21 December 2014

Secret Santa Gifts

It's been a while. November has come and gone. December isn't too far behind. I saw Slipknot with Korn and King 810 and it was AMAZING. I always enjoy Slipknot live. It seems now we're approaching the holidays.Well, Merry Rama-hannu-kwanz-mas, dear Reader!

Ok so, maybe that wasn't the best way to approach it. It's Christmas time again, so Merry Christmas and if you don't celebrate Christmas, happy whatever you celebrate.

This is the first time I've been around and working at Walgreens during the Christmas season. I must say, things have been hectic and busy. It's nice, but I honestly can't wait for it all to be over. It would be nice to have some downtime again.

Since I'm usually never working at Walgreens during the winter, I never got to partake in our annual Christmas Party and Secret Santa exchange. I was pretty excited when they were talking about it because I always have fun with these kind of things and hoped I got someone who was relatively easy to shop for.

I got one of our Pharmacy Techs, Debbie, who is a die-hard Ravens fan. What do you get a Ravens fan who pretty much has everything? I decided to make a few things for her. I took to Microsoft Excel and made the Ravens logo small enough to fit on the stitchable area of a guest towel. Since that didn't seem like enough, I decided to get a pair of fuzzy socks and ravens fabric. I cut the logo out of Ravens fabric and used a bit of Wonder-under to iron the design on the socks. From there my mom helped me stitch around it so it wouldn't come off in the wash.

I'm rather pleased with how they turned out and hope that Debbie likes them! I mean, who doesn't love fuzzy socks? It's kind of the semi-homemade way of making socks, but I didn't have the time since we got our Secret Santa in early December.

Debbie's gifts. I hope she likes them!

The Ravens towel. I had to put Go Ravens on there. I know it looks off center but it's only because "Go" is shorter than "Ravens".

This was so much easier and quicker than making a pair of socks!
 Wednesday I'll get to give Debbie her gifts! I can't wait!!

15 November 2014

I was featured on Mr. X Stitch and Makezine!

Way back when I first designed the Slipknot project, I got an email from Mr. X Stitch on a forum that I frequent. I definitely had to email him when I finished it. You can read what Jamie, aka Mr. X Stitch had to say here.

Andrew from Makezine also wrote about the piece here.

I also went the extra mile and brought this to Michaels for it to be custom framed. I knew it was going to be expensive. The framer put together this elaborate frame for me, but it was more than I was willing to spend. I wanted a decent price, but I didn't want to compromise on aesthetics. This piece took me six years, and I didn't want to just stick it in a frame and have it look like I just, you know, shoved it in a frame.

My mom told me to wait until michaels ran the 60% with an extra 20% deal, but it honestly didn't want this to just end up like my other projects - shoved in a drawer for eternity. After I dropped the piece off all washed and ironed (thankfully nothing ran!) we went home. Lo and behold! In my mailbox was a 60% with extra 20% off custom framing. I called them, and they were very accommodating.

It was ready to be picked up on Thursday! They did a beautiful job, too!

Take a look:

Now I just can't wait to see Slipknot (and Korn!!) in Baltimore later this week!!!!

26 October 2014

After six years in the making, the Slipknot cross-stitch is done!

You guys have no idea how it feels to write this, let alone finish a project that I've had going for six years. It is with great excitement that I can say that the Slipknot "Vol. 3 (the subliminal verses)" special edition cover is done!

It probably shouldn't have taken me six years. I started this in 2008 around the time of their "All Hope is Gone" album. That album was released after Vol. 3. Designing this project was a process in and of itself, but stitching it was even more difficult. There got to be several times I was so frustrated that I balled it up and put it in the corner and sometimes I had to put it in my little wastebasket.

In 2009, I went to Germany and didn't work on it much. In March of 2010, Slipknot's bassist, Paul Gray, passed away - needless to say, I still didn't want to work it because it made me too sad. After taking close to a year off, I eventually started to slowly work on the piece finishing the greater majority of it all. I thought that Slipknot was pretty much done as a band, and even so, I still wanted to finish the piece. In December of last year, my favorite member of Slipknot, Joey Jordison, was fired and they hired a replacement drummer.

