30 September 2006

a pinafore for Olive

Olive gets a pinafore for my last-minute contribution to this month's Tie-One-On. I can't get enough yellows and browns recently. I guess it's a fall thing. Twin kindly informed me that Olive's yellows clash. Well, poo poo. I still like it. I can never wear yellow because I'm so fair-skinned, so it was a lot of fun to make Olive a brown-haired, green-eyed thing who can wear yellow and look just fabulous in it. I'm making the backpack next, and it might just have to be yellow.


I finally got little Olive done. Not that she's all that time-consuming or difficult to make (although that whole leg business was a tad tricky), I just haven't had a lot of crafting time recently. Work, commuting, errands, blah, blah, blah. I also really am a sucker for new fall tv. It generally takes me a couple weeks to realize that no, none of these shows are going to be interesting at all. I wonder to myself "where did the week go?" and I realize that it was sucked into the bottomless pit that is primetime television. I know this to be true, but, well, I am weak.

I got Olive's arms made one evening, then her legs another, and it was quite funny to have little Olive body parts kicking around the apartment all week.

If you haven't read the story, go do it now!! It is endlessly charming, and I have to say Hilary is freaking brilliant.

My Olive is digging her little outfit, and now it is definitely time to accessorize. Happy Saturday!

26 September 2006

charlie quilt

You know how some kids have security blankets? Well, I had a security sheet. I named him Charlie. I don't remember how old I was when I got him, but I must have been pretty little. I was too young to be able to write, so I somehow convinced my big brother to write "Charlie" on the sheet in big, fat, permanent black marker. Again, the memories of all this are pretty dim, but I don't think that went over very well with my parents.

But Charlie stayed with me throughout all my years growing up. Last year, I pulled him out of the linen closet and decided to make a quilt out of him. I cut out the pieces and began hand-piecing. But before I got very far, I am ashamed to say, I lost interest in the project.

As a kid I always insisted that Charlie didn't like to be folded. He could be washed--he didn't mind that--but he did not like to be folded. So I'm sure Charlie really enjoyed being cut up into over a hundred little squares, then stuffed in a bag on a shelf and forgotten for over a year. I feel considerable guilt over this.

But with the approaching cool weather, I was inspired to pull out the bag of little Charlie-squares and have at it again. I went with machine-piecing this time (not sure why I thought it a good idea to hand-piece it in the first place) and short-cutted the quilting by making it a tie quilt. I know the quilting community is rather divided over the merit of the tie quilt. Tacky? Traditional? Boring? Charming? The product of pure unadulterated laziness? I'm going to go with charming. The Charlie-quilt was built for comfort, not style. I used thick cotton batting and a heavy cotton flannel sheet from LLBean for the backing. Coooooooozy.

Unfortunately, the black marks of the "Charlie" in my brother's little boy handwriting finally succumbed to the washing machine a few years ago. Which makes me wonder that the print is still so bright, and also how much brighter it must have been when Charlie was brand new. I embroidered "Charlie" across the top and tried to make it look as close to the original as I can remember. (which is pretty much the same as my brother's current chicken-scratch handwriting--he he)

There has been much waxing poetic around the blogosphere recently about the splendors of autumn. And, yes, it can be quite nice and all. Crisp and crunchy, etc. But, friends, after fall comes winter. And winter is baaaaaad. Makes Julie very, very cold.

In the past week I have dug out my winter clothes and bought both a new wool coat and a new pair of boots. Now, with my Charlie-quilt, I have assumed my full-on offensive battle position for the New York cold. Come and get me.

Edit: Wow, that top picture will make you physically, violently ill if you look at it for more than about 2 seconds. I do apologize to anyone that lost their breakfast/lunch/dinner. Luckily the Charlie-quilt does not induce nauseau and/or projectile vomiting in real life. This is a good thing.

23 September 2006

tut-tut, indeed.

