What, she still knits?

As the final leg in my project-finishing marathon, I present to you…my new hat and scarf set!

New hat & scarf.

(Am I the only one who feels like a dork while trying to take photos of one’s self in a semi-public location? I stepped into the alley next to our apartment to take these, and I think that some people were watching. And wondering.)

I didn’t follow a pattern for either item, unless you count “knit until you come to the end, and then stop” as a pattern of sorts. Nope, as soon as anything resembling gauges and counting and needle size comes into the picture, I become all thumbs. (Okay, I still count, but it’s in a very laid back 80-sounds-like-enough sort of way. )

I started the scarf a couple of months ago as my on-the-bus project, which means that I only worked on it for about 15 minutes a day. It’s actually not a bad way to knit, if you’re patient…it’s just really slow.

In retrospect, I should have made it thicker or something because it tends to fold over on itself and get really skinny. Or may I should just say it’s a skinny scarf and that I wanted it to be that way.

My first ear flaps!

So, after finishing the scarf, I had enough yarn left to make a hat. I’d been envying other people’s hats with earflaps for a while, so I decided to make my own. I thought and thought about the best way to attach the earflaps without a seam, and in the end I decided to take a new-to-me approach and start at the top rather than at the bottom. I had to work out the pattern on top a few times since anything that disrupted my counting meant that I forgot what my pattern was and I had to start over (mm, I guess this is where written instructions would have helped).

I started from the top and worked my way down.

You can’t tell from the photos, but the cords on the earflaps have cute bouncy pompoms at the end. And then I stuck some on the scarf, too, for good measure.

Pompoms everywhere.

(Note the cute new shoes, courtesy of Ross.)

This will probably be my last post of the week since I need to work on the Ren Fair poster tomorrow…it turns out that I made my painting a little too small, which means that I have to re-scan it at a higher resolution and size it up. This is not particularly good news, since illustrations almost always look better when they are made smaller and very rarely look better when they are made larger. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Thank you all for your kind comments this week, and I guess we’ll find out on Monday who the Amy Butler contest winners are!

Trying to get the shot (and missing).

(Oh, yesterday’s favorite search term: “fat chihuahua.” ???)

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What, she still sews?

I found out about Craftzine’s Amy Butler Sew Inspiring Contest at the beginning of February and immediately hatched a plan to sew a purse. A quick look at my fabric shelves told me that this was the time to use that favorite vintage skirt that I’ve been slowly cutting up (hey, it was made for the skinniest woman ever!) and my precious yard 1/2 yard of Amy Butler’s Chrysanthemum, picked up a year ago at a quilt store in Bellevue.

My inspired-by-Amy purse.

So I opened up the pattern, pulled out the fabric, cut my pieces, and started sewing. Things were going along swimmingly when good ol’ recruitment weekend hit and everything was put back in the craft room. This normally wouldn’t be a cause for concern, but given the poster situation I wondered a few times if I would actually be able to finish the project + take photos before the February 29 deadline. See, one of the downsides of winter — besides snow + slush + cold — is that the only time that I am home during daylight hours is on the weekend. So, if I want to take photos in natural light I have to finish the project in time to take pics before it gets dark on Sunday afternoon.

Purse lining.

Here’s the exciting part: after getting my poster turned in on Saturday morning and spending some time cleaning the apartment, I told husband that I’d be able to finish the bag by evening. And I did!

Translation = I accurately judged how long it would take me to finish a project!

Sitting up pretty.

This might not sound very momentous to you, but I am constantly tripping over the disconnect between how long I think it will take me to do something and how long it actually takes. So this is big. Very big. And I know that the main reason why it worked this way is that I actually used a pattern*, instead of deciding to make it all up myself.

*I modified it a little teensy bit, but that really doesn’t count.

Detail of purse straps.

So right now I am really, really excited about Amy Butler patterns with all their cuteness and time-saving abilities. There are a lot of great entries in the contest so I’m pretty doubtful that I’ll win, but hey — I came out with a cute new bag and a new sense of time management.

Thank you, Amy Butler.

P.S. I included some sewing descriptions, etc. with the photos in flickr, but you have to click on the image to be able to see them (if you’re interested).

What, she still paints?

