Posts tagged ‘embroidery’

Cary Creative Center


I like to save things.  I don’t always know what I’m going to do with them, but I often think, “Something cool can be done with this!”  Sometimes it works out, like the stitch markers I made for the first day of the 365 challenge. (I am still doing that, btw. I’m more behind on documentation than I am on actually doing crafty things, though I am a bit behind on both. Turns out getting  a new job, going out of town, getting sick, and planning a wedding can take up some time.)  I also just hate waste. If I think it can be useful, I want to hold onto it, so it doesn’t just get thrown out to languish in a landfill.

The non-profit Cary Creative Center is based on just this. They don’t like things to be wasted either.  So, like the Scrap Exchange in Durham (which I still really need to visit), they take donations of random items, most of them crafty related and sell them.  They also offer classes, similarly focused on reusing items.  And they sell locally made items like jewelry and notebooks.

I had a good time just walking around looking at things.  I need to donate some of my excess crafty goods, but that didn’t stop me from bringing home a bag. I got a roll of aida (cross stitch) cloth, a few dog stickers, a button, a packet of snaps, a vintage embroidery stitch book, and a half made embroidery project.  All for $3.50.


I don’t know that I’m skilled enough to finish this just yet, but it was too pretty not to take.  Plus I wanted the metal embroidery hoop. 🙂


I spent some time talking to the people there, and will be going back tomorrow to talk to them some more about volunteering.  I need to get out and do more things, and this place would be a constant source of crafty inspiration, and what creative person doesn’t need that?


01/30/2013 at 4:17 pm 2 comments

Make Something 365 Entry #4

Slightly off-topic, but every time I visit my WordPress dashboard, it always makes me laugh that they invite me to become “master of [my] own domain” (i.e. own

I decided to skip today’s actual prompt, because it involved taking a walk outside.  Though it did eventually warm up to almost 50 today, after the 10 minutes I spent scraping off my car at 6:30 this morning I rejected any further outside activity that didn’t involve dog walking.

Prompt #5 (my 4th), January 4thWhat do you collect? Work with a collection of objects you have in your home (or borrow a friend’s if you like).

I’m not a big collector.  I have a collection of stuffed cows, but they’re at my parents’ house.  I figured yarn and embroidery floss didn’t count, but for some reason, my tin of buttons came to mind.  I did buy a bunch of buttons just to buy a bunch of buttons, plus I’ve gotten a bunch from my mom’s plethora of sewing supplies.

IMG_0053I don’t have as many as my mom does, but it’s not that far off.

I focused on one particular variety pack I’d purchased at Jo-Ann, mostly just because I liked the colors, and I knew they all went well together. I decided to affix them to one of several mini-canvasses I’d picked up on a whim of “I’d like to find something cool to do with this.”  I kind of wanted to paint it, so there would be a more interesting background, but I didn’t for several reasons.  First, as a rule, I don’t paint, so all I really had was watercolor.  I knew that I would have wanted a thick, bold coating, which watercolor was not going to do.  Also, it would have limited the button colors that I could have used.  I likely would have wanted to paint it green, which means no green buttons, of which there were several in this pack.

I arranged the buttons the way I liked and glued them in place on the canvas.  I didn’t actually have to glue them, because I was planning on sewing them on with embroidery floss, but I thought that if they were already in place, it would make the sewing process a lot easier.  I chose thread colors to match the buttons and color coordinated appropriately.


There is a pink button in between two orange ones, but the light is making it look orange too.

I know I’m not making great works of art here, but I think it looks pretty cool, and I’m happy that it’s getting me doing something different with my downtime.


01/04/2013 at 6:19 pm 1 comment

First Steps

As promised, here are my first three days of the Make Something 365 challenge.  I don’t have a particular theme, like a skull a day, or a bookmark a day (though I I think someday I’d like to do a green-only [the color] challenge) so I’m just reading the prompts and doing whatever strikes me.

Prompt #1, January 1st: The first step is the hardest, so start small today and make something that fits in the palm of your hand using only the materials in your immediate environment.

I took “immediate environment” to mean my craft room.  Granted,  my craft room is more rich than most environments in terms of the amount of craft supplies contained within.  I don’t know what could be less immediate than in the same room though.  Only things at my desk? I could twist together a paper clip monster, maybe.

I tried to think of things that are small, and came up with stitch markers.  They’re used in knitting (and crochet, but those have to be slightly different) to mark certain areas in a project, e.g. the start of a round when you’re making a hat, separating the back from the front of a sweater, designating the boundaries of a lace panel, etc.  They’re useful, and small, and I continually misplace them.  Not being a jeweler or beader, I don’t happen to have a lot of these kind of supplies in the house, but I did have a few things I could start out with:

1. An old broken necklace.  The chain broke and couldn’t be fixed.  It was pretty cheap; I think I got it from Payless.  I wore it all the time before it broke, and I loved the colors, so I held onto it.  I figured I could do something with the beads.


