LOVE it. You were right -- it's not hard! I'll admit I blew the first screen I did because of my stupid bleed, but only one F up so far, so that's pretty good.

For the few regular readers of this blog who are now spoiled as to the Christmas card they'll be getting, I'm sorry. I'm just So. Damned. Excited!

Whee! Gocco!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Bust Craftacular & NYC Shopping

Dear Kelly,

My friend Erica and I shared a booth at the Bust Craftacular in NYC on December 8th. We took a bus up the morning of the 7th and started shopping as soon as we'd checked into our hotel (Chelsea Lodge - tiny but very clean and nice *and* probably the only hotel in NYC that didn't raise it's prices for the holidays) and had some lunch.

We took a cab to Tinsel Trading Company, which was completely overwhelming with trim galore. I bought these two adorable little birds:

Then we went to M&J Trimming, which was equally overwhelming. I bought these kitty buttons

I also bought some faceted buttons that look like disco balls.

We found a big unfinished storefront with an "Emerging Designers" sale. Sadly, most of the stuff was from China, etc. but we did find a few vendors selling original work. I bought this t-shirt for Randy for his birthday.

There was no tag or business card in the bag or anything, so I don't know who made it, except that he was a nice southern guy. And Randy does in fact hate mayonnaise.

We hit some bead stores, which weren't overly exciting. I think the availability of everything on the Internet has made shopping for some things kind of boring. We are so jaded.

I was very excited about going to Universal Newstand, which claims to have over 7,000 different magazines and newspapers. I think they were exaggerating, but I did buy a copy of Marie Claire Idees, which I'd always wanted to try. I'll need to brush up on my French.

Then we did some clothes and make-up shopping....wheeee!

On Saturday, the show was great...lots of people out to shop. We had some great neighbors, including Rebecca of P1 Unless Otherwise Noted and the boys from Daydream Silkscreen and their Alf doll.

I bought an Infant Pixie Hat in pink for my friend Chris' baby from Sweet Pepita:

For Sam, I got this Handsome Devil doll from Magpie DC (he thinks mustaches are hilarious):

I bought myself this awesome Blossom Necklace from P1 Unless Otherwise Noted:

And the new |Sew Everything Workshop| by Diana Rupp of Make Workshop. She even signed it!

Sunday, we hit up The Container Store. It was much, much bigger than the one here, but didn't actually have any more products. We did some more clothes shopping, had a fabulous lunch at a French restaurant and then got on the bus to go home.

All in all, it was a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas crafts from the past

Dear Shayne,

After filling our tree with duct tape, I thought that ornaments would be a good idea. Some of our ornaments date back to my early crafting days. (I can't believe I've kept these. Wow.) Hrm... I guess these are "vintage" now. Oof.

First, I give you a Girl Scout project... I probably made this when I was 9 or 10. It's a pipe cleaner shoved through alternate red, white, and clear (Ooh! Fancy!) interlocking beads. Bend that puppy over and voila! Candy cane!
Bead-y candy cane

Or something. Do they still sell those beads? They're weird.

The next item is a result of one of those free project sheets you get at the craft store. I think my grandma helped me out here. I remember very carefully selecting this fabric. It's Christmas trees that make up... a Christmas tree!
Yo-yo Christmas tree

I don't know if you can tell from that photo, but it's a little stack of fabric yo-yo's in graduated sizes topped with a tiny pom-pon. This project was hand-sewn and was a year-round decoration in my bedroom for many years when I was growing up. I'm not sure why I wouldn't make the whole thing out of green fabric... perhaps the red is... garland?

This last one barely even counts as a craft -- it was pre-cut felt pieces from a kit that I glued together to form Santa:
Little felt Santa

I really have no idea why I've kept that one... except that Santa is kind of cute. I like his little mustache and round feet.


PS -- My mom totally loved her crown! Yay!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

It might be time for a new tree...

Dear Shayne,

First, a confession: we have a fake Christmas tree. I fear that a real tree inside the house would be just too much for our crazy little Biscuit to handle, so we keep hauling out the fake one year after year.

I realized yesterday as I put it up that I've had it for 12 years. Since I was 21. Aw. And, WOW. It was my first "real" tree (that is, taller than 2 feet) (I still have that 2 footer though!) and it does look "real," which is why I liked it. And I still like it. But after more than a decade of hard use, it's got some problems.

Like this:
On the right, you can see what the branch holder is supposed to look like. On the left and front, you see the broken branch holders. What's a crafty girl to do? Fix it, of course! First try: super glue.
(Red arrow shows glue line)

Looking good, right? Yeah. Unfortunately, it didn't hold. On to Plan B.

Or should I say Plan D? For Duct Tape!
Now THAT works! It works so good, why don't we just use a little bit more...
Or, um... a LOT.

I imagine that you are skeptical here, Shayne, about a giant lump of duct tape in the middle of our tree. But never fear! Branches hide:
Let's pull back a bit here...
Now let's put the top branches on the tree and pull back for a full view:
Where's that duct tape nest?

Oh! Here it is:
Problem solved! Stuff a bit of greenery in there and slap a bunch of tree trimmings on it and no one's the wiser! Our tree lives for yet another year!

