All the pretty shapes and colors

Over Christmas, someone delightful let me help with drawing these adorable holiday cards to go with little gift boxes. Picture a crowd of snow people peering in a window. Although I maintain the shape of the window could pass as a hearth, suggesting a caption like, “We’re melting!” (a la “Wizard of Oz”).

She had every drawing utensil known to humanity, AND knew how someone without drawing experience could self-teach in a fun way. Of course, an obsession was born. I got my own little sketch pad and set of colored pencils and pens on our way home.

I’ve been doodling ever since. Great masterpieces they are not, but very relaxing and oddly satisfying. And these won’t explode.

“Meh,” the mother of flexibility

Last year I became obsessed with quilting. Not that I knew how, but that didn’t stop me. I should also explain that to me, “quilting” meant the fun part of what is apparently called “piecing” together different fabrics in pretty colors and patterns. The quilting is the boring, annoying, hard part of stitching the “sandwich” of fabric layers together: quilt back, batting (warm stuff), quilt front. I’m told it’s much easier (and faster) if you have a long arm sewing machine, which are a) expensive and b) huge. Plus, any way you do it, you have to have a flat surface large enough to lay out the quilt, tape it down, and pin the layers straight with no bunching.

Do you know anyone with a table the size of a king size bed? Or a hard/uncarpeted floor clean enough to tape delicate fabric to, with no foot traffic?

Meh. So I decided to make a duvet cover instead. So much easier, and more practical for me. With that decision, I magically moved from about 50% to 80% completed on one project. I’m very excited. Perhaps I will even attempt pillow shams.

This is a very springtime duvet cover since it’s all pink, green and roses. Obviously, that means I need three more, one per season, to alternate with my plain white one.

Perhaps “winter” will have a flannel side to be especially cozy. I’m all about the cozy these days. More later on my personal take on the hygge craze.

Things that go boom

I’ve been reading about how to make soap lately. Lovely, homemade soap with herbs and essential oils. According to one school (the only school?) of thought, there’s simply no way to do it without using lye.

Apparently lye can also explode if you don’t stir it into the water quickly enough and it just pools at the bottom. The instructions didn’t describe how large an explosion it could be for a small batch recipe. Maybe it’s more like a sparkler than a firecracker?

Of course, there were also all the other warnings about safely handling lye and fumes. But I got distracted by the, “stir quickly, or it might explode.” Way to bury the lede.

(Side note: I only recently learned that “lede” is the proper word in this case. I can’t believe I’ve gone more than thirty years believing it was “lead.”)

This brings me to the ethical dilemma of whether to fully inform the household of the risks associated with soap making, or just cross my fingers, or put off soap experiments for the time being. I suspect option three is inevitable.

But never fear, there is still lotion (no lye), and candles (fire! But not at home) to play with.

New year, new look, new plans…

It turns out that starting a business, even a tiny one, is really hard to do while also moving to another state. My elves went on strike.

While they were on strike, it did give me the chance to reconsider what, exactly, I wanted to be doing craft-wise and potentially Etsy-wise.

You may have noticed a slightly new look to the blog. It describes in broad strokes what I’m interested in making…in some ways, it’s much broader and more experimental than before, and in others a lot more clearly focused.

The shop is on hiatus while I figure more of this out and do some R&D and potion-brewing, so the blog will mostly be about things I’m working on, or aspire to work on, someday.

Stay tuned!

Too many ideas!! (with addendum)

I have deep familiarity with analysis paralysis. I had no idea there was a non-information based equivalent when there are SO MANY shiny ideas ping-ponging in your brain leaving little trails of “I should TOTALLY make that.” Even though you KNOW the smart decision is to pick ~4-5 types of things to focus on (each having a little variety in sizes or styles) and see what does or doesn’t do well first.

But SHINY.

But I am ONE person.

But SHINY.

But I have NO STORAGE SPACE.

But SHINY.

This inner dialogue could continue for quite some time. I am at my weakest late at night and think, “well, it couldn’t hurt to make just ONE of these….”

img_0307-1

Speaking of shiny.  My dad and I visited with some dear family friends this weekend, and one of them (Hi Debbie!) gave me some lovely cross-stitch and needlepoint magazines/books that she’s been saving.  It was so thoughtful of her.  And yet–did you see the picture of my head exploding?

I want to make ALL of these.  Plus items that you can’t see, but I found while browsing through the magazines.  Last Christmas, I haunted Etsy looking for 12 Days of Christmas ornaments for my tree, and I couldn’t find any I liked and it just didn’t even occur to me to make them myself.  And now I can.

Except, the point is kind of to make things for OTHER people to buy, not to keep for myself.  Hmm.  I can see that this may be a slight flaw in my business model.

Addendum:  Spending four hours doing laundry to pre-wash, dry, and fold all the fabric has put a tiny dent in my enthusiasm.  This dent is much smaller than the dent caused by the prospect of ironing all of the fabric.

On the other hand, those four hours gave my plenty of time to think of MORE ideas.  It’s a vicious (virtuous?) cycle, clearly.

 

Remember that baby?

I decided to take off a bunch of hats and actually return to that new baby quilt I mentioned a while ago that was under a pile of fabric.  It’s been about 90% finished for several months.  All that’s left is sewing about half of the border binding, a final wash, gift wrapping and popping it in the mail.  Hmm.  Could even take care of it this weekend and get to the mom-to-be-again before the baby arrives.

