Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011

Winter-Time Paper Farm! Ahh! Finally, after almost two years of intending to create another paper house pattern download, I've done it. I knew I didn't want to just make more houses, so I decided on a farm. So cute!

The download includes the patterns and instructions to create a barn, a silo, and a pasture with some horses and chickens milling around. I thought the silo was a great idea until I actually started drawing it, and then I was suddenly messing around with pi and circumference and sides of hexagons. You don't expect there to be so much math when you're drawing! Luckily, I paid attention in geometry class.

I think the paper farm would look really cute with the original free download as the farmhouse -- or, my favorite, the log cabin from the Winter-Time House Pack. I want to really thank everybody who has bought that house pack over the past couple of years, both for supporting this creative endeavor and for sending me such nice comments about the patterns (and photos of the finished houses -- I love seeing those!).

The Winter-Time Paper Farm PDF can be bought for $5, via e-junkie. Once you pay, you'll be sent a one-time download link, and then all you have to do is print the patterns on some cardstock and get crafting! So enjoy -- and thank you once again!

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Tuesday, 19 Jul 2011

I finally gave in. I haven't used an air-conditioner in my house for years, but we've had so many days in a row of crazy heat and humidity; I caved. The heat index has been at or over 110F for... forever, it feels like. I don't usually mind the heat so much, but I couldn't take the constant clamminess that the humidity caused. Only the bedrooms have doors (well, so does the bathroom), so I dragged up the window AC unit and put it in my bedroom, which has become lovely oasis of cool air.

So I've been doing pretty much everything from the bedroom, only running out when absolutely necessary. The pets were in here for most of the day, too, and Beany was definitely the most excited about it. She sat in front of the air-conditioner a lot during the day. And at one point, Henny and Birdy weren't in the room (sometimes they'd want out when I went on a mission for the card reader or a cup of tea), and I'm pretty sure it was Beany's dream realized -- being an only pet AND allowed in the bedroom.

I did venture outside once today, to pick some vegetables. I've been reliably getting three (or more!) cups of raspberries every couple of days, but the heat seems to have put that on pause, even though there are plenty of almost-ripe berries on there. Even the ones I picked today (about a cup) weren't as nice as they usually are.

But I did get two cucumbers, which will soon be refrigerator pickles. I've only ever grown bush pickle cukes before, which are pretty small, but I've got some Fanfare cucumbers this year. My first banana pepper looked about ready to pick -- I can't believe a squirrel didn't steal it, as it came from a plant that I didn't put a cage over. I'm having bad luck with my zucchinis, though. They don't seem to be getting pollinated, even though that wasn't a problem with the fruit earlier in the season. Hmm. I suppose I can always take matters into my own hands...

Tuesday, 29 Mar 2011

-- My parents tapped some maple trees up at their cabin, and my mom boiled down the sap to my syrup. It's got a very mild flavor, almost like honey. Even though sugar is readily (too readily) available these days, it still seems special, in the sense that it's hard to create your own supply of sweet stuff. So I really like the idea of home-produced 'sugar', especially since somebody else did all the work. Word on the street is that my parents have collected 3+ gallons from their (huge) maple at home, so it'll be interesting to see how city syrup compares to country syrup. (FYI, the sap-to-syrup ratio is about 40 to 1, so 3 gallons of sap would be a little over a cup of syrup.)

-- I can't stop sewing for Henny. Now that I've got a good pattern and have used it a few times, it's so quick to whip up a shirt, and it's really cheap, too. This one, which she wore on our walk today, took me fifteen minutes to sew and about a dollar in materials. I figure I've got to revel in the cuteness of dressed-Henny while I can, because it'll warm up soon enough.

-- Do you remember when I said I had had the same lunch and dinner both days this weekend? Well, I extended that to having had the same lunch four days in a row and the same dinner three days in a row. That was partly due to wanting to eat baby carrots the entire time, but also because I ran out of green veg a few days ago. Part of my brain figures that if there's no broccoli, there's just no point in even making an effort. I finally made it to the grocery store, though, so I'm good to go now.

-- The new water heater was installed today. Do you know how many times you'll try to turn on a tap when the water supply to the house is cut off? A billion times. Henny was on alert during the entire installation (lots of noises from the basement); the only time she barks is when somebody is in the house. I was working on my laptop, sitting on the couch, and at one point I told her to c'mere and patted the sofa cushion. To my surprise, she actually did come over and jumped up to sit next to me. She knows what 'come here' means, but she doesn't usually join me on the sofa unless it's her idea. She needed some reassuring that everything was okay.

