Crochet: Tentacles of Doom Scarf

IMG_1659Some Twitter buddies were talking about octopus scarves and I really wanted to make one.  This pattern from HELLOhappy looked really cute and pretty simple, so I gave it a shot.  It was fun and very easy to make – but fair warning: the tentacles get OLD really FAST.  I decided to only make 2 as called for in the pattern, and made all the others with different instructions.

I made two extra long curling tentacles and then folded them over to make a total of four tentacles.  Then I also made two long tentacles with a simple double-crochet-post stitch (where you go around the post of the previous row, rather than through the normal “chain” stitch at the top).  It gave an interesting 3-D texture to the tentacle, without driving me mad from boredom.

I didn’t want a lot of stuffing in the octopus’s head/body, but I did want a little dimension. It just so happened I’d made a “cowl” earlier in the month that was way too small and ended up more of a fat, wide headband. Which just didn’t work. So I recycled it into stuffing.

I made the whites of the eyes from some leftover “hairy” white baby yarn I bought to make my Evil Day Job boss’s baby a sweet little lamb hat.

Sewing things on/together is not my favorite thing, so I didn’t make as many suckers as I probably should have.  Maybe someday when I’m bored I’ll make a few more and sew them on. But for now, it was all I could do to sew everything together and finish the eyes.

It’s definitely one of a kind.  Some of the tentacles are too long and definitely uneven – but I’m not a matchy-match sort of person anyway.  I like it and the finished product is fun.  I still want to make a more elegant tentacle scarf, but haven’t found the right pattern yet.

Crafty Planner

I mentioned a post or two ago that I was working on something creative to kind of get back in the swing of things.  Raelyn talked about a cool planner here that I also ordered.  Overall, I was happy with the scheduling and planning capabilities, but the general “beauty” of the planner was… utilitarian.  Not gorgeous or inspiring.

But I was inspired by Lynn Viehl’s post about recycling a magazine into a journal.  Why couldn’t I do something like that with this planner, plus make it a bit sturdier at the same time?

I just happened to have a lot of cool macabre fabric on hand.  I selected the browns/creams with skulls and ravens.  I also had a piece of cotton quilt batting left over from a few years ago when I made Christmas ornaments.

planner1Of course, I had the cardboard “wrapper” box that the planner had been shipped in.  I only had to trim it a little to make it work as a “binder”.

I can’t sew much at all, but this project was made easy with Aleene’s tacky glue.  I wrapped the cardboard in cotton batting and then basically wrapped the whole thing in fabric like a present.

planner2 I positioned the fabric to make an interesting design on the front. The skeletal hands and “Spells” really speak to me. :-)

I was going to completely cover the inside with fabric too, but when I looked at it wrapped around like this, I liked the natural look of the cotton batting as contrast.  Besides, the planner sits on top of it, covering it all anyway.  So I saved myself trying to figure out how to make the inside look nice without having raveling edges to worry about.

planner3The next step was to glue some ribbons inside.  I positioned thin ribbons on either sleeve to hold the front and back pages of the planner in place.  I glued them in two different sessions to make sure they didn’t get stuck accidentally in a position I didn’t want.  I also had a piece of thick black ribbon leftover from my RT costume that made a striking bookmark.

planner4The front and back pages of the planner aren’t really sturdy enough to hold it in place and it kept slipping a bit.  So I took another length of thinner ribbon and ran it through the spiral of the planner, then around the outside of the binder.  I tacked the top and bottom down with glue to hold it in place and tied a big bow on the spine.

planner7I was pretty pleased with how it was looking!  Only the pages inside were still a little boring.  I wanted something really pretty and creative to inspire me on the inside too.