2. Stitch markers.  These were given to me by a person on Ravelry and, while I definitely appreciate them, the rocks are a little too big for the stitch markers to be practical.  They’re wide and heavy, and they get in the way.  I figured I could take the rocks off, and attach the necklace beads to the rings.



I started by removing the beads from the necklace, and removing the rocks from the stitch marker rings.

I had four rings, so I rearranged the beads into four different groupings.  I didn’t use all the beads. It would have been too many, and the large wooden beads were just as large as the rocks on the original markers. (And I always thought the red beads looked like half eaten cough drops, which isn’t all that attractive.)

Then I ran into the issue of “How the hell am I going to attach these things?”  I remembered some stretchy bead cord I had bought when I needed to fix a necklace and pulled that out.

I cut a length and looped it through the stitch marker ring, then added the beads.


I wasn’t sure how I was going to secure the end. I was wishing I had more beading knowledge/supplies, when I turned over the package the cord was in and saw that they recommended the very technical method of knotting it a few times and putting glue on it.  That I could handle!  So I did just that, left it to try, and then trimmed off the excess cord.



Voila! Bead stitch markers!  They aren’t expertly done, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the knots comes undone at some point, but they’re secure enough for the moment.


All together, they took about an hour, not counting drying time.  The only real issue I had was that I needed to replace one of the beads from my original grouping because the hole was large enough that even the knotted cord could slip through it.

Prompt #2, January 2nd: What’s your favorite animal? Use it as your inspiration for today.

I don’t know if this is really my favorite animal, but I do like cows.  Since that’s what popped into my head, I decided to stick with that.

As I went about my business in the first part of the day, I tried thinking of something to do with cows, or cow print.  I came to the realization that after all the crochet/knit toys I’ve made, I’ve never made myself a cow.  I decided to remedy that and looked on Ravelry for a pattern.  I quickly found this one, and decided to go with that.

For the most part, I followed the pattern directions, with a few exceptions:

  1. I made it smaller
  2. I did not put one of those cow noise thingies inside of it (though I do have one, given to me by the other members of the Ultimate Trio of Death or Doom and it scares the crap out of my dog)
  3. Rather than crochet  one spot, I made three fabric cow print spots and sewed them on with embroidery thread
  4. I filled the legs mostly with rice so the cow would stand up properly
  5. I used stick on googly eyes, mostly because I don’t have any of the other kind


I didn’t actually finish the cow in one day, although if I’d started earlier than 3:30 yesterday, I probably could have.

Prompt #3, January 3rd: Make something out of paper but don’t use scissors or glue or draw on it.  What now? (And no, you don’t need to know how to do origami to do this.)

I did kind of cheat, in that I ripped a piece of paper out of a sketchpad and cut the scraggly bits off.  I just didn’t have smaller pieces of paper. Besides, I used an x-acto knife. So there.

I went through several iterations of the same idea before I ended up with what I ended up with.  In fact, you can still see the remnants of my original idea, but I didn’t want to start all over again, so I left it there. Idea #1 was to embroider some kind of checkered pattern on it. It was going to be one color, but then I decided to do a few.  I started on that and didn’t like the way it came out at all.  So I came up with idea #2, to use the same colors randomly to draw a grid pattern.  I did one color that way and realized that I liked the way that looked all by itself, so I left it alone.  Done!


The holes in that one square are leftover from idea #1 that I figured would be covered up by idea #2.  I think it would look better without the holes or, alternatively, adding some more holes throughout.


I’m enjoying this process so far, because it’s forcing me to think a little differently.  Even three days in, though, I’m realizing how daunting of a task this is. Every day?  What about when I drive 8 hours to Jersey? What if I’m sick? What about my wedding day? What about if I *gasp* get hired somewhere? I know the craft police aren’t going to come arrest me if I miss a day, but still.  I’m usually a little short on follow-through, and I want to actually do this one.

01/03/2013 at 5:04 pm 2 comments

Night of the Living Kindle Case

In my efforts to make myself a kindle case, I went through several iterations. I think I’m happy with the final result, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up making another one at some point.

I started off trying to make one with this embroidery pattern on it because, obviously, it’s perfect. I picked out cool fabric, and awesome thread colors (similar to the ones shown in the pattern, actually, though I hadn’t looked at the colored version).  Something about it just wasn’t right though. I don’t know if it’s because I used a larger form of the design and shrunk it down, or just because I’m not yet fabulous at embroidery, but the lines were sloppy, too close together, and it just didn’t look right. So I gave up on that and looked at all the other embroidery patterns I desperately wanted to put on something, and I settled on this:

Not book related, but awesome. From the moment I saw that pattern, I knew I had to put it on something.

