Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Schedules, Lists, Plans and Disappointments

As anyone who has spoken to me in the last two months knows very well... I recently got into a holiday craft show. This is very exciting news. I’ve never done a show before and don’t have nearly enough inventory to do it well, which means that upon my acceptance I, in keeping with a behavior pattern which I blame entirely on my job, made lists and schedules and target goals regarding inventory at bi weekly intervals leading up to the date of the show. This level of organization and borderline obsessive crazyness is a recent development, but for once it was working for me. I mostly met my self imposed deadlines and was having a lot of fun trying out new styles and patterns to boot...

So, naturally, the show was cancelled. I don’t blame the venue or the organizer. It just didn’t work out.

Anyway.. now I once again find myself with lots of inventory which I don’t fell like posting on etsy. Le sigh.

One benefit of this is that I forced myself to branch out in terms of jewelry settings and I think the result as been pretty positive. Some of these settings are much smaller and more delicate that the huge pendant pieces which, while I like making them, I would never wear... that said, I don't really wear any jewelry so I'm a poor barometer.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Harry Potter Quilt - FINALLY DONE!!!

My Harry Potter Quilt is FINALLY done and it’s perfect. I really could not be happier with it. It looks like something that might be hanging in the Gryffindor common room, which, dorky as that is, makes me super happy. 

Here are some of my favorite photos, if you want to see more check out my flickr site

Now the question is... what should the theme of my next quilt be? I’m taking suggestions!

PS - I think it bears mentioning that, as with basically all of my accomplishments in the last 26 years, this could not have been done without my saintly mother. In this case, I mailed my almost completed quilt across country to California and she attached the backing and binding... because she is wonderful and I am lazy. Thanks Mom. 

I love this. 
Things I'm never going to do again: free hand embroider deer.


this car is also on my "never again" list
although... that car might is probably the best thing I've ever done

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Love this Etsy Shop

Quilting is my dirty little secret. I keep it under wraps because, once combined with the etsy shop and my two cats, it brings me into lunatic old lady territory. That said, I really do love it. I recently took an innocent unplanned detour into winmill fabrics (fantastic boston fabric store) and came out with this... 

It’s a problem.

Anyway, I make crazy quilts because I love doing the embroidery and embellishment. It’s a chance to practice my favorite art on a large canvas. It’s also totally customizable. You can make a personal quilt with elements from your life, or pick a different theme... Harry Potter for example... 

My least favorite part is actually putting the pieces together. It’s time consuming, boring and requires way too much contact with that epitome of all frustration: the sewing machine. That’s why I’m so excited about the etsy shop my mom just started. It’s brand new and still very much a work in progress, but what a great idea. She makes the blank squares, you do the embroidery. Check it out!

Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm pretty terrible at life... Merry Christmas

It’s been said that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the office. This is the sort of cross stitch clique that I hate… but I have to admit it’s true. The first 6 months of my year were crazy busy at work; we’re talking lost weekends, long nights and one particularly memorable all nighter that just happened to coincide with my birthday. Humph. But then, thanks to the ebb and flow glory that is litigation, all of a sudden, my work disappeared and I was left with absolutely nothing to do. I mean, literally nothing. During the first week I kept busy by organizing my office. Then I started pestering my coworkers for projects. Now I just stare at my screens and count backwards from 480 minutes.

For the record, I am not complaining. Not at all. I greatly prefer this to trying to answer hundreds of emails, be in 5 places at once and just generally meet unrealistic expectations… but I marvel at how lazy being “not busy” has made me, and it’s not just at work. The lazy monster has infiltrated every aspect of my life. I know I’m capable of working a long week then coming home and accomplishing great things. Ok, great is probably a bit of a stretch, but I’m capable of coming home after a 14 hour day and doing dishes, going to the grocery store, making progress in whatever book I’m reading, maintaining my etsy site, etc.  But now that my work days have morphed in eight hour long sporkle binges, I seem to have lost the ability to do anything else. Honestly the only  things I’ve managed to do in the last three weeks are gain an unnatural obsession with the bachelorette and attract a cruel (but brief) stomach bug. That’s it. I don’t know where the time goes.

