We’ve established by now that I love Halloween, right?  Okay, good.  And cats?  And cross-stitch?  And most things retro?  Then you may be able to guess how excited I am about this finish!

I bought this pattern from Sastuma Street’s Etsy shop last year (at the same time I bought “Sorry We’re Dead“), but didn’t have time to stitch it before last Halloween.  That became my goal for this year!

My take on “Halloween Cat” (although there are in fact three of them in the picture) varies slightly from the pattern instructions.  The model was stitched on 32-count fabric over two threads; I used 28 count.  The model piece’s fabric is periwinkle, but I opted for this gorgeous hand-dyed “African Violet” I found at my local needlework shop – which, in spots, is a perfect match to DMC 554.  Oh, and rather than use the recommended DMC 3819 for the cat’s and kittens’ eyes, I seized the opportunity to use neon green from the same package I got the colours I used for “Sorry We’re Dead” last year.

Finished, and ready for washing:

20171025_192409-1-2

In its shadow box:

Final-1-2

A gratuitous back shot, just because:

20171025_192435-1

I thought it would be fun to take progress shots and set them to music.  I’m weird that way.  Enjoy!

It’s now framed and on display in the living room…at least for a few more hours.  Oh, and see what I mean about the fabric matching the thread?

Purple Match

As always, thanks for looking – and Happy Halloween!

Advertisements

“…allig8r!”

June 16, 2017

Those of you who have been following my exploits for a while will know that I’m a bit of a stickler for grammar.  There was the tea towel, the t-shirt, and the rant about “whatever“.  (Oh, yes, and the snarky cross-stitch for a friend.)

It probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, then, that abbreviated text-speak annoys me to no end.  There might have been a case made for it, back when SMS messages were allotted only 160 characters, and you had to key “4-4-3-3-5-5-5-5-5-5-6-6-6” just to say “Hello”.  (Remember that?)  But with the proliferation of smart devices – or worse, when someone’s using a real computer and keyboard?  That’s just lazy.

Despite my aversion to that “How R U?” kind of stuff, I found myself drawn to “C U L8R” from the “Cats Rule” line by Heritage Stitchcraft.  For one thing, the cat looks a bit like mine; also, I figured it would make a great companion piece to “Whateva”, and by extension, a great birthday gift for my mom.  I love Heritage Stitchcraft’s designs for their detail and nuance – and for the fact that each pattern comes with two sheets: one for cross-stitch and one for the backstitch – but oh, my, those squashed fractionals!  Evenweave is a must with those guys.

Weekly progress shots are available on my Instagram feed, but I present to you now the finished piece in all its glory:

C U L8R

It’s particularly appropriate since I’m the one who taught her how to text – back when “4-4-3-3-5-5-5-5-5-5-6-6-6” ruled the airwaves.

Both

Beside its companion piece, whose subject looks utterly disinterested in being Cn L8r.

As always, thanks for looking! 🙂

At the risk of sounding like a crazy cat lady, Saturday was my cat’s birthday.  I’m not the best cat-mom when it comes to remembering stuff like that; in the eight years that I’ve had her, I think I’ve only remembered once before this.  But hey, my bad parenting/sieve-like memory doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have a fabulous celebratory cake, right?  The stars were aligned: it was a long weekend and I had icing sugar in the house.  And truthfully, I had been looking for an excuse to do up something like this, and what better reason than a birthday?

img_0735

Say, that looks tall.  How many layers did you say it was, again?

I didn’t, but: six.

img_0741

img_0740

Proof that “vegan” ≠ “healthy”.  I used the basic vanilla cupcake recipe from VCTOTW, doubled it, and divided it amongst six bowls to tint each one separately.  You definitely don’t want to attempt this if you have a serious aversion to artificial colours – but my theory is, as long as the majority of my diet isn’t neon-coloured, a piece of cake now and then isn’t going to kill me.  I made a huge batch of the fluffy buttercream frosting recipe from the same book, and barely had enough to finish the cake.  Even though each layer is only 6″ across, it still used a lot!

