Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of DOOM

There’s a sort of unofficial mascot on the indigodragonfly forum called the Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom (CCMZSOD). The concept was the result of a sort of mind-meld between Maget and indigodragonfly. Apparently they were planning on naming a new colorway “Zombie Squirrel” or something similar and then Maget mentioned something about mutant zombie squirrels of doom which were not only evil, but cute and cuddly, so the colorway name ended up being “Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom” and Maget got the inaugural skein! Then she knitted some Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrels of Doom and sent them on adventures around the world. After that we all just sort of ran with it…

For the last Ravellenic Games Heather of Joey’s House drew a CCMZSOD for the indigodragonfly team to use as our Ravatars.

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I used this drawing as inspiration for needle felting a CCMZSOD to give to Maget!

First I started roughing out some shapes that could be used to build the squirrel. After only an hour I had the basic outlines for the body, head, and hindquarters started.

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Then I attached the hindquarters to the body, made a tail, and started to add some shape to the head. The basic head shape in the illustration is sort of triangular so I started to add some corners to the top of the head where the ears would go. After adding the corner for the first ear I stopped and thought, “What if the other ear is missing? It is a mutant zombie squirrel after all…” I decided to leave the head misshapen and see how it would play out.

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My initial attempt at the tail was too small so I added a lot more bulk to it before I attached it to the body. Then I started felting brown wool on top to smooth out the shapes and lay down a nice base color to build on. As I started coloring the head I decided the missing ear could actually be turned into a more gruesome exposed brain, so I left that spot black in preparation for that. Once I had the base coloring down I started shaping the hind legs out of the dark brown wool.

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I attached the legs and arms, but the squirrel still wouldn’t sit up at this point. Luckily, I learned from my experience in felting Ducky that it was way too early to worry about it. The head could drastically affect the balance, so if it was still unstable after the head was attached I could work on adding some more bulk to the base of the tail to make it sit up straight. I also learned from Ducky that for fine details like faces it is really helpful to be able to manipulate the head freely, so I should wait until I was finished with the detail work before I attached the head.

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At this point I was ready to start adding detail and I made a breakthrough! I had recently visited my local yarn store Canvas Works and discovered that they had some needle felting supplies there! One of the things they had was a pack of needles that came in multiple sizes. Until I saw those I had never even considered that different sized needles might exist for needle felting, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense – use the larger needles for building larger shapes, then switch to medium-sized needles for the smaller shapes and contouring, and use the smallest needles for the fine detail work.

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I put the smallest needle to the test for creating the exposed brain. First I covered the hole in a nice deep bloody red and then I mixed a bit of pink wool with some tan wool to create a brainy color. I spun the brain colored wool between my fingers to create a thin snake-like cord and started folding it back and forth across the red wool as I felted it into place with the small needle. It worked great! I was able to create some really tight curves by taking advantage of the precision of that small gauge needle!

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I also started experimenting with some color blending to create a suitably mutant-zombie-esque look for the squirrel. I had a multi-colored blend of purples, blues, and reds that looked great when lightly layered on top of the dark brown base color. I also was able to create a nice rotted look by blending dark green with the dark brown. For the belly color I  blended some orange wool with a lighter brown wool. Then I added a neck so I would have something to attach to the head to later.

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I finished the brains and made an ear for the other side of the head. At this point I held the head on top of the neck to see how it looked and realized the tail was still too small. I tried to make the tip of the tail taller and fatter to balance out the size of the head.

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Once the tail size was corrected I went back to focusing on the head. I added the eye and started working on the teeth. With the small gauge needle I was able to create some very fine black lines to draw the teeth!

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Considering a large portion of the squirrel’s skull was missing, I figured the eye socket was probably unstable so the right eye would be missing. Initially I had intended to have both eyes and just have them be different sizes, but in the end logic dictated that I should stick to the illustration. I put on the nose, re-colored the tip of the tail and attached the head.