You probably already know this if you stopped by husband’s blog, but I won this year’s Moscow Renaissance Fair poster contest! Long-time readers might remember that I thought about entering last year, but we were about to move and I just couldn’t whip anything together in time. This year was a little down-to-the-wire as well…I set my brushes down at 1 am on Saturday morning and went jogging down Main Street with painting and printout in hand at 11:45 to squeak in just before the noon deadline.

For those of you who are curious about details (=Tim), I can tell you that the painting process ended up being a little rocky. I went ahead and inked the whole piece first thinking that the style would be more line-y than paint-y and have just a light wash. But then I discovered that my new walnut ink is really really watersoluble and my nice crisp lines melted all over the page. After a small moment of panic, I decided to paint over the whole thing and blend the ink in with the gouache. It worked pretty well, but I’m not sure I’ll do that again on purpose.

Seeing as there was some time pressure involved, I ended up feeling rushed and went to bed on Friday very tired and rather unhappy with how it turned out. And then on Saturday afternoon I found out that the contest involved public voting and became absolutely convinced that I had lost, seeing as Moscow people tend to have very hippy-ish taste and my piece is much more children’s story-bookish. So, you could have knocked me over with a feather on Saturday night when I got the call!

Renaissance Fair Poster sneak peek.

I was going to show you the whole piece but realized that it would probably be bad form since the grand poster unveiling isn’t until April 10. I hope I won’t get it trouble for showing you a little detail.

Locals, you’ll be seeing posters go up around town in April!

A swappin’ good time.

The recipient has informed me that she received her package, so I think it’s okay to give you a little peak at my half of a fun swap.  I won a drawing on Kristy’s blog and had the honor of sending a little box of crafting inspiration to her talented daughter Lily (in exhange for some really fabulous cups). Since Lily is a seamstress, I poked around my craft room and a local thrift store and came up with:

assorted buttons and trims,

Lily's swap 1.

vintage fabrics and an Amy Butler pattern that I know I’ll never get around to sewing,

Lily's swap 2.

and more fabric pieces and an embroidered pillowcase.

Lily's swap 3.

Lily, I hope you enjoy these!

Lily's swap 4.

I’m taking the day off tomorrow to work on a bunch of projects at home (hoorah!), so I should have lots of nice show + tell next week. You know how there are times when you’ve got lots projects going but haven’t actually finished anything for a long time? And so you feel like you’re not making any progress? But then suddenly a couple of those projects actually DO come to an end, which means that you can put away those scattered knitting needles and balls of yarn and the drawing supplies all over your dining room table?

I’m getting that feeling right now.

Not a work, mind you, but at home — and that’s good enough for me!

Hello again.

Well, that turned into a long-ish break, didn’t it?  Last week turned out to be rather more grueling than I had expected, and I’m still trying to get my health + energy back. I don’t want to bore you to tears with a full description, but highlights included:

  • lots and lots of late evenings at work
  • working for hours on a website that ended up getting scrapped in favor of a to-be-built new one
  • getting sick two days before 15 prospective students were due to arrive on campus
  • going to work for two days with the full-blown flu because there was absolutely, positively, no way to stay home (apologies, coworkers!)
  • literally losing my voice at a time when it’s very important that I communicate well
  • pondering whether I was capable of driving, and then finding out that I was
  • pondering whether I was capable of holding a coherent conversation, and then finding out that I was
  • pondering how I was going to possibly make it through the week, and then finding out that I could
  • realizing (again) that I am much more efficient when I have wayyyyy too much to do and can’t go home til it’s done
  • deciding that I hate my job
  • deciding that I love my job
  • deciding that, whether I love it or hate it, there’s no way I can quit and that I need to try harder to have a good attitude

If you talked with me at the end of last week, there’s a good chance that I didn’t have very many nice things to say about life. And if I had written the list above on Sunday, there’s a good chance that I would have only included the negatives (including a lot of things not mentioned). Dear, patient husband listened to an awful lot of complaining, and after all was said and done I owed him – and probably some of you – an apology. Yes, things feel like they suck sometimes. But God is good and He’s making good things happen even when you’re trying your best not to notice. I’m sorry for not looking around for the good as well as the bad, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

The Beans was a very patient dog last week, but I think her expression just about sums it up:

The Beans.