20160905_190536

The birthday girl was somewhat intrigued by this candy-coloured confection, but quickly lost interest and resumed the nap from which she had been so rudely awakened.  Hey, more for me!

I’m not sure if I’d try this again.  It’s not difficult, just a bit fiddly, and is a bear to store as none of my cake-takers are tall enough to house it.  But I can cross “rainbow layer cake” off my baking bucket list.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Did everybody have a great Mother’s Day?  It took me longer than usual this year to come up with a cohesive gift/meal plan, but luckily that all fell into place within the last week or so.

My original intention had been to make the Tiramisu Pancakes from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, but then I saw the IHOP commercial touting their new Cupcake Pancakes and Red Velvet Crepes, and darn it, I was moved.  The nearest location to me that doesn’t require a passport still requires an overnight bag, so it was time to take matters into my own hands:

20160508_094001

Behold: Confetti Pancakes, courtesy of the plain pancake recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance plus a handful of sprinkles thrown into the batter.  (Note that “plain” is a bit of a misnomer; the batter has cinnamon and maple syrup and vanilla in it for flavour before my own addition, and is wickedly delicious.)  And yes, that’s blueberry syrup drizzled on top.

My Birthday Cake Theory extends to Mother’s Day as well, so I whipped up a batch of chocolate cupcakes from VCTOTW last night and decorated them this morning.  Now, as I’ve gotten older and less cute, I’ve been replaced by a furry, four-legged little sibling, and he provided me with decoration-inspiration.

20160508_122630

It’s like looking into a decorating gel-covered mirror.

20160330_173840

He’s really quite impressed by this homage.

Also:

 

 

Thanks for looking!

Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed my crafty endeavours of choice: I bake.  I sew.  And I cross-stitch like it’s the only thing keeping me alive (or if not actually doing it, thinking about it and wishing I were).

But turning yarn into something wearable and/or snuggly has always eluded me.  I can knit scarves, provided they only use garter stitch, and years and years ago I had been taught by my grandmother to turn out rows of single crochet, but that had been long since forgotten.  It was too bad, too, because I have always liked the look of granny squares and wished I could make them.

When a newsletter from the local humane society came out asking for volunteers to make blankets to send home with new adoptees, I decided it was time to bring out the big guns, er, hooks, and learn once and for all how to granny-square.  It took a few different sets of instructions to finally click for me, but for the past few months, I’ve been turning out squares on a fairly regular basis.  It has absolutely gotten easier the more I’ve practiced, and it makes such an excellent and productive television-watching activity: it takes much less concentration than any kind of cross-stitch, and it’s a lot easier to undo a stitch or two if I slip up.

After a few months, fully confident in my double-crochet-and-chain skills, I decided it was time to try something a little more challenging.  I found an easy tutorial on Craftster, and now I feel like I’ve created an exciting new variation on that old playground greeting:

“Guess what?”  “Cat butt!”

20151021_162203

(You can see the originals here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=440074.0)  (This pattern is not my creation – I’m not good enough to attempt something like that!)

Mine’s definitely not perfect – kitty looks as though she’s got a little bit of a dislocated hip or two – but I think this was due to not being able to keep track of where my rounds started and ended.  Still, for my first non-square attempt, I’m pretty pleased!

And yes, there will be pictures of blankets forthcoming.

Sorry for the clickbait: this isn’t a summery post per se, but bear with me, because there is a connection.

But first, a brief discourse on why you ought to Support Your Local Sheriff Gunfighter Stitching Shop.

A few years ago, I was out Christmas shopping with my dad, and we stopped into my favourite stitch shop for a quick purchase.  Naturally, I couldn’t leave without browsing at least a little bit, and that was when I saw The Kit.  It was a gorgeous picture of a calico cat resting on a piano and surrounded by oodles of music paraphernalia.  (I’ve always had a soft spot for calicos.)

“Oooh,” I breathed, picking it up to examine it more closely.  “Look at it, it….oh, wait, it’s not cross-stitch; it’s needlepoint.  Rats.”

“You’ve been stitching for a long time.  So what if this is a slightly different technique?  I’m sure you’d be able to figure it out.”