-- My least favorite part of making clothes is pinning and cutting the pattern pieces. Yawn. It took me well over two hours tonight to get everything cut out for the blazer/coat I'm going to make. This was a pattern that I bought last week to set aside for 'later', but then I found the perfect fabric for really cheap... and I'm interested to see how it all goes together. Watching the pieces join up to become something is pretty cool, but the cutting! And tissue paper just gets the cats all in a frenzy, which doesn't lend itself to orderliness.

Friday, 25 Mar 2011

Here it is! This is the hoodie I made yesterday -- there's a full version of the photo above here, and a shot of it from the front here (although I look a bit dumb in that one, sorry). Like I said before, I used a 1974 Simplicity pattern that I had picked up at the Hinckley thrift store a while back; that place has the best selection of vintage patterns! I was a little bit worried about how the sweatshirt would fit, as my copy of the pattern was for a 34" bust, but it's actually very roomy. Before I cut anything, I compared the pattern measurements against one of my favorite hoodies, and everything was spot on -- I just had to add 3" to the length (it would have been ridiculously short if I hadn't!).

The sweatshirt fleece came from SR Harris, a fabric warehouse that's not too far from me. It's kind of an overwhelming place, actually -- the bolts are all crammed together, which makes it difficult to find and heave out what you want. But I saw this, and I really liked the floral pattern on the dark grey. Feminine, but not girly. They didn't have any ribbing that matched, but I actually prefer the contrast of the light grey, and I was able to find a zipper that's nearly the same color as the fleece.

The original pattern is for A) a shirt made with a stretch knit and a zipper in the back or B) an unlined jacket with the front zipper and hood. It's assumed that you'll be making the jacket with a woven (non-stretchy) material, so it doesn't use ribbing for the cuffs and bottom band. I had to make that up as I went, but they turned out really well, especially the extra-long cuffs. I like the hand-coverage, and I think they give the sweatshirt a more interesting look. The raglan sleeves (love!) are fuller at the wrist (they don't taper, like most sweatshirts), which adds a bit of flounce where they meet the narrower ribbing. Overall, I love the shape of this hoodie -- not too narrow, and not too baggy.

The pockets are pretty shallow, which is okay, since I usually just put my hands in sweatshirt pockets, not actual stuff -- but I'd probably modify them if I used the pattern again, all the same. The hood is huge and billowy; the pattern picture does a fairly good job portraying it. Think monks. Even though it's unlined, this is almost like a sweatshirt-jacket, because the facing under the zipper and collar give it a bit more heft. The pattern went together like a dream, and it really feels like a quality piece of clothing. If I tried it on at REI, I'd fall in love with it and then be shocked by the (inevitably high) price. But I think I spent about $12 on materials.

But wait, that's not all!

At the fabric warehouse, I also spotted a great thermal knit, which has a print of little Dutch people working in the fields. I wasn't really keen on making a thermal shirt for myself, but I couldn't pass it up, so I got a half yard and decided I'd make something for Henny. I bought a PDF pattern from minou pitou -- it's actually one that's not currently listed (the Captain Kirk shirt in petite), but I imagine she'll relist soon.

This was another case of an excellent pattern; everything went together just as it was supposed to. These two projects were my first attempts to sew properly with knit fabrics (instead of just messing around without a pattern, which has never yielded good results), and I think I'm hooked now. I had always thought of knits as being super fussy, but they're actually pretty forgiving. Onwards and upwards!

p.s. -- Because Marjan brought it up it in the comments, I thought I'd mention that I used a regular straight stitch on the hoodie (exactly what I'd use on woven fabrics) and a slight zigzag on Henny's shirt, because that's what was recommended in the pattern. Both seemed to work fine. I used a medium-weight ball-point needle on my (non-serger) machine.

Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011

-- I made some of that Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta for dinner. It has a great texture -- not mushy, like plain white pasta, but not mealy like whole wheat stuff, either. It tastes slightly different, I suppose, but I couldn't tell after it was covered with 'Eazy Breezy Cheezy Sauce' (recipe in Appetite for Reduction). The sauce is basically a quicker version of the vegan 'cheese' sauce that's used in the Veganomicon's Mac Daddy recipe, which I like way more than real mac 'n' cheese.