I think the issue is that when I’m busy I plan my whole day with lists and calendar reminders which keep me focused and on task, but for precisely this reason, I REALLY resent lists and calendars, and when I’m not busy I forego them. Without structure and pressure I lose all motivation and forget that I have to pick up my dry cleaning/go to the grocery store/leave the house. As a result I find myself still in my PJs at 6pm on a Sunday, halfway through a veronica mars marathon and eating take out. It’s becoming a problem.

Anyway. This was all my roundabout way of explaining why I haven’t done any promotion for my Christmas in July sale. I got the idea in June (when I was still busy) but had lapsed into my vegetative state by July so I didn't follow through. Now July is almost over so this might be pointless... but here’s the deal, I’m offering 20% off any of my Christmas items (ornaments, stationary, jewelry) during the month of July (or until I remember to deactivate the coupon code, which will probably be around October). The code is Christmas. Swing by my etsy site and check it out!

In the meantime, I’m moving on to season 3 of V Mars.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Post Title To Be Decided On Later

Well, this should hardly come as a surprise, but I am a champion procrastinator. I’m pretty good about big things like bills or potentially life threatening maladies, but for anything less important than a LAST NOTICE cable bill or a truly alarming freckle I’m hopeless. I try to excuse my procrastination by pretending my time is super valuable and thus shouldn’t be wasted on things I don’t feel like doing... but no one falls for it. It’s laziness pure and simple and, when combined with my own unique set of neurosis, it yields some interesting results.  For example, on four separate occasions I have bought new sheets rather than wash the ones I own. This isn’t nearly as wasteful as it sounds because I almost always end up cannibalizing an extra (clean) sheet when I run out of base fabric for whatever project I’m working on, but it’s still pretty pathetic. 
Anyway, the point of all this is to explain why I haven’t listed anything new on etsy for quite some time. It’s not that I haven’t made anything... making things is fun... listing them is not. I therefore have QUITE the backlog. This is less than half of it... meh. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dogs, Dragons and my Harry Potter Quilt

I’ve gotten lots of great suggestions for my harry potter quilt, which I really appreciate. Two of the most common have been dragons (Norbert(a), Hungarian Horntail, etc.) and Fluffy the three headed dog. Unfortunately, if I cant draw it, I can’t embroider it... and after 5 months of trying, I’m finally ready to admit that I cannot draw a three headed dog. 
If I had a scanner and a little more confidence, I would show you some of my attempts. But I don’t have either so you’ll just have to take my word that I can’t draw a realistic, believable I mean, passable three headed dog. Unsurprisingly, the problem is the three heads. I can’t seem to fit them all in without making the dogs shoulders huge or the heads tiny... either way it's totally disproportionate. The only other option is to give the dog three long necks, which allow me to draw heads that match the size of the body... but then the necks are the problem. They make Fluffy look like greyhound from Chernobyl.
So my quilt won’t have a three headed dog... but it will have a dragon! 
Here are some updated photos. I’ve finally sewn the panels together, should be done soonish. 

There be dragon.

Those are supposed to be footprints... please tell me they look like footprints

All together now!

Cinco de Mayo... where procrastination meets Mothers Day sales

Happy Cinco de Mayo. One hundred and fiftyish years ago there was an improbable Mexican victory over the French... or something. Where I live this somewhat vague event is commemorated by half-off tequila shots and really bad margaritas.
Tequila and I have never been great friends, so I’m celebrating by doing laundry and cleaning the grout in my bathroom. Or, I should say, I’m celebrating by doing laundry, editing all of my Etsy listings to mention my Mothers Day sale and planning to clean the grout in my bathroom. Cause, really, the planning is the hard part right? Maybe I'll plan today and clean tomorrow... 
This is much more exciting than how I spent Cinco de Mayo last year. On May 5th 2011 I was working 20 hour days, looking back on two and a half months of suitcase living, prepping for a trial* and spontaneously busting into tears of frustration and overwork, so my lackluster plans for today are actually a huge improvement. 
That said... I’m still having trouble motivating myself to clean the grout. 
It really needs it... It’s practically sentient... Skynet would probably be really interested in my shower tiles... 