Recruitment weekend, we are SO glad that you’re over!

You make my day.

I thought that I had finally climbed on top of my slippery work pile this  morning but then promptly managed to cry while on the phone with my boss, who wanted to know why a certain website wasn’t up yet. Wow. In retrospect, that was very embarrassing.

In light of the fact that next week is going to be 10 times busier than this week (recruitment weekend, yipee!) I think I’m going to sign off for a bit. But not before I hand out some “You Make My Day” blogger awards, courtesy of having been tagged by Lauren.

In the words of a certain uncle, “The best thing about having a job is knowing that you have a family that loves you when you come home.” So I’ve only got 3 awards to give out, and they all go to family members:

1. Husband, who is always always always the best part of my day
2. Brother, who was by far the best part of my SPU years and continues to be a fabulous friend
3. Uncle, who is cool and has a blog and takes the time to read + comment on his niece’s and nephew’s blogs

Thank you.

You make my day.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bird.

I’m holding it together a little better today, so the new prints are finally out ‘n’ about!

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cardinal.

Both prints are from a new series that I’m pretty excited about titled “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bird.”

Detail of the cardinal.

My goal is to add a new bird to the series each month (the Young Cardinal was supposed to be the January bird, but he flew in a bit late).

Young cardinal and his books.

I was madly jealous of all the artists who planned ahead and had calendars for sale last fall. So at the end of this year, I will have 12 birds and can make my own!

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Puffin.

Each of these prints will be a limited-edition run of only 25-30, and each one has been hand-printed with all of the accompanying dots and dribbles.

Detail of the puffin.

I love the fact that they are each slightly different.

Young puffin and his books.

As you can tell, I like my birds to be of the literary persuasion.

Almost ready, but not quite.

I am almost ready to update my shop with the new gocco prints, but every time I sit down to do it I remember something else that isn’t ready yet. Argh. More “sneek peaks” below…not that they leave a lot to the imagination.

New puffin gocco prints going into the shop soon!

New cardinal gocco prints going into the shop soon!

My big accomplishment today will be not quitting my job. Or screaming at anyone who asks me to take on a new project. Or acting surprised when one more thing goes wrong.

So if I’m sitting at this desk tomorrow, it will mean that I succeeded.

Which is good, right?

(Lauren, not a whole lot of things are making my day right now so I’ll have to try tomorrow. Sorry!)

A little re-designing.

In my two gloriously snow-bound days off, I did a little redesign of the ol’ blog and etsy shop banners that you might have noticed. There was nothing wrong with the old ones, I just got bored. I also wanted to change the look a little in preparation for my new gocco items (which should be out + about in a few days).

I ran with the image and also ordered some new business cards, since I’m almost out of the old ones.

New Etsy business card design.

Oh, and a postcard to add as a freebie to all my orders.

New Etsy postcard design.

[I also wanted to say to anyone who might be jealous of my snow days that the inevitable bad news came trickling down this morning. It turns out that the snow days are mandatory annual leave, i.e. vacation time. Thanks, WSU. I always knew you had it in you.]

Snow daze.

This winter has been unusually snowy here, and in the last couple of days we’ve experienced the local equivalent of a blizzard. WSU took it’s first snow day in something like 15 years yesterday, and then we had another one today. Not even in my wildest, child-est fantasies did I imagine two snow days this week.

Now, a snow day is possibly the best kind of holiday because a) it’s unexpected and b) you haven’t made lots of plans. It’s like a little gift from heaven dropped into your lap, assuming you don’t mess it up by deciding to drive anywhere and getting stuck in a ditch. Okay, we did venture out yesterday, but our little Corolla was plucky as ever and we managed to visit the bank, get groceries, and find another parking spot on the street with only a few tense moments and a little bit of pushing.

Today has turned out to be sunny and lovely (albeit very snowy), so all the photos below are from yesterday’s ventures. This is what it looks like when the skies spill snow all over a little town in Idaho!

Husband cleaning off the car.

Bean in the window.

Hey!

On the street.

Grocery shopping in a blizzard.

A really awesome snow fort.

Everyone pauses to admire.

She's got the right idea.

The sidewalk.

Walking home.