non-stop rainy weekend = crafting accomplishment

This was supposed to have a little bird on top of his head, but I didn’t feel like making it. I might eventually add it.

This is something I bought in Louisiana with the Hobby Lobby gift card my parents gave me. The pattern is stamped with water-soluble ink, so after you finish stitching and wash it, it rinses out. I’ve been working on it on and off for a couple of weeks. And yes, I wear a fucking apron when I cook. Cooking is serious business.

I made a few minor color changes: The cups were supposed to be all blue, but I made the middle one green; the sprinkles on the middle cupcake were supposed to be blue, which didn’t make any sense to me, so I changed them to brown; the curl on the right cupcake and the frosting outline on the left cupcake were supposed to be done in red, but I used light brown instead.

This is a quick little project from my new softies book. It’s filled with weighted plastic bead fill, it could be a paperweight or a pincushion. It’s basically just something you make because adding all the embellishments are fun. Some of them were the book’s suggestions, some I just made up.

This photo is all kinds of overexposed (it’s time for a new digital camera, to be honest), but the embellishment on the left arm is a pink heart on an ivory square. It just got all washed out to the same color.

This is the other side.

In other project news, I got my Golden Half rolls back from Dwayne’s on Saturday, and the slide roll that I shot and had cross processed has a lot of great stuff on it. Got to get it all sorted and uploaded on flickr ASAP. They split them into separate images, which I really, really wish they had not done, but oh well. Maybe I can stick them back together in the editing process.

softies, round 2: green tea bag

I asked for this book for Christmas, but for some reason didn’t get it. It was backordered at the store, maybe? I forget. Anyway, check out the crazy cheap price Amazon has it for: $3.99! Although 4 of the designs are duplicates from a book I already have, and one is an amigurumi and I don’t crochet. Still, 20 patterns for 4 bucks, that’s pretty good.

I got it last night, a day earlier than I was expecting it, and got right to work on this cute little tea bag. I dunno, do you think the slanty eyes are a wee bit OMGRACIST, or am I just being PC? I also think the pink cheeks are a little too big, even though I made them smaller than the design specified.

I think I’m going to make 2 more in different colors like the book suggests, grey for Earl Grey and yellow for chamomile. I bought these adorable googly eyes (with lashes!) ate Michael’s this morning, they should be just the right size. (I needed googly eyes for my next softie — a whale — and couldn’t resist getting the lashed ones too, even though they’re too small for the whale. I figured something would turn up that I could use them on eventually.)

Speaking of tea, my sister gave me a variety of teas and digestive biscuits for Christmas, and now I am completely hooked on PG Tips and McVities’ Milk Chocolate Digestives. PG Tips is like what you think of when you think the word “tea”; and in Notes on a Small Island, Bill Bryson called the chocolate digestive “a British masterpiece”.

elephant with bird softie & the drinking of milkshakes

This one didn’t come out quite right, I’m pretty sure the ears should be higher. The directions were for machine-sewing, and had all this stuff about basting and seam allowances, and I just went “fuck it” and tried to figure it out myself. But except for the ears — which can be fixed — I think it looks pretty good for something with so many pieces that was sewn entirely by hand.

This is the last design in this particular book that I’m going to make. There’s a few more that I don’t want or have a need for: A Happy Birthday banner, one that just looks way too impossible to do by hand, and an iPod case. I don’t have an iPod, my mp3 player is a lot smaller (and I already made a case for it). …However, there are some members of my family who do have iPods, so it might do to keep it in mind for a Christmas present.

But me and felt aren’t finished yet! Yesterday I bought this book at Borders, and every single design in it looks insanely cute. I also want to get this book eventually; Borders did have it, but it had been opened and looked pretty beat up and I didn’t trust that all the patterns were still there, so I think I’ll buy an untouched copy from Amazon. There’s one duplicate (the little happy tree guy on the cover) from the book I just finished, but the rest are new to me.

In other news, yesterday I got There Will Be Blood from Netflix, and ho. ly. SHIT. it was amazing. When my brother David saw it he said it was like Daniel Day-Lewis was like “Oh, you thought I was a talented actor before? *mimes rolling up sleeves* STAND BACK, BITCHES.”

