June 27, 2009


DS and I have an elephant rug as part of our themed "jungle" bathroom* (and yes, I know elephants aren't jungle animals). It gave me an idea for something I thought I could actually do for my Shrinky Dink embroidery project.

DS had trouble seeing it... hopefully he's the only one. But if not, let me know what you think would help.

And I'm including the back here because real embroidery people seem to care about these things.

*I'm too lazy to take a photo of the bathroom, and I can't find a photo of the actual rug online, but I did find parts of the collection here. Turns out it's actually called Monkey Kingdom.

June 24, 2009


I had this idea to embroider designs onto Shrinky Dinks a long time ago, and I'm just now getting around to trying it out. After some trial and error and buying a new hole punch, I have my first prototype.

So what we have here is a flat disc that I first embroidered with red floss, then a second time in orange using a shorter line. Straight on it is colorful, vibrant, and sort of reminds me of a sunset. From the side, you get a sense of how many stitches are involved from the height.

It's a good size for a necklace pendant, a brooch (if I had the clasps for it), or even earrings for those that like them slightly on the large side.

This idea is part of my general interest in mixing items of very different textural qualities. I really enjoy the contrast between the hard plastic and the soft thread.

I'm rather new to embroidery, so if you have some tips or ideas, please share them. It takes a lot of planning to make something like this, because all the holes for each stitch have to be punched first, and once the plastic is shrunken they can't be added. I had initially tried doing something more like a picture, but as a first attempt it was proving too difficult for my limited skills. Thus the more simple star burst pattern. Also, I'm a little fuzzy on where the lines are drawn for copyright and selling when embroidery patterns are involved, and chose to avoid them for selling.

Want one of your own? I have lots of colors of embroidery floss, so feel free to ask for whatever you want here.
Design copyright 2009 Sleep Goblin Crafts

June 18, 2009

Things I am Currently Enjoying - 1*

  • The apartment is quiet, and through the open window in my office I can hear one of our backyard neighbors giving dance lessons. Canon in D is drifting through the air, and I can just make out shuffling couples and a man counting out the beat in Spanish.
  • Watching How I Met Your Mother, Season 3
  • Preparing for the arrival of my bestest good friend Luke
*I'm thinking this might be a somewhat regular installment for those times when I just want to check in, but don't want to write a full out post.
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June 16, 2009

Truffles and a Kite

This past weekend I did a few fun things. Namely, baking with my friend Samantha, and flying my new kite.

Firstly, the baking.

For those of you who don't know, Samantha is someone I was friends with in high school, but was two years behind me. I didn't really see her again after I graduated, and we lost touch. Then, at Kelly's wedding last September, I got to chat with some mutual friends during the reception, who were kind enough to inform me that she had moved to Santa Barbara that summer. So I happened to move to the one city in California where, unknowingly when choosing, I had a friend. Lucky me! Also, Samantha ran a bakery for a while. She is talented.

Sorry, side tracked. The baking. So I get the Gingerbread Snowflakes blog in Google Reader, and the author recently shared images of these chocolate truffles she makes. It doesn't take much in the way of chocolate to make me drool. I sent her an e-mail with the post attached and said, "let's bake this weekend!". She has to bake something for an event most times I talk to her, because she's generous like that. She was making eclairs this weekend for a cookout on Saturday, so she said, "come over, and we'll make eclairs and truffles."

Chocolate Truffles - Image from and Recipe from Gingerbread Snowflakes

Our truffles were a bit larger than those featured on Gingerbread Snowflakes, but oh my god they are good. Seriously, you should try this recipe. Holy cow. They're a tad messy to make, but actually fairly easy. And did I mention delicious?

Secondly, kite flying.

My New Kite

When we were in San Francisco for Maker Faire, we took advantage of there being an REI nearby. (We have very much missed being near an REI.) I bought this super sweet kite, but just got my first chance to fly it on Saturday. The wind at the beach was erratic, but I did get some good flying in. I think this kite is supposed to be able to do tricks, but I was happy to just get it in the air.

DS Running with My Kite (click for detail)

Overall, it was a pretty sweet weekend.
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June 11, 2009

Photo Fun

A while back something came through my Google Reader feed about this little thing called TiltShift Maker. It's an online tool that transforms normal life images into something that looks like a miniature model. I've been playing around with it today, and here's one of my results.

This was one of my photos taken in Chinatown in San Francisco as a trolley came through the intersection. I love how tiny the trolley really looks after sending it through the tilt-shift tool.

The site is really easy to use, and it's free. So go try it!*

*I feel like a salesman.. and that feeling compels me to tell you that I'm not getting paid for this in any way. I honestly just started playing with it and really liked it. :P

June 10, 2009

Maker Faire / San Francisco Recap

I can't seem to sit down stop playing the Sims 3 long enough to write out a decent post about my first trip to Maker Faire. What I can tell you is that it was amazing, and I met the coolest people. Even though I was utterly exhausted for days afterward, I would have gladly stayed longer to hang out with these people.