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The squirrel still wouldn’t sit up so I did end up having to bulk up the base of the tail so it wouldn’t keep falling backward. I made a few final finishing touches including moving the ear (I had initially put it too far back), and smoothing out some of the joins.

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I could have called it done at this point, but I had one more dreadful thought that kept nagging at me – what happened to that other eyeball? I decided the squirrel still had it with him, so I took some red embroidery thread to represent the bloody muscles and nerves and tied a length of white wool around the middle. I tied it several times, front and back, until it had formed a rough ball shape around the middle of the thread. Then I folded the thread in half, wrapped the remaining wool around the end and started felting a ball around the thread.

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Once the eyeball was large enough I added a black pupil to the end. Then I loosely braided the strands of the embroidery thread together and threaded them onto a needle so I could attach them to the hand. Once it had been threaded through the top of the hand I made a knot so it couldn’t be pulled back through, then I fed the ends back through the hand so they stuck out the bottom. I cut each strand of the embroidery thread irregularly so it looked like it had been ripped from the head. With that, the Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom was finished!

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It’s so horrific it’s adorable!

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Podcast Roundup

As a crafter, my hands and my eyes are frequently occupied. If I want entertainment while I work, it has to be consumed with my ears. Sometimes this takes the form of re-watching old shows on Netflix that I really don’t have to pay attention to. Sometimes I listen to music. If I’m craving something more in-depth though, I listen to podcasts.

I’m sort of new to podcasts. I didn’t really know what they were until about a year ago, and then it took me a while to really get on board with the idea. Now I’m sold. They’re awesome. Well, okay, I’m making that statement based on very little information so far, but I’m pretty sure it’ll hold up under scrutiny.

So far I have only listened to two podcasts, but I started both from the very beginning so I’ve had quite a bit of material to listen to.

For my knitting fix I listen to Cast On with Brenda Dayne. It’s a truly captivating podcast about knitting…but also about much more than knitting. It wasn’t until I was half-way through the archives that I realized it’s classified as “philosophy” and that sounds about right. It’s Brenda Dayne laying out her philosophy of art, knitting, life, the universe, and everything. It’s sort of like a really long artist’s statement, but without a single hint of pretension. Listening to Cast On makes me feel like what I do means something.

You don’t have to start listening from the beginning like I did, but if you do it’s almost like listening to a modern history of knitting. The podcast started in 2005, when Ravelry was just an idea, and SO MUCH has happened in the knitting world since then. Brenda captured it all, as it happened. It’s really cool to listen to the story of how our knitting culture became what it is today and to know that this podcast was part of that.

For my drama/horror/story fix I listen to We’re Alive. It’s a zombie story. I like zombies. Well,  actually I’m terrified of zombies, but I sort of like my stories with a side of terror, so I like zombie stories. It’s not top-notch writing, but it’s entertaining. The only thing it’s really missing for me is more character development, but it’s got plenty of action going on to keep it interesting. What really makes this podcast stand out for me is how it’s done…it’s not like an audiobook. There isn’t one person reading from a book and maybe doing some different voices for each character. It has a full cast of characters acting out the parts, with lots of sound effects to add to the story! It’s sort of like an old-timey radio drama produced with modern technology.

These two podcasts have been all I needed to entertain me while my eyes and hands were occupied. Until now. Last night I ran out of podcasts. The last podcast from Cast On was in April, and there’s no telling when there will be another. Brenda travels a lot to teach and such and I know she had a new series planned, but she’s a perfectionist so it may be a bit before she feels it’s ready to be released to the world. I can relate. We’re Alive will start its final season on August 26th, so it will be here soon, but it’s not here NOW.

I have to find something else to listen to.

For starters I’m going to check out Welcome to Night Vale. A Welcome to Night Vale fandom has appeared seemingly out of nowhere on Tumblr. Several of my friends on Facebook (who have very good taste in entertainment) have been mentioning it in their statuses. A LOT. One of them even started a Night Vale ask blog on Tumblr. One thing I’ve learned about the internet, is that if something has a fandom it is probably worth checking out. People don’t get that excited about something if it’s absolute crap.

