30 April 2007

coming up for air

Today has actually been a productive day. I mailed out this commission piece, Secret Agent LoveBug with Butterfly Wings:

commission lovebug

I also mailed out my doll quilt for the swap. I was going to post about the quilts yesterday, but I think it might be better to hold off on posting about them until after my partner receives the one I sent her. It was really a tough choice for me to make, but ultimately, I sent her the one with the fewest amount of boo-boos (and the one she had mentioned she liked when I posted the progress shots).

My screen sold at the auction at Grace Space. Woohoo! *doing a little dance of joy*

Our postcards for the open studio arrived from the super-cheap-and-super-good printers, and they look great. *another dance of joy*

Posted a bunch of new squirrels on my etsy shop over the last few days. Finishing up a couple of hand-stitched bugs that I am taking my time with. Working on a few new designs, as well as whipping up a batch of new softies for the open studio. Things are running right along. I'll try to post here soon, but to be honest, I am way more productive when I am nowhere near my computer (checking my email 20 times an hour and such). So I may not be here for a while. Ehhhh, we'll see.... Right now, it feels like I have a lot to post about but not enough time to sit here and compose all the posts.

29 April 2007

oh... snap....


I didn't even realize what had happened. I heard a "pop," but when I checked the needle and saw that it was fine, I didn't think anything else of it. I just went on sewing. Huh, who knew needles could be so strong?

28 April 2007

more swapping-goodness to share

Yesterday, I got this bit of lovely stuff in the mail:

yarn pirate goodies

It's some fabulous Yarn Pirate yarn in a beautiful colorway called "Mermaid." Here, have a closer look:

yarn pirate goodies - mermaid closeup

That's what I get for sending Georgia a get-well-ducky. Thanks Georgia - I love it! And the card is beautiful, too. Not to mention the new business cards, which I am really digging. Nice design!

Speaking of swaps, I have finished my doll quilts, but I will post about that tomorrow, once I figure out which is going where on Monday morning. And if I owe you a letter for the Knitterly Letter Swap, I apologize profusely for my tardy response. I am mailing out your letters on Monday. Once again, I am so sorry. I think I bit off more than I was able to chew this month, but it is all getting done, just at a little slower pace than I would have liked.

Meanwhile, look at what else arrived in the mail:

MOO CARDS!!!! Wanna swap? Email me and let me know (cynicthelamb[at]gmail[dot]com). Also, if you have given me Moo Cards, and I wasn't able to reciprocate at the time, I would love to do so now.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

27 April 2007

eye candy friday - materials & notions

eye candy - threads

I've got nothing but WIPs for you right now....

24 April 2007

art for auction & something like a tutorial

I have finished off and sent the first screen to GraceSpace to be included in their silent auction taking place this Friday.

Seedless Grape recently asked about quilting. I have to say, both knitting and quilting each have their appealing and their daunting aspects, but the only way to overcome the daunting is to dive right in and do it. Here's a peek at how I approach quilting, which may not be the most technically meticulous or historically informed approach, but it's how I do it for now.

I have a ton of scraps leftover from projects that I worked on even a year ago. I hold on to every scrap (because I am a little crazy and maybe slightly OCD); I store them in plastic bags. I have been giving some of my scraps away to our friend Phil, who uses them for collage work, but for the most part, I save everything. I then take these scraps and cut them into the largest size square that I can, which I came to the conclusion averages to 2 1/2 inches. Anything smaller, I cut into tiny circles or into hexagons to use for two other projects that I am taking my time with. I also save strips of fabric because they can be used for log cabin squares and such. Here, I am sorting scraps to see what I can use and what I can cut down:

screen - cutting scraps

For this specific project, I wasn't working with any pattern. If you are starting out and prefer working with a pattern to guide you, Free Spirit Fabrics has a ton of great patterns available for free download on their site. In this case, I took my scrappy bits and lined them up to see what colors and sizes worked best together. I want colors that will "pop" next to the creamy neutral of the natural Kona, so I have opted to use complimentary colors:

screen - laying out scraps

screen - progress - piecing

Once I lay things out, I then start chain-piecing on the machine, which there is a fabulous tutorial for here. Chain-piecing may look or sound intimidating at first, but it makes life so easy. Once you get into the groove of it, it is super-fast and efficient. I iron my pieces after I piece them in order to fit everything together and figure out what should go where. I am playing with the layout. Once that is determined, there will be more chain-piecing and more ironing:

screen - progress

Once everything is attached, we have a finished piece, which I then iron again to make sure everything is nice and flat. If you notice, things look a little warped once it's on the stretcher bars. That's actually because of the way I pulled at the fabric while stretching it. I think in this instance, for this project, it works. If I were making a pillow or a block for a quilt, I would not allow that to happen, but I wouldn't be pulling fabric tautly over a frame for those projects either.

Anyway, piecing is probably the easiest part of quilting. It's fun, and you get to play with color and arrangement. The tough part is actually quilting and binding. (Although, as far as I am concerned, binding is just a little easier than quilting itself.) There is a great tutorial on the purl bee on hand quilting and machine quilting that I strongly recommend. I really can't explain it any better than they have, so please check it out.

dollquilt 1 in progress - quilting

Hope you've enjoyed this little peek into the method behind my madness.

23 April 2007

in case you needed any more proof

the second mantis - standing

Yes, I am completely insane. Last night, at around 8:30, my father-in-law, who I absolutely adore, came upstairs to pick out a couple of softies to present to two of his students as prizes for some game/competition he would be holding in his class. He wanted Manny, but I told him Manny is not for sale. I felt bad saying no to him and told him I would make him another. He was so excited about it, that I was glad I agreed to do it. However, I questioned my sanity when I realized that I committed to have this done by the morning. Lucky for me, I wrote a wrote a good clear pattern when I made Manny, but it was still pushing it.

the second mantis

So this is it - the second mantis. The ones I am working on for the open studio are very different, but I'll talk about those later. In the meanwhile, I hope that the student who wins this loves it a bunch. I feel a little whacked from lack of sleep, so I'm going to go curl up and drool somewhere, maybe under my worktable. I'll talk about quilting tomorrow. (I'm sorry; I swear I am not normally this flaky, I think.)

the second mantis - outdoors

Side note: Can I tell you how beautiful it was out this morning? It's still gorgeous out, but watching the sun rise while trying to photograph this thingy on the porch made it worth staying up all night. The flowers in the beds are all finally coming up, and I am super-happy about the tulips that are now beginning to bloom. I'll post photos on my Flickr later.

22 April 2007

i think, therefore i blog (?)

Yesterday, the lovely Sarah of Small Fox in a Big World tagged me with this award:

Thanks Sarah! You are too kind. The original source of this meme is here. Now I have to select five blogs that make me think, which is much harder to do than I could have imagined. There are so many blogs that make me think, about so many things. That's not just limited to crafting and knitting blogs either. There are blogs that make me think about life, food, fashion, politics, pop culture, writing. It's hard to narrow it down, but here is my list of five blogs that have made me think about stuff that is important to me in the last week or so:

1) Abby of While She Naps: I love Abby's creations, and her work is incredibly inspiring. This specific post made me think a lot about art vs. craft, where her softies fit in, where mine fit in, the differences between making art and crafting, and the definitions and nuances of each. I really appreciate that she introduced the subject because it was something that I had not thought about in a while.

2) Stephanie of Little Birds: Her photography is amazing, and her crafting is awe-inspiring (as well as so inspired). But one of the main reasons I adore her blog so is her sensitive, attuned, and insightful writing. I love that she is so honest and that her tone is so familiar. She makes me think about life, the act of crafting, and how it all fits in. This recent post in particular really struck me and made me think about why I sell my work and whether or not that affects how I feel about the physical act of producing it.

3) grumperina: Her attention to detail is incredible, and it motivates me to pay more attention to the little things. Recently, she made me laugh and break out my Denyse Schmidt book to figure out why there was an inconsistency between a chart on one page and a diagram for the same project on another, which is something that I am almost ashamed to say I never noticed when I first got the book. Her enthusiasm, curiosity, and perseverance are definitely contagious. You can catch some for yourself over here.