Who are these people you ask? Well, to be honest, I didn't officially meet all of them. For some I just hovered near their greatness while praying that I didn't trip over myself or drool too much, drawing attention to just how stalker-ish and fan girl I felt. But I digress. Here is a list, with links to where you'll find them, of the amazing people I met/stood near (while drooling).

Did I say it was amazing?

So here are some photos, with commentary (you may have to hover over "Notes" to see the commentary) of Maker Faire, and then San Francisco itself. I definitely want to go back to both.

These are select images from bigger sets on Flickr. If you want to see all the images, visit the links in the paragraph above.

June 07, 2009

Needle Felting Goodness

One of the amazing areas at Maker Faire was the Needle Felting Playground, a section of the Craft: booth. It was a cozy little area set up with real furniture, like this comfy green couch.

The Needle Felting Playground at Maker Faire

Now, I *think* that couch actually belongs to the lovely lady on the left, one Brookelynn Morris. She is one of the authors of Feltique, an inspiring book that covers the gamut of felt. I had heard of this book before going to the faire, and I wanted the book, but had no idea I would be meeting one of the authors. I'm sort of oblivious that way.

So all weekend there were swarms of people stabbing away at little pieces of wool, making amazing things, while receiving helpful instruction by Brookelynn and Moxie of madebymoxie (whom, sadly, I didn't officially meet; hasn't stopped me from including her in my recent crafty dreams though. seriously you guys, my brain is a crazy place). You can see Brookelynn's photos of the pieces people made on her Flickr site.

Needle Felting 101 with Brookelynn Morris

These ladies also gave how to sessions, and I was able to catch Brookelynn's. Craft: did this wonderful thing where they gave away free goodies at the end of every demo (seriously, the amount of free stuff I snagged at Maker Faire is mind boggling!). So at the end, Brookelynn gave away little needle felting kits with everything needed to make the bauble earrings from her book. Lucky me, I won one!

This is probably my third needle felting kit, and I've been experimenting with the process for probably a year or so now. I feel like I have just enough experience to know what tools I do and don't like, so I'm going to share my findings with you.

  1. Needles break. Easily. They're jerks like that. In fact, the one that came with my kit broke sometime between me inspecting the kit in the hotel, and taking it out to play with on the drive home. Beyond that, I do not currently have any preferences as to brand, gauge or anything of that nature.
  2. You can use a single needle all on its own if you want. It's probably really good for doing intricate things like this, which I currently have no talent for. Otherwise, I find the single needle to be slow, and I am more likely to break them and/or stab myself this way.
  3. You can also get these little wooden things, which speed up the process. I like that they're wooden and have multiple needles. I don't like the way you have to hold them, or the fact that I still stab myself with them.
  4. What I really really love are Clover's tools. This one is great for mashing things together super fast, especially when those things are flat pieces you're connecting. It holds several needles and has a cover that protects you and the barbs from each other. The cover slides out of the way as you use the tool, but can be locked in place when the tool is not in use.
  5. But the one that makes me happiest is this little baby. I love that I can hold it like a pen. It has three needles in it, which can be replaced if they break, and are close enough together that you have a lot of control over the design still. Both the pen-like design and the close-placed needles make this a good option for sculpting. It also comes with a cap that keeps you from stabbing yourself when you're not currently using it. (Things always manage to end up underneath me when I'm on the couch, which means ouch! if those needles aren't covered. They are SHARP.) You can find this little guy lots of places, both online and in craft stores.
Working Platforms
  1. The first kit I bought came with this block of what feels like upholstery foam. The idea is that you want something to lay the felt on that is soft enough not to break the needle, and thick enough to keep you lap or desk from getting stabbed. Having experienced better things, I have decided I hate this foam. Little pieces of wool stick to it. Cat hair sticks to it. And it's ugly. And it gets dirty. Everything just sticks to it. I hate it. Oh, and I hear it's bad for the environment. So that too. I believe most kits you buy will come with this foam. Boo!
  2. The second thing I bought was the Clover needle felting mat. It's not bad. It uses bristles instead of foam. I have no trouble with cat hair or dirt, though I couldn't tell you its relationship to the environment. It's really nice to use with Clover's chunkier tool mentioned above.
  3. As happy as I was to discover Clover's mat, I was even happier after using the foam that came with my Feltique kit. Wow. This thing is great. Nothing gets stuck to it, it's clean, and it's good for the environment. I love it. You can get these from madebymoxie.
So there you have it. A year's worth of "research" into needle felting. It's pretty easy to get started, as Brookelynn's flickr set illustrates. There's just something about wool that makes my soul happy, and I'm really excited to start incorporating it into my jewelry designs after reading Feltique.

Which reminds me. I finished my kit today!

Please excuse the Winston hair! It's everywhere...
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June 02, 2009


Wow! Maker Faire was just amazing!

DS and I are home from a very long, exhausting, but satisfying weekend. For now, you can check out the photos of Maker Faire itself on my flickr account. For everything else, you will have to wait until I work up the energy to parse it all out. Right now, I have to get some sleep so I'm not worthless at work tomorrow. I can't believe I have to work for the next 4 days! I'm already ready for the weekend. :P

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