I am so going to shout BASTARD IN A BASKET at the next person who annoys me.

penguin softie & medical bills

Wow, that’s really not in focus. I could tell ’til I’d uploaded it. Oh well, you get the idea. The pattern specified fuchsia and white, but fuchsia just doesn’t seem like a very penguin-y color. Yet, light purple does. I don’t know why. I used purple quartz beads from an old busted bracelet for the eyes. I knew I was keeping those for a reason.

Okay, so I know I said I wasn’t going to make any softies this weekend and work on my grandmother’s Christmas present instead. And I did, I worked on it Friday evening and nearly all day Saturday. Then I started to hate it, so I took a break and made this little guy.

In other news, I got the bill from Washington Hospital for my bronchitis-inspired trip to the ER last month, right before I got axed at work. Insurance is paying for everything except $100. Which is a huge relief, because the way my life is going lately, I totally expected them to decide they weren’t going to pay for any of it. My PPO has a committee that decides whether and how much they’re going to pay for ER services. Theoretically they could have decided it wasn’t an emergency and billed me the entire amount. I can see some bunch of suits sitting around and going “Well, she was basically drowning every time she lay down, and had been delirious with 102 degree fever for 5 days, but that’s not an emergency! She should have just had some chicken soup!!”

So while that’s good news, I can’t help but wonder what the fuck the other $1268.73 was for. Here’s what happened: The triage nurse took my temperature and blood pressure and asked some questions. Then I was admitted to the ER and the ER nurse gave me some Tylenol and asked some more questions. The ER doctor listened to my chest, had me walk around the room, looked in my ears and eyes, asked some more questions, and wrote me some prescriptions. Which I paid $10 each for, by the way — and they were generics! I probably could have gotten them cheaper if I DIDN’T have insurance.

That was it. No X-rays, CAT scans, or MRIs. Dr. House and his team of highly-qualified assistants did not show up and put me through a battery of weird tests and exotic drugs. $1368.73, please. Fucking ridiculous.

But it has inspired me to continue my insurance through COBRA. It’s only about $28 per month, and god forbid I relapse or get sick again. I’d have to pay the whole thing.

orange bird softie

Eee, I like this one a lot because it’s 3-dimensional. Instead of being just a front and a back sewn together, this one has 2 sides, a front, and a bottom. I stuffed a layer of weighted plastic pellets on the bottom, so it will stand up nicely. It’s hard to make out her white hat against the white wall (some photographer I am), but it’s very jaunty.

This weekend I have to force myself to take a break from these addictive little critters and get more work on Christmas presents done. Most everyone is going to be getting handmade gifts, it’s going to be a lean few months until I can find work (or start mooching off my parents).

ETA: Because several people have asked: No, I am not going to be selling these on Etsy or anywhere else. I did not design the patterns used to make these and it wouldn’t be ethical to sell them for profit, much as I’d like to since I know there’s a market (and could use the $$$). Strictly speaking I think it’s also illegal, copyright violation or something.

softies & science

I’m really pleased with this one. I used the pattern to cut out and assemble the pieces, but the colors and embellishments were my own ideas. I made the hangers out of 20-gauge wire. A lot of the pieces are glued on with fabric glue: the collars, and the petticoat and scalloped bottom, and and the belts on the orange and royal blue dresses. And the bottoms are glued together and only stitched up the side, because real dresses wouldn’t have stitching showing along the bottom.

These are both small — would fit in the palm of your hand — and were each one evening’s work. I especially like the little dog.

In other news, I guess I’m going to Louisiana for the holidays. I was kind of dithering over whether I should, but Mom started nagging me and I got the feeling she really wants me to come. No one is saying anything out loud, but Granny has been in the hospital twice since her 90th birthday. Neither time was serious, except everything is kind of serious when you’re 90. Plus, I really do want to go. I spent one holiday alone in California since they moved down there, and it was pretty depressing.

So I don’t think I’m really going to look for work until after the holidays, because I don’t know how it would look to end an interview with “I’m ready to start right away!… except for the 2 weeks I’ll need to have off because my plane tickets are non-refundable.” Maybe during the holidays I can snoop around and get a better idea of the job market down there, in case it comes to that.

