In my crafty exploits, although cross-stitch is my first love, I really enjoy working with felt.  It’s forgiving and easy to work with, comes in a bunch of fun colours and patterns, and works up quickly into something recognizable.

I’m not quite sure how I missed the first round, but back in May, I happened upon Round 2 of a Twinchie Swap on Craftster.org.  What’s a twinchie, you ask?  I’m no expert, but it’s a 2″ square felt patch with some sort of picture or pattern appliquéd onto the front.  Some of the ladies on there take this stuff seriously, and plan to amass enough different twinchies to combine into a wall hanging or something similar.  That part felt like a lot of commitment (how many swaps does that take, Mr. Owl?), but piecing together four patches for a partner?  No sweat.

My partner provided me with a list of five areas of interest, and since I didn’t feel quite capable of translating Harry Potter characters into felt, I chose her “things from the sea” theme.

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The jellyfish turned out to be my partner’s favourite, though it was the least-embellished.  The floaty tentacles are stem-stitched, using Petite Treasure Braid from Rainbow Gallery.

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This was the first one I completed.  I was so excited to have a use for all those beads I kept after my jewelry-making phase in high school!

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“Especially seahorses” showed up on my partner’s swap questionnaire as an addendum to “things from the sea”, so I delivered.  The colours remind me a bit of Pinkie Pie (My Little Sea Pony?).

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I think this one was my favourite.  I appliquéd the black stripes onto the yellow fish shape, and then backstitched the fin detail.

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All together.  Because the squares were 2″ x 2″, each creature is about 1.5″ – 1.75″ at its widest spot.

As always, thanks for looking! 🙂

* What’s a Smoot?  Glad you asked!

Oh, George Harrison…[sigh]  I had Beatles tunes running through my head a lot while working on my latest project.

A few weeks back, I decided to participate in my first organized swap on Craftster.  I had always felt a little intimidated before: what if what I made wasn’t good enough and looked like the efforts of a dexterity-challenged preschooler?  Some of the crafters on there are crazy talented, and fill a swap box like nobody’s business.  The pressure!

When I saw the Box of Sunshine Swap open for sign-ups, I knew I had found my swap.  This was to be low-cost and low-stress: five or six items, a few hours of crafting, nothing too outrageous.  The only other guideline was that items – crafted or otherwise – should ideally be in warm, sunny shades of yellow and orange, so that the recipient might open a box of sunshine to cheer up a gloomy winter day.  I could do that!  And who doesn’t love getting cheery mail?

Although I dabble in a variety of crafts, longtime readers of this blog will know that needlework, and cross-stitch in particular, is my area of expertise (?).  I spent ages trawling through Etsy (of course) until I found this design by Sewingseed.  Whole stitches only, no backstitch?  Yes, please!

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I didn’t much care for the steel grey fabric used in the original stitched piece – but I get it, it’s to illustrate the sun breaking through a grey sky – and instead substituted some 28-count Summer Sky hiding in my stash.  I also altered the colours oh-so-slightly, on “comes the”since the original ultra-light yellow would have been lost on my fabric.

I love how this turned out!  It’s the perfect harbinger of spring days ahead, and I had a lot of fun stitching something that I might not ordinarily stitch for myself or for someone in my usual circle of craftiness (although I do have more Summer Sky, so one never knows).

Have I opened a Pandora’s Box of swapping?  Stay tuned…

Thanks for looking! 🙂

…my true love gave to me: a hedgehog to hang on the tree!

I’ve probably mentioned on here before that my mother collects all things hedgehog.  As such, I try to accommodate her on special occasions: there have been hedgehog birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, cakes, t-shirts…

Fast-forward to the Christmas crafting season, when I realized the project I had originally picked out was simply not going to be finished by December 25.  (That’s okay, folks, her birthday is coming up shortly, so I like to think of it as having a head start on that.)  While entering random keywords on Etsy at work one day, I stumbled across trellis & thyme, who, wonder of wonders, boasted a PDF hedgehog ornament pattern in their shop.

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It’s difficult to tell in the photo, but he has little prickles embroidered all around his front side.  The pattern instructions indicated these should be placed randomly, but…I can’t handle random.  So instead, they run in two staggered-but-kinda-concentric circles around his underside.

As always, thanks for looking – and may your holiday crafting be running on-schedule.  🙂

(Typical Millennial: “Jerry who?”  Just Youtube “jerry lewis typewriter”, kids.)

