Sep 17, 2014

A look at what working at Jo-Ann is like

Man, I need to overhaul this blog again. So much potential, so little time. ;)

Anyway, just wanted to stop by for anyone who may be looking and post a link another crafter friend brought to my attention. If you've ever wondered what the heck goes on behind the scenes at Jo-Ann, that near-ubiquitous craft store, wonder no more.

Dec 11, 2013

Plier-ing on

(OK, so that title would work better if I could have reasonably written "soldering on" as my stupid pun of the day, but ... WHATEV. ;) )

Finally buckled down and got some Tool Magic, which basically coats the jaws of your pliers with a thin layer of grippy stuff so that working with wire is easier and you don't leave marks on said wire. Pliers on the left(ish) are newly coated, pliers on the right (minus the bottom one) are uncoated (but duh, right?).

I've been meaning to get some of this stuff for years, and now that I'm using normal (a.k.a. fairly wimpy) pliers to work with fat fat wire, I've finally given in and gotten some in hopes that it will save my poor hands. Plus, it was on sale on the Jo-Ann web site, and had free shipping for Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, or something. How could I resist any longer?

Anyway, back to prepping for this weekend. I'll be at the Atomic Holiday Bazaar for the first time ever, and I have about a thousand skeins of yarn to finish, plus whatever else I can manage off the "if I had a million years and endless energy I would do these things for this show" list. ;)

I did finish a bunch of Zen-esque wrap bracelets last night, though. Oooh, ahhh. Well, I like them. Hopefully other people do, too.

Jun 26, 2013

I liiiiiiive! Crafty picture spam and the Tour de Fleece 2013

Yessss! I exist.

So ... I did that "falling off the planet" thing that I do every so often, but I'm back! (For however long it lasts.) For a while there, I wasn't doing a whole lot of (physical) crafting, but I did actually finish one long-standing creative project: writing a novel. Working on another now, but that's not what this blog is about, really. ;)

Anyway, recently I've been back on the crafting thing (mostly for my Etsy shop, but hey, that definitely counts). Look! Proof!

Sparkly pink bow
My very first handwoven bow! Tiny, pink, sparkly! How can that be bad? ;)

Pink bows
More handwoven bows, these for a custom order.

Dyed loose wool: cools
Loose dyed wool, cool-colored batch. Eventually these will make it into the shop. *crosses fingers* Since I don't really need more fiber sitting in my stash and staring at me like "Spiiiiin meeeeeeeeeee."

An assortment of shawl pins in cool colors
Assorted beaded shawl pins in cool colors. (You may sense a theme here.)

Paper-cut bookmark
A paper-cut bookmark with the kanji for "silver" on it (hence the silver paper — I'm sooooo clever, I know ;) ). This one's actually for me and not the shop. (Whaaaaaaat???)

Box of bows
...And yet more bows! Bows, bows, everywhere!

OK, enough pic spam. The whole reason I got off my butt and posted here finally is that I'm going to be doing the Tour de Fleece again this year, and this time I'll even get to watch the Tour de France on an actual TV. That's as opposed to watching it streaming on a tiny computer screen. Of course, I may do something odd like turning off the sound for the TV and putting on the streaming video anyway. I've grown rather fond of the Eurosport announcers in the past few cable-TV-less years...

So far I've been terrible about checking in on the usual TdF Ravelry group, but I have officially joined Team Nevermore, hosted by the eternally awesome Threeravens Yarn and Fiber Studio. I'm even on the ball enough to have some shawl pins ready to ship to Christiane (leader of Team Nevermore) as prizes for the team. And rather than loading myself down with a bunch of crazy goals, at the moment my sole, singular, one and true goal is to spin up as much as ever I can of an alpaca fleece that I promised someone I would turn into yarn for them, because I really uber-seriously do not wish to slack on that any more. Yeah ... I think I've entered the Twilight Zone.

And that's where I am right now in the world of craft. Cheers, woo, and all that jazz. If I stay in this bizarrely productive Twilight Zone then there should be more updates to come, but hey! Who's even watching any more, right? ;) I'm probably talking to myself here! Ha, ha ... Awesome. For the whole one person who's probably going to read this, you rock, and I'll do my best to come back and keep you entertained as well as my meager skills allow.

For now ... Toodles!

Feb 19, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #7: prettified matchbox

There's this big matchbox that sits on the table by the computer. I see it every single day. It was just an ordinary matchbox, but no more! I decided that if I'm going to have to see it all the time, it might as well be a little nicer to look at. And when all it takes is a little paper, glue, a craft knife and about five minutes to make something easier on the eyes, well, I have no real excuse for not doing it. ;)

Prettified matchbox

Check out the bronze metallic paper on the sides, too. Pretty snazzy, and it kind of goes with the "fiery" theme, I think:

Prettified matchbox

Oh, and I forgot: There was also a fine-tip Sharpie involved, so I could write a little label on top of the box.

Prettified matchbox

So that's what I made last week. There was much pondering of cross-stitching, but no stitching actually got done. A nice bag of alpaca is also waiting for me to prep it and spin it up, which you'll get to see soon, I promise.

What have you made in the past week? :D

Feb 13, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #6: stripes and purple fuzz

OK, so I should have posted this yesterday, but ... well, there it is. ;)

Last week's crafty endeavors included not only the ridiculously easy prettified tape dispensers, but some prettified magnets to match. I don't know about you, but we have a ton of those promotional magnets floating around here — the kind you get in the mail from lawyers and appliance repair shops and the like, who are super-eager to have their presence and business contact information in your home. Suffice to say those aren't generally very attractive, so I took a couple and glued some decorative paper on. Now I actually have matching tape dispensers and magnets, which is, I'm pretty sure, a first for me.

