Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Okay, it's October 31st. My month-long binge crafting experiment is officially over. Despite some whining there towards the end, I think that overall, my first ArtSoMoFo Poseur adventure was a success.

I like having creativity as a part of my daily routine, but I think I'll still give myself the occasional day off (I miss reading).

I left off on Day 22. This is how I finished out the month...

Day 23 (10/23/06)

I cast on for my revised ginormous-head edition Fetching hat. I only made it through the first cable round, but it's a start.

Day 24 (10/24/06)

I made it through cable round 2 on the Fetching hat. Those little 2x2 cables take me forever. I also packaged up some notecards for s&em designs. Some of these will be sent out along with our mini-button idea books for the Sampler. They are pretty simple but hopefully are the sort of thing people will be excited to find in their mailboxes.

Day 25 (10/25/06)

I worked on a top secret project for my knitty CASP3 pal. I griped about this earlier when my pen broke - but I still can't show you what I made.

Instead I'll show you the super awesome package my secret pal sent to me. Mail is the greatest.

She sent me some delicious smelling candies, a candle, some garlic (should come in handy for experimental cooking nights) and a coupon for free stuff at Bath & Body Works. Not sure what I'm going to get yet, but I'm sure it will smell yummy too. She also sent me an amaryllis plant.

I potted it over the weekend. My last attempt at gardening didn't go so well, but I have high hopes for this guy. If all goes well, it should bloom just after Christmas when all of the decorations are down and the house seems so dreary.

(I hope Maddie doesn't eat it)

Day 26 (10/26/06)

A bit more work on my Fetching hat and I made some banana bread. Although in truth the bread had more to do with my inability to eat produce in a timely manner than creative endeavors, I think it still counts.

Day 27 (10/27/06)

I worked on a few top secret graphic design projects. I had good intentions to knit, but later thought a third beer during movie night sounded like a better idea. (Sarah + three beers + pointy sticks = bad news)

Day 28 (10/28/06)

More hat knitting. Things have progressed more quickly since I finished the cables, but it is still pretty slow going. This may be a sign that I need to learn continental knitting so I can speed up, but our weather is back up in the 70s so hat delays don't seem so critical just now.

Day 29 (10/29/06)

This is when I made Maddie's candy corn costume.

Day 30 (10/30/06)

I did a bit of experimental cooking - lemon chicken with a bit of a free-for-all from the spice rack. It came out pretty good, although I wished I had grilled it rather than baked it. The flavor was missing something, and I think that something was fire.

I also knit a few more rounds on my Fetching hat, but I suspect that you are sick of me saying that with no pictures to show for it.

Day 31 (10/31/06)

I made it! All I did today was knit one round on my hat before heading in to work, but I feel like that's enough to get my check mark for the day. I should have some time to knit more tonight after I parade Maddie around the neighborhood in her little outfit, but I didn't want to wait to post.

Done! Finito! 31 days of crafting (well, okay, only 29 since I blew it that one weekend, but that's pretty close).

Lots more crafting to come, although with slightly fewer anal retentive timelines. Bring on Lacevember!

Happy Halloween, y'all.

I see your candy corn...and raise you a ladybug!

C'mon...anyone can wrastle 12 pounds into a costume...but an 80 pound labrador...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trick or Treat!

If we had not already established that I am one of those dog owners, this should seal the deal.

I have a thing about candy corn. Every year at this time, I absolutely crave it. And when I get it, the first handful is the most delicious thing in the world. The second handful tends to be so sickeningly sweet that I don't need to eat candy corn again for another year. It's not a perfect system, but it's mine.

But this year I thought I would try to find a safer and craftier alternative to the second handful of candy corn. Laural from thimble has been kind enough to collect all kinds of Halloween project ideas and post them on her site. Candy corn seemed to be a recurring theme (makes sense - it is a pretty easily recognized symbol of the season and you can't get a much simpler pattern than a striped triangle).

And then poor Madeline walks by, thinking we were going to play fetch only to become the victim of my craftiness.