I listened to the first podcast last night and it was…weird. But the best kind of weird. It was all surrealist-absurdist-eldritch-horror-ish, which are all adjectives that I LOVE. I suspect I will be joining this fandom soon.

All of these podcasts are going in my sidebar of useful links, because I certainly find them useful for my workflow.

The Welcome to Night Vale podcasts are only about 20 min. each though, so I’m looking for more recommendations. What do you listen to while you work?

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Art School

Way back in high school I took a lot of art classes. Like, A LOT of art classes. One of my favorite things to do was to reference other artists (hey, I never said I was creative). I once took a can of Campbell’s soup and re-painted it in strange colors, even re-creating the lettering, as a 3D homage to Warhol. In my sketchbook I made small collages out of magazine clippings to look like paintings by Van Gogh. Once I even tried to re-create Edvard Munch‘s “The Scream” on the side of a stack of plastic drawers in my bedroom. I never quite figured out how to get the paint to stick though, so I never finished it.

Apparently I never got over that impulse. Last June when I first saw All The Shades of Truth by Laura Aylor, I instantly thought of Piet Mondrian‘s work.

Piet Mondrian, Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930image from Wikipedia

Piet Mondrian, Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930
image from Wikipedia

Then I read the description for the pattern and found that I’m not the only one who likes to reference artists. The design was inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the name is from a passage in Game of Thrones

I was so inspired by the design, I started a thread in the indigodragonfly group on Ravelry so we could all play color Tetris and try to find some fun 5-color combos in the indigodragonfly color chart. I tried many different combinations, but I kept coming back to Mondrian’s color scheme. I thought the best way to honor the art mash-up that inspired the pattern name and design was to take it one step further.

Here’s the beginning of Frank Lloyd Wright, George R. R. Martin and Mondrian Walk Into a Bar…

Frank Lloyd Wright, Mondrian, and Elmo WIP 1

The yarn is indigodragonfly Merino Sock. The colors are:

  • What the Hay?! (yellow)
  • Self-Elmolation (red)
  • TARDIS (blue)
  • Ooo…Shiny! (white/gray)
  • Did I Listen to Pop Music Because I Was Miserable? Or Was I Miserable Because I Listened to Pop Music? (black)

So far I have finished the first section and am nearly done with the second section. It’s going to be a masterpiece!

 

Urban Craft Uprising! (Part 2)

And the Urban Craft Uprising vendor love-fest continues…

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More narwhals were sighted at the Bread and Badger booth! I have bought several of their etched pint glasses as presents in the past – including one with a honey badger for my mom – and every time I see them again they’ve come up with something even more awesome!

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Fable and Fury is another UCU regular that I was thrilled to see again. I’m always fascinated to see what gothy-geek silhouettes they’ve come up with.

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The biohazard symbol necklace is one that I don’t remember seeing before, otherwise I’m sure I would own one already!IMG_9447

I bought the red thistle necklace one year as a birthday present for my mom, and it’s still one of her go-to pieces!

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The highlight of Fable and Fury for me though is always their portrait necklaces. They have so many icons – David Bowie, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Frankenstein’s Monster…

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But my absolute favorite, and the very first thing I ever bought from them, is the H.P. Lovecraft silhouette – complete with tentacles. It’s my stealth-geek necklace! So few people I run into know who Lovecraft is, let alone what he looks like, so if I’m wearing this necklace and someone squees in delight I KNOW I’m about to meet someone cool!

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Okay, I have a confession to make. I have a bit of a fetus phobia. Even babies who have escaped the womb tend to creep me out. I’m a monster, I know. I tried to pass by Kniffin Pottery with my eyes closed, but I just couldn’t look away. The pottery is disturbing, yet fascinating. Maybe having my fruit hanging out in a bowl propped up by baby arms could be some sort of exposure therapy for me…

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After the shock of the fetus pottery, the Bella Sisters were a comforting retreat into loveliness. They are also UCU regulars, and every time I see them there’s another gorgeous coat (or two, or five) that makes me cry on the inside because I know I can’t afford to take it home with me. Except that one time I DID take a coat home with me! And I loved it and squeezed it and called it George.

