cat + toilet paper

I have two cats. Sasha is the kitten of the family, and her spunky personality often gets her into trouble. Maya, three years older, is like a little old lady cat, prim and proper, and she rarely does anything wrong. The one thing she does (and Sasha actually doesn’t!) is eat the toilet paper. We have two bathrooms, but one rarely gets used unless guests are over, so that toilet paper was never safe (we can hear her usually going at it in the other bathroom to yell at her). Sometimes, we’d discover an entire roll had been unwound, with her little nibbles all along the side. Yikes!

I eventually decided I had had enough of that, and just kept it in the bottom drawer. However, nice guests thought we had just ran out and restocked it, or they were too polite to poke around and dealt with tissues rather than discovering where the TP was (since I did not always think to let new guests know). If it went restocked, the TP enjoyed a short adventurous life. If it went unstocked, I felt like a jerk for not mentioning it. So, I came up with this ugly idea:

That worked, but I wanted something much more awesome. And a bit explanatory. Eventually, I came across this image (which may or may not have originated here):

For the record, we did try hanging the roll the other way, but she just tore into it, the little bugger! So, I took that image, photoshopped it, added some words, and embroidered this:

I added some home decor fabric to the back to give it some heft.

And then sewed it around a roll to have the proper size. Dare I say, it looks so much better than the original! And, my guests get a kick out of it, too:)

cross stitch bunny

So in yesterday’s post, I mentioned that the embroidery guild gave us a needle book and a pattern to make a bunny on the cover. Well, ta da!

I added my own little details: french knots in the top and bottom border, eye, and nose; a two-color vertical line at the spine; and rather than long stitches, I made some Turkey work for a puffy tail (I learned how in the Craftsy Stumpwork class videos).

[P.S. I no longer have Aperture for photo editing, (thank you Apple – NOT!)  and to be frank, I have not had a chance to learn more than the very introductory basics inside the replacement, Lightroom. Aperture had a handy auto “quick fix” feature that I haven’t located yet in the new program (fingers crossed it is there somewhere!), hence the somewhat less than stellar images of late. I just cannot get myself to care about photography or real photo editing – I miss my auto button, bah!]

cross stitch 101

One of the things I’ve done this year is sign up for some creative classes. Craftsy was offering a buy-one-get-one event in January so I enrolled in my first two: Embroidering Texture and Dimension by Hand with Sue Spargo and Stumpwork: Raised Embroidery Essentials with Celeste Chalasani. I like to only work on one major project at a time (otherwise my life would be chaos) so I started with Sue’s but it is still a work-in-progress so I will have to share that with you later.

In the meantime, I found a somewhat local embroidery guild, Needle Artisans of Northwest Indiana, and they happened to have a free cross stitch class at my county library this last weekend so I asked my MIL to go with me (she’s done cross stitch for a good chunk of her life but is interested in what the Guild itself might offer). I have never tried cross stitch because I am self-taught and thought cross stitch might be too… uncompromising? Additionally, a lot of the patterns are boxy and though pixelated images are in vogue now since Minecraft and whatnots, it just isn’t my style. Yet, I do appreciate and adore antique cross stitch, so there’s my conundrum for ya.

I was very pleased with the event! The library had some books set aside related to cross stitch and embroidery. There were two table areas set up; one for members who brought projects to work on during the class (a nice variety!), and one for the class itself. They had several volunteers acting as teachers for us newbies and ran through the basics of needles, threads, cross stitch fabrics, and tricks. There was a third table set up with show-and-tell projects, too, so we could see some finished handiwork.

I was not sure I would learn much other than whether I liked cross stitching (cross stitch seems rather simple and I know about threads and whanot through embroidery) but it is so true you can learn something new every day! I learned three things that is ridiculous I never knew. First, I’ve been separating threads wrong my whole life! I always peeled them apart, like a Twizler pull-n-peel (and mumble at the occasionally knot). Instead, you just grab one, and hold the rest between forefinger and thumb as you gently pull. Duh! The other thing I learned is that the thread brand I use most, DMC, tags one of the paper loops with a handy little symbol (pun intended!) so you know which end to pull from so as to avoid knotting it up. And last, I don’t need to make knots, because I can just capture the tails under my other stitches. Why did I not know these things?!

The guild provided us printed directions, fabric, thread, tapestry needle and wooden needle case, and a baggie to take it all home in (each table also had scissors and a metal needle threader for us to borrow). We began learning with this tiny little “I like you” balloon image which I adore because it is something Boy and I often say to each other.

