Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kendra's Birthday Presents

Like I mentioned in the last post, I've been making a lot of presents for people since I quit smoking.

These two were gifts for Kendra, an arteest who appreciates intelligent entertainment.  Like Sailor Moon.

Venus is her favorite, and I've been meaning to do a Sailor Venus cross stitch for awhile.  For whatever reason, it just didn't happen until this summer.

This is the (almost) finished version.  It's sort of sprite stitch since the source picture is a sprite from the SNES Sailor Stars Puzzle Game, taken from here.

I say it's sort of sprite stitch because I usually change the sprites a bit.  The most obvious change here is that I've added some backstitching to show the detail on the sleeves and to give her a nose.  I also did an orange backstitch (DMC S741) around the big yellow heart instead of using different colored pixles like in the sprite.

Another thing I tend to do is take out the shading.  Some sprites will also have a few pixels that are a different color, and when I was doing Perler Beads more frequently, I thought it looked kind of crap.

For whatever reason, I probably spent more time on this sprite than any other.  (Okay, so a lot of the other stuff was little Mario sprites)  One problem was getting a new computer before I'd finished the pattern.  A new computer with Windows Vista, which doesn't like XP's free photo editor.  I had to make do with Paint since that was the only thing that let me zoom in without losing picture quality.

(And I wish I'd gotten KG Stitch up and running much sooner.)

While I was finishing up Venus Love and Beauty Shock, the idea for the other present popped into my head.

I took this LJ icon, and turned it into a quick and dirty cross stitch.

I graphed out the cross stitches for the head, but the hair, brooch, and collar were freehand.  As for the text, "Sailor V for Victory!" is something Sailor Venus says at some point in the anime.

And this is either the best personalized gift ever, or proof that I shouldn't craft late at night.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Keep it gay, keep it gay, keep it gay

Tonight's project: Rainbow Cake.  The internet was completely useless in telling me how to make my own Magical Rainbow Tower of Dreams.

Some day I will have my own Magical Rainbow Tower of Dreams.  The really depressing thing is I don't even like cake that much.  I don't want to eat the Magical Rainbow Tower of Dreams--I just want to have it.  I want to look at it and say, "I have this awesome cake."

Anyway, I'm using my heart shaped pan instead of two round ones, so there's a chance this will go horribly wrong.  I just want it to look nice.

This is going to be the birthday cake for my joint party with Kendra.  We're doing a Sailor Moon theme, so I did it in the Inner Senshi's colors.  Because I take my nerd cakes to the saddest level possible.
Pink--Sailor Moon
Blue--Sailor Mercury
Red--Sailor Mars
Green--Sailor Jupiter
Orange--Sailor Venus

And if this works out--or if I can figure out how to get it to work--next stop Royal Rainbow!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Party on Saturday, so today was Couch Clearing Day.

Around here, that means there's still stuff on the couches, but this pile has been split into three smaller piles and moved somewhere else.

There's about four unfinished projects in this picture: the neon pink Daisy coaster (a single crochet blanket for the Daisy to sit on in her new home), a blanket for the Snuggles Project, pieces of an amigurumi elephant, and Cirque des Cercles in the Old Navy bag.

I've decided I'm going to be an orange belt by the end of October.  The should be do-able even though my hook kicks are pretty sad.  (The link's not quite it, but had the best pictures I could find.)

If you know anything about my athletic ability, you probably know that I'm lazy.  And if you know two things about my athletic ability, the other one would be that I'm as flexible as a brick.  My flexibility's improved since I started doing yoga and karate, but seeing the improvement makes people feel sorry for me.

So, some of the higher kicks are currently unimpressive.  Fortunately I'm one of the tallest people in the class, so it's not that hard to land even my crappiest kicks above the belt.  Some credit should also go to my big, sasquatch feet.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eppon III, Pot Spider, and Plants

Doing an hour of Wii Fit Free Step the day before karate was a poor choice.  My calves are unhappy.

Given that I'm not epic fail at memorizing kata, maybe I actually could have become a tolerable dancer.  You know, if not for the "laziness" and "unwillingness to practice" and "giving up because I wasn't good at it right away."

