Hello again

Hello there. It’s been a while. A long while. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just take this site down and give up.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought about it. I’ve been dealing with a very full plate in terms of things claiming my time. Work. A new house (a new house that I actually *own*. No more calling the landlord. I *am* the landlord.) Writing and running what is probably more than my fair share of LARPs. Most awful of all, depression and anxiety- those roommates in my head who may never move out, who may go away but may always have a bunch of stuff stored inside me.  And most wonderful of all, planning a wedding.

There are a lot of reasons not to try again with writing about the things I love and trying to build this into something worth the building. There’s only one reason for carrying on. But it’s way more compelling than any of the reasons not to.

This is something I am doing for me. One of the very few things I’m doing only for me. Because I like writing. I like connecting with however few or many of you there are. I want to record at least part of my life in a way that’s more substantial than the empty calories of social media. I want to put something good out into the world- encouragement to try and make things. Because I know from experience that making things keeps the darkness at bay. And when there’s less darkness, it brings satisfaction, and joy.

For a long time, I let all the other things in my life stop me from showing up to the work of trying to create a better and more meaningful life for myself. Well, I’m done letting the resistance get me. Whether I have grand lessons to impart or whether I just found an interesting pattern. Whether I’ve made something cool or (equally likely) made something that isn’t Pinterest-worthy but is still satisfying. I’m going to show you the messy side of the room (to quote Heather B. Armstrong), because I think people need to see the thread, the scraps, the paint-covered newspapers, the burnt-sienna painted chux-mache props that kind of look like giant poos, drying on my dining-room table… whatever happens, I’m going to keep showing up. I hope you’ll join m

Craft projects for freaks and geeks: witchbabies and neopagans

Whether you’re wiccan, pagan or Asatru, there’s a lot of gorgeous crafting you can do to celebrate it. Obviously, if you’re a practicing witchbaby, you may save your crafting for altars. But it seems a shame to limit it.

For the knitters, there’s this magickal throw by Erssie Major– you could even mix and match the symbols for a different effect. What about a Warholised Norse Knot pattern, for example?

I’m also rather in love with her Maiden’s Glory knitted flower crown. Perfect for dancing by the light of the moon or for that medival damsel character you got cast as in a LARP. Accessorise with a felted pentacle bag

Or how about the Green Woman tunic, for a project to get your teeth into?

Hardanger embroidery is a Norse tradition, and there are a myriad of tutorials out there on how to do it- it’s more challenging than straight embroidery, but the results are just beautiful.

Or if you want something a bit more straightforward (and I wouldn’t blame you- it’s good to mix it up!) Urban Threads (oh, you know how I love me some Urban Threads) have a bunch of gorgeous design packs celebrating Pagan beliefs and culture. There’s the five elements, the zodiac, (imagine these on a circle skirt!) or maybe you’re super into the changing seasons and would love to display the Wheel of the Year in your house.

If you want to craft an altar, there are, again, a bunch of sources of ideas for this. I personally love portable altars like this altoid tin travelling altar and of course Veronica Varlow’s altar in a train case (because who doesn’t want a glamorous retro train case?).

One final super-awesome idea which seems to me to fit well here- making beads from flower petals. Maybe ones you’ve used in a ritual? Or as the site suggests, wedding flowers.

Don’t forget, if you’ve found other awesome craft ideas on this theme, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Or just tell me what you’re making at the moment.

Craft projects for freaks and geeks: planeteers! Recycle with crafts

Lets face it, every little helps. I’m not saying crafting can save the world, but reusing and recycling things is definitely a good thing, and there are lots of ways to do that with a few craft skills.

Lets start with t-shirts. Most of us have a bunch of them we don’t wear. There are t-shirt quilts of course, but what do you do with the leftovers?

How about a t-shirt shag rug? You can make one with a t-shirt as the base, or go fancy and get some of the mesh used in latch hook rugs as the backing. Either way, fluffy and squishy for your feet!

I’m pretty sure I’ve  said this before, but it’s super-easy to turn a t-shirt into a tote bag, too- great for the shirts that are just too big (or small).

