craftmas, General Sewing, Other Crafts

On the third day of Craftmas…

…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.  🙂

Other Crafts

Far out, man!

When I was a Young Person™, I went through a massive hippie phase, but in the whitest, most uptight way possible.  No illicit drugs or free love for this honey badger; my hippiedom was confined to doodling peace signs and rikki-tikki flowers on my notebooks, wailing along with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and bemoaning the fact that I never got to Woodstock despite having parents who were barely old enough to attend (an older, more self-aware Witty Child knows this was probably for the best, since I like hygiene and dislike crowds, but still…all those musical acts…).  Oh, and tie-dyeing like it was going out of style (it was).  I eventually stopped doing it when I ran out of places to wear it and people to give it to, but still always liked the look of it.

When I found out from my friend a few months ago that he had tried it as a child, with limited success due to some faulty technique on his mother’s part, I decided it was time to break out the rubber bands again.  We turned his apartment into a sweatshop – literally: it was boiling hot out-of-doors, and because we were situated on the linoleum floor of the hallway in order to minimize damage from drips and to allow access to both the kitchen and bathroom faucets, neither of us benefited from any breeze the open windows might have provided – and got our hippie on.

We had to soak the shirts in soda ash in batches due to space constraints, but found that each 20-minute soak was approximately just enough time to get the current shirt finished and wrapped in plastic, and rinse off our gloved hands before starting all over again.

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Not exactly awe-inspiring, are they?  In order to shower, he had to gingerly remove them and try not to drip dye out of the ends while they did their overnight soak.

But when he unfurled them and rinsed them out the next morning, well:

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Has anyone ever tried this with children?  I’m appalled that they market some of these kits as a fun birthday party or day camp activity, considering the mess that two grown adults with fully developed motor skills made.  I can’t imagine that being relaxing!

This has slaked my craving for a while, but I’d like to get my hands on a softer, cotton-poly blend shirt rather than the $4 Fruit of the Loom special from the men’s department at Wal-Mart – now that we’ve got our technique down, spending a little extra on raw textiles wouldn’t break my heart.

Thanks for looking…and peace out! 🙂

General Sewing, Other Crafts

Tin roof, rusted

Back in February, I was sick.  Not seriously, but my cold/flu-like symptoms showed up around Valentine’s Day and eventually caused me to miss five days of work – and that never happens.  I spent a lot of time spaced out on the couch, or heading down for a 12:30 nap (I miss the naps), and I discovered that fuzziness from sleeping poorly, when combined with fuzziness from a cocktail of over-the-counter and prescription medications, makes me prone to buying stuff online with little regard for whether I need it.  I bought this, for example.  And when I got an e-mail from Etsy touting last-minute instant-download Valentine’s gifts, well, that was just asking for trouble.

I bought a Love Elephant.

Whyyyy?  I certainly didn’t need another stuffed animal, or another sewing project.  But hey, there I was, with my freshly printed PDF pattern.  I promptly “filed” it and forgot about it (hooray for NeoCitran!), until my friend was over one evening some time later and saw it.  He had recently been through a bad breakup – that is to say, they’re definitely over, but she keeps popping up like a bad penny – and I thought he could use something to cuddle, so it was off to the fabric store for us to find a suitable colour of fleece.

The end result:

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The recipient has named him “Cupcake”.  But before he went to his new home, he spent some time exploring the jungles of the back yard.

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I’m really quite pleased with the finished product.  I made a few changes: for example, I was too lazy to add the extra centimetre recommended for a seam allowance, so he is oh-so-slightly smaller than he ought to be, but with no adverse effects.  And because I was using a slightly more “masculine” colour and left the hearts off the ears, “Love Elephant” didn’t seem appropriate, so I came to think of him as the “Love Pach” (as in, pachyderm), which might have been a mistake as it led to a B52s earworm like you wouldn’t believe.

Cupcake’s owner thinks he’s the berries, and is fitting in well in his new home by all accounts.

