Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Well, Readers, color me stupid.

I went and misspelled my embroidered spider's scientific name. The Black-and-Yellow garden spider is known as "Argiope aurantia", not "Arigope aurantia".

I'll have to re-do her. May as well anyway. I've been trying some new techniques out on the St. Andrew's Cross spider that are looking gorgeous, and I know would look really nice on the Black-and-Yellow.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Part of life's eternal rhyme

Black and Yellow garden spider, Arigope aurantia. Finished this one just this afternoon. 

I'll be the first to admit, Readers, that I tend to find beauty in the strangest things. 

I'm working on a new project for my Etsy shop: a set of three embroidered spiders, all among the genus Argiope. These spiders are all known for the beautiful colors on their abdomens, and the striking designs on their webs. 

I hesitate to say that I like spiders. I don't mind when I see a little 8-legged thing scurry along my windowsill, and love seeing a perfectly spun web. I think a more appropriate word is that I appreciate spiders, as my blog name implies. 

Plus, Charlotte's Web has had its impact on me. 

As a kid, I always imagined a spider's voice sounding like Debbie Reynolds. 

My sweet fiance has been helping me work on my drawing skills. The black and yellow garden spider, pictured above, was totally free-handed. 

The process goes down like this: I'll pick a spider, find a good image, and simply sketch what I see until the resulting picture is passable. 

Well, my drawings are still a bit Napoleon-Dynamite-ish...but the above rendition of the St. Andrew's Cross Spider will do. 

Then, I make use of one of my favorite embroidery tools: my iron on transfer pen. I trace my sketch: 

And iron the image onto a swatch of fabric: 

Voila. The Arigope keyserlingi is ready to be stitched.

I'm not sure how I'm going to finish and present these 'lil beasties. I saw that I could get some simple wooden embroidery hoops wholesale, but I'm thinking a small wooden frame might be the best way to go.

I'll keep posting as these guys progress, Readers!

Until next time!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Haiku Friday

My heart breaks for those
Who have been given wings, yet
They refuse to fly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The invasion has begun!


What's going on here?

Could it be?



Yes, Readers, it's a miracle! I've FINISHED SOMETHING!

Two and a half YEARS, Readers. The above blanket took me two and a half years to finish.

The project was knit in two pieces: one with the faire isle space invaders (not bad for my first attempt at the technique), and one that was all black (to cover up the "floats", which are long pieces of yarn that hang on the back of the blanket). The piece with the aliens only took me a few weeks to finish; I was excited and motivated to learn a new knitting skill, and I had a ton of time on my hands as I was unemployed.

The plain black piece took me forever, I must admit, partially because I had just found a new job as I started it, and also because I have the attention span of a small insect.


image found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squirrel
Sewing the two pieces together was frustrating, I must say. To save time, I attempted to sew the blanket together using Dumpy (my sewing machine). It worked...but not very well.

I had to adjust the tension about six and a half billion times, and the project seemed to eat up ALL of my black sewing thread. On top of that, the acrylic yarn I used was VERY stretchy. This made the edges pull weird while the blanket was going through the sewing machine (although, this is probably because I didn't adjust the Dumpy's feet correctly, so the yarn isn't entirely at fault), so instead of being a nice, neat, rectangle...the finished blanket turned out to be more of a rhombus.

All in all, the blanket turned out quite nicely. Next time, with a project of this size, I'll pin it together and sew it by hand using yarn instead of sewing thread.

I hate to admit it...but I'm already getting a head start in the way of Christmas decorations.

Yes, Readers, snowflakes. Already. Don't judge.

I've got a plan in place for the craft fair season. Snowflakes, and lots of 'em.

I'm also making some of my own snowflake patterns, Readers! I'm in the process of finalizing/testing one, so stay tuned!

For flakes that are meant to be Christmas tree decorations, I'm going to put them in groups of either four or six of the same pattern (depending on the size of the flake). I've had several people mention to me last year that they would prefer decorations that match, so I'm gonna give that idea a shot.

