Monday, December 31, 2012

Merry Tetris

My brother-in-law has been carrying his DS in a sock.  Not one of those sleeves referred to as a sock--an actual sock.

When I had my iPod Mini, I also briefly used an actual sock as an off brand iSock.  I was eventually shamed into something better, and my iPod Mini spent most of its 5 years in a nice silicone case.

My brother-in-law, however, is like unto the honey badger.  He's also difficult to shop for or at least difficult to shop for in comparison to the Kristen.  Before any major gift giving event I usually have to remind myself that I've already acquired a small pile of pink things, things with owls on them, and pink owls.

The plan: make a DS case that looks like a Gameboy Color.  I have chosen the Gameboy Color because it came in green, and I'm not making NES shit for someone born in 1984.  (And stop buying things with cassette tapes on them, you damn kids!  You wouldn't think they were so damn cool if you'd actually had to use them.)

The Look At How Retro I Am DS Case is similar in design to the Kate Kindle Kozy: one long strip.  The felt screen, D-pad, and button buttons were added before stitching up the sides of the case.

The DS is held in with a button and loop.  The button, uh, doesn't quite match the yarn, but I assumed Steven wouldn't notice that until my dear sister announced it during gift opening.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Don't Mess with the Thess

The mystery project in the color choices post and the mystery item my cat was sleeping on top of were both a star blanket for Thessaly's birthday.  Which ended up being a State Fair entry and then a Christmas present.  I am too creative to plan.

Yes, I've washed it.  And if you know anything about cats, you know they love sleeping on unfinished sewing projects.  It was either perfectly aligning herself on the growing star or pulling pins out of a baby quilt.

When mulling over the original request, I learned that Thessaly's favorite colors were purple, purple, and purple (not necessarily in that order).

I needed to buy yet more Soft White, but I was magically able to use all of the sparkly purple with just enough left to weave in.

I crocheted the last stretch giddily hoping that I would actually be able to make it and terrified that I'd need to either buy a new skein just for a few stitches or rip out the second row and deal with the pittance of yarn.  If you don't knit or crochet, I want you to know that this is a freaking crochet miracle.  Enough to basically finish off the yarn and complete the project.

This is on Kristen's bed since Kristen's bed isn't covered in cat hair.  Cats have little interest in finished projects.  Also, all the dog hair probably makes Zoot keep her distance (I washed it and lint rolled the hell out of it).

You're looking at 800+ yards of yarn on a double bed.  Unless Thessaly grows to be an Amazon of Simonsen proportions, this blanket should be good for awhile.  


Monday, November 19, 2012


My cunning plan to give my award winning baby set as a present seems to be thwarted by the fact that my cousin is having a boy and my friend is willfully ignorant of his future child's gender.  However, I was able to find a suitable yarn color to make my cousin who lives in Asheville a baby hat.

Gendered color conventions aside, I basically chose this yarn because the color is seriously named "Hippie."  Oh, Lily Cotton, it's like you knew that I'd need a color like this to make something for a child born in Asheville, NC to parents who were married in their backyard!  Well, I guess technically if you'd known that you would've named it "Drum Circle," but "Hippie" is close enough.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Do or do not. There is no cry.

I've learned some things during the year in which everyone got knocked up: you can either agonize over colors or patterns, or you can search your feelings and go with what you know the person really wants.

This summer I messaged one of my cousins to ask when she'd know the baby's gender and if she cared about conforming to society's standards of gendered colors.  She said she didn't really care, would know in September, and the baby wasn't due until February.  Which would be plenty of time for crafting, but I'm working on baby stuff now.  Sorry, everybody, you'll get whatever projects I'm currently thinking about and like it!

This conversation was mostly for other presents for the baby since I know this cousin likes Star Wars.  A few months ago, I told my mother to skip worrying about colors and patterns and just buy Star Wars fabric for the baby quilt (this was after a conversation about whether or not cartoon Noah's Ark animals could be interpreted as a mockery of God's covenant by insane fundamentalists).  I also know that the Bunny Blanket Buddy can be very easily modified to look like Yoda.

The key to getting the most out of Bunny Blanket Buddy is realizing that you basically have a head and a blanket body.  You can make it anything just by changing the ears and fiddling with the colors.

I assume it can be difficult to have an arteest in the family.  I'm making this assumption based on the fact that I sent my sister the following text:

Does Yoda have a frowny face?

She didn't reply, either because she was in awe of my brilliant, imaginative mind or because she was at work while I was sitting at home, embroidering faces and waiting for my car to be repaired.

Sadly, I am now out of this perfect Yoda Green.  Happily, I have successfully used up some green yarn that was just wasting away in a bag.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Craft Fair 2: Cruise Control

Next weekend is my second attempt at a craft fair.  This one's at Morningside Assisted Living, so I'm not sure who'll be attending.  People who live there?  Family members of people who live there?  Whatever friends I can talk into coming to visit my table?

