Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Am It

No, no, it's not existentialist musings or even a proclamation about how cool I am (though, let's face it, I'm pretty rad). Instead, it refers to me being tagged by the lovely Claire of Chickenpants and Absolutely Small fame for one of those blog meme games. I think it fits in with my effort to share a little more about myself and not be all plushies all the time, plus it's a nice excuse to blog a bit. First, the rules by which I am bound:

  • answer the questions

  • replace a question that you don't like, with one by your choice

  • add one more question

  • tag 8 people to continue the game of tagging

And now, random tidbits about me!

What is the thing that makes you happy?
Friends and family. Sewing, knitting, and spinning. Wine. My dogs. The moon. Autumn. Pumpkin-flavored anything. Oceans and mountains. Moss.

Coffee or tea?
Both, but usually tea. Pumpkin chai is sweet, sweet ambrosia.

What’s for dinner?
Spaghetti. Pasta is our staple; I'd say we have some variation of sauce with noodles at least three times a week. Because neither of us particularly enjoy cooking. But mainly because we're ridiculously lazy.

What was the last thing you bought?

A really cute hair clip made from a vintage button and ostrich feathers at I Like You, a super cool store here in Minneapolis that carries only local, handmade goods (including mine!). All Minneapolitans should shop there.

What are you listening to right now?
At this very moment, the new Tegan & Sara album, Sainthood. I feel kind of meh about it so far. This month, though, I've had the Fun. (period included in name) album pretty much on repeat.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?

Um, I guess I'll go with two corduroy skirts I bought at Anthropologie last season. I pretty much live in them. One is brown and the other is a lovely steel blue.

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Mint with brownie chunks. It's very hard to find, which I guess is just as well because I don't need to eat any more sweets than I already do.

What do you think of the person(s) who tagged you?
She's very creative! Her Chickenpants always crack me up, as does her blog. I only know her through the Internet, but she seems like someone I'd totally be friends with in real life (is that creepy/weird to say?).

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
I love Claire's answer to this: "Could you just drop me off in Tokyo with a few fresh credit cards? Shibuya station please. Thaaanks." and pretty much second that. I've been dying to see Romania too, and I'd love to go back to Iceland someday.

Which language do you want to learn?
As someone who learned only useless languages in college (Latin and ancient Greek), I'd love to learn German (my ancestry) and Japanese.

What is your favourite colour?
Bright green and bright blue.

If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on?
A new winter coat. Bright blue, with a classic yet somewhat mod feel, please.

What is your favorite animal?
Alpaca. And sheep and goats and dogs.

Describe your personal style?
Eclectic. I like to play around with many styles. Most of the time, I'm a turtleneck and skirt with knee-high boots kind of gal. And I wear knee-highs with almost everything.

What are you going to do after this?
Sew! Well, that's what I should do, anyway. But I'll probably watch TV instead. I know, I'm a slacker!

What are your favourite movies?
Run Lola Run, Princess Mononoke (really, any Studio Ghibli movie, but this one is the best. My husky is named after the main character), Perfect Blue, Garden State, Metropolis (the Osamu Tezuka one), High Fidelity, Rear Window, Little Otik.

What inspires you?
I'm blessed to have highly creative friends, and their ideas and input on my work are constantly inspiring. Aside from that, fairy tales, mythology, pop culture. I know, the last one is just a prettier way of saying "anything and everything," but it's true.

What is your favourite fruit?

Do you collect something?
Books, hobbies, tiny cute things, song lyrics, fabric (somebody stop me!), dog hair (unintentional).

How many hours do you sleep a day?
About 7. I don't really like sleeping, though. I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to; there's so much I'd rather do with that time! I'm not a workaholic, just a girl with too many hobbies who refuses to give any of them up.

How many times do you press the snooze button before you get up?
I'm replacing this question with:
Share a childhood memory.
One night when I was about 5 and my brother Matthew was about 1, our parents left us at the dinner table before we were finished eating (it only just occurred to me to wonder why, though I probably don't want to know). My brother was still in a high chair. I have no idea why I did this, but I suddenly reached over and jabbed his cheek with my fork, hard enough to leave tine imprints but not hard enough to make him bleed. He, of course, starts screaming bloody murder and my parents rush into the room. Before they can even ask what's going on, though, I look up at them and in my most serious, innocent voice proclaim, "I didn't poke him with a fork." They burst out laughing so hard, they hardly thought to punish me. And we all still laugh about it to this day.

What is your favourite smell?
Wood smoke. Freshly-baked brownies. Cinnamon. My dogs' heads (I swear it's not gross!).