From an embroidery perspective, this was the first time I used variegated (fancy term for multicolored) embroidery floss. I always liked it, but was never really sure what to do with it.  It was perfect here though. You can see it on the bottom of the spool of thread. That’s all one strand of thread. I thought the multiple colors would make the wood grains look a bit more realistic (as realistic as it can look in colored outlines anyway.

For the lining, I used a soft bright green fabric.  It went with the color of the thread, which was chosen for zombie-skin color, not just because I like bright green. I decided to sew it together with black thread, so it would be less obvious on the outside.  I used a blanket stitch, so it wouldn’t look like I was trying to hide the thread on the inside, since there was no way that was going to happen.  And I think it looks pretty cook on the inside, kind of Frankenstein’s monstery:

This of course has the added benefit of making the fact that my stitches are messy a “design feature” rather than a demonstration of what can only be called my “lack of mad sewing skillz.”

I was originally going to put craft plastic in it to make it rigid, but changed my mind, and now I kind of wish I had. The Kindle would be a bit more protected if I had.  This is really why I wouldn’t be surprised if I made a new one, not because I don’t like the embroidery job, which I’m actually quite pleased with. Possibly the best thing I’ve embroidered so far.

That’s it for today. Check back tomorrow for more book and vintage monster related stuff in Geek Craft Friday!

07/19/2012 at 10:54 am Leave a comment

GeekCraft Friday #2

My original intention was to actually write some entries in between my GeekCraft Fridays, but my 10 hour days at work and an impending move (I’m not moving, but my space is being moved both in and out of by others) has kept me quite busy.  But I do actually have something I made to share in this post!

This week I’m featuring an awesome yarn dyer/spinner I found on etsy called GnomeAcres.   Her yarn is awesome, and most definitely of the geeky variety.  The vast majority of fiber at the moment is Harry Potter themed, with yarns for Dobby, Hermione, Dumbledore, and even Bertie Bots, pictured here. I WANT ALL OF IT. *ahem*

She also has fiber dedicated to other random cool things, like Rainbow Brite ,Darkwing Duck (remember that show??), and everyone’s favorite sorceress Maleficent.  Also as a spinner, I have my eye on this slimer fiber seen here for obvious reasons. OK, I have my eye on everything in the shop. Let’s be serious.  Writing about it is dangerous, because it’s just making me want to get it all. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part.

The comic book yarn! More picture time:

X-Men’s Hank McCoy (AKA Beast)

Batman’s The Joker

The Avengers’..well The Avengers. Plus Loki.

And speaking of Loki, I did actually purchase one thing from this shop the first time I saw it.  (I know this makes two weeks in a row that I’ll be talking about Loki stuff. Next week no Loki. Probably.)  I bought some awesome Loki yarn, and because my office is so darn cold, I made some arm warmers. The arm warmer are a free pattern available from Lion Brand Yarns, who have lots of awesome free patterns on their site. (You may have to be logged in for that link to work, but signing up is free.)

Here are my arm warmers of mischief:

(Please excuse the crappy cell phone photos, but my digital camera was a college graduation present to myself and it’s been long enough since then that the camera has become old and crotchety, and only works when it feels like it.)

It’s a sock weight yarn, and I believe I knitted them on a size one needle. That means a normal person probably would have used a three or four to get the gauge that I got.  I don’t know why I always have to go down several needle sizes, but I do.   I have a little over a third of a ball left, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. If anyone has any suggestions, please do pass that along.

Also, as a bonus, for Jen, who is celebrating a birthday today, embroidered Chakra symbols from Urban Threads. You’re welcome.

So that’s my GeekCraft for the week: GnomeAcres. If you like yarn and geeky things you can find something you like there.  (And even if you’re not a geek, hey pretty colors!)

07/13/2012 at 5:33 pm 2 comments

Making the office a craftier place

I’ve been trying to get maintenance to come into my office and hang some stuff up for weeks.  I think I figured out the problem today: Evidently they need the physical thing to be hung up, and won’t take my word for it when I point to a spot on the wall and say “I’d like it there, please.”  At any rate, they finally came by, and I hung up two awesome pieces of art. (Well, three if you count my Master’s Degree.  My next door neighbor just told me he was impressed that I had an MS, whereas he only has an MA, and followed that with “You’re the scientist around here, I’m just the artist.” Ha! Wait til he notices what else is hung up in here…)

Firstly, I found a home for my brain–my embroidered brain, that is.  I cut it, framed it, and hung it up in the office, like I always planned. I’m sure I will get some interesting comments on it. It doesn’t look like the kind of thing anyone else would have in their office.  I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I did want something that I made hanging up in my office.