Plastic bags are everywhere- if, like me, you have a bunch of them that aren’t going anywhere, turn them into something awesome.

You could make a basket, or go a step further, and crochet a bunch of reduction rows and you’d end up with a cushion! You can also add a soda can into the mix and make a cute little basket/storage tub (please, please, wear gloves and goggles if you do this- metal is sharp, guys!).

This plastic bag bag doesn’t need any knitting or sewing at all!

Then there are the food packets we throw away all the time. Juice boxes are just prime for turning into awesome bags (or wallets- just have a look, there are a bunch of things to do with them! Get pineapple juice pouches and you’d be very in. Apparently everything at the moment is about pineapples. I’m as confused as you are.

And, finally, for those like me who have a huge weakness for crisps (chips to you if you’re not British), how about an apron made of crisp packets? (I don’t think it even really needs the backing fabric, if you overlap the packets and sew both horizontal and vertical lines). I like the multicoloured look, but you could show your passionate love of one flavour, like salt and vinegar, or prawn cocktail.

Shut up, they’re delicious.

Craft projects for freaks and geeks, part 4: Zap! Pow! Comic book fans

Lets face it, there’s something about comic books. Or graphic novels (not always the same thing). We all love a good hero. Some of us love a bad hero. Some of us just like watching Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston shirtless. What? Just saying. Hell, Kim Boekbinder even wrote a song about it as part of the Infinite Minute. Whether you have walls of pristine first editions still in the plastic sleeves, or just happen to love a good Marvel movie, there are plenty of crafts out there to celebrate your love of all things graphic and speech-bubbly.

Let’s start with something simple. If you have comic books you’re willing to chop up, and some Mod Podge, you can make everything from comic book coasters to comic book shoes. The wonders of decoupage! (Oh, and you can also make your own Mod Podge.)

How about a cross stitch all about the awesomeness of superheroines? Wee Little Stitches has you covered. Or if that seems like too much work (or like it’ll take too long because you want to make a gift for the comic book nerd in your life), how about a mini Batman cross stitch?

Another little simple idea- Avengers friendship bracelets. Make them yourself or buy some at the other end of the link.

If you’re a crocheter, you could make yourself a spiderman afghan, for super-spidey-sense-snuggling.

You could also make your very own Baby Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy, totally relevant here) thanks to Twinkie Chan. Or you could go to Mashable and make an actual dancing Baby Groot.

I’m not gonna lie, this DIY jet pack made with plastic drink bottles and felt is for kids, but I would totally make myself one and pretend to be the Rocketeer. Or you could add some wings and suddenly you’re in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I’d totally make myself one of these Batmobiles too, but it’d be way too small for me. But such a clever idea for giving an old toy car a new lease of life!

So tell me, which of these tickles your fancy? Have you found a great comic book-inspired project you want to share, or made one? Let me know in the comments!

Craft projects for freaks and geeks: Tabletop!

Let me tell you a little secret about tabletop- it’s great for crafting. Whether it’s a board game or a roleplaying game, you’d be surprised the amount of stitching time it gives you. Let the other players argue about numbers or stats or what they’re going to do next (though you have my permission to call them out for being dicks if they start talking about what you’re going to do next, or think you need their advice just because you happen to have a vagina)- it just means more crafting time. And here, for the tabletop fans out there, are some gaming-related things you could be making while you play!

Someone had to make this Settlers of Catan-themed cross stitch. Hur hur hur. Maybe if you make it for the people who keep making that joke they’ll stop making it. Maybe.

Another good thing to have- and super easy to sew- dice bags! Or you could always knit one, if that’s more your speed. (See how I didn’t make an ‘if that’s your bag’ joke? I’m growing as a person.)

There are a bunch of tutorials on making dice towers out there- if you don’t know, the idea of a dice tower is you drop the dice in the top and it rolls them for you. Here’s an example:

And finally, why not go one step further, and make your own GIANT PLUSHIE DICE? Come on, admit it, it would make game night way more fun. And also more cuddly!