4) knitting iris: She makes me think about a lot of things - living in a more eco-friendly fashion, traveling, color, dyeing, and natural dyes. She makes me want to experiment with dyeing so badly.

5) Julie of FrickKnits: Besides the fact that she is an excellent writer, I love that she is very open about her thoughts and opinions about everything. I don't comment on her blog very often, but I always think about her post subjects and have some sort of response. Most recently, I've been questioning what my own reasons are for wanting to have a son instead of a daughter when I would definitely call myself a feminist, too. (The answer being that girls are much crueler to one another than boys are, and I would rather my child not endure any of the torture I experienced growing up.)

So that's my list. If any of these folks are reading this (which I doubt, but what the hey, why not throw it out there), consider yourselves tagged if you would like. Off to work for me now. I have a tutorial coming tomorrow in response to the seedless grape's questions from my previous post, so please drop by tomorrow for that.

21 April 2007

works in progress - the doll quilt swap edition

doll quilt swap - doll quilt #1

When I was a student at that art school that shall not be named*, whenever we had to submit sketches for a Concepts class, I always presented more than one. In fact, I often had several ideas to choose from, and more often than not, my sketches were almost as good as a finish, they were that developed and worked out. The teachers loved the fact that the sketches were as good as a finished piece in terms of quality and substance, but the thing they sometimes warned me about was that I was presenting too many options and needed to boil it down really to one or two that were standout ideas. There were some teachers that encouraged cranking out a ton of ideas, but when it came to critiques, they really wanted you to only present one or two of your best sketches. As usual, I was a little scattered and couldn't narrow it down to just one or two things. Perhaps it was my own insecurities that made me just throw it all up there for the audience to choose from rather than trusting my own judgement and going with what I believed was my best piece.

doll quilt swap - doll quilt #2

Anyway, for this doll quilt swap, I pretty much did the same thing I always do. I made three quilt tops, and once I quilt everything today and bind them tomorrow, I will then decide which one looks best and send that on to my swap-partner. Now what to do with the other two.... I took some illuminated shots of them because I love that effect. The top one is just a basic checkerboard design. The second one was inspired by my own Scappalicious quilt top (that my lazy ass has yet to quilt and bind since I got the fabric I needed about a month ago). And the third one is inspired by this wonderful little doll quilt by Liesl of disdressed. I will post more about this later, once they are finished. For now, as you can see, they are still works in progress.

doll quilt swap - doll quilt #3

doll quilt swap - #3 laid flat

doll quilt swap - #1 and #2 on ironing board

* I do not name that art school for my own paranoid reasons. I recently made the mistake of checking my Google stats, which was the dumbest thing I could do, and I learned that I have a contingent of readers or perhaps just one faithful reader who use the server at said school. This, of course, made me really paranoid because it made me wonder if the school was keeping tabs on me. This is why I hate checking stats.

20 April 2007

eye candy friday - the nature edition

I saw this fungi-smothered branch the other day during my walk with Mali through the American Academy. It had been exceptionally windy the night before, and there were branches everywhere that morning. When I took this photo, it was still raining out, only it was a light drizzle. I love how everything looks on gray days - bright colors just "pop" that much more.

19 April 2007

guess who's coming to dinner?

First Bug - guess who's coming to dinner?

I finished the first bug for the garden party, which will hopefully be part of the series I will show at the South End Open Studios in May. The pattern is based on the one for the duckies, but as you can see, I altered it and added a bunch of stuff. The head is shaped like the ducks', but the body is different. The little legs are stuffed with polyfill and also have pipe cleaners running through them so that they are more poseable and to help the little guy stand on his own. The feet have poly and pellets in order to give them some weight and help prevent him from tipping onto his face. It still takes a bit of fussing to get him to stand, but once he's up, he's good - no slipping, no tipping, no flipping. The wings are lined with interfacing, just to give them a little bit of substance. It was a lot of fun making this little guy, and I think I learned a bit about toy making in the process. There's still so much that I need to learn, however, such as putting pins or screws or something at the joints so that the arms and legs are poseable. I have to go to the library or Amazon and see what resources I can find. Speaking of books, allow my buggy friend to show you our haul from our trip to the bookstore yesterday during my break.