Lo and behold, I found the perfect paper on the clearance shelf at Michael’s.  I mean, look at those skulls and ravens!  The only thing that could have been better was if there were some red pages too.  But the antique-looking purple is still nice and worked well with the grunge theme.  I used the glue pen that came with my Smash journal (that I still haven’t done anything with) to glue most of the papers into place.

planner5

planner6I had to cut down the large scrapbook paper to fit inside the 8.5×11 planner, but I repurposed the side I cut off on the opposite page anyway.  It makes some of the pages kind of thick, but that’s okay.  So far, I only added paper to the front and the leading pages for Oct. and Nov.  I figured my mood may change around Christmas and I might want some different papers around the holiday.

This purple paper is coated in some kind of glitter and the Smash glue pen didn’t work well.  So I switched to Aleene’s glue just to get that side decorative paper glued on top to match the opposite side.  (I didn’t want the runnier glue to bead up and wrinkle the paper.)

I’ve had a lot of fun with it and have definitely been inspired to try and make more crafty things for Story.  I certainly have enough cool paper on hand to try a few more things!

Taxes and Corsets

That’s been my life this week!

First the bad stuff:  taxes.  We owed quite a bit last year, so I put off the taxes as long as possible.  But I finally got started this week and was pleasantly surprised.  We’re getting enough back from Uncle Sam to pay what we owe the state with just a little left over.  I’ll take that!  I have a few things to finalize yet but the hard part is over.

Now the fun stuff:  shopping for my first corset!

I’ve been wanting one for a loooooong time.  Ever since I started losing weight — which was two years ago.  I almost bit the bullet last year before RT, but I chickened out.  I still had so much to lose and I didn’t want to invest in something that wouldn’t fit in a year.

Well here I am a year later and I could have been wearing that corset.  :evil: I still almost put it off again because I have a month before RT to pull outfits together, but I finally got up the courage and just went for it.

In fact, I’ve ordered 2!  Maybe both will work.  Maybe not.  But I’ll have two completely different looks to play with.

The first is formal and sparkly, like this one:  Burgundy Satin Couture Corset.  They didn’t have my size and I balked at spending that much, but I found one on eBay that looks exactly like it for half the price.  Hopefully I’ll get it and it fits…!

The other one I’m ridiculously excited about:  Steampunk Wench Corset.  She has ready-made corsets and while white isn’t my ideal color, I can totally play up the black details and the fun steampunk aspect.  Even better:  she can alter the corset up to 6″ down to fit me as I continue to lose weight!  So this one is definitely something I’ll get tons of wear out of going forward.

Now the hard — and FUN — part comes of shopping for materials and patterns to get the skirts made.  My Mom is a master seamstress–she made all my prom dresses and outfits growing up.  Molly and I plan to meet up at Granny’s several times in April to plan out the outfits and gather the supplies.  I’m a complete dunce at fabric and sewing.  I can do basics — like sew a straight line — but that’s about it.  I read the instructions and they’re like Greek.  So I might have to make a trip to have her tell me what she needs, and then I’ll bring stuff back and we’ll help cut out, etc.

So far I’ve found a nice big 11-yard piece of black taffeta that we can use as a base.  Then I’ve found several really unique and interesting patterns I’m hoping we can use in a bustle or overskirt to hype up the design.  I’ve got several costume patterns coming, and once I know yardage, I’ll start buying!

More to come, and of course, I’ll take some pictures.  Assuming things FIT!

The Mad Stitcher

I’ve had a bit of ADHD lately with my projects.  I’ve been working on four at a time.  :oops:

Here’s the next part of the mystery sal completed:

I also started two projects.  First, Northern Expressions Needlework’s Antique Lace band sampler:

This is stitched on ruby wine linen with HDF’s examplar white chocolate silk.  Since I had to order quite a large piece of linen to get the right length, I had plenty (after I cut it in half) to use the other piece for the Coat of Arms SAL.