Prep work has been limited.  I'm mostly going to be bringing the Lucky Cats, Kindle cases, and other items from the last craft fair.  I've managed to make a scarf and some Christmas hats, but work has seriously gotten in the way of my occasionally profitable hobby.  Well, profitable in the same way as selling drugs in that the majority of the money goes to buying more supplies.  Except as far as I know, drugs are not on sale and there are no 40% off coupons.

Christmas baby hats!  One of these ended up with an extra row in the scalloped section, so it's a little bit bigger.

I'll probably only have one of these scarves, so come early if you want an awesome scarf that sparkles!

Monday, October 22, 2012


My original plan for Halloween was to dress up as Honey Boo Boo.  Then I actually tried some stuff on and realized that I was crossing a line.

Some of you might wonder how I could have originally thought that dressing up as a child beauty queen would have ever been appropriate, but my beautimous plan was based on the fact that I thought it would be funny.  And then I realized that dressing like Honey Boo Boo would require a short skirt.  Which would be slutty.

Plan B: Bowser!  Which will probably be slutty, but Bowser is a hideous turtle monster, not an eight year old.  And I could just use clothes that I could rewear combined with tasteful accessories.

Spirit Halloween does sell spiked wristbands, but they also pissed me off with their 50 Shades of Bullshit inspired T-shirts.  And as much as I love Halloween, I'm not willing to spend $16 just on crappy looking spiked accessories.

Fortunately, you can get a roll of black duct tape for the cost of one spiked wristband at Spirit Halloween.  And you'll have enough duct tape to let you completely fuck up multiple times!

Step 1: Measure wrists.

Step 2: Cut two strips of duct tape based on wrist measurements.  Make sure to completely fail to take into account what crap you'll dig out of your Random Sewing Notions pile to fasten them.  Also, if you're going to be wearing a certain article of long sleeved clothing, definitely don't put that on to check the size of your wristbands!

Step 3: Put strips of duct tape together, sticky side to sticky side.  Proudly hold combined cuff to bare wrist.

Step 4: Dig through sewing notions.  Fail to find little hooks that you possibly remembered to throw back in the pile.  Contemplate whether or not it's possible to attach that kind of closure one handed.

Step 5: Decide on snaps, mostly because you found a bunch of them.

Step 6: Realize that snaps require a slight overlap and remember that you're going to be wearing long sleeves.

Step 7: Curse as you throw away tiny, useless bracelet.

I was able to get the wristbands the right size and duct tape snaps onto them (using little pieces all around the edges of the snap).  They still have to be very carefully pulled apart.  For the armbands, I realized that I could just pull them on and use my amazing biceps to keep them in place.

The spikes used about three different techniques.  First attempt was to cut out cones, fold the round part over, and put the pointy ends together.

Second idea: cut out triangles, put them together, and attach them to an oval.

Best idea: cut out a diamond, fold it in half, then attach it to an oval.

Hopefully it will be dark and everyone will be drunk.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Competitive Cross Stitch is for Suckers

3rd place!  And out of all my items, my ribbon winning baby set was the only thing kept away from State Fair visitors' grubby little hands.

You can enjoy looking at this award winning baby set and other fine items until October 7th.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


As is a State Fair tradition, I didn't frame my cross stitch entry until the absolute last minute.  Even though I made it months ago.

If you've been to my Etsy shop, you've probably noticed that the majority of the cross stitch items for sale are unframed.  There are many reasons, most of which can be summed up by telling you that I'm lazy and framing is a pain in the ass.  For you, the consumer, framing adds an extra expense.  Professional framing would raise the final cost higher than most people would be able to pay (or so I assume, based on the complete lack of people clamoring for framed cross stitch).  And, as you know if you've ever gone to a frame store ever, tolerable frames aren't cheap.  So, putting it in a frame costs money.  Having to ship a framed item costs more than shipping a thin piece of cloth with string all over it.  Pick out your own frame, that's my philosophy.

 As an arteest, I wanted something that paired elegantly with the design while being available at A.C. Moore a few hours before I had to submit it.  I also felt that my vision did not include spending more than $5 for a frame.

If you do buy a cross stitched item that's already framed, you should expect to pay a bit more, but don't buy something that's been poorly framed.

This example is not the finished piece, but keep in mind that the picture they chose still includes what looks like hoop indentations.  While this is a fairly simple design, the finished product will be matted and framed.  This would probably make the $45 price slightly more reasonable, but this is the picture they chose.  You probably don't want someone who won't even iron the thing for the picture to frame it (and at $45, they're framing it themselves).

Sometimes the stitches will tighten up the fabric, so you'll get bulges around groups of stitches.  This may not be fixed by ironing, but the hoop indentations and hand crumpling will.

Here's the real framing process:
1.  Iron.
2. Iron some more.
3. Trim stray/extra long threads.
4. Place in frame.
5. Trim edges of fabric.
6. More ironing.
7. Place in frame.
8. Examine cross stitch from the front, curse.
9. More trimming.
10. More ironing.

Repeat until cross stitch is beautifully framed or you stop caring.  

Monday, September 24, 2012


Not only did I need to actually make entries for the State Fair competitions, I also needed to actually make them look nice.