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More yarn was to be had at Yarnarchy! There were a variety of beautiful skeins on the walls, some hand-spun, some hand-dyed, and the owner was there busily spinning more! She also had some hats and fingerless mitts for sale made from her wonderful yarns!

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I was weirdly drawn to the light lavender pair of mitts…it’s not usually my color, but the yarn just called to me.

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Ugly Baby is the best booth to hang out in for a laugh. Their shower art is just the right mix of weird, absurd, and sometimes vulgar to keep me entertained for quite a while! Even the concept is a bit absurd…art for your shower? But why? BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME, THAT’S WHY.

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What better way to start your day than staring at brightly colored toys embedded in glittery rubber? Look, there’s even a unicorn!

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The toys are great, but the messages spelled out in letter beads are what makes these genius.

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Every time I see this booth I have a new favorite piece – this time it’s Hell Bunny.

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I was thrilled to run into Heidi Kunkel, one of the authors of Needles and Artifice! That’s another book on my wish list from Cooperative Press. It’s a collection of steam-punk inspired patterns from The Ladies of Mischief.

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Heidi designed the Incandescent Cowl, Mountain Lily Scarf, and Warm & Tingley Headscarf and Mitts, and had a wall full of them for sale!

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She’s multi-talented too – aside from being a knitwear designer she’s also an accomplished potter.

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She had all kinds of beautiful pieces for sale – from yarn bowls to mugs, and everything in between!

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This is another great gift idea for the knitters in your life: go to Heidi’s Pottery and order a yarn bowl!

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There were also bowls made from wood at Salad Days. At first I was drawn in by the beautiful maple grains…

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but as I got closer, there was a surprise element that made these bowls even more special.

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Some of them have designs carved into them and then inlayed with crushed turquoise!

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The turquoise even fills in any knot-holes in the wood, making those potential imperfections into a wonderful design element.

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I ran my hand over the inlays and they are completely flush with the carvings and holes, so the bowls are totally smooth inside and out.

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This bowl was my favorite with its dramatic slashes of turquoise traveling up the sides and over the lip.

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To order, email them at oregonwoodenbowls@aol.com or call (503)359-1000.

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Moulton Garden Bon Bons are seeds disguised as delicious truffles! It reawakened my intermittent desire to grow an herb garden and always have fresh herbs and vegetables at my disposal. Then I remembered that I have killed not one, not two, but three air plants – quite possibly the most idiot-proof greenery on the planet – and perhaps I should leave those poor unsuspecting seeds to someone who isn’t wanted for first-degree plant murder in two states.

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Sage and Sea Farms was back for a second round at UCU offering delicious sipping vinegars. I had never heard of sipping vinegars before seeing this booth at the summer show. It’s a delicious concoction of fruit, a bit of cane sugar, and vinegar that you mix with water (or sparkling water if you like it bubbly). It sounds weird to drink something vinegar-based, and it sort of is, but it’s really tasty! It’s got just enough sugar in it to bring out the fruit flavors, but it’s nowhere near as sweet as the usual sparkling drinks you can get at the store. I can see this as a fabulous alternative for those times when you’re craving something flavorful to drink but don’t want to reach for something packed full of sugar.

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I especially enjoyed the Apple Pear Ginger flavor, which had just enough ginger to give it a bite, but not so much that it overwhelmed the other fruit flavors.

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Last but not least was Smitten Artisan Truffles. This booth was really hard to photograph because the whole time it was PACKED. These are hands-down the sexiest truffles I’ve ever had! The Vanilla Carmel + Tahitian Vanilla Bean Sea Salt are my favorite with the gooey caramel, the vanilla bean-infused chocolate center, and the perfectly layered grains of salt encased in a milk chocolate shell (there I go with the salted caramel obsession again). They have other great flavors as well, like a bourbon caramel which tasted a lot like the vanilla caramels had a run-in with a pirate and had beautiful truffle babies. There was also a Passion Fruit Habanero flavor which was the most intriguing taste profile I have ever encountered! As if the truffles weren’t perfect enough, the samples were even served by handsome young men.