 

Gratituesday: Good golly Miss Molly

My arm is bruised, and itchy, and AWESOME. This is why:

Photos by Alex Heart at Blue Lotus Tattoo.

Photos by Alex Heart at Blue Lotus Tattoo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a great time (yes really) getting the tattoo and my tattooist for this piece, Alex Heart at Blue Lotus Tattoo in Albany, is just fantastic. She committed to the insane linework on the piece because as she said, the detail on it is what makes it special. I agree. It makes me so happy every time I look at it. I’m so grateful both to Alex for taking it on, and to the amazing Molly Crabapple for giving me permission to have one of her artworks tattooed (and being so very cheerful and friendly about it).

Long weekend

This weekend (as anyone out watching the Kiwis at various stages of the Five Levels of Drinking will also know) was Waitangi Day here in NZ. I took a couple of extra days off to give myself a five day weekend, and did…well, whatever I wanted. I got a good amount of work done on my Flamingo Dress for the 15 in 2015 challenge, finished hemming a pair of trousers that have been sitting around unfinished for over a year, watched some good TV (and some bad TV), had brunch with friends, and relaxed. Taking a break is always something to be grateful for, taking one that didn’t get filled up with chores goes double.

Of course, that just means my room is in desperate need of a tidy but…sewing!

One year

I’ve been with the Best Beloved for a year now, and I’m grateful for him every single day. We celebrated by going to see Kingsman: The Secret Service because what could be more romantic than watching Colin Firth kill a whole bunch of people. It’s a very funny movie, I recommend it. It’s also nice to see Mark Strong not having to play the bad guy for once.

The little things:

Lush Ultra Balm and Dream Cream, tea tree oil, Miss Victory Violet, hand stitching with silk thread (I find it satisfying, but then I’m weird), figuring out how a pattern fits together, Gretchen Hirsch, the library (who have so many awesome sewing books), snuggles, staying off Facebook, tea, Burger Fuel (and Burger Fuel vouchers), Caro Emerald.

How about you? What are you thankful for this week?

Craft projects for freaks and geeks, part 2: goth-a-palooza

Guys.

GUYS.

You have no idea how much stuff you can make if you’re into anything remotely goth. This post has got you covered whether you’re a full-on, two-hundred-shades-of-black, bats-and-coffins goth, a lover of horror movies, or you just happen to like to be able to give answers like “an amigurumi vampire” when asked the inevitable question “what are you making?”.

Bats!

Lets start with simple and fun: na na na na na na na na BAT SHOES.

And while we’re at it, how about making a drawstring batpack (see what they did there?) to go with the shoes?

If that’s not enough bats for you, then you could always make yourself a bat chandelier. And if THAT’s not enough bats for you, then I’ll be suggesting you eat this garlic over here and stay away from my neck.

Skulls!

Lets start with a couple of awesome knits- this skull lace shawl (it really does look like a swarm of lost souls!), and this set of intarsia arm warmers (I love the snowflake-to-skull design) from the Anti Craft.

If you prefer a hook to needles, you can always crochet some skulls. Either flat ones (which you could sew on things for some memento-mori applique action, or how about a glorious (and rather alarming) 3d skull?

Then there’s the option of recycling a bunch of white buttons on the back of a jacket in a skull design.

If all that looks too much like hard work, here’s another awesome deconstructed no-sew t-shirt tutorial to give you a tee with, you’ve guessed it, a skull design.

Undead goodies

Let’s see now… this I <3 Zombies chart could be turned into a scarf, or a cross stitch, or you could do the thing with perler beads. Never let it be said I don’t give you options!

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could just go ahead and make yourself a coffin to add to your home decor, and pretend you’re in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’. Note: If you do this, I totally want to see photos. Like, immediately.

And I wasn’t actually joking about the amigurumi vampire.

If you make any of these projects, I’d love to see the finished results!

 

 

 

F*** the patriarchy: a message to men who want to craft

To all the men out there who want to craft,

We see you. You watch how we knit. You look at craft shops. You ask us what that is that we’re doing. Occasionally you confuse embroidery and crochet. And we know that if you were given the chance, you could make great things just like we do.

