Monday, April 29, 2013

Gratuitous Pictures of Cats

The title pretty much says it all.  I've amassed a decent number of pictures of my cats, and I'm going to post them.  Because cats are adorable.  Most of these were taken with my cell phone, so some are definitely of dubious quality.  Eh, yay, my blog, I'll post what I want to.

Cats pictures after the jump!
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Random happenings and Mushroom Garden

I promise I'll start taking pictures and putting those up as I talk about things soon, but for now I'm just going to ramble about current projects without pictures and continue clearing out pictures of things I did last year (I figure I'll be that much more motivated to start taking pictures of things when the number of folders in my "pictures to blog about" file is much smaller).

A couple of my current projects:
- making a Star Trek uniform dress for the opening of the new Star Trek movie next month
- making leather crowns for Their Excellencies of Cynnabar

Star Trek Uniform Dress

You know, they look really simple from afar.  Some kind of stretchy textured fabric, a simple flared short dress, with a little bit of trickiness with the exposed seam bindings in the raglan sleeve cut.  That simplicity is DECEIT.  Deceit in two ways.  (Sources:  An awesome set of posts that LJ user LaughingMagpies put together in 2009 that did very detailed analysis of fabric and design of the Star Trek uniforms of the new movie.)

1.  The fabric is actually not textured, but a dyed design on what is most likely jumbo spandex (2 way stretch, 90% nylon, 10% spandex, 10 oz).  The design is a bunch of tiny Star Trek swoops, with a two-tone background.  The jumbo spandex part isn't that hard (though must be ordered online if you're not in the few select places like NYC which have spandex stores) but the design requires custom screen printing.  I debated whether to get this done, but I think it will cost at least $50 (though I haven't called the four local screen printing shops to find out...) and I don't think I want this outfit to get that expensive, even if it would be neat.  My plan is to pick a blue I like in the correct fabric (I've ordered swatches from a couple companies, which hopefully will arrive later this week so I can choose one and order the fabric), and then just make the pattern and everything else super correct and it'll be awesome enough.

2.  This sucker has TWENTY-NINE PIECES.  That's right, you read that correctly.  29.  The exposed seam bindings on front and back at raglan sleeve edges add 8 pieces (two per seam).  The bottom half of the dress actually has six neat swoopy seams in the front and back, which means the bottom half is 14 pieces.  Then there's the neck binding and two sleeve bindings, and the sleeves and the top half of the dress (another four pieces).  8 + 14 + 3 + 4 = 29 pieces.  I made a muslin yesterday out of some thin dark red knit fabric I have sitting around, and it's a neat dress, but also somewhat intricate.  Jeez.  And then there's all the decorative top-stitching over all the bottom seams, etc...

Oh, and then I have to make the sleeveless undershirt/dress (which is most likely a cotton/lycra blend, says others on the internet), and I'm going to whip up some leggings, too, because those dresses are short.  So, yeah.  Complicated.  But I will have a Star Trek dress, which makes me kind of gleeful for all sorts of reasons.  :)

Leather Crowns

I'm working on my first leatherworking commission!  Their Excellencies, the Baron and Baroness of Cynnabar (SCA people), asked me to make the Barony a pair of leather crowns.  Their crowns are very heavy metal ones, and it would be nice to have leather ones to wear during less formal times at events.  I don't want to say too much at the moment, but assuming I don't botch the paint job they are going to be awesome.

I've also had another friend tell me they want to commission something from me, which is super exciting.  And a couple other people ask me for leatherworking advice the last few months.  I'm becoming known as a leatherworker, and apparently one with enough apparent skill to ask things of.  Yay!

Mushroom Garden

And now for the "pick the random thing from last year to blog about" time... mushroom garden!  My lovely sister got me a mushroom growing kit from Back to the Roots, a neat company that takes used coffee grounds and turns them into a kit to grow mushrooms at home.  Here are the pictures of my mushrooms growing over the course of a week (this is as far as my kit grew).  I don't remember how long it took it to start growing, but it's about a week from first two pictures to the last picture.

1st picture day

1st picture day

2nd picture day

4th picture day

5th picture day

8th picture day
I never did try eating them, because I wasn't sure when to pick them and then they got too old and weird.  But hopefully next time? I think this would be fun to try again.

That's all for now!  I'm off to work on the leather crowns at craft night.  ~Kelly
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Cat Toys and Ramblings

Here are a couple cat toys I made last June.  I made a companion cube out of felt and embroidery thread.  The nice thing about the companion cube is that it's large enough that it doesn't get lost under the couch, like so many of the cat toys.  It still gets lost, but it also turns up every once in a while. 

