Mar 11

Iron Craft - Are you crafty enough?

Iron Craft 2012 started on Wednesday, January 4th. This year, the rules are a little different. There will be 26 challenge each lasting two weeks; instead of one each week. They hope this gives everyone time to participate and maybe do some bigger projects. Also, posting day will now be on Tuesday and new challenges will be posted on Wednesday. They show the love by spotlighting the results of the challenge from their Flickr group every other Tuesday.

Last year, I was the only participant that completed all 52 projects! So, I hope you can join me in what promises to be a crafty year!

May 3

cylon hoodie

I was so excited to be a contributor for Susan Beal‘s new book World of Geekcraft. I made a Cylon Hoodie inspired by the TV show Battlestar Galactica. It was so much fun to come up with a geeky craft for the book. I hope there’s a sequel and that I get to write more!

Speaking of geeky crafts, there is some big news over at CRAFT. One, this month is Geek Craft month, and two (and this is a HUGE two), my friend Sister Diane (of Craftypod and general internet crafty fame) has been hired as the new Editor-in-Chief of the site! CRAFT could not have picked a better and more qualified individual than Diane, and I am so excited for her and for what’s in store for that site.

But back to World of Geekcraft, Susan’s touring the internet promoting her book, so check out all these amazing craft blogs:

  • Monday, May 2 – Geek Crafts & CRAFT:
  • Tuesday, May 3 – Cathy of California
  • Wednesday, May 4 – Average Jane Crafter
  • Thursday, May 5 – LindaMade
  • Friday, May 6 – Easy Crafts Wiki & Patterns by Figgy
  • Monday, May 9 – CraftyPod & Craft Gossip
  • Tuesday, May 10 –Quilter Geek
  • Wednesday, May 11 – Indie Fixx
  • Thursday, May 12 – Not Martha
  • Friday, May 13 – House on Hill Road & Public School
  • Jun 30

    Last week(ish) I went to the Summit of Awesome, a conference about crafting and the business of crafting that was held in Portland by Hello Craft. I was there for Day 2, and I spent my entire day in the Make Something Awesome area, making awesome stuff and getting in on the craft workshops. I know, as a craft business blogger, I really should have been in the business sessions, but as a compulsive maker, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make stuff for a whole day.

    Here’s Talley Sue of Schweet Schtuff (sorry no link) embroidering a Sublime Stitching dachsund pattern, while I am sewing my upholstery sample backpack. Photo lifted from Hello Craft.

    Sister Diane of Craftypod wrote a fabulous article on what it felt like to be at Summit of Awesome. I love this:

    In the online craft community, we’re abundant in many things – connection, conversation, inspiration. Our only real scarcity is face-time… And even in a city with insanely abundant resources like Portland, so many events seem to be centered more around selling crafts than making them – or discussing them, or learning from each other, or hanging out.

    The last sentence made me smile because I met Sister Diane back when she ran Church of Craft Portland, a for-crafting party held once a month. Those were good times. Getting together and crafting together is sooo much better than having an online-only relationship. I mean, I love the internets, but I love hanging out with real peeps even more.

    Debbie helps us screenprint our Summit of Awesome t-shirts

    Summit of Awesome Takeaways

    My award-winning craft throwdown project: theme: Dinosaurs (Land of the Lost); material: felted sweaters. The Hello Crafters donated it to this needy waiter at Kennedy School. Photo by cernest.

    I took away a lot of crafts (remember, I was making stuff for an entire day): screenprinted shirts, a beaded necklace and earrings from Susan Beal‘s jewelry workshop, a Mighty Ugly doll from Kim Werker’s Mighty Ugly workshop, an upholstery sample backpack I hand-sewed on my own at the Make Something Awesome table, three hilarious craftacular creations from the Crafty Throwdown (and one book and award badge from winning a round with my Dinosaur banner), and some goodies from the crafty white elephant party.

    The friendships I made were even more memorable than all the swag I scored. (I stole this pic from Kim Werker.)

    Hanging out with people who “get” what I do and love to do is so nice! Usually when I’m in mixed company, I don’t talk about what I do because it’s just so awkward to watch people try to comprehend crafting and blogging for love (and money). When you find like-minded crafty people, it’s such a relief to talk to them and just hang out, knowing they’ll get why you’re sewing upholstery samples into a backpack.