-- Henny's vet records came in the mail today (sent by the rescue organization). Included was her pedigree, so now I know that she was born on July 13th, 2007. She has an official name, but it's just the last name of the guy she was sold to (presumably the person who ran the puppy mill) plus her color (chocolate). That's almost as depressing as knowing she was number 115 before she was rescued from doggie prison. Oh well. I applied for her license on-line this evening, and she will henceforth be known as Henny!

-- I added two new items to my Etsy shop, including this horse, who's thinking about sunnier days. Have you taken a look at my shop yet? Have I pestered about it enough? I have quite a few ideas for items I want to add, but I'm hesitant to spend too much time making things if there's no interest. Prod, prod.

-- After I shoveled about eight inches of snow yesterday morning, another few fell over the course of the day. It was super sparkly snow, though, and it really looked like glitter after it had fallen. I was woken up at 3:40am on Monday, because my neighbor was shoveling his deck/path. I don't know him or his wife quite well enough to ask why they shovel so early in the morning (usually it's more like 5:00am, so this was early, even for them!). I can't really complain, though, because he always clears away my front steps for me. It's most perplexing. (Or it's just something boring, like he works the night shift.)

Friday, 18 Feb 2011

Is there some sort of timer in smoke detectors that makes it so they only run out of battery power at night? I don't think I've ever been eating lunch or surfing the web and been interrupted by a chirping alarm. Nope. Only ever in the middle of the night. Because there's nothing I love more than crawling out of bed in the early hours, so I can stand in the dark and wait for the next chirp to figure out who the culprit is.

It happened this morning, just before 4:30am, which falls squarely in the Danger Zone -- the hours during which it's too early to want to be awake, but late enough that I probably won't fall asleep again (4:00-6:00am, roughly). I stayed in bed until 6:00, and then I had breakfast and decided to use the extra morning time to make something I'd been thinking about.

So you can now find these paper winner's ribbon magnets in my Etsy shop! Everything was cut by hand, with either scissors or a craft knife, and I'm so pleased with the way they turned out. In trying to decide how to price them (always the hardest part), I was worried that $15 was too much for a magnet. But they're actually little works of paper art, and given how long they took me to make, I'm totally ripping myself off. I hope you'll agree that they're worth it, though!

Wednesday, 29 Dec 2010

I realized just the other day that I could finally show you a couple of the crafty things I made for Christmas presents this year. I was pretty pleased with the gifts I gave, in general, and even more so with the ones I made myself.

Both the gifts in this post were for Rob, and the one above came about when I found an empty Newman's mint tin (the same size and shape as an Altoids container) in my car. I knew I had to put something inside of it, and I remembered how much Rob liked the little countryside diorama I made him years ago (it took me ages trying to track down a photo of that before I realized the original camera files were on this computer). And who doesn't like cats performing circus tricks? Making this absorbed hours of my life, but I really enjoy papercraft, and it was fun trying to figure out how to make everything fit and open + close. You can see more photos, including the outside of the tin, at the bottom of this set.

The second gift is yet more papercraft and yet another diorama. This time I used a shadow box (5"x7", I think) and this photo to make a miniature Minneapolis. I printed multiple layers of the photo to cut out the pieces I needed, mounted them on card stock for stability, and then used foam padding to attach each part. It was much more straightforward than the Tiny Cat Show, but I still liked the challenge of 'okay, this is what I want it to look like -- what can I use to achieve that?' I'm pleased to say that the finished product pretty much matches what was in my mind's eye.

So that's some of my craftiness from this year's gift-giving. Did you make many of the gifts you gave? Did you get anything that's pretty awesome and handmade?

P.S. -- This post took forever to type, because Henny came over and put her front feet on the sofa, so I lifted her up, and then she couldn't settle down until I put her on my lap and held her. It's the first time she's been adamant about cuddling.

Wednesday, 1 Dec 2010

Well, look at this! My paper houses are just casually hanging out with Sofia Coppola on the contents page of the Dec/Jan issue of Bust Magazine. How about that! I tweaked my free house pattern for the Bust holiday craft feature -- it's basically the same, but you can cut out the windows and a hole in the bottom of the house in order to light it up with a bulb from a strand of Christmas/fairy lights.