This is my first sweater.  I guess babies have bigger arms than I thought.  Piecing it together was pretty simple, but I'm not sure I agree with the pattern's uneven sides thing.  Which is actually in the pattern and not something I made up to hid my own ineptitude.

The biggest challenge: finishing.  I decided not to use buttons since they're a choking hazard.  Also, I didn't have any matching buttons.  My baby-safe alternative was to use snaps.  Mostly because I could find those in the house and quickly sew them on.

I think I would feel more confident about the finished sweater if I actually had a baby to put it on.  Are babies the same size as American Girl dolls?  I feel like the answer is no, and that's why I don't have any pictures of Kirsten modeling the sweater and hat.

Oddly, the colors don't look as close of a match on the finished items.  I think it's because the blocks of color are thicker on the cotton items than on the sweater.  

Adding to my angst: once I got to scenic Doswell, Virginia and was putting my tags on my items, I was next to a woman with a baby blanket, a baby set, and a crocheted rabbit.  Naturally, I was entering an afghan, a baby set, a crocheted animal, and an 18ct cross stitch piece.  I almost immediately considered withdrawing Hat, Sweater, and Blanket Buddy--especially once I realized I wasn't smart enough to bring safety pins so I could attach my set to itself.  But then I remembered that I'd invested 20 cents of my own money.  And her set was severely lacking in a bunny that could be chewed and puked on.  Also, I assume modern babies either like bright colors or are not at all discerning in their tastes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

All Set

I wasn't originally planning to enter the State Fair this year since, well, they were bankrupt a few months ago.  But apparently there is a new State Fair with basically the same website as the last State Fair, so I'm quickly making some things to enter as a baby set (and bringing some other things I've already made).

Since noticing that Lily Sugar 'n Cream's Over the Rainbow and Bernat Baby Coordinates' Posy Patch were basically the exact same colors, I've been wanting to make some matching items with the different yarns.  I couldn't find anything that actually defined what a "baby set" has to include, so I've decided that it's a bunny blanket buddy, a hat, and a sweater.  And if the State Fair says differently, it's their fault for not including that on their website.

For the brim of the hat I used some Hot Pink from a project that I'm totally going to go back to and finish one of these days (except I'm not, and it's just going to keep sitting in a bag because I'm a liar with a short attention span).  It's not an exact match--just like Posy Patch is a slightly different texture and probably not exact--but close enough.

All of these items have been worked on while watching British television at various levels of legality.  I may have to start watching The Tudors just to get this sweater finished.

If you're someone I know who is expecting a baby, your baby could be getting this potentially award winning collection!  Unless your baby has been declared male, in which case I'm working on something else and may have already made you something that I have repeatedly failed to mail.  Suspense!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My First Craft Fair

I did manage to get 61 Lucky Cats made in time for the Have a Heart Bazaar.  My awesome planning and production skills did not account for my packing materials, so only 50 little cats and 4 paired cats (two cats on a bigger canvas) actually made it to the show.

When packing up, I remembered the advice on Craftster that having too much stock of too much variety could confuse and confound potential customers.  As I looked through my already made items, I decided that I had no idea what people might actually be interested in, so I might as well bring some lightweight items and put price tags on them.

I bought acrylic frames for my brand sign and a sign for the Lucky Cats.  I had wire shelves so the Lucky Cats sign and my framed cross stitch could sit a bit higher.  I didn't bring my camera since I didn't want to have to worry about that, but my set up looked great.  Lucky Cats in little protective sleeves (with a Jupiter Star Power label on the back) lined up on one side of the table, crochet and cross stitch items on the other, and a sign up sheet for custom items in the middle with my Jupiter Star Power sign.

Unfortunately, I was placed in the middle of resellers.  "Bazaar means glorified yard sale," I texted my sister.

"Yard sale?" Kristen texted back.  "Damn, there's all kinds of crap you could have sold."  I don't think she realized that even if it was junk from our grandparents' house, I couldn't just leave it in my parking spaces at the end of the day.

My two spaces were also in the middle of the sun.  Sitting down, the sun was directly in my eyes.  It wasn't much better standing.  Along with the true meaning of the word bazaar, I also learned that canopies weren't optional.

Yes, I knew I was going to a parking lot in Virginia in early September.  Yes, I knew smart people used canopies.  I also knew I could not afford to invest in a canopy for my first craft show.  I could always put my leftover minicards in sold Etsy orders and my acrylic sign frames were 60% off at A.C. Moore (since I was smart enough to recognize that Staples' pricey professional sign frames were really cheap craft store frames).  The rest of my set up was borrowed from my parents, and I might not have signed up at all if we hadn't had a folding table in the attic.  The chairs were on loan from Amy, my accountant and legal intern.  I don't actually know how much a canopy would cost, but I assume it's too much for someone dipping their toes in the land of craft fairs.  Also, once the wind started to really kick up, it probably would've blown away.