So $0.60 worth of felt and $0.25 worth of embroidery floss later, here is Madeline modeling her candy corn costume.

You probably could make a more elaborate costume using a dog sweater as a template, but I think it is easier to justify making your dog wear a Halloween costume if it costs less than $1. This is how Maddie's is constructed:

Simple felt stripes stitched together with embroidery floss. You could glue this, but I had a little cross stitch nostalgia going on. Crisscrossed elastic bands hold it in place across her chest.

For people or dolls, you could just make two of these and stitch them into a simple smock. I thought this would be a fun little costume for one of those American Girls dolls that are so popular, but I'm not a 9 year old girl or the parent of a 9 year old girl, so I had to embarrass my dog instead.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Are we there yet?

The month is almost over, right? This ArtSoMoPo thing is killing me.

This is what arbitrary self-imposed crafting deadlines will get you:

My pen exploded. I have washed and scrubbed my hands repeatedly and it just won't come off. Grr. I was working on something for my secret pal, so I can't even show you the project that led to my ridiculous stained hands. (It was pretty cute though - you'll have to take my word for it)

Plus, I stayed up too late last night to finish my bit of craftiness for the day, so now I'm tired. Is it November yet?

Okay, enough whining. I've got to go wash my hands again.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Falling off the crafting wagon

With more than a week left to go on my ArtSoMoPo month-long creativity binge, things have come a bit unhinged. But I'm back up on the bandwagon now, so I think I can finish out the month.

I left off on Day 12 (10/12/06)

That evening I made some brownies for tailgating on Saturday. That wasn't an especially creative endeavor though since they were from a mix. For what it's worth, Betty Crocker Original Fudge Brownie Mix makes the best brownies. Skip the chocolate chunks and peanut butter and stuff - the plain jane ones are tough to beat. Sure, I could sift cocoa and flour and make these from scratch, but I actually prefer the short cut ones.

To round out the day, I also learned to knit i-cord. Okay I get that it is called idiot cord for a reason and this is actually easier than making brownies from a mix, but I hadn't done it before. New skills are always a good thing - even mortifyingly simple new skills.

Day 13 (10/13/06)

Rather than waste a perfectly good Friday the 13th (in October, no less!) I had some friends over for dinner and scary movies. This ate up a bunch of my evening, but I did make a bit more i-cord and sketched out a template for some felt Christmas ornaments.

Day 14 (10/14/06)

Okay, are you sensing that my creative endeavors are getting a bit paltry? Things hit a new low on Saturday when all I managed to make was a batch of break-and-bake cookies to go with the brownies for tailgating. I was feeling a bit Martha, so all of the brownies and cookies were individually wrapped in plastic for extra tailgating convenience and portability. It also made it easier to pawn leftovers off on my friends - a safer option than being left to my own devices with half a pan of leftover brownies. Alas, Saran Wrap doesn't really make the creative output for the day any more impressive.

Day 15 (10/15/06)

I made some Christmas ornaments using Friday's template and played with my cashmere felt a bit more. Can't show you the results yet, but I swear - there was actual crafting.

This is also when I made the Halloween candle wraps I posted about last week. Here they are again:

Day 16 (10/16/06)

I am really taken with the knitty pattern for Fetching fingerless gloves. I just really like the little cables and the 4x1 ribbing. I've decided I want to make a hat to match Fetching, so I spent the evening swatching possible decreases for the hat.

I've only made stockinette hats before, so I needed to figure out how to make the ribs merge into one another so that it actually looked nice. Someone else may have a better plan for this, but for my part, I thought

K4 P1 K4 P1
K7 P1
K4 P1

worked well for merging 2 ribs into 1 rib.

I also worked out a pattern for decreasing the ribbing as above based on 100 stitches - which according to my gauge swatch and a couple of average hat patterns seemed like the right amount. (Did you catch that mistake? I planned to copy the measurements of another pattern rather than measure my actual head)

I also played around a bit with my camera's macro function (Thanks to Turtlegirl's helpful suggestion for improved yarn pictures on the knittyboard). I need a lot more practice, but I think my candle wrap pics were a bit of an improvement.