First Bug

P.S. - Funny thing I noticed later - the bug matches my new shoes.

18 April 2007

more more more

There are four new squirrels up at the shop today in Spring-y fabrics. For the next couple of weeks, I will be posting squirrels there every day. The amount of squirrels and the fabrics used will vary from day to day, so please stay tuned if you're looking for that specific squirrel that speaks to you. Thanks!

17 April 2007

check it out!

My squirrels are in Cookie Mag blog's Nesting section. For those of you not familiar with Cookie Mag, it's a wonderfully stylish magazine for modern moms. The Sartorialist does a segment for them called "The Sartorialist Jr." Absolutely love it! I am thrilled to be among their favorite toys for less than $20. And I am in good company with Heidi of My Paper Crane and Chuck Baker, whose gorgeous wooden puzzles I have been admiring on etsy for months now. (Note to self: Must get the ducky one for Elijah.) Please go have a look.

thinking aloud

Okay, so the next couple of weeks are going to be a little crazy, and I may not be here much. Just for the sake of my own sanity, I am listing what needs to be taken care of this week, in order of priority:

  • new batch of squirrels for the shop
  • 3 patchwork screens for a silent auction at Grace Space
  • 2 commission pieces
  • 5 creatures for the "Garden Party" which will be shown at the Open Studio in May
  • finish up the 3 manti and start 2 more
  • doll quilt for the swap

I have had a few people ask me about how to replace the standard blogger header with your own. I think I am going to do a quick tutorial on that later so keep an eye out for that.

Also, because for some reason blogger wouldn't allow me to respond to anyone's comments last night, I just wanted to address a couple of folks that I wasn't able to reach:

Ashley - Malachi used to do that to us all the time when we first took him in. Five years later, he doesn't do it anymore, but the cats continue to cause all sorts of mayhem.

Melissa - I would definitely say the Echino fabric would be suitable for a skirt. It depends on what you are looking for, however. If you want something light and flouncy, then it probably isn't the fabric for the project. If you are doing something like an a-line skirt or something that has more structure, then it is perfect.

Thanks for dropping by folks! Hope to be back soon.

16 April 2007

what the bored cat did to the ironing board

You know, I love my cats. Love 'em. I am so happy to have them in my life and to share my space with them. Sometimes I think that no home is complete without a cat. Then again, sometimes, I get home from a short trip and realize that in my haste to leave I left my ironing board out. I know this is stupid of me because leaving it open would be an open invitation for the cats to take turns sleeping on it. As I turn on the lights around the apartment and take off my coat, I see what looks like an exclamation point scrawled on the board. Upon closer inspection, I see that one of the cats has taken it upon himself/herself to drag ass across my ironing board and punctuate it with a tiny but still mightily offensive present. I don't know which cat exactly was responsible for this, but I think I have a pretty good idea as to who the culprit was. ***coughcoughJJcough*** I was stunned. I laughed, because really, what can you do? I got rid of what needed to be disposed of and gingerly peeled the cover off of the board, putting it in a plastic bag to wash in the morning. However, the thought of washing this fouled object and throwing it back on my board, the board that I iron my freshly washed fabrics on, the fabrics I use to make softies and such, was thoroughly unappealing. I am usually not such a wasteful person, but I much preferred a new cover. Luckily, I remembered seeing this nifty little tutorial at the purl bee. I quickly grabbed some batting and some leftover fabric and whipped up this replacement:

ironing board with new cover

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I am now a happy camper. I am a little apprehensive about the quilting on the cover leaving creases in my ironed fabrics and stuff, but perhaps it won't be an issue at all. I did such a sloppy quilting job; my lines were not straight nor spaced evenly. I was rushing to have it done so that I could use the board in the morning. I am pleased with the way the sides cames out, however:

And it fits the bill for now. I think I am going to go ahead and get a larger, standing ironing board soon because it would really help to maximize my space on the work table. Right now, it feels a little cramped with the small ironing board and the sewing machine and the cutting mat all on the same surface. At the moment, though, I am going to celebrate my new ironing board cover....