I didn't account for the wind.  I taped my sign up sheet down and gradually started taping down the little cross stitch pieces, but I don't know how we could have secured the increasingly cracked and chipped acrylic Lucky Cats sign.  By the fifth or sixth time it blew over, I was ready to throw it as hard as I could and swear loudly.

There were never very many people.  Several people walking by slowed down to look at the cats and say, "How cute!" or pick them up and look at the backs, but my explanation of the prices seemed to scare them away.  Two different Baptist churches came to scout for their craft fairs.  After giving me a flier, a large woman picked up one of the hats and fondled it while repeating how cute it was.  She ran her hands around the inside and tugged on it and put it back down before walking on to the next booth.  A well dressed woman from a different church took one of my cards and handed me a flier.

Julia came to visit.  She picked up one of the hats and immediately wanted one, "in my size.  Dark red.  Not bright red."  She tapped the frame of the Super Mushroom cross stitch.  "Not this."  I asked her to write it down on the custom order sign up sheet (earlier in the day I'd considered adding Marcela's rainbow scarf like putting a few coins in a donation jar to get people started).  We talked yarn choices.  We mostly talked about her new job and my now less new job.

A woman came through with two elderly women--Miss Maxine and an unnamed woman with a cane.  The younger of the three--though older than me--was either a nurse or a devoted family member.  Nurse or Devoted Relative looked at the cats and told one of her charges that she would like those.  Then they kept going to their real destination: the reseller next to me.

"These are the shoes I like," said Miss Maxine.

"What's your shoe size?" Nurse or Devoted Relative asked in the tone used for the mentally incompetent or the presumed mentally incompetent.  Miss Maxine was already taking off one of her own shoes and sliding her foot into one of the pink shoes.  She had enough balance to pull this off, but not enough to use her hands to help her try it on.

"You're an 8 and a half," said Nurse or Devoted Relative.  Miss Maxine had already moved her foot back and forth.  The shoe fit.  "How much?" asked Nurse or Devoted Relative.

"$3," said one of the people running the table.

"How about two?" asked Nurse or Devoted Relative.

The vendor paused.  I could practically hear her weighing her options.  Not many people had come through. It was already after 10, and no one in our corner of the lot had been selling well.  Her hesitation and her expression screamed that she wanted $3, but she was afraid that would mean the shoes wouldn't sell at all.  "Okay," she said.

Miss Maxine got her shoes in a plastic grocery bag.  She walked slowly off, holding the bag behind her back.

A woman with younger children had come up to look with the shoes while Nurse or Devoted Relative was bargaining on Miss Maxine's behalf.  Young Mom picked up a pink high heel while her children ran around the parking lot shrieking and grabbing toys from a currently unguarded table.  "How much?"

"$2."  I wondered if this was because the woman had clearly heard Nurse or Devoted Relative's haggling.

"Would you take one?"

I stopped listening to turn to Amy and start judging.  We'd both been fervently eavesdropping since it was yet another slow time at Jupiter Star Power's temporary West End location.  We agreed that there was something petty and mean about haggling over a pair of $2 used shoes.  You either want it or you don't was my philosophy.  I find used shoes in my size so rarely that analyzing how I would behave in this situation was akin to deciding that I would never unethically use the ability to turn invisible.

"Yard sale people," Amy said.  "Even my dad wouldn't do that."

My signs and my price tags and my smiling face as I explained prices probably told people I was not willing to dicker.  Or maybe it was my scowl from squinting into the sun or my willingness to reapply sunscreen while sitting behind my table.

It never came up, but I don't think I would have been willing to accept an offer of a lower price.  As always, I'd calculated the cost of supplies and the time I'd put it.  I named prices to myself and decided if they sounded right.  I'd priced some things that morning, holding up an item and telling Amy a number.  She'd either say yes or tell me to go higher, and I that's what I wrote on the tag or sticker.  Even as the hours passed by and Kristen texted, "Sold anything?" I never felt that desperation to sell something at any price.  By 8:30 that morning I'd accepted that I might be out my table cost.  I didn't consider the loss of my supplies or marketing stuff to be a loss; I had it for next time, and I'd just take it with me when I left.

Around noon I noticed condensation inside some of my Lucky Cat packages.  The ones with black backgrounds were getting hot enough to sweat.  I quickly packed them up and hoped their coats of clear sealant would protect them.  I wondered if it was time to consider packing up and leaving.

Across from my table was a couple selling fake flowers arranged in vases and other containers.  It--like the beaded holiday decorations further down--was the sort of thing I might have considered browsing if we weren't trying so desperately to get rid of all the knick knacks and other junk in my grandparents' house.

The wind started to blow again.  Amy and I took up our positions, rising from our chairs to hover over the table in case we needed to grab Kindle kozies before they blew away (the loose cross stitch pieces in plastic sleeves had already been taped to the table).  Across from us, one of the flower arrangements fell.  The vase shattered as soon as it hit the asphalt.  Sympathetic sounds came from all the surrounding vendors.

I looked at my cell phone--12:48.  I looked at the beads of moisture starting to form inside more of my bags.  I saw the couple across from me starting to box up their surviving items, and I saw a lack of shoppers.