We were given a choice of needle book size, small or large, for a bunny pattern. I picked the large one to get more practice since the smaller one would not fit the border. I am working on it now.

On top of that, there was a pile of free sample kits to choose from when we finished. I chose these little picnic ants and finished it the same day, on our way to Chinatown (my brother was in town so my husband and I went with him and our Chinese friend for the Lantern Festival).

Overall, I was quite delighted and will probably become a member even though they aren’t located as conveniently as I would like. Their mission is focused on education, and that’s what I want out of it! There are two local area shops they mentioned, as well as a convention happening this spring in Chicago. Super excited to see where this takes me!

O hoop

As I mentioned last time, I purchased my first pattern off of etsy from KnottyDickens and printed it directly to the fabric via a short tutorial at NeedlenThread. I never intended to stitch the phrase on it, so before I printed it, I edited the image and made the center blank. My first go was just to be a test; then, if it worked, I was going to find a cool font and use a phrase I liked. I hadn’t spent much time deciding what that would be because I was a little doubtful of the magic I was hoping for.

It worked though, and brilliantly, I must say! And so I began stitching immediately. Only about half-way through did I realize, oops, I should have printed this out on a separate piece of fabric with a phrase to follow. Of course, I could always do it the old school way and trace the words onto it, or just simply write them in my own handwriting. But I came to really appreciate the lack of words. And, for reasons untold, an elaborate O just seemed to fit, so I’ve decided to leave it as is.

I don’t know where I will hang it, so for now it is on a temporary hook. Thank you, 3M! (Disclaimer: 3M has no idea I exist.)

2016 makes

I hadn’t posted a lot there toward the end of the year, huh? I was in the midst of a tough semester, to sugar coat it. I survived, so there is that! 2017 is going great. I hope that with my new teaching schedule and perspective on life that I’ll post more often because, well, I hope to have more creations! In fact, I’ve been a busy little bee – I even signed up for my first Craftsy classes (January is buy one get one free so I bit the bullet!).

First up, I made Boy a bag for his blood sugar stuff. He doesn’t have any blood sugar problems, but the dude gets a bit crazy about health sometimes and thought it would be worth buying a lot of stuff to test it. And it is fun to check every now and then, the science-y part of me will admit. He chose the fabrics out of my stash. I adore his choice for the inside: it reminds him of his grandma. I think it’s a cute little zippered pouch – it’s got little sloping shoulders (the tabs) which, of course, is an oops, but I think they are fun! I followed the same techniques outlined here.

I learned my very first paper-piecing project! I was so excited, since I love English paper piecing, but I was a bit scared with it being on my machine rather than by hand. It was so much more work than I imagined! The two methods are not related at all, in my opinion. I really didn’t care for it, but then the end product was something I was pretty proud of, so heck, maybe I do like it! (My inner crafting self is a bit schizoid I sometimes think.)

I followed lillyella’s Undercover Maker Mat pattern which was very easy to understand. I made a huge mistake (of course!) but left it. Do you see it? (The main fabric pattern is upside down! Ack!) I added my own little touch of a felt tab to stash a couple of needles and pins (it can be tucked back into the pocket). I also used twill measuring tape to have a ruler handy at any given time! And, with the way I sew (on a coffee table!), I do not have the space for a mat – instead I toss the cover over the edge of my couch. So, on the back, I could add one of my favorite buttons!

I also learned you can print directly to fabric! With a normal printer! What!! I came across NeedlenThread’s post and just had to try it. Transferring patterns is one of the reasons, I feel, that I do not do a lot of embroidery. But now…. now the world is opened up to me! I tested it out with this Knotty Dicken’s pattern, the first pattern I ever purchased from etsy. I’m moving up! I completed it in 2017, so I’ll include that in a later post. I was scared about making those roses – what kind of complicated stitch must that be?! How time consuming?! But, you know what? That is easier than a stinking back stitch, that is! Holy cow!

I also attempted to make a compass. I found the image as a random google image search and I tried to chase it back to the original owner, but since I don’t have pinterest, I couldn’t. I am dissatisfied with it as far as my intent (I want to make a set of hoops with a travel theme for my guest bedroom) but I did a great job, considering, so I think I will turn it into something for a travel-y friend of mine.

Well, thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet. May your 2017 be a creative one!