The problem, of course, is that you’ve been told your entire lives that crafting- at least, the crafts that don’t involve wood or welding or leather- are something women do. It’s reinforced even by women. And you’ve been told that anything ‘feminine’ is somehow weak, ‘unmanly’, that you’re less of a person if you, as a man, try it love it, do it.

It’s not true. And this is one of the many ways the patriarchy is hurting you. It tells you that there are ‘women’s’ things and ‘men’s’ things, and it locks you into a pigeonhole based on what’s between your legs.

But you have a choice. You can let it lock you into your rigidly constricted role, or you can break out of it. You can pursue your interests, regardless of whether your Grandma or your Grandad was the one who used to do what you want to do. You can ignore the haters.

Feminism, which you may well have been taught to look on with fear and suspicion, is on your side in this. As a feminist, I want to see a world where men and women are equal, and free to go after whatever aspirations they have for what they want to do, to be, to learn, without being told that their gender is a reason not to do it. I want to see a world where men AND women can have a go at the crafts I love.

Imagine it-

Knitting groups made up of all genders, all bonding over a shared love of their craft.

Men proudly showing off the shirt they sewed themselves at work- or indeed the dress!

Men and women both busying themselves creating handmade gifts for loved ones.

Guys complaining about the girlfriend sweater curse.

Expectant fathers preparing for the arrival of a new baby by making clothes and quilts for them, and later scrapbooking photos of their family.

Men frantically hiding the new stash they just bought because they weren’t supposed to buy any more yarn.

Complaining they don’t have enough time to finish all their Christmas crafting.

Admittedly it would make yarn sales all the more cutthroat, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Crafters need feminism. EVERYBODY needs feminism. But most especially the people who think that they can’t do something just because of their gender. We’re here to tell you that actually, yes, you can.

And you should.

 

Craft projects for freaks and geeks, part 1: Steampunks, straight punks, retro queens

Ah, the internet. It’s a magical land of hope and wonder. Full of sweets and joy and joyness…no, wait, that’s candy mountain. Sorry, came over all Charlie the Unicorn for a minute there.

Anyway. If, like me, you like to make things for yourself but you don’t see anything in the average craft magazine or in most of the books at the library that suit you (or you see them and immediately want to deconstruct them or mess with them in some way), then trust me, there will be someone on the internet who makes things you’ll actually love as-is.

I wish I could say confidently “this will be the first instalment in a three part series!” but the truth is if I do that it’ll end up going all Douglas Adams with the trilogy of five. I don’t know how many of these there will be, but I do want to cover as many different groups and interests as I can- let me know in the comments what cultures you’re into, or what hobbies/pastimes you have, and I’ll go searching for some craft to match!

The aim of this series of posts, which will go up on Wednesdays, is to highlight some of the crafting awesomeness available to you. Starting with…

Punk

Obviously. For a start, how about knitting yourself some striped corset arm warmers, as designed by the Running Yarn?

I may have linked to this before but I don’t care. Customise a t-shirt into a punk rock masterpiece, no sewing required, by following Veronica Varlow’s instructions. Hells yes.

Have you ever heard of or seen the traditional embroideries featuring Sunbonnet Sue? Did they make you feel just a little queasy? Olde-worlde, but not in a fun way. Urban Threads have the antidote- meet Sinbonnet Sue! She comes in many flavours, but I like the original one the best.

By the way, I googled Sunbonnet Sue for an example. The link above is what I got. My first response was “holy hell, I don’t think the website has changed since it was launched”. But then I looked closer and I found this series of quilts featuring Sunbonnet Sue all about domestic violence. Now THAT is awesome. Also, can we talk about the fact that someone came up with Bad Bonnet Sue? Better believe I’ll be looking into Sunbonnet, Sinbonnet and Bad Bonnet Sues.

I’m digressing.