Yesterday I decided on more or less of a whim to go to the California Academy of Sciences, since it’s right across from the deYoung Museum and I knew just how to get there. I couldn’t have picked a better day, because apparently every 3rd Wednesday is free admission. Adult admission is $27.50, so that’s nothing to sneeze at.

In a way it really took me back; but in another way it was like I’d never been there before because it’s changed so much since I was a kid. The only thing that was exactly the same was the Foucault’s Pendulum. I used to watch that thing with rapt attention, and when it finally knocked over a pair of steel pegs it was like I’d won the lottery. Ah, to be an easily-excited child again.

I’ll have photos whenever I get around to uploading them.

ent & chick softies

I did most of the tree (the pattern calls it “Treeling”, but probably only because calling it “Treebeard” would be a copyright violation) on Friday and only didn’t finish it because of the polyester batting/fiberfill debacle. I went to Michael’s yesterday and remedied that, and all I had to do was stuff the two pieces and sew them together.

I’m really pleased with how this one came out, it looks just like the picture on the instructions, except my colors are a little different. I used brighter colors for the leaves, and they used turquoise felt for the treetop. Also part of it specified machine stitching, and mine was all done by hand. I think it looks pretty damn even and neat for hand stitched, I’m proud of the work.

The chick was easy, I banged it out while I was watching television. The hat is removable and using seed beads to hold the flower onto it was my own idea. Also the pattern said to use pale yellow for the body and dark yellow for the beak and feet, but I liked the idea of having more of a contrast so I used orange for the beak and feet.

I’ve already cut most of the pieces for my next project and I hope to finish it tonight. But it’s 3 separate pieces, so it may take another day.

I also found the perfect Christmas present for Mom when I was buying the fiberfill, which I will not mention here because I think she sometimes reads it.  I’m on to you, Mom! I also have Granny’s present picked out (and I made a decent start over the weekend, since I couldn’t work on my softies). And I think for Phil I’m going to get an 8×10 of the photo I took of him walking Jamie down the aisle at her wedding last year and put it in a nice frame. I always like to make as many of my Christmas presents as possible.

2 things which i recently discovered & which i like

Blogging about things that I hate = too easy.

dead-like-meLast night SciFi (I’m sorry, I absolutely refuse to use the ridiculous name Syfy) played the direct-to-DVD Dead Like Me movie, and it interested me enough to make me add the series to my Netflix queue. God, Brian Fuller can’t catch a break, can he? I think he’s just a shade too whimsical for American television. We Yanks are simply not, on the whole, a whimsical people. (Most present company excluded, probably.)

What goes with early cancellation? Wine! Specifically, Contadino Pinto Grigio Vivace from Trader Joe’s for $6.99. The “Vivace” part means bubbles. That’s right, it’s a sparkling Pinot Grigio, and it is my new best friend. It’s fruity, but not like, sickly sweet fruity. More like how a grapefruit can be said to be “fruity” in that it is indeed a fruit. (Does that make any sense? I swear I am not actually still drunk, I finished the bottle last night.) There’s a nice light acidy finish that doesn’t take the roof of your mouth off. And I can tell you from firsthand experience that it goes really well with goat cheese.

In other news, I would have had another softie finished over the weekend but I accidentally bought polyester batting instead of polyester fiberfill. Who hasn’t made THAT mistake, eh? Actually, this is a really good hobby to take up during unemployment because felt is only either 29 or 99 cents a sheet, depending on the size. A bag of fiberfill big enough for several projects is usually less than $5. And things like floss and beads and such I of course already have.

last time i was unmployed, it was scrapbooking

softie cakeI always seem to discover a new craft when I find myself out of work. (Although I really ought to be concentrating on Granny’s Christmas present. Never mind!) Lately I’m obsessed with “softies”, little kawaii handstitched felt and stuffing creations that serve no purpose other than to collect dust and look cute.

This my first finish, sorry for the poor quality cell phone pic. There was supposed to be a little whipped cream detail on top, but I just couldn’t make it look right.; and after 3 tries I was out of white felt and developing a serious of case of “I-hate-it-itis”. I may try again when it’s not nearly midnight and I am not one needle prick away from setting my entire craft supply on fire.

Later today I am off to stock up on colored felt and fiberfill, ready to try something a little more ambitious.