"Let's pack it up," I said.

I took the untouched cash box and my bag of supplies back to the car.  I drove it to the nearest possible space while Amy packed up the chairs.  We carried the unsold merchandise and the bundled chairs to the trunk before going back for the table.

Among the bazaar's failings were a parking lot that was too narrow.  I slowly, carefully backed out my father's Honda Accord with greater difficulty than I expected.  I was used to accommodating for his larger car when I drove it, but I think I still would have struggled if I'd been driving my Civic (assuming I could have actually fit both Amy and the table in my car).

Once I'd managed to get the car out and turned around, we faced the typical Richmond driver.  One person was waiting to pull in, possibly oblivious to the pick up truck struggling to back out.  The truck inched back, stopped, inched forward again, inched back.

"You can't drive!" Amy told them.

"Jump the curb," I said as if they could actually hear me.  "You're in a truck!"

We eventually escaped.  We complained about Richmond drivers and the typical yard sale crowd.  "That was like my own private 'Araby,'" I said as we drove down Gaskins.  I recognized Amy's silence.  "'Araby'? From The Dubliners?"


"There's this boy.  Like, 10, 11 years old.  And he's in love with this older girl.  So he wants to go to this bazaar called Araby so he can buy her a present because he thinks that'll make her fall in love with him.  And he thinks it's going to be amazing and exotic--because of the name--but then he gets there, and it's just cheap, tacky shit."


I couldn't tell if Amy considered this to be an apt literary metaphor or if she was questioning the life choices that had led her to associate with someone who unironically used the phrase "apt literary metaphor."

I dropped her off.  She invited me in.  I carried one of the chairs to her garage and realized I was too hot and tired and smelled too bad to interact with anyone.  I was going to go home and do nothing for the rest of the day.  She was going to go to a party in Fredericksburg.  I was invited.  I'd probably have fun.

Standing in the dim garage, I saw myself as a creature spending the rest of the day in my bathrobe.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Have a Heart Bazaar

This weekend you can live your dream of experiencing Jupiter Star Power LIVE by visiting me at the Have a Heart Bazaar from 8-1 this Saturday (9/8).  Assuming it doesn't rain, I'll be in the parking lot of Costen Floors with high quality handmade items!

The table will be a charming reproduction of the Jupiter Star Power experience as it does not involve a couch, my cat sleeping on craft supplies, or the shameful reality television that powers my muse.

There will be a small selection of official Kate Kindle Kozies and Kate Kindle Kozy Jr (sometimes I want to use up yarn but don't have enough for a full Kindle Kozy) and a whole litter of Lucky Cats.  They bring you good luck without having to maim a rabbit!

I still need to put the finishing touches on some kozies, make the rest of the Lucky Cats, and finish tagging and bagging.  Oh, and go to work like an adult with a real job.
I considered getting nice(ish) bags, decorating them, and charging a little bit extra for a bag, but I couldn't think of an amount that would cover costs and time without just pissing people off.  So, I found brown paper lunch bags.  You have no idea how tempted I am to decorate them and pretend they're collectibles.  I should probably be stopped before I start writing "#/50" on them.  They are reusable lunch bags though--after you take your fine merchandise home, you can put food in the bag!  Or children's party favors! SKY'S THE LIMIT!

Yeah, the Kindle Kozy Kollection is looking a bit sparse, but I didn't allow myself enough time for any serious mass crocheting.  I'll probably bring some of the cross stitch pieces that haven't sold on Etsy.  Maybe it'll give my table that rummage sale look that terrifies and befuddles potential customers, but who knows what somebody might want to buy?  

Monday, September 3, 2012

D is for Dragon

Kristen commissioned this as a present for Helen's baby.  She also felt that having a dragon pattern would be helpful since I know so many people who graduated from the Governor's School (*cough cough*).

Based on what I can tell from the tiny picture on the pattern, the original colors are pretty meh or at least inappropriate for a baby gift.  Normally I size down pictures for viewing convenience, but this is the original size.  Based on the comments that accompany the pattern, I assume this is to prevent people using the picture to copy the pattern.

Kristen and I considered using Harry Potter dragon colors.  This idea was scrapped and replaced with pastels since neither one of us could figure out what the hell "Harry Potter dragon colors" actually meant.

I've talked about changing pattern colors before.  In this one, there were color families used, but no real shading.  Choosing a new letter color definitely helped since that gave me something to match the other colors to.  I ended up writing out the symbols and randomly assigning a new color to them.  Then I sent Kristen this elegant and super helpful picture of what embroidery floss on top of gold fabric might look like.

After this, the only change was to add another green and to find out that the palest purple and the light yellow did not show up on this fabric.  While that might have been fixed once the backstitching was added, it was easier just to reassign colors.

To minimize crumpling the stitches in my grubby little hands, I did the letters all the way across, then started to do the dragons from the last letter.  While I could have started at the far right, I wanted to avoid as many counting mistakes as possible.  Each letter was 18-19 stitches wide and two stitches between each letter put the width at 160+ stitches.  Counting that out would be a terrible idea even for people who actually know how to count.