Finished up Pot Spider yesterday.  The legs are bit too long, but I think that--and the anatomically correct googly eyes--add to the Halloween creepiness of it.

I need to think of something to put in it, but candy doesn't really last in this house, and I'm not sure how a plant would work with Pot Spider (and do I really want to put dirt in something I spent two days painting?)

But I do have baby cacti now!  There's going to be a lot of plant abortions though.  Some of the seeds grew through the mesh that came on the soil pellets, and there's some pellets that already have four seedlings.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vintage pattern and Halloween spider pot

While I was looking for pipe cleaners and googly eyes for a modified Michaels decoration, I found this old pattern in the attic.  It's proof that we never throw anything away since it's old and battered.  And I'm the only one in my immediate family who knows how to crochet.

The copyright date (1971) makes it ten years older than I am, but I'd like to think the poncho and the skirts wouldn't have been socially acceptable ever.

Oddly there's a receipt inside with my mother's (rarely used married) name and dated 2/7/81.  And a Bible verse next to a picture of Calvary at the bottom.

I'm not entirely sure how or why the long skirt is one size like the bag and poncho.  Maybe if you're want people to think you turned Grandma's afghan into a skirt you're not big on "accurate fit."

Unfortunately, I won't be able to rock the miniskirt since my hips are in the medium range, but my waist is currently a large.  And, based on Project Fug Hat, I really shouldn't be allowed to make clothes anyway.  Even if they are basically a bunch of potholders sewn together.

As for the Michaels project, I'm waiting for the green paint to dry.  I'm going to skip the words on the pot since they're stupid, and my handwriting's bad enough with pen and paper.  Trying to daintily paint them on is going to make this thing look even more like an 8 year old's art project.

An eight year old who cares about scientific accuracy.

Also, looking up "spider's eyes" to figure out correct googly eye placement is really horrible.  I don't recommend it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Basic economics

For gifts, I sometimes try to keep a mental tally of how much I've spent/how much more I should spend.  I usually aim for a few smaller things as opposed to one big thing.  And since I'm an adult with adult friends, I can't really buy things like DVDs and video games for people since they've got jobs and, like me, probably buy what they want all the time.

Since I quit smoking last summer, I'd been doing a lot more crafting.  I've been finishing more cross stitch projects than ever, I made my own greeting cards and gift bags for Christmas, and I taught myself crochet.

(Crochet is like the ultimate ex-smoker's craft.  Other than the need to count stitches for amigurumi, it's basically mindless work that you do with your hands.  If it put nicotine into my bloodstream, it would be perfect.)

So, I've been doing a lot of handmade gifts, which kind of screws up the "appropriate gift amount" calculations.

Since I already have so much embroidery floss, I try to use what I have on hand.  And since I do have so much embroidery floss, that usually works out fairly well.  And even if I do have to buy a color or two, regular DMC floss is about 40 cents a skein.  Each skein is eight yards of six strand floss.  Most of the time I cross stitch with two stands, backstitch with one.

And I don't do big ass projects like Cirque des Cercles as presents because that things going on Month 9, and there's nobody I like that much.  I think I've gone through 2-3 skeins, and I'm over 1/6th of the way done.

So, basically, it's extremely unlikely that I'm going to use an entire skein or more on one person's present.  Unless I'm getting a specific item (potholder, tea towel, whatever), I've probably got fabric lying around.  And, even if I don't, Charles Craft Silver Standard Aida is like $2.99 at Michaels, and, depending on size, I can probably get at least two projects out of that.

Yeah, like an idiot, I've just admitted that the cost of materials for presents for friends and family is, like, a dollar.  (Unless you were special enough to get a tea towel or something.)

Which leaves me wondering, "How exactly do I count this towards 'socially acceptable gift amount'?"  I've never thought cross stitch takes any huge amount of skill--can you count?  Can you make an "x"?  I probably shouldn't be admitting this either if I want to keep giving people cross stitched gifts, but it really isn't that hard; it just takes patience.