Excellent.

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted to this site, which is, quite frankly, a bit insane. Though I haven’t been posting here, I have continued stitching; it’s what keeps my worried fingers busy and my sanity intact.

My latest finish is a hoop inspired by the &Stitches Villains Stitchalong. What a great idea for a stitchalong! I was so inspired that I not only whipped up Mr. Burns in no time at all, but actually posted to my Flickr and website for the first time in ages.

Thanks, &Stitches, for the creative nudge.

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This time I’ll try not to let an entire year go by before letting you in on what’s in my hoop. 🙂

September’s Finished Object

With the start of the fall school semester, I got a bit behind on my monthly wip finishes, but I’m catching up! Archer was August’s, so we’ll call this one September’s, which means I still have almost three weeks to finish October’s. 🙂

This hoop started out as a way to use up small lengths of leftover floss, and I really like the way it came together.

unravel me

It was inspired by an old Sarah McLachlan song, “Black and White.” I always get the itch to stitch while listening to music, so it’s nice to finish a lyric-inspired hoop for once.

Sadly, I tried to wash out the pencil lines and the color from the red embroidery floss bled onto the white background. It’s not super noticeable, but it violates my perfectionist tendencies. lol. The worst part is that there are still visible pencil lines. Oh well. This one is just going on my own wall at home, so I suppose it’s good enough for who it’s for, as my dad would say.

I’m Back!

It’s been forever since I’ve posted anything because work, sick, blah blah yadda yadda, but I am happy to be able to share that I finally finished my Sterling Archer portrait. Archer was supposed to be August’s wip completion. Didn’t quite make that deadline, but fuckall, cause he’s finished now! 🙂

archer_fo

I kind of never want to do that much satin stitching on one project again. I did not enjoy it. It caused me to say multiple swears that I cannot pluck back from out of the sullied air of my living room.

If you want to make this guy yours forever and always, he’s listed in my Etsy shop.

While I’ve mostly been languishing on my big red couch for the past few weeks, binge-watching Scandal, coughing and snotting like crazy, and trying my best to avoid grading freshman comp essays, I HAVE actually done a bit of sewing, crafting, quilting whatnottage on the side.

Stay tuned. I’ll get around to posting all my crafty shenanigans eventually. 🙂

August WIP: Sterling Archer

The wip I determined to finish in August is my Archer piece. I started stitching Sterling Archer over a year ago and put the project away when I got frustrated and didn’t enjoy working on it anymore. Originally, I had planned to stick to just a black outline of the character, using satin stitch for thick black outlines that would mimic the way the cartoon is drawn. My mistake was in transferring the pattern to my fabric and then stitching away and never looking back at the original cartoon to gauge which lines should be thick and which thin. I kind of randomly went to town on it without paying too much attention to what I was doing, and when I got to this point, I realized that it looked weird and not right, and the thought of fixing it was overwhelming so I just said *&$% it and tossed it aside.

archer

I picked it back up again at the beginning of this month and proceeded to continue in the same vein as I had started. After filling in the thick black line at the left side of Archer’s face, I still hated it. I asked Pritts for his honest opinion, and he offered that based on the illustration, some of the places I was filling in with black really shouldn’t be black at all.

archer

Pritts has this annoying habit of being right a lot of the time.

So I made the decision to revamp the damn thing using colors instead of just black and white.

archer detail

I’m satisfied with his shirt and suit, finally, and here’s where I’m at now:

archer now

I’m still not 100% loving this piece, but I think when I finish, I’ll be happy that I reworked it. It was a severe pain in the ass going at it with my seam ripper, and I’m not sure how I feel about filling in his face. It’s looking kind of weird to me.

I may not make my end of August deadline, but I’ll be darn close, and when I’m finished, it’ll be FINISHED. At this point, that’s all I really care about. Finished beats perfect, every time. 🙂

Lazy Sunday

Tomorrow morning I’m off to school again to start a new semester, so today is all about soaking up those last precious drops of summer vacation. I’m mostly soaking them up indoors in the comfort of my air conditioning, however, as we’re under official “excessive heat warning” in my area. Luckily, I stumbled upon this delicious treat while grocery shopping today:

Pineapple soda is such a great blast from the past. So I’m sitting here sipping my soda and browsing through Instagram and thought I’d share a few of my most recent favorites. The Instagram community is so full of awesome stitchery! Enjoy. 🙂