It's filled with pillow stuffing (fluffy stuff bought from JoAnn's), empty candy wrapping (for the crinkly noise), and catnip.

I also made a dorky little mouse from some fabric scraps, with the same filling.

And now for the cute pictures of baby Gnome playing with the companion cube.  :)

She was so little then... the kittens are over a year old now (their birthday was three days ago).  I didn't celebrate their birthday - just don't care to mark the day, as DeForest should be here to mark it with me.  If he were alive, I'm sure I would've made it into a big day for the kids, with presents and treats and all, but this year they're not getting anything.  They're cats, so it's not like they know the difference.  Hopefully by next year I'll care and do a big production of their birthday.  I'm going to assume for now it's similar to how I didn't care about The Hobbit coming out last December (still haven't seen it) and how I'm actually really excited for Star Trek to come out next month, and not worry about it.

There's a part of me that wonders about talking about grief and the struggles with it online, but there's another part of me that reminds me that I always like it when other bloggers talk about their realities, too, and not just the shiny parts.  I also continually wish that our culture talked about grief more - there's a large part of me that's amazed that I got to be 24 without having any clue how grief can affect people.  I mean, yeah, I knew people would be sad when someone close to them died, but I had no idea that it was such an all-body experience, and that it would last so incredibly long and affect me in so many ways.  I'm still struggling with it every day.  Some days are better than others, and overall there is a definite upward trend, but it's still takes me over an hour longer to get myself out of bed every day than it used to, before he died.  It's still hard being by myself most of the time, though I've gotten to the point where I can sometimes distract myself into having a decent time for a few hours by listening to podcasts and focusing on a craft project really hard.  But it's still a daily struggle.  And from talking to other widows and reading their words on the Young Widows Bulletin Board (, if you need it), I'm doing really well, and this is normal.  That's what's weird for me - that this is so completely normal, and I had absolutely no clue that this is how grief works, because it had never touched close to me.  Maybe, just maybe, if our culture talked about this more, it would be a little easier to bear.  Maybe the fear that there's someone out there, just waiting to judge me and tell me to get over things already, that so many people must just not get it, would be a little less.  Thankfully, that's only happened a little, and most of the people in my life have been wonderful.  But I know not everyone gets that, either, and that's sad, too.

So I suppose I'll just leave my grief-inspired ramblings in, when I have the courage to.
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Hey, friends, family, whomever reads this - 

I'm still slowly getting back to normal.  The other widows I've spoken to tell me I'm actually doing great for almost 9 months out, though the progress still feels glacial.  As many people have told me, though, I'm trying to be kind to myself and just be patient with the sadness and the slow progress.  It is progress, though!

I've actually been doing TONS of crafts (I try to do something every day, and I can't always bring myself to do my research work, so I work on crafts instead), and have learned lots of new things - weaving and leatherburning (inscribing designs with heat into leather, like woodburning) come to mind most quickly.  I've also been doing a lot of thinking lately about opening up my own Etsy shop.  DeForest had been nudging me for quite a while to do so, and lately other people are really doing so, too.  I've had several people ask if they could commission leatherworking from me in the last few months, and several others note that my sewing skills are getting quite sharp, and others tell me that I'm good enough that I should start charging for my art.  So I might open a little shop soon and see how it goes!

One of the first things in the shop will probably be a downloadable PDF pattern to making my SCA hood, which will include neat variations about how to make it with a liripipe (the long tail you see on some medieval hoods) and how to make a piecework leather version of it (I made an amazing leather and fur hood for Winter Revel in January - pictures will be posted soon!).  It will be easily printable on 8.5" x 11" paper.

I also really love customizable work.  I'm going to be tinkering with leatherburning small images and quotes into leather scraps, and might be putting up offers to do customizable work on those, too.  Also, I really like the piecework leather dice bag I made, and I think I could price that at a level that would both be able to sell and tempting enough (time and materials wise) for me to make it.  I've looked at what others are offering out there, and no one is selling piecework leatherwork like I am, that I can tell.  Maybe my friends are onto something when they tell me that my pieceworking is really awesome and I should sell it.  :)

Anyway, those are some of my current thoughts.  I have a bunch of pictures of things that I hadn't posted from before DeForest passed, so those projects are able to go up.  I mislaid my camera some months ago, so I only have crappy cell phone pictures of some of my recent projects, but those will go up at some point, too.  Also, a lovely friend has an old camera that she said she'll send me soon, so I can get back to taking photos of things.

Life is still really hard, and I'm a good ways away from stable yet.  But things are heading in the right direction, and I'm excited about seeing if I can sell some things.  So, yay.

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