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I straight up ordered my boyfriend to buy me a box for my birthday and he complied. They were gone by the end of the night – my birthday isn’t until next Sunday…oops. I could say so much more about these truffles, but it’s starting to get a little upsetting to describe them when I’m all out. I really hope they’re back for the next show, and I hope I have some cash then, because I will be buying ALL THE TRUFFLES.

Urban Craft Uprising!

Yesterday I made my bi-annual trip to Urban Craft Uprising! Usually I end up coming home with bags full of goodies, but since I’m dead-broke this year I was content to just marvel at all of the glorious hand-made things. This time I came armed with my camera, and I have LOTS to show you. So much that I can’t possibly fit it all in one post. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite vendors from the Winter show.

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Our first stop was Craftwich Creations with beautiful hand-carved crochet hooks making me wonder if those pointy sticks are all they’re cracked up to be.

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I bought a gorgeous shawl pin here at the last show, and it’s now my favorite! (Some people may call them hair sticks, but those people clearly don’t have enough shawls).

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn simultaneously exploited my addiction to popcorn AND salted caramel by offering tastings of their Hawaiian Salted Caramel Popcorn. Holy crap, it was delicious! The popcorn was thoroughly coated with the caramel so it had a satisfying crunch, and the balance between sweet and salty was absolutely perfect! They also had a Tuxedo flavor – caramel corn covered in white and dark chocolate – which in this household is known as “crack.” I avoided tasting that one out of consideration for the vendor. I’m really not kidding about being dead-broke and I cannot guarantee the safety of anyone standing between me and a bag of crack.

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The first geekery of the day was provided by Polymath Design Lab and their wonderful collection of scientific adornments. What self-respecting lab rat wouldn’t want a test tube necklace?

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There were cufflinks for the male geeks.

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There was even a Cthulhu.

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A variety of geeky Christmas ornaments were available as well. My favorite was the chromosome.

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Circle Couture 2

UCU always has at least one booth featuring breath-taking fashions, and this time Circle Couture was the one.

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LOOK AT THE PRETTY.

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Afternoon to Remember 1

Back in tasty-land, I came across Afternoon to Remember Fine Teas and Gifts. You know it’s a good sign when the tasting tray is nearly empty. The Creme Brule Tea Cookies (middle tray) were so heavenly! The cookies themselves weren’t for sale, they were there to entice people to buy their cookbooks. The Creme Brule cookie recipe is in Drop by for Tea, by Amy Lawrence.

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For the French enthusiasts among us, I apologize for the appearance of the words “creme brule” in the blog. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to add the appropriate accent marks in WordPress, and without those the extra “e” looks really weird. It’s not just you, it’s bothering me too.

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My first narwhal sighting of the day was at Cellar Door Mercantile, where they had shirts and cards featuring my favorite animal!

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They had really cool non-narwhal illustrations too!

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Almeda Pottery 4

Almeda Pottery was absolutely mind-blowing.

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These are the teeniest tiniest vases I have ever seen!

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I mean seriously, look at how small and skinny those are! And the glazing jobs on them are gorgeous!

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HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?! (Pro tip: there are process videos in the link provided above…I still don’t believe it though).

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In case your brain still can’t process the scale of these things, here’s an adult human hand for reference. Rumor has it you can buy some of this miniature pottery at the Seattle Art Museum gift shop.

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This was one of my favorite booths from the last show and I’m so glad Careful It Bites was back for another round.

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I would have killed for one of these as a kid. Hell, I’d STILL kill for one. Who wouldn’t want a severed Sasquatch head?

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This booth is all about the details…bloody fur still sticking to the shears, fresh from the Sasquatch beheading.

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Other monster parts can be found poking out from under the tables. Best. Booth. Ever.