It all started like this: my friend Jeanette is a writer by trade – and yes, I am terribly jealous – and has a writerly affinity for typewriters.  As the weather turned cooler and one could utter the word “Christmas” without being pelted by tomatoes, I started searching about for a suitable gift.  I had two criteria: it shouldn’t be too grand, so as to not embarrass the recipient or strain my budget; and it should be easily and inexpensively shipped internationally.

My first thought had been a Christmas ornament of some sort, but a quick search revealed that most available were either overpriced or underwhelming, or both.  Also, while a hard clay ornament might have been okay to ship internationally had an appropriate one been found, the thought of a blown glass one made me nervous.  I did see a cute necklace online, but that seemed just a little personal.  Could I make something instead?

Thank heavens for Urban Threads.  I found a simple hand embroidery pattern on their site, and a charcoal-gray tea towel in my stash.  And all households need at least one hand-embroidered kitchen linen, right?

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The picture makes the towel look lighter than it really is.  I chose the colours I did to really pop against the gray, with just a hint of silver metallic on what I believe are called the typebars, plus the little doohickey on the right hand side.  It came out looking really great, but my stars, the 39 little keys just about killed me!  Also, for any embroiderers or aspiring embroiderers out there: watch the surface you choose.  This particular towel has ribbing (or cabling?), and although it adds to the tactile appeal, those darned keys came out a little wobbly looking if they happened to fall on a cable.

And now, for a little comic relief:

I shake de tree.

May 5, 2012

Sshhhh!  This is a top-secret sneak preview of a little something I whipped up for Mother’s Day, so think of this as an advance screening.

You may recall that a couple of years ago I embroidered a Swedish Chef towel for my mother’s birthday.  He still gets a lot of use, but it’s seemed to me that he could use a companion towel – most of our other tea towels come in pairs, except for the poor, lonely Chef.  So, bork-bork-bork, I decided to embroider the squirrel design from Sublime Stitching’s Forest Friends pack.

At this point, you’re probably questioning the connection.  Why not another Muppet, or something more kitchen-y?  Well, it all started like this: the very first episode of The Muppet Show that I remember seeing was the one guest-starring John Denver, with a camping theme.  In this one, the Swedish Chef has traded his kitchen for a little set-up in the woods, and has decided to make squirrel stew.  I can’t do it justice; just watch the video.

Now that it all makes a little more sense, on with the towel:

Here it is, posing on the oven door.

A better view of the stitching.  It’s done mostly in stem stitch with the little tufty fur bits in backstitch, and a hint of satin stitch to keep it interesting.

I also got some baking done!  (Although this is not for Mother’s Day.)  Behold, the Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins from Veganomicon:

Truly, I have no future with the Muppets, as I didn’t haphazardly fling a single ingredient while making these.  🙂

I made my parents a toaster bag for their anniversary.  A what?  Toaster bag.  Due to a severe lack of counter space in the kitchen, the toaster lives in the pantry when not in use.  In the interest of keeping dust off it and keeping crumb-tray detritus off of everything else, it was generally stored in a repurposed bag from some store or other.  And, you know, the plastic bag worked just fine, but it lacked pizazz, so I decided a sturdy, washable fabric bag was in order.  When I presented it to them they were pleased (really!), and then my mom made an offhanded comment about having a cute toaster embroidery pattern “like the pot you did” (referring to the Aunt Martha’s “Animated Kitchenware” pattern I did on an apron for myself).

Aunt Martha’s “Animated Kitchenware”, alas, is limited to pots and pans and their ilk; no fancy plug-in appliances.  I checked out Sublime Stitching’s “Krazy Kitchen” sheet, but no toaster there, either.  Boo.  And then…I remembered downloading a peanut butter and jelly pattern from Urban Threads some time back.  Of course!  A bread-based design would work just as well, wouldn’t it?

The hearts make it so anniversary-appropriate!  This was my first attempt at crayon tinting, and I’m really pleased with how it came out.

For a better idea of the whole project and its dimensions.

Being used for its exact purpose.

So, over the winter I took a Swing Dancercise class through the city’s leisure guide…basically, an hour of aerobics with swing-based footwork and a little choreography thrown in for fun.  I won’t be winning any dance contests anytime soon with what I’ve learned, since this was a no-partner-required deal, but hey, it got me off the couch for an hour a week.  The instructor made it really fun, too, always kept things upbeat.