Prettified magnets

The other thing I worked on last week was my first needle punch project. It wasn't the first time I've tried needle punch, but my first attempt ended in baffled frustration as I couldn't get the loops to stay in the fabric. Silly me: After finally looking it up, I discovered that I must not have had the fabric taut enough in the embroidery hoop, since it needs to be able to close in a bit around the little loops when you take the needle punch tool out. Anyway, here's my first successful needle punch project ever:

My first needle punch project

It's almost like a minuscule rug, or a bath mat for dolls. ;) No idea what I'm going to do with it, though. (I still haven't figured out what to do with the Garfield cross-stitch, even.)

And oddly enough, the back side of it is almost better than the front, in my opinion:

My first needle punch project

But I hear the Japanese embroidery technique bunka shishu is pretty much needle punch from the "wrong" side. Maybe I should look into that. ;)

So what'd you make last week? Any crafty awesome to share? :D

Feb 8, 2012

Super-simple craft: instant tape dispenser upgrade

Although I wish I could, I can't take credit for this awesome idea: turning a standard, cheap-o tape dispenser into a pretty little thing (or a geeky little thing, or a dramatic little thing, whatever you choose) to brighten your day. It takes, oh, one minute, and all you need is pretty paper, a writing implement of your choice, and some scissors. Well, and a tape dispenser.

Anyway, I prettified both tape dispensers that wandered into my path while I was on a craft mini-rampage Monday evening, and it was so easy that I feel kind of like a doofus that I didn't start doing this years ago.

Super-easy DIY customized tape dispensers

Aren't they cool? I even wonked up the cutting a little and it totally doesn't matter at all. (See, look closely at the center of the one with the swirly paper. There's a bit of a jagged edge around the hole, but it's pretty non-offensive, IMO. I'm sure it would give some people the twitches, but I still think it's way better than the plain version of the dispenser, so I'll ignore it. ;))

Super-easy DIY customized tape dispensers

To make your own, just pop the tape roll out of the dispenser, take out the piece of paper that's already in there, and trace around it onto a nice-looking piece of paper of your choice. (You could even use fabric. I considered it for about two seconds before I decided I'd mind less if I messed up a pretty piece of paper. Which is a silly thing to worry about, since it's pretty hard to mess up this mini-project so badly that it doesn't instantly make your tape dispenser(s) look better.) Cut inside the tracing lines (if you cut outside them, your custom insert will probably be a wee bit too big) and pop your pretty paper back into the dispenser, then put the roll of tape back in. DONE! Seriously. Easy.

Credit where credit's due: I got this from Helena at Craft and Creativity, but she in turn got it from someone else. Maybe we can turn custom tape dispensers into a crafty meme. Go ahead, pass the idea on to all your craft friends. ;)

Feb 5, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #5: Garfield the Grumpy & thoughts on misfit crafts

This week I dug out some long-dormant cross-stitch projects and picked one to finish. And what do you know? I actually did it.

(Cue dramatic noises of surprise and shock!)

Seriously, I hardly ever finish cross-stitch projects. Once, I was sure I never finished them because I just wasn't any good at cross-stitching. Now, I realize that I never finished them because counted cross-stitch just doesn't really suit me. (And don't get me started on the kind of cross-stitch where you take a piece of fabric with a printed picture on it and stitch over it. Not that there's anything at all wrong with it if you enjoy it, but me, I'm more inclined to just hang up the pretty picture than to spend all that time stitching over it to make it pretty much look the same. ;))

Anyway, the problem wasn't that I was bad at cross-stitch (though I'm still not that awesome at it, it's true), and it wasn't that cross-stitch and I just don't get along. It was that I hadn't found a type of cross-stitch that really fit me. But a few months ago, I came across some pictures of other kinds of cross-stitch in an old needlework book I have, and suddenly I'm enthused again about learning it.

I'm realizing more and more as I keep on crafting — even from the stuff that I finish but hate hate hate making, and from the stuff that comes out merely blah — that when I'm drawn to a craft, there's probably something awesome about it that I will totally love. That doesn't mean, though, that the most readily available form of that craft is suited to me. And if I confuse the readily available project ideas and kits with the whole of a certain craft (which I have done a ton of times...), I just might miss out on some obscure form of the craft that really, really flies my starship.

So the lesson is, apparently, that sometimes I just have to struggle through the projects I have ready access to, even though they don't really suit me, in order to get good enough at a craft to discover the parts that I really, really like.

Life is kind of like that, too, huh? ;)

But rather than get off on a hippie tangent about life, the universe and everything, I'll just share with you the cross-stitch project that I finally finished:

Garfield cross-stitch

It still needs some of the plastic canvas cut off, but it's essentially done. OK, except for that part where I decide what to actually do with it. But WOO. I must have bought the kit for this project somewhere on the order of eight or nine years ago ... and it's finally done.

There's hope for me yet! ;)

Just for kicks, too, here's a picture of our resident orange cat:


If he ate lasagna, he would pretty much be Garfield. He's grumpy, doesn't like kittens, sleeps all the time (though what cat doesn't? ;)) ... and actually, we've never tried giving him lasagna. Hmm. Maybe if we tried it, we'd discover that he really is a Garfield cat. You never know.


So what'd you make this past week? :D
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