This one is using “Obsidian” silk from The Silk Mill.  It’s gorgeous, shiny filament silk — but as slippery as snot.  I quickly learned to use much shorter lengths than usual (for this linen count, I have to use two strands to get the coverage I like).  I feel more worn out after wrestling with the slippery silks, so I might regret my decision to use it on such a large project.  But it’s absolutely gorgeous…

I’m not sure what other colors I’ll be using in the CoA yet.  I want blacks or dark grays that look good on the deep red.  I’ve placed another order from Carrie’s Threads, and as soon as The Silk Mill is shipping again (they’re moving and won’t ship until after 10/1), I’ll order more shades of black.  I’m tentatively thinking that I’ll do each row of the sampler in a different shade of black.  That’ll allow me to explore a bit.

My other project is a small kit with lots of beads that That Man talked me into the other day.  I don’t have pictures of it yet but I’ll snag one the next time I work on it.

 

Cross Stitch WiP Wednesday

I was excited to receive the next part of the Mystery SAL! Here it is all stitched up:

 

Since I’m having so much fun with this one, I decided to sign up for another SAL.  This one isn’t a mystery at all (you can see the glorious red band sampler if you go to the group’s homepage linked above).  The only problem is picking the materials.  I had one piece of 40ct. linen that was long enough, but it had a yellowish cast to it that I didn’t really like for this.  You KNOW I’m going to use at least red silks, maybe black too….so yellowish linen just won’t work.

So of course it was time to do a little shopping.  :lol:

I ordered some Weeks Dye Works 40ct. linen because I’ve heard great things about it.  I went with the basic “linen” color.  Now if I can just settle on which silks to use…

Decisions, decisions!  I have to hurry up and decide, though, because several pages have already been released.

I also have supplies coming for another glorious red project:  Antique Lace Band Sampler designed by Northern Expressions Needlework.  I’ll have to learn some speciality stitches for this one, and it has both beads and ribbons!  Definitely a challenge, but I can’t wait.  It’s just too pretty.

I can’t wait for all these goodies to arrive!

Cross Stitch SAL Update

Okay, so this was supposed to be a “Wed WIP” but Wed got away from me.  I forgot that I had to actually…you know…TAKE PICTURES to make this post.  Then I couldn’t find the iron.

So here’s the 35-ct Mermaid Blue linen and light blue mystery mini spool from HDF:

It’s hard to tell in these photos, but there’s a lovely mix of soft blue and even a hint of light green in the silk thread.  (Pictures were taken on my iPhone.)

To make sure the dark material wouldn’t drive me nuts, I decided to try a small Ink Circles freebie:

Here’s Part 1 of the Mystery SAL completed!

 

And here’s a wider shot so you can see more of the fabric. I decided not to try and finish all the border yet to avoid making mistakes that I’ll have to frog later.

 

 

iStitch Mystery SAL

I’m going to be starting a new cross stitch project shortly, and because it’s something new for me, I thought I’d share my progress here every week or so.

SAL = Stitch A Long.  In this case, it’s a mystery SAL – we’ve only been given a glimpse of what the finished project will look like.  There are 8 pieces, and we don’t get the NEXT piece until we finish the current one and send a picture to the designer.  Currently, there are 125 people signed up to participate, and we’ll all be stitching at the same time.  Pretty cool, huh?

What’s even more cool: each project will look very different, depending on fabric and choice of colors. I was thinking about my project tonight, and it both amused and irritated me.  It’s so reflective of my writing journey and personal struggles.

First, I want to do something different, that no one else will do.  Even though we’re all doing the same pattern.

I went through all my stash, reviewing my linen and silks, looking for unusual elements that interested me.  I found a large piece of Mermaid Blue 35 ct. linen I bought from HDF last year.  I love the subtle mottling, but it’s soooo dark.  If you’ve never worked on dark linen before, it can be really hard to find the threads.  Accidentally get off by one thread, and it can look really terrible.

But the designer’s piece is stitched in a nice blue silk, so I kept coming back to the Mermaid Blue linen — sort of an “opposite” idea with blue as the main background.  I have a mystery spool of soft light blue silk that would look gorgeous against the darker linen. It’d definitely be a challenge, and Lord knows I loooove a good challenge.  Sigh.

