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! 🙂

(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:

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:

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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…

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.  🙂

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!!

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!