When I rediscovered Sublime Stitching’s Roaring Twenties patterns in my stash, I decided she needed a little goodbye present, since our last class was rapidly approaching.  One of the dances we had learned was the Charleston, and that appeared to be just what this dancer was doing, so onto a tea towel she went!  (Besides, no kitchen should be without one of these!)

Action shot on my stove:

And a close-up of the stitching:

It’s mostly backstitch, with a little satin stitch and a few French knots thrown in for good measure.  Her dress and gold accessories were done in Petite Treasure Braid metallics, which are honestly the best metallic threads I’ve ever used.  Pricey, but worth it.

And her garter matches her shoes….eeee!!

Somehow, National Embroidery Month (known to the non-crafty types as “February”) almost slipped right by me with nary a stitch in sight.  Oops.  I started this on the 27th, and although I did not manage to finish it before the month was up, that was easily accomplished this past weekend (the first of National Craft Month – that still counts, right?).

Nothing too fancy, I’m afraid.  It started its life in my household as a rather plain white apron with inexplicably yellow pockets.  The bib needed something, though.  One Aunt Martha’s Animated Kitchenware transfer and a few old movies’ worth of embroidering later:

Action shot.  The bowl is empty, but I assure you, I did bake cookies later on.

Close-up.  Mostly comprised of stem stitch, with a little backstitch and satin stitch thrown in for interest.  Please excuse the distorted colours; thin white fabric over a red t-shirt will tend to do that.

I can’t help but feel it would make a lovely accompaniment to Rachael’s tea towels.  Too bad I’m not giving it up!

Birthday Bonanza

January 31, 2010

Update: I was finally able to give the birth sampler/card to my coworker last week, more than a month after the baby was born, but no matter…

My mumsie’s birthday was also last week; naturally, much home-made goodness was in the works.  I made her blue velvet cupcakes (blue is her favourite colour) with vanilla-coconut buttercream frosting.  It’s kind of hard to tell in the photo what colour they are, but trust me, they’re blue.

I think that icing may be my favourite thing that I’ve ever made…all coconutty and yummy…

She still collects hedgehogs, so a hand-stitched card was a must:

It’s from issue 216 (I think!) of Cross Stitcher, and originally said “Nice Cross Stitch”, but I took some artistic liberties with it.  I still have a baby-sized callous on my finger from doing the backstitch on that.  Uurgh.  Trying to pierce the fabric where there’s no hole and it plainly doesn’t want to be pierced becomes old after a while.  Still, I think the end justified the means.

For the next piece, you must understand that “Bork” is a verb in our household, and not just an interjection.  In the kitchen, dropping, spilling, or mixing vigorously and flinging, well, anything, will cause someone to yell, “You borked the ice cream/potatoes/toast!”  (Much as the Swedish Chef yells “Bork, bork, bork!” just before he sends his utensils flying.)  She “got it” as soon as she opened it, and I daresay as custom designs/projects go, this was one of the best.  Also simplest.

It’s on one of those awesome tea towels from Sublime Stitching which was an absolute dream to work on, and is currently brightening up the oven door.

As always, thanks for looking!

I took a break from my many U.F.O.s (on which more at some later date, assuming I actually manage to finish one) to work up a couple of onesies for a girl in my bowling league who is very, very pregnant – due April 22, our last night of the season.

What else but Sublime Stitching’s Bowling Betties pattern sheet would fit the bill?

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And since I managed not to screw that one up, and had a spare one (get it?  Spare?) left over, I found a cute kitten pattern from the Sublime Stitching book, and made it as gender-neutral as possible.

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If nothing else, this experience has taught me that although they may meet the length/weight requirements outlined on the hang tag, cats are not crazy about being stuffed into onesies (this was before I washed them, before I got to the actual embroidering).  It does something to their balance, much like putting a harness on one for the first time, and will cause them to fall off the couch onto the floor, and they will not understand what they did to deserve that.  She’s okay, she was just a little surprised, I think.  🙂

Oh, but back to the subject at hand: I presented them to her on Wednesday, in case she decided to pop early, and she loved them!  Her teammates were cooing over them, and they couldn’t believe I had done the embroidery by hand.  I love it when a few stitches can wow an audience.