    Heidi and Vanessa work on plush fortune cookies

    What I Missed:

    A lot. I was only there for a day, and there were so many things going on, I missed most of what was going on the day I was there. I really wish I could have been there for the whole event! Next year, I will be (and hopefully you will be too!)

    Highlights for me (besides crafting all day):

    • meeting Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane (also a longtime online friend from way back in the day) and hearing her talk about her business
    • listening to craftnote speakers Pat and Aaron of Buy Olympia (shucks, I didn’t even KNOW they were in Portland now) – funny, highly interesting history of their business
    • following Kim Werker around like a puppy
    • competing against other star crafters in the crafty throwdown (15 minutes is NOT a long time to put together a project, you guys!)
    • Amanda Siska‘s zombie headband (I don’t know if there’s a photo of that anywhere, but it was sheer genius)
    • being at Kennedy School, a dream venue for this event. Seriously amazing.
    • hanging out with local crafters I know, but don’t get to hang out with often enough (including doing the crafty throwdown at the same table as Leethal)
    • listening to the backstories of Mighty Ugly figures by their creators (specifically Vanessa‘s creation: Blaine)

    You can be part of the community too:

    Upcoming Conference: This was such a great experience. I highly recommend participation in the Summit of Awesome, or a similar gathering of like crafty minds. Here’s an upcoming opportunity: Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs happening August 13-15 in Seattle. Be there!

    Become a Member: Also, I became a member of Hello Craft (a craft-business trade association), and you should too! They did such an amazing job on the SOA, and I have the utmost belief that they could turn into a huge asset for us in the craft community with a little more support (they are already an asset, by the way… but they have HUGE potential as a galvanizing force for us “indie crafters.”)

    Additional Resources:

    Feb 28


    photo by Lee Meredith,

    While participating in the February Craft Social (a monthly Twitter event/gathering about chatting crafty), a few twitterers and I discussed the fact that winter has a lack of good natural light for photography, which is tough when you’re a blogger and your project photos depend on said natural light.

    Light boxes were mentioned. Tutorials for light boxes were linked to. A light box-along was thought of. Interest was expressed. A few more times.

    So here it is, the March Light Box-Along.

    What do you do?
    Make a light box. Post about it on your blog and on twitter with the hashtag #lightboxalong and if you have room #craftsocial.

    What’s a light box?
    A small box used to aid in photographing objects by providing uniform lighting.

    How do I make one?
    Follow one of these tutorials or get the basics from reading them and make one your own way.

    Share your results:

    • Post on your blog
    • #lightboxalong and #craftsocial on Twitter
    • Add photos to the Light Box-Along group on Flickr
    • Comment here with your progress and links

    Feel free to add links to other tutorials or your blog, or weigh in on any other aspect of the Light Box-Along in the comments.

    Aug 13

    I rarely have parties, and when I do (usually just my kiddos’ birthdays), I like to do it up right. This year, I guess I was just pregnant and disorganized enough to not do too much. I did make a cake, though! My son and I spent a couple hours poring over Flickr photos of birthday cakes and tractors. I found a lot of cakes I liked, but a fairly simple design is what caught my son’s eye. His favorite elements: The giant 3 road, the actual toy tractors pouring “asphalt” on the road (he is an expert on all things construction, and even knows how a road is made), and the background color: green (“beause green’s my favorite!”)

    My decorating isn’t professional-level or anything, but my son loved the cake, and everyone else at the party agreed that it looked good. It’s simple, but it still took me about two hours to decorate (including mixing up the buttercream frosting). I was pleased with the blackness of the frosting (I used black food coloring and cocoa powder to darken it) – when I first mixed it up, I didn’t think it would actually look black. It looked grey-brown. But, frosting darkens over a short period of time, so it settled into an acceptable level of blackness by party-time. The asphalt crumbles are ground Oreos (I used my coffee grinder to make them into crumbs), and I got the trucks specially for the cake (they came in a pack of 3, and I saved one for my younger son to “open” during the party so he would have a present as well).