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For your cooking pleasure, Beautiful Briny Sea was back again with more delicious salts! I LOVE these salts and have been spreading them throughout as many kitchens as possible. At home we have three flavors so far: Chorizo, Truffle, and Magic Unicorn.

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While all are delicious, Magic Unicorn is probably my favorite. It seriously goes with EVERYTHING.

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Yarny contact was finally made with Victory Garden Yarn! I had a fabulous time talking with Anna about her crocheted creations. Here she is modeling her super-cozy Wisteria Wrap, which she had available in a variety of bold colors.

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Her booth was piled high with giant color-blocked and striped cowls.

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This sky-blue and orange one really caught my eye, and it was SO SOFT. I was shocked to find out it was an acrylic/wool blend! I know intellectually that there are good acrylics out there that don’t feel like plastic, but it’s rare for me to actually find one! This whole booth made me want to find some super-bulky yarn to cast-on with…

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For more yarny goodness I went to the UCU regulars, Spincycle Yarns.

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I’ve had my eye on their Natural Novelty Yarn for a while now because I am just itching to knit Purlieu. I was waiting for the right color to come along though, and of course the second my wallet is empty, there it is. They came out with a new color called “Fever Dreams” that is the most beautiful purple with tufts of blue and cloud gray in it. Someday, Fever Dreams…someday.

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Finally, I ran into Moxie/Hi-Fiber Needle Felting Kits, which is where I got my needle felting kit that I used to make my test pony in The Art of Stabbing Oneself.

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As usual, there were lots of super cute needle-felted things on display.

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There were even some with lights!

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I spent some time watching Moxie work (without stabbing herself at all, I noticed). She gave me some tips on how to build up a design – in this case a simple ball. She didn’t poke the ball nearly as vigorously as I did, which probably added to the lack of blood-letting. I will try to be less violent next time and see how that goes.

I’ll have many more vendors to show you tomorrow! There are just too many craft artists I’m excited about to fit into this one post!

If you want to help support a developing craft artist, there are still 5 days left to contribute to my Knotty Narwhal Indiegogo campaign! There are many cool perks you can claim in exchange for your donation, including my own needle-felted art! (I promise not to bleed on them).

The One Pen to Rule Them All

I WANT THIS TO BE REAL. Please, please let this be real! This would be SO useful for designing! The next step in the design process for a Fair Isle project I’m working on is to find colored pencil equivalents for all of the yarn colors I want to use in the design so I can start testing color patterns. With this pen all I would have to do is point it at the yarn I want to use and start drawing. It’s the One Pen to Rule Them All. This post said it was still just a concept, but that was 3 years ago…perhaps it’s closer to being a reality now?

 

Colour chat

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The idea is that you can use this pen to point at any object in the world, the pen then ‘extracts’ the colour, and then is able to write in that colour using a mixture of RGB inks that it contains.

Unfortunately, it’s just a concept, designed by Jinsu Park.

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As far as I know there are no practical implementations of this interesting idea. One could make a strong argument that the pen should use CMY (or even red, yellow and blue) primaries since RGB primaries would result in a tiny colour gamut and wouldn’t allow the pen to reproduce any real colours at all. See http://colourware.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/what-is-a-colour-primary/

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How Yarnologist Got Her Groove Back

Yesterday my mother finally got sick of seeing me moping around the house and randomly bursting into tears and took me to the Apple store to see if we could get me a new computer. I had an estimated cost in mind based on poking around the Apple site and guesstimating what I would need in a laptop. That estimated cost was almost $5,000 after I configured the laptop to what I thoughtmight need.