I am fascinated by printing methods. I listen raptly as my parents talk about the linotype machine and letterpress they used to use to set newspapers. Silkscreen was my absolute favorite course in school. I fantasize about finding an old press and making my own cards. Alas, I don't have the space for a press, or even a proper silkscreen set-up, so fantasies they must remain. At least for the time being.

In the meantime, I've tried my hand at stamping. Tuns out stamping is way more difficult than it looks. I've been so inspired by the beautiful cards that Abby makes. This one is probably my favorite. (though I think, Dad, that you need this one.) Abby has a quite extraordinary talent for carving forms which seem simple and straightforward, but still utterly unique and full of personality.

I definitely took a page out of Abby's book with these experiments. Though not nearly so successfully. I didn't bother getting block printing inks; I just used my normal painting acrylics thinned with a bit of water. I think this was mistake #1. The mistakes multiplied rather quickly from there. I won't bore you with the details. But a few lessons learned are:
  • The linoleum stuff is much better than that pink gummy stuff which they call "speedy." I should have know that "speedy" might just be a synonym for "shitty."
  • Carving type is not for the faint of heart. But I really wanted my turtles to be saying "tut-tut." Not sure why, except that I like to say "tut-tut." It has an Eeyore-Chicken Little-cutely doomsday kind of ring to it. But as I was stamping "tut-tut" and the ink was getting all gunky and ugly, "tut-tut" seemed like a very appropriate thing to be saying.
  • If you insist on trying to carve type, "tut-tut" is actually a very wise choice. The phrase is an exact mirror image of itself. One of those...gotta look it up...errr, can't find it in the dictionary. Anyway, you don't have to bother reversing the letters. Quite convenient.

Not a completely successful experiment, but a fun one for the most part. A bit messy, though. Gotta go clean up the house on this rainy Saturday. Tut-tut and cherry-pip!

21 September 2006

2 balls down, 10 to go

Orange or pink, whaddya think? I can't decide. I was going to try to figure out how to add one of those poll thingies to this post to see what y'all think, but it's too late tonight to puzzle out how to do that.

This is my latest crochet work in progress. No, not a scarf but a shawl. 2 balls of yarn=a scarf. 12 balls of yarn=a shawl. 12 balls of yarn, oh heavens, what did I get myself into? I had intended to finish this shawl in time to give it to my grandma for her 91st birthday, but now I'm thinking it may just be a Christmas present instead.

One of the wonderful (and patient) ladies at Purl helped me decide which yarn to use. I timidly explained that I was on a bit of a budget and she promptly whipped out a calculator, furrowed her brow a moment, then started whizzing around the shop pointing out yarns I could use. I love that!

I ended up using Rowan 4-ply cotton. My grandma likes bright colors, so I pointed to what looked to me like a cheerful salmon kind of color on the top shelf. The sales lady said, "you mean the one third from the left?"
"Umm, no, the one that's 2nd from the right."
"oh, you mean you want the orange?"
"Umm, I guess so."

I got it home and Twin's response was a single "wow" followed a short time after with a "that's bright."

But I will insist on calling it "salmon." And I will insist on thinking it's a good color, and that my grandma will like it. Positive kind of thinking.

I'm using an easy-peasy, no-brainer pattern I got in this crochet kit. Double crochet-chain-double crochet, double crochet-chain-double crochet. I think I can even handle that on my morning subway commute, when I am still half asleep and without the benefit of fully functioning faculties.

OK, onto the third SALMON ball of yarn.

20 September 2006

chocolatey goodness

My friend Pip got a big chocolatey-goodness kind of cake for his birthday. You can read the recipe here. This is classic birthday cake in my family--a recipe perfected by my grandma.

I covered it with ganache and then topped it with espresso bean bark. The bark is one of those wonderful things that sounds difficult and makes you seem all fancy-wancy gourmet but really is completely simple to do. Just melt bittersweet chocolate in the microwave, stir in some espresso beans, and pour it onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Spread it out fairly thin and pop it in the freezer. After it has hardened you can break it into pieces.

