Remember my twinchies?  Gah, that seems like forever ago.  (“Time’s fun when you’re having flies.” – Kermit the Frog)

Anyway, I had so much fun making them that when another round of the twinchie swap appeared on Craftster, with send-outs in September, joining in was a no-brainer.  I might be a bit late in posting these, but think of them as undiscovered gems.

My partner had a variety of themes offered as suggestions, and I was thisclose to running with Bob’s Burgers – can’t you just picture Louise’s bunny ears immortalized in four square inches of felt?! – when I saw that she also had Muppets on her list.  In that moment, the first coherent thought in my brain was, “Beaker!”

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That was followed a split-second later by, “Bunsen!”

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It wasn’t until I began trawling the internet for source images to use, scrolling past picture after picture of Dr. Honeydew, that I realized with a start that he bears a striking resemblance to my dad’s old boss, only slightly more green.  I tried to find a picture of him, but came up empty-handed, so you’ll have to take my word on this.

With Bunsen n’ Beaker done, how could I round out my quartet?  Statler and Waldorf would have been fun, and practically begged to have a note included in my swap package complaining about what terrible needlework this was (“Ha ha ha!”), but they didn’t feel as iconic to me as some of the other Muppets.

Iconic Muppet?  Why, that would be…

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Miss Piggy was the most challenging of the four, I found.  Her various pieces felt a bit more jigsaw-y to me than the others, and trying to capture that heavy-lidded look on a very small canvas wasn’t easy.  But the sparkly fuchsia background seems perfect for the self-proclaimed star of the show, and there’s a joke in there somewhere about casting one’s pearls before swine, but I haven’t found it…  (Comments welcome below.)

Knowing that my partner had already received a Kermit twinchie in the previous round, I couldn’t grab for the low-hanging fruit for my last piece.  Instead…drumroll, please…

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Big Bird!  Stitching him up made me so happy!  The bright yellow and blue felt, the thin lines of blue and pink around his eyes to make them pop…and those fun little feathers on top of his head to add some texture to the whole deal.

All together:

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They made it to my partner with all their embellishments intact, and had me envisioning an entire installation of felt Muppet portraits…

Thanks for looking! 🙂

(with apologies to Paul Simon)

“Your problem is trying to be too nice,” she said to me.

“You’ll find it easier if you’ll only be snarky.

It’s just the simplest way to get yourself set free –

Just use snarky ways to leave your lover.”

She said, “Some people think that ‘snarky’ equals ‘rude’.

In fact, some puritans would have it labelled ‘lewd’.

But nuts to them!  I say, who needs their attitude?

Embrace those snarky ways to leave your lover.”

CHORUS

Just tell him, “Nope, dope.”

“Can you not, Scott?”

“Would you go away, hey,

And let me be.”

I said, “No way, Jay!”

“OMG, ewww, Lou.”

What else can I say, hey,

Except for, “Bite me.”

She said, “Don’t let your conscience tell you that it’s wrong.

I hope you’ll see the light before I end this song.”

I said, “That’s great and all, but won’t it take too long

To learn these snarky ways…?”

She said, “Just try to find your inner snark tonight,

And I believe that your man-child will be gone without a fight.”

And then she left me, and I realized she probably was right

‘Bout using snarky ways to leave your lover.

(repeat CHORUS)

Soooo, I signed up for the Be My Snarky Valentine swap on Craftster, after having to sit out the Christmas edition due to having about a dozen other things to try to get done.  But all I really have to do on Valentine’s Day is show up to work (because it’s a weekday, not because I work in a Valentine-specific industry), so I figured I could swing this one.  We each had to craft one small, snarky item plus one snarky card for our partner.

While I typically find Valentine’s Day a bit annoying (and hence the appeal of a snarky swap), I’ve always liked the aesthetic of conversation hearts.  Heck, I don’t even mind eating them, although they tend toward chalky.  I’ve even been known to paint my nails in the same colours and stage ridiculous manicure shoots at my desk:

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(Seriously, what did we do before smartphones?  How did we document the inanity?)

So it seemed like a no-brainer for me to incorporate them into my snarky swap package, somehow.  Fortunately, my partner said she likes pastels, so I thought a mini felt garland might be in order.

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Each heart is about 3 inches across at the widest points – I didn’t think to measure them – and are spaced 4 inches apart, with 6 inches to the hanging loop on each side.  I cut out two hearts of each colour and then applied fusible interfacing to one before sketching on my snarky sentiments to embroider.  Once they all said something, I sandwiched the ribbon between the two hearts, and blanket-stitched around each heart to secure the ribbon in place.

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I’m also a little particular about the colours being in the proper spectrum order, or at least as close as you can get.

Because I’m a cross-stitcher at heart, that’s the approach I used for my card.

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I had some sparkly white Aida left over from my mom’s cat ornaments which was just perfect for my background.

Whatever your Valentine’s Day brings, I hope it’s better than Ralph’s. 🙂

I started my Halloween crafting early this year (as in, August).  While browsing Craftster one day, I saw sign-ups for a Vintage Halloween Swap and promptly submitted my information.  (It’s so much easier to rush the season if you’ve got a whole gang of Halloween-crazed crafters with you.  In fact, I’d argue this was hardly rushing it at all, considering some grocery stores are selling eggnog.  Yes, the Christmas beverage.)

My partner indicated she didn’t have a specific era of vintage in mind – which made my job simultaneously easier and more difficult – but mentioned that she was setting up a Halloween tree in her house this year and would like something to hang on it.

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I found the patterns for these guys on Etsy.  The set also included a cat and a piece of candy corn (neither of which were included in my partner’s preferred motifs).  Their original size was approximately 2 1/2 – 3″ at the widest point; I scanned each pattern piece at 150% to get a slightly more substantial finished product.  It’s really hard to see all the details in the photo, but trust me when I say:

  • the jack o’lantern’s features and the bat’s eyes are sparkly
  • the bat’s wing veins and blanket stitching are metallic purple (the better to glint off the Halloween tree lights, if there are any)
  • the ghost’s blanket stitching plus the bat’s fangs might look benign, but in fact glow in the dark.  I did not get a shot of them glowing, sorry.

The pompom garland was a happy eleventh-hour addition.  I was cruising the store for some little extras to tuck into her package when I happened upon bags of Halloween-themed pompoms, and couldn’t resist them.

They made a cute Halloween tree starter-set, but I was concerned that nothing had a truly vintage feel, which is why I started browsing Pinterest for vintage embroidery patterns.

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Because doesn’t everyone need a hand-embroidered tea towel?  I kept this pretty simple, with backstitch for pretty much everything except a little satin stitch to give the carving a warm, glow-y feeling.

It was a spook-tacular (sorry!) start to the Halloween season; stay tuned for more.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

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!!