This is the pretty pink yarn from my CASP3 secret pal without the benefit of direct sunlight. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. It helps that I could rest the camera on the table when I took the picture. If you want knitting glamour shots, you're still better off going here, but at least now you'll be able to see what the heck I'm talking about.

Day 17 (10/17/06)

I cast on my 100 stitches and made it through the first cable row for my Fetching hat. Twenty itty-bitty cables takes a while. When I was done, I couldn't help but think it looked a little small, so I transferred the stitches to waste yarn and tried on my hat-to-be.

Sigh. Apparently, I have a ginormous head. What would be a normal sized women's hat looked ridiculous. The sad little cables were terrified that I was going to ask them to stretch further. So, frogging.

I did make another ornament, so the day wasn't a total loss.

Day 18 (10/18/06)

I made more of the mini-button idea books. This is what they look like (in case you forgot or have noticed the relative absence of pictures in this post):

Day 19 (10/19/06)

A little light on the crafting - I re-planned my Fetching hat decreases, this time for 120 stitches and enough ribbing for my giant melon. Most of the evening was spent cleaning my house for out-of-town guests.

Day 20 and Day 21

I got nothing. I didn't even make coffee. My parents were in town for the weekend, so there was much visiting, but no crafting. We went to some galleries and looked at art on Saturday - does that count? Yeah, I didn't think so. Totally fell off the ArtSoMoFo Poseur wagon - which is worrisome when you figure that I was the only one on the ArtSoMoPo wagon to begin with. Who was left to steer?

Day 22 (10/22/06)

Here we go, back on track. I finished the remainder of the button books and I started knitting my giant size Fetching hat.

I think I should be able to be crafty for the rest of the month. More updates and pictures soon.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fancy Pants Website

Okay, so we're not that fancy yet, but we're learning.

We've made a couple of changes around here. We've added an email button over there on the right. Or as always, you can comment on any of our posts. We love comments. We love email. We love to hear about your crafty adventures and project ideas, so drop us a line. (for the record, we don't love pharmaceuticals, stock tips or other spammy messages, so please don't send those)

We've also updated our links. There are lots and lots of great blogs out there, but these are the ones we like. We tried to organize them by craft, but it's not a perfect system. The thing about creative people is that they are always surprising you and doing different things - which makes for great reading but is not so good for filing systems.

One of these days we'll actually understand html, then there will be no stopping us. Until then, enjoy the fancy pants new linkies.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Holiday Crafting, Part 3 - Wait, you need how many?

T-minus less than 10 weeks until Christmas. How are those holiday craft projects coming?

A few years ago I started a new job in late autumn. Two months later, I discovered that their holiday tradition was for everyone in the office to bring in a small gift for everyone else in the office. I discovered this about two days before we all left for Christmas break when coworkers 2 and 3 presented their gifts.

Seriously? I had thought coworker 1 was a fluke. So the pressure was suddenly on for the new girl to come up with something for the rest of the office.

The criteria were it had to be (a) fast and (2) cheap as I was running out of time and had pretty much already expended my Christmas budget.

The solution I came up with was holiday candle wraps. Should you find yourself with a mile-long gift list or in need of two dozen hostess gifts, you may want to whip a few of these up yourself. And should you work in an office where everyone gives everyone a Christmas present, please, somebody warn the new girl.

So, step one is to check your local craft store for some standard issue glass votive cups. I have seen boxes of these in with the wedding stuff - and this project would certainly be pretty easy to adapt for wedding or shower favors. It's also worth checking the clearance shelf in the candle aisle - which is where I found these. I think they were 3 for $1.

The only other ingredients you need are some fancy paper (I used red and gold vellum) and a few tea lights.