    I didn’t do any other decorating, but we had the party at a nearby Antique Tractor Museum (outdoor), and we picnicked among vintage tractor equipment, which was a huge hit with the under-3 set!

    May 16

    For my first son’s first birthday party (in 2007), I had a pirate-themed party. I asked all the guests to come dressed as a pirate. Here’s grandpa and the birthday pirate boy. I made the boy’s swabbie stocking cap out of a sleeve from a thrifted shirt. He wore a striped onesie he already had, and some pants with elasticized ankles that sort of look like short breeches or something. I put some of my own striped socks (pulled up tall) on him.

    Pirate boy later got an eyepatch, a parrot finger puppet, and a plastic sword to round out his outfit.

    Dressing up as a pirate was fun! One of the reasons I chose the theme (besides liking pirates a lot) is because everyone should be able to cobble together a piratey outfit from things they can find in their closets. For mine, I used a blue bandanna, a stripey shirt covered by an old work vest (turned inside out), rolled up pants, a chiffon tie around my waist, white knee socks and black buckled mary jane shoes. I also added a funky plasticky necklace because it had funny pirate charms on it.

    Everyone interpreted the pirate look differently, which just added to the fun.

    I used the back porch as our “ship” and made a sail out of two small wooden “boards” (but way smaller than boards) I got at Home Depot for less than a buck. I stapled a plastic tablecloth to the boards for a sail. I got the pirate flag garland, and some of the other piratey decorations at the dollar store. Also, I swear by using crepe paper and balloons to decorate for a party because they are easy and cheap, and make a huge impact for very little money.

    I decorated the party table with “booty” displayed in decorative bowls and baskets we already had on hand. Some of the party booty: Gummy fish (bulk from Winco), gold coin chocolates, dollar store jeweled rings, dollar store eyepatches and spyglasses. I put tropical fruit from the grocery store in the basket to add to the atmosphere.

    Pirate ship cake made out of cake (baked in a loaf pan) decorated with cookies and candy to make it look more piratey. I had long gold candles that I stuck out of the sides of the cake to look like cannons. Bamboo skewers were threaded through paper sails, and a paper cup became a crow’s nest. Plastic pirates from the party store manned the ship.

    Since I love first birthday parties to have a special cake for the special guest, I made a small loaf cake and cut it open to make it look like a treasure chest with M&M treasure in it.

    You gotta have that gratuitous first birthday cake shot!

    I know my son won’t remember his first birthday, but I had a lot of fun planning it, and it was a great way to start out my birthday party giving traditions!

    Dec 29


    Want to make a reusable grocery bag (handmade or embellished) and swap with someone else? Come join my swap on Swap-bot!

    Location: International
    Last day to signup/drop: January 7, 2009
    Date items must be sent by: January 31, 2009
    Number of swap partners: 1
    What We’re Swapping: ONE Reusable Shopping Bag/Tote, must be handmade or a readymade bag that is embellished. Please check your partner’s profile and try to create something with your partner’s preferences/likes in mind.

    PLEASE POST A PHOTO of what you send and what you receive somewhere (here, on flickr, your blog) and link to it in the comments for the swap.

    How Many Partners? Just ONE. One bag for one partner.

    Rating Requirements? Newbies are welcome, but you must have your profile filled in. Please include some information about yourself so your partner can have some insight on personalizing your bag for you.

    Please don’t apply if you have flaked on a previous swap or have 1 ratings. (Unless you can prove you’ve changed your ways).

    Monetary Cost of Swap You should not spend more than $5 for supplies for this project! Stashbusting and recycled materials are highly recommended! Thrift store material is permissible. Just remember the motto of this swap is STURDY!

    Is this swap international? YES. Please do not join if you aren’t willing to ship to another country. Hopefully these bags won’t be too heavy, anyway!

    What is a Reusable Shopping Bag? Can be made of any material you like, but with a mind for heavy use. It should be made of sturdy material and have reinforced seams. You should be able to carry several cans in it repeatedly and have it hold up beautifully. Regular cotton is fine! Fused plastic (with sewn seams) is also acceptable. Should be generous in size.

    Check if you need a pattern for sewing a grocery bag. If you use the morsbag pattern, applying the morsbags logo is encouraged.