15 April 2007

art is fun

anima cogitat - exterior & interior

The performance went pretty well, despite the low turnout. It is only the first of a three-week continuous performance, so it's no big deal. It all leads up to the big event on closing night, April 27th, which is what the gallery and all the folks involved are publicizing. The video-projections are also being developed and fine-tuned by Matt as the project progresses. More to come on this exhibition at a later date.

10 April 2007

anima cogitat

Matt is having an exhibition in Brooklyn, starting in a few days, info as follows:

"I'll be making video and paint in the windows of Grace Exhibition Space in Bushwick from April 13 - April 27th. The piece will evolve over the duration, and can be viewed at any time from Broadway. There will be live events at 8pm on Friday the 13th, 20th and 27th with a reception inside Grace Space on the 27th.

Grace Exhibition Space is at 840 Broadway, 2nd floor, Bushwick. JMZ train to Flushing Ave. More info at: www.gracespace.multiply.com

See you there!"

If you're in the area, please feel free to check it out.

09 April 2007

goin' postal

knitterly letter swap

It's a funny thing when the staff at your local post office recognizes you and probably just might know your name (you know theirs) because you're there every day. Funnier still that despite the fact that I am there just about every day, I haven't sent anyone a letter in months and months. I rarely send letters at all, which might explain why my handwriting has degenerated into a pathetic scrawl. I like writing letters, though. I enjoy the physical act of it. However, writing a letter to a stranger can be a little awkward. I am not the most outgoing nor extroverted of sorts. In fact, some might say I am socially challenged. (Others might way I am straight up misanthropic, but you know, that's neither here nor there.) One of the things that actually appealed to me about the Knitterly Letter Swap was the fact that I would have to come out of my shell and write to someone with whom I already had some common ground as far as interests are concerned but who I otherwise didn't know from Adam (or however that expression goes). Sounds great, right? Yeah, well, I didn't really consider that I might have to talk about myself as a means of introduction. I hate writing about myself. I mean, I have no problem relating my experiences here or converting them into short stories or chatting about them with friends. It's just that I always feel like a massive douche talking to a stranger about myself when I feel they don't have the chance to get away. It's like I don't want to be that person who's going on and on about how they did this and how they went there and how fabulous they are and blah blah blah me me me. Anyway, I'm blathering really.... The point is that I sent off my Knitterly Letter today, and I feel like I am officially the biggest tool in the world because I enclosed photos of my pets. *cue the canned laughter* Yep, of - my - pets....

Anyway, I am looking forward to my Knitterly Pal's letter because I would like to think that I am a little better at responding to someone else than I am to initiating any form of contact on my own. I swear, I am the reason there are books of how to write different types of letters. Sooooooooooooo socially awkward....

On a brighter (and less stunted) note, I also sent this little guy off with a card of well wishes to a friend who is recovering from quite the boo-boo:

knitterly good wishes to a friend with a big boo-boo

08 April 2007

happy happy

duckies with ears

I love it when a 31- year old dude shrieks with glee when he discovers a bunch of duckies (some with bunny ears) awaiting him in his Easter basket. Hope you're all having a lovely day. It is gorgeous out!

07 April 2007

ssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... be vewwy vewwy quiet....

I'm working away on what I'll be putting in Matt's Easter basket later tonight. Yes, I know, I am making duckies for a grown man. This is a grown man who has the softest spot in his heart for Easter. It's funny to me when I think of the vast differences between the way Matt's family gears up for Easter and the way my family did. He told me that when he was little, every Easter, he and his brother would get out of bed and follow the trail of colorful, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs to their big ol' Easter baskets. My sister and I would get dragged out of bed and thrown into some confining dresses and bonnets, primped and curled, and then get dragged to church in our little patent leather shoes, which were always too tight or too big, where we would try not to fall asleep for the next hour, thankful that Jesus rose from the dead if only so that we could finally turn on the stereo and television again because Lent was finally, finally over, until the next year where we would have to give up anything we liked for another 40 days and be all somber for that duration of time, do the stations of the cross again, and go to Good Friday's massaerobics, again. My sister was smart; she gave up cake and candies for Lent, which was easy enough and she had the added bonus of losing a pound or two at the end of Lent. I was the moron who always gave up music and television, and my mother made sure that I would strictly adhere to this. Yep, it was quite a different experience from Matt's where they didn't observe Lent and do the whole church thing. Suffice it to say, Easter is not my favorite holiday. It comes and goes, and it doesn't register for me. Yeah, yeah, rebirth and renewal are wonderful things. I get that. Matt, on the other hand, LOVES Easter. In fact, it's his favorite holiday, much to my weird amazement. So I thought this year, I would get in the spirit of things and make him an Easter basket, complete with little duckies wearing bunny ears. I haven't finished the detachable bunny ears yet, but then again, I am not finished with the duckies yet either, as you can see here:

duckies - progress overhead

I think that part of the reason I am so into this project is because ever since I got this book:

japanese nuigurumi book with pattern for duckies

which was about 6 months ago or so, I have been meaning to make the duckies. I love the duckies, with their cute little heads and their adorable little wings that look like tiny bite-sized empanadas. My hand-sewing needs to improve, but that comes with practice. I feel about hand-sewing the way I do with embroidery - I like to savor every stitch. It is so Zen and relaxing. I hate to feel rushed with it, which is why some of my stitches are so sloppy there. I'm hoping to have the third ducky finished tonight. (Yeah, wish me luck with that.)

06 April 2007

the hat - it is done!

hat on - sooooooooo serious

And god help me, I kinda like the fact that it is almost Jamiroquai-large on me.

hat on - sideview

Pattern by Lotta Jansdotter
From Simple Sewing
Sewn using Etsuko Furuya Echino print for the outside, Alexander Henry Raindrop Stripe print for the lining
Modifications: none

eye candy friday - hats off to ya!

hat - brim lining

I finished the sun hat from Lotta Jansdotter's "Simple Sewing." It was pretty easy to make, but I still made a boo-boo with the lining. The brim looks great, both the lining and the outside. It's just the lining at the crown that got a little tricky. I'm not feeling too bad about it, however, as it is not visible when the hat in on and it doesn't compromise the structure of the hat.

05 April 2007


I'm ready and set to go for the doll quilt swap over at losabia's. Have you folks heard about this already? Have you joined yet? If not, get over there ASAP and join now because the sign-ups close tomorrow. I knew doll quilts would explode all over the place, and I couldn't be more pleased about it. Love 'em! I love making them, I love admiring the ones others have made, I love how they look alone or together, I just love 'em! I am pretty psyched about this swap. Thanks to Lisa for organizing it!

While we're on the happy subject of swaps, look at the goodies I recently swapped for. The bunny is one of Dawn's fabulous creations. She recently added a bunch of new bunnies in some gorgeous vintage fabrics to her shop. Also pictured above is some soap by Megan, a.k.a. the Knitting Phillistine. Megan's soaps are heavenly. Check 'em out!

I have to add that today was a refreshing change from yesterday. I think a little bit of sun was what I needed to feel better all around. I have barely coughed at all today, and I have been much more productive than yesterday or the day before even. I've got some fun projects to share, but more on that later....

04 April 2007

squirreled away

The latest batch of squirrels will be up on my etsy shop in just a few moments.

I am squirreled away today, quietly resenting this weather (snow?! fo' reals, yo), hoping for my throat and chest to feel better soon, wishing for sunny days so I can properly photograph and share some of the things I have been working on and some lovely items from other people who I have recently swapped with, not to mention so that I can go out and play.

These two bunnies are by Dawn of LookWhatICanDo, who wrote the most hysterical recap of the Softie Awards "festivities." They want to go out and play too. ***le sigh***

Hope you're all staying toasty and warm tonight.

02 April 2007

meanwhile, on the other side of the island...

the softie gnomes have been busy doing their thing. I have a new batch of softies consisting of 2 stumpy bunnies, 2 lovebugs, and 8 assorted squirrels that will be going up on the shop shortly. Actually, the squirrels won't be going up until tomorrow because I would rather not end up trying to eat my own head over the frustration of getting them to photograph well in this light. The bunnies and the lovebugs will be up tonight. I think out of the entire series of critters that I have done, I like the lovebugs the best:

You can see more photos of these guys on my Flickr.