I could go on for days linking up beautiful artwork, but for now I’m going to pick up my own hoop and get stitching so that I’ll have something of my own to show you tomorrow! Happy Sunday, everyone. 🙂

Button Button’s Orange Peel Quilt-Along

I am a very newbie quilter, as clearly demonstrated in this little piece of work. But I do love the idea of quilting, and I love the finished products. I’m a quilt/blanket junkie from wayy back. My favorite pastime, in fact, is huddling in the fetal position beneath a good, warm quilt, trying to curl my body into as small a space as possible. I’m lucky enough to have quilts passed down to me through several generations of family: I have quilts made by my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my aunt, and my mom. So I kind of have to make quilts, right? I mean, future generations of cranky, likely clinically depressed offspring are depending on me to line their secluded hobbit caves with love! I cannot let them down!

So in the service of continued practice and learning and honing those skillz, I’m joining Julie from Button Button and her lovely Orange Peel Quilt-Along. (You might know Julie as one of the creative masterminds behind Little Dorrit & Co. Their embroidery patterns are sweet and most are based on literature, which of course I adore.)

This particular quilt-along appeals to me for several reasons: 1) it’s totally laid back, chill, no pressure, 2) I’ve admired her work from afar for quite some time now, 3) the mini-quilt she’s already made in this style is beautiful and inspiring, 4) it involves applique, which I’d love to do more of, 5) it involves hand-stitching, which I’m so down with, 6) (and not least) when she found out that several people were interested in quilting along with her, Julie responded on her blog with “That’s so damn awesome!” I love girls who swear when talking about crafting. I just do. Those are MY PEOPLE.

So today, I’ve been digging up fabrics and trying to make some decisions. Ugh. Decisions.

This is probably the most difficult part for me. I am NOT GOOD at choosing fabrics; I’m really not. I have a really hard time visualizing the finished project and deciding whether the individual fabrics are going to work well together.

I’m thinking maybe…

fabric choices

And that’s not a great picture, but it was the best I could do at the moment. I don’t know. I’m agonizing. Not enough contrast? Too few low volumes? I DON’T KNOW. Talk me through this, people. Seriously. What do you think?

Oh, and be sure to check out Button Button and all of her awesomeness and join in the quilt-along, because it’s going to be great.

Peace, out.

~R 

Craft Disasters: Craftsasters? a.k.a wtf just happened?

Sometimes I really bungle things. I’m sure this comes as a shock, but it’s true. My response to screwing up a crafting project used to be to yell swear words and throw things and then either discard the project or hide it away in a closet or under a bed, somewhere where the shame would catch up to me at some point, but later. Later. Shhhhh. Quiet. I’ll deal with that later.

Now, however, I’ve turned a corner. I’ve hit my crafting zen, and my response to disaster is no longer denial. Now, I make do and mend.  Or at least I try. Granted, it doesn’t always work, but I do feel I’ve been more successful the last couple of years in holding my shit together and making the best of things. I’m 35 goddammit; if not now, then when? I’m a grown ass adult, y’all!

Case in point: that damn minky material in the baby quilt. Sure, I made Elecia sew one of the seams, and I may have let loose some choice words, but I persevered. I pushed through, pinned the living shit out of that stuff, and sewed on through it. I patched in fabric from my stash after the cutting error, and now I’m ready to bind the quilt. Nothing is going to stop me! *evil laughter*

It is important to realize that when you have a craft disaster, a craftsaster, a mishap, as it were, you have choices. Sure, you can wad it up, cut it up, tear your hair out, cry like a baby, and stuff that effed up project into a laundry hamper. That’s choice #1.

OR, you can go with #2: Make it look like you meant to do that! Call it a happy accident, a plot twist, a late-in-the-game stylistic choice–it doesn’t matter. When you stumble while dancing, you just work that awkward step right on into your repertoire and keep on with your bad self. I MEANT for the left sleeve to be inside out–it’s avant garde, motherf*cker!