Also, I managed to fuck up some of the spacing anyway.

For the backstitching, I went with black for the outlines and claws, and sparkles if I already had the color for wings and spines.  Here you can see what the finished stitching looked like before the backstitching was done.

The pink dragon to the right wasn't finished because I also realized that I needed to do backstitching as I went.  Before this epiphany, I'm not sure how I thought I was going to do the backstitching without mangling the dragons in my grubby little hands.

Eyes were chosen from my specialty threads based on the super scientific method of "what would look good" and "what hasn't been used yet".  I think there might be one or two repeats for the eyes.  I did some further color choice adjustment to avoid having dragons with identical coloring or the same main body color.  W and E are both slightly different shades of blue, just like O and L are different shades of pink.  Certain symbols (like the one I assigned to pale pink) were used more frequently.  I erred on the side of Kristen liking pink shit.

Monday, August 27, 2012


My yarn inheritance has expanded to include crocheted squares made by my grandmother that were never actually put together.  So, I crocheted 9 of them into a little cat mat while watching Hoarders.  I don't think that's irony, but I don't know a word for "joylessly appropriate."

To make the mat, I put two squares right side together and single crocheted through the back loops.  Well, except for the one that ended up wrong side up.  The plan for the squares was always to donate them to an animal shelter.  Shelter cats don't care about color choices.

Zoot S. Riot, on the other hand, cautiously sniffed and disdainfully pawed at the cat mat before walking away.  Which is probably not a good sign since she usually likes to sit on stuff like this.

There will be another unfortunate looking cat mat for Zoot to avoid some time soon.

I dropped off the cat mat (and ugly round thing someone else made that Zoot couldn't stand to look at), and the next week it had appeared in the Kitten Nursery!
It was just the right size to wrap up a Snuggle Safe.  While the kittens who used it are old enough to keep themselves warm, they're messy eaters who usually get a bath after they coat themselves with food.  I dried them off as much as I could, but the Snuggle Safe provided some extra warmth during their post-lunch nap.

I put it out when it was play time, but most of the kittens wanted to explore the room, play with the toys, or attack each other.

Here you can see a rare moment of the kittens sitting still and enjoying the warmed up blanket.

I did put it back in their carrier when it was time for me to leave for work.  They may have done something horrible to it since it had been moved to the laundry bag the next day.

Monday, August 20, 2012


According to the internet, you can use sharpies on canvases, and you can decoupage things to them.  As these are both skills vaguely within my reach, I was ready to do some art.

I think this tissue paper came from Michael's since the purplish shade was used for one of my Xmas reindeer.  Every other color is god damned terrible.  If paper could feel feelings, I would bully the hell out of this tissue paper.  That other color on the vase/luminary used to be green.  Now it mocks me.

While I vaguely understand that "gluing to things, then painting with more glue" is not tissue paper's primary raison d'etre, I am an artist now.  You can tell because I have canvases and paintbrushes in a variety of sizes.  As an artist, everything I do is a statement.  For example, buying a pack of cheap paintbrushes marketed to children is a statement of the childlike wonder I bring to painting things.

With the canvases, my original vision was decoupage tissue paper, draw Pikachu.  Part of my cunning plan was that the yellow tissue paper would free me from such burdensome concerns as "backgrounds" and "coloring things in."

My vision was updated to "add more tissue paper so it actually looks like a respectable shade of yellow."  

One thing I've learned from becoming an artist through buying supplies I don't really understand is that great art takes time.  Most of it is waiting for things to dry.  While waiting for things to dry, I decided to use my favorite medium to make Kristen an art.

I have no idea why Sharpie is my favorite drawing medium since I kind of suck at drawing and you can't erase Sharpie.  I suppose it appeals to my edgy outsiderness and hatred of revision.

For the background, I used what is possibly a sponge brush to apply stamp ink. 

This was included with the other housewarming items.  There's only one for Kristen because I don't know what animal Steven hates least.

Another part of being an artist is going to work to earn money for craft supplies.  While driving back from work stuff, I thought about my sad, impossible dream of submitting to Art-O-Mat (This is similar to my dream of having a Kickstarter fund and making a ludicrous amount of money for something I'd be willing to do anyway).  As I considered my artistic range and the possibility of maybe coming up with something that wasn't from Nintendo or comics, I realized that I could use my skill at cutting up paper.

The maneki neko appealed to me as an artist because it's in the public domain and I'm really awesome at drawing stylized cat faces.

How to draw a happy kitty:

Step 1: Draw a cat's head
Step 2: Draw two curved lines
Step 3: Draw a mouth
Step 4: Add whiskers (not pictured)

I got some even smaller canvases at Michael's and started working on my lucky cat template.  This is the first try on the Maneki Kitten body.  It is glorious.  I am so terrified of never being able to recreate this that I traced extra heads and bodies on an index card and put them in an envelope.

I'm really happy with how these turned out.  Cutting out the pieces is kind of tricky at this size, but the templates are working well.  Tracing the template on the back of the origami paper is easier than trying to hold the little piece of index card and cut at the same time.