I squinted at the cover picture.  “Well, it does kind of look like half cross-stitch.  [Note: It’s actually called Continental Stitch.]  But I’ll leave it for today.  I’m not here to shop for myself.”  I set it back, planning to return sometime after the holidays.

My dad, in a rare moment of Acute Human Observation, promptly sent my mom to the shop the following week to buy it for me for Christmas.  She’s not a stitcher, but he gave her a description of the picture, and where in the store to find it.  She managed to locate the kit, and in the course of paying for it, struck up a conversation with the shop owner who quickly figured out who she was, and who the kit was for.  And actually tried to stop her.

“This is needlepoint.  The Witty Child doesn’t do needlepoint; she cross-stitches.”

My mom had to explain that all involved parties were aware of the technique used, and that I’d be willing and able to cut my teeth on something new.  And she left with the kit, which I unwrapped a week or so later.

But can you believe that?  The small business owner would rather have lost a sale than saddle a customer with an unsuitable item.  Does Michael’s, or Wal-Mart, or the discount crafty website do that, or offer that level of personalized service?  Support Your Local Stitching Shop!  I can’t stress that enough.

The kit (called “Gershwin”…and there’s your connection!) took me a few years of needling away at it.  I rarely stitch for myself, so my progress was forever being interrupted by birthday cards, birth announcements, Christmas ornaments…

I managed to finish it a couple of months back, and of course I had to return to my local shop to have it framed:

IMG_0561

Didn’t she do a fantastic job?!  There’s no way I could have framed it half a nicely.  The framing complements the picture without detracting from it, and makes it look like a painting from a distance.

Support Your Local Stitching Shop.

Pink cake and orange cat

February 15, 2015

Hello there!

My mom had her birthday at the end of January, but due to work scheduling, I wound up having to make her cake the weekend before.  I saw the basic idea in an old issue of Woman’s World, which is a magazine that I would generally never, ever buy – except that this issue had featured adorable Hello Kitty cupcakes on the front cover, and I had been unable to resist it.  They also had a layer-cake version of the cupcakes inside, but their recipe used something like four egg whites in the batter and another two in the icing, with no mention of what to do with the yolks, so I quickly dispensed with that idea and instead used my trusty vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World as well as the fluffy buttercream icing from the same.  I also thought I might leave the kawaii characters off the cake, and maybe give it a more mature vibe.  Because nothing says “mature” like pink cake, right?

Ombre Cake 1

I, of course, did not think to get a picture of it while it was intact and free from candle holes.

Ombre Cake 2

Holy ombre, Batman!  I used varying ratios of gel food colours to get the different shades, and they worked like a charm.

Ombre Cake 3

That’s a chocolate-cream cheese filling between layers.  Since the cake itself is just vanilla and not overly sweet, it provided a nice balance and helped keep it moist for the next few days until we could get it all eaten.

She had to wait a couple more days to get the rest of her birthday goodies.  I always try to make a handmade card of some sort:

Surprised Hedgehog

And when I first saw this design on Urban Threads, I knew it had to be made into a t-shirt:

Meow Shirt

I did him in orange to look like her big ol’ furbaby.  He’s painted on – not embroidered – and I think the blue really makes him pop!

Thanks for looking – have a wonderful weekend!

Like, you know, whatever.

October 20, 2014

Summer of 4-2-1

If you read this blog regularly (thank you!), you might have surmised that I’m a bit of a grammar geek.  (Grammar tea towel, anyone?)  That geekery extends to language of all stripes, and almost annoying and [sic]-making as bad grammar is lazy speech.  Cami.  Mani-pedi.  *shudder* Appies.  Quit being so lazy!  You’re not limited to 140 characters when you speak, so snap out of it!

But by far, the one that sets my teeth on edge the most?  “Whatever.”  I freely admit that there are entirely appropriate moments to use it, for example: “Want to hang out tonight?  We can watch TV, or play a game, or whatever.”  That’s fine; it suggests flexibility and openness.  But ah, using it as a substitute for wit or accurate information?  Language FAIL!  “Actually, Jimmy, it was Neil Young who was in Buffalo Springfield, and not Neil Diamond.”  “Whatever.”  Um, no, Jimmy.  Big difference.