Then there’s #3: Patch it up the best you can. Repair. It isn’t the end of the world to rip out a seam. If you make a mistake that’s fixable, and you know you’ll be forever pissed with yourself if you DON’T go back and fix it…then yeah, take the time. I once misread a cross stitch pattern and stitched a huge area in the wrong color before realizing it. I kept trying to tell myself, no one but me is going to notice that, blah, blah, blah, doesn’t matter, but the truth was…I noticed it. And I was going to notice it every time I looked at that stupid piece, and I was not going to be happy with it. I painstakingly took my trusty green seam ripper and took out every one of those teensy little x’s and started that area over. I’m still not finished with that particular project, but when I pick it up to work on it, I’m always glad I took the time to fix it. Because now, when I do finish it, it’s going to be AWESOME.

This whole story up to this point is really just to introduce you to Pritts’s House shirt. This was a Christmas gift I made for him last year (and gave to him this year in February or March or so, when I actually finished it).

house shirt

The pattern is from Bombastitch, one of my favorite sources for cross stitch pattern awesomeness. Pritts loves Hugh Laurie, so when I saw this pattern, I knew it was going on a t-shirt for him. I spent hours stitching this thing–hours. T-shirt fabric is stretchy and not easily stitched on, so I had to use some layers of stabilizer, plus waste canvas. I watched many, many episodes of House while stitching this thing, and when I had finally finished stitching, I painstakingly pulled each of the threads of waste canvas out from under my stitches (because I’m too cheap to spring for water soluble waste canvas), and THEN I started to cut away the stabilizer from around the pattern, and THEN…*^&$%^!

I cut a giant hole in the t-shirt, right above Hugh Laurie’s beautifully stitched head.

I couldn’t believe it. It happened in one of those hideous slow motion moments where you see the awful thing happening, but you’re completely powerless to stop it from happening.

I started crying almost immediately. (This was before I had reached crafting zen.)

house shirt oops

barely noticeable!

Pritts and Eliot both consoled me, and Pritts assured me that the hole was nothing a little patch couldn’t fix. I scoffed at him and kept crying (again, before crafting zen).

Upon pulling myself together and purchasing an easy, readymade patch to iron over the scissor mishap, I realized that Pritts was right. It was totally fixable.

house shirt oops 2

inside the insidious shirt

He wears this shirt all the time; it’s gone through the washer and dryer too many times to count, and that patch is still holding Hugh Laurie’s head together like a champ! And no one’s response to the shirt has EVER been, “Oh wow, that would be cool if it just didn’t have that patched up hole…” No one has ever said that, ever.

And Pritts wears this shirt so well, I can’t believe I almost threw it away.

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The moral of this story is “Do not despair!” Most things can be fixed. The ones that can’t, can usually be improvised.

What do you do when faced with craftsaster? Any quick fixes or solutions I should know about? Tell me all about it in the comments. 🙂

My Bad

I had intended to share in today’s post some cross stitch patterns that I’ve been working on, but I didn’t get those finished, so alas, I’ll have to save them for another day.

Instead, I’ll share this little quilt that I’ve been working on; it’s been giving me absolute fits!

I bought a quilt kit to make this baby quilt wayyy back in 2007, when Eliot was a baby, thinking that I’d make it for him. Eliot is seven years old now. In seven years, the progress I had made so far on this quilt was to unwrap the fabric from the packaging, read the directions, and proceed to cut the first piece of fabric incorrectly. Then I cursed the whole thing and packed it away somewhere I didn’t have to look at it and face the shame of having measured once, cut Oh, F*#@!.

Now that it’s 2014, and I’m SO savvy and totally know what I’m doing, I thought I’d pull it back out and finish the thing. THIS QUILT KIT HASN’T SEEN THE LAST OF ME YET.

What I’ve learned this week in tackling this once abandoned project is that though my quilting skills have only marginally improved, my tenacity has increased one hundred fold. Ha! Take that! So yeah, I still eff up pretty badly, but now I tend to just keep going.

So here it is so far, photographed with the help of my very reluctant 7 yr old quilt holder:

baby quilt

A few facts about this quilt: the square second from top left is where I embroidered my nephew’s name, as the quilt is now a gift for him, but I photo edited a sticker over it so as not to make his name public. So that block doesn’t look like that in real life. It looks like a green square with his name embroidered in my handwriting. It’s kind of difficult to make out from this photo, but on the other two matching green squares, I’ve embroidered a star and a heart. All three of those blocks were improvised because of the initial wrong cut in the fabric, which landed me with not enough fabric to make the squares according to plan. Oops. Oh, well. Look at me going with the flow of things!