Steampunk

I love me some steampunk. It’s a little OTT, a lot fabulous, with a sharp edge (OK I may have been watching too much Project Runway.) It’s also hella expensive, a lot of the time. Making things yourself is a much better option, and to do it, look no further than Victorian clothing. With a little thought in how you go about it, you can easily mod these to be steampunk.

Truly Victorian is a fantastic option for steampunk sewing. I know because I’ve made several steampunk outfits using patterns from their site. Their revised bustle petticoat (designed so you can sit and stand without problems) is a fantastic base for so many looks- I’ve made it with a shorter front panel for a more female-airship-captain type of look. I’ve also got one made as-is. It involves a LOT of frill (I bought frill trim for it and it made life a lot easier, although expensive). They also sell a pre-made set of wires for the bustle on the site. This 1870 skirt pattern is a great one I’ve used over and over again. Be warned, though, Victorian/Steampunk clothes use a LOT of fabric. There are 5 metres in the skirts, and that’s the simpler skirts. One solution I’ve found that works really well is to buy saris on the cheap (check your local charity shops), or bedlinen. It’s worth it for the flounce!

You could also embellish them (or your everyday clothes) with even more steampunk flair with Urban Threads’ collection of steampunk embroidery patterns. Yes, I love Urban Threads. #sorrynotsorry. I’m a lot enamoured of the Apothescary collection, but that’s just me.

For knitters, I have a bit of a thing for The Jane Victoria’s glorious knitting patterns. Like the sewing, they take a lot of materials. You can use a sweater’s worth of yarn just in one of their hoods. But it’s worth it. Continuing the female-airship-captain thing, how about this Aviator tam? And then there’s this hooded mozzetta (no, I don’t know what a mozzetta is), can you even?

Retro queen

There are so many retro patterns out there. SO MANY. And especially with knitting patterns, a lot of them are free. Be warned, many will only come in one size, but if you’re willing to do the maths and resize them, the rewards are great. For example, I found out that this Bridge Jumper exists and now I need to make it to play Surrealist Poker in (AND crapscrabble). Or for something a bit more quick and dirty (because sometimes that’s just what you want), how about this turban? Or indeed this one?

Butterick, Simplicity and Vogue all have retro pattern lines, but edited to fit modern body shapes- one issue with some vintage patterns is that womens bodies have changed, along with our undergarments, and it can be hard to fit some vintage patterns on a modern woman. But you can also find some gorgeous retro patterns from smaller indie designers, and I love supporting small craft businesses doing their thing and doing it well. Wearing History patterns have some lovely designs- I lust after the Dahlia blouse and the Sunkissed Sweetheart set. Mrs Depew Vintage is also worth a look.

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments what subcultures you’d like to see crafting for!

I’m British: five projects

Sorry, old chaps.

This is all the fault of my friend Keith for reminding me of the existence of this song by Professor Elemental*.

 

You don’t have to be British to make these, of course. They’re entirely suitable for all your punk home decor/clothing needs (my hairdresser has a Welsh dresser painted with a paint-drippy messy Union Flag, and I covet it quite shamelessly).

To start with, how about some British-themed embroidery patterns from Wild Olive? Jolly Spiff! You want to add some Buckingham Palace guards in their busbies to your clothes, don’t you? Of course you do.

What about a gloriously punk rock Union Flag Mohawk Hat? It’s made of chunky wool, too, so it’d be a quick make. And everyone would see you coming in the winter. Of course you’d have to buy the book the pattern comes in, but surely that’s worth it to feel like Sid Vicious…a very snuggly, comfortable Sid Vicious.

There are many possibilities for what you could do with this quilt block. Like a bunch of throw pillows. Or an entire giant quilt of them. Or a house cosy. Hey, I don’t know your life.

Finally, what could be more quintessentially British than a Union Flag tea cosy? Actually, this Union Flag cardigan is a contender for that. British flag. British wool- and not just any British wool, Rowan wool. I mean come on, it’s on their website! Ah, Rowan, home of…ahem…fashion-forward British knitting.

Go on, which of these catch your eye? Or have you found/made any good projects in a similar vein? Let me know!

*we really are terribly sorry about Piers Morgan.