I also hung up an awesome print I got during First Friday a few months ago.  First Friday is dangerous, because I want to buy every pretty thing I see.  It’s full of beautiful things for me to drool over–also some strange things, like a photo of a mushroom shaped like a penis which, luckily, I don’t have any pictures of.  Anyway, I really like the Mad Hatter. I don’t know why, I just have. There isn’t any particular version of him that I like the most either, I just like the character in general.  (Not a huge fan of Johnny Depp’s version though.)  Urban Threads has some great Alice in Wonderland designs that, of course, I have purchased and have no idea what I’m going to put them on.  Perhaps I’ll get ambitious and make a tablecloth. Too bad I’m not into decorative pillows.  Or perhaps it’s a good thing I’m not into them, because I’d probably embroider a thousand otherwise.

I digress, but I hung up this awesome 8×10 print of the Mad Hatter.  It’s colorful, well-drawn, and the Hatter looks just the right amount of odd but still not scary.  Plus he’s being quite proper with his pinky out, as one always should at fancy tea parties. I don’t know the artist’s name, unfortunately–the signature is impossible to read.  But I really love the drawing. I have too many things to hang up at home, so I thought I could give it a better home here in the office.


I think I need some more interesting art pieces for the office. I shall have to think on it.

07/03/2012 at 1:21 pm 1 comment

tacocat is a palindrome


I am quite possibly addicted to it.  I still knit and crochet, but embroidery is my current obsession.  Bought lots of fabric remnants at Jo-Ann’s  with hopes of turning them into….what? I don’t know. I did not get my mother’s mad sewing skillz.  I bought a sewing book and a sewing magazine the other day, so I think I’m going to give it another shot.  I only want to make small things though. I have no plans to make clothes.

And, if you’re making small things, Jo-Ann’s fabric remnants are the best.  Usually a yard or two of fabric, and it’s way  cheaper than it would be normally.  My designated drawers are officially full, meaning I am not allowed to buy any more until I use some up.


Luckily I did last week for one of my two embroidery projects. (Well, the first one took way longer than a week.) I just wanted a plain background in a light color and so I went with the only one I had…which also happened to be the cheapest white fabric in the history of fabrics.  It was see through, it was stringy, it was really horrible to work with. I’d pull the needle through the fabric and bring along with me, not only strands of embroidery floss, but strands of the actual fabric.  Note to self: Don’t try to do anything of substance with that fabric ever again.  Or perhaps not anything. Ever.


Anyway, I am a huge fan of the comedy stylings of Chris Hardwick along with just about everything that Nerdist Industries does. Probably the only thing I dislike is their habit of posting an entry on the blog every time a new podcast goes up. They have way too many podcasts for that. But the main podcast, simply called “Nerdist” is really funny and has a ton of great guests.  A while back, Rainn Wilson was the guest.  Jonah (one of the hosts) told a story about how he used to work at a Mexican place and he hated it. He always looked forward to his break, during which he would eat a burrito.  Towards the end, while there was still some burrito left, he would get depressed about going back to work–to which Mr. Wilson responded, “You should enjoy your burrito!” And now they end ever podcast that way.


It’s a good, positive message, somewhat close to my “Into Action” tattoo, so I really wanted to make something that said it, but it needed a picture besides the Nerdist logo.  And then it hit me! UrbanThreads’s Mexican kitty cat design.  So I used that, along with their handwriting alphabet and came up with this. I love it! It’s unique, and not something a lot of people will even get. (Though I did have one Nerdist fan over last week who freaked out.) Need to find a good place in the house to put it…


One of the problems with embroidery if you don’t sew is finding things to embroider.  I resisted the urge to buy canvas bags from Sublime Stitching, and grabbed one that I already had that wasn’t completely covered.  It only had a small Slackers logo on it. I went through the designs I already had and settled on a very rock n roll design, also from Urban Threads. (It took me entirely too long to look at it and realize “Hey, Guns n Roses!” Not what I was going for, but still cool.)  It was the most intricate design I’d done to date. Everything else was rather cartoony.


Because I’d stuck to bold outlines, it never occurred to me to use a thinner gauge thread. (You just pull apart regular thread.) I really wish I had, but I didn’t want to redo it.  You can see that I did use thinner thread for the roses and the gun handle. (If you can’t, you can click on these pictures to make them bigger.) I think the whole thing would have looked better…but I’ll know for next time.  I also knew that I wanted the gun handles to be black and gold, but I couldn’t decide on the configuration.  I vastly prefer the black outlined one but, again, I didn’t want to do it over. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still learning, and you can still clearly see that those are guns.  Plus, the bag holds things, which is really the only qualification for a bag.

06/13/2012 at 8:11 pm 1 comment

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