Now, I know very little about Macs. I’ve been a PC user all my life, but my life has changed quite a bit. I was once on a science career track and now most of my activities are more artsy. Supposedly Macs are better for creative pursuits than PCs. I’ve also heard rumors that the displays are more true to color than most PCs, which is something I was constantly struggling with on my previous laptop (and don’t even get me started on my sister’s computer – trying to color correct photos on her display was an exercise in futility). Many of the creative professionals I know are Mac users. Everyone I’ve ever known who has owned a Mac has LOVED it. I also know from personal experience that PCs, especially laptops, tend to only last 3 years or so before they start getting so buggy they’re unusable (see my sister’s computer) or just crash, while I’ve heard Macs tend to last much longer. When I got an iPod this summer and saw the way Apple products work first-hand that sealed the deal for me – my next computer would be a Mac. It would HAVE to be. To get another PC knowing I’d have to struggle with displays and using more visually based programs, not be able to sync anything from my iPod (or future iPhone?) with my computer, and that it would only be a few years before I had to get buy a brand new one would just be stupid.

Of course when I made this decision I was counting on my PC sticking around for another year or so. I was NOT counting on it being stolen, leaving me in a technological bind.

So back to my mom being awesome, she suggested that since I really was just guessing at what I would need for a Mac we should just go to the Apple store and get a professional to help us figure it out. THEN we would know exactly how much it would cost and can plan accordingly.

So we did. A very nice man named Chad helped us out and listened to all of my inane questions about computers and a detailed accounting of precisely what I need a computer to do for me. It turns out I really don’t need a lot of the add-ons I originally thought and the actual cost was more like $1,400. Mom had already set aside some money to loan me after everything was taken and was able to buy it right then and there!

Here comes my PSA for the day…one thing I learned from having to file a police report for stolen property is that serial numbers are very useful. You know where you can find those? On the things that were stolen. So, the first thing I did with my new computer is write down the serial number and all of the specs and file them away, just in case. If you have any technology that could potentially go missing – laptops, phones, MP3 players, etc. – I would encourage you all to find those serial numbers and write them down! If they ever turn up that’s the only way the police will be able to tell they’re yours.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t need help raising money anymore. Actually it means I need even more help, because now I have to pay back my mom. So please, if you have anything to spare, donate to my Knotty Narwhal campaign on Indiegogo. Even if you can’t contribute you can still help by telling others about my plight. I have a computer and can move on with my life, but now I’m in debt. To my own mother. I also would like to get some applications to make this computer work smoothly for me, like Pages, a task management program, photo editing software, antivirus, and definitely LoJack.

Sketchbook

Like any self-respecting artist, I have a sketchbook. Since my chosen medium doesn’t involve paper I don’t draw in it as often as other types of artists do, but I do use it to collect ideas and inspirations as they come to me. I’ve been catching up on Downton Abbey, so this is what the latest page in my sketchbook looks like:

I want to get into a habit of sketching more regularly. Do you have a sketchbook? How often do you use it? Where do you tend to find inspiration for your art?

 

The Art of Stabbing Oneself

I’ve had several questions lately through my Indiegogo campaign about needle felting. Namely: “what is it?” Well, I think I am prepared to share with you all my “sketches” in needle felting to illustrate the process.

Basically, it’s just a form of sculpting, except with wool instead of clay. You start with some unformed batts of fluffy wool, a very sharp needle, and a surface (preferably not your hand).

I had some needle felting kits I got from the Moxie booth at Urban Craft Uprising to work with. Since I was still very new at this, I also bought My Felted Friends which had some great instructions on how to make and connect certain shapes.

I decided to try for a pony, of the My Little Pony variety of course. In order to turn those balls of fluff into something with any semblance of form, you have to stab it with the needle. A lot. This locks the fibers together into one mass, felting them. Ideally this process would be done on a stab-worthy surface, like this Ecofoam provided in the Moxie kit, but I found it difficult to control the felting process that way, so I ended up picking up the wool and stabbing it in my hand. Sometimes into my hand. I stabbed myself many times actually, but I only drew blood once. What is art without suffering, anyway?

Very quickly I had roughed out a body that looked remarkably like a pony!

After making a few edits to the overall shape I started to add what details I could given the limited color palette I had to work with. I tried adding a unicorn horn, thinking making something so small and specifically shaped would be difficult, but it was surprisingly easy!