Cut the vellum into 2 inch x 6 inch rectangles and cut an occasion-appropriate shape in the middle. If you have a few extra bucks and are making a lot of these, you may want to pick up a fancy paper punch to speed things along. I bought a star punch since it seemed like a shape I could use again - but trees, presents, wreaths or anything from the clearance bin would work.

I used a bit of gold beading wire to secure the vellum around the votive cups. You could use leftover bits of fiber, ribbon, beads or whatever you have on hand to fancy it up. Or, you could could just use a bit of scotch tape along the back where no one will see - it's totally your call.

To illustrate the super budget version, I made a few Halloween-themed candle wraps the other day. These are just strips of orange paper taped around the back of the candle holder. I sketched a quick picture on the back of the paper and cut it out with an exacto knife.

Admittedly, the bat signal would have been cooler if I used black paper, but I didn't have any in the house. But even these basic versions look pretty cool when you light the candles and turn out the lights.

How fun would these be lined up on a window sill or on the vanity in the guest bath? A little festive flair for an otherwise neglected corner of the house.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

12 Days and Counting...

My 31 day creativity binge is still going strong. So far it has been a lot of smaller projects. I've had some ideas for bigger things, but haven't had the time to tackle them yet. I didn't realize how hard it would be to carve out time for craftiness some days. Still, all in all, I'm pretty pleased with the "make something every day" concept.

I left off on Day 6 (10/6/06)

My friend Kim, her daughter and I went to the new Archivers store at the mall. It was huge. I am new enough to scrapbooking and cardmaking that the two aisles at Michael's has more than enough new and exciting things to keep me going for a while. An entire store was a bit overwhelming - I didn't even make it as far as the bargain bins in the back of the store. I could drop some serious money in there (Kim did drop some serious money in there, I made it out for under $20, so I was pretty proud of myself).

But that is just consumerism, it isn't making anything. So when I got home I started felting an old cashmere sweater. It was a beautiful color but it had (gasp!) gotten a few moth holes and really wasn't suitable for wearing to work or anyplace nice and I can't bring myself to wear cashmere for yard work. The yarn was too fine and a bit too worn to be suitable for recycling into a new knit project, so into the washing machine it went.

Day 7 (10/7/06)

Ultimately it took 4 or 5 cycles in the washing machine for the sweater to fully felt. I had removed the sleeves before I started so they wouldn't get creased during the spin cycle. I threw a pair of jeans and an old towel into the wash so the sweater would have something to bump against. For the last two cycles I decided that my hot water heater wasn't getting hot enough and added a kettle-full of just-boiled water to the wash. (I've never felted anything before, but I think I started out with a fairly typical technique and got increasingly reckless as I went on. I could get into this.)

After all that, the sweater did finally turn into the most lovely and soft felt. I'm not entirely sure how it will be reincarnated yet, but it will be something fabulous I'm sure.

And since that was kind of a carry-over project, I also made a card. But it was for my knitty CASP3 pal, so I can't show it to you. Sorry.

Day 8 (10/8/06)

Today's craft was actually official s&em designs business. These are the buttons I had ordered from ChristineRenee (man, that was fast).

They are little mini DIYer identification buttons. But because ChristineRenee rules, I didn't actually have to do all of the DIY-ing to make them. She had even put the pin backs on for me and enclosed a fun magnet surprise with my order. Seriously, if you need buttons, check out her etsy shop.

We're using the buttons to make little idea books. I used E. Bess' one shot zine tutorial to design the books. These were pretty fun to make, so who knows, we may turn this into a series.

Day 9 (10/9/06)

I wanted to try knitting toys, but to ease my way into it, I started with wonton from knitty. I figured that I have a lot of friends with kitties, it would get used somehow. I finished knitting the square, but didn't get through the finishing.

Day 10 (10/10/06)

I finished my wonton. I didn't have any catnip as I have no cats, and I'm not sure of my cat-owning friends relative positions on using catnip, so I skipped that step. Instead, I stitched a couple of jingle bells to the inside of the square before I closed it up. Makes a fun little jingly toy.