Again, I lost a bit more motivation. My two favorite members were gone, and my favorite band that I've loved since their self-titled release in 1999 was falling apart. Then, I heard that Slipknot was going to continue without Joey and Paul. They scheduled the release for ".5 The Gray Chapter" for October 21, 2014. Even though I wanted a new Slipknot album, I had mixed feelings about listening to a Slipknot without two key members. Something just didn't seem right about that. I pre-ordered it anyway, and after finding out they were touring in Baltimore in November, I started to get more and more excited. Slowly my motivation for this came back.

It might sound corny, but I figured if the band could work through all these bumps in the road, why couldn't I? I was just a fan making some artwork. I didn't actually know any of the band members, and with that new mind set, I was able to finish this.

This is definitely a code: Awesome!

I get asked this a lot, so I'm going to address it: this is a one of a kind design and will not be sold. The reason I made this cross-stitch is not because I'm obsessed with Slipknot, rather they've been a very important part of my life for the past 15 years and their music has had a very positive impact on me. I thought that there was no better way to show my appreciation than with artwork. I hope someday the guys will get a chance to see it.

With that being said, I dedicate this piece to Paul Gray (1972-2010).

03 October 2014

Great find: Isaac Mizrahi craft yarn

I really love Isaac Mizrahi. I find his designs a lot of fun, and he has a great personality. At first, I only knew of his fashion line from QVC, so I thought originally that "Isaac Mizrahi LIVE!" was just a line carried by QVC. Since that was really where I had heard of him, I thought he was just an in house designer.

Even though I never bought anything of his, I liked his fun fashion line, and I always enjoyed watching when he and Shawn presented the new things on TV. The two of them are so crazy together! Well, it gets a little more interesting because I went to work last week and noticed Band-Aid had teamed up with Isaac Mizrahi and created "Isaac Mizrahi loves" Band-Aids. I started to think he was becoming a bigger name in the fashion industry. My mom clarified that he has his own line separate from QVC.

The next morning, I got an E-mail from Michaels craft store showcasing Isaac Mizrahi's yarn line: Isaac Mizrahi craft. I was so excited because the yarn was really pretty and it was affordable. The past few weeks I've been looking for projects to start aside from Amigurumi. I've never made anything wearable or trendy with crochet. The crocheted fabric was always so thick and bulky, and most of the designs I've found weren't really my taste.

I had to do some birthday shopping for my father and sister and figured it would be an opportune time to stop by Michaels. The yarns looked much nicer up close than on the website. They were also really soft and didn't suck all of the oils out of my hands like most cheaper yarns tended to do. I found a slouchy hat pattern online and figured Isaac Mizrahi yarn would be perfect for this project. The only downside was that the yarns were either bulky, or super bulky. I like using dk yarn or worsted weight and smaller hooks. I needed to use a 9mm crochet hook. My regular addi hook set only goes up to size 6mm. I remembered that I had a 9mm hook in my tunisian Addi click set. The larger hooks 6,5mm and 9mm were plastic instead of metal. Even though I love Addi hooks, I wasn't too keen on working with plastic hooks. I guess a metal hook would have been really heavy? Oh well... C'est la vie.

I bought the Carlyle yarn -- it's a soft black acrylic blend with red metallic in it. It's really pretty. I made the "Waffle cone slouchy hat" by Gleeful Things. You can get the pattern here. The pattern went by really fast; it only took me a few hours. The hook size and the yarn weight definitely made a difference, and turned this into a super quick project. Here it is:
Waffle cone slouchy hat
I'm not really photogenic, and I hate pictures, so you can see the hat on me (though it does blend with my hair). Hey, at least you can see the cool shirt I got from the Kix concert a few weeks ago. That's always a plus...

Too bad you can't really see the metallics of it that well. I'm also not very photogenic. I thought about  having Beethoven model it, but you really couldn't see it that well on him. So, in order to make up for my lack of photogenic qualities, I pixelated my face like they do on TV. haha. I guess if you really want to see my picture, you could just look at the little avatar in my profile...