Also, the brown strips and the two brown corner squares are minky fabric, which is now my solemnly sworn enemy. That shit is ridiculous to sew through. And did I mention this kit was a beginner’s kit? Marked “easy”? Those bastards. This is only the second quilt I’ve ever made. Trust me, you do not want to try to piece quilting cotton together with minky fabric the second time you’ve ever quilted. It induces much unnecessary hatred and hair pulling. I was messaging my sister in the middle of the night with swear words, using descriptive detail to explain what I wanted to do to the minky fabric. Seriously. She assured me that unless Baby Boy turned out to be a seamster, he’d never notice that my seams were hideously not matched up, and he probably wouldn’t care in the slightest. Then we had a discussion about how a seamster sounds like a mob-connected quilter who has tattoos that say things like “I share needles.”

Back to the quilt. I finally got the top pieced (albeit badly) and the whole thing pin basted, and have moved on to the quilting part. As I told my sister, I just hope that as he grows older, Baby Boy will know in his heart that Aunt Rachel loves him so much more than the workmanship on this quilt would seem to imply.

Have a good weekend, all! Come back and visit Monday for more horrible tales from the crafting room. 😉

Granny Square Progress

I’ve been crocheting granny squares for a few weeks now, and I feel pretty confident about it. Crocheting, at least this one very uncomplicated pattern, is a great go-to craft for when I don’t want to have to think. I can make granny squares while watching TV, while sitting through Eliot’s taekwon do classes, while waiting in lines, etc. I don’t go anywhere these days without a ball of yarn and a crochet hook in my purse.

I think it’s cool to look at all my granny squares so far side-by-side. It’s pretty obvious which ones were my first tries and which ones I’ve completed more recently.

granny squares

The rainbow squares are pretty wonky and uneven, the stitches not consistent in size, with noticeable errors in almost every square. The creme colored ones are a bit more regular, more even, tighter…and then by the time I was working on the light blue stack, I could actually stack them atop each other and line up the holes. Score!

granny squares 2

Now I think I need to start weaving in all the ends and joining them, since I have a feeling that I’m going to be bored out of my skull if I wait until I finish all the squares to do that. I’m not sure yet what kind of pattern I’m going to join them in. I just know I want the finished blanket to be sort of randomly rainbow-y. Is rainbow-y a word? It is now. 🙂

Destashing is hard, people.

I used to scrapbook; therefore, I used to hoard scrapbooking supplies. Now, when I say “used to,” what I mean is although I haven’t made an actual scrapbook page in over five years, I still have a metric shit ton of scrapbooking supplies that I’ve been hauling around from rented house to rented house and jamming into closets and under beds for no good reason whatsoever.

This year I’ve done what I think is a pretty decent job of clearing some of it out. I’ve donated scrapbooking supplies to an organization that works with foster children, dropped countless boxes off to Goodwill, dispersed supplies among friends, and yet I still have stuff that I can’t bear to part with. Because what if I wake up one morning in 2026 and want to make a scrapbook page and I have no 12 x 12 magenta paper with pictures of rainbows, and no paper punch that punches out tiny paper airplanes?! What then?! Ridiculous.

For at least a week, I’ve had a basket of stamps sitting out, thinking maybe I’ll list them on the local garage sale Facebook page or Craig’s List or something and try to recoup a little bit of the money I spent on all of this stuff once upon a time. In the heyday of Stampin’ Up, I swear I spent most of my discretionary income on stamp sets and cardstock, most of which I never used even once.

Instead of actually finding a new home for these supplies, what I did was pass by that basket and glance at it so many times that I started to think, hey…I could use those stamps on fabric…ewwwww…I could stamp on fabric and then embroider over the lines…

stamping fabric 2

THANK GOD I NEVER GOT RID OF THAT BLACK PERMANENT INK PAD! HA HA. Zing! (It’s a sickness, people.)

stamped

I actually think this is a pretty damn good idea with a lot of possibilities. I think it would be especially helpful for newbie embroiderers, as the lines are clear and easy to follow. I should make some kits. Should. But probably won’t. In all likelihood, what will happen is that the basket of stamps I’ve already decided I’m willing to part with will sit in my living room for a few more weeks before I get sick of tripping over it, and then I’ll drop it off at Goodwill.

Or I might set up a destash sale on Instagram.

Oh bloody hell. I’ll probably just shove it all back in my closet. Who am I kidding? See ya in 2026, stamps! ;-P