What is your biggest regret?
Not going to the fine arts college that accepted me because I was too shy to move to a big city in another state all by myself, and because I didn't want to leave my then-boyfriend behind. On the other hand, I wouldn't trade my current life for anything, and who can say if I would've ended up here had I taken that other path.

What are you most proud of?
This is really tough. I guess starting this business, putting myself out there. Though I've always been creative, I used to be painfully shy and the thought of putting my creations out in the world to be critiqued is something I never thought I would do. I'm proud that so far I continue to persevere despite hardships and setbacks.

Cats or dogs?
Definitely dogs.

What’s your biggest fashion mistake?
Everything I wore in the late 80s, early 90s.

What is your guilty TV pleasure?
I totally watched all of the Rock of Love seasons, and loved every trashy minute.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Mostly a veterinarian (I still sometimes toy with this thought), but other times I wanted to be a writer for National Geographic or an artist. I went to school for English and Archaeology, though. Go figure.

If you could meet any person dead or alive who would it be?
Uh . . . I'm completely and utterly stumped on this one.

What is your biggest dream?
live in the country and own a small fiber farm where I hand-dye and spin all the fiber from my own animals into yarn that I sell from a small shop on my own property. (I would also sell Plushroom Soup critters there, of course!) To live simply and well, and always be surrounded by those whom I love.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?
No one title stands out. I've always been a voracious reader, and have always liked stories with fantasy and fairy-tale elements. I also remember enjoying the Happy Hollister books. They were kind of like The Hardy Boys, but with two sisters as well as two brothers. The books had been my Dad's when he was a boy, and they had that wonderful slightly musty smell that old books have and were worn just enough to feel like old familiar friends. . . .

If today was your last day on earth what would you be doing?
Pleading with fate to give me more time. Hugging my friends and family. Probably drunk.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
The ability to not sleep! That, or teleportation so I could travel on a whim. Who needs planes—I'll just send myself! Who needs to board the dogs or pay for expensive hotels—I'll just pop back home to take care of the animals and to sleep real quick!

And here is the question I'm adding:
If you joined the circus, what act would you perform?

I am tagging the following people (and many apologies if you hate these! I won't feel bad if you don't participate. Promise.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday - Oh, Baby

First, I am not pregnant. I repeat (mom): I am NOT pregnant.

However, four of my friends have given birth so far this year, and four more friends are due by the end of February (not to mention the handful of friends that gave birth last year. Oi!). So as you can imagine, I have spent a large portion of my free time crafting baby gifts.

I know this kind of post is very atypical of me (and I promise it will remain this way). But I know many of you are in the same boat as me: lots of preggers friends, needing creative handmade gift ideas, but having no idea where to start. So for those of us less baby-minded, I thought I'd put together a little round-up of all the lovely tutorials and patterns I've found this past year.

My favorite stand-by quickie gift is the Cozy Quick Blankie from the Purl Bee. It's perfect because it sews up in under an hour, uses just two yards of fabric, and the end result is really cute and, well, cozy.


My other standard go-to gift is embellished baby burp cloths. All moms I know tell me you can never have enough of these around, yet the store-bought variety are dreadfully boring. So I like to dress up 3 to 6 of these and include with most baby gifts. Chickpea Sewing and Paper Dolly Girl both have excellent tutorials for how to do this. And though the latter tutorial calls for flannel scraps to be used as the absorbent interior, I like to used the standard Gerber cloth diaper you can buy in packs of 6 at Target or any baby store. It's more absorbent than flannel, is already pre-cut, and serves as an excellent template for cutting your fabric pieces. You can also sew both of these up in well under an hour.

This free skirt pattern from Oliver + S is super easy, and sews up in
just about an hour. The pattern calls for a yard, but a baby skirt
really only needs a fat quarter (or two 18 x 11-inch pieces). And how adorable is that squirrel fabric?! I kind of want a skirt from it for myself. . . . For a slightly fancier skirt, Two Little Banshees has a nice tutorial.

More time consuming but sure to be a hit with babes and adults alike (I gifted a set of these at a recent office baby shower, and the whole room got super excited and tossed the balls around for the remainder of the shower) are the Fabric Beach Balls, again from the fine folks at Purl Bee (and no, I'm not a paid endorser!).

Not free but super adorable is the Baby Binky Bunny pattern from mmmcrafts. The pattern is so easy to follow and is great fun to make.

Finally, if you're a knitter, I highly recommend the Offset Wraplan pattern by fyberduck. Simple, quick to knit, yet easily and endlessly customizable.

So, there you have it. My take on awesome handmade baby gifts. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Buy Zombie!