02 October 2014

Throwback Thursday! (sort of)

I'm not sure if my Throwback Thursday that I came up with just now will continue, but I have a few finished projects to share that you might enjoy seeing. I didn't make either of these. In fact, one of the pieces was made by my Mutti about 20 some years ago. The other was a graduation gift from my best friend Nancy.

So let us start with the piece my Mutti made. I'm not too sure how long ago this was stitched. As my mom was straightening the basement, she came across this piece in the yarn cabinet. There are a lot of nice little treasures in that cabinet. Whenever I need some yarn, that's generally where I look first. We both (Mutti and I) are leaning towards this design being a Dimensions kit, but again, we aren't 100% sure on that. It was stitched with the intent of being hung in my room as a kid. Obviously that never happened. I decided to hang onto it in hopes that I can frame it and hang it up. It was just too cute not to share.

Now onto the piece Nancy made for me after my graduation in 2009. If you might recall from my earlier posts, Nancy was the one who taught me cross-stitch during my undergraduate studies. She designs her own pieces and is very creative and talented. I used to always watch "The Adventures of Tintin" on TV growing up. As it turns out, Nancy used to (and still does) love Tintin. She had posters all over her house of the different comic book covers. I personally always loved Tintin's dog, Snowy. He was the adventurous light-hearted character in the series. Nancy took a picture of Snowy in his little brown jacket and stitched "I'm going to cause a sensation" in the colors of the German flag. I was getting ready to go study in Germany, and Nancy thought that quote was really fitting. I thought so too.  I especially love the slight air of pride that Snowy projects. He knows he looks great in his little brown jacket, and with that, he's virtually unstoppable.

I've been working on a few projects too, so stay tuned for more cool posts this week. :)

07 September 2014

My First Biscornu

Sorry for not posting as much as I would like. I'm guilty of starting so many new projects, it's hard to keep track, let alone finish them all.

Over the years that  I've picked up cross-stitch, I've seen the word "biscornu" run abound on the forums, and in internet patterns.. I never knew what it was, and frankly, I didn't much care.  As time has passed, I would venture to say about 5 years or so, I never actually saw a biscornu, I just knew of it by  the name.  People tended to make them and send them off to each other, then post about it in the forums, so I figured it had to be fairly small, and that's about it.

I eventually got tired of not knowing what it was, so I googled it. I was less than satisfied with my answer: " A biscornu is a French word for 'oddity'". Google image search clarified that an oddity was indeed a small eight-sided pillow decoration type thing. They looked fairly simple to make, so I figured I'd try my hand at it.

I had trouble deciding on a pattern. I found a sheep biscornu picture, so I eyeballed it and tried to copy it since no pattern was available. It's close, but not exact. I started it while I was recovering from my outpatient prodcedures on Friday. And finished it today, though I spent the majority of Saturday working on it in between napping.

Heres my little sheep biscornu (I always have to catch myself as I type 'sheep biscuit' instead of 'biscornu'). I apologize in advance for the picture quality.

And on the flip side:

This was a lot of fun to make, and I'd like to make and design some more. I have a few more "contemporary" ideas floating around my cerebral cortices.

Also, if you need help in biscornu assembly, there are a number of sites out there with tutorials. I used: Creative Poppy Biscornu instructions

11 August 2014

Mother's Day... just a little late

So, Happy Mother's Day! Yes, I know, it's a tad bit late. Well, I finally finished the Mother's Day gift I started for my mom.

 I had a Bucilla kit that I bought in Wal-Mart when I was in Connecticut. I was attracted to it because it is whimsical, fun and bright. I didn't know what to do with it though. I decided to stitch it for my mom (whom I affectionately refer to as "Mutti") for Mother's Day. The only problem was that I decided this two days before Mother's Day. In my defense, I thought it was going to be later that it actually was.

Anyway, try as I might, I got most of it done, but not ALL of it. I explained to my Mutti that I did indeed have a present for her, it just wasn't finished due to my terrible time management. So, she of course told me to take my time. Being a procrastinator by nature, taking my time meant pushing it off to finish "tomorrow" until it reached UFO status in my stash.