Thanks for looking!

General Sewing, Other Crafts

Cleanliness is next to…patriotism?

I’ve always been drawn to those nifty kitchen towels with the crocheted tops that allow one to hang them from a handy hook on a kitchen cabinet or drawer pull – I think it’s because my grandmother used to make them, and we always had one around the house.  The only problem was that up until recently, I didn’t know how to crochet (this has since been remedied); discovering that you can sew a fabric topper pretty much opened up a whole new crafty avenue to me.

I had the perfect fabric in my stash: a cool, sparkly American flag-patterned cotton that’s a bit bold in large doses but adds just the right dose of flair to an otherwise utilitarian object.

Hanging in the backyard:

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I’ve put these for sale in my Etsy shop – I think they’d make a lovely hostess gift with the summer party/barbeque season heating up.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, General Sewing, Other Crafts

On the second day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me a parliament of owls for the tree!

(You just know I’ve been waiting for a chance to use one of those esoteric collective nouns.)

My Rules for Mailing are pretty simple: any items being sent by post should be easily replaced i.e. not one-of-a-kind or otherwise difficult to produce or procure, fairly inexpensive, and as small and light as possible to keep postage costs down.  With these criteria in mind, it was decided that my friend Jeanette would be getting a coordinating set of felt owl ornaments for Christmas.

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I followed the tutorial found here, with a few tweaks: I replaced the button pupils with black fabric paint, and dispensed altogether with the rick-rack tummy feathers.  And although I’m normally loath to use colour palettes that are too trendy and risk dating themselves, I must admit that choosing these four complementary colours of felt made it easy to make a matched set but keep each individual owl just a little bit different.

They took a moment to pause for a picture in the cedar tree in my backyard before settling into a bubble envelope for their cross-border trip. 🙂

Other Crafts

And now for something completely different

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!”

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(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.

Other Crafts

That’s it! Back to Winnipeg!

Hello, dear readers and crafters, and let me be the first (probably) to wish you a very Happy Grammar Day!

Having a fairly relaxed dress code, I wanted to do something wearable to mark the big day this year.  I saw a t-shirt eerily similar (ahem) to the one below on a website, and knew it was perfect.  They had a little blurb asking customers to contact them regarding international shipping rates, so I sent a very polite message doing just that…and never heard back.  (Still haven’t.)  Either they’re extremely skittish about shipping to Canada (“But the dollar is so low!  How will she afford it?  How will she afford it?”), or they’re now completely defunct.  In either case, when it became readily apparent I wasn’t going to be finding a parcel in my mailbox in time for March 4, I took matters into my own hands.  I’m crafty like that.

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Yes!  Something to combine my love of The Simpsons (as it used to be, anyway) with my inherent grammar geekiness!  The shirt is just a standard men’s crewneck from Old Navy, and I used Tulip soft fabric paint for the logo.  I would love to learn how to screen print to get cleaner lines, but overall, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out.

Fun fact: although the purely fictitious National Grammar Rodeo from the episode “Bart on the Road” was to be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto, the original artist apparently decided this needed more of a Calgary vibe.

And because I know you’re all dying to know: yes, Andy Williams was on heavy constant rotation while I painted this. 🙂

baking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery, Other Crafts

Pink cake and orange cat

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?

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

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

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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:

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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!

Other Crafts

And don’t get me started on bad spelling…

Hidely-ho, grammarinos!

For the past few years, National Grammar Day has come and gone without my even noticing.  This had to stop!  I’m a huge grammar geek, and knew that this year I would have to do something to commemorate this holiest of holidays.  On Sunday, I took a break from my math lab (more scholarly and less financially productive than a meth lab, for what it’s worth), and came up with this:

bad grammar towel

The wording is hardly original, but I try not to let that bother me.  I typed the text out in Word, then traced it onto my towel and went over the words with Aunt Martha’s ball-point paints.

Now I just need another grammar quote so that I can make a partner for this one…