Maddie was sitting with me while I did all of this, as she often does while I knit. It didn't seem right to make a present for someone else's pet having never made anything for her. So I gave it to her to play with.

It is soft enough that she can catch it (she won't play catch with bigger/harder toys) and she seeemed to enjoy shaking it around to make the bells jingle. The bells are less annoying than most of her squeak toys, so this one gets the thumbs up from both Maddie and Sarah.

I realize this was more of a carry-over project than making something each day. But I spent my work day doing a bunch of graphic design work for a project. Since I am not a graphic designer, I'm going to say that counts.

Day 11 (10/11/06)

I started a bit of embroidery and taught myself the blanket stitch. Anyone who sews will know that this isn't particularly difficult, but I can't say that I have ever had a name for my sewing technique before. Actually, I'm not sure I have ever had a sewing technique before.

Day 12 (10/12/06)

Having learned the blanket stitch, I'll probably use this to make something tonight (note the use of the new cashmere felt above). But there's a new episode of Grey's Anatomy on, so we'll have to see what the evening holds.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Seriously, this secret pal thing rules...

Saturday was such a great day!

Michigan beat Michigan State.

The Tigers demolished the Yankees.

And my CASP3 pal sent me this awesome package. Look how pretty and sparkly everything she wrapped everything:

She sent me these cute Laura Ashley mini notecards.

And this cookbook full of shortbread recipes and an acorn cookie cutter. One of the plain shortbread recipes looked suspiciously similar to my great grandmother's recipe, so I have faith that the variations and specialty cookies will be delicious as well.

And she sent me this gorgeous pink yarn. This picture doesn't really do it justice, I'm going to have to get a better camera one of these days. But trust me, I am going to make myself something lacy and beautiful with this.

So thank you thank you thank you secret pal.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Co-op Card

Whew - I made my cards! I mailed them all back to Susan for fun, so she has four to mail out. I am also making fall cards for all participants - photo to follow!

Here is the first one. I received burgundy paper, a brown card, the turkey button, the burgundy ribbon and the gold see-thru ribbon....I added the letters. The letters are from the Dollar store. $1 for 2 alphabets. I'm not sure I'd "trust" the quality for scrapping...but great scores for carding!

Grrr - in the photo you see my tape runner under the gold vellum. It is not this noticeable in real life I SWEAR! All of this card was Susan's "crap"...but I stamped my trees onto her paper. One tree is metallic gold ink -- cool!

Ok - I was stumped on this one. In my envelope of stuff, most was "Christmas" of "fall" color families...then two neon sheets. So I added the ribbon, flowers and brads.

Seeeeee...c'mon - the neon was totally "one of these cards is not like the other" (sing it in your head). This card is all mailed items! I am unsure what the smudges are...some camera ghost.

Hope everyone thought it was fun...I'll dream up another swap soon!

The creativity binge continues...

So, previously I declared myself the sole participant in ArtSoMoPo (or ArtSoMoFo Poseur). I'm almost through week 1, but I'm afraid I don't have much to show you guys for my efforts.

Not because there haven't been efforts, mind you. But most are of a highly classified nature. To pick up where I left off,

Day 3 (cont'd)
In addition to making some toast, I weaved in all of the ends on my second Fetching wrist warmer (I may have exaggerated a bit earlier when I said they were done - NOW, they're done).

I also worked on a top secret, heavily classified project for my CASP3 secret pal. Which makes this as good a time as any to tell you that I have signed up for the third round of the Cheap A$$ Secret Pal exchange (or CASP3, get it? get it?) over on the knittyboard. The exchange will last from 10/1/06 to 1/15/07 and the basic idea is to shower your partner with love and surprises of a non-monetary nature (or very limited monetary nature) without revealing your identity.

So I can't show you what I made, but I promise that it fulfilled the requirements for my made-up challenge. As a consolation prize, I can post the button for the CASP3 exchange.

Day 4 (10/4/06)
Non-confidential crafting today. I made a layout for Maddie's puppy scrapbook.