I'm pretty psyched that it's December now, even though I have yet to buy my mandatory chocolate advent calendar. (I'm seriously going to make a chocolate-a-day calendar for regular months one of these days.) (I just had to pause while I imagined how to do that.) I go to Vegas on Friday! Rob comes to visit on the 15th! My birthday is in three weeks! And my little houses getting their fifteen minutes is just icing on the cake (ooh, birthday cake). If you're looking for a fun holiday activity, don't forget to check out the downloadable pack with three different house patterns!

Wednesday, 3 Nov 2010

-- Wallets! The one on the bottom (well, the top of the photo) is what I've been using. I made the Minneapolis iron-on transfer, and it has a sort of plastic-y finish that I would normally hate, but it made the fabric nice and durable. Then, a week or two ago, I experimented with some silkscreening, except when I say 'silkscreen', you should imagine old nylons stretched over an embroidery hoop and a piece of iron-on paper. It was a little messy, but I got a few decent prints on fabric. And you know how I love anything Minnesota-shaped. The zipper pull is from a KidRobot collection; I'm a sucker for those things.

-- Henny was very entertaining today. She kicked off the morning off with this, and around 2:30pm, she started it up again and carried on that way for about an hour. She was pawing under the hutch in the kitchen, so I looked and found a cat toy beneath it. I held it out for her, and she took it and ran into the living room. This was a dog who didn't seem to understand the concept of a 'toy' just a week ago. In that video link, she paws at her pillow, and this afternoon, she managed to get inside the case and went crazy. I thought she would freak herself out, but she loved it. We went for a walk to help her burn off some of that energy, and she did great. It's incredible what a little time can do for an animal.

-- The insurance man came by today, and it looks like I'll definitely get a new garage roof, and the odds are good that they'll replace the roof on the house, too. He has to see if there's a match for the house shingles (in which case they'd just replace the missing ones), but he said the chances of that happening are low. I'll still have to pay my deductible, of course, but it's worth it for new roofs! (Question: Why is it not 'rooves'? Oh, English!)

-- On the way back up the alley with Henny this afternoon, I saw that there was another butternut squash that I hadn't been able to see before the vine died (the leaves covered it). Obviously, it's no good now that it's sat through several frosts, but that still means that the vine produced seven full-sized (big!) squashes this year. Wow!

Sunday, 10 Oct 2010

-- I've been wanting a new bag/purse for a while. I was at REI yesterday (getting a refund on the sale price of a jacket I bought almost three weeks ago -- REI is awesome), and I was tempted to buy a new bag, but I didn't want to spend money on something I could make. Instead of starting from scratch, I found the messenger bag I used to use in college, and then I went at it with a seam ripper, reducing it to its parts. I cut out the pieces I needed and sewed it into a totally new bag. The fabric on the front flap was an addition, but other than that (and the thread... and the zipper pull), everything else came from the old bag. Perfect!

-- As sad as I was to miss the Frankfurt Book Fair this year, the weather couldn't have done its part any better to make sure I was happy here in Minnesota. Chris and I grilled pizza on the BBQ tonight and then sat outside until after dark, and it wasn't the least bit chilly. It's not going to last forever, but I'll take it for as long as it does!

-- This morning, I went for my first (very gentle) run since I injured myself two weeks ago. Man, I love running. A relaxed run (when I'm not pushing for speed) opens up my heart and lungs and makes me feel so healthy and at ease. I could have happily gone for eight miles, but I'm trying to ease back in, so I kept it short.

-- Don't forget, you can download PDF versions of my zines for only $2 each! The money goes towards my Team Challenge fund-raising! Super cheap! Super helpful!

Saturday, 5 Dec 2009

They're here! I've finished! Finally! You can now buy the patterns and instructions (although they're not too complicated) for the three buildings above. Turn your winter-time paper house into a winter-time paper village!

Included in this pack: the grocery store, the little log cabin, the rambler, and several trees and shrubs to add extra interest to your village. Once you've paid your $5.00 and downloaded the file, you can print out the patterns as many times as you like and create an entire log cabin community or a pair of fierce rival grocers!

Thanks to some helpful comments, I've set up payment and download through E-junkie. Once you pay with PayPal, you'll be given a link to the file. Easy peasy! So buy now! Tell yer friends!


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Friday, 20 Nov 2009

[If you enjoy this freebie, also check out the paper house pack I have for sale here]!