I've drawn some more bells for the cat on the right (and for future cats).    I still need to draw the paws and then cover the rest of the canvas in Mod Podge.  It's probably not necessary, but I think it'll look better if the whole thing is glossy (instead of just the paper parts).

As for Pikachu, I think if I try anymore they should be on a painted background.  Because then I can just add more paint if I draw a crappy one.

I actually like how this crappy one turned out.  It looks like Pikachu as drawn by Jim Davis in 1978.

The other one went to a nice farm where it has lots of room to run around and look like shit.

I need to figure out what to do with the raggedy edges.  It probably involves finding someone who can be trusted with sharp crafting knives.

Monday, August 13, 2012

House Warming

Mr. and Mrs. The Kristen moved into a new house this past weekend, so I lovingly made them small tokens of my esteem.  With a scrap of fabric.  But nothing says "Congratulations on your new house" quite like getting people to inadvertently display your initials in their home!

The pink dragon has beautiful chocolate brown eyes.

Apparently nobody uses or makes square frames like this anymore.  I had to "borrow" one from an unsold ornament.  These could possibly become collector's items among people's grandmothers and whoever else makes cross stitch ornaments.  Seriously, you can get round, oval, star, and tree shaped ornament frames, but no squares.  Tree shaped!  For those of you who like Christmas trees, so you can make a tree to put on your tree.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another exciting Thursday post!

While views and favorites have been respectable over at the Etsy shop, it's a slow time for sales.  Since those renewal fees keep adding up, I've decided not to renew any listings or add anything new until closer to the Christmas shopping season.  The sane Christmas shopping season, not the bullshit retail keeps trying to pull.  (Yeah, the Christmas aisle is up in Michael's.  The Halloween stuff is already out in full force, despite the fact that most of it's pre-made, so, no, you don't need crafting time.)

This will also give me some leeway if I want to pretend that I'm actually (no really you guys) going to do some sort of craft show or vendor thing in the fall.  I know I say this every year about at least getting a table at a winery and then end up just going to the winery and getting drunk, but this time I am totally willing to consider that this is a thing that could happen.  Maybe.

I'm working on some new stuff right now, so if anybody misses the exciting variety of the old gift shop, I can start making obnoxious posts about EXCITING NEW PRODUCTS FROM JUPITER STAR POWER.  There will be something in stock until the holiday shopping season, but you won't see anything new on Etsy for awhile.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Negative Self-Talk

I've been making stuff, but, generous soul that I am, it's all for other people.  So, radio silence until stuff gets handed out.  See if you can guess whose heirloom in the making is under my cat!

Meanwhile, the local craft stores have been a goldmine of items that look interesting enough to make me forget my skill level.

I have discovered mini-canvases!  Step 1: Make the internet tell me what kinds of art things you can actually use on a canvas.  Paint?  Do you need, like, special paint?  Can you use Sharpie Brand Permanent Markers because you're a bad ass who doesn't follow establishment rules (and also because they're cheaper than paint and you can use them to label stuff)?

Step 2: Crushing disappointment.  My best bet is to find the next big thing that's going to appeal to hipsters but doesn't require a great deal of "artistic ability" or "talent."  Possibly some sort of cartoon animal with a mustache...

I also discovered that Mod Podge is now making all kinds of Mod Podge and Mod Podge accessories.  I may need to pick up the little flattening roller at some point, and apparently there is some kind of magic spray that will let me print things off the internet and decoupage them (otherwise the ink smears).  This would be especially helpful since I hate "upcycling" that involves destroying perfectly good things to make a stupid box, clock, or decorative bird.

For example, these pages were published in the mid 90's.  And since everybody in the 90's was convinced that their comics would some day be worth millions, these pages probably came from a book that was in perfectly fine condition.  I've got a few issues from the 60's that are fragile, but are still valiantly maintaining book form.  Also, tearing pages out of old books that were complete when you got them?  Also not upcycling.  Yeah, it's not the WORST THING EVER, especially since most of this stuff is slowly and steadily going digital, but it's not upcycling unless it's trash.

Anyway, I have purchased Mod Podge charms.  They're small acrylic shapes that, now that I've paid for them, I'm not sure how I'm going to glue things on them without gluing them to the table/the protective covering placed over the table.

I usually avoid jewelry since, like sewing, I am not willing to suffer through the learning period.  Just like how I'd love to burn some of my earliest crochet projects which torment me with their ugliness.  But I am okay at gluing things onto other things!  I think I might flip through a Free Comic Book Day issue, find something that might look good on one of these charms, and not pretend that it's helping the environment.  I would use the terrible 90's comics I was giddily destroying to make gift bows, but I assume those are too ugly for anything other than blatantly not upcycling them to make gift bows.  (While I may have referred to that project as upcycling in an earlier post, the issue in question probably counts as garbage.  Which would make it upcycling.)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pinterest lied to me

If you are a lady, you've probably heard of Pinterest.  You may even have an account which you are using to post inspirational pictures for your wedding and/or baby rather than using it to post pictures of cats as God intended.  As those of you who aren't Inspiration Board maintaining heathens know, the internet exists so I can get crochet patterns and look at animals.