The photo is from my previously posted obsession with Photoshop actions. Since she isn't looking at the camera, the text says "Maddie-Mads-Little Dog-Good Girl-Sassy Pants-Sugar-Mad Dog-Big Girl-Sweetheart-Crazy-Pumpkin Pie-Trouble-Baby Doll-Madeline...no wonder she's not listening"

Sorry about the flash spot in the middle of her head. I'm still working on the best way to photograph layouts.

Day 5 (10/5/06)
Sorry kids, another CASP3 secret mission. Actually an attempted CASP3 secret mission that failed miserably. But I have plans for a salvage operation - I'll let you know how it goes.

But I can share with you a very useful and informative video that my secret pal sent to me: how to make laundry seem fun and exciting.

Day 6 (10/6/06)
Louisville just got a new scrapbooking store. My friend Kim and I are going to go check it out tonight. Surely more craftiness will ensue.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Biting off more than I can chew...

A few days ago, xobscura from the knitty coffeeshop brought up ArtSoMoFo. ArtSoMoFo is something of a spin-off on the concept of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, during which a bunch of crazy souls will exploit the power of deadlines and peer pressure to try and pen a complete novel during November. Yikes. Anyone who was privy to the trite afterschool-special-y attempts at fiction I wrote during freshman English knows that I have no business trying to write a novel.

ArtSoMoFo is a little different. It stands for Art Something MoFo (I try to keep it PG around here) and takes place during October this year. The premise is simple - to create art every day during the month of October. Again, kind of high pressure. But since I do believe that everyone could use a bit more creativity in their lives, I thought I might rise to the challenge, albeit with a very loose interpretation of the word "Art."

I chose not to join the official ArtSoMoFo party. This is more of an ArtSoMoPo (ArtSoMoFo Poseur) endeavor, just in case I get two weeks in and the only thing I have made is toast.

Anyhow, this is how the month is going so far:

Day One (10/1/06)
I tried to make art in the kitchen, to limited success. A roasted chicken and vegetable experiment went terribly awry since I didn't have an onion. It really needed an onion. It didn't help that one of the vegetables I used was butternut squash. Tasty, but it had pretty much melted into baby food before any of the other vegetables were done. This was also the first time I had tried to peel a butternut squash prior to cooking it. I wouldn't have minded the mushy squash nearly as much if peeling it hadn't been such a chore.

Oh well. I had a bit more luck making bread. (So I went on a bit of a starch binge...) I used the baguette recipe in The Garden of Vegan, using 1/3 part whole wheat flour and 2/3 all purpose. Without the support of a loaf pan, the bread was kind of dense. In the future I might use a loaf pan or use a bit less wheat flour to try and get a better rise. It still tasted very good (and made excellent toast). Here it is fresh out of the oven and brushed with a little bit of butter (thereby ruining its vegan properties and rendering it delicious).

Day Two (10/2/06)
Since I was already staying up too late to watch Studio 60, I figured I would finish up my first pair of Fetching fingerless gloves from knitty. I am still pretty new at knitting in the round, having only made coffee cozies before, and I haven't made cables in a couple of years, so I didn't want to buy new yarn for these. So I used some dark green Wool Ease that I had on hand. I knew going in that this yarn wouldn't really show off the cabling, but I was okay with that for my first pair.

I also wasn't totally sure how I felt about fingerless gloves as my fingertips are frequently the cold part. But so far, I am quite liking them for walking Maddie on cool evenings. My thumbs are free to operate her retractable leash and I have much needed dexterity for any necessary cleanup. Now that I told you that, aren't you glad I didn't use super special yarn?

I'm still quite taken with the cabling and ribbing on this pattern. I have visions of making a pair of Fetching mittens and a hat using the Rowan Calmer I left over from my Branching Out. I'm not really ready to make up my own patterns yet, but if anybody finds a 4x1 ribbed hat or mitten pattern that I could splice together with Fetching, I'd love to see it.

Day 3 (10/3/06)
Well, so far today I have made a blog post and some toast. But it's early yet.