Also, I'm going to try and make a few tree toppers this year!

image found here: http://myoldejunque.ecrater.com/p/12170267/

I'm thinking of doing something similar to the above topper, but take away the ribbon/buttons/flowers, replace the hair with a lacy circle of picots to imply a halo, get rid of the puffy sleeves and change her arm position so the arms are out (so that she looks like she's proclaiming something), make her bright white instead of ecru, add beading to her wings...

Heck, I might as well start from scratch, huh?

Looking up ideas for various tree toppers has sparked a debate with my fiance. He insists that a STAR belongs on the top of a Christmas tree, not an angel.

He also suggested crocheting Cthulu in a Santa suit.

Well. Maybe I'll make ONE star just for him.

And maybe a Cthulu hat.

I'm trying a new stiffener for my lace projects. This new stuff makes me a bit nervous, I have to admit, since I can't pronounce a single ingredient they list in it and it stinks to high heaven. Plus, this stuff is notorious for ruining your clothes if you spill it on yourself and let it dry. My usual hippie-dippie stiffening methods (the cornstarch method/sugar method) were both simply too messy and time consuming, and the flakes didn't turn out as stiff as I'd like.

The first batch of snowflakes turned out almost creepily perfect, though. And since I haven't sprouted a second head, I guess I'm alright as long as I open a window and keep a fan running.

I've also been doing a ton of embroidery lately.

It's kind of a tradition, Readers, for me to embroider a set of "day of the week" towels for people I love who are getting married. My brother and his wonderful bride to be are tying the knot in less than a month, so naturally I've been stitching away!

I know for a fact that both my brother and future sister in law read my blog ;-) So, John and Jen, I'm posting your tea-towel "previews":

So happy for you guys! Love you so much!

Until next time, Readers!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Belated Haiku and Wedding Planning Whirlwind

The ocean's treasures
are bestowed to us by the
generous low tide.

Whoo boy. WHAT a weekend.

My fiance John and I, along with my parents, flew out to Gloucester, Massachusetts this past Thursday. John and I planned to introduce our parents properly, get our engagement photos taken, and finish some wedding planning (cake, flowers, all that jazz).

Unbeknownst to us, our parents and (my future) extended family had a different itinerary.

We DID get our engagement pictures taken, and FINISHED, in record time. Our photographer, Bart, was great...a real veteran of the business who seemed to instinctively know what EXACTLY it was that we wanted in our pictures. Plus, he knew our location (Cape Ann and Good Harbor Beach) like the back of his hand: Where the best locations are during high tide, where the light is best on a cloudy day, ad infinitum. Each and every shot he took was wonderful. We are really excited to work with him and his daughter on our wedding day!

After that, we wandered around the church where the ceremony will be. It's surreal to me, Readers, that in about four months, John and I will leave this building as husband and wife.

I then sat down with one of my future mother in law's close friends who VERY generously agreed to do our table arrangements and church floral arrangements. I'm VERY EXCITED for what we have planned; live lavender plants at the first six pews, which will then be planted in containers around the church garden.

After all that, I was expecting a slow, uneventful day afterward, where the only thing we had planned was a short meeting with a potential baker for our wedding cake.

Hoo boy.

I received a message that John's aunt wanted us to visit...early in the morning. So, John picked us up, we went to breakfast, and arrived...to my surprise bridal shower. My future Sister in Law, that wonderful thing, had coordinated the whole event, where I was nearly overwhelmed with the fabulousness of it all.

I was wrapped in toilet paper. It was pretty awesome.

After the shower ended, John and I were able to sneak away for a little bit. We walked along a rocky beach, got some Italian ice, and shared in the "Oh Sweet Jesus This Is Actually Happening" moments that I'm sure befall all engaged couples.

We saw the baker, but didn't make a decision just yet. We both think that $4.50 per slice is a bit much for a wedding cake.

After the appointment with the baker, we returned to my future in-law's...to yet another surprise party. There was a veritable ARMY of family and friends waiting to meet me and wish us well! I'm going to need to start a flow chart to keep track of John's family!

I love a big family. You never get bored with a big family.

