Summer parties? Totally my wheelhouse.

Yarn, string and needles

It’s no secret; I love to throw parties. My house is kind of perfectly set up for backyard summer soirees, and I love to cook and decorate and talk with friends without having to leave home. A couple weeks ago, I invited a handful of people over for a (sloppily named, sure) “Learn/Teach to Craft Party.”

The gang at a craft party.

The idea was that between my circle of friends, you can learn to make just about any crafty thing. There was knitting, embroidery, crochet, wire-wrapping, decoupage (um, I think that’s what it’s called) …


And there were dogs. My little sister is this pup’s nanny, so he came along, as well as two of Gheybin’s little mousy-dogs.

Table of books, drinks and notions

I wanted there to be plenty of available supplies and inspiration, so I piled the tables with fabric, craft books, notions, thread and yarn. As well as bouquets made from the flowers growing in my yard and raspberry-mint lemonade. And a few poorly-executed baked goods. Providing good food is my weak spot when it comes to hostessing.

Book table

Eliza and Caitlin

Eliza, on the left, was making a cute embroidered piece for the shop she used to work in, and Caitlin, right, knitted on a lovely shawl.

Juliette and Gheybin

Juliette stitches adorable wallets out of old birth-control pill sleeves (awesome, right?) and Gheybin was knitting a striped pullover. Peeking at what other people make is another benefit of these parties; I really love it. I’m a definite craft voyeur.

Mereht and Nadia

Mereht taught Nadia how to wrap wire around stones to make pendants, and when Celeste (unpictured) came I taught the three of them to knit.


Eek! Pups!

I’m a horrible sister.

jenn and dani's mitts

I have this terrible habit. I tend to make gifts for people and then forget to give them for, oh, years. These mitts have been sitting on my desk for (seriously) a full year, a hat for my bestie Ben has been sitting in my glove compartment since April, an embroidered hedgehog for my sister has been sitting in the drawer for at least six months … the list goes on.

jenn and dani's mitts

These mitts are even worse than usual, because last July my sisters Jenn and Dani and their children asked me to make them these fingerless mitts. Easy enough; they’re just bulky garter rectangles seamed up the side. They even bought the yarn for me! But, obviously, I’ve still only finished the mitts for Jenn and Dani; leaving 4 pairs of children’s mitts to go.

I blame it on my dislike for making matching pairs. I long ago gave up on making socks; for there are 5 single knitted socks in a drawer with no partners. I can manage sleeves, but just barely. Mitts are easier than socks, for sure. They’re just a definite block.

jenn and dani's mitts

Anyway, dear Jenn and Dani, please remind me to give these to you.

How to make a super-simple party banner


I made this incredibly simple banner for my fourth of July party, and have since used it a couple times to give the backyard a pop of color. And like I said, it’s super easy. So easy that I didn’t even bother taking pictures of the steps in making it, because you’ll get it without the visuals.

July 4, 2011

Materials required:

  • A long strip of bias tape, ribbon or rickrack; I used about 20 yards of undyed bias tape.
  • A healthy stash of scraps; I used about two plastic-bags-full of red, white and blue scraps. I used mostly woven cotton, with a few synthetic knits and it worked fine, but I recommend sticking to woven fabrics.
  • Either a ruled cutting board and rotary cutter or a piece of cardboard or cardstock, fabric scissors and a pen.
  • A sewing machine and one spool of thread to match your bias tape.
  • An iron.
  • A shoebox or something similar for storing the banner; see step 7.



  1. Iron your scraps.
  2. If you don’t have a rotary cutter and cutting board: Cut your piece of cardboard to 2×10″.  Use that as a guide to mark 2×10″ rectangles on your fabric.
    If you do have a rotary cutter and cutting board: Just use the lines on the cutting board to cut 10″ strips, then cut that strip every 2″.
    Keep cutting rectangles until you get sick of it. I made about 180, but I wanted a really long banner. It’s not necessary to use anti-fray glue or seam the edges unless you really want to; a little fraying looks good on this banner, in my opinion.
  3. Once you have cut a satisfactory amount of rectangles, organize them in the order you want them to be once sewn. I did a red, blue, white pattern, attempting to keep printed rectangles evenly spaced between solid colors. This doesn’t matter too much, as this is more of a “big picture” project; no one’s going to be looking too close.
  4. Take your bias tape, and fold about 4″ of the end toward the center to make a loop, so the banner will be easy to hang. Start sewing about 3″ from the fold, but do not cut thread once you’ve secured the loop.
  5. Begin attaching the rectangles to the tape, as shown in the pictures. Keep them at an interval of about 2″, sewing all the way down the tape. As you start to get a pile of sewn rectangles behind your machine, stretch the banner out to avoid wrinkling the rectangles. Do this every 5 feet or so.
  6. Once you’ve attached all your rectangles to your bias tape or ribbon, cut the tape about 8″ from the edge of the last rectangle. Fold back 4″ and sew to make a loop. Backstitch a couple times to make it secure, and cut your thread.
  7. To store:  Wrap entire banner, without twisting the tape or ribbon, around the shoebox. This keeps the rectangles from wrinkling and makes it easy to hang in the future.