The key is using good chocolate. This time I used Scharffen Berger 62%. Yummy. I don't even like coffee but this. bark. is. yummy. You can also make larger shards of the bark and stick it to the sides of the cake all around to get a modern, architectural-looking kind of cake. Super easy. And everyone's all "oooooooo! aaaaaahhh!" And that's always fun.

17 September 2006

built by me!

Lookie! I made a shirt! With sleeves AND a collar stand. And it wasn't even all that difficult. If you're interested in learning more about sewing clothes, you should definitely check out the SewU book by Built by Wendy. Her instructions are great, even for a beginner, and she gives you really basic patterns but then tells you all kinds of fantastic ways you can adapt them to make a garment just the way you want it.

And yes, gentle readers: that is a Liberty of London print. My mother bought it for me when she last came to visit. And yes, I do realize how lucky I am. Thanks marmee!!

I had intended to make it tunic-length, but I was concentrating so hard on not screwing up while cutting out the fabric that I was halfway through making the shirt before I realized I had forgotten to lengthen it. But I did remember to measure twice and cut once. In fact, I may have even measured thrice as there was a liberty fabric on the chopping block.

I didn't add much in the way of ornamentation since the print is fairly busy. Well, and because I figured if I tried getting fancy, that would significantly raise the likelihood of finishing the project in tears and rags, rather than with something I can actually wear.

I did, however, add those little keyhole thingies to the sleeves. Wendy suggested it among her many suggestions for personalizing the shirt and I thought, "why yes I think I would like cute little sleeves just like that." In other words it's Sew Me. hee hee. Couldn't help myself.

16 September 2006

patchwork coasters

Purl Bee had a great tutorial on making patchwork coasters a few weeks back. So simple, but so cool. I made a set for my good friends in TX as a thank you for their wonderful hospitality last month. I really like the bold colors + geometric shapes. Quite modern, no?

Twin said I'd better put in a card that describes what they are because if I didn't explain it, they'd be like "oh, my, what lovely...ummm...fabric squares."

These are the friends who are doing an IronMan in a couple weeks. Egads. So, guys, you could probably also use them as extra padding on your bike seat or in your running shoes. Cushy and absorbent. It's a good thing. Love ya both and hope you enjoy your fabric squares, however you end up using them.

13 September 2006

someday i will have a giant ruler

I was wandering through Boerum Hill last weekend (in Brooklyn) and happened upon the coolest antique store called City Foundry. All mid-century modern, industrial kind of stuff. Stuffed to the gills, spilling out onto the sidewalk: sleek eames-y chairs and rotary telephones and weird objects like a big metal cast hand inside a belljar. You know, the kinds of things you obviously just can't live without.

How cool is that chandelier? But hands-down I want the giant ruler. You can keep the creepy freaky floating elf. He'd give me bad dreams, methinks.

Work is kicking my ass this week, so there is not much crafting to report. I cut out a pattern (from the SewU book) for a new tunic and now I am in a state of continual indecision about what fabric to use. Do I use the fantastic Liberty print my Mom bought me? yes. no. yes. no. maybe. BE BOLD. DO IT. OKAY.

11 September 2006

thrifted inspiration

I made these new cards last night because I was so inspired by a mug that I picked up at the thrift store yesterday. It was $1. Jennie doesn't seem to share my enthusiasm for it, but I think it's wonderful.

I don't drink coffee, but i almost want to start because it's such a perfect coffee mug. It somehow doesn't seem like a tea kind of mug, so I think I will put my pencils in it. And it's sitting on top of a few other finds, including a dress that is way too big but which I will use in some way because I love the print.

More colors.

And another design that was a by-product of the first. I was going for random and spontaneous with those pinwheel ball-y things. Surprising how carefully you have to tweak in order to achieve "random and spontaneous."

A very subdued day today in the city. Thinking and remembering and going about lives because they do just have a way of carrying on. Wishing a peaceful day to everyone, everywhere.