For those of you who are not ladies or gay men, Pinterest exists for ladies/gay men to post thinspiration, inspirational decor/wedding pictures, DIY/craft projects/food, and adorable animals.

I finally caved and followed two pins for crafts I convinced myself I would have the time and/or ability to do.  One of them involved the creator referring to questions about how to do the project as "ridiculous."  As in, she was used to dealing with ridiculous questions since she teaches elementary school.  I bought some supplies, but am still afraid of gluing myself to either newspaper or the table.  Or both.

But I figured I had to be able to make luminaries since I had both jars and stickers.

The problem with spray paint is finding a flat, even surface that won't be ruined if uncontrolled paint mist gets on it.  Most flat, even surfaces are either things you don't want to get paint on or in areas--like rooms--that you don't want to risk getting paint mist on.  Other than the hideous sun slowly roasting us all, the outdoors' other great disadvantage is a lack of flat surfaces.  Good things would be not worrying about suffocating on paint fumes.

Maybe some people are able to evenly spray paint things and not have them eventually tip over onto newspaper, but I lack that skill.  And while it's probably not entirely Pinterest's fault that the 804 faced Zeus' wrath twice in one week, severe thunderstorms are not conducive to spray painting shit.

These will probably get finished once going outside stops being like walking into an oven.  Or I'll put some flowers in them, take a tasteful picture, and put them on Pinterest to torment others.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Warmth for Warriors  collects knit and crocheted hats for US soldiers.  This summer, they're taking donations of cotton washcloths.

Washcloths have been a good portable crochet project since some of my other projects have either gotten too big or require a pattern book (and I don't have any small cross stitch projects going right now).  I was able to get five washcloths from two colors of leftover yarn, but I didn't do the borders until I'd finished the top three.  Which means that two of them don't have borders, but it's the thought that counts, right?

For those of you playing along at home, it's an easy pattern:

Chain 23
HDC in 3rd chain from hook, HDC across
Chain 2, HDC in back loops of all stitches

And just keep doing that until you've got a square.  Remember, ignore your turning chain.  The HDC doesn't play by society's rules, man.

For the border, join the yarn with a slip stitch.  SC around.  For the sides, wonder what the hell counts as a stitch, then just jab your hook in wherever the spirit moves you.  For the second row of the border, SC in back loops only.  Consider the finished border and wonder if you screwed something up somewhere.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I have a PhD in Rainbows

I've got one of those projects where some of my color choices were based on using up yarn I already had.  I did buy three new colors, but the pattern was based around the fact that I had a big thing of Soft White left over from Gwendolyn's star blanket and some Shocking Pink from...well, being related to Kristen.

One of the new colors was Bonbon Print.  For those of you who've been following along, yes, this is all Red Heart purchased before the cancellation of the Scarves for Special Olympics project and no, I'm probably not going to stop using Red Heart as a form of mild protest.  I assume Red Heart would've preferred to keep selling people yarn for their projects, and even if I was actually outraged, the price is right, yo.  When you're making amigurumi--especially for kids--Red Heart is cheap as hell and machine washable.  Sure, you could make it out of 100% Organic Wool originating from college educated sheep, but that's just dumb.  (Again, I am willing to refer to Red Heart as "inexpensive" or "affordable" or say nice things about pretentious yarn in exchange for money and/or swag.)

Anyway, Red Heart has a list of its multicolor yarns with matching single colors.  One of the reasons behind Bonbon was 1)it included Shocking Pink and 2)it included the colors the recipient likes.  Choosing Lavender was based on the highly technical process known as "eyeing it."  We crochet professionals look at things and--using our incredibly sophisticated color theory studies--decide if two or more things look horrible together or not.  (There is another, super exciting MYSTERY SHADE, but I'm trying to keep some suspense in case the recipient figures out who/what this is all about.)

I managed to burn through my big thing of Soft White without even noticing until I suddenly reached the end of it while crocheting.  And on Friday I realized that I would not have enough Shocking Pink to complete another row.  This left two options: buy more Shocking Pink (and probably Lavender just to be safe) or try a color I already had.

Red Heart Super Saver comes in two sizes: Dainty and Massive.  The Willow Lawn A. C. Moore only had Shocking Pink in Massive, which only added to my dilemma.  I was willing to buy more yarn to try to keep the pattern I'd already established, but was there any point "using up" yarn only to end up with potentially more of the yarn than I'd started with?

For the two of you who actually went to the Coordinating Colors link or for those of you who have studied Color Theory, you will have noticed that Bonbon has a turquoise shade in it.  Which I don't have, but I do have I Don't Know The Label Fell Off, a lighter shade of turquoise.

Which is pretty damn close to one of the shades in Bonbon.  Not content to keep scarves from special athletes, Red Heart is also suppressing coordinating shades of yarn.  Feel free to voice your displeasure on Facebook!