July 4, 2011

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions; or if you make one of your own! I’d love to see it.

Imaginary shopping spree: Rockentots edition

It appears I forgot to write this again this week, so it’s coming in a day late. I’ve been feeling a little burned out when it comes to blogging lately; but I’m going to write more! I really am. Anyway, look at this outrageously cute stuff:

Left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Heart mom coffee cozy (I don’t regularly use coffee cozies, but I would start for this. It’s so fekking cute.) (I don’t know where the word “fekking” came from, but I use it all the time now.)
  2. Rose felt crown
  3. Mustard yellow mum felt flower headband
  4. Pioneer headband
  5. Girly Pirate Patch
  6. Bigfoot coffee cozy (This would be perfect for my stepdad. He’s a coffee drinker and does the best sasquatch impression.)

Every 20 minutes.


I just finished painting a thing that took forever to paint, and though I can’t really share the finished product here yet*, I’d at least like to show off these pretty colors and say how glad I am to not be painting anymore. I had to let the paint dry between steps, which made the whole thing take far too long. I still have to embroider, cut, sew and attach the whole project before Grady falls asleep tonight, so I better get back to it. Anyway, you’ll see the whole thing soon!

I’ve put myself in that place where I’m just absolutely ready to be done with every project I’ve started. I have like a dozen pieces that are almost ready to be listed in the shop, but they just need a little more work. A little more annoying drudgy work that I won’t really enjoy much, to be specific.

*It’s a gift, and I’m thinking of making a tutorial out of it. So no real peeks quite yet.

10 cool random things

Today’s collection of random things might as well be called the “Tattoo Edition,” as all but 2 of the links I’m sharing are tattoos. What can I say? I love good ink.

Aaaaaaaaah I am obsessed with this tattoo. According to the caption over at F*** Yeah Tattoos, it’s an image of her grandmother’s home. I would love to get a tattoo related to my grandpa’s old house; I was recently thinking of the things that are sacred to me; that house and breastfeeding were right at the top of the list.

This is so beautiful it makes me want to cry
. Seriously.

Eep! I love Ferdinand! I’ve seen a lot of Ferdinand tattoos taken directly from the illustrations in the book, but this new design is pretty magnificent.

I love this. It’s like she has a little buddy walking by her side all the time.

Don’t you just want to smoosh those pompoms? They’re made from old t-shirts & I’m a little bit obsessed with them. I’m considering making some for Grady’s birthday party decorations and then using them as decor int he house. Find the tutorial at Craftaholics Anonymous.

Oh, how I love nature-based white-space-y half sleeves. Those flowers are incredibly beautiful. Found via F*** Yeah Tattoos.

I also have a soft spot for traditional rose tattoos. They are just so lovely, and these especially are well-placed and well-made.

Surprise! More flowers! These are too pretty.

Oooooooooh, I love this. I’ve had a fern tattoo in the works for almost a year now; because ferns are incredible, of course. Mine is very different than this one, but I still absolutely adore this one. it’s the first I’ve seen done entirely in green, and I love it.

Tea towels done with fabric marker! Brilliant! I have plans for zillions of beautiful drawn/embroidered/painted tea towels, but when I get around to shopping for the blank towels I always think they’re too expensive. $5 for two towels? No thank you, craft stores. If any of you know a place to get bulk towels (seriously. I’d be cool with a whole giant box of them) for cheap, let me know? Not only does my own collection need some serious revitalization, but I’d love to design & sell some someday. Anyway, find this tutorial at elsie marley.

As the old song goes …


This is the shawl that never ends,
Yes, it goes on and on my friends.
One day I started knitting it not knowing what it was,
And now I’ll keep on knitting it forever just because …

I thought starting at the long edge would be fun! I thought this was a nice color of blue! I thought the lace pattern wouldn’t be mind-numbingly dull! I thought that it wouldn’t sit in my purse for months before I could get past the third row! Oh, how foolish I was.

10 cool recipes

I made this Yogurt Parfait Pie from Cooking with my Kid (as well as a bunch of other stuff, all of it edible thank-you-very-much) for the 4th of July Party at my house, and it was deeeeelicious. Generally the recipes on that blog are a little bland for my tastes, and I think next time I make this (there will definitely be a next time) I’ll add some vanilla or … I don’t know. Just a little something extra.

Also: Apparently cornstarch is something that exists? I didn’t know that until shopping to make this.

I made these corn muffins (they not only have cornstarch, but actual kernels of corn in them) one night with Cade, and they were exceedingly edible. Just needed a little extra honey.

Something about m&m’s in cookies just makes my knees melt. This (gluten-free!) recipe is from Cooking With My Kid.