09 September 2006

update: we've got some oozing here

Maitreya wisely pointed out that printing directly onto fabric with an inkjet will yield colors that run. Alas, 'tis too true. I dribbled some water on my recipe card bag and indeed that color just oozed and gooed. Bummer. I guess those Bubble Jet Set people know what they're about. Ye have been forewarned.

In other news, I am attempting to sew a garment today. Hopefully you will see the results of this effort in the near future. If I never mention it again, you will know it was a dismal failure and I will humbly return to crafts projects that do not involve molding fabric to the complex contours of the human body.

Hippy Happy Saturday!

07 September 2006

coloring inside the lines

Some days you need some lines to color around. No difficult decisions to make or creative juice to squeeze out of your tired little mind. And I always was one of those kids. You know, the ones who don't let half a crayon width stray outside the line. I can't help it; I've always found meticulousness very comforting.

This fabric was begging to be colored in. So for the past few evenings I have been embroidering away, thinking less about where to put the next stitch and more about my boy Andy whooping that little Aussie's ass.

Twin said it would look really great if I embroidered the whole thing. I told her if I had about 100 hours to spare, that would indeed look fantastic. But I kind of like the splash of color in one corner. I can always add more color later, if I am again taken with a coloring book urge.

And here's the happy sofa. This sofa has a desperate wish to be brown. Deep chocolate brown. He whispers to me that he'd look really snazzy in a brown slipcover. But I keep putting him off because I'm scared. Maybe some day soon.

p.s. Thanks everybody for all your kind compliments on my last post! jeepers, i'm feeling the love.

04 September 2006

fun with the inkjet

I made this pencil case last week as a gift for our intern at work who decided to stay on through the fall semester (yippeee!). It's inspired by this t-shirt at Veer. It's been a bit of a running joke at work that the intern and I, who are the only designers in our office, don't actually do work, we just "draw pictures all day." The implication being that everybody else does the real work, which involves numbers and spreadsheets and such. To which we designers just respond that they are obviously jealous of our super fun jobs. And it's all funny and okay because there is, in fact, a lot of mutual respect at our office. They're good people like that.

I printed on the fabric by just attaching the fabric to fusible interfacing, taping it to a piece of paper, and running it through my inkjet. I was rather surprised it worked, having read about Bubble Jet Set and all the steps that are involved in using it. Perhaps this won't be as permanent?

I experimented further with the printing on fabric this weekend with this little recipe card holder. The pattern is from the Amy Butler book. Then I made recipe cards to go with it. I think if I make more, I will make them slightly larger, as you would probably have to write really eensy-teensy to get a recipe to fit on those cards. Ah, well. Prototype.

02 September 2006

bedroom is definitely getting happier

Project Trying to Make my Bedroom Look a Little Less Sad is coming right along. Helped in large part by my new print from the Black Apple! She put a print up in her shop last week called "Acorn Twins" and I had to order it immediately because it was so perfect. I happened to mention in the email that I had a twin, but that I was going to be selfish and keep the print for myself rather than give it to my twin. So it arrived yesterday and what had that lovely Emily done, but gone and put two prints in—one for me and one for Twin. How nice was that!?

I had picked up the old frame at a stoop sale this summer. It's actually a window pane that someone converted into a frame. I put two fabrics on either side of the twins print. It's making me very happy.

And I made new curtains. Now it was a bit tricky to photograph because my room is really more of a glorified closet than a proper room and because, though I guess the sun still exists, we haven't seen it here in Brooklyn in, oh, about an eon. But it's a lovely eyelet with delicate blue stripes. I like the way the light twinkles through it. They are very simple panels with a band of the charcoal gray (same as the tuxedo pillow) at the top.

And look what else came in the mail yesterday? My gift tags from Tammie's swap! So many incredibly cool and creative tags. You can see them all on the flickr pool.

We're keeping indoors until this cool, rainy weather finally passes over us. Perfect weather for sewing, or maybe a bit of crochet. Happy long weekend to all!