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.)

leather book cover

This project has been floating around my house for quite some time. Frankly, the idea of sewing leather was scary to me, so I hemmed and hawed a lot, but eventually I got through it! I had a swath of green leather from years ago, waiting for an interesting project so when my friend asked to make a book cover for her to keep records of her weaving endeavors, I decided now was the time.

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I had the feather inspiration from Maureen Cracknell Handmade, and used hers as an outline. My version is intentionally not as delicate as hers with the idea that the chunky-ness would work well with the leather. Now that it is done, I am not so sure, but I would rather not copy someone else’s work exactly anyway.

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My first hang up was cutting the leather itself. See, as I mentioned, this was stored in my closet for years, so it wound up with some creases and wrinkles. Can you iron leather? I am not sure – the internet says yes and no, so I tried a few methods on some scrappy edges and just couldn’t tell if it was working or not. Another problem is the nature of the leather itself – there are parts of it that just do not lay flat because that was not how the leather grew… I did have enough of it where I could cut a fairly flat piece out, so that is what I did (it was not the way I would cut if I was trying to get the most out of my yardage, if you know what I mean!). I will say it cut like butter, though:)

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I used my rectangle hoop to stitch the feather onto the leather after I had embroidered it. I delayed here for a long while also because I was not sure how I wanted to do the outline. I tried a few methods on a scrap piece, and settled on using an outline stitch that I had just properly learned for the Zelda crest mug rug I recently made. I did vary between six and three strands, but you can’t really tell. I am still learning embroidery, you know. Plus, I could not find a hand-sewing leather needle that was straight. Mine was not only gently curved at the tip (a feature I actually fell in love with and will search for embroidery needles of like kind) but also had a 90 degree bend before the eye. That made the motions a bit trickier, as you can imagine.

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Then, I delayed even longer yet because I was not sure my machine would appreciate sewing through leather. I did buy heavy duty needles, but since they did not specifically state “for use with leather”, nor did they have a cutting shape to their point, I was concerned – but it was all I could find at the store. Lucky for me, my leather was very thin and supple, so as long as I went slowly over where the leather was folded, it sewed great! I used my little clothespins to hold the layers together. Since both the leather and fabric was thin, I used a heavy-weight stabilizer to make it feel sturdy, and a brown ribbon for the marker.

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I used my quick & dirty method so I only had to sew two straight lines, adjusting for the size of the notebook obviously. I only chose this method because I didn’t want to put my machine through any more torture than necessary.

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I included a standard composition book; in the event she fills one up and needs to add another, it will be easy for her to find a notebook that fits.

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It feels really nice in your hands! The leather gives a nice grip but is so very soft!

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And now, I embark on another hexagon project! Yay! This was the first time I have ever cut squares in bulk – I felt like a quilter. While cutting, I asked myself if I would like to quilt yet – my family all does it so maybe I should join them. But the idea of having to cut more than this tiny stack (which felt monstrous while cutting) still has me holding off on that venture… for now.

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