In other crafty news, I had always intended to make my own tree skirt. Two years ago, I found this beauty on sale and abandoned that plan. Cause I love this one so much!
All right. Now that I'm done fooling around the with tree, it's back to Christmas crafting!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My mom is a princess!

Dear Shayne,

I haven't been able to post much lately because I've been working on Christmas gifts and I don't want to spoil any surprises! Also, because it's getting dark so early now, it's tough to get good daylight photos. Blech.

Anywho... my mom isn't online, so I can post this project I made for her birthday, which is this weekend.
Mom's crown: front

The inspiration for this project came from a iHanna's blog, where she made a super cute crown for herself last week. (Go look! It's cute!)

As you can guess, my mom is turning 60 (and she's going to be super-duper happy to discover that I've announced that to the world on our blog) (Hi, Mom!) But my mom... you'd never believe she was 60. She looks fantastic and acts like a teenager (in a good way!) and she's just generally awesome. So... I made her this crown. To celebrate her awesomeness.

Here's one side of it:
Mom's crown: left

That charm says "Happiness" on the back. I hope she has a lot of champagne and happiness this year. And every year, really.

And here's the other side:
Mom's crown: right

I liked those dice paired with the good luck charms. Everyone needs luck, right?

And here's the back... the ribbons dangle down about 2 feet, which I really like:
Mom's crown: back

Hearts... ya know, cause I love her. (Awww.)

Now, Shayne, you know I have this problem, right? The one where I end up spending waaaay too much time on a project, as it just spirals out of control, but then I can't turn back because I've gone too far. You know the one.

I really thought this project through. Even to where I installed little loops for her to put bobby pins through to pin to her head (it's sort of a tiara-y thing -- sits on top of the head...) See? Look:
Mom's crown: bobby pin loops

But I got the crown all made flat and realized I was stumped as to how to put the back together. Hand-sewing was out of the question because the interfacing I used was too thick. And of course I couldn't put the cylinder through the sewing machine in that direction. Duh. So I came up with the grommets, which I liked, but when I laced it up, it made the crown tear-drop shaped, instead of round.

So I came up with another crazy scheme. I went to the craft store and bought some kind of wacky product that you use to make a super stiff waistband in your skirt if you either a) are a 50's housewife or b) hate yourself. I cut a piece of that, fused matching fabric to it, serged around the edges to match the top of the crown, punched 4 holes in it, glued it inside, put the laces through it and... voila:
Mom's crown: inside

It worked! And it looks pretty nice (if I do say so myself). This part of the project took almost as long as the rest of the project itself. Whee.

Meanwhile, there is a very good chance that my mother is going to get this thing and say, "What the hell?!" But I hope she likes it.


PS -- It's kind of hard to see in that first photo, but I embroidered "+ sexy!" after the 60 on the front. Hee hee. Go, Mom!

Mitt in Action

Dear Kelly,

Thank you so much for my wonderful mitts! Here's a picture of one in action:

I love my mitts! (Nail polish is OPI Russian Navy.)


Monday, November 19, 2007

Your mitts!

Dear Shayne,

Last week, I posted your yarn. And today... your mitts!

Shayne's mitts

(I think the color is more accurate in the yarn photo.)

I put them in the mail this morning, so here's hoping you have them by the end of the week -- I know it's getting chilly there!

Per your wool-ergies, they're cotton, so I'm afraid they won't be the warmest things in the world, but certainly good for keeping your paws warm while typing. This yarn was really nice to use -- very soft and lovely. Hope you like 'em!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

So good together

Dear Shayne,

Ever had one of those projects that just spirals out of control, slowly at first, then faster and faster till you're thinking, "Gosh, I shouldn't have spent so much time on this..." but at that point, you've got to push forward because there's less time until you're finished than there has been since you started?

Or is that just me?

Sigh. I bought a neat hand-printed wood type letterpress poster for Bill several months ago. I planned to frame it in time to give it to him for our anniversary in July, but failed. It's a weird size, so I was either going to have it custom framed or frame it myself. I like to do my own framing, sooo... I went with that plan. And stalled out for a bit.

Finally, I ordered a frame here (great source for cheap make-your-own frames, by the way) and I went to the framer across the street from our house for some nice non-glare glass. Halfway there, right? Yeah, right. Let the spiral begin.

I was originally going to cut a mat for it, but (insert faster spiraling here) I didn't really have any mat board that would look good with it. So I was all set to go buy mat board but... I've really been trying to use what I have.

So I thought, "Well, what could I use to border this print?" (Unfortunately, the frame I bought required a mat for the print to fit... buying a new, smaller frame did occur to me at this point, but no! Use what you have! Use it!) I thought of using some pretty paper, but the only paper I had that was 24" long (the height of the frame) didn't really go.

Then I thought... perhaps I could piece some paper together? For a patchwork-y kind of background? As soon as I thought of patchwork, I thought of fabric (of which I have a ton). Yes! Patchwork fabric background!

Shayne, it was here that I should have stopped myself. Alas, I did not. Instead, I cut out a bunch of fabric pieces and sewed them together. (Seriously. Sewed.) Then I ironed them onto fusible interfacing, then mounted the poster on top of all of this and, at last, I finally have a framed print for Bill:

So good together


PS -- I bought that print here, but it looks like they're all sold out now.