Ah, the power of Twitter. This afternoon, someone I follow reposted a Tweet (retweeted) from a user named BuyZombie. Since I craft zombie critters and generally like most things zombie, I was intrigued and clicked over to their profile. BuyZombie.com is an awesome Website that is "an ever-growing database of everything Zombie related you can buy or do
on the Internet" and has "grown to be a hub for zombie news, media,
reviews, and announcements!" Naturally, I had to follow someone who runs such a cool site and I swear, not even an hour later, I saw this Tweet from them:

Picture 3

How cool is that?! Thanks to Stuart for such a nice write-up of my zombie critters!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday - Autumn's Arrival


Anyone who knows me for any short time at all knows that fall is by far my favorite season. I love fall so much, I wish it was the only season (though I know I would then probably enjoy it less). I love the colors, the smell, the temperature and light changes. I love Halloween, and pumpkin-flavored everything. I love the crunch of leaves underfoot. And even though it's been years and years since I've been in school, I still get that great anticipatory feeling each fall like I did while in school. To me, autumn is like the new year--full of possibilities. A time for rebirth. I know, I know; in autumn, vegetation is dying. Birds are flying south. Other critters are readying their dens for a winter's sleep. But I choose to look at it the way Albert Camus did:

Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.

Isn't that pretty?


I also like to think of autumn the way our ancestors might have: autumn is a time of great celebration. After the great harvest that will sustain a family and village through the winter comes a time of respite from the hardest farming work. In the fall and through the winter, a family gathers around the hearth. It's a time to enjoy the fruits of all your spring and summer labor. It's a good book in front of a warm fire. Cider from your own apples, pie from your own pumpkins. A leisurely walk down a country lane.


Everything about fall evokes in me strong, happy emotions. Autumn smells, looks, tastes, and feels good. I think if Goldilocks had been able to test out the seasons, she would've declared fall just right. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too bright, not too dark. Autumn is comfort.

I wish all of you a warm fuzzy fall.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Goals and September Goal Status

(image: Modish Biz Tips)

September was a good month! I accomplished darn near everything on my list for the first time ever. Let's recap:

  1. Make a "Y" for the Plush You sign Status: Complete.
    See picture on my Flickr. I will miss going to Seattle this year to hang out with all the awesome plush people, but I hope to go again next year.

  2. Make at least 6 plushies, 2 of which (minimum) will be Halloween-related for the Etsy shop. Status: Half done.
    I managed 3 out of 6, but all 3 were Halloween related. I have a 4th half-done. . . .

  3. Start researching new booth designs for No Coast. Status: complete.
    I have a good idea about what I want to do. The bad news? I was wait-listed this year. I do understand the space limitations, the need to keep things fresh and give new vendors a chance to shine, so I'm trying to stay upbeat. But I can't help but fell more than a little bummed about this. I've done
    this show for the past three years in a row, and it is so much fun. I
    love networking with the other vendors, hobnobbing with customers, and
    being part of the best yearly event in our local community. I'm keeping my fingers and my toes crossed that I can still participate!

  4. Clean my craft room. Status: complete.
    This is a huge weight lifted off my back! I pulled every last thing out of the closet and reevaluated. I was a bit shocked by how much I had been holding onto that just didn't matter. But it felt so good to purge! I sent two large boxes to Goodwill, recycled four large (no, seriously large; like, two year's worth of back issues on four different magazines plus other miscellany large) boxes full of paper goods, and hauled three large garbage bags to the dump. Whew! Felt sooooo good. I want to share pictures with everyone soon, but before I do, there's one last thing I want to check off my to-do list.

Which brings me to October's goals:

  1. Organize my fabric shelves. Refold all pieces, and arrange by color. Recycle or toss what can't or won't be used.
    1B. When done, photograph my room in pristine condition and share online.

  2. Make more plushies! Even though I'm not guaranteed a No Coast slot, even though Etsy sales have slumped, now is not the time to sit on my laurels! Specifically, make at least 6 plushies.

  3. Approach two new shops about carrying my work. Since I most likely don't need to save my inventory for a big show this year, I feel comfortable selling some of it to retail stores.

  4. Complete at least half of my pieces for the Go Ask Alice show (due November 20).

And that's it!

Thoughtful Thursday - On Halloween and the Zombie Scourge


Yep, it must be October all right—zombies have shuffled their way into my Etsy shop! There should be a zombie critter to satisfy most souls, and I plan to add one or two more in the next week.




If zombies aren't quite you're thing (is that even possible?!), there are a few other "dark" critters as well, like this undead dragon:

Red dragon flying

Aside from Christmas, I think Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love playing dress up and seeing all the creative costumes others make. I also love the typical Halloween themes—skeletons, zombies, ghosts, wizards, witches, and so forth. It's the one time of year you're not considered a super nerd for enjoying or displaying items with these themes. So, here's to a fun and festive holiday this year, and no matter what others may say, zombies are always in fashion!