The new baby’s big sister LOVES giraffes, or at least went through a giraffe phase, so the blanket has some on one side, and elephants on the other (mixed in with assorted shapes and patterns).  I’m told that big sis is campaigning for baby’s middle name to be “toast” or “door” or “window.” Any of the three would be acceptable. A couple of 6 and 7 year olds I know are advocating “flower power water shower,” “shimmy fizzle pop fizz” and “cocoa pop.”

I started a quilt for big sister, too, thinking it wasn’t fair for the new baby to get all the gifts and attention, but, well, that’s just not going to happen anytime soon… I’m going to hell on my path of good intentions.

I have to admit, a tiny bit (say, 5%?) of my motivation for finishing it is my dire need for storage space and the mental relief of getting items OUT OF MY APARTMENT.  The other 95% is entirely love.

Now my challenge is another friend who just announced her first pregnancy.  Problem:  she’s a better crafter than me.  And she has a long-arm quilting machine.  And more storage space.  What’s a long-distance Fake Auntie to do?  (FYI, we’re calling the baby Office Supply, as the first description of his/her size was “a post-it note with arms and legs.”)

So many hats…

To be perfectly clear:  I do not make hats.  Well, I occasionally knit hats.  But these are metaphorical hats.  As in, I am wearing all of them, such as the:

  • Accounting and finance hat
  • Procurement and inventory hat
  • Graphic design hat
  • Laundry hat (running out to the ATM so I can pre-wash fabrics)
  • Market research hat
  • Pricing hat
  • Social media hat
  • Product design hat
  • “Manufacturing” hat
  • Cleaning, storage and organization hat

I do not enjoy some of these hats.  I seem to need an Executive Function hat, one that says “take off that graphic design hat and put on the accounting hat.”  It was quite fun (and a time sink) to design those little business/branding cards you get in an Etsy package.  Perhaps not as immediately useful as recording all the fabric and accessories I’ve been ordering.  Not to mention actually creating items.

My apartment is FILLED to the rafters (if I had rafters) with holiday fabric.  It is everywhere, on nearly every conceivable surface as they await their laundry experience (in plastic zip bags for protection from the vicious four-legged creatures who also live here).  Have I mentioned my need for storage?

It’s Thursday, September 27.  I won’t name today’s soundtrack, just say that it’s very upsetting and it’ll take a lot of crafting to get through it.

If you are U.S. citizen, please be sure to register to vote.  Every vote counts.

Is there a statute of limitations on 9th grade geometry?

Last night I started making fabric templates.  Of course, I could have bought them online, but after poking around the internet thought, “Heck no, I’m not spending $20 for a glorified ruler!”  I already have the basics of quilting paraphernalia as far as rulers and mats go with angles marked and such, so I shouldn’t need to buy another just to make shapes that aren’t squares or rectangles.  I definitely refuse to buy a compass or a protractor.

I went to a Quaker school for high school, and have very distinct memories of my 9th grade geometry teacher, Kaye.  (In my experience, Quaker schools don’t go for the whole “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Ms.” Last Name for teachers/administrators–first names, all the way.  It was such a transition from a very proper English-modeled primary school.  I think I spent months trying to avoid addressing teachers directly.)  I really liked the math problems that had these seemingly abstract piles of shapes with only some of the angles filled in, and you had to figure out the rest of them based on all the rules about “side angle side,” the Pythagorean theorem, and so forth.

hexagonmessedupYou’d think that drawing a hexagon–on graph paper, no less–to use as a fabric-cutting template would be easy.  Well, apparently I forgot stuff.  Because I did end up with a hexagon. It just wasn’t symmetrical in all directions–which is problematic, when you want to cut a million of them and sew them together like a honeycomb.

equilateral

So I tried again this morning, this time actually using the rulers marked with angles that I have and being a bit more meticulous about hypotenuses.  Turns out, when I thought I was being clever about adding a seam allowance, I was also messing up the proportions of the shape on some sides.  This time around, I went old school:  One equilateral triangle, traced six times next to itself.  Success!  I wonder if some Mod Podge would help thicken the paper and make it easier to trace on fabric?

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

You know how irritating it is when stores decorate for Christmas 🎄 before Halloween 🎃? I complain about it ever year. Time to eat crow.  (Also, I have to make a Halloween costume for my dog.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Last year she was a mad scientist.)

I have a degree and transcript and everything to prove I went to business school, but rather than doing a ton of market research and business planning yesterday I just decided to try a variety of products on Etsy and see what happens.

And yes, I’m starting with Christmas-themed items. Specifically, some very cool (if I do say so myself) Christmas tree skirts, and some other secret goodies.

Here’s a snap of the skirt I made for my tree lasts couple years ago year–fully reversible!

 

 

Poor lighting notwithstanding, doesn’t a pretty skirt look SO much nicer than the ugly plastic bag that will dispose of the tree after the holidays? Not to mention the hideous tree stands? Yup, that’s all under there!

Now I have some fun ideas to get creative with the skirt pattern (and size, of course), and am eagerly awaiting some amazing holiday fabrics to get started.

 

Some will be available as solid, single-color tree-skirts, and others will only be available as special piecework skirts, due to limited supply of fabric. (All will be reversible!)

So please keep an eye out for the opening of my Etsy store–better yet, sign up to be emailed when the grand day arrives. There will be more goodies, and doesn’t everyone like goodies?

I promise all that stuff about privacy.