* I should mention, I wasn’t on trial myself; I’m a paralegal. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Harry Potter Quilt - STILL not done...

I’m still working on the Harry Potter quilt... really. The more I do, and the closer I get to finishing, the more needs to be done. It makes no sense. I've lost several weekends to this thing, but you wouldn't guess it to look at it. It looks exactly like it did a month ago, in fact it might actually be regressing. I swear I've beaded the same seam like like ten times... 

I spent the day working from my living room and trying to convince my shins to speak to me again. The first part is because my office building was a little too close to some scary fire in back bay and it STILL doesn't have power. The second is because the power went out last night while I was working late, the elevators were kaput so I had to walk down more flights of stairs than I care to remember. The upshot is that I made real progress on this quilt... not that you can tell.  

Anyway, more photos... 

The Weasley's car

An owl, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, Gryffindor lion and Crookshanks

Fawkes the Phoenix!

the silver doe, spiders and the whomping willow

owl post!

Professor McGonagall (as a cat)

Hogwarts crest, Hedwig and the Potter's grave

The sorting hat and the goblet of fire

If you're starting to doubt that I can finish a quilt, never fear, I have proof! Take a look at my facebook page for evidence. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Silk Ribbon Roses: Easier Than You Think

I love silk ribbon roses. They’re one of the most striking things you can do with ribbon embroidery; they’re also one of the easiest. It’s basically just a process of making a spoke and weaving the ribbon over and under the spokes. 
Start by making a spoke using a shade of thread that matches the ribbon you plan on using, though the thread won’t ultimately be visible so don’t agonize over finding exactly the right shade. You’ll need to make an odd number of spokes. I usually go with five but for smaller roses you can use three, for really large ones you can use seven. 
Kinda hard to see the spoke... trust me it's there
Bring your ribbon up through the center of the spokes and begin weaving it over and under your spokes. 

As is often the case with embroidery, maintaining the correct tension is the trickiest part. You want to keep the ribbon tight enough to avoid knots but loose enough that the rose looks natural. It gets easier with practice.
Sometimes the ribbon will twist as you weave it. It’s not a problem so don’t obsess over trying to keep it straight. 
There is no set number of rotations, just keep going until the spokes are covered and the rose looks the way you want it to. More rotations will give you rose a more tightly wound look. 
If you run out of ribbon you can always bring your ribbon through the back, knot it, and then pick up where you left off with new ribbon. You can also switch colors midway through for a two-tone look. 
Once you’re happy with your rose, bring the ribbon through to the back side of the fabric and knot it. I usually try to bring it through over one of the spoke ends which helps to further disguise them. If any of them are still visible you can hide them with leaves.
That’s all there is to it. Easy right?

no idea what I'm going to do with this... mothers day card maybe?


A few months ago I made this:

I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't love it. I listed it on etsy and almost immediately started to debate deactivating it. A dissatisfied customer is one of my biggest fears and while I haven't had one yet (or at least I haven't had a vocal one) I'm sure I will eventually. When that day comes I want to at least be sure that I loved what they bought, even if they didn't. I couldn't say that with this pin, so I took it off the site.

This moment of decisive, confident action was followed by 2 months of anxious over analyzing, which is a specialty of mine. There was nothing wrong with this brooch. I just didn't love it, but maybe someone else would. The photos were clear and not at all misleading, so if anyone bought it they'd know what they were getting. I'd spent money on the frame and fabric, not to mention time creating it. Did it really make sense not to at least try to sell it? So I reactivated the listing.

Then I had second (third?) thoughts and deactivated it again.