In a similar vein, these Glazed Apple Cookies are also making my knees melt. Bigtime. Glazed cookies are just the best.

Yup, these look disgusting. But I want to make them (out of fancy organic hotdogs & whole-wheat pasta, of course) for Grady! You cook the pasta & hot dogs together and it comes out looking like this disgusting alien mess that kids are certain to adore. Found at crafterhours.

Our (wonderful, constantly-sharing) neighbors made campfire dinners like this for us last night (meaning July 7, as I’m writing this on July 8), and it awakened a constant desire for tin-foil-wrapped ashy food in me. I think this is what Sunday dinner will be. (When I asked dear old dad what kind of meat he wanted in it, he replied “I don’t care, chicken?” Have I mentioned that he is so difficult to cook for?)

Almond-Apple-Cinnamon scones

I would love to eventually make my own noodles for soups. Are they more difficult than pie crust? Because I’m still not at all able to make pie crust, and I figured noodles should wait until that wall is hurdled.

This Vegetarian Lime Orzo looks incredibly good.

As does this Black-Eyed Pea Salad. I’ve recently renewed my love for Black-Eyed Peas. I’m getting the urge to make my own black-eyed pea hummus. Not sure if it would work, but it’s worth trying!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … things about...

Craft is featuring this lovely getting-to-know-you series of blog posts about the fascinating makers of the internet. And while I’m nowhere near the crafty prowess of the people Craft has been featuring, I do like talking about myself. So here we go!

One Project You Are Particularly Proud Of

1. I’m generally really happy with everything I make, but I’d have to say that currently I’m happiest with my first thread Niebling and a portrait of Marx that I’m listing in the shop soon. Unfortunately, I didn’t design the Marx myself – it’s based on a drawing by Rius. But when I started it I was far less confident in my own design abilities, so it also reminds me of how proud I can be of the progress I’ve made.


Two Mistakes You’ve Made In the Past

1. Oh, so many. I have an embarrassing amount of sloppily sewn hems, to start with. My introduction to sewing was given with a very anti-hand-sewing slant, so I just assumed it was awful and didn’t even attempt to learn it for too long. Which makes no sense, considering my love for embroidery. But now I’m comfortable with a blind hem, and even enjoy it!

2. The last time I tried to make a sweater for myself (out of this pattern) I … well I still don’t know what quite I did. I thought everything was going swimmingly until it came to seaming, when I realized that absolutely nothing lined up. The sleeves were different lengths, the fronts were different widths … it was a disaster. Luckily the yarn stood up well to frogging.

Three Things That Make Your Work Unique

1. I guess it depends on the medium. I don’t express too much of my individuality in knitting or crochet, because I’m not very comfortable drafting my own patterns. I like to think my embroidery is a bit sweet and bitchy, and I love to do unexpected things will all media. The boyfriend recently said (paraphrasing) that what he liked most about my work is that when he looks at it, he doesn’t think “Oh, right. That’s something that makes sense in stitches.”

2. I like to use thrift-store or hand-me-down materials, which drastically impacts the final look of my pieces. It certainly doesn’t lend to any modernity, but I don’t mind that at all.

3. I am not at all discerning about what I make. The slightest impulse will direct my next project, so I’ve made everything from ruffled aprons to wang cozies to Dalek doilies, and my inspiration is drawn from everything from Dr. Seuss to Dave Chappelle.

Four Tools You Love To Use

1. My lightbox and MacStitch have become equally invaluable in embroidery design. I also heavily lean on Pixelmator when designing.

2. Spray-on adhesive. In embroidery framing, I’ve found nothing more useful, and it’s just fun to work with.

3. My swift and ball-winder. They are lost in the mess right now, but there is no better time to clarify your idea of a project than when winding a neat little cake of yarn.

4. The contents of the pantry. Vinegar, salt and Kool-Aid for dying, the cheese grater for aging fabric, the gin for getting those creative juices flowing (smiling emoticon) … I’m a huge proponent of bringing crafts to the kitchen. In fact, the kitchen of the mother-in-law apartment I live in is used entirely for craft storage. (I use the kitchen in the main house for, like, eating and all that boring stuff.)

Five Inspirations

1. The materials, the materials, the materials. I almost always start with a fabric or yarn and then decide what to do from there.

2. Books. Particularly art, philosophy and vintage children’s books.

3. Feminism. This is generally the source of any subversion of a traditional medium; in fact I’m working on a cross-stitch series right now based on the idea of reclaiming woman-hating invectives.

4. The internet! Ravelry, Craft, blogs and Flickr groups are a constant stream of incoming inspiration.

5. Boredom. I spend a lot of time at home alone (such is the (absolutely delightful) life of a single mom), and I try to take advantage of that void to allow ideas some space to root. My best ideas generally happen hours after Grady has gone to bed, when I’ve been alone with my thoughts in a quiet room.