We returned completely exhausted...but VERY happy. This visit made it all the more real that we will be spending the rest of our lives together.

To keep the "We're Spending the Rest Of Our Lives Together So Let's Plan For It" train rolling, we opened a joint bank account and started the paper work so I can list John as my spouse for my health and dental benefits.

It's been a whirlwind, yes, this engagement.

But its been a beautiful and happy one.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rumpus in Peace.

Image found here: http://slices-of-life.com/2010/01/09/wild-find-bits-pieces-lost-youth/

Good Morning, Readers.

It is a sad day in the world of literature. Maurice Sendak,  author of more than 50 children's books (including the iconic "Where the Wild Things Are"), passed away yesterday. He was 83 years old.

I remember reading many of his books growing up. My second grade class did our own interpretation of "Where the Wild Things Are" for our spring pageant/choir concert one year. We had one kid as Max, another kid as Mother, and the rest of us were Wild Things, decked out in feathers, faux fur, pipe cleaners, toilet paper tubes shaped to look like horns, and paper grocery bags with arm holes cut out.

I can't remember what the exact point of the pageant was, but I think we tied how to do addition/subtraction problems with decimals in there somewhere.

As much as I love Sendak's children's books, my FAVORITE work of his wasn't a book or illustration. It was the set design and costume design he did for the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

When I was small, my family had a tradition of spending a few days after Christmas with my grandparents. We would nibble on crackers, play with our cousins, show off our gifts, go sledding and build snowmen...and when it started to get dark, we would all go in and watch videos.

My grandmother had a copy of the PNB's Nutcracker that we would watch at least once every year. The set designs, choreography, storytelling, and costumes were so beautiful and mesmerizing...and a little bit terrifying. The ballet started out with this HUGE, creepy looking nutcracker face that took up the entire stage...

Image found here: http://dazzling-exciting.blogspot.com/2010/12/nutcracker-stowell-sendak.html
and as the overture was playing, the nutcracker's mouth would open up, and just keep going and going...as if the entire ballet was taking place inside of the nutcracker's mouth.

Let me tell you, Readers...that set piece in particular (The Rat King character, too) gave me nightmares as a kid. It scared the CRAP out of me! But you know what? It was okay. I still LOVED watching that video! I begged my Grandma to play it! At the age of four, yes, I was intimidated and a little bit scared of Sendak's dark, menacing art style and characters...but I knew that I was looking at something beautiful. I was seeing something VERY special. Something I wanted to be a part of, even though it scared me to look at it sometimes.

My favorite was the Peacock dance. Some little girls wanted to be  veterinarians,  astronauts, or Miss America...I wanted to be the Peacock in the Nutcracker.

Image found here: http://blog.seattlepi.com/alltheworldsastage/category/ballet/
Since then, I've seen dozens of different Nutcracker performances, but in my humble opinion, not a single one of them can hold a candle to PNB's.

I think that Sendak's genius came not from his artistic talent or writing ability, but for his insistence that children are more than capable of dealing with the aspects of their lives that can be uncomfortable, intimidating, or scary. In my mind, it is the dark and scary things that make the bright and beautiful things all the more wonderful in Sendak's works, which is why so many people hold on to them and love them so much.

A very wise man once said that you can't truly experience bliss and happiness unless you've experienced anguish and pain. I believe this rings very true in ALL aspects of life, including children's literature.

I was terrified of certain aspects of Sendak's Nutcracker, but I still LOVED it. The scary bits made it REAL for me. Life has scary bits. I was no stranger to having nightmares or being afraid. But seeing the beauty, grace, and sheer GENIUS of the ballet made it all worth it.

So, Readers, I raise my coffee cup to the original King of the Wild Things. May he dance in the Wild Rumpus forever in the hereafter.

Until next time.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Haiku Friday

He grasps my chin, and
lifts my face to meet his gaze,
calms the stormy sea.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why my faith in ingenuity and innovation are renewed.

Because of this kid. Seriously.
If we all had one tenth of one percent of this guy's ingenuity and resourcefulness, we will be just fine no matter what life throws at us. Seriously.

I especially liked the "emergency party button".