I repeated this process four times before finally deciding to just remake the whole thing. Here is the result:

What do you think? Upgrade? Downgrade? Totally not worth the time I spend agonizing over it? In case you're wondering... I vote for option 3. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Directions... this post has nothing to do with Glee

I love making silk ribbon jewelry. I really do. I also love all the feedback I get. Feedback like...  “my grandma is going to love this!” “I gave this to my wife for our 50th anniversary!” “I’m going to wear this to my granddaughters wedding!” etc. 
That the majority of my market is considerably older than me doesn’t bother me. In fact I take pride in it. Honestly, I’ll take praise wherever I can get it and I’ve always thought the older generation has fantastic taste... there is a reason everyone loves Mad Men... the fashions are spectacular. 

That said, I’m ready to try new things. What do you think? 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Embroidery Samplers: A Study in Passive Aggression

I have a problem with most needlepoint samplers. To me they come off as condescending reminders to be polite, frugal, respectful, etc. No matter how delicate the script, or how many butterflies are stitched around it, there is no getting away from the fact that it's really just a smug reminder that you are somehow deficient. I see them and think, “someone spent hours stitching a passive aggressive note?”
I grew up with lots of samplers. In our house it always something vaguely threatening written in Norwegian (my grandmother is Norwegian and in addition to incredible talent she also has a lot of free time... hence the samplers). 
ok, i guess this is technically advice...
Anyway, I didn’t understand why there are so many of these until recently, when I started to really pursue embroidery as a hobby. The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to find practical applications for embroidery. Yes, you can embroider clothes and purses and other accessories, but that means you have to either find or make those things in the first place. The beauty of a sampler is that you just start with a blank piece of fabric and go from there. You never had to bother with that epitome of all frustration: the sewing machine. But then you’re left with the question, “what is this for?” 
I ask myself that question constantly. So far I’ve resisted asking it of any of my customers... but it’s been a close thing. I honestly want to know what people are planning to do with my random quote embroidered on plain fabric and glued to a hoop... 
Don’t get me wrong, I love making these and I’m happy they’re appreciated... but the question still lingers. I think that’s where the trend of embroidering bible verses or morality couplets came from. It gives your work a purpose... a pretty obnoxious purpose, but a purpose nonetheless...

Or maybe the people who make these things really do think that, without their help, you’ll forget how important it is to love thy neighbor or wipe your feet. Maybe they’re the kind of people who write angry notes about keeping the office microwave clean and try to hide their aggression by dotting their i’s with hearts. 
Of course, whenever there is a tradition, especially one as stupid as this one, there people trying to subvert it. Especially when that subversion is cute or funny or profitable. Take a look on etsy, there are plenty of (not so) surprisingly crude samplers for sale. I can’t decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, if it keeps my hobby relevant (or as close to relevant as it’s ever going to get) I’m all over it. On the other, this is a traditional art, one my grandma taught me and one that is still mostly appreciated by the older generation. I don’t want to ruin it for them. I also don’t want to be crude for the sake of being crude. That’s what junior high is for. 

But, then I remember those people carefully reminding me what a “stitch in time” can do, and I kind of want to write “BLOW ME” in beautiful, carefully measured cable stitch surrounded by delicate silk ribbon flowers. But I won’t. At least not yet. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Treasury: Purple Stitches!

Please take a moment to check out my newest treasury, a collection of embroidered pieces in my favorite color, purple!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Harry Potter Quilt Progress

Two posts in one day, I really am back. Also... I’ve got a massive to do list for the long weekend which I’m avoiding, so suddenly new blog posts seem very appealing. Anyone want to take two months worth of clothes to the dry cleaner for me? Anyone? No one? Sigh..
Anyway, I’m still working on my Harry Potter quilt... I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it once it’s finished (there are only so many quilts you can hang in our apartment before it starts to creep people out and worry your roommates) but in the meantime it’s a fun way to strengthen my embroidery skills.
It amazes me that the things I thought would be super difficult, like the Weasley’s car, turned out to be fairly simple, while the things I thought would be easy are barely recognizable. No one knows what Fudge’s lime green bowler hat is supposed to be, the most common guess is VW bug. I thought the color would tip everyone off but it just seems to confuse them. Along the same lines, my potion bottles all look like snowmen, no matter what color I outline them in. Oh well.

I’m posting some of my favorite photos below but there is so much going on it was impossible to capture everything. For a full gallery of photos please see my flickr link