I took a good look at the colors I had left and consulted with my sister, the resident Pony expert, and determined that despite the horn, this was mostly likely going to be Roseluck. I added a rose Cutie Mark and then worked on installing the mane and tail. Now, keep in mind, this is only a sketch. The mane turned out…alright. The quality of wool provided in the kit was great for needle felting purposes, but it was rather wooly-looking and not very hair-like. For a more finished product I would use a higher quality wool for hair details, possibly even something with silk content. Even if I had taken the time to comb the wool before installing it may have improved the overall appearance, but I was really just testing out techniques with this pony and wasn’t particularly concerned with how it turned out. I didn’t have the right colors to attempt to add eye details, so I just left that out.

Not bad for a rough sketch of Rose Luck.

Here’s a pic of Rose Luck for comparison:

Roseluck from fimfiction.net

So, there’s my first rough, just-trying-to-figure-out-the-basics attempt at needle felting! Just from that short experience I can already tell that practically ANYTHING can be needle felted. Especially if I have a reference photo to work from (which I did not have Roseluck in front of my as I did this, just a few other Pony figurines so I could get the basic body shape right) I should be able to replicate figures fairly easily! By the end of it I was even getting better at NOT stabbing myself. For more example of what other people have done with needle felting, try checking out the Moxie Flickr Pool. I have also seen some really cool needle felted interpretations of celebrities from Felt Alive.

I am still trying to raise money to replace my stolen computer and tools so I can start my own business. Any amount helps, but if you donate $25 to my Knotty Narwhal campaign I will needle felt anything you want! Even if you can’t donate money you can help out by spreading the word.

In Which Technology Hates Me

I know I promised to blog about Knit Fit today, and believe me, I really want to. Unfortunately technology has conspired against me. I took some awesome photos while I was there and I’m still struggling a bit trying to figure out how get them onto my sister’s computer and formatted and edited properly. It was so much easier on my computer…

In addition to that, our DVR box is on the fritz and will be replaced tomorrow morning, so I have to watch all of the shows we have recorded TONIGHT or they are gone forever.

In the meantime I will try to entertain you all with a new blogging trick my friend Jessica taught me. On the sidebar right underneath the calendar I now have a Blogroll! This is where you will find useful or interesting links (not all of them are blogs). It’s small so far but I will slowly add to it as other links come to mind.

Jessica just started her own blog called Jessica’s Yarn Tales, and her first post was today, so go check her out! She already has a blogroll set up ’cause she’s smart like that.

At Ars Poetica you can find handcrafted candles made from natural and sustainable materials and beautiful hand drawn cards. A college friend of mine started this business very recently, and in the Poet’s Corner she has blogged about the grueling process of setting up a small home business.

Another artist friend of mine is Peppermint Monster AKA Sarah. She is a wickedly fabulous artist/illustrator who just released a Sueussian, nudity-filled comic called Star Power. You can buy it in her Etsy shop (and I highly recommend you do).

If you want to know what is going on in the knitting world, just look to the Yarn Harlot. She has her finger on the pulse of knitting culture, and when she speaks, fiber fanatics listen.

Last but not least is the Craft Emergency Relief Fund which provides emergency assistance to professional craft artists. They also provide emergency preparedness information for artists. In the wake of Sandy I’m sure there are many people out there whose studios have been badly damaged putting their livelihoods at stake. They have set up a special emergency response page specifically dealing with Sandy aftermath here.

Plenty can go wrong even without the help of a hurricane, as Judith MacKenzie-McCuin can attest. Her spinning studio at The Rainforest Arts Center in Forks, WA  burned to the ground. Friends of Judith have set up a site, Rebuild Judith’s Studio, where you can donate money or materials to help this international artist and teacher return to her craft. I know the loss of my computer has pretty much leveled my ability to pursue my business, I can only imagine what it would be like to lose EVERYTHING.

Hopefully I can get the photo situation sorted out tonight so I can share my Knit Fit experiences with you tomorrow!