    Crocheting or knitting (or other methods) of construction) are also permissible… bag should just be sturdy and able to carry 15 lbs or so. Use your good judgment!

    What if I don’t sew my own bag? Reusable grocery bags can readily be purchased at most grocery stores (in the USA, at least) these days for $1-2. You can also buy canvas bags at craft stores, bookstores, etc. There is a handmade element to all bags in this swap. Embellishment=embroidery, stencil, beading, sewing on trim, etc. You must personalize the bag in some way that requires handwork.

    This is my first hosting here at swap-bot, but I have hosted swaps at and The Soap Dish forum.

    Dec 29


    My family tries to exchange primarily handmade gifts whenever possible. We’ve found that it has helped us focus on what Christmas is really about and get away from feeling trapped by all the consumerism that surrounds the holidays. I love to see what my parents and siblings come up with to give each year, and I enjoy plotting and planning my own handmade gifts. It’s also interesting to see which ideas are hits (duct tape wallets), and which are misses (the homely crochet-altered t-shirt I made for my mom this year – she actually laughed in my face when she opened it. Strangely, it entertained me rather than offended me.)


    I hit the jackpot this year with a great advent calendar my mom made for me. It’s a nativity scene theme, and is really cute! I’m sure we will get decades of enjoyment out of this gift!


    My sister made these adorable little packets that are filled with her own blends of loose tea. She sewed sturdy gift wrap into bags, and then sealed them with buttons and added a custom label to each. I LOVE the packets – so creative and cute!


    My sister also got lots of mileage out of trinkets received in the Sampler, by attaching them to gifts as gift tags and baubles. I love this handspun yarn on a spool… I’m so sorry, I didn’t get a photo of who the sample is from, and this gift wasn’t for me!


    One of my handmade gifts to everyone were monogrammed loot bags. I made about eight of them the day before Christmas Eve, and seriously, the entire project took me two hours or less to sew. I assembly-lined the whole thing (cut everything at the same time, sewed all the monogrammed letters on the corduroy, sewed up the bags, etc.) and it was amazing how quickly the whole thing came together. Oh, and I got to burn through some of my stash fabric! I bought a whole bunch of holiday/winter fabric several years ago when it was on super-sale. It felt SO GOOD to use some of it up!!


    The loot bags were also very useful for everyone to put their Christmas swag into. You know how all that little stocking stuff gets all over the place! In my imagination, everyone will put the loot bags in their Christmas boxes (or their stockings?) to use for next year, so I hope it comes true! Or, if they want to keep them out to use all year, that would also be fine! (Not that I attach any strings to gifts I give – do what you want with them, or not, y’all!)


    My mom was so nice to fulfill a gift request I made: to make two crib sheets, two pillowcases, and two curtains for the boys’ room. She complied and used some adorable construction vehicle fabric.


    Now I just need to paint a mural on the wall, and they’ll be all set!

    What did you make or receive this year?

    Dec 4

    I had another crafternoon with my friend H. yesterday! I did some more doily stuff (will post about those when I can), and she worked on what is going to be a killer birdie mobile.

    Our boys got tired of running around and sat down at the kiddie craft table for some sticker on doily action. Lewis said he was “making an advent calendar.”

    Nov 25

    My friend H. and I decided last week that we should just make a regular weekly appointment to get together to do our crafty stuff. We both have two little guys, so for the most part, the little guys occupy each other and we are able to do some light crafting together. The setup is great because it gives us an opportunity to do stuff that we don’t take time to do by ourselves when we are alone with our kids!

    My project was one I saw at One Pretty Thing’s Daily DIY: a knotted scarf from Martha Stewart’s website. I have had some super-bulky yarn in my stash for oh, three years now, and it’s sooo bulky that I didn’t know what I should do with it, other than make fake dreads (and nobody in the current vicinity is in need of fake dreaddies!), so this project was PERFECT. It was super simple and only took about an hour to complete, which is amazing.

    So thanks, Rachel, for the great idea!

    H, who is a crafty ninja, worked on this amazing lampshade remake, covering the lampshade in cork – I love it!

    I’m hoping to take photos of H’s handmade Christmas ornaments next week, when the crafternoon is at her house!

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