The first part of the pattern doesn’t come out until Sat. so I decided to do a little test stitching on that dark linen first to make sure I wouldn’t end up pulling my hair out.  I have a little freebie from Ink Circles that I ought to be able to finish in a day or two, and I’m using the mystery spool to make sure it stands out well on the dark linen.  So far, it looks nice like I hoped, but it is difficult to skip around too much — I just can’t see the threads.  These old eyes just aren’t what they used to be. 

I’ll wait until I get the first part of the pattern on Sat. and decide.  If there are lots of skips that I’m going to have to count very carefully, I’ll probably go back to my second choice, some nice Cream 40ct. linen with Paua Abalone silk from HDF.

I’m tentatively planning on posting about my stitching progress on Wednesday, similar to Nicole’s WiP Weds.

A Monsterless Week & Craft Update

Mark this week down in history:  the monsters are going to be gone this week.  They’ve spent a night or two away before, but never all three gone at the same time for this long. 

Princess is going to church camp Tuesday – Friday with her older cousin, over on Lake of the Ozarks by Grandma & Grandpa.  It’s close enough that Grandma plans to go see them at least once.  When she heard that Princess was going, she invited the other two monsters to come spent time with them at the lake too.

So we dropped Littlest and Middle off today.  Princess leaves Tuesday afternoon.  Then we’ll be childless through Friday afternoon when she comes home.  Grandma & Grandpa will bring the two youngest home on Sat. when they drive over for Father’s Day.

That Man and I are celebrating………by working.  *rolls eyes*  Actually, I’m taking Wednesday off so I can dedicate most of the day to writing and Writer Wednesday.

I’ve promised some craft pictures since all our fun classes this summer.  The monsters aren’t here to model their finger-weaving scarves, but I have completed several kitchen scrubbies, crocheted from nylon netting:

Supplies from the class: strips of nylon netting and size J crochet hook.  One yard is supposed to make about 3 scrubbies.

Two completed scrubbies made with one strip each of blue, red, and white (the class had an Independence Day theme).  They’re supposed to be great for cleaning glass stove tops without scratching — which I severely need.

Immediately after the class, Princess and I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought some more netting in various colors. 

Want one?  Comment here and I’ll draw a name.

Cross-Stitch Monsters

Since I’ve been struggling to focus on the writing front, I thought a creative break might help.  We worked on organizing/unpacking more things out of the garage (so we could finally get the van inside!) and I found two huge containers of cross-stitch supplies.  Suddenly I found myself very much interested in working on something.  This is huge — I haven’t started a NEW project since we moved from MN  about nine years ago (although I did finish several WIPs).

The monsters saw me dragging out all these intriguing materials, threads, beads, and twenty+ years of patterns, and all the sudden they all wanted lessons.  It’s been hilarious, frustrating, and sweet watching them learn to varying degrees.

Princess Monster doesn’t have the patience to sit and read a pattern.  She’d much rather create her own.  She can work pretty much independently.  Littlest Monster wants to try making varying stitches all over her material.  I didn’t try to get her to stay in the holes or follow any sort of pattern–she just had fun picking colors.

Middle Monster shocked me.  She picked out a pretty complicated pattern for a seven-year-old beginner (Gloria & Pat’s Endangered Young’uns–she’s making the cougars).  She sat with me all evening making tiny little squares and learning how to follow the pattern.  She stopped only because she said was starting to get a headache (and Mom needs to go to bed).  She can’t read a pattern all by herself yet, but it won’t be long in coming. 

I’ll post a picture of PM’s own designed piece once she finishes it.  For now, here’s Middle Monster proudly showing off her work, and then a picture of my short wip.  My pattern is a freebie from Ink Circles (my new favorite designer) stitched on black Aida with DMC 115 varigated red.

MM StitchesStitchery