That being said, I came back from Williamsburg after an eventful visit to Haus Tirol and expanded my stash even more to include patterns and Kreinik filaments (and even providing a new home for patterns from people on the beloved Cross-Stitch forum). Needless to say, I felt guilty, as I often do for my inability to finish ANYTHING. I didn't have much left, so I wanted to finally finish it. And, I decided to finish it today. Even those terrible French knots..

So here it is:

I miscounted somewhere doing the cross-stitching, but it didn't show up until I did the backstitching. I tried frogging it, but I consistently did it wrong. I tried to fix it, but it's still blatantly obvious...

My Mutti appreciated it though and really seems to like it.

09 June 2014

Lion Rampant - finished!

I have had a bunch of UFO's piling up over the past few years, and I've been trying to make a bit of headway on those. As you all have seen, I recently finished the oriole crewel embroidery that had been hanging over my head for quite some time.

A few years ago, my mom went to Haus Tirol in Williamsburg, VA and got me a kit from Serendipity designs called "Lion Rampant". It's a nice little design of the leaping lion motif that you see in coats of arms and the like. The original design was stitched on navy blue aida, but I didn't really like how the stitches were laying, so I switched to natural linen.

I'd been working on the piece off and on for a while -- working on it mostly when I didn't want to work on one of my larger projects. Last night, I noticed how much I really had stitched and after glancing at the chart, I really didn't have much left -- about 300 stitches at most. After a short nap, I worked on the piece with the intention of getting it finished. 21:08 last night - it was done!

I'm very proud of it. I hope you like it too.

I have quite a few projects waiting to be finished. Hopefully the Slipknot one will be the next one of the long list of projects!

25 April 2014

Crewel (cruel?) Embroidery

It's nice to be back. I know I disappeared for a bit, but I definitely haven't stopped crafting. To prove it to you, I have a nice crewel embroidery piece that I finished up a few days ago. My friend, Megan, always thought counted cross-stitch was difficult and that crewel embroidery (which, she just called "embroidery") was the way to go, since it was so much easier. Despite my mom telling me that I wouldn't enjoy it, I tried it anyway. And, she was right. I didn't enjoy it at all. I surprisingly did a good bit before getting frustrated, but I found it the other day and realised I didn't have much left to finish up. That being the case, I finished it before I went to work the other day. I'm so glad to not have this looming over my head anymore!

It's called "Elegant Oriole" by Dimensions. Enjoy! The colouring is a little dark, so my apologies.

23 April 2014

Bucilla, Hobby Lobby and kit exchange madness

I had purchased a cross-stitch kit from Hobby Lobby a while ago. It was part of the Bucilla heirloom collection and it was called "Mates". It had 2 wolves snuggled together and was a very beautiful design. After I purchased the kit, I tried to sort the colours and even though the kit said it had two bundles of floss, it actually had only one. My father, mother and I sat together sorting colours for hours and it looks like I was missing four colours.

Most companies suggest you contact them with the colours missing and they will replace them. I contacted Bucilla and they said I didn't know how to sort colours. I contacted them several times over the course of a few months with the same response.

I contacted corporate for Hobby Lobby and they were very helpful. The person I spoke to gave me contacts for the vendor to see if the problem could be corrected, and if there was any problem to contact my local Hobby Lobby to see if there was anything that could be done. Since my mom is really good at getting things done, I asked her to put in the final call to Bucilla. She got the same response I did. The lady told her that she was clearly unable to sort colours, and that it was our problem not theirs.

I contacted my local Hobby Lobby, and the manager was very helpful and even though the kit was opened without a receipt, he would do an even exchange. Hobby Lobby did not have another kit like the one I returned, but they did give me a store credit and I was able to get a kit (with presorted floss!) by Dimensions called "Indian Peacock".

Bucilla has a lot of wonderful kits and designs, but I think the buyer should be careful. Not all colours may be in the kit, and the colours are custom dyed so you may not be able to find a DMC/Anchor/JP Coats equivalent. Customer service may not help in fixing the problem. I've been stitching many kits, and a good number were Bucilla, but this is the first time something like this has happened. Dimensions, MCG Textiles and Caron (for latchhook) have all been super helpful.