So, the other day I was sitting around, trying to decide what to do after dinner. It's that time of the day when I don't really feel like starting any big projects, but it's too early to watch something on Hulu. I have absolutely no recollection of my thought process on this evening, but I grabbed a piece of white card and drew a house. The next day, I cut it out and assembled it, and I made a second one the day after that.

I guess part of the reason I had houses on the brain was because my gingerbread houses didn't live up to last year's. The instructions called for too much water in the icing mix, and all my nice details wound up slowly migrating downwards before they dried. Disappointing.

But I'm totally, immodestly in love with my little paper houses, and I can see making quite a few more in the near future. In fact, while I was in the process of drawing the third house, I stopped before I cut it out and scanned it in -- so I could share it with you!

Friday, 9 Oct 2009

I've been busy tending to all the things that don't really need doing around here. I used to be one of those people who would start packing two weeks before a trip, but these days I seem to wait until the last minute. Instead, I've been doing a bit of sewing in my spare time.

I rearranged the living room, as you know, part of which was swapping a bookcase for a bench to hold my turntable. Now one doesn't have to magically know where the buttons are as one reaches under a shelf to play a record (although that did keep people from wandering into my house and messing with my vinyl). Look how festive, with the pumpkin. I have to put the grilles back on the speakers, but they need to be de-cat-fluffed first. Speaking of, Beany quite successfully snuck into every photo I took of my living room this morning. But then I had to redo this one, by which point she'd fallen asleep elsewhere.

One of my sewing projects was this quilt, which developed from a few needs -- the need for something better to keep cat hair off the back of the sofa, the 'need' for something autumnal, and the, well, desire to not finish a patchwork project that I'd started a while ago. I had cut and pieced together some strips, planning on making a throw blanket, but I quickly grew bored with it So it wasn't TOO much additional work to turn it into a long, narrow, sofa-back cover.

I also have been working on dresses/tops here and there recently. I made this one a few weeks back, although it's probably my least favourite of the Japanese patterns I've tried out. You can read my various complaints on flickr, but mainly it just comes down to it being too 'cute' for me. I like this one much more, though. I think I have fairly narrow shoulders, in relation to my other dimensions, and both of these recent dresses fit 'just so' with the sleeve placement -- better than most store-bought clothes, and I'm not even having to tailor it to myself. Obviously, I like to wear dresses over jeans; I think people generally fall into two camps (love it or think it's stupid), but you can politely keep it to yourself if you're not a fan.

I suppose that now I've run out of things to sew, I should start thinking about packing. Although I still don't have the perfect camera bag...

Monday, 7 Sep 2009

So, as promised -- my new wallet. I usually mull these things over for weeks and weeks until I can sprong into action, having worked out all the details in my mind. That was pretty much what happened with this; I knew I wanted to have a bigger wallet, one that would hold cash and cards, but also had a zipper pocket for coins, and which could hold my checkbook as well (there are a few of my usual haunts that don't accept cards).

I actually had one false start: on Saturday, I put together a wallet using the fabric I'd been thinking about, and a design I'd decided on (pockets for cash and cards on one interior side, zipper pocket and space for my checkbook on the other). I got everything finished except for hand-sewing on the clasp strap, and I decided I didn't really like it. It's actually pretty nice, but it just wasn't what I wanted.

So when I was out and about with my friend Alex yesterday, we stopped at Patina after brunch, and I saw a nice wallet whose design I liked -- instead of having pockets on both interior sides, everything was on one end, while the other served as more of a flap. So that's the design I went with.

I found the scrap remnant of this vintage fabric by accident as I sorted through my stash, and I immediately wanted to use it. I'd had the iron-on 'A' applique for a long time now, and this seemed like the perfect project. So, like the wallet I saw in the shop, the top is really only a flap, keeping everything inside secure. The interior has space for cards and my checkbook, and there's a zippered pocket on the outside for cash and coins (I could also fit my phone or iPod in there, if I wanted).

It really turned out just as I'd hoped. The older I get, the more patience I have for taking my time with the details (surprise!) -- stuff like top-stitching and, in this case, making sure things lined up just right; I wanted a bit of the grey lining to show on the front when the flap was velcro-ed down. I think the time spent getting those things right is what makes the finished product feel like a success.

So now I just need to take a few more months to mull over the perfect camera-toting messenger bag. Something that's only exactly as big as it needs to be. And won't cause any shoulder or back pain. Right.


Sites I'm Digging Right Now

Hark! A Vagrant
it will stop raining
Healthy Exposures
Tiny House Blog