I suppose I could handle this if my mother didn’t use it constantly, as an all-purpose answer or conversation-ender.  But she does, and she uses its red-headed stepchild “Whatevie”, too.  She is my mother, and I love her, and this is what prevents me from grabbing the nearest crowbar (full disclosure: I don’t have one, so it’s not really a threat) and going postal.  And when I saw this design from Heritage Crafts, I knew I had to stitch it for her.

whateva

It’s called “Whateva”, as you may well imagine, and as an added bonus, the cat in the picture kind of looks like hers, albeit with a far worse attitude.  After busting my hump trying to find an appropriately coloured squarish frame for it, I opted for pragmatism and snapped up this bright blue hoop from my local stitching shop.  It’s not exactly an heirloom piece, so, you know…whatever.

The fastest cat alive!

September 23, 2014

Gather ’round children…there’s a story behind today’s creation.  (Isn’t there always?)

My cat has lightning-fast reflexes, and moves like a greased pig – particularly when checkup-time rolls around and she knows a car ride is imminent.  She honestly seems to sense when this is about to happen, which means that occasionally I have to tackle her like I’m trying out for JV football in order to get her in her carrier and get her to the vet’s office on time.  A couple of years ago, she had to stay overnight for observation, which compounded the tackle-and-ride trauma with apparent abandonment.  I had stopped by to visit her after work, and she was so mad she wouldn’t even look at me.  I felt like the worst parent ever as I poked my fingers through the cage bars in vain and, as there were other people around, tried not to cry over my new title.

And then I saw the sign.

Written hastily in red Sharpie, and taped over her medical information on the front of her cage, it proclaimed, “I’m fast!”

My first thought was one of smug validation: it wasn’t that my reflexes were slow.  My own rather unscientific observation had now been corroborated by a veterinary professional.  See?  She is fast, and the traumatizing tackle was necessary.  And then it hit me:

The cat had tried to do a runner.

And suddenly I felt the way I imagine parents of two-legged children feel upon receiving notice that their child has just displayed some sort of ungracious or otherwise unpleasant behaviour – like, say, getting stuck in the mud while the class was planting trees for Earth Day, and then refusing to hand her shovel over to the teacher so that he might dig her out, because she was under strict orders not to let anyone else use it.  (True story.)

Fast-forward a couple of years: kitty is happy and healthy, but since her annual checkup is getting close, I thought she could use a little jacket to ward off the autumn chill as she’s being shuttled from Point A to Point B.

flashcoat

I used McCall’s 5776, and modified View C to suit my needs.  The instructions called for fringing the edges which didn’t seem very aerodynamic and Flash-like to me, so I lopped off some of the extra fabric and finished with a narrow hem instead.  The Flash logo was cut from felt and sewn on by hand, and Velcro at the throat and under the belly keep things in place.

(She’s not quite as enamoured with it as she appears in the photo.  She doesn’t hate it, exactly, but whenever I try it on her, she does a little kitty moonwalk to try and get out of it.)

Last week, I decided that I hadn’t baked cupcakes in a while, and it was high time to change that.  And just in case I needed a reason, it was my cat’s birthday – according to the official Humane Society paperwork, which may or may not be all that accurate.

In any case, I brought out my trusty chocolate cake recipe from VCTOTW, and gave then a kitty-centric decorating job, since I had some fondant left over from my dad’s birthday cake.  As one of my professional-baker friends noted, fondant lasts practically forever, and with a little kneading is good as new.  Suddenly, buying a whole box of the stuff for a few little cutouts doesn’t sting so much.

20140903_143722

That’s blue raspberry frosting, by the way.  I can’t resist anything blue raspberry.  And, as my mother noticed, if you turn the cupcake 90° to the left (or your head 90° to the right), the cat turns into a bunny of sorts, like one of those bizarre optical illusions.

20140903_143806

The birthday girl was mildly intrigued, until she determined they were non-fishy in nature.  “Thanks a lot, Ma.”